“A man has honour if he holds himself to an ideal of conduct though it is inconvenient, unprofitable, or dangerous to do so.”
African Pilot’s aircraft of the week identification quiz
The Myasishchev M-55 (NATO reporting name: Mystic-B) is a high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft developed by OKB Myasishchev in the Soviet Union, similar in mission to the Lockheed ER-2, but with a twin boom fuselage and tail surface design. It is a twin-engined development of the Myasishchev M-17 Stratosphera with a higher maximum take-off weight.
Design and development
During the 1950s and 1960s the United States instituted several programmes using high-altitude reconnaissance balloons, released over friendly territory to ascend into the jetstream and be transported over the Soviet Union and People’s Republic of China. To combat these high-altitude balloons, Myasishchev proposed Subject 34 a single-seat turbojet-powered twin-boom high-aspect-ratio aircraft, nicknamed Chaika (‘Seagull’ in Russian) due to its anhedral wing design. Armament of the single-seat balloon interceptor was to have been two air-air missiles (AAM) and two GSh-23 cannon with 600rpg in a dorsal turret. Before Subject 34 could be developed into operational hardware, the threat receded due to the success of the Keyhole reconnaissance satellites of the Corona programme and the emergence of the Lockheed A-12.
The first prototype of Subject 34 was completed in secret at the Kumertau helicopter plant in Bashkirya, but whilst carrying out taxi tests, in December 1978 piloted by K. V. Chernobrovkin, the prototype Chaika lifted off to avoid hitting snowbanks and was destroyed after hitting a hillside in zero visibility.
The design of the Chaika was adapted as a reconnaissance aircraft and emerged as the Myasishchev M-17 Stratosphera with a revised airframe, including straight tapered wings with 2° 30′ anhedral (0° at 1g), shorter fuselage pod and unreheated Kolesov RD-36-51 turbojet engine. Flown for the first time on 26 May 1982, the M-17 prototype was soon allocated the NATO reporting name Mystic-A and was used for investigating the Ozone layer over Antarctica in 1992.
The M-17 also set a total of 12 FAI world records, five of which still stand. On 28 March 1990, M-17 CCCP 17401 piloted by Vladimir V. Arkhipenko set an altitude record of 21,830 m (71,620 feet) in class C-1i (Landplanes: take-off weight 16 000 to 20 000 kg).
The M-17 balloon-interceptor-based model was terminated in 1987 and replaced by the M-17RN, later known as the M-55 Geophysica, which was dubbed by NATO Mystic-B. First flown on 16 August 1988, the M-55 airframe was revised further with a longer fuselage pod, housing two Soloviev D-30-10V un-reheated turbofan engines, shorter-span wings and comprehensive sensor payload.
The M-55 set a total of 15 FAI world records, all of which still stand today: On 21 September 1993, an M-55 piloted by Victor Vasenkov from the 8th State R&D Institute of the Air Force named after V. P. Chkalov at Akhtubinsk reached a class record altitude of 21,360 m (70,080 feet) in class C-1j (Landplanes: take-off weight 20,000 to 25,000 kg (44,000 to 55,000 lb)). A dual-control version, the M-55UTS, was developed by adding a second cockpit behind the original, displacing some avionics and / or sensor payload. A number of M-55 Geophysica remain in service, performing in research roles; one M-55 took part in a study of the Arctic stratosphere in 1996–1997with similar experiments performed in Antarctica during 1999. An Irish-headquartered company Qucomhaps, with a focus on Southeast Asia, has entered a 1-billion USD deal to use the M-55 as a high-altitude platform station for digital communications.
Those who identified this aircraft correctly: Gregory Yatt, Brian Millett, Mark Cope, Ari Levien, Peter Rossouw, Mark Gauldie, Erwin Stam, James Mc Alpine, Kevin Farr, Bernard Stander, Rennie van Zyl, Rex Tweedie, Righardt du Plessis, Colin Austen, Daniel Sinnathamby, Hilton Carroll, Dawid Hanekom, Willie Oosthuizen, David Plew-Chisholm, Selwyn Skimber, Steve Dewsberry, Karl Jensen, Greg Pullin, Pierre Brittz, Cecil Thompson, Wout van der Waal, Charlie Hugo, Pierre Hanekom, Geoff Street, Jeffery Knickelbein, Rikus de Lange, Geoff Street, Herman Nel, Lodewyk Schuermans, Mickey Esterhuysen, John Power, Danie Viljoen, Bob Gurr (39).
Where will I find requirements for a Private Pilots Licence (aeroplane) in the Law?
Court battle looming after SACAA flight safety chief is shown door
A legal battle is looming after the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) did not renew the five-year contract of its chief of accident investigations and the events leading up to the non-renewal were vented over on social media. At the heart of the dispute is the inter-dependence of the accident and incident investigation division (AIID) on the SACAA. The issue previously led to friction when the aviation industry was on the receiving end of non-compliance findings, while the SACAA would come off scot-free in anything, from audits to investigations. Peter Mashaba was notified a week before his contract expired on 6 September 2021 that it would not be renewed.
There was plenty of warning about the capability of the captain and I personally know of three Designated Flight Examiners (DFEs) who said they would never fly with him. Frankly together with the SACAA he killed two innocent people with his arrogance. When the interim report came out about a month after the accident from the French interpretation of the flight data recorder, it was absolutely clear that the crew (captain) lost control as they entered cloud whilst flying the VOR arc. This is going to get interesting, because of the SACAA’s insistence on BBBEE is what killed them.
African Pilot’s October 2021 edition
The October edition featuring aircraft / helicopter maintenance will be distributed early this week. This 256-page edition has 21 embedded videos and 27 picture galleries making African Pilot the largest aviation monthly publication in the world. Within this edition African Pilot has showcased many AMOs and aircraft refurbishing companies where no single company shares any part of a double page spread with any other company. In addition, African Pilot is the only South African aviation magazine that presents embedded videos and picture galleries to increase its advertisers exposure to the market.
African Pilot’s November 2021 edition
The November edition will feature African Airlines, Gifts for Pilots and Aircraft Leasing. African Pilot has already undertaken research on African Airlines and we will be presenting factual information about these airlines, not just an inaccurate listing of airlines, many of which have ceased to exist. The Gifts for Pilots feature allows for any of the pilot shops to market their merchandise. Finally, Aircraft Leasing is a sector of the aviation industry that is often neglected and this feature will present an opportunity for leasing companies to present their business profiles. African Pilot is the ‘only aviation magazine’ that provides its advertisers with quality coverage within a well-designed publication that has South African, African and International reach.
African Pilot Digital Calendars
Wallpaper calendar for the months of September and October. Go to our wallpaper page to download the calendars in three different resolutions.
View and download African Pilot’s last three (3) 2021 editions.
Click on the covers below.
The mystery of Flights to Nowhere
I have watched and enjoyed the full series to date and I was impressed with the production of the various episodes that African Pilot published as a series during 2019 / 20 and that we consolidated into Wouter’s eBook. I understand from Wouter that the series has been so popular that the television station will be re-broadcasting the series on Mnet catchup for the next few weeks.
Flights to Nowhere eBook
Aero Club coffee table Centenary Yearbook
The AeCSA Centenary Yearbook is now available to purchase from the online shop. Please visit www.aeroclub.org.za/shop.
Aero Club support
Former airport cleaner getting her wings
Nokuthula Mchunu (37), a former airport cleaner, is on her way to realising her dream of becoming a pilot. Presently a student pilot at Focus Air Flight School in Durban, she encourages people from previously marginalised groups to join the aviation industry. Mchunu, from Lamontville in KwaZulu-Natal, worked at Durban International Airport and while mopping floors observed the operations and pilots. At home she read about aviation, which helped her understand the many available careers in the sector. Mchunu believes that schools and community leaders have a responsibility to organise career days and workshops to expose pupils to sectors like aviation. After completing her studies Mchunu aims to fly corporate jets.
Mchunu says the imbalance is due to people, mostly from previously disadvantaged backgrounds, being unable to afford to pay the fees of flight schools. She urges those who cannot afford fees to secure funding. Mchunu is one of the student pilots who needs funding to complete their aviation studies. “I come from a disadvantaged background and flight training is expensive. However, like the other students, I am not letting my background stop me from achieving my dream,” she says.
There are many career opportunities available in the aviation space such as piloting, engineering, mechanics, airport operation, aircraft manufacturing, avionics mechanic, airfield operations specialist, airport manager and transportation security screening.
Available funding: SACAA offers bursaries in the areas of piloting, aeronautical engineering and maintenance engineering. Air Traffic and Navigation Services SOC Limited (ATNS), an entity of the department of transport, offers funding for those who want to study to become an aeronautical information management officer, air traffic services officer or air traffic control officer. ATNS has three programmes per year.
SACAA has no money to replace calibration aircraft that crashed in 2020
The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) calibration aircraft that crashed in January last year, claiming the lives of three aviation professionals, is yet to be replaced. Acquiring another aircraft will cost between $6.5 million and $8 million (between R96.6 million and R118 million), a price tag which the aviation authority said was too hefty as its financial position had been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This according to Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, in response to a parliamentary question by DA MP Robert Alfred Lees on whether a replacement aircraft had been purchased.
Editor responds: What is the point of the SACAA purchasing another aircraft when there are South African aviation companies equipped to manage the flight equipment calibrations at all South Africa’s airports? Secondly, much of Europe is now using precision drones to provide calibration services, so why does this country require an expensive aircraft and expensive crew to operate the aircraft?
SACAA to measure customer service
Please follow the link below to complete the survey:
A key strategic outcome indicator of the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) is to measure and improve the customer service experience of all its customers and stakeholders. Critical to delivering good customer service, is feedback from the customers themselves on the standards that will satisfy them. The SACAA aims to give seamless services to its customers and further add value by being an enabler of our customers businesses. Participating in the customer satisfaction survey will take seven minutes of your time. All responses are completely confidential. The data collected will only be shared at an aggregated level with no individual or personally identifiable details. This is in line with the requirements of the Southern African Market Research Association (SAMRA) of which Digital Republic is a corporate member.
Airlink to resume Polokwane flights
Airlink, the independent regional airline, will resume scheduled air services to and from Polokwane from 18 October 2021. Services were disrupted earlier this year to enable the Polokwane Airport to upgrade its emergency services to comply with civil aviation regulatory requirements. “The Johannesburg-Polokwane route is important for business travellers and plays a crucial role in supporting Limpopo’s economy. We are looking forward to resuming our regular flights, which we will serve up to three times a day,” said Airlink CEO and Managing Director, Rodger Foster. Flights to and from Polokwane are timed to provide travellers with convenient connections with Airlink’s domestic and regional flights through its Johannesburg hub at OR Tambo International Airport. Airlink’s modern and efficient Embraer ERJ jets will be used to operate the Polokwane service.
IATA official concerned as SA's air services councils remain ‘frozen’
The International Air Transport Association’s regional vice president for Africa and the Middle East is on a visit to Johannesburg. Kamil Alawadhi met with a number of local airlines and aviation entities as well as the Department of Transport. South Africa has not had an International Air Services Council (IASC) since March this year. The IASC adjudicates applications for licences and permits to operate air services to and from South Africa. The country’s Domestic Air Services Council, which assists with licensing processes and controls relating to local air services is also not in place. The Minister of Transport is responsible for designating a chairperson of the IASC and appointing at least four other members, but this has not happened yet.
Kamil Alawadhi, IATA’s regional vice president for Africa and the Middle East, told a media briefing on Thursday that he had a ‘fruitful’ meeting with Deputy Minister of Transport Sindisiwe Chikunga. According to Alawadhi, she assured him that it is one of her priorities to get South Africa’s Domestic and International Air Services Councils in place again as soon as possible. “We had concerns with the two councils having been ‘frozen’ since March. I was assured by the deputy minister that she is working diligently to get both councils up and running. That will be good for domestic and international carriers,” he said. “Most airlines are planning now already for where they want to operate next year and at what frequencies. They need the approval of these two councils.” Alawadhi also raised the issue of potential financial relief for the local airline industry as a whole and says the topic was ‘met quite well’ by the Department of Transport.
Aviation industry members said that the lack of councils left the already battered aviation industry in a more chaotic state as airlines wait for their applications for air traffic rights to be processed. “There are different ways states are assisting their airlines. This can include relief on taxes and charges. The South African government indicated to me that it intended to increase these aviation charges, but due to the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic, it has decided to suspend any such implementation of higher charges and will review it only next year,” said Alawadhi. “We had some concerns with aviation in South Africa given the period of turmoil. South Africa’s aviation industry generated more than $9 billion in 2019, about 3.2% of the country’s GDP, which was massive for an economy the size of South Africa. Now it has dwindled to about $3 billion. At the same time, I am relatively positive that South African aviation is heading in right direction.” Alawadhi is positive about the potential of using the IATA Travel Pass to help open up borders to and from South Africa.
Pan-African airline group
Asked about a long-term goal of South African Airways (SAA) to look at establishing a type of pan-African airline group, Alawadhi said SAA is just starting up again and with a clean slate. SAA and Kenya Airways announced earlier this week that they are signing a memorandum of co-operation and that a pan-African airline group could, in time, ‘enhance mutual growth potential by taking advantage of strengths of the two airlines’ busy hubs’. However, the agreement does not preclude either of the airlines from pursuing commercial co-operation with other carriers within their route network strategy.
“SAA is starting operations cautiously so as not to over-burn cash with the current anaemic demand for air traffic. Going into some form of agreement with Kenya Airways could bring advantages for both airlines. This kind of arrangement is quite common in order to open up destinations and gain market share,” said Alawadhi.
Another issue of importance for Alawadhi is inter-connectivity on the African continent by moving forward with the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM). SAATM’s intention is to remove restrictions when it comes to bilateral agreements between African states and promote competition. “We want to get all 55 African states around one table to discuss their concerns. Moving forward with SAATM requires involvement of at least five stakeholders per country, including transport ministries and prominent airlines. We hope to do this maybe in the first quarter of 2022 but are also aiming for an initial meeting early in December,” he said. “If you liberalise air space in Africa through formal agreements like there is in the EU, the only restrictions for airlines will be whether an airport can handle the traffic. This should boost connectivity on the continent, simplify air travel and lower costs.”
What is scheduled for this weekend?
African Pilot’s 2021 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.
8 to 10 October
EAA Taildraggers at Warmbaths airfield
Contact Richard Nicholson E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 082 490 6227
ICAO welcomes new net-zero 2050 air industry commitment
ICAO’s Council President and Secretary General have welcomed the timely and ambitious target adopted by the international air industry to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. In a declaration released today by the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), the air industry sector committed that ‘global civil aviation operations will achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, supported by accelerated efficiency measures, energy transition and innovation across the aviation sector and in partnership with Governments around the world.’
“The latest IPCC reports are unequivocal about the threats now posed to humanity by climate change, and I am sure that all ICAO Member States join me today in welcoming this latest and very ambitious net-zero 2050 target adopted by the air transport industry so that our global sector will continue to do its part,” commented ICAO Council President Salvatore Sciacchitano. The President’s sentiments were echoed by ICAO Secretary General Juan Carlos Salazar, who stressed ICAO’s congratulations to the airline and airport operators, aircraft manufacturers, air navigation service providers and many other industry stakeholders involved in adopting this critical and ambitious long-term climate goal.
The air industry net-zero 2050 announcement comes just days after the very strong statement on behalf of G7 transport and health ministers to work with greater determination together to promote the safe and sustainable reopening of international travel.
Qantas to finalise its major 10-year domestic fleet renewal plans
Australian flag carrier Qantas is about to finalise its formal tender process for the long-term renewal of its domestic narrow-body fleet. The programme, called Project Winton, after the birthplace of Qantas in outback Queensland, plans to replace the carrier’s current ageing domestic fleet of 75 Boeing 737-800s and 20 Boeing 717s by December 2021. The aircraft being considered to replace the current fleet are the Boeing 737 MAX family and Airbus A320neo family and for smaller aircraft, the Embraer E-Jet E2 family and the Airbus A220. The final decision over the carrier’s preferred aircraft manufacturer is expected to be made by the end of 2021, firm orders by mid-2022 and deliveries to start by the end of 2023. “This is a long-term renewal plan with deliveries and payments spread over 10 years, starting in FY23, but the equally long lead time means we need to make these decisions soon,” said Qantas CEO Alan Joyce in a statement at the IATA Annual Meeting in Boston.
“COVID has had a devastating impact on the aviation industry and there are not many airlines around the world in a position to place orders for new aircraft. We still have our own repair work to do, but we know travel demand will rebound quickly and right now we’re in a strong position to secure the best possible deal at very good prices.” Joyce said that Qantas will require a combination of larger and smaller aircraft types as the airline’s network consists of flying between large capital cities as well to smaller cities and regional centres. “The mix of aircraft we are considering means we will have more operational flexibility, which for customers translates into more direct routes to smaller regional centres and more choice of flights throughout the day.”
Currently, Qantas has an existing order for 109 Airbus A320 / A321 aircraft, which will predominantly be used to renew Jetstar’s existing fleet of A320 aircraft. The first neo is due to be delivered in the second half of year 2022 with deliveries through to the end of the decade.
Etihad Airways announces plans to recruit up to 1,000 cabin crew
In the latest sign of things looking up for the travel industry, Abu Dhabi-based carrier Etihad Airways is planning to host a major recruitment drive to hire over 1,000 cabin crew members. It will hold recruitment days in 10 different cities in countries across the Middle East and Europe, including the UAE, Egypt, Lebanon, Russia, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands. The airline said in an online announcement on 4 October 2021 that, along with individuals who have experience in the hospitality industry, employees who were laid off during the pandemic may apply. The announcement comes roughly one month after rival Emirates said it had plans to recruit 3,000 cabin crew and 500 airport services employees to join its Dubai hub.
“I am pleased to say Etihad is in a position to be able to start hiring cabin crew again,” Captain Jihad Matta, Head of Crew Performance and Support, said in the statement. “The last 18 months have been incredibly difficult. However, there is much to be positive about as travel restrictions ease and we ramp up operations to meet growing demand, a critical part of this is rebuilding our cabin crew team. We hope to attract diverse, talented men and women globally, to inspire and help them kick-start a tremendous career opportunity and life experience in the UAE,” adds Matta.
Zhuhai Air Show 2021: China’s weirdest aircraft projects
Zhuhai Airshow, which is also known as Airshow China, is the largest exhibition of military and civil aviation in the People’s Republic of China. This year, it was ripe with new developments and concepts from the country’s aviation industry.
Chinese Valkyrie: Between the Kratos XQ-58 Valkyrie, the Boeing ATS and the entire Skyborg project, cheap, stealthy and high-performance combat drones which could accompany manned fighter jets into battle seem like the hot new thing. Indeed, the concept of ‘loyal wingmen’ is on its way to revolutionize aerial warfare, which is why major air powers have been investing in it heavily. For a long time, there was no concrete information about China’s take on this formula. Was the country’s defence industry developing something? Unsurprisingly, the FH-97, displayed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), bears more than a passing resemblance to the XQ-58, which flew for the first time in 2019 and performed weapons tests in April 2021. It is too early to judge the seriousness of the FH-97 project and when we are going to see it fly. However, a host of combat drone projects – some small, some big and some quite unconventional were presented at CASC’s stand. This shows that the company is certainly taking the field seriously and has invested a lot of money into research.
The Shenyang FC-31 Gyrfalcon had its first flight back in 2012. That was less than two years after the maiden flight of the J-20, and the West was quite surprised with China’s ability to design and test-fly a second stealth fighter in such a short time. The aircraft was rumoured to become the next addition to the inventory of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAF). But then it disappeared. Throughout the year, bits and pieces of information have appeared in Chinese media, but nothing concrete. There has been some speculation that the jet was being prepared for export and that it might become a carrier-capable jet for the Chinese navy. But, until Zhuhai 2021, both facts had remained unconfirmed.
Several mock-ups of the FC-31’s new and updated look were presented at the airshow, including one of the jet’s cockpit. In addition, the jet’s chief designer revealed that a new Chinese carrier-based jet is set to be rolled out later this year. The name of the new jet was not revealed, but a model and a render were displayed, both rather reminiscent of the Gyrfalcon. So, it is possible that the FC-31 will be heavily modified before taking on carrier duty and may even receive a new name. In the end, it is quite likely that the FC-31 will include both land-based and carrier-based versions, be adopted by the Chinese Air Force and be offered for export.
Textron Aviation announces order for 10 Cessna Skyhawk aircraft to support Kansas State
Earlier this week Textron Aviation announced an order for 10 Cessna Skyhawk piston aircraft for the Kansas State University Salina Aerospace and Technology Campus, expanding the school’s fleet of Skyhawk aircraft to 20. The aircraft will help support the university’s growing enrolment in its pilot training programmes.
“Textron Aviation remains committed to supporting the training and development of the next generation of pilots and our continued strong relationship with Kansas State is a critical element to these efforts,” said Chris Crow, vice president, Piston Sales, Textron Aviation. “Kansas State University has been training future pilots in Cessna Skyhawks since their programme’s inception in 1987, further demonstrating the strength and capability of the platform and its leadership in pilot training.”
Throughout many years, Textron Aviation has established a long-term relationship with the K-State Aerospace and Technology Campus, located in Salina, Kansas. In 2019, the school took delivery of five new Skyhawks in its efforts to continue to modernize its fleet. K-State was also one of the first universities to participate in Textron Aviation’s Top Hawk programme, which provides selected schools with the opportunity to fly a custom branded Skyhawk for flight training and promotional activities.
Deliveries of the 10 new aircraft, which are equipped with the leading Garmin G1000 NXi avionics system, are expected to begin in the first quarter of 2022. “The addition of these aircraft is a major step toward our vision to meet industry demands by providing students experience from a primary trainer all the way to a business-class airplane,” said Alysia Starkey, CEO and dean of K-State Salina.
GKN Aerospace to lead development of Electric Fan Thruster for electric aircraft
Under the project, which spans over 1.5 years, GKN Aerospace and KTH (the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology) will together develop fan technology for smaller regional aircraft. The project will study aerodynamic design, performance, noise and manufacturing technology for a nested fan powered by electricity, either from batteries, hydrogen fuel cells or even more conventional hybrid propulsion solutions. The proposed propulsion solution with a nested fan instead of a conventional propeller offers significant advantages in three main areas: safety, noise level and engine installation. By rapidly demonstrating fan technology for electric aviation, the EleFanT project will accelerate the pace of electric aviation development and position the participants for international aero-engine and aircraft development projects.
Europe’s aviation industry has set clear targets and adopted an ambitious roadmap to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Parallel development of different types of propulsion solutions for aircraft engines is one of the important steps to take. GKN Aerospace in Trollhättan, Sweden with its market leading innovative aero-engine solutions and KTH with its wealth of experience in technology development can make a vital contribution to this technology step. “We are very positive about this initiative, which helps us to become part of the solution to aviation’s climate challenge. We will benefit greatly from GKN Aerospace and KTH’s long experience in turbomachines, lightweight construction and advanced manufacturing technology. From an electrification and sustainability perspective the project is strongly aligned with our recently announced H2GEAR and H2JET programmes.” said Henrik Runnemalm, Vice President GKN Aerospace Global Technology Centre in Trollhättan, Sweden.
US Army orders four upgraded Boeing CH-47F Chinook helicopters for $136 million
On 4 October 2021, the United States Army awarded Boeing a contract ordering four new and upgraded CH-47F Block II Chinook helicopters. The contract valued at $136 million is the US Army’s first step towards fleet modernisation to ensure preparedness for future heavy-lift rotor operations. The first batch of the upgraded Chinook helicopters will be delivered in 2023. The US Army also signed an advance procurement contract with Boeing worth $29 million for the second production lot of the Block II Chinook helicopters.
“This is a big step in Chinook modernisation, supporting the Army’s future multi-domain vision,” said Andy Builta, vice president of cargo and utility helicopters and H-47 programme manager. “The Block II technologies will drive commonality across the fleet and enable our soldiers to return home safely for decades.”
The CH-47 Chinook is a twin-engined heavy-lift tandem-rotor helicopter, having one of the highest heavy lifting capabilities in the western rotor aircraft spectrum. The Chinook’s initial operations conducted by the US Army can be dated back to the Vietnam War. The new Block II Chinook helicopters feature various upgrades intended to provide additional lift capability and reduce maintenance costs. The H-47 Chinook helicopter is currently operated by 22 countries, including Australia, Canada, China, Egypt, Greece, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Libya, Morocco, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Luxaviation launches commercial operations in Malta
In July 2021 Luxaviation Group, one of the largest business aircraft and helicopter operators worldwide, was granted a Maltese Air Operator Certificate (AOC) which was issued by the Maltese Civil Aviation Directorate. Karol Gueremy, Managing Director, Luxaviation Malta, said: “This new Maltese operation builds on our global aviation services network, and comes at a time when we are all so excited about travel opportunities returning. We are giving business jet owners yet another attractive option for aircraft registration, asset management and commercial operation. “We have already established offices in Malta and we know the first aircraft on our Maltese AOC will be a Bombardier Global jet. We are expecting further aircraft to join the AOC before the end of 2021.
“Between north Africa and southern Europe, between Tunisia, Libya and Italy, Malta is such a historic and strategically important location. We are excited to be able to offer our clients the life cycle of aviation services there, from registration to operation, maintenance and charter. Like every part of the Group, Luxaviation Malta will deliver the highest safety standards, open communication and efficient administration. This new certification means our customers now have 13 AOCs available to meet their specific needs. Across Europe, Luxaviation Group’s portfolio includes AOCs for Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Portugal, San Marino and the UK.
Charles Pace, Director General for Civil Aviation, Transport Malta CAD, said: “CAD is proud to have Luxaviation Group as part of the 9H community. A lot of work has been done over the last months to certify the new company and I would like to thank the dedicated CAD inspectors who did the job diligently. I would also like to thank Luxaviation for selecting Malta for their new AOC and look forward to seeing them grow in the months to come. “This new Luxaviation Group operation is a huge boost for our country in these challenging times for everyone. Malta is a fantastic holiday destination, so we’re expecting a real surge in charter demand for flights here as global travel restrictions ease. Beautiful attractions such as the medieval city of Medina and the Grand Harbour at Valletta will always delight visitors from around the world.”
Luxaviation Malta will be part of the pilot phase of the European Business Aviation Association’s Standards & Training for Aviation Responsibility and Sustainability (EBAA S.T.A.R.S.) initiative. The goal is to develop and introduce sustainability standards and certification across the business aviation value chain – from aircraft operators and ground handling providers to support services such as brokers, maintenance facilities and law firms.
Official: ‘Star Trek’ legend heading to space
Willian Shatner, star of classic spacefaring series Star Trek, is the newest addition to Blue Origin’s NS-18 flight set for launch on 12 October. This comes on the heels of its first successful manned spaceflight in July, which brought four astronauts on an 11-minute voyage over 300,000 feet. Shatner is joined by Audrey Powers, long time employee and overseer of Blue Origin’s flight operations.
The occasion has been well received by fans of space travel, science fiction and pop culture, given Shatner’s place in the pantheon of American media giants. His depiction of the fictional Captain James T. Kirk began in 1966 and has spanned a lifetime of work within the Star Trek Franchise. News that he will finally be heading to space off-stage has excited many in the aviation and engineering communities, with well-wishers sharing their congratulations on his Twitter account. His engagement with online communities there have further driven his popularity across demographics, maintaining a level of cachet that many of his industry cohorts have not. He addressed rumours of his flight status on twitter after speculation placed him as a very likely candidate for the next launch aboard New Shepard. “So now I can say something. Yes, it is true, I am going to be a ‘rocket man’!” When he takes flight, he will have a chance to become the oldest person to have flown in space, a record only recently set by previous Blue Origin Alumnus, 82-year-old Wally funk.
Shatner will be joined aloft by Audrey Powers, long time Blue Origin personnel and New Shepard Flight Operations overseer. Her role as an astronaut is only her most recent, having worked as Deputy General Counsel and Vice President of Legal and Compliance within the company. Previously, at NASA, she attained 2,000 hours of console time in Mission Control for the International Space Station Program. Finally, she serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. Undoubtedly, her experience across the fields of Law, Aviation, Regulation and Space Operations have been invaluable to the project.
Her long history with the company allows her a unique perspective on the travails and development of the spacecraft. “I was part of the amazing effort we assembled for New Shepard’s Human Flight Certification Review a years-long initiative completed in July 2021. As an engineer and lawyer with more than two decades of experience in the aerospace industry, I have great confidence in our New Shepard team and the vehicle we have developed.”
Balloon trips to the stratosphere to begin in 2024
As the newest iteration of the space race heats up between competing high-altitude tourism companies, the unorthodox World View is offering tickets to the stratosphere in a balloon. Other ‘space’ tourism companies rely on rockets for their ascent, like Blue Origin’s New Shepard, or the carrier-launched SpaceShipTwo from Virgin Galactic. World View believes passengers want more time in the air and designed the best ‘room with a view’ one could ask for.
After completing more than 100 unmanned flights for research and commercial customers, the Tuscon company intends to offer flights up to 100,000 feet from seven tourist destinations across the globe. Featuring take-off locations in the Grand Canyon, the Serengeti, Amazonia, The Pyramids, the Great Wall of China and a Norwegian spot perfect for viewing the Aurora Borealis. Eight passengers join two crew members in a pressurised space capsule suspended by a zero-pressure stratospheric balloon. Flights will last far longer than similar voyages, as lift-off takes place in the calm, early morning winds and returns approximately 12 hours later. The trip aboard is as comfortable as possible, with meal service, custom seating and a wide, panoramic view inside the proprietary Explorer capsule. Equipped with plentiful creature comforts, with a concierge, dining and bar, data connection, earth-view cameras and star-view telescopes, viewing screens, climate control and enough walking space to keep passengers happy as they are brought skyward by the stadium-sized balloon above.
Company press indicates an interest in providing the ‘Overview Effect’, the concept that humanity will be able to markedly improve the future of Earth with a glimpse of the greater globe. Their dedication to sustainability touches upon each facet of their operations, reusing their capsules and balloons after each flight. The first commercial flight is expected in 2024, with the initial launch reserved for the non-profit Space for Humanity, an organisation meant to expand the overview effect to leaders around the world. Pricing is, in comparison to the seemingly ever-increasing prices from its competition, relatively modest at $50,000 per seat with available financing. Seat reservations are available for a $500 deposit.
Partnership offers global training capability for unmanned surveillance
Specialist surveillance company 360iSR has teamed up with Canadian UAV to develop a global programme to provide comprehensive unmanned aerial systems (UAS) operations training. The joint training offering was announced at the world’s largest international defence show DSEI, held in London. In a statement the two companies said the programme leverages the partnership’s world-class multi-decade, multi-platform and proprietary Transport Canada approved Detect and Avoid technology to provide end-to-end UAS training solutions in alignment with NATO Standard ATP-184.108.40.206 requirements.
The initiative answers a growing demand currently unfulfilled: UAS suppliers provide type (system specific) training on the unmanned aircraft systems they sell, but this is only one small part of a larger, holistic UAS Operations Training picture. Too often a UAS is procured without a pathway to fully leverage the asset’s data acquisition, dissemination, and tactical force implementation advantages.
This shortcoming is a result of not having access to comprehensive UAS Operations Training. Comprehensive UAS Operations Training addresses operational airworthiness, airmanship, general UAS information, Detect And Avoid (DAA) systems and procedures, the integration of UAS in non-segregated airspace and Intelligence, Surveillance as well as Reconnaissance (ISR) procedures.
Canadian UAVs offers pilot training, type training, test and evaluation, maintenance services, Detect and Avoid training, operational risk assessment, permitting, general consulting, training aircraft and in-country logistics support. Complementing CUAVs, 360iSR is a globally trusted company with the capability to offer end to end ISR support. 360iSR is one of a few companies that has a team with the experience to deliver all aspects of ISR from the Tactical Coordinator to the ISR Division Chief and they have worked on projects ranging from counter poaching in Southern Africa to large scale security events such as the London Olympic Games. 360iSR completes the total training package by offering intelligence analyst, ISR operator and sensor operator training.
Canadian UAVs President Sean Greenwood said: “This joint offering is the most advanced and comprehensive institutional unmanned aviation indoctrination offering on the market. With the rapid increase in global UAV acquisition and utilisation, the industry has been waiting for a complete end-to-end capability with access to vast on-shore, low-risk airspace for some time. “Canada has a long and distinguished aviation history in training Commonwealth and NATO allies and this offering will continue that tradition for the unmanned paradigm.”
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