“Some who are too scrupulous to steal your possessions nevertheless see no wrong in tampering with your thoughts.” Khalil Gibran
Miller JM-2 racing homebuilt
(Information from Wikipedia)
The Miller JM-2 was an American Formula One Air Racing homebuilt aircraft that was designed by Jim W Miller and produced by JW Miller Aviation of Marble Falls, Texas. When it was available the aircraft was supplied in the form of plans for amateur construction.
Miller opted for an unorthodox configuration in developing a racing aircraft that would be as fast as possible on 100 hp (75 kW). The JM-2 features a cantilever mid-wing, a single-seat enclosed open cockpit under a bubble canopy, tricycle landing gear with fixed main wheels and a retractable nose wheel and a single engine in pusher configuration, mounted within a fan shroud, with the spinner acting as the aircraft’s tailcone. The fan shroud structure provides a place to mount the rudders and the tailplane is mounted high in T-tail configuration as an extension of the shroud. There is a small canard surface mounted on the nose.
The aircraft is of mixed construction, with the fuselage made from four fiberglass panels and the 15.0 ft (4.6 m) span wing covered in fiberglass and resin-reinforced honeycomb material. As required by the Formula One rules, the engine used was a 100 hp (75 kW) Continental O-200B powerplant, the ‘B’ being the pusher-configured version of the engine.
The JM-2 has an empty weight of 630 lb (290 kg) and a gross weight of 1,100 lb (500 kg), giving a useful load of 470 lb (210 kg). With full fuel of 12 US gallons (45 L; 10.0 imp gal) the payload is 398 lb (181 kg). The JM-2 was further developed into the one-of-a-kind racing aircraft, the Miller-Bohannon JM-2 Pushy Galore.
By October 2013 three examples had been registered in the United States with the Federal Aviation Administration including the sole Miller-Bohannon JM-2 Pushy Galore. However, none of the aircraft remains on the US register. One of the two stock JM-2s built was destroyed while racing in the Reno Air Races at Reno, Nevada on 15 September 1989, when it flew through a dust devil and broke up in flight, killing the pilot.
Those persons who correctly identified this week’s mystery aircraft:
Righardt du Plessis, Bruce Margolius, Adrian Maree, Bruce Prescott, Lance Williams, Marcel Bode, Andre Visser, P. Roussouw, Brian Millett, Bernard Stander, Magiel Esterhuysen, Kevin Farr, Karl Jensen, Rex Tweedie, Andre Breytenbach, Rennie van Zyl, Rahul Vala, Pierre Brittz, Selwyn Kimber, Steve Dewsbery, Jeffery Knickelbein, Hilton Carroll, Ari Levien, Danie Viljoen, Sam Basch, Herman Nel, Michael Schoeman, Craig Casarotti, Piet Steyn, Colin Austen, Ahmed Bassa, Charlie Hugo, Arnold Angelici, Aiden O’Mahony, John Moen, Johan Venter, Wouter van der Waal, Daryl Kimber, Dave Lloyd, Jaco van Jaarsveld, Mike Transki, (41).
Reflecting on your life as a pilot
After my flying career of 35 years as a Private Pilot with a night rating, I decided to ‘hang up my headset in November 2019 and although there are times that I have the urge to fly, I do not regret my decision to stop flying at this point of time in my life. I recorded some 1966 hours in my logbook of which just over one hundred hours were recorded as night flying. Now that I am no longer flying, I have spent a great deal of time reflecting on the times I took unnecessary chances that were just plain stupid. However, I have also witnessed several close encounters with death whilst watching certain pilots blatantly push the boundaries when they show off at fly-ins as they lose all reason for the sake of a moment’s glory, which is usually directly proportional to the audience watching.
A few week’s ago such a person was doing exactly this at a photographer’s event when the wings of his home-built plane folded and he took himself and his passenger to their graves. The reason for the main spar failure was the fact that he drilled two 19-centimetre holes through the wooden main spar so that he could modify this plane to have dual control sticks. The weakened spar was ready to give way and this was destined to happen anytime, but the situation was exacerbated by him joining the circuit incorrectly followed by a high speed shoot up with a pull up. He got away with this manoeuvrer the first time, but on his second approach when performing the same stunt as he pulled back on the stick the wings folded and the aircraft plunged to the grass runway and it was all over in seconds.
I spent some time at this airfield on Wednesday interviewing several eyewitnesses who verified the same story and added a great deal about the arrogance of this pilot at his home airfield. As Charlie Marais says in his regular accident reports, ‘there are old pilots and bold pilots, but very few old bold pilots.’ Perhaps this is time to reflect on your flying ability, your attitude towards flying and especially your attitude towards fellow pilots within the region where you operate on a regular basis.
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.
Apart from the SACAA Industry Awards on Friday evening to which African Pilot has been invited to cover, there are no planned aviation events this weekend.
First two T-129 helicopters delivered to Nigeria
After departing TAI’s Ankara facility, on 1 November flight tracking data showed a Turkish Air Force A400M arriving in Nigeria. Several days later, the Nigerian Air Force confirmed that two T-129s had just been received and will soon be inducted into the Air Force. The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Hasan Abubakar, said this is part of a total overhaul of the Nigerian Air Force’s order of battle. Abubakar said that with the additional platforms and others being expected shortly, as well as the renewed vigour of the NAF under his leadership, Nigerians can be rest assured of the commitment of the NAF to ensuring total eradication of the myriads of security challenges facing the nation.
Scramble magazine reported, the NAF’s T-129s will be operated by the 115th Special Operations Group at Port Harcourt, with two more to be delivered before the end of 2023 and the remaining two in the first quarter of next year. During the Farnborough airshow in July 2022 TAI CEO Temel Kotil revealed that Nigeria will receive a total of six T-129s. The T-129, based on the Leonard Helicopters A129 Mangusta, first flew in August 2011 and is in service with the Turkish military and around 100 will be in Turkish service by year-end. The type has been exported to the Philippines (deliveries of six began in March 2022).
According to TAI, the T-129 has been designed for hot and high operations. It is equipped with a 20 mm cannon and can be armed with rockets, UMTAS anti-tank missiles, CIRIT laser-guided missiles and Stinger air-to-air missiles. The helicopter is 14.5 metres long and has a maximum take-off weight of just over five tons. Two CTS800-4A engines each developing 1 373 hp give a maximum cruise speed of 280 km/h, range of 537 km and service ceiling of 4 570 metres. An Aselsan Aselflir-300T gimbal includes an infrared camera, TV camera, laser rangefinder and target designator.
Israel’s Arrow air defence system intercepts ballistic missile near Red Sea
For the first time Israel’s Arrow air defence system intercepted a ballistic missile, in an attempted strike believed to have been launched from Yemen. The Israeli Defence Forces said the interception was the first operational use of the Arrow system since Hamas’s 7 October attack and that it ‘thwarted an aerial threat in the area of the Red Sea.’ The IDF later said the missile was fired toward Israel but was intercepted before it could reach its target. ‘All aerial threats were intercepted outside of Israeli territory. No infiltrations were identified into Israeli territory,’ the IDF said.
Though the IDF did not say who responsible for the missile, the Houthi armed group reportedly claimed responsibility and Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has accused the Houthis of a similar attack last week. A 28 October would-be strike using drones and missiles, attributed to the Houthis, was intercepted by fire from a US naval ship. Since Hamas’s attack on Israel on 7 October other groups back by Iran have sporadically joined in the fighting, including attempted strikes from the Houthis in Yemen and deadly skirmishes between Lebanese Hezbollah and Israeli forces along Israel’s northern border. The day before the 28 October interceptions by the USS Carney, Israeli aircraft managed to intercept other threats near the Red Sea using aircraft, the IDF said.
Though today marks Arrow’s first operational intercept of a ballistic missile, its first operational use came back in 2017 when it intercepted a surface-to-air missile fired from Syria. The Arrow programme provides Israel with the upper tier of its multi-layered air defence system, together with David’s Sling and Iron Dome. The current Arrow system is called Arrow 3 and was recently sold to Germany as Berlin sought a solution to threats in the wake of the conflict in Ukraine. Israel announced it was working on an Arrow 4 system to build on the success of Arrow 3 in 2021.
Senator’s Cherokee crashed on take-off
On Thursday, the NTSB released its preliminary report on the 1 October plane crash in Moab that killed North Dakota Senator Doug Larsen and his family. According to the report, the aircraft collided with a hill shortly after take-off before crashing into the ground about a half-mile away from the runway. At the time of the take-off roll, the pilot-controlled runway lights were not illuminated.
Security footage showed the aircraft, a Piper PA-28-140, landing at the Canyonlands Regional Airport (KCNY) in Moab, Utah, around 17h47. An FBO employee stated he saw the pilot take on 27 gallons of fuel from the self-serve fuel island before parking the aircraft and borrowing the courtesy car for a few hours. The report states the four occupants returned and boarded the airplane around 20h11. A witness reported it was very dark outside with no illumination from the moon. The witness said after the aircraft took off, it banked steeply to the right and then appeared to lose altitude. ADS-B data corroborated the witness’ statement, showing the aircraft climb to 200 feet during the right turn after take-off before descending. According to the NTSB, a ‘examination of the engine revealed no mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operations.’ A clear indication of what caused the crash was not available. The NTSB will release a final report later.
Fire destroys historic blimp hangar
Firefighters used helicopters to try to quell a fire at one of two enormous blimp hangars in Tustin, California, but the historic structure could not be saved. The massive building, 1,000 feet long, almost 200 feet tall and 300 feet wide, caught fire overnight and continued to burn through the day. Firefighters on the ground could not get close enough to have much effect on the fire as the all-wood structure progressively collapsed. By nightfall, most of the structure had been consumed. “We cannot get close enough to that building without concerns of it collapsing on our firefighters,” Orange County Fire Chief Brian Fennessy told The New York Times. “Our use of aircraft on a structure like this, that is extraordinary.”
The two hangars were built at what was Marine Corps Air Station Dustin in 1942. According to local historians, they were the largest wood buildings built in the 20th century. The base was built about 30 miles southeast of Los Angeles to house blimps used to spot Japanese submarines off the West Coast. The base remained operational until 1999 and the hangars were designated as national landmarks in 1975. The City of Dustin had been in discussion with the Navy, which still owns the buildings, about their long-term preservation.
Emirates torn between Airbus and Boeing freighters for future order
According to Bloomberg, the United Arab Emirates flag carrier is weighing up the pros and cons of the Boeing 777-8 freighter and the Airbus A350F. Emirates’ Divisional Senior Vice President at Emirates, Nabil Sultan, spoke to the news outlet at an industry conference in Singapore, where he indicated a decision may not be made for another four years. Sultan said that hopefully by 2027, the carrier will ‘evaluate whether we require a different mix to what we have already’.
Further capacity expansion will be achieved through converting some of the fleets’ Boeing 777-300ERs from commercial planes into cargo aircraft. Sultan also indicated that Emirates SkyCargo was seeing a rise in demand for its services following the pandemic. “We are probably at a much more stable stage now,” Sultan told Bloomberg News. “We have passed the bottoming out. We have seen consistent growth.”
According to ch-aviation.com, Emirates is currently waiting to increase its fleet of 11 777-200s with the delivery of five more. In May 2023, Emirates also announced the arrival of two new wet-leased Boeing 747-Fs. In total Emirates cargo division is expecting 15 more freighters to boost its fleet from announced orders and its freighter conversion programme.
Chinese fighters intercept Canadian military helicopter in South China Sea
Two J-11 fighters operated by China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) intercepted the Canadian helicopter three times. The helicopter was operating from the Royal Canadian Navy Halifax-class frigate, HMCS Ottawa. The manoeuvres, ‘deemed very dangerous’ by Canadian National Defence Minister Bill Blair, occurred while the helicopter was engaged in routine exercises as part of Canada’s Indo-Pacific strategy meant to maintain freedom of navigation in international waters off the coast of China.
According to the Canadian ministry’s report, one of the Chinese fighters executed a close proximity manoeuvre over the Canadian helicopter during the first encounter, causing wake turbulence and forcing the helicopter to take evasive measures to ensure its safety. Later in the day, another fighter fired flares directly in front of the helicopter, posing a risk to the helicopter’s rotor and air intakes. “All interactions took place in international airspace, well away from claimed territorial seas and related airspace,” the Canadian Department of National Defence argued. “The Canadian Armed Forces consider it unsafe to intercept an aircraft’s manoeuvres when it places our aircraft in danger or forces the pilot to manoeuvre in order to avoid a collision.” This is the second such aerial interception of a Canadian aircraft by Chinese jets in less than three weeks. On 16 October 2023, a Canadian CP-140 Aurora maritime patrol aircraft was intercepted by several Chinese fighters. The interaction was filmed by journalists onboard the Canadian flight.
Airbus ecstatic as EVA Air confirms order for 18 A350-1000s and 15 A321neos
Taiwanese carrier EVA Air has announced the acquisition of 18 Airbus A350-1000s and 15 A321neos. According to Bloomberg, the $10.1 billion deal was confirmed in a filing on the Taiwan Stock Exchange on 7 November 2023. The Airbus A350-1000 can accommodate between 350 to 410 passengers and is powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 turbofans. The A350’s airframe is built with carbon-fibre reinforced plastic and other advanced materials and can travel ultra-long-range operations up to 8,700 nautical miles. As confirmed by Airbus, the new A350-1000 will modernise EVA Air’s long-haul fleet and eventually replace its older aircraft. The order with Airbus is a coup for the plane maker with EVA Air’s current long-haul fleet including 32 active Boeing 777-300ERs. The purchase also includes 15 A321neos, the longest member of Airbus’ renowned A320 family aircraft, which will be used for regional operations.
Delaware State police acquire two Bell 429 Global Rangers
Bell Textron Inc. and the Delaware State Police (DSP) have entered into an agreement by which the latter will acquire two Bell 429 Global Ranger light twin-engine helicopters. In addition to law enforcement operations, the aircraft will be plied to emergency medical and search-and-rescue missions. The Bell 429 is the only light twin-engine helicopter on the market with true two-litter capability, featuring sufficient cabin space for two medical attendants and two crew members. The Bell 429 also offers exceptional flight performance with a fully integrated glass cockpit, advanced drive system and best-in-class SBAS navigation and Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) capability. It is the first helicopter certified through the MSG-3 process, resulting in reduced maintenance costs for operators. The Bell 429 also features a spacious cabin and extra-large 60-inch side doors, as well as IFR capability, certified for single or dual pilot operations. The Bell 429 is one of the most advanced light twin helicopters ever developed. It delivers exceptional speed, range and hover performance, and offers operators a state-of-the-art single pilot IFR helicopter with top user-rated in-service support. The powerful and reliable Bell 429 serves the full spectrum of segments including air medical, law enforcement, oil & gas, utility and corporate.
Virgin Atlantic to operate world’s first 100% SAF-powered transatlantic flight
The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has issued Virgin Atlantic with a permit to fly the world’s first transatlantic using 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). Virgin Atlantic plans to fly across the Atlantic from London-Heathrow (LHR) to New York-JFK Airport on 28 November 2023, to showcase the feasibility of flying on 100% SAF in the future. The flight will use the unique flight number of VS100.
As international standards do not yet permit more than a 50% blend of synthetic fuel with regular jet fuel, Virgin Atlantic’s proposed flight required a specific permit to fly from the UK CAA. The permit has been issued following a programme of technical reviews by the regulator, which analysed different aspects of the planned flight, including undertaking ground testing with Rolls-Royce on a Trent 1000 engine running on 100% SAF.
Led by Virgin Atlantic and partly funded by the UK Government’s Department for Transport, preparation for the flight has involved a consortium of companies, including Boeing, Rolls-Royce, BP and others, to demonstrate SAF as an alternative to regular jet fuel. On announcing the details of the proposed flight, Rob Bishton, Chief Executive at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said: “As the UK’s aviation regulator, it is important that we safely enable the industry to embrace more sustainable practices and push the boundaries of what is possible to create a greener aviation industry. This permit not only allows Virgin Atlantic and others to showcase their commitment to sustainability but also serves as an example of how the industry is always exploring new technologies.”
Meanwhile, Shai Weiss, CEO of Virgin Atlantic, said: “The Civil Aviation Authority’s permit to fly Flight 100 marks a key milestone and a huge achievement for all the teams working towards this historic flight. Getting to this point has been more than a year in the making and has taken radical collaboration across our consortium partners and government. We are committed to using 10% SAF by 2030, but to get there, we need the government to support the creation of a UK SAF industry. We know that if we can make it, we can fly it.”
The UK CAA worked closely with the consortium throughout their application and has vowed to continue to work alongside the industry to learn more about the performance and impact of SAF.
Following a challenge launched by the Department for Transport last year to support the aviation industry in achieving the first transatlantic flight on an aircraft powered by 100% SAF, Virgin Atlantic was awarded up to £1 million in UK government funding in December 2022 to achieve the goal.
The permit forms the first of several approvals required for the flight, but its issue paves the way for Virgin Atlantic to submit applications to The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Irish Aviation Authority, and Transport Canada to allow the flight to travel through US, Irish and Canadian airspace respectively.
SAF is fuel derived from non-petroleum-based renewable sources that are capable of being used as a replacement for or blended with kerosene. SAF can currently be used in jet engines to a maximum blend of 50% with traditional kerosene without the need for any modifications. There are a number of processes to produce SAF, including algae, synthesized fuels from hydrogen waste, or from directly capturing carbon dioxide. When fully replacing kerosene, SAF could reportedly reduce lifecycle carbon emissions by over 70% compared to conventional fossil jet fuel.
AEA releases 2023 third-quarter avionics market report
The Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) has released its third-quarter 2023 Avionics Market Report. In the first nine-months of the year, total worldwide business and General Aviation avionics sales amounted to $2,415,800,131.52, or more than $2.4 billion as reported by the participating companies.
During the third-quarter months of July, August and September, sales increased 9.9-percent compared to the same time frame one year ago. Although third-quarter sales decreased 1.1-percent sequentially from the second quarter of 2023, the more than $814 million in sales during the third quarter marked the second-highest quarterly sales volume in the history of the report, surpassed only by the previous quarter. The figure represented a 15.9-percent increase in total sales compared to the first nine months of 2022, which was driven by a 26.2-percent increase in forward-fit sales, which is to say, avionics equipment installed by airframe manufacturers during original production compared to the same time frame one year ago. Also of note, quarterly forward-fit sales topped $400 million for only the fourth time in the history of the report.
The dollar amount reported (using net sales price, not manufacturer’s suggested retail price) includes: all business and General Aviation aircraft electronic sales – including all component and accessories in cockpit/cabin/software upgrades / portables / certified and noncertified aircraft electronics; all hardware (tip to tail); batteries and chargeable product upgrades from companies participating in the AEA Avionics Market Report. The amount does not include repairs and overhauls, extended warranty or subscription services. Of the more than $2.4 billion in sales during the first nine months of 2023, 40.7-percent came from the retrofit market; avionics equipment installed after original production, while forward-fit sales amounted to 59.3-percent of year-to-date sales.
According to reporting companies that differentiated their total North American (U.S. and Canada) sales figures from the remainder of international markets, 73.3-percent of the sales volume in the first nine months of 2023 occurred in North America, while 26.7-percent took place elsewhere in the world.
AviaSim makes Canadian debut
Launched in 2012, AviaSim bills itself as ‘Europe’s leading leisure network specialising in aeronautical simulation.’ In October 2023, the company brought its wares to Canada, setting up a flight simulator at Ontario’s Delta Hotel by Marriott Toronto Airport & Conference Centre and offering locals opportunity to pilot an aircraft without leaving the ground.
Embarked upon a mission to make aviation accessible to all, or at the very least those aged ten and older, AviaSim’s state-of-the-art flight simulators are meticulous analogues of Airbus’s A320 flight-deck. The devices are fitted with the self-same technologies, instruments, displays and hardware found in the genuine Level ‘C’ and ‘D’ simulators utilised by Part 142 training centres. AviaSim states: “Whether you ever wondered what it would be like to fly a plane or are determined to conquer a fear of flying, AviaSim offers a safe, entertaining and educational way to explore the world of aviation.”
Beyond their obvious entertainment value, AviaSim’s flight simulators are effective at alleviating stress, team-building and conquering pteromerhanophobia, known also as aviophobia, aerophobia, or fear of flying. AviaSim offers specialised classes which, to date, have established a 93-percent success rate vis-à-vis helping individuals overcome their fear of flying.
An established company with more than ten-years’ experience, AviaSim began collaborating with hotels during the pandemic. The flight simulator experience enabled hotels to pivot and adapt their customer experience models to the realities of the COVID exigency. Across Europe, hotels’ storage and cloak rooms were converted into revenue-making spaces with minimal investment, a win-win for all involved parties.
AOPA USA tests unleaded and leaded avgas at the same time
How do you conduct a real-world comparison of unleaded and leaded fuels and eliminate as many variables as possible? Simple, fly a twin-engine aircraft with the two fuels going to separate engines.
This is exactly what the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) in the US is doing over the next two years. The association has leased a refurbished 1966 Beechcraft Baron with two freshly overhauled, normally aspirated Continental IO-520 engines. It will operate the aircraft with leaded 100LL avgas fuelling the starboard engine and 100 octane unleaded supplying the port engine.
The unleaded fuel is G100UL developed by General Aviation Modifications Inc (GAMI) and has received a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) from the FAA. AOPA says that as other 100-octane unleaded fuels become available it will test these as well. “We want to get some actual experience with 100 octane unleaded fuel in the kinds of airplanes and engines that our members own and fly,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “This fuel has been tested extensively in laboratories and received an STC. Should the FAA authorise additional fuels, we will also test them so we can see what they are like to use out on the airways.”
According to AOPA, Baker, an experienced Baron owner and pilot, flew the AOPA fuel demo Baron for one hour with G100UL feeding the left engine and 100LL in the right. He said the performance of the two engines was nearly identical and the Baron flew beautifully. The flight included several full-power take-offs and a prolonged high-power cruise at more than 75 per cent power. The Baron’s engines will undergo regular borescope inspections and compression tests to compare internal engine wear.
JMB Aircraft show factory-built Evo turboprop
If you have ever fancied one of the Evolution turboprop powered four-seaters but been put off by the need to build a kit, Belgian company JMB Aircraft has the solution. The Evo is a factory-built version of Evolution’s EVOT-750, powered by a 750shp Pratt & Whitney PT6 turboprop engine. It will be built in JMB’s new facility that has just opened in the Czech Republic. The Evo will be alongside JMB’s two-seat VL3, which is also a rocket ship with a number of powerplant options.
JMB Aircraft formed a partnership with Oregon-based Evolution Aircraft in 2022. Matej Ungr, head of marketing at JMB Aircraft said, ‘JMB aircraft is manufacturer of the Evo but still the project belongs to Evolution aircraft corporation. JMB handles production, marketing activities, training and sales. Evo is fully factory-built for most parts of the world but for USA registration we will go with a 51 / 49 percent build programme to meet the Experimental regulations.
At around 1.6 million Euro excluding VAT the JMB Evo is not cheap but offers scintillating performance. Best rate of climb is cited at 4,000 feet per minute, maximum cruise speed is 290 knots while retaining a stall speed of 61 knots. JMB has developed the Evo from Evolution’s original EVOT-750 with a completely new interior, different flap system and a deice system. Standard avionics includes two Garmin G3X Touch displays, Gi 275 backup, Garmin radio and GTN650xi navcomms. Options include Garmin G500s, live weather radar and a ‘Starship’ interior.
NASA to take delivery of first Dream Chaser spaceplane
The first Dream Chaser specimen, dubbed Tenacity, is complete and will presently be shipped to NASA’s Neil Armstrong Test Facility in Ohio, where it will undergo a battery of environmental tests over the coming weeks. Heralded as the world’s sole commercial, runway-capable spaceplane, Dream Chaser occasions a genuine and dramatic forward leap in space technology. Supported under the provisions of NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS-2) contract, Dream Chaser is tasked with resupplying the International Space Station (ISS), Dream Chaser is well-positioned to further democratise access to space, thereby hastening human exploration of and expansion into the so-called final frontier.
Sierra Space CEO Tom Vice stated: “Today we have arrived at a profound milestone in both our company’s journey and our industry’s future, one that has been years in the making and is shaped by audacious dreaming and tenacious doing.” Vice added: “I am reminded of a comment made by Steve Jobs, that every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything. I think Dream Chaser is that product. This breakthrough shifts paradigms and redefines space travel. The Dream Chaser is not just a product; it is a testament to human spirit, determination and the relentless pursuit of what lies beyond.”
On 30 October 2023, Sierra Space team members gathered at the company’s Louisville, Colorado production facility for purpose of celebrating Dream Chaser’s advent. Dream Chaser is a reusable lifting-body spaceplane ostensibly 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, 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.
China’s EHang inaugurates European UAM centre
Urban air mobility company EHang announced the inauguration of its first European UAM Centre in Spain. Located inside the Lleida–Alguaire International Airport (LEDA), the centre represents the first-of-its-kind in Europe for unmanned electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for the integration of eVTOL aircraft operation with airport infrastructure, air traffic management systems, operational procedures and other information technologies. The inception of this UAM centre, a globally pioneering initiative, arises from the collaboration agreement signed between EHang and Aeroports de Catalunya in the field of UAM and will enable European aviation and airport sectors to be positioned at the forefront of global Advanced Air Mobility.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) recently issued the Type Certificate (TC) for EHang’s EH216-S passenger-carrying Unmanned Aircraft Vehicle (UAV) System. An unprecedented milestone in the aviation industry, the EH216-S is the first unmanned eVTOL in the world to obtain TC and be qualified for commercial passenger-carrying UAV operations in China.
The EH216-S deployed at EHang’s European UAM Centre will foster the accumulation of operational experience as well as invaluable knowledge. By integrating vast flight experience gathered from various locations worldwide, this collective information can be leveraged to the development of technological solutions, regulations, processes and procedures for the safe and efficient integration of eVTOL aircraft into European airspace in the future.
The UAM Centre includes a vertiport that is fully compliance with EASA’s design criteria and will enable seamlessly incorporation with the airport terminal, platform, control tower, equipment, procedures and regulations. This state-of-the-art vertiport will set a benchmark for global UAM infrastructure and accumulate a vast amount of knowledge and expertise on the vertiport establishment and operations, which will enable intelligent eVTOL operating models and facilitate their smart deployment across multiple locations.
Volocopter soars under the blue skies of Tampa
Tampa International Airport (TPA) ranked the number one Large Airport in J.D. Power’s North America Airport Satisfaction Study and Volocopter, the pioneer of urban air mobility (UAM), have successfully kicked off a multilayered flight test campaign with a crewed Volocopter 2X. This marks the first-ever flight test of an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft in an operational and large international airport in the US and the first eVTOL test in the state of Florida.
The flight test campaign consisted of aircraft downwash and outwash testing with the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) and performance testing in local environmental conditions. Media, partners, and guests were invited to the event with a clear view of the public on location. The invitees included Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jared Purdue, Mayor of Tampa Jane Castor and leaders from Congress who are supporting UAM industry growth, regulatory advancement and acceleration of public acceptance of eVTOLs in the US.
EVTOL is a new category of electric aircraft that focuses on short- to medium-range flights, transporting people and goods within or connecting to an urban environment. The UAM segment is being targeted by electric propulsion aircraft (rather than other forms of alternative fuel-based aircraft) due to ease of operations and noise considerations for urban use cases. Volocopter will start commercial services with a certified and shared air taxi service in the heart of megacities around the world. The quiet, safe, and sustainable operations of a certified eVTOL will not only provide efficient transportation, reduce congestion but also kickstart the decarbonisation of the aviation industry.
Stateside, Volocopter recently announced its partnership with the Bristow Group to begin operations of eVTOLs in the near future, with Florida being one of the targeted areas of operation. Since 2018, Volocopter has flown in Las Vegas, Oshkosh, Dallas-Fort Worth area and Tampa. Continued and visible flight test campaigns in view of the public are crucial steps to building an efficient UAM ecosystem that receives the communities’ support. This includes cities, for instance, the partnership with Urban Movement Labs in Los Angeles since 2021, infrastructure developers, operators, air traffic authorities and lawmakers to push this new form of electric urban aviation to scale in the US.
Volocopter expects to receive a final certification of its commercial eVTOL aircraft, the VoloCity, from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in 2024. The company is also in the concurrent validation process with the FAA, which was submitted in 2020 and has been working with both authorities to bring urban air mobility to life.
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Matternet M2 drone granted type certification amendment
The M2, a quad-copter delivery drone designed, developed and produced by Mountain View, California-based Matternet, has been granted Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval for an amendment to its UAS Type Certification. Subject approval underscores the efficacy of the hardware and software improvements Matternet has made to the platform and heralds the broadening of the machine’s utility.
In 2022, Matternet’s M2 became the first non-military unmanned aircraft to achieve Type Certification (September 2022) and Production Certification (November 2022) in the United States. The M2 is the only delivery drone, to date, to be granted a second Type Certificate approval. The aircraft underwent a rigorous FAA evaluation process by which it proved airworthy and eligible for scaled commercial delivery operations.
Matternet is committed to evaluating the ever-evolving ecommerce and Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) delivery markets and availing itself of opportunities apt to encourage mass adoption of drone delivery and drive the industry forward. The company has established a global footprint through strategic partnerships and groundbreaking operations. The amendment to the M2’s Type Certification furthers Matternet’s aspiration to expand its customer base.
The updated version of the M2 aircraft is in production and will be made immediately available. Matternet continues to work on surmounting regulatory hurdles for purpose of facilitating the proliferation of drone delivery networks. The company continues to explore and scale operations throughout the United States, Europe and the Middle East.
In addition to being the first UAS concern to be granted FAA standard Type- and Production Certification, Matternet was the first company to be granted authorisation to operate commercial BVLOS drone-deliveries over cities in Switzerland and the first to launch routine revenue-generating drone-delivery operations in the US. Matternet is currently partnered with UPS and Ameriflight, both of which have received FAA approval to operate the Matternet M2 drone under Part 135 of the US Federal Aviation Administration.
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