“I sincerely believe that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies, and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.”
African Pilot’s aircraft of the week identification quiz
Mystery Aircraft: The Diamond D-JET is a composite, five-seat, single-engine very light jet developed by Austrian aircraft manufacturer Diamond Aircraft Industries. In March 2009, the intended cost for the aircraft was advertised by the company as being US$1.89 million dollars.
During 2006, Austrian aircraft company Diamond Aircraft announced that it was engaged in the development of a very light jet. The company stated that it had targeted the design at the owner-pilot market, viewing the type as possessing greater practical for single-pilot operations than competitive jets, such as the Eclipse 500 and the Cessna Citation Mustang. By limiting the maximum altitude of the D-JET to 25,000 feet, any instance of a pressurisation failure would be rendered as less critical emergencies.
On 18 April 2006, the maiden flight of the D-JET was conducted from the London International Airport in Ontario, Canada the home base of Diamond’s North American division. The flight was piloted by test pilot Gérard Guillaumaud and lasted 1:06 hours. The aircraft’s public debut was at Oshkosh in July 2006. At that time Diamond expected certification to be complete by the middle of 2009 with deliveries starting at the same time.
On 9 November 2006, Diamond announced that ATP Flight School (ATP) had placed the first fleet order for 20 D-JETs. At that point, the declared intention was that ATP would provide factory-approved training to D-JET purchasers beginning in 2008. Toronto-based Chartright Air Group also placed an order for 10 D-JETs, it was announced that this order came with an expected delivery window set to occur during 2010.
On 20 July 2007, Diamond Aircraft announced the roll out of its second D-JET, serial number 002. Serial number 002 is the first D-JET intended to conform to the expected production configuration in its structural layout and aerodynamic design. D-JET prototype serial number 002 first flew on 14 September 2007. It was joined by D-JET Serial Number 003, which first flew on 15 April 2008.
During February 2008, Diamond announced that the aircraft was to be manufactured in a new facility located in London, Ontario, Canada. At the time, Diamond claimed that total research and development costs for the D-JET were set to be around Cdn$95.2 million and that the plant to construct the type had been anticipated to cost an additional $100 million. This announcement of the manufacturing details came shortly after an announcement by the Government of Canada that it had issued the company with a ‘Cdn$19.6 million strategic, repayable investment’, while the Government of Ontario had separately announced that it had given Diamond Cdn$11 million. The Government of Ontario loan was contingent on a matching loan from the federal Canadian government, but this was ultimately not approved; this failure to emerge was attributed as having heavily impacted efforts to progress the D-JET programme.
The D-JET was initially to be powered by a single Williams FJ33-4A-15 turbofan engine, capable of producing 1,564 lbf (6.96 kN) of thrust. However, during early 2008, the engine was determined to produce insufficient bleed air to feed systems such as cabin pressurisation and other functions; as a result, a decision was made to switch to a more powerful version of the same powerplant, designated as the FJ33-4A-19, which was capable of producing 1,900 lbf (8.5 kN) of thrust. The switch in engines was responsible for a delay in the D-JET’s certification schedule which then resulted in the projected first customer deliveries being pushed back into the spring of 2009.
During October 2008, Canadian charter operator SwiftJet announced that they had ordered five D-Jets with options for ten more. SwiftJet’s intention is to offer air taxi service ‘anywhere and anytime to destinations around the world.’ At the time, SwiftJet operated a single Dassault Falcon 20 in the charter role. During 2010, it was revealed that Diamond was also undertaking development work upon a military trainer variant of the D-JET, which was reportedly intended to be sold for under US$3M; amongst the believed changes intended for the trainer role included the installation of Martin-Baker-built lightweight ejection seats.
Funding shortfalls and suspension
Flight testing and programme development was halted in the spring of 2011 as the company lacked funds to proceed. After a failed campaign for federal government support, private investment was found and test flight resumed in September 2011.
During July 2012, the company announced that 700 hours of flight testing had been completed, during which the prototypes had attained a top speed of Mach 0.56 (346 knots or 641 km/h) true airspeed along with 30,000 pressurisation cycles on a test fuselage. Around this time, a set of winglets were installed upon the prototype with the aim of improving roll control throughout the entirety of its speed range, especially during stall conditions. Following this addition, the design was frozen and the company proceeded to commence the construction of production tooling for the fourth serial aircraft. At this time, certification of the D-JET was forecast to occur during late 2013, while the first deliveries of production aircraft were to commence during the third quarter of 2014.
During April 2012, Maurer indicated that other companies had been hiring their laid-off workers, especially engineers. American manufacturer Piper Aircraft announced that as many as 25 engineers may be moving to Vero Beach, Florida to work on their own personal jet programme, the Altaire. Media reports also indicated that Canadian conglomerate Bombardier Aerospace may have issued offers to up to 85 workers to work on the Learjet 85 in Wichita, Kansas. Maurer said that the loss of laid-off workers will hurt a restart of the D-Jet programme should government funding be approved and described the situation as ‘dire’.
At the end of April 2011, Maurer issued a public appeal in the London Free Press for the C$35M loan from the Government of Canada, indicating that if it was not forthcoming that the company might cease operations. Maurer also indicated that the hiring of his laid-off staff by competing firms might lead to its termination regardless, saying “With the loss of this team, the building of a replacement team would add cost and time that the programme and company may not survive.” By mid-May, the company had hired back 11 engineers to prevent other companies picking them up and was hoping to have a decision on the federal loan request after a new cabinet is sworn in.
In analysing the declining of the loan, Joseph D’Cruz of the University of Toronto Rotman School of Management indicated that in his opinion the government made the right decision in turning Diamond down. He said, “It is such a high risk, nobody in their right mind would invest…That particular market for that aircraft is a relatively small market and it is unproven. Could this jet go ahead without government assistance? The answer is a definite ‘no’ because it is not viable without the federal government.”
During May 2011, Maurer said that he had always considered the Canadian government loans a ‘long shot’ and that the company was looking at other sources of funding to bring the D-Jet to market, including potential Chinese investment. On 14 June 2011, the company announced that it secured private financing from an unnamed source and started recalling its workers, indicating that it would build an extra test aircraft and resume flight testing. Flight testing started again in early September 2011.
During February 2013, having not located further operational funding after the failed sale of the company to Medrar in 2011, the company laid off the majority of its Canadian staff and suspended work on the D-Jet programme, indicating that the company needed to reorganise. By May 2014, work on the D-Jet remained suspended, but the project had not been cancelled. The programme remained suspended in February 2016. Following the sale of a majority share of Diamond Aircraft Canada to Wanfeng Aviation of China in December 2016, a re-assessment of the D-Jet programme for possible resumption of development will be conducted.
The D-JET is powered by a single Williams FJ33-4A turbofan engine, which is equipped with an electronically controlled full-authority digital engine control (FADEC) system. Various functions, such as engine start up and over-speed selection prevention, have been automated and are seamlessly performed by the FADEC system. For redundancy, the dual-channel FADEC system uses four independent electrical power sources in addition to battery backup. Diamond opted to adopt a centreline location for the engine, air for which is fed through inlets embedded into the wing roots. The central location of the engine places makes it close to the center of gravity of the D-JET, reducing pitch forces. However, there are some drawbacks to this approach, including elevated air losses within the ducting arrangement used and a greater likelihood of foreign object ingestion.
Those who identified this aircraft correctly: Ari Levien, Righardt du Plessis, Johan Vorster, Mickey Esterhuysen, Steve Dewsbery, P. Rossouw, Brian Millett, Danie Meyer, Bob Gurr, Selwyn Skimber, Cecil Thompson, Pierre Brittz, Hilton Carroll, Michael Schoeman, Willie Oosthuizen, Jan Sime, Ahmed Bassa, Peter Gilbert, Rennie van Zyl, Wout van der Waal, Dawid Hanekom, Kevin Farr, Andre Breytenbach, Lodewyk Schuermans, Danie Viljoen, Davis Plew-Chisholm, Jeff Knickelbein, Gregory Yatt, Brian Melmoth, Geoff Street, Charlie Hugo, (31).
Where will we find the “General Flight Rules”, Rules of the air?
SAA is not sustainable
From insider information, this past week I heard that South African Airways has already run out of money and has reached out to the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) for a further R3 billion advance. The same source told me that the DPE has refused this latest request, so what now? More to follow as this latest saga unfolds and South Africa’s taxpayers see more wasted expenditure on this airline that should have ceased to exist more than a year ago. Your views: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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
Important regulatory change regarding introductory flights at training schools
Click here or on the image above to open the PDF.
Please note the following: An introductory flight shall not exceed 30 minutes flight time by day VMC only and shall be conducted in the airfield circuit only. Flipping is not training nor is it an introductory flight and is therefore prohibited by Part 141 of the regulations.
The latest version of the National Airspace Master Plan 2020-2025 can be found on the SACAA website. Please refer to the following link: http://www.caa.co.za/Documents/NAMP_2011-2025.pdf
What is scheduled for this weekend?
SAPFA SA Landing Championships at Brits Airfield
Contact Ron Stirk E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 082 445 0373
Scenic Air Safaris’ Grand Caravans prove most popular
Picture left/above: Line pilots Ryan Outram and Sam Mbugua, business development manager for the US Brooke Berlin, business development manager for US and Africa Johann Van Zyl, MD Torben Rune and Simon Penfold from marketing and innovations.
Recently Scenic Air Safaris has been involved with a number of unusual missions, including facilitating the rescue of an orphaned baby giraffe. Its all-Cessna fleet has been up to the task, according to specialist Simon Penfold. The beginning of 2021 continued where 2020 left off for Kenya’s Scenic Air Safaris, though within Q3 it felt some forward movement. “With the start of Q4 we gained some good momentum, so overall 2021 has been a better year than we expected,” says marketing and innovations specialist Simon Penfold. “With an exclusively Cessna based fleet, we operate three executively-configured Grand Caravan 208Bs and two Stationair 206s. By far the most popular are the Grand Caravans, a real Swiss army knife of an aircraft, ideally suited to African bush airstrips.”
The company has been involved with a number of unusual missions of late, including facilitating the rescue of an orphaned baby giraffe. Penfold says that a number of different factors enabled it to emerge from the pandemic. “The most notable factors have been the most incredible support from our international agent base, our board of directors and the Scenic Air team who have hung in there despite the challenges they faced. “We have plans to launch a new and unique product to east Africa, new branding for our flying safari business and to continue offsetting our carbon emissions. It is our hope that the year 2022 will continue to see a drop in COVID infections and an increase in private air charter travel worldwide.”
NTSB cites Tamarack modification in crash
The NTSB has released its final report on a 2018 Cessna Citation crash near Memphis, Illinois and the board blames the jet’s active winglets for the loss of control. But Sandpoint, Idaho-based Tamarack Aerospace, the manufacturer of the Active Technology Load Alleviation System (Atlas) control system, ‘strongly disputes’ the findings. The Atlas system uses small moveable auxiliary surfaces called Tamarack Active Camber Surfaces (TACS) attached to the wing to alleviate stress induced by the winglets. This enables installing winglets without adding complex additional structure to the wing spars, which would be necessary due to the added load induced by the winglets.
The NTSB wrote in its report that the left TACS malfunctioned shortly after take-off. The board wrote that it became stuck ‘trailing edge up’ on the left wing ‘for reasons that could not be determined.’
Tamarack responded: ‘The forensic evidence collected in the investigation indicates that the load alleviation system was indeed operational. There are inconsistencies within the report that do not support the conclusion published by the NTSB.’
As an example, Tamarack cited what it claims are discrepancies in the bank angle at which the pilot should have been alerted, among others. For its part, the NTSB wrote, “The investigation found that five uncommanded roll incidents have been reported to either the European Union Aviation Safety Agency or the Federal Aviation Administration involving airplanes equipped with Atlas.”
On Thursday the company said: “Tamarack intends to request the NTSB reconsider its finding, as per its own procedures. Tamarack will provide a more detailed response after further consideration of the NTSB’s recent announcement.”
Pilot says too many jumpers outside led to King Air spin
The pilot of a King Air C90 that went into a spin while skydivers prepared to jump over South Africa on 14 October said the plane departed controlled flight because too many jumpers got out of the rear exit at the same time. The dramatic video of the incident has gone viral and been featured on network news shows but it was all in a day’s work for the pilot, who identified himself as Xei. “The stall and subsequent spin happened when we allowed too many jumpers on the outside step, causing an aft center of gravity and excessive blocking of the airflow to the left horizontal stabiliser. The nose then pitched up beyond the controllability of the elevator,” he said in a post that accompanied the video on YouTube.
He said he quickly ran out of rudder and elevator and after the right wing came over, he chopped power to both engines and began the recovery. “The aircraft behaved very well and the recovery was surprisingly easy,” Xei wrote. “I pulled out as gently as possible as I did not want to stress the airframe. There was some additional instability when I pulled out of the dive and pushed the throttles forward to power up, as the one engine spooled up much quicker than the other and caused another asymmetrical moment.”
He also said the aircraft is intentionally flown with asymmetrical power for the release of jumpers to prevent them from being blasted by the propwash from the left engine. “Power is kept on the right engine to maintain altitude during the jump run, which typically takes 60 seconds,” he wrote. “A fair amount of right rudder is required to fly a straight line in this configuration. The pilot has to maintain 95-90 knots IAS.” He said the incident was reported to authorities and the aircraft inspected. He said the operation has now limited the number of jumpers outside to five at a time and skydivers will be briefed to let go if the aircraft suddenly pitches up.
Boeing estimates Asia-Pacific commercial market valued at US$6.8 trillion by 2040
On Tuesday Boeing said that it estimates that air travel within Asia-Pacific markets will account for nearly half of global air traffic by 2040, driving 20-year demand for 17,645 new airplanes valued at US$3.1 trillion. To support its commercial aviation industry, Asia-Pacific countries also will require aftermarket services valued at US$3.7 trillion. Boeing provided the data in its 2021 Commercial Market Outlook (CMO), the company’s long-term forecast of demand for commercial airplanes and services.
The Asia-Pacific region has diverse air travel markets, including mature economies in Northeast Asia and Oceania as well as rapidly growing aviation markets in China, South Asia and Southeast Asia. With the travel recovery enabled by rising COVID-19 vaccination, Asia Pacific carriers are well-positioned to capitalise on recovering business and leisure travel as well as air cargo transportation, according to Boeing.
Boeing’s CMO analysis addresses 20-year demand for the five regions within Asia Pacific:
- Southeast Asian countries seeing rapid economic growth will also see fleet growth and passenger traffic well above global averages. Low-cost carriers are forecast to expand intra-regional networks with single-aisle jets, while open skies and trade agreements will enable carriers to invest in fuel-efficient widebodies to serve long-haul routes. Southeast Asia is forecast to need 4,465 new airplanes valued at US$765 billion and commercial aviation services valued at US$790 billion by 2040.
- In Northeast Asia, mature economies will continue to support a balanced air travel market across domestic, regional and long-haul travel segments. Fleet replacement will account for nearly 75 percent of new deliveries as airlines look to improve sustainability and fleet versatility. The region is expected to need 1,385 new airplanes valued at US$310 billion as well as services valued at US$555 billion in the next 20 years.
- In Oceania, commercial aviation serves as critical transportation infrastructure across long distances and island nations. Domestic and regional travel accounting for 80 percent of passenger traffic will drive single-aisle demand, while versatile widebody jets such as the 787 Dreamliner will support long-haul and international network development. Oceania is projected to need 785 new jets valued at US$135 billion and services valued at $165 billion by the end of the forecast period.
The 2021 CMO includes these projections for Asia Pacific through 2040:
- Single-aisle jets will account for nearly 13,500 deliveries, about three-quarters of demand in terms of units. Widebody jets including passenger and cargo models will total nearly 3,800 airplanes.
- The cargo fleet will more than triple to 1,160 airplanes, including new and converted models, to support diversifying global supply chains and meet e-commerce demand. The Asia Pacific cargo fleet is expected to roughly equal North America’s cargo fleet by 2040.
- Tied to economic and fleet growth, demand for maintenance, repair, overhaul and modifications account for a majority of projected commercial aviation services demand. Digital solutions, analytics and training services also will support the Asia Pacific fleet.
Boeing’s 2021 Pilot and Technician Outlook (PTO) forecasts that the region will require nearly 820,000 new aviation personnel, including more than 230,000 pilots and nearly 250,000 technicians and 340,000 cabin crew members.
Embraer launches ambitious plans for ‘Energia’ line
Brazilian airframer Embraer has announced ‘concepts’ for its Energia line, described as a family of nine- to 50-seat aircraft using an array of propulsion technologies, including hybrid, hydrogen, dual-fuel gas turbine and electric systems. The first of these aircraft are projected to begin customer deliveries sometime between 2030 and 2040. For now, Embraer is suggesting the longest-legged member of the Energia family could have a range of 500 nautical miles.
Full programme launches are expected within five to 10 years, according to Embraer Commercial Aviation president Arjan Meijer. He added that a ‘consultation process’ with prospective aircraft operators has already begun. The hybrid-electric Energia Hybrid (E9-HE) design includes nine passenger seats and is to be powered by a piston engine and two electric motors used for take-off and climb. With a range of ‘up to 500 nautical miles,’ the E9-HE, when using sustainable aviation fuels, should generate a carbon footprint as little as 10 percent that of ‘current aircraft,’ said Embraer.
The 200-nm, nine-passenger all-electric E9-FE concept has rear-mounted contra-rotating propellers. Entry into service is projected as 2035. Also pegged for 2035 service entry, the 19-seat, 200-nm E19-H2FC would use hydrogen fuel cells driving two aft-mounted electric motors. Rounding out the line-up with service entry projected out to 2040, the E50-H2GT could use either hydrogen-powered gas turbines; or engines using SAF or Jet-A. It could carry 35 to 50 passengers between 350 and 500 nautical miles.
Spain considers an F-35 order. Is the FCAS threatened?
Spain is reportedly considering an order for a total of 50 F-35 stealth fighter jets. The order would comprise 25 F-35B and 25 F-35A, a Lockheed-Martin official told Jane’s on the side-line of a Royal Institute of International Affairs session. The F-35A would come as a replacement for the aging F/A-18 Hornets of the Ejército del Aire, the Spanish Air Force. The F-35B would allow the Spanish Navy to retire its antique AV-8 Harrier II, operating from the Juan Carlos I aircraft carrier.
The replacement of the Harrier with the F-35B does not come as a surprise, given the former is the only modern VSTOL aircraft available on the market. The acquisition of the F-35A by the Air Force is a bit more unexpected. In October 2020, the Spanish government announced the purchase of 20 additional Eurofighter Typhoons for €2 billion. That acquisition was seen as a stopgap solution for the Ejército del Aire while waiting for the development of the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) and its Next Generation Fighter (NGF). One could have expected the Spanish government to continue on that route.
During the Paris Air Show in June 2020, Spanish Minister of Defence, Margarita Robles, signed an agreement with her French and German counterparts, entering the European combat “system of systems” programme. The Spanish defence electronics group Indra was chosen as the main industrial representative of the country, along with Airbus for Germany and Dassault Aviation for France. But the acquisition of the F-35 by Spain could have consequences on the country’s participation in the project, as it could entail the transfer of strategic data to the United States.
A similar situation arose in 2020 when Germany looked into replacing its fleet of aging Panavia Tornado combat aircraft by 2030. The Lockheed Martin F-35 was one of the possible successors. However, picking the US fifth-generation fighter jet would have undoubtedly soured the relationship with France as both were committed to developing the FCAS together. Eventually, Germany chose a mix of Typhoons and Super Hornets over the F-35, a commitment towards European defence sovereignty.
The same argument was put forward by Zaida Cantera de Castro of the Spanish Socialist Party, in charge of defence affairs, in an interview with Deutschlandfunk radio in March 2021. “The F-35 is a purely American aircraft, such a purchase is of no use for Europe,” Cantera said. “Strategic autonomy is important not only for military reasons, but also because European money finances industry, jobs, research and technology in Europe.” An order for additional Eurofighter Typhoons is also being considered by the Air Force, Jesus Ferrer of Spain’s military procurement office told Defence News.
Gulfstream duo add US and Middle East city-pair speed records
The G700 connected Riyadh with Savannah, Georgia in a record 13 hours and 55 minutes on the way back, flying 6,507 nm at an average speed of Mach 0.875 while operating as high as 51,000 feet at Mach 0.89. The Gulfstream G700 and G600 have added more international city-pair speed records travelling between locations in the United States and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where Gulfstream recently showcased the aircraft to customers and prospects in the region. It is applying carbon offsets to ensure all record-breaking flights are carbon neutral.
In October the fully outfitted G700 production test aircraft set a record from Houston, Texas to Riyadh flying 7,172 nm, its longest-distance flight to date. Using SAF, the trip was flown at Mach 0.87 in 13 hours and 40 minutes. Also, in October and with an SAF blend, the G600 departed Washington, D.C. and flew 6,146 nm to Riyadh at Mach 0.88 for a total flight time of 11 hours and 39 minutes, adding another city-pair record.
“Gulfstream’s next-generation aircraft truly raise the bar for high performance, innovation and cabin comfort. These city-pair records showcase the ability of our aircraft to help our customers reach their destinations faster,” says Mark Burns, president, Gulfstream. “The G700 is the most spacious, best-performing aircraft in the business-jet industry and we look forward to its entry into service. For the G600, our customers are seeing first-hand what the aircraft can do for them and its popularity continues to grow around the world.”
The G700 and G600 set more city-pair speed records on their return trips to the US. The G700 connected Riyadh with Savannah, Georgia in a record 13 hours and 55 minutes, flying 6,507 nm at an average speed of Mach 0.875 while operating as high as 51,000 feet at Mach 0.89. The G600 showcased its capabilities by connecting Riyadh with Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, flying 5,915 nm in 12 hours and 56 minutes at an average speed of Mach 0.85.
The G700’s latest city-pair record follows record-setting flights from Savannah, Georgia to Doha in Qatar, Doha to Paris and Paris to Savannah in September. Gulfstream anticipates G700 customer deliveries beginning in 2022. The G600 has set more than 20 speed records and to date, more than 50 G600s have been delivered to customers around the world since the aircraft entered service in 2019.
General Electric announces a split into three public companies
On Tuesday General Electric announced that it will split into three publicly traded companies, delineating its aviation, healthcare and energy segments for a special focus on growth beginning in 2023. The giant manufacturing and technology corporation will combine its GE Digital, GE Renewable Energy and GE Power business units into one company, with GE Aviation and GE Healthcare forming the other two entities. Further, GE intends to ‘execute tax-free spin-offs’ of GE Healthcare in early 2023, and the renewable power and energy unit in early 2024, according to the announcement. GE anticipates it will retain a 19.9 percent stake in GE Healthcare.
The move is made by GE to achieve the following:
- Gain a deeper operational focus, accountability and agility to meet customer needs
- Tailor its capital allocation decisions to fall in line with distinct strategies and industry-specific dynamics
- Flex in a strategic way to pursue growth opportunities
- Create distinct and dedicated boards of directors with deep expertise in each domain
- Leverage business- and industry-oriented career opportunities internally, with incentives for employees
- Construct more compelling investment profiles appealing to broader, deeper investor bases
“By creating three industry-leading, global public companies, each can benefit from greater focus, tailored capital allocation and strategic flexibility to drive long-term growth and value for customers, investors and employees.
GE Aviation’s Catalyst engine marches towards certification to serve the turboprop market, while the business unit was also recently selected to join forces with Kaman Aerospace Group in developing a high-speed, tilt-wing VTOL for Transcend Air.
Upgraded Ka-226T completes test flight
Rostec State Corporation’s Russian Helicopters Holding Company has commenced its flight tests and made the successful first flight of the Kamov Ka-226. The testing has been centred at the test facility of the Mil and Kamov National Helicopter Center, a hub for the country’s rotary expertise. For the first time in Russian Design history, the rotorcraft will be blueprinted and developed entirely in digital design software.
The modernised Sergei is an update to the small, twin-engine utility helicopter. Known for its integration of a modular, reconfigurable pod in place of a traditional cabin, Kamov’s Sergei, or Hoodlum, in NATO parlance, has been a commercial standby in Eastern Europe for its wide-ranging service capability. A multi-function, affordable and reliable helicopter is a welcome addition to cash-strapped operators facing infrequent and intermittent use of special purpose helicopters that would otherwise stay parked most of their lives.
The upgraded variant will feature a modernised cockpit, enhanced lighting for night operation and improved all-weather flight capability. Increased power output resulted in the working project title of ‘Climber’, from its high performance at altitude compared to older models. A redesigned airframe, fuselage and hull reportedly improved its aerodynamics in flight, with a new rotor system and gearbox providing greater reliability. Refinements to the fuel system have resulted in a shockproof emergency backup, which should meet the strictest safety requirements. Unveiled recently in the Russian MAKS-2021 aerospace expo, Rostec says it will be publicly displayed at the upcoming Dubai Airshow.
“The new Ka-226T is the first Russian helicopter with the entire design documentation done in digital format, significantly cutting the time required to build the machine and shortly begin flight tests. At the end of this week, the upgraded Ka-226T will make its debut at international exhibitions during the Dubai Airshow 2021 and we are confident that it will stir genuine interest among foreign customers due to its excellent flight characteristics, enabling its operation at altitudes up to 6.5 kilometres, its versatility, comfort and safety,” a Rostec spokesman said.
A remote system has been running ATC at a busy D.C.-area airport
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has authorised the Saab Remote Tower system (rTWR) at Leesburg Executive Airport (KJYO) for continued use by controllers at the airport. The rTWR system at Leesburg utilises high-definition video camera, a pan-tilt-zoom camera, a signal light gun and microphones to provide data directly to controllers at a remote tower center located at the airport.
The Leesburg airport is the second-busiest general aviation airport in Virginia, situated less than 50 miles outside of the Washington D.C. area. The airport is home to nearly 300 private aircraft, making this green light from the FAA a big step forward. As control towers continue to get more expensive to construct and maintain, a remote system like the one at Leesburg could financially benefit airports.
The launch of Saab’s rTWR at Leesburg in 2014 became the first under the FAA Remote Tower Pilot Programme. After more than five years of formal evaluation and safety panels, the system was ready for an initial operational phase, during which certified controllers safely managed over 75,000 operations at Leesburg. Prior to the remote tower installation, the airport struggled with control tower operations. The first rTWR system was certified and commissioned in Sweden in April 2015. Remote tower systems are now in operation or being tested at over a dozen airports around the world.
Astronauts return after six-month mission in space
The crew: NASA’s Shane Kimbrough, Megan McArthur, Japan’s Akihiko Hoshide and the European Space Agency’s Thoma Pequet, returned to Earth aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule Endeavour, landing off the coast of Florida. The astronauts had been on board the ISS since April as part of NASA’s first long-duration commercial mission. During their stay, the crew conducted hundreds of experiments, even growing the first chili peppers in space.
Early Monday afternoon, the crew began the journey home, undocking from the ISS to kick off the eight-hour trip back to Earth, without the use of the bathroom onboard. The Endeavour experienced an adhesive issue that allowed urine to leak out of a tube connected to the storage tank. For the return flight, the astronauts were told they woul need to use their undergarments as backup.
Once undocked, the crew took photos of the outside of the ISS. The stationary exterior cameras on the ISS do not provide a complete view of the station, leaving the full picture up to the incoming and outgoing crews. The spacecraft flew completely autonomously, requiring no input from the astronauts inside. Replacing them will be the Crew-3 astronauts, set to begin their trip to the ISS on Wednesday. NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, Kayla Barron, and the European Space Agency’s Matthias Maurer will be flying aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule. Crew-3 was originally scheduled for a Halloween launch but was delayed because of inclement weather. Shortly after, the launch was delayed once again, this time because of a minor medical issue for an unidentified crew member. NASA reported that the condition was not COVID-19-related.
The spacecraft will launch on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. Crew-3’s mission will mark SpaceX’s fourth crewed trip to the ISS and fifth crewed spaceflight since May 2020. The ISS’s change-in-command is taking place as an ‘indirect takeover’ in which Crew-2 is not able to welcome Crew-3 on the station. Typically, crews will introduce each other to the intricacies of living in space, but owing to multiple delays for both crews, a ‘direct takeover’ was not possible.
China’s HT Aero raises US$500 million in series A funding
HT Aero (also known as Huitian), an urban air mobility (UAM) company and an affiliate of XPeng Inc., announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement with a consortium of investors to raise over US$500 million for its Series A capital funding. The funding round is led by IDG Capital, 5Y Capital and XPeng Inc. with participation by a consortium of renowned investors, including Sequoia China, Eastern Bell Capital, GGV Capital, GL Ventures and Yunfeng Capital.
The Series A financing from a consortium of high-quality investors is a strong testament to the Company’s long-term vision, technology roadmap and its market-leading R&D capability as a prominent player in one of the most promising and disruptive technologies of future mobility. It will be the largest single-tranche fundraising to date in Asia’s low-altitude flying vehicle sector.
“Our mission has always been to explore efficient, safer and carbon-neutral mobility solutions that go beyond smart EVs. What we are seeing is the integration of the three driving forces of smart mobility – disruptive technology, new sources of energy and mass production. We will embrace this opportunity, which is unprecedented in the history of modern transportation. The investment in HT Aero will further accelerate the build-up of our ecosystem to integrate driving and flying”, said He Xiaopeng, chairman and CEO of XPeng Inc.
“HT Aero’s deeply roots in proven technology and sophisticated R&D capabilities will help it jumpstart the industrialisation of flying cars,” said Guangfu Cui, partner of IDG Capital. “We believe that the flying vehicle sector will be a trillion-dollar market. The rapid technological evolution of batteries, autonomous driving and materials science provide the synergies needed to create a new paradigm for flying cars.”
“HT Aero is a visionary initiative to transform the transportation sector through a new form of mobility,” said Richard Liu, founding partner of 5Y Capital. “We share HT’s vision, and its founders’ belief that investing in technological innovations that unlock greater social and environmental values is a critical path to achieving competitiveness at global scale.”
“The Series A financing will provide us with sufficient resources to advance our research and development, acquire top-tier talent and to continue to gain airworthiness provision and certification,” said Deli Zhao, founder and president of HT Aero. “Our next-generation model will be a fully integrated flying vehicle and automobile, designed for both low-altitude air travel and road driving. We are planning for an official roll-out in 2024,” Zhao added.
Unlike many eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) companies, which target services for the business sector, HT Aero is focused on developing three-dimensional, smart and sustainable urban air mobility (UAM) solutions for individual consumers. HT Aero is one of the earliest pioneers in the flying vehicle sector and is one of the few private enterprises in China’s aviation sector with a proven track record of safe flights. Since its foundation in 2013, it has developed five generations of intelligent electric-powered manned flying vehicles.
Iraqi PM survives a drone attack
Unmanned Aircraft have chalked up another unfortunate historic milestone, as an attempted drone assassination of Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, was thwarted in the early morning hours of 7 November 2021. The attack is said to be a major escalation in the dispute with Iran-backed militias over recent parliamentary election results that lost an opposing party dozens of seats. It may be the first credible assassination attempt made with an unmanned aerial system, being able to close with the target and cause fatalities in the inner circle, the action proves how quickly terror tactics are evolving to match new technology.
Iraqi officials told the Associated Press that seven of the prime minister’s security guards were injured in the attack when three armed drones attacked inside Baghdad’s fortified, nominally safe, Green Zone. In the attack, two drones were downed by security, but the third made its way close enough to its target that it detonated by his residence. The bombed-out remnants of an SUV in the gateway, undetonated ordnance and damage to the residence were posted online to illustrate the scope of the small explosive-laden drones. Al-Kadhimi made a televised appearance to the country to assuage concerns of his safety following the attack.
“Cowardly rocket and drone attacks do not build homelands and do not build a future,” he said in an untranslated interview. Recently, his office released a statement, describing the act as the result of a criminal tug-of-war that has gone on since the nascent nation began rebuilding with international assistance. “The cowardly terrorist attack that targeted the home of the prime minister last night with the aim of assassinating him, is a serious targeting of the Iraqi state by criminal armed groups.”
About African Pilot
There is no doubt that African Pilot provides the finest overall aviation media reach in Africa.
The African Pilot 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 our customers.
The monthly magazine is 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.
Then of course this APAnews service has been part of African Pilot’s line-up since the inception of the magazine 20 years ago.
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.