“What we have to remember is that not everything is under our control. If people are free in any meaningful sense of the word, that means they are at liberty to foul up their lives as much as make something grand of them. That is a gamble we all take. That is the risk of liberty. Nobody wants others to screw up their lives, but each must be free to do so for themselves.” Joel Miller
What does the (*) mean next to the ILS frequency on an approach plate?
b. Special conditions apply or
c. Limited operating times.
c. Limited operating times.
African Pilot’s September 2020 edition
The September edition of African Pilot featuring Avionics and Instrumentation (46 pages) completed its distribution phase last week. For African Pilot, this is a record edition consisting of 226 pages with 46 articles and features. At the same time, the new software programme I purchased has allowed for 14 embedded videos and two photo galleries. Now that the digital magazine is FREE to anyone in the world, African Pilot has now become a serious international aviation magazine, with features from all over the world. On behalf of African Pilot’s dedicated staff, I would like to thank those advertisers that supported the September edition during these difficult times.
African Pilot’s October 2020 edition
Work on the production of the October edition has already started. This edition of African Pilot will feature Aircraft Maintenance Organisations (AMOs) and Aircraft Refurbishment. Once advertisers see the benefits of marketing their products and services to a vast audience with short videos and picture galleries, they will realise that marketing is most important for future profitability. In South Africa and the African continent, African Pilot is the only aviation publication that has the latest software to provide digital enhancement to any advertiser.
The material deadline for the October edition is Friday 18 September 2020.
For advertising opportunities please contact Adrian Munro at e-mail: email@example.com or Cell: 079 880 4359. All editorial material should be sent to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
About African Pilot
There is no doubt that African Pilot provides the finest overall media reach of all aviation publications in Africa where we are in a position to provide professional video and stills photography, website development, social media platforms, company newsletters as well as several other important media services to our customers. Naturally the monthly printed magazine has an incredibly long shelf life due to its excellent design and layout. Then of course the monthly magazine is also available as a digital edition where ALL advertisers have enjoy the direct routing to their websites at a touch on a smart phone or tablet as well as a click of the mouse on a computer screen.
Do you want instant aviation news and opinions?
Visit www.APAcom.co.za and register yourself as a user
The following are links to all the magazines that African Pilot produced this year so that you can download all the 2020 editions in magazine view format:
Launch of Wouter Botes’ e-book ‘Flights to Nowhere’
Wouter Botes’ E-book on Flight to Nowhere is available by visiting www.africanpilot.co.za and click on the button provided on the home page. We have provided an option for payment of R60 per download on the page.
AERO South Africa news
Take your business to NEW HEIGHTS this August at the one-stop business to business platform. The platform will be active for 12 months, allowing you to market your products and services to a targeted global General Aviation market and engage with visitors and other exhibitors on the portal. Want to book your booth on the AERO South Africa Virtual Marketplace or simply find out more? Contact one of our team members below to take your business to new heights.
SOUTH AFRICAN AVIATION NEWS
Aero Club Communique September 2020 # 1
Launch of the SACAA’s General Aviation Safety Strategy (GASS)
The SACAA invites you to join the GASS launch Webinar taking place on 11 September 2020 at 10h00 to 13h00. The overall strategy will cover ‘Regulatory Empowerment’ where a devolution of powers of safety oversight be made at primary levels which should result in more cost effective operation and ‘Community Responsibility’ where regulatory measures are adapted to bring about more proportionality in aviation governance will place more responsibility on the GA community. In short, there will be more self-governance of our activities. This will lead to an amendment of part 149 in the coming months with a focus group that will lead the discussions on this topic. Overall, this will be of great benefit to Recreational Aviation and the way we operate but it comes with the added individual safety of flight responsibility.
Link to the webinar: https://protect-za.mimecast.com/s/HeVLCLg1NQfR9zvKsBuZ2N
In addition, it will be streamed on the SACAA Facebook Page:
and YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzA_xb4Edcz0JjL2D6I8yuw
WORLDWIDE ACCIDENTS AND INCIDENTS
A320 flies without engine covers after crew forgets to latch them
On 8 November 2018, a Vueling Airbus A320-200 (registered as EC-MDZ) took off from Bilbao, Spain (BIO). Shortly after the take-off, a warning message was received by the pilots and one passenger notified a flight attendant that an engine seems to be missing a cover. Nevertheless, the flight continued as normal. The report on the incident was released by the Spanish Civil Aviation Accident and Incident Investigation Commission on 5 September 2020. According to the report several errors and negligence led up to the event.
Although there was a loud noise at the moment of rotation, as well as aerodynamic noises at high speeds, pilots did not find them unusual. The notice by the passenger was dismissed, as the flight attendant did not, or could not see the engine in the dark. Therefore, the problem was not detected until landing at Barcelona (BCN) almost an hour later. Both cowls of the left engine were missing, the fuselage near the junction with the wing was damaged and a piece of one cowl was stuck in the landing gear. After a short search, the second cowl and shattered pieces of the first cowl were found at the shoulders of runway 12 of Bilbao airport. According to the report, the engine was worked on by several technicians who lowered the cowls but did not close four latches to secure them. They also failed to enter the appropriate line into the aircraft logbook and did not notify pilots of their work.
When lowered the cowls were flush with the engine fairing, so neither the captain nor the ground crew noticed anything unusual during the inspection. However, they did not crouch down to look under the engine: if they did, they would have noticed the unclosed latches sticking out. The technicians could not explain why they did not follow required procedures when working on the engine and why, even though making other entries into the logbook they did not report opening and closing of engine cowls. Therefore, the report concludes that the crew did not have sufficient indications to conclude that something was out of the ordinary before the flight.
Pilot misunderstands how long plane can fly with full fuel
The pilot reported that, on final approach, about four miles from the runway, the engine lost all power. He diverted to an open field near Richmond, Virginia, but during the approach, the Cessna 180 hit a power line, then hit the field. The airplane sustained substantial damage to both wings.
Fractured exhaust valve leads to Cessna 152 flipping during forced landing
The private pilot was conducting a personal, cross-country flight. He reported that, when the Cessna 152 was about 12 miles from the departure airport, the engine started running roughly and the airplane was shaking violently. He decided to conduct a forced landing in a field near St. Augustine, Florida. During the landing, the nose landing gear dug into the soft ground and the airplane flipped over. Post-accident examination of the engine revealed that the No. 4 cylinder exhaust valve was fractured and although the head of the exhaust valve was not recovered, the fracture features on the exhaust valve stem were consistent with fatigue.
A review of maintenance records revealed that the exhaust valves were installed during an overhaul of the engine about 28 years before the accident. The engine manufacturer recommended that the engine be overhauled every 12 years or 2,400 hours, whichever comes first.
Improper fuel management starts fatal chain of events
The private pilot of the multi-engine Cessna 340A was conducting an instrument approach during night visual meteorological conditions. About 1.3 nautical miles (nm) from the final approach fix, the right engine lost total power. The pilot continued the approach and notified air traffic control of the loss of power about 1 minute and 13 seconds later. The pilot contacted the controller again and reported that he was unable to activate the airport’s pilot-controlled runway lighting in Port Huron, Michigan. In his last radio transmission, he indicated that he was over the airport and was going to “reshoot that approach.”
The last radar return indicated that the airplane was about 450 feet above ground level at 72 knots groundspeed. The airplane hit the ground in a steep, vertical nose-down attitude about 1/2 nm from the departure end of the runway. The pilot died in the crash.
Examination of the wreckage revealed that the landing gear and the flaps were extended and that the right propeller was not feathered. Data from onboard the airplane also indicated that the pilot did not secure the right engine following the loss of power. The left engine continued to produce power until impact. The airplane’s fuel system held a total of 203 gallons. Fuel consumption calculations estimated that there should have been about 100 gallons remaining at the time of the accident. The right-wing locker fuel tank remained intact and contained about 14 gallons of fuel. Fuel blight in the grass was observed at the accident site and the blight associated with the right wing likely emanated from the right-wing tip tank. The elevator trim tab was found in the full nose-up position but was most likely pulled into this position when the empennage separated from the aft pressure bulkhead during impact.
Although there was adequate fuel on board the airplane, the pilot may have inadvertently moved the right fuel selector to the OFF position or an intermediate position in preparation for landing instead of selecting the right wing fuel tank, or possibly ran the right auxiliary fuel tank dry, which resulted in fuel starvation to the right engine and a total loss of power. The airplane manufacturer’s Pilot Operating Handbook (POH) stated that the 20-gallon right- and left-wing locker fuel tanks should be used after 90 minutes of flight. However, 14 gallons of fuel were found in the right-wing locker fuel tank, which indicated that the pilot did not adhere to the POH procedures for fuel management.
The fuel in the auxiliary fuel tank should be used when the main fuel tank was less than 180 pounds (30 gallons) per tank. As a result of not using all the fuel in the wing locker fuel tanks, the pilot possibly ran the right auxiliary fuel tank empty and was not able to successfully restart the right engine after he repositioned the fuel selector back to the right main fuel tank. Post-accident testing of the airport’s pilot-controlled lighting system revealed no anomalies.
The airport’s published approach procedure listed the airport’s common traffic advisory frequency, which activated the pilot-controlled lighting. It is possible that the pilot did not see this note or inadvertently selected an incorrect frequency, which resulted in his inability to activate the runway lighting system. In addition, the published instrument approach procedure for the approach that the pilot was conducting indicated that the runway was not authorised for night landings. It is possible that the pilot did not see this note since he gave no indication that he was going to circle to land on an authorised runway. Given that the airplane’s landing gear and flaps were extended, it is likely that the pilot intended to land but elected to go-around when he was unable to activate the runway lights and see the runway environment.
However, the pilot failed to reconfigure the airplane for climb by retracting the landing gear and flaps.
The pilot had previously failed to secure the inoperative right engine following the loss of power, even though these procedures were designated in the airplane’s operating handbook as ‘immediate action’ items that should be committed to memory. It is likely that the airplane was unable to climb in this configuration and during the attempted go-around, the pilot exceeded the airplane’s critical angle of attack, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall. In addition, the pilot had the option to climb to altitude using single-engine procedures and fly to a tower-controlled airport that did not have any landing restrictions but instead, he decided to attempt a go-around and land at his destination airport.
WORLD AVIATION NEWS
Is FAA’s status as leading global aviation authority crumbling?
Throughout the recent history of commercial aviation the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), has been the global leader for aviation safety and in the same vein, certification. Whenever a decision was made by the FAA, the world would follow suit. However, could the fallout from the 737 MAX crisis result in the FAA losing its status as a global leader of aviation authorities around the globe?
Historically, the FAA held the flag and was the leader on all fronts. For example, when the DC-10 was grounded, the US-based authority was at the forefront of the decision. So, in the lead that airlines based in Europe sued the FAA for allegedly overstepping its boundaries when the agency banned foreign-registered DC-10s to operate within the United States’ airspace. In September 1981 the New York Times reported that after the administration had grounded the tri-jet, ‘a number of foreign governments halted DC-10 flights in their airspace.’ A more recent example could be the Boeing 787 Dreamliner groundings. After the 787 suffered several incidents involving its Auxiliary Power Units (APU) lithium-ion batteries, the FAA grounded the wide-body on 16 January 2013. A day later, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued a statement, whereupon the agency commented that it was working closely with the FAA as ‘the primary certification authority and Boeing.’
At the time, the EASA statement said that it had adopted the FAA Airworthiness Directive in order to ensure the continuing airworthiness of the European fleet. At the time, the European fleet consisted of two Boeing 787 Dreamliners operated by LOT Polish Airlines.
The Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) followed the FAA as well, as the bureau issued the airworthiness directive (Koku-ko-ki No. 92) based on the above-mentioned FAA AD, which ordered the groundings of the Dreamliner. Coincidentally, the two battery fires that prompted the suspension of operations of the 787 had been on Japanese-registered aircraft, belonging to Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA).
Boeing’s expensive 787 Dreamliner problem
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner could be hailed as a very polarising aircraft. The wide body showcased astonishing feats of human engineering, yet at the same time showcased how problematic a programme could become.
Reverse of roles with the Boeing 737 MAX
The second fatal crash of the 737 MAX seemingly created a rift between aviation authorities worldwide. On Sunday, 10 March 2019, Ethiopian Airlines’ MAX plunged into the ground shortly after departure. On Monday, 11 March 2019, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) ordered all Chinese airlines to suspend all commercial operations with the 737 MAX.
“Given the similarities between the two accidents that the aircraft involved in both crashes were newly delivered Boeing 737-8s and both happened during take-off, CAAC issued a notice at 09h00 on 11 March requiring domestic airlines to suspend the commercial operations of Boeing 737-8 aircraft by 18h00.
The next day, EASA followed suit: ‘EASA issued a Safety Directive 2019-01 suspending commercial air transport operations with Boeing 737-8 MAX and Boeing 737-9 MAX by third country operators into, within or out of the territory subject to the provisions of the Treaty on European Union.’ The FAA was one of the last agencies to react. On 13 March 2019, the authority ordered a temporary grounding of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, “as a result of the data gathering process and new evidence collected at the site and analysed today,” read a statement by the FAA.
FAA begins investigation of Boeing 787 production shortfalls
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has begun investigating Boeing’s production issues at its North Charleston, South Carolina plant after the manufacturer had forcibly grounded eight 787 Dreamliners due to the risk of structural failure. The issue first broke light in late-August 2020, as it appeared that the aft fuselage section of some 787s would not be able to withstand maximum stress, making it more prone to a structural failure whilst in the air. Boeing proceeded to ground eight Dreamliners, including those of Air Canada, Singapore Airlines and United Airlines. However, the Wall Street Journal reported that further airlines have apparently joined the list with grounded 787s, including the launch customer of the type All Nippon Airways as well as Air Europa, Etihad Airways and Norwegian Air Shuttle.
The FAA is focusing on two issues: shims that fill gaps between separate sections of the fuselage upon assembly and the smoothness of the area of the inner fuselage skin. While individually these two problems do not pose much danger, when the shims are incorrectly manufactured and the inner fuselage skin does not meet proper specifications at the same place, it results in the aircraft not meeting limit load requirements.
An internal memo, viewed by the Wall Street Journal, cited the fact that Boeing told the FAA that parts produced in North Charleston did not meet Boeing’s design and manufacturing standards. ‘It is too early to speculate about the nature or extent of any proposed Airworthiness Directives that might arise from the agency’s investigation,’ stated the FAA. The South Carolina site, where Boeing produces parts and assembles the 787 Dreamliner has been under continuous scrutiny due to its quality control lapses throughout its history, including the newest issue that affects the aft fuselage.
Boom enters the supersonic Air Force One race
Boom Supersonic, an aerospace company designing the supersonic airliner Overture, was awarded a contract by the United States Air Force to explore the potential use of the supersonic aircraft as an Air Force executive transport. “By cutting travel times we make it possible for US diplomats and executive leaders to connect more frequently in person, meeting challenges and defusing potential crises with a personal touch,” said Blake Scholl, Boom founder and CEO in a statement. “We are so proud to help envision a new way for the Air Force to provide transport for critical government activities.”
Boom is preparing for the flight of XB-1 (also known as Baby Boom), a one third scale manned prototype of the Overture plane that Boom intends to commercialise. The final product will be able to reach a speed of Mach 2.2 (about 2,710 kilometres per hour), faster than the Concorde.
“Boom is an example of the American ingenuity that drives the economy forward through technological advances,” said Ryan Britton, Programme Executive Officer for Presidential & Executive Airlift Directorate. “We are extremely excited to team with them as we work to shrink the world and transform the future of executive airlift.”
In the last couple of months, two US-based start-up companies developing supersonic aircraft, Exosonic and Hermeus, received similar contracts under the AFWERX programme, which funds innovations for future Air Force applications.
Hermeus partners with USAF to develop supersonic Air Force One
Hermeus is an aerospace company developing a Mach 5 aircraft, announced its partnership with the US Air Force (USAF) to deliver hypersonic travel for the US Department of Defence (DOD). The USAF awarded a new contract with Exosonic as a feasibility of Air Force One to become hypersonic in the future. The low-boom supersonic jet could possibly serve as future Air Force One aircraft. The President of the United States would not be the first head of state to fly supersonic, though. From 1981 to 1995, the Concorde was the official governmental plane of France. Similarly, the supersonic airliner was also occasionally used to transport the British Prime Minister and the Royal Family.
Photo of new FC-31 Chinese stealth jet prototype emerges
New photo of FC-31 Gyrfalcon, China’s second 5th generation stealth fighter and a competitor to Lockheed Martin F-35, started circulating on Chinese social media. It shows an upgraded and refurbished jet in what may have been a flight test. South China Morning Post reports, the photo has been published on Chinese social network Weibo, While the picture’s authenticity is not verified, it is unlikely to appear without the government’s consent. The photograph shows a plane in many aspects different from two prototypes test-flown earlier. It has bulkier engine housing, redesigned canopy more reminiscent of J-20 and no longer features airspeed measuring device in the nose, suggesting that the new prototype may have been fitted with a radar. These changes are in line with a FC-31 model shown at Paris Air Show in 2019 and represent another step towards full-scale production of the jet.
FC-31 is developed and manufactured by Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, a subsidiary of state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), without an input from the army. Gyrfalcon’s reported characteristics are very similar to F-35, with which it was originally slated to compete on the international market. Nevertheless, it seems not to have attracted orders since the first reveal in 2012. Since then, it was being developed into a carrier-based fighter, similar to F-35C. Chinese aircraft carriers now wield J-15, a reverse-engineered Sukhoi Su-33 and it is very likely that China will want to adopt a newer generation of carrier-based fighters.
Mooney is back again
The rumours have been ghosting around for a few weeks, but the airplane that would not die appears to have resurrected itself again. A notice was posted to the Mooney website, addressed to ‘the Mooney Community’ and authored by Mooney CEO Jonny Pollack. “We are pleased to announce that as of 1 September 2020, a long-awaited transition at Mooney took place. There is new management at Mooney and it is made up entirely of pilots and Mooney owners giving the company a unique and valuable perspective going forward. So, on behalf of new management, I wanted to take this opportunity to inform you that the reports of Mooney’s death are greatly exaggerated. Mooney is, in fact, very much alive, up and running. You can expect to see some changes at Mooney which we believe are long overdue. Plan to witness a new culture and approach which is reflective of the new ownership’s love of aviation, flying and Mooney aircraft.”
“Our first priority is to reengage and rebuild our relationship with the Mooney Community. For those of you who are Mooney pilots and owners, folks that make a living selling or fixing Mooney aircraft, or just fans of Mooney, we want you to know that we recognise that you are our life’s blood. You are our best spokespeople, our most informed advocates and our most loyal customers. It is our goal to do right by you and rebuild your trust in Mooney. In fact, our number one priority is to build a customer support infrastructure that can capably reward your loyalty which has been the hallmark of the Mooney consumer for years. Our first and immediate focus is to make sure that we are properly servicing the community’s fleet of over 7000 aircraft. For the past six months, we have taken over parts production and managed to keep the spares moving to the service centres. We have plans to improve our efficiency so that parts are easier to order and arrive sooner.”
Amazon to begin operating its own air cargo fleet with Boeing 767
On 31 August, a Boeing 767-300 (registered N503AZ) appeared in the Federal Aviation Administration’s registry under Amazon’s name. After operating leased wide bodies for almost five years, the e-commerce giant finally owns an aircraft of its own. A 29-year-old Boeing 767-338(ER) officially became the first jet in Amazon’s fleet. The N503AZ, then-named the City of Port Macquarie, was first delivered to Qantas back in 1991. Eleven years later, the Australian flag carrier leased the aircraft to Australian Airlines for four years, after which the aircraft returned to its owner and was stored away in 2014. Westjet was the last airline that operated the N503AZ before Amazon bought it. The aircraft currently resides in Tel Aviv, Israel, where it will likely be converted into an Amazon Air freighter.
On top of its new aircraft, the company has also reserved four additional registration numbers 521AZ, 563AZ, 569AZ and 571AZ, most likely looking to expand its fleet further. The aircraft registrations came in the wake of Q2 financial results after the company announced $5.2 billion in net income, a 50% increase from the same quarter of 2019. Its sales have reportedly ramped by 40% in comparison to last year as well. Whilst many businesses were impacted negatively by COVID-19, Amazon’s demand keeps growing due to social distancing and restrictions that people are forced to undergo amid the crisis.
At the same time, many airlines have reported increased revenues from their air freight operations due to the peculiar situation cargo found itself in after the pandemic. E-commerce companies transported much of their shipments before COVID-19 in ‘belly capacity’ via passenger planes. When air traffic dropped by 90% in April 2020, prices for air freight increased significantly. This also prompted airlines like British Airways or Korean Air to convert their passenger aircraft into air freighters.
Lessor loses patience: AirAsia X sued for $23 million
Airline leasing company BOC Aviation has filed a claim at the London court against AirAsia X and its wholly owned subsidiary AXX Leasing Two for $23 million, claiming outstanding liabilities. The filed lawsuit for alleged breach of a contract among the companies might highly affect the airline’s financial stability as travel restrictions have already hit AirAsia X hard. AirAsia X confirmed that both the airline and its subsidiary have received a letter of a material litigation claim filed in the High Court of Justice in the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales on 9 August 2020.
BOC Aviation has sued AirAsia X for nearly $23 million dues related to the lease of four non-specified aircraft, as revealed in an official Bursa Malaysia document. The leasing company is reportedly arguing that AAX Leasing Two breached obligations of four lease agreements. BOC Aviation and AirAsia X subsidiary signed the leasing agreement for four aircraft in November 2014 and later revised it four years later, in December 2018. A cash outflow of $23 million might highly affect the airline’s financial liquidity as the collapse in travel demand has already hit the company’s profitability. On 27 August 2020 the carrier reported an operating loss of $77.4 million for the second quarter 2020.
Due to a dire financial state, earlier in August 2020, the carrier announced the sale of its two Airbus A330s in a pursuit to raise cash about $100 million as a part of the strategic plan to climb out of the financial pit, as stated in the company’s financial report. The carrier was considering returning a non-specified quantity of A330 aircraft to lessors. The airline was seeking to reach an agreement to return jets without any termination costs and thus shed a part of its financial liabilities.
So far, the claim against AirAsia X appears to be largest recovery litigation case. On 25 August 2020, Irish leasing company Peregrine Aviation Echo sued Bejing’s Capital Airlines in London over unpaid lease agreement for two Airbus A330-200 aircraft. The Irish lessor filed a claim against Chinese budget airline for reportedly defaulting on rental payment. The breach of the contract suit has arisen from three separate leases for A330-200 aircraft, all signed in 2015. Currently, the lessor is suing for more than $7 million debt.
Virgin Galactic to test crewed flights, Branson to fly in 2021
A document by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) says Virgin Galactic comes one step closer to ‘space tourism’. The company plans to perform first crewed test flights of VSS Unity from 22 October 2020. The date marks the start of a time window for the British spaceflight company to perform its SpaceShipTwo aircraft test flight with two pilots on board. If successful, the second test flight would follow shortly and have a crew of four. However, before sending its crew to space, Virgin Galactic intends to conduct two four-hour suborbital tests for its dual-fuselage jet WhiteKnightTwo. The tests are scheduled for 1 and 7 October. Such flight will be conducted to train pilots on flight systems, test upgrades to the WK2 flight systems and provide pilots with simulated SS2 approach flight profiles. If the testing phase goes smoothly, the company expects to fly its founder Richard Branson in Q1 2021. By then, the service would be 16 years in development since its initial reveal back in 2005. Branson himself had predicted that the world would see its first suborbital tourism flight by 2007. In the fourteen months after SpaceShipTwo’s maiden flight on 13 December 2018, the Virgin Galactic had reported nearly 8,000 ticket reservations. The company said that with suborbital flight services nearing launch, the ticket prices would look to increase.
Rocket Lab granted FAA launch operator license
The Launch Operator License allows for multiple launches of the Electron launch vehicle from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 2, eliminating the need to obtain individual, launch-specific licenses for every mission and helping to streamline the path to orbit and enable responsive space access from US soil.
Located at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport within the NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia, Launch Complex 2 has been designed to provide responsive launch capability to support for US government missions. Between Launch Complex 2 in Virginia and Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand, Rocket Lab can support up to 130 launches each year across a range of orbital inclinations.
The FAA Launch Operator Licence is a major administrative milestone ahead of upcoming Electron launches, including a NASA mission to lunar orbit in support of Artemis, the Agency’s programme to return humans to the Moon. The Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) mission will use Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle and Photon satellite platform to deploy to the same unique lunar near rectilinear halo orbit (NRHO) that is planned for NASA’s future lunar outpost called Gateway. CAPSTONE intends to validate navigation technologies and verify the dynamics of this halo-shaped orbit to reduce risk for future spacecraft.
Rocket Lab founder and CEO, Peter Beck, said: “Having FAA Launch Operator Licenses for missions from both Rocket Lab launch complexes enables us to provide rapid, responsive launch capability for small satellite operators. With 14 missions already launched from LC-1, Electron is well established as the reliable, flight proven vehicle of choice for small sat missions spanning national security, science and exploration. With our upcoming missions from Launch Complex 2, we are ushering in an era of even more flexibility and launch availability for these important government missions.”
Drone carries freight to offshore oil platform
Late in August a Camcopter S-100 drone made the first commercial drone delivery to an offshore oil platform and it might be the beginning of a major industry. The helicopter drone flew a 3-D printed part from Norway to a rig located about 60 miles off the coast. The flight was conducted without any special airspace adjustments and the drone was just part of the traffic servicing the oil fields. The drone also did an exterior inspection of the drilling platform and performed a simulated search and rescue drill with the rig’s standby vessel.
Of course, the oil companies are keeping a close eye on the drone developments because hauling freight and supplies to the rigs by drone could not only be a lot cheaper, but also safer. There are also several major helicopter companies that have oilfield supply as their core business watching the new initiatives. Servicing oil platforms is a multibillion-dollar business and also one of the most dangerous forms of commercial flying. Nordic Unmanned, which flew the first drone flight, says drones are a viable alternative to many missions now flown by big, expensive helicopters. “This marks the beginning of a new chapter within unmanned logistics,” spokesman Pål Kristensen said. “The technology is proven and robust enough to implement in large scale and reduces the risk cost and environmental footprint drastically.”
IAI introduces helicopter drones to manage wide-area surveillance
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) introduced an unmanned helicopter unit designed to perform a wide array of surveillance and monitoring tasks for large areas. On 6 September 2020, IAI issued a statement revealing its new of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) squadron of small helicopters called MultiFlyer. The company said that MultiFlyer was designed to synthesize separate UAV missions into a single cloud of information by operating a full unit of individual drone-like helicopters. These UAV’s would function separately from a single point of control, like a smartphone or a tablet, allowing the helicopter fleet to cover large areas in sheer numbers.
According to IAI, the helicopter unit was designed to monitor disaster areas, guide rescue units in life-saving missions, control traffic in mass events, secure facilities, help law enforcement and survey wide agricultural and marine areas.
The company has worked closely together with three other Israeli tech start-ups, namely Alpha Unmanned Systems, Simplex and Sightec. Israel Aerospace Industries is an aerospace and aviation manufacturer that produces both aerial and astronautic systems for the public and the military. It was established in 1953 and has designed, developed and produced civil aircraft, missiles, avionics, drones and space-based systems.
Twice Weekly News from African Pilot
Should you miss out on any edition of APAnews, please visit the website: www.africanpilot.co.za and click on the APAnews link on the front page. All past weekly APAnews publications have been archived on the website.
Until next week Monday, please be ‘Serious about flying’.
Athol Franz (Editor)