“Just as an enemy is more dangerous to a retreating army, so every trouble that fortune brings attacks us all the harder if we yield and turn our backs.” Lucius Annaeus Seneca
The Bell X-22
was an American V/STOL X-plane with four tilting ducted fans. Take-off was to selectively occur either with the propellers tilted vertically upwards, or on a short runway with the nacelles tilted forward at approximately 45°. In addition, the X-22 was to provide more insight into the tactical application of vertical take-off troop transporters such as the preceding Hiller X-18 and the X-22’s successor, the Bell XV-15. Another programme requirement was a true airspeed in level flight of at least 525 km/h (326 mph; 283 knots).
Design and development
In 1962, the United States Navy announced its request for two prototype aircraft with V/STOL capability, powered by four ducted fan nacelles. Bell Helicopters already had extensive experience with VTOL aircraft and was able to utilise an already developed test mock-up. In 1964 the prototype, internally referred to by Bell as Model D2127, was ordered by the Navy and received the X-22 designation. It was unveiled at an event in Niagara Falls in May 1965. Three-bladed propellers were mounted on four wings and synchronized through a wave-interconnection system, were connected to four gas turbines which, in turn, were mounted in pairs on the rear wings. Manoeuvring was achieved by tilting the propeller blades in combination with control surfaces (elevators and ailerons), which were located in the thrust stream of the propellers.
The maiden flight of the prototype occurred on 17 March 1966. In contrast to other tilt-rotor craft (such as the Bell XV-3), transitions between hovering and horizontal flight succeeded nearly immediately. However, interest increased more towards VTOL and V/STOL properties, not the specific design of the prototype. Due to failure of a propeller control, described by test pilot Stanley Kakol as the only non-redundant component in the power chain, the prototype crashed on 8 August 1966 and technicians stripped it for components in order to make the second prototype flight capable. The fuselage was still used as a simulator for some time afterwards.
The second X-22 first flew on 26 August 1967. Early that year, it was equipped with a variable flight control and stabiliser system from Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory, which improved flight performance. Although the X-22 was considered to be the best aircraft of its type at the time, the programme was cancelled. The required maximum speed of 525 km/h was never reached. The second prototype was moved to Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory for further testing; the last flight occurred in 1988.
Although not on display, the remaining craft, 151521, is currently stored by the Niagara Aerospace Museum, New York. According to the employees at the Museum, the craft was held onto after being debated for scrapping by the Navy.
(Information from Wikipedia)
Those persons who correctly identified this week’s mystery aircraft:
Johan Venter, Charlie Hugo, Carl von Ludwig, Bruce Margolius, Pierre Brittz, Michael Schoeman, Danie Viljoen, Hilton Carroll, Jan Sime, Gregory Yatt, Adrian Maree, P. Rossouw, Mark Cope, Kevin Farr, Andre Breytenbach, Clint Futter, Willie Oosthuizen, Jaco van Jaarsveld, Andre Visser, Ari Levien, Colin Austen, Wouter van der Waal, Righardt du Plessis, Piet Steyn, Magiel Esterhuysen, Jeremy Rorich, Greg Pullin, Cecil Thompson, Rex Tweedie, Karl Jensen, Aiden O’Mahony, Bruce Prescott, John Moen, Barry Eatwell, Selwyn Kimber, Andrew Peace, Ahmed Bassa, Dave Lloyd, Brian Melmoth, Karl von Seydlitz, (40).
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: email@example.com. Thank you.
SAPS Air Wing takes delivery of two new helicopters
During a ceremony of 1 September the South African Police Service (SAPS) Air Wing took delivery of another two H125 light utility helicopters from Airbus at Grand Central airport. The first new H125 procured as part of the latest order from Airbus was received on 12 December at Grand Central airport where Airbus Helicopters Southern Africa is based. At the time he said the helicopter would be based in Gauteng to bolster crime combatting operations. Apparently further H125s are still to be delivered in the coming months.
On behalf of the SAPS Armscor was tasked with disposing of 13 of the Air Wing’s 13 BO 105 helicopters, grounded in 2017. A single private buyer acquired seven as part of an Armscor tender last year. Armscor previously facilitated the purchase of six R44 helicopters for the SAPS, delivered from 2008 onwards. The SAPS Air Wing now operates 16 AS350/H125 helicopters. Airbus says its H125 is ‘a multi-mission workhorse’ with manoeuvrability, excellent visibility and low in-cabin vibration levels. The rotary wing aircraft has a flat floor that can be quickly and easily reconfigured for missions including aerial work, firefighting, law enforcement, rescue, air ambulance, passenger transport and others.
KFC Fly In from 7:30 Krugersdorp Flying Club
Visit the food and craft stalls while enjoying a fun filled morning with fellow
Angola’s national airline TAAG adds four 787 Dreamliners to its fleet
African carrier TAAG Angola Airlines is adding the Boeing 787 Dreamliner to its fleet with an order for four of the wide-body jets. “Our goal is to work with the best manufacturers in the world towards a multi type fleet, in order to ensure we have the appropriate airplanes for each flight typology, namely our intercontinental connections,” said Eduardo Fairen, CEO of TAAG Angola Airlines. “The 787 option suits our intent for modern, size-wise and efficient equipment, able to progressively replace our current wide-body fleet and provide our customers with an improved flight experience.” TAAG Angola Airlines currently flies five 777-300ER (Extended Range) jets, three 777-200ERs and seven 737-700s to 12 destinations across Africa, Europe, South America and China.
Boeing’s Commercial Market Outlook for Africa projects that the continent will need 1,025 airplanes over the next two decades. Overall African air traffic growth is forecast at 7.4%, the third highest among global regions and above the global average growth of 6.1%. Since revenue service began in 2011, the 787 family has launched more than 370 new nonstop routes around the world. The 787 Dreamliner reduces fuel use and emissions by 25% compared to the airplanes it replaces. Passengers enjoy a better experience with the largest windows of any jet, air that is more humid and pressurised at a lower cabin altitude for greater comfort, large overhead bins, soothing LED lighting and technology that senses and counters turbulence for a smoother ride.
Parks department worker killed in tragic airport accident
Samantha Hayes (27) of Broken Bow, Oklahoma lost her life when she was struck by the wing of a landing 1972 A-36 Bonanza while operating a riding lawn-mower adjacent the runway at Broken Bow Municipal Airport (BBW). In a statement to investigators, the Bonanza’s pilot, James Baxter (70) said he sighted Hayes after touching down at BBW at approximately 14h30 CDT. Baxter reported he attempted to regain flying speed for purpose of climbing the A-36 away from the 3,200-foot runway and over the young woman. However, the aircraft failed to climb and Hayes, a single mother of three, was struck in the head by its wing. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol spokeswoman Sarah Stewart stated: “We are investigating whether any charges could be filed against the pilot. Did the pilot do anything wrong, or was this just unavoidable?”
Stewart conceded numerous questions pertaining to Hayes’s death remain unanswered, in particular, whether she was wearing requisite reflective clothing and if she even saw the aircraft prior to being struck. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating, ostensibly, potential violations of Federal Aviation Regulations. Hayes worked for the city of Broken Bow’s parks department.
Broken Bow city manager Vickie Patterson, who’s listed, also, as the BBW airport manager, remarked: “We are heartbroken and devastated by the passing of one of our team members on 29 September. This is a terribly tragic accident and our deepest sympathies go out to the employees family and friends.” Patterson added: “It is critical that we determine how this accident occurred so we can take steps to prevent something like this from happening again. Our goal is to return every employee home safely every day.”
Blocked communications seen as B737-Cessna Citation near collision
Transcripts of ATC tapes reported by the Aviation Safety Network revealed that overlapping radio communications between the tower and aircraft may have contributed to a near-collision incident between a Cessna Citation XLS+ and a Southwest Boeing 737 at San Diego International Airport (KSAN) on 11 August 2023. The pertinent communications started at about 12h05. According to the transcript, the tower controller cleared the Citation to land on Runway 27, which the crew acknowledged. The controller then told the Southwest crew to line up and wait on the same runway, which that crew also acknowledged. With spacing diminishing, the Citation attempted to ask the tower to verify the landing clearance, but at the same time the tower started transmitting to a Beech Baron on the runway waiting to depart and about an amendment to its clearance.
Then the controller began a transmission to instruct the Citation to go around, while at the same moment, the Citation was trying to ask the tower to verify that they were still cleared to land. After a short back-and-forth, the controller said, “Citation Four Victor Hotel, go around, fly the published missed approach,” which the Citation crew acknowledged, despite the controller using an incorrect callsign.
The tower controller directed the 737 to exit the runway and when asked why by the Southwest crew, the controller said, “There is traffic on a two-mile final behind you.” It has been estimated that, during the go-around, the Citation overflew the 737 by about 100 feet. This incident is being investigated by the NTSB.
Loss of separation between F/A-18 and Citation jet at Austin
The FAA is investigating a loss of separation between an F/A-18 and a NetJets Citation that occurred at Austin’s Bergstrom Airport on 23 September. The Washington Post reported that preliminary information it saw said the two aircraft came within 200 feet of each other after an air traffic controller apparently misunderstood a request by the military jet to perform a break to set up for landing. The Citation had already been cleared to land when the crew got a proximity warning according to the Post.
The controller apparently believed the fighter was going to begin the break at a different point but the military pilot corrected him according to an ATC archive obtained by the newspaper. “Negative,” the Post said the military pilot responded. “I requested altitude, airspeed at my discretion for the break. Misunderstanding I suppose.” After landing the military pilot called the tower and requested a phone conversation with the controller. “Yeah, I was going to give you the number here because I guess there was a miscommunication,” a controller said. “I misunderstood what was requested, I guess.” The Navy and Marines both fly F/A-18s but neither responded to requests for comment by the Post.
International airlines curtail Israeli operations
The Israeli declaration of war against the Islamic terrorist group Hamas has precipitated worsening violence, abductions and intensifying land- and air-strikes in Gaza and the West Bank. At least 1,200 lives were lost in the first 24-hours of fighting and upwards of 150 Israelis (and, allegedly, some Americans) are reportedly being held hostage by Hamas operatives.
Notwithstanding escalating hostilities, Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport (TLV) remains open (at the time of this writing). However, a number of global air-carriers have suspended flights into Israel.
All told, more than half of TLV’s typical flight volume remains scheduled. The following US, European, and Asian airlines (and subsidiaries thereof) suspended service to Israel on the morning of Monday 9 October 2023. In statements, US airlines said they are monitoring the Israeli-Hamas conflict and will conduct flight operations in accordance with prevailing risks arising therefrom.
- Air France: suspended.
- Air Canada: suspended; will resume ‘as soon as the situation stabilises.’
- American Airlines: Monitoring until conditions improve.
- Cathay Pacific: Will provide updates ahead of scheduled service Thursday.
- Delta Air Lines: Monitoring until conditions improve.
- EasyJet: Flights cancelled Monday; expect changes through the week.
- Hainan: Monday flights cancelled; will continue some flights between Beijing and Shenzhen to Tel Aviv but waive cancellation fees through 20 October.
- India Air: Suspended until 14 October.
- Korean Air: Flights cancelled Monday; future flights irregular.
- Lufthansa: cancelled Monday; expect update this week.
- United Airlines: monitoring until conditions improve.
- Virgin Atlantic: suspended but ‘under constant review.’
- Wizz Air: suspended.
Airlines maintaining service to Israel include British Airways, El Al Israel Airlines, Emirates, FlyDubai, Pegasus Hava, Ryan Air and Turkish Airlines.
The Israeli government issued a cautionary statement to airlines transiting Israeli airspace, a statement underscored by the Federal Aviation Administration, which subsequently issued a NOTAM referring to the war, somewhat obviously, as a ‘potentially hazardous situation.’ The NOTAM went on to assert: ‘operators are advised to exercise extreme caution.’
On 8 October, EASA (the E.U. Aviation Safety Agency) issued a Conflict Zone Information Bulletin recommending airlines ensure ‘a robust risk assessment is in place together with a high level of contingency planning for their operations and to be ready for short notice instructions from the Israeli authorities.’ Airlines continuing to operate to destinations within Israel or transiting Israeli airspace have been urged to tanker additional fuel in anticipation of re-routing. Prolonged hostilities are apt to inflate jet fuel prices, to say nothing of automotive gasoline. Higher fuel prices will likely lead to hikes in airfare. On Wall Street, oil prices rose significantly in the hours following Israel’s declaration of war.
US expedites munitions for Israel, moves ships and aircraft into region after Hamas attack
On Saturday, Hamas forces launched an unprecedented, multi-pronged assault on Israel, which reportedly included fighters traveling by air, land and sea. Hamas, the Palestinian group designated terrorists by the US, reportedly killed scores of Israelis and captured dozens of civilians and military personnel, who are now expected to be treated as hostages. Media has reported more than 1,100 dead from fire on both sides in Hamas’s initial assault as well as Israel’s counter offensive with strikes into Gaza and Israeli officials warned that this was only the start of what will be a long-running conflict. The raid seemed to catch Israel’s vaunted intelligence services unaware, with towns and military bases along the Gaza border attacked before any resistance could be mounted and leading Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to declare that his country is now at ‘war’ with the Iran-backed Hamas.
The conflict threatens to upend a period of relative peace in the region, throwing a wrench into both Netanyahu’s political challenges at home and the Biden administration’s hopes for a Saudi Israeli peace deal. It could also force the Pentagon to turn back once again to the region in more serious terms, at a time when it has made a significant effort to disentangle from the Middle East in order to focus on the Indo-Pacific.
In the wake of this weekend’s stunning attacks in Israel, the US is beefing up its presence in the Middle East while working to speed up weapon deliveries for the Israeli Defence Force. According to US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, the US “will be rapidly providing the Israel Defence Forces with additional equipment and resources, including munitions. The first security assistance will begin moving this week and arriving in the coming days.” The USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group is moving towards the eastern Mediterranean, while taking ‘steps to augment US Air Force F-35, F-15, F-16 and A-10 fighter aircraft squadrons in the region.’
In addition, the Biden administration “will be rapidly providing the Israel Defence Forces with additional equipment and resources, including munitions. The first security assistance will begin moving today and arriving in the coming days,” Austin said. “Strengthening our joint force posture, in addition to the materiel support that we will rapidly provide to Israel, underscores the United States’ ironclad support for the Israel Defence Forces and the Israeli people.” According to a Pentagon statement, the Ford Strike Group includes the Ford itself, the missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60) and the Arleigh-Burke-class guided missile destroyers USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116), USS Ramage (DDG 61), USS Carney (DDG 64) and USS Roosevelt (DDG 80).
Cessna delivers 100th Citation Longitude
Textron Aviation subsidiary Cessna has delivered the one-hundredth Citation Longitude business jet to an undisclosed but reportedly longtime Citation customer. Textron Aviation employees celebrated the milestone with a special celebration at the company’s Wichita, Kansas headquarters. Announced at 2012’s EBACE convention and FAA type-certified in 2019, Cessna’s Citation Longitude is a super-midsize business aircraft comprising design cues from numerous and proven Textron aircraft models. An evolution of Cessna’s Latitude business jet, with which it shares a fuselage cross-section, the Longitude sports new 28° swept wings incorporating moderate winglets, a T-tail empennage and area-rule fuselage contouring. All told, the Longitude’s aluminium fuselage and wing are similar to those of the Hawker 4000, albeit longer and of greater span respectively.
The Citation Longitude’s design makes use of numerous up-to-the-minute technologies such as redundant integrated autopilot and auto-throttle systems with emergency descent mode (EDM). The aircraft is powered by a pair of FADEC-equipped Honeywell HTF7700L turbofans each producing 7,665 lbf-thrust. So motivated, the Longitude manages a Vne of 560-knot (0.84 Mach), a cruise speed of 483-knots (0.72 Mach), an unrefuelled range of 3,500-nautical-miles and a service-ceiling of FL450.
Longitude operators benefit from the model’s on-condition engine overhaul periods and best-in-class 18-months / 800-hours (whichever occurs first) airframe service intervals. Textron Aviation’s full-time diagnostics recording system (AReS) and 3D technical publications significantly reduce maintenance downtime and overall operating costs. The Longitude is a moderately large aircraft, the fuselage of which measures 73-feet, two-inches in length; six-feet high; and six-feet, five-inches wide. The Longitude’s semi-super-critical wing spans 68-feet, 11-inches.
Type-certified for two-pilot operation, the Longitude may be configured to comfortably accommodate eight (standard) to 12 (maximum) passengers. The aircraft’s 39,500-pound Maximum Gross Take-Off Weight (MGTOW) includes 14,500-pounds of fuel and a full-fuel payload of 1,600-pounds. The Longitude’s spacious, 112-cubic-foot walk-in baggage compartment is in-flight accessible and has a capacity of 1,115-pounds. At its service-ceiling, the Longitude’s pressurisation system maintains a comfortable 5 000-foot cabin.
The Citation Longitude features Garmin’s G5000 Flight-Deck, which offers pilots complete touchscreen control of the aircraft’s navigation and communication systems. The avionics suite includes a trio of large, high-resolution LCD displays; four touchscreen controllers; Garmin Synthetic Vision Technology (SVT); synoptics for key systems; in-flight diagnostics reporting; fully integrated auto-throttles; Required Navigation Performance Authorization Required (RNP AR) to 0.3-nautical-miles; ADS-B Out/In and optional FANS 1/A and Link 2000+ CPDLC capabilities.
Pilatus boosts PC-24’s payload, range and cabin
On 10 October Pilatus announced increased payload and range for its PC-24 twinjet, along with a new cabin interior that will be available for deliveries in 2024. With six passengers onboard the midsize business jet’s maximum range climbed by 200 nm, to 2,000 nm, based on a 600-pound increase in full fuel payload. According to the Swiss manufacturer, the performance boost has been made possible after tweaks to the airframe. “The payload increase was achieved by refining both wing and fuselage structural elements to reduce the airframe empty weight while simultaneously increasing the maximum gross take-off weight limit,” explained Bruno Cervia, the company’s VP of engineering.
After the changes were made, Pilatus engineers conducted an extensive flight-test campaign to expand the performance envelope for the higher design weights. At maximum take-off weight, the PC-24’s balanced field length at sea level is 3,090 feet, giving what Pilatus calls its ‘Super Versatile Jet’ access to short and unpaved runways. The aircraft now offers a full fuel payload of a single pilot plus 1,315 pounds and a maximum payload capacity of 3,100 pounds.
Improvements to the PC-24 cabin include changes to the standard cabinetry, storage area and entrance to maximise available space. Ambient noise has been reduced through improvements to passenger service unit ducting and tuned engine accessory air intake ducts, as well as the addition of noise-absorbing panels. Working with Lufthansa Technik, Pilatus is incorporating a new integrated cabin management system. It features a 10-inch touchscreen controller with a 3D moving map, four high-fidelity speakers with a sub-woofer option, mood lighting, USB ports and a media storage server.
The most visible change to the interior will be an optional side-facing divan. At six feet six inches in length, customers will be able to convert this into a bed.
From serial number 501 onwards, PC-24s will feature a predictive maintenance system. This will automatically transmit aircraft data after each landing to Pilatus, which will analyse it and recommend predictive maintenance measures to operators as required. The first example of the new PC-24, featuring the convertible divan, will be available for viewing on static display next week during NBAA-BACE 2023 in Las Vegas. The aircraft, which is powered by a pair of Williams International FJ44-4A turbofans, can run on sustainable aviation fuel. Pilatus said few PC-24 delivery slots remain available for 2024, although some of its authorised service and sales centres around the world may have more availability. Overall, PC-24 order backlog extends to the end of next year.
Airbus completes F-15 automatic air-to-air refuelling flight test campaign
The campaign involved the Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) and the F-15SG fighter jet, a local variant of the McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) F-15E Strike Eagle. Several flight tests were conducted in different weather conditions and during nighttime. The European plane manufacturer hopes for the certification of the technology with the F-15 as a receiver and in night conditions in the first half of 2024. The A3R capability aims to reduce the role of the air refuelling operator (ARO) to monitoring the operation rather than carrying it out, reducing crew fatigue and the potential for human error. The certification of the technology is supervised and granted by the Spanish National Institute for Aerospace Technology (INTA).
Greece in talks to purchase up to 49 Black Hawks from Sikorsky
Greece has submitted a formal request to purchase 49 Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters as a replacement for its Bell UH-1s. Athens launched the previously undisclosed procurement process in April, Sikorsky revealed on 9 October, the first day of the Association of the United States Army conference in Washington, DC. The Hellenic Army currently operates 64 Bell UH-1s for utility lifting missions. The timing of any agreement between Athens and Sikorsky remains uncertain. The US State Department, which evaluates and approves proposals for arms sales to foreign customers, did not respond to a request for comment. Sikorsky confirmed that Greece had submitted a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) application for the UH-60 type rather than seeking a direct commercial sales (DCS) agreement.
It will probably be years before Greece sees any of the new Black Hawks. Lemmo says there is a wait of approximately three years between the completion of order contracts and the first delivery. The UH-60A, named after the Native American war leader Black Hawk, entered service with the US Army in 1979, replacing the Bell UH-1 Iroquois as the Army’s tactical transport helicopter. Improved UH-60L and UH-60M utility variants have also been developed. Modified versions have also been developed for the US Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. In addition to its use in the US military, the UH-60 family has been exported to several nations.
Black Hawks have served in combat during conflicts on the islands of Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Somalia, the Balkans, Afghanistan and other areas of the Middle East. While subsidiary Lockheed Martin produces the iconic Black Hawk at its main plant in Stratford, Connecticut, Sikorsky also offers the DCS-approved S-70 variant. Sikorsky’s Polish subsidiary, PZL Mielec, produces this type in Europe. The S-70 offers the advantage of not requiring approval through Washington’s lengthy FMS process.
FMS clients gain the benefit of access to the Pentagon’s internal systems for contracting and maintenance. Athens’ interest could continue a string of victories for Sikorsky, which has been pushing to expand overseas sales of the UH-60s.
In January, Australia committed to acquiring 40 Black Hawks under Canberra’s LAND 4507-01 program, while Poland began the process of acquiring up to 32 S-70s from PZL Mielec in August. Indonesia also announced a partnership with Sikorsky for an S-70 procurement covering up to 24 such units in August.
JetEXE acquires Lancair
Sacramento, California-based JetEXE Aviation has acquired the well-known Lancair kit-aircraft business, henceforth Lancair Aerospace. The deal heralds the advent of a new and promising age for Lancair, one of the kit-plane sector’s most storied, unique and enduring marques. JetEXE Aviation founder and CEO Captain Augustine Joseph, a retired Indian Air Force wing commander with over forty-years of military and commercial aviation experience stated: “As we embark on this exciting journey of growth and expansion, our compass points steadfastly toward the future. With an unwavering commitment to delivering exceptional customer service, technical support, and advanced aircraft models for our customers, we look forward to navigating the skies of innovation and shaping the future of aviation for generations to come.”
JetEXE Aviation is a global aviation-industry business conglomerate comprising an FAA Part 145 certified repair station offering aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) services, flight-training under Part 141 of the Federal Aviation Regulations, aviation education, aerospace research and development, aircraft fleet management and aircraft sales. The company also serves as the prime provider for the California state government flight departments, the US Civil Air Patrol and the US Department of Transportation (DOT).
Renowned for sleek and innovative airframe designs rendered in highly advanced composites, Lancair aircraft has garnered multiple awards over the company’s four-plus-decades in business, to include multiple victories at the world-famous Reno Air Races. In addition to General Aviation and racing-focused machines. Since its 1981 founding, Lancair has provisioned world militaries and governments with training and special-mission aircraft. To date, the global community of Lancair aircraft owners comprises thousands of members who have logged, in the aggregate, hundreds-of-thousands of flight-hours in 14 Lancair models and variants thereof.
Lancair Aerospace has extended its heartfelt appreciation to former owners Mark and Conrad Huffstutler, whose contributions to the Lancair brand include the development and promotion of the Mako and the Barracuda, Lancair’s latest aircraft models. By dint of their passion for aviation, leadership and commitment to excellence and innovation, the Huffstutlers contributed significantly to Lancair’s growth and expanding global market-share. Under JetEXE Aviation, Lancair Aerospace will carry on the tradition of design and customer support excellence long synonymous with the Lancair name.
Three Las Vegas airports to carry SAF for NBAA-BACE
Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) once again will be flowing for NBAA-BACE, with aircraft flying into all three Las Vegas-area airports having the opportunity to fill up on it. Henderson Airport (KHND), home to the show’s static display, will receive 40,000 gallons of SAF from World Fuel. That is more than twice the amount available at the airport during NBAA-BACE 2021, the last time the annual convention was held in Las Vegas. At Harry Reid International Airport (KLAS), World Fuel Services will supply the Atlantic Aviation FBO with 16,000 gallons of blended SAF. In addition, Atlantic will offer the ability for customers to use its SAF book-and-claim programme to purchase usage credits through its SAF Marketplace at its Los Angeles (KLAX), Long Beach (KLGB) and Stockton (KSCK), California locations. Signature Aviation will also be providing SAF at its KLAS facility. For the first time in conjunction with the show, SAF will also be available at North Las Vegas Airport (KVGT).
Coolant leak from radiator detected on Russia’s Nauka science module at the ISS
The Russian space station laboratory module, Nauka (Science in English) appears to be leaking coolant from an external radiator. The leak was noticed by both Russian and United States crew members on board the International Space Station (ISS) during routine checks on 9 October 2023.
The incident was confirmed by NASA space station crew member Jasmin Moghbeli, who reported seeing ‘flakes outside’ and traced the source to an external radiator on the Nauka module, also known as the Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM). The external radiator was launched with the Rassvet module in 2010. It was attached to the current Nauka module more than a decade later when it arrived at the ISS in 2021.
While the exact cause is currently unknown, immediate measures were taken to isolate the leak, ensuring the safety of the crew and the station. This is the third coolant leak on the Russian side of the ISS in less than a year. Similar leaks were reported on Russia’s Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft in December 2022 and the Progress MS-21 cargo spacecraft in February 2023. Roscosmos acknowledged the leak but stressed that the module itself is operational and there is no urgent cause for alarm. “The main thermal control circuit of the module operates normally and provides comfortable conditions in the living area of the module,” Roscosmos wrote in a statement shared on Telegram on 9 October 2023. “The crew and the station are not in danger.”
Launched on 21 July 2021, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the Nauka module docked with the ISS on 29 July 2021. It was designed to replace the Pirs docking compartment that had been in service since 2001 and was detached from ISS on 26 July 2021, to make way for the Nauka module.
However, two hours after the Nauka module arrived it mistakenly activated its thrusters forcing the entire ISS to move 45 degrees from position. A SpaceX Dragon freighter was placed on standby in the event that the crew needed to evacuate. Fortunately, astronauts were able to restore the station’s attitude by activating the engines on the Russian part of the ISS.
SpaceX denies the public is at risk from Starlink debris
SpaceX is demanding a retraction from the FAA for a report that estimates debris from deorbiting Starlink satellites ‘would be expected’ to kill or injure someone every two years. In a letter to the agency reviewed by SpaceNews, SpaceX principal engineer David Goldstein called the guesstimate “deeply flawed” and based on outdated data. But the fundamental point made by SpaceX is that its internet-beaming satellites are specifically designed to routinely fall out of low earth orbit and burn up entirely on re-entry. So far, they have been correct.
SpaceNews said a satellite tracker has counted 358 Starlink satellites that have been scrapped and there have been no reports of debris getting to the ground. “To be clear, SpaceX’s satellites are designed and built to fully demise during atmospheric re-entry during disposal at end of life and they do so,” Goldstein wrote in the letter. “Extensive engineering analysis and real-world operational experience verify this basic fact.” The report also claimed there was a remote possibility a chunk of Starlink debris would take out an aircraft in flight. The report was ordered by Congress and the FAA commissioned Aerospace Corp., a federally funded nonprofit, to do the study. Goldstein said Aerospace Corp. used a 23-year-old NASA study as the basis for its conclusions. That study looked at the amount of debris that hit the ground from falling Iridium satellites that were ‘not even built to be fully demisable.’ SpaceX has about 5,000 Starlink satellites in low earth orbit and plans to have about 14,000 there when the system is fully built out.
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Airbus tests single stick eVTOL flight controls
Airbus Helicopters’ FlightLab has tested an electric flight control system as part of a new human-machine interface (HMI) for the Airbus CityAirbus NextGen eVTOL prototype. In a first for the helicopter industry, the system uses a single flight control stick to replace three-axis, conventional helicopter controls (cyclic, pedals, collective) to perform all aircraft manoeuvres including take-off and landing, climb, descent, acceleration, deceleration, turn and approach.
The single stick takes up less space and offers improved pilot visibility. Combined with a revised HMI using simple displays, it provides information selection specifically tailored to eVTOLs. Following this flight-test campaign, Airbus Helicopters will finalise system details and then conduct other tests within the Vertex project in partnership with the Airbus UpNext innovation ecosystem to advance autonomy by managing navigation and simplifying mission preparation.
“The advantage of an electric flight control system is enormous, especially when it comes to reducing pilot workload and ultimately enhancing mission safety. It is also a great example of how our demonstrators are used to mature the techno-bricks necessary to prepare the future of vertical flight,” said Tomasz Krysinski, Airbus Helicopters’ head of research and innovation. Its FlightLab testbed is a modified H130 single-engine helicopter dedicated to maturing new technologies for the company’s current helicopters and future fixed-wing and eVTOL designs. Airbus unveiled the electric CityAirbus NextGen prototype in 2021.
First flight for Milkor’s flagship UAV
With a wingspan of 18.6 metres and a take-off weight of 1 300 Kg the maiden flight on 19 September placed South Africa among a handful of countries globally to have successfully developed and flown a UAV of this size. The Milkor 380 was unveiled in 2018 and began taxi testing earlier this year. Daniel du Plessis, Marketing and Communications Director at Milkor, said the first flight “is a significant achievement for Milkor and the South African Defence Industry (SADI).”
Flight trials and sensor integration will continue throughout 2023. Specifically designed for long endurance intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance operations, the Milkor 380 will be able to carry 210 kg of external payload, including weapons and sensors. The Milkor has already been displayed with Al Tariq X-series precision guided munitions, Halcon Desert Sting DS-16 guided bombs, FZ602 laser-guided rocket launchers, an L3-Harris gimbal and Airborne Technologies’ Self-Contained Aerial Reconnaissance (SCAR) Pod.
Milkor has earmarked the first five units of the UAV for domestic use with the first aircraft produced at its 10 000 square metre manufacturing facility in Cape Town already being tested and evaluated exclusively by South Africa. Milkor, Armscor and the South African Air Force inked the memorandum of understanding during the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) expo in September in 2022. The first demonstrations of the Milkor 380 to the public are expected during the African Aerospace and Defence Exhibition in September 2024 where Milkor is the Diamond Sponsor of the event.
In addition to meeting domestic requirements, Milkor is looking towards the international UAV market as there is significant interest in procuring such systems across the globe. Milkor is well-positioned to meet global demand, as it now has offices in India, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Poland as well as South Africa. With an endurance of up to 35 hours, the Milkor 380 is classified as a medium altitude long endurance (MALE) UAV. Its 210 kg payload capacity allows for a wide array of weapons and equipment to be carried on five hardpoints, such as synthetic aperture radar, jammers, electro-optical gimbal etc. All avionics, communications and payload integration capabilities of the aircraft have been developed in-house.
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