“Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being’s entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend and must not be contingent on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or sovereign. You must weep that your own government, at present, seems blind to this truth.” Mother Teresa
(Information from Wikipedia)
The Kamov Ka-50 ‘Black Shark’ is a Soviet / Russian single-seat attack helicopter with the distinctive coaxial rotor system of the Kamov design bureau. It was designed in the 1980s and adopted for service in the Russian army in 1995. The Ka-50 is manufactured by the Progress company in Arsenyev. It is used as a heavily armed scout helicopter and is notable for having a rescue ejection system, rare for helicopters.
Production of the attack helicopter was ordered by the Soviet Council of Ministers on 14 December 1987. Development of the helicopter was first reported in the West in 1984, while the first photograph appeared in 1989. During operational testing from 1985 to 1986, the workload on the pilot was found to be like that of a fighter-bomber pilot, such that the pilot could perform both flying and navigation duties. Like other Kamov helicopters, it features Kamov’s characteristic coaxial contra-rotating rotor system, which removes the need for the entire tail rotor assembly and improves the aircraft’s aerobatic qualities. It can perform loops, rolls and ‘the funnel’ (circle-strafing), where the aircraft maintains a line-of-sight to the target while flying circles of varying altitude and airspeed around it. The omission of the tail rotor is a qualitative advantage because the torque-countering tail rotor can use up to 30% of engine power. The Ka-50’s entire transmission presents a comparatively small target to ground fire.
For improved pilot survivability the Ka-50 is fitted with a NPP Zvezda (transl. Star) K-37-800 ejection seat, which is a rare feature for a helicopter. Before the rocket in the ejection seat deploys, the rotor blades are blown away by explosive charges in the rotor disc and the canopy is jettisoned. In the early 1980s, while comparative tests of the V-80 (Ka-50 prototype) and the Mi-28 were being conducted, the Kamov design team came up with a proposal to develop a dedicated helicopter to conduct battlefield reconnaissance, provide target designation, support and coordinate group attack helicopter operations based on the Ka-60. However, the economic hardships that hit the nation in the late 1980s hampered this new development programme. This prompted Kamov’s Designer General to choose a modified version of Ka-50 on which to install the reconnaissance and target designation system. The modified ‘Black Shark’ required a second crew member to operate the optronics / radar reconnaissance suite. Kamov decided to use side-by-side seating arrangement, due to the verified improvements in co-operation between the crew members. This twin-seat version was designated Ka-52.
Those persons who correctly identified this week’s mystery helicopter
P. Roussouw, Wouter van der Waal, Ari Levien, Righardt du Plessis, Pierre Brittz, Carl von Ludwig, Jan Sime, Bruce Prescott, Rennie van Zyl, Willie Oosthuizen, Mike Transki, Ray Watts, Bary Eatwell, Karl Jensen, Ahmed Bassa, Piet Steyn, Magiel A. Esterhuysen, Erwin Stam, Andre Visser, Kevin Farr, Jeremy Rorich, Michael Schoeman, Clint Futter, Steve Dewsbery, Charlie Hugo, Colin Austen, Craig Brent, Selwyn Kimber, Robyn Badenhorst, Andre Breytenbach, Rex Tweedie, Aiden O’Mahony, Hilton Carroll, John Moen, Johan Venter, Stuart Low, Brian Millett, Sam Basch, Timothy Homan, Danie Viljoen, Peter Gilbert, Nigel Hamilton, Greg Pullin, Andrew Peace, (43).
Canon XA11 HD video camera for sale
Since I have purchased a new Canon XA 60B 4K video camera, my Canon XA11 complete with battery charger and camera bag is for sale at R10 000 O.N.O. I used this camera for several years and the condition is good. If you are interested, please e-mail me at email@example.com or call me at 082 552 2940. Thanks.
The 216-page September 2023 edition with eight picture galleries and 17 videos was completed and released to the world on Monday 4 September. We apologise for the slight delay, which was unavoidable due to a significant glitch within our licenced publishing software. This edition features EAA AirVenture and the UK airshow Flying Legends as well as many South African and international aviation features. African Pilot is also the only aviation publication that regularly records aviation events correctly within the monthly calendar of events. In addition, the calendar is published three months ahead on every Monday edition of APANews.
The October edition of African Pilot will feature Aircraft Maintenance and Refurbishment. Our marketing team will be contacting all known AMOs as well as aircraft refurbishment shops to include as many of the amazing businesses that keep our aircraft airworthy and in good shape. 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. African Pilot is also the largest aviation magazine in the world by number of pages and is well ahead of all other South African aviation publications.
The eleventh edition of Future Flight was sent out to the world-wide audience on Saturday 26 August. This 144-page edition has 13 picture galleries and 15 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: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
Air Accident SA – The Safety Goal
The popular international series Air Crash Investigation has seen multiple seasons being aired worldwide. It is one of the most watched TV series productions in history. The series focusses mainly on the airline aviation industry. The General Aviation sector has not been aired much as much as the airline industry. General Aviation forms a significant part of the aviation industry in all aspects, as this is where pilots mostly start their careers.
A new series focusing on specifically General Aviation in South Africa, is to be filmed soon, focusing on the various types of accidents and why they occur. Specialists, investigators and pilots will be interviewed for their opinions and recommendations, regarding the safety goal. This will be a unique and fresh look at the different aspects of accidents and incidents. Since all TV productions about aviation incidents and accidents prove to be extremely popular with viewers, this series will certainly not be different. The TV series ‘Flights to Nowhere’, that was aired in 2021 on People’s Weather, proved this fact. The new series ‘Air Accident SA – The Safety Goal’ will be hosted by plane wreck hunter, Wouter Botes, who also hosted ‘Flights to Nowhere.’
Wouter has involved veteran investigator, Charlie Marais as co-host and also experts and pilots who possesses a vast amount of experience in the aviation industry. Names include Capt. Flippie Vermeulen from Springbok Classic Air and many more famous aviators and experts. The series has already drawn sponsorship partners, who have been involved with Wouter Botes for the past few years. These include African Pilot Magazine, Blue Chip Aviation, Dart Aeronautical, Springbok Classic Air and Simuflight. However, further industry involvement in terms of sponsorships is needed, as this series is planned to be released on an annual basis with multiple seasons, in order to accommodate new cases and new safety technology.
We invite industry and non-industry related companies and organisations, to become part of this TV series. As a series like this will be popular with viewers as proven before, the exposure generated for sponsors and participants will be extensive. The viewer profile includes a wide range of age and background parameters. Attendance at airshows is a further proof of this fact. Please contact Wouter directly at email@example.com. Thank you.
Industrial action close to OR Tambo International airport
Air ticket prices are likely to become less expensive in South Africa – but there is a catch
As we head towards the festive season, flight tickets are expected to become noticeably cheaper in South Africa heading into the festive season, but the aviation industry remains vulnerable to rocky macroeconomic factors. FlySafair’s Chief Marketing Officer, Kirby Gordon, said South Africans should expect lower flight prices during the 2023 festive season due to increased seating availability. Over the past 12 months, especially over the festive season in 2022 and Easter 2023, South Africans had to fork out significantly more for flight tickets because of high fuel prices and increased demand coupled with a rapid decline in airline capacity.
Last year, the airline industry suffered various airline liquidations due to the pandemic, which virtually removed 40% of domestic airline capacity overnight. The failed airlines included Mango, Kulula and British Airways, whilst South African Airways had limited capacity. This resulted in a massive mismatch in demand and supply, which caused notable upward pressure on ticket prices, as seat availability was severely constrained. According to a study conducted by Discovery Bank in partnership with Visa, compounding the issue was that the cost of aviation fuel also increased by more than 80% in 2022 compared to 2021, creating a perfect trifecta that saw ticket prices skyrocket. According to the study’s data, South Africans were paying 30% to 55% more for local flights than in 2019.
Gordon noted that since the decline in airline capacity in 2022, the remaining airline brands have added a significant number of new aircraft to their fleets, increasing the number of available seats. A notable factor aiding the increase in seat capacity was the introduction of Lift into the market, which brought the number of airline companies back to five, he said. He further noted that most South Africans are dealing with constrained finances due to high interest rates and inflation, resulting in lower demand. Gordon described these factors as ‘pro-consumer’ and because flight prices are mainly demand-based, these two factors should help to ‘keep prices a bit lower’.
Although South Africans can look forward to lower air rickets in the near term, Gordon added that the rand-dollar exchange rate fluctuations, crude oil prices and a lack of skilled maintenance in the country pose a significant risk to flight prices. While these factors are all important, the primary exposure underpinning the impact of both oil prices and maintenance on the airline industry is the strength of the rand. Gordon explained that Operating costs can significantly increase if the rand weakens against the dollar, as aircraft and maintenance parts are purchased in US dollars.
He added that killed maintenance, machining facilities and workshops have been difficult to find locally since the pandemic, meaning the company is often forced to look overseas for technicians, which comes at a greater cost if the rand weakens. This also applies to fuel costs, with crude oil traded in dollars. Gordon pointed out that fuel expenses make up around 50% of the operational costs of every flight, making crude oil prices and rand-dollar fluctuations some of FlySafair’s most significant risks.
Absolute Aviation Pipistrel Explorer
Please note that the Helicopter fly-in to Krugersdorp on Saturday 9 September has been cancelled for this year.
Virginia Durban airshow
Contact Brendan Horan E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 078 486 6888
Lydenburg fly-in festival
Contact Coenraad Cell: 076 466 9999
Eagle’s Creek presents Landy’s and Lates Eagles Creek airfield
Contact Kevin Moore Cell: 083 628 8202
African airlines passenger traffic
Following is the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) latest analyses of the global and regional passenger air travel markets based on traffic and capacity data for July 2023 vs the same period in 2022.
During the month in review, African airlines saw a
- 25.6% rise in traffic versus July 2022, the second highest percentage gain among the regions.
- Capacity was up 27.4%, but load factor fell 1.0 percentage point to 73.9%, the lowest among the regions.
- Africa was the only region to see a capacity growth outrun traffic demand
- Africa accounted for 2.1% of the global passenger air travel market in July 2023.
Airlink touches down in Malawi with Lilongwe and Blantyre routes
Airlink, Southern Africa’s premier airline, touched down in Blantyre this afternoon, wrapping up the successful inauguration of its new dual Malawi routes, the other destination being Lilongwe. With the new services Malawi becomes the latest country in Airlink’s comprehensive network which now extends to 46 destinations.
“In launching Airlink’s services, we are helping to establish Malawi as an attractive destination for tourism and business and support its economic diversification strategy by providing convenient, reliable and competitive flights to Johannesburg and with convenient connections to other Airlink destinations and the rest of the world with our constellation of long-haul partners,” explained Airlink CEO and Managing Director, Rodger Foster.
Last year, Malawi featured in Lonely Planet’s top 10 Best in Travel countries. Tourist attractions include Lake Malawi (Africa’s third largest and the ninth biggest in the world, which is more like an inland sea), wildlife, adventure and its rich cultural heritage. The country has also embarked on a programme to revitalise its economy and build a prosperous, self-reliant and industrialised middle-income country.
Airlink will initially fly comfortable and efficient 37-seat Embraer Regional Jets on both new routes. Customers wanting to travel on these Airlink routes can book and manage their trips on flyairlink.com, Airlink’s smartphone app or through travel agents.
Another pilot killed in gender reveal stunt
On 2 September a gender reveal party turned deadly after a Piper Pawnee crashed killing the pilot in front of cheering guests, who were oblivious to the tragedy that unfolded above their heads. The happy couple were celebrating their pregnancy with family and friends in Sinaloa, Mexico and hired the crop-duster to fly past and dump either pink or blue coloured powder to indicate the gender of their baby. As the plane approached the mom and dad-to-be, who were standing next to an ‘Oh baby’ sign, it released pink water from its fuselage, indicating they would be having a daughter. Shrills and cheers of joy erupted as the loved-up couple kissed beneath the pink water. But in the same moment, the Piper PA-25-235 Pawnee aircraft suddenly shot upwards, rotating on its side as one of its wings collapsed.
The pilot of the Piper Pawnee was killed when the aircraft broke up and a video of the crash shows the aircraft approaching the expectant couple spraying pink water. When the aircraft pulled out of a shallow dive overhead, the left-wing folded into the fuselage and the airplane rolld into a crash beyond the couple’s party site. News outlets reported that the 32-year-old pilot, Luis Angel N., was found in the wreckage but later died at a hospital. This is second fatal gender reveal crash in as many years in Mexico. In April 2021, two pilots were killed when the Cessna 206 they were flying in a gender reveal stunt crashed into the water in Cancun. Two occupants of an Air Tractor were luckier when the aircraft got slow, stalled and crashed during a gender reveal stunt in Turkey, Texas. The pilot was not injured and a passenger suffered only minor injuries.
NTSB opens public docket on Mutiny Bay crash that killed 10
On Friday I September the NTSB opened the public docket on the ongoing investigation into the 4 September 2022 crash of a de Havilland DHC-3 Turbine Otter in Mutiny Bay. The public docket contains over 500 pages of documents, photos, videos, maintenance records and witness statements. The investigation is still ongoing and a final report will be released at a later date. On 4 September 2022 a de Havilland DHC-3 (N725TH) was conducting a scheduled CFR Part 135 flight between Friday Harbour, Washington and Renton, Washington. On board was a pilot and nine passengers. This was the pilot’s second trip of the day and each trip included numerous flight legs. The plane departed from Friday Harbour Seaplane Base (W33) for the Renton Municipal Airport (RNT) and data indicates the plane flew a southerly heading before turning south-southeast. While en route the altitude was between 650 and 975 feet above mean sea level and the groundspeed was between 115 and 125 knots.
The altitude increased to 1,125 feet and the groundspeed reduced to 109 knots when just seconds later the altitude dropped to 875 feet and the groundspeed reduced to 100 knots. Tracking data ended a few seconds later at an altitude of 700 feet and a groundspeed of 55 knots. Witnesses reported the plane in level flight before entering a slight climb and then pitching down in a near-vertical descent. The plane continued in a nose-low, near-vertical descent until impacting the water in Mutiny Bay. All nine passengers and the pilot were killed. The pilot was identified as Jason Winters and the passengers were identified as Patricia Hicks, Sandra Williams, Lauren Hilty, Ross Mickel, Remy Mickel, Luke Ludwig, Rebecca Ludwig, Joanne Mera and Gabrielle Hanna. Several witnesses told the NTSB the plane was spinning, rotating or spiralling during parts of the descent. One witness told the NTSB they did not hear any pitch change in the engine / propeller noise.
Nine witnesses near the accident site provided the NTSB with information about the accident. Four of the nine witnesses reported traveling to the accident site on a boat to assist. One pilot was flying nearby in a Cessna 120 and told the NTSB he encountered turbulence / windshear between 1,500 feet and 2000 feet above ground level.
The initial responders at the site included many private citizens, the US Coast Guard, Island County Sheriff’s Office, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Customs and Border Patrol and Tulalip Tribes. Private citizens recovered one floating victim and pieces of debris, which were turned over to the sheriff’s office. The USCG continued search operations for 24 hours after the accident. WDFW searched the area for evidence of the wreckage the day after the crash using onboard fish-finding sonar equipment. The search continued in Mutiny Bay near the last automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast location of the plane without results.
On 7 September the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of Coast Survey, Acting WA Navigation Manager reached out to the NTSB Western Pacific Regional Office to help. The group chair and the NOAA Navigation Response Team-Seattle deployed on 8 September on a 34-foot-long aluminium survey boat, equipped with a multibeam sonar and side scan sonar. The team surveyed an area of about 1.9 miles long by 0.75 miles wide. Searches continued as data began to narrow down potential locations for debris and victim recovery. Once the wreckage was discovered and identified, the groups began planning for recovery.
Due to the depth of the water, at approximately 190 feet, the most suitable tool for recovery was a work class remotely operated vehicle. The Deep Drone 8000 ROV, a controllable vehicle with scanning sonar and two arms designed by the US Navy, was deployed in the recovery operation that began on 27 September. Parts of the plane were identified by the ROV and the main wreckage was rigged with a chain and connected to a crane hook on 29 September. The last two ROV dives on 30 September expanded the search area and were concluded later that day. In total, there were 17 dives and 26 hours of bottom time. About 85 percent of the plane was recovered from the sea floor.
The NTSB identified a safety concern in October after investigators found the aircraft’s horizontal stabiliser actuator had separated into two pieces as a result of unthreading. An urgent safety recommendation was issued to the FAA and one to Transport Canada. During the examination of the airplane wreckage, the NTSB found that the clamp nut which attaches to the top eye end and bearing assembly of the horizontal stabiliser actuator, also known as trim jack assembly, to the actuator barrel had unscrewed from the barrel. The examination also found that the circular wire lock ring, which is designed to prevent the clamp nut from unscrewing, was missing.
A missing or improperly installed horizontal stabiliser actuator lock ring is a critical safety hazard that can result in a reduction or loss of pitch control during flight. It is unknown whether the lock ring was in place before the crash and simply part of the 15 percent of the wreckage not recovered from the plane. The NTSB urged all operators of DHC-3 aircraft to conduct an immediate inspection and report findings to either the FAA or Transport Canada.
Avalon finalises order with Airbus for 20 A330neo aircraft
On 5 September 2023 Avolon global aviation finance company, signed a binding agreement for its order of 20 new A330neo aircraft from Airbus. The order firms up a memorandum of understanding signed at the Paris Airshow in June. The new aircraft are scheduled to be delivered between 2025 and 2028. Avolon was a launch customer for the A330neo programme in 2014 and is enjoying strong customer demand for additional widebody aircraft having fully placed its current orderbook. With more than 1,400 A330ceo aircraft in operation, airlines are considering options to upgrade to the A330neo aircraft, which has an increased range of range of over 13,300km (7,200 nautical miles) and 25% lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. The agreement with Airbus also confirms that 50 of the A320neo aircraft Avolon has on order with Airbus will convert to the larger A321neo model.
Counterfeit engine parts scheme uncovered
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is warning manufacturers and operators of aircraft powered by the most numerous jet engine of a counterfeit parts scheme. EASA says it has determined UK parts distributor AOG Technics forged at least 70 Authorised Release Certificates covering about 50 parts for CFM56 engines that power the Boeing 737NG, Airbus A320 and several other types. About 30,000 of the engines are in service.
The FAA has not yet issued any comment on the discovery and EASA has not released much detail. It is not clear what parts are involved, who made them and how many have been installed, according to msn.com. CFM International, which manufactures the engines, has issued a notice to manufacturers and operators to immediately quarantine any parts received from AOG Technics.
The company has apparently taken down its website, but online descriptions linger and it described itself as ‘a leading global aircraft support provider to the air transport aftermarket industry. We specialise in Engine Material, Engine Leasing, Airframe Parts and Financial Solutions.’ Bloomberg is reporting the owner of the company as Jose Zamoa Yrala, a 35-year-old Venezuelan who has also listed himself as British on financial documents.
Israel begins tests of Oron, ‘most advanced’ surveillance aircraft
This past week Israel’s Ministry of Defence announced that test flights have begun for its new Oron surveillance aircraft, what it claims is ‘the world’s most advanced aircraft of its kind.’ In a unique collaboration, the aircraft was developed jointly by the Ministry of Defence’s research and development arm, Israeli Aerospace Industry’s Elta subsidiary, the Israel Air Force, Intelligence Corps and the Navy. It is equipped with sensors and C4I systems that the IDF says it will provide ‘unprecedented intelligence capabilities across expansive terrain, enabling real-time monitoring of ground movements under diverse weather and visibility conditions.’
The aircraft is designed to track multiple targets over ‘great distances’ in various weather conditions. In 2021 when the Oron was still under development it was characterised by the air force as a ‘first-of-its-kind model designated for target-gathering, classification and guiding weapons in all theatres.’ Once operational, the aircraft will serve with the 122nd squadron, which is called Nachshon in Israel. The squadron was established in 1971 and has changed roles over the years from transport aircraft and aircraft used for special operations to the use of the latest ISR aircraft. Their hangers already hold modified Gulfstream G-500 Shavit and G-550 Eitam. According to the IAF, the Shavit provides intelligence to the fighter squadrons and Eitam conducts missions ‘of air control in deep enemy territory.’ The squadron also works with a signals intelligence unit.
“The IAF’s elite 122nd Squadron fully recognises the great responsibility of effectively utilising this aircraft and its ability to protect the State of Israel. I am sure that the joint flights will allow the IDF to train its personnel effectively and shorten the schedule until the Oron aircraft is fully operational,” Lt. Col. ‘A’, the commander of the 122nd said. As with many Israeli air force personnel, his name was not provided for security reasons. Elta General Manager Gideon Landa said the Oron project built on the success of other mission aircraft. “This is a significant and exciting moment for us as members of the defence industry and as citizens of the state of Israel,” he said.
The Oron, dubbed the MARS2 or Multi-Mission Airborne Reconnaissance and Surveillance System at Elta, was first disclosed in April 2021. At the time the then-head of the DDR&D, Brig. Gen. Yaniv Rotem, said “these systems will stream valuable data to the intelligence units. The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology will enable an efficient and automated data processing system, which will produce actionable intelligence in real time, enhancing the effectiveness of IDF operational activities.”
Airbus announces a surprisingly automated facility for A321XLR production
Airbus announced a brand-new facility focused on production of the upcoming A321XLR, to sport nearly 10,000 square meters of production space to create rear fuselages. While the addition of more floor space and production lines is rarely interesting, Airbus is going about it a little more aggressively than usual, equipping the Finkenwerder site with all kinds of funky, fresh and familiar goods to pump out as many aircraft as it can. Much like competitor Boeing, Airbus has its eyes set on some surprising output figures in the future: 75 aircraft a month from the A320 family by 2026. The new factory lies near Hamburg, Germany, where a ‘a full range of state-of-the-art technologies for operations and manufacturing, such as automated logistics, fully digital systems and test stations that can output the status of each fuselage section (both in terms of logistics and resources) at any time’.
The reliance upon machinery to not just assemble but inspect, check and progress each system as it moves towards a complete production aircraft is not entirely new in the industry, but the decision to embrace it so wholeheartedly is a bit rare. The lengthy fuselage sections will progress through an eight-stage ‘pulse line’, being equipped with their electric, mechanical and comms systems in addition to the more mundane aspects of aircraft furnishings like windows, panelling and trim. Once complete, the fuselage piece will be taken over to the final assembly line in Hamburg to be fitted to a complete aircraft. Of course, the usual ecological stuff is all there too. Plenty of insulation and automated climate control, solar panels on the roof and ventilation designed to minimise power usage abound.
“This investment in the A321XLR equipment installation hangar at the Airbus Hamburg site is an important milestone towards transitioning aviation to climate neutrality. This transformation is the key to making Germany a future-oriented and competitive aerospace location,” said Anna Christmann, the Federal Government Coordinator of German Aerospace Policy. “I am delighted that Airbus is positioning itself as a trailblazer in sustainable aviation and that we are pulling together to accelerate progress toward climate-neutral aviation even further.”
FAA approves ClearVision enhanced flight vision system (EFVS)
Following an intensive and protracted development effort, Universal Avionics is pleased to announce the successful conclusion of the certification flight test program prescribed by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The AerAware solution features Universal Avionics’ ClearVision EVS-5000 multi-spectral camera and SkyLens wearable head-up displays. On 19 August 2023, AerAware completed the fifth and final set of TIA (Type Inspection Approval) certification test-flights on its Boeing 737NG aircraft, thereby occasioning the culmination of a certification process spanning approximately one-hundred-flight-hours.
The AerAware Enhanced Flight Vision System presents advanced imaging technology and real-time aircraft primary flight information to pilots via the SkyLens Head-Wearable Display (HWD). SkyLens enables pilots to continuously operate heads-up and monitor aircraft performance while retaining situational awareness of their aircraft and the positions and states of such within evolving flight environments. The groundbreaking EFVS leverages a synthesis of multispectral ClearVision sensor imaging and 3D synthetic vision to provide pilots an unprecedented degree of situational awareness in even the most restrictive Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC). By dint of Universal Avionics’ ClearVision architecture, visual references for approach and landing are made apparent to pilots significantly earlier than would be possible by out-of-window viewing with the naked eye. The system permits pilots, within both the actual and regulatory contexts to descend below published natural vision instrument approach minimums. The advantage of such a capability is patently evident.
Universal Avionics is a subsidiary of Elbit Systems Ltd., an Israel-based defence manufacturer of aerospace, land and naval systems; Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) solutions; Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS); advanced electro-optics; electronic warfare suites; SIGnal INTelligence (SIGINT) systems; data links and communications systems and radios.
Pakistan International Airlines denied bailout ahead of expected privatisation
The publicly owned airline had already received a 15.6 billion Pakistani Rupee (US$51 million) support package back in May 2023. The rejection of the airline’s petition adds to several woes afflicting the airline. In the first months of 2023, PIA faced multiple legal challenges from its creditors, including aircraft lessors and airport operators and has had assets repossessed in several jurisdictions due to lack of payment. In addition, 11 of the airline’s 31 aircraft are grounded, with three in a state deemed beyond repair.
In 2020, the airline was banned from operating in the European Union (EU) and the United States (US) following a scandal concerning the fraudulent obtention of some of its pilots’ licenses. More recently, PIA has been rocked by repeated flight delays and issues with delivering passenger luggage on time. The latter incidents earned PIA a fine from the Pakistani government. In August 2023, the Pakistani government announced its intention to privatise the airline, which is expected to post a 112 billion Pakistani Rupee (US$365 million) loss in 2023, since it is deemed to be financially unviable in its current form.
Russian Su-34 reportedly capable of firing Kinzhal hypersonic missile
A Russian Su-34 Fullback strike aircraft is said to have fired a Kh-47M2 Kinzhal hypersonic missile during a mission in Ukraine. This would mark the first use of the Kinzhal by this aircraft. A Russian defence official told the state news agency TASS, “The Su-34 fighter jet used the Kinzhal hypersonic missile in the special military operation ‘invasion of Ukraine’, the first crew who successfully accomplished such a task will receive state awards.”
The Kh-47M2 Kinzhal is a hypersonic air-launched ballistic missile that can reach a top speed of between Mach 10 and Mach 12 (10 or 12 times the speed of sound). It is based on the first stage of the 9K720 Iskander ground-launched ballistic missile, with the addition of a booster to bring it to hypersonic speeds in the atmosphere. Based on its similarities with the Iskander, its mass is estimated at around 4,300 kilograms (9,500 pounds). Until now, it had only been officially fired by specially modified MiG-31K heavy interceptors, which can reportedly carry up to 9,000 kilograms (20,000 pounds) of payload, reach a top speed of up to Mach 2.83 (3,500 kilometres per hour) and an altitude ceiling of over 25,000 meters (82,000 feet).
In comparison, the Su-34 has a similar maximum payload, reported at around 8,000 kilograms (18,000 pounds), though some sources claim it can carry up to 12,000 kilograms (26,000 pounds) of ordnance. Its flight performances. However, a more modest reported speed of Mach 1.53 (1,900 kilometres per hour) and a maximum flight altitude of 17,000 meters (55,000 feet). Thus, the Kinzhal capabilities should also be reduced when fired from a Su-34.
The Kinzhal is one of several hypersonic weapons unveiled by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2018 and aimed at countering NATO’s air defence systems. It was the first one to be used in a combat mission, with strikes first reported in Ukraine in March 2023. A spokesperson from the US Department of Defence reported the interception of a Kh-47 hypersonic missile over Kyiv on 4 May 2023, by the recently deployed Patriot air defence system.
Ukraine expresses interest in French Rafale fighter jets
Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba, has expressed a desire for France to supply the country with Rafale fighters, as Ukraine explores diversifying its defence choices. Following meetings on 30 August 2023, with Catherine Colonna, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs and President Emmanuel Macron, Kuleba gave an interview to Le Monde in which he expressed satisfaction with France’s ‘military, humanitarian, diplomatic and economic’ support for Ukraine. On 21 August 2023, General James Hecker, commander of US Air Forces in Europe, US Air Forces Africa and NATO Allied Command, revealed that France would oversee the advanced training of Ukrainian pilots selected to operate the F-16, using the Alpha Jet dual-seater twin-jet aircraft of the French Air Force.
SpaceX Crew-6 mission returns to Earth
On Monday 4 September the NASA-SpaceX Crew-6 mission made a safe return to Earth from the International Space Station (ISS), splashing down off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida. NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg, United Arab Emirates astronaut Sultan Alneyadi and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev spent 186 days in space for Crew-6. The mission was the sixth ISS crew rotation for NASA’s Commercial Crew Programme.
“After spending six months aboard the International Space Station, logging nearly 79 million miles during their mission and completing hundreds of scientific experiments for the benefit of all humanity, NASA’s SpaceX Crew-6 has returned home to planet Earth,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “This international crew represented three nations, but together they demonstrated humanity’s shared ambition to reach new cosmic shores.”
Crew-6, which launched on a Falcon 9 rocket from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center on 2 March was the fourth flight for the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft Endeavour. SpaceX launched its first crewed mission for the Commercial Crew Programme, noted for being the first operational crewed launch by a private company, in November 2020. The programme’s next mission, Crew-7, docked with the ISS on 27 August.
EASA proposes new rules for VTOL aircraft
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has released an official opinion proposing new rules for the operation of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft. The proposal includes regulations governing operations, flight crew licensing, rules of the air and air traffic management for crewed, VTOL-capable air taxis. It also looks to establish criteria and processes for the certification and maintenance of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS / drones). “I am happy to release this Opinion to the European Commission, which is once again the first proposal on this topic to be issued world-wide,” said EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky. “With this, we will achieve a harmonised regulatory framework to ensure the safe, sustainable and secure introduction of VTOL operations.”
Ky noted that the opinion was the final piece required to create a regulatory framework that will enable the launch of VTOL and air taxi services in Europe, emphasising that manufacturers and operators will still need to get the necessary approvals. As previously reported, EASA’s proposed rules for air taxi operation in cities was open for public comment from June to September 2022. The agency also published a proposal for how to assess and limit air taxi noise generation last May.
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Saab acquires BlueBear
The acquisition of all shares in BlueBear is part of Saab’s continued international growth journey across key markets, which include the United Kingdom, Australia, the United States and Germany. BlueBear is a world-leading provider of AI-enabled autonomous swarm systems for complex defence and security applications. BlueBear employs 65 employees at their site outside Bedford, England with a turnover of £8 million in 2022.
The combination of Saab’s world-leading products, services and solutions and BlueBear’s experience as an agile integrator of AI-enabled autonomous swarm systems will be a powerful driver of Saab’s future capabilities. BlueBear will contribute to Saab’s existing activities worldwide and Saab will benefit from BlueBear’s expertise in autonomy and swarming, as well as command and control systems.
As emerging and disruptive technologies such as AI, machine learning and autonomous systems have the potential to reshape entire industries, Saab embraces a proactive strategy of selected acquisitions. By acquisitions and strategic partnerships with companies that specialise in new technologies, Saab‘s capabilities are enhanced, thereby increasing the comprehensive solutions offered for a wider range of defence needs. AI will enable Saab to further improve system capabilities and increase efficiency across our world-leading product portfolio. Within Saab, BlueBear will be a centre for Rapid Concept Development providing expertise and scaling-up innovation.
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