“The ANC is like a consistently cheating partner. Every time it is caught out it begs forgiveness and promises change. But a few months down the line, another love affair with corruption. The only cure is a breakup.”
African Pilot’s aircraft of the week identification quiz
No prizes, but can you identify this aircraft? Last week’s aircraft proved to be difficult because so many respondents identified the fighter as the American F-16 and not the Mitsubishi F-2. Please send your answers to me and not to other African Pilot e-mail addresses – Thank you: firstname.lastname@example.org. I will publish the names of all those that identified the aircraft correctly in the Thursday edition of APAnews.
In what part of the law do we find “Fees and Charges”?
Eskom is broken again!
I can understand power outages during the winter months, when the demand for power is at its highest, by now in summer this situation is ridiculous. We are told that the infrastructure is ageing – due to a lack of maintenance. Just like so many parts of our lives, things are breaking down due to 26 years of blatant corruption, where the money was ‘stolen’ rather than used to maintain and build new infrastructure. Now in one week we are all going to the polls to elect more corrupt local council politicians. What a tragedy to see the ordinary people of South Africa being fooled into voting for the same corruption that they have been subjected to for the past 26 years with empty promises. As long as the ‘fat cats’ can get fatter and stash more money away in hidden bank accounts they will not stop their thieving activity. What do you think? email@example.com.
African Pilot’s November 2021 edition
The November edition featuring African Airlines, Gifts for Pilots and Aircraft Leasing is complete and will go into its world distribution phase this week. This edition is 320+ pages long (gosh this is a book) due to 115 pages being devoted to the 94 African Airlines. The Gifts for Pilots feature has been planned for the pilot shops and on-line companies to market their merchandise with direct clicks on the product they are marketing (another first). Finally, Aircraft Leasing is a sector of the aviation industry that is often neglected and this feature presented an opportunity for leasing companies to present their business profiles. The November edition is certainly the largest aviation magazine we have ever produces and is probably larger that all the other South African aviation magazines put together.
African Pilot’s December 2021 edition
The December edition will feature Drones, UAVs and Urban Mobility. Over several years African Pilot has consistently covered the exciting developments within the drone and urban mobility industry since these developments will change everything we know in aviation’s future. Although there are some people who say ‘flying cars’ will not be with us for decades, my belief is that they are just around the corner and like the drone industry, regulators all over the world need to start preparing for the explosion of aerial vehicles in our cities. African Pilot is the ‘only aviation magazine’ that provides its advertisers with coverage within a well-designed publication that has South African, African and International reach.
Video of the week
Krugersdorp Spot Landing – 16 October 2021
African Pilot Digital Calendars
Wallpaper calendar for the months of September and October. Go to our wallpaper page to download the calendars in three different resolutions.
View and download African Pilot’s last three (3) 2021 editions.
Click on the covers below.
Wouter Botes new TV series Plane Wreck Hunter
Aero Club coffee table Centenary Yearbook
The AeCSA Centenary Yearbook is now available to purchase from the online shop. Please visit www.aeroclub.org.za/shop.
Aero Club support
Mach 1 Aviation New Tecnam Dealer for South Africa
TECNAM® is proud to announce their partnership with Mach 1 Aviation to market the complete fleet of Tecnam aircraft in South Africa. Mach 1 is an innovative flight school will not only be marketing the aircraft but will be using the Tecnam aircraft for training. The flight school will be a trusty testimonial showcasing the advantages in having Tecnam aircraft in the fleet. A P92 MkII will be touring South Africa to showcase it’s features and benefits. Furthermore, a second aircraft will be used for initial training and an additional twin engine P2006T will follow by the end of the year.
Offering different Tecnam models its ‘fleet solution’, is idea for any flight school to cover all the flight training requirements, from initial training to complex (multi engine, variable pitch propeller and retractable landing gear). With incredibly low operating costs and competitive rates for students, the school has Tecnam as a single source for all needs. The Tecnam platforms for training is based on very modern aircraft models, that exceed a very strict and high-level certification process, that 1950’s design aircraft on the training market cannot meet. Mach 1 will be utilising the high wing P92 MkII LSA for initial training equipped with the Garmin G3X dual screen system. Students will then move to the P2006T light twin with Garmin G1000 NXi to complete their multi-commercial and multi-engine instructor certificates.
Chief sales officer Mubi Manaf says, “Our dream is to be able to provide a safe aviator training academy where students can earn a pilot’s license whilst owning their own aircraft. It makes sense for us to partner with an aircraft company that has high safety standards and whose aircrafts are compliant with the latest certifications, as customer safety is important to us. We are excited to be able to offer state-of-the-art Tecnam aeroplanes to customers in Africa. They are well-known amongst aviators for their easy operating and cost-effective features.”
“We are very pleased to have Mach 1 Aviation join the Tecnam family. We consider South Africa an important market with a strong legacy in aviation and with a big potential for new innovative aircraft. We are confident that Tecnam customers and operators in South Africa will be well served by Mach 1 Aviation to the highest standards that they deserve” said Walter Da Costa, chief sales officer.
Why Next Aviation?
Quite simply, the industry is changing, and the business needs to change with it to keep up with these changes and innovations in the aviation and sales industry. Next Aviation is well established as a company that offers buyers and sellers of aircraft outstanding service. Next Aviation recognises these changes globally and is positioning itself to provide customers with distinct actions that embodies the promise of delivering aircraft and services effectively, on time and always 100% right.
As the aviation industry grows worldwide, the opportunities to deal with international clients mean more competition in the sales and brokering of aircraft. The need to stand out as a forward-thinking and future-based business becomes imperative. The professional team has more significant insights into the current market and offers a competitive edge to their clients. Delivering consistent service excellence is key to everything the company values, assisted and facilitated by exceptionally high standards, experienced teams and partnered companies.
SAA management salaries explained
South African Airways (SAA) has dismissed allegations that it has a bloated management team that costs R300 million per year. National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) national spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola recently said the new SAA has 250 managers managing 750 staff at the cost of R300 million. Hlubi-Majola added that ordinary workers had to take a 35% pay cut and lost many benefits, including medical aid. In comparison, management enjoyed salary increases. She alleged that SAA workers’ salaries are benchmarked against a low-cost airline like Mango. Executive salaries, she said, were benchmarked against international standards.
SAA spokesperson Vimla Maistry dismissed Hlubi-Majola’s allegations about the number of managers and their salary bill. “SAA has 70 managers and 64 specialists who do not manage any people but do technical work. Their cost to the organisation is nowhere near the R300 million reported,” Maistry said. Commenting on the new SAA salaries, Maistry said the pay packages of ground staff and cabin crew were indeed benchmarked against Mango. “Mango was the only available source of information as other airlines would not disclose their salaries as they considered that their competitive advantage,” said Maistry. “Executive salary scales were downgraded by up to 40% from what emerged in the national benchmarks and there was no international benchmarking done, only local.”
She highlighted that SAA benchmarked management salaries and it applied a 20% reduction to the results of the benchmarks. “Because management had not had an increase in three years, their salaries were already low and a result was that even with the reduced scales, there was little room to reduce further,” Maistry said.
What happened in aviation over the past week?
Panorama Flight Park Airfield breakfast fly-in
On Saturday morning Panorama Flight Park, situated south of Johannesburg, hosted a breakfast fly-in that attracted in the region of 60 visiting aircraft of all shapes and sizes. In all 180 delicious breakfasts were served, whilst cold liquid refreshments were available in the club house. In the past I have flown to this airfield, especially when I have undertaken my PPL renewals, but this was the first time that I drove to the airfield. Panorama airfield is home to the Johannesburg Flying Academy owned and managed by Alan Stewart who a passionate EAA member.
Panorama Flight Park was founded in 1980 when two friends Gary Holmes and Bill Anderson who had both trained to fly Trikes at Bapsfontein decided they wanted an airfield closer to home. Situated just outside Alberton on the Swartkoppies road on the way to Eikenhof it grew from one hangar to where today it houses more than 50 aircraft including, microlights, fixed wing and gyrocopters and has three runways, a clubhouse as well as a flying school.
Johannesburg Flying Academy is an approved Civil Aviation Flight School SACAA 0055, Pilot Training for National Pilot Licence, Private Pilot Licence, Hour Building, Hire & Fly, Conversations, Renewals. A full feature with pictures and a video will be presented within the December 2021 edition of African Pilot.
What is scheduled for the next few months?
African Pilot’s 2021 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.
Lydenburg annual fly-in and festival
Contact Coenraad De Beer Cell: 076 466 9999
Henley Air open day at Rand Airport
Contact Andre Coetzee E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +27 (0)11 827 5503
The Henley Aeronautical Institute of Learning OPEN DAY. Are you planning to attend the HAIL open day on 30 October? Help us prepare, so we can make the day even more awesome!
You DON’T want to miss out on this!
SAA Museum Society presents Breast Cancer awareness day
Contact Margeret Cell: 082 336 9600
EAA Chapter 322 monthly meeting virtual via Zoom
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 084 674 5674
Children’s Flight at Orient airfield
Contact Felix Gosher
5 to 7 November
EAA Sun ‘n Fun at Brits airfield
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 084 674 5674
SAA Museum Society Airline Collectibles at Rand Airport
Contact E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 076 879 5044
14 to 18 November
Dubai Airshow DWC, Airshow Site, Dubai, UAE
Krugersdorp Flying Club fly-in at Jack Taylor airfield
Contact E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 083 577 8894
SAPFA Springs Speed Rally at Springs Airfield
Contact David Le Roux E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 073 338 5200
Sports Aerobatics Club Western Cape regionals at Stellenbosch airfield
Contact Annie Boon E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
EAA Chapter 322 monthly meeting virtual via Zoom
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 084 674 5674
2 & 3 December
Security Drone Conference at Emperors Palace Convention Centre
Contact Tawanda Mandaza E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 063 580 6400
Aero Club of South Africa annual awards venue TBA
Contact Rob Jonkers E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 082 804 7032
Cancelled due to very few international events
Sports Aerobatics Club ACE of Base Baragwaneth Airfield
Contact Annie Boon E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Steady Climb fly-in and expo at Rhino Park airfield
Contact David Le Roux Cell: 073 338 5200
2022 Aviation calendar
I have started compiling the 2022 aviation calendar, so if you would like to reserve a specific date even if this is provisional, please send the details to me. What I require is the date, venue, contact person(s) and contact details such as Cell number and e-mail. Thank you.
Airlink inaugurates Johannesburg - Luanda service
On Thursday 21 October Airlink today inaugurated its Johannesburg – Luanda air service. The route, which links South Africa’s and Angola’s economic hubs, will be operated three times per week with a modern 98-seat Embraer E-190 jetliner and with convenient connections to Airlink’s network of South African domestic and other regional destinations.
Airlink’s great value for money fares include complimentary 20kg free economy class checked in luggage allowance plus a 15kg sporting equipment allowance. Onboard customers are treated to a complimentary light meal, refreshments, comfort with generous leg room and a choice of aisle or window seat (our flights do not have middle seats). Customers also have the freedom to book business class on this route and enjoy Airlink’s intra-continental Business Class service available on the state-of-the-art Embraer E-jet. The cabin offers six business class seats, generous pitch with plenty legroom and wide seats arranged in a two-plus-one abreast configuration. Onboard business class service on these flights includes complimentary meals and beverages, a 30kg check-in luggage allowance, priority boarding and lounge access at selected airports.
Airlink flights from South Africa and other countries can be planned, booked and managed on www.flyairlink.com, on the FlyAirlink smartphone app, or through travel agents.
Indian Air Force Mirage 2000 crashes in Madhya Pradesh
An Indian Air Force (IAF) Dassault Mirage 2000 fighter jet crashed near the Madhya Pradesh Bhind district on October 21, 2021. The accident occurred during a training sortie. According to the IAF, the Mirage 2000 fighter jet crashed after ‘experiencing a technical malfunction during a training sortie in the central sector’. The IAF pilot managed to safely eject from the Mirage 2000 before it crashed. However, the pilot experienced minor injuries, Livemint reported. IAF has ordered an inquiry to determine the cause of the accident.
Rebound in Middle East aviation soon, 3K planes needed as market worth $1.4 trillion
Boeing has found that airlines in the Middle East will require 3,000 new airplanes valued at $700 billion over the next two decades. That is added to aftermarket services, such as maintenance and repair, worth $740 billion. The manufacturer said the region is positioned to capitalise on the recovery of international travel and cargo demand.
Boeing provided the estimate in its 2021 Commercial Market Outlook (CMO), a forecast of 20-year demand for commercial airplanes and services. Middle East passenger traffic and the region’s commercial fleet are projected to more than double over the 20-year forecast period, according to the CMO. More than two-thirds of airplane deliveries to the Middle East will accommodate growth, while one-third of deliveries will replace older airplanes with more fuel-efficient models.
“The Middle East region’s role as a global connecting hub continues to be important for developing markets to and from south-east Asia, China and Africa,” said Randy Heisey, Boeing managing director of commercial marketing for the Middle East. “The region has been a leader in restoring confident passenger travel through multi-faceted initiatives that aid international travel recovery.”
Air freight represents an ongoing area of opportunity for Middle East airlines, with the freighter fleet projected to nearly double from 80 airplanes in 2019 to 150 by 2040. Notably, air cargo traffic flown by Middle East carriers has increased since 2020 by nearly 20 per cent, with two of the world’s top-five cargo carriers based in the region.
World’s largest aircraft, the An-225, returns after 20-day mission
The Antonov An-225 Mriya, which is the heaviest and, arguably, the largest aircraft in the world, has finally returned to its base after crisscrossing the globe for 20 days. The aircraft made 12 flights in total and visited Kazakhstan, China, Turkey, Austria, Saudi Arabia, Ireland and a host of other countries. Most of the flights were conducted between Asia and Europe. For example, between 4 and 5 October 2021, the aircraft delivered 110 tons of COVID-19 tests from Tianjin (TSN), China, to Linz (LNZ), Austria. Then, on 7 October, the aircraft ferried 80 tons of metal works from Bucharest (OTP) to Ad Dammam (DMM). The last few flights were conducted between Tianjin (TSN) and Shannon (SNN), with a stop in Almaty (ALA). According to Antonov Airlines, the An-225 was carrying car parts. The giant aircraft returned from Ireland to Kiev on the afternoon of 20 October 2021. It landed at Hostomel Airport (HML), also known as Antonov Airport.
The Antonov An-225 Mriya boasts the largest mass of any aircraft ever built and its wingspan is the third largest, behind the Scaled Composites Stratolaunch and the Hughes H-4 Hercules. The aircraft holds dozens of world records, including one for the heaviest payload ever carried by an aircraft, 247,000 kilograms (545,000 pounds), which is the equivalent of five disassembled Boeing 737s, almost two Boeing 747s, or approximately 3,500 washing machines. Only one An-225 was ever constructed. It was built in the late 1980s to carry rocket parts and Buran space shuttles for the Soviet space programme but was repurposed as a commercial cargo aircraft in the 2000s.
This was Mriya’s third and longest mission this year. According to Radarbox data, the aircraft conducted a flight between Pakistan and the United Kingdom on 22 to 24 June 2021, followed by several flights between Germany and various destinations in Western and Southern Africa on 5 to 10 July. In August, the airplane underwent an extensive testing programme, performing six more flights.
Icelandair talks with lessors to procure more 737 MAX aircraft for summer 2022
On 20 October 2021, announced that it is looking to add up to three more Boeing 737 MAX aircraft for summer 2022 and has resumed work on its long-term fleet plans. As of the end of September 2021, the Icelandic flag carrier had nine 737 MAX aircraft in its fleet. The final three aircraft, from an original order of 12 aircraft, are due to be delivered in December 2021 and January 2022. But the carrier is now looking for up to three more 737 MAX for summer 2022 and is in talks with leasing companies, citing ‘favourable conditions’ in the commercial aircraft market. Discussions with aircraft lessors are progressing well and expected to be concluded before the end of the year, the carrier stated in its third quarter results, published on 20 October 2021.
The airline commented that the MAX aircraft had provided better technical reliability, fuel efficiency and payload-range than initially assumed. It generates 36% less CO2 emissions than the Boeing 757, Icelandair noted. Icelandair also said it had restarted a review of its long-term fleet strategy, which had been put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic. The carrier aims to finish work on the fleet strategy ‘before the end of year’.
US Air Force F-15E successfully drops new 5,000-pound bomb
The US Air Force has successfully tested its new 5,000-pound (2,267 kilograms) GBU-72 Advanced 5K Penetrator capable of destroying underground spaces such as ballistic missile and nuclear weapons facilities. According to the service, the bunker-busting bomb was dropped at 35,000 feet (10.6 kilometres) using an F-15E strike fighter around the Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. The event marked the first time that the air force loaded and released a 2.5-ton bomb in the open air. The GBU-72 drop test successfully demonstrated how the weapon can be safely released from the aircraft, which had been upgraded to carry bombs that weigh 5,000 pounds instead of its original payload capacity of 2,000 pounds (907 kilograms).
The 96th Test Wing recently concluded a GBU-72 test series that featured the first-ever load, flight and release of the 5,000-pound weapon. “Test series of this magnitude are never successful, overall, because of just a single person or organisation,” 780th TS Programming Engineer Ronald Forch said in a press release. “They are ultimately successful because the test engineer is able to perform a role very similar to that of a symphony conductor guiding the performance of a series of consecutive miracles.” The service has reportedly been researching the mammoth GBU-72 bomb since 2017. It is expected to purchase 125 units of the weapon by next year at a total cost of $36 million.
About the GBU-72 advanced 5K penetrator: Developed by Applied Research Associates, Inc., the GBU-72 was designed using advanced modelling and simulation techniques and processes to increase its lethality. It can also be combined with a modified Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) GPS guidance kit and tail assembly, which converts the bomb into GPS-guided munitions to hit particular coordinates. According to GBU-72 Programme Manager James Culliton, it is an advantage that the techniques used in developing the bomb can help produce prototypes that represent what the actual hardware and software would be when the weapon is mass produced. “This helps us bring our operational test partners in sooner with eyes on, hands on participation, validating our design and procedures sooner while including input that improves the weapon,” he remarked.
Boeing engine blowouts investigated as older 777s are suspended
Showers of jet engine parts over residential areas on both sides of the Atlantic have caught regulators’ attention and prompted the suspension of some older Boeing Co planes from service. Saturday’s incidents involving a United Airlines 777 in Denver and a Longtail Aviation 747 freighter in the Netherlands put engine maker Pratt & Whitney in the spotlight, though there is no evidence they are related. In the Dutch case, the Longtail pilot was informed of an engine fire by air traffic control after taking off from Maastricht, bound for New York and diverted to Liege, Belgium. Pratt & Whitney, which is owned by Raytheon Technologies Corp, said it was coordinating with regulators to review inspection protocols. It is expected to increase inspections ordered after previous incidents.
After the Colorado engine failure, when United Flight 328 dropped debris on a northern Denver suburb before landing safely, Boeing recommended the suspension of 777s with the same variant of PW4000 turbine. Japan, meanwhile, imposed a mandatory suspension. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) weighed in on Monday, requesting more information on the Pratt engines in light of both events. A woman sustained minor injuries in the Dutch incident, which scattered turbine blades on the town of Meerssen. One was found embedded in a car roof. After receiving more information, EASA said the incidents were unrelated. “Nothing in the failure and root analysis show any similarity (between the two incidents) at this stage,” the regulator said.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it would soon issue an emergency airworthiness directive based on the United event. Both incidents involve the same type of PW4000 engine that equips a relatively small number of older planes, some grounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, limiting the likely repercussions. They nonetheless bring a new headache for Boeing as it recovers from the much more serious 737-MAX crisis, which resulted in the grounding of its flagship narrowbody jet after two deadly crashes.
The 777-200s and 777-300s affected are older, less fuel-efficient models still flown by five airlines: United, Japan Airlines, ANA Holdings Inc, Asiana Airlines Inc and Korean Air. Most are in the process of being phased out. Boeing said 69 of the 777s operating globally with PW4000s had been in recent service, with another 59 stored. Pratt & Whitney engines power less than 10% of the delivered 777 fleet of more than 1,600 planes. United suspended 24 of its 777s, pre-empting Boeing’s advice, after the Saturday blowout that dropped the right engine’s protective outer casing near homes. The majority of 777s in service today are powered by engines made by General Electric, the sole supplier on recent models.
Examination of the 26-year-old United jet showed damage was mostly confined to the right engine, the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said. Its inlet and casing came off and two fan blades were fractured, with others showing damage. The FAA said early findings suggested that the “inspection interval should be stepped up for the hollow fan blades that are unique to this model of engine, used solely on Boeing 777 airplanes”. Another United 777 of the same vintage suffered an engine failure in February 2018, when a cowling fell off about 30 minutes before the plane landed safely. A full-length fan blade fracture was behind the incident, the NTSB determined. After a malfunction forced a Tokyo-bound JAL 777 to return abruptly to Naha airport in December, Japan’s Transport Safety Board reported it found two damaged fan blades, one with a metal fatigue crack. Its investigation is ongoing. JAL, which operates 13 of the planes, said they were scheduled for retirement by March 2022. The smaller PW4000 engines on some Boeing 747s and 767s, as well as some Airbus A330s, do not feature the hollow titanium fan blade suspected of being involved in the United 777 incident.
EAA launches turn-back study
The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) has formed a team to study 180-degree turn-backs to the runway following engine failures on take-off. Designed to improve aviation safety by looking at turn-back responses, the study will focus on how pilots react to an engine failure on take-off, stall awareness, recognition and prevention after loss of power in take-off attitude and stall recovery. EAA says the group will also look at how to teach pilots proper judgment in a turn-back scenario, the ability of different types of aircraft to perform the manoeuvre and whether a turn-back is an appropriate response.
“EAA’s action followed a National Transportation Board report that indicates engine failure on take- off / climb-out was a significant contributor to GA accidents,” the organisation said. “The group will study how to incorporate these piloting skills in basic private and sport pilot certification, as well as additional training programs.” The group will be led by EAA board vice chairman Charlie Precourt and EAA vice president of advocacy and safety Sean Elliott. According to EAA, it will also include representatives from the flight instruction and flight test communities, academia and data analysis experts. In addition, the team is working with the FAA and plans to submit any recommendations resulting from the study to the agency.
Aura Aero receives LOI for 200 electric regional aircraft
French sustainable aviation manufacturer Aura Aero has announced their signage of an LOI for their prospective Electric Regional Aircraft (ERA), a 19-seat commercial passenger craft for small passenger carriers and regional airlines. Amedeo has signalled its intent for purchase 200 in total, to get a head start on green aircraft in their leasing fleet as the net-zero industry goal approaches in 2050. The race for low-emission, hybrid and electric aircraft for passenger service has brought in billions of dollars as a multitude of new companies vie for the crown. Government regulations, industry benchmarks and bragging rights for marketing departments make for an irresistible combination that companies like Aura Aero sprint to fulfill ahead of legacy manufacturers.
Only three years old, with their electric single trainer plane, Integral (or, what seems to be mandatory styling for electric aircraft: INTEGRAL), still on pre-order. This purchase agreement bodes well for their progress, with the buy signalling investor confidence that their recently announced ERA will live up to the hype. The 19-passenger, electric aircraft sports a high-wing with six propellers, with any more details unknown while still in prototype, 3D mock-up form. Interest has been garnered since its announcement last summer. However, as the industry is rife with AAM pods and sky cars, but short on short-haul aircraft that can fly the line with passengers onboard.
Next Starliner launch bumped to 2022
NASA and Boeing have announced that the next launch of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft has been pushed back to next year while the company works to correct an oxidiser isolation valve issue on the vehicle’s service module propulsion system. The problem was discovered last August when unexpected valve position indications caused the cancellation of an uncrewed launch. New launch windows for Starliner’s next mission, called Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2), are still being assessed.
“Safety of the Starliner spacecraft, our employees and our crew members is this team’s number one priority,” said John Vollmer, Boeing vice president and Starliner programme manager. “We are taking the appropriate amount of time to work through the process now to set this system up for success on OFT-2 and all future Starliner missions.”
Starliner also experienced software problems during its first orbital flight test in December 2019, resulting in the capsule failing to make its intended orbit and plans to re-fly the mission. Part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Programme, the spacecraft is currently slated for the uncrewed OFT-2 mission and a crewed flight test along with six crew rotation missions to the International Space Station. As previously reported, NASA reassigned astronauts scheduled for Starliner missions earlier this month.
‘Ultralight’ VTOL Jetson ONE launched
The announcement was a surprise for fans of the burgeoning eVTOL single seater market. With as many designations as names, projects are sometimes labelled ‘Skycars’, ‘Personal Urbain Air-Transport’ or, in Jetson’s nomenclature, a ‘personal electric aerial vehicle.’ Falling under the wider umbrella of the Advanced Air Mobility Market (AAM), product releases often take the industry by surprise, as the electric aircraft market is in its infancy and growing quickly. The ONE appears suited for the recreational crowd, with space for a single pilot and there is probably somewhere to wedge a granola bar somewhere in that tubing. Maybe a commuter can make do, if they squeeze everything into a fanny pack.
The Jetson ONE is one of the more pared-down vehicles of the type, looking like little more than a bucket seat surrounded by a ring of tubing, brief glimpses of rotors glinting in the sun as the craft carves through the air. Where similar projects tend to look like carbon-wrapped bathtubs, the ONE looks like a weekend project track car, a vehicle stripped to only the most essential elements of propulsion, power, and controls. Unlike normal consumer drone controls with dual thumb sticks, steering is accomplished by a fighter like HOTAS configuration, with the right hand controlling three axes of flight and power on the left. Meeting FAA Part 103 Ultralight standards, it does have some quirks that may cede market share to larger aircraft for pilots bigger than its accommodations allow. Jetson lists a gross weight of 198 pounds, but more detailed specifications are needed to learn a maximum payload. The Achilles’ heel for now remains the battery life, with a quoted flight time of 20 minutes with a 187-pound pilot at the helm.
Jetson does manage to pack in a few safety features, with distributed propulsion with enough redundancy to land in case of failure. The ONE’s chassis surrounds the pilot with a crash cage and a ballistic parachute adds a last-ditch tool in case of emergency. The drone-like running gear includes some niceties, such as lidar-based obstacle and terrain avoidance, hands-free hover and emergency hold functions. Max speed is a brisk 55 knots, limited by its onboard computers (keep in mind, it is an unshielded cockpit, a helmet will block noise and teeth / bug interactions). Delivered as a 50% complete kit aircraft, some assembly is required at home. When completed, the ONE can fold into a storage configuration about 3 X 9 feet. To order the craft, a $22,000 deposit is required to reserve a build slot, with the initial run of twelve sold out for 2021. Production will begin in the summer of 2022, for increasing delivery throughout 2023.
South Korea’s LIG Nex1 reveals hydrogen-powered cargo drone
A mock-up of the KCD-200, a prospective cargo drone, was unveiled at the Seoul International Aerospace & Defence Exhibition (ADEX) by South Korean aerospace and defence company, LIG Nex1. The drone will be powered by hydrogen cells and boast a cargo capacity of 200 kilograms (440 pounds). The manufacturer also claims that it can be used for both civilian and military applications.
The KCD-200 was announced in May 2021, after LIG Nex1 was awarded a 44.3 billion won ($37.6 million) five-year contract by South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy to develop a hydrogen-powered cargo drone. No production and testing deadlines or further details have been revealed, but the terms of the contract suggest that the development phase will end in 2026.
LIG Nex1 is known for manufacturing weapons systems, avionics, radars and unmanned aerial vehicles as well as other military technology, including the Chiron air-to-surface missile system and the Haeseong cruise missile. Both have been adopted by the South Korean military.
Wing strikes a deal with Walgreens for UAV shipping
Walgreens has selected drone delivery specialist and former Alphabet, Inc. company Wing for its upcoming metropolitan delivery systems, with a test location set up in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas region. In a parking lot staging area, Walgreens personnel will pack, process and load packages onto the delivery drones, with Wing’s flight operations overseeing the shipment straight to customers across Frisco and Little Elm.
Wing’s drone carrier is advertised with an average service of six-mile flights in six minutes carrying small parcels, most suited to small cargo like food, parts and medication. The Wing drone is equipped with fixed wings as well as 12 vertical rotors to maintain position while loading and unloading goods, as well as a retractable tether to lower its payload while remaining aloft. While loaded, the company states that even beverages can be loaded and flown without spillage. Wing has built-in support for drone traffic and routing, with in-flight tracking for users eagerly waiting for their goods.
Once active, Walgreens will be the first US retailer to offer drone delivery. Primarily suited to large, densely populated metro regions, Wings has partnered with Hillwood to create a separate drone delivery facility in Frisco, Texas. Located within a mixed-use development, the project is part of a wider effort in the area to publicise developments in sustainable transportation and technology. In preparation for further test flights and expanding service, Wing has been working with Hillwood’s Alliance Texas Flight Test Center in Fort Worth, Texas. Rollout to open delivery for all Walgreens customers is expected in the coming months, once delivery demonstrations, community feedback and procedures are finalised.
Amazon to develop drone parking stations on lampposts
Amazon has patented UAV docking stations that would turn lampposts into drone parking places. The introduction of the service in the country was possible because in 2005, New Zealand announced new drone regulations that allow drone usage for commercial purposes. Domino’s Pizza expects to start testing the service in Australia, Japan, Germany, Belgium and France by the end of this year.
Stranded dogs to be rescued by drone from lava
The ongoing volcanic activity of Cumbre Vieja, on the Spanish Isle of La Palma, has been a subject of internet interest since it began. A thankfully bloodless, fun-to-watch play since early evacuations successfully removed residents from danger. However, not all the island’s residents have escaped as viewers remotely touring the situation noticed four scrawny, haggard dogs trapped behind a house.
Stuck behind the exclusion zone, with local airspace closed near the volcano, the dogs seemed doomed to starvation or death by lava flow. Local UAV companies Tecnofly and TicomSolutions stepped up to the plate and began airlifting food and water to the beleaguered animals, securing their survival for a time. Upon contact with a Spanish animal welfare group, Jaime Pereira, CEO of Aerocámaras, volunteered his company’s services. In preparing for the mission, his team has completed a series of short lift tests, gauging their drone’s capabilities to retrieve one dog at a time, fly it free of the area and repeat the effort three more times. While his company has the most capable drones closest to the scene, they are a far cry from the kind of equipment needed for the task, necessitating careful planning, meticulous piloting and a good bit of luck to complete the rescue.
In an interview with Telecino, Pereira enumerated some of the obstacles to a successful operation. Battery considerations mean that operators can only loiter to retrieve the dogs for less than four minutes in order to retain a safe margin of power, lest they run out of charge over the lava flows on the return flight (not an optimal outcome). Obtaining the dogs, alone and afraid, on the ground is an issue all itself. With no handlers or humans around, Aerocámaras must rig a net system to catch the animals from above and ensure it holds them securely throughout the quarter-mile flight over the rising heat to land them safely again. Picking up one dog at a time, securing it within the rigging and making the flight will be difficult to do in quadruplicate, but Pereira is confident in his company’s skills.
When the first attempt at rescue was carried out, the dogs had moved somewhere out of sight. Assuming they have hidden themselves away from the increasing heat and smoke, the rescue was scrubbed in order to wait for nightfall, when thermal imaging will be able to better distinguish the dogs from residual heat. In their latest flight, operators were able to drop more water for the dogs, keeping them hydrated until the next rescue attempt.
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