“Most of the major ills of the world have been caused by well-meaning people who ignored the principle of individual freedom, except as applied to themselves and who were obsessed with fanatical zeal to improve the lot of mankind-in-the-mass through some pet formula of their own. The harm done by ordinary criminals, murderers, gangsters and thieves is negligible in comparison with the agony inflicted upon human beings by the professional do-gooders, who attempt to set themselves up as gods on earth and who would ruthlessly force their views on all others – with the abiding assurance that the end justifies the means.” Henry Grady Weaver
(Information from Wikipedia)
The Curtiss P-37 was an American fighter aircraft made by Curtiss-Wright in 1937 for the US Army Air Corps. A development of the Curtiss P-36 Hawk to use an inline engine instead of the radial engine of the P-36 the fuselage was lengthened and the cockpit moved back. A small number of YP-37 aircraft was built for Air Corps evaluation. The expected top speed was not achieved and the project terminated in favor of the Curtiss P-40.
In early 1937, after realizing the P-36 Hawk was inferior to more modern European designs, the USAAC ordered Curtiss to adapt one P-36 to the new liquid-cooled turbo-supercharged Allison V-1710. The prototype Hawk was fitted with a turbo-supercharged 1,150 hp (860 kW) Allison V-1710-11 as the XP-37 (company designation Model 75I). The cockpit was moved back towards the tail to make room for the massive turbo-superchargers and the engine was cooled by two radiators on either side of the nose. Armament was one 0.30 in (7.62 mm) M1919 Browning machine gun and one 0.50 in (12.70 mm) M2 Browning heavy machine gun mounted in the nose.
Although the turbo-supercharger was extremely unreliable and visibility from the cockpit on take-off and landing was virtually non-existent, the USAAC was sufficiently intrigued by the promised performance to order 13 service test YP-37s and spares at a contract cost of $531,305 in 1938. These aircraft were powered by an improved V-1710-21 with a more reliable supercharger mounted in a lengthened nose. However, reliability problems and poor visibility continued to plague the YP-37 and the project was cancelled in favour of a parallel development, the P-40 Warhawk.
Those persons who correctly identified this week’s mystery aircraft:
Charlie Hugo, Hilton Carroll, P. Rossouw, Righardt du Plessis, Ari Levien, Adrian Maree, Jeremy Rorich, Jan Sime, Steve Dewsbery, Bruce Prescott, Wouter van der Waal, Selwyn Kimber, Kevin Farr, Clint Futter, Rahul Vala, Andre Visser, Michael Schoeman, Andre Breytenbach, Geoff Timms, Willie Oosthuizen, Danie Viljoen, Piet Steyn, Rex Tweedie, Ray Watts, Greg Pullin, Carl von Ludwig, Gregory Yatt, Karl Jensen, John Moen, Aiden O’Mahony, Jaco van Jaarsveld, Andrew Peace, Ahmed Bassa, Pierre Britts, Daryl Kimber, Dave Lloyd (36).
Considering accurate aviation reporting
The greatest error any journalist can make, apart from arrogance, is assumption and yet, like humans the world over, we make daily assumptions. Maybe you half-read something and mentally fill in the remainder. This is a natural phenomenon because our brains, seemingly having not evolved as fast as our technology, can only be concerned with so much. One mistake we all make is assuming that others know what we know. This is particularly true in relation to the aviation world within which we work. Within the aviation news media we assume that our readers understand this industry. We assume this because you read African Pilot and perhaps you understand our challenges and value what we provide.
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 material deadline for the November 2023 edition of African Pilot was on Friday 20 October 2023, but I am holding this edition open until Thursday 26 October.
All editorial content should be sent to me Athol Franz
For advertising opportunities please call Cell: 079 880 4359
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: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
Report that the SAAF has 85% of its fleet grounded
It has been uncovered that 85 percent of South African Air Force fleet is out of action, which leaves the country vulnerable to security threats. The country is surrounded by a lengthy coastline, yet there seems to be no coherent maritime strategy to defend it. Around 233 aircraft have been grounded due to a lack of spares and budget constraints.
DA MP Kobus Marais said if you look at South Africa’s geopolitical positioning in the world, we have an enormous coastline and land borders. “We have to protect our borders, we have to protect our economy from outside threats and that might be conventional threats in terms of war but it can also be other threats in terms of our economy, it could be goods brought illegally into South Africa, even people into South Africa. It can be that our country is being used by the wrong people as a base, as a go-through base to the rest of the world.”
Marais said the ocean economy should also be protected. “We are being robbed daily of enormous amount of money and goods from our ocean. We are also responsible for safety and security and certain rescue for this whole maritime area around South Africa down to Antarctica,” he said. “So, the moment you cannot fulfill your international obligations it obviously impacts on your image internationally, and how they will probably invest in South Africa and seeing South Africa as an international partner.”
24 October to 4 November
SAC Advanced World Aerobatics Championships Las Vegas
Contact Annie Boon E-mail: email@example.com
26 to 29 October
Border Aviation reunion weekend
Contact Seth Cell 061 432 8248 or Bianca Cell: 081 263 3998
SACAA Safety Management System Cape Town Industry Workshop
Contact Nomhle Dlamini E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 083 451 2628
SAPFA SA Landing Championships – Brits & Stellenbosch airfields
Contact Ron Stirk E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 082 804 445 0373
EAA Chapter 322 breakfast fly-in at Brits airfield
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 084 674 5674
Fractional service launch commits VivaJets to African connectivity
Business aviation can stimulate African economic development and VivaJets is positioning itself to meet rising demand on the continent with aircraft management, fractional ownership plus sales and acquisition services. Vivajets, a Falcon Aerospace Group brand, is positioning itself to meet rising demand in Africa with a full range of aviation services. Nigeria-based VivaJets has rolled out a set of innovative product offerings at a recent international conference held by the company in Lagos. The organisation also released a guide on fractional aircraft ownership.
As Africa evolves through an increase in population, innovation and enterprise, new business leaders have emerged and business aviation has become crucial in enhancing their efficiency. Therefore business aviation has the potential to stimulate African economic development alongside increased connectivity across the continent. VivaJets is positioning itself to meet this rising demand on the continent with a full range of services including aircraft management services, fractional ownership opportunities, and aircraft sales and acquisition. It is one of the brands operating under Falcon Aerospace Group, alongside digital platforms CharterXE and FlyPJX.
“VivaJets is beyond a company. We are a young and dynamic organisation, born out of the need to bring Africans together, facilitate regional connectivity and empower African growth and renaissance,” says CEO Chukwuerika Achum. “We want to be part of the new African story. We want to support the next set of people who will retell the continent’s story. We believe that our business strategy and culture will help facilitate and accelerate Africa’s integration.” Achum explains that VivaJets currently operates a number of international routes on chartered flights from its current base in Lagos. Destinations include London, Accra and Abidjan, with a range of operational strategies designed to improve travel efficiency, reduce travel time, maximise aircraft and make business aviation more accessible and affordable.
Head of business excellence Tejumade Salami describes the corporate culture at VivaJets as dynamic, innovative, and friendly. She says: “Building an excellent corporate culture starts with recruitment. At VivaJets we try to ensure that we recruit a set of people that have mindsets related to our work culture. In our operations, we drive the ideology of safety. We have created a space for people who are mindful of the safety of our passengers, crew and aircraft. We are also a customer and innovation-oriented organisation. We are constantly researching new ways to solve our customers’ needs and improve operational efficiency.”
“Technology plays a crucial role in the way we operate and offer our services at VivaJets,” adds head of products and innovation Basil Agbor Bessong. “The culture of innovation and technology use permeates our business as well as corporate culture. Through technology, we are able to maintain a lean team and work collaboratively from anywhere in the world. We have also developed digital platforms to improve customer access to our services.”
McSpadden Cardinal crashed 440 feet short of runway
The NTSB says the Cessna 177RG carrying AOPA Safety Institute head Richard McSpadden crashed about 440 feet short of Lake Placid’s Runway 14 in a failed attempt to return to the airport after McSpadden reported an unspecified problem with the plane. According to the preliminary report McSpadden was in the right seat and Russ Francis, the owner of the plane and a former NFL player and Super Bowl winner, was in the left seat. It is not clear who was flying when the aircraft hit an embankment about 15 feet below the brow of the plateau on which the airport is built. Both men died of their injuries in the 1 October accident.
The Cardinal was No. 2 in a two-ship formation with an A36 Bonanza carrying a photographer to capture images for a magazine story. McSpadden was to take control of the plane when the photo shoot began. After the Bonanza took off, the Cardinal followed. “During the take-off roll, a witness described that the engine sounded as if the propeller was set for ‘climb’ and not take-off, then he heard the engine surge,” the report says. “During the initial climb, the witness further described that the engine did not sound as if it was running at full power.” As the Cardinal moved to join with the Bonanza about 300-400 feet AGL, the Bonanza pilot heard McSpadden on the CTAF say, “We have a problem and we’re returning to the airport.”
Examination of the wreckage didn’t appear to reveal any issues with the plane, which had plenty of fuel and an almost-new engine. Weather was clear and winds were light. Francis had recently purchased Lake Placid Airways, which ultimately owned the aircraft. McSpadden, a former commander of the Air Force Thunderbirds, was a highly respected accident analyst. He frequently published factual descriptions of high-profile accidents soon after they occurred with the intent of tempering the sometimes-speculative analyses of some social media influencers.
Departing Hawker 800, landing Mustang collide
The FAA says a Hawker 800 ‘departed without permission’ and collided with a Cessna Mustang landing on an intersecting runway at Houston Hobby Airport on Tuesday. The pilot of the airborne Hawker told a controller “We just had a midair,” but some reports said the two aircraft brushed each other on the runway. There were no reported injuries. A screen capture from a video by KHOU shows a chunk missing from the tail of the Mustang. From news video it appears the Hawker’s wing clipped the Mustang’s tail.
The Hawker pilot apparently believed he had the runway because he laid fault for the mishap on the controllers. “You guys cleared somebody to land or take-off and we hit him on the departure,” he said on a LiveATC recording posted by a Twitter account named Planes. But the FAA tweeted that the Hawker had not been cleared. “A twin-engine Hawker H25B departed without permission from Runway 22 at Hobby Airport at 16h00 today when it collided with a twin-engine Cessna C510 that was landing on Runway 13 Right,” the agency said in its tweet. It’s not clear how much damage the Hawker received but it made it back to the airport.
Flight school student vandalises multiple aircraft after being denied a solo flight
Martin County Sheriff’s Deputies have arrested a flight school student after he vandalised a number of airplanes at Treasure Coast Flight School located at Whitham Field Airport in Stuart. 23-year-old Sumebh Singh, a student from India, became angry after school instructors would not allow him to take a solo flight. School officials called the Sheriff’s Office when they said they saw Singh on video going from plane to plane causing damage to each of the aircraft. Items such as a plane’s throttle was damaged. A total of 10 aircraft have been affected. The planes are grounded until mechanics can determined what damage was caused to each of the planes. Singh was arrested at Whitman Field and charged with felony criminal mischief.
Off-duty pilot attempts to shut down E-175 engines in flight
On 22 October 2023, Alaska Airlines Flight 2059, an Embraer E-175 regional jet operated by Alaska’s regional subsidiary, Horizon Air diverted en route from its filed destination of California’s San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Oregon’s Portland International Airport (PDX) after Joseph David Emerson (44), an off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot traveling in the E-175’s flight-deck jump seat, allegedly attempted to purposefully shut-off both the jet’s engines.
The two Horizon Air pilots operating Flight 2059 succeeded in preventing Emerson from making a glider of the Embraer jet and, after reestablishing an orderly flight-deck, advised Portland Approach: “We have got the pilot that tried to shut the engines down out of the cockpit. It does not seem like he is causing any issue at the back. I think he is subdued. Other than that, we want law-enforcement as soon as we get on the ground and parked.”
In a statement pertaining to the incident, the FBI’s Portland, Oregon field office said “One man is under arrest on state charges in Oregon, booked by the Port of Portland Police Department, after an incident in the air on Horizon Air flight 2059 from Everett, Washington to San Francisco, California. Online jail records show Emerson was arrested by Port of Portland Police and booked into Multnomah County Jail shortly after 04h00 PDT on the morning of 23 October. Emerson is currently being held on no fewer than 167 counts, including 83 counts of attempted murder, 83 counts of reckless endangerment and one count of endangering an aircraft. While the FBI’s investigation of the incident remains in its nascency, no evidence linking Emerson to terrorism has yet been discovered.
Whitaker confirmed as FAA chief
On Tuesday the US Senate confirmed White House nominee Michael Whitaker as the new FAA Administrator. Whitaker seemed to breeze through the confirmation process, which was without the rancour and finger pointing that marked the gruelling questioning that previous nominee Phil Washington endured. Washington withdrew when it became obvious, he did not have the votes to succeed. Aviation groups were quick to endorse the appointment. Industry reaction to these appointments is always polite and includes pledges to work cooperatively with the new person but the alphabets seem positively enthusiastic about Whitaker becoming the new boss. AOPA President Mark Baker said Whitaker ticks all the boxes. “I am really pleased the Senate took action to confirm Mike and look forward to working with him to help pilots and to move GA forward. He is a capable leader, knows aviation, knows the agency and he is a private pilot.”
Many current aviation leaders know Whitaker from his three-year stint as deputy administrator of the agency and chief NextGen officer. He has also worked in the industry with airlines and most recently he worked for Hyundai eVTOL developer Supernal. NBAA President Ed Bolen called the appointment “well deserved” and said, “his expertise will help chart a clear path toward a successful future for the aviation community.”
Business aviation finance market to grow
According to a new study commissioned by Airbus Corporate Jets (ACJ), eight out of ten (82-percent) US-based business aviation financiers and private jet brokers expect access to business aviation financing to increase over the next three-years, with 17-percent expecting it to stay the same and only one percent predicting a decline. Some 98-percent of survey respondents believe business aviation finance rates are still attractive and it remains advantageous to use credit when buying an aircraft as opposed to tying up capital. However, over the next five-years, one in four (25-percent) of those surveyed expect a dramatic increase in the size of cash deposits used in the purchase of business jets; a further 54-percent anticipate a slight rise, reducing the size of any debt secured to purchase aircraft. Also, with fiscal and monetary policy uncertainty, 74-percent of survey respondents posit the preference for fixed-rate transactions, as opposed to floating rates, will increase over the next five-years amongst those utilizing leases and credit to purchase business aircraft. Some 69-percent of business aviation financiers and brokers believe demand for operating leases, under which lessors take the residual value risk buyer will increase between now and 2028.
The survey revealed that of the US business aviation professionals interviewed, 85-percent expect sales of larger business jets to increase over the next five years, while half (51-percent) believe the forecasted growth in demand will help subject aircraft retain their residual value. However, 42-percent believe increased sales will have no impact and valuations will move in line with the overall market. Nevertheless, as demand for larger business jets is increasing, 77-percent of those surveyed believe securing financing for such will be easier than securing finance for midsized and smaller jets. Finally, 68-percent believe specialist lenders will gain market share over mainstream banks.
Airbus Corporate Jets vice-president of Commercial for North America Sean McGeough said “The business aviation market is predicted to enjoy consistent growth in the coming years and aircraft financing will be key to facilitating this growth. Many of those purchasing aircraft do not want to tie up huge amounts of their capital in the transaction and turn to leasing and other forms of credit.” McGeough continued: “The business aviation finance market is very competitive with many financial players willing to lend money to meet their client’s needs. Innovation and flexibility in the sector is also increasing and we expect this to continue.”
Analysis shows older jets feeling tightest pinch as business aircraft market shifts
The number of preowned private jets for sale on the market at the end of the third quarter this year is more than double that from a year ago. The post-pandemic frenzy of demand gobbling up supply regardless of price looks to be over and for those looking to buy an older business aircraft, the market is shifting in their favour.
Those are some of the conclusions from veteran aircraft broker Jim Donath and his company’s Donath Aircraft Services quarterly market report. Donath is celebrating 15 years this month of compiling the reports, which he started as the bizjet market hit freefall in 2008 during the Great Recession. He uses a variety of sources for his data, including Aircraft Bluebook, AMSTAT, other market-intelligence providers and Donath Aircraft’s proprietary research. While the present aircraft market swirls in a sea change, Donath expects the balancing act to continue. However, he does not expect anything close to the sinking tide witnessed a decade-and-a-half ago.
“While the soft landing extends for the market in general, it is not as smooth for older models,” he wrote. “The pre-owned market continues to adjust to its new footing, as buyers entering the market are expecting to pay less than the last comparable transaction, while sellers are trying to hold firm on pricing. Some have been reluctant to let go of 2022 values.”
Airbus ACJ TwoTwenty
The recently launched ACJ TwoTwenty features six-wide, VIP living areas of approximately 130-square-feet each. The aircraft offers a true office environment boasting best-in-class connectivity and a range of relaxation options including a California King-size bed, an en suite bathroom with rain shower and a 55-inch 4K television. The ACJ TwoTwenty offers twice the cabin space of similarly priced Ultra-Long-Range (ULR) business jets, along with market-leading fuel efficiency and excellent reliability. The TwoTwenty occupies the same parking footprint as competitive ULR jets and is capable of departing the same airports while maintaining operating costs as much as one-third lower than competing ULR jets. With a range of up to 5,650-nautical-miles, the ACJ TwoTwenty meets the requirements of 99.9-percent of all US departures, connecting city pairs such as Los Angeles to London, Miami to Buenos Aires and New York to Istanbul.
Airbus builds ACJs to order only, thereby eliminating the financial pressure to reduce prices to move unsold inventory. Furthermore, ACJ maintains commonality in new feature designs, allowing existing aircraft to be retrofitted to the latest capabilities without buying a new model. As with all ACJ aircraft, the ACJ TwoTwenty is capable of flying on up to a fifty-percent blend of kerosene and so-called Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) while keeping to the technical specifications of Jet A.
Qatar Airways Group announces appointment of new group chief executive
After 27 years of service, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Mr. Akbar Al Baker will be stepping down from his current position as Group Chief Executive Officer effective 5 November 2023 and will be succeeded by Engr. Badr Mohammed Al-Meer as Group Chief Executive for Qatar Airways. Akbar Al Baker leadership, Qatar Airways has grown to become one of the most recognisable and trusted brands globally, synonymous with customer service quality and the highest of standards. The National Carrier of the State of Qatar achieved an unprecedented seven-time winner of the ‘World Best Airline’ award and its state-of-the-art Hamad International Airport, which is under its management and operation, has also been recognised as the World Best Airport.
Chinese fighters perform ‘unsafe’ intercept of Canadian military plane
The Canadian government has condemned the interception of one of its military planes by Chinese fighter jets over international waters on 16 October 2023, labelling the incident as ‘dangerous and reckless.’ A Lockheed CP-140 Aurora maritime patrol aircraft operated by the Royal Canadian Air Force was flying in international airspace above the East China Sea. Onboard the aircraft were several senior Canadian officers along with two news crews. The flight was an operation aimed at enforcing United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanctions against North Korea by monitoring transport vessels. Canada’s contribution to this coordinated multinational effort is known as Operation NEON. The Canadian frigate HMCS Vancouver and a CP-140 were deployed to Japan.
During the mission, China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) fighter jets intercepted the CP-140 several times. One of the fighters reportedly flew directly ahead of the maritime patrol aircraft and released flares in its path. Footage released by journalists shows a Shenyang J-16 fighter, a Chinese take on the Russian Sukhoi Su-27 and a Chengdu J-10S twin-seat fighter armed with air-to-air missiles coming near the Aurora. “This last sequence was an unprofessional intercept,” Major-General Iain Huddleston, commander of 1 Canadian Air Division, directly commented to Radio Canada journalists onboard. “The proximity of the airplane to ours is not really the determining factor, we can fly in close formation with other airplanes. It is when aircraft aggressively maneuvered in close proximity of the others that there is a safety issue.”
Canadian Minister of National Defence Bill Blair expressed deep concern regarding the unprofessional and hazardous nature of the incident. “The actions of the Chinese military in these circumstances were unacceptable and put our aircraft and their mission, at significant risk,” Blair said. “There are diplomatic processes that we engage in order to register our concern about the actions of the People’s Republic of China military plane in this instance. And those processes are well underway as of today.” The Canadian Department of National Defence said no one onboard the CP-140 aircraft was harmed during the intercept. “Canadian Armed Forces members undergo extensive training before these missions and are well-prepared to deal with events that may occur,” the department said.
Chinese authorities also commented on the interaction, claiming that the mission of the Canadian aircraft was to ‘make provocations at China’s doorsteps.’ “The illegal intrusion of a Canadian CP-140 aircraft into the airspace of Chiwei Yu, an affiliated island of China’s Diaoyu Dao, seriously violates China’s sovereignty and threatens our national security,” Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning said in a press conference. “UN Security Council resolutions have never mandated any country to deploy forces and conduct surveillance operations in the airspace or waters under other countries’ jurisdiction in the name of implementing the resolutions.” Chiwei Yu is the Chinese name of the Japanese island of Taisho Jima, part of the Senkaku Islands (or Diaoyu in Chinese) in the East China Sea. This Japanese territory is claimed by both China and Taiwan.
Diplomatic standoff between Canada and China
The two nations have been at odds over several issues, including the detention of two Canadians, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, who were arrested by Chinese authorities in December 2018, shortly after Canada arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at the request of the United States. These three people have since been released, yet the arrests sparked a diplomatic crisis that has strained relations to this day.
A similar encounter between a J-16 fighter from the PLAAF and a US Air Force RC-135 observation aircraft unfolded on 26 May 2023. The US Indo-Pacific Command condemned an ‘unnecessarily aggressive manoeuvre’ from the Chinese pilot after the fighter jet flew directly in front of the RC-135, forcing the US aircraft to fly through its wake turbulence.
Blackhawk completes 150th Caravan engine upgrade
Blackhawk Aerospace has completed its 150th Cessna Caravan engine upgrade. It offers two upgrade options for the turboprop single: the XP140 and the Vy conversions, which feature the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-140 and the PT6A-42A engine, respectively. “This is a major milestone in our Caravan programme’s success,” said Blackhawk president and CEO Jim Allmon. “For these workhorse airframes, more power is a necessity for mission capability and we are honoured to provide solutions that breathe new life into the fleet.”
Caravan operations span a variety of mission profiles, including cargo, corporate, passenger and military applications. In each case, Blackhawk’s upgrades deliver a significant increase in available horsepower, improving climb rates, raising safety margins and affording access to more destinations including those in hot and high conditions or with unimproved runways. Guyana-based Blackhawk operator Air Services, which provides scheduled and charter operations, medevac flights and sightseeing tours, placed an order for its eleventh XP140 upgrade. “The additional available horsepower is crucial for our operations,” said Air Services’ Bhesham Persaud. “It allows us to take-off, climb and cruise at levels we could not before, which expands our versatility to safely operate in every corner of Guyana.”
Separately, Blackhawk Aerospace Technologies (BAT) has just received the Garmin Platinum Dealer Award, which places it at the highest level of Garmin dealer classification. As a top dealer, BAT can offer upgrades such as the King Air G1000 NXi package. Pollard Aircraft and BAT have also partnered to perform six Garmin G1000 Autoland and autothrottle upgrades on King Airs that Pollard sells.
US Air Force F-16 shoots down Turkish drone in Syria
On 5 October the United States forces shot down a Turkish Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) in proximity of US troops near Hasakah, Syria. Pentagon Press Secretary and Air Force Brigadier General Pat Ryder confirmed the incident during a briefing, revealing that the Turkish UAV had entered a declared US-restricted operating zone (ROZ) and posed a potential threat to US troops. The incident unfolded at approximately 07h30 local time in Syria when US forces observed UAVs conducting airstrikes near Hasakah, some of which occurred inside the US ROZ. The strikes were located around a kilometre (3,200 feet) away from US forces who, as a precautionary measure, relocated to bunkers.
The strikes were conducted against military targets and infrastructure in regions under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a US-backed coalition primarily formed of Kurdish groups. They followed an attack claimed by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party at the Turkish Interior Ministry in Ankara, on 1 October 2023, in which two police officers were injured.
The destroyed drone appeared to have been a TAI Anka-S UAV. The TAI Anka is a medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), similar to the MQ-9 Reaper used by the US military, though slightly smaller. Designed for both reconnaissance and surveillance missions, it can also conduct air strikes using air-to-ground missiles. No US or Turkish forces were injured during the incident and there is currently no indication that Turkey intentionally targeted US troops. The incident underscores the complex and volatile situation in Syria, where multiple actors operate in close proximity, often leading to heightened tensions and the risk of accidental clashes. This incident also marks the first time a NATO ally has intentionally shot down the aircraft of another NATO partner. Several instances of crashes occurred following encounters between Greek and Turkish fighter jets over the Aegean Sea.
Thrilling 2023 Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett balloon race names winners
The 66th Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett gas balloon race concluded with a pitched final-leg battle from which France’s Eric Decellières and Benoit Havret emerged victorious over German father-and-son team and 2022-winners, Wilhelm and Benjamin Eimers. The victory occasioned the Frenchmen’s first win in aviation’s oldest surviving competition, which spanned a gruelling 85-hours, 49-minutes.
All told, 16 two-member teams departed Albuquerque, New Mexico on Saturday 7 October and proceeded eastbound, carried by prevailing mid-latitude westerly-winds to Jacksonville, North Carolina and the race’s finish-line. A global audience watched via livestream as the racers sailed east, the lead repeatedly changing hands, until only two contenders remained, the aforementioned Decellières and Havret in FRA-2 and the Elder and Younger Eimers in GER-1.
On 11 October, as the race neared its conclusion, GER-1 landed near Wilmington, North Carolina, some 39-nautical-miles southeast of Jacksonville, at 11h59 EDT. The father-and-son pair travelled a total of 1,396.9-nautical-miles. For its own part, FRA-2 persevered to the finish-line, landing triumphantly in Jacksonville, only 27-nautical-miles from North Carolina’s Atlantic shore, at 13h00 EDT. The Frenchmen covered 1,437-nautical-miles. Team FRA-1 (Benoît Pelard and Benoît Péterlé), secured a third-place finish, landing on 10 October in the vicinity of Savannah, Georgia after drifting 1,274-nautical-miles.
Over a relatively short period of time Decellières and Havret have assertively established themselves among gas ballooning’s top teams. The duo finished second in the 2021 Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett, having previously attained two top-five and four top-ten finishes in the prestigious race. The reputation earned by the Frenchmen over their racing exploits is one of toughness, resolve and courage. When not aloft in a balloon gondola, Decellières occupies himself in the capacities of businessman and entrepreneur, while Havret works in real estate.
On 14 October, the entirety of the 16 teams that competed in 2023’s Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett gas balloon race reconvened in Albuquerque for an awards ceremony. The race’s next iteration is slated to launch 13 September 2024.
Plans for Berkeley Space Center unveiled for NASA Ames
An artist’s rendering of NASA’s Ames Research Center and Moffett Federal Airfield in Mountain View, California, shows the future location of the Berkeley Space Center (grey buildings stretching from center to right). The center will be an innovation hub encouraging collaborations among University of California at Berkeley faculty and students, private companies, NASA scientists and engineers, and Silicon Valley’s tech industry. NASA Ames’ iconic Hangar One, which once housed airships, is at left. NASA and University of California at Berkeley announced Monday they are teaming up for a new aviation and space innovation hub located at the space agency’s research campus in Silicon Valley.
Once completed, the 36-acre Berkeley Space Center will be able to accommodate up to 1.4 million square feet of research space located at NASA Ames Research Center and Moffett Federal Airfield (KNUQ) in Mountain View, California. The Mercury News reported, the complex is expected to cost $2 billion to build. For decades, NASA has focused on developing land acquired after Naval Air Station Moffett Field was decommissioned in 1994. Since its launch in 2002, NASA Research Center has become home to 25 companies, including Google, UC-Berkeley said. The new buildings will house state-of-the-art research and development laboratories for companies and UC-Berkeley researchers, as well as classrooms, all of which will provide an immersive experience for students, according to the university. The facility will build upon an existing partnership between the space agency and university, which NASA said could lead to ‘potential mutually beneficial learning opportunities.’
“This includes accelerating local and national capabilities for transporting cargo and passengers using emerging automation and electric propulsion technologies; examining how biomanufacturing can enable deep space exploration and leveraging NASA’s high-performance computing assets,” NASA said. “The new campus aims to bring together researchers from the private sector, academia and the government to tackle the complex scientific, technological and societal issues facing our world.”
According to Ames Research Center director Eugene Tu, UC-Berkeley’s research and capabilities could ‘be a significant addition’ to the work already underway there, starting with the proximity to undergraduate and graduate-level students.
FCC issues history’s first space debris fine
In September 2023, the US Federal Aviation Administration proposed a new set of regulations by which to mitigate the occurrence and proliferation of so-called space-junk left in the wakes of commercial space-launches undertaken by private concerns. Now in October 2023 another US governmental agency, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), has levied the first-ever fine for space debris. The $150,000 penalty was assessed against satellite television provider Dish Network, reportedly over a failed deorbit.
In a press release, the FCC asserted it had reached a settlement with Dish Network following an investigation in which the agency allegedly determined the company had failed to ‘properly deorbit its EchoStar-7 satellite. This marks a first in space debris enforcement by the Commission, which has stepped up its satellite policy efforts, including establishing the Space Bureau and implementing its Space Innovation Agenda.’ The term deorbit denotes the deliberate departure from orbit of a spacecraft or satellite, usually to enter a descent phase. Satellites may be deorbited along trajectories alternately conducive to their burning up upon atmospheric re-entry or impacting remote terrestrial or oceanic target zones. The FCC noted, also, that its settlement with Dish Network included ‘an admission of liability from the company and an agreement to adhere to a compliance plan and pay a penalty of $150,000.’
The FCC contended the ostensibly botched deorbit violated various and sundry agency rules, to include the somewhat vaguely titled Communications Act. The Commission argued that Dish Network transgressed against the terms of its space-launch license when the company relocated the EchoStar-7 satellite ‘to a disposal orbit well below the elevation required by the terms of its license.’ The FCC claimed the lower altitude to which Dish Network relocated the satellite could ‘pose orbital debris concerns.’
FCC Enforcement Bureau chief Loyaan A. Egal remarked: “As satellite operations become more prevalent and the space economy accelerates, we must be certain that operators comply with their commitments. This is a breakthrough settlement, making very clear the FCC has strong enforcement authority and capability to enforce its vitally important space debris rules.”
Launched by Dish Network in 2002, the EchoStar-7 satellite was to have remained in service through May 2022. However, in February 2022 Dish Network engineers determined the satellite had run worryingly low on propellant and was incapable, subsequently, of climbing to an altitude three-hundred-kilometres (984,252-feet) above its operational geostationary arc, as specified in the original orbital debris mitigation plan agreed to by the company and the US Federal Government in 2012. Critically low on propellant, the satellite managed, just, to climb to an altitude approximately 122-kilometers (400,262-feet) above its operational geostationary arc.
In a statement of its own, Dish Network explained EchoStar-7, by virtue of its advanced age, ‘had been explicitly exempted from the FCC’s rule requiring a minimum disposal orbit.’ The company averred: “The Bureau made no specific findings that EchoStar-7 poses any orbital debris safety concerns. DISH has a long track record of safely flying a large satellite fleet and takes seriously its responsibilities as an FCC licensee.”
New era for aviation safety and efficiency: uAvionix acquires Iris Automation
uAvionix, a leader in communications, navigation and surveillance (CNS) solutions for the safe integration of Crewed and Uncrewed Aircraft Systems (UAS), has announced its acquisition of Iris Automation™, provider of optical Detect and Avoid (DAA) technology. This strategic move combines uAvionix’s extensive CNS and aviation expertise with Iris’ leadership in computer vision-based systems for the safe separation of aircraft. The acquisition not only bolsters uAvionix’s capabilities and services but also marks an important leadership change as Jon Damush, former CEO of Iris Automation, takes the helm as CEO of uAvionix Corporation.
“The combination of Iris Automation’s and uAvionix’s capabilities provides for a multi-layered-safety architecture that supports integration of UAS into the National Airspace System,” noted Paul Beard, CTO and founder of uAvionix. “Through our collective efforts, we are solving the two biggest technical challenges to UAS integration: Command and Control and Detect and Avoid. Solving these problems builds safer airspace for all users.”
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New trials move the UK closer to allowing everyday drone deliveries
Six projects have been chosen for trials under a UK Civil Aviation Authority scheme that will help make beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone flights an everyday reality. Among those included are schemes that involve medical drone deliveries, energy infrastructure and ‘sky highways’. The UK Civil Aviation Authority invited organisations to bid to participate in an innovation sandbox earlier this year to validate and test their concepts, supporting the development of BVLOS capabilities.
Projects involved include Apian London Health Bridge; Cranfield Airport and Project BLUEPRINT; Droneprep Open Skies Cornwall; HexCam; Skyports Project TRAject; and Snowdonia Aerospace Centre Project Dragons Eye. Innovation sandboxes help organisations prepare for regulatory approval, and helps the regulator develop policies that better meet the needs of the industry in the future. Sandboxes are controlled environments where organisations can test their innovative technologies against the existing regulatory framework, helping applicants maximise the readiness of their innovation, and also help the UK Civil Aviation Authority develop better, more efficient ways to develop new regulations.
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