“Freedom is not a fixed and possessed thing. It is a quality of life and like action itself, it is something experienced only by individuals. ” Neil A. McDonald
Since last week’s mystery aircraft was challenging to identify, according to the number of correct answers I received, this week I have provided another interesting aircraft type. Please send your answers to me at email@example.com. I will publish the names of those that identified the aircraft correctly within the Thursday edition of APAnews.
Aviation calendar for next year
As stated in my editorial on Thursday, I have started working on the 2024 aviation calendar, so if you have any dates that you would like to reserve, please send this information to me in the following order: date, event’s name, where the event is taking place (airfield or other) and who to contact: Tel / Cell and e-mail. It is important to understand that there are many aviation organisations in South Africa and the rest of the world and it is unfair to expect me to go to numerous websites to gather information. In addition, nearly all the other aviation media outlets simply copy African Pilot’s calendar of events, meaning that the complete annual aviation calendar is published within several magazines and aviation blogs. firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your cooperation.
Within this 220-page edition of African Pilot with seven picture galleries and 14 videos features 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, we have published a brief report on the largest aviation airshow and exhibition in the world, featuring the amazing South African group that camped with Neil Bowden’s Air Adventure Tours. However, the full report with a substantial video and picture gallery will be featured within the September edition of African Pilot.
The September 2023 edition will be featuring Southern African charter companies as well as Aviation Safety. EAA AirVenture and some of the British airshows will also be featured within the September edition. In addition, African Pilot features all aspects of aviation from Airline business to recreational and sport aviation, whilst helicopters, military aviation, commercial and technical issues are addressed monthly. Within African Pilot’s monthly historical section, we feature the Best of the Best, Names to Remember and the monthly aviation Fact File. Overall African Pilot has the finest balance between nearly all aviation subjects brought to you within a single publication every month and the best part is that the magazine is FREE to anyone in the entire world at the click of a single button.
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.
Creating a Monster – World’s Fastest Single Engine Turboprop
Amid funding issues SAAF Hercules fleet begins UK upgrades
On the evening of 8 August 2023 SAAF C-130BZ 409 left Air Force Base Waterkloof for a lengthy flight to the United Kingdom for maintenance and upgrades. The aircraft’s departure from South Africa was delayed by a day due to overflight clearance issues arising from airspace closures over Niger and neighbouring countries in the wake of the recent coup in Niger. The Department of Defence has been allocated an additional ring-fenced funding of R1 billion in 2023 / 24 to enhance the country’s medium airlift transport capability. It appears the SAAF intends to spend this amount on upgrading and maintaining the six remaining C-130s.
Due to the only one C130 servicing bay between the SAAF Air Servicing Unit (ASU) and Denel, servicing more aircraft requires involving an external party. In this case, it will be undertaken by Marshall Aerospace, which will service aircraft 405, 406 and 409. Each upgrade is expected to take approximately eighteen months, with the first commencing in August this year. It is planned for Denel to build a second Hercules servicing bay. Although the exact details of the upgrade are uncertain, it is likely to involve the upgrade or replacement of radios, transponders and other obsolete navigation equipment.
Saturday spent at Orient airfield
On Saturday morning Bjorn and I travelled to the Magalies Gliding Club at Orient airfield to film and interview Cassie del Laroche (99) who was flown by Andreas Siebold in his Diamond HK36 Dimona motor glider. This was a really ‘good news’ story since many years previously Mrs del Laroche was a private pilot where she undertook her training in Zambia’s Copperbelt. What a pleasure it was to meet with Cassie as she told us about her flying life and more. Andreas told us that she even took the controls for part of the flight and performed turns, climbs and descends perfectly. The full story with pictures and a video will be published 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.
Lycoming engine care workshop at Absolute Aviation
Contact Sharlene Earle E-mail: Sharlene.firstname.lastname@example.org
SAPFA Speed Rally No4 Groblersdal airfield
Contact David le Roux E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 073 338 5200
Springs airfield annual breakfast fly-in
No contact details
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
DCA Industry Roadshow Durban KZN
Contact Ms Charmaine Shibambo E-mail: email@example.com
Saldanha West Coast airshow
Contact Clive Coetzee E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 084 614 1675
30 September to 7 October
SSSA Gliding Nationals at Potchefstroom airfield
Contact Carol Clifford E-mail: email@example.com
West Coast FlyFPV SA Championship and West Coast RC Flight Championship
Contact Clive Coetzee E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 084 614 1675
6 & 7 October
SAC World Advanced Aerobatic Championships training camp venue TBA
Contact Annie Boon E-mail: email@example.com
6 to 8 October
EAA Sun ‘n Fun Tempe Airfield
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
EAA Chapter 322 monthly gathering 18h00 Tempe airfield
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: email@example.com
13 & 14 October
Silver Creek Camp Over & Pancake breakfast Silver Creek airfield
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
14 to 22 October
SAC World Advanced Aerobatic Championships training in the USA
Contact Annie Boon E-mail: email@example.com
24 October to 4 November
SAC Advanced World Aerobatics Championships Las Vegas
Contact Annie Boon E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
SAPFA SA Landing Championships – Brits & Stellenbosch airfields
Contact Ron Stirk E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 082 804 445 0373
Closure of Niger’s airspace causes chaos on flights to / from Africa
The BBC has reported that Niger’s junta, which overthrew the country’s government on 26 July 2023, announced in a televised statement that they are closing its airspace due to the threat of invasion. Between 2 August and 4 August 2023, the Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff (CCDS) of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) met in Abuja, Nigeria, where the representatives of the ECOWAS discussed the state of Niger following the coup. The sudden decision to close the country’s airspace has resulted in airlines scrambling for alternatives for routes to and from Africa, especially those carriers whose routes run from north to south of the continent.
For example, British Airways Airbus A380, registered as G-XLEI, traveling on flight BA56 from Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport (JNB), South Africa, to London Heathrow Airport (LHR), the United Kingdom (UK), decided to return to JBN after flying over Africa for just under five hours. Another Airbus A380, registered as G-XLEK, turned back to LHR on its flight to JNB on flight BA56, after flying for around four hours, flightradar24.com records show.
Virgin Atlantic’s flight VS449 from LHR to JNB took 10 hours and 55 minutes on 6 August 2023, compared to the flight time of 10 hours and 19 minutes the day prior on the same route. Meanwhile, a Lufthansa Boeing 747-8I, registered as D-ABYR, diverted to Murtala Muhammed International Airport (LOS), Lagos, Nigeria, marking the first-ever appearance of a 747-8I at the airport. However, the German airline’s aircraft needed to divert and refuel in order to complete its journey between JNB and Frankfurt Airport (FRA).
An east-bound Turkish Airlines Boeing 737 MAX-8, registered as TC-LCF, diverted to LOS on its way from Pointe Noire Airport (PNR), Congo, to Istanbul Airport (IST), before it shortly continued its flight to IST. According to a report by France’s BFM Business, Air France has cancelled certain flights to neighbouring countries until at least 11 August 2023, including those to Niamey, Niger, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso and Bamako, Mali. The company added that some flights will take between 15 minutes and two hours longer as a direct result of the closure of the airspace.
Benin’s Air Force acquires Super Pumas
On 1 August Benin’s armed forces displayed newly acquired helicopters during the country’s Independence Day parade as three H215 Super Puma and two H125M helicopters were part of the flypast celebrating Benin’s 63rd anniversary of independence. The H215s will join the H125Ms (TY-37H and TY-38H) in counter-terrorism operations in the northwest of Benin, where 3 000 soldiers are deployed to counter Islamist extremists as part of Operation Mirador, which has been ongoing since last year. Government troops, aircraft and armoured vehicles have been deployed in the north-west on the border with Burkina Faso and in the north-east on the border with Niger.
According to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, in 2020 Benin’s military received two AS550 Fennec helicopters. The air force has only a few serviceable aircraft in use, namely one Mi-8 helicopter, single DHC-6 and MA600 transports, a couple of Humbert Tétras CSM light aircraft and a BAe 748 transport. In a December 2022 state of the nation speech, Beninese President Patrice Talon said the military response in 2022 included more than $130 million to recruit nearly 4 000 security personnel, modernise equipment and begin fortifying bases, while building 10 operating bases and ‘several dozen’ fortified positions. In April 2023, the government announced the recruitment of five thousand new soldiers to step up the fight against terrorism.
NTSB releases preliminary report on Oshkosh rotorcraft tragedy
The NTSB has released its preliminary report on a 29 July 2023 accident in which a RotorWay 162F helicopter and an ELA Eclipse 10 gyroplane, registrations N193AZ and N221EL respectively, collided mid-air in VMC conditions in the vicinity of Oshkosh, Wisconsin’s Wittman Regional Airport. The helicopter was destroyed and its pilot and passenger fatally injured. The gyroplane was also destroyed and its pilot fatally injured. However, the gyroplane’s passenger survived the mishap with only minor injuries.
Both aircraft were operated as private flights under Part 91 of the Federal Aviation Regulations.
According to multiple videos and witness accounts, the gyroplane was on the base leg of a VFR approach to the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Ultralight / Homebuilt Rotorcraft runway when it executed a left 360-degree turn. The helicopter, then positioned behind the gyroplane in the traffic pattern, was also approaching the runway on the base leg following a north / south paved road. The gyroplane impacted the left side of the helicopter at an altitude of approximately 250-feet AGL.
The two aircraft descended in near-vertical attitudes with debris separating from both. The helicopter impacted ground, coming to rest inverted. A post-impact fire ensued. The gyroplane impacted an unoccupied fixed-wing airplane parked between the aforementioned north / south paved road and Oshkosh runway 36L. No ground injuries were reported.
Post-accident examination of the helicopter revealed both outboard sections of the aircraft’s main rotor-blades had separated and come to rest in the debris field. The main rotor-blades’ structures displayed impact marks and white paint transfers consistent with the gyroplane’s structure and paint colour. The gyroplane’s right horizontal and vertical stabilisers displayed shear-cuts and separated structure consistent with helicopter main rotor-blade contact. The gyroplane’s main rotor-mast was separated at approximately mid-length and bore an impact signature consistent with the downed helicopter’s main rotor-blade. Examination of both aircraft revealed no evidence of pre-impact mechanical malfunctions or failures by which normal operation would have been precluded.
Vertical Aerospace prototype eVTOL aircraft ‘crashes’ during flight test
Vertical Aerospace’s prototype electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft appeared to suffer damage after it crashed during flight testing at Cotswold Airport (GBA) in the United Kingdom (UK). The prototype, named Vx4, was performing an unmanned flight test on 9 August 2023, when it is understood a hard landing resulted in damage to the aircraft. According to a source at the airport, who advised freelance journalist Charlotte Bailey, the crash occurred when the aircraft was approximately 20ft in the air and it suffered ‘significant structural damage’. A photo following incident shows the Vertical Aerospace eVTOL on the ground, but it is difficult to ascertain exactly what damage to the aircraft has been caused.
In a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing from Vertical Aerospace the eVTOL developer confirmed an incident had occurred during a ‘motor failure test scenario’ but there were no injuries. The document added: ‘Our flight test programme is designed to establish the limits of the aircraft’s performance and the incident occurred during an uncrewed test of the aircraft’s manoverability during a motor failure test scenario, which is a key requirement to progress to crewed operations. We are working closely with the relevant authorities.’
In August 2023, in a letter to shareholders announcing the company’s second quarter results Vertical Aerospace said it had performed 18 take-offs and landings so far. ‘The aircraft lifted, hovered, flew and landed all by the thrust of its electric propulsion system and powered only by Vertical’s proprietary battery packs,” the letter said. In July 2023, the British company announced it had successfully flown a full-scale prototype (untethered) for the first time and reached a speed of 40 knots (74 km/h).
USCG suspends its search for missing pilots
The search for Carl Frederick Reichard Stubbe (33) and Oswald Fuentes Roman (19) was called off at 18h00 Atlantic Standard Time (Zulu -4) on Monday, 7 August 2023. Officials from the Center of Radar Approach Control (CERAP) notified US Coast Guard Sector San Juan watch standers at approximately 21h30 AST Friday that radar-contact with the Cessna 172 had been lost six-statute-miles west of St. Thomas.
Coast Guard watch standers ordered the launch of a Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Borinquen and a Boat Forces Detachment St. Thomas rescue crew to search the area in which the aircraft was feared drowned. The missing aircraft departed Aguadilla, Puerto Rico’s Rafael Hernandez Airport (BQN) intending to make a round-robin flight with a practice approach in St. Thomas.
Coast Guard Sector San Juan commander Captain Jose Diaz stated: “Suspending search efforts is one the hardest decisions to be made, but after saturating the search area with no signs of the downed aircraft, I’ve suspended the Coast Guard search pending further developments.” Captain Diaz added: “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the missing passengers during this difficult time.” Rescue crews searched an area spanning approximately 6,387-square miles over a combined total 45-hours.
Fatal ferry flight attempted despite known defects
Despite a major fuel leak, a history of defects with the aircraft and the refusal by three other pilots to fly the aircraft, the owner of a Piper Navajo elected to attempt a ferry flight and died in a crash a few seconds after take-off. The NTSB’s preliminary report on the crash at Kearney, Missouri, on 20 July 2023 includes anecdotes from multiple witnesses who reported malfunctioning engines and fuel tanks that leaked ‘horribly’ on the plane, which was last airworthy eight years prior. The lineman who fuelled the plane that day took a video of avgas pouring from the aircraft onto the ramp.
The NTSB said numerous witnesses shot video and stills of the take-off attempt that showed the airplane becoming briefly airborne before settling back on the runway. ‘The recordings showed the airplane become airborne near the runway end and yaw to the right before it climbed parallel with the rising terrain,’ the report says. ‘The witnesses observed the airplane barely cleared a line of trees past the departure end of the runway and made a left turn before it disappeared behind trees.’ The plane crashed in a field near the airport and caught fire.
The plane had been at Kearney for about six months and the owner and a mechanic had been working on it over that period. About two weeks before the crash, witnesses told the NTSB an engine runup revealed a hard starting engine that would not make full power. The owner had obtained ferry permit to take it to Kingman, Kansas, for an annual inspection.
Woman sues after witnessing SAT ramp worker’s death
On 23 June 2023, ramp-worker David Renner (27), lost his life after being ingested into the operating engine of a Delta Airlines Airbus A319 newly arrived at Texas’s San Antonio International Airport (SAT).
An unnamed individual with ostensible ties to the incident reported on condition of anonymity that Renner had ‘intentionally stepped in front of the live engine.’
The decedent’s family stated he’d lived a challenging life marked by previous suicide attempts. However, the family added that Renner, in the months preceding his death, had been happy, leading a clean life and manifested ‘no indications’ he intended to harm himself.
Now in August 2023 and Mackenzie Hill, a woman traveling aboard the Delta A319 by which Renner perished, has filed a lawsuit against Unifi Aviation, Renner’s (then) employer and the US’s largest provider of ground-handling services. According to the suit, Hill had recently graduated from a two-year programme for women for ministry and had gifted herself a trip to Disneyland prior to returning to her San Antonio home. As the Airbus made its way to the gate, Hill noticed a man on foot draw uncomfortably near the aircraft. The filing contends Hill witnessed the man ingested into the aircraft’s engine and looked on as the fan ‘essentially shredded his body.’
The plaintiff states she quickly closed her window shade and attempted to brace herself. The Delta cabin-crew reportedly instructed passengers to lower the entirety of the aircraft’s window shades and leave them closed throughout the 15 minutes passengers and crew were detained aboard the aircraft.
The lawsuit claims Hill’s offer to provide a statement pertaining to what she had purportedly witnessed was declined. The plaintiff alleges she suffers nightmares in the wake of Renner’s death and flashbacks of his body being ‘spit out’ of the jet engine. In her suit against UNIFI Aviation, Hill alleges:
- Renner presented a suicide note to his supervisor prior to his death.
- Renner had posted online outbursts consistent with a pathological mental state.
- Renner suffered from substance abuse problems.
- Renner may have been facing criminal charges.
Hill states her suit is predicated not only on the aforementioned, but UNIFI’s failure to remove or suspend Renner, or limit his access to operating aircraft. Hill seeks monetary compensation for:
- Mental anguish, both past and future.
- Physical impairment in the past.
- Loss of wage-earning capacity, both future and past.
- DTPA treble damages.
- Reasonable and necessary medical expenses, both past and future.
- Attorney fees for DTPA claims.
The Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA) is a Texas law prohibiting false, deceptive, or misleading business practices.
Boeing reveals 777X-8 only has eight net orders, shows 737 MAX split
Boeing has revealed the exact order split for specific types of aircraft, including the 737 MAXs and 777-8X, in its latest Orders & Deliveries filing. The filings, which were updated as of 31 July 2023, showed that the United States-based plane maker has amassed a total of 363 net orders for the entire 777X family, split between eight for the 777-8X, 55 for the 777-8F and 300 for the 777-9X. Gross orders were 43, 55 and 322, respectively.
In June 2023’s filings, the manufacturer disclosed that Emirates ordered 16 777Xs, despite the airline already having a backlog of 150 aircraft since its order for the type in November 2013. The order was firmed up in July 2014. The Dubai International Airport (DXB)-based airline became one of the launch customers of the type during the Dubai Air Show in November 2013, when Boeing launched the programme with a total of 259 ‘agreements from four customers across Europe and the Middle East’. Apart from Emirates, Etihad Airways, Lufthansa and Qatar Airways were the other three. According to ch-aviation.com data, Etihad Airways remains the only airline with orders for the 777-8X with orders for the 777-8X having placed eight orders for the aircraft type.
Boeing recently ‘stretched’ the 777-8X on its product page, editing the specifications of the aircraft with more capacity, range and additional length. When compared to specifications still present in early January 2023, the 777-8X grew by three feet (0.9 meters), added 11 passengers to a typical two-class configuration and had its estimated range has been increased by 15 nautical miles (27.7 kilometers).
737 MAX split
The plane manufacturer also revealed the order split for the 737 MAX aircraft family, which is comprised of the 737 MAX-7, MAX-8, as well as the MAX-8-200, MAX-9 and MAX-10. The 737 MAX-8 is by far the most popular model with more than 5,000 gross orders. Its higher-density derivative, the MAX-8-200, has 469 gross orders. Meanwhile, the second-most popular variant is the yet-to-be-certified 737 MAX-10, with 918 gross orders. The 737 MAX-9 has 420 gross orders, while the smallest, and still uncertified variant, the 737 MAX-7, has 325 gross orders. Net orders for the 737 MAX-7 and MAX-10 stand at 297 and 810, respectively. Boeing has already delivered 965 737 MAX-8, 124 MAX-8-200 and 187 MAX-9, with 2,751, 344, and 137 unfilled orders, respectively.
In comparison to the A320neo, the A321neo seats more passengers (maximum capacity of 244 versus the A320neo’s 180) with the range of the A320neo and A321neo being identical at 3,500 nmi (6,500 km). However, the A321neo’s range is increased with the A321LR (4,000 nmi, 7,410 km) and A321XLR (4,700 nmi, 8,700 km). Airbus only shows the A321neo as a type in its Orders & Deliveries filings, with the Toulouse, France-based company having a total of 5,259 gross orders for the A321neo, A321LR, and A321XLR. The A320neo has 4,297 gross orders, with Airbus having delivered 1,774 A320neo and 1,109 A321neo as of 31 July 2023.
The highest-density 737 MAX is the MAX-10, with a maximum of 230 passengers, yet its range is the lowest out of all the aircraft within the family (3,100 nmi, 5,740 km). The 737 MAX-7, offering the fewest seats, can fly the furthest, with its advertised range being 3,800 nmi (7,040 km). However, the Boeing 737 MAX-8 offers a middle ground with its range (3,500 nmi, 6,480 km) and capacity, seating up to 210 passengers on the 737 MAX-8-200 variant. The 737 MAX-9 seats up to 210 passengers and can fly up to 3,300 nmi (6,110 km).
MD Helicopters signs 12 aircraft deal
MD Helicopters (MDH) has announced the signing of a contract by which the rotorcraft-maker will deliver six Cayuse Warrior Plus Attack / Scout aircraft with precision weapons capability and six MD 530F glass cockpit upgrades to a Middle Eastern Customer. The twelve aircraft will support counter insurgency and counter terrorism operations by providing area-security, tactical reconnaissance, convoy escort, and drug interdiction throughout their destination region. The armed MD 530F aircraft will receive glass cockpit upgrades at MD Helicopters’s Mesa, Arizona facility. Deliveries of the aforementioned machines are scheduled to commence in 2024.
MD Helicopters, LLC. (formerly McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Systems) is an American designer and manufacturer of light utility helicopters for commercial and military use. A former subsidiary of Hughes Aircraft, the company was renamed McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Systems following McDonnell Douglas’s 1984 acquisition of Hughes. McDonnell Douglas’s subsequent 1997 merger with Boeing saw McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Systems renamed to simply MD Helicopters.
Based on Hughes’s OH-6 Cayuse single-engine light helicopter, MD Helicopters’s MD 530F Cayuse Warrior is designed specifically for military operations in hot, high-altitude environs. Considered broadly, the aircraft is a two-place, single-engine VFR helicopter fitted with a five-blade, fully articulated rotor-system with anti-torque provided by a two-blade, semi-rigid type tail-rotor. The main- and tail-rotor blades are of all-metal construction. The MD 530F Cayuse Warrior is powered by a single 650-shaft-horsepower Rolls-Royce 250-C30 turboshaft engine derated to 425-shaft-horsepower for thirty-minutes and 375-shaft-horsepower continuous power. To support the increased take-off performance demands typical of military operations, the engine is rated to transient power outputs 450-shaft-horsepower for thirty-seconds and five-hundred-shaft-horsepower for ten-seconds.
The Middle East deal includes a complete logistics package, including initial provisions, spares, and pilot and maintainer training. MD Helicopters’s MD 530F is a proven tactical scout and light attack aircraft valued for its power, safety, speed, agility and favourable confined-area capabilities. The machine’s plus version features mission enhancements the likes of a precision weapons system, avionics improvements and armour.
CFM’s RISE programme on track for ground, flight tests mid-decade
Two years after unveiling one of the aviation industry’s most comprehensive technology demonstrator programmes for a more sustainable future of flight, CFM International has completed more than 100 tests as part of its Revolutionary Innovation for Sustainable Engines (RISE) technology programme. Through the RISE programme, CFM is advancing a suite of pioneering technologies, including advanced engine architectures like the open fan, compact core, advanced combustion technology, thermal management and hybrid electric systems to be compatible with 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). In addition, new technologies are also being matured to test direct hydrogen combustion.
To date testing has helped validate the novel open fan architecture for greater propulsive efficiency, with early testing showing positive noise level performance. The CFM RISE programme targets more than 20 percent better fuel efficiency with 20 percent lower CO2 emissions compared to the most efficient engines in service today. Technologies are also being validated to meet the most stringent non-CO2 and noise emission requirements.
“The RISE programme was launched as the absolute manifestation of our deep commitment to push the boundaries of innovation and deliver the breakthrough technologies that will help achieve our most aggressive sustainability goals in support of the industry promise of net zero by 2050,” said Gaël Méheust, president and CEO of CFM International. “The RISE programme was launched as the absolute manifestation of our deep commitment to push the boundaries of innovation and deliver the breakthrough technologies that will help achieve our most aggressive sustainability goals in support of the industry promise of net zero by 2050. Our global team of engineers has been accomplishing amazing things and I am more convinced than ever our RISE programme will deliver the propulsion technologies that will set even higher standards for our industry.”
As a result of testing progress, CFM is on track for ground and flight tests in the middle of this decade. To test airframer integration of the open fan architecture, plans were previously announced with Airbus for an open fan flight technology demonstration in the mid-2020s. “Since we launched the RISE programme, we made significant progress to validate the conceptual design review and launch the industrialisation of the first demonstrator parts. We are on track to the ground and flight tests around the middle of the decade with a thorough test plan that includes open fan aeroacoustics modelling this year. The RISE programme is a great opportunity for our engineers to play a key role in building a more sustainable aviation industry,” said Michel Brioude, Vice President Engineering and R&T at Safran Aircraft Engines.
CFM’s parent companies, GE Aerospace and Safran Aircraft Engines, have more than 1,000 engineers globally supporting development of RISE programme technologies. “The industry cannot reach its net zero ambition by 2050 with status quo incremental improvements in fuel efficiency. Revolutionary technologies are needed. That is why we believe the time for open fan is now, an advanced engine architecture that could unlock the single greatest jump in generational engine efficiency that CFM has ever achieved. This is supported by our most comprehensive testing roadmap yet to prove out and mature these technologies for the future of flight,” said Mohamed Ali, vice president of engineering for GE Aerospace.
Aeroflot instructs pilots to turn brakes off on some Airbus and Boeing aircraft
To cope with the issue of replacing worn-out brakes on Airbus and Boeing aircraft, Aeroflot has instructed its pilots to turn them off, as reported by Moscow Times. The airline has been flying at least nine such aircraft since the end of July 2023, including four Airbus aircraft (A320, A330 and two A321s) and five Boeing 777s. Aeroflot has issued warnings to its pilots about the potential dangers of flying without brakes. The flight operations department of Aeroflot issued a memo to pilots, which was obtained and published by Aviatorschina.
The memo states: “The aircraft will tend to turn to the side where the brakes are not deactivated. Pay attention to this fact, especially when landing on a wet runway with a crosswind. There are restrictions on the width of the runway. The risk of overrunning the runway.” According to the publication, airlines are permitted to operate aircraft with deactivated brakes for a maximum of ten days when the worn-out parts cannot be immediately replaced.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, sanctions imposed by Western countries have not only closed the airspaces of the United States, United Kingdom and EU for Russian aircraft but have also prevented aviation companies from servicing the country’s aircraft or providing spare parts. As a result, Aeroflot, whose fleet mostly consists of Western-made Airbus and Boeing jets, cannot directly access parts and spares from the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). According to ch-aviation.com data, the airline’s fleet comprises 295 aircraft, of which 217 (approximately 74%) are Airbus or Boeing.
To circumvent these restrictions, Aeroflot has reportedly begun sending its aircraft to Iran for maintenance. Iran, having been under heavy sanctions for several decades, is believed to have developed extensive knowledge in repairing aircraft under such circumstances. Previous media reports have indicated a deteriorating safety situation at Aeroflot. For instance, one Russian investigative news publication claimed that the airline had instructed its staff to stop logging malfunctions on flights to prevent aircraft from being grounded, despite the necessity of fixing the issues.
SpaceX static fires super heavy booster 9
On Sunday, 6 August 2023, Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, known throughout the world as SpaceX, the American spacecraft manufacturer, launch-service provider and satellite communications company headquartered in Hawthorne, California and owned by enigmatic multi-billionaire and Tesla-founder Elon Musk, performed a static-fire test of a new Super Heavy booster at its Boca Chica, Texas Starbase launch facility.
While the ignition of 33 Raptor rocket engines proved a memorable spectacle; the test-firing yielded both favourable and unfavourable results. Dubbed Booster-9, insomuch as it is the ninth such first-stage to be built under SpaceX’s iterative design ethos, the booster survived the test, appearing afterward to have borne the flame and fury of its plethora of constituent engines admirably.
Moreover, the modifications made by SpaceX to the Starbase launch-platform, which include a rebuilt launch-pad and an enhanced flame-suppression system comprising a massive, perforated steel plate through which jets of water emit, seemingly endured the Super Heavy booster test-firing with aplomb.
Readers will recall the 20 April 2023 test-launch of SpaceX’s mammoth Starship vehicle blasted the original Boca Chica launch-pad more-or-less to oblivion. The aforementioned positives notwithstanding, the Super Heavy test-firing fell short of its planned five-second duration, terminating after only 2.74-seconds. Moreover, four of the stage’s 33 Raptor main engines shut down prematurely, thereby indicating SpaceX is struggling, still, with the reliability of its proprietary engines. Booster-9 is powered by Raptor 2 engines; currently, SpaceX is working on an upgraded Raptor 3 iteration of the chemical rocket engine in the hope of improving the powerplant’s reliability.
The Booster-9 test-firing heralded the second launch of SpaceX’s Starship. Whether or not additional test-firings of the mighty first-stage will be undertaken prior to such an attempt remains unknown, as does the imminence of a second Starship launch. Seventy-days elapsed between the static test-firing of Booster-7 and Starship’s 20 April liftoff.
SpaceX’s Starship is a remarkable machine, a 390-foot-tall behemoth with a payload capacity of 330,000-pounds to Low Earth Orbit (LOE) in its fully reusable configuration and 550,000-pounds to LOE if fully expended. Starship is a composite vehicle consisting of an expendable, for now, Super Heavy booster, first stage and a reusable, Starship, second stage. The 230-foot-tall, 30-foot-wide Super Heavy booster section is powered by 33 of SpaceX’s proprietary Raptor engines arranged in concentric rings. At full-power, the stage’s complement of Raptor and Raptor Vacuum engines produces a staggering 17,100,000-pound-feet of thrust, equivalent, more or less, to 75 Boeing 777-300ERs at full take-off power.
The Starship second stage is 160-feet-tall, 30-feet in diameter, and fitted with three Raptor atmospheric and three additional Raptor Vacuum engines. The section’s 56-foot-tall by 26-foot diameter payload bay boasts an internal volume of 35,000-cubic-feet, slightly larger than the entirety of the International Space Station’s pressurised volume. The Starship second stage functions as a self-contained spacecraft within which crew and cargo will journey into space. Stacked and fuelled, Starship’s first and second stages mass approximately 11,000,000-pounds. Proposed applications of SpaceX’s Starship include supporting construction of the Starlink internet constellation, performing suborbital point-to-point flights and conveying space-travellers to the surfaces of the Earth’s moon and Mars.
Eve collaborates with DHL to craft innovative supply chain model for eVTOL support
Eve Air Mobility (Eve) and DHL Supply Chain, a global leader in the realm of warehousing and distribution, have jointly unveiled a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that signals their intent to develop a supply chain tailored to support Eve’s electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOL) operation. This partnership seeks to comprehensively explore the unique demands and characteristics inherent to eVTOLs, with a focal point on efficient provisioning of spare parts and essentials, notably batteries. The collaboration will encompass aspects such as transportation methods, frequency of deliveries, logistics partners, storage locations, as well as environmentally conscious disposal strategies.
The forthcoming logistics study, borne out of this strategic partnership, will encompass the comprehensive distribution of components and materials necessary for maintenance and repairs. A central point of this effort will be the meticulous handling of battery logistics, a crucial element within the eVTOL landscape. DHL’s established prowess in battery management across a spectrum of industries will serve as a foundational asset. Moreover, the collaboration will extend its purview to optimising supply chain operations for general requisites to vertiports, with the aim of streamlining overall business processes. This pioneering partnership between Eve and DHL marks a significant stride toward enhancing the operational efficiency and sustainability of the growing eVTOL industry.
Beta and Blade prove eVTOL viability with test in New York
Last month Beta Technologies made a test flight of its six-seat, all-electric Alia-250 EVA eVTOL at the Westchester County Airport (KHPN) in White Plains, New York. The flight, which was performed in cooperation with Blade Air Mobility, was the first of an eVTOL aircraft in the New York metropolitan area. The Alia-250 flew alongside a conventional helicopter before pulling away for a second pass above the airport to highlight the eVTOL’s comparative quietness. Beta claims its noise profile is one-tenth that of a conventional helicopter.
In April 2021, Blade agreed to facilitate the purchase of up to 20 passenger-configured Alia-250s by its network of operators. Blade intends to deploy these aircraft on routes between its network of dedicated terminals in the US Beta has also agreed to provide and install charging infrastructure at certain key locations. “This is a historic moment for Blade, New York and the urban air mobility industry,” said Blade CEO Rob Wiesenthal. “This demonstration is a big milestone in our transition from helicopters to electric vertical aircraft and we are pleased that our partners at Beta have designed the right aircraft with the requisite range, capacity and noise profile for use in our key markets, including our home base of New York City.”
Beta founder and CEO Kyle Clark added, “We continue to progress our aircraft, flying real-life missions and gaining proficiency in the national airspace. We were glad to be able to fly here from our flight test facility in Plattsburgh, New York to work with Blade to operationalise our partnership.” Beta has produced two prototype aircraft to date. They were flown by US Air Force and Army test pilots last year, the first flight of eVTOL aircraft by pilots from those services.
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Australian surf life savers trials Ai-powered search and rescue drones
Due to the assistance of drone training specialist Aviassist, Surf Life Saving NSW’s Australian UAV Service could soon begin deploying long range drones to locate missing bushwalkers or people swept into rough seas. The technology was tested both night and day at Evans Head on the NSW far north coast, finding a pair of mock hikers who were ‘lost’ in nearby scrubland. The test flights saw four long range drones take turns searching for the missing hikers alongside 16 other scenarios, with the NSW government committing $1 million toward the 18 month-long Long-Range UAV Project, which includes a week-long trial called the Long-Range UAV Project Trial Week. SLSNSW is currently assessing whether the technology could be rolled out permanently, thanks to the help of Aviassist with regulatory approvals.
Recently, Aviassist oversaw the first AI enabled drone flight in Australia from a ‘smart’ docking station around Sydney Harbour, in which the drone was able to navigate around pylons and buildings and detect the Harbour Bridge in the background. The Dock is claimed to be able to fly a drone in a five-kilometre range and to within 11 centimetres of a foreign object. Though not a requirement, an individual can monitor the drone’s stream from anywhere in the world.
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