“It used to be the boast of free men that, so long as they kept within the bounds of the known law, there was no need to ask anybody’s permission or to obey anybody’s orders. It is doubtful whether any of us can make this claim today.” Friedrich August von Hayek
(Information from Wikipedia)
The Blackburn B-20 was an experimental aircraft, first flying in 1940, that attempted to drastically increase the performance of flying boat designs. Blackburn Aircraft undertook an independent design study based on a patent filed by their chief designer, John Douglas Rennie for a retractable pontoon float that formed the planning hull.
The B-20 was an attempt to combine the best features of both the flying boat and the floatplane. While on the water, the B-20 was essentially a floatplane, using a large float under the fuselage for buoyancy, and two smaller floats near the wingtips for stability. In flight, the main float retracted upwards towards the fuselage, fitting into a ‘notch’ to become streamlined as a part of the fuselage. The wing floats folded outwards, somewhat like those on the American Consolidated PBY flying boat design, to become the wingtips. This configuration gave the correct wing incidence for take-off and for flight and in the latter a much-reduced drag compared to the deep hulls of flying boats.
Along with Supermarine, Shorts and Saunders-Roe, Blackburn tendered designs against Air Ministry Specification R1/36. The Supermarine was chosen initially but Supermarine could not start work soon enough (due to their work on the Spitfire) and what would enter service as the Saunders Roe Lerwick became the chosen aircraft. However, the Ministry was interested enough to authorise and contract for the construction of a prototype of the B-20, serial number V8914, to test the concept.
Built at Dumbarton, the prototype flew for the first time on 26 March 1940. On 7 April, during a test run, the aircraft experienced extreme vibration due to aileron flutter and the crew bailed out. Three were lost, the other two were picked up by HMS Transylvania, a converted merchantman. Development ceased when the first prototype crashed, as Blackburn’s resources were dedicated to the war effort. The Ministry felt the concept had been proven and the crash was not due to the pontoon design. The aircraft’s wreck still exists but remains undisturbed as it is designated a War grave. In 1998, one of the engines was raised as it had been caught in a fishing boat’s nets and dragged away from the wreck, into shallower water. It is currently an exhibit in the Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Museum.
The B-40 was an improved variant of the B-20 with Bristol Centaurus engines to meet a requirement for a small general purpose flying boat and specification R.13/40 was raised for it. Two prototypes were ordered in September 1941 but the situation was reconsidered in December. Its range was insufficient improvement over the Sunderland III, performance on one engine was unacceptable and land-based patrol aircraft were capable of covering longer ranges. Further, there was little value as an experimental design because the principle had been proven in the B.20 and for an aircraft the size of the B.40 there would not be a significant improvement in drag. With no operational requirement for the B.40, therefore it was cancelled.
Those persons who correctly identified this week’s mystery aircraft: Howard Long, Ari Levien, Adrian Maree, P Rossouw, Brian Millett, Andrew Peace, Righardt du Plessis, Robyn Badenhorst, Wouter van der Waal, Johan Venter, Rennie van Zyl, Kevin Farr, Hilton Carroll, Jaco van Jaarsveld, Brian Spurr, Selwyn Kimber, Pierre Brittz, Bruce Prescott, Jeremy Rorich, Steve Dewsbery, Colin Austen, Jan Sime, Erwin Stam, Charlie Hugo, Piet Steyn, Andre Breytenbach, Rex Tweedie, Danie Viljoen, John Moen, Ahmed Bassa, Aiden O’Mahony, Bruce Margolius, Keith Chiazzari, Dave Lloyd, Rahul Vala, Mickey Esterhuysen, Greg Pullin, Daryl Kimber (38).
Almost three weeks ago, on Friday 30 June 2023, at between 09h30 and 10h00, a FlySafair captain on his way to work at Cape Town International airport, was attacked with a brick as he turned off the N2 on his motorbike, onto the Cape Town International airport approach road. He was thrown from his motorbike and suffered, amongst other injuries, a significantly fractured pelvis. A couple driving behind him, seeing the attack, stopped to assist and were themselves robbed at gunpoint by the same thugs.
These attacks on innocent persons by the lawless savages that freely roam South Africa’s streets on their way to work has increased over the past year. Yet our ‘famous police minister ‘the man in the hat’ does not see that anything is wrong with his performance – typical corrupt politician.
Some years ago I was chastised by an individual on the EAA Chapter 322 chat group for placing a warning to members to be careful when driving to Lanseria International Airport at a time when protesters were rioting and burning tyres close to the freeway off ramp that leads to the main Lanseria access road. I was on my way to Lanseria to visit customers when I experienced this savagery first hand. This was at a time when the rioters were destroying public property all over the Gauteng region and yet one of the members called me out for placing the warning onto the WhatsApp group. Needless to say I have removed myself from this group, which is a shame, because these ongoing protests about poor service delivery by the thoroughly rotten government will never stop. Nearly every time this leads to serious infrastructure damage, stoning of vehicles and in worst case scenarios, the report about this incident in Cape Town.
What is of serious concern is the fact that there have been no public warnings in the media about these attacks on ordinary citizens simply going about their daily work. Have we all become far too complacent likened to the ‘frog in the boiling pot of water?’ The pilot concerned remains in a high-care facility, battling his injuries and subsequent complications. Our thoughts and prayers are with him, his family and loved ones at this time and we trust that he will enjoy a full recovery in time. Please take special care and do not become another victim in this lawless country of ours.
The July edition of African Pilot with Paul Ludick’s excellent cover picture featuring Light Sport Aircraft (LSA), amateur built aircraft and South African built aircraft was published on 02 July 2023. This 264-page edition has 18 embedded videos and 17 picture galleries. African Pilot is also easy to read on all digital devices and is substantially larger by page number that any other South African aviation magazine. For advertisers, inevitability in real terms just one sale will be a great return on investment and African Pilot’s track record certainly shows that ALL advertisers within the monthly magazine continue to achieve excellent results from direct inquiries as well as significant direct hyperlinked exposure to their e-mail addresses and websites.
There were many aviation events scheduled for the month of June including the amazing Maputo airshow (exclusive), CAASA AGM (exclusive), Cosford airshow England (exclusive), interview with the winners of the PTAR 2023 (exclusive), EAA’s annual convention (exclusive), Parys airshow, the Children’s Flight Zambia and many more features. I always find it concerning when the other South African aviation magazines that do not personally attend aviation events and they simply troll social media to steal pictures and information to place second-hand reports within their own publications. This situation has happened within at least two of the local media aviation publications in the past year. There is no doubt that African Pilot strives to report personally on as many of the local and international events as possible.
Within this edition African Pilot will feature the AERO South Africa exhibition, avionics and instrumentation as well as headsets as features. However, once again African Pilot will be filled with exciting features, reports from the world as well as from within South Africa. I will be travelling to the United States on Friday 21 July to attend EAA AirVenture, Oshkosh for the 21st time – only missing the two pandemic years. I have already made several appointments to meet with specific exhibitors such as Bose, Garmin, Textron, Diamond, Piper, Pipistrel (now part of Textron), Vans Aircraft, Sonex Aircraft, Embraer, Daher, Pilatus, Cirrus, Continental Motors, Lycoming Engines, Rotax and many others.
The material deadline for the August 2023 edition of African Pilot was Wednesday 19 July 2023, but we will hold this edition for a few more days so that I can prepare some of the most recent content directly from Oshkosh.
All editorial content should be sent to me Athol Franz
For advertising opportunities please call Cell: 079 880 4359
Our team completed the July 2023 edition of Future Flight on Friday 14 July and the magazine was released to the world on the dame day. This 144-page edition has nine picture galleries and 13 embedded videos. Due to the nature of the subject material, compiling this exciting new publication has been most rewarding, whilst at the same time, the magazine allows many of African Pilot’s advertisers to have their adverts placed in our second monthly magazine FREE of charge.
When I started Future Flight on my return to South Africa from AirVenture, Oshkosh 2022, the objective was to reduce the overall size of African Pilot to a more reasonable page count and this has been achieved. The next milestone will be to attract advertisers to make this publication sustainable and I have given myself a year to reach this goal. I would love to receive your feedback about this new digital publication: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
AERO South Africa 2023
South African Airways Airbus A340-600 6 November 2018 loss of control report
On 17 July 2023 the final Board of Inquiry report by the German authorities into the loss-of-control experienced by an SAA South African Airways Airbus A340-600, registration ZS-SNF performing flight SA-260 from Johannesburg to Frankfurt, on 6 November 2018, which was enroute at FL380 climbing to FL390 over Switzerland, about 40nm south-south-east of Zurich, when the aircraft encountered overspeed and the subsequent actions by the crew (notably the PIC) led to a loss of control.
The report severely criticises the crew’s actions
During the conduct of the investigation by the German authorities they discovered that both SAA 2.0 and the SACAA, through their lack of oversight had allowed the Senior First Officer involved in this instance to fly for many years without holding an Airline Transport Pilot’s licence. The radio communications recording with ATC and the FDR data show that the flight crew had temporarily lost control of the aircraft. The question is whether they had been aware of the critical flight attitude at the time?
Has this matter been full investigated by South Africa Airways (SAA) as well as the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) and if so, where is the public report that is mandatory in circumstances such as this one? I am aware that the German Board of Inquiry has only just released its report dated 17 July 2023 and the question is why did it take so long for this report to be officially published? This full horrific report will be published within the August edition of African Pilot once the SACAA has exercised its right of reply.
Absolute Aviation Continental engines promotion
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No news to report in this edition.
Cessna 208 Caravan crashes into hangar in Poland
On 17 July a Cessna 208 Caravan crashed into a hangar in Poland, killing five people and injuring several others. The accident occurred at Chrcynno Airfield, Poland, located just north of Warsaw, the country’s capital. The Cessna 208 Caravan was used for parachute jumps, with witnesses indicating that there were storms and strong winds around the area and the hangar was ‘used as a bar and a meeting place for people using the airport’. According to flightradar24.com data, the crash took place at around 17h05 pm local time (UTC +2), when SP-WAW was operating its third flight of the day. As a result of the accident five people died, five were injured, whilst four were not injured. In an update on 18 July Adam Niedzielski, the Minister of Health of Poland, said that a total of 13 people were injured.
“Many thanks to the rescue services for yesterday’s action after the accident in Chrcynno,” said Niedzielski, adding that two patients are also in critical condition.
Passenger crash-lands Piper Meridian after pilot suffers medical emergency
On 15 July at 15h12 a passenger took over controls in a 2006 Piper Meridian when the pilot suffered a medical emergency, crash-landing the plane with no landing gear at Martha’s Vineyard Airport. The West Tisbury Police Department reported that the pilot suffered a medical emergency on approach and the female passenger (68) took over and landed. Conflicting reports put the pilot’s age at either 79 or 80. The female passenger had only minor injuries and the pilot was extricated from the plane and med-flighted to the hospital for treatment in serious, life-threatening condition.
The Vineyard Gazette reported that the plane landed several hundred feet off the runway in the grass near the southwest corner of the airport property. The Massachusetts State Police said the passenger landed the plane without landing gear, the force of which broke the left wing in half. The majority of the commercial flight traffic in and out of the airport halted while the plane was on the field. The plane was removed for additional investigation and the primary commercial runway reopened in the evening, with many flights postponed or cancelled until Sunday.
The plane had taken off from White Plains-Westchester County Airport (HPN) for MVY. It was not until the go-around that the pilot suffered from an undisclosed medical emergency and the passenger had to take over and land. The pilot is still hospitalised and no information has been made public regarding the cause of his medical emergency or current condition. The passenger managed to land the plane safely and likely saved the pilot’s life and her own in an act of bravery and quick thinking.
Namibian R44 crash with fatalities
On Monday afternoon 17 July two persons the pilot and a passenger tragically lost their lives in the Robinson-44 helicopter crash near the Swakopmund aerodrome yesterday were identified as Dirk von Weidts and Jacques Jacobs. Von Weidts, who was in his late twenties, was just a few months away from qualifying as an aircraft maintenance engineer. Jacobs, on the other hand, was an experienced flight instructor and certified to conduct test flights for airworthy certification purposes. At the time of the accident, von Weidts worked as an aviation security manager at a different aviation company in Swakopmund, unrelated to the company responsible for the helicopter’s maintenance and repair. The crash site located east of the Swakopmund aerodrome, shows the tail rotor section detached from the main fuselage that was approximately 150 meters away.
Jacobs was associated with the Swakopmund Flight Training Centre and had been requested to perform the test flight of the helicopter to assess specific systems. Like von Weidts, he was not employed by the company responsible for the helicopter’s repair and maintenance. The company owner at Swakopmund airfield shared this comment: “We are a small and close-knit community at the Swakopmund airfield. Dirk and Jacques had coffee with us yesterday morning, as we do every day. It is incredibly difficult for me to comprehend that just a few hours later, they would be taken from us.”
Airplane crashes on the runway at Visalia airport
A pilot escaped serious injuries Friday night when the single-engine airplane crashed on a runway at Visalia Municipal Airport in central California. Officers were told that the privately owned plane was taking off when the incident occurred. The pilot was the only occupant and was not injured. The cause of the crash appears to be equipment failure, police said.
United Airlines pilots agree to pay deal that will see raises of up to 40% in salaries
The Air Line Pilots association confirmed details of the agreement on Saturday, 15 July. The agreement will now have to be ratified by the approximately 16,000 pilots. According to the union, the deal has an approximate US$10 billion (£7.63 billion) value over the life of the contract, with improvements to ‘quality of work-life, compensation, job security, work rules, retirement, benefits.’ As the post-pandemic travel boom ramps up, more pilot union groups are demanding improved benefits.
Delta pilots approved a contract in March, which included about a 34% increase in pay. American Airlines pilots will also be voting on a contract. The new United deal has cumulative pay increases that ranges from 34.5% to 40.2% based on the type of aircraft a pilot flies, the union said. “We promised our world-class pilots the industry-leading contract they deserve and we are pleased to have reached an agreement with ALPA on it,” United Airlines said in a statement. “The four-year agreement, once ratified, will deliver a meaningful pay raise and quality of life improvements for our pilots while putting the airline on track to achieve the incredible potential of our United Next strategy.”
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, after its merger with Continental Airways in 2010, United Airlines became the world’s third-largest carrier by fleet size and number of routes. As of July this year, United Airlines operates a fleet of 911 aircraft and has a combination of 64 additional Boeing and Airbus jets on order.
US aviation unions oppose raising the pilot retirement age
A number of like-minded aviation unions have sent a letter to leaders of the US House of Representatives. The letter supports a proposed amendment to the pending FAA Reauthorisation Bill. Subject amendment seeks to maintain 65-years as the compulsory retirement age for Part 121 pilots.
In a statement supplementing the letter’s contents, ALPA president Captain Jason Ambrosi said:
“Maintaining the highest pilot training and qualification standards has been critical to establishing the US as the global leader in aviation safety. ALPA applauds the Congressional leadership and tireless advocacy of Senators Schumer, Cantwell and Duckworth in the fight to hold the line against those who would lower the bar on pilot training. Unfortunately, there are now those who seek to introduce new risks into the aviation system, upend airline flight operations and increase ticket costs, while undermining the rights of American workers and their collective bargaining agreements. Raising the retirement age is not only a solution in search of a problem, but also a proposal that has not been thought out, studied or vetted by aviation safety experts, those upon whom we all rely on to keep flying safe. Congress should reject this ill-conceived proposal.”
Endorsed by the Air Line Pilots Association; the Allied Pilots Association; the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA; the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers; the International Brotherhood of Teamsters; the National Air Traffic Controllers Association; the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association; the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO; the Transport Workers Unions of America.
Garmin introduces radar ‘height advisor’
The device, which is now available for experimental and light sport aircraft, starts measuring the aircraft’s AGL altitude at 500 feet and displays the information on G3X Touch displays in non-certified aircraft. It sends hundreds of radar signals every second to the ground or water below and gives a constant readout of altitude. It also gives audible altitude callouts that can be adjusted to suit the pilot’s preferences. “Knowing precise height AGL can be helpful to pilots during landings and flying in areas where limited barometric altimeter setting information is available, such as backcountry flying,” the company said in a pre-AirVenture news release. The hardware is a little bigger than a deck of cards and attaches to the belly of the aircraft. It weighs less than a pound and Garmin says the installation is simple. It costs $1995.00.
Textron Aviation introduces all-new interiors for Cessna single-engine high-wing pistons
On 17 July Textron Aviation announced significant enhancements to its iconic Cessna high-wing piston aircraft lineup, the Cessna Skyhawk, Cessna Skylane, Cessna Turbo Skylane and Cessna Turbo Stationair HD. Coming in 2024, customers will enjoy a range of new high tech standard features and sleek interior design options including modern and comfortable seating, updated instrument panels and new exterior paint styles. The first change that customers will notice is an enhanced level of comfort and functionality throughout the aircraft. With new power headset jacks and charging ports at every seat (USB A and C device compatibility), upgraded seats with additional support and padding and a brand-new center armrest for the Cessna Skylane, Turbo Skylane and Turbo Stationair HD models, customers will experience a whole new level of excellence in flight.
The lineup also offers exceptional style with top-notch performance. From the sleek black instrument panel to the new side panels, window locks and air vents, the aircraft is designed to make the flying experience even more exciting. Owners can select from a variety of modern standard paint schemes to customise their aircraft and make it their own. With decades of impressive performance, powerful capability and low operating costs, the Cessna piston lineup is the perfect choice for aviators, whether they are taking their first solo flight or charting their next big adventure. Visitors to EAA’s AirVenture will be able to see the new interior for the first time when the company debuts the design in a Cessna Skyhawk at the Textron show stand.
Comp Air 6.2 to be displayed at AirVenture 2023
The Merritt Island, Florida-based manufacturer of high-performance aircraft and float kits, Comp Air Aviation, will bring its slick and capable Comp Air 6.2 to EAA’s AirVenture 2023. A great deal of progress has been made on the Comp Air 6.2 since it debuted as little more than a fuselage and some big promises in 2022. The display aircraft slated to appear at AirVenture 2023 is powered by a 350-horsepower, twin-turbo Lycoming engine mated to a Hartzell composite Top Prop. The Comp Air 6.2’s formidable powertrain and one-hundred-gallon fuel capacity will move the aircraft’s two-thousand-pound useful load 840-nautical-miles at a cruising-speed of 175-knots. What is more, the Comp Air 6.2’s 22-cubic-foot baggage compartment ensures pilots and passengers arrive at their destinations with more than just the clothes on their backs.
Aircraft enthusiasts looking for even more power, performance and payload will rejoice in the knowledge that a 650-horsepower turbine powerplant option is available for the Comp Air 6.2. The turbine mill increases the machine’s useful load to over 3,500-pounds and cruise-speed to a crisp 230-knots. Part of that aircraft is expected to be on display, as well.
The Comp Air 6.2 was designed to carry passengers or cargo with maximum efficiency. The aircraft’s lightweight and aerodynamic airframe, constructed of laminated carbon-fibre, reduces drag and increases fuel-efficiency while providing a strong yet lightweight structure for maximum performance. All told, the Comp Air 6.2 is an ideal conveyance for individuals requiring a versatile airplane capable of transporting passengers or cargo with ease. The experimental kit iteration of the Comp Air 6.2 arrives with most of the structural assembly and laminations already completed. In designing the kit, Comp Air’s objective was to make completion of the aircraft as easy as possible for the builder, thereby occasioning a more enjoyable construction experience. The complete airframe kit, for which builder assist options are available retails for $327,000. Information about the complete airframe kit and options germane to such will be available at AirVenture, as well as the Comp Air website.
Eco-baron reveals plan for world’s first electric airline powered by green energy
The British eco-baron Dale Vince has revealed plans for the world’s first Electric Airline, powered by renewable energy. Named ‘Ecojet’, Vince hopes the startup will mark the ‘beginning of an aviation revolution by making net-zero, emission-free air travel possible for the first time’. Ecojet’s fleet will comprise conventional planes retrofitted with hydrogen-electric powertrains. Once converted, the aircraft will operate with the same power output as before, but with 100% reduction in CO2 emissions.
The company claims the decision to repurpose old planes rather than build new models from scratch will save 90,000 tons of carbon per year. The only byproduct will be water, which can be captured and released into the lower atmosphere to avoid the harmful effects of contrails.
Vince already founded and runs Ecotricity in the United Kingdom (UK) which was the first energy company to offer its customers green electricity. Vince has partnered with experienced pilot Brent Smith and a team of aviation specialists to set up EcoJet. Flights across the UK will commence in early 2024, starting with the Edinburgh to Southampton route and expanding to mainland Europe shortly after, with long-haul flights planned for the future. According to Vince, aviation accounts for some 3% of global CO2 emissions, while overall contribution to the climate crisis is estimated at three times this level due to the altitude that fossil fuel pollution is released at. “EcoJet is the first step in that process, estimated to be ten years ahead of the rest of the industry in the development of what Dale described as ‘the biggest revolution in the aviation industry since the invention of the jet engine’,” the airline said.
Short-term, to secure routes and a license from the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), EcoJet will initially launch using conventionally fuelled planes. EcoJet will launch with two different sizes of turboprop aircraft (a 19-seat aircraft and a 70-seat aircraft). These aircraft will be retrofitted with hydrogen-electric powertrains as they become approved for service by the UKCAA. The first retrofits will take place in 2025, one year after the commencement of flights.
“The question of how to create sustainable air travel has plagued the green movement for decades, EcoJet is by far the most significant step towards a solution to date. The desire to travel is deeply etched into the human spirit and flights free of C02 emissions, powered by renewable energy will allow us to explore our incredible world without harming it for the first time,” Vince added.
Spanish protestors damage a business jet at Ibiza airport
Spanish police arrested four people who vandalized a business jet parked at Ibiza Airport on Friday. Three eco-protesters from the Spain-based Futuro Vegetal (Vegetable Future) and one from Extinction Rebellion daubed a German-registered Embraer Phenom 300E with yellow and black paint before gluing themselves to the fuselage. Part of the Aena Group, Ibiza Airport did not respond to a request for further details from the media. local police said the protesters have been released but have not confirmed what further legal action they may face. Two days after the incident, another group from Futuro Vegetal claimed responsibility for damaging a super-yacht owned by Walmart heir Nancy Walton Laurie that was docked in Ibiza. According to photos posted by the group, at least one of the protesters was involved in both attacks.
Statements from the protesters emphasised their intention to target individuals in the world’s top one percent financial bracket, claiming that they are responsible for as much carbon dioxide output as the poorest 50 percent of the global population. The attacks occurred about a week before Spain’s general election, with Futura Vegetal declaring that its action was provoked by what it regards as the failure of the country’s political parties to propose an adequate response to climate change.
Disney heiress arrested
Abigail Disney, granddaughter of Walt Disney Corporation co-founder Roy Disney, niece of entertainment industry legend Walt Disney and heiress to the as-of-late-significantly-diminished Disney fortune, was arrested after she and sounder of climate activists blocked access to East Hampton, New York’s Town of East Hampton Airport, a facility favoured by well-heeled travellers making for East and West Egg-esque destinations on Long Island’s East End.
Disney was abetted by ne’er-do-well members of activist groups New York Communities for Change, Planet Over Profit and Sunrise Movement NYC in an action the aforementioned collectively described, in a 14 July press-release, as having been undertaken for purpose of protesting and disrupting the ‘exclusive vacations of wealthy fossil-fuel investors and polluters driving the climate crisis.’
In a statement of her own, Disney said “As a person who has been privileged enough to use private jets, I know it is hard to give up a luxury that is special. But I also know that the time has passed for spewing greenhouse gasses like this merely for our personal comfort.”
Parroting Disney’s rhetoric, fellow-protestor and Planet Over Profit member Teddy Ogborn declared: “These same rich people farting into the Hamptons on private jets are often the ones who make their money in industries that hugely accelerate the climate crisis.” He continued “As long as the one percent continues to needlessly poison our air and heat our Earth, we will continue to escalate our actions against them.”
The 14 July protest was the first in a series of tantrums climate activists intend to throw in and around the Hamptons over the coming days. The actions are part of a growing number of climate protests intended to disrupt the lives of persons deemed by eco-zealots to have left disproportionately large carbon footprints across an Earth for which the former believe they exclusively speak, despite the actual statistics that fail to support such activities.
Disney and her cohorts would do well to bear in mind that in 2021 the Florida and Oklahoma state legislatures enacted laws protecting motorists who drive over protestors engaged in blocking traffic or otherwise disruptive behaviour. That New York could benefit from the examples set by the Sunshine and Sooner states is self-evident.
For all its officious tenor and heavy-handed self-righteousness Abigail Disney’s declamation played fast and loose with inconvenient facts pertaining to her own family’s fondness of private air-travel. In 1963, Walt and an entourage of kin and Disney executives took to the central-Florida skies in a Gulfstream demonstration aircraft to explore locations for a proposed development to which they clandestinely referred as Project X. Later that year, Walt Disney acquired a Gulfstream I that came to be known as The Mouse. Registered N234MM, the aircraft boasted a customised cabin instrument panel by which Walt monitored flight conditions and a telephone handset via which he communicated directly with the pilots in the cockpit. In early 1964, Walt made a number of trips to Florida aboard The Mouse trips which resulted, ultimately, in the founding and construction of Disney World.
Over the duration of its 28-years of service to The Walt Disney Corporation, N234MM flew 20,000 hours and transported an estimated 83,000 passengers before it was grounded in 1992 and made part of the Studio Backlot Tour at Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios) in Florida.
Disney’s heyday, by a multitude of metrics, is well and truly past. In 2022, the company’s market value dropped by a staggering $123 billion. Disney’s Q4 2022 and Q1 2023 losses totalled $2.6 billion. Whatever protests and criminal behaviour she yet has planned, Abigail Disney ought get immediately about, while money remains for bail and attorneys’ fees.
No news to report in this edition.
Lilium announces US$192 million financing
Lilium, developer of the first all-electric vertical take-off and landing jet, has announced a US$192 million financing, including the pricing of an upsized US$75 million underwritten public offering of 57,692,308 of the company’s Class A ordinary shares, as well as a concurrent US$42 million private placement of 32,146,147 Shares and warrants to purchase 8,036,528 Shares led by Earlybird Venture Capital and including BIT Capital, UVC Partners and Frank Thelen, as well as multiple Lilium board members and senior executives (the PIPE).
In addition, pursuant to the purchase agreement dated 1 May 2023, between the company and Aceville Pte. Limited, an affiliate of Tencent Holdings Limited (Aceville), Aceville will fund an additional US$75 million to partially prepay against the total exercise price of the warrants issued under such agreement, assuming that the underwritten public offering and the concurrent PIPE generate at least US$75 million of gross proceeds.
In connection with the underwritten public offering, the price of the 57,692,308 shares being sold to the public is US$1.30 per share. The company has granted to the underwriter an option to purchase up to 8,653,846 additional shares for the next 30 days, solely to cover over-allotments. B. Riley Securities is serving as the sole bookrunner and underwriter for the offering. The company intends to use the net proceeds from the offering for general corporate purposes.
In connection with the concurrent PIPE, the company entered into a securities purchase agreement with a number of investors led by Earlybird Venture Capital and including BIT Capital, UVC Partners, and Frank Thelen, as well as multiple Lilium board members and senior executives for the purchase and sale of an aggregate of 32,146,147 shares for US$1.30 per share and warrants to purchase up to 8,036,528 Shares at an exercise price of US$2.00 per share. Each warrant will be immediately exercisable for one quarter of one share, with only whole shares issuable upon exercise.
The warrants will expire 18 months from the date of issuance. The securities purchase agreement contains customary registration rights. B. Riley Securities is serving as the sole placement agent for the PIPE. The public offering is expected to close on 18 Jul 2023, US$21 million of the PIPE is expected to close on 18 July 2023 and US$21 million of the PIPE is expected to close on 31 July 2023, in each case subject to satisfaction of customary closing conditions.
PWC Advanced Air Mobility UK economic impact study
This is an exciting time for Advanced Air Mobility (AAM). A concept that has been around for more than a century is now closer than ever to being realised and has the potential to transform travel in the UK by offering a faster, greener way to connect communities, ease congestion and improve quality of life. The AAM market is buoyant with global investment reaching $7Bn in 2021. However, it is not clear whether this level of market momentum will translate into viable transport alternatives in the UK.
This study assessed the viability of AAM in the UK based on a comparative analysis of six AAM use cases against current travel and freight options, using a similar socioeconomic methodology to the 2021 study for the Future Flight Challenge (FFC). The study found that the AAM use cases with longer distances and higher occupancy are attractive compared to existing options. If we scale the attractive use cases out to 2040 their annual impact could be:
- £2.1bn in annual socioeconomic benefit for the UK economy
- £297m in fare values
- 222m tons CO2e reduction in annual emissions, equivalent to taking 120,000 diesel cars off the road
The study found that shorter-distance, lower occupancy use cases were not attractive compared to existing transport options. There are multiple challenges that must be addressed to enable AAM to flourish. These include perception, infrastructure, technology, safety and security, regulation, business models and skills. Actions to address AAM challenges will be most effective if focussed on compelling use cases.
This report discusses the approach to Determining UK AAM potential, maps the AAM ecosystem, discusses the challenges associated with AAM adoption and follows this with a detailed breakdown of our economic modelling approach and key findings. We would like to thank the FFC for their support in producing this paper and the DfT for their suggestions. For the purposes of this report, AAM comprises eVTOL (electric Vertical Take Off and Landing) aircraft for passenger and freight transport. It excludes middle mile and last mile delivery drones which we covered in our drone economic impact report Skies Without Limits v2.0.
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PHASA-35 completes first stratospheric flight
Over a 24-hour period PHASA-35, the UAS soared to an altitude of more than 66,000-feet MSL before landing safely. The flight-testing campaign was undertaken in New Mexico and allowed engineers to assess the experimental solar-electric drone’s performance within the outer-reaches of the Earth’s atmosphere. The test-flight occasioned a milestone in PHASA-35’s development, which has thus far spanned six-years. Designed by BAE subsidiary Prismatic Ltd. to operate above most of the planet’s weather and the entirety of its conventional air-traffic, PHASA-35 constitutes an alternative to traditional airborne and satellite systems and represents a potential persistent and stable platform for endeavours the likes of ultra-long-endurance Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) and security missions. The vehicle’s possible applications extend to the delivery of communications networks, including 4G and 5G, disaster relief, maritime patrol and border protection.
The PHASA-35 programme falls under the auspices of BAE’s FalconWorks division, an intra-company enclave tasked with advanced and agile research and development within BAE Systems’ Air sector. Analogous to Lockheed-Martin’s celebrated Skunk Works, FalconWorks aspires to deliver a range of bleeding-edge combat air-capabilities to the U.K. and its allies. Comprising primarily advanced composites and sporting a 115-foot (35-meter) wingspan, PHASA-35 is powered, during daylight hours, by solar-electric cells and photo-voltaic arrays. Electrical energy derived of sunlight is stored in rechargeable batteries which power the UAS during periods of darkness.
The New Mexico flight-test afforded BAE engineers opportunity to assess the experimental UAS’s performance across a range of variables and was the first in a series of trials intended to validate PHASA-35’s fitness for international commercial and defence applications. The PHASA-35 flight-test programme was based at New Mexico’s Spaceport America facility and flown in the United States Army’s White Sands Missile Range. The undertaking was sponsored by the US Army Space and Missile Defence Command Technical Center. The test-flight was coordinated and directly supported by personnel attached to Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme Division, Detachment White Sands.
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