“War does not determine who is right, only who is left.” Bertrand Russell
Since last week’s mystery aircraft was relatively easy to identify, according to the number of correct answers I received, 59 correct this week I have provided another interesting aircraft type. Please send your answers to me at email@example.com. I will publish the names of those that identified the aircraft correctly within the Thursday edition of APAnews.
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 required graphic designer. I have probably binned more than one hundred and fifty 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. E-mail: Editor@africanpilot.co.za
In addition, candidates should live within a 30-kilometre range of Kyalami, Midrand. Thank you.
The October edition of African Pilot featuring Aircraft Maintenance and Refurbishment has been completed and will be published early this week. This 230-page edition with 14 videos and 19 picture galleries also features the high successful Children’s Flight, the disappointing Rand airshow, Durban, Virginia airshow, Pipistrel aircraft now represented by Absolute Aviation, Textron and NetJets significant order, Airbus Helicopters PHI order, USAF F-15EX evaluation and USAF Red Hawk trainer amongst many other exciting features. I also wish to thank our many loyal advertisers that supported this special edition of African Pilot.
The November edition will feature Southern African airlines, Gifts for Pilots and Aircraft Leasing. 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 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: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
The Heidelberg Great Train Race 2023
International Test Pilot School of Canada training of SAAF pilots
The pilots are Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey Cooper from 2 Squadron (Gripen), Lieutenant Colonel Akhon Ngcobo from 28 Squadron (C-130BZ Hercules captain) and Major Jonathan Sterling from 87 Helicopter Flying School in Bloemfontein. The engineer is Captain Ngobeni. These SAAF pilots are part of an intake that includes pilots from Poland, the Netherlands and Turkey, with candidates from Airbus, Leonardo PZL-Swidnik, the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF), Turkish Air Force and Turkish Aerospace Industries. (ITPS graduates have taken Turkey’s Hurkus turboprop trainer and T-625 medium helicopter to first flight, development and certification and ITPS graduates have conducted the first taxi tests of Turkey’s Hurjet and TF-X prototypes.)
Originally established in the UK in 1986, the International Test Pilots School is now based in London, Ontario and is one of only eight recognised schools of experimental flight testing worldwide. For more than 30 years, ITPS has been training test pilots and flight test engineers for air forces and the civil industry. The company also provides military flight training. Unlike most major aerospace industry countries, before ITPS moved to Canada in 2001, Canada did not have a school of flight testing.
ITPS Canada is an EASA (European Union Aviation Safety Agency) Approved Training Organisation for test pilots and flight test engineers, offering courses ranging from one year Graduate course, EASA CAT-1 and CAT-2 courses, short courses and online courses. The school is also a Designated Learning Institution offering a Master of Science in Flight Test Engineering. Students from around the world are trained using various fighter and trainer jets, light aircraft, helicopters and flight simulators, including L-29, L-39 and Hunter jets.
The SAAF has very few test pilots, although it does draw on test pilots working for Incomar and the Test Flying Academy of South Africa (TFASA) based in Oudtshoorn. Former Incomar CEO Johannes Joubert, for example, completed the Experimental Test Pilots Course at ITPS in the 1990s and did test pilot work for the SAAF and later for various customers like Ahrlac at Incomar. Another ITPS alumnus is former SAAF pilot Jannie Scott, who was an instructor at ITPS for two years before heading the TFASA’s Test Pilot School between 2018 and 2022, he is now CEO of Ascenso Flight Test in Mossel Bay.
EAA Chapter 322 meeting with Wouter Botes talk about aircraft accident investigation
Christine, Bjorn and I attended the talk by Wouter Botes on aircraft accident investigation and the various reasons why these accidents keep happening within South African General Aviation. Wouter’s illustrated talk at the EAA Auditorium at Rand Airport was very well attended. During this past week I edited all eight chapters of Wouter’s next book that will go to the printers this coming week and at this stage almost all the books have been pre-sold. However, if you wish to get your hands on one of his excellent publication, please contact Wouter directly E-mail: email@example.com
African Pilot’s 2023 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.
KFC Fly In from 7:30 Krugersdorp Flying Club
Visit the food and craft stalls while enjoying a fun filled morning with fellow aviators
24 October to 4 November
SAC Advanced World Aerobatics Championships Las Vegas
Contact Annie Boon E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
SACAA Safety Management System Durban Industry Workshop
Contact Nomhle Dlamini E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 083 451 2628
SACAA Safety Management System Cape Town Industry Workshop
Contact Nomhle Dlamini E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 083 451 2628
SAPFA SA Landing Championships – Brits & Stellenbosch airfields
Contact Ron Stirk E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 082 804 445 0373
SACAA Safety Management System Johannesburg Industry Workshop
Contact Nomhle Dlamini E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 083 451 2628
1 & 2 November
Drones in disaster and risk management conference Century City Conference Centre
November Contact E-mail: email@example.com Cape Town.
EAA Chapter 322 breakfast fly-in gathering, boot sale, fly market EAA Auditorium
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Brakpan Aero Club Cessna fly-in
Contact Clarissa E-mail: Clarissa@airborneaviation.co.za Cell: 074 113 2911
Gyro fly-in to Kitty Hawk
Contact Juanita Cell: 082 040 9798
EAA Chapter 322 breakfast fly-in venue TBA
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: email@example.com
13 to 17 November
Dubai Airshow 2023
EAA National & Chapter 322 Annual Awards Dinner Venue TBA
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
19 to 21 November
55th African Airlines Association (AFRAA) Annual General Assembly (AGA)
Speke Resort in Entebbe, Uganda. Dedicated website: https://aga55.afraa.org/
Aero Club Awards 50 Viking Way Rand Airport (Menno Parsons hangar)
Contact Sandra Strydom email@example.com Tel: 011 082 1100
SAA Museum Society Trains, Planes and Automobiles hobby fair
Contact E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or Cell: 076 879 5044
SAA Museum Society SA 295 Helderberg 36 years on 08h00
Contact E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 076 879 5044
27 and 28 November
AfBAA African Business Aviation Association conference Cape Town
Contact Sam Keddle E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: +27 (0)63 717 3460
DCA Industry Roadshow East London, Eastern Cape
Contact Ms Charmaine Shibambo E-mail: email@example.com
EAA Chapter 322 monthly gathering, fly-in breakfast EAA Auditorium
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 to 3 December
SAC ACE of Base Heidelberg airfield
Contact Annie Boon E-mail: email@example.com
4 to 7 December
Egypt Defence Expo (EDEX) Egypt International Exhibition Centre
Contact E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
8 & 9 December
SACAA ICAD annual airshow Bisho
Contact Noel Godwin E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 082 414 7702
9 & 20 December
Saudi Airport Exhibition Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center
Contact Stephanie Ramos E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: +971 50 395 2025
AASA’s 2023-24 chairperson and deputy chairperson elected
The incoming Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the Airlines Association of Southern Africa’s (AASA) were elected at the body’s virtual 53rd Annual General Meeting and will serve for the next 12 months. Joao Po Jorge has been re-elected as AASA’s Chairperson. He is the Director-General of LAM Mozambique Airlines, with Interim CEO of South African Airways, Prof. John Lamola, as the Deputy Chair.
“National, regional and geopolitical shifts and uncertainties, macro-economic headwinds, driven by rising energy costs, weakened local currencies, inflation and unemployment, together with changed market dynamics and customer behaviour, have forced Southern Africa’s airlines to become more agile, cost efficient and innovative to satisfy their customers’ needs. Joao and John will provide guidance and support to AASA as we continue engaging governments and their agencies to ensure that policy, regulations and standards promote competitive, affordable, economically and environmentally sustainable, secure and safe air transport with comprehensive intra-African connectivity,” said AASA CEO, Aaron Munetsi.
AASA’s annual general assembly was hosted by TAAG Angola Airlines and held in the Angolan capital. It was attended by over 160 delegates representing airlines, airports, air navigation and weather services, aircraft and engine manufacturers, industry suppliers and other stakeholders.
The Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA) represents most of the airlines in the SA Development Community bloc on matters of common interest relating to government policies, legislation, regulations, planning, operational efficiency, safety, security, taxes, charges and other matters affecting its members’ sustainability and the provision of affordable and accessible air transport throughout the region. AASA was established in 1970 and currently has 15 airline members and 38 associate members, including infrastructure service providers, aircraft and engine manufacturers and other industry suppliers, ground handling companies and allied industry bodies. AASA is a regular participant and contributor to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and International Air Transport Association (IATA) and supports their initiatives in the region.
Air Tanzania takes delivery of its first 737-MAX-9
In keeping with the air-carrier’s aspiration to meet the growing demand for air-travel throughout Africa and India, Air Tanzania is the first African airline to take delivery of a specimen of the 737 MAX-9 narrow-body aircraft. Air Tanzania managing director Ladislaus Matindi, Eng. (Bachelor of Engineering) stated: “The acquisition of our first Boeing 737-9 marks a significant milestone for Air Tanzania, a momentous occasion that echoes the spirit of the Wings of Kilimanjaro.” Matindi added: “This advanced airplane is fulfilling our promise to deliver an extraordinary experience to our customer. As we ascend to new heights, Air Tanzania enhances the fleet’s capabilities and exemplifies its commitment while extending our appreciation to Boeing as invaluable partners in enabling our vision.”
Air Tanzania with a fleet comprising two Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners, four Airbus A220-300s, the newly delivered 737 MAX-9, five De Havilland Dash 8 Q400s and one Boeing 767-300F freighter, operates scheduled air-service across Africa and to destinations in Asia. The airline has ordered one additional 787-8 jet. In addition to standardized training, all members of the Boeing 737 family, to include the Original, Classic, Next Generation and MAX series, share the same pilot type rating. The 737 MAX family affords air-carriers fuel-efficiency, ecological accountability, reliability, flexibility and operational economy beyond that of legacy narrow-body airliners. The 737 MAX 9’s 3,509-nautical-mile range exceeds that of its predecessor, the 737 Next Generation (NG) series, by nearly 520-nautical-miles. The MAX 9’s superior range is attributable, in part, to an eldritch combination of fuel-efficient CFM LEAP 1-B engines and advanced aerodynamics that cuts fuel-burn (relative the NG series) by twenty percent. The 737 MAX-9 is capable of carrying up to 220 passengers. Under normal use, each 737 MAX-family aircraft emits up to eight-million fewer pounds of CO2 emissions than the airplanes it replaces. Moreover, the 737 MAX is approximately fifty-percent quieter than its forebears.
Breaking news – Israel at war!
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that the country was ‘at war’ on Saturday, after Palestinian militants in Gaza fired a deadly barrage of rockets and sent gunmen into Israeli territory in a major escalation of the long running conflict between the two sides. Militants launched a barrage of about 2,200 rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel, according to the Israeli military, while armed gunmen infiltrated into Israel by land, sea and air (in paragliders). Multiple explosions were heard over Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and in southern Israel, some blasts likely the interceptions of incoming rockets – while air raids sent Israelis pouring into underground shelters. The Israeli military said it was dealing with hostage incidents in two locations in southern Israel.
According to Israel’s rescue service Magen David Adom (MDA), by the early afternoon, some 70 were dead and hundreds more were injured in Israel and Israel responded by launching strikes on what it called Hamas targets in Gaza. The Palestinian health ministry said that nearly 200 Palestinians had been killed and 1,610 injured but did not say where the deaths occurred or whether the toll included Hamas militants or civilians in Gaza.
Netanyahu said operations were under way to clear out militants from infiltrated towns and that he had also issued a call-up of reservists. “We are at war, not in an operation or in rounds, but at war,” Netanyahu said in a video statement, adding that Hamas, the Palestinian militant movement that runs Gaza, had “launched a murderous surprise attack against the state of Israel and its citizens.”
The surprise assault on Saturday was unprecedented in recent history in its scale and scope, falling on the 50th anniversary of the 1973 War in which Arab states blitzed Israel on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. Israel Defence Forces (IDF) spokesman Lt Col Richard Hecht said in a briefing that Israeli forces “are fighting on the ground as we speak,” listing multiple locations where fighting was taking place, including several villages, army bases and border crossings. Hecht declined to answer repeated questions from journalists about whether the IDF had missed intelligence that the attack was coming. Dubbing the operation “Al-Aqsa Storm,” Hamas military commander Muhammad Al-Deif said in a recorded message that the group had ‘targeted the enemy positions, airports and military positions with 5,000 rockets’ and that the assault on Israel was a response to attacks on women, the desecration of the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem and the ongoing siege of Gaza.
Russian Su-33 jet sinks after failed landing attempt on aircraft carrier
Leaked footage has surfaced on social media channels showing a Russian Sukhoi Su-33 fighter jet sinking into the Mediterranean Sea after a failed attempt to land on the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier. In the video, which has been widely circulated on military-focused Telegram channels, the aircraft can be seen in the water, still attached to Admiral Kuznetsov’s arresting gear. Nearby, a helicopter is visible, indicating a rescue operation for the ejected pilot. The incident is believed to have occurred in December 2016, when the aircraft carrier was participating in Russia’s naval operations in Syria.
This incident is but one chapter in Admiral Kuznetsov’s turbulent operational history. Commissioned in 1985, the sole Russian aircraft carrier has been a focal point of both technical and operational challenges. In addition to the Su-33 mishap, a MiG-29 also crashed during a landing attempt on the same carrier in November 2016. Russian media claimed that both wreckages were retrieved around a year after they went down. After the naval operations in Syria, the Admiral Kuznetsov returned to Russia in early 2017 to undergo a significant repair phase which aimed to extend the aircraft carrier’s service life by 25 years, alongside updating electronic warfare, communication, propulsion and combat systems.
Though the initial predictions expected the repairs to be completed by 2020 or 2021, various factors have led to an extension of the maintenance timeline. In 2018, during maintenance work on the Admiral Kuznetsov at a shipyard in Murmansk, a floating dry dock sank and a crane crashed onto the deck of the aircraft carrier. This accident caused significant damage to the ship, particularly its deck. A year later, on 12 December 2019, the warship caught fire for the first time due to malfunctioning power cables. It was later damaged by a second fire on 22 December 2022, due to unknown causes.
Finally, the return of the warship was scheduled for early 2024, but the date had to be shifted again according to Russian media ‘due to the problems of untimely deliveries of equipment by the cooperation enterprises and constant changes in customer requirements’. Currently Russia’s sole aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov is scheduled to re-enter service at the end of 2024 or early 2025.
FedEx Boeing 757 lands wheels up in Chattanooga, Tennessee
Late on Wednesday night 4 October a FedEx Boeing 757 freighter made a successful no-gear landing at Chattanooga (Tennessee) Metropolitan Airport (KCHA). The three-person crew evacuated without injury after the aircraft skidded down the runway, streaming sparks and came to rest on a grass overrun. Despite the sparks, there was no post-crash fire. According to an official FedEx statement, “FedEx Express Flight 1376 from Chattanooga to Memphis experienced an issue just after take-off on Wednesday evening. Our crew is safe and any additional questions should be referred to the NTSB.”
According to audiotapes of the radio traffic with Chattanooga Approach Control, the crew of Flight 1376 reported shortly after take-off that it was returning to the airport due to a ‘flight control issue’ and advised they were not declaring an emergency at that time and did not anticipate the need for assistance. But as the flight maneuvered for an ILS approach to Runway 20, they said they needed to break off the approach due to an unsafe gear indication. Later, the crew advised ATC they would not be able to taxi clear of the runway after landing due to ‘no steering available,’ suggesting they would need a tug to retrieve the aircraft. They then declared an emergency, reporting there were three souls on board and ‘about an hour and a half’ of fuel.
When the controller asked if the emergency was due to an unsafe gear indication, the crew advised they were activating an ‘alternate gear extension,’ which in the 757 involves a separate battery-operated hydraulic power pack (suggesting that the overriding issue was with the main hydraulic system). The FedEx crew asked for a low pass over the runway and for ground observers to advise if the gear was extended. Observers in the tower and on the ground said they could not see the gear extended and the crew said they were going to perform a no-gear landing. ATC told them they would have emergency vehicles standing by. After the successful, if dramatic landing, the airport was closed for several hours. The aircraft came to rest on airport property. There were no injuries to the crew or anyone on the ground.
Ural Airlines confirms plan to fly stranded Airbus A320 out of field
The Russian carrier published a statement on its Telegram channel on 3 October 2023, announcing that there were a number of options available. Ural Airlines said that tests carried out had shown that the ‘engines will not require refurbishment’. The airline also confirmed that the engine flow section was ‘cleared of soil and straw, which was confirmed by repeated inspection’. An in-depth examination of the aircraft structure and preparation for storage are being carried out, the carrier said. The airline revealed that it is in the process of waiting for lifts to carry out landing gear testing, testing of components and additional studies of the aircraft design. The plan also includes dismantling the seats to make the aircraft lighter.
The Airbus A320 registration RA-73805 landed in the field just outside of Novosibirsk, a city in southern Siberia, Russia after running low on fuel. The aircraft had been due to land at Omsk Tsentralny Airport (OMS) after flying from Sochi International Airport (AER) but was unable to land and requested to go to the Novosibirsk Airport (OVB) instead. Following the incident, it was reported that the Airbus A320 experienced a failure of its hydraulic system as it approached OMS, although passengers on the flight were allegedly told the diversion was due to unflyable weather conditions. As flight U61383 headed towards OVB, the captain became fearful that the aircraft would not make it to its destination and took the extreme decision to land in a field. According to the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations, there were 167 people on board, including 23 children and six crew members.
United orders 110 new aircraft with deliveries starting in 2028
Last week United Airlines announced orders for 110 more aircraft for delivery beginning in 2028, building on the early success of United Next and adding additional flexibility for its long-term fleet. United converted previous options and purchase rights into firm orders for 50 Boeing 787-9s for delivery between 2028 through 2031, as well as 60 Airbus A321neos for delivery between 2028 and 2030. The company also secured new options for up to 50 more Boeing 787s and purchase rights for an additional 40 A321neo aircraft at the end of the decade.
A key component of the United Next plan is growth in gauge, essentially flying larger planes with more available seats on the same route. Given that United currently operates from some of the largest markets in the United States, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark/NYC, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. up gauging also boosts overall connectivity domestically and internationally.
In 2019, United averaged 104 seats per North American departure, among the lowest in the industry. By 2027, United expects that number to jump more than 40% to over 145. United now has 180 A321neo and over 370 737 MAX aircraft on firm order through 2030, a combination that will drive the average seats per departure even higher on these larger aircraft, with even lower anticipated per-seat costs.
United’s latest aircraft order starts at the end of the decade and can be used for fleet growth or replacement, depending on the demand and the economic climate at the time and from a widebody perspective, the 50 incremental 787-9s that United ordered last week will allow the airline to further simplify its international fleet, another benefit to customers and employees as well as an area of cost savings. United is already the largest carrier across the Atlantic and Pacific. The airline now has 150 Boeing 787s on firm order, more than any airline in the world.
FAA extends MOSAIC comment period by 90-days
The Federal Aviation Administration has added an additional ninety-days to the comment period germane to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) titled Modernisation of Special Airworthiness Certification (MOSAIC). Originally published in the US Federal Register on 24 July 2023, the MOSAIC NPRM comprises proposed amendments to rules pertaining to the manufacture, certification, operation, maintenance and alteration of Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA).
By way of the proposed amendment, the FAA seeks, ostensibly, to actualise enhancements to the safety and performance of Light-Sport Aircraft while broadening the privileges of Sport Pilots. If enacted, MOSAIC would affect, in part, flight-training, aerial work and personal travel undertaken in Light-Sport Aircraft. The comment period for the MOSAIC NPRM (published at 88 FR 47650) has been extended from 23 October 2023 to 22 January 2024.
On 29 August 2023, eight industry organisations prevailed upon the FAA to grant a ninety-day extension to the original MOSAIC NPRM comment period. Subject organisations included: the Aircraft Electronics Association; the Aeronautical Repair Station Association; the Aviation Suppliers Association; the Aviation Technician Education Council; the Helicopter Association International; International Air Response, Inc.; Modification and Replacement Parts Association and the National Air Transportation Association. The MOSAIC proposal’s claimed purpose is to expand the type and number of vehicles eligible for future certification as Light-Sport Aircraft and to broaden the authority and privileges currently afforded Sport Pilots.
While the larger aviation press’s coverage of MOSAIC has focused primarily upon Part 21: Certification Procedures for Products and Articles and the expansion of the aircraft eligible for future certification as a LSAs; and Part 61: Certification: Pilots, Flight Instructors and Ground Instructors with the expanded authority of a sport pilot—the proposed rule affects 14 CFR Parts 1, 21, 22, 36, 43, 45, 61, 65, 91, and 119. Obfuscated by the din of celebration with which MOSAIC was initially greeted are changes to Part 1, which directly affects the entirety of Civil Aviation’s sectors, to include airports and FBOs; the establishment of Part 22, which sets the certification foundation for all future consensus standard-based aircraft certifications; the expansion of the environmental standards applicable to the initial certification and modification of all Light-Sport Aircraft; changes to Parts 43 and 45; significant changes to Parts 61 and 91, which pertain to pilot certification and flight operations respectively; a change from a prescriptive hour-based approach to qualifying LSA repairmen to a performance-based approach more consistent with certificated mechanics; and the introduction of commercial space to Part 119.
Notwithstanding the degree to which the larger parts of the aviation industry, media and flying public have cottoned to the expansions proposed under MOSAIC, the legislation’s critics, to include the entirety of the aforementioned organisations urge increased scrutiny of the extents to which MOSAIC stands to adversely impact operational safety and the modernization and upgrading of Light-Sport Aircraft, complicate airman certification, and occasion repetitive rulemaking. MOSAIC is a tortuously complex proposal eminently and urgently deserving of thoughtful and thorough review. The AEA encourages stakeholders to submit comments pertaining to MOSAIC as early as possible for purpose of affording the FAA opportunity to consider public opinion and time to amend the proposal in a manner beholden thereto.
CFM identifies 126 engines fitted with fake AOG Technics parts in latest update
During extensive reviews CFM International even identified four instances where parts from AOG entered its own Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facilities, impacting 16 engines. In its update on 4 October 2023, CFM said the 126 affected engines reflected ‘less than one percent of the 22,600 CFM56 engines in service globally’. It added: ‘We promptly informed the impacted operators and we are removing the parts associated with AOG parts at no cost.’ One instance where unverified parts entered its own facilities was through CFM Materials. The other three occasions involved indirect purchases from suppliers who sourced parts with falsified forms from AOG and unknowingly sold them to CFM. A further 110 instances affected engines at non-OEM facilities.
CFM also confirmed that it is reviewing documents that AOG were forced to hand over to the engine maker due to a High Court ruling in the United Kingdom (UK) on 20 September 2023. A spokesperson for CFM said: “CFM is reviewing the documentation turned over by AOG Technics as part of our effort to determine the full extent of their sale of parts with fraudulent documentation. We are working collaboratively with operators so they can promptly remove the unauthorised parts from their engines in accordance with the recommendations issued by the regulatory agencies. We remain united with the aviation community in working to keep unapproved parts out of the global supply chain.”
To date, CFM, a joint venture between GE Aerospace and Safran Aircraft Engines, has identified 95 falsified documents covering 61 CFM56 part numbers and two falsified documents covering two CF6 part numbers. It is understood that the ‘majority of the parts involved are non-serialised items like bolts, nuts, washers, dampers, seals and bushings’ and CFM are not aware of any fraudulent documentation associated with life-limited parts.
Delta Air Lines and WestJet are the latest airlines to confirm they have been affected by the AOG parts scandal. American Airlines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, TAP and Virgin Australia Airlines have all previously confirmed the same.
MIT’s AI co-pilot improves human pilot performance
MIT says it’s developing an artificial intelligence-driven co-pilot robot it calls a ‘guardian’ that will monitor the human pilot’s performance and intervene at even the smallest deviation from what the AI considers the proper action by the human. Air-Guardian uses eye tracking to determine where the human is focusing and if it does not match the AI’s gaze, the machine takes control. “If they are both paying attention to the same thing, the human gets to steer,” according to the explanation by MIT’s Rachel Gordon. “But if the human gets distracted or misses something, the computer quickly takes over.”
Gordon writes that current autopilot and navigation systems do not sound the alarm until things go really bad on the flight deck. Air-Guardian nudges and cajoles the human pilot to a level of perfection that should prevent those sorts of in-flight crises. “As modern pilots grapple with an onslaught of information from multiple monitors, especially during critical moments, Air-Guardian acts as a proactive co-pilot; a partnership between human and machine, rooted in understanding attention,” the explanation reads. It gets a lot more complicated than that, but the bottom line is that it seems to work, according to MIT. “The guardian reduced the risk level of flights and increased the success rate of navigating to target points,” the report said.
Boeing to pay $8.1 million to settle false claims allegations
Aerospace titan Boeing has agreed to pay $8.1 million to settle federal allegations setting forth the company submitted false claims and made false statements pertaining to the construction of V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft the Arlington, Virginia-based company builds for the US Navy. The government contended that during an 11-year period spanning 2007-2018 Boeing failed to conduct contractually mandated monthly tests on autoclaves utilised in the curing of the composite materials integral to the V-22s built at the company’s Ridley Park, Pennsylvania facility. Autoclaves are vessels within which objects and materials are subjected to high temperatures and pressures for purposes such as killing microorganisms and curing composites.
Agreed to Wednesday, 27 September 2023, the settlement states Boeing denies allegations it failed to conduct the requisite autoclave tests and admits no liability. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) agreed, in turn, that the federal government’s claims, though resolved remain allegations. The parties agreed to the settlement in lieu of lengthy and unflattering litigation. A Boeing spokesperson reiterated in a statement that the settlement reflected no admission of liability on the company’s part.
The DOJ’s case against the plane-maker was predicated primarily upon reports submitted by ex-Boeing employees formerly tasked with autoclave operations and composites fabrication germane to the V-22 programme. Subject workers, in 2016, filed a civil action under the qui tam (whistleblower) provisions of the False Claims Act. As part of the settlement, the federal government will pay the former Boeing workers upwards of $1.5 million. Boeing, conversely, will pay the workers’ attorneys more than $1.1 million.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and DOJ civil division head Brian Boynton stated: “The government expects contractors to adhere to contractual obligations to which they have agreed and for which they have been paid. This settlement demonstrates our commitment to hold accountable contractors who violate such obligations and undermine the integrity of the government’s procurement process.” A Boeing spokesperson reiterated the company ‘entered a settlement agreement with the US Department of Justice and the US Navy to resolve certain False Claims Act allegations, without admission of liability.’
Crewed flight testing of Joby eVTOL underway
Joby Aviation, the Toyota-backed designer and builder of electric Vertical Take-off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft, has commenced crewed flight-testing of its eVTOL prototype. To date, four members of Joby’s flight test team have piloted the company’s pre-production aircraft, collectively completing a series of initial tests which comprised, in part, thrust-borne hovers and forward transitions to semi-thrust-borne flight. The testing was undertaken at the Joby’s Pilot Production Facility in Marina, California and complemented ongoing flight testing of the platform currently being conducted at Edwards Air Force Base, where both Joby and USAF pilots are vetting the contraption’s capabilities under realistic operating conditions.
Prior to the advent of crewed testing, the entirety of Joby’s test-flights had been piloted remotely from a Ground Control Station (GCS) using state-of-the-art communications and computer technologies. Unmanned operations permitted Joby engineers to garner vast sums of data germane to the eVTOL’s performance across a comprehensive range of flight-conditions.
Joby’s crewed flight-testing campaign has been led by company chief pilot James ‘Buddy’ Denham, who’s methodically assessed the prototype eVTOL’s handling characteristic and pilot control interfaces, thereby laying the groundwork for near-future for credit aircraft testing under the provisions of the certification programme agreed to by Joby and the FAA. Denham stated: “Having helped design and tested flight controls for a wide variety of aircraft, including all three variants of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, nothing compares to the simplicity and grace of the Joby aircraft. After completing more than four-hundred vertical take-offs and landings from the ground, it is a privilege to sit in the cockpit of our aircraft and experience first-hand the ease and intuitive nature of the design that the Joby team has developed.” During flight-testing, Joby pilots assessed the prototype eVTOL’s ability to execute vertical take-offs, transition to aerodynamic flight, track runway centreline and transitioning back to rotor-borne flight in preparation for vertical landing. Evaluation of the described Mission Task Elements (MTE) will support certification of the aircraft and inform Joby’s ongoing work with the US Department of Defence.
Joby aspires to see its eVTOL enter commercial, passenger-carrying service in 2025. Unlike competing eVTOL concerns, which look to sell their respective aircraft to airlines, leasing firms and logistics companies, Joby plans to mass-produce its eVTOL and utilise a fleet of such to operate a piloted, on-demand air-taxi service, after the fashion of a ride-share app. Upon FAA certification of its eVTOL, Joby will compete in a crowded market with rival developers the likes of Archer Aviation, Lilium and Vertical Aerospace Ltd, the lot of which seek to spearhead a revolution in urban transportation. Presuming development proceeds apace, Joby’s eVTOL will come to market a piloted, four-passenger commercial aircraft with a single-charge range of 130-nautical-miles and a maximum speed of 174-knots. The electrically powered, ostensibly zero-emission machine is designed to be one-hundred-times quieter than a conventional helicopter during take-off and landing.
CycloTech conducts first flight of Bumblebee 2.0 UAS platform
Headquartered in Linz, Austria, CycloTech is an aerospace concern about the business of ‘making individual air mobility as normal as driving a car.’ The company’s mission statement sets forth: “We re-invent flying. With our 360° thrust-vectoring cyclorotors, we develop a new, sustainable, highly manoeuvrable and environmentally accepted propulsion solution for the 21st Century. We enable simple and comfortable VTOL operations to be part of everyday life.”
In late-September 2023, CycloTech released video footage of the first flight of the company’s Bumblebee 2.0 concept aircraft. The flight, which had taken place a month prior, showcased the machine’s unusual configuration, which features four CR42 cyclorotors and an advanced flight-control system. The commencement of the Bumblebee 2.0 platform’s flight-testing campaign speaks to the ongoing evolution of CycloTech’s unique aero-propulsion scheme.
Broadly, a cyclorotor is a fluid propulsion device that converts shaft-power into the acceleration of a fluid by means of a rotating axis perpendicular to the direction of fluid motion. Known also as cycloidal rotors, cycloidal propellers, or cyclogyros, cyclorotors comprise blades characterised by spanwise axes parallel to their axes of rotation and perpendicular to the direction of fluid motion. Subject blades are cyclically pitched twice-per-revolution to produce force (thrust or lift) in any direction normal to their axes of rotation. Aircraft powered by cyclorotors are capable of changing the magnitude and direction of produced thrust in the absence of tilting structures.
Over the coming months, CycloTech intends to comprehensively demonstrate the capabilities of its 360° thrust-vectoring cyclorotors, which are based on a one-hundred-year-old design and challenge conventional propulsion architectures. For purpose of demonstrating the stability, manoverability and efficiency inherent cyclorotors, CycloTech will systematically expand the flight-envelope of its Bumblebee 2.0 platform, thereby further exploring and garnering data germane thereto.
While the debut of Bumblebee 2.0 represents a unique application of a novel propulsion and lifting concept, CycloTech stresses the configuration is apt to initially see limited acceptance by the larger Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) industry. Widespread adoption of any disruptive technology is a gradual process, often spanning decades, an axiom by which CycloTech remains undeterred.
Confident in the actualisation of its mission statement, CycloTech invites aviation enthusiasts, industry stakeholders and the public to remain on the lookout for future updates pertaining to the company’s efforts to advance the frontiers of aerial mobility.
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Fully Dubai-made drones to revolutionise security monitoring in the Gulf region
Microavia is the first UAE-based drone company localising the entire manufacturing cycle in Dubai. With its aerial security monitoring systems and geophysical exploration, the company aims to revolutionise security in the MENA region by boosting effectiveness for businesses and authorities. In less than two years, Microavia has taken off, establishing sales and production and cementing its position as a prime example of the region’s rapid technological advancement.
Microavia FZE was established in Dubai in 2022 and delivers drone-based solutions for security, monitoring, mining and surveying. The assembly, design, testing, quality assurance, software and firmware programming all take place in the company’s facilities in Dubai Silicon Oasis. Microavia also creates payloads such as video and photo cameras and has a team working on AI and computer vision.
The company’s drones can run automated monitoring missions, reducing the need for manpower and keeping humans safe in extreme desert and high-temperature conditions. Microavia is a leader in the region, leveraging BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) design to give businesses the unique opportunity to remotely control sensitive operations like security, surveying and rapid response from the convenience of an office. Its security monitoring system also allows creation of a drone station network for round-the-clock life security monitoring.
Connected in a scenario- and schedule-driven network of stations, the Microavia system enables autonomous area monitoring with manual takeover where appropriate and AI-enabled scenario triggering. Another important aspect is the drone infrastructure management solution, which enables planning and execution of scheduled or manual missions. Microavia’s drones are designed for minimum maintenance and maximum operation. The drone docks are oil-free, element-resistant and equipped with a battery-swapping mechanism and four spare batteries, drastically reducing downtime. Drones can land for a battery change and return to flight in less than two minutes, compared to swapping and especially charging time which is way faster than the charging times offered by competitors. Saving so much time can be the difference between success and failure of critical missions like search and rescue or 24/7 monitoring.
Microavia is currently focused on the GCC and SEA regions but also delivers international projects, including those in India, Kazakhstan and Andorra. The manufacturer is certified for various markets to assist customers and partners in using products, including pilot licenses, operator licenses and flight security clearances. Microavia is also registered in GACA to operate in Saudi Arabia. Recently, Dubai authorities announced plans to establish a drone network around the emirate to support the aviation sector. The UAE drone market is expected to grow by 7.6% in 2024, while the annual growth rate in the entire MENA region is about 8.1% for that sector.
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