Midweek Update 20 April 2023

Compiled by Willie Bodenstein


SUN 'n FUN Aerospace Expo 2023 was a success!
Rain remotely commands Black Hawk helicopter for firefighting missions.
Autopilot system for Bell 407GXI certified in the United Kingdom.
Robinson Helicopters, more R66 Police Helicopters on patrol.
Pentagon and Lockheed Martin finalise Lot 15-17 agreement.
Northrop Grumman F-16 electronic warfare suite counters modern radio frequency threats during air force testing.
The Spanish Air Force buys another 16 PC-21s & associated simulators.
Skyports Drone Services to launch drone delivery flights for Royal Mail.
Volocopter Completes Production Setup for Electric Air Taxis.
Worldwide incidents and accidents - USA Springfield, Illinois Piper PA60.
This week in history - 7 April 1908 - The members of the Aerial Experiment Association enter a competition sponsored by the Scientific American, which has offered $25,000 for a flight of over 0.62 miles.
Bonus Video - Kodiak Bishop's Cove to George Airport

19 to 22
AERO Friedrichshafen Germany. Contact Tobias Brezel E-mail:
tobias.bretzel@fairnamic .com Cell: +49 1752313422

Elders Flight Brakpan Airfield. Contact Felix Gosher E-mail: felixgosher@gnmail.com Cell: 086 191

4 to 7
Kalahari Bundu Bash Adventure Koppieskraal Pan. Contact Cell: 078 459 2636 or 054 331 3534 E-mail:

4 to 8
NAC fly-away to Namibia. Contact Agnes Phillips E-mail:
agnes.phillips@nac .co.za Cell: 082 893 3399

5 to 7
BONA BONA fly-in at the Bona Bona airfield and country lodge. Contact Christian E-mail: christian@vsg.co.za Cell 083 251 4573

5 & 6
SAAF Museum annual airs how AFB Swartkops. Contact Maj. Ntshangase. Zero 8 three four one 0166 five

EAA Chapter 322 monthly gathering 07h30 EAA Auditorium Rand Airport. Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: airadventuresa@gmail.com

6 to 7
SAPFA Speed Rally at Bona Bona airfield. Contact David le Roux E-mail: david@pilotinsure.co.za Cell 073 338 5200

Lowveld Airshow at Nelspruit airfield. For more info contact Johan@kishugu.com Cell: 082 456

7 to 14
Sling Africa Tour: Departing from the Kalahari Bundu Bash led by Mike and Sue. Contact Shanelle Visagie E-mail: Shannelle@slingairctaft.com

16 to 19
Grain SA's NAMPO Harvest Day. Contact Wim Venter E-mail: wim@grainsa.co.za Tel: 086 004 7246

17 to 20
SAC National Aerobatics Championships Tempe airfield. Contact Annie Boon E-mail: info@anniesaviationcorner.com

18 & 19
Orion training, tech, drones and unmanned aviation conference. Contact Thabo Ndimande E-mail: thabo@orion-training.co.za Cell: 072 663 2724

New Tempe airshow Bloemfontein. Contact Conrad Botha E-mail: rowco24cc@mailbox.co.za Cell: 082 770 5505

20 May
SAA Museum Hobby and Collectables Fair Rand Airport. Contact E-mail: events@saamuseum.co.za Cell: 076 879 5044

25 to 28
SAPFA Presidents' Trophy Air Race Middleburg airfield Website:
www.sapfa .co.za Contact Iaan Myburgh E-mail: iaanmyburgh@gmail.com Cell: 082 449 2531

1 & 2
Drones and Unmanned Aviation Conference Birchwood Hotel. Contact Gerald E-mail: admin@bussynetadt.co.za Cell: 067 611 0365 or Byron E-mail: byron@bussynetadt.co.za Cell: 067 611 0365

1 to 4
RC Extravaganza at Henley Model airfield. Contact Emil Henrico E-mail: info@rcasa.org.za Cell: 082 962 2334

EAA Chapter 322 breakfast gathering 07h30 EAA Auditorium Rand Airport. Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: airadventuresa@gmail.com

Parys Airshow. Contact Brendan Horan E-mail: brendan@creativespacemedia.co.za

EAA Young Eagles Day (Venue TBA) & EAA International Young Eagles Day. Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: airadventuresa@gmail.com

Newcastle Airshow. Contact Johan Pieters E-mail:

9 to 11
EAA Convention. Middelburg Airfield. Rsvp@eaa.org.za

Brakpan Aero Club Cobra Club and fly-in. Contact Clarissa E-mail: Clarissa@airborneaviation.co.za Cell: 074 113 2911

Virginia Airport Air Show, Durban. Brendan Horan E-mail: brendan@creativespacemedia.co.za

SAC Fundraiser event venue TBA. Contact Annie Boon E-mail: info@anniesaviationcorner.com

Maputo International Airshow on the waterfront. Contact Gavin Neil E-mail: gavin@haps.co.mz Cell: +258 84 391 7408

30 June to 2 July
EAA Taildraggers at Warmbaths airfield (Bela Bela). Contact Richard Nicholson E-mail:
ichard.nicholson1963@gmail .com



Rain Industries, a leader in automated rapid initial wildfire suppression, has added the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk to its list of supported aircraft, demonstrating the ability to remotely command the aircraft via satellite link from a central command centre. This milestone event showcases early steps towards a network of automated aircraft capable of rapidly responding to ignitions to prevent catastrophic wildfires.

As part of this capability demonstration, Rain sent a flight plan from their command centre in California to the Rain Aircraft Integration Kit installed on a Black Hawk helicopter in Tennessee. Once the on-board safety pilots activated the flight plan, they removed their hands from the controls while the aircraft flew itself to the hypothetical fire destination and back. In a video of the accomplishment, the aircraft can be seen executing the mission while the ground crew in California remotely monitors its progress.

Rain integrates with these camera feeds and other early detection sensors to dispatch nearby autonomous helicopters within seconds, Rain's Chief Engineer, Ephraim Nowak, states, "this is a critical first proof-of-concept to illustrate how our software will allow uncrewed aircraft to support firefighting missions." The Black Hawk, and its firefighting variant the Firehawk®, are familiar aircraft in the fire service, trusted by agencies such as CAL FIRE, the US Forest Service, and many others around the world. In addition to this recent integration with the Black Hawk, Rain has previously demonstrated an un- crewed Mosquito helicopter containing a test ignition.

The nascent stages of a wildfire are a critical opportunity for quick, efficient fire suppression. The UN predicts extreme fire will increase by about 50% by the end of the century, with extreme fire events already playing out in the Western US, northern Siberia, central India, and eastern Australia.

In California alone there are already over one thousand fire watch cameras continuously monitoring over 90% of the so that fires can be contained within minutes.

Rain's UH-60 Black Hawk demonstration, and the addition of the aircraft type to its list of supported aircraft, comes ahead of a number of scheduled pilot projects with customer fire agencies in California during 2023. These demonstrations serve to further establish the company as the market leader in rapid automated initial wildfire suppression.


Bell Textron Inc., a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, announced that the Bell 407GXi 3-axis autopilot has received certification from the United Kingdom's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

"We are thrilled to offer the Bell 3-axis autopilot for the Bell 407GXi to our customers in the UK," said Patrick Moulay, senior vice president, International Sales. "The system allows for decreased pilot workload and assistance in the event of inadvertent Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IIMC), overall increasing pilot comfort and ease over long distances."

It is available in the two and three-axis configurations: the two-axis version includes pitch control (altitude hold, IAS hold) and roll control (HDG hold, NAV, vertical navigation mode), and the three-axis option adds yaw control.

In addition, the system is equipped with: Stability augmentation system to automatically recover the aircraft to near-level flight attitude at all speeds in the event of adverse roll or pitch. Stability engagement throughout all phases of flight. Envelope protection to prevent over speeding and under speeding. Owners can specify the autopilot system on new Bell 407GXis or have the system retrofitted.

With the autopilot, advanced Garmin avionics, and a dual channel FADEC-controlled engine, the Bell 407GXi continues to set high standards for single-engine aircraft with its advanced technical features. There are currently 1,500 Bell 407s operating across all six continents totalling more than six million flight hours.


The Polk County Sheriff's Office (PCSO) Aviation Unit took delivery of its third R66 Police Helicopter, replacing its aging MD 500 fleet. The Aviation Unit's fleet now consists of three R66 Police Helicopters and one Cessna 182T.

Each of the white and green trimmed helicopters is equipped with a fully certified NVG cockpit, an AeroComputers moving map system, a Genesys HeliSAS autopilot, a Technisonic tactical radio and a Wescam MX-10 HD camera system.

In October and December 2022, RHC delivered two new R66 Police Helicopters to Helisul Aviation, the largest operator of single-engine helicopters in Latin America. The helicopters will be used to support the Brazilian Paraná State Police. HeliSul has since placed two more orders for R66 Police Helicopters, which are slotted for delivery this summer.


The F-35 Joint Program Office and Lockheed Martin have finalized the contract for the production and delivery for up to 398 F-35s for $30 billion, including U.S., international partners and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) aircraft in Lots 15 and 16, with the option for Lot 17.

"The F-35 delivers unsurpassed capability to our warfighters and operational commanders," said Air Force Lt. Gen. Mike Schmidt, program executive officer, F-35 Joint Program Office. "This contract strikes the right balance between what's best for the U.S. taxpayers, military services, allies and our foreign military sales customers. The F-35 is the world's premier multi-mission, 5th-generation weapon system, and the modernized Block 4 capabilities these new aircraft will bring to bear strengthens not just capability, but interoperability with our allies and partners across land, sea, air and cyber domains."

The agreement includes 145 aircraft for Lot 15, 127 for Lot 16, and up to 126 for the Lot 17 contract option, including the first F-35 aircraft for Belgium, Finland and Poland.

Lot 15-17 aircraft will be the first to include Technical Refresh-3 (TR-3), the modernized hardware needed to power Block 4 capabilities. TR-3 includes a new integrated core processor with greater computing power, a panoramic cockpit displays and an enhanced memory unit.

These aircraft will add to the growing global fleet, currently at 894 aircraft after 141 deliveries this year. The F-35 team was on track to meet the commitment of 148 aircraft as planned; however, due to a temporary pause in flight operations, which is still in effect, necessary acceptance flight tests could not be performed.

The finalised contract caps off a year of the F-35 delivering combat-proven airpower around the world and continued international growth. This year, Finland, Germany and Switzerland signed Letters of Offer and Acceptance (LOAs) as an important step in their procurement of F-35 aircraft.

"Continuing to add new countries to our global F-35 fleet further validates the capability and affordability of this aircraft in providing 21st Century Security to nations and allies," said Bridget Lauderdale, Lockheed Martin vice president and general manager, F-35 Program. "There is simply no other aircraft that can do all that the F-35 does to defeat and deter even the most advanced threats."

F-35 program participants currently include 17 countries. To date, more than 1,870 pilots and 13,500 maintainers have been trained, and the F-35 fleet has surpassed more than 602,000 cumulative flight hours.


Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE: NOC) AN/ALQ-257 Integrated Viper Electronic Warfare Suite (IVEWS) has completed U.S. Air Force Laboratory Intelligence Validated Emulator (LIVE) testing. The system exceeded multiple benchmarks and demonstrated the ability to counter modern radio frequency (RF) threats. This was the first time the ultra-wideband architecture in IVEWS underwent LIVE testing.

"As advanced radio frequency threats continue to proliferate, the protection afforded by IVEWS is essential," said James Conroy, vice president, navigation, targeting and survivability, Northrop Grumman. "This successful evaluation under very challenging conditions is an important step on the path to fielding the suite."

During the test, simulated air defence radar pulses were injected directly into IVEWS to verify the suite's ability to recognize and counter advanced threats. The signals used in LIVE testing are validated models that provide realistic representations of radio frequency threats. LIVE is an intelligence validated, closed-loop RF direct-injection threat radar emulator based on threat capabilities and features. It allows for the testing electronic warfare systems in realistic environments.

Fully digital and founded on secure, modular, open systems design principles, the receiver/exciter architecture in IVEWS provides significant advantages over heritage systems. This technology allows for extended frequency coverage, full spatial coverage, and more rapid responses. Featuring highly efficient broadband power amplifiers and adaptive countermeasure modulations, it is designed to detect, identify, locate, and defeat next generation sensors and weapons.

IVEWS is a program of record electronic warfare suite for the U.S. Air Force F-16 fleet. The system is exportable for current and previous generations of F-16 aircraft.


The Spanish Air Force, Ejército del Aire, decided to purchase 24 PC-21s in early 2020. The final PC-21 of this order was delivered to Spain in mid-2022. The Spanish Air Force has now decided to buy another 16 PC-21s. The contract signed with the Dirección General de Armamento y Material (DGAM) makes Spain the largest PC-21 operator in Europe.

Spain is convinced by the PC-21: since summer 2022, its future military pilots have trained with the world's most advanced training system by Pilatus. After a very professional negotiation phase, the Spanish Air Force has now ordered another 16 PC-21s to reinforce pilot training with additional Pilatus trainer aircraft. The training bandwidth of the PC-21 will also be enlarged: in future, the PC-21 will also be used for elementary training in addition to basic training.

Lieutenant Colonel Ildefonso Martínez-Pardo González, Academia General del Aire (AGA) Air Operations Group Commander, commented as follows: "Now in use with the Spanish Air and Space Force for over 18 months, the PC-21 integrated training system far exceeds our expectations. Its reliable and efficient powerplant, aerodynamics, safety systems and avionics make the PC-21 a highly versatile trainer, capable of performing any phase of flight training from the most elementary to the most advanced. Our relationship with Pilatus has been outstanding throughout, and a key factor for successful implementation. The excellent collaboration, professionalism and teamwork of everyone involved over the past three years have enabled us to roll out this PC-21 training course in record time without interruption to training."

14 PC-21s will be delivered to the Academia General del Aire (AGA) in San Javier. An additional two PC-21s will also be delivered to the Centro Logístico de Armamento y Experimentación (CLAEX). These two PC-21s will be used for experimental, flight test training and research and development activities. The aircraft will be based in Torrejón near Madrid. The package also includes a PC-21 simulator, two cockpit procedure trainers, additional mission planning and debriefing systems as well as pilot training software.


Skyports Drone Services, the global leader in drone logistics, surveys and monitoring, has today announced the launch of the Orkney I-Port operation, a fully electric drone logistics project established in partnership with Royal Mail, Orkney Islands Council Harbour Authority and Loganair. The project is set to revolutionise connectivity, access and safety throughout the rural island region.

Benefitting from Skyports Drone Services' extensive experience in the operation of highly automated cargo drones, the project will deliver two new capabilities: daily inter-port delivery of Royal Mail items and the demonstration of shore-to-ship deliveries. The I-Port project is significant as it represents the first UK drone delivery project which can be conducted on a permanent basis under existing regulatory frameworks, a milestone made possible due to the unique landscape of Orkney.

Orkney's island geography and harsh weather impact the ability to provide an uninterrupted delivery service. Postal deliveries arrive from mainland Scotland to Kirkwall Airport via the Loganair RMA Orkney Flyer, where they are delivered to residents on Orkney's main island, Mainland, or transported to one of the 19 other inhabited islands via ferry or small passenger plane. Pauses in the ferry schedule are common during poor weather due the challenges of docking safely.

Skyports Drone Services will establish a daily inter-island mail distribution service, initially operating between three locations across Orkney for three months, with the intent to extend. Post will be delivered by ground transportation from Kirkwall to a Stromness hub and transported by drone to Royal Mail sites on Graemsay and the North of Hoy, from where postal workers will carry out their usual island delivery routes. The new service, which is set to launch in Q2 2023, will provide considerable benefits including time, cost and emission savings and improved connectivity for island residents.

The project's shore-to-ship flight operations will demonstrate the benefit of a seamless link between Orkney Islands Council Harbour Authority and vessels in its port. Skyports Drone Services will provide logistics for several use-cases, including delivery of documentation and provisions and the transportation of bunker samples. Alongside the demonstration, Skyports Drone Services will conduct a feasibility study in partnership with Loganair to explore the future of heavy payload operations in Orkney.


Volocopter, the pioneer of urban air mobility (UAM), announced yesterday the opening of its production facilities in Bruchsal. The company marked this milestone with the opening of a new hangar that will host the company's final assembly line with an airfield to conduct development flight tests as well as quality checks. All company-owned production sites, which will manufacture the first EASA-certified electric air taxis, will ramp up into full operation in April. From this facility, electric air taxis made in Germany will be deployed across the world, offering commercial services starting next year.

Volocopter's production facilities have the capacity - and more importantly the regulatory approval - to assemble 50+ VoloCity aircraft each year. And this is the final step of the production setup that Volocopter has been expanding in Bruchsal over the past 18 months. Since 2021, the company holds an approval as production organization in compliance with EASA regulation. This certification covers the entire VoloCity production process. It includes the manufacturing of carbon fibre parts, all aspects of the electric propulsion unit, final assembly with decking of the propulsion system and fuselage, and extensive end-of-line flight tests.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on 4 April 2023 at the hangar. The event also featured a crewed flight of the Volocopter 2X. Key guests included Dr. Volker Wissing, Federal Minister of Digital Affairs and Transport; Mr. Winfried Kretschmann, Minister of the State of Baden-Württemberg; Dr. Anna Christmann, Federal Government Coordinator for German Aerospace Policy; and upward of 70 business and political representatives.

Dirk Hoke - CEO of Volocopter; "Right here is where the aircraft that will change how humanity moves about cities will take off and make its way across the world. This region is known for transforming mobility - the bicycle, the car, and soon Volocopter, too. Electric air taxis and Volocopter in particular is a technology made in Germany that will make the world a more sustainable place."


The pilot was conducting an instrument landing system (ILS) approach in instrument meteorological conditions at the conclusion of a cross-country flight. The airplane had been cleared to land, but the tower controller cancelled the landing clearance because the airplane appeared not to be established on the localizer as it approached the locator outer marker.
The approach controller asked the pilot if he was having an issue with the airplane's navigation indicator, and the pilot replied, "yup." Rather than accept the controller's suggestion to use approach surveillance radar (ASR) approach instead of the ILS approach, the pilot chose to fly the ILS approach again.
The pilot was vectored again for the ILS approach, and the controller issued an approach clearance after he confirmed that the pilot was receiving localizer indications on the airplane's navigation equipment. The airplane joined the localizer and proceeded toward the runway while descending.
The pilot was instructed to contact the tower controller; shortly afterward, the airplane entered a left descending turn away from the localizer center line. At that time, the airplane was about 3 nautical miles from the locator outer marker.
The pilot then told the tower controller, "we've got a prob." The tower controller told the pilot to climb and maintain 3,000 ft msl and to turn left to a heading of 180°. The pilot did not respond. During the final 5 seconds of recorded track data, the airplane's descent rate increased rapidly from 1,500 to about 5,450 ft per minute. The airplane impacted terrain about 1 nm left of the localizer center line in a left-wing-down and slightly nose down attitude at a groundspeed of about 90 knots.
A postimpact fire ensued.
Although the pilot was instrument rated, his recent instrument flight experience could not be determined with the available evidence for this investigation. Most of the fuselage, cockpit, and instrument panel was destroyed during the postimpact fire, but examination of the remaining wreckage revealed no anomalies. Acoustic analysis of audio sampled from doorbell security videos was consistent with the airplane's propellers rotating at a speed of 2,500 rpm before a sudden reduction in propeller speed to about 1,200 rpm about 2 seconds before impact.
The airplane's flightpath was consistent with the airplane's avionics receiving a valid localizer signal during both instrument approaches. However, about 5 months before the accident, the pilot told the airplane's current maintainer that the horizontal situation indicator (HSI) displayed erroneous heading indications.
The maintainer reported that a replacement HSI was purchased and shipped directly to the pilot to be installed in the airplane; however, the available evidence for the investigation did not show whether the malfunctioning HSI was replaced before the flight. The HSI installed in the airplane at the time of the accident sustained significant thermal and fire damage, which prevented testing.
During both ILS approaches, the pilot was cleared to maintain 3,000 ft mean sea level (msl) until the airplane was established on the localizer. During the second ILS approach, the airplane descended immediately, even though the airplane was below the lower limit of the glideslope. Although a descent to the glideslope intercept altitude (2,100 ft msl) would have been acceptable after joining the localizer, such a descent was not consistent with how the pilot flew the previous ILS approach, during which he maintained the assigned altitude of 3,000 ft msl until the airplane intercepted the glideslope.
If the HSI provided erroneous heading information during the flight, it could have increased the pilot's workload during the instrument approach and contributed to a breakdown in his instrument scan and his ability to recognize the airplane's deviation left of course and descent below the glideslope; however, it is unknown if the pilot had replaced the HSI.
Probable Cause and Findings
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's failure to follow the instrument landing system (ILS) course guidance during the instrument approach.

Sudan, Khartoum International Airport: A SkyUp Airlines Boeing 737, a Saudia Airbus A330-343E and an Aircraft Leasing Services Embraer ERJ-135LR operating for the UNHAS caught fire at Khartoum International Airport (KRT/HSSK) during fighting between the Sudan army and paramilitaries and was written off. The passengers had disembarked earlier.

Sudan, near Juba Airport: A Rwandan Air Force Mil Mi-17V-5 operating for UNMISS (United Nations Mission in South Sudan) made a forced landing shortly after take-off from Juba Airport. The four crew members and twelve passengers were not injured and the helicopter sustained minor damage.

USA, W of Riverside Municipal Airport, Riverside, CA: A Piper PA-28-180 Cherokee C lost engine power shortly after take-off from Riverside Municipal Airport (RAL/KRAL), Riverside, California, and made a forced landing in a field west of the airport. Two of three occupants sustained minor injuries and the aircraft received substantial damage.

Guatemala, Mundo Maya International Airport, Flores: A TAG Airlines Saab 340A suffered a runway excursion during a landing attempt at Mundo Maya International Airport (FRS/MGMM), Flores, Guatemala. The seventeen passengers and crew were not injured. The private passenger flight had departed Cancun International Airport (CUN/MMUN), Mexico, about two hours earlier.

France, Valenciennes/Denain Airport, Prouvy, Nord: A 58-year-old Belgian aviator, a former British Airways B747 pilot and member of Escadrille Yako Team suffered life-threatening injuries in the afternoon when he was hit by the propeller of his Yakovelv YAK-52. He succumbed to his injuries in the evening.

7 APRIL 1908

The members of the Aerial Experiment Association entered a competition sponsored by the Scientific American, which has offered $25,000 for a flight of over 0.62 miles. The Wrights refuse to enter because the rules state the airplane must take off without help.

The Aerial Experiment Association (AEA) was a Canadian-American aeronautical research group formed on 30 September 1907, under the leadership of Dr. Alexander Graham Bell.

The AEA produced several different aircraft in quick succession, with each member acting as principal designer for at least one. The group introduced key technical innovations, notably wingtip ailerons and the tricycle landing gear.

According to Bell, the AEA was a "co-operative scientific association, not for gain but for the love of the art and doing what we can to help one another. "Although the association had no significant commercial impact, one of its members, Glenn Curtiss, later established a commercial venture that would ultimately become the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company. The AEA was disbanded on 31 March 1909.

Kodiak Bishop's Cove to George Airport

Midweek Update
Aviation Economy

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