“The dichotomy between personal liberties and property rights is a false one. Property does not have rights. People have rights…In fact, a fundamental interdependence exists between the personal right to liberty and the personal right in property.”
Justice Potter Stewart
African Pilot’s aircraft of the week identification quiz
No prizes, but can you identify this aircraft? Please send your answers to me and not to other African Pilot e-mail addresses – Thank you: email@example.com. I will publish the names of all those that identified the aircraft correctly in the Thursday edition of APAnews.
In which part of the law will we find requirements for “Aircraft Engineers Licensing”?
The votes have been counted and the wards declared. For the first time in 26 years the ruling ANC government’s majority fell below 50% and this is excellent news for the people of South Africa. After years of rampant corruption, especially in the ‘Zuma years’, South African have spoken, not by casting their votes, but far staying away from the polls. We are in for some interesting times in the years ahead to see if the deeply divided ANC can get its act together or simply carry on with blatant theft.
African Pilot’s November 2021 edition
The November edition featuring African Airlines, Gifts for Pilots and Aircraft Leasing is complete and has been fully distributed. This 336-page contains a 108-page feature devoted to the 94 African Airlines. The Gifts for Pilots feature has been planned for the pilot shops and on-line companies to market their merchandise with direct clicks on the product they are marketing (another first). Finally, Aircraft Leasing is a sector of the aviation industry that is often neglected and this feature presented an opportunity for leasing companies to present their business profiles. The November edition is certainly the largest aviation magazine we have ever produced and is larger than all the other November South African aviation magazines collectively.
African Pilot’s December 2021 edition
The December edition will feature Drones, UAVs and Urban Mobility. Over several years African Pilot has consistently covered the exciting developments within the drone and urban mobility industry since these developments will change everything we know in aviation’s future. Although there are some people who say ‘flying cars’ will not be with us for decades, my belief is that they are just around the corner and like the drone industry, regulators all over the world need to start preparing for the explosion of aerial vehicles in our cities. African Pilot is the ‘only aviation magazine’ that provides its advertisers with coverage within a well-designed publication that has South African, African and International reach.
Video of the week
Henley Air Open Day on 30 October 2021
African Pilot Digital Calendars
Wallpaper calendar for the months of October and November. Go to our wallpaper page to download the calendars in three different resolutions.
View and download African Pilot’s last three (3) 2021 editions.
Click on the covers below.
Wouter Botes new TV series Plane Wreck Hunter
Aero Club coffee table Centenary Yearbook
The AeCSA Centenary Yearbook is now available to purchase from the online shop. Please visit www.aeroclub.org.za/shop.
Aero Club support
What happened in aviation over the past week?
On Friday 5 November the African Pilot team attended Felix Gosher’s Children’s Flight staged at Orient airfield. What an incredible day with so much to offer the children that come from foster homes. Of course, we must say thank you to the pilots that flew the children, superb organisation, generous sponsors and all the helping hands that made this day flow very smoothly. I spent the day video filming and I have come away with what will be at least a 30-minute final presentation taken from more than three hours of raw video footage. This is just a small selection of pictures from my stills camera to whet your appetite. Thank you to everyone involved that made this amazing aviation day happen. A full report with pictures from Charlie and Fiona Hugo as well as Christine will be published in the December edition of African Pilot.
Adventure Air open day
On Friday 5 November Adventure Air staged its open day which I attended. The weather was fantastic with clear blue skies with a bit of wind which made the demonstration flights pleasant for the attendees. Adventure Air had two aircraft that were undertaking demonstration flights, the Zenith STOL CH 750 Super Duty and the Zenith STOL 750. Many of the attendees were surprised by the STOL performance of the Zenith aircraft even in the very hot and high conditions that prevailed during the day. After the flight lunch followed and everyone enjoyed delicious steak and rib rolls and an ice cold cooldrink which was welcomed in the scorching heat.
EAA Sun ‘n Fun at Brits airfield
Over the weekend of Friday 5 to Sunday 7 November EAA’s annual Sun ‘n Fun was staged at Brits Airfield. The African Pilot team spent Saturday at the airfield catching up with so many wonderful EAA friends. It was great to see several commercial companies supporting this event as well as to enjoy the fantastic hospitality of the Brits Flying Club. At around 10h00 the four Puma Energy sponsored Flying Lions Harvards arrived and landed so that the pilots could enjoy a cup of coffee and some breakfast. After catching up with friends, the Harvards took off to provide the gathered crown another brilliant display, before departing for Rand Airport, their base. Through the day the hot north-westerly wind picked up and conditions become uncomfortable for flying, so most pilots took this opportunity to spend quality time with their friends under the shade of the large Bedouin tent that had been set up. Throughout the day the Brits Flying Club members attended to preparing a variety of meals and also provided much needed cold beverages which were most welcome due to the heat. A full report with a video and pictures by Charlie and Fiona Hugo as well as Christine will be published in the December edition of African Pilot.
What is scheduled for the next few months?
African Pilot’s 2021 calendar
We will publish the aviation calendar within APAnews three months ahead, but you can always visit African Pilot’s website: www.africanpilot.co.za if you would like to obtain the full calendar for the entire year.
SAPFA SA Landing Championships at Brits Airfield
Contact Ron Stirk E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 082 445 0373
14 to 18 November
Dubai Airshow DWC, Airshow Site, Dubai, UAE
Krugersdorp Flying Club fly-in at Jack Taylor airfield
Contact E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 083 577 8894
SAPFA Springs Speed Rally at Springs Airfield
Contact David Le Roux E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 073 338 5200
Sports Aerobatics Club Western Cape regionals at Stellenbosch airfield
Contact Annie Boon E-mail: email@example.com
EAA Chapter 322 monthly meeting virtual via Zoom
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 084 674 5674
2 & 3 December
Security Drone Conference at Emperors Palace Convention Centre
Contact Tawanda Mandaza E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 063 580 6400
Aero Club of South Africa annual awards venue TBA
Contact Rob Jonkers E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 082 804 7032
Cancelled due to very few international events
Sports Aerobatics Club ACE of Base Baragwaneth Airfield
Contact Annie Boon E-mail: email@example.com
Steady Climb fly-in and expo at Rhino Park airfield
Contact David Le Roux Cell: 073 338 5200
2022 Aviation calendar
I have started compiling the 2022 aviation calendar, so if you would like to reserve a specific date even if this is provisional, please send the details to me. What I require is the date, venue, contact person(s) and contact details such as Cell number and e-mail. Thank you.
British Airways restarts flights from Cape Town to London
British Airways has resumed flights from Cape Town to London Heathrow from 03 November 2021. These flights will not only reunite several people who have been kept apart from their loved ones due to COVID-19 but will also provide convenient options for holiday makers over the busy summer holiday season. The airline recommenced operations with three flights per week departing from Cape Town at 20h50 local time and arriving in London Heathrow at 06h55 local time the following morning. British Airways will increase to a daily flight operation from 13 November 2021 and will again operate its expanded Cape Town double daily schedule from 10 December 2021.
Customers booking with British Airways can do so with absolute confidence, thanks to the airline’s flexible booking policy. They are able to exchange their booking for a voucher or move their dates without incurring a change fee. British Airways’ existing online Covid hub includes information on flexible bookings, testing, how to use a voucher and what the British Airways flying experience looks like for those that have not travelled for some time. British Airways has also introduced a number of measures at the airport and on board to look after the safety and wellbeing of its customers and colleagues. These include social distancing measures, the wearing of face masks (which remain in place) and hand sanitiser stations. Prior to travel customers will also receive details of how they can prepare for their journey, including information on discounted testing providers.
To help customers navigate the changing entry requirement and facilitate a seamless journey, they can choose to download the VeriFLY app before departing to London. The digital health app allows customers to combine their travel verification documents and COVID-19 test results in one place and confirms their eligibility with a few simple steps. British Airways has partnered colleagues safe in the air and on the ground. The airline is cleaning all key surfaces including with Dettol to offer a range of products to keep its customers and seats, screens, seat buckles and tray tables after every flight and each aircraft is completely cleaned from nose to tail every day. The air on all British Airways flights is fully recycled once every two to three minutes through HEPA filters, which remove microscopic bacteria and virus clusters with over 99.9% efficiency, equivalent to hospital operating theatre standards.
Belarusian cargo plane crashes in Siberia, killing 7
An Antonov An-12 turboprop cargo plane, belonging to Belarusian firm Aircompany Grodno, crashed in the Siberian Federal District, not far from the Mongolian border. The aircraft had been performing a flight between Yakutsk and Irkutsk, Russian state news agency TASS reported. The incident occurred in the morning of 3 November. The aircraft was returning from a cargo flight and preparing for a landing at Irkutsk International Airport (IKT). On approach, the pilot informed the flight controller that it had to perform a go-around. Shortly after, the aircraft disappeared from radar. Not long after, a crash site was discovered near Pivovarikha village, approximately four kilometres (2.5 miles) from the airport.
According to an unnamed source within the Russian firefighting service, quoted by TASS, the crash site was located in a forest. A small forest fire has started, which was extinguished by firefighters in the evening of the same day. The government of the Irkutsk Oblast has issued a statement saying that all seven bodies have been found. According to the statement, the crew was composed of Belarusian and Ukrainian nationals. According to its website, Aircompany Grodno owns various aircraft, including An-12, An-12 and An-32. It provides cargo, airdrop, aerial photography and other services. An-12 is a large four-engine turboprop aircraft produced by Antonov between 1957 and 1973. A large number of ex-Soviet An-12s are used for cargo operations worldwide, mostly in Asia and Africa.
Sita Air turboprop hits wild boar during take-off in Nepal
A Sita Air Dornier Do-228 aircraft suffered nose gear and underside fuselage damage after a collision with three wild pigs while accelerating for take-off. The incident occurred on 2 November 2021, when the twin-engine turboprop, registered as 9N-AHB, was about to take-off from Nepalgunj Airport (KEP) for a flight to Simikot Airport (IMK). The plane was already accelerating when three wild boars unexpectedly appeared on the runway. The flight crew rejected the take-off but was unable to avoid collision.
Due to the encounter, the plane suffered nose gear and belly damage and came to a complete stop with the nose gear bent backwards. No injuries were reported by the flight’s 17 passengers. However, all three boars died from the impact. According to aviation-safety.net data, it was the second incident to involve the 9N-AHB aircraft. The plane previously suffered similar nose gear damage during a landing incident at IMK airport in June 2013. At the time, the Sita Air Dornier Do-228 was supposed to operate the same Nepalganj-Simikot route with five passengers and two flight crew members on board. Following a hard landing at its final destination, the plane suffered substantial damage to its left-hand wing and belly as well as breaking its main gear.
Boeing to showcase 777X at Dubai Airshow
A 777-9 prototype will be a feature in the flying programme as well as part of the static display, alongside the reduced-emissions Etihad 787-10, the Alaska Airlines 737-9 ecoDemonstrator, the 737 MAX 9 and a host of other aircraft. Boeing 777X, the new generation of the 777 family, was launched in 2013, gathering more than 300 orders during the years that followed. After numerous problems and delays, the first prototype conducted its maiden flight in January 2020. Comprising three variants, the 777-8, the 777-9 and the 777-10, the 777X family is intended to replace earlier models of the 777, as well as compete with Airbus wide-body jets, such as the A350. Able to accommodate 450 passengers, the 777-10 is touted to become the largest twin-engine aircraft in the world, earning it the nickname ‘mini-jumbo’. It will be serving as a partial replacement for the Boeing 747, as well as being a more efficient alternative to the Airbus A380.
Since the first Boeing 777 entered commercial service in 1995, the aircraft family has become the most successful manufacturer’s wide body. As the newest member of the family and the first aircraft of the latest generation, is moving ahead in the production programme. However, despite its claimed efficiency and innovation, development of the aircraft has generated a fair share of controversy, mostly associated with delays.
Initially intended to enter the market in 2019, the 777X encountered many obstacles, including the 737 MAX crisis, which impacted Boeing’s financial situation and slowed down development of the new jet. In 2021 alone, the 777X has raised safety concerns with the US Federal Aviation Administration, which said the certification of the jet may be pushed back as far as 2024. Numerous airlines threatened to shrink or cancel their orders for the 777X. Most notably, Emirates, which initially ordered 150 aircraft, has threatened to refuse the deliveries unless Boeing complies with contractual obligations. In early November 2021, Emirates chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said the airline is going to discuss the order with Boeing at the Dubai Airshow.
Russia to display Sukhoi Checkmate fighter jet at Dubai Airshow
Sukhoi Checkmate, the latest Russian fifth-generation single-engine fighter jet project, will be presented at the 2021 Dubai Airshow. The news was announced by the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade on 2 November 2021. “The static exposition of the Russian technology is going to feature a prototype of a light tactical aircraft Checkmate, as well as KA-226T and Mi-171A2 helicopters,” Denis Manturov, the minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation, is quoted by state news agency TASS.
According to TASS, Rosoboronexport, a state agency for Russia’s defence exports, said that Checkmate evoked ‘great interest’ abroad and has already attracted inquiries from potential customers. A mock-up of the Checkmate was unveiled at the MAKS airshow on 20 July 2021. When complete, the aircraft will be a fifth-generation single-engine supersonic fighter jet with stealth features, intended to compete with the US-made Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II. The jet’s maiden flight is said to be scheduled for 2023, while the serial production is intended to start in 2026.
Rostec considers the United Arab Emirates (UAE), along with Argentina, Vietnam and India, as the main potential customers for the jet, as well as a number of Middle Eastern, South American and African countries. According to some sources, the aircraft was designed in cooperation with the UAE, or at least with UAE’s fighter jet tender in mind.
F-35 vs Checkmate: fight over Gulf’s billions
Confrontation between two fifth-generation fighter jets is closer than originally thought. In fact, it is about to happen. Manturov also said that Rostec is going to showcase a business jet version of the Sukhoi Superjet 100, the upgraded Irkut MC-21-310 mainline jet with PD-14 engines, the Orion medium-altitude long-endurance combat drone and several other new products of the Russian aerospace industry. The Dubai Airshow 2021 will run between 14 and 18 November at Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC).
Greek flight school TAE Aviation Academy buys an ALSIM AL250
ALSIM is pleased to announce the sale of an ALSIM AL250 to TAE Aviation Academy, an Approved Training Organisation in Megara-Athens, Greece. The AL250 simulator addresses initial phase training needs (PPL, CPL, IR/ME) and is SEP / MEP re-configurable simulator certified as an EASA FNPT II. In addition, it offers both classic and glass cockpit instrumentation for each flight model at the simple flick of a switch. This device has been extremely well received since its creation and more than 65 of these have already been installed (four devices installed in Greece) and are in successful operation worldwide.
The TAE Aviation Academy has chosen the ALSIM AL250 flight simulator (FSTD) for its IR training after nine (9) years of serious research and comparison of the FSTD manufacturers. Captain Spyridos Gkinis, Head of training of TAE Aviation Academy said: “We received many proposals from other providers, but we knew that ALSIM is a trustful company that systematically monitor the training requirements for new pilots and the evolution of aviation in general. Besides, the after-sales support was an important part of the final decision-making process to go with ALSIM. We are always looking to provide the best practices and training to our students, and with the AL250, we can provide high-quality training for the next generation of professional pilots”.
“We would like to thank Captain Spyridon Gkinis and his team for choosing ALSIM. Having TAE equipped with our AL250 simulator demonstrates not only that our technology is a key asset for any modern ATO to improve pilot training and that our service and after-sales support are making the difference. We hope that it is the beginning of a successful cooperation between our two companies.” said Mr. Nicolas de Lassus, ALSIM’s Sales Account Manager.
Wright Electric plans to bring an electric regional aircraft to market by 2026
The Wright Spirit aircraft was unveiled on 4 November 2021, to coincide with the COP26 climate change conference in Scotland. The aircraft is based on the BAe 146 platform, which has four engines and seats 100 passengers. Wright will begin flight testing with one all-electric engine in 2023 and then move to flight tests with two all-electric propulsors by 2024. Wright expects the aircraft will be all-electrically propelled by 2026. “Aviation has committed to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, but Wright is committed to a 100% reduction in all emissions starting in 2026,” Jeff Engler, CEO of Wright, said in a press release.
Wright is aiming to serve routes that typically take one hour. The company says this includes busy routes such as London-Paris, Seoul-Juju, Frankfurt-Paris, or New York-Washington. “We can make a significant impact on global emissions by targeting this high-demand segment of the market,” Engler predicts. Wright began developing its megawatt propulsion system in 2020. Since then, it has been proving key components, such as a high-efficiency, high-power density inverter and a 2 MW (2,700 horsepower) motor. The emissions-free propulsion system will be retrofitted to BAe 146 aircraft, replacing its traditional engines.
“We look forward to collaborating with Wright to analyse the integration of a zero-emissions 100-passenger aircraft into airline operations,” Viva Aerobus chief executive Juan Carlos Zuazua said in the statement. US-based Wright is also developing the Wright 1, a 186-seat airliner with an 800-mile range, which it hopes to bring to market in 2030.
Qantas Airways hints at reactivation of its first Airbus A380 jet
The flag carrier of Australia Qantas Airways reportedly revealed when it plans to reactivate its first Airbus A380 widebody aircraft. The Airbus A380-800 jet, registered as VH-OQB, is supposed to become the first out of ten Qantas superjumbos to return from storage to active service in the coming weeks, the airline told local media on 5 October 2021. According to Planespotters.com data, the plane, which is also known as Hudson Fysh, is currently stored at Dresden Airport (DRS), in Germany, where it has been grounded since August 2021.
The widebody jet has already spent almost 20 months on the ground as it was first placed into storage at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in the US at the beginning of the global pandemic in March 2020. Aviation enthusiasts of Australia will likely see the reactivated superjumbo jet landing at Sydney Airport (SYD) by 14 November 2021. However, before returning to passenger service, Qantas Airways will have to dedicate a few additional weeks for mandatory aircraft checks and other maintenance-related issues. In the meantime, the carrier will also have to conduct staff retraining sessions for flight and cabin crew members, who will operate long-haul flights.
US Air Force developing amphibious C-130
Apparently, the US Air Force is reportedly fast-tracking development of an amphibious float mod for the C-130 to respond to increasing tension with China in the South Pacific. The float-equipped aircraft would be used to deploy personnel, including Special Forces. The aircraft would allow “the Air Force to increase placement and access for infiltration, exfiltration and personnel recovery, as well as providing enhanced logistical capabilities,” Lt. Col. Josh Trantham, Air Force Special Operation Command’s science, systems, technology and innovation deputy division chief, said in a September news release.
Apparently, the Air Force apparently wants a working prototype by the end of 2022 and is working with a private company on the development. Renderings of the finished product show floats that are almost the full length of the fuselage and would raise the aircraft more than 20 feet on the float-borne landing gear. The floats will be removable. The US military has not operated amphibs for more than 50 years but the Coast Guard used seaplanes until 1983.
Did Northrop Grumman just unveil a new 6th generation fighter jet?
Northrop Grumman released a promotional video presenting some of its current projects. Some of the aircraft portrayed in the glamorous CGI hangar are already well-known to the public. On the right side, an MQ-4C Triton High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) drone sits next to an E-2D airborne early warning aircraft and either an F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jet or an E/A-18 Growler electronic warfare aircraft, both of which saw major participation from Northrop Grumman. Taxiing up front is a B-2 strategic bomber, with what appears to be its successor, the upcoming B-21 Raider, flying away in the background.
The left side of the hangar gets more interesting. In the back, Northrop showcases the X-47B drone developed as part of the US Navy’s Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) programme. In July 2013, the X-47B was the first drone of its kind to demonstrate its capability to land on an aircraft carrier. Due to budget constraints, the programme was streamlined to only comprise refuelling capability, at which point Northrop dropped out. In August 2018, the Carrier-Based Aerial-Refuelling System (CBAR) contract was eventually awarded to Boeing and its MQ-25 Stingray. But the presence of the X-47B could hint at a second life for the drone. Maybe as a successor to the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper attack drone? Northrop Grumman is competing against Lockheed Martin and General Atomics in the MQ-Next program started by the US Air Force.
The three manufacturers released renders of stealthy flying wings, capable of carrying out its mission in a contested environment. One of Northrop’s concepts, called the SG-2, bears a striking resemblance to the X-47B. The next aircraft in line is relatively mysterious, with only its nose and a dorsal air intake showing. They could belong to the Model 437, a ‘loyal wingman’ concept recently revealed by Northrop Grumman. Based on the Model 401 experimental aircraft developed by Northrop’s subsidiary Scaled Composites, it could compete in the Skyborg Vanguard programme intended to design a drone that could accompany US fighter jets into battle.
In the closing days of September 2020, the Skyborg Vanguard programme completed its second phase of awards and now includes 13 companies competing for a design of the loyal wingman, a drone that will accompany US fighter jets into battle. Last but not least, a never-before-seen fighter jet stands on the very left of the hangar. While no establishing information is shown, the tailless stealth aircraft with its two dorsal inlets is reminiscent of the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) 6th generation fighter jet concept that Lockheed Martin has reportedly already flown for the US Air Force. This aircraft is due to replace the capacities of both the F-15 Eagle and the F-22 Raptor by 2030. Alternatively, the US Navy also launched a programme called NGAD, distinct from the USAF. Its goal is to replace, also within the next decade, the F/A-18 Super Hornet currently operating on aircraft carriers. The real question is, which NGAD programme is Northrop Grumman going after?
Japan scrambled more fighters to intercept Chinese aircraft over the summer
According to Japan’s Ministry of Defence, the number of fighter jets Japan scrambled to intercept Chinese aircraft approaching its airspace rose sharply over the summer, reversing months of declines. According to statistics released Friday by the ministry, the Japan Air Self-Defence Force launched fighters 187 times between 1 July and 30 September, the second quarter of the current fiscal year, to intercept approaching Chinese drones, fighters, bombers and surveillance planes. This is nearly twice as many as the 94 sorties flown in the first quarter, between 1 April and 30 June. A sortie is a single mission by a single plane.
Japanese Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi told reporters that China was expanding its reach not only above the East China Sea but also above the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Japan. “Chinese aircraft continue to be active,” he said. “Long hours and long-distance flights were also confirmed.”
Taiwanese forces were on alert early this month after 149 Chinese warplanes entered its airspace over a four-day period beginning 1 October. Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said the self-ruled island, claimed by China, was preparing to defend itself against invasion. The increasing flights may be a response to recent joint exercises between Japan, the US, the UK and the Netherlands, Shikata said. The Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth visited Japan in September, which rattled Beijing.
Shikata believes the recent increase in Chinese flights challenging Japanese pilots may be the start of a new cycle of one-upmanship. Japan will have to increase sorties accordingly, he said. “I think China will increase their activities in the region especially after the 2022 Olympics,” Shikata said. “China wants to successfully host the Olympics, so they are not going to actually do anything apart from demonstrating their power, but China will be tougher on Taiwan after the Olympics.”
Maiden flight of China’s carrier-based stealth fighter spotted, ‘aircraft to rival F-35’
On Tuesday last week a model of China’s FC-31 stealth fighter jet is on display at the Airshow China 2021 in Zhuhai, South China’s Guangdong Province. China’s next-generation aircraft carrier-based fighter jet made its long-expected maiden flight recently, foreign media outlets reported, with unverified photos of the prototype warplane in the sky circulating on social media platforms. If true, this would mean a tremendous step for China’s aircraft carrier programme, observers said. The photos show the carrier version of the FC-31 stealth fighter flying. It is painted with a blue-green primer and it has the same twin canted tailfins, twin engines and high-mounted cockpit of the FC-31. But it adds a catapult launch bar and a wing-fold mechanism, confirming it is intended for carrier operations, US media outlet thedrive.com reported on Friday.
Other notable features are a chin-mounted sensor turret, apparently analogous to the F-35’s Electro-Optical Targeting System and what seems to be a remodelled cockpit canopy profile, with a shorter main transparency, the report said. Based on the FC-31, the aircraft carrier-version is almost a new aircraft, with many of the latest technologies applied, said experts and analysts reached by the Global Times. They declined to confirm the authenticity of the photos but said they are generally in line with predictions.
The FC-31 is China’s second stealth fighter jet intended for technical demonstration and export purposes and it made its maiden flight nine years ago. It has long been expected that the FC-31 would be upgraded to become China’s next-generation aircraft carrier-based fighter jet.
During the Airshow China 2021 held in September, Sun Cong, chief designer of the J-15, China’s first-generation aircraft carrier-based fighter jet, as well as the FC-31, said at a press conference that, “This year, people should be able to see good news on the next-generation aircraft carrier-based fighter jet,” and ‘When the aircraft is ready, people will get to see it.’ It is believed to rival its US-made counterpart, the F-35, which is being provocatively deployed in large numbers by the US and its allies near China, analysts said.
Another crucial aircraft that will be on China’s future carriers, the KJ-600 early warning aircraft, was also seen undergoing flight tests recently, thedrive.com reported, citing a photograph. This means both types of new carrier-based aircraft are at a good stage in the development progress, and they will likely operate from China’s forthcoming, third aircraft carrier, which is expected to be larger than the previous two and equipped with electromagnetic catapults, analysts said.
Boeing tests ATS Loyal Wingman, prepares to showcase drone at Dubai Airshow
Boeing Airpower Teaming System (ATS), a drone intended to perform in a combat environment alongside fighter jets, is set to be one of the main attractions at the company’s static display at Dubai Airshow 2021. The company prepares to pitch the aircraft to the international audience, hoping to attract attention and possible orders with its autonomous capabilities. The ATS is one of several latest examples of the type, nicknamed ‘Loyal Wingmen’. Under development in various countries, they are intended to be affordable, in order to supplement expensive fourth, fifth and sixth-generation fighter jets.
The aircraft has been developed by Boeing Australia in cooperation with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). It completed its maiden flight in March 2021. In September 2021, Boeing announced that it was opening a plant to mass-produce the type. According to Boeing’s press release, published on 4 November 2021, two prototypes of the ATS are currently performing intensive flight tests in Australia. “We are in a steady rhythm of flight testing on the way to mission and operational testing, enabling Boeing Australia, RAAF and our Australian industry team of more than 35 companies to progressively advance the flight characteristics and capabilities of the uncrewed teaming system,” Glen Ferguson, director of Boeing ATS programme.
The testing includes the inspection of the aircraft’s landing gear and artificial intelligence (AI) systems, as well as proceeding with the development of the payloads for ATS’ reconfigurable nose, which can house a number of sensors and systems intended for different combat scenarios. The statement claims that Boeing has already attracted ‘various global customers’ for the ATS and has hinted at possible foreign sales. One such global customer is the United States Air Force’s Skyborg programme, in which Boeing is one of the three finalists alongside General Atomics and Kratos.
First Federal charge filed for shootdown of a drone in the United States
What may be the first-time charges have been filed in such circumstances, the Lake County Sheriff’s office has brought federal prosecution for an unmanned system shoot-down. The accused was able to bring down a small drone with two well-placed shots of .22 long rifle, for which he now faces federal charges for interference with the operation of an aircraft.
In July 2021, law enforcement responded to a burglary call at a 10-acre business property in Mount Dora, Florida. In order to survey the property and find the culprit faster, they deployed their drone to begin searching the expanse, only to see it quickly drop to the ground and catch fire. The man, inside a nearby building, believed the drone had arrived to harass him and fired two rounds from his .22 rifle, immediately downing the small aircraft. Deputies approached him where he readily admitted to the act, believing he had done nothing unlawful as the recipient of drone ‘harassment’. Unfortunately, the 29-time felon’s opinion was in error, as well as his possession of a firearm, quickly landing him into the deputy’s care.
The accused now faces a rare charge and in some ways, a landmark crime: Being charged for his anti-drone actions under the same statute as a full-size, manned aircraft. Aviation attorney and former FAA counsel Loretta Alkalay opined that the shootdown would be fully prosecutable under 18 U.S. code 32, saying that the law prohibits interfering with anyone ‘engaged in the authorised operation of such aircraft’ and carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.
Since drones are considered aircraft, threatening a drone or a drone operator, according to Ms. Alkalay, would also be a federal crime subject to five years in prison under this same statute. The case is interesting to operators and pilots, for now, in this early phase of unmanned systems. With legal codes built around people and everyday vehicles, there have been many conflicts and disagreements over the wide-ranging privacy implications on drone usage. At what point can someone interfere with operations on their own land? Should downing a drone levy the same penalties as downing manned aircraft? As use increases, and incidents become more widespread, questions like these will only become more common.
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