“Idealism is the noble toga that political gentlemen drape over their will to power.” Aldous Huxley
Anderson Greenwood AG-14
(Information from Wikipedia)
Anderson Greenwood’s sole aircraft design was a collaborative effort of three engineers: Ben Anderson, Marvin Greenwood & Lomis Slaughter Jr. The name of the last member of the design team was not included in the product name as it was thought it would not boost sales.
The prototype first flew in October 1947, but plans to mass-produce the aircraft were interrupted by the Korean War. Eventually, only five more examples were built before Anderson Greenwood abandoned the project in favour of producing aircraft components for other manufacturers.
The aircraft’s design placed the wing behind the cabin and allowed easy entry via automobile-like doors on each side of the cabin. The propeller is well protected and provides safety on the ground in comparison to tractor configuration aircraft. The airfoil employed is a NACA 4418 giving high lift and a stable stall characteristics. The flaps are two-position and mechanically operated by a flap handle on the cabin floor between the seats. The engine starter is foot-actuated and the nose-wheel steering is connected to the control wheel.
Wind tunnel testing determined that a shoulder wing was ideal for minimal wing-body airflow separation that is intrinsic to a pusher configuration. The aspect ratio of 9.6:1 was high for aircraft at the time it was designed. The wing has seven degrees of dihedral for directional stability. A four-inch propeller shaft extension allows the engine to be mounted closer to the aircraft’s center of gravity. The nose gear steers through the control yoke and not the rudder pedals.
The aircraft was certified on 20 September 1950 in the normal category. The certification includes a prohibition on aerobatics and spins. One reviewer termed it as ‘positively spin resistant.’ Serial numbers 1, 2 and 3 were produced in 1950, while 4 and 5 were built in 1953. The five pre-production prototypes were the only examples built. The retail price of the aircraft was set at $4,200 – $4,500.
In 1969 one AG-14 aircraft was acquired by Cessna Aircraft Company and taken to Wichita, Kansas for evaluation. Cessna designed and constructed a single prototype aircraft of similar configuration, the Cessna XMC, equipped with a Continental O-200 engine of 100 hp (75 kW), with the goal of a possible Cessna 150 replacement. The Cessna evaluation programme ran through 1971 and 1972. While performance was like a C-150, the aircraft suffered from high cabin noise levels as well as cooling problems, while not providing any performance advantages over the Cessna 150. An AG-14 was also used as the basis of the XAZ-1 Marvelette test bed aircraft built by the Mississippi State University in the 1960s.
Those persons who correctly identified this week’s mystery aircraft:
Steve Dewsbery, Hilton Carroll, Righardt du Plessis, Brian Millett, Ari Levien, Jan Sime, Danie Viljoen, Karl Jensen, Alex Wagner, Adrian Maree, Rex Tweedie, Erwin Stam, Colin Austen, Pierre Brittz, Andre Bakker, Peter Rossouw, Kevin Farr, Andre Visser, Alex Wagner, Sam Basch, Jaco van Jaarsveld, Clint Futter, Rennie van Zyl, Selwyn Kimber, Wouter van der Waal, Gregory Yatt, Andrew Peace, Robert Bridges, Daryl Kimber, Charlie Hugo, Piet Steyn, Mike Transki, John Moen, Magiel Esterhuysen, Ahmed Bassa, John Skinner, Bruce Prescott, Aiden O’Mahony, Barry Eatwell, Johan Venter, Dave Lloyd (41).
It is with great sadness that I report the passing of Marcel Nijdam last Thursday when he crashed in his beloved SpeedCanard on landing at Zandspruit Estate. Marcel was a retired Dutch Air Force F5 pilot and later a KLM Boeing 747 captain where he met his lovely wife Charlot who was also a KLM Boeing 747 captain. They had retired to Zandspruit Estate in Hoedspruit where they kept their aircraft in a hangar right next to their home. Marcel and Charlot had flown from Rand airport to Zandspruit in their respective planes, Charlot flying her Commander with Marcel in formation nearly all the way. It appears that Marcel probably had a heart attack when he landed, because he did not close the throttle sufficiently to allow the SpeedCanard to slow down and it went off the runway hitting a tree and burst into flames. Marcel was an avid participant in the ‘mystery aircraft’ weekly quiz. To Marcel, we wish you safe travels to the ‘Great Hangar in the Sky’ where you will meet up with so many of your friends who have already departed this world. To Charlot, our condolences and best wishes for the future.
The 244-page November edition featuring Southern African airlines, Gifts for Pilots and Aircraft Leasing was published on Tuesday 31 October and sent to the world. This edition also features the Airbus Beluga story, Luxaviation Fleet additions, End of India’s MiG21s,m Pilatus PC-24 upgrades, Air France celebrates 90 years, Great Train Race to Heidelberg, Lift Airline and Disney co-branding and a NBAA-BACE 2023 Las Vegas report. When you compare the quality of African Pilot’s production and presentation with other South African aviation magazines, there is always a distinct difference in readability, quality of pictures and information and the number of pages. In fact, African Pilot is larger than all the other aviation magazines combined and certainly has far greater value within the overall content of the magazine.
The December 2023 edition’s main feature will feature the lesser-known regional airports in and around Gauteng. These will include Springs, Brakpan, Petit, Rhino Park, Brits, Krugersdorp, Tedderfield, Panaroma, Vereeniging and Eagles Creek airfields. If your airfield is not included in this list, then please contact me and I will endeavour to include your airfield. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Chief of the SAAF highlights the challenges of underfunding
Chief of the South African Air Force (SAAF), Lieutenant General Wiseman Mbambo recently addressed the media about the challenges faced by the SAAF due to underfunding. After officiating at a Medal Parade held at Air Force Base Ysterplaat on Friday 27 October, Mbambo emphasised the far-reaching consequences and risks of insufficient financial support for the Air Force and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) as a whole. In an answer to a Parliamentary question recently Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise revealed that approximately 85% of the SAAF’s fleet was out of action, with most airframes awaiting servicing, spare parts and repairs.
For the Chief of the SAAF, the primary concern revolves around the mandate of the Air Force and its ability to fulfil its obligations effectively. These obligations include participating in peacekeeping operations, safeguarding national borders and combating illegal activities. Mbambo stressed that the significant responsibilities of the SANDF extended beyond traditional military roles. He highlighted the SAAF’s involvement in civilian situations such as responding to natural disasters and fires. Mbambo said the SANDF plays a pivotal role in maintaining South Africa’s security as well assisting with various domestic and international situations and the lack of adequate funding poses significant challenges.
Mbambo acknowledged the difficulties and complexities of the current situation but emphasised the commitment to maintaining the readiness and serviceability of the SAAF for the country. He also highlighted the need for other relevant departments, like Armscor, to fulfil their mandates, particularly in successfully placing essential contracts for the benefit of the Defence Force.
1 & 2 November
Drones in disaster and risk management conference Century City Conference Centre
November Contact E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cape Town.
EAA Chapter 322 breakfast fly-in gathering, boot sale, fly market EAA Auditorium
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: email@example.com
SAA Museum Society Technical tour of historical aircraft
Contact E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or Cell: 076 879 5044
Brakpan Aero Club Cessna fly-in
Contact Clarissa E-mail: Clarissa@airborneaviation.co.za Cell: 074 113 2911
Gyro fly-in to Kitty Hawk
Contact Juanita Cell: 082 040 9798
Lightning damages helicopter tail rotor
The crew of a scheduled Canadian helicopter passenger flight is being hailed for a successful emergency landing after lightning almost blew off the tail rotor of the aircraft they were flying. The Helijet Sikorsky S-76 was on its way from downtown Vancouver to Victoria, on Vancouver Island, when it was struck. The lightning took off two of the four tail rotor blades and sent the helicopter into a dive. The aircraft dropped from 4,000 feet to 1,300 feet before the crew could arrest the descent. They were able to keep the helicopter under control and continued to their destination. It was only after landing that the pilots discovered the damaged tail rotor. The crew and passengers were checked by medics at the Victoria heliport and no injuries were reported. Helijet President Danny Sitnam said the lightning strike was ‘extremely rare’ and one of three strikes reported in the area of Georgia Strait that day. He said the pilots were told to take as much time off as they needed before going back to work.
Angry mob storms Dagestan Airport in search of Jewish passengers from Israel
Russia’s Uytash Airport (MCX) in Makhachkala Dagestan was stormed by a huge mob reportedly looking for Israeli citizens following reports that a plane was arriving from the country. The shocking unrest, which took place on 29 October 2023, prompted airport authorities to close the airport and divert flights. The day before reports circulated of local people storming hotels in Dagestan searching for Israeli migrants. Based on data from FlightAware, Red Wings Airlines flight WZ 4728 arrived from Ben Gurion International Airport (TLV) in Tel Aviv at around 19h18 local time. Footage circulating on social media showed the mob breaking into the airport and forcing their way onto the tarmac in search of the Red Wings aircraft. The crowd can also be heard chanting anti-Semitic slogans and be seen waving a Palestinian flag.
Cessna Caravan plane crash in Brazilian Amazon
On 29 October 12 people aboard a Cessna 208B Grand Caravan aircraft died after the plane crashed in Brazil’s Amazon region. It was reported that the plane operated by local firm ART Taxi Aereo, took off from Rio Branco–Plácido de Castro International Airport (RBR) and was headed to Envira, a municipality in the Brazilian Amazon. According to a report from local media Fato Amazonico, the aircraft lost height soon after take-off from runway 24 at Rio Branco Airport and crashed in dense Amazonian jungle.
Indictment alleges FO threatened to shoot his captain over flight diversion
A Californian airline pilot who is a member of the Federal Flight Deck Officer programme has been indicted for allegedly threatening to shoot his captain for diverting a flight for a medical emergency. The Associated Press said the Transportation Department’s Office of Inspector General confirmed Jonathan J. Dunn, who has received training to carry a loaded pistol while on the flight deck, is charged with interference with flight crew for the incident, which happened in August of 2022. He will be arraigned in Utah on 16 November. The OIG is not saying exactly where the alleged incident occurred or for what airline Dunn was flying but did confirm it was a commercial airline flight. “After a disagreement about a potential flight diversion due to a passenger medical event, Dunn told the Captain they would be shot multiple times if the Captain diverted the flight,” the inspector general’s office told AP in an e-mail statement. The indictment itself alleges Dunn “did use a dangerous weapon in assaulting and intimidating the crew member.” The indictment does not name the airline.
Israel announces ‘expansion’ of ground operations in Gaza, but is it a full invasion?
With the world on tenterhooks wondering whether Israel has decided to follow through with a full-scale invasion of Gaza, earlier this week an Israeli Defence Forces spokesman said that the military is ‘expanding’ ground operations. The Foreign Minister of Jordan, Ayman Safadi, directly accused Israel of launching a ground war on Gaza. However, it is unclear if a full ground invasion has begun, or if the spokesman was instead signalling that the ramping up of smaller ‘raids’ into Gaza will intensify.
Undoubtedly, this has brought intensified efforts. A Hamas spokesman reportedly claimed an Israeli ground operation was underway, while the IDF warned international media that it could not guarantee reporter safety in Gaza. Earlier this week saw a particularly intense round of airstrikes, which, combined with the IDF comment, could presage an increase in military activity to come.
Indications right now are that Israel will continue to be focused on more limited ground operations as had been seen in the last week, even if it is unclear how long that will last. The rhetoric still indicates a full invasion of Gaza is coming Israel Defence Minister Yoav Gallant gave a speech on Thursday evening saying that Israel was ‘creating the necessary conditions to continue this campaign’ and said a ground operation would come eventually.
Despite Israel bringing in more than 300,000 reservists and massing forces along the border with Gaza, Jerusalem has relied on the use of air strikes and raids into Gaza as its response to the 7 October Hamas assault that left 1,400 Israelis dead. The Washington Post reported that the White House is pressuring Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to go in full force into Gaza and instead rely on a more ‘surgical’ campaign.
To date Israel appears to have agreed, although how ‘surgical’ the campaign has been to this point is up for debate, given the large, reported numbers of Palestinian civilian casualties. Thousands of airstrikes have been launched by Israel since the start of the war, with over a thousand just in this last week, according to IDF numbers. In general the IDF has said that most of its attacks strike ‘terror infrastructure’ as well as anti-tank missile launch sites and also target Hamas commanders. The IDF has released details about some of the purported commanders and sites struck. These include naval commando sites and surface-to-air missile threats. The defining feature of the last week was the announcement of ground operations, described as ‘raids’ locally.
The first took place on Wednesday night 25 October and into the first hours of Thursday as units of the Givati brigade led a column of vehicles and tanks into the northern part of Gaza. They were joined with units from the Golani brigade, which was badly mauled during the 7 October assault, with dozens of casualties hitting two battalions along the border. The IDF also acknowledged this week a commando raid by Shayetet 13, an elite unit. Whether the ‘expansion’ of operations set up by the IDF will look more like the battalion’s effort or the lower-tier strike operations, like so much about this conflict, remains to be seen. Still, it continues to feel just a matter of if and not when these raids will expand into a full-blown assault. On Thursday Gallant placed it in stark terms, saying, “I must say – we have no other choice. We will win because no other option exists. It is either us, or Hamas.”
One issue that could be playing into Israel’s decision to hold off on a broader assault into Gaza is fear that it will trigger a large-scale response from Hezbollah in Lebanon, plunging Jerusalem into a conflict on two borders. After 7 October, Hezbollah began firing anti-tank rounds at Israeli communities, resulting in Israel’s evacuation of 40 communities and a city in the north. Israel has now deployed a large number of forces including tanks, artillery and APCs in preparation for escalation on its northern border.
The challenge in Gaza has been compared to the challenge of the American and coalition military’s Mosul campaign against ISIS, which took nine months. The overall picture presents Hamas as possessing a large and deeply constructed network of sites in Gaza, including an array of weapons from surface-to-air missiles to anti-tank weapons. It also presents the group, which has run Gaza since 2007, has having put together a large number of battalions, replete with commandos.
Meanwhile, in Israel the military and its citizens are contending with continued rocket barrages from Gaza. Interceptions high above central Israel could be seen from as far away as Jerusalem. However, more rockets are also getting through the defence array, impacting a home in Tel Aviv on Friday and houses in other communities during the week.
Southwest to acquire 108 new 737 MAX-7 Jets
Boeing and Southwest Airlines have entered into an agreement by which the Dallas, Texas-based air-carrier will acquire 108 new 737 MAX-7 narrow-body jets. Southwest’s selection of the fuel-efficient aircraft is consistent with the airline’s modernisation strategy and affords the carrier flexibility by which to expand its fleet and route structure. Southwest Airlines president and CEO Bob Jordan said, “We have a long history with Boeing, dating back more than fifty-years to the day we commenced service with three Boeing 737 aircraft serving three cities. They ae part of our history and part of our future as we continue to recognise the many efficiencies and cost savings of a single fleet.” Jordan added: “We have a new fleet plan that is very orderly. It takes us through 2031 at very attractive pricing and there is a lot of flexibility in the new order book. So we can flex up and we can flex down as you see demand trends changing both ways.”
An all-Boeing air-carrier, Southwest, since its 1967 founding, has placed north of three-hundred orders for the plane-maker’s perennial 737-family aircraft, growing its orderbook to more than five-hundred 737 MAX jets. Upon its certification, which Boeing continues to expect by the end of 2023, the 737 MAX-7 will take up its place in Southwest’s fleet.
In addition to standardised training, all members of the Boeing 737 family, to include the Original, Classic, Next Generation and MAX series, share the same pilot type rating. The 737 MAX family affords air-carriers fuel-efficiency, ecological accountability, reliability, flexibility and operational economy beyond that of legacy narrow-body airliners. The 737 MAX-7’s 3,800-nautical-mile range exceeds that of its predecessor, the 737 Next Generation (NG) series, by nearly 759-nautical-miles, the distance by which Chicago and Jacksonville, Florida are separated. The MAX-7’s superior range is attributable, in part, to an eldritch combination of fuel-efficient CFM LEAP 1-B engines and advanced aerodynamics that cuts fuel-burn (relative the NG series) by twenty percent. The 737 MAX-7 is capable of carrying up to 172 passengers and is quieter than legacy 737s. To date the smallest model in the 737 MAX family, the MAX-7 has racked up 286 orders, nearly two-thirds of which are slated to be decked out in Southwest Airlines livery.
SkyWest orders 19 Embraer E175 regional jets
Embraer has announced the sale of 19 new E175 jets to SkyWest, Inc., the St. George, Utah-based regional air-carrier contracted by Alaska Airlines as Alaska SkyWest, American Airlines as American Eagle, Delta Air Lines as Delta Connection and United Airlines as United Express. The 19 E-Jets, which will operate under the United Express banner per a Capacity Purchase Agreement (CPA), will grow SkyWest’s United Express E175 fleet to 109 machines and boost the total number of E175s currently in service with SkyWest to over 250. At list-price, the contract’s value is $1.1 billion. Deliveries of the seventy-seat jets, which have been ordered in a three-class configuration, are slated to commence in 2024’s fourth quarter.
SkyWest president and CEO Chip Childs stated: “SkyWest is already the largest E175 operator in the world and when this order is delivered, we will have over 250 E175s. We look forward to continuing to improve the passenger flying experience with enhanced comfort and reliability.” Embraer Commercial Aviation CCO Martyn Holmes set forth: “We are pleased to build upon our superb partnership with SkyWest. The E175 is truly a versatile aircraft, the backbone of North American regional aviation.”
Embraer’s E-Jet family is a series of four-abreast, narrow-body, short to medium-range, twin-engine, jet airliners. The series’ commercial success derives largely of its ability to efficiently serve lower-density routes while offering many of the same amenities and features of larger commercial aircraft.
The E-Jet family comprises two series, the smaller, base-model E170 and E175 jets and the stretched E190 and E195 aircraft. The E170 and E175 share 95% commonality, as do the E190 and E195; the two families share near 89% commonality, as evinced by their identical fuselage cross-sections and avionics. To the subject of powerplants, the E170 and E175 are powered by General Electric’s 14,200-lbf CF34-8E turbofan engine, while the stretched E190 and E195 make use of the 20,000-lbf General Electric CF34-10E engines. The noise-signatures and emissions of both engines exceed the requirements established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). To date, Embraer has logged orders for north of 1,900 E-Jets from more than one-hundred customers. Presently, no fewer than eighty airlines across every habitable continent operate Embraer E-Jets.
US Air Force One replacement tops $2B in charges as Boeing logs new losses
Boeing’s defence business logged a nearly $1 billion loss in the third quarter of 2023, including a newly disclosed nearly $500 million hit on its Air Force One replacement known as the VC-25B, the company disclosed to investors this week. Hemmed in by struggling fixed-price development contracts combined with supply chain woes, executives at the plane maker have braced investors for losses in its defence business until at least the 2025-2026 timeframe. Yet they also made clear today that the eye-popping third quarter loss for Boeing Defence, Space & Security (BDS) is not acceptable and a departure from recovery plans. “These are disappointing results in the quarter and year to date. This performance is below our expectations and we acknowledge that we are not as far along in this recovery as we expected to be at this stage,” Chief Financial Officer Brian West said during the company’s earnings call today.
The loss should not come as a total surprise to investors considering West previously warned BDS would be negative in the third quarter. But the company’s overall loss for the quarter was reportedly worse than what financial analysts were expecting. West said Boeing’s free cash flow remained in the $3 billion to $5 billion-range for the year, but that it would likely come in closer to the ‘low end.’
According to Boeing’s earnings release, the aerospace giant logged $924 million in charges for BDS for the third quarter of 2023, the largest for the sector since a $2.8 billion loss disclosed during the third quarter of 2022. This most recent loss was driven by a $482 million charge on the VC-25B programme due to ‘higher estimated manufacturing cost related to engineering changes and labour instability, as well as resolution of supplier negotiations,’ the company’s release says. The VC-25B programme has been something of a problem child for Boeing, whose fixed-price structure has forced the contractor to absorb over $2.4 billion in losses to date. The programme’s contract, negotiated by then-Chief Executive Officer Denis Muilenburg with then-President Donald Trump in 2018, has vexed the company’s current leadership, with incumbent CEO Dave Calhoun stating during an earnings call last year that the contract presented ‘a very unique set of risks that Boeing probably should not have taken.’
The second largest loss driver for the current quarter was a $315 million loss on a ‘satellite contract due to estimated customer considerations and increased costs to enhance the constellation and meet lifecycle commitments,’ the release says. Boeing did not name the programme in question.
USAF training Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16s
The United States Air Force US has begun training Ukrainian pilots to fly General Dynamics’s F-16 multirole fighter. Controversial in the utmost, the training was heralded by USAF Brigadier General Pat Ryder, who stated on 24 August 2023 that US training of Ukrainian aviators would commence ‘within two months.’ While Ryder cited no specific numbers, he said Ukrainian pilot and maintenance trainees would number ‘several’ and ‘dozens’ respectively.
The training is being carried out at Tucson, Arizona’s Morris Air National Guard Base under the auspices of the Air National Guard’s 162nd Wing. Historically tasked with training foreign pilots to operate the fourth-generation F-16 Falcon platform, the 162nd Wing has, to date, schooled pilots hailing from 25 nations. To the subject of the 162nd Wing’s training acumen, USAF Lieutenant General Michael A. Loh somewhat inarticulately remarked: “They are very intimately familiar on how we do training of foreign military pilots.” In September, the Ukrainian pilot trainees received English language tutorials at San Antonio, Texas’s Lackland Air Force Base. Morris Air National Guard Base occupies the northwest quadrant of the Tucson International Airport (TUS) and shares facilities, to include runways, with such. Three of the Wing’s fighter squadrons, the 148th, 152nd and 195th operate the F-16.
A USAF official formerly stated pilots lacking previous fighter-jet experience could likely complete the service’s standard F-16 qualification course in approximately eight-months. Conversely, experienced fighter pilots, via the USAF’s transition qualification track could be taught to proficiently fly the F-16 in five-months. As the experience and proficiency of the Ukrainian pilots is unknown, details pertaining to their flight-training curriculum to include the organisation and duration thereof, remain uncertain. However, US officials have indicated that the curriculum by which the Ukrainian pilots are to be trained is likely to deviate significantly from the standard model. Lieutenant General Loh stated: “For Ukraine, it is going to be tailored for exactly what they need to do, which is multirole, both air-to-air and air-to-ground. We will train them to do the full multirole spectrum of what we can expect in their theory of conflict.”
Retired USAF Lieutenant General David A. Deptula, a former F-16 pilot and sitting dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, opined: “One of the reasons why the F-16 is such a good match for the Ukrainian Air Force is because of the multiple roles that it can conduct. It can perform air-to-air combat, which is a role that is critical in providing air defence for the cities and military areas that require protection from Russian attack in Ukraine.”
On Friday, 18 August 2023, the US State Department authorised Denmark and the Netherlands to export American-made F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine. In addition to foreshadowing escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict, the decision fomented increased geopolitical tensions and stoked the glowing embers of world war. All told, up to 61 Dutch and Danish F-16s could eventually enter Ukrainian service. According to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, the Netherlands currently has 42 F-16s available for transfer; the government of Denmark stated in August that it would send 19 F-16s to Ukraine. Moreover, the Danish military disclosed it was also training eight Ukrainian pilots and 65 Ukrainian technical personnel to fly and maintain the F-16. In addition, Greece and Norway have agreed to supply Ukraine with either fighter jets or pilot training.
In May 2023, Joe Biden stated he was in favour of Ukraine’s receipt of US warplanes. While refusing to directly provide Ukraine combat aircraft, US leaders have wholeheartedly supported the notion of third-party NATO states provisioning Ukraine with meaningful numbers of F-16s. Senator Rand Paul (Republican, Kentucky) warned the Russo-Ukrainian conflict could easily ignite a larger conflict, stating: “I, like most people do not want to have US troops directly involved and will do everything to oppose that. There is always a danger of escalating it. The main thing is that we need to be very conscious that rational, sound voices are thinking through what we do before we do it. Senator Paul added: “I would say the rhetoric on television and amongst a lot of members of Congress is overly emotional and not soundly reasoned and thoughtful. That is what you require if you do not want to get into a world war.”
The USAF has operated General Dynamics’s F-16 Fighting Falcon for upwards of forty-years. The aircraft is capable of carrying a wide variety of munitions, the more potent of which include the AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missile and the AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAM). The aircraft’s single Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 afterburning turbofan engine boasts a maximum speed of Mach 2.05 (1,366.8-knots), a combat range of 295-nautical-miles, a ferry-range of 2,277-nautical-miles and a service-ceiling of FL500. In addition to the antecedent missile systems and a formidable collection of rockets, bombs and targeting pods, the F-16 sports a single 20-millimeter M61A1 Vulcan six-barrel rotary-cannon.
Intuitive Machines IM-1 lunar mission launch window announced
Intuitive Machines has announced jointly with SpaceX that liftoff of the IM-1 lunar mission is targeted for a multi-day launch window opening 12 January 2024. Intuitive Machines co-founder, president and CEO Steve Altemus stated: “As previously announced, Intuitive Machines completed its lunar lander in September and the entire company is looking forward to our upcoming launch. There are inherent challenges of lunar missions; schedule changes and mission adjustments are a natural consequence of pioneering lunar exploration. Receiving a launch window and the required approvals to fly is a remarkable achievement and the schedule adjustment is a small price to pay for making history.”
The Intuitive Machines IM-1 mission will be the company’s first attempted lunar landing as part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative, a key facet of the space agency’s Artemis lunar exploration efforts. The science and technology payloads sent to the Moon’s surface as part of CLPS are intended to lay the foundation for human lunar missions and a sustainable human presence on the Moon’s surface. In the event of unfavourable launch conditions, backup departure windows will be determined based on the lunar blackout window and other factors.
On 13 July 2023, Intuitive Machines announced it had successfully conducted a test run of its Nova-C lunar lander. The complete-spacecraft test run verified the Nova-C lander’s flight software, avionics, liquid oxygen and liquid methane loading, high-pressure helium system performance, propulsion system functionality and culminated in a hot-firing of the lander’s main engine. Conducted at Intuitive Machines’s Small Vehicle Engine Verification Facility at the Houston Spaceport, the complete-spacecraft test run marked the culmination of a series of tests that collectively heralded the Nova-C lander’s readiness for spaceflight.
Comprehensive testing of Intuitive Machines’s Nova-C lunar lander, to include the powering-up and protracted operation of the entirety of the spacecraft’s systems was an essential step in the process of verifying the lander performs to expectations. The whole of the lander’s constituent systems underwent extensive integrated functional testing in preparation for the fully integrated performance test. NASA has identified numerous sites in the vicinity of the lunar south pole at which it may land its Artemis III mission. The geography and geology of the lunar south pole region hold the promise of unprecedented deep-space scientific discoveries, such as locating water ice on Earth’s moon. Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C lunar lander is slated to be the first spacecraft to land on the Moon’s South Pole Region.
Intuitive Machines is a diversified space company focused on space exploration. Intuitive Machines’ products and services are offered through its four business units: Lunar Access Services, Orbital Services, Lunar Data Services as well as Space Products and Infrastructure.
Sierra Space & NASA complete Dream Chaser test
Sierra Space has completed the first mission Flight Operations Review of the inaugural Dream Chaser mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Subject review, which was completed at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in collaboration between Sierra Space Dream Chaser flight control team and its NASA counterpart, was a crucial step in preparation for the mission. The week-long review, which concluded on 20 October, occasioned the culmination of an intensive effort involving personnel from across Sierra Space and NASA; in total, over two-hundred critical elements representing thousands of hours of collective development were baselined.
Sierra Space CEO Tom Vice stated: “Precision and practice are paramount in the development of the revolutionary Dream Chaser spaceplane, particularly in the context of rendezvous and berthing operations at the International Space Station. Our team is committed to conducting simulation exercises for every facet of the mission, ensuring the highest likelihood of success and safety.”
Currently under development, Dream Chaser is a reusable lifting-body spaceplane which, when complete, will be capable of carrying up to seven passengers and cargo to and from Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Planned in manned and unmanned cargo and passenger variants, Dream Chaser is intended to launch vertically atop United Launch Alliances (ULA) Vulcan Centaur rocket and land horizontally on conventional runways.
Dream Chaser’s design derives of NASA’s HL-20 Personnel Launch System space-plane concept, which in turn descended from test vehicles the likes of the X-20 Dyna-Soar; Northrop’s M2-F2, M2-F3, and HL-10; and Martin’s X-24A, X-24B, and X-23 PRIME. Dream Chaser’s on-orbit propulsion system comprises a cluster of Orbitec’s propane-and-nitrous-oxide-burning Vortex engines.
Sierra Nevada Corporation, colloquially, Sierra Space, is a privately held, American aerospace and national security contractor specialising in aircraft modification and integration, space components and systems as well as related technology products for cybersecurity and health. The company is headquartered in Sparks, Nevada and contracts with the United States Armed Forces, NASA and private spaceflight companies.
New electric aircraft arrives for testing
AFWERX, the innovation arm of the Air Force and a directorate within the Air Force Research Laboratory located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, brings cutting-edge American ingenuity from small businesses and start-ups to address the most pressing challenges of the Air Force. This includes partnering with BETA and other electric aircraft companies to bring zero-emission aviation to the military along with other benefits, including a quiet noise profile and the cost savings to operate and maintain its fleet without dependency on traditional fossil fuels.
“We are really excited about companies like BETA when they invent things like this,” said Col. Elliott Leigh, AFWERX director and chief commercialization officer for the Department of the Air Force. “It is going to transform the way we see air travel in the world, but it is also going to transform the way we have air power in the Air Force. We are going to learn what we can do with vehicles like this and we are going to take it to our war fighters.”
BETA’s ALIA electric aircraft has a 50-foot wingspan, a range of 250 miles with a top speed of 138 mph and is 90% quieter than a helicopter. While ALIA has the capability to transport five passengers, the US Air Force test objective is to demonstrate its potential to support agile combat employment logistics with its payload capacity of 1,000 pounds. Located 10 miles north of Eglin, Duke Field was strategically selected as the test field for ALIA. The field is home to the US Air Force’s rotary wing test squadron, the 413th Flight Test Squadron. “All of the testing will be contractor owned and operated but the 413th FLTS wrote the test and safety plan,” said Maj. Riley Livermore, 413th FLTS Futures Flight commander. “We are responsible for coordinating daily flight operations to include range scheduling and logistics support. Then we will write a report following the conclusion of the test deployment to report our findings.”
AFWERX first partnered with BETA in December 2019 and has since awarded the company several contracts. Over the years, BETA has provided AFWERX with three simulators, including a mobile simulator that has conducted pilot training and demonstrations and two Level-3 electric chargers. The charger at Duke Field was completed on 16 October and is the first charging station on a military installation.
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Are drone light shows legal in the UK?
We hold Operational Authorisation from the Civil Aviation Authority to fly swarms of display drones. However, article 82 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982 reads: “Save in such circumstances as may be prescribed, no aircraft while in the air over any part of the United Kingdom shall be used, whether wholly or partly for emitting or displaying any advertisement or other communication in such a way that the advertisement or communication is audible or visible from the ground.”
Now imagine that we flew an advert for the red and white fizzy drink brand, theoretically, the red and blue fizzy drink brand could ask the Police to stop us from flying this and if the Police did not put an end to our aerial advertising activities, then the red and white fizzy drink brand could theoretically take us to court in a civil claim for breaching article 82. Having spent thousands of pounds on creating an Operating Safety Case and getting it through to Operational Authorisation, we were a little saddened that the UKCAA, even up to their Office of the General Counsel, could offer us no advice regarding this obvious conflict of interest. So we asked the Department for Transport who responded rather unhelpfully that: “Regarding section 82 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982, it should be noted that an Operational Authorisation relates only to the aviation safety aspects of an operation and the holder is still required to comply with all relevant aviation and non-aviation regulations applicable to their operation, such as privacy and GDPR requirements and the issue of an Operational Authorisation does not affect those obligations.”
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