“Government does not cause affluence. Citizens of totalitarian countries have plenty of government and nothing of anything else.” P. J. O’Rourke
C208 Question: Which two engine gauges indicate the most critical engine parameters?
Answer: The torque and ITT gauges.
African Pilot’s September 2020 edition
The record September edition of African Pilot has 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 become a serious international aviation magazine, with features that appeal to readers everywhere in the world. This edition also contains our annual Avionics and Instrumentation feature (46 pages). Over the COVID-19 lockdown period African Pilot has increased its subscriber audience four times over and at this time I have received calls from international writers from all over the world wishing to be part of the success of African Pilot.
My recent visit to Lanseria International Airport as well as to other regional airports this past week, I was delighted to hear that many of African Pilot’s present advertisers as well as interested advertisers were seriously impressed with the new design and layout of the September edition. 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 edition
The October edition is almost complete, with the final assembly of the entire magazine happening this week in preparation for its launch on Friday 25 September. This edition of African Pilot will feature Aircraft Maintenance Organisations (AMOs) and Aircraft Refurbishment. We expect the October edition to be yet another significant growth step as African Pilot is no longer an ‘African Aviation Magazine’ but has now become an ‘International Aviation publication’.
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 purchased the latest software to provide digital enhancement to any advertiser.
The material deadline for the October edition was on Friday 18 September 2020. However, we can still take in any last-minute advertising as long as this reaches us by close of business on Tuesday 22 September.
For advertising opportunities please contact Adrian Munro at e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or Cell: 079 880 4359. All editorial material should be sent to me at: email@example.com.
About African Pilot
There is no doubt that African Pilot provides the finest overall aviation media reach in Africa and now the world.
We are positioned 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.
The monthly magazine is available as a digital edition where ALL advertisers 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 or tap on any smart phone device.
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:
Video of the week: SAPFA Secunda Speed Rally held on 12 September 2020
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
The AERO South Africa Virtual Marketplace is General Aviation’s one-stop business-to-business hub. The platform has many functionalities that assist you to achieve your business objectives from just a click of a button. Once you have registered, the intelligent algorithm of the platform will match your business type to exhibitors that will meet your business needs. This enables you to set-up one-on-one meetings with the right companies, without wasting time. If you are a supplier or dealer to the General Aviation sector or simply an avid aviation enthusiast, then this is the time to REGISTER and tap into a global General Aviation Market.
African Pilot's picture of the week
Something exciting for African Pilot’s readers to enjoy is the launch of the ‘Picture of the Week’. Please send any aviation related picture to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org at a resolution of at least 500 Kb. There is no payment or prize offered, just editorial recognition. However, all photographs submitted will be considered for the ‘Picture of the Month’ within the monthly magazine and I will be looking for a sponsor to cover the cost of a monthly fee.
SOUTH AFRICAN AVIATION NEWS
Comair business rescue plan adopted
On Friday 18 September Comair passed another significant waypoint en route to returning to the skies when the vast majority of creditors and shareholders voted to adopt the business rescue plan.
In terms of the business rescue plan the preferred investment consortium, comprising a number of former Comair board members and executives, will invest fresh equity of R500 million in return for a 99% shareholding once the suspensive conditions set out the business rescue plan have been met. Up to 15% of this will be allocated to a suitable BBBEEE partner within 12 months. Over the next two months R100 million of this will be paid in two equal tranches as secured post-commencement finance.
Additional funding from lenders of R1.4 billion is required and will comprise R600 million in new debt. The remaining R800 million will be deferred debt, with capital payments deferred for a year and interest for six months. Comair will be de-listed from the JSE and a new board constituted.
The turnaround plan will focus on reducing operating costs and growing ancillary revenue. This will see the current workforce reduced from about 2 200 employees to 1 800 through voluntary retrenchment and early retirement programmes, as well as the Section 189 retrenchment process that began prior to business rescue continuing. It is intended that the fleet be restored to 25 aircraft, including two Boeing Max aircraft. The aircraft will gradually return to service from December with a seven-month ramp-up period until June 2021. Existing relationships will be maintained with British Airways, Discovery Vitality, Slow Lounges and Boeing.
Comair CEO, Wrenelle Stander, welcomed the adoption of the business rescue plan which should save 1 800 jobs. She said entering business rescue had been a difficult decision, particularly as good progress was being made to fix the financial situation. However, the extraordinary circumstances of the lockdown meant the company was unable to earn any revenue. “When the lockdown happened, business rescue became the only responsible course of action. Had we not made that tough decision Comair would not have flown again. Although, there may still be a few bumps on the way ahead, now that the plan is adopted, at last clearer skies are now in sight.”
Richard Ferguson, one of the business rescue practitioners, says that a number of suspensive conditions in the plan must still be met. If this does not happen, then the company will be wound down in a structured manner to achieve the best return for creditors. “That does not diminish what an important moment this is for Comair, its employees, the investors and the South African flying public. After nearly six months of intensive work and negotiation in a fraught economic environment, it is an exceptionally positive result.”
Glenn Orsmond, representing the Comair Rescue Consortium, said Comair plans to recommence air services in December with both the British Airways and kulula brands. “We are thankful for the support of the creditors and shareholders and humbled by the overwhelming support from the Comair staff. We are excited at the prospect of rescuing Comair and restoring it to its former position as the pre-eminent airline in South Africa.” Should everything go according to plan the business rescue process should be concluded by 31 March 2021, after which Comair will continue to operate as a sustainable business.
Novick’s plan for new South African carrier boosted by Global deal
ACMI Charter specialist Global Aviation has teamed up with former Comair boss Gidon Novick to help bring his plan for a new domestic airline to the South African market. The Johannesburg-based operator will bring two of its A320s to the venture according to reports from the signing of an agreement with Novick on Friday. “It’s effectively Global’s operation; it is their AOC, AMO and aircraft, but we have a joint venture arrangement in terms of our involvement, bringing airline experience to support the branding, sales and marketing,” Novick was quoted as saying. He said the team combined industry experience with fresh thinkers from the technology and hospitality sectors, including former Uber Africa Executive, Jonathan Ayache.
In an interview with African Aerospace last month Novick said he believed there was room in the market for a focused low-cost domestic carrier. Teaming with Global is a sound move according to analysts. “Global has developed its ACMI business over the past decade. With a well-tested cost basis along with Novick’s highly tuned entrepreneurial antenna the opportunity to pick up talented people and have a debt-free access to a market in disarray is apparent,” said Aerocomm’s Al James. A likely date for a launch of the as yet unnamed new airline is December 2020.
Novick is careful to not be seen to be charging headlong into a gap which might not yet exist in this very uncertain market. Novick identifies three key challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic: The economic challenge; regulatory restrictions; the perception of the health risk in travelling in a cramped airline cabin. He says that the key advantage of starting an airline right now is that “there are great skills and talent available and aircraft can be obtained at extremely good prices.” He admits that he does not know how long it will take for the industry to recover and in particular, how long it will take before passengers start trusting the safety of flying from a health perspective. He accepts that the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic will have a severe impact on people’s ability to afford to fly. Interestingly, he believes that business travel will be the hardest hit due to many businesses having made the switch to video conferencing. He therefore acknowledges that the ‘new normal’ will be a much smaller industry but he is confident that his experience in assembling a ‘lean-and-mean’ airline as well as in the tourism industry, will enable him to launch a winning low-cost carrier.
This contradicts the other low-cost carriers in South Africa, being Kulula, FlySafair and Mango which have long complained about overcapacity in the market, particularly since the arrival of FlySafair with its fleet of seventeen 737s. When asked whether his new airline will not just be adding to this problem, Novick points out that he is still hopeful that the South African government will act rationally regarding its role in the industry. He therefore remains confident that a tightly cost controlled and debt-free start-up will be a successful model.
Air Partner opens new freight office in South Africa
Air Partner, a charter and freight solutions specialist, has established its first physical presence in South Africa, with a Johannesburg sales office that will provide localised support to freight clients within the region. The expansion follows record growth of the freight division over the last three years and will be overseen by newly appointed Cargo Sales Manager Fred Du Plessis.
Headquartered in the UK, the new South African sales office marks Air Partner’s first presence on the African continent and is a natural next step in the expansion strategy as the Group continues to develop its reach and capabilities worldwide. “Africa is fast becoming a growth market for Air Freight and the industry has seen an increasing demand for services in the region, with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reporting a 7.4% increase in freight volumes last year,” said Du Plessis. “By establishing Air Partner in Johannesburg, we will be ideally placed to support new and existing clients plan and execute their Freight operations seamlessly, whether domestic or international.”
Mike Hill, Group Director of Freight said: “Having served the African market only remotely up until now, this is an important milestone for Air Partner. We are excited to expand with a physical presence in the African region and I am delighted that we have found exactly the right person to lead the way for us in the local market. Fred’s past career in freight handling and aircraft charter operations is second to none, whilst he brings valuable experience to the wider Air Partner team”.
What happened in aviation over the past week?
EAA’s Taildraggers fly-in to Warmbaths over the past weekend
What a fantastic turnout of more than a hundred aircraft of all types to this year’s delayed EAA Taildraggers annual fly-in staged for the first time at the Bela Bela Falcons Flying Club in Warmbaths. In the past, this event was staged at the Nylstroom airfield by Richard Nicholson and his wonderful family, but due to the rapid encroachment of the adjacent township, this airfield is no longer safe for General Aviation. Probably the most exciting aspect of this wonderful day in the sun was the opportunity to meet up with so many EAA friends after the COVID-19 lockdown through most of this year. It was also wonderful to watch the Puma Flying Lions perform their usual practiced display with four T6 Harvards.
A big thank you to Nigel Musgrave and Bo Burger for manning the advisory air traffic control. Also, to the members of the local flying club for their excellent catering arrangements. Then to Karl Jensen who spent most of Saturday entertaining the gathered pilots, their families and friends on the microphone. Thank you to the wonderful initiative of EAA Chapter 322 chairman Neil Bowden to encourage EAA members to attend these functions with the MACH-1 programme. Also, to my wonderful wife, Christine who accompanied the African Pilot team consisting of Fiona and Charlie Hugo as recognised aviation photographers to this event. There is so much more to say, but this will be part of an article in the October edition of African Pilot to be accompanied by an extensive picture gallery.
What is scheduled for the next few weeks?
African Pilot’s 2020 calendar
We will publish the aviation calendar within APAnews three months ahead, but you can always visit African Pilot’s website: www.africanpilot.co.za if you would like to obtain the full calendar for the entire year.
Great Train Race and Fly-in to Heidelberg airfield – Heritage Day
Contact Van Zyl Schultz E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 082 560 2275
Groblersdal fly-in lots happening and allwelcome
Contact Frik Roux Cell: 083 229 7601 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pilots can fly in from 07h00 on the morning. All COVID-19 protocols currently lawful, will be applicable.
We will have coffee ready, whilst food and drinks will also be available. We unfortunately do not have card facilities available for landing fees or food, so we will gladly take hard earned cash or transfers.
We will also have between 2000L and 3000L Avgas available in case anyone needs to refuel to get home. The runway is 05 / 23 with a left-hand circuit on both runways asphalt and approximately 800m long. Our frequency is 122.4 and the airfield elevation is 3000 feet. Please make contact five miles out.
We are also looking at a ‘behind the scenes’ judging of the cleanest plane, the plane that travelled the furthest to us and a lady’s choice. The pilots of those planes may just walk away with a small token of our gratitude for attending.
29 September – 4 October
SAC National Championships Tempe Airport, Bloemfontein
Contact Annie Boon E-mail: email@example.com
SAA Museum Society 34th AGM at Rand Airport
Contact E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
EAA Chapter 322 monthly meeting Venue TBA
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: email@example.com
24 and 25 October
SAC North West Regionals TBC
Contact Annie Boon E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
26 to 28 October
Airport Show, Airport Security and ATC Forum DWTC, Dubai
Registration is now open for Airport Show, Airport Security and ATC
Forum. FREE registration: https://bit.ly/2SnJ33S
EAA Chapter 322 AGM Venue TBA
Contact Neil Bowden Cell: 084 674 5674 E-mail: email@example.com
CAASA AGM to be a virtual meeting from 11h00
Contact Sam Keddle E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 011 659 2345
13 to 16 November
Battlefields now in Mossel bay fly-in view poster for details
Contact E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 082 446 9916 or 082 875 5419
27 and 28 November
SAPFA Speed Rally at Springs airfield
Contact Jonty Esser E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 082855 9435
Aero Club of South Africa annual awards at Rand Airport
Contact Sandra Strydom e-mail: email@example.com Tel: 011 082 1100
5 and 6 December
SAC Ace of Base TBC
Contact Annie Boon e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
As further dates are sent to me, I will continue to update the aviation calendar
I have started preparing the 2021 calendar with assistance from Air Show South Africa and the various sections of the Aero Club of South Africa. Please send me your planned aviation event fixtures for next year so that I may accommodate them on the calendar. Thank you.
AFRICAN AVIATION NEWS
RwandAir to restart its flights to and from London and Brussels
The resumption of European services will see the leading African carrier switch its UK operations from London Gatwick, with commercial flights to the Rwandan capital now departing from London Heathrow for the first time. The inaugural RwandAir service from Kigali to Brussels and London Heathrow will depart on 3 October at 01h00 local time and operate using an A330 twin-aisle aircraft. Flights will initially resume on a twice-weekly basis, before increasing to three-times-weekly from 25 October, reconnecting the UK with Rwanda for passenger and critical cargo operations.
MEBAA Show postponed to February 2021
The event was due to take place between 08-10 December 2020, has been postponed due to concerns related to the evolving COVID-19 outbreak. Ali Alnaqbi, founding and executive chairman of MEBAA said: “We have been closely monitoring the COVID-19 spread over the past few weeks as well as developments on travel restrictions from governments around the world.”
WORLDWIDE ACCIDENTS AND INCIDENTS
Water, smoke and arcing electricity in the cockpit of Safair B737
On 10 December 2019, the crew of Boeing 737-400 belonging to South African low-cost carrier Safair experienced an incident reminiscent of a Hollywood action movie, as sparks started flying and smoke filled the cockpit. The final report on the incident was published by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) on 9 September 2020.
According to the report, the aircraft took off from OR Tambo International Aerodrome (JNB) at 04h36 local time. Sometime after the take-off, a drain tube, located on the left of the cockpit, above the pilot-in-command head, started leaking. At 04h48, the first drops fell on the instrument panel. The equipment became lit up with arcing electricity and smoke started filling up the cabin. The pilot-in-command broadcasted a Mayday and stated that they had a fire. Seconds later, he corrected himself: it was just smoke, not fire. The crew followed emergency procedures, fitting smoke goggles and oxygen masks, and requested a turn back to Johannesburg. The request was granted and the aircraft landed safely, 32 minutes after the take-off.
The investigation revealed that the drain tube at fault dislodged itself from the fitting. The aircraft in question was continuously operated since 1989 and it is likely that the tube was never changed. Being constantly exposed to the light, the plastic lost its flexibility and became brittle, which led to the dislocation. Although the dislodged tube was visible, it was slightly out of the pilot’s peripheral vision, and was not noticed. Small amount of water accumulated in the upper cockpit drip pan and was therefore drained into the cockpit instead of through the external drain valve via the tube. An immediate special inspection of all Boeing 737s was issued by the operator, with an emphasis on the security of the tubing leading from the drip pan.
Pilot on incorrect frequency hits another plane while landing
The private pilot of the Piper airplane with a passenger on board was landing at the airport in Sebring, Florida, while the student pilot of the Diamond airplane with a flight instructor on board was performing touch-and-go landings on an intersecting runway in day visual meteorological conditions. Both airplanes were flying in left traffic patterns for their respective runways at the uncontrolled airport. The Piper pilot and the student pilot in the Diamond reported they announced every leg of the traffic pattern on the airport’s published common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF).
The Diamond landed and just when the student was adding power to initiate a take-off, the left wing of the Piper, which was landing and flaring just a few feet above the runway, hit the tail of the Diamond.
The flight instructor in the Diamond said he was looking for the Piper after he saw it flying in the vicinity of the airport, but that he never saw it in the airport traffic pattern, while the pilot of the Piper did not report seeing the Diamond until just before the collision.
Recordings of the airport’s CTAF showed that radio calls from the Diamond were heard for every leg of the airport traffic pattern on the published CTAF frequency before the collision, but only two garbled radio calls from the Piper were heard on the published CTAF frequency.
Post-accident examination of the Piper’s transceiver revealed that it was set to a different frequency. The Piper’s transceiver was then set to the correct CTAF frequency, and the communication was clear. Therefore, it is likely that the pilot of the Piper failed to use the correct CTAF frequency when he announced his airplane’s position in the airport traffic pattern.
Banner-towing Piper gets dunked
The pilot of a Florida-based Piper PA–25 found out last week about that when he lost the engine while towing a 90-foot banner near Okaloosa Island. Only 200 yards offshore and some 300 yards east of the Okaloosa Island pier, the pilot survived the immediate dunking, but the airplane is likely a total loss after immersion in saltwater. Okaloosa Sheriff’s deputies report that the pilot climbed out of the aircraft fairly quickly and that first responders had him on shore in just about 15 minutes. In the event of a power failure, one of the first things you MUST do is drop the banner, because the amount of drag that occurs with that massive banner and without any motive force is extraordinary. In this case the pilot did drop the banner as required and the banner was recovered later. The FAA reports the PA-25 aircraft as N7366 and classified it as destroyed on the FAA ASIAS site.
NTSB preliminary report: Britten Norman BN2A
On 13 July 2020, a Cessna 172S and a Britten Norman BN-2A-27, N200MU, were substantially damaged when they were involved in an accident at Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The pilot of the 172S and the pilot of the BN-2A-27 were not injured. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the pilot of the 172S was taxiing on taxiway Charlie to runway 27 for departure. The pilot of the BN-2A-27 was taxiing on taxiway Echo and was turning left onto taxiway Charlie for a runway 27 departure. As the two airplanes reached the intersection of taxiways Echo and Charlie, the left wing of the 172S contacted the right wing and engine of the BN-2A-27. An inspector with the Federal Aviation Administration responded to the accident site and examined the aircraft. Both aircraft sustained substantial damage. Both pilots reported that they did not observe the other airplane prior to the collision.
The first identified point of impact consisted of a 25-ft long ground disruption located at an elevation of 3,090 ft, about 500 ft north of the last ADS-B target, and 1/2 mile southwest of the runway 30 threshold. The disruption was on a south-facing bluff, and projected uphill on a north heading toward the main wreckage. The ensuing 300-ft long debris field contained fragments of wing tip, main landing gear, the propeller and exhaust pipe assembly, and the left aileron.
The main wreckage came to rest 40 ft above the first point of impact, and 40 ft below the runway elevation.
Taiwanese helicopter crash kills two during China invasion drill
After participating in one of the annual exercises simulating an attack by mainland China, a Bell 0H-58D helicopter crashed on its way back to Hsinchu Air Force Base. The week-long exercises called Han Kuang test the capabilities of the Taiwanese armed forces to repel a possible invasion of the Chinese armed forces.
After participating in one of the exercises, the Bell 0H-58D Kiowa that belonged to the Aviation and Special Forces Command returned to Hsinchu Air Force Base where it made a hard landing. The aircraft caught fire upon impact. The pilot and co-pilot on board were both recovered by the firefighters and were transported to the base’s hospital, where they both died of their injuries.
According to Taiwan News, all helicopters of the Republic of China Army (ROCA) are grounded while the cause of the incident is being investigated. It is the third hard landing of an OH-58D Kiowa in the last two years and the first one to be fatal.
WORLD AVIATION NEWS
EASA concludes 737 MAX test flights
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) concluded its week-long Boeing 737 MAX test flights, which took place in Vancouver, Canada. Due to travel restrictions, the European Union (EU) agency started the test flight campaign in Canada on 7 September 2020. Flightradar24.com data shows Boeing shipped its test aircraft, a 737 MAX 7 (registered N7201S), to Vancouver on 8 September 2020. Throughout the week, the 737 MAX was spotted in Boeing Field Airport (BFI) in Seattle, Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and Moses Lake Grant County International Airport (MWH), with flights spanning from 30 minutes to more than two hours.
Prior to flying out to Vancouver, Canada to flight test the narrow-body, EASA conducted simulator tests in London Gatwick Airport (LGW). Following flight testing, EASA will analyse data and various other information gathered through the week, as it prepares to present the findings at the Joint Operations Evaluation Board (JOEB) meeting in LGW the following week. “EASA has been working steadily, in close cooperation with the FAA and Boeing, to return the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to service as soon as possible, but only once we are convinced it is safe,” stated the agency.
Boeing 787 vertical tail fin faces safety concerns
Throughout the past month, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner has not left the spotlight, as various issues in the aircraft’s structure came to light. Now, another problem joined the list, as questions were raised about the 787’s vertical tail fin’s structure. Much like with irregularities with the Dreamliner’s aft fuselage shims, some 787s have un-shimmed gaps of up to 0.034 inches. A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) document raised concerns that the 0.034-inch gap could result in the aircraft’s connecting joints exceeding its load capability limits, reported KOMO News. “This issue was found in late 2019 and has already been addressed in production,” a Boeing spokesperson was quoted by KOMO News, adding in that the manufacturer continually assessed any potential manufacturing or safety issues.
Allegedly, there could be a total of 681 aircraft affected by the issue, spanning from Line Number (LN) 6 to 687, according to the FAA report. Boeing 787s from Everett, Washington, and North Charleston, South Carolina assembly sites are affected. Workers were not supposed to remove the shims before installing fasteners upon assembly, stated the FAA.
In late-August, Boeing pulled eight Dreamliners out of service due to a risk of structural failure. At the forefront of the issue were two separate problems. One was related to shims, which were improperly manufactured, leaving improper gaps at the aft section of the fuselage, while the other issue consisted of irregularities in the inner skin of the fuselage in the same section. The two issues separately would be of no concern, but when both are combined at the same place, it would put the 787 at risk of structural failure. On 8 September 2020, Boeing discovered its second manufacturing flaw related to the horizontal stabiliser, as parts were clamped together tighter than intended.
Lufthansa to scrap entire widebody fleets, more layoffs
Deutsche Lufthansa plans to scrap most of its widebody passenger aircraft, which would contribute to additional redundancies on top of the previously announced 22,000 layoffs. According to Bloomberg’s sources, Lufthansa is currently looking at withdrawing its remaining 14 Airbus A380s after already retiring the same amount in August 2020. In addition to the 14 superjumbos, most of the airline’s A340s would also go, alongside Lufthansa’s entire Boeing 747-400 fleet and a portion of the carrier’s narrow-body planes that conduct long-haul operations.
On 6 August 2020, Lufthansa disclosed that it would decommission five Boeing 747-400s and eleven Airbus A320s on top of its halved A380 fleet. In total, the carrier planned to shrink its fleet by a total of 100 aircraft by 2023. The additional cuts would push Lufthansa over that mark, also affecting additional jobs on top of the Group’s announced 22,000.
Qatar Airways delays Airbus deliveries, still talking to Boeing
Qatar Airways reached an agreement with Airbus to defer deliveries of the airplanes it has on order. Meanwhile, the carrier is still negotiating with Boeing, especially regarding the future of its 737 MAX order. During the CAPA Australia Pacific Aviation Summit, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker provided details regarding its pending aircraft orders amid the crisis currently affecting the air transport industry.
The Gulf carrier reached an agreement with Airbus to delay deliveries of their airplanes. “Contractually we are having difficulties but they are very flexible with us, which we do appreciate,” Al Baker said. “We have the flexibility to bring forward deliveries if there is a rebound in air travel.” The airline has ordered 27 A350-1000 and 50 A321neo aircraft.
Talking about the situation with Boeing, Al Baker said negotiations were still ongoing. “Regardless how they feel, an aircraft manufacturer has to oblige their customers in difficult times,” he warned. “They can not only benefit from us in good times, they need to be on our sides when we are in difficulty.” Qatar Airways has 60 777X and 23 787-9 airliners, as well as five 777 freighters on order from Boeing. In addition, to the COVID-19 crisis, Qatar Airways is also looking for a solution regarding the 30 Boeing 737 MAX it has on order. The planes were supposed to be leased to Air Italy from which the Gulf carrier has since pulled out. “I don’t mix my words, people who do not oblige and stand with us in these difficult times, will not see us again,” Al Baker concluded on the matter. Those words echo the ‘word of advice’ he had when negotiations were still ongoing with both manufacturers.
First flight of B-21 Raider strategic bomber delayed to 2022
The maiden flight of the first Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider long range strike bomber (LRSB) is expected to take place no earlier than 2022. Once it enters production, its acquisition by the United States Air Force (USAF) could be accelerated to speed up the B-1 and B-2 retirement. Once the B-21 enters production, the USAF could consider accelerating its acquisition to reach an earlier initial operational capability (IOC) date, according to Weatherington. That would allow for the Air Force to retire both the B-1 and B-2 bombers sooner, thus saving on logistics and training.
The 8th Air Force operates the heavy bomber force of the United States, namely the B-1 Lancer supersonic bomber and the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber that the B-21 is due to replace, as well as the venerable B-52 Stratofortress strategic bomber aircraft. A hundred copies of the upcoming B-21 should eventually be ordered, which is more than the fleets of B-1s and B-2s combined.
Rostec to deliver first Mi-26T2 to the Ministry of Emergency Situations
Russian Helicopters holding company (part of Rostec) and the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations agreed on the delivery of the first heavy Mi-26T2 helicopter to the department’s needs. The contract was signed during the International Military-Technical Forum ARMY-2020. Mi-26T2 is an upgraded version of the Mi-26T heavy transport helicopter. It has received modern avionics, enabling operations at any time of the day, in adverse weather conditions and over terrain that lacks landmarks for orientation. The upgrade has also allowed reducing crew to three persons.
Mi-26T2 is equipped with modern navigation system. The helicopter comes with ‘glass cockpit’, Glonass and Navstar positioning, enhanced ground proximity warning and energy-absorbing seats for the crew. It is equipped with a digital autopilot, capable of both navigating as well as landing the helicopter. Its enhanced avionics can significantly reduce the workload on pilots, simplify their work, and also reduce the flight preparation time. Compared to the basic version, many processes are automated. At the same time, almost all systems are redundant to increase reliability and safety.
Mi-26T2 can reach the altitude of 4600 meters and has cruising speed of 255 km/h (maximum speed is 295 km/h). Maximum take-off weight is 56 tons with a cargo of 20 tons. Range – 800 km with normal load (ferry range is 1920 km).
Russian Helicopters to supply two Mi-38 helicopters to the Ministry of Defence
Russian Helicopters holding company signed a contract with the Ministry of Defence for supplying two Mi-38 helicopters with a highly comfortable cabin. A ceremony to mark that was held as part of the International Military-Technical Forum ‘ARMY-2020’, which is taking place in the Patriotic Park of Recreation and Leisure ‘Patriot’ in the Moscow Region. The first serial Mi-38 helicopter was introduced to the general public at MAKS-2019 International Aviation and Space Salon, where it was demonstrated to the President of Russia Vladimir Putin and the President of Turkey Tayyip Recep Erdoğan. Mi-38’s foreign debut took place during the Dubai Airshow 2019 airshow, where the head of the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov showed it to the Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Why is NASA sending a helicopter to Mars?
Amongst many sophisticated instruments aboard the Perseverance, NASA’s latest Mars rover, there is a curious little box with four legs and four rotor blades attached. It is called Ingenuity and it is a true-to-life chopper not unlike many flying above Earth’s skies right now. But the helicopter carries a twist.
No, it is not intended to study the surface and look for signs of ancient microbial life, something Perseverance itself is hoped to find with its super-sophisticated chemical-composition-analysing instruments. It is not a test for a system to be used in future manned missions, such as an experimental oxygen production machine within the rover. In fact, it has a lot more in common with the phone you probably have in your hands, pocket or somewhere nearby, than with the usual marvels of technology NASA sends to Mars. Although this does not mean that Ingenuity lacks technological ingenuity in its design.
The helicopter is a proof of concept and is intended to test and demonstrate two things at the same time. One of them is, of course, the possibility to fly on Mars; a task that is a little more complicated than it might appear at first sight. The density of the Martian atmosphere is less than 1% that of Earth’s, and Ingenuity’s rotor blades, spanning 1.2 meters each, have to spin at around 2,800 rotations per minute (rpm) to keep 1,8-kilogram aircraft afloat. For comparison, Bell UH-1 Iroquois’ rotor typically spins at 324 rpm and it has just two blades instead of four. There were numerous proposals to fly an aircraft on Mars before, but nothing more complicated than a simple glider, as the thin atmosphere is not well suited for flight. Ingenuity can change that, showing that flying small drones on the planet is not only possible, but can be beneficial with a little bit of effort.
Which comes to the second point the new Martian helicopter will try to prove: its payload, a couple of cameras, lithium ion battery and several other simple instruments are not specifically tailored for this mission, they are either off-the-shelf or very similar to those that any drone enthusiast would mount on his DIY project. They will make the aircraft fly on another planet, survey the landscape, look for potential landing areas and recharge in the sun. Ingenuity is bound to prove that consumer-level electronics have reached the level where future missions to Mars can be accompanied by little scout drones made with as little investment as possible.
Of course, to prove that the little helicopter will have to survive its largest challenge yet: a Martian night. As the sun sets beyond the red horizon, temperatures drop to -139 degrees Celsius, well below anything it might experience on Earth. Two-thirds of aircraft’s power is going to be spent just on warming its essential components, but even that will not be enough. Whatever the result, as Perseverance lands on Mars on 18 February 2021 and its little load spreads those unproportionally large wings, every helicopter buff on Earth will have a new model to add to his collection the first rotorcraft that has ever flew on another planet.
Avfuel marks the first flight department delivery of SAF
Avfuel has delivered a load of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to Atlantic Aviation at New Castle Airport (KILG) for one of the airport’s private flight department tenants. This marks the fuel supplier’s first such delivery for a corporate flight department customer following an array of demonstrations with FBOs, airports, OEMs and charter companies. Delivered on 9 September, 7,300-US gallon load of SAF makes for a two metric ton reduction in CO2 emissions for the customer, supporting a mutual mission to advance sustainability goals. “Avfuel is excited to expand its portfolio of SAF supply to include corporate flight departments, along with FBOs, OEMs and others,” said Jonathan Boyle, Avfuel’s vice president of contract fuel. “It’s indicative of the continued interest we’re seeing in sustainability measures throughout business aviation. We are appreciative of the Atlantic Aviation team and our loyal customer for their collaboration in this important demonstration; Avfuel is proud to partner with these operations as a step toward making sustainable aviation fuel more attainable.”
This latest offtake demonstration comes ahead of the Virtual 2020 Business Aviation Sustainability Summit in which Avfuel is a featured pane list. Avfuel has a dedicated team of professionals working diligently to source, test, blend and ship SAF for special offtake demonstrations and events throughout the business aviation community. To combat the greatest hurdle to SAF’s widespread adoption availability, Avfuel continues to raise awareness with the hope of inspiring commitments to further encourage production.
New air taxi takes design cues from a far-flying bird
Air taxi start up BETA Technologies debuted its new aircraft with a dramatic helicopter airlift of the sleek white model across Lake Champlain from Burlington, Vermont, to Plattsburgh, New York. Code-named Alia, the electric vertical-take-off-and-landing (eVTOL) airplane is the successor to Ava, a smaller prototype the company used to experiment with propulsion strategies and learn about the tricky aerodynamics of small, electrified, vertical-lift flight. According to company founder Kyle Clark, Alia’s striking configuration and elegant shape owes a debt to the longest-migrating bird in the world, the Arctic tern. This includes a twin-tail assembly supported by angled trusses, dramatically arched wings, and arcing, tapered wingtips. The tern’s tail configuration and wing stance “proved a great baseline to start from,” Clark says.
For the tern, those features enable ultraefficient, long range flights. Beta hopes for similar performance. Its primary client, United Therapeutics, is developing man-made organs for human transplant and intends to use Beta’s aircraft as an efficient, environmentally friendly distribution system. Beta did not release performance specifications, except to say that it aims to build a prototype that can fly 250 miles and charge in under an hour. Alia has a 50-foot wingspan and will have a take-off weight of 6,000 pounds. The craft uses four horizontally mounted rotors for vertical lift and a single rear-facing propeller to boost speed in forward flight. The wide wings will generate lift for more efficient forward flight, instead of relying on the motors to do all the work as in eVTOL aircraft that derive most of their lift from rotors. It will use existing battery technology and be deployed as part of an ecosystem that includes charging stations in urban centres, at hospitals, or in remote locations to extend the aircraft’s range.
The aircraft’s unusual shape will raise eyebrows, but its propulsion strategy is likely to raise even more in the eVTOL aviation community. Many eVTOL developers use tilt-rotor systems in which multiple rotors point skyward for take-off and landing then pitch forward for horizontal flight. Beta used that strategy for Ava, but it proved too complex for the engineers to want to deploy it in a production aircraft.
Instead of tiltrotors, Alia uses four fixed rotors on the top of the aircraft and a pusher-prop in the rear to speed forward flight. This strategy required the development of new, ultra-efficient rotors, but they could be optimised for just one job, vertical flight rather than two. This simplicity will not only make the aircraft more reliable, Beta contends, but also easier to certify and more affordable, because it will have fewer parts, compared with tilt-rotor systems and lower maintenance costs.
WORLD DRONE NEWS
No humans required – Airobotic’s autonomous industrial drones
Airobotics provides an end-to-end, fully automatic solution for collecting aerial data and gaining invaluable insights. The industrial grade platform is available on-site and on-demand, enabling industrial facilities to access premium aerial data in a faster, safer, more efficient way. This year at AUVSI, the company announced a new agreement with Arizona mining company BHP. The drones provided by Airobotics will provide inspections of remote areas, machinery and mine site infrastructure, as well as surveying and mapping services. Airobotics was recently granted the world’s first regulatory certification to perform fully automated drone flights without a human pilot by the Israeli Civil Aviation Authority. They also received a Frost & Sullivan 2018 New Product Innovation Award for its autonomous drone platform, as well as the 2017 Edison Award, honouring the best in innovation and excellence in the development of new products and services.
Israel unveils airspace-compliant big drone
An Israeli company says its new Bonanza-sized drone can mix it up safely with regular civilian air traffic thanks to a triple redundant detect-and-avoid system to keep out of the way. According to Yahoo News, the StarLiner from Elbit Systems is compliant with NATO’s Standardisation Agreement known as STANAG 4671, meaning it is approved for missions where airliners and other civilian aircraft fly. The idea is to push the envelope for large-drone operations to allow them to carry out missions in more developed areas. The possibilities are endless, of course, and several countries have already placed orders. Based on the 2500-pound Hermes 900, the aircraft can fly for 36 hours as high as 30,000 feet powered by a diesel engine. It has ‘radar cooperative and non-cooperative Detect and Avoid (DAA) features for Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS)’ and is specifically designed to fly in regular airspace. Although it meets the NATO standard, individual countries will have to approve the sorts of operations envisioned by Elbit.
Honeywell forms new drone business unit
Already active in the unmanned aerial systems field, Honeywell is doubling down on its investment in the category by starting a new business unit ‘equipped with its own engineering and sales resources’ that will act as a ‘systems integrator’ for future products, in particular focusing on software development. According to the company, Honeywell wants to position itself in the center of what it sees as a rapidly emerging subset of aviation by providing ‘aircraft systems such as avionics, electric and hybrid-electric propulsion and thermal management, flight services such as unmanned air traffic management. In addition, ground operations services such as predictive aircraft maintenance analytics. Beyond technology development, this business will be a single point of contact for innovative aircraft designers or operators to easily do business with Honeywell.’ Honeywell believes the UAS market has the potential to reach $120 billion in revenue by 2030, with the company hopefully capturing about a fifth of that total.
Twice Weekly News from African Pilot
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Until Thursday, please be ‘Serious about flying’.
Athol Franz (Editor)