“Once we start to worry too often and too deeply about what certain individuals and what certain groups think about us, then we might start selling our souls for the sake of expediency.”
African Pilot’s aircraft of the week identification quiz
3 Takes Offs and Landings in the last 90 days
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 exposé 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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For advertising positions please contact Adrian Munro
Tel: 0861 001130 Cell: 079 880 4359 or e-mail: email@example.com
About African Pilot
There is no doubt that African Pilot provides the finest overall aviation media reach in Africa.
We are positioned to provide professional video and stills photography, website development, social media platforms, company newsletters as well as several other important media services to our customers.
The monthly magazine is available as a digital edition where ALL advertisers enjoy the direct routing to their websites at a touch on a smart phone or tablet as well as a click of the mouse on a computer screen or tap on any smart phone device.
Then of course this APAnews service has been part of African Pilot’s line-up since the inception of the magazine 20 years ago.
Do you want instant aviation news and opinions?
Visit www.APAcom.co.za and register yourself as a user
Video of the week:
DJI introduces AGRAS T20 ag drone
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
Picture of the Week
SOUTH AFRICAN AVIATION NEWS
Oryx evacuates sick crewmember off West Coast fishing vessel
Once again the South African Air Force (SAAF) assisted the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) in evacuating injured or sick crew off vessels along the South African coastline. On 20 November, NSRI ASR (Airborne Sea Rescue) duty crew were activated following a request for medical assistance from a local fishing trawler that was reporting a local adult male fisherman onboard was suffering from a medical complaint. The vessel, the VSL Umzabalazo, was in deep sea, 93 nautical miles northwest offshore of Cape Columbine lighthouse, on the West Coast.
Marius Hayes, NSRI ASR station commander, said the MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) arranged for a Western Cape Government Health EMS duty doctor to assess the patient in communications that were assisted by the ship’s agent and by Telkom Maritime Radio Services. It was deemed that the patient needed be airlifted to hospital as soon as possible and the fishing trawler was requested to head towards Saldanha Bay to get into range of a helicopter rescue operation, the NSRI said. EMS Metro Control dispatched an EMS rescue paramedic to respond to Ysterplaat Air Force Base to join NSRI ASR crew and SAAF 22 Squadron pilots, flight engineer and ground crew who prepared an Oryx helicopter to execute the helicopter rescue operation.
The helicopter, accompanied by NSRI ASR crew and an EMS rescue paramedic, departed Ysterplaat and rendezvoused with the fishing trawler 50 nautical miles offshore of St Helena Bay. On arrival on the scene, an NSRI ASR rescue swimmer and the EMS rescue paramedic were hoisted from the helicopter onto the fishing trawler and the patient, in a stable condition, was hoisted into the helicopter using a basket hoist procedure and both rescue personnel were recovered into the helicopter. The helicopter landed at the Groote Schuur Hospital landing zone and the patient was taken into the care of EMS paramedics and he has been transported to a local private hospital by EMS ambulance for further medical care and he is expected to make a full recovery, the NSRI said. The SAAF said the 22 Squadron aircrew involved in the mission were Major Jan Agenbag (commander), Captain Warren Jobe (co-pilot) and Warrant Officer Frank Boekkooi (flight engineer).
What happened in aviation over the past week?
SAPFA Speed Rally at Springs airfield sponsored by Aircraft Unlimited
What an exciting Saturday we spent at Springs airfield attending the South African Power Flying Association’s Speed Rally and Grand Prix race. This was the final event for 2020 and the SAPFA committee pulled out all the stops to make this one of the most enjoyable aviation events of the year. Unfortunately, the weather was not ideal, but apart from two competitors who could not get out of their home airfields, a field of thirty aircraft took part. They ranged from the vintage DH Chipmunk to a twin Piper Seneca III. A speed rally follows a format that is similar to handicapped air race, but with far more turn points as well as a great deal more accuracy required.
To show the level of handicapping accuracy almost all the participants arrived at Springs airfield within less than one minute. Once all the participants had landed there was much banter as the route was discussed and what weather had been encountered at the various points in the race.
In the afternoon six of the faster aircraft took off in 10 second intervals to participate in the Grand Prix race around the airfield. The route required the participants to fly overhead the airfield, take a long extended downwind, turn right base and dive for the runway as the ‘straight’. For those of us on the ground taking photographs and videos this was exciting as at time two aircraft would be overtaking and one would have to step to its right over the grass where we were all stationed. Of course, this provided great excitement as the competitors positions changed depending on how they managed the corners at full speed. After three rounds, throttles were pulled back and two laned, whereas the other four formed up into a tight formation to provide a ‘break’ overhead the runway.
Due to the distance from our home, Christine and I remained at the Springs hanger downloading our pictures and videos so that some of the pictures could be projected at the formal prize giving function in the evening. In his usual flamboyant way Jonny Esser presented an outstanding line-up with great entertainment and lots of laughter. I have compliment Jonty for recognising the members of the aviation media and presenting each of us with a delicious hamper. Many of us go to great lengths at our personal cost to attend aviation events and it is greatly appreciated when we are recognised in public. Thank you SAPFA.
As chairman of the Aero Club of South Africa, Rob Jonkers addressed the audience about the work that the AeCSA has been doing behind the scenes, especially regulatory matters. Then Andrew Lester CEO of Aircraft Unlimited was asked to join Jonty on the stage for the presentations. Of course, the SAPFA members are significantly competitive, so it was with great anticipation that the awards were presented. The hangar was beautifully decorated with a Tiger Moth and a DH Chipmunk taking centre stage. Tables were decorated, whilst the music flowed. Dinner was delicious with a huge variety of meats, vegetables, salads and desserts all prepared with by several ladies and their helpers who had toiled throughout the day to prepare the lambs on the spit, roasted chickens and beef as well as the extensive catering. The local Springs Flying Club manned the pub and thanks to them the airfield had been superbly prepared for this event. Thank you. A full list of awards will be presented in the January 2021 edition of African Pilot, together with a video and extensive picture gallery.
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.
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
SAPFA Rand Airport challenge
Contact Frank Eckard E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 083 269 1516
SAPFA AGM also at Rand Airport after the rally
Contact Rob Jonkers e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org cell: 082 804 7032
30 & 31 January
Sport Aerobatics Club Gauteng Regionals Vereeniging Airfield
Contact Annie Boon E-mail: email@example.com
SAPFA Witbank Speed Rally at Witbank Airfield
Contact Jonty Esser E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 082 855 9435
6 & 7 March
Sport Aerobatics Club Judges Trophy Venue TBA
Contact Annie Boon E-mail: email@example.com
12 & 13 March
Bethlehem Aero Club event TBA
Contact Stephan Fourie E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 072 344 9678
19 and 20 March
FASHKOSH airshow at Stellenbosch airfield
Contact: Anton Theart E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 079 873 4567
22 to 25 March
HAI Helicopter Association International La Nouvelle New Orleans Los Angeles USA
Contact E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
22 to 26 March
Flight Inspection Symposium (IFIS) and Trade Show ICC Convention Centre Durban
Contact Christo van Straaten (IFIS chair) Tel: 011 545 100 Cell: 083 451 2632 E-mail: email@example.com
24 to 26 March
CAASA AAD Trade Show Lanseria International Airport
Contact Louise Olckers (GM) Cell: +27 (0)82 847 3403
SAPFA Brakpan Fun Rally at Brakpan Airport
Contact Frank Eckard, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 083 269 1516
26 & 27 March
Uitenhage Wings and Wheels
Contact Lourens Kruger E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 082 320 2615
As further dates are sent to me, I will continue to update the aviation calendar
I have started preparing the 2021 calendar with assistance from Air Show South Africa and the various sections of the Aero Club of South Africa. Please send me your planned aviation event fixtures for next year so that I may accommodate them on the calendar. Thank you.
AFRICAN AVIATION NEWS
Astral Aviation to perform Covid-19 vaccine flights within Africa
On 26 November Astral Aviation announced that it is ready to support the distribution of the recently discovered Covid-19 vaccines across its scheduled network of 15 destinations within Africa and a further 50 destinations available on charters with its fleet of 14 freighter aircraft. According to Astral Aviation CEO Sanjeev Gadhia, “Astral has transported thousands of tonnes of vaccines and pharma products on its fleet in its 20-year existence and has played an important role in various immunisation programmes in Africa and across the world including supporting efforts to tackle Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Cholera pandemic in Yemen.” During Covid-19, Astral transported in excess of 15,000 tonnes of PPE, testing kits, ventilators and related products to more than 40 countries in Africa. With the arrival of the first converted B767-200 freighter in Africa, with a payload of 40 tonnes / 350 cubic meters, which will join Astral’s fleet in January 2021, Astral will offer an on-demand charter service for vaccines to Africa. This will complement Astral’s existing regional fleet of B727Fs, McDonald Douglas DC-9Fs, Fokker 50 and Fokker 27Fs to provide onward delivery to the end-destination from its Nairobi hub, according to Gadhia.
“Initiatives being developed by TIACA and Pharma.Aero, such as Project Sunrays, aim to help the air cargo industry get ready for the future handling, storage and transportation of COVID-19 vaccines. Being a member of both associations, Astral will have clarity on the needs and expectations from vaccine producers and share its experiences on the infrastructure constraints of distributing vaccines in Africa,” according to Gadhia, who added that the much-anticipated distribution of vaccines from Q1 of 2021 will require collaboration on a large scale between the vaccine manufacturers and all members of the supply-chain, especially in Africa.
African customer orders SPREOS DIRCM for VIP, military aircraft
An unidentified African customer has ordered Bird Aerosystems’ SPREOS (Self Protection Radar Electro-Optic System) directional infrared countermeasures (DIRCM) system for its VIP and military aircraft fleet. On 18 November Bird Aerosystems announced it had won a contract for the delivery and installation of its AMPS-MLRD solution incorporating SPREOS, which will be installed on several types of aircraft. The company said the AMPS-MLRD missile protection system protects military and civilian aircraft against man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS), laser and radar guided threats. The system is designed to automatically detect, verify and foil surface-to-air missile attacks through the effective use of countermeasure decoys (flares and chaff) and additionally by directional infrared countermeasures that jam the missile’s infrared seeker.
In June this year the company said it had delivered its Airborne Missile Protection Systems (AMPS) to a VIP customer in Africa, which will protect a presidential Boeing 737 aircraft. The AMPS system includes an AeroShield POD and Missile Approach Confirmation Sensor. In August 2019, Bird Aerosystems said it had received a contract to provide missile protection systems for United Nations’ Mi-17 helicopters operating in Africa. Its AMPS-MV solution would be installed on UN Mi-17s operating in dangerous and complicated areas. The UN is already using Bird’s AMPS and this is a follow-on order that will allow the UN to install the systems on additional helicopters, the company said.
WORLDWIDE ACCIDENTS AND INCIDENTS
Pilatus PC-12 NGX, N400PW
On 6 November, a Pilatus PC-12 NGX N 400PW was lost when the aircraft ditched in the ocean near Big Island, Hawaii. It is alleged that the aircraft experienced engine failure due to running out of fuel. The Coast Guard says there were two crew members in the Pilatus PC-12 NGX and no injuries have been reported. Fuel should not have been an issue as the NGX has a range of 1700-1800 miles with full fuel and two pilots, but the aircraft was fitted with a 3rd party ferry tank installed with an unknown quantity and weight of fuel. So, if the rigging, or setup of the tank(s) was improperly installed, fuel exhaustion could be a factor. The distance between the two airports is 2355 NM. Fortunately, the two ferry pilots survived and were rescued by a passing ship. This was a ferry flight from just north of Los Angeles all the way to Hilo. Also, the pilots were both rescued which tells you at least three things:
- Pilots did a good job alerting the area that they were in trouble, otherwise a ship would not have been there shortly after their ditching.
- The two pilots survived the crash, which means they did a nice job of setting plane down on the water gently. That is a lot easier to coach and teach and talk about than it is to perform.
- Got themselves safely into a raft before the plane sunk.
Indian Navy MiG-29 crashes into Arabian Sea - 1 pilot missing
A MiG-29K trainer jet of the Indian Navy crashed in the Arabian Sea. One pilot ejected safely and was recovered, another is missing. Search and rescue operations are still ongoing. The incident took place on the evening of 26 November 2020. The Indian Navy operates a fleet of over 40 MiG-29K fighter aircraft based in the coastal city of Goa, bordering the Arabian sea. They are also deployed out of the INS Vikramaditya, a Kiev-class aircraft carrier acquired from the Russian Navy in 2004. It is the third mishap in less than a year. Exactly a year ago, on 26 November 2019, an Indian Navy Mig-29KUB crashed after suffering a bird strike. Both pilots ejected safely. On 23 February 2020, a MiG-29K aircraft of the Indian Navy crashed off the coast of Goa during a routine training sortie. Its pilot was recovered at the time. The Navy eventually aspires to replace the Soviet-made fighters with a carrier-capable variant of the indigenous Hindustan Aeronautics Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, still under development.
Arianespace confirms loss of Vega flight VV17
It is the second loss of this type of vehicle in the last three launches, but on Tuesday, 17 November Arianespace confirmed the loss of the Vega VV17 mission, which was carrying two payloads, SEOSAT-Ingenio, an earth-science observation satellite for the European Spatial Agency (ESA) and TARANIS for France’s National Centre for Space Studies (CNES). Two and a half months after Vega’s return to flight, the Vega launch vehicle lifted off as scheduled on 16 November from the Guyana Space Center. The first three stages functioned nominally until the ignition of the AVUM upper stage, eight minutes after departure from the launch pad. At that time, a degraded trajectory was detected, followed by a loss of control of the vehicle and the subsequent loss of the mission. The launcher fell in a completely uninhabited area close to the drop zone planned for the Zefiro 9 stage. Initial investigations conducted overnight with the available data; a problem related to the integration of the fourth-stage AVUM nozzle activation system is the most likely cause of the loss of control of the launcher.
WORLD AVIATION NEWS
Cargo pilots suffering increased COVID infections
While passenger airlines have drastically reduced schedules, cargo carriers have done the reverse and now pilots are suffering increased COVID-19 infections, according to unions. The infections come just as the carriers are gearing up to distribute millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses in the coming months. The president of UPS’s Independent Pilots Association, Robert Travis, said its 3000 members had 100 COVID-19 cases between 25 March and 27 October, but have reported another 66 since then, according to the Washington Post. The Air Line Pilots Association, which represents 5000 FedEx pilots, reports similar increases. “Conditions are significantly worsening during our busiest season and many pilots are at or near their physical and psychological limits,” the union’s leaders wrote in a memo to its members revealed in the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
With e-commerce booming because of the pandemic and the normal seasonal uptick beginning early, cargo carriers have been pushed to their volume and schedule limits. It was reported that the biggest airlines carried 1.6 million tons of cargo in September, up nearly 20 percent from the same period in 2019. As vaccine production comes online, the cargo carriers will face the additional challenge of shipping freezer containers. UPS says it ready for the challenge, but still wary of infection impact on its workforce. Meanwhile, as recently as September, passenger airlines claim they are not seeing COVID-19 spikes among crews. “At United, but also at our large competitors, our flight attendants have lower COVID infection rates than the general population, which is one of multiple data points that speaks to the safety on board airplanes,” United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said at a press event.
Brazil clears 737 MAX for operations
Brazil’s Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil (National Civil Aviation Agency/ANAC) has become the second regulatory agency to reauthorise operation of the Boeing 737 MAX, withdrawing the emergency airworthiness directive that restricted use of the model on Wednesday. ANAC announced that it has chosen to adopt the airworthiness directive (PDF) issued by the FAA last week, which calls for changes including modifications to the aircraft’s manoeuvring characteristics augmentation system (MCAS) and a revised pilot training programme. Currently, the only Brazilian airline whose fleet includes MAX aircraft is GOL Linhas Aéreas.
Alaska Airlines moves closer to all-Boeing fleet with MAX 9 swap
Alaska Airlines has inched closer to an all-Boeing fleet after announcing a deal to lease 737 MAX 9 aircraft. The deal, struck with US lessor Air Lease Corp, will see Alaska Airlines lease 13 Boeing 737 MAX 9 planes, with 10 Airbus A320s heading the other way in exchange. The agreement with Air Lease Corp will see 13 of the fuel-efficient 737 MAX 9 planes leased to Alaska Airlines, with the first jets set to be delivered in the 4th quarter of 2021. The latest announcement comes less than a week after the 737 MAX was recertified by the Federal Aviation Administration. Alaska Airlines has 32 737 MAX planes ordered on top of the 13 newly leased aircraft. As part of the agreement, Alaska Airlines will sell 10 of its Airbus A320s to Air Lease Corp, reducing its A320 fleet to 39 planes. The airline has long sought to phase out its Airbus fleet, with the majority of its Airbus planes already grounded.
The airline’s fleet presently has 129 Boeing 737-family aircraft in service, with a further 37 parked. A few weeks ago, the carrier moved forward with its Airbus retirement plans as it edges closer to establishing an all-Boeing fleet. Prior to this announcement, Ben Minicucci, President of Alaska Airlines, made clear the carrier’s position with its Airbus fleet, stating: “We love all of our airplanes, but the A320s are uneconomic relative to others; we can either shrink that fleet, we can extend leases, or we can replace them with something better.” Despite this, it has remained committed to a cancellable purchase deal for 30 Airbus A320neo jets, perhaps to secure more favourable pricing on future deals. The agreement with Air Lease Corp will involve Alaska Airlines leasing back the A320s for a short period.
The Boeing 737 MAX 9 offers several improvements on the Airbus A320s they are set to replace, including increased range and fuel-efficiency. The planes are 20% more fuel-efficient and reduce carbon emissions by 20% per seat compared to the A320. In addition, the 737 MAX 9 has 600 miles more range, which opens up the possibility for new routes. While most airlines globally are fearing for their futures, Alaska Airlines has cause for optimism. The airline is uniquely positioned to make it out of the COVID crisis relatively unscathed, in part because of its extensive narrow body fleet and strong domestic market.
Emirates expects to fly all Airbus A380 by 2022
The largest operator of the Airbus A380, Emirates, shared an optimistic view of the demand for air travel in the near-term future. The airline, which currently owns 114 of the double-deckers, has parked 102 of them. “My own view and it is always an optimistic view, is by end of next calendar year or the first quarter of 2022 we will have all our A380s flying,” stated President of Emirates Tim Clark in an interview with Bloomberg. Airbus has yet to deliver eight additional A380s to Emirates before the manufacturer finally stops the production of the aircraft in 2021. The airline also permanently retired its first Airbus A380 aircraft in October 2019, when A6-EDB was shipped to Tarbes Airport (LDE) in France to be phased out of Emirates’ fleet.
His comments follow a recent announcement by the company. In mid-November 2020, the flag carrier of Dubai posted its first H1 loss in 30 years, as passenger revenue decreased by 75%. All in all, the company ended the first half of its financial year with a loss of AED 12.6 billion ($3.4 billion). A bright spot in Emirates’ operations was cargo. The airline, which also owns 11 Boeing 777F freighters, was able to increase its cargo yields by a whopping 106% compared to the same period in 2019. “The extraordinary market situation for air freight during the global COVID-19 crisis, where drastically reduced passenger flights led to limited available capacity while airfreight demand rose strongly,” read Emirates’ financial report. Furthermore, the local government has put its words into action. After the Crown Prince of Dubai Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum announced that the Government of Dubai is ‘committed to providing full support’ in March 2020, the company’s recent financial report revealed that it received $2 billion of additional investment from Dubai.
In its most recent update on 18 November, Emirates is presently operating 12 Airbus A380 aircraft. Network of destinations was expanded to Manchester Airport (MAN), in addition to increasing daily flights to London Heathrow Airport (LHR) to four per day and going from a twice-weekly service to daily flights to Moscow, Russia.
Embraer installs HEPA filters on ERJ 145 jets
On 26 November 2020 Embraer announced that the company had released a Service Bulletin that allows ERJ 145 operators to install high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters. The kits for the first 70 aircraft are already being assembled and should be delivered by mid-December. It took about five and a half months to develop this solution. During that time, Embraer selected the filter and worked through the necessary steps to create the service bulletin, manufacturing and purchasing several of the required parts to develop the kits. In addition, Embraer is expecting to complete the same initiative for the ERJ 135 and ERJ 140 soon.
In most aircraft, the air in the cabin is completely refreshed between 20 and 30 times per hour, which is significantly more often than in an office environment and even five to six times more often than in a hospital environment. HEPA filters, which are standard on all versions of the Embraer E-Jets and E-Jets E2 families of commercial aircraft, are extremely efficient, capturing 99.97% of airborne particles and other biological contaminants, such as bacteria, viruses and fungi.
This technology is also available on Embraer Executive Jets, with the HEPA filter now standard on both the Praetor 500 and Praetor 600. Earlier this year, Embraer also approved the use of MicroShield360, a preventive coating system that, when applied to aircraft cabin surfaces, continuously inhibits the growth of microbes. The combination of these new features, with the existing cabin environment technologies, equates to a higher level of protection for passengers.
Delta plans to introduce quarantine-free travel to Europe
Delta Air Lines plans to start flights on a dedicated trial basis from 19 December 2020. Passengers who wish to travel on these flights will have to take a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test 72 hours prior to departure, a rapid test prior to departure at ATL and a rapid test upon arrival in Fiumicino International Airport (FCO). Passengers going from Italy to the US will have to go through the same procedure. If all tests are negative, travellers would be exempt from a mandatory quarantine upon arrival in Italy or in the US. However, the exemption is only valid for US, Italian and European Union (EU) citizens that are traveling for essential reasons, namely work, health and education. Flights between the US and European Union countries have been closed since March 2020. However, the plans are still preliminary. The Atlanta-based carrier will only be able to launch flights once the Italian government issues a decree, allowing international travel. Delta expects that will be done ‘soon’. The United States government is also planning to lift the travel ban for EU countries in order to boost airlines’ ability to generate profit and survive the oncoming winter months.
Aero Vodochody demonstrates L-39NG in Hungary
Aero Vodochody has demonstrated its L-39NG in Hungary as it continues to hunt further export opportunities for the modernised variant of the single-engined Cold War jet trainer. In the last week the Czech manufacturer performed three evaluation flights with its second prototype at the country’s 59th air force base, with Aero Vodochody and Hungarian Saab Gripen pilots on board. They included air force chief Major General Nandor Kilian, who describes the L-39NG as ‘a good and modern training aircraft with a great potential’. Until 2009, Hungary operated a squadron of the original L-39 Albatros and has also trained pilots on leased examples of Aero Vodochody’s L-159 advanced trainer.
In September, the Czech defence ministry certificated the L-39NG, clearing the way for Aero Vodochody to demonstrate the aircraft in international airspace and launch customer deliveries. The company flew the Williams International FJ44-4M-powered L-39NG for the first time in December 2018. It has orders for 26 aircraft, with military flight training providers RSW Aviation and SkyTech taking 12 and 10, respectively, while the Senegal air force has committed to four.
Earlier this year, Hungarian entrepreneur Andras Tombor purchased a 51% stake in Aero Vodochody from its previous owner, Czech investment firm Penta, while the Czech Republic’s national defence agency Omnipol will hold the rest. In June, the Czech government made a pitch to neighbour Slovakia, offering participation in the programme and an in-country training package in return for an order for eight L-39NGs.
BOC Aviation, ILFC wins civil suits against AirAsia X
Troubled long-haul, low-cost carrier AirAsia X has lost civil suits mounted by two lessors over lease debts for six aircraft. The carrier disclosed on 20 November that it was served with the judgement pertaining to legal action taken by BOC Aviation and ILFC, now owned by AerCap. AirAsia X and its indirect wholly owned subsidiary AAX Leasing Two were ordered to pay BOC Aviation around $23.4 million in unpaid leases, as well as £75,000 ($99,900) as cost for the claims. The two parties also must pay the lessor an undisclosed ‘post-judgement interest’ relating to the $23.4 million claim. These pertain to the lease of four aircraft, details of which were not disclosed by the carrier.
With ILFC, the court ruled that AirAsia X, as well two other subsidiaries AAX Leasing Four and AAX Mauritius, were to pay £6.6 million in claims to the lessor. These relate to two other aircraft. With both court orders, AirAsia X states that there ‘will be a cash outflow equal to the amount of the said order’ but stressed that there was no operational impact. It adds that it is seeking legal advice about the orders, considering its proposed debt restructuring exercise and will provide any further updates. The four aircraft at the centre of the suit are not disclosed, but Cirium fleets data shows the lessor has three Airbus A330-300s with AirAsia X and one A330-300 with Thai AirAsia X. These were all delivered in December 2015. Recently AirAsia X posted higher losses in its third-quarter financial results, as a result of a continued grounding amid the coronavirus pandemic. In early October, it unveiled a restructuring plan under which it aims to get debts waived and cut aircraft from its fleet in the hope that it will be able to avoid liquidation and raise fresh equity.
Workhorse Group submits formal application to the FAA
Workhorse, an American technology company focused on providing sustainable and cost-effective drone-integrated electric vehicles to the last mile delivery sector, announced that it has submitted its formal ‘Type Certification’ application to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for its HorseFlyTM Unmanned Aerial System (UAS). A type certificate signifies the airworthiness of a particular category of aircraft according to its manufacturing design. From application to approval, the certification process takes approximately 12 to 24 months.
The HorseFly UAS has been designed to meet the FAA’s stringent standards for commercial drone operations and includes a safe, reliable, multi-use aircraft that can deliver parcels, carry sensors and cameras and operate autonomously with a high degree of precision. The system’s success has been validated through real-world commercial deliveries, including approximately 80% of most commercial package sizes, shapes and weights, having demonstrated the ability to carry a ten-pound payload up to 10 miles. The aircraft’s flexible design allows users to operate select, patent-pending delivery methods, including air drops, winch deliveries from various altitudes and ground deliveries. Its quick-change battery system also effectively reduces ground time between missions. The aircraft’s durable structure supports superior levels of reliability in the high-utilisation, demanding markets of commercial and industrial users.
“FAA Type Certification is the only path to scaling meaningful, long-term commercial revenue operations in the US and we believe our Aerospace division is firmly on that path,” said Workhorse CEO Duane Hughes. “We first started developing our unmanned aerial system over four years ago and have come a very long way in that time. Workhorse Aerospace has flown hundreds of live package deliveries in multiple states. With direct operating costs of the aircraft coming in at less than three cents per mile, package delivery integrated via drone represents a true step function improvement in terms of cost and efficiency. While there is much work ahead, this formal application is a milestone achievement for our team. We will continue to work diligently over the coming months as we progress through the various stages of the approval process.”
DJI introduces AGRAS T20 ag drone
DJI is aiming at the farming market with its latest agriculture drone, the DJI AGRAS T20. This agriculture spraying drone makes it accessible and scalable for farmers who are ready to apply digital insights and automated spray technology into their operations. The DJI AGRAS T20 is optimised to work in complicated environments and different agricultural lands, from its autonomous flight planning and terrain-sensing radar, to extended flight time, high payload capacity and off-the-grid power options. The DJI AGRAS T20 is now available for pre-orders.
The DJI AGRAS T20 can carry a maximum payload of 20kg and the layout of the nozzles have been optimised to achieve a 20% improvement on the uniformity of spray droplets and the effective spray width of seven meters. The DJI AGRAS T20 is equipped with eight nozzles and high-volume pumps that can spray at a rate of up to six L/min. A highly optimised wind field produces droplets ideal in size and consistency. With the new four4-channel electromagnetic flow meter design, it can monitor and control the four hoses individually, ensuring an efficient flow rate for each nozzle.
The DJI AGRAS T20 is equipped with an Omnidirectional Digital Radar system, which is able to detect obstacles from all horizontal directions. It can also automatically circumvent obstacles while flying over various terrains, ensuring a high level of operational safety. With this radar system, the AGRAS T20 can reportedly adapt to challenging environments thanks to its strong resistance to dust and water thanks to an IP67 rating. The DJI AGRAS T20 can also withstand splashes when cleaning the aircraft body with water. In addition, the DJI AGRAS T20 enable users to set flight and operation parameters easily. With a built-in RTK centimetre-level positioning system and RTK dongles, centimetre-level waypoint recording is enabled, strengthening operations and ensuring precision spraying. It also comes with a real-time FPV camera and two searchlights.
With a modular design, the DJI AGRAS T20 folds and unfolds in seconds, making it portable. The spray tank and battery are both swappable, reducing downtime and increasing workflow significantly. Thanks to a new programmable DJI AGRAS Smart Controller 2.0 and the DJI AGRAS app, the user interface runs smoothly and is intuitive. In addition, the smart controller comes with an ultra-bright 5.5-inch display, which remains readable even under direct sunlight. It also supports external battery packs and can last twice as long as other remote controllers.
Twice Weekly News from African Pilot
Should you miss out on any edition of APAnews, please visit the website: www.africanpilot.co.za and click on the APAnews link on the front page. All past weekly APAnews publications have been archived on the website.
Until Thursday, please be ‘Serious about flying’.
Athol Franz (Editor)