“Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all.” Hypatia of Alexandria
PLZ M15 Belphegor
(Information from Wikipedia)
The PZL M-15 was a jet-powered sesquiplane designed and manufactured by the Polish aircraft company WSK PZL-Mielec for agricultural aviation. In reference to both its strange looks and relatively loud jet engine, the aircraft was nicknamed Belphegor, after the noisy demon.
Development of the M-15 can be traced back to a Soviet requirement for a modern agricultural aircraft to succeed the Antonov An-2; it was at the insistence of Soviet officials that jet propulsion would power the type. WSK Mielec’s design team recognised the value of the An-2’s biplane configuration to the role and set about developing an initial experimental aircraft, the Lala-1, for Latające Laboratorium 1 (Flying Laboratory 1) to explore the use of a jet engine with such a configuration. On 20 May 1973, the first M-15 prototype performed its maiden flight; even during the test flight phase, it was apparent that there were several drawbacks to the aircraft, including its poor handling, limited range and high operating costs. While production commenced in 1976, these problems remained unresolved and meant that the M-15 was noticeably inferior in several respects to the An-2. During 1981, production was terminated in favour of procuring more An-2s; a total of 175 M-15s were built against the many thousands which had once been planned.
It was recognised from the onset that use of a jet engine for a relatively slow agricultural biplane posed several problems that would need to be addressed, including unforgiving handling and maintenance issues. On 30 May 1973, the first variant of the M-15 conducted its maiden flight; it was followed by the second prototype on 9 January 1974. During the following years, both aircraft were intensively tested, and were joined by a pre-production series. Even at this stage of the project, the aircraft’s performance was being criticised and constantly compared unfavourably with its An-2 predecessor. The M-15 was publicly displayed at the Paris Air Show of 1976; it has been claimed that it was at this event that the aircraft received its popular nickname of ‘Belphegor’, a result of its strange appearance and noisy jet engine propulsion.
During 1976, serial production of the M-15 commenced. At one stage, Soviet agriculture planners had intended to order as many as 3,000 aircraft to meet its needs. However, operations of the M-15 under real world circumstances proved to be a largely disappointing experience. As an inherent consequence of adopting a jet engine, it was not an economical aircraft to operate, being inferior in this aspect to the An-2 that the M-15 had been envisioned to succeed. In contrast, the M-15 could only achieve a range of 215 nautical miles, half that of the An-2, largely due to its jet engine and relatively high weight. Maintenance was also more intensive, a factor which was compounded by the typically austere nature of agricultural airstrips. The aircraft was also expensive, both to construct and to operate. Furthermore, pilots would commonly need additional training for handling jet-powered aircraft, which was a further complication for any transition to the M-15.
Production of the aircraft was terminated without ceremony during 1981, by which point only 175 aircraft had been completed. The M-15 was only ever operated inside the USSR, despite the type having been made available to potential export customers. Taking its envisioned role was the preexisting An-2, which continued to be used in the agricultural role into the twenty-first century. Of those M-15s that were produced, very few remained operational by 1995, its operators having rarely found the aircraft to be satisfactory. It is believed that the M-15 is the world’s only jet agricultural aircraft as well as the world’s only jet biplane and the world’s slowest jet aircraft, at least amongst aircraft that have been placed into mass production.
For the crop-dusting mission, the M-15 could accommodate a payload of just under three tons of pesticides within two sizable pylons that separated its two wings; chemical dispersal was achieved via compressed air. This storage system was relatively unorthodox, the conventional An-2 simply stored these in a single tank housed within the fuselage in a space that could be reused for various other cargoes if not fitted. As such, the arrangement adopted upon the M-15 allowed for no such flexibility and severely limited alternative uses for the aircraft. To avoid the engine exhaust interfering with the dispersal system during release, the engine had to be positioned in a relatively elevated location on top of the fuselage; this was also beneficial to minimise the engine’s ingestion of debris, which was a particular problem when operating from austere airstrips.
Those persons who correctly identified this week’s mystery aircraft:
Jeremy Rorich, Christiaan Haak, Rennie van Zyl, Michael Schoeman, Ari Levien, Colin Austen, Magiel Esterhuysen, Danie Viljoen, Clint Futter, Kevin Farr, Steve Dewsbery, Pierre Brittz, Nigel Hamilton, Andre Visser, Ahmed Bassa, Righardt du Plessis, Wouter van der Waal, Andreas Albrecht, Greg Pullin, P Rossouw, Hilton Carroll, Bruce Prescott, Rebe du Toit, Stuart Low, Karl Jensen, Willie Oosthuizen, Gregory Yatt, Andrew Peace, Andre Breytenbach, Charlie Hugo, Jan Sime, Cecil Thompson, Jaco van Jaarsveld, Daryl Kimber, Bruce Margolius, Jeffrey Knickelbein, Rex Tweedie, Selwyn Kimber, Johan Venter, Peter Gilbert, John Moen, Dave Lloyd, Brian Ross, Vratislav Pechanec, Herman Nel, Piet Steyn, Aiden O’Mahony, Brian Melmoth, Carl von Ludwig, Mike Transki, Samuel Rawlins, Rahul Vala, Sam Basch (53).
SAAF fails to secure maintenance contracts
Within a report contained under South African aviation news, yet again Armscor has failed to secure vital maintenance contracts for several South African Air Force aircraft types and in the case of the TP-DC3s this may lead to the permanent grounding of the type. What is it with this government and its appointed carders that do not understand the importance of maintenance at every level? After 30 years of ANC rule, these people are still blaming the ‘apartheid’ government for their incompetence and inability to manage even the simplest of tasks when running a country at every level so that every State-Owned Enterprise has been ‘broken’ and I am using a polite word. Cry the beloved country as the ‘feeding trough’ continues unabated throughout all government institutions.
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. We will also be featuring NBAA-BACE in Las Vegas. 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 thirteenth edition of Future Flight will be sent out to the world-wide audience on Monday 16 October. This 144-page edition has seven picture galleries and 14 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.
Cape Town International scoops the WTA Africa’s leading airport award for seventh time
Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) is pleased to announce that Cape Town International Airport has once again scooped the prestigious Africa’s Leading Airport 2023 accolade at this year’s World Travel Awards. This tremendous achievement marks Cape Town International Airport’s seventh straight win in the Africa’s Leading Airport category and gives recognition to the hard work and dedication of the great ACSA team and group of stakeholders and partners, who collaborate and are committed to continued success and excellence of the airport.
This year’s ceremony was held in Dubai on 15 October 2023 and the awards are considered the most prestigious honours programme in travel and tourism across the globe. Winning the award not only makes Cape Town an important international destination in South Africa, but also ensures that the airport is recognised across the globe for securing this ultimate gold standard accolade.
SAAF fails to secure maintenance contracts for several aircraft types
According to information received Armscor on Behalf of the South African Air Force (SAAF) does not have maintenance contracts in place for three of the South African Air Force’s (SAAF’s) aircraft types. In addition, finding a C-47TP maintenance organisation means that this type could be permanently grounded. According to an Armscor presentation delivered to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV) in mid-September, the King Air, C208 Caravan and C-47TP fleets do not have maintenance contracts in place.
Having received three bids from May this year Armscor is in the process of appointing a contractor for King Air maintenance, whilst the news for the maintenance of the Caravan fleet is also problematic since the only bidder ‘failed capability analysis’ and the bid was cancelled in July. The SAAF is now discussing adding an avionics upgrade to a new maintenance support contract.
Prospects for the C-47TP fleet to return to the air remain poor, as a request for bids this year elicited no valid bids and Armscor was forced to cancel the process for the second time. Due to the age of the aircraft, it is no longer supported by the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) and there are no Aircraft Maintenance Organisations (AMOs) with a DC3 C-47TP stipulated on the Operational Specification.” Armscor stated that there have been numerous attempts to get a support contract for the C-47TP Dakota fleet since 2018, which resulted in no valid bids and several user requirement specification amendments.
Although not all are fully funded, the remainder of the SAAF fleet, maintenance contracts are in place for most other aircraft types. On the fixed wing side, maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) contracts are in place for the Boeing Business Jet, Falcon fleet, C212 and PC-12, although the PC-12 is not serviceable as the engine is timex. The PC-7 Mk II contract will end in less than a year and a replacement contract has yet to be placed. The situation is the same with Rooivalk and Oryx support contracts. As for the rest of the rotary wing fleet, Leonardo South Africa is responsible for A109 airframe support and Airbus Helicopters responsible for BK 117 support. It is expected a new product support contract for the Super Lynx 300 will be in place by 20 October 2023. For the combat fleet, Gripen engine and airframe contracts are in place as are Hawk Mk 120 engine and airframe contracts.
Fanie Bezuidenhout’s family are organising a gathering for his flying friends, taking place this Saturday 21 October, 13h00 at his hangar N11, FASI. Light snacks and some drinks will be provided, dress code casual and colourful. His family have set up a WhatsApp group to coordinate the above and to share pictures and memories of Fanie. Please indicate your intentions to attend, via the WA group link below:
On behalf of the EEFC exco.
Airlink bolsters presence in Botswana & Zambia to meet market growth
Airlink has established country offices in Gaborone and Lusaka to enhance customer services in Botswana and Zambia. The new country offices in the two capitals officially opened for business on Monday 16 October. They provide direct customer and local travel industry support with flight reservations, ticketing and special services assistance, and are located to provide easy access to customers.
“Botswana and Zambia are both important and vibrant markets for Airlink, which provides crucial connectivity for people travelling for business and leisure. As international long-haul tourism recovers, we are also seeing strong demand for travel on our services to Maun, the Okavango Delta and Livingstone (on the Zambian side of Victoria Falls). Business travel is also picking up with increased trade and other commercial activity in those markets. Our new Gaborone and Lusaka city offices will enable us to have closer, more direct contact with our customers and the trade as these markets continue to grow. We have deliberately located the offices for maximum customer convenience, saving them the time, trouble and expense of having to go to the ticketing offices at those cities’ airports.,” said Airlink CEO and Managing Director, Rodger Foster.
The Lusaka office is staffed by a team of three personnel while the Gaborone team comprises two staff and Airlink’s country manager. Airlink operates up to 40 return flights a week to Lusaka, Livingstone and Ndola in Zambia and up to 50 return flights a week to Gaborone, Maun and Kasane in Botswana.
Second African Air Force forum to focus on drone deployment for modern conflicts
The Senegalese Air Force will be hosting the second Africa Air Force Forum, a pivotal gathering of Air Force Chiefs of Staff, aerospace industry leaders and government officials. The forum will be held in Dakar, Senegal, from 25 to 26 October 2023. Under the theme ‘Adapting Air Force Capabilities and Drone Deployment to Combat Modern Conflicts,’ the forum aims to address the evolving security challenges in an increasingly complex global landscape. It serves as a platform for high-level discussions, international exhibitions and live demonstrations, focusing on the advancement of air force capabilities and the role of drones in modern warfare.
Following the resounding success of its inaugural edition, the second Africa Air Force Forum aims to build on the momentum by fostering bilateral partnerships and promoting stability across the continent. The forum will cover key topics such as air operations for counterterrorism, intelligence capabilities and personnel training, among others. Senegal is at the forefront of enhancing its air force capabilities to support regional counterinsurgency and upcoming oil exploration activities. The forum will showcase Senegal’s commitment to regional security and provide a platform for Africa’s aerospace community to convene and coordinate.
The two-day conference will feature a series of keynote speeches, panel discussions and technical presentations. The exhibition will showcase the latest technologies and equipment in the aerospace and defence sector. There will also be live product demonstrations of the latest systems and technologies in the domain of Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. Key topics at the forum will include air operations for counterterrorism and counterinsurgency; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities; Maintenance, repair, and overhaul for regional Air Forces as well as Training and retention of personnel.
With more than 350 regional and international attendees from Air Forces, the Africa Airforce Forum is an ideal networking and knowledge sharing platform for the aerospace industry in the region. The event will also feature more than 25 speakers, over 35 sponsors and exhibitors, over 20 presentations, as well as 23 media partners. The countries participating will span the African continent as well as partners from around the world. The forum offers exclusive meeting opportunities for Air Force and Aviation leadership to discuss strategic plans, identify key requirements for evolving operations, develop plans to upskill future Air Force personnel, enhance the value chain of Africa’s defence sector and display commitment to the growth of regional aerospace capabilities.
Gunfire preceded gas balloon crash
On Monday a pilot competing in the Gordon Bennett Cup long-distance balloon race said gunfire led to the crash of his balloon into a high-voltage power line. Krzystoff Zapart and teammate Pjotr Halas were piloting the Poland Team 1 balloon after taking off from the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta on Saturday. According to race organizers, the pilots ran into trouble while passing over Dallas-Fort Worth airspace at an altitude of 12,000 feet before beginning a descent. Zapart told a local news station he heard what sounded like automatic gunfire before he began an emergency descent to avoid getting shot. Unfortunately, the gas balloon hit a high-voltage power line, causing it to explode before falling to the ground. Both pilots were taken to the hospital.
In a statement, Balloon Fiesta officials said, “Both are experienced gas balloon pilots who have logged significant time in gas balloons. Our thoughts are with the gentlemen, their families and friends for a full and complete recovery.” This was the 66th Gordon Bennett gas balloon race in which competitors aim to fly the farthest distance. On Wednesday the race concluded with Team France 2 winning first place. Authorities are investigating the crash.
Titan Airways Airbus left Stansted and climbed to 10,000 feet with missing windows
According to the BEA, the aircraft climbed to approximately 10,000 feet, where the flight crew noticed excessive cabin noise. The decision was subsequently made to return to London-Stansted Airport (STN) as a safety precaution. An inspection of the Airbus A321 discovered the windows missing and loose plus a damaged left stabiliser. The BEA described the episode, which happened on 4 October 2023, as a ‘serious incident’ which will undergo a full investigation.
In a statement on 15 October 2023, Titan Airways said: “The crew became aware of increased noise in the cabin and an issue with one of the windows. The pilot did not declare an emergency and landed the aircraft safely, according to normal operating procedures. Emergency services at the airport were not activated.” The airline added: “The 21 staff members on board, who were being positioned for their next scheduled flight, were unaffected and disembarked the aircraft in the normal way. Following the landing it was discovered that the outer panel in three of the windows was missing. The matter was immediately reported to the relevant authorities and an investigation is now taking place.” The two-and-a half-old Airbus A321, registered G-OATW, was due to land later that day at Orlando International Airport (MCO) in Florida. According to Aviation Safety Network, the aircraft was formally used by the British government for 18 months in a VIP configuration.
Bombardier ramps up EcoJet initiative
On 16 October 2023 Bombardier unveiled exclusive images of its EcoJet research project’s second test phase to the attendees of NBAA-BACE 2023. The promising flight tests were conducted with an 18-foot-wide demonstrator and have generated important results, contributing to the advancement of this pivotal project. Bombardier’s EcoJet research project aims to reduce aircraft emissions by up to 50-percent through a combination of aerodynamic, propulsion and other enhancements. EcoJet is a sustainability-focused research and technology initiative which started 15-years ago. This project has successfully materialised into a family of Blended Wing Body (BWB) test vehicles, with flight tests being conducted to develop and mature relevant technologies. The analysis of the data gathered from the 18-foot-wide prototype will allow Bombardier’s engineering team to perfect its knowledge of new aviation control laws that are adapted to the radically different BWB geometry, bound to be applied to more sustainable, future business aircraft.
Flight campaigns on scaled test vehicles allow the organisation and its academic partners to explore the behaviour of BWB designed vehicles in free flight. Consisting of several free-flight campaigns, the flight-testing program will be held over multiple years to generate increasingly precise data in real-world, representative environments. The 18-foot-wide prototype of Bombardier’s EcoJet research project has flown for the first time in 2022 and can fly autonomously. Bombardier’s Research and Technology team has started testing real life feasibility of their theoretical work back in 2017 with the first prototype, which had a wingspan of approximately eight feet. While laying the foundation for more sustainable business jets, Bombardier will also leverage its EcoJet prototypes to continue creating incredible customer experience.
NBAA-BACE panel to discuss AAM technologies
The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) will welcome industry leaders of the Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) sector who will take part in a panel discussion of AAM technologies and the likelihood aircraft deriving of such will drive sustainable on-demand aviation in the coming years. The keynote session will convene on the second day of 2023’s NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE) in Las Vegas, Nevada.
NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen stated: “The FAA has made AAM a priority, as demonstrated with its recently released blueprint for integrating AAM operations and access to air taxi vehicles. We are pleased to host this important discussion among industry and government leaders, to focus on the strides being made in the regulatory arena, the private sector and elsewhere to make the promises of AAM a reality.”
Earlier this year, the FAA released its Innovate28 initiative, an implementation plan by which the agency and a number of key stakeholders will cooperate to safely foster near-future AAM operations. By virtue of multiple discrete phases, the Innovate28 plan aims to facilitate at-scale AAM operations at one or more US sites by 2028. The plan calls for AAM air taxi operations to be conducted after a fashion similar to extant scheduled and non-scheduled commercial helicopter air-service. Initial AAM operations will utilise existing routes and infrastructure, such as helipads and early vertiports and communicate with air traffic control as required. Ultimately, the FAA and AAM industry partners seek to validate expanded, possibly autonomous AAM flight operations.
The NBAA contributed input on the FAA’s blueprint with guidance from the association’s AAM Roundtable, a forum consisting of leaders of AAM developers and companies currently and actively engaged in determining the means by which AAM technologies will be integrated into the US National Airspace System (NAS).
Emirates deploys 20,000 Apple products to cabin crew
Emirates has launched a new strategy called ‘One Device’ leveraging Apple products, whereby all 20,000 Emirates Cabin Crew receive iPhone 13 or iPad Air configured with custom Emirates apps to improve and streamline passenger service onboard, as well as enhancing the overall crew experience.
Emirates has already invested more than AED 32 million into the initiative and began giving out Apple devices one year ago. This week, more than 7,000 Emirates crew members use iPhone across 450 daily flights in the global network. In the coming months, an additional 5,000 cabin crew will receive iPhone and iPad featuring new apps and features that build on the successful deployment.
Emirates in-house Service Delivery and IT teams conducted an extensive user research campaign with cabin crew before designing and building a range of native, custom-built apps to revamp the user experience for cabin crew and to ensure passengers receive the world class service experience expected from Emirates. Feedback to date shows that Apple products are empowering cabin crew to feel better prepared at work and enabling them to offer highly personalised service to passengers.
Custom-built applications include an app to improve the inflight meal order-taking process in Business Class, ensuring swift and precise service and allowing cabin crew to see each passenger’s profile and Skywards status. Another app ensures cabin crew can access up-to-the-minute roster and flight information, view seat changes and upgrades and an overview of which cabin crew are onboard. By providing a 360-degree view of passengers, Emirates cabin crew can access critical real-time information and are equipped with the tools they need to perform at their best, personalising each customer’s experience to an unprecedented degree, even providing information such as dining and drinks preferences and onboard loungewear sizes, if used on prior flights.
The One Device initiative also enhances cabin crew performance and safety standards by ensuring they can access 24/7 support globally, including a team of specially trained experts at Emirates Dubai hub, as well as via Apple Support. Enhancing safety onboard, cabin crew can check official processes at any time, via remotely updated operational manuals and use One Device as a platform for continuous education through micro-learning. Emirates Cabin Crew are permitted to use the iPhone for personal use and their private data is protected.
Apple products support the demanding operating environment of Emirates cabin crew with many functionalities including fast charging, an extended battery life, lightweight design and premium build quality. In addition, Apple’s industry leading security protects customer and cabin crew information, protecting both the guest and employee’s privacy by leveraging the security built into the device, authenticating user identity with secure Face ID and removing the flight information once the journey is completed.
The rollout of One Device has been supported by an in-person experience zone at Emirates Headquarters in Dubai, a 24/7 one-stop-shop for cabin crew to query hardware and operating software issues, access Emirates application support, fulfil their device accessory needs and more.
Hartzell purchased by equity firm
Arcline Investment Management, an $8.9 billion private equity firm, has acquired Hartzell Aviation from Tailwind Technologies. The deal includes Hartzell’s two business units, the propeller business and Hartzell Engine Tech, which makes engine subsystems ranging from turbochargers to engine mounts. “Our family has been blessed to be the stewards of Hartzell Aviation for 37 years. As we look to the future, we believe Arcline fully embraces our core value, ‘Built on Honour’ and will bring the skills and resources to build on over a century of excellence and innovation,” said Jim Brown, president of Hartzell Aviation.
Arcline says it will honour the century-plus history of the storied propeller maker and embark on an unspecified growth plan. “As investors exclusively focused on Critical Suppliers to Critical Industries, Hartzell’s portfolio of flight-critical propeller and engine subsystems for a large and long-lived installed base fits perfectly with Arcline’s strategy. We are excited to partner with the Hartzell team to carry on its legacy generated over the past 100 years and facilitate the Company’s next phase of growth,” the company said in a statement.
US sends aircraft carrier group to the Mediterranean to assist Israel
On 14 October 2023, a second carrier strike group centred around the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower nuclear aircraft carrier was also deployed to the Eastern Mediterranean. The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower houses over 60 aircraft, including four squadrons of Super Hornets in its carrier air wing.
The US Air Force has also increased its presence in the region by augmenting fighter aircraft squadrons.
The US Central Command (CENTCOM), responsible for the Middle East and Central Asia, reported the arrival of A-10 Thunderbolt II close air support aircraft assigned to the 354th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron and F-15E Strike Eagle dual-role fighters operated by the 494th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron.
On 13 October 2023, during a press briefing, US Secretary of Defence, Lloyd J. Austin III, emphasised the need to deter any efforts to escalate the conflict: “For any country, for any group or anyone thinking about trying to take advantage of this atrocity to widen the conflict or spill more blood, we have just one word: Don’t.”
Balancing US military support between Israel and Ukraine
However, concerns have been raised, including by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, regarding the potential impact of these deployments on the ongoing support for Ukraine in its defensive war against Russia. Some of the ammunition to be sent to Israel, including 155-millimeter artillery shells and JDAM kits that transform unguided bombs into precision munitions, are regularly included in aid packages sent to Ukraine. The US Department of Defence addressed these concerns, assuring that the United States could continue to provide support to both Israel and Ukraine without weakening its level of assistance. “We are working urgently to get Israel what it needs to defend itself, including munitions and Iron Dome interceptors and we will do so even as we continue to support the people of Ukraine as they fight against Russian aggression,” Austin stated, emphasising that “the United States can walk and chew gum at the same time.”
USAF A-10s arriving in Israel
Notwithstanding repeated attempts by United States Air Force brass to retire the aircraft, Fairchild-Republic’s mighty A-10 Thunderbolt II, a US ground attack jet widely regarded as the world’s finest and most-feared close-air-support platform, is being deployed in numbers to the Middle East as Israel makes ready to move decisively, perhaps finally, on Hamas forces massed in Gaza.
Arriving A-10 Thunderbolt II jets, referred to affectionately as Warthog by the pilots who fly the machines to terrifying effect will ‘support the US’s increased posture’ in the region. While it is known the A-10s deployed to the Middle East belong to the United States Air Force’s 354th Fighter Squadron, the number of aircraft and the locales to which they are destined remain undisclosed. The A-10s of the 354th FS join counterparts from the 75th FS deployed to the Middle East in March 2023 as part of a detachment sent to Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates.
The US has rushed military forces to the region following a coordinated series of savage attacks undertaken indiscriminately against Israeli military and civilian targets on 7 October 2023 by the Sunni Islamist fundamentalist terrorist group Hamas, formally the Islamic Resistance Movement. While headquartered in Gaza City, Hamas maintains a presence in Israel’s West Bank region, within which Fatah, formerly the Palestinian National Liberation Movement exercises control. On 16 October, the US Department of Defence summarily advised US servicemen to ‘Be ready to deploy,’ thereby rendering moot former assertions US ground-forces would not partake in the evolving Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Echelon is larger and faster Honda light jet
On 16 October Honda Aircraft provided more details and a new name for its next business jet programme, the light-jet category HondaJet Echelon with the model number HA-480. At the EBACE show in May, Honda Aircraft formally announced launch of the then-named Concept 2600, a Part 23 single-pilot light jet that offers midsize jet performance and comfort features. A mock-up of the Echelon is installed next to the latest version of the HondaJet, the Elite II, at the NBAA-BACE static display at Henderson Executive Airport.
With transcontinental range of 2,625 nm (NBAA IFR, one pilot, four passengers), the Echelon carries on the unique over-the-wing-engine-mount design of the HondaJet. By mounting the engines on pylons on the wings, engineers can maximize space in the jet’s rear cabin because systems that are required for the engines are also installed in the wings, not in the aft fuselage. This design also reduces noise in the cabin and has aerodynamic benefits that help improve the airplane’s efficiency.
Because the original HA-420 and HA-480 share many design characteristics as well as systems, the Echelon will be certified as an amendment to the original HondaJet’s type certificate. The two airplanes will also share a common type rating, so pilots will be able to fly both versions. Honda Aircraft has already received signed letters of intent for more than 350 Echelons, according to Amod Kelkar, Honda Aircraft chief commercial officer and Echelon program manager. Many buyers are owner-pilots, including existing HondaJet owners, while others are fractional-share and charter operators.
The engineering team completed the Echelon’s preliminary design review earlier this year and critical design review is planned for summer 2024. Fabrication has begun at Honda Aircraft’s Greensboro, North Carolina, headquarters, and rollout of the first Echelon is scheduled for early 2026. Flight testing should begin in 2026 and certification and entry into service are targeted for 2028. Technology features in the Echelon include Garmin’s G3000 avionics suite with Autoland, autobrakes, autothrottles, runway overrun awareness and alerting system and Honda Aircraft’s advanced steering augmentation system, which optimizes yaw factor during landing and is also installed on the HA-420.
NASA delays X-59 supersonic first flight to 2024
NASA has pushed back the first flight of its X-59 Quesst supersonic demonstrator aircraft to next year as it works through ‘several technical challenges identified over the course of 2023,’ the agency announced late last week. The Mach 1.4 X-59 will be used to gather data on public response to a softer thud, rather than a sonic boom that may be possible with modern supersonic aircraft. This data could pave the way for the eventual return of supersonic flight over land. Built at Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works facility in Palmdale, California, the X-59 was anticipated to fly this year. NASA noted that the aircraft combines new technology with systems and components from a range of established aircraft such as landing gear from an F-16 fighter and life-support system adapted from the F-15.
“Extra time is needed to fully integrate systems into the aircraft and ensure they work together as expected,” NASA said, adding that the team also is working through ‘intermittent issues’ with safety-redundant computers controlling aircraft systems. The aircraft is undergoing integrated testing and once complete, will proceed to flight readiness review. At that point, the agency expects to release a more specific timeline for the first flight.
Even so, NASA noted that the Quesst aircraft has checked off a number of milestones as it progresses toward its first flight, including the ‘finishing touches’ to the X-59 tail structure. This enabled the team to finalize electrical wiring and proceed to ground tests. The aircraft has moved from assembly to the flight line for structural testing. After initial flight tests, NASA plans to fly the X-59 over various communities to gather noise data for quieted sonic booms that will then be delivered to US and international regulators to consider allowing overland sonic flights. NASA noted this makes it imperative that the aircraft’s safety is verified before the first flight but in the long term as it flies over communities.
VoltAero displays Cassio electric-hybrid aircraft at NBAA-BACE
The capabilities of VoltAero’s Cassio electric-hybrid aircraft for eco-efficient business aviation mobility will be underscored during the company’s first-ever participation in the annual NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE). VoltAero will be exhibiting in the Emerging Technology Pavilion at this week’s 2023 NBAA-BACE, to be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center from 17 to 19 October. Led by CEO and Chief Technology Officer Jean Botti, the VoltAero team will be presenting a full-scale Cassio 330 on exhibit and is to provide briefings for professional visitors during the three-day event.
Cassio will be built in three versions that accommodate from four to 12 seats, with all variants having designed-in flexibility for applications that include air taxi/charter flights, cargo / postal delivery, fractional ownership and medical evacuation (medevac). Features of the Cassio aircraft family include the largest cabin of its class in terms of height and width, which incorporates a flat floor and provides unobstructed access through a large door forward of the wing.
VoltAero is continuing its progress toward the certification and production of Cassio, with recent milestones including the construction startup for its purpose-built final assembly line facility in Rochefort, France. Cassio’s proprietary electric-hybrid powertrain has been validated during extensive route proving and flight tests that utilise VoltAero’s Cassio S testbed aircraft, including the industry-first use of TotalEnergies’ Excellium Racing 100 sustainable fuel made from bioethanol produced with waste that originates in French vineyards.
New DJI Zenmuse L2 increases precision, efficiency and reliability of 3D data acquisition
DJI, the world’s leader in civilian drones and creative camera technology, today introduces the DJI Zenmuse L2, a highly integrated LiDAR system which builds on DJI’s successful Zenmuse L1. With an enhanced RGB camera, upgraded LiDAR module and improved accuracy, any enterprise professional with a DJI Matrice 300 RTK or DJI Matrice 350 RTK platform can benefit from more precise, efficient and reliable 3D data acquisition. Furthermore, when used with DJI Terra, it delivers a turnkey solution for 3D data collection and high-accuracy post-processing.
With the help of aerial LiDAR technology, professionals in land surveying, mapping, electricity inspection, forestry and infrastructure management, can obtain large-scale, three-dimensional spatial information in a short time. When compared with traditional manual measurement technology, it can greatly reduce the workload, shorten the field measurement time and improve the detection efficiency.
The all-new Zenmuse L2 integrates LiDAR, a self-developed IMU system, 4/3 CMOS RGB camera, and three-axis gimbal, which when equipped with the DJI Matrice 300 RTK or Matrice 350 RTK drones, produces accurate, efficient and reliable data collection.
In combination with the DJI Matrice 300 RTK or DJI Matrice 350 RTK platform and DJI Terra, the Zenmuse L2 is ideal for land surveying, forestry, key asset management, and many other scenarios.
When used for topographic mapping, the Zenmuse L2 can quickly map a large area, helping operators to complete topographic surveys not only quickly but most important, accurately. After the raw point cloud data is collected, it can be automatically processed to generate many results, such as 3D point cloud in standard format, DEM (digital elevation models) and be used for further measurements.
About African Pilot
About African Pilot and Future Flight:
After 23 years there is no doubt that African Pilot provides the finest overall aviation media reach on the African continent and now in the world. Unlike many other aviation magazines, all African Pilot’s and Future Flight’s monthly editions are easily read on any digital device including smart phone.
Our team is positioned to provide professional video and stills photography, website development, social media platforms, company newsletters as well as several other important media services to customers.
The two monthly magazines are 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.
This twice weekly APAnews service has been part of African Pilot’s line-up since the inception of the magazine 23 years ago.
African Pilot is the third best English language aviation magazine in the top ten magazines in the world: https://blog.feedspot.com/aviation_magazines/
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.