“When we love, we always strived to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too” Paulo Coelho
B200 Question: Where does the negative pressure for the vacuum system originate?
Answer: Pneumatic bleed-air Venturi
African Pilot’s October 2020 edition
The amazing October edition of African pilot is complete and will enter its distribution phase in the next few days. This edition of African Pilot features Aircraft Maintenance Organisations (AMOs) and Aircraft Refurbishment. The October edition is certainly a demonstration that African Pilot is no longer an ‘African Aviation Magazine’ but has now become an ‘International Aviation publication’.
Advertisers can now see the benefits of marketing their products and services to a vast international aviation 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 anywhere in the world.
African Pilot’s November 2020 edition
As we get closer to the end of this year, the November edition will feature ‘Gifts for Pilots’ as well as international news about all aspects an developments in aviation.
The material deadline for the November edition is on Wednesday 21 October 2020.
About African Pilot
There is no doubt that African Pilot provides the finest overall media reach of all aviation publications in Africa where we are in a position to provide professional video and stills photography, website development, social media platforms, company newsletters as well as several other important media services to our customers. Naturally the monthly printed magazine has an incredibly long shelf life due to its excellent design and layout. Then of course the monthly magazine is also available as a digital edition where ALL advertisers have enjoy the direct routing to their websites at a touch on a smart phone or tablet as well as a click of the mouse on a computer screen.
Do you want instant aviation news and opinions?
Visit www.APAcom.co.za and register yourself as a user
The following are links to all the magazines that African Pilot produced this year so that you can download all the 2020 editions in magazine view format:
Launch of Wouter Botes’ e-book ‘Flights to Nowhere’
Wouter Botes’ E-book on Flight to Nowhere is available by visiting www.africanpilot.co.za and click on the button provided on the home page. We have provided an option for payment of R60 per download on the page.
SOUTH AFRICAN AVIATION NEWS
AERO South Africa is proud to be part of the second instalment in the series of Safety-First
Aviator Webinars with the theme ‘PROP CLEAR’
Theme: Safety First Aviator
Date: Wednesday, 30 September 2020
Register here: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/3616007746500/WN_G6AF72iyTNKUfE6UhdV_pA
The 2020/2021 theme of ‘Prop Clear’, ensuring that engines are ready for take-off, following the COVID-19 Lockdown. The underlying theme for the campaign is ‘Resilience’, focused on how we will adapt to the change and the ‘new normal’ to ensure flight safety in preventing accidents.
Join Cobus as he digs deeper into accident prevention through resilience, Santjie will discuss Search and Rescue tips for getting back safely in the air and Lauren will assist in using the South African Weather Service website to ensure safe flying times. Cindy will share details on the topics covered in the MayDay SA ‘Caring During COVID’ campaign and will inform aviators the process to follow in order to contact them for support.
Cobus Toerien – ALPA SA
Santjie White – SASAR
Lauren Smith – SA Weather Services
Cindy Bessel – MayDay SA
Franz Smit – Pilot Insure (Moderator)
What happened in aviation over the past week?
SACAA tardy with drone licence application process yet again
The City of Cape Town is sitting with 15 drones it purchased last year, waiting for licences from the Civil Aviation Authority, whose complicated application process is hampering the rollout of the technology to fight crime. The City is only in phase one of the five-phase licence process. Executive director for safety and security Richard Bosman said the city manager signed off on a report authorising the safety and security director to represent the city manager during the application. “When we followed up, we were informed that they were not reviewing any applications during lockdown. On a second follow up, they indicated that they are now ready to look at our application and we resubmitted on 22 July 2020.
“The drones that the City purchased are being used for training,” Bosman said. He said the City had identified the use of a remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) to be an effective tool for intelligence gathering and decision making. “As such, the RPAS will be used at any incident or event where aerial views of an incident or activity is required or in circumstances where human observance is hampered.
“This includes incidents where potential loss of life / property can be prevented through accurate identification and location, search and rescue operations and general firefighting operations.”
In August last year, the City announced it had trained six drone pilots and purchased a number of drones to help combat crime and inspect bridges. It had reportedly spent more than R500 000 on drones. According to the City the drones were acquired via tender and request for quotation. They have been procured in the last two financial years. The City said it had purchased in total 15 drones.
There are two qualified pilots, six learner pilots, while two additional learner plots sent for training last October are in the process of being licenced.
According to a report that was tabled at a recent mayoral committee meeting, the safety and security directorate stated: “The SA Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) indicated that they will not be able to review the safety and security directorates’ RPAS application due to the pandemic and countrywide lockdown. “It must be noted that our application was sent more than two weeks prior to the lockdown.”
According to the SACAA, the City is at phase one of a five-phase certification process. Phase one is a pre-application process that familiarises the applicant with expectations and details requirements for each phase of the application process.
Spokesperson for the SACAA Kabelo Ledwaba said: “We received the City of Cape Town’s letter of intent on 22 July. “We have since engaged the City on expectations and requirements and this will be formalised in a pre-application meeting that has been pencilled for end of September.” Ledwaba said the speed at which an application gets finalised depended largely on the complexity of the transaction and the applicant’s state of readiness. “It is vital to reiterate that the more detailed the submission the quicker the turnaround times,” he said.
Editor comments: Yet another example of the complete failure of the SACAA’s Remotely Piloted Aircraft or RPAS section where licence applications often take more than a year to be approved. It is also amazing that most of us in our own private businesses worked right through the COVID-19 lockdown period, whereas it appears the many of the staff at the regulator enjoyed a holiday on full pay.
SACAA’s take on the current situation within General Aviation
SACAA say the following problems need to be addressed:
- A) Contemporary accident reports and statistics show pilots remain the weakest link in the accident causation chain and should be the focus area.
- B) The standards of primary instructors leave much to be desired. The system of inexperienced pilots acting as ab initio trainers directly and indirectly results in fatal training accidents.
- C) Recommendations from accident and incident reports and trends are seldom converted into accident- prevention strategies or incorporated into training curriculums.
- D) Major causal and contributory factors of accidents are rooted in a de-sensitised society; i.e. widespread disregard for the value of life or well-being and safety of fellow-citizens, general resentment of authority, culture of lawlessness, appetite for risk and ingrained misconceptions and weaknesses in training.
- E) Existing accident-reduction techniques using heuristics to reduce the probability of accidents are believed to be ineffectual; adding to the cognitive workload of pilots, tending to overwhelm them.
- F) The criminogenic origins and development of accidents have never been explored nor understood.
- G) Pursuant to (F) above, the Civil Aviation Act, No. 13 of 2009, 11, (2), (3) and (4) limits aircraft incident and accident investigations by the Aviation Safety Investigations Board (ASIB) by not apportioning blame, but to prevent accidents. This would hamper attempts to reduce accidents through prosecution and punitive action.
- H) Training curriculums do not address the problem of showing how accidents develop, what the accident- precipitating circumstances might be and how the causal and contributing factors could be identified, managed or eliminated.
- I) Flying training theory and practical training are aimed at career goals, while accident causal and contributing factors and circumstances conducive to accidents are negated or not addressed at all.
- J) Pilots are not equipped to deal with factors external to the cockpit that overwhelm them. These include but are not limited to undue pressures on pilots, negative group dynamics, unrealistic expectations and misconceptions.
- K) Pilots need guidance and mentorship programmes to recognise and avoid potential errors in judgement and to improve decision-making skills.
- L) The strategy provides participants with a dedicated or independent publication and social media platform as mouthpiece.
- M) The threat of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) has been escalating. Solutions need to be found to avoid a catastrophic event, especially from a GA perspective as RPAS are often operated at the confluence of airways near busy centres in controlled airspace.
- N) Support to both medical professionals as well as pilots must be enhanced, to develop systems to ensure the integrity of medical assessments on the one hand and provide mechanisms to pilots to deal with the stressors related to the demands of the cockpit environment on the other.
Editor comments: Many years ago, I addressed these issues with the regulator, where I suggested that all recreational and private pilot should be required to attend at recognised Crew Resource Management (CRM) course every two years as part of his / her licence renewal process. What is been proposed above is nothing more than more regulation or bureaucracy trying to find ways to prevent you from flying. When the SACAA rolls out its annual safety seminars the main problem is that those that attend are usually responsible pilots – ‘like preaching to the converted’. What the regulator should be enforcing is a far better educated GA community that understands the dangers of aviation and this happens by attending formal and compulsory CRM lectures. This way the regulator will leave the technical and flying skills to the aviation community. Education, not regulation is the answer.
Vintage car and aircraft fly-in to Heidelberg airfield on Heritage Day in South Africa
Christine, Fiona and Charlie Hugo and I went to the Heidelberg vintage car and aircraft fly-in on Thursday. What a delightful setting with wonderful people and excellent planning from the local flying club. This event was restricted to aviators and vintage car owners with gorgeous models dressed up in period costumes. Thanks to the Heidelberg Flying Club and all your members for an amazing day. The pictures are an example of how everyone enjoyed the day with excellent weather. A full feature report with an extensive picture gallery will be published in the November edition of African Pilot.
AFRICAN AVIATION NEWS
Ivory Coast receiving replacement Mi-24s
It has been reported that the Ivory Coast has taking delivery of two Mi-24 helicopters to replace those lost in recent crashes. One Mi-24 was delivered on 7 August 2020 to coincide with the Ivory Coast’s 60th Independence Day. The aircraft arrived at Abidjan aboard a Ukrainian Air Force Il-76 transport aircraft. President Alassane Ouattara said it is the first of two Mi-24s being received, with the second due within three months’ time.
The aircraft are to replace the two lost within the space of five months. On 27 November 2019, an Mi-24D (TU-VHR) was lost in a collision with an Mi-17 parked on the ground at Katiola during a visit by president Ouattara. The Mi-24D was written off while the Mi-17, belonging to the Presidential Flight, sustained repairable damage. On 18 March, another Mi-24D crashed at Felix Houphouet Boigny airport in Abidjan. It is not clear what caused the crash, but the aircraft sustained moderate damage, coming to rest on its side. Both pilots received minor injuries and could escape the helicopter by themselves.
It is believed that the Ivory Coast only had two serviceable Mi-24s, in service along with AW139 and AS365N helicopters. Transport aircraft in the fleet include An-26B, Beech 350, C295W, Airbus A319, Beech 1900D, Gulfstream III, IV and G550 aircraft.
WORLDWIDE ACCIDENTS AND INCIDENTS
Pilot loses control when his seat slides back during take-off
The private pilot was taking off for a personal, cross-country flight in the Cirrus SR22 from the airport in Montauk, New York. He reported that, at rotation, the pilot’s seat ‘abruptly slid backwards to the outermost distance from the controls.’ As a result, he could no longer reach the pedals to maintain directional control and his aileron input could not counteract the airplane’s left-turning tendency.
The airplane departed the left side of the runway, hit trees and shrubs and then came to rest upright. The wings, fuselage and empennage sustained substantial damage. According to the pilot, except for the pilot seat, the airplane performed as designed with no other anomalies noted.
Examination of the pilot’s seat revealed no anomalies with the installation, dimensions, or operation. The seat moved freely fore and aft with no binding or anomalous operation noted. During post-accident functional testing of the seat, when twisting forces to the right were applied to the seat and while being slid forward, the seat position locking pin could be partially engaged, but not all the pins would seat, and the control handle would not go fully down nor could it be forced into position. Straightening or forward movement of the seat resulted in full pin engagement with the control handle in the fully down position. Given this information, it is likely that the pilot applied a twisting force when moving the seat and did not fully engage the seat position locking pins before initiating the take-off, which resulted in the seat subsequently sliding back as the airplane accelerated during take-off and the pilot’s subsequent loss of directional control.
NTSB preliminary report: Piper PA28
On 1 September 2020, a Piper PA-28-235 airplane was destroyed when it was involved in an accident in Walker, Minnesota. The pilot was fatally injured. The flight originated at Hardy-Anders Field Natchez-Adams County Airport (HEZ), Natchez, Mississippi, about 09h12, and landed at Kirksville Regional Airport (IRK), Kirksville, Missouri about 13h03. According to records obtained from the FBO at IRK, the pilot purchased 76.1 gallons of 100 low lead aviation gas. The airplane departed IRK about 14h36 with an intended destination of Bemidji Regional Airport (BJI), Bemidji, Minnesota.
While inbound to BJI and receiving services from Minneapolis Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZMP ARTCC), controllers became concerned about the pilot possibly suffering from hypoxia based on altitude and course deviations, as well as slow communication responses. ZMP controllers directed the pilot to divert to St Cloud Regional Airport (STC), St. Cloud, Minnesota, airport for medical assistance and subsequently declared an emergency for the pilot. Upon landing at STC the pilot was met by emergency medical services. The pilot refused medical treatment and then departed VFR from STC without air traffic services to BJI. According to the FBO at STC, the airplane was not serviced with fuel before departure. Preliminary radar data indicated the airplane departed STC and flew northeast and climbed to about 4,000 feet mean seal level (msl). As the airplane approached the BJI terminal area, a line of adverse weather was observed over the intended route of travel and radar data showed the airplane made several course deviations. The airplane turned east, completed two 360° turns, then continued southeast headed away from BJI. The airplane then entered a course reversal and turned northwest back toward BJI. During these deviations, the airplane descended to about 2,000 feet msl and then climbed back to 4,000 feet msl and continued to climb and descend before entering a continued climb to about 7,000 feet msl followed by a continual descent toward the ground. The last target was at 20h07. The airplane wreckage was located in Leech Lake, about 31 miles southeast of BJI, in about 12 feet of water. The fuselage and tail section were intact; the wings had separated from the airplane but were still connected by cables.
B-25 Mitchell down in California, three injured
The aircraft involved is a 1944 B-25J (and most recently categorized as an ‘N’ Model after rebuilding), serial number 44-28938, registered to Proair Holding Company LLC, Latham, New York, as N7946C. The aircraft had previously been damaged in a forced landing accident near Reno, Nevada, in 1987. The aircraft later underwent an extensive 18 000-hour restoration and flew again in September 1995.
The initial report from the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office, stated that, ‘The aircraft involved in the crash was a World War II-era. The plane attempted a landing in an open field and appeared to have struck an irrigation ditch. The aircraft sustained significant damage. All injuries sustained during the incident appear to be non-life threatening. We are in communication with NTSB and FAA as they will lead the investigation. Three people were on the aircraft. Two were transported to a local hospital and one was able to walk away.’
Old Glory was one of the birds that was transported to Hawaii aboard the USS Essex. Hoisted aboard the ship in San Diego, the mighty Mitchell took part in the 75th Commemoration of the End of WWII event and then came back across the Pacific the same way. The accident reportedly occurred as the bird was making its way back from having been off-loaded in San Diego.
Flight to hunt sheep ends fatally
The pilot was performing a personal flight in the Piper PA-12-150 with one passenger to hunt sheep in remote mountainous terrain near Healy, Alaska. After the pilot failed to report to his place of employment four days after their departure, an extensive Search and Rescue (SAR) operation was launched the following day. The wreckage was located two days after the SAR operation began in a remote snow-covered mountainous valley. Both the pilot and passenger died in the crash.
The airplane came to rest upright, with the fuselage banking to the right, both wings indicating forward / aft crushing, and the tail slightly elevated with little impact damage. The date and time of the accident could not be determined. That meant the meteorological conditions before and at the time of the accident could not be determined. The aft right-wing spar exhibited signs of compression bending, with the right forward spar exhibiting aft bending. The aft left-wing spar bolt indicated a failure in tension, and the left forward spar indicated forward bending. A post-crash fire incinerated a large portion of the wreckage.
The pilot did not file a flight plan. If the pilot had filed a flight plan, SAR assets would have focused on a specific search area, which would likely have reduced the time to find the airplane. Although the accident was likely not survivable due to the impact forces, a filed flight plan would have reduced the risk to aerial SAR assets operating in remote mountainous terrain.
Pilot selects empty fuel tank for take-off
The pilot of the float equipped DeHavilland DHC 2 reported that, during the initial climb after a water take-off, about 200 feet, he turned right and the engine lost power. He immediately switched fuel tanks and attempted to restart the engine, but to no avail. The plane descended and hit trees and the right wing hit terrain in Igiugig, Alaska. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the right wing.
The pilot reported to the FAA inspector that, during the initial climb and after the engine lost power, he noticed that the center tank, which was selected for take-off, was empty. He added that passengers stated the engine did regain power after switching tanks, but the airplane had already hit trees. The pilot reported as a recommendation to more closely follow checklists.
WORLD AVIATION NEWS
Airbus is in danger of collapse: Guillaume Faury
The company’s chief executive officer Guillaume Faury warned that the European aircraft manufacturer Airbus is in danger of collapse as it appears that the situation in the company is increasingly getting worse. Speaking to French radio station RTL on 22 September, he said “business is potentially at risk” if the company does not take the right measures to bridge over the economic shutdown. After airlines worldwide have slowed or even cancelled deliveries of ordered aircraft, Faury said that Airbus needs to cut a total of 15,000 jobs. This means that the company would be forced to lay off more than 11% of its workforce. “The situation is so serious and we are faced with so much uncertainty, that I think no one can guarantee there will not be compulsory redundancies if we are to adapt to the situation, especially if it evolves further,” said Faury.
Faury said that the company will do its best to cut costs without compulsory redundancies. However, the CEO cannot guarantee it will not happen. “What I say clearly is that we have a lot of work to do, we will do everything we can to avoid arriving at that point.” Earlier in July 2020, Airbus considered that the compulsory redundancies in the United Kingdom would affect 1,700 employees. Significantly more workforce, around 10,000 employees, would be laid off in Airbus factories in Germany and France. On 14 September 2020, in a general business update letter Faury has allegedly warned his 13,000 employees that pursuing the voluntary redundancies could not be enough to cut the company’s costs down because the passenger traffic could be recovering from the crisis slower than expected.
Close but no crash: two Ryanair Boeing 737 near-miss above Spain
An incident report, released by the Spanish Civil Aviation Accident and Incident Investigation Commission (CIAIAC), revealed how two Ryanair Boeing 737 aircraft almost collided mid-air at 34,000 feet in Northern Spain on 2 October 2018. The accident was prevented by a controller from a neighbouring air traffic control sector, namely Bordeaux, France.
The two Ryanair aircraft involved (registered as EI-FRY and EI-DWW) both departed from two Spanish airports, namely Santiago–Rosalía de Castro Airport (SCQ) and Seville Airport (SVQ). The EI-FRY was heading towards the south of the country to Palma de Mallorca Airport (PMI), while the EI-DWW was on its way towards Toulouse, France. The two aircraft were carrying 184 and 160 people, respectively, with four experienced pilots at each control column of the pair of 737s.
According to Spanish investigators, twelve minutes prior to the loss of separation incident, at 14h45 local time (UTC +2) both Ryanair aircraft were controlled by the Madrid Area Control Center (ACC) PAL sector, cruising at FL340 (34,000 feet). Three minutes before the incident, the Toulouse-bound aircraft was transferred to the ZGZ sector, while the PMI-bound aircraft remained under the command of PAL. Both aircraft retained FL340, as they headed for a mid-air collision at Air Traffic Control (ATC) reporting point GOSVI, above Navarre, Spain. Two minutes before, Bordeaux, France ACC controller alerted Madrid’s PAL ACC controller of the potential mid-air collision. ‘Judging by his reply, the PAL sector controller had not detected it,’ read the CIAIAC’s report.
Conflicting instructions: However, the second Ryanair Boeing 737 remained in the area controlled by PAL, which resulted in further confusion as PAL’s controller was not yet aware of the potential conflict. The problem was further exacerbated due to the fact that the Conflict alert prediction (STCA PAC) alert did not appear for either of the aircraft for air traffic controllers. After this and two other subsequent incidents, ENAIRE, the Spanish air traffic control organization, identified and corrected the STCA system shortcoming.
Controllers at PAL and ZGZ sectors gave out conflicting instructions to both aircraft, read the report. PAL’s controller asked a colleague from ZGZ to lower the altitude of the aircraft it still had control of, to which ZGZ responded affirmatively. Both controllers asked Ryanair pilots to descend, rather than keeping one aircraft at the same flight level. Subsequently, both controllers and the flight crew of the EI-FRY detected a conflict. The pilots of the south-bound 737 asked the ATC to confirm their instructions, as the Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) on their flight deck showcased the second aircraft descending as well. Three separate conversations happened a minute before the closest distance between the two aircraft. PAL’s controller was saying that his aircraft was already descending, while ZGZ’s controller told his counterpart that he would tell his aircraft to descend.
“Can you confirm it is descending FL330?” asked the pilots who identified the potential altitude conflict on their TCAS display. Shortly after, both controllers once again gave out identical instructions: to maintain FL340. Fortunately, the Toulouse-destined aircraft began its descent, losing 175 feet of altitude. The two Irish-registered aircraft violated European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)’s minimal separation limits of five nautical miles horizontally and 1,000 feet vertically at 14h57 local time (UTC +2), as they were only separated by 2.3 nautical miles horizontally and 334 feet vertically, indicated Spanish accident investigators. No passengers or crew members sustained any injuries on board.
CIAIAC findings concluded that the PAL sector controller failed to properly identify the conflict, including the fact that controllers from both control sectors issued similar instructions to both aircraft, contradicting their own dialogue. Thus, ATC instructions did not prevent the loss of separation.
“Contributing to the incident is the improper handling of the conflict by the controllers in both sectors, who issued similar instructions to the two aircraft, contrary to what had been agreed previously,” the report stated.
FAA and EASA warn of Airbus A320neo unsafe condition
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), following the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)’s lead, issued an Airworthiness Directive (AD) warning of the unsafe condition that affects the whole Airbus A320neo family of aircraft and its engines. EASA pointed out the fact that there have been numerous instances whereupon engine perturbation was noted when fuel was mixed with KATHON FP 1.5 biocide. Following an investigation, the European safety regulators determined that KATHON FP 1.5 should not be used going forward, as it could reduce the performance of the A320neo family engines. Subsequently, the usage of the biocide could result in reduced control of the aircraft.
The FAA, which issued its AD on 21 September 2020, followed EASA’s lead after it ‘evaluated all pertinent information and determined the unsafe condition exists and is likely to exist or develop on other products of the same type design.’ The United States’ aviation regulator also determined that this directive affects flight safety, thus has not provided an opportunity for public comment on the regulation. Nevertheless, the FAA invites individuals or companies to share any relevant data, views, or opinions about the AD. Affected are all parts of the aircraft fuel system or the engine of the aircraft, which was operated with fuel mixed with the biocide. Parts, which have been cleaned in the way that EASA’s AD requires to be done, are exempted as well as parts that have reached 30 flight cycles without the usage of the biocide. 163 aircraft, registered in the United States, are affected. The administration estimated that the total cost on all US operators would be $337,410, while a single aircraft repair can setback an airline about $2,000.
On 10 March 2020, the manufacturer of the biocide, which was supposed to prevent microbiological contamination in the fuel tanks, asked all users of KATHON FP 1.5 to halt usage of the biocide. Ten days later, EASA issued a Safety Information Bulletin (SIB) to ‘notify affected stakeholders of the recent occurrences related to the use’ of the chemical.
Furthermore, three incidents were highlighted by EASA
In February 2020, for example, a Titan Airways’ Airbus A321 left-hand engine suffered surges, while the right-hand engine stalled. The United Kingdom’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) concluded that an engineer in poured 37 times the amount of permitted dosage of KATHON, resulting in the contamination. While the second incident was also the result of misapplication, the third showcased no evidence that the usage of the biocide was something out of the norm. Nevertheless, EASA concluded that an Airworthiness Directive (AD) was warranted.
Passenger infects 15 others on Vietnam Airlines long-haul flight
On 18 September 2020, the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (NIHE) in Vietnam released a research article, revealing how a single passenger infected 15 others during a Vietnam Airlines flight and challenging the health security of long-haul travel. On 1 March 2020, a 27-year-old Vietnamese businesswoman boarded a non-stop Vietnam Airlines flight VN54 from London, the UK, to Hanoi, Vietnam. After being screened by thermal imaging in London Heathrow Airport, the woman did not mention the sore throat and a cough that she was experiencing, after spending a week in Europe with her sister. She landed in Hanoi on 2 March 2020 and sought help at a local hospital three days later, on 5 March where she was diagnosed with COVID-19.
To prevent potential disease clusters, NIHE followed up all 16 flight crew members and 168 passengers who remained in Vietnam after the VN54 flight. They were quarantined, interviewed and examined, revealing 15 new COVID-19 cases by mid-March 2020. 12 (80% of the cases) of the passengers who tested positive for the virus travelled business class together with the infected woman, while 11 of them (92% of all in two-seat proximity) sat no more than two seats away.
Likewise, three of the woman’s household personnel received positive COVID-19 results on 7 March, as well as her friend in London on 10 March, whom she visited on 29 February. Her sister was also diagnosed with the virus at a later date. The NIHE affirmed that none of the cases had any substantial evidence to support alternative ways of virus transmission other than the Vietnam Airlines flight.
Pandemic may prove a boon for private aviation
According to a June 24 report on Globetrender.com a silver lining of the cloud of COVID-19 will be an increased interest in and the use of private aviation and FBOs, previously shunned by some people due to its expense and carbon footprint. “a new focus on personal health means usage will rocket,” says Doug Gollan, founder and editor-in-chief of Private Jet Card Comparisons, an independent buyer’s guide of private jet membership programmes. It’s already happening. As businesses begin to reopen, private aviation is bouncing back more quickly from the coronavirus pandemic than it did from the 2008 recession. Mike Silvestro, chief executive officer of Flexjet, which provides flight services with a fleet of 160 private planes says, “Private aviation is poised to actually be the beneficiary because of the inherent nature of a safer, more familial, cleaner environment.”
Trouble brewing over British Airways Boeing 777 GE90 engines?
On 4 September 2020, a British Airways Boeing 777-200 (registered G-VIIC) started its first journey since coming out of long-term storage. Shortly after it had departed London Heathrow Airport (LHR), it was forced to turn around as the right-hand engine shut down and aborted the journey towards New York. However, the issue might have uncovered a more wide-spread problem in British Airways Triple Seven fleet. According to reports, the flight crew noticed that the engine lost oil pressure thus turned around and dumped fuel over the Bristol Channel to reduce their landing weight. G-VIIC, the Boeing 777-200 involved in the incident, has been at LHR ever since, according to flightradar24.com data.
From 25 June until 8 September 2020, the wide body was stored at Cardiff Airport (CWL). It was its first commercial flight since coming out of storage. Engineers, who conducted borescope inspections of the engine on the ground, found a number of oil pipes blocked. A check was done on multiple British Airways 777s, according to a source familiar with the matter, who also revealed that an issue might be more widespread across the whole fleet. Currently, 25 out of the 55 British Airways Boeing 777s are grounded. Some were put to storage fairly recently. For example, G-STBC, G-RAES, G-VIID, G-VIIJ, G-VIIK, G-VIIL, and other British Airways-registered and GE90-powered 777s have not flown since the aforementioned engine-shutdown incident. The potential reason for the grounding could also be the fact that the United Kingdom has a constantly shifting travel corridor list, which impacts demand for international travel.
Boeing receives two 737-800BCF orders, launches more conversion lines
Boeing announced that an unidentified customer made an order for two 737-800 Boeing Converted Freighters (BCF) on WHAN. The manufacturer also revealed signing agreements to open new conversion lines in China and Singapore. Boeing announced it had 134 orders of the 737-800BCF converted freighter and it has already made 36 deliveries of this aircraft since 2018. On 20 September 2020, the manufacturer stated that the aircraft was used to operate express cargo flights primarily on short-haul routes but the newest version of the cargo plane has significant advantages on the cost efficiency side in comparison to other standard-body freighters. According to Boeing, 737-800BCF consumes less fuel than other cargo aircraft and is capable of carrying up to 23.9 tonnes of cargo while flying up to 2,000 nautical miles.
Taiwan accuses China of second airspace breach, simulating attack
Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defence claims Chinese bombers and fighters breached its airspace on 19 September 2020, entering the country’s territory in a pincer movement and prompting Taiwan to scramble its own jets. Two H-2 strategic bombers and one Y-8 transport plane, escorted by J-16 fighters, crossed the midline of the Taiwan Strait south of the island, while two J-16s and several more J-10s entered from the north. Meanwhile, two J-11 fighters breached the line in the middle, proceeding northwest within Taiwan’s airspace and exiting it later. In total, 19 Chinese planes conducted the manoeuvres, according to the Ministry.
It was China’s second incursion into Taiwan’s airspace in two days, the previous one being conducted on 18 September 2020, when a group of no less than 18 Chinese military aircraft entered Taiwanese air space in a similar manner. In both cases, fighter jets were scrambled, while missile defence systems held Chinese planes in their sights, according to Taiwan. The incursions may have been prompted by a visit of the U.S. delegation, which was headed by Undersecretary of State Keith Kratch, the highest-ranking US official to visit Taiwan in four decades. While defence or border disputes were not on the table during the visit, the region’s pressing economic issues, including so-called ‘technology war’ with Beijing became the focus. China does not recognize Taiwan’s sovereignty, regularly conducting flights in what it considers its own territorial waters.
Here are six private aviation trends emerging from the COVID-19 crisis:
1) First-time private jet flyers: Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, only about 10 percent of people who could afford to fly privately were doing so. In the US, it is estimated there are between one and two million affluent households and businesses who are the potential market for private aviation. Expect to see more trying private aviation for their travel needs.
2) Great emphasis on hygiene: Since the pandemic hit, private aviation providers have been proactive in selling their health and safety advantages. Practices include mandatory face masks for flight crews and staff at FBOs, multiple daily temperature checks for COVID-19 and extra intensive cleaning before and after flights, including special anti-bacterial treatments to aircraft interiors. Magazines and newspapers have been removed from terminals and planes and private jet companies are also vetting their ground transportation partners. A study by one operator showed potential exposure to COVID-19 is 30 times lower when flying privately.
3) Lower costs of entry: At its worst point in April, the private aviation industry saw flights drop by as much as 80 percent. That has meant in some cases, previously unseen low prices for on-demand charters coming from fleet operators. For those operators with their own airplanes, with lower fuel prices, and fixed costs that do not go away when planes are on the ground, the idea was to keep them in the air at steep discounts. At the same time, more companies launched pay-as-you-go membership programmes where you pay a joining fee and are then guaranteed flights at a fixed rate. Others reduced the typical buy-in for jet cards from 25 hours to five or 10 hours. That meant for newcomers, instead of having to wire $150,000, they could get started for under $10,000.
4) Business travel comeback: As the economy reopens, business travel is again becoming necessary. Unfortunately, with airline schedules at skeleton levels, getting to where you need to be has become more difficult. Missing a connection often means overnighting at a hub. Fewer trips can be done in a single day and clients are still formulating policies about accepting visitors who arrive by airlines as part of their duty-of-care requirements. At the same time, companies expect to save on trade shows, conferences and other marketing expenses. They are also expanding the number of team members who qualify for private travel. The combination has meant companies that used private aviation are expanding its usage and others that had not are now giving it a try, using savings from other budget items.
5) Flying to visit second homes: Due to airlines having reduced schedules and parents concerned about the unknown impact of COVID-19 on children, those visits to second homes, typically done by driving or flying commercially are being switched to private aviation. In some cases, it just is not possible to get away for that long weekend with limited commercial airline schedules. In other cases, affluent households are concerned about having to stop while driving. For these wealthy travellers who fall in the high-risk segment, they want to visit their second homes, but do not want to risk exposure to the potentially deadly virus.
6) Protecting those with pre-existing conditions: Whether its children with asthma or diabetes, or a spouse or grandparent with a pre-existing condition or weakened immune system, flying privately is priceless for those who don’t want to risk infecting those dear to them.
What is ahead for private aviation
Common wisdom is that once you fly privately, it is hard to go back. Still, it is a big cost increase compared to flying commercially. Whether or not private aviation companies can keep newfound customers is partly out of their hands. If airlines, already under huge financial pressure, decide to use the crisis to prune routes and frequencies, further reduce in-flight services for the long-term, keep lounges closed and can’t keep their planes clean, new private flyers will likely be inclined to stay away from commercial flying.
Twice Weekly News from African Pilot
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Until next week Monday, please be ‘Serious about flying’.
Athol Franz (Editor)
African Pilot ‘Serious about flying’.