“Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.” Alexis de Tocqueville
Convair Model 48 Charger
(Information from Wikipedia)
The Convair Model 48 Charger was a prototype light attack and observation aircraft of the 1960s, developed to meet a requirement for a dedicated counterinsurgency (COIN) aircraft. It was a two-seat, twin-boom aircraft powered by two turboprop engines which lost out to the North American Rockwell OV-10 Bronco of similar layout. Only the single prototype Model 48 was built and this turned out to be the final complete aircraft constructed by Convair.
In 1959, two United States Marine Corps officers developed the concept of a small low-cost aircraft capable of providing close air support to the US Marines, capable of operating from roads close to the battlefield, the concept being known as the Light Marine Attack Aircraft (L2VMA). As interest in such an aircraft grew, with interest from the US Army for a similar type, the Convair Division of General Dynamics started studies into counter-insurgency aircraft in 1961. In 1963, the various requirements were merged into a tri-service specification for a Light Armed Reconnaissance Aircraft (LARA), to be used not just by the US Marines and Army, but also by the United States Air Force for counterinsurgency and forward air control roles and to be available for export.
The specification produced responses from nine manufacturers, including Convair, who submitted its Model 48 Charger in March 1964. The Model 48 was a twin-boom monoplane, constructed mainly from aluminium, with fiberglass nose, rear fuselage and wingtips, with a retractable nosewheel undercarriage. It was powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 (military designation T74), driving three bladed propellers. Its wings were of relatively short (27 ft 6 in / 8.38 m) span, which meant that most of the wing was in the slipstream of the propellers, increasing the effectiveness of the full-span trailing-edge slotted flaps and leading-edge slats inboard of the engines, which together acted to deflect the slipstream, giving a form of vectored thrust, in order to reduce take-off and landing distances. The outer trailing-edge flaps doubled as ailerons, which were supplemented by spoilers at low speed. The aircraft was fitted with a large, all-moving tailplane which attached to the vertical fins located at the ends of the tail booms, with the tailplane having somewhat greater span (20 ft / 6.1 m) than the distance between the tail booms.
Pilot and observer sat in tandem under a sliding canopy, while the rear fuselage held a cargo bay with a hinged tail cone capable of carrying 2,000 lb (910 kg) of cargo, which could include a complete PT6 engine, or five paratroopers, in extremely cramped conditions, with a sixth paratrooper in the observer’s seat. Four 7.62 mm machine guns were mounted in pods on the side of the fuselage, while 2,000 lb (910 kg) of external stores, including bombs, rockets and gun pods, could be carried on hardpoints under the wings and fuselage. To meet the specification’s requirements for amphibious operations, it could be fitted with two large floats.
Convair started construction of a prototype as a private venture before a winner of the LARA competition was announced. In August 1964, the US Navy announced North American Aviation’s design, the NA-300 (later to become the OV-10 Bronco) as the winner of the LARA competition. The US Marine Corps and US Air Force favoured the Charger and protested against the US Navy’s decision and Convair continued construction of its prototype, which made its maiden flight on 25 November 1964. After initial flight tests, the Charger was modified with an increased wingspan and modified tail to improve low-speed control. The Charger demonstrated excellent STOL capability, taking off over a 50 ft (15 m) obstacle in 485 ft (148 m) with a normal payload. This was better both than the LARA specifications requirement of 800 ft (244 m) and the Bronco.
The Charger was awarded a 100-hour joint service flight test contract where the prototype would be flown by representatives of the US Navy, Marine Corps, Army and Air Force. If orders followed, it was planned to build the production aircraft with a deeper and longer fuselage allowing full dual controls to be fitted. However, the prototype crashed on its 196th test flight on 19 October 1965, owing to pilot error by its US Navy test pilot and further development was abandoned.
This week several incorrect answers named this aircraft the North American OV-10 Bronco
Those persons who correctly identified this week’s mystery aircraft:
Brian Millett, Bernard Stander, Richard Willemse, Craig Brent, Ari Levien, Wouter van der Waal, Bruce Margolius, Andre Visser, Pierre Brittz, Willie Oosthuizen, Charlie Hugo, Colin Austen, Jeremy Rorich, Adrian Maree, Kevin Farr, Righardt du Plessis, Rennie van Zyl, Karl Jensen, John Skinner, Pete Doig, Ret Orsmond, P. Rossouw, Selwyn Kimber, Ahmed Bassa, Danie Viljoen, Andre Breytenbach, John Moen, Hilton Carroll, Sam Basch, Piet Steyn, Johan Venter, Lance Williams, Barry Eatwell, Sibusiso Nkabinde, Clint Futter, Aiden O’Mahony, Andrew Peace, Brian Melmoth, Dave Lloyd, Jan Sime, (40).
PilotInsure aviation safety meeting at Wonderboom
On Tuesday evening I attended the PilotInsure aviation safety symposium that was very well organised and attracted more than 170 people, mostly students from the various flying schools situated at the airport. Apart from generous prizes, the lure to hear the four expert speakers were the FREE pizzas offered by the host restaurant Villa San Giovani. Congratulations to David Le Roux and his assistants for pulling off what was an excellent evening that was certainly appreciated by all the persons that attended. African Pilot will publish the full feature with pictures and a video in the January 2024 edition of the magazine.
The new style 247-page December 2023 edition with 13 videos and three picture galleries was sent to the world on the morning of 1 December. This edition features the lesser-known regional airports in and around Gauteng. These include Baragwaneth, Brakpan, Brits, Eagles Creek, Kitty Hawk, Krugersdorp, Panaroma, Petit, Rhino Park (now Legend Sky), Springs and Tedderfield. This edition also includes the spectacular SACAA Aviation Industry Awards and the Dubai Airshow.
Every month, 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 Fact File as well as a Historical feature. 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 December 2023 edition’s main feature will feature the lesser-known regional airports in and around Gauteng. These will include Baragwaneth, Brakpan, Brits, Eagles Creek, Kitty Hawk, Krugersdorp, Panaroma, Petit, Rhino Park (now Legend Sky), Springs and Tedderfield. If your airfield is not included in this list, then please contact me and I will endeavour to include your airfield.
This edition will also include the spectacular SACAA Aviation Industry Awards and the Dubai Airshow. Every month, 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 January 2024 edition is on Friday 8 December 2023. This is far earlier than usual so that the magazine can be published before the festive season.
All editorial content should be sent to me Athol Franz
For advertising opportunities please call Cell: 079 880 4359
The fifteenth 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. Thank you.
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
New Airlink jet service to power Richards Bay route
Airlink, Southern Africa’s independent premier airline is boosting its Johannesburg-Richards Bay service with the introduction of jetliner flights on the route. The enhanced service, which commences immediately, will see a significant increase in capacity with the introduction of Airlink’s comfortable, quiet and reliable 74-seat Embraer E170 jetliners replacing the 29-seat Jetstream 41 turboprop aircraft. With the introduction of a jet service, flight time on the route is reduced by up to 30 minutes.
“Richards Bay is crucial to South Africa’s economy and it requires reliable and efficient air services, like Airlink’s, to connect the city’s businesses and those dependant on it with other markets and economic centres. We are also keeping the promise we made to our partners, the City of uMhlathuze and the KwaZulu-Natal government, to deploy larger aircraft on the route once there was sufficient demand,” said Airlink CEO and Managing Director, Rodger Foster.
8 & 9 December
SACAA ICAD annual airshow Bisho
Contact Noel Godwin E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 082 414 7702
FAPE Open Day and fly-in 09h00 to 14h00
Port Elizabeth General Aviation area
Piper Archer II hits car during emergency landing on highway
At about 10h32 on Tuesday 28 November, the Brooklyn Park Fire Department and Police Department responded to a call about a plane crash. Inspector and Public Information Officer for the BPPD Elliot Faust told reporters in a post-crash press conference that the plane was on approach to the Crystal Airport (MI41) when it lost power. The pilot radioed in an emergency, planning to land on the highway roughly 2.5 miles northwest of the airport. The pilot made the emergency landing, striking powerlines as it descended and collided with a passing vehicle on the ground.
According to the BPPD, the 23-year-old pilot was flying solo and treated for minor injuries at the scene, while the 32-year-old driver of the car was taken to a local hospital, also with minor injuries. The plane involved has been reported as a Piper Cherokee, but according to the N number it is registered through the FAA as a PA-28-181, a Piper Archer II, a variant derived from the earlier Cherokee models. The FAA registry lists the plane as a fixed wing single-engine, manufactured in 1980, registered to Thunderbird Aircraft.
EGYPTAIR and Airbus sign order for ten A350-900s
Once added to the fleet, the A350-900s will provide EGYPTAIR with 25% less fuel burn and, in turn, reduced emissions, while passengers enjoy the comfort of the Airbus AirSpace cabin, including a feeling of true spaciousness, wide seats, high ceilings and alluring ambient lighting. The signing took place in the presence of EGYPTAIR’s Chairman and CEO, Engineer Yehia Zakaria and Airbus Chief Commercial Officer and Head of International, Christian Scherer.
Vmo Aircraft Leasing completes sale-and-leaseback of 737 MAX 8 aircraft
Vmo Aircraft Leasing (Vmo), a global full-service lessor, has announced the successful execution of a sale-and-leaseback transaction for one Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft with Latvia-based operator SmartLynx Airlines (SmartLynx). The aircraft was delivered to the airline in late October. Vmo Aircraft Leasing is a global commercial aircraft lessor operating through offices in Dublin, San Francisco and Singapore. The company was launched in January 2021 by a team of aviation industry veterans.
US Air Force awards Boeing additional KC-46A tanker contract
Boeing will build an additional 15 KC-46A Pegasus tankers under a Lot 10 contract awarded by the US Air Force valued at US$2.3 billion (£1.8 billion). To date 153 KC-46A multi-mission aerial refuelers are on contract globally, providing advanced capability advantages for the joint force and allies. With a supplier network of about 37,000 American workers employed by more than 650 businesses throughout more than 40 US states, the combat-proven KC-46A is transforming the role of the tanker for the 21st century. From aerial refuelling, cargo and passenger transportation, aeromedical evacuation support and data connectivity at the tactical edge, the KC-46A Pegasus has already been called a ‘game changer’ for its ability to transmit and exchange data, enabling rapid air mobility, global reach and Agile Combat Employment.
Earlier this year, the US Air Force awarded Boeing a Block 1 upgrade contract, adding more advanced communications capabilities to enhance the aircraft’s data connectivity and situational awareness. To date, Boeing has delivered 76 KC-46As to the US Air Force and two to the Japan Air Self-Defence Force.
South Korea decides on C-390 Millennium aircraft
South Korea’s Defence Acquisition Programme Administration (DAPA) has announced Embraer’s C-390 Millennium as the winner of the Large Transport Aircraft (LTA) II public tender to provide the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) with new military transport aircraft. South Korea is the C-390 Millennium’s first customer in Asia. Under the signed contract, Embraer will provide an undisclosed number of C-390 Millennium aircraft specially configured to meet ROKAF’s requirements, as well as services & support including training, ground support equipment and spare parts. The value of the contract will be included in Embraer’s backlog in the fourth quarter of 2023. Embraer will also provide a comprehensive consortium and offset package including a significant amount of C-390 Millennium parts to be locally manufactured by Korean partner companies and the development of a local Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) provider.
South Korea is the seventh nation to select the C-390 after Brazil, Portugal, Hungary, the Netherlands, Austria and the Czech Republic. The C-390 is redefining military airlift and challenging the thinking behind current and future generation platforms, with multi-mission capability, reliability and interoperability built by design. Since entering operation with the Brazilian Air Force in 2019 and most recently with the Portuguese Air Force in 2023, the C-390 has proven its capacity, reliability, and performance. The current fleet of aircraft in operation has accumulated more than 10,800 flight hours, with operational availability of around 80% and mission completion rates above 99%, demonstrating exceptional productivity in the category.
Airbus to make Eurofighter fit for electronic combat
The Eurofighter EK (Electronic Combat) is coming. Following the recent parliamentary approval by the German budget committee, Airbus will equip 15 German Eurofighters for electronic combat and equip them with a transmitter location and self-protection system from Saab, as well as ‘AARGM’ anti-radar missiles from the American company Northrop Grumman. The Eurofighter EK is to be NATO-certified by 2030 and will then replace the Tornado in the SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defence) role.
With the parliamentary approval by the Budget Committee, the Eurofighter is now officially set as the successor to the Tornado ECR (Electronic Combat / Reconnaissance). Airbus is now looking forward to the official order to integrate the selected technical solutions into the Eurofighter. The corresponding contract between Eurofighter GmbH, as prime contractor and NETMA (NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency) is expected to be signed before the end of the year.
With Saab’s transmitter location system and the Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM) from Northrop Grumman, the Eurofighter EK will be able to detect, localise and disable anti-aircraft radars. In addition, the Saab solution has jammers that improve the Eurofighter’s self-protection. The Eurofighter EK also has technologies on board that were developed by small and medium-sized enterprises and a start-up. These include an AI solution that makes it possible to analyse radar data on-board and quickly determine precise self-protection measures. Airbus is currently working with the BAAINBw procurement office, the German Air Force and the Bundeswehr Aviation Office on a detailed schedule for the implementation of the selected EK solutions in 15 Eurofighters.
USAF and Boeing could not agree on the E-4B replacement’s contract terms and data rights
Boeing is no longer in the running to build the US Air Force’s E-4B Nightwatch ‘Doomsday’ plane replacement, leaving Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) as the only known remaining competitor. In a statement a company spokesperson confirmed that the aerospace giant’s bid is no longer under consideration by the US Air Force. “We are approaching all new contract opportunities with added discipline to ensure we can meet our commitments and support the long-term health of our business. We remain confident our E-4B replacement approach is the most comprehensive, technically mature and lowest-risk solution for the customer and Boeing,” the Boeing spokesperson said. “Our proposal is based on 60 years of military commercial derivative aircraft knowledge and experience including the design, development and sustainment of the E-4B Nightwatch, which currently serves the national security command and control mission,” they added.
According to Reuters, Boeing and the US Air Force could not reach an agreement on data rights or contract terms. Boeing executives have refused to sign any new fixed-price development contracts after the company has suffered billions of dollars in losses in recent years. In the third quarter of 2023 alone, Boeing logged nearly $1 billion in charges for its defence division. In a statement, an Air Force spokesperson said, “We cannot discuss an active source selection and detailed programme information is classified in order to protect our investment in this critical capability.”
Boeing is the builder of the current E-4B, a modified 747, which serves as the Defence Secretary’s primary mode of transportation but can also act as an airborne command center in the event of a national emergency like a nuclear attack. The aircraft is also known as the Survivable Airborne Operations Center, or SAOC and four of the jets are currently in the service’s inventory.
The Air Force’s fiscal 2024 budget rollout earlier this year showed a massive jump in funding for the SAOC replacement effort, with approximately $889 million for the upcoming fiscal year alone as the service moves toward a contract award. The award is expected in 2024, with SNC now the only public competitor still vying to win it.
Boeing is not alone in its opposition to fixed-price development contracts. L3Harris Chief Executive Officer Chris Kubasik, for example, has vowed that his company will refuse to sign contracts with such terms. Negotiations between industry and the government on data rights are often sticking points for programmes, which the government usually seeks to enable service-led maintenance. Boeing’s sustainment arm that services both commercial and defence contracts, called Boeing Global Services, is typically a bright spot in the company’s earnings, posting a profit of $784 million in Q3 of this year.
Porter Airlines expands fleet with 25 new Embraer E195-E2 jets
Porter Airlines has exercised its purchase rights to secure a firm order for 25 Embraer E195-E2 passenger jets, supplementing its existing 50 firm orders. The North American carrier plans to utilise these new aircraft to expand its renowned service to various destinations across North America. Valued at US$2.1 billion (£1.66 billion) at list price, this deal will be incorporated into the Q4 backlog, bringing Porter’s total orders with Embraer to 75 firm, with 25 purchase rights still available.
As the North American launch customer for Embraer’s E195-E2, Porter has already received 24 of these jets and recently unveiled plans for new destinations, including Las Vegas, Miami, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, with additional destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean on the horizon. The E195-E2s are currently deployed from Eastern Canada, with a primary focus on Toronto Pearson International Airport and Ottawa. New services with the E195-E2 have also been introduced in Halifax and Montreal. Porter has chosen to configure the 146-seat-capable aircraft in a comfortable 132-seat all-economy layout, offering various seat pitches of 36, 34 and 30 inches.
Bombardier loses Canadian patrol aircraft bid to Boeing
Bombardier’s hopes to supply the Canadian military with a multi-mission / anti-submarine version of the Global 6500 were dashed when the Canadian government announced its decision to award a contract to Boeing for the P-8A Poseidon to satisfy the Canadian Multi-Mission Aircraft (CMMA) requirement. The Canadian airframer had partnered with defence contractor General Dynamics Mission Systems-Canada to develop a special mission entry to the CMMA procurement based on the ultra-long-range business jet, intended for export as well as domestic use.
Earlier this year, Bombardier called on the Canadian government to open a fair and competitive procurement for its plan to replace the Royal Canadian Air Force’s Lockheed CP-140 Aurora maritime patrol aircraft, which are slated to be retired in the early 2030s. At the time, Canada had already shown interest in acquiring the P-8, which is based on the Boeing 737-800 in the form of a letter of request, noting, ‘The government has determined that the P-8A Poseidon is the only currently available aircraft that meets all of the CMMA operational requirements.’ In a statement released yesterday, Bombardier expressed its disappointment in the decision and claimed it was never allowed to fully demonstrate its offering.
The contract is for up to 16 P-8As with the first delivery slated for 2026. It will mark Canada as the fifth NATO nation to operate the Poseidon and the ninth overall. According to Boeing, the deal will benefit hundreds of Canadian companies that participate in the aircraft’s supply chain and an independent study by Ottawa-based Doyletech Corp. predicted that the P-8 acquisition will generate nearly 3,000 jobs and $358 million annually in economic output for the nation.
Rolls-Royce to exit electric propulsion to focus on core business areas
The move was announced by the engine maker’s CEO, Tufan Erginbilgic, during the firm’s annual Capital Markets Day on 28 November 2023. The sale of the electric business division could bring in between £1 and £1.5 billion to Rolls-Royce coffers. In this regard, Rolls-Royce is betting on sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) as the main driver of decarbonisation for the aviation industry. All of Rolls-Royce’s in-production engine types will be able to run on 100% SAF.
The engine maker is optimistic about its new UltraFan, an improved efficiency engine technology which was successfully tested earlier in 2023. Rolls-Royce expects UltraFan engines to power both widebody and narrowbody aircraft in the future. Rolls-Royce also noted that it sees opportunities in the executive aviation segment and is targeting 8-9% growth in Pearl engine deliveries.
Rolls-Royce is currently in the middle of a restructuring programme to turn itself around and boost profitability. The pandemic had a strong impact on the engine maker, as the company’s service revenues depend heavily on the number of hours engines are in use. Erginbilgic said he expected the group to increase its profits to the £2.5-2.8 billion range, up from the £0.65 billion profit it reported in 2022. The civilian aerospace division is expected to make the largest contribution to this turnaround and reach profit margins of 15 to 17% by 2027 (compared to the group’s goal of 13-15%), up from the meagre 2.5% it reported for the last fiscal year.
Hamburg Airport joins international ‘Hydrogen Hub at Airport’ network
Hamburg Airport has become the first German and the 12th member of the international ‘Hydrogen Hub at Airport’ network, to promote the further expansion of hydrogen infrastructure in aviation. The network’s membership already includes members from the airports, airlines and energy sectors in 11 countries including France, the USA, UK, Singapore, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand. The aim of the international network is to research, develop and expand the infrastructure for the use of hydrogen.
“We welcome Hamburg Airport as the latest ‘Hydrogen Hub at Airport’ member. Hamburg Airport’s expertise in Hydrogen will be an invaluable asset in our ZEROe Ecosystem journey to build a future where aviation will be powered by decarbonised hydrogen. The journey to prepare airport infrastructure to support hydrogen and low carbon aviation begins on the ground with these partnerships. The growing involvement of airports worldwide, including Hamburg Airport, in Airbus’ ‘Hydrogen Hub at Airport’ concept will be key to deploying hydrogen-powered aircraft by 2035,” said Karine Guénan, Vice President ZEROe Hydrogen Ecosystem.
The use of hydrogen to power future aircraft should not only significantly reduce emissions in the air, but also contribute to the decarbonisation of aviation infrastructure on the ground. In 2020, Airbus launched the Hydrogen Hub at Airports programme to drive research into infrastructure requirements and low-carbon airport operations across the value chain. The cooperation in Hamburg includes Linde as well, a leading global industrial gases and engineering company.
Airbus presented its ZEROe concept aircraft in 2020 and the development of the corresponding technology building blocks is now being driven forward in a global R&T network focussing on the development of hydrogen technology for future commercial aircraft.
Saudi Arabia Military Industries joins forces with Embraer on defence cooperation
Last week Saudi Arabia Military Industries (SAMI) announced plans to join forces with Brazilian defence giant Embraer to cooperate in the defence and security related aerospace sector, including on Embraer’s signature C-390 transporter. In the Embraer announcement, the company said the agreement aims ‘towards expanding the operational footprint of both companies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with a focus on promoting the capabilities of the C-390 Millennium aircraft and delivering support to the kingdom’s Ministry of Defence,’ the firm said in a statement.
It’s not the first sign that there is interest in the C-390 from the Saudis. In July 2022, Embraer and BAE Systems signed a Memorandum of Understanding to help push C-390 transport aircraft in KSA. However, no deal has yet come from that and the Saudis continue to rely on its fleet of US-made C-130H /J military transporters. A major emphasis of the Embraer statement is that it will help to establish a maintenance facility for Embraer aircraft in the Kingdom. This aligns with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, which pushes to localize 50 percent of defence production in the Kingdom and that has been evident so far through maintenance and integration works. The firm’s statement added that ‘both companies will explore a Regional MRO Hub and a final assembly line for the Embraer C-390, as well as a mission system integration in the Kingdom. Furthermore, SAMI and Embraer will engage in training activities, which will enable the opening of new opportunities for both companies across the aerospace sector in the Kingdom and the region.’
Honeywell launches Darwin single-pilot AI project
Honeywell is leading research into the application of artificial intelligence (AI) to support single-pilot operations under a European Union SESAR 3 Joint Undertaking project. According to Honeywell, the goal is to ‘develop AI-powered digital assistants and a human-AI collaboration framework to support both extended minimum-crew operations and single-pilot operations, ensuring the same (or higher) level of safety and same (or lower) workload as operations with a full crew today.’ The Digital Assistants for Reducing Workload and Increasing collaboration (Darwin) project includes partners Pipistrel, Germany’s DLR research institute, Eurocontrol, EASA and Slovenia Control. The research will be undertaken at Honeywell’s Brno, Czech Republic development center.
Darwin will use human-AI teaming to address key challenges for single-pilot operations in air transport-category aircraft, including ‘the need to keep cockpit workload sufficiently low to allow one person to address even the most demanding situations; the need to replace the second pair of eyes to cross-check actions of the pilot in command and the need to detect and mitigate a pilot incapacitation.’
“This project lays a solid foundation for the future of AI and AI-human collaboration in Honeywell avionics,” said Andrew Barker, VP of integrated avionics at Honeywell Aerospace. “We must focus our efforts in these areas to ensure proper baselines are established for the future of minimum-crew operations.”
Airbus starts Galileo second-generation satellite production
Full production has begun on the six Galileo Second Generation (G2) satellites at Airbus’ site in Friedrichshafen, Germany, with the arrival of the first satellite Flight Model structure from Beyond Gravity in Zurich. After initial preparation the panels will be dispatched to other Airbus sites before final integration and testing at Friedrichshafen. The Galileo G2 satellites are scheduled for launch in the coming years to support the initial deployment and validation of the G2 System.
To meet the demanding schedule to deliver all six satellites in less than two years, Airbus has developed a coordinated production programme to leverage the spacecraft manufacturing, integration, and testing expertise across Airbus sites including Backnang (near Stuttgart), Friedrichshafen, Madrid, Ottobrunn (near Munich) and Toulouse. The second satellite structure is due to arrive in early 2024 and the third towards the end of next year. Airbus’ modular approach to the manufacturing of the G2 satellites will see three spacecraft being produced in parallel at any one time.
The G2 satellites will incorporate enhanced navigation antennas which will help improve accuracy of the flagship European Global Navigation Satellite System. The spacecraft, equipped with electric propulsion for the first time and higher-strength navigation antennas, will also feature fully digital payloads which will be easily reconfigured in orbit, enabling them to actively respond to the evolving needs of users with novel signals and services.
The satellites, which benefit from Airbus’ heritage of the highly reliable Eurostar series of telecommunications satellites, will also incorporate six (rather than four) enhanced atomic clocks as well as inter-satellite links, enabling them to communicate and cross-check with one another. This is intended to offer decimetre-scale precision positioning for users around the world. They will be controllable with an increased data rate to and from the ground and equipped with advanced jamming and spoofing protection mechanisms to safeguard Galileo signals. The spacecraft will operate in orbit for 15 years. The Full Operational Capability phase of the Galileo programme is managed and funded by the European Union. The European Commission and ESA have signed an agreement by which ESA acts as design authority and system development prime on behalf of the Commission.
Lilium receives EASA Design Organisation Approval
Developer of the first all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) jet Lilium has received Design Organisation Approval from its primary regulatory authority, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The award marks a major milestone for Lilium, positioning it at the forefront of the industry as a company authorised to hold a type-certificate for an eVTOL aircraft in Europe.
Design Organisation Approval reflects a seal of quality assurance for companies in aviation design, formally acknowledging a company’s ability to design and develop safe and compliant aircraft. This major achievement in the development of the revolutionary Lilium Jet reflects the culmination of an extensive qualification process dating back to 2017. Receiving Design Organisation Approval is a core requirement for any commercial aircraft manufacturer.
Klaus Roewe, Lilium CEO, commented: “In many respects, this announcement marks a cornerstone for Lilium and evidences our market leadership in advancing the aviation industry. Achieving Design Organisation Approval reflects EASA’s confidence in Lilium and differentiates us against others currently pursuing eVTOL development and regulatory approval. While we join a small, select group of companies qualified to develop commercial aircraft, this announcement is especially significant for the global aviation industry as we are doing so by advancing sustainable regional air mobility. I appreciate the many Lilians and countless stakeholders who have played a pivotal role in us achieving this milestone and we look forward to further advancements toward the commercialisation of the Lilium Jet. I would like to thank our counterparts at EASA for their professional cooperation, which I believe will continue to be very beneficial for the industry moving forward.”
Alastair McIntosh, Lilium Chief Technology Officer and Head of Design Organisation, said: “In simple terms, the Design Organisation Approval is our licence to operate and confirms that Lilium has the organisation, procedures, competencies, resources and demonstrated rigour required to design and certify aircraft according to the very highest safety standards. This pays great tribute to our team at Lilium. Receiving Design Organisation Approval from EASA further motivates us on our path to commercialise the revolutionary Lilium Jet.”
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Airbus signs contract with the Spanish Ministry of Defence for the acquisition of SIRTAP UAS
Airbus has signed a contract with the Spanish Ministry of Defence for the development and acquisition of SIRTAP, a High Performance Tactical UAS that will reinforce the tactical capabilities of the Spanish Army and the Air and Space Force. This contract includes a total of nine systems, each consisting of three unmanned aerial vehicles and one ground control station. Furthermore, two simulators will be supplied to train the Spanish Armed Forces.
“This new technological milestone in the tactical UAS segment together with the Spanish Ministry of Defence, will reinforce national sovereignty. SIRTAP will be fully developed in Spain, integrating national capabilities. However, thanks to its versatility and the use of ITAR-free components, we also expect it to play a key role on the international market,” said Jean-Brice Dumont, Head of Military Air Systems at Airbus Defence and Space.
With a payload of more than 150kgs, SIRTAP has been designed for advanced surveillance, intelligence and reconnaissance missions, both over land and at sea. A range of more than 2,000km and an endurance of more than 20 hours will provide high flexibility and reactivity, allowing for day and night operations in the most demanding environments. The system will be certified to fly in segregated airspace. In the future, this tactical UAS will be able to operate jointly with other platforms to be integrated into a system of systems. The development of SIRTAP will bring the national industry key experience and competences in the field of Remote Carriers for FCAS. First flight of the SIRTAP prototype is expected to take place in 2025.
South African UAV or security and other missions unveiled
South African company Aquila Viour has designed and manufactured a rugged new unmanned helicopter for security and other missions. Demonstrated at the recent DCD Protected Mobility demo day, the Alto unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was fitted with Global Command and Control Technologies’ Chaka command and control system, Rajant Corporation communications system as well as a camera. However, it is payload agnostic and can accommodate a variety of payloads, the current version can carry three kg (the aircraft weighs eight kg empty), but future versions will be able to carry five and 15 kg payloads ranging from electro-optical gimbals to synthetic aperture radar. Optional equipment includes a terrain following sensor, laser radar (LIDAR), anti-jam GPS, ADS-B transponder and collision avoidance system.
Aquila Viour (Eagle Eye) Director Leon Labuschagne said the Alto is designed to fit between low- and high-end UAVs and has lots of applications in the mining, police, private security and defence sectors, with one customer looking to use it for patrolling game reserves, whilst the SA Navy is interested in using it at night for detecting divers and boats. Other possible uses are stringing ropes across a river, delivering medical supplies, demining with a ground penetrating radar etc. The UAV can land on boats / ships, giving it a maritime application. The drone can operate autonomously after receiving its flight plan or can patrol areas of interest. By using the latest advances in artificial intelligence, robotics, image processing and synthetic aperture radar techniques, targets can be located and identified in challenging environments, for example in dense bush or search and rescue over land and sea.
The Alto’s airframe is made from carbon fibre and as such has been designed for harsh African conditions. A Japanese-built two stroke piston petrol engine was chosen as its power plant as this allows for longer endurance than electric motors. Endurance is more than two hours and range 15-20 km. Cruise speed is 54 km/h and maximum speed 90 km/h, with maximum altitude 3 000 metres. According to Aquila Viour, the Alto has favourable operating costs, R85 per hour compared to R140-150 for a comparable DJI UAV.
The company claims a noise level of below 90 decibels, making the Alto practically undetectable for sound and sight from the ground when flying at heights over 500 metres (noise can be reduced to 38 decibels with an optional muffler). As a true helicopter rather than a multicopter, Aquila Viour says it can operate in gale force wing up to eight on the Beaufort Wind Scale (62-74 km/h). Aquila Viour was established last year, but the Alto has been in development for about five years. Manufacturing is taking place at the company’s facilities at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Pretoria. The Alto was in 2022 recognised by the Department of Trade and Industry as an innovation participant for applications in the fields of reconnaissance and surveillance.
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