African Pilot’s December 2020 edition
The December edition featuring Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, Drones, Flying Cars and Urban Connectivity is complete and will go into international circulation later this week. 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 the speed of service delivery. Once again at 272 pages the December edition has become a new record with 46 articles, 9 picture galleries and 14 embedded videos.
African Pilot’s January 2021 edition
The January edition’s feature will expose Professional Aviation Services in terms of aircraft and pilot insurance as well as aircraft financing and other aviation financial services. 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 3D 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.
All editorial content should be sent to me Athol Franz e-mail: email@example.com.
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Tel: 0861 001130 Cell: 079 880 4359 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
About African Pilot
There is no doubt that African Pilot provides the finest overall aviation media reach in Africa.
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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
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
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: email@example.com Cell: 082 855 9435
PilotInsurance Fly In Rhino Park Airfield
Contact Franz Smit Tel: 084 979 8632
5 and 6 December
Sport Aerobatics Club Ace of Base TBC
Contact Annie Boon e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
CAASA year-end function and award ceremony
Contact Sam Keddle E-mail: Sam@caasa.co.za
On behalf of the CAASA Board, CAASA members are cordially invited to attend the CAASA Year End Function and Awards Ceremony:
Venue: CAASA House, Gate 9, Lanseria International Airport
12h00 Arrival (cash bar)
12h30 CAASA Award Ceremony
13h00 Networking: The braai will be available if you want to bring some food
Kindly ensure that you register in order to arrange for access to Lanseria International Airport.
Send confirmation email on or before 27 November 2020 to Sam Keddle on Sam@caasa.co.za
SOUTH AFRICAN AVIATION NEWS
Construction of new Durban Air Force Base at King Shaka International Airport
Defence Works has started with the construction of 15 Squadron’s new base at King Shaka International Airport. The project has been taken over from the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure. Defence Works will also oversee the identification of land parcels in Durban North to build member accommodation to support the Air Force and Naval Base Durban. The Defence Works Formation also plans for total facility management of hospitals and depots; kitchen refurbishment projects; air force runway maintenance and naval dockyard maintenance. Defence infrastructure functions are planned to be transferred from the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) to the Department of Defence from 1 April 2021. This is as a result of the DPWI’s poor track record on defence projects.
What happened in aviation over the past week?
South African UAV industry body seeks to be able to influence government
A few years ago South Africa was the leader in Africa in the development of Part 101 Unmanned Aerial Systems, several other African countries have since overtaken South Africa in terms of operating such systems, exploiting their capabilities and developing their ‘drone economies’. This was pointed out by the Drone Council South Africa chairperson Irvin Phenyane in his address to the Drones and Unmanned Aviation 2020 conference this past week. The main reason why several other African countries have overtaken and developed drone economies, whilst South Africa has lagged has been due to the attraction of international investment in their UAV sectors. He reported that such investment had not flowed to South Africa because the drone environment in the country discouraged foreign investors. Therefore, South Africa now had to play catch-up with those other African countries. To this end, the Drone Council was developing what it called ‘Operation Catch-Up 2023’.
South Africa had first developed and operated UAVs in the 1980s and UAVs were being used today to help patrol the country’s borders. Drones had become disruptive technologies, already being used for parcel deliveries and, in the coming years, for cargo and even passenger transport. They had become part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), although Africa as a whole was still unready for the 4IR.
WORLDWIDE ACCIDENTS AND INCIDENTS
British Airways Boeing 747 catches fire at Castellón Airport
A decommissioned British Airways Boeing 747 stored at Castellón Airport (CDT), in Spain suffered extensive damage after a fire started in the cabin for an unknown reason. The British Airways Boeing 747-400, registered G-CIVD, had been the first of the carrier’s Jumbo Jet fleet to be retired. It flew to Castellón Airport on 18 August 2020 and had been stored there since then while waiting for its dismantling. But on 23 November 2020, firefighters from the airport were called to intervene on the giant aircraft, as a fire broke out in its cabin. Local emergency teams from the Provincial Firefighters Consortium were mobilised as reinforcement. Planes parked near the burning aircraft were towed away.
Test flight fatal for pilot
The airline transport pilot, who was also an airframe and powerplant mechanic, was conducting a personal flight in a twin-engine Piper PA 30 after troubleshooting an unknown problem with the left engine fuel system. A family member described the flight as a ‘test flight.’ Witnesses reported that, after departure, the airplane climbed to about 500 feet above ground level and began a left turn. During the left turn, the airplane ‘nose-dived’ in a downward spiral and the airplane hit terrain near Marion, Indiana.
The pilot died in the crash. Post-accident examinations revealed no mechanical anomalies with the airframe, right engine, or propellers that would have precluded normal operation. The left engine propeller blade damage was consistent with low or no power at the time of the accident and the blades were found in an unfeathered position. Evidence indicated that the pilot had recently replaced the left and right fuel selector valves and had been performing ground engine runs.
A comprehensive examination of the airplane’s fuel system was not possible due to the extensive fire damage to the system. However, given the unknown left engine fuel system issue, a loose left fuel selector fuel line and the lack of power signatures on the left propeller blades, it is likely that the fuel system’s performance was degraded and led to a partial or total loss of left engine power. The airplane’s downward spiral was consistent with the pilot exceeding the airplane’s critical angle of attack during a single-engine operation, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall and subsequent loss of control.
Turkish 737-800 severely damaged after crew botched crabbed landing
Ukrainian investigators have concluded that a Turkish Airlines Boeing 737-800 crew used an inadvisable technique to land during a strong crosswind, failing to maintain directional control before an excursion which severely damaged the aircraft. The aircraft (TC-JGZ) had been conducting an ILS approach to Odessa’s runway 16 on 21 November last year, following a service from Istanbul. Its crew had already executed a go-around after destabilisation of the previous approach to the same runway.
Meteorological information compiled at 20h32, just over 20min before the accident, showed variable winds from the north-east to south-east at 19 knots but gusting to 33 knots. Ukrainian investigation authority NBAAI says Odessa air traffic control provided the crew ‘several times’ with only average wind direction information, without informing of its ‘significant deviations’. The inquiry says the captain was flying at the time of the landing.
It states that, with over 5,600h on 737s, he was far more experienced than the first officer, who had just 175h. But he did not discuss with the first officer which crosswind landing technique would be used, nor did the two pilots talk about other aspects of the touchdown including reverse-thrust and braking. Investigators found that the crew attempted a touchdown ‘in crab’ a technique whereby the aircraft counters a crosswind by deliberately misaligning from the runway heading, until the point of touchdown.
But the inquiry says this technique is ‘not recommended’ for landings on a dry runway, according to the 737-800’s flight crew training manual. Crabbed landings require rudder input after main-gear touchdown, in order to re-align the aircraft with the runway axis before the nose-gear is lowered, while the ailerons are deflected in the windward direction.
‘However, the crew did not do so,’ says the inquiry. Instead the Turkish aircraft de-rotated while on a heading of 151°, some 6° to the left of the runway axis. The crew also ‘prematurely’ applied reverse thrust before turning the aircraft parallel, the inquiry adds. Once the nose-gear made contact, the investigators state, it was ‘difficult’ to turn the aircraft back to the correct course, exacerbated by the ‘significant’ landing weight of 63 tons. The aircraft deviated to the left and veered off the side of the runway, travelling on rough ground for 550m and destroying the nose-gear, before returning to the runway with its forward fuselage in contact with the surface. After veering off the side of the runway the jet also suffered engine damage
It came to a halt 1,612m from the threshold, having suffered substantial damage to its fuselage underside, its engines, particularly the left-hand powerplant and its undercarriage. Passengers were evacuated from the aircraft, but none of the 142 occupants was injured in the course of the accident.
Prior maintenance shortfalls blamed for PIA flight 661 crash
What should have been a normal final flight for the day of 7 December 2016, resulted in a fatal crash that investigators attempted to unravel for four years. The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight 661 claimed the lives of 47 people, 42 passengers and five crew members, as an ATR 42-500 operated its sixth flight of the day from Chitral Airport (CJL) to Benazir Bhutto International Airport (ISB), Islamabad, Pakistan. The long investigation concluded that the fatal flight, which at one point in time entered a stall condition and lost 5,100 feet of altitude, was the result of an in-flight shutdown. The shutdown in itself was a failure of Pakistan International Airlines to follow procedures set out by Pratt & Whitney, the manufacturer of the PW127 turboprop engine on the ATR aircraft family.
The Pakistan International Airlines ATR42-500 was scheduled to operate six flights on 7 December 2016. Following the fifth leg, it was scheduled to fly from Chitral Airport (CJL) to the now-defunct Benazir Bhutto International Airport (ISB), in Pakistan. The flight took off with 42 passengers and five crew members, including three pilots, onboard. The ATR turboprop (registered AP-BHO) was scheduled to arrive at its destination an hour and 10 minutes later. Yet 42 minutes after take-off, the PIA aircraft plunged into the ground 44.4 kilometres (24 nautical miles) north of its intended destination.
“Owing to an un-precedent combination of technical malfunctions, this accident proved to be a unique case of its kind in the entire operational life of ATR aircraft flying all around the world since 1984,” concluded the accident investigators. Led by the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority’s (PCAA) Aircraft Accident Investigation Board (AAIB), the Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis (BEA), Transport Safety Board (TSB), National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), ATR, Pratt & Whitney and multiple Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) organisations were also involved in the investigation.
Prior to the fatal flight, the AAIB noted that the aircraft already had three technical conditions. For one, its left-hand engine Power Turbine Stage 1 (PT-1) blade was either fractured or dislodged. Furthermore, the pin of the ATR42’s Overspeed Governor (OSG), which diverts high-pressure oil from reaching the propeller in case of an overspeed, was fractured. Finally, the Propeller Valve Module (PVM) was possibly contaminated. Investigators determined that the PT-1 blade cracked during the previous flight of the day, which was not visible during regular operations.
During the flight, the first problems began to appear as the report indicated that the left-hand engine, which had the faulty PT-1 blade, degraded and caused the contamination of the engine oil system. Following the degradation of the engine, the crew received Propeller Control Fault indications and the engine began to malfunction, as the oil contamination combined with the fractured OSG pin, resulted in an uncommanded decrease in propeller speed. A subsequent Propeller Electronic Control (PEC) Fault alert appeared, which the crew reset and eventually disabled.
Five minutes later, the left-hand engine suffered power loss and shut down. The crew put the Condition Lever (CL), into the Fuel Shut Off (FSO) position and requested feathering and the propeller speed decreased. Following the shifted position of the CL, the OSG became non-functional. The propeller speed (NP) of the No 1 engine overshot to 120%, “most probably due to contamination inside the overspeed line of the PVM,” concluded the Pakistani AAIB.
Following a sharp decrease in the propeller speed, the blade pitch angle settled at NP below 5% and increased the left-hand drag by about 2,000 pound-force (lbf). The last technical event was recorded eight minutes prior to the PIA ATR42 crashing into the ground. After the propeller speed dropped below 5% and there was a sharp increase in the left-hand side drag, PIA flight 661 “entered an uncontrolled / stalled condition of flight where the aircraft lost about 5,100 feet and rolled right by 360º and beyond,” according to the investigators.
“This had an immense psychological impact on the cockpit crew, and it impaired their capacity to perform normally,” determined the AAIB, after analysing the Digital Flight Data Recorder (DFDR) and the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR). During the final stages of the flight, the drag ‘of the left side of the aircraft was estimated to be seven times more than the drag usually expected during single-engine flight envelope.’ Crucially, the conditions of flight were not covered by the Flight Crew Operating Manual (FCOM) or the Quick Reference Handbook (QRH), which made the flight ‘much more complicated and difficult to handle’ than if it was just a regular engine failure. After all, the investigators concluded that flying with only the right-hand side engine was sufficient to fly and even cross over mountains nearby Islamabad, Pakistan. But the Pakistani AAIB added that was only possible ‘if the propeller was in feather condition, and there was no additional drag due to complicated technical malfunctions of No 1 Engine propeller system.’
In addition to being affected psychologically, the crew had not trained for the sequence of events, including the massive increase in left-hand drag. While the report noted that the pilots failed to properly prioritize the principals of Fly, Navigate and Communicate, this could be ‘considered an overboard expectation from the pilots especially when they were unable to understand and correct the situation.’
During the investigation into fake and questionable licenses in Pakistan launched in 2019, the licenses of the captain and the first officer of the fatal PIA flight 661 were included on the list. They were later removed from the list following an investigation, and the accident investigators came to the conclusion that the matter of fake licenses became irrelevant to the inquiry.
WORLD AVIATION NEWS
EASA defines 737 MAX next steps
As we reported earlier, the Boeing 737 MAX has been approved to return to service in the US after modifications and pilot flight training have been completed. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) previously reported that the MAX is likely to be released for service in January and has published a Proposed Airworthiness Directive (PAD) ‘signalling its intention to approve the aircraft to return to Europe’s skies within a matter of weeks.’ Critically, the agency says that ‘EASA, and regulators in Canada and Brazil, worked closely with the FAA and Boeing throughout the last 20 months to return the plane safely to operations. The EASA Proposed Airworthiness Directive requires the same changes to the aircraft as the FAA, meaning that there will be no software or technical differences between the aircraft operated by the United States operators and by the EASA member states operators.’ These include, of course, updates to the Boeing’s software that alter MCAS function, as well as defining new training for pilots and a physical modification to address wire chafing in the stabiliser-control circuit.
“EASA made clear from the outset that we would conduct our own objective and independent assessment of the 737 MAX, working closely with the FAA and Boeing, to make sure that there can be no repeat of these tragic accidents, which touched the lives of so many people,” said EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky. “I am confident that we have left no stone unturned in our assessment of the aircraft with its changed design approach. Each time when it may have appeared that problems were resolved, we dug deeper and asked even more questions. The result was a thorough and comprehensive review of how this plane flies and what it is like for a pilot to fly the MAX, giving us the assurance that it is now safe to fly.”
The comment period on the PAD runs for 28 days. “Once that ends,” the agency says, “EASA will take time to review the comments made, before publishing its final Airworthiness Directive. That final publication is expected from mid-January 2021 and will constitute the formal ungrounding decision of the plane for all 737 MAX aircraft operated by operators from EASA Member States. After the return to service, EASA has committed to monitor the plane closely in-service, to allow for early detection of any problems that may arise.”
EASA also has the task of coordinating MAX flight restrictions among member states, some of which had ‘issued their own decision prohibiting the operation of the 737 MAX last year for their sovereign airspace,’ notes EASA. ‘These bans will need to be lifted before the aircraft can fly again in the airspace of these countries. EASA is working closely with the relevant national authorities to achieve this.’
Worried about COVID risk on a flight? Here is what you can do to protect yourself
Airline travel health advice has so far mostly focused on how to stay hydrated and avoid deep vein thrombosis. According to a new study, what passengers really want is a heightened focus on infection prevention and disease control, free masks, complimentary hand sanitiser and more space between passengers on the plane. The aviation industry, which has been decimated by COVID-19, must work hard to restore customers’ faith in their commitment to infection control measures.
Plane cabins are havens for germs
Adopting a set of well-established infection prevention and control measures will help minimise the risk of contracting COVID-19 during a flight.
- Staying home if unwell. Even if you have the mildest respiratory symptoms, such as a slightly sore throat or hint of a fever, you should not go to the airport and you should not catch a plane. Self-isolate and get tested without delay
- Washing your hands regularly or using alcohol-based hand rub systematically
- Observing physical distancing
- Staying seated and avoiding touching your face
- Where physical distancing is not possible, wearing a face mask.
These are the same long-held set of recommendations you should be following anyway, whether you are catching the train to work or shopping in a supermarket. The main finding from this study is that the flying public; in particular, frequent flyers want more from the airlines about how to keep safe from infectious diseases. A total of 205 frequent-flying adults were surveyed across Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn on what they thought airlines need to do to restore passenger’s confidence and sense of security:
- 75.6% reported feeling ‘somewhat’ to ‘extremely’ concerned about contracting an infectious disease while flying, particularly respiratory-related infectious diseases
- Only 9.8% thought their preferred airline saw their health as an ‘essential priority’
- 86.8% wanted airlines to provide complimentary hand sanitiser
- 86.8% wanted airlines to provide complimentary sanitary wipes
- 64.4% wanted airlines to provide complimentary masks
- 90.7% wanted airlines to provide more information about preventing the spread of infections, which would make the majority feel safer to fly
More than half of respondents reported never carrying their own alcohol-based hand sanitiser or sanitary wipes on flights in the past. Female respondents were more likely to carry alcohol-based hand sanitisers or sanitary wipes while flying. Respondents were also asked how often they wore a face mask before COVID, to protect themselves from infectious diseases while travelling by air. The vast majority (83.4%) said they never wore one. However, the majority (83.4%) reported they would to ‘some extent’ feel safe to fly if all passengers and staff were required to wear face masks while flying.
COVID-19 spreads around the world on planes
According to the International Air Transport Association, since 2020 began there have been ‘44 cases of Covid-19 reported in which transmission is thought to have been associated with a flight journey (inclusive of confirmed, probable and potential cases)’. It is important to note COVID-19 is a disease spread globally very quickly, via travellers who are infected. Many airlines have introduced measures to reduce COVID-19 risk, such as temperature screening, physical distancing at check-in and encouraging masks at the airport.
As promising results emerge from the many COVID-19 vaccine trials underway around the world, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has said: “We are looking at changing the terms and conditions to say for international travellers that we will ask people to have the vaccination before they get on the aircraft.”
Vaccination is an important way to prevent the spread of disease and it is useful for airlines to signal vaccines are coming and are important to them. We have some way to go before vaccines are available and there much, we do not yet know such as how long immunity from a vaccine might last or if booster doses might be required. So, there are a range of factors to consider if airlines are to mandate vaccination for their passengers.
Joyce has also said it would be ‘uneconomical’ to leave the middle seat in every row empty, instead pointing out its aircraft air conditioning units feature hospital-grade HEPA filters, which remove 99.9% of all particles, including viruses. HEPA filters in closed spaces make good sense and are important. If I am seated next to someone on a plane who unknowingly has COVID-19 and they are not wearing a face mask and they sneeze on me and their droplets get into my eyes, nose or mouth, then I am at risk of contracting COVID-19 despite HEPA filtration in the cabin.
In other words, the best protection comes from adopting basic measures systematically. That includes staying home, isolating and getting tested if you have even the mildest of symptoms. It means regular hand hygiene, avoiding touching your face, physical distancing, and using a face mask if you cannot physically distance. Practising these measures routinely, together with other measures like cabin air filtration, go a long way to keep us safe from infectious diseases when we fly.
Qantas plans to require COVID vaccine
As the world waits for an effective COVID-19 vaccine, Qantas announced this week that it intends to require proof of vaccination for international travellers once the vaccine becomes widely available. “Whether you need that domestically, we will have to see what happens with COVID-19 in the market. But certainly, for international visitors coming out and people leaving the country, we think that is a necessity,” Qantas CEO Allan Joyce said. Expecting that a widely available, effective vaccination will change travel requirements globally, Joyce added, “I think it will be a common theme, talking to my colleagues in other airlines across the world.” Airlines have struggled to bring travellers back into the air while there is widespread concern about contracting the disease in the airport or the aircraft itself and travel destinations have further complicated matters with mandatory quarantine periods for incoming travellers.
Hawaii was hard hit early in the pandemic, pushing Hawaiian Airlines to partner with local labs that would provide COVID-19 tests; passengers who tested negative within 72 hours of the flight were not required to quarantine once arriving in Hawaii. This week, Hawaiian began “offering drive-through and walk-up COVID-19 pre-flight tests for its guests traveling to the islands from Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Portland and Seattle. Guests who test within 72 hours of their flight and receive a negative result prior to departure will be exempt from the state of Hawaii quarantine.” Prices range from $90 for a 36-hour turnaround to $165 for 24-hour results.
US withdraws from open skies treaty
On 22 November 2020, the United States officially withdrew from the Open Skies Treaty. “The United States is no longer a State Party to the Treaty on Open Skies,” revealed the US Department of State spokesman in a statement. The treaty that allows the 34 party nations to openly carry aerial surveillance over each other’s territory, has lost the US from its members list. “Today, pursuant to earlier notice provided, the United States withdrawal from the Treaty on Open Skies is now effective. America is more secure because of it, as Russia remains in non-compliance with its obligations,” tweeted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The government blamed Russia for violating the Treaty by blocking surveillance flights around certain areas, including the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad and the 10-kilometer corridor along Russia’s border with the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russia was accused of violating the Treaty objectives of promoting military transparency and mutual accountability. The decision, taken so close to the 2020 US presidential election, was questioned by the US Senate.
“Rather than using the Open Skies Treaty as a mechanism for improving trust and confidence through military transparency, Russia has, therefore, weaponised the Treaty by making it into a tool of intimidation and threat,” said Pompeo in a written statement on 21 May 2020. “We may be willing to reconsider this decision if Russia demonstrates a return to full compliance with this confidence-building Treaty, but without such a change of course from the Kremlin, our path will lead to withdrawal in six months’ time.”
In a press conference on 12 November 2020, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov asked the remaining NATO members for a written assurance that their gathered data would not be shared with the US. Lavrov added that US military bases in Europe would continue to be surveyed by Russia.
After coming to power, President Trump pulled out the US from several international treaties, including the 2016 Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement and the 2019 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty (INF). The Open Skies Treaty presented one of the few opportunities for military-to-military contact between the two countries.
Both Russia and NATO allies are hopeful that newly elected US president Joe Biden will re-join the Treaty. He criticized the decision to withdraw but has not yet confirmed any plans to re-join the agreement. “These Russian violations should be addressed not by withdrawing from the Treaty, but by seeking to resolve them through the Treaty’s implementation and dispute mechanism,” Biden said in a statement. “Without us, the Treaty could crumble. Withdrawal will exacerbate growing tensions between the West and Russia and increase the risks of miscalculation and conflict.”
The Open Skies Treaty was signed in Helsinki by 23 member nations of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in March 1992. It entered into force on 2 January 2002. The agreement permits nations to conduct unarmed observation flights over one another’s territory. Every country has an annual quota for how many flights it must accept (passive quota) and how many it can conduct (active quota). Since 2002, more than 1,500 flights have been conducted.
El Al and Etihad strengthens partnership ties, signs MOU
EL AL Israel Airlines (El Al), the flag carrier of Israel, and Etihad Airways, the second flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), signed a virtual Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to explore deeper cooperation among both air carriers. Following the agreement, El Al and Etihad set joint codeshare services between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv intending to create a deep partnership in the fields of cargo operations, destination management as well as the optimal use of pilot and cabin crew training facilities. The document was signed virtually by Tony Douglas, the Group Chief Executive Officer of Etihad and Gonen Usishkin, the Chief Officer of El Al.
Douglas outlined that the agreement was reached following EL AL’s historic flight to Abu Dhabi, the first-ever flight between Israel and the UAE, made on 31 August 2020. “This MOU is the foundation of what we envision will be a strong ongoing relationship between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv. We look forward to examining ways in which the two flag carriers (Etihad and EL AL) can work more closely together to improve business operations and enhance the experience for our guests,” Douglas was quoted in a press release on 23 November 2020.
Besides the codeshare operations, under the terms of MOU, both airlines would explore reciprocal earn and burn opportunities for El Al and Etihad as well as find solutions to encourage reciprocal inbound tourism to Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv. “Following the normalization of diplomatic relations between Israel and the UAE, we have been provided a great opportunity to examine the possibility of cooperation with Etihad Airways. This MOU is only the start and we believe that together, the two flag carriers will be able to provide our mutual customers with the best possible product and service. Already, the common goals we have outlined speak for the success of our future cooperation,” outlined Usishkin.
In addition, after signing the MOU, El Al and Etihad considered stepping into further negotiations about deeper partnership among cargo and engineering divisions of both air carriers by optimising current MRO opportunities. According to the statement, the airlines also planned to increase the volume of cargo operations between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv as well as across El Al and Emirates combined networks.
Sonaca 200 trainer Pro Flight School order doubled
In March 2020, Aero Locarno (Switzerland) signed an order for five Sonaca 200 Trainer Pros. The Approved-Training Organisation has just decided to double the initial order bringing the revised order to a total of 10 aircraft. “Even though we are going through a difficult time in aviation, we are seeing a steady demand for training which justifies the investment in a brand-new fleet. We feel the need to harmonise our aircraft fleet by acquiring additional Sonaca 200 Trainer Pros. The Sonaca 200s will replace our old Cessnas. It goes without saying that glass cockpit and state-of-the-art aircraft will further spark interest in our school,” Stefano Buratti said. The first aircraft will be delivered starting in February 2021.
The Swiss Air Force recently certified the Sonaca 200 Trainer Pro for the initial aptitude assessment programme called ‘SPHAIR’. The objective of the SPHAIR programme is to discover and assess young talents for a career as a pilot in the Swiss Air Force or general aviation. To earn SPHAIR certification, the Sonaca 200 has undergone a thorough assessment on the ground and in flight.
Sonaca Aircraft’s activity covers the development, certification and marketing of the ‘Sonaca 200’, a single-engine two-seater aircraft, specially designed and adapted for schooling and leisure flights. EASA certified in the CS-VLA airworthiness category, the Sonaca 200 uses a robust all-metal structure, offers good flight behaviour, a decent payload and a low operating cost.
Chinese drone show breaks records
Guinness World Records recently posted a video on YouTube of a new record: The most drones airborne simultaneously. The incredible light show included 3,051 drones, handily beating the former world record of 2,066 drones. The record was broken by Shenzhen Damoda Intelligent Control Technology Co., Ltd. in Zhuhai, Guangdong, China. Check out the video below, which includes not only the light show, but crowd reactions, a bit of the planning process and lots of drones awaiting take-off.
California man recklessly flew a drone into a Los Angeles Police Department helicopter
The FBI arrested Andrew Rene Hernandez (22), on Thursday after he damaged the LAPD helicopter with a drone, the Department of Justice said in a news release. The pilot was forced into an emergency landing. Hernandez was charged with one count of unsafe operation of an unmanned aircraft, officials said. “The case against Hernandez is believed to be the first criminal case in the nation alleging the unsafe operation of an unmanned aircraft,” according to the US Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California. The helicopter was flying near the scene of a suspected burglary at a pharmacy in Hollywood on 18 September when the pilot saw the drone. He tried to dodge it, but the drone struck the helicopter, officials said.
FAA moving forward to enable safe integration of drones
The FAA published airworthiness criteria for the proposed certification of 10 different Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or drones as special class aircraft. This is a crucial step to enabling more complex drone operations beyond what is allowed under the small, unmanned aircraft rule (Part 107), including package delivery. “The development of airworthy, durable and reliable unmanned aircraft is a crucial step forward for this innovative sector,” said Dr. Michael C. Romanowski, director of Aircraft Certification Service Policy and Innovation. “Type certification will help increase both public and regulatory confidence in drone technology as operations become more advanced.” The airworthiness criteria provide a level of safety equivalent to that provided by existing airworthiness standards applicable to other categories of aircraft and establish a defined path to type certification for specific drones. Each applicant seeking a type certificate must follow FAA’s requirements and safety objectives.
Airworthiness criteria notices are published in the Federal Register for the following applicants:
- 3D Robotics
The applicants’ drones range from five to 89 pounds and include several types of vehicle designs, including both fixed wing and rotorcraft, whilst all are electric powered. Each notice outlines the applicant’s proposed UAS for certification and the airworthiness criteria proposed by the FAA.
This is a step in the certification process and does not imply these applicants have earned type certificates. Final determination of whether a specific drone meets FAA safety requirements will occur after the applicant demonstrates they have complied with these requirements. The public has 30 days to comment on each applicant’s airworthiness criteria and deadlines are specified in each individual notice. The FAA will consider the comments as it establishes criteria for type certifying each UAS and will publish final airworthiness criteria after the comment period closes.
Twice Weekly News from African Pilot
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Until Thursday, please be ‘Serious about flying’.
Athol Franz (Editor)