“Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business and eventually degenerates into a racket.” Eric Hoffer
Since last week’s mystery aircraft was relatively easy to identify, according to the number of correct answers I received, this week I have provided another interesting aircraft type. Please send your answers to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will publish the names of those that identified the aircraft correctly within the Thursday edition of APAnews.
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For many years African Pilot has been compiling the formal aviation events calendar, which is also widely used by ALL other aviation media platforms. To all organisers, please let me have the dates and details of your planned event in 2024 since the calendar is already very well populated. In addition to the FREE inclusion of the event you are planning, I will provide a FREE banner advert.
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, Grasslands 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.
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 material deadline for the December 2023 edition of African Pilot was on Friday 17 November, but I will hold this edition open until Monday 27 November 2023.
All editorial content should be sent to me Athol Franz
For advertising opportunities please call Cell: 079 880 4359
The 15th edition of Future Flight was sent out to the world-wide audience on Wednesday 15 November. This 134-page edition has seven picture galleries and 10 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. I would love to receive your feedback about this new digital publication: email@example.com.
The material deadline for the December 2023 / January 2024 edition of Future Flight is on Friday 12 January 2024.
All editorial content should be sent to me Athol Franz
For advertising opportunities please call Cell: 079 880 4359
SACAA Awards 2023
Joint ACSA-Hawks operation leads to arrest of five suspected drug traffickers
Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) would like to reaffirm its unwavering commitment to taking a zero-tolerance stance against fraud, corruption and any other types of illicit or criminal behaviour by its employees, both direct and indirect at its airports. This follows the arrests of five people on Thursday at OR Tambo International Airport, two ACSA staffers and three others working for companies operating at the airport in connection with drug trafficking. The suspects were arrested following a special joint operation between ACSA and the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (also known as the Hawks) which resulted in the identification and apprehension of the five individuals.
They were to appear in the Kempton Park Magistrates Court on Friday on charges relating to drug trafficking, the contravention of the Civil Aviation Act and the contravention of the Customs and Excise Act. The ACSA employees worked for the company’s Safety Department and Electrical Maintenance Department respectively, while two of the other suspects worked for Menzies Aviation and one works for Swissport. They cannot be identified until they are asked to formally plead to the charges. Menzies Aviation manages the global transportation of high-value and time-critical cargo, while Swissport is an aviation services company that provides cargo handling services to ACSA.
Recently ACSA adopted an integrated, multi-agency safety and security approach throughout its environment to enhance airport and aviation security in general. The group has rolled out an aviation security model that is vertically and horizontally integrated with various law enforcement authorities to root out criminality at its airports. Khambule praised the Hawks and the ACSA team that was involved in the operation, noting that the ongoing collaboration between ACSA and law enforcement agencies continues to yield excellent results.
“As ACSA, we take a zero-tolerance approach to any form of criminal or unlawful behaviour by our employees or the employees of companies contracted to work at any of our airports across the country,” says Khambule. “ACSA and the South African Police Service (SAPS) are dedicated to making our national key points, which include our airport network, safe for all our passengers. We have raised our level of alertness, particularly as we head towards the festive season which is typically accompanied by an increase in the level of illicit trade.”
The arrests are linked to a consignment of drugs that was seized in Australia recently, making this the first operation of its kind concerning transnational drug trafficking perpetrated through OR Tambo International Airport, where a drug seizure made abroad was positively linked to suspects in South Africa for their complicity.
EAA Chapter 322 breakfast fly-in to Airspan
By Neil Bowden
The November breakfast fly-in by EAA Chapter 322 was Airspan airfield, just south of Rustenburg. The surrounding mountains and green farm fields could easily be mistaken for somewhere in the Western Cape, what a wonderful place to fly to. On arrival, the 900-meter tarred runway, the neatly mowed lawns and the large venue facility made everyone think ‘great place for an EAA event’. Perhaps a future Sun ‘n Fun or even a n annual convention.
A bit of drizzle around Gauteng did not deter anyone from flying in, in fact the weather was great for a Saturday morning sortie. Nearly 30 aircraft arrived for the breakfast, these included an Ekolot Topaz, an Alto 912, several RV types, Slings, Cessnas, Piper Cubs, BatHawks and Gyrocopters. The venue facility provided great shade and shelter from a quick rain shower while we enjoyed coffee, breakfast and excellent EAA camaraderie. Once again, a nice excuse to fly. Please join EAA Chapter 322 at our next Breakfast fly-in to Tedderfield Airpark on 13 January 2024.
Sandstone Summer Cherry Steam Festival 2023
By Charlie Hugo
Sandstone Heritage Estate has two main ‘open’ weekends during the year, The first being the early autumn Cosmos festival held around the Easter weekend and this early summer event. Although not the size of the early year event, it does coincide with the region’s cherry festivals. There is a large cherry farm close to Sandstone and it is a very popular destination. The Springs Airfield based Classic Flying Collection have been a long-standing supporter of the events and once again arrived with a pair of Tiger Moths and two DHC Chipmunks that are used to provide scenic flights around the area. The Sandstone farmlands with the Maluti mountains in the background is an extremely photogenic area and provides great backgrounds for aviation photographs. A full report will appear in the December edition of African Pilot magazine.
African Pilot’s 2023 calendar We will publish the aviation calendar within APAnews three months ahead, but you can always visit African Pilot’s website: www.africanpilot.co.za if you would like to obtain the full calendar for the entire year.
Aero Club Awards 50 Viking Way Rand Airport (Menno Parsons hangar)
Contact Sandra Strydom firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 011 082 1100
SAA Museum Society Trains, Planes and Automobiles hobby fair
Contact E-mail: email@example.com or Cell: 076 879 5044
SAA Museum Society SA 295 Helderberg 36 years on 08h00
Contact E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 076 879 5044
27 and 28 November
AfBAA African Business Aviation Association conference Cape Town
Contact Sam Keddle E-mail: email@example.com Cell: +27 (0)63 717 3460
DCA Industry Roadshow East London, Eastern Cape
Contact Ms Charmaine Shibambo E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
EAA Chapter 322 monthly gathering, fly-in breakfast EAA Auditorium
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: email@example.com
Wonderboom Safety Symposium 18h00 at Villa San Giovani Restaurant
Contact David E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 073 338 5200
8 & 9 December
SACAA ICAD annual airshow Bisho
Contact Noel Godwin E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 082 414 7702
FAPE Open Day and fly-in 09h00 to 14h00
Port Elizabeth General Aviation area
9 & 20 December
Saudi Airport Exhibition Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center
Contact Stephanie Ramos E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: +971 50 395 2025
Aviation events 2024
EAA Chapter 322 monthly gathering at Tedderfield Air Park
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: email@example.com
EAA Chapter 322 monthly gathering at EAA Auditorium
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
MayDay SA golf day and industry dinner Serengeti Estate
Contact WhatsApp 083 797 7001 Website: www.mayday-sa.org.za
12 to 14 February
African Air Expo and conference CTICC, Cape Town
EAA Chapter 322 fly-in breakfast to Kitty Hawk
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: email@example.com
20 to 22 February
African Aviation MRO Africa Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Contact Nick Fadugba E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
26 to 29 February
HAI Heli-Expo Anaheim Convention Centre, California, USA
Ethiopian deal with Boeing at Dubai
Ethiopian Airlines added to Boeing’s Dubai Airshow sales successes with the announcement of firm orders for 20 Boeing 737-8 Maxes and eleven 787-9 airliners, with options for up to 21 more 737s and 25 more 787s. The airline also has contracted Boeing to conduct a major interior refit on its 787 fleet.
Due to scant availability of production slots, deliveries of the new aircraft will not start until 2026, with the last due in 2030. They will follow deliveries of 25 airplanes on order from both Airbus and Boeing set to arrive in Addis Ababa over the next two years. The airline will fill the gap in deliveries by leasing more aircraft in the interim. The Ethiopian order is highly important in terms of aircraft numbers but it carries perhaps more significance because the airline has returned to order more of the type.
Already the largest airline in Africa with the youngest fleet, flying more than 140 aircraft serving 133 international destinations, Ethiopian harbours bold ambitions to stand among the world’s top 20 airlines by 2035. It plans to place further orders for both Airbus and Boeing aircraft in the coming years to fulfill this ambition. The airline is considering the Airbus A220 to replace its regional turboprops but has held off on a final decision until powerplant issues get resolved.
The 787-cabin interior deal overseen by Boeing includes a new IFE system from Thales. Ethiopian has chosen a business-class seat from Boeing subsidiary Adient and has formulated a shortlist of three economy-class seats, with a decision due in the next few weeks.
Five special ops aviation soldiers killed in Blackhawk crash in Mediterranean
An investigation is underway after a US Army MH-60 Blackhawk crashed into the Mediterranean Sea during routine training over the weekend, killing five special operations aviation regiment soldiers, defence officials said. There is no indication the crash was caused by enemy or hostile actions, the Department of Defence (DOD) said. Immediately following the mishap, a search and rescue mission was launched and included US military aircraft and ships, US European Command said. The soldiers were based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, The Tennessean reported.
Fire wrecks four aircraft at Greenville Downtown airport
A charter operator in South Carolina has likely been hard hit by an early morning fire in its hangar. Authorities say at least four aircraft in the hangar owned by Special Services Corporation at Greenville Downtown Airport were destroyed by the fire, which was first noticed about 03h00. The company lists five aircraft for hire on its website, including a Cirrus SR22, King Air 200, Piper Mirage, Cessna Ultra and Cessna Encore. It is not clear which, if any, of those aircraft were wrecked.
According to Fox News, the Greenville City Fire Department was called to the scene just before 04h00 and found the hangar, which has also been described as a warehouse, engulfed in flame with its roof partially collapsed. A city spokesman told the TV station the building was used for aircraft maintenance. The fire was extinguished but the wreckage removal was delayed until the arrival of heavy equipment. Normal operations continued at the airport.
New York-Belgium horse-transport flight ends tragically
A cargo flight including up to 15 horses turned back after reaching cruise altitude due to a panicked horse breaking loose from its stall in a specially designed cargo container. As posted by an audio recording and flight track on You Can See ATC, the pilot of Air Atlantic Icelandic cargo Flight CC4592, a Boeing 747 freighter, notified Boston Center at 16h06 local time from 31,000 feet that he needed to return to JFK International in New York. He told controllers a horse had broken loose and onboard personnel in the cargo hold were not able to re-secure it. The flight was just passing the eastern tip of Long Island en route to Liege, Belgium.
The pilot told controllers there was no difficulty with flying the aircraft, but that the horse was ‘in difficulty’ and they needed to turn back and land at JFK. He also asked that a veterinarian meet the flight upon landing. Boston Center gave the pilot vectors for the return. Shortly after that, the pilot said they would need to jettison 44,000 pounds of fuel (20 metric tons) to land safely. ATC gave him vectors to turn east at 22,000 feet to dump the fuel over the ocean near Martha’s Vineyard, a process that took some 20 minutes then turned the flight back for vectors to the ILS Runway 22L approach at JFK. The cargo jet landed long at JFK Runway 22L, as the pilot explained to the controller, “We are so heavy.”
Sadly, the horse was injured severely enough in the cargo hold that it had to be euthanised after landing, according to multiple social media posts within the equestrian community as well as news reports quoting John Cuticelli, owner of the Ark, the corporation responsible for quarantine and animal transport at JFK.
Nicole Normington is logistics manager for Horse America, a Lexington, Kentucky-based horse-transportation specialist in business since 1985, which arranges flights for an average of around 30 horses per month. Normington said that incidents such as this are extremely rare (she described such a tragedy as a ‘maybe-once-in-a-career’ event). However, the take-off and landing flight segments are most vulnerable because the licensed, professional grooms tending to the horses need to be belted in their seats and cannot respond to help calm a distressed animal. Take-off and landing phases are also when horses are most susceptible to panic due to changes in pressure, noise and attitude changes. “You can never really be sure how a horse is going to react and you cannot just tell a horse to calm down and munch on hay.” She said.
Norse ‘Antarctic’, Norwegian airline operates first ever Dreamliner flight to Antarctica
On 15 November 2023, a Dreamliner operated by Norse Atlantic Airways (registration LN-FNC) completed the long trip from its home base in Oslo to Troll Airfield (QAT), in Queen Maud Land, Antarctica, with a stopover in Cape Town (CPT), South Africa along the way. This special charter was carrying 45 people, including researchers from the Norwegian Polar Institute, as well as 12 tons of equipment for several research stations scattered across the frozen continent. Its arrival at Troll Airfield marked the first ever landing of a Boeing 787 in Antarctica.
This airfield, fitted with a 3,000-meter blue ice runway made of compacted ice and snow, is one of Antarctica’s gateways to the rest of the world. It serves as a base for the Dronning Maud Land Air Network Project (DROMLAN), an initiative through which 11 nations (namely, Norway, Belgium, Finland, Germany, India, Japan, the Netherlands, Russia, South Africa, Sweden and the United Kingdom) share logistic resources. Troll Airfield acts as a distribution point for smaller bases that are served by ski-fitted Basler BT-67 aircraft, a heavily modified version of the iconic DC-3 aircraft.
Although located at the other end of the globe from Norway, Queen Maud Land is claimed by the Scandinavian country, which has also a speck of sovereign territory in Bouvet Island, an uninhabited islet roughly halfway between South Africa and Antarctica.
SunExpress signs commitment for up to 90 Boeing 737 MAX jets
SunExpress, a joint venture between Turkish Airlines and Lufthansa, has once more selected the Boeing 737 MAX to continue its robust growth. With a commitment to purchase up to 90 fuel-efficient single-aisle jets, announced at the Dubai Airshow, Türkiye’s leisure carrier will more than double its fleet into the next decade. The agreement includes 28 737-8 and 17 737-10 models, with the opportunity for up to 45 additional 737 MAX airplanes. This new commitment from SunExpress will build on the airline’s previous order for 42 737-8s, nine of which have been delivered.
Established in 1989 as a joint venture of Turkish Airlines and Lufthansa, SunExpress acts as a tourism ambassador between Türkiye and Europe with its 30 years of experience and leisure airline expertise. SunExpress flies more than 175 routes to 30 countries and carries more than ten million passengers every year. With its headquarters in Antalya and Frankfurt and bases in Izmir and Ankara, SunExpress has more than 3,500 employees and a fleet of 66 aircraft.
airBaltic expands fleet with 30 additional A220-300 aircraft
With the latest A220-300 order airBaltic will become the largest A220 customer in Europe © Airbus, airBaltic has solidified its position as the largest A220 customer in Europe by confirming an order for 30 more A220-300 aircraft. With this addition, the airline’s total firm orderbook now stands at 80 aircraft. Currently holding the title of the world’s largest A220-300 operator with a 44-strong fleet, airBaltic has been exclusively operating the Airbus A220-300 since 2020, following its initial adoption in 2016 as the launch customer.
The A220-300 is the most modern airliner in its size category, carrying between 120 to 150 passengers on flights of up to 3,450 nautical miles (6,390 km). The aircraft offers 25% lower fuel burn and CO2 emissions per seat compared to previous-generation aircraft. It also has the largest cabin, seats and windows in its class, ensuring superior comfort. As with all Airbus aircraft, the A220 is already able to operate with up to 50% sustainable aviation fuel. Airbus aims for all its aircraft to be capable of operating with 100% sustainable aviation fuel by 2030.
A350 to spearhead Egyptair fleet expansion
On Tuesday Egyptair signed a deal with Airbus at the Dubai Airshow to purchase 10 A350-900s for delivery between 2025 and 2027. It inked the order for the widebody airliners during a ceremony attended by Egyptair chairman and CEO Yehia Zakaria and Airbus chief commercial officer Christian Scherer. The North African carrier has proved a good customer for Airbus since it acquired the first A300s more than four decades ago. Funded from internal sources, the carrier’s Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-powered A350s will operate in a 340-seat configuration and serve to drive a fleet and network expansion rather than replace any current type.
A four-year expansion plan is in place for Egyptair, explained Zakaria, who added that the airline expects the fleet to grow to 125 aircraft by 2028, likely with further A350s. It now uses about 80 aircraft, split between Airbus and Boeing types. The single-aisle fleet includes both A220-200s and A320 / 321neos. As part of its plans, Egyptair will convert two of its Airbus A330 airliners to a cargo configuration by 2025 to expand its freight operations, adding to its existing three A330Fs.
Romania opens F-16 training hub to strengthen NATO’s regional capabilities
NATO member Romania has officially opened an international F-16 pilot training center situated at the 86th Air Base in Fetesti, southeast Romania, bolstering NATO’s presence and readiness in Eastern Europe and the Black Sea region. The training hub, which opened on 13 November 2023, not only serves NATO members but also extends its capabilities to Ukraine. The Dutch Defence Minister Kajsa Ollongren, who was present at the inauguration, emphasized the importance of European defence cooperation, stating that no European country can guarantee its security independently.
This center is also a practical response to Ukraine’s call for sophisticated fighter aircraft. Since Russia’s invasion in February 2022, Ukraine has sought advanced combat capabilities, with NATO countries including Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and Belgium expressing willingness to provide F-16 fighter jets. Denmark plans to send the first jets by April 2024, with Belgium following suit by 2025, subject to government approval after elections in 2024. Notably, the Dutch government has already delivered five F-16s to the Romanian center and intends to provide 12 to 18 additional aircraft for training. However, these jets will remain Dutch property and will only be allowed to fly in NATO airspace. Lockheed Martin, the US company that manufactures the F-16, will also contribute to the training and maintenance of the center. The centres establishment coincides with Romania’s efforts to improve its military capabilities, including the purchase of United States-made Abrams battle tanks and F-35 fighter jets.
The ‘dual purpose’ in Turkey’s bid for 40 Eurofighter Typhoons
To help fill its looming fighter gap, Turkey is in talks to buy 40 Eurofighter Typhoons, the country’s top defence official said, in a move analysts said could give Ankara bargaining power in its years-long quest for new American F-16s but could also face resistance in Berlin. On Thursday at a parliamentary hearing, Turkish Defence Minister Yasar Gular said that Turkey is ‘working on procurement.’ “Now the UK and Spain are making efforts to convince Germany, though we are not in talks with Germany. If possible, we plan to purchase 40 Eurofighter Typhoon jets,” he said.
Turkey is currently facing a fighter gap as it waits for its planned 5th generation KAAN fighter to come online in 2030. As the Turkish air force already flies F-16s, it has sought new versions of the plane from the US, but that deal has been on hold over geopolitical strain between Turkey and the US. Therefore the ‘contemplation’ of the Eurofighter ‘serves a dual purpose,’ according to Ali Bakir, non-resident senior fellow at Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative. He said the talks “could either act as a strategic leverage in negotiations with the US over the F-16s or complement it, depending on the outcome of these discussions.”
“I believe the ongoing negotiations for the F-16 deal, marked by prolonged delays and uncertainties, have led Turkey to consider the Eurofighter as a viable alternative,” he said. “From the Turkish perspective, historical patterns reveal a lack of reliability in dealings with US administrations, with Congress often exerting its power to halt defence agreements unpredictably.”
Can Kasapoglu, director of defence research at the Istanbul-based Edam think tank, emphasised that a successful Eurofighter deal would not necessarily preclude an F-16 deal as well, but it would eat into F-16 maker Lockheed Martin’s ‘dominance over the Turkish weapons market in the fighter segment.’ “Turkish air power has a stopgap trouble up until the indigenous KAAN makes it,” Kasapoglu said. “The Eurofighter can offer some relief, depending on the tranche.”
‘Project Speedbird’ wins £9 million UK government funding
The joint partnership between Nova Pangaea Technologies (NPT), LanzaJet and British Airways (BA), Project Speedbird has secured new funding totalling £9 million from the Government’s Advanced Fuels Fund (AFF) competition. NPT, a Teesside-based cleantech company developing advanced biofuels used to produce SAF, was awarded £7.5 million as part of the partnership and LanzaJet, a leading ethanol to SAF technology company and sustainable fuels producer, will receive £1.5 million. It is hoped that the funding will help establish the UK as a world-leader in SAF production and the decarbonisation of aviation. It follows the multi-million-pound investments from International Airlines Group (IAG) and British Airways earlier this year into NPT and Project Speedbird, respectively. IAG, British Airways’ parent company is also a founding investor and shareholder of LanzaJet dating back to 2021.
The SAF will be developed using a combination of NPT’s innovative technology, which converts agricultural waste and wood residue feedstocks into second-generation biofuels such as ethanol and LanzaJet’s proprietary technology that converts ethanol into SAF. The NPT ethanol will be initially processed into SAF using LanzaJet’s Alcohol to Jet (ATJ) plant in Georgia, USA, the first of its kind in the world, prior to Project Speedbird’s own larger ATJ facility, planned to be built in the UK by 2027. British Airways is intending to purchase all the SAF produced through Project Speedbird to help power some of its flights. Project Speedbird will produce 102 million litres of SAF per year, which will reduce CO2 emissions, on a net lifecycle basis, by 230,000 tonnes per year, the equivalent of approximately 26,000 British Airways domestic flights. Project Speedbird will produce SAF at full capacity by 2028, supporting progress towards the UK’s SAF mandate which will require at least 10% of jet fuel used by airlines to be made from sustainable feedstocks by 2030.
Hansen Helicopters director pleads guilty
Hansen Helicopters CEO John Walker was convicted Friday on more than 100 counts related to fraud, bribery and money-laundering related to his Guam-based helicopter operation. A number of accidents have been associated with that operation. Hansen Helicopters director of maintenance Phillip ‘Turner’ Kapp has pled guilty to defrauding the FAA and the NTSB. Kapp was facing multiple charges relating to illegal activities conducted by the Guam-based tuna spotting company.
Last year the company and its CEO, John Walker, were found guilty on more than 100 charges relating to bribery, money laundering, hiring of unlicensed pilots and mechanics, use of unapproved parts and data plate swapping to create what the prosecution termed ‘Frankenstein helicopters’ from wrecked aircraft. The government charged that these practices were behind $400 million worth of fraud and, in part, responsible for up to nine deaths due to helicopter accidents over two decades.
Kapp was originally due to stand trial with Hansen as an entity and Walker as an individual, but Kapp requested that his case be severed while he was dealing with a significant medical issue. During the trial of Walker and Hansen, the prosecution produced voluminous e-mails from and to Kapp that clearly showed him to be an active participant in a widespread fraud scheme that included falsification of aircraft maintenance records and obstructing NTSB investigations.
Other defendants in the case included Hansen chief pilot Kenneth ‘Rufus’ Crowe, Marvin Reed (Hansen’s vice president of operations) and two suppliers, Oregon-based Spares Inc. and Vanguard Aviation of Valdosta, Georgia. Spares pleaded guilty and agreed to a substantial forfeiture earlier this year, whilst the case against Crowe was dismissed on a technicality by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The case against Vanguard likely will not go to trial since its CEO is ill. The sentencing of Walker and Hansen is pending. Kapp’s sentencing is scheduled for February.
SpaceX’s Starship reaches space for first time but explodes moments later
SpaceX’s uncrewed spacecraft Starship, developed to carry astronauts to the moon and beyond, reached space for the first time on Saturday but was presumed to have failed minutes later. This was Starship’s second test after its first attempt to reach space ended in an explosion earlier this year. The two-stage rocket ship blasted off from the Elon Musk-owned company’s Starbase launch site near Boca Chica in Texas, east of Brownsville, on a planned 90-minute uncrewed flight into space. If successful, the rocket would have ended up landing in the Pacific ocean near Hawaii. The company hopes the rocket can eventually manage a trip around the Earth, which could take an hour and a half.
However, about two and a half minutes into the flight, the two stages of the spacecraft separated. SpaceX shortly announced that it could not find a signal from the second stage, which it declared ‘lost’. The company believes the rocket’s self-destruction mechanism was set off after it lost the signal.
SpaceX’s second flight is an improvement compared to its first test launch in April, when both stages ultimately exploded four minutes into its flight. The spacecraft’s first stage, known as ‘Super Heavy’ for its 33 engines, had failed, causing both stages to explode. This time, Super Heavy’s 33 engines succeeded in lifting itself and the second stage, the rocket system Starship, into space. Starship successfully separated from Super Heavy as planned, but the rocket’s automatic termination system activated, causing an explosion.
“What we do believe right now is that the automated flight termination system on second stage appears to have triggered very late in the burn as we were headed downrange over the Gulf of Mexico,” SpaceX engineer John Insprucker said in a company broadcast. Insprucker did not say what may have activated the termination system.
On X, the social media platform also owned by Musk and formerly known as Twitter, SpaceX confirmed that it experienced an explosion, something the company refers to as “a rapid unscheduled disassembly”. “With a test like this, success comes from what we learn, and today’s test will help us improve Starship’s reliability as SpaceX seeks to make life multi-planetary,” the company said.
The Federal Aviation Administration grounded the rocket pending a safety and environmental review but cleared the launch this week. The company had come under criticism after its first launch for the amount of debris it showered over Texas after its first explosion.
The company has a $4bn contract with the US space agency NASA, which hopes the partnership will result in the first successful flight to the moon in more than five decades. Musk has broader aspirations for the company’s rockets, saying that he wants to eventually send humans to Mars on reusable rockets. Musk has also floated the idea of using a rocket for commercial travel, such as offering an hour-long flight from London to Tokyo.
Musk has maintained that tests, even if resulting in explosions, are important for the company to improve its spacecraft. An official for NASA recently suggested that the company will need the number of launches to be ‘in the high teens’ before the craft can be used for the lunar landing mission. Their impact on people and communities and become inspired to take meaningful action.
Joby completes first-ever electric air taxi flight in New York City
On Sundat the exhibition flight with Joby’s eVTOL was the first time the company had flown its aircraft in an urban setting. Joby announced the major milestone in the path to commercial passenger services on Thursday. At the iconic Downtown Heliport in Manhattan, New York, pilot James ‘Buddy’ Denham operated the important flight. On Monday, at the same Heliport, New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced the city’s intent to electrify the heliport, preparing the city to become a global leader in the adoption of clean and quiet flight. The New York flight followed days of preparation flights at the HHI Heliport in Kearny, New Jersey.
Previously, Joby announced its partnership with Delta Airlines and the intention of making New York one of the early launch markets following FAA certification. The company will offer quick, quiet trips using a piloted, four-passenger electric aircraft. The fast travel will offer an alternative to ground and air transport with zero operating emissions. Joby’s eVTOL is optimised for swift, back-to-back flights and can fly up to 100 miles on a single charge. These capabilities will allow the eVTOL to take trips across New York City’s five boroughs. When flying from Manhattan to John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK), it can take travellers more than an hour by ca but should only take seven minutes by air.
Joby and Delta are working with the Port Authority of New York and the New York EDC as plans develop for air taxi operations, including developing infrastructure at JFK and LaGuardia International Airport (LGA). This collaborative effort builds upon the recent investments Delta has made to upgrade customer service experience in New York. Joby’s eVTOL is being designed to have a lower acoustic footprint compared to helicopters. The low noise level will allow the eVTOL to operate in densely populated regions like New York City, without adding to the background noise. In 2022 Joby and NASA collaborated to determine the sound of the aircraft, confirming that it registered the equivalent of 45.2 A-weighted decibels (dBA) when flying at an altitude of 1,640 feet.
In 2022 a Senate Bill was sent to Governor Kathy Hochul in New York after being passed by the State Assembly and State Senate, concerning noise pollution from rotorcraft. The bill would have allowed anyone to sue a pilot, line service personnel, flight department or company employee for rotorcraft noise pollution. A petition began in 2020 asking that non-essential helicopters should not fly over densely populated areas and addresses the noise pollution created by these aircraft and the inconvenience to the community. Ultimately, Gov. Hochul vetoed the bill.
Archer closes deal for 100 eVTOL aircraft with UAE private helicopter firm
At the 2023 Dubai Airshow, Archer Aviation signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for up to 100 of its eVTOL aircraft with a UAE-based private helicopter service company. Under the agreement, announced on 16 November 2023, Air Chateau International plans to purchase multiple models of Archer’s Midnight eVTOL to add to its existing private heliport operator service. The deal is valued at $500 million and includes an initial non-refundable, pre-delivery payment of $1 million due by 31 December 2023. ‘The two companies will now work to formalise the definitive agreements covering the planned purchase over the coming months, with $4 million of additional pre-delivery payments contemplated to be paid following signing,’ Archer said in a statement.
Air Chateau was the first private heliport operator company in the UAE to establish a heliport and lounge terminal at the land side of Dubai World Central Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC). It has subsequently built multiple touch points across the state. Its operations are targeted at ultra-high net worth individuals who need to be connected between the UAE’s airports, cities and key attractions. This burgeoning relationship should further strengthen Archer’s recently announced plans to commence air taxi operations in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai in 2026.
SAE: Tag us @SaudiExhibition
SAE: Tag us @saudiairportexhibition
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Official hashtags: #SAE2023 #saudiairportexhibition
Introducing the Drone Express DE-2023 Phoenix
A Pioneering leader in drone technology, Drone Express has unveiled the DE-2023 Phoenix quadcopter, the latest advancement in drone delivery. The company is committed to innovation and efficiency and this new drone model is set to revolutionise package delivery. The Phoenix boasts state-of-the-art features and capabilities that redefine the drone delivery experience. With cutting-edge navigation systems, advanced safety protocols and a sleek quadcopter design, the Phoenix ensures swift and secure deliveries while adhering to the highest industry standards. With its precision engineering, this drone can carry payloads of up to 85 pounds and travel distances of up to 20 miles, making it the ideal solution for delivering goods to customers across multiple locations. It also offers seamless integration with the Drone Express user-friendly delivery app. Drone Express is one of a select few companies that will attain a Part 135 FAA certification for autonomous drone delivery.
AeroVironment’s Jump 20 Group 3 UAS demonstrates modularity and adaptability
AeroVironment, Inc. recently participated in the Arcane Thunder 23 (AT23) operational exercise in Europe, demonstrating the JUMP 20 Group 3 unmanned aircraft system’s (UAS) ability to support multi-domain operations. AT23 is part of the US Army’s Project Convergence, Europe campaign to evaluate the progress of the service’s modernisation efforts. The intent of this exercise is to validate and test the continuous integration of effects in various domains including air, land, sea, space and cyberspace.
During the operational exercise, AeroVironment, in collaboration with CACI and with support from the US Army’s 2nd Multi-Domain Task Force (2nd MDTF), flew the JUMP 20 UAS with multiple Electronic Warfare (EW) payloads and delivered real-time data at the point of need. The exercise used industry technology, such as the JUMP 20, to enhance communication between sensors and shooters, enabling war fighters to efficiently coordinate lethal and non-lethal effects.
During the exercise, which was held near Ustka, Poland, from 28 August 28 to 8 September, the JUMP 20 carried multiple imaging and EW payloads while employing an open system architecture that can quickly adapt and accommodate radios operating in different frequency bands. Flight operations included the use of an advanced seven-inch stabilised imaging system with continuous zoom and onboard video processing designed to provide superior day and night surveillance capability. Additional payloads included a high-performance wideband radio receiver that enables passive radio frequency (RF) aerial surveys of operational environments, real-time geolocation of signals, among other mission planning tasks. According to the US Army, AT23 is an unprecedented multi-domain and multi-national exercise that is the result of the close partnership between US Army Futures Command and US Army Europe and Africa, combining new experimental technologies and formations while informing further capability requirements that will help deliver the Army of 2030 and beyond.
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