“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.” Albert Einstein
Since last week’s mystery aircraft was relatively easy to identify, according to the number of correct answers I received, this week I have provided another interesting aircraft type that I found on the airfield at Oshkosh this past week.
Please send your answers to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will publish the names of those that identified the aircraft correctly within the Thursday edition of APAnews.
I am compiling this edition of APAnews on Saturday due to the fact that on Sunday the South African group of 155 campers in Neil Bowden’s Air Adventure Tours group will start their respective long trips home to South Africa and various other countries. What an exciting week this has been with so many new aviation announcements made at Oshkosh this year. I have been told that preliminary figures indicate that this has been the best EAA AirVenture attendance ever. I was fortunate to fly in a BatHawk with The American agent in formation with Sean Cronin flying the second BatHawk over some of the most beautiful countryside neat Oshkosh and then back top the ultra-lights landing strip with the approach overhead the amazing Oshkosh camping ground with literally thousands of RVs and tents.
The usual Oshkosh thunderstorms did not disappoint us this year and right on time the Friday night storm was spectacular and I was pleased to be living in our rented camper as the rain and high winds trashed the airfield. However, in the morning there was no serious damage and everyone in our campsite survived the night with BIG smiles on Saturday morning when the skies were perfect Oshkosh blue. As Neil says, “What is Oshkosh all about if we cannot survive a storm or two over the week of AirVenture?”
Between Christine and I we took thousand ds of pictures and I took several hours of 4K video with my new Canon XA60 camera. Although we have done some editing, this is a significant task that involves our full team over the coming weeks. What I can assure African Pilot’s readers is that you will enjoy the full edited version of AirVenture 2023, my 21st visit to Oshkosh within the September edition of the magazine. In addition, I would like to thank Neil and Carolyn Bowden and your team who made this year’s South African campsite one of the most amazing ever. Then to the many South African campers as well as so many wonderful people I met over the past week – thank you for your amazing friendship.
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 travelled to the United States on Friday 21 July to attend EAA AirVenture, Oshkosh for the 21st time – only missing the two pandemic years. Within the August edition, I will contain a brief report on the largest aviation airshow and exhibition in the world. However, the full report with a substantial video and picture gallery will be featured within the September edition of African Pilot.
The August 2023 edition has been completed and this edition will be published shortly after my return from Oshkosh this coming week.
The September 2023 edition will be featuring EAA AirVenture as well as some of the British airshows.
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: email@example.com. Thank you.
EAA AirVenture at Oshkosh 2023
Absolute Aviation Continental engines promotion
Do not miss out on this Continental engines’ promotion valid from 1 June to 31 July 2023!
Terms and conditions apply.
Follow the link for more information: https://absoluteaviation.co.za/maintena…/aircraft-engines/
EAA AirVenture 2023 all week
Soutpansberg Fly-in and Airshow Festival
The Soutpansberg Flying Club, after the success of their 2022 fly-in expanded the 2023 event to include an airshow. As a total flying festival with around 20 aircraft flying in and camping facilities, the 3rd leg of the SAPFA season 5 speed rally with 14 entries and an afternoon airshow plus live entertainment in the beer hall afterwards ensured that the festival atmosphere was enjoyed by the general public and pilots alike. The speed rally was run in the morning and completed by 12pm before the air space was declared sterile so the airshow could commence. The airshow started with a bang when a South African Air Force Gripen entered the show overhead at a speed of Mach 1.3, and then it was continuous display until the Puma energy Flying Lions Harvard’s wrapped up the show with their signature dusk show. A full report will appear in the September edition of African Pilot.
African Pilot’s 2023 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.
29 July to 5 August
SAPFA FAI Rally Flying World Championships – Mâcon, France
Contact Leon Bouttell at E-mail: Leon@lbaa.co.za Cell: 076 294 1363
EAA Chapter 322 Saturday breakfast fly-in/ gathering 07h30 EAA Auditorium
Contact Neil Bowden at E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
South African Airways Museum Society AGM, Boeing 747SP
RSVP E-mail: email@example.com
EAA Chapter 322 breakfast fly-in venue TBA
Contact Neil Bowden at E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
19 & 20 August
SAC North-West Regionals Klerksdorp airfield
Contact Annie Boon at E-mail: email@example.com
19 & 20 August
SAPFA Speed Rally No4 Groblersdal airfield
Contact David le Roux at E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 073 338 5200
SACAA’s National Aviation Gender Summit Radisson Hotel and Convention Centre
Contact Ms Paballo Makgato E-mail: email@example.com
Children’s Flight at Orient airfield, Magaliesberg
Contact Felix Gosher E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 086 191 4603
EAA Chapter 322 monthly gathering 07h30 Auditorium Rand Airport
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: email@example.com
2 and 3 September
Rand airshow over two days
Contact manager Kevin van Zyl Tel: 011 827 8884
5 to 7 September
Commercial UAV Expo, Las Vegas, USA
Contact E-mail: Berndtson@aol.com
Virginia Durban airshow
Contact Brendan Horan E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 078 486 6888
Helicopter fly-in to Krugersdorp airfield
Contact David le Roux PilotInsure E-mail: David@pilotinsure.co.za
MAYDAY-SA Industry Dinner Serengeti Estate, Kempton Park
Contact Jaco van der Westhuizen E-mail: email@example.com
13 & 14 September
Aviation Africa Abuja, Nigeria
Contact Alison Weller E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Vans RV fly-in at Kitty Hawk
Contact Frank van Heerden E-mail: email@example.com
16 & 17 September
SAC Limpopo Regionals Phalaborwa airfield
Contact Annie Boon E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
26 & 27 September
DroneX London UK
Saldanha West Coast airshow
Contact Clive Coetzee E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 084 614 1675
No news to report in the edition of APAnews.
First officer lands A320 after captain was incapacitated
On 19 July 2023, the Second in Command of a Eurowings Discover Airbus A320 took control of and landed the aircraft after the flight’s Pilot in Command (PIC) was reportedly incapacitated. At the time of the incident, the aircraft seven-year-old Airbus A320-200 registration D-AIUT was operating as Eurowings Discover Flight 4Y-1205, non-stop service from Greece’s Nikos Kazantzakis Heraklion International Airport (HER) to Germany’s Frankfurt Airport (FRA).
The first officer declared an emergency while on approach to FRA, reporting the PIC had become incapacitated and advising air traffic controllers he had assumed command and control of the aircraft. The Airbus landed safely on Frankfurt’s Runway 25L at approximately 12h00 CEST (Central European Summer Time – GMT +2), only five-minutes behind schedule. The emergency declaration and the reason therefor compelled air traffic control to coordinate the dispatch of an air-ambulance helicopter which met the Airbus on the FRA apron and conveyed the stricken PIC to hospital. German news reports made public in the incident’s wake set forth the SIC had only recently qualified in the A320-200.
Eurowings Discover, a DBA of Frankfurt-based German air-carrier EW Discover GmbH and a wholly owned subsidiary of the Lufthansa Group confirmed in a subsequent statement that a flight-deck medical exigency had occurred during Flight 4Y-1205. The statement further disclosed the aircraft had landed safely at FRA and the entirety of the jet’s passengers had disembarked safe and sound.
The A320-200 remained on the ground for approximately four-hours before departing at 16h09 CEST for the Canary Islands’ Fuerteventura El Matorral Airport (FUE) as Eurowings Discover Flight 4Y 300. The incident-aircraft entered service with Lufthansa in 2016 and was transferred to the Eurowings Discover fleet in May 2022.
T-6 in Lake Winnebago
A T-6 Texan that went down in Lake Winnebago under unknown circumstances with two people onboard. The accident happened just after 09h00 and Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department said a recovery operation is underway. Identities have not been released. According to the US Coast Guard and the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office. One ‘unresponsive’ person has been recovered from that plane and recovery efforts are ongoing. There have been five crashes in the region during AirVenture, which started Monday and ended on Sunday. No one was seriously hurt in the other crashes before Saturday.
Plane that crashed in Green Lake County was headed to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
The pilot and passenger of a plane that crashed in a cornfield 27 July in Green Lake County while on their way from South Bend, Indiana, to Oshkosh for the EAA AirVenture Fly-In and Convention have been treated and released from the hospital. The Green Lake County Sheriff’s Office said Friday afternoon that the single-engine aircraft lost power and they tried an emergency landing. The plane flipped upon impacting the corn while the landing was being attempted. The pilot and passenger were reported to have suffered minor injuries.
Two killed and two injured in mid-air collision at Oshkosh’s Wittman airport
Two people were killed and two were injured Saturday when a RotorWay 162F and an ELA Eclipse 10 gyrocopter collided in mid-air at Wittman Regional Airport. The injured people were taken to a local hospital and are in stable condition, according to a statement from EAA director of communications Dick Knapinski. Just before 12h30 accident took place near the Ultra-Light runway at the south end of the EAA AirVenture flightline at Wittman Regional Airport, the EAA statement said. According to the Oshkosh Fire Department, the gyrocopter landed on top of a parked plane. “Aircraft operations at Wittman were halted while the accident was initially investigated,” the EAA statement said. “The afternoon airshow at the event did begin approximately on schedule, shortly after 14h30. These were aircraft that belonged to event attendees and were not involved in the airshow. More details are still being gathered at this time. Further updates will be available as they are confirmed.” The National Transportation Safety Board said it is investigating the incident.
Cirrus Vision Jet receives new radar and flight planning app
On Wednesday at AirVenture Cirrus announced that Garmin’s Auto Radar will now be a feature of the light jet, along with the Cirrus IQ mobile app. Auto Radar allows pilots to select their desired radar range and then scans airspace and displays a composite, real-time depiction of weather conditions. By automatically selecting an optimal horizontal scan pattern and vertical tilt combination, the system creates an in-depth view of the weather ahead with automatic ground-clutter suppression.
Meanwhile, the Cirrus IQ app helps pilots to proactively check key aircraft readiness items that can be updated after each flight. These include fuel and oxygen supply levels, the aircraft location, flight hours, and engine cycles. The LTE-enabled hardware that powers Cirrus IQ is now standard on new G2+ Vision Jets and Auto Radar is available as part of the manufacturer’s enhanced awareness package. The app is available as part of the JetStream contract offered to owners and Cirrus intends to make the options available for retrofit on older aircraft.
Honeywell exhibits its Anthem-equipped PC-12 at EAA AirVenture
As flight testing of the new Anthem avionics suite in Honeywell’s Pilatus PC-12 continues, the turboprop single is taking a short break this week in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where EAA AirVenture attendees can view the revamped instrument panel up close. Honeywell test pilot Ed Manning made the first flight earlier this year of the PC-12 fully equipped with the Anthem suite. Earlier flight testing, which began in the PC-12 more than a year ago, was with a partial Anthem system mounted on one side of the instrument panel, supported by original Honeywell Primus Apex avionics on the other side. While the Apex pilot interface is a cursor-control device and multifunction controller, Anthem’s displays are all touch display units (TDUs), or touchscreens, enabling many more ways of activating all of its features.
The main interface for Anthem is the pilot interface display unit, which can be on its own display or can be included in a section of one or more of the TDUs. Another key Anthem feature, which Manning and his fellow test pilots have not yet been using in the PC-12, is cloud connectivity. This feature will enable Anthem to run certain web apps directly on a TDU, with the app acting just as it does on a smart device or on a computer.
Also at its EAA AirVenture exhibit, Honeywell is showing off its new BendixKing KX 200 navcom radio. This is a slide-in replacement for KX 155 and 165 navcoms still in thousands of General Aviation aircraft. The KX 200 is also available for remote installations and could be the radio for an Anthem installation. With a colour LCD, the KX 200 is available in 14- or 28-volt configurations and offers 25-kHz or 8.33-kHz frequency spacing. It will be available in the fourth quarter and prices start at $5,100.
Tecnam’s P-Mentor debuts at AirVenture
A Tecnam P-Mentor flew from Argentina to debut in the United States at Oshkosh, Wisconsin where the top of the trainer market will change with imminent FAA certification. The two-seat low-wing piston aircraft was approved by EASA on 7 April 2022, finding its own market niche, says Tecnam US Sales Director David Copeland and competitors do not come close. Ed Stefan, CEO of Iowa’s EpicSky Aviation signed an order for 15 new Tecnam P Mentor aircraft to start delivery next year. Missions of CO2 should be 60 percent less than many competitors, burning either 100LL or mogas in a Rotax 912iSc. It carries a 640 lbs. useful load at 117-knot cruise speeds to a range of 730 nm under an optional ballistic recovery chute. Copeland says the wingtips are swept like no other and behind the leading edge the wing is hollow.
Reflecting the fine leather interior is the Garmin G3X glass cockpit, with a GI 275 as backup and configurations allowing VFR and IFR flight. An order of 30 was announced on 4 July by Kansas City’s Kilo Charlie Aviation. Their leaders were at the debut Wednesday at EAA’s Airventure in Oshkosh, next to those from Vermont Flight Academy, Melbourne Flight Training of Florida and Stephen F Austin State University in Texas. Just a day earlier Tecnam’s chief sales officer met Ed Stefan, CEO of Iowa’s EpicSky Aviation, who gladly signed for the cameras an order for 15 new P-Mentors, receiving two to three per month as early as June 2024. His 155 students will love their new trainers, predicts Stefan, and he cannot guess where they will soar.
Daher confirms Kodiak and TBM production in Florida
At EAA AirVenture Nicholas Chabbert, Daher aircraft division senior VP reconfirmed plans announced in April at Sun ‘n Fun Aero Expo to establish a second production line for its Kodiak and TBM turboprop aircraft at a former Spirit AeroSystems plant it recently acquired in Stuart, Florida. Chabbert and other Daher executives stressed that production of the Kodiak would also continue in Sandpoint, Idaho, and for the TBM 900 series in Tarbes, France, but that the Stuart facility would be used in concert with those facilities to meet the increasing aircraft demand. The Florida production lines will likely open in two to three years.
Daher plans to deliver eight of its Kodiak 900s this year and 15 in 2024. However, deliveries of its shorter Kodiak 100 Series III will still constitute two-thirds of Kodiak deliveries in 2023 and 50 percent in 2024. Chabbert said the first Kodiak 900 was recently delivered into Europe, which he called ‘a big market for the airplane.’ Overall, 325 Kodiaks have been delivered to date, with total fleet hours approaching 350,000.
At EAA AirVenture, Daher displayed a TBM 960 equipped with the new Hartzell Raptor five-bladed composite propeller, which weighs less and improves take-off distance, climb and cruise speeds. Noise and vibration are lower thanks to the new prop’s 1,925 rpm at maximum power. Meanwhile, Daher recently delivered its 80th TBM 960 and handed over 488 of the TBM 900-series airplanes overall.
Previous TBM models, the 700 and 850 series collectively account for 662 aircraft since the programme started in 1988. More than 1,000 TBMs are based in North America and the worldwide fleet has amassed 2.6 million hours. New 900-series TBMs are equipped with the Garmin PlaneSync live status and monitoring system. More than half of all TBM aircraft operators are using the Me&MyTBM app. The latest version, V6 can voluntarily evaluate aircraft approaches and provide related reports to users.
Chabbert said one of the main goals with the app is helping customers to fly stabilized approaches; he noted that unstabilised approaches are the ‘number-one issue’ in turbine accidents. Reports generated by the app, with the help of instructors, have not only helped customers get insurance but get lower premium rates for cover, he added.
While admitting to ongoing supply chain and internal labour shortages, Chabbert pointed out that Daher had increased its stocked parts supply by $48 million and has established a dedicated web portal for all Daher aircraft, including TB10 and 20-series pistons. “The supply chain has been a concern of late, but we are continuing to normalise the parts activity,” he said, adding that Daher has more than 200 separate suppliers for its aircraft.
B-21 Raider strategic bomber successfully powered on ahead of maiden flight
Northrop Grumman has successfully powered on the first flight-test aircraft of the highly anticipated B-21 Raider strategic bomber. The event was announced by President and CEO Kathy Warden during the company’s earnings call for the second quarter of 2023. “On B-21, we successfully powered on the first flight-test aircraft in the quarter,” Warden said during the call, defining it as “another important milestone in our campaign to achieve first flight and transition into production”.
A ‘power on’ indicates the moment when the aircraft’s electrical power systems are activated for the first time. During the power on, engineers and technicians conduct tests to ensure that all electrical systems are functioning correctly and they may also check for any potential issues or malfunctions. Powering up the flight-test aircraft represents a crucial phase ahead of the maiden flight, scheduled to take place before the end of 2023.
Extra accepts first order for new 330SX model
Established in 1980 by German aerobatic pilot Walter Extra as a means by which to design and develop his own airplanes, EXTRA Aircraft (EXTRA Flugzeugbau in its founder’s native tongue) has evolved into one of the world’s premier makers of aerobatic aircraft.
On 26 July 2023, Extra Aircraft executive Marcus Extra announced his company had received the first order for its new 330SX aerobatic airplane. Extra stated: “Our company and family are very pleased that the first production 330SX will go to Bob Freeman and Freeman Airshows in Denver, Colorado.”
He added: “Bob has been a long-time owner and operator of Extra aircraft. He has had an accomplished career as an Advanced and Unlimited Team member for the USA competing in Slovenia, Poland and South Africa. He is also the founder of Freeman Airshows. Our new 330SX will be in capable hands of a pilot who knows how to push the limits of flying.”
Freeman Airshows has performed at some of the US’s largest and most prestigious airshows, such as those held at Phoenix’s Luke Air Force base and Ogden, Utah’s Hill Air Force Base. Bob has forty-eight years and six-thousand hours of flight time and holds ATP, CFI and CFII ratings.
Bob Freeman commented, “As soon as I learned about the new 330SX, I knew I would buy it. I did not even need to fly it because I have such faith in the team at Extra. I have enjoyed all of my Extra’s but look forward to even more impressive performance from the 330SX. Airshow flying allows some of the most creative flying in the world. The 330SX has a twenty-percent reduction in the tumbling axis inertia and the roll rate will be even more impressive than the 330SC thanks to the sixty-percent increase in aileron horns. We need to get to the airshows as well so having the Garmin G3 seven-inch touch screen as standard equipment is icing on the cake. I cannot wait to fly it.”
EXTRA’s 330SX retains the DNA of its world-championship-winning 330SC ancestor, but embellishes upon such with improvements the likes of high-performance ailerons, which deliver higher roll-rates and crisper stops about the aircraft’s longitudinal axis; reduced fuselage length, which centralises mass and enhances agility about all aircraft control axes; a widened cockpit; increased control-stick clearance; greater headroom; a standard Garmin G3X Touch 7” primary flight display; optimised leading-edge cuffs by which wing sealing gasket efficacy is improved and a redesigned cowling offering improved engine cooling.
EXTRA’s high-performance aileron package facilitates superior roll authority, thereby ensuring crisper manoverability at all airspeeds and improved predictability and consistency of gyroscopic manoeuvres. Moreover, EXTRA engineers, by dint of an updated fuselage design that centralises and concentrates mass have succeeded in reducing the 330SX’s weight while retaining its forebear’s flight envelope speeds including a 220-knot Vne.
In addition to the new 330SX, EXTRA’s aircraft line-up comprises the EXTRA 330SC, a single seat, low-wing, aerobatic monoplane possessed of the sort of aerobatic performance that won world championships in 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2022; the EXTRA 330LX, a two-seat, tandem arrangement, low-wing, aerobatic monoplane eminently suited to both aerobatic competition and dual instruction; the EXTRA 330, a slick, two-seat, glass-panel machine that EXTRA rightfully touts as the Aerobatic Tourer; the EXTRA 330LP, a two-seat, tandem arrangement, low-wing aerobatic monoplane that is slightly less aggressive than the LX and finally, the EXTRA NG, the company’s next-generation aerobatic aircraft. The 330SX first flew on 06 June 2023 and remains in flight-testing. Extra is currently accepting 330-SX orders for deliveries in mid-2024, subject to the vicissitudes of flight-testing and EASA certification.
FAA type certifies Continental CD-300 Jet-A piston engine
At AirVenture Continental announced that the FAA has granted Validated Type Certification (VTC) to the company’s CD-300 Jet-A Piston engine. This achievement validates the engine’s compliance with the agency’s airworthiness and safety standards and exemplifies the streamlined validation process deriving of the FAA-EASA bilateral agreement.
Continental president and CEO Karen Hong stated: “We are thrilled to receive the VTC for the CD-300 Jet-A engine. This VTC achievement represents our commitment to bringing cutting-edge technology and advanced engine solutions to the aviation industry. This engine demonstrates the latest piston engine technology that is leading the way for more sustainability in general aviation.”
Since receiving European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) type certification in 2017, Continental’s CD-300 engine has earned numerous distinctions, including being selected by Diamond Aircraft to power the marque’s DA50-RG model. What is more, a Continental CD-300 engine powered the DA50-RG aircraft. Continental has slowly extended the powerplant’s Time Between Replacement (TBR) to two-thousand hours. Moreover, the global fleet of CD series engines recently surpassed ten-million cumulative flight-hours.
Diamond Aircraft’s all-electric eDA40 completes first flight
Diamond Aircraft has announced the first flight of its all-electric eDA40 single. The milestone flight took place at Diamond’s headquarters in Wiener Neustadt, Austria, on 20 July. Safran Electrical & Power supplied the ENGINeUSTM electric smart motor and Electric Power Systems (EPS) supplied the battery module, which is equipped with a direct current (DC) fast charging system. Diamond said it expects the eDA40 to be the first EASA/FAA Part 23 certified electric aircraft.
Diamond’s head of flight test Sören Pedersen was at the controls for the first flight. Tests included system checks, basic manoeuvres and a preliminary performance evaluation. “The flight went as scheduled and delivered all results requested,” according to Diamond.
Liqun (Frank) Zhang, CEO of Diamond Aircraft Austria said, “The aircraft performed outstandingly well during its maiden flight and not only met but exceeded all our expectations. We are very much looking forward to offering an exceptional sustainable aircraft for the flight training market of tomorrow.” He added, “We are extremely proud to announce another significant milestone for our all-electric eDA40.”
Plans to build new PBY Catalinas
A Florida company is hoping to build a modernised version of the Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boat, an aircraft developed almost 90 years ago and most famously used to hunt Nazi U-boats in the Second World War. Catalina Aircraft has announced it plans to build a turboprop amphib flying boat using the ‘same design principles’ as the lumbering twin. A few of the type are still used in commercial service as water bombers and cargo planes, and several museums keep flying versions. The company thinks there is still a niche to be filled in civilian and military service.
The news release says the company plans to build two models, a civilian aircraft with an all-up weight of 30,000 pounds and room for 34 passengers and 12,000 pounds of cargo. A more powerful military version will weigh in at 40,000 pounds. “Interest in the rebirth of this legendary amphibian has been extraordinary,” Lawrence Reece, president of Catalina Aircraft, said in a press release. “We are looking forward to moving this program forward rapidly.” They hope to be flying in 2029.
Piper sells 50 Archer TXs to Sierra Charlie flight school
On Wednesday Piper Aircraft announced it has signed an order for 50 Archer TX trainers with FAR Part 61 flight school Sierra Charlie Aviation of Scottsdale, Arizona. Deliveries of the single-engine aircraft are scheduled to start in 2026. Sierra Charlie already operates a twin-engine Piper Seminole. Scott Campbell, owner of Sierra Charlie Aviation, said, “The Piper Archer and Seminole are remarkable aircraft that perfectly complement our commitment to excellence in aviation and enhancing our operational capabilities while providing an unmatched experience for our students.”
Garmin’s G1000 NXi glass cockpit and G5 standby display are standard equipment in the Archer TX, and the optional air conditioning adds to the Archer’s appeal as a training aircraft in the American Southwest. Powered by a 180-HP Lycoming I0-360-B4A piston engine with a Sensenich fixed-pitch propeller, the Archer TX makes 128 knots at its 75 percent power maximum cruise speed. At slower speeds, maximum range is 522 nautical miles.
Ron Gunnarson, Piper VP of marketing, sales and customer support said, “Sierra Charlie has chosen Piper to help elevate their programme to new heights. We are excited to officially welcome them into the Piper Flight School Alliance.”
NASA broadens industry partnerships
NASA has selected 11 US companies to develop technologies germane to long-term space and lunar exploration. The technologies under development, which range from lunar surface power systems to tools for extra-atmospheric 3D printing stand to collectively expand the US domestic industrial sector’s ability to facilitate a sustained human lunar presence through NASA’s Artemis programme and similarly ambitious government and commercial missions. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson stated: “Partnering with the commercial space industry lets us at NASA harness the strength of American innovation and ingenuity. The technologies that NASA is investing in today have the potential to be the foundation of future exploration.”
The projects, chosen under the space-agency’s sixth Tipping Point opportunity, will be funded jointly by NASA and its industry partners. The total expected NASA contribution to the partnerships is $150 million. Each company will contribute a minimum percentage, at least ten-to-25-percent, based on the company size of the total project cost. NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) will issue milestone-based funded Space Act Agreements lasting for up to four years. The awarded companies, their projects, and the approximate value of NASA’s contribution are as follows:
- Astrobotic Technology of Pittsburgh, $34.6 million: LunaGrid-Lite: Demonstration of tethered, scalable lunar power transmission.
- Big Metal Additive of Denver, $5.4 million: Improving cost and availability of space habitat structures with additive manufacturing.
- Blue Origin of Kent, Washington, $34.7 million: In-Situ Resource Utilisation (ISRU)-based power on the moon.
- Freedom Photonics of Santa Barbara, California, $1.6 million: Highly efficient Watt-class direct diode lidar for remote sensing.
- Lockheed Martin of Littleton, Colorado, $9.1 million: Joining demonstrations in-space.
- Redwire of Jacksonville, Florida, $12.9 million: Infrastructure manufacturing with lunar regolith – mason.
- Protoinnovations of Pittsburgh, $6.2 million: The mobility coordinator: An Onboard COTS (Commercial-Off-the-Shelf) software architecture for sustainable, safe, efficient and effective lunar surface mobility operations.
- Psionic of Hampton, Virginia, $3.2 million: Validating no-light lunar landing technology that reduces risk, SWaP (Size, Weight and Power) and cost.
- United Launch Alliance of Centennial, Colorado, $25 million: ULA Vulcan engine reuse scale hypersonic inflatable aerodynamic decelerator technology demonstration.
- Varda Space Industries of El Segundo, California, $1.9 million: Conformal phenolic impregnated carbon ablator tech transfer and commercial production.
- Zeno Power Systems of Washington, $15 million: A universal Americium-241 radioisotope power supply for Artemis.
Dr Prasun Desai, acting associate administrator for STMD at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said “Our partnerships with industry could be a cornerstone of humanity’s return to the Moon under Artemis. By creating new opportunities for streamlined awards, we hope to push crucial technologies over the finish line so they can be used in future missions. These innovative partnerships will help advance capabilities that will enable sustainable exploration on the Moon.”
Five of the antecedent technologies will help humanity explore the Moon. For astronauts to spend extended periods of time on the lunar surface, they will need habitats, power, transportation and additional infrastructure. Two of the selected projects will utilise the Moon’s autochthonous surface material to create such infrastructure, a methodology known as In-Situ Resource Utilisation, or ISRU. Redwire will develop technologies conducive to the construction of roads, structural foundations and landing pads with materials comprising lunar regolith. Blue Origin’s technology looks to produce solar cells from raw materials extracted from lunar regolith.
Astrobotic’s proposal outlines means by which to distribute power on the Moon’s surface. The company’s CubeRover will be capable, ostensibly, of unreeling upwards of half-a-mile of high-voltage power cabling by which electrical power could be transferred from lunar generation facilities to end users. The remaining seven projects are intended to create new capabilities in disparate but essential facets of space exploration and Earth observation.
Freedom Photonics has been contracted to develop a novel laser source requisite the creation of a more efficient LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) system for the detection of methane in the Earth’s atmosphere.
Finally, United Launch Alliance will continue development of inflatable heat shield technology, building on the success of LOFTID (Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator). ULA will advance the technology’s maturation with a near-term goal of using such to return large rocket components from Low Earth Orbit (LEO) for reuse. Such technology could be similarly utilized to facilitate the landing of heavy payloads on nearby planets.
FAA getting ready to regulate space tourism safety
Although the FAA may seem to be all over commercial space regulation, it is about to fill a big gap that Congress mandated almost 20 years ago. SpaceRef is reporting the agency has struck the Human Space Flight Occupant Safety Rulemaking Committee for the Commercial Transportation Industry and it would appear the length of the name and the size of the committee (25 members) is a hint of what is to come. Its mandate seems to be nothing less than creating a FARs-type regulatory environment to govern the safety of space tourists and those operating their spacecraft and the committee is the first step. “This Aerospace Rulemaking Committee (commonly referred to as a SpARC) purposefully engages the commercial space industry to provide consensus information, concerns, opinions, and recommendations to the Department of Transportation,” the FAA said in its announcement.
When commercial space ventures, particularly those with a space tourism emphasis, started to launch just after the turn of the century, they complained bitterly that the FAA was regulating them to death. They caught the ear of Congress with the pitch that nothing was ever going to get done unless they had a relaxed regulatory environment that would allow them to figure out the big problems. The result was a law that effectively ordered the FAA to back off on regulating the safety of spacecraft occupants unless there is a death, serious injury or close call. The only current regulations on occupant safety require the crew and passengers to be made aware of the risks and to sign a waiver specifying their informed consent. The regulatory holiday has already been extended once to the end of 2023 and now the agency is getting ready to set the safety standards it wants to protect crew and passengers.
The committee that will make recommendations to the FAA on the new regs is made up of high-level bureaucrats from a variety of relevant government departments, academics, space company executives, representatives of industry groups and medical experts. There is also one unaffiliated individual on the 25-member committee. Mike Ryschkewitsch is the former chief engineer for NASA but he represents himself on the committee.
PAL-V flying car nears certification
PAL-V is a Dutch aerospace concern about the business of developing a commercial flying car. Dubbed Liberty, the machine PAL-V aspires to bring to market is a compact, two-seat affair contemporaneously suited to powered flight and travel on public roads. In broad-strokes, Liberty’s resembles the illegitimate offspring of an autogyro and a Reliant Robin, a small, three-wheeled automobile produced by England’s Reliant Motor Company. The autogyro analogy is substantiated by PAL-V’s website as follows: ‘As eighty percent of the future PAL-V car flyers are new to aviation, some of them have started the training for a gyroplane flying license at the PAL-V FlyDrive Academy.”
In its roadgoing configuration, Liberty’s two-blade main-rotor, aft-mounted pusher-propeller and single-boom H-tail empennage fold to a remarkably compact overall size. The main-rotor’s two blades hinge at approximately half their respective spans and the pusher-propeller’s two-blades hinge at the hub. Liberty’s undercarriage telescopes dramatically extending for flight operations and retracting for road use. Liberty is powered by two discrete engines, a one-hundred-horsepower road mill and a two-hundred-horsepower flight powerplant, about which little else is currently known, excepting they burn Euro 95, 98 and E10 fuels.
PAL-V chief technical officer Mike Stekelenburg stated: “For me, the trick in successfully making a flying car is to ensure that the design complies with both air and road regulations. I feel the energy and motivation in our team to push hard for the last few milestones and get the Liberty certified for flying too.” PAL-V test-driver Hans Joore remarked: “When I fired-up the PAL-V for the first time I really got goosebumps! All the effort that we put into it came together at that crucial moment. Hearing the vehicle come to life was just magnificent and driving it was great. It is very smooth and responsive to the steering and with a weight of just 660 kg it accelerates really well. The overall experience is like a sports-car. It feels sensational.”
PAL-V’s Liberty has been undergoing assessment by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) since 2015. Certification of the design is expected to be granted before the end of 2023. Viewing PAL-V’s Liberty through the lens of specifications requires, in point of fact, two lenses—one each for the machine’s road and air-going incarnations.
Terrestrially, Liberty is a four-meter-long, two-meter-wide, 1.7-meter-tall contraption with a maximum speed of 86-knots and a range of 710-nautical miles. At the dragstrip, the Liberty accelerates from zero to one-hundred-kilometres-per-hour in just under nine-seconds.
In flight, Liberty is a 6.1-meter-long, two-meter-wide, 3.2-meter-tall, powered gyroplane with 10.75-meter rotor-diameter, an economy cruise-speed of 140-knots, a high cruise-speed (90-percent power) of 86-knots, a maximum speed of 97-knots and a two-occupant range of 215-nautical-miles (with a thirty-minute fuel reserve). The removal of one occupant boosts Liberty’s range to 269-nautical-miles. More importantly, Liberty’s minimum level-flight speed is 26.9-knots. PAL-V lists Liberty’s service-ceiling as 11,482-feet. Empty, Liberty masses 1,464-pounds. Maximum take-off weight is 2,006-pounds. Ergo, by simple mathematics, Liberty’s useful load is 542-pounds.
To the subjects of his company’s product and the means by which it’s to be marketed, PAL-V CEO Robert Dingemanse said, “It is another great step forward for us, now we ‘drive’ ahead to the last milestones. In parallel we organise roadshows across Europe to demonstrate the PAL-V to customers.”
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Ukrainian Sirko drone
The Ukrainian-made Sirko unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which was designed by Kharkiv engineers, has gone into mass production and the company will soon present its second version. The relevant statement was made by Ihor Krynychko, Chairman of the Supervisory Board at Skyassist Research and Production Company LLC, in a commentary to Ukrinform. In his words, the company has managed to establish ties with the necessary component part manufacturers, not only Chinese but also those from Israel, Canada, Taiwan and other countries. According to Krynychko, just about a week ago, a commission of the Ukrainian Defence Ministry endorsed a decision to provide access to the operation of Sirko UAV in the troops. “Codification is now underway. In my opinion, the state is not doing everything smoothly in these conditions, but I see that they are working very thoroughly in this area,” Krynychko noted.
So far, public procurement has not been considered. The UAVs are purchased for the military with volunteer funds. Developers have already collected feedback on their practical use and are preparing to present the Sirko 2 model in the coming weeks. Krynychko mentioned that the company had received feedback from Ukrainian defenders in the Kupiansk direction, as well as the Kherson and Mykolaiv regions. In June 2023, the company shipped about 100 Sirko UAVs for the military. Meanwhile, the production capacity is about 800-1,000 UAVs per month. The combat version is also under development, Krynychko added.
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