Minimum enroute altitude. It guarantees clearance above the highest obstacle on that route and radio and navigational communication.
African Pilot’s November 2020 edition
As we get closer to the end of this year, the November edition features ‘Gifts for Pilots’ as well as many international newsworthy aspects and developments in aviation. The November edition is complete and once again I would like to thank our valuable advertisers for their support, because the only way that any magazine exists these days is through advertising expenditure. The November edition of African Pilot is the third magazine where we have used the new 3D software to publish a superb digital magazine.
This bumper edition consisting of 252 pages, has 53 illustrated articles, 16 videos and nine picture galleries embedded within the magazine. This is yet another record for African Pilot showing that the ‘new normal’ digital method of publishing has placed African Pilot onto the world aviation map. Therefore, whilst our small team continues to innovate within the digital space, other aviation magazines and weekly newsletters have been left behind.
Advertisers can now see the benefits of marketing their products and services to a vast international aviation audience including short videos, picture galleries and actual virtual shops, they will realise that marketing is most important for future profitability. In South Africa and the African continent, African Pilot is the only aviation publication that has purchased the latest software to provide digital enhancement to any advertiser anywhere in the world. At the same time African Pilot is also the only aviation magazine that is easy to read on any digital smart device, because our team understands the importance of ensuring the ease of use in this ‘new normal’ digital age. It is now quite obvious that ALL the other aviation publications are attempting to copy what African Pilot has pioneered, but this was to be expected. However, at least African Pilot publishes correct aviation information such as the calendar of events on a regular basis.
African Pilot’s December 2020 edition
The December edition will feature Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, Drones, Flying Cars and Urban Conectivity. These subjects have fascinated me over the past few years as more ambitious projects come to market. There is no doubt that our future world will be highly connected and far more robotic that ever before as mankind explores opportunities to improve service delivery.
The material deadline for the December edition is on Wednesday 18 November 2020.
All editorial content should be sent to me Athol Franz e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For advertising positions please contact Adrian Munro
Tel: 0861 001130 Cell: 079 880 4359 or e-mail: email@example.com
About African Pilot
There is no doubt that African Pilot provides the finest overall aviation media reach in Africa.
We are positioned to provide professional video and stills photography, website development, social media platforms, company newsletters as well as several other important media services to our customers.
The monthly magazine is available as a digital edition where ALL advertisers enjoy the direct routing to their websites at a touch on a smart phone or tablet as well as a click of the mouse on a computer screen or tap on any smart phone device.
Then of course this APAnews service has been part of African Pilot’s line-up since the inception of the magazine 20 years ago.
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Visit www.APAcom.co.za and register yourself as a user
African Pilot’s aircraft of the week identification quiz
I was surprised to receive many answers to the question raised in Monday’s APAnews and everyone that wrote to me got the answer correct. The plans-built aircraft is a Henri Mignet HM 293 Flying Flea that I photographed at Orient Airfield on Friday at the Children’s Flight. This exercise was so successful that I will be providing an aircraft identification quiz in every Monday edition of APAnews, with the reveal within the Thursday edition. Should you have any strange or unusual aircraft pictures that you would like to include, please send me a picture and I will use this in a future edition: firstname.lastname@example.org.
View and download African Pilot’s last three (3) editions.
Click on the covers below.
Launch of Wouter Botes’ e-book ‘Flights to Nowhere’
Wouter Botes’ E-book on Flight to Nowhere is available by visiting www.africanpilot.co.za and click on the button provided on the home page. We have provided an option for payment of R60 per download on the page.
AERO South Africa news
Take your business to NEW HEIGHTS this August at the one-stop business to business platform. The platform will be active for 12 months, allowing you to market your products and services to a targeted global General Aviation market and engage with visitors and other exhibitors on the portal. Want to book your booth on the AERO South Africa Virtual Marketplace or simply find out more? Contact one of our team members below to take your business to new heights.
Aero Club of South Africa’s Centenary Yearbook
Produced by John Illsley who is the second master at Pretoria Boys’ High School (I spent five happy years at PBHS), the AeCSA is taking pre-orders for the Centenary Yearbook, to assess the demand for a print run. It will be in the form of a hard and soft cover version as well as a limited-edition leather-bound book on request. Details of the book are available on the AeCSA Website.
Indicative Pricing: – Hard Cover Book – R 400 – Soft Cover Book – R 300 – Leather Bound Book – add +/- R 200 for Novalite & R 500 for Leather. Delivery options are collected at the Rand Airport AeCSA office, or door to door courier service anywhere in South Africa. Courier costs will range between R 100 to R 130 per book dependent on location. Volume purchases are also available should this be required. Once you have registered for a pre-order and the print run is complete, the AeCSA will send an invoice for payment, which once received will have the book dispatched.
To get your pre-order secured, please go to this link. Centenary Yearbook Order form:
If you are not a member and wish to join the Aero Club and any of its sections, feel free to do so http://www.aeroclub.org.za/member-renewals-and-new-memberships/
SOUTH AFRICAN AVIATION NEWS
News from The Commercial Aviation Association of Southern Africa (CAASA)
CAASA was invited by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) to participate in the GA/RA ILF. In future AATOSA and AMOSA should also be in attendance as there were discussions that affected their members. The meeting was held on Friday 29 October 2020, in attendance from SACAA was the Executives of Aviation Safety Operations (ASO) and representatives of General Aviation, Airworthiness, Licencing, Flight Operations and Special Projects.
- Authority to Fly (ATF) and Certificates of Airworthiness (C of A) renewal delays
a) SACAA informed the meeting that they were putting systems in place to remove the backlog of ATF and C of A’s by mid-November 2020.
b) SACAA acknowledged that many submissions may have bounced from the e-mail box which only allows 15 MB and this minor fact size limitation was not communicated to industry.
c) CAASA members must ensure their submissions are less than 15 MB or alternatively send the application and POP and wait for the inspector to be allocated before sending the inspector the scanned documents directly. The initial submission should only contain the application and proof of payment to the designated email address and then members should wait to be contacted by the designated inspector (within five days) to send remainder of the documentation.
d) We were informed categorically that any C of A submitted prior to 1 September 2020 and ATF submitted prior 12 October 2020 should be considered as not received by SACAA and should be re-submitted. Kindly CC CAASA on the e-mails for record purposes.
- New digital ATF and C of A certificate
a) A digital printable version of the ATF certificate should be rolled out soon.
b) The digital C of A are planned to be rolled out later due to ICAO complications.
c) Please note that C of A’s will remain physical documents for now.
d) This seems like a good step in the right direction.
- ASO escalation team
a) A General Notice has also been released by the SACAA and is available on the SACAA website regarding an alternative escalation process that differs from the existing published system.
b) CAASA requested clarification on the new system and resolution times and will provide feedback in due course.
A decision was made by the SACAA that all collections will in future take place from Midrand. This created some confusion, but CAASA will monitor this and provide feedback to the industry.
- 90-day inspection after ATF expiry
a) This matter remains, but inspectors have been briefed to apply the inspection criteria consistently.
b) Industry will need to propose an NTCA solution to any reasoning related to ATF expiries. This may become a separate project.
c) The SACAA are attempting to align C of A and ATFs with the same standard but the regulations are not quite in line.
- Document evaluation fee
a) SACAA stated that not all ATF submissions have the same documentation nor are they considered equal.
b) SACAA’s legal department has ruled that a further fee will need to be charged for time taken if extra work is required.
c) This should not be experience with routine C of A or ATF submissions.
- Terms of reference
a) The terms of reference is being developed for the GA/RA ILF.
b) ATF documentation requirements – Part 24. A team of volunteers is to review and propose ATF documents required for issuance of ATF and to also review the anniversary legalities of an ATF.
c) CAASA will provide feedback as this develops.
- PPL exams applicable to NPL
a) The current regulatory state is that a student wishing to write a PPL exam needs to be a holder of an NPL or SPL. A similar situation applies with flight tests not being interchangeable.
b) The SACAA is awaiting the outcome of a legal opinion to be provided this coming week to ensure future clarity to the industry.
c) There was no further information regarding why they did not implement change management and a changeover period.
d) CAASA also made it clear that communication is this regard form the SACAA has been poor.
- General Aviation Safety Strategy (GASS)
a) GASS was an initiative that stemmed from the SACAA internal deliberations without much industry involvement. This is not to say that it may not be needed. Little empirical evidence based on data seems to have been incorporated in the planning which Industry would like to see. CAASA will monitor how the GASS evolves and will play a part in this process.
CAASA emphasises that any strategies must be properly defined based on reliable data and statistics. The SACAA is requesting for volunteers to participate in focus groups . Nomination / participation may be accessed at: http://www.caa.co.za/General_Aviation_Notices/SACAA%20General%20Aviation%20Safety%20Strategy%20Focus%20Groups%20Participation.pdf
It is vital that industry participate to ensure that the correct approach is embarked upon to ensure the outcome is workable, affordable and implementable in industry.
The SACAA stated that with regards to the Part 149 and the four-day workshop held in 2019, it had failed to take minutes and thus no minutes or outcome can be provided. CAASA objected and also advised the SACAA that it was misleading to volunteer participants that gave four days of their lives to bring important elements to the SACAA’s attention and that agreements made with ARO’s by the E’ASO were not honoured. The industry has little recourse. In future Industry will have to ensure that it records and takes minutes.
AMS aircraft suffered tyre burst at George Airport – official statement
The SA Red Cross Air Mercy Service (AMS) confirms that one of its emergency PC 12 fixed wing aircraft suffered a tyre burst on landing at George Airport on Friday, 6 November 2020. All the crew, pilots and medical personnel, on the flight are reported to be safe. The aircraft was dispatched for its normal air ambulance missions, crewed by two very experienced pilots. The tyre burst resulted in the aircraft veering off the runway, the incident resulted in George Airport being closed while the matter was being resolved.
“The AMS immediately started communication with the airport authority and engineers at George Airport in an attempt to get the aircraft off the runway as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, they were unsuccessful in their attempt as factors such as the soft surface next to the runway from the rain also contributed towards difficulty in the recovery of the aircraft. AMS requested permission to ATC & ACSA to dispatch a back-up aircraft from Cape Town to land and resolve the matter. Once permission was granted by George Airport, a back-up aircraft with AMS engineers and equipment on board was immediately dispatched and resolved the matter within 30-minutes of arrival at George Airport, allowing operations for both the operator and the Airport to return to normal” said AMS CEO, Dr Philip Erasmus.
“The matter is currently being investigated and together with the George Airport authority and local aircraft engineering support, we shall institute further measures and equipment that can resolve similar incidents rapidly, should they occur in future. We apologise for the inconvenience to other operators and the interruption of the Airport operations. We assure everyone of our commitment to strive for excellence with our very experienced pilots and crew to continue our mandate to provide lifesaving emergency aero-medical services to those in need.” Dr Philip Erasmus concluded.
What is scheduled for this weekend?
CAASA AGM to be a virtual meeting from 11h00
Contact Sam Keddle E-mail: email@example.com Tel: 063 717 3460
13 – 16 November
Battlefields now in Mossel bay fly-in please view poster for details
Contact E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 082 446 9916 or 082 875 5419
I will be attending this fly-in personally so that I can catch up with many of African Pilot’s readers.
Witbank Aeronautical Association fly-in
Contact Cell: 082 892 5954
I have started preparing the 2021 calendar with assistance from Air Show South Africa and the various sections of the Aero Club of South Africa. Please send me your planned aviation event fixtures for next year so that I may accommodate them on the calendar. Thank you.
AFRICAN AVIATION NEWS
Pandemic is a wakeup call for African aviation, says Astral’s Sanjeev Gadhia
At the 52nd annual general assembly (AGA) of the African Airlines Association (AFRAA), Sanjeev Gadhia, CEO and founder of Astral Aviation stated that the pandemic is a wakeup call for African aviation sector as it lacks infrastructure. Gadhia is also the vice-chairman of AFRAA Cargo Task Force.
The session themed as ‘Air cargo: A Key Contributor to Sustainability of the Air Transport Industry’ was moderated by Reji John, Editor of Logistics Update Africa. “The impact of the crisis has brought significant changes in the last eight months in the sector. We had been witnessing an increase in the e-commerce demand to Lagos, Nairobi and Accra. As the pandemic is going to stay for a while, there will be a sharp rise in e-commerce shipments. For this, there must be sufficient investment made in capacity building and human resources.”
AFRAA updates: Congo Airways to resume flights to South Africa, Abidjan, Douala
Highlighting on the Covid-19 vaccine logistics, he observed, “As of now, Nairobi, Johannesburg and Addis Ababa are the only transhipment hubs to handle potential Covid-19 vaccines which will come into Africa. We need to concentrate more on building the infrastructure related to this by introducing advanced packaging to avoid temperature-excursions during transportation.” He concluded by speaking on drones to be used in the transportation of vaccines to remote areas.
WORLDWIDE ACCIDENTS AND INCIDENTS
Azerbaijan mistakenly shoots down Russian attack helicopter
A Russian Mi-24 helicopter gunship was shot down over Armenia, killing two crew members and injuring the third. Azerbaijan admitted that it shot down the aircraft by mistake. “The Mi-24 helicopter came under fire from the ground of a man-portable air-defence system [MANPADS],” the Russian Defence Ministry said in a statement. The aircraft was escorting a column of vehicles out of the Russian 102nd Military Base in Gyumri, Armenia. The Armenian Ministry of Emergency Situations announced that it sent help to the crash site.
Shortly after the incident was reported on 9 November 2020, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry admitted that the Mi-24 had been mistakenly shot down by its troops, after what they believed were ‘provocations of the Armenian side’ in the context of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The Baku government is ready to pay compensation to Moscow, TASS reported.
Fights have been raging in the landlocked region of Nagorno-Karabakh since 27 September 2020. The conflict opposes the Azerbaijani forces and their Turkish ally, whilst the local population of the separatist region supported by Armenia. More than 1,300 people have been killed. On the day of the crash, Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire to end hostilities in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, under the aegis of Russia. The agreement sparked violent protests in Armenia, where it is seen as an admission of defeat. Russia deployed nearly 2,000 soldiers as peacekeepers.
Iran Air flight IR3415 diverts after loss of engine
An Iran Air ATR 72-600 diverted back to its departure airport after its right-hand side engine was seen burning out mid-flight. The Iran Air ATR72-600 departed Tehran International Airport at 06h34 local time for its intended destination Dezful Airport (DEF), Iran. According to the Civil Aviation Organization of the Islamic Republic of Iran (CAO.IRI), the turboprop carried 34 passengers and seven crew members onboard the flight. Shortly after take-off, the right-hand engine failed and shut down. After circling twice just south of the airport, the Iran Air ATR72 returned to Tehran International Airport (THE) and conducted an emergency landing, 40 minutes after it initially took off. The aircraft in question was delivered to Iran Air in May 2017 straight from ATR’s factory located in Toulouse, France. The aircraft was part of an order for 20 turboprops, signed by the airline and ATR in February 2016. However, the manufacturer was able to deliver only 13 of the turboprops due to US-imposed sanctions, which prevented US-based businesses to conduct sales with Iran. In August 2018, ATR rushed to deliver five 72-600 aircraft to the Tehran-based airline, a day before the sanctions took effect.
WORLD AVIATION NEWS
737 MAX could return soon, boosting Boeing stock price
According to reports, Boeing’s 737 MAX could return to service as early as next week, which along with the general stock-market boost in the wake of the 2020 presidential election, carried Boeing’s share prices to levels not seen since early June. FAA Administrator Steve Dickson told Reuters that “this process will be finished in the coming days, once the agency is satisfied that Boeing has addressed safety issues. As I have said many times before, the agency will take the time that it needs to thoroughly review the remaining work,” Dickson told The New York Times. “Even though we are near the finish line, I will lift the grounding order only after our safety experts are satisfied that the aircraft meets certification standards.”
Boeing stock prices closed near $200 / share this week. The company’s share prices were affected by the 737 MAX crashes and subsequent grounding but far more by the global downturn in airline travel. Share prices bottomed out below $100 / share in late March after a peak of more than $420 / share in 2019. Only American Airlines has announced resumption of 737 MAX flights, while Southwest, which has the largest MAX fleet in the US, is not expected to resume flying its aircraft until the second quarter of 2021. It is expected to take months to ‘un-mothball’ the MAX aircraft stored around the country and reintegrate them into service.
USAF and Lockheed aim to transform airlifters into weapon platforms
Initial studies show that airlifters have the potential to deploy large quantities of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile Extended Range (JASSM-ER) missiles. Airlifters like the MC-130J have the potential to deploy large quantities of JASSM-ERs, providing a significant increase in long-range standoff scale.
Airlifters like the MC-130J have the potential to deploy large quantities of JASSM-ERs, providing a significant increase in long-range standoff scale.
The US Air Force Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation (SDPE) Office awarded Lockheed Martin a $25 million contract to support the next phase of the service’s Palletized Munitions Experimentation Campaign. The fourth phase includes a system-level demonstration in 2021 and continues to assess the potential to deliver large volumes of air-launched weapons via airlifters.
“Despite the Palletised Munitions programme being relatively new, it’s moving very quickly,” said Scott Callaway, Lockheed Martin Advanced Strike Systems director. “The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) contracting and Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation (SDPE) offices, and Lockheed Martin teams established this new contract in a record time of 30 days, supporting faster prototyping and a shorter timeline to bring this advanced capability to the war fighter in the field.”
Initial studies show that airlifters have the potential to deploy large quantities of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile Extended Range (JASSM-ER) missiles, providing a significant increase in long-range standoff scale and complementing traditional strike and bomber aircrafts. This innovative approach enables war fighters to launch offensive operations from a greater number of airfields and engage a larger number of near-peer adversarial targets.
The overall goal of the experimentation is to develop a modular system to deliver air-launched weapons, leveraging standard airdrop procedures and operations. The system will have the ability to be rolled on and off multiple types of aircraft, including the C-17 and C-130.
Phase I successfully accomplished five high-altitude airdrops from an MC-130J and a C-17 earlier this year using simulated weapons. During this effort, the U.S. Air Force tested the suitability of launching JASSM-ERs from an airlifter. JASSM is a long-range, conventional, air-to-ground, precision standoff missile for the U.S. and allied forces designed to destroy high-value, well-defended, fixed and relocatable targets.
Aerion announced completion of tunnel testing
Supersonic aircraft company, Aerion, has completed a major milestone in the development of the AS2 business jet after concluding high and low speed wind tunnel testing, amassing hundreds of simulated flight hours which represent the equivalent of 78,000 nautical miles flown. Testing in combination with the data points amassed from Aerion’s digital modelling of the AS2 allows engineers to validate the precise aerodynamic shape of the aircraft to a high level of fidelity and detail, a critical step as the company moves towards AS2 assembly starting in 2023 with key components starting manufacturing in 2022. During high and low speed wind tunnel testing, concluded in some of the most renowned testing facilities in Europe and North America, Aerion’s engineers assess more than 200,000 data points on the AS2 supersonic business jet.
During this phase of testing, the full operational envelope of the AS2 was assessed, from take-off and landing, subsonic cruise, Boomless Cruise, supersonic cruise through to dive speed. The wind tunnel testing also allows Aerion’s engineering team to assess aerodynamic impact in key operational conditions, such as the deployment of landing gear and wing icing while also assessing handling qualities. Aerion’s high speed testing was completed in conjunction with French aerospace testing and research experts, ONERA in Modane, France. Leveraging the extensive testing expertise and facilities at ONERA, Aerion using the testing programme to evaluate high speed performance, loads, stability and control at both transonic and supersonic velocities. Through more than 1,000 cycles, the team was able to assess performance over the course of an equivalent 72,000 nautical miles flown.
The combination of digital modelling using aerodynamic optimisation tools developed in-house by subsidiary company, Aerion Technologies and the wind tunnel testing programme enables Aerion to engage the need for costly demonstrator aircraft and accelerate the programme to the final stages of validation. The data accrued from wind tunnel testing also contributes to defining more accurate loads, a vital step in ensuring the AS2 achieves its final weight targets.
Aerion’s pursuit of faster point-to-point travel begins with the launch of the AS2 supersonic business jet. Designed to be inherently environmentally responsible from the first flight, the AS2 is the first supersonic aircraft designed to be powered by 100% engineered synthetic fuel and reach supersonic speeds without the need for an afterburner. The manufacture of 300 AS2 aircraft is planned for the first decade of production. The AS2 will be the first aircraft to be assembled at the company’s new global headquarters in Melbourne, Florida – Aerion Park. The state-of-the-art development, powered by clean energy will incorporate headquarters operations plus an integrated campus for research, design, build, and maintenance of the company’s supersonic aircraft.
COMAC C919: how to break Airbus-Boeing duopoly
On 2 November 2020, China flew its COMAC C919 at an airshow for the first time. It seemed like it could impress the audience, but can it do the most important task: break the Airbus-Boeing duopoly? This no-small mission was baked into the fabric of the C919 from the beginning. “C919 comes after Airbus and Boeing so you will have ABC in the aviation industry,” chief designer of the jet Wu Guanghui said back in 2009. The development of the aircraft had just started, the hopes were high and the maiden flight was set to happen in the not-so-far future of 2014. Of course, it did not happen so. The development was beset by all kinds of problems, including accusations of commercial espionage from the Western partners and the first C919 prototype managed to take-off only in May of 2017. Then, it had to wait for five months before the second flight, then wait some more, as it was stopped by technical problems again.
Much has happened between 2009 and 2017 and it might explain some of the C919’s problems. The launch of the Airbus A320neo and the Boeing 737 MAX for one, which set a higher bar in efficiency. As a result, COMAC, dead set on the previous generation of Western narrow-body airliners and forced to delay their ‘answer’, was left with an outdated set of goals. This, coupled with ever-mounting technical challenges, resulted in a sub-par airplane by contemporary standards. Nowhere it is as apparent as in comparison with the capabilities of its competitors. Sadly, reliable data on the C919 is hard to find, even the amount of its variants fluctuates between six and two depending on the source and the specifications of anything beyond the base model are simply non-existent.
The COMAC carries a similar number of passengers, but as for range, it has more in common with regional jets like the Embraer E195 than any of the competitors that were outlined by Wu. A slight hope can be put into the long-range (LR) model that might have specifications similar to the Boeing 737 NG variants from the mid-90s, but its passenger capacity is pure speculation. According to COMAC, it will carry ‘over 100 passengers.’ Quite likely, the impressive jump in range will be achieved by modifying (shortening) the airframe accordingly.
Of course, the range is not the only parameter an aircraft can compete by. There is a good argument in saying that the C919 is aiming at the niche currently unfilled by Western jets and is optimised for ranges of around 4,000 kilometres. There are barely any popular domestic routes in China exceeding that range. If COMAC is aiming to break the Airbus-Boeing duopoly at least in the domestic market, it has to offer something more efficient for Chinese carriers.
The C919’s efficiency is another big question. COMAC’s promotional material states that the aircraft will have fuel consumption and direct operating costs lower than those of competing airplanes; its LEAP-1C engines, developed by Safran, are projected to burn 10-15% less fuel than anything mounted on the 737 NG and the A320ceo. Yet when the A320neo and the 737 MAX came with their own LEAP-1s – A and B respectively, fuel burn reduction of 15-16% was their main selling point, indicating that whatever lead the C919 may have had, was already wasted.
Efficient engines are not the only way to make efficient aircraft though. When the UAC MC-21 was revealed, Aeroflot said that they expected an aircraft to burn 2.33 litres of fuel per seat per 100 kilometres, an outstanding number, slightly higher than the Boeing 737 MAX-8 and lower than the A320neo. The efficiency was due to the high use of composite materials and innovative manufacturing techniques, achieved without Safran’s ultra-efficient engines. The aircraft does not even have winglets.
The C919’s fuel burn statistics are not yet revealed, despite the aircraft being in development for over a decade. It could be speculated that if there was something to boast about, COMAC would have boasted. The fact that the manufacturer switched from carbon fibre to aluminium alloys for wing construction in 2017 can also be noted, as it is doubtful that wonders can be accomplished without new wondrous materials.
The maximum fuel capacity for the aircraft is available and by using it we can estimate some rough fuel burn numbers. If we assume that an aircraft uses its full fuel tanks to fly the maximum range (which it does not, as different engine regimes on taxiing, take-off and landing will heavily impact the number, and there is reserve fuel as well), we can calculate how much of that fuel is used for 100 kilometres and what part of it is used per seat. Therefore, assuming an average density of 0.8 litres per kilogram and using the C919’s fuel capacity of 19560 kg provided by COMAC, we have a figure of 2.43 litres per seat per 100 kilometres. Not bad, right? Yet, using the same method, we will have 2.09 for the MC-21, 1.89 for the A320neo and 1.94 for the Boeing 737 MAX-8. Sure, these numbers do not match with an actual fuel burn of these aircraft; it is just a very rough estimate. But it shows that even from available data, the C919’s fuel economy does not look good.
Does this mean that the COMAC C919 is subpar and that no airline will buy it? Not really. Major Chinese carriers already set their orders. Those orders are either formally or informally government-mandated and we are likely to see the repetition of the story of COMAC’s ARJ21 as a result. Several of those are produced every year and distributed amongst airlines to perform heavily publicised flights.
This faith likely awaits the C919 as soon as COMAC begins to mass-produce the aircraft. For the last several years now, Western media is awash with experts claiming that neither Boeing, nor Airbus see COMAC as a competitor: its attempts to breach Western markets will likely result in a disaster similar to the SSJ-100 and back at home, airlines are still ordering Boeing and Airbus jets like nothing happened. Production goals of 150 aircraft per year seem far-fetched, while the more realistic scenario of the ARJ21’s production rate of 30 units per year are of no concern for Western giants.
All of this is true, but there are several caveats. First, the C919 is the first large airliner ever produced in China and by breaching that ice, partners, espionage and all COMAC got competences it never had. Any subsequent project is likely to go smoother. Second, many of the C919’s shortcomings are related to outdated technologies. One popular argument to explain them is that Western partners were afraid to share their newest technologies fearing China’s lack of respect for intellectual property. The same fear is echoed in Russia’s reluctance to participate in the CR929 programme.
But if the story of the Boeing 737 can teach us anything, it is that a successful mid-range airframe can be abused almost indefinitely. The 737 was born in the 60s and as the MAX grounding is slowly being wrapped up, there is no indication that it will not fly for decades to come. Having designed the basis, COMAC can upgrade the C919 with things that are lacking now but may appear later, such as domestically produced composite materials to reach efficiencies comparable to Western counterparts. It may take decades, but if China remains as persistent as it was through the entirety of the C919 development hell, the break of the Airbus-Boeing duopoly might come out of it sooner or later.
Southwest Airlines to purchase 30 Boeing 737 MAXs from failed orders?
However, the purchase process could appear slightly different than was usual. The airline reportedly stepped into negotiations with both Boeing and lessors with an aim to acquire the MAX planes which the original purchasers refused. This way the air carrier possibly would replace a small part of its Boeing 737 MAX order consisting of a total of 249 jets that Southwest Airlines (LUV) has already ordered. On November 10, 2020, the airline reportedly said that it was reconsidering its Boeing 737 MAX order book.
In October 2020, Boeing announced that it planned to resume deliveries of the grounded jet in Q4 2020, following expectations of receiving aircraft recertification in November 2020. While the manufacturer was struggling to find owners for up to 200 737 MAX jets it has produced during the period since the aircraft was grounded in March 2019, it seems that Southwest Airline’s considerations could appear a brilliant way for the manufacturer to move a part of already made Boeing 737 MAX planes to the new home.
Boeing secures $800M in three contracts with Qatar Armed Forces
Boeing secured more than $800 million in three contracts related to the Middle East Training and Support agreements. The plane manufacturer announced that it committed to provide comprehensive support for QEAF, which would include the F-15QA pre-delivery training and maintenance support as well as logistical assistance for in-country services. The first contract, which was valued at $240 million, was awarded back in 2019. Under the agreement, Boeing committed to supporting the Qatar Emiri Air Force with the management of the F-15QA programme as well as maintenance and aircrew training over five years.
Under the additional $68 million worth contract, Boeing would take care of the maintenance and logistics issues for the QEAF during a pre-delivery training for the F-15QA fighter jet. The training would take place in the United States in 2021. The goal of the event would be to train pilots and weapon system operators of QEAF to operate the F-15QA aircraft. Boeing announced that a training programme that would be held near the manufacturer’s F-15 jet production facility in St. Louis, US and would consist of in-person instruction, simulations as well as flying operations. The third contract, valued at more than $500 million, was awarded in November 2020. As per the agreement, the manufacturer would provide the QEAF with spare parts and ensure further needed logistics support after the delivery of the F15-QA aircraft to Qatar. The F-15QA aircraft is the most advanced variant of the F-15 jet to date which was developed for the QEAF. Back in 2017, Boeing was awarded a $2 billion worth contract by Qatar’s Department of Defence following which Boeing committed to manufacturing a total of 36 F-15 jets starting from 2021
Twice Weekly News from African Pilot
Should you miss out on any edition of APAnews, please visit the website: www.africanpilot.co.za and click on the APAnews link on the front page. All past weekly APAnews publications have been archived on the website.
Until next week Monday, please be ‘Serious about flying’.
Athol Franz (Editor)