• Garth Calitz

News Letter 14 March 2018


Good day All

The planned Children’s “Nav” to Margate seems to be under threat from the adverse weather, a major costal low is currently moving in from the South West. Felix Gosher the organiser of the event will make a decision jointly with all the participating pilots at about 10:00 on Thursday morning as to whether it will go ahead or not. The weekend is planned to fly orphan children, that have never seen the ocean, to Margate for the weekend. It would be a waste to take them in bad weather. If it does not go ahead this weekend it will take place one weekend very soon.

Cessna SkyCourier completes initial wind tunnel testing.

Textron Aviation Inc. today announced it has completed initial wind tunnel testing of its new twin-engine Cessna SkyCourier turboprop. Results from comprehensive wind tunnel tests will provide performance and aerodynamic characteristics and structural load data, further finalizing the aircraft design.

“For the initial wind tunnel testing, we use a custom, precision model with electric motors and scaled propellers calibrated to represent the thrust produced by the real aircraft,” said Brad Thress, senior vice president, Engineering. “We’re making outstanding progress in the development of this clean-sheet aircraft and are eager to continue defining the details that will allow us to start creating tools and parts.”

Since Textron Aviation announced the Cessna SkyCourier in November 2017, the company has seen tremendous interest from operators looking for a modern solution in the large twin-utility space.

As part of the aircraft’s design development, the company is garnering feedback from its Customer Advisory Board – empowering operators to affirm what customers need in this segment.

“The flexibility and mission potential for the Cessna SkyCourier is attractive to a wide variety of operators,” said Thress. “The feedback we’re gathering from the CAB is extremely important as we develop an aircraft that is reliable, efficient and meets the diverse requirements of an array of mission profiles.”

The company is anticipating first flight of the Cessna SkyCourier in 2019 with entry into service in 2020.

The Cessna SkyCourier is a twin-engine, high-wing, large utility turboprop that will offer a combination of high performance and low operating costs for air freight, commuter and special mission operators. The freighter variant will feature a large cargo door and a flat floor cabin that is sized to handle up to three LD3 shipping containers with an impressive 6,000 pounds of maximum payload capability. The aircraft will also afford a maximum cruise speed of up to 200 ktas and a 900 nautical-mile maximum range.

The efficient 19-passenger variant will include crew and passenger doors for smooth boarding, as well as large cabin windows for great natural light and views. Both configurations will offer single-point pressure refueling to enable faster turnarounds. The aircraft will be powered by two wing-mounted Pratt & Whitney PT6A-65SC turboprop engines, and operated with Garmin G1000 NXi avionics.

The Cessna SkyCourier will be backed by Textron Aviation’s service network, a world leader in commuter, cargo and special mission fleet support.

11 Airbus A320 neo aircraft grounded

Hours after the third mid-air aircraft engine failure in two weeks, the civil aviation regulator ordered the grounding of 11 Airbus 320neo planes + on Monday. This is expected to hit 75-80 flights operated by IndiGo and GoAir every day.

TOI was the first to report that 69 instances of engine failure were reported by IndiGo in just 18 months till September 2017.

The final incident that pushed DGCA, the civil aviation watchdog, into action occurred early on Monday morning, when the right engine of an IndiGo A320neo aircraft, packed to capacity with 186 passengers and crew, failed mid-air on way from Ahmedabad to Lucknow.

The pilots radioed an emergency and the aircraft returned to touch down safely in Ahmedabad around 5.30am with ambulances and fire engines on standby.

'DGCA shouldn’t have waited so long to ground aircraft'

Technological advances in multi-engine aircraft over three decades had made engine failure a rare occurrence, with only about 25 failures worldwide a year. A twin-engine aircraft like an A320 can land safely with one operational engine, but A320neos powered by Pratt & Whitney (PW) 1100 engines have had at least one engine failure per month since the time they were introduced globally in January 2016.

The recent incidents in India involve the March 5 IndiGo A320neo engine failure on takeoff from Mumbai. The aircraft took off at 6.40pm, only to return for an emergency landing at 7.10pm with one working engine. Before that, on February 24, a GoAir A320neo that took off from Leh had a mid-air engine failure.

Sources said IndiGo and Go Air were informed of the DGCA’s decision, issued in a press note around 4.30pm, earlier in the afternoon. The note said that A320neos fitted with “PW engines beyond ESN 450” would be grounded with immediate effect. By evening, A320neos were grounded in airports across the country, as thousands of passengers braced for delays and cancellations.

Air safety expert Capt Mohan Ranganathan said, “The DGCA shouldn’t have waited this long to ground the aircraft. It’s time we realised that passenger safety is more important than commercial requirements.”

Last month, a PIL was filed based on TOI’s reports in the Bombay high court. It sought the grounding of the entire A320neo fleet. Last Friday, the court asked the DGCA to file a reply.

IndiGo grounded three A320neos following a directive from the European aviation safety agency in February, which took the total number of grounded 180-seater A320neos in India to 14. Currently, IndiGo, with a market share of 40 %, operates a fleet of 155 A320 aircraft, including 45 A320neos (new engine option); 7% of these are now grounded. An IndiGo spokesperson said only nine A320neos are grounded. GoAir operates a fleet of 32 A320s (186-seater) and has a market share of 9.6%. The three grounded A320neos make for 9% of its fleet.

On February 9, the European civil aviation regulator red-flagged PW1100 engines manufactured mid-2017 onwards. Its directive read: “Several occurrences of engine in-flight shutdown and rejected takeoff have been reported on certain A320 neo family aeroplanes… preliminary findings indicate that the affected engines are more susceptive to inflight shutdown.

This condition, if not corrected, could lead to dual engine shutdown.” EASA ordered that A320neos with two affected engines should be grounded, , while those with only one can continue to fly. According to the DGCA, IndiGo then had eight A320neos and GoAir three, with one affected engine.

Following the 1990 Bangalore crash, the V P Singh government had grounded the entire A320 fleet of Indian Airlines. But the single-aisle, twin-engine aircraft recovered from that setback to turn into a workhorse for airline fleets the world over.

Drones Are Helping Restore Power in Puerto Rico

It’s been over 160 days since Puerto Rico lost power during Hurricane Maria, and many parts of the island are still left in the dark. By far longest blackout in U.S. history, many people are developing creative solutions to fix it, and Duke Energy, a North Carolina-based energy company, is using commercial drones to rebuild the island’s energy infrastructure.

Since mid-January, Duke Energy with its 200 volunteers have been clearing fallen power lines and constructing new lines across the island. Repairing fallen power lines is not easy for humans to do, especially in Puerto Rico. First workers have to locate downed lines, which can be tough among debris, fallen trees, and undergrowth. In Puerto Rico, that can also involve hiking through forests, over mountains, and through endless difficult terrain.

Once workers find downed lines they have to string them across the utility poles, which involves attaching weights to those lines and shooting them hundreds of feet in the air. This, also, is not an easy task. Fortunately, the entire process becomes much easier when using drones.

For the past few months, workers have been using five AceCore's Zoe quadcopters to locate fallen power lines across Puerto Rico, and to help repair those lines once they’re found. These Zoe drones—which can carry 26 lbs, fly for 40 minutes, and cost around $15,000 each—can spot fallen lines and thread those lines through the poles, saving volunteers lots of time and money.

For the next several months, Duke Energy volunteers—and their drones—will continue working on getting Puerto Rico's infrastructure up and running. That infrastructure is going to be crucial once summer and hotter temperatures arrive. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely they’ll repair all of Puerto Rico’s electrical grid, even with their handy drone sidekicks.

Garmin Begins Shipping G500 TXi and G600 TXi

Garmin says the first of its new G500 TXi and G600 TXi clean-sheet touchscreen flight displays are on their way to customers following approvals by both the FAA and EASA in Europe. The TXi series incorporates touchscreen design with modern processors that support improved map and chart rendering, faster panning and contemporary single-finger zoom and pinch-to-zoom gestures.

Three displays are available, offering flexibility for panel configurations, including a large 10.6-inch display, and two versions of 7-inch displays, in portrait and landscape orientations. The 10.6-inch display can operate as a primary flight display (PFD), multi-function display (MFD) and optional integrated EIS in a highly customized package, while the 7-inch portrait display can be dedicated to any one of those functions. The 7-inch landscape display is available exclusively as a dedicated EIS solution. The G500 TXi system is intended for Part 23 Class I/II aircraft under 6,000 lbs. and the G600 TXi flight displays are intended for Class III aircraft that weigh up to 12,500 lbs.

When the TXi series is paired with a GTN 650/750 touchscreen navigator, Connext wireless connectivity offers additional capabilities. Flight Stream 510 is an option with the GTN 650/750, which enables Database Concierge, the wireless transfer of aviation databases from the Garmin Pilot app on a mobile device to a GTN and the TXi system. Flight Stream 510 also supports the sharing of a breadth of information with compatible mobile devices running Garmin Pilot or ForeFlight Mobile, including two-way flight plan transfer, traffic, weather, GPS information and back-up attitude information as available.


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