“In the state of nature, all men are born equal, but they cannot continue in this equality. Society makes them lose it and they recover it only by the protection of the law.” Charles de Montesquieu
Seabird Seeker 2
(Information from Wikipedia)
The Seabird Seeker is a light observation aircraft built originally by Seeker Aviation Australia and Seabird Aviation Jordan. Since 2016 it has been manufactured in the US by Seeker Aircraft (US) / Erickson. It is powered by a Lycoming O-360 engine. The aircraft was marketed as a low-cost alternative to observation helicopters for the military and civilian sectors. It can be used in roles such as pipeline inspection, coast watch, environmental duties, aerial photography and security. The Seabird Seeker had some export success and is operated by the Iraqi Air Force. As of 2016 Seekers are currently flying in Australia, Jordan, Azerbaijan, South Africa, Tanzania, UAE, and the US with the New Mexico State Police, among other operators.
In March 2014 Seeker Aircraft (US), a subsidiary of the global aviation company CSI Aviation, acquired Seabird Aviation, the Australian manufacturer of the Seabird Seeker, with plans to eventually move Australia-based manufacturing operations to the United States. In March 2016 Seeker Aircraft (US) announced that Erickson Inc. of Portland, Oregon, would begin manufacturing the Seeker aircraft in the United States. In the US the Seeker aircraft has FAA Part 23 Normal Category certification, allowing use for commercial operations.
Two SB7L-360A Seekers were purchased by the United States in 2004 in response to an initial requirement for eight fixed wing observation aircraft to equip the new Iraqi Air Force under the command of the Coalition Provisional Authority. The aircraft were received into service on 29 July from Seabird Aviation Jordan and from 7 August Iraqi pilots received initial training on the Seekers. The two aircraft were airlifted by the United States Air Force to Basrah Airport on 18 August. The post-invasion IqAF’s first flying squadron, No. 70 Reconnaissance Squadron was raised to operate the Seekers on patrol missions to monitor critical infrastructure such as oil pipelines and electricity transmission assets, as well as national borders. Initial missions saw coalition personnel accompany Iraqi pilots in a training capacity. On 15 September, the Iraqi Air Force flew its first solo mission, crewed by two Iraqi pilots to provide intelligence on an oil pipeline spill. Although further procurement of the type did not eventuate after the selection of the SAMA CH2000, Seekers YI-101 and YI-102 continued to operate throughout the conflict successfully, providing capabilities, including real-time feeds of observations to ground forces, night surveillance and carrying digital video equipment to assist with target identification. The Seekers remained in service when the squadron relocated to Talil Air Base in 2010.
Short for Remote Observation Automated Modelling Economic Simulation. Two Lycoming IO-390-A1B6 powered variants built for Ergon Energy featuring upgraded avionics, Garmin G500 EFIS cockpit. The aircraft is capable of fully automated flight, with the pilot able to intervene at any time. Marketed by Seabird as a transitional ‘optionally piloted’ aircraft as an alternative to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.
I understand there was one Seeker aircraft in South Africa and if I remember correctly it was painted in a bule and white checkered scheme. However, I do not know what become of this aircraft. If any knows about its whereabouts, please let me know. Editor@africanpilot.co.za Thank you.
Those persons who correctly identified this week’s mystery aircraft:
Pierre Brittz, Brian Millett, Piet Steyn, P. Rossouw, Kevin Farr, Wouter van der Waal, Erwin Stam, Danie Viljoen, Bruce Margolius, Andre Visser, Righardt du Plessis, Ari Levien, Brian Ross, Jeremy Rorich, Willie Oosthuizen, Charlie Hugo, Magiel Esterhuysen, Michael Schoeman, Steve Dewsbery, Jaco van Jaarsveld, Hilton Carroll, Jan Sime, Lance Williams, Colin Austen, Selwyn Kimber, Andre Breytenbach, Sam Basch, Karl Jensen, Clint Futter, Barry Eatwell, Rex Tweedie, John Moen, Aiden O’Mahony, Fanie du Preez, Ahmed Bassa, Craig Riston, Daryl Kimber, Johan Venter, Andrew Peace, (39). Disappointing this week.
SAAF prangs another CASA-212, this time at Lohatla
How embarrassing when the SAAF pilots crashed another CASA-212 at the Combat Training Centre Lohatla (Dippies airfield) in the northern Cape on the very day that a very public exercise VUKUHLOME 2023 was taking place. The incident happened following one of the maneuverers of parachute dropping. Fortunately, there were no injuries, but African Pilot’s correspondent, Charlie Hugo had flown to report on this exercise on this very aircraft earlier in the morning and now he was stranded at the event and will have to overnight somewhere in the region. Makes one question the overall competence of SAAF pilots flying such basic turboprop aircraft such as the CASA-212.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
Embraer to demonstrate C-390 to the SAAF
On Friday Brazilian aerospace company Embraer will demonstrate its C-390 Millenium transport aircraft to the South African Air Force (SAAF). Several media representatives have been invited to view the aircraft at Air Force Base Waterkloof on Friday 24 November, the SAAF said in a statement, where it will be shown to Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Thandi Modise: Chief of the SA National Defence Force, General Rudzani Maphwanya and the Chief of the SA Air Force, Lieutenant General Wiseman Mbambo. The SAAF said the purpose of the event will be to showcase the C-390’s cutting-edge capability for air-to-air refuelling, humanitarian aid delivery, search and rescue and aerial firefighting. Charlie Hugo and I will be representing African Pilot at this viewing of the Embraer C-390.
The demonstration comes after an April 2023 visit to Brazil to discuss bringing the C-390 to South Africa for testing and demonstration, the SAAF said. In May, Modise told Parliament her department hoped to soon publicly announce a partnership with Embraer but gave little further detail other than that it would include the manufacture and repair of aircraft in South Africa. Embraer believes a capable multi-mission aircraft like the C-390 is the best option for many African nations as it performs a wide range of tasks, from the transport of cargo and troops to medical evacuation, search and rescue, aerial refuelling (fighters and helicopters in KC-390 guise), aerial firefighting and humanitarian assistance.
Embraer estimates Africa will need 105 aircraft in Africa in the C-390 class over the next 20 years, with global demand for this category amounting to 490 aircraft. Last year, the C-390 toured two African and eight Middle Eastern countries, of which some had specifically asked to see the aircraft, indicating strong interest in the type. Rwanda in particular believes the C-390 is a good contender for African Union nations that could use it for humanitarian and other missions across the continent, possibly in a multinational unit. All existing C-390 customers are acquiring the jet to replace their C-130 fleets. While the C-130 and C-390 are similar, the C-390 has a slightly larger cargo compartment and carries 26 tonnes versus the C-130J’s 20 tonnes. A review conducted by the Netherlands found the C-390 offered superior payload / range, reduced maintenance and operating costs and overall greater availability and efficiency when compared to the C-130J.
Paramount and AAL Group composite rotor blade production
On 15 November Paramount said its United Arab Emirates-based partner AAL Group have successfully completed initial testing of composite helicopter blades for Mi-type helicopters. AAL’s team, in partnership with Paramount, will continue the testing process to achieve full qualification. The rotor blades were on display at the Dubai Airshow. In February 2023, Paramount Aerospace Systems signed a strategic partnership with AAL Group for the marketing of Mi-type helicopter solutions and the production of Mil main and tail rotor composite helicopter blades. The composite helicopter blades for Mi 17 / 24 helicopters are more expensive than metal blades, but the operation life is 20 000 hours or five to eight times that of metal blades.
Paramount acquired the composite rotor capability from Advanced Technologies and Engineering (ATE), which became Paramount Advanced Technologies, which opened its composite rotor blade facility in Midrand in October 2006. Paramount added that amidst the current supply and delivery challenges of main rotor blades, the production of composite blades provides a reliable source for ongoing operations, ensuring security and defence support.
Established in 2000, AAL Group provides a range of services and support for Mi-type rotary-wing aircraft. It specialises in support for Mi-17/Mi-171 (Mi-8T, Mi-8MTV-1, Mi-17, Mi-171, Mi-8AMT and Mi-17V-5) helicopters, including maintenance, repairs, overhaul, modification, lease / charter operations, programme management, contractor logistics support, calibration, special process services and training.
Starlite Helicopters finally retires Puma helicopters
On Wednesday afternoon I attended the final retirement of Starlite Aviation’s final retirement of its fleet of Puma helicopters at the Starlite heavy maintenance facility in Klipriver south of Johannesburg. After 13 years of successful operations with these helicopters, it became increasingly challenging for Starlite to expand its aging fleet due to limited availability of commercial aircraft in the market. However, the company’s unwavering confidence in the Puma’s performance and the legacy the type built led Starlite to become the launch customer for the Airbus H215 in 2013. Starlite took delivery of three out of four civilian H215 aircraft manufactured by Airbus Helicopters. The H215 is an upgraded version of the original Puma, featuring more powerful Turbomeca Makila turboshaft engines. Starlite has continued to service its contracts with this upgraded fleet but always with several super Puma helicopters amongst the new, upgraded fleet. More about this event will be featured within the December edition of African Pilot.
Aero Club Awards 50 Viking Way Rand Airport (Menno Parsons hangar)
Contact Sandra Strydom email@example.com Tel: 011 082 1100
SAA Museum Society Trains, Planes and Automobiles hobby fair
Contact E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or Cell: 076 879 5044
SAA Museum Society SA 295 Helderberg 36 years on 08h00
Contact E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 076 879 5044
55th AFRAA AGM International Air Transport Association (IATA)
Remarks of Kamil Alawadhi – Regional Vice-President Africa and Middle East
I am very happy to be here in Uganda for the 55th AFRAA AGM. For 55 years IATA and AFRAA have been partners in supporting the development of air connectivity in Africa. We have worked together with our member airlines through many good times. We have found great strength in partnership through far too many crises. Whether we are in good times or in crisis, nearly every day, IATA and AFRAA are collaborating to help our members.
A few of the broad areas where, as your associations, we are working to deliver value for our members:
- Promoting regional air connectivity by working together with governments to support the implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM). This work aims to (1) see the 23 countries committed to SAATM ratify the accord and (2) encourage more countries to join the SAATM.
- Liberating airline funds blocked by governments from repatriation by advising governments on best practices to clear backlogs. Since 2018, a significant amount of blocked funds have been repatriated from Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria and Zimbabwe through working with the respective governments. Currently $1.68 billion in airline funds remain blocked across the continent.
- Improving operational safety through a data-driven, collaborative programme to reduce safety incidents and accidents. This includes improving data sharing, prioritising the accurate communication of aeronautical information, timely accident and incident reporting and promoting IATA safety auditing programmes including the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) and IATA Standard Safety Assessment (ISSA). With all IATA members on the IOSA registry and all AFRAA members on the IOSA or ISSA registry, this effort will focus on encouraging governments to adopt the use of IOSA in their safety oversight programmes.
- Achieving reasonable levels of taxes and charges by focusing governments on the long-term social and economic benefits of aviation. Infrastructure in Africa comes with a high price tag; user charges across the continent are 8% higher than the industry average. Infrastructure charges must be set at levels that are fair, justified and reflective of a value service proposition for airlines and passengers. Efforts through a pan-Africa fuel campaign have resulted in charges reductions in Chad, the Ivory Coast and Zambia over the last five years.
- Supporting airlines to achieve the industry’s goal of NetZero emissions by 2050. Advocacy with governments to work collectively in achieving international commitments like LTAG and CORSIA by adopting policies that will rapidly expand the supply of SAF and creating a policy framework that enables competitive prices for cleaner energies in preparation for ICAO’s CAAF/3 this month, as well as supporting airlines with their skillset and knowledge on SAF.
Africa’s aviation industry is still recovering from significant losses due to the pandemic. To make up for this shortfall, governments should avoid imposing higher fees, levies, carbon taxes or new taxes on air transport, trade or tourism. These measures would only make air travel more expensive and less accessible in Africa, where the average airfare is already 30% higher than the industry average and the jet fuel cost is 10-20% higher than the global average.
Higher costs would discourage customers who are sensitive to prices, resulting in lower demand and revenue for airlines and other stakeholders in the aviation sector, such as airports, ground handlers, suppliers and air navigation services. They would also hamper economic development and limit the opportunities for job creation and income generation. High cost leads to high price, which reduces demand and growth in a price elastic market, and ultimately affects connectivity negatively.
The message is clear: governments should follow ICAO’s policies on charges and infrastructure and consult with airlines and industry to ensure a fair and cost-effective operational environment that benefits a more connected continent.
I am proud of the longstanding relationship and collaboration with AFRAA and I am certain, our work together through Focus Africa will lead to a safer, more efficient, secure and better-connected continent. Let us proactively work together and take Africa’s aviation industry to the next level, to reflect the potential of Africa African market.
Enstrom Helicopter hosts training for Zambian mechanics
Enstrom Helicopter Corporation hosted mechanics from Zambia for a week of training on how to maintain Enstrom helicopters. The Zambian military had previously purchased Enstrom Turbine 480Bs with delivery expected in the near future pending aircraft completion. Zambian officials say they plan to use the aircraft for helicopter pilot training. Enstrom regularly offers maintenance courses throughout the year. The next piston class is set to begin on 3 June 2024 at the Enstrom factory in Menominee. The turbine class will begin at the same location a week later on 10 June.
Mechanics who join Enstrom’s training courses will learn all the subtle nuances of an Enstrom helicopter and quickly familiarise themselves with all the inner workings. Participants can practice what they learn with hands-on display models and special tooling. All maintenance courses are I.A. renewal accredited. Enstrom offers two options for certification. The first is for A&P mechanics and the other is for non-mechanics to certify familiarisation with Enstrom. Anyone who wants to is welcome to take the class and following completion, attendees can return for refresher courses as often as they like. Classes have a limited number of seats available each session. Accepted applicants will be responsible for securing all lodging, transportation and meals.
AC-130 strikes Iranian-backed militants that launched a missile at US troops in Iraq
On 21 November US forces in Iraq were on the receiving end of a missile attack and in retaliation a US Air Force AC-130 gunship struck members of an Iranian-backed militia resulting in enemy casualties.
The strike occurred after the Iranian-backed militias launched “a close-range ballistic missile against US and coalition forces at Al Asad Air Base in Iraq which resulted in several nonserious injuries and some minor damage to infrastructure,” deputy Pentagon press Secretary Sabrina Singh told reporters in a briefing. After the missile strike, the AC-130 ‘maintained visual confirmation of the individuals from the time of the launch to the time of engagement,’ CENTCOM added in a statement.
CENTCOM’s statement referred to ‘several enemy casualties,’ while Singh said there were ‘some hostile fatalities.’ Middle East analyst Phillip Smyth noted on social media that the militia is reporting one death from the strike. Unlike three previous airstrikes conducted by the US against Iranian-backed militias in the region in the last month, this latest incident was not ‘pre-planned,’ Singh noted. The AC-130 was overhead at the time of the missile attack and was able to respond, ‘because they saw the militants, they were able to keep an eye on the movement of these militants as they moved into their vehicle,’ she said. All the previous airstrikes were against militia facilities located in Syria, conducted by either F-15s or F-16s. The Pentagon has not disclosed whether they resulted in any enemy casualties.
Since 17 October US forces have been attacked by Iranian-backed militias approximately 66 times; 32 times in Iraq, 34 times in Syria. The attacks come amid a wave of unrest in the region spurred by Hamas’ 7 October attack on Israel and the Israeli air and ground response in Gaza. Singh noted that there have been 62 injuries reported by US troops, though that total did not include any from the latest 21 November attack.
The Pentagon has deployed a Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) anti-missile battery to Saudi Arabia and Patriot surface-to-air missile systems to a number of Gulf states and Jordan. Short-range Avenger systems are also being deployed to protect troops. US troops are in Iraq and Syria to advise and mentor local partners who are working to prevent a resurgence of the Islamic State group. Some 2,500 US troops are in Iraq working with Iraqi forces, while 900 troops are in Syria.
Successive Kenyan helicopter crashes
On Tuesday Kenyans made significant progress in wiping out helicopters, scribbling two helicopters within a few hours of each other, in the Wajir area north-east of the country. First off was a beautiful Airbus AS 350B3, registration 5Y-SDL, with two pilots, one passenger and a box of examination papers, who lost it on the runway at Wajir airport on take-off towards Arbajahan. The two pilots did a really good job of wrapping the Helicopter up into a ball. There was one serious injury, with the other two suffering minor injuries.
A few hours later, in an unrelated accident, a Kenyan Air Force Mi-171E, tail-number 1101, suffered what appears to be a loss of tail-rotor effectiveness (LTE) on getting airborne from Wajir hospital, which ended in a Sudden Unscheduled Disassembly (SUD) of the aircraft. At least one death, of a bystander on the ground, who was struck by the helicopter as it crashed. Apparently, there were no serious injuries to the crew.
P-8 runway overrun ends in the ocean off Oahu
There were no injuries reported when a P-8 Poseidon overran the runway at Marine Corps Hawaii’s base on Monday and ended up in Kaneohe just north of Honolulu. Wind was reported gusting to 21 knots in mist when the plane went into the sea. There were nine people on board. The Coast Guard initially responded but called it off when it was clear the occupants were safe. The airframe is likely a write-off. The base runway is 7,800 feet but there have been reports the plane landed long. The aircraft belongs to the Skinny Dragons of Patrol Squadron 4 stationed at Whidbey Island in Washington State and was there on a regular rotation to patrol the region. The accident will be investigated by the US Navy.
SMBC Aviation Capital orders 60 A320neo Family aircraft
Leading aircraft lessor SMBC Aviation Capital has ordered a further 60 A320neo Family aircraft taking its total for the type to nearly 340 aircraft purchased directly from Airbus. Together with its existing orders for the A320neo Family, this new one ensures SMBC Aviation Capital will have a continuous delivery stream to beyond the end of the decade, deepening Airbus and SMBC Aviation Capital’s long standing strategic partnership on the A320neo Family programme. With its unbeatable seat mile cost, the A320neo Family offers airlines the flexibility to expand their networks using wide-body cabin products on new longer-haul routes which were not previously possible with a single-aisle jetliner.
The A320neo Family incorporates the very latest technologies including new generation engines, Sharklets and cabin efficiency enablers, which together deliver 20% fuel savings by 2020. With more than 6,500 orders received from over 100 customers since its launch in 2010, the A320neo Family has captured some 60 percent share of the single isle aircraft market.
US college controller graduates to skip FAA ATC Academy
The FAA is allowing graduates of college and university air traffic control programmes to skip training at its own ATC academy in Oklahoma City and go directly to on-the-job training at ATC facilities. The measure was among a series of immediate actions announced by the agency to boost ATC recruitment and increase staffing levels at facilities across the country. A shortage of controllers has been a common theme in various studies, reports and seminars on a spate of runway incursions and losses of separation in the past year. Skipping the academy for college ATC graduates should increase capacity at the academy for other prospective controllers.
Previously, graduates from accredited Air Traffic-Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) programmes had to go to the Oklahoma academy for at least seven weeks of the 12-week programme there to get them ready for a facility. Those with degrees will now go straight to an operational ATC unit where they will begin the one- to three-year on-the-job training segment of their career. ‘The FAA will work with AT-CTI programs to ensure that graduates from these programs have the necessary skills to begin on-the-job training at a facility,’ the agency said. ‘These graduates still must pass the Air Traffic Skills Assessment (ATSA) exam and meet medical and security requirements.’ After finishing their supervised training, they become certified controllers. We have asked the National Air Traffic Controllers Association for comment on the move but did not hear back in time for our deadline.
AT-CTI trainees make up a significant number of applicants for ATC jobs so bypassing the academy for them should free up seats in the full 12-week programme that so-called ‘off-the-street’ trainees must undergo. The FAA will accept applicants who do not go the university route provided they have work experience and / or education that make them suitable candidates. All candidates have to pass rigorous screening before being accepted for training by the FAA.
The agency said in its Friday statement it is also expanding the ATC academy and will ensure that every seat is filled. It will offer year-round acceptance of already-trained military and private-sector controllers and will have a total of four advanced training facilities in operation around the country by next spring. It also recently bought ATC simulators and will have them in 95 facilities by the end of 2025. The agency also intends to keep working on its safety culture with internal reporting structures and the continuation of safety meetings at ATC facilities.
SAS operates its last Boeing 737 passenger flight
On 19 November 2023, the airline’s final commercial passenger service using a Boeing 737 flew from Stockholm-Arlanda Airport (ARN) to Oslo-Gardermoen Airport. The flight was operated using a Boeing 737-700 registered LN-RRB and also overflew Copenhagen as part of its route. The final flight, which was filled with passengers who had bought special tickets to be part of the occasion back in September, carried the unique flight number SK737. Marking the occasion in style, as the flight proceeded towards its destination, the flight crew drew a ‘700’ symbol in the sky to represent the variant of the popular twinjet operating the final flight. The airline has used over 100 different Boeing 737s over the course of the past 30 years. This includes a number of variants, including the -400, -500, -600, -700, and lastly, the -800.
The airline has been gradually retiring its 737 fleet for several years, having decided to replace them with the Airbus A320 family of narrowbodies, of which it currently has 87 in its short-haul fleet. Alongside its Airbus A319s (four), A320s (18), A320neos (61), A321s (four) and A321LRneos (three), the airline also operates the A330-300 (eight) and the A350 (four) as the mainstays of its long-haul fleet. On regional services, the carrier uses the ATR72-600 (six) plus the Bombardier CRJ-900 Regional Jet (23).
However, despite the final Boeing 737 commercial passenger flight, it should be noted that SAS has not entirely said goodbye to the illustrious Boeing 737 forever. It will continue to operate a sole example (registered LN-RPJ) on behalf of the Norwegian military under a contract that expires in 2024. The retirement of the final Boeing 737 from commercial passenger services allows SAS to focus on aircraft from just one manufacturer in its mainline fleet. This fleet commonality will assist the airline as it claws its way back from bankruptcy protection resulting from spiralling costs and the drop in traffic due to the pandemic. The airline recently reported that investors had agreed to invest a $1.21 million cash injection into the airline to shore up its finances.
Starlab space station to boost European Space Agency ambitions in low-Earth orbit
The European Space Agency (ESA), Airbus Defence and Space and Voyager Space have signed a trilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at the ESA Space Summit in Seville, outlining their collaboration for the Starlab space station in the post-International Space Station era. The MoU outlines that the parties intend to commonly foster science and technology development and explore the potential for collaboration in conjunction with post-International Space Station low-Earth orbit (LEO) destinations. The collaboration will initially focus on, but is not limited to, exploring opportunities for sustained access to space for Europe through the Starlab space station. These could include:
- Access to the Starlab space station for ESA and its Member States, for astronaut missions and sustained long-term research activities as well as commercial business development.
- Contributions to research projects on upcoming missions, leveraging European technology across various fields, including (but not limited to) advanced robotics and automation / artificial intelligence and advancing European science priorities, such as health and life sciences.
- Establishment of a complete ‘end-to-end’ ecosystem comprising the Starlab space station as a low-Earth orbit destination and a potential ESA-developed European transportation system (cargo and crew), leveraging standardised interfaces in the interest of an open access policy.
This agreement reflects ESA’s ambition to enable a smooth transition from the International Space Station towards the sustained exploitation of human and robotic infrastructures in low-Earth orbit after 2030, including through commercial services. In the past, Airbus has supplied ESA with iconic spacecraft such as the International Space Station Columbus Module, all five Automated Transfer Vehicles (ATV) and, most recently the European Service Module (ESM) for Orion, Europe’s contribution to NASA’s Artemis missions back to the Moon.
In August 2023, Voyager and Airbus first announced an agreement to form a transatlantic joint venture to support a continuous human presence in low-Earth orbit and a seamless transition of microgravity science and research opportunities in the post-International Space Station era. Starlab is also expected to have a European affiliated joint venture to directly serve the European Space Agency and its member state space agencies.
Middle east aircraft dealer orders 10 lilium jets at Dubai airshow
ArcosJet has agreed to purchase 10 of Lilium’s eVTOL aircraft, which it will offer to private buyers in the Middle East. Last week, the Dubai-based aircraft broker became the German manufacturer’s first authorized dealer in the region for the all-electric Lilium Jet. Lilium expects the aircraft, which it will also offer in a six-passenger configuration, to enter service in 2026, offering a range of up to 175 km at speeds of 250 km/h. The partners signed the purchase agreement for 10 Lilium Jets in Dubai on Monday, and the deal remains subject to an undisclosed ‘commitment fee.’ ArcosJet is now Lilium’s fifth international dealership, joining a network that already includes EMC Jet in Texas, Volare Aviation in the UK, Air Dynamic in Switzerland and ASL Group in the Benelux countries. ArcosJet plans to take deliveries in 2026 and 2027.
ArcosJet founder and CEO Mikhail Alenkin expressed confidence that the aircraft will quickly find buyers and ‘lay the foundations for the development of sustainable air transport in the Middle East.’ The Dubai-based company has traded since 2014 and its main focus involves business aircraft transactions in the Middle East, Europe, Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States.
On 10 November, Lilium announced the extension of its partnership with InoBat, which will produce large volumes of battery cells for the Lilium Jet at factories in Slovakia. The company, which is partly owned by China’s Gotion High-Tech, is now building a second plant called Volta II that will serve as its first ‘gigafactory,’ generating up to four gigawatt hours of production capacity. Munich-based Lilium has invested in InoBat.
Last week, Michelin signed an agreement to design and produce tires for the Lilium Jet. The French company has supplied aircraft manufacturers for more than 100 years and expects to deliver the first tires to its new customer later this month. Lilium has begun assembling the first full-scale prototype and expects to start flight tests in 2024. “The Michelin tyre designed for the Lilium Jet is truly one of a kind and a major advancement in this critical aviation component,” said Sophie Bréchoire, president of Michelin’s aeronautic activities. “It marries the challenge of lightweight construction for eVTOL aircraft with the renowned quality and reliability of Michelin aircraft tyres.”
VoltAero’s intelligent mobile charger for the Cassio 330 makes its debut at the Dubai Airshow
A universal mobile charger for the Cassio family of electric-hybrid airplanes and other electric aircraft was unveiled by VoltAero at the Dubai Airshow. This intelligent charging unit is part of VoltAero’s strategy to create the infrastructure for its Cassio airplane family, which begins with the five-seat Cassio 330. The charger also will be offered for applications with other e-aircraft and eVTOLs. Capable of delivering energy to recharge the Cassio 330 in approximately 30 minutes, the charger uses a smart combination of supercapacitors and batteries for a power output of 100 kw. As part of the unit’s ‘intelligence,’ it can be programmed for autonomous deployment to a designated location at an airport or landing zone for aircraft recharging.
In addition to the intelligent charger unit’s world debut at the Dubai Airshow, the VoltAero display in the Dubai World Center includes Kawasaki Motors’ four-cylinder and six-cylinder internal combustion engines for the Cassio aircraft’s electric-hybrid propulsion module. These engines will be able to operate using hydrogen as a fuel, with VoltAero targeting a Cassio 330 electric-hydrogen demonstrator for 2025. VoltAero’s Cassio family will be a highly capable and reliable aircraft product line for regional commercial operators, air taxi / charter companies, private owners, as well as in utility-category service for cargo, postal delivery and medical evacuation (Medevac) applications.
By integrating VoltAero’s patented electric-hybrid propulsion system into the company’s purpose-designed airframe, Cassio will deliver an order of magnitude higher performance as compared to the current competition and provide significantly lower operational costs. The VoltAero propulsion concept is unique: Cassio aircraft will utilise an electric motor in the aft fuselage-mounted hybrid propulsion unit for all-electric power during taxi, take-off, primary flight (if the distance travelled is less than 150 km.), and landing. The hybrid feature, with the internal combustion engine comes into play as a range extender, recharging the batteries while in flight. Additionally, this hybrid element serves as a backup in the event of a problem with the electric propulsion, ensuring true fail-safe functionality.
Kookiejar becomes Eve’s 10th Urban ATM customer
The agreement comes as Kookiejar, along with its local partner Air Chateau, is preparing to showcase Dubai’s first state of the art vertiport hub facility with eight parking pads and a FATO at Al Maktoum Airport, Dubai South. Eve’s Urban ATM (Air Traffic Management) product has been adopted as part of Kookiejar and Air Chateau’s grand vision for Dubai. The vision is a phased implementation programme in which networks of vertiports will be connected via Eve’s Urban ATM system to support a safe and scaled Urban Air Mobility (UAM) operations that provides a path to commercialization in 2025-2026.
Eve has engaged Atech, Embraer’s Air Traffic Control technology and system integrator company, to support the development of the Urban ATM software solution. Eve is leveraging Atech’s experience in developing aviation-grade products for ATM systems in Brazil.
SAE: Tag us @SaudiExhibition
SAE: Tag us @saudiairportexhibition
SAE: Tag us @Saudi Airport Exhibition
SAE: Tag us @SaudiExhibition or retweet
Official hashtags: #SAE2023 #saudiairportexhibition
South Africa’s joint standing committee on defence views Milkor 380 UAV
On 20 November the Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD), one of the SA parliament’s two defence oversight committees, paid a visit to Milkor’s manufacturing facility in Cape Town as part of an official investigation of the capabilities of the unmanned system and discussions on future use by relevant state entities. Milkor said the growing interest in the Milkor 380, the largest UAV to be produced in Africa, comes at a time when the use of such systems is desperately needed among the South African defence and security clusters. The Milkor 380 is the largest drone built in Africa and it will be used by the defence industry for combat, border control, conservation efforts including to combat poaching.
Milkor’s group CEO, Phuti Jackson Mampa, elaborated on the official visit, stating: “We are pleased to see that the government, parliament and cabinet of the Republic of South Africa have shown their support for new developments within the defence sector. There are many applications where the Milkor 380 could play a vital role in enhancing operational capability and increasing the overall success of the various responsibilities that the SA National Defence Force, Border Management Authority and South African Police Service. Milkor remains committed to supporting the South African government and we are honoured to have the Joint Standing Committee on Defence showing interest in the locally developed and supported system.”
The Milkor 380 was unveiled some five years ago with successful taxi testing earlier this year. On 19 September 2023 Milkor’s UAV with an 18.6 metre wingspan and maximum take-off weight of 1300 kg conducted its maiden flight. Flight trials are set to continue for the rest of this year at Air Force Base Overberg and into the first quarter of next year. Specifically designed for long endurance intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) operations, the Milkor 380 can carry a 210 kg external payload, including weapons and sensors. The UAV has previously been seen at defence exhibitions with Al Tariq X-series precision guided munitions, Halcon Desert Sting DS-16 guided bombs, FZ602 laser-guided rocket launchers, an L3-Harris gimbal and Airborne Technologies’ self-contained aerial reconnaissance (SCAR) pod.
The drone is powered by a 135 horsepower, four-stroke, four-cylinder turbocharged Rotax 915iS engine that can keep the drone in the air for up to 35 hours. The power plant gives an expected service ceiling of just on 10 000 metres, a 250 km/h maximum speed and 150 km/h cruising speed. Five UAVs are in production at the company’s Cape Town manufacturing facility and set for delivery next year, including for service in South Africa.
About African Pilot
About African Pilot and Future Flight:
After 23 years there is no doubt that African Pilot provides the finest overall aviation media reach on the African continent and now in the world. Unlike many other aviation magazines, all African Pilot’s and Future Flight’s monthly editions are easily read on any digital device including smart phone.
Our team is positioned to provide professional video and stills photography, website development, social media platforms, company newsletters as well as several other important media services to customers.
The two monthly magazines are available as a digital edition where ALL advertisers enjoy the direct routing to their websites at a touch on a smart phone or tablet as well as a click of the mouse on a computer screen or tap on any smart phone device.
This twice weekly APAnews service has been part of African Pilot’s line-up since the inception of the magazine 23 years ago.
African Pilot is the third best English language aviation magazine in the top ten magazines in the world: https://blog.feedspot.com/aviation_magazines/
Twice Weekly News from African Pilot
Should you miss out on any edition of APAnews, please visit the website: www.africanpilot.co.za and click on the APAnews link on the front page. All past weekly APAnews publications have been archived on the website.