“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others, at whatever cost.” Arthur Ashe
Heinkel He 178
(Information from Wikipedia)
The He 178 was developed to test the jet propulsion concept devised by the German engineer Hans von Ohain during the mid-1930s. In September 1937, having secured the industrial support of Ernst Heinkel, von Ohain was able to demonstrate a working turbojet engine, the Heinkel HeS 1. Heinkel pursued development of the He 178 as a private venture, independent of the German authorities and the Luftwaffe, keeping the aircraft relatively secret for much of its development. Heinkel was keen not only to demonstrate the capabilities of aviation gas turbines but had a separate emphasis on developing high-speed flight technologies.
On 27 August 1939, the He 178 V1, the first prototype, performed its maiden flight, piloted by Erich Warsitz. This flight, which only lasted for six minutes, had been preceded by a short hop by the same aircraft three days prior. Due to its performance limitations, such as a maximum speed of 598 kilometres per hour (372 mph) and its relatively small endurance, the aircraft failed to impress Nazi officials such as Ernst Udet and Erhard Milch, who attended a demonstration flight. Heinkel subsequently developed a twin-engined jet-powered fighter aircraft, building on the lessons of the He 178, to produce the He 280. The He 178 provided valuable test data to guide the development of subsequent jet-powered aircraft. The He 178 V1 prototype itself went on static display in Berlin for a time before it was destroyed by an Allied air raid on the city in 1943.
In 1935, Hans von Ohain, a young German engineer, successfully took out a patent on the use of the exhaust from a gas turbine as a means of propulsion. Von Ohain presented his idea to the aeronautical engineer Ernst Heinkel, who was sufficiently impressed that he agreed to help develop the concept. This industrial support would prove highly beneficial to von Ohain’s work. According to the periodical New Scientist, Heinkel had already been interested in the potential of the gas turbine prior to encounter von Ohain and his work.
During September 1937, von Ohain successfully demonstrated his first engine, the Heinkel HeS 1. Accordingly, it was promptly decided to begin designing an aircraft for which a similar such engine could be installed and tested in the air. This aircraft, which would be designated He 178, was designed around von Ohain’s third engine design, the HeS 3, which burned either diesel fuel or gasoline. To support the programme, the HeS 3 was test flown in a Heinkel He 118, but only as a supplemental engine to the conventional piston engine that it retained.
The He 178 was a relatively compact aircraft, featuring a primarily metal fuselage and using a largely conventional configuration and construction. The nose accommodated the air intake for the engine, which was housed within the central fuselage. The aircraft was fitted with tailwheel undercarriage. The main landing gear was intended to be retractable, but actually remained fixed in the ‘down’ position throughout the flight trials. It was furnished with high-mounted wooden wings that had the characteristic Günter brothers elliptical trailing edge. Photos showing a ‘straight wing’ (straight-line-taper in the wing planform, for both the leading and trailing edges) were of the second prototype He 178 V2, which never flew under power.
On 27 August 1939, the aircraft performed its maiden flight, only days before Germany invaded Poland. This flight, piloted by Erich Warsitz, lasted only six minutes and almost ended in near-disaster due to a misjudgement during the unpowered landing approach, but was successfully recovered. Warsitz later described his groundbreaking flight: “I moved the throttle levers gently forward. As the aircraft began to roll, I was initially rather disappointed at the thrust, for she did not shoot forward as the 176 had done but moved off slowly. By the 300-metre mark she was moving very fast. Despite several attempts I could not retract the undercarriage. It was not important, all that mattered was that she flew. The rudder and all flaps worked almost normally the turbine howled. Now I would have to take my chances with the landing, losing altitude by sideslipping. I restored her to the correct attitude just before touching down, made a wonderful landing and pulled up just short of the Warnow.”
Heinkel had developed the turbojet engine and the testbed aircraft, the Heinkel He 178 V1, in great secrecy. Their existence were concealed even from the Luftwaffe. On 1 November 1939, after the German victory in Poland, Heinkel arranged a demonstration of the aircraft before a group of Nazi officials. While Hermann Göring, the commander in chief of the Luftwaffe, was not in attendance, the demonstration was watched by Ernst Udet and Erhard Milch, Minister of Aircraft Production and Supply. However, they were reportedly not impressed by its performance. While the He 178 had been a success on a technical basis, its speed was restricted to no greater than 598 kilometres per hour (372 mph), even when fitted with the more powerful HeS 6 engines, capable of generating up to 5.8 kN (1,300 lbf) of thrust, while its combat endurance was limited to only ten minutes.
The He 178 V1 airframe was placed on display at the Deutsche Luftfahrtsammlung in Berlin, where it was destroyed in an air raid in 1943. This example on display is a replica of the original Henkel He178.
Those persons who correctly identified this week’s mystery aircraft:
Ari Levien, Righardt du Plessis, Erwin Stam, Bruce Prescott, Andre Visser, Rex Tweedie, Piet Steyn, Rennie van Zyl, David Schumacher, Wouter van der Waal, Peter Rossouw, Andre Breytenbach, Charlie Hugo, Selwyn Kimber, Pierre Brittz, Johan Venter, Stuart Low, Shane Schwartz, Mickey Esterhuysen, Willie Oosthuizen, Colin Austen, Andrew Peace, Peter Gilbert, Jeffrey Knickelbein, Bruce Margolius, Jeremy Rorich, Georgie Rawlings, Gregory Yatt, Jaco van Jaarsveld, John Skinner, Clint Futter, Greg Pullin, Danie Viljoen, Marcel Nijdam, Aiden O’Mahony, Brian Melmoth, John Moen, Johan Prinsloo, Nigel Hamilton, Herman Nel, Steve Dewsbery, Hilton Carroll, Sam Basch, Dave Lloyd (44). Pretty good this week.
Graphic designer position at African Pilot
Unfortunately, the person we appointed to this position did not work out, mainly because she oversold herself and soon proved she was not capable of the work required by magazines such as African Pilot and Future Flight. Although I have placed this advert onto several platforms, of the many respondents who have sent their CV’s to me clearly do not read, since the advert is very specific about the essential requirements for the graphic designer. I have probably binned more than one hundred applications where the persons CVs are not even close to the advertised requirements. Please read the advert carefully, before responding so that you do not waste your time and my time by sending me your CV with inadequate qualifications and experience. In addition candidates should live within a 30-kilometre range of Kyalami, Midrand.
The 216-page September 2023 edition with eight picture galleries and 17 videos was completed and released to the world on Monday 4 September. 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 records aviation events correctly within the monthly calendar of events. In addition, the aviation calendar is published three months ahead in every Monday edition of APAnews and for this reason there is no excuse for the other publications to publish information that is dated or erroneous.
The October edition of African Pilot will feature Aircraft Maintenance and Refurbishment. Our marketing team has contacted all known AMOs as well as aircraft refurbishment shops to include as many of the amazing businesses that keep South Africa’s 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 of 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 in terms of overall quality and relevance to the aviation market.
The deadline for the October 2023 edition of African Pilot has passed and we are preparing the final material for publication later this week.
All editorial content should be sent to me Athol Franz
For advertising opportunities please call Cell: 079 880 4359
The twelfth edition of Future Flight was sent out to the world-wide audience on Monday 18 September. This 126-page edition has five picture galleries and 17 embedded videos. Due to the nature of the subject material, compiling this exciting new publication has been most rewarding, whilst at the same time, the magazine allows many of African Pilot’s advertisers to have their adverts placed in our second monthly magazine FREE of charge.
When I started Future Flight on my return to South Africa from AirVenture, Oshkosh 2022, the objective was to reduce the overall size of African Pilot to a more reasonable page count and this has been achieved. The next milestone will be to attract advertisers to make this publication sustainable and I have given myself a year to reach this goal. I would love to receive your feedback about this new digital publication: email@example.com. Thank you.
29 Sep to 1 Oct
EAA Sun ‘n Fun Tempe Airfield
Contact Kassie Kasselman 082 404 1642 Lucas 082 566 0656
EAA Chapter 322 monthly gathering 18h00 at Tempe airfield
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Saldanha West Coast airshow
Contact Clive Coetzee E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 084 614 1675
Great Train Race Heidelberg airfield
Contact Christopher Van E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
30 September to 7 October
SSSA Gliding Nationals at Potchefstroom airfield
Contact Carol Clifford E-mail: email@example.com
Video captures plane crash into Los Angeles soccer field
On Monday afternoon a Sling TSi crashed on a soccer field in Los Angeles. Bystanders pulled the passenger out of the aircraft and firefighters extricated the pilot and both occupants were taken to the hospital in critical condition. At about 12h53 the Los Angeles Fire Department arrived on the scene. The firefighters reported finding a small plane that had sustained a high-impact crash. The pilot was a male, estimated to be about 45 years old and the passenger was a woman, estimated to be about 30 years old. KTLA 5 reported that the single-engine plane came from Zamperini Field and flew out over the ocean briefly on a 30-minute flight. Video captured the plane, appearing to be descending into the field at an angle. A group of bystanders had pulled the passenger out and paramedics were there shortly to help remove the pilot.
LAFD Battalion Chief Shin Black shared an update, stating there was concern with the fuel on the ground and the department was working with Watershed Protection to safely clean up the waste. The park where the plane crashed is normally very busy on weekends. Black also shared that there were large propane storage tanks nearby. There was substantial damage to the plane but there was no post-impact fire and no ground injuries reported. The LAFD reported that fuel leaked on the ground but there was no post-impact fire. The FAA and NTSB were notified and advised the firefighters to disconnect the battery until the investigators arrived on the scene. The agencies will investigate the crash and the NTSB will issue a preliminary report in about two weeks.
Trucker ticketed for destroying helicopter
The driver of a semi-truck hauling a new $30-million Sikorsky S-92 helicopter failed to adequately contemplate his load’s vertical dimension relative the height of an Interstate 12 overpass in the vicinity of Denham Springs, Louisiana. The resultant impact saw the helicopter severely damaged and the trucker Miguel Rodriguez (56), regretting Louisiana’s civil engineers’ decision to set the overpass’s height at 15-feet and Sikorsky’s engineers’ compulsion to set the S-92’s main-rotor-mast assembly’s height at 15.5-feet. Rodriguez, who works for International Machine, a Texas-based trucking company, was ticketed for careless operation. Photographs captured at the accident scene showed the helicopter, tightly clad in pristine-white industrial shrink-film, wedged hideously between the overpass and the semi-trailer. The aircraft’s tail-boom and vertical-stabiliser protruded forlornly over the highway.
The incident occurred at approximately 08h30 CDT on the morning of Friday 22 September 2023 at the juncture of South Range Avenue and Interstate 12. Crews removed the helicopter from its ignominious predicament and the thoroughfare was reopened shortly after 10h30 CDT. Personnel of Louisiana’s Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) inspected the overpass and reported, subsequently, that the structure had sustained no perceptible damage. The Sikorsky S-92 is a twin-engine medium-lift helicopter built by the storied Stratford, Connecticut-based rotorcraft-maker for the civil and military helicopter markets. The S-92 was developed from Sikorsky’s S-70 model, with which it shares flight-control and rotor systems.
Air France-KLM Group plans to order 50 Airbus A350-family aircraft
Under this significant group order, Air France-KLM intends to acquire 50 Airbus A350-900 and A350-1000 aircraft, along with purchase rights for an additional 40 aircraft. The initial deliveries are anticipated between 2026 and 2030. This procurement represents a flexible approach, enabling the Group to strategically allocate aircraft among its various airlines, taking into consideration market dynamics and local regulatory requirements.
Benjamin Smith, CEO of Air France-KLM, expressed, “This forthcoming order marks a pivotal moment in our fleet rejuvenation strategy. The Airbus A350 is a cutting-edge aircraft that has garnered favour among passengers and crew at Air France since its introduction in 2019. It aligns seamlessly with our network requirements and offers exceptional performance attributes: reduced noise, enhanced fuel efficiency, and improved cost-effectiveness compared to earlier generations. It will play a vital role in our commitment to achieving ambitious sustainability goals, including a 30% reduction in CO2 emissions per passenger kilometre by 2030.”
These newly ordered aircraft will replace older-generation planes, specifically the Airbus A330 and aging Boeing 777 aircraft. It’s important to note that this order is in addition to Air France-KLM’s existing order for 41 Airbus A350-900s for Air France, with 22 of them already delivered. Furthermore, the Group is set to be one of the inaugural customers of the Airbus A350 Full Freighter version, having placed an order for eight aircraft to modernize and expand its cargo fleet. With a cumulative order for up to 99 aircraft, Air France-KLM is poised to become the world’s largest operator of the A350 family of aircraft.
CFM sues UK parts vendor
AOG Technics is suspected of selling dubious engine parts to aircraft service centres and Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facilities around the world. The company is presently under the scrutiny of international investigators about the business of determining the source or sources of thousands of aero-engine components sold with forged paperwork. Cincinnati based CFM International producer of aircraft turbine engines and joint venture of GE Aerospace and Safran Aircraft Engines has, to date, discovered no fewer than 72 discrete instances in which AOG Technics sold aircraft engine parts with falsified documentation.
Southwest Airlines precautionarily removed parts acquired through AOG Technics from its aircraft. Shortly thereafter, United Airlines announced it had become aware two of its aircraft had been fitted with AOG Technics-supplied engine components and grounded the planes tout suite. Southwest, United, Virgin Australia and other air-carriers in receipt of dubious engine components purchased such from AOG Technics, which functions after the fashion of a retailer, acquiring and distributing parts produced by many OEMs.
Shabby optics notwithstanding, the lack of legitimate paperwork does not discount entirely the possibility that the parts sold by AOG Technics are authentic. Illicit trade in aircraft components often includes genuine parts too old, too worn, or non-conformal to manufacturers’ tolerances or industry standards. Currently, CFM and AOG Technics are embroiled in litigation moving with characteristic languor through the UK’s court system. CFM’s attorneys have accused AOG Technics of engaging in a ‘deliberate, dishonest and sophisticated scheme to deceive the market with falsified documents on an industrial scale.’
CFM asserted, also, that AOG’s alleged subversions have forced the removal-from-service of between 48 and 96 commercial aircraft operated by global air-carriers. The engine-maker further accused AOG Technics of indolence vis-à-vis the release of documentation germane to the tracing of dubious parts.
Since the hybrid-concern’s September 1974 founding, CFM has produced upwards of 33,000 turbine aircraft engines, of which some 23,000 remain in service. The CFM56, which powers ubiquitous aircraft families such as Boeing’s 737 Classic and NG series as well as many Airbus A320 models, is among the world’s most produced and popular jet engines. CFM’s more contemporary LEAP-1 engine was selected by Boeing and Airbus to power the marques’ respective 737 MAX and A320neo narrow-body airliner families. Interestingly, it appears that AOG Technics has not sold a single LEAP engine component.
Air Canada orders up to 30 Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner jets with new cabin design
On 25 September the two aviation giants announced that Canada’s flag carrier had agreed to purchase 18 787-10 Dreamliner widebody jets, with the option to purchase 12 more.
Deliveries of the new aircraft are scheduled to begin in Q4 2025 with the final aircraft scheduled for delivery in Q1 2027. Presently Air Canada operates a fleet of 38 787s, including eight 787-8 and 30 787-9 jets. The airline is also waiting for two more 787-9 aircraft scheduled for delivery from a previous order. The largest model in the family, the 787-10, can carry up to 336 passengers with a range of 6,330 nautical miles (11,730 km). The 787-10 is the newest Dreamliner and is a stretched version of the 787-9, making it the longest in the 787 family.
The acquisition of the new aircraft is part of an ongoing fleet renewal programme at Air Canada, with the airline continuing to take delivery of new Airbus A220 aircraft, as well as plans to acquire 28 extra-long range (XLR) versions of the Airbus A321neo aircraft, also beginning in 2025. In addition, as previously announced, Air Canada has finalised a purchase agreement for 30 ES-30 electric-hybrid aircraft under development by Heart Aerospace, which are expected to enter service in 2028.
Air Canada confirmed the 787-10 aircraft order with Boeing today substitutes for a previously announced agreement to purchase two Boeing 777 freighter aircraft and, as a result, Air Canada will no longer take delivery of the two freighters. Canada is among Boeing’s largest international supply bases with more than 550 suppliers. There are more than a dozen Canadian suppliers supporting the 787 programme, including Boeing’s aerospace composite manufacturing facility in Winnipeg.
Since revenue service began in 2011, the 787 family has opened more than 370 new nonstop routes around the world and received more than 1,760 orders from 87 customers, including more than 870 repeat orders from 56 repeat customers. Over the past year, the 787 has received more than 295 orders and commitments. Nearly half of all 787 Dreamliner operators fly more than one variant and four airlines operate, or will operate, fleets with all three variants.
Surf Air confirms an order for 20 Cessna Grand Caravan Ex’s
Surf Air Mobility, which has an exclusive relationship with Textron Aviation for development of an alternative-energy version of the Cessna Grand Caravan EX, has confirmed an order and placed deposits on the first 20 of up to 150 of the utility turboprop singles. Deliveries are expected to begin in the first half of next year. Surf Air’s initial (unconfirmed) order included 100 Caravans with options for 50 more. According to Textron Aviation, “Surf Air Mobility has announced its intention that the Cessna Grand Caravan EX single-engine turboprops will be upgraded to Surf Air Mobility’s proprietary electric or hybrid-electric powertrain technology. Surf Air Mobility is targeting FAA supplemental type certification in 2026.”
Surf Air Mobility plans to use its hybrid electric Grand Caravans throughout its own operational network, “connecting more airports with short-haul direct service across the US on a path to creating a regional mass transport platform to sustainably connect communities,” according to today’s announcement from Textron. The manufacturer added that Surf Air will exclusively provide Textron Aviation with specific battery-electric and hybrid electric powertrain technology for future factory versions of the Cessna Grand Caravan. Lannie O’Bannion, Textron Aviation senior VP Global Sales and Flight Operations, said, “The Cessna Caravan’s adaptability for passenger and cargo operations makes it an ideal platform for hybrid electric and electric propulsion innovations. This exclusive relationship demonstrates Textron Aviation’s commitment to the future of sustainable flight.”
Garmin adds newer Citation models to its G5000 avionics range
Garmin has announced it is now offering its G5000 integrated avionics suite as a retrofit upgrade for Textron Aviation Cessna Citation XLS+ and XLS Gen2 business jets. The upgrade (price not released) replaces the legacy Collins Pro Line 21 panel, which has four 10-inch display screens. Carl Wolf, Garmin VP of Aviation Sales and Marketing, said, “The G5000 upgrade programme for the Citation Excel and XLS has transformed more than 120 aircraft since its certification in 2019, bringing significant technology and financial benefit to operators around the globe. We look forward to expanding this program to include the Citation XLS+ and XLS Gen2, bringing the same advanced avionics capabilities and lower operating costs to more Citations in the fleet.”
The G5000 for the Citation XLS+ and XLS Gen2 has a trio of landscape-configured flight displays with split-screen capability. The arrangement enables flight crews (both Citation models require a two-pilot crew) to simultaneously display maps, charts, checklists, TAWS, TCAS, flight plan information, weather and more. Data input is via touchscreen controllers. A new feature for the G5000 as installed on the XLS+ and XLS Gen2 includes two GI 275 standby electronic flight instruments. They can serve as standby ADIs and each comes with a 60-minute back-up battery.
Also included in the Citation XLS+ and XLS Gen2 installation is a digital Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS), which helps manage speed and performance. Emergency Descent Mode (EDM) comes standard. In the event an aircraft loses cabin pressurisation, EDM can autonomously initiate a descent to a preset altitude, mitigating the hazard of pilot hypoxia.
Textron Aviation announced that the Garmin G5000 upgrade will be available for installation at Textron Aviation Service Centres, “following supplemental type certification approval by the FAA, anticipated in the first half of 2024.” Brian Rohloff, Textron Aviation senior VP of Customer Support, said, “We look forward to expanding this upgrade option to additional Citation operators as we continue to design and deliver the best customer experience and support our customers through the entire life cycle of their aircraft.”
Cirrus Aircraft celebrates its Innovation Center grand opening in Duluth
On Tuesday 26 September Cirrus Aircraft announced the grand opening of its Innovation Center located at its headquarters at the Duluth International Airport (KDLH) in Minnesota. The Innovation Center is dedicated to the development of the next-generation innovation that supports Cirrus Aircraft’s products and services while preserving the mission they serve and making personal aviation more approachable.
Cirrus Aircraft has provided significant investment to transform the 189,000-square-foot building on 39 acres into a state-of-the-art Innovation Center. Innovation Center capabilities include a larger and more capable Material and Processes Lab, a new Integration Test Lab, an upgraded Advanced Design & Development Lab and new environmental equipment and testing capabilities as well as significant floor space increase for development and testing. In addition, the Innovation Center features flexible and collaborative workspaces and amenities to provide an optimal team environment. Over thirty engineers and technicians have been added since 2022, now exceeding 300 people at the Innovation Center.
Airbus seeks greener helicopters from PioneerLab research
Last week Airbus unveiled its PioneerLab twin-engine helicopter technology demonstrator at the German National Aviation Conference in Hamburg. The testbed is tasked with evaluating technologies specifically dedicated to twin-engine helicopters. Based on the Airbus Helicopters H145, the company said the helicopter’s flight-test campaign is already underway in Donauwörth, flying with a rotor strike alerting system on board the aircraft and pending testing of an automated take-off and landing system.
Using a hybrid electric propulsion system and aerodynamic improvements, PioneerLab aims to demonstrate a fuel reduction of up to 30 percent compared with a conventional H145.
Airbus will also flight test structural components made from bio-based and recycled materials aimed at reducing the aircraft’s environmental footprint across its life cycle and produce new parts using processes that reduce material and energy consumption and improve recyclability. Further research will include the integration of the latest digital technologies into the aircraft’s flight control system, along with associated sensors to increase autonomy and safety during critical flight phases such as take-off and landing. PioneerLab joins Airbus Helicopters’ FlightLabs fleet of rapid-technology testbed aircraft, part of the company’s strategy to bring incremental innovation to improve its current products and mature technology for future platforms.
Laser strikes target air ambulance flights in the UK
Laser attacks on low-flying aircraft are not limited to the US. Following recent reports of aircraft targeted near Boston, local news reports in Yorkshire, UK, have passed along an ‘urgent appeal’ from the local air ambulance operator after what UK Yahoo News characterised as an ‘alarming spike’ in laser-related incidents. On Friday 22 September, a crew member on a Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA) helicopter suffered a burned cornea in one of three attacks that week. Described as an independent charity organisation, YAA has appealed for help in locating the perpetrators. Technical crew member Alex Clark was on board the helicopter during a positioning flight returning to its base airport in Wakefield. Clark is expected to make a full recovery, but YAA Chief Pilot Owen McTeggart said, “If we get a laser attack while trying to land at the site of an incident, it means we cannot land and the injured person on the ground does not get the care that we are there to provide. Even if it does not strike a crew member’s eyes it is a massive distraction for the crew during a critical stage of flight.”
McTeggert added “I am sure most people that point a laser at a helicopter think it’s just a laugh and no harm is caused. But it can, in some cases, have life-changing consequences for the pilot, the crew, and the patient in the back whose life they are trying to save.” Mike Harrop, YAA Chairman, said: “Our crew should not feel fearful of flying on a shift at YAA, all because someone somewhere finds it amusing to shine lasers at aircraft, or they are ignorant to the dangers they are putting our crew in.”
French airship to fly around the world nonstop fossil free fuel
Euro Airship, the startup behind this project, has been working on this project for a decade and since 2020 it has been defining the industrial aspects of it, together with technology and consulting firm Capgemini. The result is ‘Solar Airship One’, 151-metre-long rigid airship that will be filled with 50,000 m3 of helium. Its propulsion system will get energy from two sources: 4,800 m2 of solar panels will cover the upper half of the aircraft, while, at night it will use hydrogen to power a fuel-cell. If everything goes according to plan, the journey should kick off in 2026, will cover 40,000 km, flying from west to east and without touching down at any point and at an average height of 6,000 meters. The expected journey time is between 20 and 30 days.
“Solar Airship One” will have a crew of three. One of them will be adventurer and sustainable flight pioneer Bertrand Piccard, who has already completed two record-setting circumnavigations of the globe, one, in 1999, on a hot air balloon, the other, in 2016, on the Solar Impulse, an experimental electric aircraft fitted with solar panels. Also onboard will be Dorine Bourneton, the first disabled woman to become an aerobatic pilot (Bourneton was severely injured at age 16 in an aircraft accident) and Michel Tognini, a former French Air Force fighter pilot and European Space Agency astronaut (Tognini has been twice to space, in 1992 and 1999).
They aim to prove that fossil-free flight is feasible over large distances and that airships can be used as a sustainable mode of transportation for a number of commercial applications. During their around-the-world flight, the Euro Airship crew plans to broadcast their activities to schools, academia and governments to raise awareness about the possibilities of this technology. A documentary film is also being planned. Airship technology has drawn the interest of a number of startups in the last decade. In addition to Euro Airship, other companies that are working on this technology are Flying Whales, which is also based in France, UK-based Hybrid Air Vehicles and American firm Lighter Than Air (LTA), which is funded by Google founder Sergey Brin.
Rolls-Royce achieves next milestone in hydrogen research project
Both Rolls-Royce and its partner easyJet are committed to being at the forefront of the development of hydrogen combustion engine technology capable of powering a range of aircraft, including those in the narrow-body market segment, from the mid-2030s onwards. Now, working with Loughborough University in the UK and the German Aerospace Centre Deutsches Zentrum für Luft-und Raumfahrt (DLR), Rolls-Royce has proven a critical engine technology that marks another significant step in the journey to enabling hydrogen as an aviation fuel. Tests on a full annular combustor of a Pearl 700 engine at DLR in Cologne running on 100% hydrogen have proven the fuel can be combusted at conditions that represent maximum take-off thrust.
Key to that achievement has been the successful design of advanced fuel spray nozzles to control the combustion process. This involved overcoming significant engineering challenges as hydrogen burns far hotter and more rapidly than kerosene. The new nozzles were able to control the flame position using a new system that progressively mixes air with the hydrogen to manage the fuel’s reactivity. Rolls-Royce is pleased to confirm that combustor operability and emissions were both in line with expectations. The individual nozzles were initially tested at intermediate pressure at Loughborough’s recently upgraded test facilities and at DLR Cologne before the final full-pressure combustor tests took place at DLR Cologne.
Last year, easyJet and Rolls-Royce also set a world first by successfully running a modern aero engine, an AE2100, on green hydrogen at Boscombe Down, UK. These recent tests mean the combustion element of the hydrogen programme is now well understood, while work continues on systems to deliver the fuel to the engine and integrate those systems with an engine.
Ingenuity Mars helicopter sets altitude record in latest flight
NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter just aced its 59th flight, which was not supposed to happen. The technology demonstration has far outlived its design life, demonstrating how effective an aerial drone can be on the red planet. The helicopter has set a new record on this flight, reaching a maximum altitude of 20 meters (66 feet), breaking the previous record of 18 meters.
The 59th flight took place on 16 September, which was the 915th Sol (Martian day) of the Perseverance mission. The robot lifted off from Airfield Sigma, where it landed during the previous flight on 11 September (Sol 910). NASA did not have to designate yet another landing zone, though. Ingenuity did not cover any horizontal distance, this was a pop-up flight similar to flight 54, which Ingenuity undertook after an unexpected emergency landing in July. Even though it did not go anywhere, JPL’s flight log shows this record-setting sortie was one of the longer flights undertaken by the robot. From lift-off to landing, Ingenuity was in the air for 142.6 seconds. The previous 18-meter altitude record was set back in April of this year when Ingenuity flew 322 meters (1,056 feet) between Airfield Lambda and Airfield Mu. Ingenuity rode to Mars strapped to the underside of the Perseverance rover. It was designed merely as a way to test a flying robot in Mars’ thin atmosphere. Ingenuity was built with large rotors and lightweight materials to facilitate this goal. NASA also built the helicopter from off-the-shelf components, including a Snapdragon 801 smartphone processor. JPL usually relies on hardened systems that can withstand extreme temperatures and radiation, but Ingenuity has shown there is more wiggle room in hardware choice.
Even if Ingenuity broke down tomorrow, it would still be an incredible success. Since surpassing expectations, NASA has used the craft to scout terrain for the nearby Perseverance rover. NASA now plans to deploy more drones on Mars. The upcoming Mars Sample Return mission has been revamped, ditching the planned rover and replacing it with a pair of flying drones based on Ingenuity. There is some concern about funding for the mission, which is a partnership with the European Space Agency. However, Perseverance is already collecting samples and setting up caches on the surface in anticipation of the eventual return mission.
US Air Force accepts first test eVTOL aircraft from Joby
On Monday 25 September, the US Air Force (USAF) announced it has received its first electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft from Joby Aviation. The eVTOL was unveiled in a ceremony at Edwards Air Force Base in California some six months ahead of schedule. The delivery comes after the Air Force Research Laboratory announced a contract extension with Joby in April valued at up to $131 million with options for up to nine aircraft. Speaking at a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Joby Executive Chairman Paul Sciarra revealed that the aircraft actually arrived at Edwards last week and has already completed three hover tests. “A second aircraft will arrive in early 2024,” he added. “This delivery is a hugely significant moment for Joby and for our industry,” Sciarra said. “But more than that, it is a validation of the long-term vision of the Department of Defence.”
According to the Air Force, Edwards offers the ideal elements required for extensive testing of eVTOL technology in the military role, with ample unfettered airspace and good prevailing weather conditions. Colonel Douglas Wickert, commander of the 412th Test Wing at Edwards, said, “Through the work of this test team, the electric dreams of today are going to become the aviation realities of tomorrow.”
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Unlock creativity with DJI Mini 4 Pro’s all-in-one aerial solution
This week DJI, the global leader in civilian drones and innovative camera technology, introduced the DJI Mini 4 Pro. Crafted to be the ultimate companion for adventure enthusiasts, the DJI Mini 4 Pro redefines the boundaries of mini-camera drones, setting a new benchmark for capturing and sharing exhilarating moments. With its pioneering omni-directional obstacle sensing and the flagship DJI O4 video transmission technology, this state-of-the-art mini drone empowers users to embrace every heart-pounding experience and channel their creativity into unforgettable endeavours.
Weighing under 249g, the Mini 4 Pro is meticulously engineered for effortless portability. Its lightweight design not only ensures ease of transport but also aligns with drone regulations in a majority of countries and regions, granting you the freedom to take flight with almost no limitations. The Mini 4 Pro offers cutting-edge imaging with a 1/1.3-inch CMOS sensor, New Image-Processing Platform and dual native ISO fusion, a hallmark of cinema-grade technology. Its f/1.7 aperture, 48MP image resolution, 4K/60fps HDR video and Slo-Mo shooting at 4K/100fps capture moments in breathtaking detail. 2.4μm pixels and an enhanced noise reduction algorithm in Night Shots video mode delivers clear, cleaner footage even in low-light conditions. In addition, the Mini 4 Pro empowers your creativity with True Vertical Shooting, optimised for social media and smartphone playback. A 60° large-angle tilt for fluid camera motion unleashes cinematic possibilities, while digital video zoom bolsters your storytelling abilities by magnifying photos up to 2X and videos up to 4X.
The Mini 4 Pro enhances safety with omni-directional obstacle sensing, utilising multiple wide-angle and a pair of downward vision sensors to detect obstructions from all directions. Complemented by an Advanced Pilot Assistance Systems (APAS), the drone features automatic braking and obstacle bypass, elevating in-flight security. Extend your creative freedom with up to 34 minutes of flight time, which can be further extended to an impressive 45 minutes using the Intelligent Flight Battery Plus. Additionally, thanks to DJI’s flagship O4 video transmission enjoy ultra-responsive control and smooth 1080p/60fps FHD video transmission capability from distances of up to 20 km. Enhance your shooting efficiency with Waypoint Flight’s automatic route function while minimising operation fatigue with Cruise Control for long-distance, steady-state flights. The Mini 4 Pro’s Advanced Return-to-Home system automatically navigates a safe flight route back, facilitated by the AR RTH feature for more control during return flights.
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