Midweek Update 2 November 2023

Compiled by Willie Bodenstein


Business announcement from Van's founder Dick Vangrunsven.
African countries examine ways to meet the continent's strategic airlift needs.
Armscor details SAAF C-130BZ Hercules upgrade progress.
SAAF Museum OC inspects facilities.
Northprop Grumman's B21 Raider to fly by year's end.
Wisk expands AAM leadership in Los Angeles County.
Gulfstream G500 gains FAA steep-approach certification.
GAMA applauds confirmation of FAA Administrator Whitaker.
Airbus signs € 1.2 billion in contracts for Capability Enhancement and In-Service Support of the French A330 MRTT fleet.
This week in History - Pan Am Flight 50, operated by the 747SP named Clipper New Horizons, lands back in San Francisco 54 hours 7 min 12 seconds after it left.
Worldwide incidents and accidents.
Bonus Video - Pretoria Boys Hight Aviation Society Students Flights 2023.

EAA Chapter 322 breakfast fly-in gathering, boot sale, fly market EAA Auditorium. Contact Neil Bowden E-mail:

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

Gyro Fly-In Kitty Hawk Airfield. All aircraft welcome. RSVP Juanita 082 040 9798

EAA Chapter 322 breakfast fly-in venue TBA. Contact Neil Bowden E-mail:

EAA National & Chapter 322 Annual Awards Dinner Venue TBA. Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: airadventuresa@gmail.com

Aero Club Awards 50 Viking Way Rand Airport (Menno Parsons hangar). Contact Sandra Strydom sandra@aeroclub.org.za Tel: 011 082 1100

SAA Museum Rand Airport in Memoriam SA 295 Helderberg. For more information call 076 879 5044 or email

EAA Chapter 322 monthly gathering, fly-in breakfast EAA Auditorium. For more information contact Neil Bowden E-mail: airadventuresa@gmail.com

2 to 3
SAC ACE of Base Heidelberg airfield Contact Annie Boon E-mail: info@anniesaviationcorner.com

8 & 9 December
SACAA ICAD annual airshow Bisho. Contact Noel Godwin E-mail: noelcg05@gmail.com Cell: 082 414 7702

Kitplanes for Africa


www.defenceweb.co.za and Africa Defense Forum

As South Sudanese peacekeepers walked off a Kenya Air Force C-27J Spartan military transport aircraft in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), they were fulfilling a pledge. South Sudan's president had promised to send 750 troops to take part in the East African Community Regional Force. Their arrival in Goma on 2 and 3 April 2023 meant the mission, designed to bring peace to the volatile eastern DRC, had reached full deployment.

For South Sudan, a country that has hosted foreign peacekeepers since its independence, the ability to send troops abroad was a milestone.

01 PIC"We are very proud today because the flag of the Republic of South Sudan is going to be flying as a region continuing to contribute to stability and peace," said then-Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs Angelina Teny before the deployment. "This is a great opportunity for us to change the image of this country."

It also showed the importance of airlift partnerships. The deployment might not have been possible without the support of the Kenya Air Force (KAF). The KAF also flew 100 Burundian Soldiers to the DRC in March 2023.

For years, peacekeeping missions have been hampered by a lack of air mobility. Countries simply couldn't move troops and equipment where they were needed in a timely fashion.

"Strategic airlift is an asset that every nation dreams of, but having such equipment is quite expensive," KAF Commander Major General John Mugaravai Omenda told Africa Defense Forum (ADF). "And looking at our [gross domestic product], generally in Africa, it is a challenge to operate strategic airlift."

To solve this shortfall, countries are looking at innovative ways to acquire aircraft, maintain them and pool resources. For the continent, this could be the difference between intervening on time to stop a crisis and arriving too late.

Many governments across Africa's 30 million square kilometres are responsible for large landmasses with limited road, railway or port infrastructure. This presents a problem sometimes called the "tyranny of distance."

The continent has 204 kilometres of roads per 1 000 square kilometres, about 22% of the global average. Only about one-quarter of the roads are paved. Infrastructure is not evenly distributed, meaning developed population centres are often far away from conflict zones in remote regions.

"Our region is vast [and] characterized by limited transportation infrastructure, hence [it] requires effective air mobility mechanisms to bridge distances, support replenishment of troops in theatre … and attend to humanitarian assistance," Rwandan Air Force Lieutenant General Jean Jacques Mupenzi told Air & Space Forces magazine.

When that air mobility is not available, the results can be devastating.

In 2012, as insurgents pushed to take over Mali, an Economic Community of West African States intervention was delayed for months due to a lack of airlift. Similar delays occurred in Sudan's Darfur region in 2010, when African Union troops were grounded as the conflict exploded. Eventually, the Netherlands stepped in to provide the necessary airlift.

Once arriving in a country, a lack of roads makes sustaining troops a challenge. During the UN mission in Mali, peacekeepers spent weeks moving supplies via truck convoys from the capital city, Bamako, to remote outposts in places such as Timbuktu. A former sector commander recalled the "logistics nightmare" of battling dust storms, floods and tire-puncturing rocks to move supplies across the country.

"Normally they say operations drive logistics, but I think in Africa, logistics drive operations because the operations must be based on what logistics are available," said retired Brigadier General David Baburam, former head of AU Mission Support. "You can't get the troops to location A or B if you don't have the means of air transport to take them there. You can't keep troops in the operational area for three months if you can't feed them."

The two broad categories of airlift are strategic and tactical. Strategic airlift is provided by large planes designed to move troops and heavy equipment to a location. Tactical aircraft involves smaller planes or helicopters that supply troops throughout a deployment.

For the heaviest strategic lift requirements, defined by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) as capable of moving equipment for one brigade, options are limited. These aircraft, with maximum payloads ranging from 45 000 to 136 000 kilograms, are expensive to acquire and maintain. A C-17 Globemaster can cost more than $300 million with roughly the same amount necessary for repairs and maintenance over its life cycle.

For most peacekeeping and emergency response operations on the continent, medium airlift capacity is the most practical. ACSS defines this as capable of transporting one to two battalions and their equipment to a location in multiple trips over the course of 14 days. These aircraft have a payload of 9 000 to more than 36 000 kilograms and are more affordable.

To meet this need, some countries have turned to the C-130, an aircraft first built in 1957, which has proved to be reliable and cost-effective. Today, the C-130 is the most popular transport aircraft used by air forces around the world. There are 858 C-130s or the related L-100 in use, making up 20% of the global military transportation fleet.

In an analysis of different platforms, US Air Force Major Ryan McCaughan said the C-130 is best suited for regional missions due to its range of more than 2 700 kilometres, the capacity to carry 19 000 kilograms of cargo and its ability to land in rugged environments.

"The C-130 is right for Africa," McCaughan wrote in a 2019 analysis. "Primarily in terms of cargo capacity, flight time, and unimproved surface landing capability, this asset provides the answer for a region." Ten African countries fly the aircraft, including South Africa.

Nations are examining ways to team up to maximize their resources. One project under the African Union is the creation of an Africa Air Mobility Command Centre that would include an air transport sharing mechanism. This would offer a way to use the continent's airlift resources to support peace and security requirements.

Under the plan, nations with air capabilities would agree to provide support when called upon. Aircraft could be used to transport troops or equipment for a security operation, to evacuate people during a humanitarian crisis or move aid in response to a natural disaster.

"I think it's every African's dream to see an African airplane with all African flags across its tail, flying across the continent providing relief and support to Africans," said Tunisian Air Force Colonel Kais Sghaier during a 2022 conference in Botswana, where a working group discussed the command centre.

Such arrangements have been successful in other parts of the world. For example, the Movement Coordination Centre Europe, based in the Netherlands, is a partnership of 28 nations that provides airlift, sealift, air-to-air refuelling and ground transportation to member countries.

Countries also are examining the need to create airlift sharing mechanisms at the regional level, particularly to support the Africa Standby Force, which is aligned to the regional economic communities. The force is mandated to respond to crises in as few as 14 days, but often has been unable to meet that timeline.

"In our regional economic community, the Southern African Development Community, we face a lot of disasters and crises, and we don't have the requisite airlift capability," Major General Hendrick Thuthu Rakgantswana, Botswana's air chief, told Air & Space Forces magazine. "So, it means, now, that we have to come together and pool our resources."

Such cooperation was on display in 2022 and 2023 when Zambia and Angola provided airlift to move personnel and equipment to the Southern African Development Community's Mission in Mozambique.

"This mechanism is the answer - we just now have to make it fit in the existing structures," Rakgantswana said.

Countries also are looking at ways to pool resources to enhance buying power. One idea is for a group of nations to join to buy a small fleet of transport aircraft that would be jointly owned and operated. This follows the model of the Hungary-based Strategic Airlift Capability's Heavy Airlift Wing, a partnership of 12 nations that shares air resources.

During the African Air Chiefs Symposium in 2023 in Dakar, Senegal, air leaders expressed optimism that such partnerships and joint efforts will develop.

"If everything improves, I think we can partner with other nations, because that's the idea of this forum, to try and bring all these assets together under common use and apply them whenever the need arises," said Omenda of Kenya. "So, yes [the aircraft] are expensive, they are few, but with collaboration amongst nations we can make it."

Written by Africa Defense Forum and republished with permission.

Guy Martin www.defenceweb.co.za

Marshall Aerospace in the United Kingdom will complete upgrade work on the first South African Air Force (SAAF) C-130BZ Hercules transport at the end of next year as the SAAF tries to ensure the fleet remains serviceable.

National Treasury allocated R1 billion in the 2023/24 financial year for rejuvenating the SAAF's medium airlift transport capability. Armscor, in a presentation to Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV) last month, said Marshall Aerospace received a R470 million contract to install Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS B) transponders and replace the secondary flight display systems on C-130BZs 409 and 405 as well as complete major maintenance work.

Tail number 409 departed South Africa on 8 August and arrived in the United Kingdom on the 11th, with work to be completed in December 2024. Tail number 405 will be completed ten months after delivery to Marshall Aerospace. Following testing and verification of these modifications on the first aircraft, Marshall will supply Denel with service bulletin kits containing all parts, components and instructions needed to perform the same modifications on four additional C-130 aircraft in South Africa. Marshall will train Denel and SAAF technicians on the modification implementation processes.

Armscor revealed that the balance of the additional funding (R490 million) will be utilised for the servicing of at least eight engines for the C-130BZ fleet, while Armscor is also placing a contract worth R40 million for aircraft spares.

R75 million of the SAAF budget for 2023/24 is being allocated to Denel Aeronautics for C-130BZ maintenance, with the contract valid from January 2023 to end December 2025. These funds will be used for the servicing of aircraft, procurement of spares, repair of components and calibration of Ground Support & Test Equipment (GS&TE). Armscor noted that "C-130BZ product supply support (PSS) contracted to Denel from January 2023 to December 2025 is worth R500 million, but only R177 million is funded."

While Denel has had trouble fulfilling SAAF maintenance contracts, Armscor reported that the company's liquidity challenges have been easing and Denel is paying its contractors without the assistance of Armscor.

However, the period to service aircraft at Denel's maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility has been longer than expected due to their only being one MRO bay whereas two bays are required at minimum, and there is a shortage of serviceable engines. "High level meetings with the SAAF have been initiated to address these challenges." It is planned for Denel to build a second Hercules servicing bay.

All told the SAAF plans to upgrade six long-serving Hercules transports, with each upgrade expected to take in the region of 18 months.

Marshall Aerospace in the early 2000s worked on the SAAF Hercules fleet under Project Ebb, among others fitting digital avionics, giving the aircraft so-called "glass cockpits". Marshall Aerospace added a digital autopilot, flight displays, a navigation systems upgrade, communications and self-defence integration and enhancements to the electrical generation system. Three aircraft were upgraded in the UK and the remaining six in South Africa by Denel. Since the completion of these upgrades, in-country maintenance of the fleet has been performed by Denel.

Fully upgrading and maintaining all six remaining C-130s (the SAAF had nine serviceable examples but two have been written off in accidents and one has been cannibalised for spares) will cost just over R4 billion but it's not clear how or if this will be funded.

Recently appointed SA Air Force (SAAF) Museum Officer Commanding, Lieutenant Colonel Aobakwe Gaelejwe, has ventured across South Africa to inspect the state of Museum facilities first-hand.

In his maiden engagement with the SA Air Force Museum stakeholders (Friends of SA Air Force Museum) as a relatively newly appointed Officer Commanding, Gaelejwe heeded a call from various Museum Curators to embark on a roadshow and inspect facilities, reported Major Romeo Mabote, SA Air Force Museum Public Relations Officer.

SAAF MUSEUM PICThe SAAF Museum has its headquarters at Air Force Mobile Deployment Wing (formerly Air Force Base Swartkop) in Centurion, with satellite branches at Air Force Station Port Elizabeth and Air Force Base Ysterplaat in Cape Town.

Asked about the museum satellite in Port Elizabeth (Qgeberha), Gaelejwe expressed concern on the 'dilapidated' facility. "The resuscitation of this facility will cost us an exorbitant amount of money. The strong winds endured by the Port Elizabeth Museum created these structural defects," he said. The Port Elizabeth facility is apparently out of bounds to visitors during strong winds.

Gaelejwe takes over from Acting Museum Officer Commanding Major Ntokozo Ntshangase, who died suddenly at the beginning of this year. "Major Ntshangase paved the way for me to shine. I will bask in his fountain of knowledge and transcendent brilliance. It is a pity that I had a short stint with Biyela. May he continue to find eternal peace in heaven," Gaelejwe said.

New management is also coming to Ysterplaat, with Lieutenant Colonel James du Toit the new Museum Curator. "I am ready to take over the reins from Lieutenant Colonel Mfeketo who is going on early retirement subsequent to the approval of her Mobility Exit Mechanism (MEM)," he said.

Air Force Bases Makhado and Hoedspruit as well as the Lowveld Aero Club Nelspruit will be afforded opportunities to engage Gaelejwe during the second round of oversight visits, before the new year ushers in. These oversight visits are treated as a precursor to the annual SA Air Force Museum Air Show, scheduled for 2024.


Northprop Grumman's B-21 Raider of which the USAF has a number in various stages of completion has begun carrying out taxi tests at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California.

According to a USAF statement rigorous testing is a critical step in the B-21 flight test program. The extensive testing evaluates systems, components and functionalities. This testing, according to the statement, allows the USAF to mitigate risks, optimize design, and enhance operational effectiveness.

"Engine runs, according to the statement, were being carried out. Other preparations included activating its systems to ensure that all control actuation systems work properly.

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall in a statement said that baring any unexpected surprises, that the first flight should happen this year.

Kitplanes for Africa


Wisk Aero, a leading Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) company, has expanded its leadership in Los Angeles and the AAM industry with the region's first public air taxi flights and discussions with local and city officials.

In October, Wisk became the first electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) air taxi company to fly in the greater Los Angeles Area with the launch of test flights at Long Beach Airport. The test flights provided the opportunity for Wisk to conduct autonomous flight operations in a complex, real-world commercial airport environment, alongside other passenger airline operations.

The company concluded its flight program at the Long Beach Airport with the first public demonstration of an eVTOL air taxi flight in the Los Angeles region during Long Beach's Festival of Flight. The multi-transition flight was conducted using Wisk's 5th Generation (Cora) autonomous, eVTOL aircraft, demonstrating the safety and reality of autonomous passenger flight.

In addition, the company also hosted the Mayor of Long Beach and local and state officials from the Los Angeles region, including Orange County, and Boeing leadership, for a discussion regarding the future of Advanced Air Mobility within the region.

"Autonomous flight is possible today and it's happening now in LA," said Brian Yutko, CEO of Wisk. "Los Angeles is a target launch city for many in our industry and we are extremely proud to be the first air taxi company to fly in LA - and to have done so with an autonomous aircraft. We are fortunate to have the partnership and support of Boeing throughout the area to help build relationships and advance our mission. We are thankful to Long Beach for their ongoing partnership and support as we make safe, every day, autonomous flight a reality for Southern California, and the world."

Wisk's leadership in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area began in 2022, when the company announced a partnership with Long Beach through the city's Long Beach Economic Partnership (LBEP). The partnership is focused on evaluating, planning, and implementing AAM in Long Beach as part of a broader regional network, with a focus on autonomous flight. Most recently, Wisk sponsored research on the economic impact of AAM for the region, which was conducted by California State University, Long Beach, and resulted in a report (found here).

"I am proud to see the future of flight becoming a reality in Long Beach," said Mayor Rex Richardson. "Long Beach has been a leader in aviation for decades and those careers helped build and sustain the middle class here for generations. I am looking forward to working with Wisk and Boeing to create good jobs and integrating a safe, quiet, and environmentally responsible transportation option in Long Beach."

In July of 2023, Wisk completed the world's first public demonstration of an autonomous eVTOL fixed-wing aircraft during EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, WI. The flight demonstrated that autonomous, all-electric air taxis are both safe and quiet, and provided value and learnings for the company's flight and operations team.


Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. today announced the clean-sheet, next-generation Gulfstream G500 has been certified for steep-approach operations by the U.S Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), giving the aircraft access to some of the world's most challenging airports.

The G500 proved its low-speed handling and short-field capabilities in 2021 with landings at airports including London City Airport in England, which has a short runway and strict noise abatement requirements, and Lugano Airport in Switzerland, which is situated in the mouth of a valley and requires an extremely steep approach.

"Our customers already benefit from the revolutionary performance and efficiency of the G500," said Mark Burns, president, Gulfstream. "We are now pleased to deliver steep-approach capability as well, providing additional flexibility by unlocking access to even more destinations around the world."

With optimized speed, wide-cabin comfort and efficiency, the G500 offers best-in-class performance along with advanced safety features including the award-winning Gulfstream Symmetry Flight Deck. The G500 also features the Gulfstream Cabin Experience with 100% fresh, never recirculated air, the lowest cabin altitude in its class, whisper-quiet sound levels and abundant natural light from 14 Gulfstream Panoramic Oval Windows. The aircraft seats up to 19 and sleeps up to eight and can fly 5,300 nautical miles/9,816 kilometres at Mach 0.85 or 4,500 nm/8,334 km at Mach 0.90. It has a maximum operating speed of Mach 0.925.

The G500 holds nearly 60 city-pair speed records and more than 110 are in service around the world.


The U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed Michael Whitaker to serve as the next Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator. General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) President and CEO, Pete Bunce, released the following statement regarding the confirmation of FAA Administrator Whitaker

WHITAKER PIC"GAMA congratulates FAA Administrator Whitaker on his confirmation. This is a transformative time for aviation, and we welcome the experience and skills that FAA Administrator Whitaker will bring to the agency. We are confident that he will provide the FAA with the stability, leadership and sound direction that the agency needs. We look forward to working with the Administrator as the FAA continues its work to further develop an aviation system that is safer, more efficient, and technologically advanced.

"Additionally, we are grateful for the bipartisan leadership of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which worked to expeditiously move the Administrator's nomination through the Senate."


Airbus Defence and Space has signed two contracts valued at € 1.2 billion in total with France's Direction générale de l'armement (DGA) and Direction de la Maintenance Aéronautique (DMAé) for the Capability Enhancement and the In-Service Support of the French A330 MRTTs (Multi Role Tanker Transport) fleet.

"We thank the French Ministry of Armed Forces for its continued trust in the Airbus A330 MRTT and we are honoured to contribute to one of France's most strategic capabilities through this programme," said Jean-Brice Dumont, Head of Military Air Systems at Airbus Defence and Space. "With this new capability of the aircraft, we are preparing the future by transforming the MRTT into an in-flight communications node, as the first building block of the Multi Role Tanker Transport of tomorrow, embedded in the Future Combat Air System (FCAS)."

Standard 2 contract: Stepping stone of the Multi Role Tanker Transport of the future

The Standard 2 contract provides for the capability extension of the French MRTTs, focused on connectivity as a key pillar and also self-protection capabilities. With the aim of being connected in all circumstances, including jammed environments and extreme weather conditions, the aircraft will be equipped with the MELISSA satcom station.

These new capabilities will convert the French A330 MRTT into a high bandwidth communication relay node, with command-and-control capabilities, and will build the stepping stone of the A330 MRTT's integration into the future air combat cloud within the FCAS.

The first aircraft to have the Standard 2 will be A330 MRTT No. 15, whose conversion will be carried out at Airbus' military facilities in Getafe. It is expected to be qualified for the French Air Force in 2028. Thereafter, the upgrade to Standard 2 of the remaining 14 French A330 MRTTs will take place at the Istres Air Base in France.

The second contract covers the In-Service Support of the 'Phénix' fleet for 10 years, plus two optional years, at the Istres Air Base, southern France, home to the 31st Strategic Air Refuelling and Transport Wing. Airbus, as the prime contractor, together with its preferred partners in France, will be responsible for fleet modernisation, maintenance, logistics and technical support to ensure the aircraft's operational availability. The local Airbus team in France will be doubled to support these activities.

The support services introduced under these contracts guarantee a level of availability, reactivity and resilience compatible with the requirements of the French Air Force and the Strategic Air Forces. This includes support for aircraft deployed outside France.

Under the nickname of 'Phénix', the French Air and Space Force currently operates 12 A330 MRTTs, with more than 18,000 flight hours completed. France is the largest A330 MRTT customer with 15 A330 MRTT ordered.

With 79 orders from 15 countries, the A330 MRTT has a 90 percent market share outside the USA. and more than 270,000 flight hours.

South Africa, Zandspruit Bush & Aero Estate, Hoedspruit, Limpopo: A Gyroflug SC01 B-160 Speed Canard GT crashed when landing at Zandspruit Bush & Aero Estate, Hoedspruit, Limpopo. The sole pilot and owner died and the aircraft was written off.
Australia, Pioneer Valley, near Finch Hatton, QLD: A Socata TB20 Trinidad impacted wooded terrain in the Pioneer Valley, Finch Hatton, Queensland. The impact was not survivable and the two occupants on board are presumed dead and the aircraft was destroyed.

Brazil, near Rio Branco-Plácido de Castro Intl. Airport: A Cessna 208B Grand Caravan, operated by ART Táxi Aéreo, was destroyed when it crashed in a heavily wooded area shortly after take-off from Rio Branco-Plácido de Castro International Airport (RBR), Brazil. The two pilots and ten passengers perished.

USA, near Huntington, UT: The Cessna T206H Stationair TC was declared missing on October 27 as communications halted while flying near Huntington, Utah. The plane departed Vernal Airport (VEL/KVEL) with the sole pilot onboard. The aircraft's charred wreckage was found that night; the pilot was killed in the crash.

30 OCTOBER 1976

Pan Am Flight 50, operated by the 747SP named Clipper New Horizons (N533 PA), lands back in San Francisco 54 hours 7 min 12 seconds after it left, thereby setting a new speed record for a round-the-world polar flight. Over 170 passengers paid $2222 (economy) to $3333 (first class) for the privilege of flying over the North and South Poles with musicians, a hair dresser and a Gucci fashion show on board. The flight also made stops in London, Cape Town and Auckland along the way.

Pretoria Boys Hight Aviation Society Students Flights 2023

Aviation Economy
Midweek Update

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