“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies” Nelson Mandela
African Pilot’s aircraft of the week identification quiz
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.
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Video of the week:
View and download African Pilot’s last three (3) 2020 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
AERO South Africa is proud to be part of the third installment in the series of Safety First Aviator Webinars with the theme ‘PROP CLEAR’
Theme: Safety First Aviator – Fatigue Risk Management
Date: Thursday, 19 November 2020
Register Now >>> https://zoom.us/webinar/register/3816045839958/WN_qeqqG-wzTn2Co9mKNRTMew
The 2020/2021 Safety First Aviator campaign’s theme of “Prop Clear”, ensuring that engines are ready for take-off, following the Covid-19 Lockdown. The underlying theme for the campaign is “Resilience”, focused on how we will adapt to the change and the “new normal” to ensure flight safety in preventing accidents.
As part of this third installment in the series of SFA webinars, Wynand Serfontein will be focusing on personal fatigue management and how fatigue impacts the daily decision-making process and impact the quality of the decisions we make.
Mr Serfontein will cover strategies to manage personal fatigue to assist Aviation Safety. Ari Levien will share recent statistics from Mayday-SA that indicates how COVID-19 is currently impacting aviators and touching on how Mayday-SA can provide support in dealing with the stressful time that aviation is experiencing at present. Carl Bollweg looks forward to discussing the ALPA-SA proposal for amendment of part 121.02.13 which covers the Flight and Duty Period Scheme.
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/
Picture of the Week
Taken by Andre Kok with a Canon 7D at Lanseria of an IL-76
SOUTH AFRICAN AVIATION NEWS
Battlefields 20th fly-in at Mossel Bay
After flying to George on FlySafair and renting a vehicle, I arrived on Friday late afternoon to find a festive atmosphere at the Mossel Bay Aero Club. The weekend had been planned by Lourens and Nan Roos owners of Battlefields Country Lodge to replace the event planned for earlier in the year that had been cancelled by the COVID-19 pandemic. Dave and Sanet O’ Halloran managers of the lodge, were present on Friday evening and most of Saturday. On Friday evening Lourens described what the plan was for the following day, which included game spotting at the nearby Garden Route Game Reserve, wale spotting, in the ocean, flour bombing back at the airfield and finally a spot landing. Overnight a frontal system moved in and although the weather was not perfect several aircraft completed the tasks. By late afternoon typical a rainy cold front enveloped the airfield, but this did not dampen the vibrant enthusiasm of the many club members as well as a large contingent of Test Flying Academy of South Africa (TFASA) pilots and staff members who had travelled from Oudtshoorn from enjoying the hospitality of the Mossel Bay Flying Club. In particular, I was significantly impressed at the level of service from the club’s pub and restaurant, always with great smiles and wanting to be the best with its service offerings. I am specifically mentioning this, because these days in South Africa we do not often see excellent service levels. A full report with picture will be published in the December edition of African Pilot.
Airlink’s new tailfeathers bring freedom to southern Africa’s skies
The new look, which features a distinctively colourful African Sunbird set against a sunrise and dawn sky, follows several recent developments, including the formal re-naming of the company as ‘Airlink’. It signifies the airline’s new strategy, as an independent, agile, responsive and financially robust business that is free of any brand association with its former franchise partner, South African Airways. “We have flown that particular nest and we are inviting our loyal and new customers to fly with us as Airlink expands its network, connecting and re-connecting people, communities, businesses, goods and services with markets throughout Southern Africa and beyond,” explains Airlink CEO and Managing Director, Rodger Foster.
The new livery will be applied to Airlink’s fleet over the coming months, with the re-painting coinciding with each aircraft’s next scheduled deep-maintenance overhaul. This will avoid disrupting the airline’s operations. The first aircraft bearing the new colours will resume service in early December, in time for the summer holiday season.
What is scheduled for the next few months?
African Pilot’s 2020 calendar
We will publish the aviation calendar within APAnews three months ahead, but you can always visit African Pilot’s website: www.africanpilot.co.za if you would like to obtain the full calendar for the entire year.
27 and 28 November
SAPFA Speed Rally at Springs airfield
Contact Jonty Esser E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 082855 9435
5 and 6 December
Sport Aerobatics Club Ace of Base TBC
Contact Annie Boon e-mail: email@example.com
SAPFA Rand Airport challenge
Contact Frank Eckard E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 083 269 1516
SAPFA AGM also at Rand Airport after the rally
Contact Rob Jonkers e-mail: email@example.com cell: 082 804 7032
30 & 31 January
Sport Aerobatics Club Gauteng Regionals Vereeniging Airfield
Contact Annie Boon E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
SAPFA Witbank Speed Rally at Witbank Airfield
Contact Jonty Esser E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 082 855 9435
6 & 7 March
Sport Aerobatics Club Judges Trophy Venue TBA
Contact Annie Boon E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
12 & 13 March
Bethlehem Aero Club event TBA
Contact Stephan Fourie E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 072 344 9678
19 and 20 March
FASHKOSH airshow at Stellenbosch airfield
Contact: Anton Theart E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 079 873 4567
22 to 25 March
HAI Helicopter Association International La Nouvelle New Orleans Los Angeles USA
Contact E-mail: email@example.com
22 to 26 March
Flight Inspection Symposium (IFIS) and Trade Show ICC Convention Centre Durban
Contact Christo van Straaten (IFIS chair) Tel: 011 545 100 Cell: 083 451 2632 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
24 to 26 March
CAASA AAD Trade Show Lanseria International Airport
Contact Louise Olckers (GM) Cell: +27 (0)82 847 3403
SAPFA Brakpan Fun Rally at Brakpan Airport
Contact Frank Eckard, E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 083 269 1516
26 & 27 March
Uitenhage Wings and Wheels
Contact Lourens Kruger E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 082 320 2615
As further dates are sent to me, I will continue to update the aviation calendar
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
Nigerian Air Force continues to refurbish its fleet
During a visit to Kainji Air Base on 3 November Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, applauded the appreciable level of work on the in-country Periodic Depot Maintenance (PDM) on two Alpha Jet aircraft, NAF 465 and NAF 471, as well as engine recovery efforts being undertaken by the 407 Air Combat Training Group (407 ACTG) Kainji. He noted that the significant feature about the Alpha Jet PDM was the fact that it was being done in Nigeria, thereby building the capacity of NAF personnel. Abubakar highlighted that the NAF had similarly conducted successful PDM on two C-130H aircraft (NAF 913 and 917) in Lagos and was on the verge of commencing the in-country PDM on a third C-130H aircraft. Abubakar noted that the NAF had, in the same vein, carried out Life Extension Programmes (LEPs) on three L-39ZAs in Kano and would soon commence in-country LEP on another batch of three L-39ZAs. He also disclosed that similar major maintenance activities had commenced on the F-7 fighter jets in Makurdi. “We have some of our Chinese friends in Makurdi who are supporting us as we work to reactivate the F-7s and very soon those fighter aircraft will be brought back to serviceable status. The whole idea is to mobilise every asset in the NAF to utilise them to ensure that Nigeria is secure and its people are safe,” he said.
“In the area of training of pilots and engineers, we have close to 200 personnel in different countries around the world, who, by the time they return to Nigeria after their various courses will have sufficient capacity to operate and maintain the new aircraft being acquired by the NAF”, he said. Efforts to improve serviceability have seen the NAF’s serviceability status go from 33-35% in 2015 to 83-84% today, Abubakar said. At the beginning of November Abubakar briefed the House of Representatives on progress within the NAF. Regarding capacity building, he disclosed that the NAF had reactivated 20 erstwhile unserviceable aircraft. “We have 16 Chinese personnel that are in Makurdi, working to reactivate two F-7Ni aircraft there. We are also expecting 18 personnel from Czech Republic today to work with our personnel in the reactivation of L-39ZA. We believe that the whole idea is for us to build capacity to enable us carry out these maintenance activities entirely on our own in no distant time.”
Abubakar expressed gratitude to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, the entire National Assembly members and the House Committee on Air Force, and for their continued support to the NAF which had enabled the induction of 22 brand new aircraft into the service in the last five years. According to him, “the last time the NAF had this huge number of aircraft inducted into the service was in the 1980s. We are also expecting 17 more aircraft, including 12 Super Tucanos. Six of these aircraft have so far been produced and some of our pilots and technicians are currently undergoing training in the USA so as to effectively man the aircraft, which are expected to arrive in Nigeria by the second quarter of 2021”.
Nigerian Air Force getting Wing Loong, CH-3 and CH-4 UAVs
Revealed by the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar on 9 November while on an operational visit to NAF Base Makurdi to assess the ongoing reactivation work on F-7 jets, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) will be receiving eight Wing Loong II, CH-4 and CH-3 aircraft. The UAv aircraft would help enhance the NAF’s intelligence gathering for air operations. Four of the aircraft will be deployed in Gusau, two in Gombe and the remaining two at Operation Lafiya Dole Headquarters in Maiduguri.
The acquisition of the new UAVs was revealed in October when Abubakar said that about 70 personnel had already been nominated for training in China. Last week he disclosed that the UAVs being expected from China had been packaged for shipment to Nigeria, while the training of NAF personnel to man them is ongoing in China. The Nigerian Air Force is known to operate several CH-3A unmanned aerial vehicles manufactured by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC). The CH-3A has been deployed in the North East of Nigeria, where the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole used it against Boko Haram terrorists. Nigerian CH-3s have been armed with surface-to-air missiles (the CH-3 can be fitted with FT-5 guided bombs or AR-1 missiles).
In addition to the eight new UAVs, Abubakar said the NAF will take delivery of three JF-17 Thunder fighters from Pakistan whilst also reactivating several existing platforms such as the F-7Ni fighter jet. In-country Periodic Depot Maintenance (PDM) is being carried out on two Alpha Jets and three L-39ZA aircraft will be getting life extension programmes.
WORLDWIDE ACCIDENTS AND INCIDENTS
Eight peacekeepers killed in helicopter crash in Egyptian Sinai
Eight members of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in the crash of a UH-60A Black Hawk helicopter in the Egyptian Sinai. The observers were part of a force deployed since 1982 to monitor peace between Egypt and Israel in the disputed region of the Sinai. It regroups over 1,100 soldiers of different nationalities. Among the victims of the crash were six US nationals, a French and a Czech citizen. Israel initially offered assistance in carrying the wounded to a nearby hospital, before it appeared that all crew members were killed.
Both Israeli and Egyptian official sources say the crash is believed to be an incident. The Multinational Force and Observers, an independent international peacekeeping organisation unrelated to the United Nations, was formed following a peace treaty signed in 1979 between Israel and Egypt. The two countries had fought over the region for a decade. The region is now the theater of regular clashes between the Egyptian army and Islamic insurgents, including a local branch of the Islamic State.
Russian An-124 Condor skids off the runway after an engine failure
An Antonov An-124 Condor strategic transport aircraft, operated by Russia’s specialist Volga-Dnepr Airlines, made a dramatic emergency landing today at Novosibirsk in Siberia after a catastrophic engine failure after take-off. On landing, the airlifter’s nose landing gear collapsed and it skidded off the end of the snowy runway. Despite several pieces of engine debris landing on a populated area, no injuries have been reported. The An-124-100, which has the Russian registration RA-82042 and is one of around a dozen in service with Volga-Dnepr, had departed Novosibirsk International Airport in Tolmachevo and was destined for Vienna, Austria. It was not carrying any cargo at the time of the incident, but 14 crew members were on board.
Videos of the incident show the An-124 coming into land at Novosibirsk International Airport in a tight banking turn, before touching down on runway 25, around two minutes after it had taken off. The An-124, which weighs over 390,000 pounds when unloaded, overran the end of the runway by around 650 feet, with its nose undercarriage collapsing in the snow. Initial reports indicate that the aircraft’s number two engine, in the inboard left nacelle, suffered an uncontained engine event, which occurs when fragments of rotating turbine parts penetrate and exit through the nacelle. These types of failure can be especially dangerous since they pose a risk of fast-moving parts penetrating the cabin, fuel tanks, flight control surfaces, or other critical parts of the aircraft. In this case, it seems that some of the engine parts penetrated one side of the fuselage before passing through the other, tearing especially visible holes around the wing root, while other parts fell to the ground. Photos posted after the event seem to show that some of this debris smashed through the roof of a warehouse.
The An-124 is powered by four Ivchenko Progress D-18T Series three turbofans, each rated at over 51,000 pounds of thrust at take-off. Like the An-124, these powerplants date from the Soviet era. It is worth noting these engines were originally produced in Ukraine. The collapse in the Kremlin’s relations with that country following its annexation of Crimea in 2014 has made it impossible to secure additional engines and spare parts. Depot-level maintenance had also previously been carried out in Ukraine. It is not clear if any of these issues contributed in any way to this accident and a formal investigation is currently underway. In addition to the engine failure, it was reported that the An-124 experienced a loss of communications, with its radios and transponder failing. This all occurred when the plane reached approximately 1,800 feet, while it was still climbing to its cruising altitude.
Developed by the Antonov Design Bureau in Kyiv, Ukraine, from the early 1970s, the An-124, which is also named Ruslan, after a character from Russian folklore, was intended primarily as a strategic military transport, equipped with modern features including a fly-by-wire control system. The first of two flew on 26 December 1982 and a total of 54 series-production aircraft followed.
NTSB preliminary report: Piper PA-28
On 17 October 2020, a Piper PA-28-140 airplane was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near the Pierce County Airport – Thun Field (PLU), Puyallup, Washington. The certified flight instructor (CFI), one student and one passenger were not injured. The CFI and student pilot reported that they conducted two uneventful touch and go landings. After turning crosswind to set up for another touch and go, the airplane’s engine sputtered and lost complete power. The CFI took over the controls and executed a forced landing onto a nearby parking lot. During the landing, the airplane struck trees before it came to a rest. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the right wing and fuselage.
Fuel exhaustion leads to forced landing in a marsh
The pilot reported that, two days before the accident, the multiengine airplane’s fuel tanks were filled (150 gallons). During the taxi to the runway, the Cessna T337’s right main tyre blew. The right side of the plane was placed on a dolly to support the gear so that the airplane could be towed. According to the pilot, due to the airplane’s fuel system design, when one side of the airplane was raised, all the fuel could be transferred to the opposite tank, which then forced the fuel to be released out of the air vent line. On the day of the accident, the pilot completed his pre-flight inspection and visually confirmed the fuel quantity by checking both fuel gauges, which were ‘green.’ However, he did not verify the fuel onboard by checking the tanks.
About three hours into the flight, the rear engine lost power. Before he attempted to restart the rear engine and after he verified the correct engine to feather, the front engine also lost power. When he realised the airplane would be unable to reach the nearest airport, he landed it in a grass marsh near Homosassa, Florida, with the landing gear retracted. During the landing, the wing hit grass and then veered right about 90°, which caused the left wing to dip and hit terrain. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the left aileron and empennage. The pilot reported that there were no pre-accident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation. During his pre-flight inspection, the pilot should have verified the fuel quantity in the fuel tanks to ensure there was sufficient fuel onboard for the flight, and his failure to do so led to fuel exhaustion and the subsequent total loss of power in both engines.
Carburettor icing brings down LSA
The sport pilot reported that, while nearing his destination airport after a cross-country flight in the Cessna E162, he reduced the engine rpm from 2,350 to 2,200 and began a slow descent from a cruise altitude of 3,500 feet mean sea level (msl) to a traffic pattern altitude of 2,800 feet msl. He added that the carburettor heat was not on at that time. About two minutes later, he noticed the engine had lost all power without any roughness or sputtering. He turned on the carburettor heat, positioned the mixture to full rich and confirmed that the fuel shutoff valve was not engaged. However, the engine did not respond, so he conducted a forced landing to a field near Franklin, N.C. During the forced landing, the right wing hit a fence and the plane came to rest inverted. The pilot sustained minor injuries in the crash.
Post-accident examination of the airplane and the engine revealed no evidence of any pre-accident mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation, and the engine was successfully test run. The atmospheric conditions at the time of the accident were conducive to serious carburettor icing at cruise power, and the Pilot’s Operating Handbook Descent Checklist instructed pilots to apply carburettor heat, as required, during descent. It is likely that carburettor ice accumulated during cruise flight and that the pilot applied the carburettor heat too late to melt the ice, which resulted in the loss of engine power. The pilot stated that he did not fully understand the potentially subtle nature of carburettor ice.
WORLD AVIATION NEWS
Royal duel: which of A380 or B747 fly more passengers these days?
When COVID-19 hit the aviation industry with low demand, the widebodies were the first aircraft to go into storage. As the situation stabilised and started to improve, both the Boeing 747 and the Airbus A380 took to the skies again. Which one of the two giants returned faster to service? The fate of the A380 was already uncertain prior to the crisis, following the decision of Airbus to discontinue production in 2020. As for the Boeing 747, whose production has been in jeopardy since 2016, the end of the programme was eventually confirmed by the manufacturer in July 2020. The last Queen of the Skies is set to roll out in 2022.
When the air transport industry is facing an all-time low and carriers are aiming to reduce their costs, operating four-engined giants has become cumbersome. As soon as he was appointed CEO of Air France in 2018, Benjamin Smith voiced his intent to eventually retire the A380 due to an unfavourable competitive market. With the coronavirus forcing the French flag carrier to ground its fleet, Smith pulled the plug early. On 20 May 2020, the group announced, ‘the definitive end of Air France Airbus A380 operations.’
France announced that the nine Airbus A380 aircraft that remained in its fleet would not take off again, two years before their official withdrawal. Similarly, Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) reduced its fleet by six aircraft at the start of the pandemic. Now the remaining 14 Super Jumbos are stored for the long term and only a ‘surprising’ recovery could lead to their reactivation. Other carriers have found alternative ways to generate revenue using the Super Jumbos. All Nippon Airways (ANA) has been operating special Airbus A380 ‘flights to nowhere’ using its turtle-themed aircraft. By the end of October 2020, Singapore Airlines (SIA1) (SINGY) will offer a ‘memorable dining experience’ in one of its A380s parked in Changi Airport (SIN). So far, only three operators chose to resume commercial flights using the king of the skies: Emirates, Korean Air and China Southern Airlines (ZNH). At the time this article was written, five A380 aircraft were flying commercial flights.
The situation is hardly better for the Boeing 747. For Qantas, the coronavirus crisis got the best of the Queen of the skies. In July 2020, the Australian carrier retired its Jumbo Jet with an homage flight in the shape of a kangaroo. British Airways took a similar decision. On 8 October 2020, the airline put an end to the aircraft’s 50 years of service with a synchronized take-off of its last two 747s in the London fog of
However, unlike the A380, the global number of Boeing 747s currently flying reaches in the hundreds, but most of those flights are actually dedicated to cargo. On 12 October 2020, Flightradar24 pointed out that out of 154 Jumbo Jets flying, only four were carrying passengers. With IATA predicting that the long-haul industry will not completely recover before 2024, it might take a while for both royals to fully take back to the skies. With the arrival of more efficient widebodies on the market, more retirements could be around the corner. In October 2020, Etihad Airways removed the A380 from its booking site until September 2021, with either the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner or the 777-300ER taking its place.
Boeing’s latest forecast dropped 5% from last years by Brian Foley
The word ‘forecast’ sounds far more sophisticated than ‘educated guess’, which it really is. Boeing released its annual Pilot and Technician Outlook for the next 20 years estimating a need for 763,000 new civil aviation pilots which is a whole lot of swagger. But not taking into account the technological progress being made in semi- and fully autonomous flight, this number would seem drift away from the educated part of a guess.
Let us first put that number of new pilots required into perspective. That is more airmen than the entire population of Boeing’s birthplace of Seattle. It is more than the number of people living in Denver, Washington DC or Boston. Outside of North America, it numbers the inhabitants of Frankfurt in Europe or Zhuji in China. Boeing’s latest forecast dropped 5% from last year to take into account the large number of current pilot furloughs and layoffs. Still, they predict pilot demand will return driven by a combination of crew retirements and aircraft fleet growth. That may be, but only if the world of cockpit technology stands still for the next two decades, which would seem highly unlikely.
Today some aircraft are already partially or fully flying themselves without a traditional cockpit crew. Helicopters are slinging cargo loads for the military in high risk areas without onboard pilots while a technology company seeks approval for autonomous cargo flights over unpopulated areas monitored by a remote operator. Drones are moving even more quickly towards flight autonomy, including military versions and those used by delivery services like Amazon, Walmart and others.
Right now, avionics manufacturer Garmin introduced its Autoland system which has been approved on a few small, general aviation aircraft. Should the single pilot become incapacitated in flight, a passenger can push a panic button that automatically brings the aircraft in for a safe landing taking into account nearest suitable airport, terrain, weather and even radio communications with air traffic control. This is perhaps a baby step towards technology assisting a captain of larger aircraft with start-up, communications, taxi, cruise and landing – typically the co-pilot’s domain.
Urban Air Mobility (UAM) is another fledging tech sector that foresees small, mostly electric Jetson-like vehicles whisking passengers between metropolitan points. While initial flights will feature an airman acting as more of a systems babysitter than a pilot, the goal is to eventually prove the aircraft capable of flying itself without a human at the controls.
Military aircraft would be the first to shed cockpit crew since they play by their own regulatory rules and the human risk is not as great as a passenger jet with hundreds of seats. Towards the end of Boeing’s forecast period, this trend will inevitably spill over into the civil aircraft arena and it will not take a special, clean-sheet aircraft design to accommodate this, but instead a retrofit to the existing fleet similar to what Garmin is doing with its Autoland panic button.
An airline’s chief focus is on profitability and finding ways to cut costs by downsizing the number of pilots needed to operate an aircraft is a strong motivator. This was proven long ago when technology first made the navigator and later the flight engineer obsolete, saving airlines a considerable amount of money. Boeing’s forecast anticipates a fleet 48,400 airliners by 2039. Airlines assign multiple crews to a single airliner to maximize its flying hours. For simplicity, the use of 10 pilots (five crews) to staff each aircraft would suggest 484,000 airline pilots will be needed just to operate the airline fleet in 2039.
Removing one co-pilot out of 10% of this future fleet through automation would reduce that need by almost 50,000 pilots. Factoring in additional airline pilots scuttled by automation prior to 2039, plus the technological culling of the co-pilot ranks in the civil business jet and helicopter fleets, suggests Boeing’s forecast is overstated by perhaps 10% and maybe more.
It is never easy to forecast aviation 20 years out, let alone next year nowadays. It will admittedly take years of technological advances and flight proving, followed by arduous regulatory challenges and public acceptance to make a dent in future pilot demand. However, taking into account the adoption of at least some degree of automated flight assistance over the next two decades would make Boeing’s latest pilot demand forecast seem overstated, but still a high number, nonetheless.
The H-6N sees the bomb bay replaced with a centreline concavity
It also said that the advent of the H-6N in the PLAAF marks the return of China’s nuclear triad, under which nuclear deterrence is achieved through a mix of nuclear-capable bombers, ballistic missile submarines and ground-launched intercontinental ballistic missiles. It is far from clear if the weapon seen under the aircraft has been tested, or if the aircraft in the video was involved in captive carry tests. Another high-profile and far more publicity friendly example of rockets launched by aircraft is Virgin Orbit, which aims to launch small satellites into orbit from a Boeing 747-400. The company’s YouTube channel offers some sense of the challenges involved in lofting rockets from aircraft.
Virgin Orbit conducted its first captive carry flight in November 2018, with the first drop test taking place seven months later in July 2019. The first launch, a failure, only took place in May 2020. One point raised in Virgin Orbit’s publicity material is that by using 747s it can conduct launches from runways around the world. Similarly, H-6Ns with ballistic missile capabilities could be deployed from air bases and airports across China, thereby improving survivability in a conflict. It could also be deployed to bases beyond China.
So far, the H-6N has likely only been produced in small numbers. It could be some years before the H-6N / ALBM combination becomes a mature capability. If one H-6N / ALBM mission involves attacking highly mobile targets, such as warships, its success will rely upon a highly redundant, fast-acting kill chain that can detect targets, track them, and provide quality targeting data in a timely manner. Irrespective of the challenges Beijing may face with this ambitious project, the new H-6N footage is a clear milestone in the world’s understanding of its strategic intentions.
WORLD DRONE NEWS
US Navy drones demonstrating airborne ship cargo resupply capability
The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) recently acquired a logistics Unmanned Air System (UAS) prototype to demonstrate long-range naval ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore cargo transport at Naval Air Station Patuxent River. Delivered in late October, NAWCAD engineers, testers and military test pilots are now evaluating the commercially procured air vehicle; dubbed Blue Water Maritime Logistics UAS and tailoring it to requirements set by Military Sealift (MSC) and Fleet Forces Command (FFC). Historic data from US Navy casualty reports show that warships that move to non-mission capable or partially mission capable status often do so due to logistics-related issues like electronics parts or assemblies, 90 percent of which are logistical deliveries weighing less than 50 pounds. Currently, tactical aircraft like the H-60 helicopter and V-22 tilt-rotor aircraft fly these missions.
Recognizing the cost and inefficiency of using these aircraft in missions that could be completed by Group-3 size UAS, MSC tapped NAWCAD to demonstrate an ability for an autonomous vehicle to fly these logistics missions. The warfare center solicited industry to demonstrate potentially viable platforms that existed commercially. Industry was required to prove its UAV could autonomously transport a 20-pound payload to a moving ship 25 miles away without refuelling. Of over 65 UAS platforms that were analysed, two systems were technically advanced enough to partially meet the difficult requirements. Based on the systems’ performance at the Pax River demonstration in 2019, NAWCAD selected the Group-3 Skyways platform as the Texas-based company’s small UAS has the necessary size, payload capacity and range potential to function in a maritime environment and allow incremental test by NAWCAD with supporting technologies that might ultimately meet the needs of MSC. The platform’s arrival to NAWCAD’s unmanned Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (UX) 24 is the start of civilian and military training and subsequent system development will better meet MSC’s requirement.
Once NAWCAD fine-tunes the system, Blue Water will head to the Atlantic for experimentation with the fleet through most of 2021. “Results of the technical feasibility and technology demonstration efforts conducted will be shared and used to discuss transition to support fleet initiatives,” said James Tomasic, Blue Water’s co-lead and experimentation engineer. “Culmination of the effort with the Fleet during a Naval Warfare Development Command experiment later this year will provide pertinent information for the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, which determines requirements and future force structures for the Department of the Navy.”
On his deathbed an extremely wealthy old Texan summonses his three sons and his lawyer to his side. He says to them, as I am dying, I would like to offer the three of you anything that your heart desires.
The 40-year-old says without hesitation, he says “Texaco Oil”. A few calls are made and the company is his.
The 30-year-old, also without hesitation, says “I want Apple please”. A few calls and this also happens.
The old man turns to his seven-year-old and says, “what about you son?”
The little guy thinks for a while and says: “I want a cowboy outfit and a circus”.
A few calls and he now owns SAA.
Twice Weekly News from African Pilot
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Until Thursday, please be ‘Serious about flying’.
Athol Franz (Editor)