“If the political correctness fascists get their way, we can safely assume it will be correct thinking, ‘political cleansing’ squads deciding what we can or cannot say on the Internet. These people fear public debate and demand homogenisation of ‘acceptable’ attitudes compatible with their emotional, utopian idealism.” Charles W. Moore
Since last week’s mystery aircraft was very easy to identify, according to the number of correct answers I received, this week I have provided another interesting aircraft type. Please send your answers to me at email@example.com. I will publish the names of those that identified the aircraft correctly within the Thursday edition of APAnews.
EAA Chapter 322 elects a new committee
On Saturday I attended the annual general meeting of the Johannesburg EAA Chapter 322 staged at the EAA Auditorium at Rand airport. As this year draws to a close it was time for the election of a new committee and I was impressed that several persons volunteered to assist Neil Bowden’s new committee with several new ideas to attract younger members. It also appears that EAA and specifically Chapter 322 is the only section of the Aero Club of South Africa (AeCSA) representing sport and recreational aviation that is actively growing.
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.
SAPFA Spot landing at Brits – 28 October 2023
African Pilot’s 2023 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.
13 to 17 November
Dubai Airshow 2023
EAA Chapter 322 breakfast fly-in to Airspan
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
19 to 21 November
55th African Airlines Association (AFRAA) Annual General Assembly (AGA)
Speke Resort in Entebbe, Uganda. Dedicated website: https://aga55.afraa.org/
Aero Club Awards 50 Viking Way Rand Airport (Menno Parsons hangar)
Contact Sandra Strydom email@example.com Tel: 011 082 1100
SAA Museum Society Trains, Planes and Automobiles hobby fair
Contact E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or Cell: 076 879 5044
SAA Museum Society SA 295 Helderberg 36 years on 08h00
Contact E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 076 879 5044
27 and 28 November
AfBAA African Business Aviation Association conference Cape Town
Contact Sam Keddle E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: +27 (0)63 717 3460
DCA Industry Roadshow East London, Eastern Cape
Contact Ms Charmaine Shibambo E-mail: email@example.com
EAA Chapter 322 monthly gathering, fly-in breakfast EAA Auditorium
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wonderboom Safety Symposium 18h00 at Villa San Giovani Restaurant
Contact David E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 073 338 5200
CAASA Awards and end of year function at CAASA House Lanseria
Contact Melissa Sewgolam E-mail: Melissa@caasa.co.za Cell: 082 847 3403
8 & 9 December
SACAA ICAD annual airshow Bisho
Contact Noel Godwin E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 082 414 7702
9 & 20 December
Saudi Airport Exhibition Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center
Contact Stephanie Ramos E-mail: email@example.com Cell: +971 50 395 2025
Aviation events 2024
EAA Chapter 322 monthly gathering at Tedderfield Air Park
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
EAA Chapter 322 monthly gathering at EAA Auditorium
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: email@example.com
MayDay SA golf day and industry dinner Serengeti Estate
Contact WhatsApp 083 797 7001 Website: www.mayday-sa.org.za
12 to 14 February
African Air Expo and conference CTICC, Cape Town
EAA Chapter 322 fly-in breakfast to Kitty Hawk
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
20 to 22 February
African Aviation MRO Africa Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Contact Nick Fadugba E-mail: email@example.com
26 to 29 February
HAI Heli-Expo Anaheim Convention Centre, California, USA
Air ambulance Learjet crashes in Mexico: no survivors
According to preliminary reports, a Learjet 35A operated by Jet Rescue Air Ambulance crashed on landing at General Mariano Matamoros Airport in Cuernavaca (CVJ/MMCB) in southern Mexico, about 30 miles south of Mexico City. While some news outlets have reported four on board, the AirMed&Rescue website reports there were five crew members and no passengers, presumably two pilots and three medical personnel. There were no survivors.
The Learjet had departed from Toluca International Airport, a 40-mile flight. It reportedly landed long on 9,500-foot Runway 20, overran the runway and continued down a steep embankment where it burst into flames. The accident occurred at roughly 2:30 p.m. local time yesterday (Nov. 1). Weather at the time was reported as light variable winds with scattered clouds at 2,000 feet AGL and a broken cloud layer at 25,000 feet. The airport is located in an area with high terrain nearby.
Pilot spends eight hours on Cessna 172 wing in Florida Everglades waiting for rescue
A pilot spent nearly eight hours on the wing of his Cessna 172 in the Florida Everglades waiting for rescue. According to Local 10 News, the pilot crashed at about 04h00 and sat on the wing of his Cessna until crews were dispatched to the scene shortly before 11h00. Broward County Sheriff’s Department tweeted that the fire and rescue team was on the scene and a rescue attempt was in progress. Within an hour, the patient was located and transported by Miami-Dade Fire Rescue to Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood with a leg injury. “To be able to seemingly walk away with just a leg injury after putting an aircraft down in the Everglades with the thick brush is an amazing feat in itself,” BSFR Battalion Chief Michael Kane said to Local 10 News. “We are very grateful that he is OK.”
Aerial footage showed the stranded pilot waiting on the wing as a helicopter sent a team member down to bring him to safety. According to Flight Aware, the pilot took off from MJD Airport (FL31) and landed at Okeechobee County Airport (OBE) at about 01h15 taking off again at 03h01 on the accident flight. The NTSB will be investigating the crash.
Israel uses F-35 to shoot down cruise missile, a first for Joint Strike Fighter
The Israel Defence Forces said that it used F-35 Adir fighter jets to shoot down a cruise missile this week, the first known cruise missile intercept by the American-made stealth fighter. “In recent days, a cruise missile launched from the southeast toward Israeli airspace was detected by the IAF’s control and detection systems. After tracking the cruise missile’s trajectory, Adir fighter jets were scrambled and successfully intercepted the missile,” the IDF said. The cruise missile was likely launched from the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen, although the IDF did not specify the launch site. While Israeli did not specify what weapon was used to intercept the incoming cruise missile, Israel’s F-35 variants are armed with both the AIM-9X Sidewinder and Aim-120 AMRAAM missiles.
Israel’s F-35s were declared operational in 2017 and they were used in combat in 2018 for the first time. Israel signed a deal to purchase an additional 25 F35s in July. The country will eventually have 75 of the fifth-generation aircraft. The IDF also hold the title of the first known kill by an F-35, when in March 2021 it shot down two drones it says were launched from Iran.
Since the 7 October assault by Hamas that killed more than 1,400 people in Israel, the airborne threat from Yemen has been increasing. On 18 October the Houthis in Yemen launched drones and cruise missiles toward Israel, with the Pentagon saying the USS Carney intercepted 15 drones and four cruise missiles over nine hours. Another attack was launched on 27 October, but the projectiles landed in Egypt. On 31 October Israel used its Arrow system, which was jointly developed with the US, to intercept a ballistic missile from Yemen. While this is the first time an F-35 is known to have killed a cruise missile, the capability has long been discussed.
Extra-long Russian Il-96-400M jumbo jet takes off for first flight
“The Il-96-400M wide-body long-range airplane has completed its first flight,” the Russian government said. “Stability and controllability of the aircraft, operability of systems, the powerplant and landing approach radio equipment were tested during the flight.” The aircraft is a modernised version of the Il-96-300, featuring a fuselage extended by 9.35 meters, increase powered PS-90A1 engines and can accommodate up to 370 passengers. The Russian Federal Air Transport Agency (Rosaviatsia) confirmed that most of the systems and equipment were manufactured by Rostec State Corporation.
The Russian government will highly value the progress made by the aircraft after sanctions were imposed on the country after it invaded neighbouring Ukraine in 2022. Sanctions have made it impossible for Russian airlines to obtain replacement parts legally for aircraft made by Boeing and Airbus. In September 2023, Aeroflot and Rosatom signed a memorandum of cooperation that will see the companies produce their own replica Airbus and Boeing aircraft parts that can be used for airliners in Russia. In October 2023, the General Director and Technical Director of Aeroflot, Alexey Mikhalik, said that full production of the replica parts will begin in the first half of 2024.
Korean Air orders additional 20 A321neos
Korean Air has placed an order for 20 additional Airbus A321neo aircraft as part of the airline’s fleet modernisation plans. The airline’s A321neo is a single-aisle aircraft configured in a two-class layout of 182 seats: eight in Prestige Class and 174 in Economy. Prestige Class passengers enjoy fully lie-flat seats, whilst the fleet features an Airbus Airspace cabin for enhanced passenger comfort and cabin ambiance. Passengers also will have Wi-Fi access to stay connected. Korean Air has taken delivery of eight out of its initial order of 30, with the first delivery having taken place in December 2022. The next-gen fleet is being deployed on short and medium-haul routes to serve the airline’s Southeast Asia, China and Japan networks.
Korean Air is committed to fleet modernisation for operational safety, sustainability and an enhanced passenger experience. The airline will take delivery of 110 new next-gen aircraft in the coming years including 20 additional A321neos; 10 Boeing 787-9s; 20 Boeing 787-10s and 30 Boeing 737-8s. The airline will also sequentially retire its A330-300s and Boeing 777-200ERs.
Sergey Brin’s new airship cleared for flight testing
IEEE Spectrum is reporting the FAA has issued a special airworthiness certificate to allow Google founder Sergey Brin’s LTA Research to flight test a 400-foot-long hybrid-electric airship, Pathfinder 1, at Moffett Field near San Francisco. LTA has been building the massive aircraft, the largest since the Hindenburg, since 2015. A second larger airship, which is almost 600 feet long, is also under construction. When he started the company, Brin said the plan was to use the airships for humanitarian aid to remote areas.
The test airship has a welded titanium frame whose light weight allows the use of helium as the lifting gas rather than the much-more-temperamental hydrogen. It will have a gondola that can hold 14 people and it’s designed for single-pilot operations, although it has dual controls. Two 150-kilowatt generators supply power to 24 electric motors scattered over the airframe. After initial tethered tests, the airship will be flown within a restricted area no higher than 1,500 feet above San Francisco Bay. Brin bought Goodyear’s air dock in Akron, Ohio, as the future manufacturing site for the airships.
Kazakhstan to auction off more than 100 Soviet combat aircraft
The authorities of Kazakhstan are attempting to auction off more than 100 Soviet-made combat aircraft. The lot was put up for sale by the state enterprise Kazspetsexport and includes MiG-27, MiG-29, MiG-31 and Su-24 combat aircraft. The starting price for the entire lot of 117 aircraft was set at approximately 1.8 billion Kazakhstani tenge ($3.85 million).
These aircraft, delivered between 1975 and 1989, are currently in storage at various military facilities. Their condition is so deteriorated that restoration was deemed impractical due to the high cost involved, with some even reported to be unsuitable for ‘cannibalisation,’ meaning their parts cannot be used to refurbish other aircraft. However, part of the MiG-31 fleet should still be close to flying conditions. As recently as April 2020, an aircraft of this type crashed near Karaganda, 185 kilometres (115 miles) southeast of the capital city Astana, after one of the engines caught fire.
The Mikoyan MiG-31 Foxhound heavy supersonic interceptor was introduced into active service in 1981. With a maximum take-off weight of 46 tons (over 101,000 pounds), it boasts the capability to transport a wide variety of weaponry. The MiG-31 fighters flown by the Kazakh Air Defence Forces were from the final batch ever produced, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. 20 were still counted as active in the 2023 World Air Forces directory. In the interim, the Kazakh Air Defence Forces are harmonising and modernising its fleet with the recent acquisition of at least 24 Su-30SM multirole fighter jets.
Is Russia the most likely buyer?
A first sale was scheduled for 26 October 2023, as reported by Forbes Kazakhstan. However, for an unknown reason, it did not take place. According to the Russian news portal Reporter, a new tender is scheduled for 11 November 2023. The entire lot will be placed on auction again, but this time at half the original price.
Some suspect that Russia might purchase the lot to acquire spare parts, as some of the combat aircraft mentioned, which are still in use by the Russian Air Force and engaged in the invasion of Ukraine, are no longer in production. However, on 19 October 2023, Kazakhstan announced a ban on the export of approximately 100 products to Russia, including drones and electronic components. It remains to be seen whether this ban includes the avionics found in these combat aircraft. Ukraine could also benefit from some of these aircraft, as it operates the MiG-29 fighter and the Su-24 bomber. Without access to Russian manufacturers, the country has relied on the support of European partners to supply Soviet aircraft.
Chinese fighter jet in near collision with US B-52 bomber over South China Sea
A Chinese fighter jet flew within 10 feet of a US Air Force B-52 bomber flying over the South China Sea, risking a collision, US Indo-Pacific Command has said. The incident occurred during a nighttime intercept on 24 October 2023. According to the Pentagon, the Chinese pilot flew the Shenyang J-11 twin-engine fighter ‘in an unsafe and unprofessional manner’ and ‘demonstrated poor airmanship by closing with uncontrolled excessive speed.’
“We are concerned this pilot was unaware of how close he came to causing a collision,” the US military stated, adding: “Military aircraft, when intentionally approaching another, shall operate with professional airmanship and give due regard for the safety of other aircraft.” The US Indo-Pacific Command released footage of the video, which it uploaded to social media. The video shows how dangerously close the two aircraft came to contacting one another.
The US Department of Defence claims that there have been more than 180 instances of Chinese military aircraft flying dangerously close to US aircraft since 2021. US President Joe Biden was expected to speak with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi when he visits the White House on 27 October 2023, as per a report by CNN. This latest incident comes just days after China expressed its disapproval of the presence of US aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan in Southeast Asia, describing the US as a ‘troublemaker’ in the region.
France maps out Rafale exports for Saudi and India, future fighter tension with Germany lingers
France has moved closer to securing two new Rafale fighter jet orders by opening talks with India and Saudi Arabia, which could potentially see Dassault manufacture an additional 80 aircraft. But as lucrative as those prospects are, fresh uncertainty concerning the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) / SCAF next generation fighter project, featuring France, Germany and Spain threatens to overshadow them.
Last week the Times newspaper reported that Germany ‘may’ decide to walk away from the programme and join the rival Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP) fronted by Italy, Japan and the UK. A German ministry of defence spokesperson said the story was ‘false,’ but analysts say that the strained industrial relations between Berlin and Paris continues to cause trouble.
Past tension between Airbus and Dassault over a Phase 1B demonstrator contract, required for the two manufacturers to develop a first version of the FCAS next generation fighter, ended in December 2022 with a belated contract signature. Reportedly, difficulties around flight control systems were the main cause of dispute. Despite the smiles at the signing, an uncomfortable partnership remains. “My understanding is that Dassault is considered the bad guy in the game because they still block agreements on some elements of workshare with Airbus and on Intellectual Property Rights said Christian Molling, research director at the German Council on Foreign Relations.
Paul Lever, a former British ambassador to Germany, said that while he had ‘no specific knowledge’ about Germany considering a FCAS exit, if he was to ‘cynically speculate’ on why a story might have emerged on the subject and place himself in the position of a German procurement official ‘fed up with excessive French demands on work and design share,’ there would be no ‘better way to put the frighteners on them France than to leak a story of this kind to a British journalist.’ Officially, Berlin sees matters very differently and continues to put trust in FCAS.
Patent granted for hybrid power system for electric flight
LaunchPoint Electric Propulsion Solutions has received a US patent for its ‘Lightweight, High-Efficiency, Energy-Dense, Hybrid Power System for Reliable Electric Flight.’ According to company officials, the patent is a milestone in LaunchPoint’s ‘mission to revolutionise electric flight and propel the aerospace industry into a new era of efficiency and reliability,’ ‘At its core, the patent describes an innovative system engineered to deliver power-dense, efficient and reliable power for electric aircraft, supporting onboard applications as well as driving rotors and propellers for lift and thrust,’ company officials explain.
‘Electric propulsion holds immense promise for aircraft due to electric motors’ superior power-to-weight ratio compared to piston or turbine engines, enabling placement in aerodynamically favourable positions on aircraft,’ officials continued. ‘However, the limitation of electric aircraft propulsion comes from the need for electric energy storage in the form of batteries, which are heavy and bulky. Typically, battery powered aircraft can only fly relatively short distances. For extended-duration flights, the battery electric propulsion concept proves unsuitable and it has become universally known that the overall best solution is a hybrid-electric propulsion system.’
The patented LaunchPoint Hybrid Power System (HPS) combines an internal combustion engine with LaunchPoint’s dual Halbach array generator and a small battery pack to power a distributed electric drive system. It also includes energy and power management software tailored for various aircraft missions; company officials noted. ‘In short, the LaunchPoint HPS elevates system-specific power while reducing energy storage mass,’ company officials explained in a press release. ‘Moreover, the system excels in regulating variable voltage sources such as permanent magnet generators while functioning as a microgrid power manager, optimising energy resources for reliable and fault-tolerant flight. Multiple systems can be used in parallel on the same DC Bus to achieve redundancy and availability goals.
US Air Force awards Lockheed $1 billion for new ICBM re-entry vehicle
Lockheed Martin has been awarded nearly $1 billion to develop a new re-entry vehicle for the LGM-35A Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the Pentagon announced Monday evening. The $996 million award for the Mk21A re-entry vehicle was sole-sourced to Lockheed following a technology maturation and risk reduction contract where the defence giant was the sole participant. “We are proud to partner with the US Air Force to modernise our nation’s strategic deterrence capability, reinforcing our all-digital and model-based engineering approach and proven performance in re-entry and strategic missions,” Jay Watson, senior director of Advanced Strategic Programs at Lockheed, said in a statement. “This contract is a critical step toward delivering this modernised capability to our customers, allowing us to continue our collaboration with the US Air Force for the next 15 years,” he added.
A re-entry vehicle houses a missile’s payload, in this case a modernised nuclear warhead dubbed the W87-1, which will be launched on the Sentinel ICBM. The Mk21A and W87-1 are expected to be integrated by fiscal 2030, according to FY24 budget documents. The Sentinel’s prime contractor is Northrop Grumman. The ICBM recapitalisation is one among several of the Air Force’s sprawling nuclear modernisation efforts, where the service owns two legs of the nuclear triad. Air Force officials are currently conducting market research for a next generation re-entry vehicle to follow the Mk21A, though its timeline for fielding is not clear.
The US Air Force is also separately modernising its air-based platforms that launch nuclear weapons. With prime contractor Boeing, the service is currently overhauling the venerable B-52 bomber to extend its service life for decades and is also pursuing a new stealth bomber whose first flight is expected before the end of this year. Known as the B-21 Raider, the bomber is set to replace both the B-1 and B-2 and is also built by Northrop Grumman.
An across-the-board refresh of the nuclear arsenal was begun during the Obama administrations and has continued, with relatively few changes, under the Trump and Biden administrations. Perhaps the biggest change to the plan from the Biden team was announced on Friday, when the administration announced it would pursue a new design of a nuclear gravity bomb, called the B61-13. The Pentagon said the step was taken in direct response to the DOD’s 2022 Nuclear Posture Review to ensure the US has ‘additional options against certain harder and large-area military targets.’
Vancouver-based Helijet orders Beta eVTOL aircraft
Helijet has placed firm orders for four Beta Technologies’ Alia single-pilot, five-passenger eVTOLs and it plans to operate under instrument flight rules. According to Beta, the Alia will be certified by 2026, with Helijet set to begin commercial operations in southwestern British Columbia and the wider Pacific Northwest region shortly thereafter. The contract also include options for four more aircraft, the companies said during an event at Helijet’s Victoria Harbour Heliport. They were joined by David Eby, a representative from the Canadian Advanced Air Mobility (CAAM) consortium and a British Columbia Premier. During the announcement, Eby reiterated his province’s commitment to its long-standing carbon fuel tax and said that there would be continued provincial and federal support for companies investing in carbon-reducing technologies and related infrastructure.
British Columbia implemented North America’s first carbon tax in 2008 and raised it from CA$50 to CA$65 per tonne of carbon dioxide emissions earlier this year, in line with the minimum federal carbon tax rate. That rate will steadily increase in the coming years. It translated into an additional tax of 49 cents (Canadian) per gallon on jet-A in 2022 and will rise to CA$1.08 by 2026. The province also provides grants for businesses switching to the use of greener energy under its CleanBC industry Fund, which already has paid CA$310 million CAD to participating businesses and will pay another CA$282 million between 2022 and 2025.
Helijet CEO Danny Sitnam said the Alia aircraft would create the opportunity to broaden the company’s passenger service network in the Vancouver area by linking its legacy helicopter service to vertiports and vertipads served by the eVTOL network in outlying areas, akin to an airline hub-and-spoke network. Helijet currently operates a fleet of Sikorsky S-76 helicopters for both scheduled passenger and charter service.
The Alia has a range of 250 nm and a top speed of 100 knots. Sitnam also said the aircraft held the promise of reducing the cost of human organ transport and high-value medical supplies in the region, including locally produced radioactive isotopes. Helijet became a founding member of CAAM in 2019. Other members include the National Research Council of Canada, Air Canada Cargo, CAE, Iskwew Airlines, InDro Robotics, University of British Columbia, TransLink, BC Aviation Council, University of Victoria, the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation, TELUS, Transport Canada, the Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association and Aerial Evolution Association of Canada.
Helijet is also leading the development of Canada’s first commercial vertiport at its downtown Vancouver waterfront heliport, which would connect AAM users to an intermodal transportation hub providing road, marine, air, and rail access throughout the region. Founded in 2017 and based in Vermont, Beta has orders from customers including UPS, Air New Zealand, Blade and United Therapeutics, as well as contracts with the US Army and Air Force. It is developing both eVTOL and electric conventional take-off and landing versions of its aircraft.
SkyDrive wins grant from Japanese government
SkyDrive Inc., a Japanese eVTOL aircraft manufacturer based in Japan, announced it has been chosen by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) for the ‘Next-generation Air Mobility Field’ of the Small and Medium Enterprise Innovation Promotion Project (SBIR Phase3). SkyDrive has been granted 12.4 billion yen (approximately, US$82 million), which will support the development of innovative technologies aimed at enhancing future social implementation, including reducing traffic congestion and lower emissions. The SBIR programme is a Japanese government initiative to grant startup companies working on advanced technologies that address societal challenges. The programme supports research and development projects that have high potential for growth and positive impact on society.
SkyDrive is developing a multicopter-type eVTOL aircraft with two passengers and a pilot. The aircraft has a maximum take-off weight of less than 1.5 tons and is designed to be safe, quiet and environmentally friendly. There are approximately 10 eVTOL companies, including SkyDrive, that have begun type certification process for their eVTOLs presently. It features a unique patent pending rotor frame technology that allows it to land on rooftops, making it suitable and accessible aircraft for family, friends and commuters with an affordable operating cost per person. With the support of the Japanese government through the SBIR programme, SkyDrive is going to develop the aircraft to fully satisfy market demands with the specification required from operators and be mass-produced and also to obtain Type Certification for commercial operation in the next five years.
The SBIR programme enables SkyDrive to accelerate its research and development efforts, focusing on improving the performance, safety and efficiency of its eVTOL aircraft. It will also support the development of new technologies and systems necessary for the successful deployment of eVTOLs in Japan and beyond. SkyDrive was formally established in July 2018 after testing flying car concepts and prototypes from 2014 with the mission of ‘taking the lead in the once-in-a-century mobility revolution.’ Its vision is to create a future where everyone has access to eVTOLs as their daily transportation in Japan and across the world. The company succeeded in the first crewed flight test in Japan in 2019 and its eVTOL ‘SKYDRIVE’ is in the process of acquiring its Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) certification. SkyDrive has been selected as a company to participate in the Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) project at Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai, Japan. SkyDrive plans to begin production of ‘SKYDRIVE’ in the spring of 2024 at the plant owned by official production partner Suzuki Motor Company. SkyDrive is headquartered in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture. Tomohiro Fukuzawa is the CEO of the company.
Beta Technologies’ Alia electric aircraft, crew arrive at Eglin AFB for testing programme
Beta Technologies said its Alia electric aircraft landed on Thursday at Duke Field, a subsidiary of Eglin Air Force Base, to begin a months-long deployment period with the US Air Force. The aircraft, which made a series of flights down the East Coast to reach the base in Florida, is to be used for a series of experiments. The Alia’s arrival at Duke marks the company’s first delivery of an aircraft to a contracted partner and the Air Force’s receipt of its first manned Beta aircraft. Beta recently worked with the Air Force to arrange the installation and commissioning of one of the company’s chargers at Duke Field earlier this month.
Beta said the aircraft and its main flight-testing team will stay at Duke for several months to work with the 413th Squadron to conduct hands-on experimentation and training with the Alia and its related technology. As part of the programme, the Air Force will test and validate potential uses for the aircraft, including critical resupply, cargo delivery and personnel transport. During the trip from its home field in Plattsburgh, New York (KPBG), the Beta crew flew the Alia more than 1,500 nm across 12 states using a special market research certificate issued by the FAA. The company said it used the series of flights to test the aircraft in many challenging scenarios, such as flying through Boston’s Class B airspace and the Flight Restricted Zone around Washington, D.C. Beta also met with local airport and municipal officials during its many stops along the route and marked the installation of a charging station at Marshfield Municipal Airport (KHGH) in Massachusetts with a ribbon-cutting ceremony earlier this month.
The company also held a groundbreaking event for the first electric aircraft charger in North Carolina at Raleigh Executive Jetport (KTTA), a project conducted in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Transportation and AFWERX, an Air Force programme that fosters innovation within its ranks. “For the past several years, AFWERX has provided critical input and support to the Beta programmes. Deploying Alia for experimentation and training at Duke Field is the natural next step in our partnership,” said Kyle Clark, Beta’s founder and CEO. “We look forward to working hand-in-hand with the US Air Force over the next few months as we work together to assess how the economic, sustainability and energy independence benefits of electric aviation can serve our military.”
To supplement its collaboration, Beta provided a mobile simulator for training Air Force pilots in preparation for operations in the full-size Alia aircraft. “The Department of the Air Force is constantly searching for the next generation of technology to make our war fighters safer and more efficient,” said Colonel Elliott Leigh, AFWERX director and chief commercialisation officer for the Department of the Air Force. “As agile innovators, we believe that partnering with American businesses is the key to this goal for delivering disruptive air capabilities.” Beta said its Alia eCTOL and eVTOL aircraft continue to progress toward FAA certification. The company said it anticipates the eCTOL model will enter service in 2025 followed by the eVTOL in 2026.
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Dronamics and Hellenic Post (ELTA) sign LOI for first postal cargo drone deliveries in Greece
Dronamics, the first cargo drone airline with a license to operate in Europe and Hellenic Post (ELTA) have signed an LOI to bring the first postal services by cargo drone to Greece. Dronamics, which designs, develops and operates cargo drones, will be providing middle-mile deliveries to Hellenic Post (ELTA), the national postal service for Greece. Starting with a domestic service connecting the mainland with islands, the two companies are also exploring international cooperation to provide postal cargo drone deliveries from Athens to key European cities.
ELTA has over 190 years of heritage and runs approximately 1,100 service points throughout the country. Its strategic goals include the adoption of innovative solutions and sustainable development, making them an early adopter of the cargo drone services offered by Dronamics. Greece is the launch market for Dronamics’ commercial operations, expected to begin early next year. The cargo drone airline is focusing on establishing a same day service connecting Athens, the capital city, with the industrial north area of the country, as well as the islands in the south. Dronamics’ general sales and service agent for Greece is Golden Cargo, a premium logistics, handling and warehousing services provider.
Dronamics can offer up to 80% faster, 50% cheaper and 60% lower CO2 emissions freight compared to traditional services, making it well suited to time-sensitive deliveries such as post and packages. Its remotely piloted aircraft, the Black Swan, requires 400 metres only to land and take-off, a viable solution for reaching remote and under-served areas, where traditional airport infrastructure is missing or under-developed. There are over 300 inhabited islands in Greece whose communities can benefit from faster, cheaper and green air cargo solutions.
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About African Pilot and Future Flight:
After 23 years there is no doubt that African Pilot provides the finest overall aviation media reach on the African continent and now in the world. Unlike many other aviation magazines, all African Pilot’s and Future Flight’s monthly editions are easily read on any digital device including smart phone.
Our team is positioned to provide professional video and stills photography, website development, social media platforms, company newsletters as well as several other important media services to customers.
The two monthly magazines are available as a digital edition where ALL advertisers enjoy the direct routing to their websites at a touch on a smart phone or tablet as well as a click of the mouse on a computer screen or tap on any smart phone device.
This twice weekly APAnews service has been part of African Pilot’s line-up since the inception of the magazine 23 years ago.
African Pilot is the third best English language aviation magazine in the top ten magazines in the world: https://blog.feedspot.com/aviation_magazines/
Twice Weekly News from African Pilot
Should you miss out on any edition of APAnews, please visit the website: www.africanpilot.co.za and click on the APAnews link on the front page. All past weekly APAnews publications have been archived on the website.