“Life is a journey, not a destination. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Northrop P-61 Black Widow
(Information from Wikipedia)
The Northrop P-61 Black Widow was a twin-engine United States Army Air Forces fighter aircraft of World War II. The type was the first operational US warplane designed as a night fighter. Named for the North American spider Latrodectus mactans, it was an all-metal, twin-engine, twin-boom design armed with four forward-firing 20 mm (.79 in) Hispano M2 autocannon in the lower fuselage and four .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns in a dorsal gun turret. Developed during the war, the first test flight was made on 26 May 1942, and the first production aircraft off the assembly line in October 1943.
Although not produced in the large numbers of its contemporaries, the Black Widow was operated effectively as a night fighter by United States Army Air Forces squadrons in the European Theatre, Pacific Theatre, China Burma India Theatre and Mediterranean Theatre during World War II. It replaced earlier British-designed night-fighter aircraft that had been updated to incorporate radar when it became available. After the war, the P-61 was redesignated as the F-61 and served in the United States Air Force as a long-range, all-weather, day / night interceptor for Air Defence Command until 1948 and for the Fifth Air Force until 1950. The last aircraft was retired from government service in 1954.
On the night of 14 August 1945, a P-61B of the 548th Night Fighter Squadron named Lady in the Dark was unofficially credited with the last Allied air victory before VJ Day. The P-61 was also modified to create the F-15 Reporter photo-reconnaissance aircraft for the United States Army Air Forces and subsequently the United States Air Force.
Though the P-61 proved itself capable against most German aircraft it encountered, it was outclassed by the new aircraft arriving in the last months of World War II. It also lacked external fuel tanks until the last months of the war, an addition that would have extended its range and saved many doomed crews looking for a landing site in darkness and bad weather. External bomb loads would also have made the type more suitable for the ground attack role it soon took on in Europe. These problems were all addressed eventually, but too late to have the impact they might have had earlier in the war. The P-61 proved capable against all Japanese aircraft it encountered but saw too few of them to make a significant difference in the Pacific war effort.
Wikipedia has pages of information on this one of America’s most successful fighter bombers that you can read if this interests you.
Those persons who correctly identified this week’s mystery aircraft:
Andre Visser, Howard Long, Shane Schwartz, Marcel Bode, Wouter van der Waal, Keith Hyslop, Ari Levien, Magiel Esterhuysen, Clint Futter, Jan Sime, Righardt du Plessis, Rennie van Zyl, Andrew Peace, Brian Millett, Johan Venter, Klaus Linden, Willie Oosthuizen, Thomas Tonking, Craig Brent, Colin Austen, P. Rossouw, Selwyn Kimber, Steve Dewsbery, Erwin Stam, Danie Viljoen, Piet Steyn, Charlie Hugo, Andrew Franz, Pierre Brittz, Steve Leslie, Stephanus Friis, Lance Williams, Randal Kennerley, Mike Transki, Brian Ross, Stuart Lane, David Plew-Chisholm, Andre Breytenbach, Keith Chiazzari, Robyn Badenhorst, Jeremy Rorich, Barry Eatwell, Rex Tweedie, John Moen, Herman Nel, Hilton Carroll, Bruce Prescott, Brian Melmoth, Aiden O’ Mahony, Mark Dumbleton, Johan Prinsloo, Robert Spencer, Dave Lloyd, (53). Excellent this week.
Chandrayaan-3 Moon landing successful
India has created history as it became the first country to land on the South Pole of lunar surface. PM Modi congratulated Indians and space scientists for the achievement. ‘India will remember this day forever’ PM Modi said. The real test of the mission began at the last leg of the landing. Prior to 20 minutes before landing, ISRO initiated Automatic Landing Sequence (ALS). It enabled Vikram LM to take charge and use its on-board computers and logic to identify a favourable spot and make a soft-landing on the lunar surface. Experts say that the final 15 to 20 minutes were highly crucial for the success of the mission when Chandrayaan-3’s Vikram lander descended down to its soft landing.
Given the history of India’s second lunar mission, which failed during the last 20 minutes before landing, ISRO was extra-cautious this time in the process. Due to high risk to the spacecraft minutes before moon landing, the duration is dubbed by many as ‘20 or 17 minutes of terror’. During this phase, the whole process became autonomous, where Vikram lander ignited its own engines at the right times and altitudes.
NASA chief said, “Congratulations on your successful Chandrayaan-3 lunar South Pole landing! Also, congratulations to India on being the fourth country to successfully soft-land a spacecraft on the Moon. We are pleased to be your partner on this mission!” Future Flight will present a feature on this magnificent achievement in the September edition of the monthly magazine.
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 most 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 has almost completed the eleventh August July 2023 edition of Future Flight and the magazine will be released to the world this coming week. Due to the nature of the subject material, compiling this exciting new publication has been most rewarding, whilst at the same time, the magazine allows many of African Pilot’s advertisers to have their adverts placed in our second monthly magazine FREE of charge.
When I started Future Flight on my return to South Africa from AirVenture, Oshkosh 2022, the objective was to reduce the overall size of African Pilot to a more reasonable page count and this has been achieved. The next milestone will be to attract advertisers to make this publication sustainable and I have given myself a year to reach this goal. I would love to receive your feedback about this new digital publication: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
Cassie De La Roche – Flying at 99 years old
South African arms company Milkor establishes Polish division
The newest addition to the Milkor Group, Milkor Polska has started operations in Poland by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with AeroData AG to bring airborne maritime surveillance into the unmanned domain. The MoU was signed at the Paris Air Show in June, bringing together Milkor South Africa and AeroData, which supplies airborne maritime surveillance sensors and systems. AeroData will provide a maritime surveillance solution for the Milkor 380 medium-altitude long endurance (MALE) unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV).
The Milkor 380 has a payload agnostic architecture, making collaboration and opportunities possible, the company said. It enables end users to have a wide variety of choices on which payload option to have integrated to fit their specific needs. This gives Milkor Polska a unique edge on the UAV market in Europe. The flagship Milkor 380 has a wingspan of 18 metres, endurance of up to 35 hours and payload capacity of 210 kg (maximum take-off weight is 1 300 kg). With such a large payload, a wide array of weapons and equipment can be carried, such as synthetic aperture radar, jammers, electro-optical gimbal etc. Five hardpoints can carry precision guided weapons like the AL TARIQ X-series and HALCON Desert Sting or Thales Belgium FZ602 rocket launchers etc. All avionics, communications and payload integration capabilities of the aircraft have been developed in-house. The Milkor 380 was unveiled in 2018 and started taxi testing in early 2023.
Milkor said its new Polish company will serve the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and Europe, with Poland an ideal location to establish a European presence. Milkor Polska will be exhibiting at the MSPO exhibition between 5 and 8 September in Kielce, Poland. The company will be showcasing a wide variety of weapons as well as other systems that make up their air, land and sea offerings, giving the Polish industry an opportunity to get acquainted with their newest partner.
Milkor has been expanding around the world and now has offices in India, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Poland as well as South Africa. With the shifting geopolitical landscape, Milkor believes it is well positioned to make the most of these changing conditions and is setting its sights on meeting new global defence demands.
SACAA’s National Aviation Gender Summit Radisson Hotel and Convention Centre
Contact Ms Paballo Makgato E-mail: email@example.com
There are no recorded aviation fixtures for this weekend. However, the Festival of Motoring will be taking place from today until Sunday at the Kyalami race track.
Tunisia receives its final T-6C trainers
All eight T-6C Texan II trainer aircraft have been delivered by Textron Aviation and Defence and the Tunisian Air Force is utilising the type for its pilot training. On 10 August the arrival of the eighth aircraft was confirmed with the president and CEO of Textron Aviation Defence, welcoming ‘the induction of the Beechcraft T-6C into Tunisian Air Force pilot training.’ The aircraft are in service with No 13 Squadron at Sfax Air Base.
Tunisian Pilots had begun training on the type at Textron Aviation Defence facilities in Wichita on 31 October 2022. The T-6Cs are the new primary training aircraft for the Tunisian Air Force and are augmented by a suite of training devices, including a ground-based training system, an operational flight trainer and a computer-based training lab, supplied by TRU Simulation + Training, an affiliate of Textron Aviation. Tunisian Air Force students undertake their basic training on SF-260s before moving on to the jet-powered Aermacchi MB-326. The T-6Cs and AT-6Es will replace the SF-260s and nine surviving Aero L-59Ts that operate in the lead-in fighter training and light-attack roles.
Tunisia will also be receiving four AT-6 Wolverine aircraft and four Cessna Grand Caravans from Textron Aviation. The Caravans are being modified by ATI Engineering Services with electro-optical / infra-red sensors, operator consoles, tactical radios, video data links and night vision compatible lighting for the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) role.
Boeing and Ethiopian Airlines to establish aircraft parts manufacturing joint venture
Ethiopia’s state investment authority has announced that a US$15 million is being invested in a joint venture between Boeing and Ethiopian Airlines for the manufacture of aircraft parts. Ethiopian Airlines is the African continent’s largest airline with a fleet of over 140 aircraft and the carrier is trying to make a proactive effort to further expand its operational scope and play a more significant role in the aviation supply chain.
According to the Ethiopian Investment Commission, the partnership will additionally involve the local state-owned Industrial Parks Development Corporation. The venture should include the production of various aerospace components, including aircraft thermal-acoustic insulation mats, electrical wiring harnesses and other essential parts, while the project is projected to generate job opportunities for more than 300 Ethiopians, contributing positively to the local workforce and economy.
In the broader context of the aviation landscape, some African airlines, like Kenya Airways, have experienced disruptions due to a shortage of aircraft parts stemming from global supply chain disruptions. These disruptions were triggered by the conflict in Ukraine, which impacted the availability of Russian titanium, a vital material in aviation manufacturing. Ethiopian Airlines has recently demonstrated a strong financial performance with a 20% rise in profits to US$6.1 billion during its previous fiscal year, highlighting its resilience and adaptability within the ever-evolving aviation industry. The partnership with Boeing signals a new chapter for Ethiopian Airlines, as it positions itself to contribute significantly to the production and supply of essential aerospace components.
Premier I Jet crashes on Malaysian highway, killing 10
Malaysian authorities have begun an investigation into Thursday’s crash of a Beechcraft Premier I private jet that resulted in the death of 10 people. The US-registered (N28JV) aircraft came down on the Guthrie Highway near Bandar Elmina in Selangor state. Speaking to Malaysian reporters on Friday, Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook said the cockpit voice recorder had been recovered Thursday evening and sent to the country’s Air Accident Investigation Bureau for analysis.
The 2004-build aircraft, operated by Jetvalet, took-off from Langkawi International Airport at 14h08 local time, en route to Selangor’s Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport. Its first communication with Subang air traffic controllers was at 14h47, followed by landing clearance at 14h48. According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia, the tower detected smoke from the crash site at 14h51. However, no emergency call was made from the aircraft. Eyewitnesses told local media they had heard a loud explosion and that the aircraft caught fire. The accident claimed the lives of two crew members and six passengers plus a vehicle driver and a motorcyclist on the expressway. According to local police, Johari Harun, an elected official in Pahang state, was among those killed.
Zambian DEC impounds chartered plane carrying gold and dangerous goods
Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) Director General Nason Banda says ten suspects including a Zambian, have been detained, awaiting further investigations, for chattering a private jet carrying gold and dangerous goods. DEC received information that a chartered aircraft carrying dangerous goods had landed at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport on 13 August 2023 at 19h00. Mr. Banda said the 10 have been detained for being found in possession of more than five million US$, five pistols, seven magazines, 126 rounds ammunition, 602 pieces of suspected gold weighing 127.2 kg and equipment used for measuring gold. He said the operation to detain the suspects was conducted on Monday, 14 August 2023 at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport. The jet had originated from Cairo, Egypt and six out of the ten individuals on board, all Egyptians, were detained for further investigation.
Curiously, another aircraft, identified as a Zambian aircraft labelled ‘King Air B190,’ also played a role in this unfolding saga. The precise role of this additional aircraft remains shrouded in uncertainty. Banda announced that ten individuals had been apprehended, encompassing six Egyptians, a Zambian, a Dutch national, a Spanish national and a Latvian national. This unfolding scenario has raised numerous questions, including who tipped off the DEC, the exact role of the detainees (particularly the six Egyptians), the duration of the jet’s stay on the ground and its ownership or rental arrangements. Furthermore, the jet’s purpose in Cairo and its origin remains shrouded in mystery.
What we know is that T7-WSS or T7WSS or GLEX was the private jet that arrived at Kenneth Kaunda Airport on Sunday coming from Egypt. Its previous stop was Amman, Jordan, before Cairo. The Bombardier Global Express jet is registered in San Marino. The Egyptian social media account also stated that according to the Eurocontrol database, the T7WSS was operated by Dubai-based Flying Group Middle East. Flying Group Middle East is a commercial office for Antwerp-based Dutch-owned Flying Group.
Alaska Airlines B737 suffers structural damage after rough landing at John Wayne airport
On 20 August, flight AS1288 was traveling from Seattle Tacoma Airport (SEA) to John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, California. Due to strong winds and rain brought by Southern California tropical storm Hilary, the flight made a hard landing at runway 20R at SNA. The aircraft slammed onto the runway and due to the impact, the left-hand landing gear disengaged and punctured through the wing. Video footage taken from inside the aircraft by one of the passengers showed the impact of the landing. While still airborne, everything seemed normal until the aircraft touched down roughly, causing passengers to scream in surprise. Flying sparks can also be seen emitting from the left-hand side of the aircraft. Fortunately, no injuries were reported from the incident. Pictures of the damage caused to the 14-year-old aircraft have since been posted on social media and show the partially opened and damaged wing.
US Air Force wants a stealthy tanker
The US Air Force says it wants stealthy tankers in the air by 2040 to improve its chances of pressing a battle in the far-flung locations that are often the site of such conflicts. One of its main constraints is that its tankers are sitting ducks for even the most rudimentary anti-aircraft munitions. The Air Force says the winner of the contract will offer an airplane that is ‘capable of surviving in contested airspace’ as a primary requirement and that it will consider all shapes and sizes of aircraft.
It is also saying that it will look at ‘novel technologies or operational concepts,’ meaning drones will be part of the mix. Among the requirements will be that the new tankers can also receive fuel in the air so they can more efficiently supply the frontline aircraft. The Air Force says the threat from China is driving the move from traditional tankers because the People’s Liberation Army has the ability to take out the lumbering airframes from a wide variety of weapons platforms at long range. In the ensuing 18 years, the Air Force is looking at upgrading the KC-46 as part of a ‘bridge tanker’ programme.
Airplane arrives at Boeing site for X-66A modification
Boeing has ferried an MD-90 airplane to the site where it will be modified to test the Transonic Truss-Braced Wing (TTBW) configuration as part of NASA’s Sustainable Flight Demonstrator project. As Boeing, NASA and community leaders gathered at the company’s facility to recognise the milestone in development of the experimental X-66A aircraft, Boeing released photos of the jet’s journey from Victorville, California to Palmdale. The X-66A is NASA’s first experimental plane focused on helping the US achieve its goal of net-zero aviation greenhouse gas emissions. Modification will begin soon and ground and flight testing is expected to begin in 2028.
With ultrathin wings braced by struts with larger spans and higher-aspect ratios, the TTBW design and other expected technological advances could lead to reductions in fuel use and emissions by up to 30%. Boeing and NASA have collaborated for more than a decade on the concept through the Subsonic Ultra Green Aircraft Research (SUGAR) Programme.
FAA issues emergency AD for Bell 407
An Emergency Airworthiness Directive, AD #2023-17-51, has been sent to owners and operators of Bell Textron Canada Limited Model 407 helicopters over concerns with possible issues in the aircraft’s tail rotor. According to the E-AD, “This emergency AD was prompted by a report of a disbonded area in a tail rotor (T/R) blade due to missing adhesive between the upper skin and core.
Transport Canada, which is the aviation authority for Canada, has issued Transport Canada Emergency AD CF-2023-63, dated 17 August 2023 (Transport Canada AD CF-2023-63), to correct an unsafe condition on certain serial-numbered Bell Textron Canada Limited Model 407 helicopters. Transport Canada AD CF-2023-63 states that an operator identified an abnormal sound in a T/R blade while manually rotating it. A subsequent tap inspection revealed a disbonded area that exceeds allowable limits. According to Transport Canada, an investigation by Bell Textron Canada Limited identified 43 T/R blades that could have missing adhesive between the upper skin and core that was caused during the manufacturing process.
Accordingly, Transport Canada AD CF-2023-63 requires determining if an affected T/R blade is installed, a one-time inspection of both sides of each affected T/R blade for skin to core voids and depending on the results, replacing the T/R blade with a serviceable T/R blade. Transport Canada AD CF-2023-63 also limits the installation of a T/R blade to a serviceable T/R blade as defined therein.
This emergency AD is intended to detect skin to core voids that exceed allowable limits in affected T/R blades. This condition, if not addressed, could result in severe vibration, failure of the T/R blade and subsequent loss of T/R control. The FAA is stating that this emergency AD requires accomplishing the actions specified in Transport Canada AD CF-2023-63, described previously, as incorporated by reference, except for any differences identified as exceptions in the regulatory text of this emergency AD and except as discussed under ‘Differences Between this Emergency AD and the Transport Canada Emergency AD.’
Air cargo rates plummet as market heads for ‘winter of discontent’
The global air cargo market is heading for a potential ‘winter of discontent’ amid plummeting rates, softening demand and rising capacity. Recent outlooks from airline industry association IATA and air freight data specialist Xeneta both suggest the Covid-era air freight boom, which had already reversed in volume terms and is now rapidly losing its shine in terms of yields. IATA’s most recent analysis, released in early August, shows global air cargo yields were down 38% year on year in June, leaving them at around 40% above 2019 levels. Xeneta’s most recent analysis, also released in early August shows a 41% year-on-year fall in air freight rates in July, marking the fourth consecutive month in which they had fallen by around 40%.
As rates plummet, data from IATA and Xeneta continues to show air cargo demand trending below Covid-era highs and pre-Covid levels. IATA data indicates that global demand measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTKs) peaked at some 7% above 2019 levels for full-year 2021, on capacity, measured in available cargo tonne kilometres (ACTKs) at 11% down. The airline association’s most recent data shows FTKs were down 3.4% year on year in June this year and were some 2.4% lower against 2019. Capacity was 9.7% and 3.7% higher respectively. That supply-demand imbalance is one reason for falling freight rates.
At the same time. when it comes to demand trends, IATA notes that ‘leading indicators of air cargo demand, including global goods trade, manufacturing PMIs and inventory-to-sales ratio, continued to point to contractions’ during June. Crucially, the maritime shipping industry has normalised, with flows at key ports no longer suffering the Covid-era challenges that created further cargo capacity tightness and promoted a modal shift towards air transport. Already, on 7 August, US freight operator Western Global Airlines voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing, among other challenges, a customer shift away from dedicated freighters.
US court rules in Dan Gryder defamation case
A Texas court has ruled that online allegations made by controversial YouTuber Dan Gryder against Texas pilot and airport-owner Charles Cook were false and defamatory. Judge John P. Chupp of the 141st District Court in Texas’s Tarrant County ordered Gryder to pay Cook a total of $1,081,667 plus interest accruing at five percent annually ‘until all amounts are paid in full’, according to court records. Dan Gryder is the proprietor of Probable Cause, a YouTube channel dedicated to the analysis of aviation incidents and accidents. Detractors of his channel contend Gryder’s analyses are hasty, often presumptuous and vituperative in degrees ranging from tacit to overt.
In 2021, Gryder posted a three-instalment video-series in which he cast aspersions on Charles Cook, a Boeing 777 captain and the owner of Fort Worth, Texas’s Flying Oaks Airport (2TE2). Released on 28 August 2021, the first of the three videos addressed a 21 August 2021 accident in which an Aeronca 7AC Champion, registration N1472E, was substantially damaged and its pilot and a single passenger killed shortly after departing the Fling Oaks Airport. Gryder, in subject video, named Cook as the airport’s owner and alleged the facility was ‘rampant with cowboys.’ Moreover, Gryder made vague accusations of illegal activity having transpired at Flying Oaks Airport and alluded to ‘complaints,’ ostensibly pertaining to the alleged illegal activity, having been made to the FAA by unnamed parties. Cook maintained in his lawsuit that neither illegal activity nor complaints thereof had transpired at the airfield.
The suit further stated Gryder, among the viewer comments germane to the 28 August video, had accused Cook of carrying on an extramarital affair and making false statements to the FAA on his medical certificate application form. In addition, Gryder claimed three past aircraft accidents transpired in the vicinity of Flying Oaks Airport had occurred ‘because of the lack of annuals and licensing.’ A screen-capture of Gryder’s allegations was presented as plaintiff’s evidence. Released in September 2021, the second instalment of Gryder’s three-video series featured additional disparaging remarks aimed at Cook and his airport. The third instalment, posted 6 September 2021, saw Grider brazenly cite Cook by name in the video’s title. “I’ve got to talk about Charles Cook,” Gryder remarked, according to the lawsuit. “Apparently, Mr. Cook is not very happy with me. Charles Cook, man, I did a deep dive on him; what a history on Charles Cook. It’s fascinating. Charles Cook, if you want to get your name in lights, we are about to do that.”
Cook’s lawsuit filing states Gryder, in the 28 August video, alleged the Aeronca 7AC Champion accident-aircraft had, prior to its loss, been left on the Flying Oaks Airport following the death of its owner. Gryder contended Cook had sold the aircraft knowing full-well it was defective and misrepresented the machine as suitable for flight-training. Gryder claimed, also, that “Charles is a diabetic. He’s got medical problems. All I can say is that the farther we go and the more stuff that Charles wants to stir up, the happier it makes me.”
Cook’s attorney established the plaintiff’s medical conditions, which do not include diabetes, had been reported as required, accurately and in their entirety, to his flight-surgeon. Gryder went so far as to accuse Cook of having sold aircraft with missing logbooks. “Again, each comment is false,” the Cook’s lawsuit asserts. “The airplane was never abandoned at Flying Oaks Airport. The airplane was in flying condition and Cook purchased it from its owner, Francis.” Cook refurbished the aircraft prior to its passing into the possession of the accident-pilot, a friend of Cook’s.”
Cook’s lawsuit catalogued numerous antagonistic text messages authored by Gryder, messages “further harassing Cook and threatening that if Cook files a lawsuit against him, the Defendant intends to report play by play as the lawsuit happens.”
Cook’s complaint stated the Flying Oaks Airport ‘lost multiple tenants who rented hangars at the airport. Cook has been unable to fill these hangars with new tenants. In addition, the lawsuit contends, ‘Cook’s reputation has been the subject of public ridicule, contempt and hatred. Whether or not Gryder dedicates a probable cause episode to the analysis of his own figurative Controlled Flight Into Terrain remains to be seen.
Volga-Dnepr Airlines issues an ultimatum regarding seized An-124
On 27 February 2022, three-days after the outbreak of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict, a Volga-Dnepr An-124 landed at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport (YYZ) laden with personal protective equipment to be utilised by the people of Canada. Before the Antonov’s crew could turn the mighty jet and get airborne, Canada closed its airspace to Russian-owned aircraft. In June 2023, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mélanie Joly, declared the Canadian government had ordered the An-124’s seizure pursuant the nation’s Special Economic Measures Act, a travesty made conveniently possible by a new asset seizure and forfeiture provision under Canada’s autonomous sanctions regimes put forward in the country’s 2022 parliamentary budget in direct response to the February 2022 commencement of hostilities between Russia and Ukraine.
Seizure of the An-124 was intended to pressure Russia into putting a stop to what Canada’s Parliament called Moscow’s ‘illegal war against Ukraine’ by straining, ostensibly, Russia’s economy and limiting resources Justin Trudeau’s apparatchiks allege fuel the aforementioned and ongoing Russo-Ukrainian conflict. The Volga-Dnepr An-124 stranded at YYZ was the first physical asset seized by Canada’s government under Ottawa’s asset seizure and forfeiture regime and the second overall seized and restrained under the nation’s Special Economic Measures Act.
Now in August 2023 Volga-Dnepr has issued an ultimatum threatening to drag the Canadian government before international arbitrators for purpose of forcing the return of what the airline, which has ties to neither Moscow nor the Russian Federation political machinery, convincingly asserts is a stolen asset. Volga-Dnepr has proposed the dispute over the seized An-124 be resolved ‘amicably’ in accordance with Article 9 and Canada’s November 1989 Policy on Encouragement and Mutual Protection of Investments.
Volga-Dnepr’s management stated: “If this dispute is not resolved within six-months from the time Canada receives the notification, Volga-Dnepr will officially initiate arbitration proceedings.” Copies of the notification were forwarded to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and several top Parliamentary officials. Volga-Dnepr added the An-124 at the controversy’s center was seized while conducting a humanitarian flight commissioned by the Canadian government to deliver COVID-19 test kits. Following the An-124’s June 2023 seizure, Trudeau declared his intention to see the aircraft ‘forfeited to the Crown.’ Trudeau averred Canada’s parliament would work with the Government of Ukraine on options to ‘redistribute the asset to compensate victims of human rights abuses, restore international peace and security, or rebuild Ukraine.’
By authorizing the seizure of the Antonov 124, Canada alleged it had ‘reaffirmed that impunity is not an option for those who have profited from Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine.’ Critics of Trudeau’s officious tenor and high-handed tactics argued and argue still, that by seizing a civilian aircraft then engaged in a humanitarian mission requisitioned by Canadian officials, Ottawa likely succeeded only in raising Moscow’s ire, a questionable tactic for a nation possessed of no nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons or relevant systems by which to deliver such; a total Armed Forces complement of only 67,000 personnel, of which but a small fraction are combat-trained and ready and a navy comprising, in total, one soon-to-be-retired destroyer, 12 frigates, 12 coastal defence vessels and four submarines. By way of comparison, the United States Coast Guard currently operates 1,861 sea vessels and two-hundred aircraft.
Founded in 1990, headquartered in Ulyanovsk (Vladimir Lenin’s hometown), and named for two of Russia’s more storied and important rivers, Volga-Dnepr Airlines, LLC operates a 17-aircraft fleet in service of governmental and private-sector organisations in the petrochemical, energy, aerospace, agriculture and telecommunications industries. The air-carrier also undertakes a significant number of humanitarian missions.
Octans Cygnus prototype flies to LABACE
Octans Aircraft brought its five-seat prototype piston single Cygnus to LABACE and the company has applied for Brazilian ANAC certification of the airplane. Having exhibited at LABACE 2019, Brazil-based Octans at the time promised to return to LABACE with certification plans for Cygnus. Prototype 001 arrived at Congonhas Airport for LABACE 2023 under its own power, flown from Octans’s upstate São João da Boa Vista factory by two pilots. The trip added more time to the prototype’s already logged 100 flight-test hours.
Octans started the ANAC certification process in December 2022 under a programme designed to facilitate new manufacturers. The design remains similar to the configuration of the airplane at LABACE 2019, with power provided by a 300-hp Lycoming IO-540 piston engine and Hartzell metal three-blade propeller. Cruise speed is 160 knots and range more than 950 nm. The airplane’s structure is conventional aluminium. The target market for the Cygnus is agribusiness, where its suitability for unimproved runways will be key. The high cantilevered wing provides passengers with unimpeded views, as well as a cleaner aerodynamic profile. Three different styles of interior finishing will be offered, ranging from the simple favoured by the agricultural customers for whom the aircraft is designed, according to Octans quality analyst Marcos Vincius, to the more luxurious, preferred by those whose lives are more city centred. The prototype’s graffiti-style paint job is by artist Pespa, with the swirls and angles resolving to ‘Octans’ on the right side and ‘aircraft’ on the left. Cygnus 001’s interior is equally unusual, as it is finished in transparent acrylic panels that show off the airplane’s structure and electronics.
Russia’s Luna-25 probe crashes on the Moon’s surface
“On 19 August, in accordance with the flight programme of the Luna-25 spacecraft, an impulse was provided for the formation of its pre-landing elliptical orbit,” Russia’s state space corporation, Roscosmos, announced on Telegram on 19 August 2023. “According to the results of a preliminary analysis, due to the deviation of the actual parameters of the impulse from the calculated ones, the device switched to an off-design orbit and ceased to exist as a result of a collision with the lunar surface.”
This development comes just days before the spacecraft was scheduled to execute a soft landing on the moon’s south pole. The Luna-25 mission was initially scheduled for August 2022, later delayed to July 2023 and then held up again due to ground control infrastructure tests. The Russian lander was aiming to touch down at the south pole of the Moon. The primary objectives were to demonstrate landing technology and collect rock samples, with a specific focus on detecting traces of frozen water. Russia plans to eventually establish a permanent presence on the Moon.
EHang completes tests for EH216-S type certification
EHang Holdings Limited (EHang), a Chinese leading autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) technology platform company, has released that it has achieved a significant milestone for its EH216-S TC by successfully completing all of the planned tests and flights in the last phase of demonstration and verification of compliance, and also completed the definitive TC Flight Test by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), with unwavering endeavours throughout the past 31 months since the CAAC officially accepted the company’s TC application in January 2021.
This is the last milestone before obtaining the type certificate. After finishing the remaining procedures, the company expects to obtain the type certificate of the EH216-S Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) system from the CAAC soon. As an innovative product for urban air mobility, the EH216-S sticks to three fundamental technological principles, which are full redundancy, autonomous flying and cluster management. So far, it stands out as the world’s first TC programme for unmanned eVTOLs.
Huazhi Hu, Founder, Chairman and CEO of EHang, commented, “We have made remarkable progress in our pursuit of long-term growth. Notably, we are thrilled to announce that we have successfully completed all the planned tests for EH216-S type certification. This achievement marks a significant unprecedented milestone in the global emerging eVTOL industry, underscoring our unwavering dedication and pioneering advantages. Additionally, this sets the stage for us to secure the type certificate soon and proceed with our endeavours to initiate commercial operations.”
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Lost hiker found with assistance from drones
A young man was reported missing on Wednesday, 16 August and may have spent the night in the wilderness, so infer park rangers who happened across his vehicle in the state park’s parking-lot and commenced searching immediately thereafter. Several hikers in Crowders Mountain State Park heard the lost youngster screaming for help and reported such to searchers, who employed drones to expedite the undertaking. Good, who hikes the park and the mountain daily, said he and his fellow-hikers observed rangers and police searching the wilderness; a few minutes later: “About two hills up you can hear somebody yelling, ‘Help! Water!’” Good recalled.
Good reported reaching the mountain’s top requires a climb of over one-thousand vertical-feet and is not easily accomplished. Police officers and park rangers praised their civilian helpers, stating the assistance rendered by Good and his compatriots dramatically narrowed a search that might otherwise have dragged on indefinitely. A short while after the search commenced, a drone located the missing hiker in a remote area of the park, high on the mountain, far from established trails and perilously close to a thirty-to-forty-foot sheer drop.
Lambert stated the lost teen was incapable of getting down from the precipice on his own, adding the drone had been indispensable to the rescue effort insofar as crews used the device to signal the rescue team by which the young man was returned to safety. “Give the ability for EMS to see the drone images to give a patient assessment and a plan for a rescue off the mountain,” Lambert explained, albeit somewhat cryptically.
For fifth day Ukrainian drones shot down in Moscow
The Russian Ministry of Defence also announced having shot down Ukrainian drones early on 22 August 2023. “An attempt by the Kyiv regime to carry out terrorist attacks by unmanned aerial vehicles was thwarted tonight,” the ministry said on Telegram. “Two UAVs were detected and destroyed by air defence systems over the territory of the Moscow Region. There were no casualties as a result of the suppressed terrorist attacks.”
One UAV was shot down in the Krasnogorsk area, located 20 kilometres northwest of the Kremlin and a second in the Chastsy area, 50 kilometres southwest of central Moscow, according to Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin. Consequently, all international airports in Moscow, namely Domodedovo, Sheremetyevo and Vnukovo, were closed to arrivals and departures. “Nine passenger flights were rerouted to alternative airports,” Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency said in a statement. The restrictions were eventually lifted in the morning. The incident marks the fifth consecutive day of drone attacks being reported in the Moscow region.
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