“Government cannot make us equal; it can only recognize, respect and protect us as equal before the law. That affirmative action programmes may have been motivated, in part, by good intentions cannot provide refuge from the principle that under our Constitution, the government may not make distinctions on the basis of race.” Justice Clarence Thomas
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 email@example.com. I will publish the names of those that identified the aircraft correctly within the Thursday edition of APAnews.
Gauteng’s regional airports feature
For the second time within the December 2023 edition we published features on eleven of the airports within the Gauteng region and frankly I was rather disappointed at the lack of enthusiasm of the management / owners of some of these airports. In order to correct this situation, I have written to all the persons with whom we made contact to send them the magazine with this feature so that we can start the research process much earlier next year and provide time for the various clubs and commercial operations at these airports to prepare for the same feature to be published within the December 2024 edition. The initial double page spread will be FREE of charge and thereafter we will charge R5000 for each additional double page spread. This means that the various committees and manager of these regional airports will have plenty of time to prepare excellent exposure for their members within African Pilot.
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 will be delayed to Thursday 14 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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
Tense seconds: Heart-pounding close call
ICAD 23 in Bisho rained out
Text and pictures by Brian Emmenis
“Departing to prep for our journey from Bisho back to our home base in Welkom. Since Thursday we have been deployed to this region for ICAD 23. The organisers really went to a huge effort to bring thousands of learners from this area to the airport and brief the learners on a future in aviation. We provided all the outside sound which covered a large area of this massive airport. Our broadcast was done in Xhosa and we only played Ethnic music much to the delight of the learners. Capital’s Elvis MANENE was in top form doing all the presentation in fluent Xhosa. He hails from our development programme. Sadly the weather was horrific and it poured with rain.
Col. Rob Siegrist brought a Pilatus Porter from the Police Air Wing with members of the SAPS Task Force. Major Corrie Oberholzer brought the BK 117 and Andrew Blackwood Murray popped in with his Extra. This was all on Friday when the weather was still flyable. However, sadly on Saturday rained and only the BK could undertake a display under special rules and Corrie once again showed he is a master at displaying the BK 117. All the other participants were at Wings Park waiting to be called in to display. The PC-6 remained inside the SAPS Air Wing Hangar. Rickus Erasmus and Noel Godwin had to do some quick thinking to provide some sort of flying. 15 Squadron C Flight did the honours.
Great to have seen Maj Gen Mac Matanda who introduced his lovely daughter to us who is enrolled for her commercial licence at Border Aviation Club. Her proud father is second in command of the SAAF. The Minister of Transport along with the Premier of the Easten Cape were present. Also at the event was the Head of the SACAA Poppy Mhlungu-Khoza who as always was beautifully dressed. Her team were very well represented along with all other major stakeholders in aviation. It was very sad that the rain interrupted what was scheduled to be a well organised event. Well done to Sean Mark Harris who joins us as a producer and Mark Kelbrick who was the safety director for ASSA. For all of us it was an honour to have been part of ICAD. Capital Sounds has been the host broadcaster at every one of the ICAD events right around South Africa.
Editor comments: There was a stage that I wanted to travel to Bisho to cover this the final airshow of the 2023 calendar year, but fortunately I stayed at home. Personally I am very sorry for those persons who placed plenty of effort to provide the much need aviation experience to the people of the region, especially the children that this airshow was washed out. Thank you, Brian, for your report.
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.
9 & 20 December
Saudi Airport Exhibition Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center
Contact Stephanie Ramos E-mail: email@example.com Cell: +971 50 395 2025
Aviation events 2024
EAA Chapter 322 monthly gathering at Tedderfield Air Park
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
EAA Chapter 322 monthly gathering at EAA Auditorium
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: email@example.com
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
26 to 29 February
HAI Heli-Expo Anaheim Convention Centre, California, USA
EAA Chapter 322 monthly gathering at EAA Auditorium
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
SAA Museum Society Specialised Tour limited to nine adults
Contact E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 076 879 5044
DCA Industry Roadshow Stellenbosch, Cape Town
Contact Ms Charmaine Shibambo E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
8 to 10 March
Aero Club Airweek venue Middleburg airfield
Contact Sandra Strydom E-mail: email@example.com Tel: 011 082 1100
DCA Industry Roadshow Mangaung, Free State
Contact Ms Charmaine Shibambo E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
EAA Chapter 322 fly-in breakfast to Brits airfield
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: email@example.com
22 & 23 March
Stellenbosch airshow – Fashkosh
Contact Anton Theart E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 079 873 4567
Crop duster buzzes highway to avoid power line
This is an excerpt from a report made to the Aviation Safety Reporting System. The narrative is written by the pilot, rather than FAA or NTSB officials. To maintain anonymity, many details, such as aircraft model or airport, are often scrubbed from the reports. “I was in the process of aerial application and was forced to cross a highway at low altitude because of aircraft weight and a cross-country power line. I was coming south toward the highway and the power line spraying corn. As I approached the highway and wires, I realized that I could not make it up and over the wire without hitting it. I saw that there was sufficient room to go under the wire and avoid a wire strike and accident. In doing so I had to cross in front of traffic on the highway at low altitude and a lot closer than I wanted to. Once I knew I couldn’t make it over the wire, I was watching traffic and started a left turn to avoid the highway traffic and get to a better place to pass under the power lines. Another contributing factor to this event is heavy haze in the area from the wildfire smoke. Because of the haze, depth perception with the power lines was off and they blended in with the haze in the area. After this event I started pulling up a lot farther in advance and I am trying to avoid this situation ever happening again.
US Military grounds all V-22 Ospreys
On 6 December the US military announced yesterday that all V-22 Osprey tiltrotors would be grounded as a result of the preliminary investigation into the US Air Force aircraft that crashed off the coast of Japan last week, killing all eight crew members. Investigators found evidence of material failure in the debris recovered from the water. In conjunction with Japan grounding its 14 Ospreys last week, the US grounding covers some 400 Ospreys operated by the US Marine Corps, 51 US Navy aircraft and 27 Ospreys operated by the USAF Special Operations Command, the branch that suffered last week’s crash. The US and Japan are the only current operators of V-22s in the world. In the 16 years that the V-22 has been in service, there have been 12 crashes involving V-22s (two in combat situations), as well as several incidents, with a total of 33 fatalities.
NTSB preliminary report on Lancair overrun paints a complex picture
According to the just-released National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) preliminary report the pilot of a pressurised, Lancair LX7 was having a Wylie Coyote-kind of day on 11 November 2023. At 25,000 feet on a flight from Midland, Texas (KMDD) to Aero County Airport (T31) near McKinney, Texas, the turboprop powered Lancair was about 250 miles west of Abilene, Texas, when, the pilot told the NTSB, a door seal failed causing a loss of cabin pressure. The pilot advised air traffic controllers he would descend to 10,000 feet to avoid hypoxia and he and his passenger continued toward T31.
The pilot reported no further anomalies with aircraft systems until about five minutes after establishing cruise flight at 10,000 feet when, he said, a propeller rpm caution light appeared. After reducing rpms slightly, the warning light extinguished. As he approached the destination airport, the pilot advised ATC he was unfamiliar with T31 and performed a touch-and-go to ‘see the field.’ But on the subsequent downwind leg to Runway 17, he told the NTSB, the throttle-lever ball ‘came off in his hand’ and he handed it to his passenger. He continued his landing approach at idle power.
At this point, the pilot’s account diverges from the observations of the airport manager and video evidence. The pilot told the NTSB he touched down within the first 500 feet of the runway (listed as 4,352 feet ‘asphalt / turf’ by AirNav) and shortly thereafter, ‘hit the brakes gently’ while unsuccessfully trying to shift the propeller into reverse thrust.
But the manager said the airplane was about halfway down the runway when it touched down, followed three seconds later by smoke from the tyres. The NTSB report reads: “According to the T31 airport manager, who examined the runway surface after the accident, the first visible tyre skid marks were about 200 feet past the halfway point of the runway. The skid marks remained visible for about 1,300 feet until the airplane departed the end of the asphalt surface.”
As the witness videos show, the aircraft overran the runway, crashed through a perimeter fence and skidded onto an adjoining road, where a motorist crashed into the cowling and right wing. Neither the pilot nor the passenger was injured and the motorist sustained minor injuries. Both the aircraft and the automobile were substantially damaged.
Fuel tanker overturns at JFK, 4,000 gallons of Jet A spill on runway
On Thursday a fuel tanker truck overturned at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) spilling more than gallons of fuel onto the tarmac. The tanker truck was carrying 10,000 gallons of jet fuel when it overturned in Cargo Area A, near Runway 13R-31L. Emergency personnel and a HazMat crew arrived on the scene to begin cleanup efforts and prevent further spillage but the cause of the spill remains under investigation. The New York City Fire Department was called to JFK before 11h00 on 7 December after a tanker truck overturned. According to a timeline by Citizen, the FDNY Units began working to coordinate efforts with Port Authority officials, arriving on the scene with HazMat units to mitigate the leak. The units confirmed that the tanker was on its side and leaking fuel onto a roadway and the teams began using foam, sand and other fuel-absorbing agents to stop the leak and clean up the fuel on the tarmac. The firefighters confirmed that 4,000 gallons of fuel had spilled onto the runway but it was covered in foam to prevent it from spreading and the HazMat team worked to find the best way to offload the remaining fuel.
Business aviation braces for Brussels eco-protests
Business aircraft owners and operators, as well as airlines, are bracing for potentially violent protests expected in Brussels between 15 and 17 December. A consortium of political groups operating under the name Code Red has called for a ‘weekend of mass action against aviation.’ A notice from Code Red has called for volunteers to prepare to join as-yet-unspecified protests around the Belgian capital. It said the ‘target’ will be identified closer to the planned dates and it offers civil disobedience training. Brussels National Airport seems likely to be a focal point.
The Code Red alliance includes groups commonly associated with protests against air transport and private aviation, including Extinction Rebellion and Greenpeace. Other groups with wider political agendas are sponsoring the event, including anti-capitalist and poverty action organisations.
On Wednesday, eco-protesters from a Portuguese group called Climáximo broke into Cascais-Tejo Regional Airport. According to the group’s media posts, they damaged a Bombardier Global Express with paint and chained themselves to its wheels. In a protest that mirrored multiple similar events in Europe this year, the protestors said they intended to ‘denounce the luxury flights of the super-rich and the criminal hypocrisy of world leaders traveling to the COP28 climate change conference in a mode of transport that is the pinnacle of climate injustice.’ Police were called to the Portuguese airport but it is unclear what action was taken.
NATO fighters intercept Russian Su-30 jets over Baltic airspace
On 6 December Russian Su-30 fighter aircraft were intercepted by Belgian fighter jets over the Baltic Sea. This marks the first alert scramble for the Belgian Air Force since assuming the lead in NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission just one week earlier. NATO radars detected unidentified aircraft departing Kaliningrad, prompting the launch of two Belgian Air Force F-16s from Šiauliai in Lithuania to investigate the situation. The intercept was conducted in coordination with the Swedish Air Force.
The Russian Su-30s, flying without communication with civilian Air Traffic Control, were visually identified by the Belgian F-16s. French Air and Space Force Mirage 2000-5s were on standby for a potential scramble but were ultimately held back as NATO controllers opted to continue monitoring the situation via radar. Later the same day, the French Air Force Mirage 2000-5 fighters, also deployed to Šiauliai, were prepared for another potential intercept of a Russian aircraft departing Kaliningrad. However, due to a ‘tactical development of the situation’, the French fighters did not take-off.
The Baltic Air Policing mission began in 2004 when the Baltic States joined NATO. It is one of the main missions of NATO air forces, which operate in rotation to protect Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian airspaces from incursions, as these countries have no airborne capability of their own. In the buildup to the war in Ukraine, NATO increased its air presence in eastern Europe by deploying additional fighters, observation aircraft and bombers. Belgium, France, Germany, Poland and Turkey currently have fighters deployed on air policing duties along NATO’s eastern flank.
EcoPulse demonstrator makes first hybrid-electric flight
EcoPulse, the hybrid-electric technology demonstrator aircraft being jointly developed by Daher, Safran, and Airbus, has started its flight-test campaign. On Tuesday, the partners announced that the first flight happened on 29 November, with the converted Daher TBM 910 taking off from Tarbes Airport in the southwest of France for a 100-minute sortie. During the flight, pilots deployed all parts of the powertrain, including the six 50-kilowatt electric power units, the turbogenerator, and six sets of electric thrusters, or “e-propellers,” installed along the wing. The flight tests will validate the results of earlier ground testing and also 10 hours of flight tests that were conducted without the electric propulsion system functioning in May and June. The first test evaluated the flight control computer and high-voltage battery pack.
The programme is intended to demonstrate how a new propulsion system architecture using a single independent electrical power source can support multiple electric motors. The demonstration work will evaluate the operational advantages of integrating a hybrid-electric distributed propulsion to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and noise. In March, Daher confirmed that by 2027 it plans to offer hybrid-electric versions of its TBM aircraft family.
South Korea accepts first Embraer Praetor 600
South Korea’s Flight Inspection Services Center (FIC) has taken delivery of the country’s first Embraer Praetor 600 to perform a wide range of flight inspection tasks, the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer said. Embraer worked closely with German Prime and Flight Inspection System manufacturer AeroData to achieve type certification and customer delivery to the Seoul regional office of the FIC, part of South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. Outfitted with AeroData’s AeroFIS flight inspection system, the aircraft fully complies with the high-level requirements of the end user, said Embraer.
The FIC plans to use the aircraft for tasks such as site survey, surveillance, commissioning inspection, periodic inspection, special inspection, procedure validation and ADS-B airborne checks. Vital for maintaining and calibrating navigation aids, such missions ensure the safety and precision of air navigation systems across the country. Flying to a range of 4,018 nm, the aircraft can cover vast distances efficiently, allowing comprehensive inspection coverage of South Korea’s airspace and navigation infrastructure, said Embraer.
The Praetor features full fly-by-wire controls, which, according to Embraer, reduce pilot workload and provide a safer and smoother flight experience with active turbulence reduction capability. “The Praetor 600’s advanced safety features and redundant systems provide added reliability during critical inspection missions,” said the company. “The head-up display (HUD), high-end communication systems and an advanced flight control system ensure the highest level of precision during inspection missions.”
Emirates invests US$950 million in Dubai maintenance facility
Emirates plans to invest $950 million to build a one-million-sq-m engineering facility at the Dubai World Central site, adding another piece to the growing maintenance, repair and overhaul complex at the Emirate’s second airport. Designed to support the airline’s fleet and operating requirements into the 2040s, the new facility could be large enough to offer spare capacity to other carriers.
“This significant investment signals our confidence in the future growth of Emirates and the aviation sector,” said HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and chief executive of Emirates Airline and Group. “The new facility will enable Emirates to be entirely self-sufficient when it comes to maintenance, repairs, overhaul and all engineering requirements for our aircraft fleet. It gives us operational stability and flexibility and quality assurance. With the projected growth of the region’s aviation sector, Emirates’ new engineering facility will also play a key role as a center of excellence, attracting the involvement of global players across the aviation supply chain. It will create thousands of skilled technical jobs and add value to Dubai’s economy.”
Services offered will range from routine aircraft checks to bespoke paint jobs, light to heavy maintenance programmes, engine repair and testing, to full cabin interior fitouts and aircraft conversions. According to Emirates, construction on the first phase of the project will begin in 2024 and conclude in 2027, with phase two to follow if the need for further capacity arises. Plans for minimising the environmental impact of the new facility include the use of green building materials throughout the complex, the installation of solar panels on roofs across the entire campus and recycling systems for oils and wastewater. The first phase one will deliver eight maintenance hangars and one paint hangar, all capable of handling any size of commercial aircraft up to Code F (A380), an engine run-up facility, some 20 support workshops, storage facilities and administration offices. Initially, the Dubai World Central facility will supplement the existing Emirates Engineering Centre at Dubai International Airport. French airports group ADP Ingénierie will serve as a consultant for the project.
Canadian Forces Snowbirds aerobatic team returning to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh in 2024
The 71st edition of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh will take place between 22 and 28 July 2024 at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Advance admissions are now available for the weeklong event, along with camping credentials and added amenities such as the Aviators Club. “The Snowbirds are one of the world’s finest military aerobatic flight teams, so their presence at Oshkosh in 2024 is a wonderful addition to AirVenture week as we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Air Force,” said Rick Larsen, EAA’s vice president of communities and member programmes, who coordinates AirVenture features and attractions. “Along with their elegant precision aerobatics that define their aerial performances, we discovered in 2016 that the team members were enthusiastic and fully engaged in the aviation culture at Oshkosh and truly enjoyed being with the tens of thousands of fellow aviators on the grounds.”
The Snowbirds are currently scheduled to have a public practice session over the grounds on Friday, 26 July, with full performances during the daily afternoon airshow on Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 July. The team is officially designated as 431 Air Demonstration Squadron and was created in 1971. It has a nearly 50-year connection to EAA, being the first military team to perform at Oshkosh when they flew over the EAA fly-in during the 1970s.
The Snowbirds typically fly their Canadair CT-114 Tutor jets in approximately 60 airshows each year. The nine aircraft used in the performances are piloted by experienced team members from the Royal Canadian Air Force. During the show, the pilots fly at speeds ranging from 110 to 465 mph (180 to 750 km/h) and in formation with distances as close as four feet of wing overlap. Comprised of exciting loops, rolls and solo passes as well as graceful nine-jet formations, the Snowbirds’ show includes more than 50 different formations and manoeuvres over each 35-minute performance.
Successful remote-piloted flight for Cessna Caravan
On 6 December California-based Reliable Robotics announced it has completed an FAA-sanctioned uncrewed flight of a Cessna 208B Caravan at Hollister Airport (KCVH) just south of San Jose, with a remote pilot in control from the company headquarters in Mountain View, California, 50 miles away. The Caravan took off from Runway 31 and entered a closed traffic pattern for landing. Designed for autonomous flight, the company’s technology enables remote operation through all phases of flight, including taxi, take-off and landing.
Reliable Robotics said its technology is ‘aircraft agnostic’ and has multiple layers of systems redundancy. The system incorporates ‘advanced navigation technology’ and is also designed to prevent controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) and loss of control inflight (LOC-I). One target market is enabling cargo flights to remote areas. The announcement noted, “The Caravan and other regional cargo aircraft like it, serve an essential role connecting communities and businesses across the United States and around the globe.” Chris Hearne, Textron Senior VP of Engineering and Programmes, said, “Reliable’s successful flight of an uncrewed Cessna 208 Caravan represents a milestone for the industry in bringing new technology to aviation.”
Last August, Reliable Robotics announced it had completed simulations and flight tests as part of the FAA’s Urban Air Mobility Airspace Management Demonstration. The simulations involved integrating remotely piloted aircraft into congested airspace, according to Reliable. The flight trials took place over the course of a week in northern California.
Airshow to replace racing at Reno
The National Air Races may have left Reno Stead Airport, but that does not mean the skies will be entirely quiet next Fall. An announcement on the Reno Air Racing Association Facebook page trumpets a ‘BIG SHOW’ to run between 4 and 6 October at the airport. Though pylon racing will not be part of the menu, the event will ‘celebrate 60 years of aviation excitement at Reno,’ according to the announcement. The Reno Air Racing Association is a 501c3 nonprofit organisation that has hosts the National Championship Air Races, which are currently exploring options on where to conduct the next air races, scheduled to resume in 2025 after a hiatus following the decision to discontinue the event at Reno. Performers for the 2023 airshow are set to include the US Navy Blue Angels demonstration team: the Canadian Forces Snowbirds and the US Air Force F-16 Viper Demo Team. The association says to stay tuned for more details on the upcoming show, including ticket sales information.
Van’s owes more than $10 million to more than 25,000 creditors
According to legal filings relating to the case, Van’s Aircraft owes many creditors relatively modest amounts of money. In its bankruptcy petition, the company says it owes from $10 to $50 million but the top 20 creditors listed on its bankruptcy petition are only owed a combined total of $1.474 million. The balance is owed to 25,000-50,000 creditors. The distribution of the balance of the debt beyond the top 20 is not included in the filing. There is some positive news for those owed money. Van’s says on the filing it expects to have funds ‘available for distribution to unsecured creditors.’
The largest single creditor is Lycoming, which is owed $598,323. Metal supplier Pacific Metal Company, of Tualatin, Oregon is on the hook for $219,640.62 and Hartzell has $130,056.34 on its books. Number four on the list is a legal settlement to an individual in Texas in the amount of $87,500.02. Van’s was required to list the top 20 creditors in its filing and most of the remaining 16 on the list are businesses that provide goods or services to Van’s. The amounts owed range from $63,889.28 for No. 5 to $35,428.90 for the No. 20 creditor.
FAA promotes rule requiring drug testing at non-US repair stations
On 6 December, in a move under consideration for ‘decades,’ the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced it plans to mandate that aviation repair stations in foreign countries require their employees to submit to drug and alcohol testing if they perform safety-sensitive maintenance procedures for US airlines. According to the FAA, such testing is rare and the new requirement would affect approximately 977 repair facilities in 65 countries.
The FAA wrote that the testing would ensure that ‘employees are held to the same high level of safety standards, regardless of where they are physically located.’
The Transport Workers Union said that the US airline industry has generated 35,000 jobs for aircraft mechanics offshore since 2017, while eliminating more than 5,000 technician jobs at home. Union President John Samuelsen told Reuters that under the new rules, “Airline mechanics in China and other lower-wage, lower-standard countries who work on US commercial aircraft will have to undergo drug and alcohol testing, just like mechanics here.”
According to the FAA, some US-based maintenance facilities argue they ‘are operating at an economic disadvantage as maintenance facilities abroad are not required to subject employees to drug and alcohol testing and, therefore, are essentially circumventing the associated costs to maintain a testing programme.’ The FAA estimated the future cost to airlines of repair stations overseas complying with the new rules would be $102.3 million over a five-year span.
NTSB, FAA taking a deeper dive in mental health issues
The National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) day-long aviation safety summit on navigating mental health in aviation concluded with encouragement across industry leaders that the issue is getting more attention. In addition to the summit, the FAA also this week announced that it is chartering an aviation rulemaking committee focused on breaking through barriers for pilots and air traffic controllers to seek medical health. However, the summit spotlighted many of those barriers, particularly the lack of trust pilots, controllers and other aviation professionals have that they will lose their ability to continue in their profession if they seek help and then report that help.
While often characterised as perceptions and only in fact a tiny percentage of those with medical conditions are permanently disqualified, Dr Anne Suh, who lost her son to suicide, noted that summits such as the one yesterday would not be necessary if it were only a matter of perception. NTSB member Bruce Landsberg emphasised the lack of clarity around acceptable medications, the special issuance process and the data in determining the approach to mental health issues.
“We need to be very transparent now about what the medical requirements are and the evaluation process and that needs to be shared in total with the aviation medical examiners (AMEs),” Landsberg said. “I think we need to train and empower your AMEs because you are never going get enough money out of the government to sufficiently staff for this. That is the only way we are going to get the timelines down to anything reasonable.” Landsberg also stressed the need for a collaborative, non-punitive process for people to self-report.
NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy wrapped up the day stressing, “I would say yes on data, but also yes on action.” She also said the participants, who ranged from educators to medical experts, as well as representatives of aviation professionals need to continue to collaborate to chart the next steps forward.
Penny Giovanetti, director of the FAA’s medical specialties division, told attendees that she had taken four pages of notes to contemplate on going forward. “It is clear, everybody has been very open and honest,” Giovanetti said of the participants, who shared anecdotes and concerns about the length of time, lack of clarity and other obstacles they have encountered in delving into help with mental health issues as an aviation professional. She recalled a note she received thanking her for her help in getting a pilot back in the cockpit and said, “I will not be happy until everybody who has an interaction with us over these issues feels the same way about it.”
Lufthansa and Lilium join forces for future air mobility in Europe
The Lufthansa Group and Lilium have inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to embark on a collaborative journey in the realm of eVTOL aircraft operations across Europe. This strategic partnership aims to explore innovative opportunities within the aviation sector, encompassing ground and flight operations, futuristic aircraft maintenance, crewing and flight training. In addition, the two companies plan to assess potential collaborations with third parties, such as airports and regional partners, to enhance infrastructure, including vertiports, airspace integration and operational processes definition.
Dr Detlef Kayser, Member of the Lufthansa Group’s Executive Board responsible for Fleet and Technology, affirmed, “Innovation is ingrained in our DNA. The Lufthansa Group is committed to being a global pioneer in integrating cutting-edge products and processes. We aspire to propel aviation forward and lead the industry’s transformation. This MoU with Lilium represents a significant step in this direction. Only through innovation, courage and determination can we, as an industry, foster sustainability and surmount the challenges of the future.”
As recently announced by Lilium, the company has initiated the production of its Lilium Jet. According to the company’s internal projections, the European market is expected to witness a demand for approximately 9,200 eVTOL aircraft by 2035. With a current fleet comprising over 700 commercial aircraft, the Lufthansa Group is actively pursuing a long-term fleet strategy focused on cost-efficiency and emissions reduction. The Group’s most recent aircraft acquisitions boast up to 30% lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions compared to its predecessors. The Lufthansa Group has set ambitious targets to reduce its net carbon emissions by 50% by 2030, ultimately working towards achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.
Air New Zealand announces BETA’s ALIA as launch for mission next gen aircraft programme
Air New Zealand has announced the ALIA as the airline’s first purchase of a next generation aircraft in its Mission Next Gen Aircraft programme. Designed by electric aerospace company BETA Technologies, the battery-powered all-electric aircraft is expected to join Air New Zealand’s fleet in 2026. Air New Zealand is purchasing the conventional take-off and landing version of the ALIA. The announcement follows an 18-month period of evaluation and diligence by Air New Zealand. Through the airline’s Mission Next Gen Aircraft programme, it sought and received ideas and insights from 30 organisations, selecting four partners to work closely with on its goal of launching commercial flights using next generation aircraft in 2026. BETA’s ALIA is the first commercial order in the programme.
Air New Zealand will initially operate the aircraft as a cargo only service in partnership with New Zealand Post, on a route being selected through an expressions of interest (EOI) process with airports across the country. Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Greg Foran says the purchase cements Air New Zealand’s commitment to flying lower-emissions aircraft in New Zealand. “This is a small but important step in a much larger journey for Air New Zealand. There is a lot of work ahead of us, but we are incredibly committed, and this purchase marks a new chapter for the airline. Decarbonising aviation is not easy and we have a lot of work to do. We need to accelerate the pace of change in the technology, infrastructure, operations and regulation. While this aircraft will add to, not replace our existing fleet, it is a catalyst for that change. By flying the ALIA, we hope to advance our knowledge and the transformation needed in the aviation system in Aotearoa for us to fly larger, fleet replacing, next generation aircraft from 2030.”
BETA Chief Executive Officer Kyle Clark says he applauds Air New Zealand’s approach to decarbonising aviation. “Air New Zealand is hyper focused on bringing technologies to scale as quickly as possible, both to meet its own ambitions to decarbonise and to change the broader aviation landscape. Over the past year plus of partnership, collaboration and diligence, we have seen Air New Zealand’s forward-thinking, yet pragmatic and methodical approach to innovation. We are gratified by the airline’s confidence in our technology as a solution that will meet their operational needs and look forward to continuing to work hand-in-hand as we bring the ALIA to market for 2026.”
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Partnership flies uncrewed aircraft in controlled airspace in NZ
A partnership of aviation companies has successfully completed a first-of-its-kind trial, including a series of test flights aimed at evaluating the operational integration of uncrewed aircraft flying beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) into controlled airspace. The successful completion of these trial test flights in New Zealand demonstrates that safe, uncrewed flight operations are possible, today, in controlled airspace among other piloted aircraft. Through this trial programme, the partnership has established a safe process for uncrewed aircraft to access controlled airspace and created a significant new understanding and capability for commercial autonomous flight operations. The trials offer key insights for regulators and industry players globally to facilitate further testing and inform rulemaking.
Led by Wisk Aero, the trials included the New Zealand Government and industry partners, including Insitu Pacific as the approved Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) operator, the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand (CAA) as the regulatory observer and Part 102 approver, Airways New Zealand as the air navigation service provider alongside Airways International’s uncrewed traffic management (UTM) system AirShare and indigenous-led aerospace venture, Tāwhaki, providing the flight testing site.
The latest test flights were part of Wisk’s multi-phased testing programme under the New Zealand Government’s Airspace Integration Trial Programme (AITP). This latest phase of testing involved multiple flights that took place between 17 November and 1 December 2023, which demonstrated that a RPA can be operated under instrument flight rules (IFR) in controlled airspace and integrated with regular crewed traffic. The flights took place at the Tāwhaki National Aerospace Centre at Kaitorete, involving take-offs, landings and uncontrolled and controlled airspace navigation.
“The successful completion of this phase of testing demonstrates that it is possible to safely integrate autonomous aircraft into controlled airspace that is shared with piloted aircraft,” said Catherine MacGowan, Wisk’s Vice President of APAC and Air Operations. “The processes, data and learnings from these trial flights will help shape the future of Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) and the broader aviation industry.”
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