Compiled by Willie Bodenstein


Saab has received a support contract for the service, repairs and maintenance of the South African Air Force´s Gripen C/D jet fighters. The order value is MSEK 333 (MZAR 532) over a three-year period.

The contract runs for three years from 2022 until 2025 and covers service, repairs and maintenance as well as minor updates of the support and training systems of the South African Air Forces Gripen system.

South Africa is operating Gripen C/D since 2008 and is Saab´s first export customer on Gripen.

“I am very happy and satisfied that we have now reached an agreement for a new support contract, so that we in the very best way can support our customers with their operational needs,” says Åsa Schöllin, head of Saab´s business unit Gripen Sustainment.

Gripen C-series is the most reliable swing-role combat aircraft available in the world today. Over 150 million people in five countries on three continents rely on Gripen C-series to protect their sovereign air space and ensuring their independence. Gripen C/D has successfully participated in Nato-led as well as numerous exercises and air policing assignments across the world.


Guy Martin defenceWeb

The South African Air Force (SAAF) has only received a few practice A-Darter missiles from Denel Dynamics and will not be getting combat capable missiles any time soon due to the 'complete stop' of production at Denel Dynamics.

The SAAF has only received eight inert practice missiles from Denel Dynamics and manufacture of the full complement of trainer and operational missiles is still outstanding. This is according to Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise, who answered a written question posed by Democratic Alliance shadow defence minister Kobus Marais. He asked her what the status of the A-Darter missile is and if Denel Dynamics can deliver missiles to the SA Air Force.

She replied that Denel was in March 2015 contracted to industrialise and manufacture the A-Darter fifth-generation air-to-air missile for the SAAF. All missiles were supposed to be delivered by October 2017, but development and qualification was only completed by November 2019.

“Primarily due to reasons of liquidity and subsequent resignation of key personnel, execution of the programme came to a complete stop for the past three years,” Modise explained.

She went on to state that “A new manufacturing baseline audit by Armscor indicates that sufficient production personnel are still employed by Denel to manufacture the required missiles. Denel has however lost most critical design expertise which is required to sign off on the missile subsections as designated Design Authorities. Denel also doesn't possess the technical expertise to render obsolescence engineering during production.

“As a fall back plan, Armscor has developed a collaborative model by means of which missile sub-sections can be manufactured and signed off by other entities in the domestic defence industry that are currently employing the requisite experts previously responsible for development of the A-Darter missile. In terms of the proposed model, relevant missile subsections can be manufactured and signed off by appropriate entities in industry and Denel will assume responsibility for final integration of the subsections into the all-up missile. The proposed new approach and all associated implications, however, still need to be considered and sanctioned by the SAAF,” Modise concluded.

The A-Darter was developed jointly with Brazil under Project Assegai, with Denel Dynamics to deliver eight practice missiles, 21 trainer missiles and 41 operational missiles to the SAAF. Continued delays mean the A-Darter, which should have been completed in 2015, is already seeing some obsolescence in certain areas. Limited re-engineering will be required before production can commence.

In the meantime, the South African Air Force continues to use the interim IRIS-T missile, which was acquired from Germany in 2009.

The A-Darter, under development since 2006, features a two-colour seeker and advanced decoy rejection software. Using the pilot's helmet sight, the A-Darter can engage targets off to the side of the launch aircraft and it can also be used in an “over the shoulder” mode, pulling extremely high Gs - more than 80 - to engage an aircraft that is behind the launching fighter. The missile has a range of around 20 km.

The weapon is intended to arm the SAAF's Gripen C/Ds, ultimately replacing the interim IRIS-T short range infrared guided missile. Brazil intended to acquire A-Darters for its own Gripen E/F fighters.

Since the retirement of the R-Darter, the SAAF does not have a beyond visual range air-to-air missile. This would have been addressed by the Denel Dynamics Marlin, which the company began testing in 2016. This new active radar-guided air-to-air missile will have a range of 100 km and will also be developed into an all-weather surface-to-air missile. However, with Denel's liquidity and capacity problems and the SANDF's declining budget, it is not clear how far this project will proceed.



Tier 1 Engineering, in cooperation with its collaborator Lung Biotechnology PBC, announced today it had successfully completed a flight between Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport, near Coachella and Palm Springs International Airport on 29 October the first helicopter flight between airfields solely by electric power.

The flight from Jacqueline Cochran to Palm Springs equals the 21nm distance of the first commercial helicopter flight across the English Channel on 25 September 1947. The all-electric aircraft is a modified Robinson R44 helicopter flown by pilots Ric Webb of OC Helicopters and Martine Rothblatt of Lung Biotechnology.

Glen Dromgoole, President of Tier 1 Engineering, said, “Progress in the development of all-electric propulsion is similar to other periods of significant advance in aviation. The first aircraft flew short distances, and many people were afraid to ride in the new flying machines. At the start of the Jet Age, there was widespread scepticism about the commercial viability of the turbine engine. Today's historic flight demonstrates the potential of all-electric rotorcraft and we are thrilled by this achievement.”

The e-R44 uses a novel quick-swap technology for its helicopter battery packs to enable return trip flights without waiting for a recharge. The time required to swap a battery pack is 15 minutes vs 1 hour for a full recharge. The specific cross-country route for today's historic flight was chosen based upon FAA approval.

“These flights are the building blocks that lay the foundation where our future can continue to soar. I am excited and honoured to be part of this amazing team, this historic event and furthering the advancement of making blue skies green,” said pilot Ric Webb, CEO of Part 135 helicopter operator OC Helicopters, which is planning to offer organ delivery services via the electric R44.

Dr. Martine Rothblatt, one of the helicopter's pilots and the CEO for of parent company United Therapeutics Corporation, said “Lung Biotechnology is committed to delivering life-saving transplantable organs with a zero-carbon footprint. It is fully possible to save patients' lives while ensuring a liveable planet. Today's historic inter-city electric helicopter flight demonstrates that many organ transport distances are doable with electric aircraft using today's technology. We are committed to achieving FAA certification of this electric helicopter and to using newer energy cells to extend our ranges to hundreds of miles in the next few years,” concluded Dr. Rothblatt.

The 3rd Generation all-electric e-R44 is designed to deliver manufactured organs for transplant by United Therapeutics, the biotechnology company responsible for the world's first transplant of a genetically-modified pig heart into a human patient and for creating the world's first full-size 3D bio-printed organs. United Therapeutics plans to use electric and sustainable aviation fuelled fixed-wing aircraft to deliver transplantable organs long distances to airports and then to use the electric helicopters and eVTOLs for the shorter hops such as from the airports to the transplant hospitals. In October 2021, Unither Bioelectronics, a United Therapeutics subsidiary, accomplished the world's first delivery of a lung for transplant by electric drone between two hospitals in downtown Toronto.


Pipistrel announced its first delivery to Canada of its all-electric, two-seater aircraft the Velis Electro. The Canadian customer, the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Aeronautics (WISA) at the University of Waterloo and its partner Waterloo Wellington Flight Centre (WWFC), will use the Velis Electro to increase their research and collaborative capacity to evaluate battery powered electric flight in Canada. Pipistrel continues its work with Transport Canada towards certification of the Velis Electro.

Gabriel Massey, president and managing director at Pipistrel, says: "We are privileged to have the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Aeronautics as our first Canadian customer for the Velis Electro. This delivery is not only an exciting milestone for Pipistrel and the global presence of the Velis Electro, but also represents a steppingstone for Canada's strategic investments to promote a greener aerospace industry and economy.

The Pipistrel Velis Electro is the world's first and currently only in service, commercially available, type-certified electric aircraft, having achieved EASA type-certification in 2020 and UK CAA certification in 2022. Pipistrel is currently pursuing a FAA airworthiness certificate for the Velis Electro. The two-seat, fixed-wing aircraft produces noise levels of only 60 decibels and no exhaust gases, while cruising at an average speed of 90 knots and covering a range of 108 nautical miles at a payload weight of 172 kg (378 lb).


Guy Martin defenceWeb

The Nigerian government's 2023 budget proposal makes provision for the payment of N27 billion ($61 million) towards the acquisition of T-129 attack helicopters from Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI). This comes after TAI CEO Temel Kotil revealed during the Farnborough International Air Show in July that Nigeria will receive a total of six T-129s, with deliveries in the near future. The T-129, based on the Leonard Helicopters A129 Mangusta, is in service with the Turkish military and has been exported to the Philippines.

It appears Nigeria will also be getting 12 Bell AH-1Z Viper helicopters from the United States - in April this year, the US approved the possible sale of 12 AH-1Zs to Nigeria under a potential $997 million deal that includes weapons and equipment. Nigeria has for some time shown interest in acquiring AH-1Z helicopters, but the deal was put on hold over concerns about possible human rights abuses by the Nigerian government.

Last week, Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Oladayo Amao revealed that the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) would be receiving a multitude of new aircraft, including the 12 AH-1Z Vipers, but provided little further detail.

He also confirmed the delivery of two AW109 Trekker helicopters from Leonardo Helicopters - the 2023 budget proposal allocates N2 billion ($4.5 million) for the balance payment of these two aircraft.

Amao further revealed that the NAF would be receiving two C295 transport aircraft from Airbus under a pending deal - in March, it was reported that the NAF had shown interest in acquiring these aircraft and held discussions with the Spanish ambassador to Nigeria on this. As far back as 2016, Nigeria has expressed interest in acquiring C295W light transports from Airbus, with a delegation visiting Nigeria that October.

Speaking during a seminar in Ibom State on 27 October, Amao also said 24 M-346 jet aircraft would be acquired in the future from Leonardo - for some time, rumours have been circulating that the NAF would receive these aircraft to replace its Alpha Jets, but budget allocation for the M-346s, C295s and AH-1Zs do not appear in the latest budget proposal.

Nigeria's 2023 budget proposal does include funding for the maintenance of L-39ZAs, Alpha Jets and the establishment of an air-launched rocket assembly line at the Air Force Research and Development Centre.

It also suggests N2.7 billion ($6 million) for three “Magnus MF 212 surveillance/attack aircraft”, and N3 billion ($6.8 million) for three Bell UH-1D helicopters, but it is not clear if these contracts have been approved.

The MF 212 is a single engine light sport aircraft built by Magnus Aircraft in the Czech Republic. This is powered by a 100 hp Rotax engine, giving a cruising speed of 215 km/h and maximum range of 1 100 km, although other engine options are available. Magnus Aircraft offers the Fusion UL ultralight and Sentinel, which is equipped with a camera system for surveillance, target tracking etc.

Belarussian company BVST (Belspetsvneshtechnika) has developed the MF 212 into an armed aircraft ideal for homeland security, surveillance and patrol tasks. It can apparently be fitted with an iSKY-30 HD electro-optical gimbal, and R-60-NT-L or R-60-NT-T-2 missiles. Although BVST has not provided any detail on its development of the aircraft, Greek company International Armour lists the BVST MF 212 in its sale catalogue. BVST has previously worked with the Nigerian Air Force, providing maintenance for Mi-35 helicopters as well as training.

Amao last week made no mention of the MF 212 or UH-1D when announcing the dozens of new aircraft that are being acquired for the NAF. Instead, he said that the Air Force will take delivery of two Beechcraft King Air 360 turboprops, four Diamond DA 62 surveillance aircraft, and three Wing Loong II unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in addition to the T-129s, M-346s, and C295s.

The King Air 360 acquisition will be to partly replace the King Air 350 that crashed in February 2021. As for the Wing Loong IIs, this acquisition follows on from previous UAV contracts with China. In 2020 it was reported that the NAF would be receiving two Wing Loong II, four CH-4 and two CH-3 aircraft to enhance the Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (isr) as well as strike capabilities of the NAF. At the time, Wing Loong IIs were seen in Nigerian markings under construction in China.

Amao said that the new orders will be delivered from December this year, while other aircraft will arrive from 2023. The latest acquisitions come amid a steady stream of procurements over the last decade, with three dozen manned aircraft delivered since 2015. This includes five Mi-35Ms delivered from December 2016 to April 2018; four AW109E Power helicopters delivered from April 2019 to January 2020; ten MFI-17 Super Mushshak delivered between July 2017 and January 2018; 12 A-29 Super Tucanos delivered between August 2021 and September 2021; two Mi-171Es delivered between February and December 2020; three JF-17 Thunders delivered between March and April 2021; and two Bell 412Eps (seized by customs and transferred to the Nigerian Air Force).

In addition to acquiring new aircraft, the Nigerian Air Force is training new pilots in the United States, United Kingdom, South Africa, and Egypt, as well as domestically.



Exhibiting both the PC-12 NGX and the PC-24 Super Versatile Jet at the world's premier business aviation show, the National Business Aviation Association & Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE), Pilatus confirms very high demand for both aircraft.

By the end of September 2022, Pilatus had delivered 47 PC-12 NGX and 27 PC-24. Of these aircraft, roughly 62 Percent were completed by the US subsidiary, Pilatus Business Aircraft Ltd in Broomfield, Colorado. Based at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport (KBJC) since 1996, the company created over 25 new jobs in 2022 with the recent expansion of facilities to include new painting operations. In addition, Pilatus acquired Skytech in September 2022 and its workforce of 120 employees. Skytech has operated as an independent Authorised Sales & Service Centre since 1993 and is now part of the Pilatus Group which now employs over 300 employees in the US.

2,000TH PC-12 & 200TH PC-24 to be delivered in 2023

Notable deliveries this year included those to the charter operators, PlaneSense (USA) and JetFly (Europe). Both companies reported continued strong demand from passengers. Authorised Pilatus Centres report that many of their existing PC-12 customers are stepping up to the latest version, the PC-12 NGX to take advantage of new engine and avionics technology, as well as the completely new interiors. Through the third quarter of 2022, Pilatus has delivered 1,920 PC-12s since programme inception and will celebrate a major milestone in delivering the 2,000TH PC-12 next spring. That aircraft will be delivered to PlaneSense, the world's largest Pilatus fleet operator, with 41 PC-12s and nine PC-24s.

Total PC-12 fleet time is currently at over 10 million flight hours. Pilatus will also deliver the 200TH PC-24 in spring 2023. That is a milestone worth mentioning in this still young programme. The worldwide fleet of PC-24s has accumulated 116,000 flight hours since 2017.

Markus Bucher, Chief Executive Officer of Pilatus, commented: “We are very fortunate to have both the PC-12 and PC-24 in such high demand amongst our loyal customers. Despite the current high inflationary environment, the rising cost of energy in Europe and the forecast economic recession, our global sales network remains optimistic that the very high demand for our unique aircraft will weather the storm.”

Bucher went on to address the challenges of producing aircraft in the current economic context: “Our top priority at Pilatus right now is taking care of current owners and those who have already placed orders. Like most companies, Pilatus has not been immune to the difficulties of ensuring a reliable supply of quality components to keep production running efficiently and customers flying without interruption. Where we are not able to provide immediate solutions, we are investing considerable effort in communicating with our customers to provide them with the high level of support they expect and deserve from Pilatus.”

To stay close to customers, better understand their needs and communicate directly with pilots, maintenance personnel and managers, Pilatus held two PC-24 operator support meetings - one in the US and one in Europe. Further such events are planned in 2023.

Clear focus on sustainability

Finally, addressing the issue of sustainable manufacturing, Markus Bucher stated: “As a Swiss company it is in our culture to be concerned about protecting the environment and our long-established work practices include conserving resources and operating with as little impact as possible. As long ago as 1973, the company magazine, Pilatus Post, featured a story about how we treated manufacturing wastewater. Today, Pilatus facilities have 230,000 square feet of solar panels generating electricity for our operations in Switzerland. 94 percent of the energy used in the production of Pilatus aircraft comes from hydropower, nuclear and solar sources. All our aircraft are approved to operate with sustainable aviation fuel. Our single-engine turboprop aircraft are also extremely efficient to operate as they produce fewer emissions.”


Airbus has delivered the first two H135s to the Spanish Guardia Civil and National Police under the 36-unit contract signed with the General Directorate for Armaments and Materiel (DGAM) at the end of 2021 to supply the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Interior. The Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, and Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters, along with Fernando Lombo, Managing Director of Airbus Helicopters in Spain, was present at the handover ceremony that took place at the Airbus plant in Albacete.

The new helicopters will enable the National Police and Guardia Civil to replace BO105 helicopters in a wide range of missions including police, surveillance and rescue activities. In total, the Ministry of Interior will receive 18 units.

"We are proud that the new H135s, which will join the 31 helicopters that are already operated by the Ministry of the Interior, will help law enforcement agencies to continue protecting and saving lives throughout Spain," said Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters. "The H135 has proven to be a much-loved helicopter in Spain, where more than 80 units are already flying all kinds of essential missions for more than 25 years. Just 10 months after the contract was signed, this delivery is further proof of this Iberian success story.”

As for the Spanish Air Force and Navy, which will receive eleven and seven H135s respectively, deliveries will begin next year and will be added to the 16 helicopters already operated by the Spanish Army for training and support missions for the Military Emergency Unit (UME). From 2023 onwards, the three armed forces will be able to benefit from synergies in terms of training, operation, and maintenance.

The Airbus light twin-engine H135 is equipped with the most advanced technologies available, including Airbus Helicopters' Helionix avionics suite. More than 1,350 H135 helicopters are operated by 300 operators in 64 countries. The fleet has accumulated more than 6 million flight hours. The H135 is the fleet leader in the twin-engine market segment with more than 200 helicopters flying all over the world for law enforcement missions.


Bell Textron Inc., a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, announced the signed agreement for the sale of 10 Bell 505 helicopters to the Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) today at The Special Operations Forces Exhibition & Conference (SOFEX) in Aqaba, Jordan.

The contract includes the delivery of the aircraft with a flight training device and a comprehensive computer-based training package to enable an enhanced approach to basic and advanced rotorcraft flight training at the King Hussein Air College in Mafraq, Jordan.

“It is with profound gratitude to the Royal Jordanian Air Force that we share news of this agreement to purchase the Bell 505s as the new helicopter trainer for the Air Force,” said Patrick Moulay, senior vice president, International Commercial Sales, Bell.

“We are dedicated to the Armed Forces, the Air Force and the citizens of Jordan and offer our commitment to ensure the best of service. The Bell 505 will serve alongside the men and women of the Air Force by playing a critical role in ensuring the operational readiness of its cadets,” Sameer Rehman, managing director, Africa and Middle East, Bell.

The Bell 505 is a popular aircraft for commercial and military customers alike, offering phenomenal power, optimal visibility and high-tech Garmin avionics. The company recently celebrated the 400th Bell 505 delivery since its launch in 2017.

“We look forward to adding the Bell 505 aircraft to our fleet and providing our pilots with one of the best possible aircraft for their training. The addition of 10 new aircraft will enable us to further expand our operations in the country, in turn increasing the capabilities of the Royal Jordanian Air Force,” said Brig. Gen. Mohammad F. Hiyasat, Commander, Royal Jordanian Air Force.

As the most advanced helicopter in its class on the market, details have been considered in the design of the Bell 505, starting with the fully digitally controlled engine and advanced avionics that dramatically reduce pilot workload and maximize safety in a multitude of operational scenarios.

SOFEX is the world's leading special operations forces and homeland security exhibition. Currently in its 13th year, the show was established by His Majesty King Abdullah II to provide a platform to present and demonstrate new and innovative equipment and technologies in security operations.


Textron Aviation recently broke ground on its 180,000 square foot expansion to its parts distribution facility. As announced during NBAA-BACE last week, the project will allow the company to better support customers who own and operate Cessna, Beechcraft and Hawker products.

"This is an exciting day for Textron Aviation as we break ground on this expansion to our parts distribution facility," said Kriya Shortt, senior vice president, Global Parts and Distribution. "The additional space and capabilities this expansion provides will enable us to continue to invest in inventory to support not only new models like the Cessna SkyCourier and Beechcraft Denali but to continue to bolster our stock levels for other product lines as well."

This expansion will provide additional space for warehouse storage, customer support analysts and offices. The expansion will also enable Textron Aviation to make it easier for customers to conduct business with the company, including a dedicated lane for customers to drop-off or pick-up parts in person and opportunities for consolidated shipments. The expanded operations will also provide expedited support to the company's own Wichita Service Centre.

“As we continue to invest in our product line up, it is important that we also invest in our aftermarket business,” said Ron Draper, president and CEO. “We remain dedicated to our customers beyond their delivery; we support them throughout the life of their aircraft.”

Professional Engineering Consultants, GLMV Architecture and CONCO Construction are teaming up on the expansion project, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2023. All companies are local to Textron Aviation's headquarters and the expanded facility in Wichita, Kansas.


6 October 2022

A Cessna 172 crashed during a training flight at the Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport (KPHF) in Newport News, Virginia. No one on the ground was injured. Sadly, the certificated flight instructor died in the accident. A student pilot and another student on board the Cessna were taken to a hospital with serious injuries.

The Cessna 172 took off from Runway 20. At 100 feet-about 80 seconds into the take-off-the aircraft reportedly pitched up aggressively, lost lift, and crashed 200 feet from the departure end.

In Early Analysis: N97883, the AOPA Air Safety Institute (ASI) makes a preliminary assessment of the accident, addressing notable portions of the tragic flight and highlighting areas the NTSB will likely investigate to determine a probable cause.

The video also offers flight instructors practical guidance to help prevent a similar scenario when giving flight instruction.

Tanzania, off Bukoba Airport: A Precision Air ATR 42-500 with 43 on board crashed in Lake Victoria near Bukoba Airport (BKZ), Tanzania. The Tanzania CAA reported that the aircraft landed in the water short of the runway. Officials reported 19 occupants were confirmed to have died. The pilot and co-pilot were among the fatalities. Bukoba has a single runway (13/31), 1385 m long. Distance between the shore and the runway 31 threshold is 130 meters. Weather at the time of the accident was said to have been poor. The latest available Metar weather report was from 03:00 UTC, about 2,5-3 hours before the accident. At that time winds were from 270 degrees at 4 knots with scattered clouds at 1200 feet, few Cumulonimbus clouds at 1400 feet and broken clouds at 8000 feet.

DRC, 115 km ESE of Kasese: A Goma Express Let L-410UVP-E20 with three on board was reported missing while operating on a cargo flight from Kasese to Bukavu and Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo. The wreckage was discovered in a forest 5 November and rescue workers reached the crash site on 6 November. There were no survivors.

France, Luxeuil-les-Bains, Haute-Saône: A French Air Force Dassault Mirage 2000-5F operated by EC 01.002 "Cigognes" crashed in a forest near Luxeuil-les-Bains, Haute-Saône, after a technical incident at 5 km from its airbase. The pilot ejected after directing his plane towards a forest, with no major damage to the ground and survived.

Argentina, Bragado Airfield, BA: A de Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk (the oldest flying Chipmunk in the world) struck an antenna tower with the right hand wing tip during a display flight at Bragado. The aircraft force landed safely. The pilot escaped unhurt but four spectators were injured.


Non-stop flight by a pair of Vickers Wellesley's from Egypt to Darwin, Australia. This sets a new world distance record of 7,158 miles (11,520 km).

The Vickers Wellesley was a medium bomber that was designed and produced by the British aircraft manufacturer Vickers-Armstrong at Brooklands near Weybridge, Surrey. It was one of two aircraft to be named after Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, the other being the Vickers Wellington.

The vast majority of the Wellesley's production run were supplied to the Royal Air Force (RAF), a total of six squadrons under RAF Bomber Command operated the type at its peak. A high-profile demonstration of the aircraft's capabilities was conducted during early November 1938 via a flight of three Wellesley's that flew non-stop for two days from Ismailia, Egypt to Darwin, Australia, a distance of 7,162 miles (11,526 km), setting a world distance record in the process.

While the type was considered to be obsolete by the start of the Second World War and thus unsuited to the European air war, the Wellesley was operated overseas in the desert theatres of East Africa, Egypt and Ethiopia flown by SAAF pilots against the Italian forces.

Extra 300L Rand to Baragwanath 2021

Midweek Update

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