“In every declining civilisation there is a small ‘remnant’ of people who adhere to the right against the wrong; who recognise the difference between good and evil and who will take an active stand for the former and against the latter; who can still think and discern and who will courageously take a stand against the political, social, moral and spiritual rot or decay of their day.” Donald S. McAlvaney
African Pilot’s aircraft of the week identification quiz
With the conversion table, multiply visibility by 2 for night and 1.5 for day to arrive at the required RVR.
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: email@example.com.
For advertising positions please contact Adrian Munro
Tel: 0861 001130 Cell: 079 880 4359 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
About African Pilot
There is no doubt that African Pilot provides the finest overall aviation media reach in Africa.
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.
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Video of the week:
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.
SOUTH AFRICAN AVIATION NEWS
News from CAASA
The Commercial Aviation Association of Southern Africa regularly updates the General Aviation industry with regulatory notifications. Please find the latest consolidated and hyperlinked Aviation Regulations and Directions in terms of the Disaster Management Act (57/2002) published by Aviation4SA.
On 3 December 2020, the Commercial Aviation Symposium Africa 2020 was held virtually at 09h00 and attended by various industry leaders. CAASA would like to thank all members that attended the symposium and a special word of thanks to all the speakers that availed themselves and contributed to the success of the symposium. A special word of thanks to our sponsors namely Pratt n Whitney Canada, CAMASA, Aerosud Aviation, DJA Aviation and ATNS. Your support is highly appreciated.
If you were unable to attend today please follow the link below to see the symposium on YouTube.
Thank you again for all your support in 2020.
Aerospace and Defence Trade Show 2021 at Lanseria International Airport 24 to 26 March 2021
The organisers of the AAD Expo are excited to announce a new event on their calendar, Aerospace and Defence Trade Show 2021 which will be hosted on 24 to 26 March 2021 at Lanseria International Airport (Lanseria). Leading up to Africa Aerospace and Defence Expo in September 2022, AAD continues to create platforms that will promote innovation and capabilities within the defence and aviation industry.
The Aerospace and Defence Tradeshow 2021 (ADTS 2021) is about exploring new paths, sharing solutions and showcasing innovation beyond COVID-19. Accessible to trade visitors only, the event will be industry focused and aptly emphasise industry capabilities and technologies that emanated from the challenges posed by the pandemic. ADTS 2021 will include business to business meetings, onsite capability demonstrations for aircraft and UAVs and a conference. Parallel to the Lanseria event programme, traders can also expect a fully-fledged display of land forces innovation and capability demonstrations at the Gerotek Testing Facility. Located west of Pretoria, Gerotek offers a variety of testing and capability demonstration set to marvel participants.
ADTS 2021 is set to bring together approximately 150 exhibitors consisting of 80% local industry and 20% international industry including the Defence and General Aviation industry, Airports, UAV / Drone operators, Security System Operators (Cybersecurity, Crowd Control, etc), Medical Supply Companies , Support and Logistic services to name but a few. This experience gives the South African and International defence and general aviation industries an opportunity to showcase their products and services, while also engaging in dialogue and discourse on what is pertinent to their industries. The AAD Expo traditionally brings together a plethora of local and key international guests to explore and discuss opportunities on the African Continent. Through ADTS2021, AAD will entrench its position as an economic catalyst for the Defence and Aerospace industry.
Please explore the various exhibition opportunities available by visiting: http://www.aadexpo.co.za/files/ADTS/ADTS_2021_Sales_Brochure_V2.pdf
Aero Club Communique Dec 2020
We are nearing the end of this most unusual year, where flight was curtailed world-wide, affecting our GA and RA flying ability and even though there is promise of a vaccine, this is probably only likely mid of next year. Also, it appears second wave of infections may hit our shores as well that could affect South Africa’s lockdown status, but we trust there will be sensibility in how this would be applied.
We are entering membership renewal season, with renewal notices that will be sent out shortly for the 2021 membership. Overall, our membership decreased this year, mainly due to the economics of the pandemic, as well as the economy and flying activity recovers. We trust that you as members past and present will be part of our recreational aviation community as the Aero Club continues to support strong advocacy on regulation matters to preserve our freedom of flight.
The last Industry Liaison Forum (ILF) for 2020 was held on 26 November, a good proportion of the meeting covered accident statistics, where although the number of incidents / accidents is on par with previous years, the accident rate per 10 000 flying hours has increased dramatically in the GA / RA environment as the overall flying hours have been low compared to other years, which may be related to the upkeep of proficiency standards. We will continue to analyse the consequent effects as part of the GASS.
On the subject of CoA and ATF renewals, the SACAA has indicated that CoA applications are all up to date within the 20 day turnaround time, whilst the ATF backlog has been reduced by 70% with the plan to fully recover all the backlog by 10 December. All licence renewal applications are up to date within the seven to ten-day service standard. If any member is having difficulties in their renewals, please contact the Aero Club for us to escalate it. Also, to note that the SACAA has established an ASO Assistance Cell as per the link below, that if the service standard is not upheld, that there is a process to escalate and lodge a complaint. See the notice link as below. We are also working closely with this Cell to resolve overdue applications.
Notice to Industry regarding lodging of complaints
The Aero Club continues to provide its membership support initiative to facilitate ATF and Licence renewals on behalf of members. This will be developed into a more comprehensive on-line system, the specification of which is on the AeCSA website. We are inviting any members that have the ability to develop such a system to be in contact for an RFP.
If you are not a member and wish to join the Aero Club and any of its sections feel free to do so. Please visit the website: www.aeroclub.org.za. The Aero Club office will be closed over the festive season from 23 December to 4 January 2021.
Aero Club of South Africa’s Centenary Yearbook
The AeCSA Centenary Yearbook is now available to purchase from the online shop. Please visit www.aeroclub.org.za/shop.
South African government in talks with Canadian firm over SAA
Bloomberg reports that South Africa is looking to raise about $400 million from the sale of a stake in its bankrupt national airline, according to people familiar with the situation, a plan likely to lower the chances of finding a partner to aid its revival. The funds would be used to re-capitalise the reformed South African Airways, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information has not been made public. The government is banking on SAA attracting interest because it holds some lucrative routes and valuable landing slots, such as at London’s Heathrow Airport, they said.
The Treasury referred questions to the Department of Public Enterprises, which did not respond to requests for comment. South Africa’s search for a buyer of equity in SAA comes at a time when the aviation industry is mired in the biggest crisis in its history, having been laid low by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although Ethiopian Airlines Group has said it would consider a deal for SAA, chief executive officer Tewolde GebreMariam has made clear he is not interested in investing capital. Ethiopian is still interested in SAA “but the process is slow as it is complex,” the CEO said in a response to queries last week. The department is in talks with Fairfax Africa about a stake in the airline, the Financial Mail reports, without saying how it got the information.
SAA has been unprofitable for more than a decade, surviving on state bailouts and government debt guarantees and was placed under administration a year ago. The carrier has been lying dormant since March, when the fleet was grounded due to travel bans to contain the pandemic. In October South African Finance Minister Tito Mboweni agreed to fund a revival plan that includes firing almost 80% of SAA’s workforce, a sum calculated by the administrators as about 10.5 billion rand ($685 million). The outlay, yet to be delivered, is intended to get SAA flying again.
“You will not get a meeting of minds, as no other airline will want to put in money to subsidise SAA,” said Joachim Vermooten, an independent aviation analyst in South Africa when asked if SAA could attract direct funding. “The current plans very clearly demonstrate that it’s not a viable proposition.”
The country’s largest banks are nearing agreement to provide about half of the initial amount needed, the people said. London-based Barclays Plc may provide some of the balance in support of a government injection of about 2 billion rand, the people said. Securing funding could take pressure off the government, which is facing a fiscal crisis should it fail to contain surging debt. The National Treasury had said the cash for the revival plan would be diverted from other state budgets including health and education. Representatives of South Africa’s biggest lenders and Barclays declined to comment, as did SAA’s administrators.
What happened in aviation over the past week?
PilotInsurance fly-in Rhino Park Airfield
Originally scheduled for Saturday 5 December, due to low cloud and plenty of rain the ‘Steady Climb – backing aviators’ fly-in to Rhino Park organised by Frans Smit from Pilotinsure was postponed for a day until Sunday 6 December. The delightful Rhino Park airfield was very busy due to the motor bike scramblers, a farmer’s market and the fly-in that attracted in the region of 30 aircraft. Although the clouds in the morning were still low, the Flying Lions performed an excellent flat show for the gathered audience to watch. This was a great initiative by Frans Smit, who will be presenting a write up about the ‘Steady Climb’ project within the January 2021 edition of African Pilot.
Sports Aerobatics Club Ace of Base staged at Baragwanath airfield
by Charlie Hugo
The South African Sports Aerobatic Club 2020 season ending competition Ace of Base held at Baragwaneth Aerodrome, south of Johannesburg. Inclement weather precluded the running of the first day’s events therefore both legs of the competition were flown on the Sunday. Winner of the sportsman’s category, flying a Yak-52 was Warren Eva. He was also the overall winner of the 2020 Ace of Base competition. A full report with pictures will be published in the January 2021 edition of African Pilot.
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.
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
Witbank Aeronautical Association fun rally and fly-in
More information at: www.speedrally.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
* Postponed indefinitely
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
Republic of Mali orders an additional Airbus C295
The Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Mali has placed a firm order for an additional Airbus C295 airlifter in the transport configuration. This second aircraft, to be delivered in 2021, will supplement the first C295 already in operation since December 2016 which has already accumulated 1,770 flight hours and transported more than 38,000 passengers and 900 tonnes of cargo in less than four years of operations. This new order also includes an integrated logistics support package with spare parts for the two aircraft and training for flight crews and mechanics.
NAF receives another Mi-171 helicopter
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has taken delivery of a second Mi-171E helicopter, with the aircraft arriving aboard an Il-76 transport on 2 December. A combined team of NAF personnel and technical support staff from the equipment vendor were also on hand to assist in offloading the new aircraft, some parts of which came in crates. In addition, officials of the Nigeria Customs Service and the Nigeria Immigration Service were present to ensure the necessary documentation was processed. The NAF said the aircraft was the second acquired from Serbia. However, it is likely the aircraft was manufactured in Russia and possibly acquired through a Serbian broker as flight tracking data shows the helicopter was delivered aboard Ilyushin Il-76TD RA-76502 operated by Russian private charter carrier Aviacon Zitotrans, which flew the transport from central Russia to North Africa on 1 December, bypassing Serbia. The Il-76TD took off from near Kazan, Russia, where Mi-8/17 helicopters are manufactured at the Kazan Helicopters factory.
WORLDWIDE ACCIDENTS AND INCIDENTS
Air Djibouti Boeing 737 landing gear collapses on touchdown
A Boeing 737 of Air Djibouti suffered a main landing gear collapse while landing at Garowe Airport, in Somalia. The Boeing 737-529, registered EY-560, was operating flight DJB206 from Djibouti International Airport (JIB), Djibouti, to Mogadishu International Airport (MGQ), Somalia, with two stops in the Somali cities of Hargeisa and Garowe. The aircraft was carrying 39 passengers and five crew members. On its second leg, as it was landing at Garowe Airport, the Boeing 737 suffered a collapse of its right-hand main landing gear. According to pictures shared on social media, the plane veered right on the runway and came to a stop, on its right-hand engine, at the edge of soft ground. No injuries were reported.
Texas lawmaker jet overruns runway, ends in field
A Cessna 551 Citation II/SP II transporting US Republican politician Dade Phelan overran the runway of Angelina County Airport, Texas. The skidding aircraft crossed a road and ended its course in a field. The business jet, registered N48DK and operated by Aviation Star S II, carried out an interstate flight from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) to Lufkin-Angelina County Airport (LFK) in Texas on 2 December 2020. Onboard was the Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives Dade Phelan, a pilot and another unidentified passenger.
As it landed at Lufkin airport, the aircraft visibly overran runway number 16. It crossed a road, breaking its undercarriage and skidded in a field on its belly. Its course was slowed down by a fence. Out of the three occupants, one received minor injuries, the other two left the incident unharmed. “In talking to the pilot, he said that when he landed the anti-lock brakes failed on the jet and so he cut them off and cut them back on and when he did he had no brakes at all,” Angelina County Airport manager Gary Letney told KLTV. An investigation was opened by the National Transportation Safety Board, whose investigators arrived on the crash scene. The aircraft was most likely damaged beyond repair.
Plane noses over after passenger hits brakes accidentally
Bird hits plane, then pilot
The pilot reported that during the initial climb from the airport in Gainesville, Florida, about 1,500 feet mean sea level, a bird was flying vertical and then turned into the airplane. The bird hit the Cessna 210’s propeller, continued through the left side of the windshield and struck the pilot in the face.
After regaining control of the airplane, he declared an emergency and landed the airplane without further incident. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the windshield. The pilot reported that there were no pre-accident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.
WORLD AVIATION NEWS
Aviation’s biggest challenge: COVID-19 vaccine distribution
Repetition aside, there are little-to-no words left to describe what kind of damage the current coronavirus-induced crisis has caused for the aviation industry. Seemingly, the world is about to turn the corner on COVID-19, as in the early morning hours on 2 December 2020, the United Kingdom approved a vaccine against the virus. According to the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine will be ready to roll out this week. With 40 million doses, the country will be ready to vaccinate over 20 million people in the coming months. However, the question is whether aviation is ready to distribute the vaccine.
“Currently, we are in what I would call a ‘perfect storm’ scenario,” remarked Neil Dursley, Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) of Chapman Freeborn, a company that specialises in aircraft charters, both cargo and passenger. “The challenge right now that the aviation industry is facing is planning,” added Dursley. Seemingly, the aviation industry will have to play a key part in solving the problem that has almost choked it to a near state of asphyxiation. At the same time, the same problem has resulted in the distribution problem being exacerbated, as many aircraft were grounded due to lack of passenger demand, cargo capacity also went down due to the fact that large amounts of freight used to be carried in the bellies of passenger aircraft.
The capacity challenge will need every airline contributing to the effort to distribute the vaccines. “It really boils down to literally ‘all hands-on deck’ to mobilise the global fleet of aircraft,” commented the executive of Chapman Freeborn. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has noted that “providing a single dose to 7.8 billion people would fill 8,000 Boeing 747 cargo aircraft.” In its latest commercial market outlook for 2020-2039, Boeing outlined that the current global fleet of freighters stands at 2,010. A number much lower than 8,000, in addition to the fact that not all freighters are 747s. The plethora of cargo aircraft is wide and includes narrow-body jets like the Boeing 737-800 converted freighters that have a payload capacity of 20.7 tons, while the Boeing 747-8F has a payload capacity of 140 tons.
“There is nowhere close to that number of wide-body aircraft. The airlines with pure freighters will continue to be in very high demand and with that will come a surge in prices,” observed Dursley. The capacity challenge has been made more difficult with the grounding of the Volga-Dnepr Antonov An-124 aircraft, which has taken a large chunk of the global cargo capacity, he added. In total, Volga-Dnepr has 12 An-124s, each of which has a payload capacity of 120 tons. “At the moment it is hard to tell about the timeframes, but the type will not be ungrounded until the final completion of the aviation incident investigation and the results,” confirmed a Volga-Dnepr spokesperson. While some vaccines can be transported by other means, including road, IATA remarked that “vaccines cannot be delivered globally without the significant use of air cargo.”
Transporting pharmaceuticals, including vaccines, has been nothing new to cargo operations. However, the sensitivity of some of the vaccines might provide an additional challenge to airlines and would require an extra layer of cooperation. For example, American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) began conducting trial flights of transporting the vaccine from its Miami International Airport (MIA) hub to South America in mid-November 2020. “While the situation will be unique, the task is not new to American, the airline’s cargo operation has been shipping life-saving medicine for more than eight decades,” the carrier’s statement read.
United Airlines also had done the same, as it operated a special charter flight from Brussels, Belgium to Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) to ship the Pfizer vaccine before its approval in order to distribute it more quickly, reported the Wall Street Journal. The flights required special approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) since they packed a higher amount of dry ice than is usually allowed. In order to make the process much smoother, the United States Department of Transportation (DoT) “has s established the appropriate safety requirements for all potential hazards involved in shipping the vaccine, including standards for dry ice and lithium batteries,” read the DoT’s press release, issued on 1 December 2020.
Another example could be that Emirates airline established its own Good Distribution Practice (GDP) cargo hub, primarily focused on delivering and re-distributing the COVID-19 vaccine in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, in October 2020. “Many airlines and other companies are ready to support this global logistics requirement and are upgrading facilities, testing ‘sky cells’ and the so-called envirotainers,” commented Dursley. Once vaccines reach their destination, they will have to be off-loaded and go into warehouses that have the capabilities to store them. As they are being prepared to be transported, the whole “supply chain will need to work together,” he added.
“Many airlines across the world are Center of Excellence for Independent Validators (CEIV) accredited and are highly familiar with moving the vaccine. The supply chain has been investing in infrastructure and resources for decades,” concluded Dursley. Still, airlines have to battle a lot of uncertainty when planning their operations. While under normal circumstances there are operators that are certified to carry pharmaceuticals, these are not normal times and the scale of the task does not resemble any sense of normality.
Ryanair orders 75 additional Boeing 737 MAX aircraft
According to a Boeing press release, Ryanair’s backlog for Boeing 737 MAX jets will grow by 75 units and now will stand at 210 jets. The Irish low-cost carrier has been a firm believer in the aircraft and has kept calling it a ‘game-changer’ despite the groundings following the second fatal crash in March 2019. The newest order is exclusively for the 8-200 version, a variant of the 737 MAX-8 specifically developed for the low-cost market. While Alaska Airlines firmed up an order, Ryanair is seemingly negotiating with Boeing to do so.
Boeing’s updated 737 MAX completes first flight with media onboard
Boeing’s 737 MAX staged its first post-grounding flight with media on board on Wednesday, as carriers seek to demonstrate to passengers that the redesigned jet is safe after a 20-month safety ban. Wednesday’s American Airlines 737 MAX flight was a 45-minute hop from Dallas, Texas, to Tulsa, Oklahoma. It comes weeks before the first commercial passenger flight on 29 December and is part of a public relations effort to allay any concerns about the aircraft.
Wednesday’s flight marked the first time anyone besides regulators and industry personnel flew on the MAX since the grounding, which ignited investigations focusing on software that overwhelmed pilots. The mood on Wednesday’s flight was subdued. Some passengers mingled and chatted before landing when applause broke out. Reflecting the COVID-19 pandemic that has roiled commercial aviation, each of the roughly 90 journalists, flight attendants and other American Airlines employees on the flight wore face masks.
“The history of aviation is built around a chain of safety,” Captain Pete Gamble told passengers just before take-off. “When the chain of safety breaks it’s up to those of us in the industry to mend it and bring it back.”
A smooth return to service for the MAX is seen as critical for Boeing’s reputation and finances, which have been hit hard by a freeze on MAX deliveries as well as the coronavirus crisis. Airlines and leasing companies have spent hundreds of billions of dollars buying the latest upgrade of the 737, the world’s most-sold passenger aircraft. Lured by sharp discounts and anxious to help repair the MAX’s reputation around which they have built their fleet plans, some airlines are now stepping in to show commercial support.
Boeing is bracing for intense publicity from even routine glitches by manning a 24-hour ‘situation room’ to monitor every MAX flight globally and has briefed some industry commentators on details on the return to service, industry sources said. “We are continuing to work closely with global regulators and our customers to safely return the fleet to commercial service,” a Boeing spokesman said. The PR efforts are designed to highlight software and training upgrades which the FAA has said remove any doubt about the plane’s safety.
US Senate to set aside additional $17 billion to help airlines
In a bipartisan proposal for coronavirus aid of $908 billion, the US Senate has set aside $17 billion for the struggling airline industry. According to Reuters, the $908 billion coronavirus aid package would set aside $45 billion for the transportation sector. The offices of Senators Mitt Romney and Mark Warner said the plan includes $17 billion for the airlines, $15 billion for transit systems, $4 billion for airports, $8 billion for private buses and $1 billion for passenger railroad Amtrak. The amount would support the sector for four months. It is expected to be approved in December 2020 and would last the carriers through early 2021. After that Congress and President-elect Joe Biden would have to decide if new funds should be approved. The proposal still needs to be approved by the Congress and the White House. So far, neither authority has expressed their support of the plan. Airlines previously received $25 billion under the CARES Act in March 2020. The aid helped them to pay the staff and avoid job cuts until October 2020. Once the financial support has expired, American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) and United Airlines furloughed more than 32,000 workers in October 2020. Since then, the airlines have been lobbying for additional financial aid to keep workers on the payroll. Earlier in November 2020, the International Air Transport Association reported that North American carriers saw a 91.3% traffic decline in September 2020. North American airlines have lost more than $36 billion in 2020.
The King Air line expands again
Textron Aviation is launching the Beechcraft King Air 260 turboprop. Featuring advancements to the cockpit and improvements in the cabin, the King Air 260 reflects the company beliefs that it has made substantial investments to its current products. Assembly production for the King Air 260 is already underway, whilst certification and deliveries are expected in early 2021. The announcement comes on the heels of the recently introduced Beechcraft King Air 360. The King Air 360 achieved FAA type certification in October, and customer deliveries are underway. The King Air 260’s key enhancements are the addition of the Innovative Solutions & Support (IS&S) ThrustSense® Autothrottle, along with a new digital pressurisation controller. The cockpit also offers the Collins Aerospace Multi-Scan weather radar system as a standard feature on every King Air 260.
Embraer hands over first Praetor 600 to Flexjet
Embraer delivered the first Praetor 600 to Flexjet as part of a 64-aircraft deal announced at the National Business Aviation Association convention in October last year, which also includes Praetor 500s and Phenom 300s. The fractional operator was last year the launch customer for the super-midsize type’s midsize sibling, the Praetor 500. The aircraft will be part of Flexjet’s European-operated fleet, which also includes the Gulfstream G650. Flexjet has a long relationship with Embraer. In 2003, Flight Options, which merged with Flexjet in 2015, became the first fractional ownership programme to operate Embraer’s original Legacy 600 business jet. The company later introduced the Phenom 300 and was the first fractional to offer the Legacy 500 in 2015. The Directional Aviation subsidiary operates more than 70 Embraer executive jets. The eight-passenger Praetor 600 was launched in October 2018 as a derivative of the Legacy 500, featuring more powerful Honeywell HTF7500E engines, new winglets, additional fuel capacity, a range of 4,000nm (7,400km) and a new interior. The Praetor 500 is an update of the Legacy 450.
Luftwaffe breaks record for longest Airbus A350 flight
The Luftwaffe, the German Air Force, broke the record for the longest Airbus A350 flight, after the aircraft flew 17,000 kilometres (10,500 miles) non-stop from Cologne, Germany, to Canberra, Australia. The journey, which lasted 19 hours, was part of the testing campaign of the ACJ350-900 XWB of which the Luftwaffe took delivery in August 2020. It is the world’s first government aircraft based on the A350-900. The conversion was carried out by Lufthansa Technik, with the inclusion of a conference room, a lounge and a modern kitchen, for a capacity of 25 passengers. Airbus also fitted the A350 with special avionics, such as a Large Aircraft Infrared Counter-Measure system (LAIRCM) to protect the planes from incoming missiles.
However, the record could be broken in the future, as the ACJ350 is advertised to be able to fly for up to 22 hours with a range of 20,550 kilometres (12,800 miles). The impressive feat is made possible by the aircraft’s carbon fibre fuselage and wings that reduce its weight. The second A350 to be used by the Luftwaffe for the transport of the German government representatives completed its maiden flight at Airbus’ main facility of Toulouse-Blagnac on 20 November 2020. The complete fleet of three aircraft should be delivered by 2022.
Launch success for UAE’s FalconEye satellite
The Earth observation satellite FalconEye was successfully launched on Tuesday night from the European Spaceport (CSG) in Kourou, French Guiana by an Arianespace Soyuz rocket. Owned and operated by the United Arab Emirates, FalconEye was developed by Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space as co-prime contractors. The FalconEye system will support the needs of the UAE’s Armed Forces. The satellite weighed 1190 kg at launch and will be raised to a helio-synchronous orbit of 611 km. Airbus Defence and Space was in charge of the satellite design, integration and test, and supplied the platform. Thales Alenia Space designed and supplied the optical instrument and the image processing chain.
“FalconEye will offer top quality Earth observation, providing our customer with the best of what space imagery can offer. The high-performance optical satellite system represents an important step in the cooperation between the United Arab Emirates and France,” said Jean-Marc Nasr, Head of Space Systems at Airbus. “Thanks to the trust of our Emirati customer and the support of the French government, we have been able to deliver a great team effort between Airbus and Thales Alenia Space.”
Sukhoi S-70 combat drone tested with missiles
The Russian military conducted a series of interceptions with the heavy attack drone S-70 Okhotnik (‘Hunter’), including simulated use of air-to-air missiles. The flight tests carried out by the Russian military evaluated the capacity of the Sukhoi S-70 Okhotnik to operate as a fighter-interceptor, according to an industry source quoted by RIA Novosti. The campaign took place at the Ashuluk training ground, near the Caspian Sea. ‘From the strip of the military airfield of the Center for Combat Training and Combat Use of the Russian Aerospace Forces at the Ashuluk training ground, several flights of the Hunter were performed with functional simulators of guided air-to-air missiles,’ the source told the agency. The simulators were both infrared and radar homing missiles. The tests assessed the capacity of the upcoming heavy attack drone to work in collaboration with the Su-57 fifth-generation fighter jet. Until now, flight tests had only focused on the flight performances of the aircraft. It is reportedly the first time that the combat ability of the aircraft is evaluated.
The Okhotnik UAV is powered by an AL-31 turbojet engine and is equipped with electro-optical targeting, radio and ‘other types of reconnaissance equipment,’ according to the Russian Defence Ministry. The demonstrator made its maiden flight on 7 August 2019. The Sukhoi S-70 is much bigger than its Western counterparts. With 20 meters in wingspan and a length of 14 meters, its mass is supposedly around 20 tons (against 4.9 for the Dassault nEUROn and 6.3 for the Northrop Grumman X-47B). It is expected to fly at a speed of 1,000 km/h, for a range of 6,000 km. Its two internal bays should embark up to 2.8 tons of weapons. The first Sukhoi S-70 Okhotnik attack drone should be delivered to the Russian military in 2024 after the Ministry of Defence demanded to speed up the experimental work.
When the pilot is just one option…
Efforts to allow unmanned aircraft to fly safely in unsegregated airspace have taken a step forward with the aid of South African company S-Plane Automation. Flexible: S-Plane’s equipment allows an aircraft to switch between piloted, remotely piloted or completely autonomous modes. Somerset West-based S-Plane’s X-KIT has been fitted to a Tecnam 2006T light piston-engined twin under Project Targus, where Spanish electronics company, Indra, is developing an optionally piloted vehicle. X-KIT consists of the necessary automation, simulation, communication and ground control equipment to convert a piloted aircraft. “It’s a core kit that we sell to various customers to take manned or unmanned aircraft and convert them to manned, unmanned or optionally piloted systems,” explained S-Plane CEO, Thomas Jones. “We provide all the equipment, but also all the services the clients need to make the necessary aircraft. Every aircraft is a little bit different.”
X-KIT allows an aircraft to be switched between manual piloting, remote piloting (where it is controlled from the ground) and automated piloting (where the aircraft is completely autonomous, flying a mission via waypoints). Flying an unpiloted vehicle in unsegregated airspace, where it can safely mix with piloted aircraft, is a major goal of companies seeking to increase the usefulness of unpiloted vehicles.
The modified aircraft undertook two weeks of flight tests in Galicia, northwest Spain, in June and July. Flights were approved and monitored by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Spanish aviation regulator, AESA. No other newly developed unpiloted or optionally piloted aircraft has previously been granted permission to carry out such flights, noted Indra.
A test pilot carried out the take-off. Once airborne, he handed over control to a ground control centre. Indra said that its strategy of developing a drone able to carry a pilot to take control if necessary “offers a great operational advantage for future users, who will be able to fly over urban areas or land at airports without restrictions when manned and fly without a pilot when it arrives at the operation area. This dual use significantly enhances the commercial appeal and capabilities of Targus.” Development is scheduled to conclude this year. Indra sees the aircraft as suitable for a range of missions, including maritime patrol and environmental monitoring duties.
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Until Thursday, please be ‘Serious about flying’.
Athol Franz (Editor)