News Letter 9 May 2018


Good day All

The Swartkops Airshow has now truly whet the appetite of all aviation lovers, this coming weekend the “circus” moves to the beautiful Lowveld town of Nelspruit.

What do you get when you combine the best aerobatic pilots, the biggest, loudest and most show-stopping aircraft in the country? A head-banging performance.

And that is exactly what the 2018 Lowveld Air Show is promising, with the theme like Rock n Roll, how can you afford to miss out on one of the most important dates of the Lowveld’s events calendar.

Now in its’ 14th year, the Lowveld Air Show has each year worked hard to bring a new and fresh approach to air shows in South Africa. This year, they plan to ‘Rock the Runway’, with a lineup of thrilling aerobatic performances, coupled with some of the best rock ‘n roll music in history.

“We believe that deep down inside, every one of us has a little 'rock ‘n roll' spirit in them. It’s what we grew up with. And to combine that now with something as synonymous as fighter jets and helicopters, it’s a dream come true for young and old,” says Johan Heine, Chairman of the Lowveld Air Show Committee.

The Nelspruit Airfield will also offer a wide variety of delicious food vendors, exhibitions and their biggest kids play area to date, hosted by the Just for Fun company, well known for their kids' entertainment area at the annual Uplands Festival. Parents will be delighted to know they can let their children play in a safe, secure and fun area on the day.

Not only will the entire day be centred around rock ‘n roll, but after the extravagant fireworks show at the end of the air show, the stage will be lit for an electrifying rock and roll experience on the runway, offering spectators the opportunity to enjoy the day further at the Lowveld Airfield. And the Lowveld Air Show is promising one thing, “We will, we will Rock you!

Tickets are on sale now on lowveldairshow.co.za. Ticket prices include the full day of air show performances, rounded off with a Rock and Roll afterparty. Adult tickets are R150 and scholars pay R100. Pre-scholars will again enjoy FREE entrance.

For all those that are not making the pilgrimage to Nelspruit, Rustenburg Flying Club will be hosting a Fly-in Breakfast.

Coordinates: S25°38.66' / E27°16.27'

Elevation is 3700.0 feet MSL.

If the last few Rusteburg Fly-in's are anything to go by its definitely worth making the short flight out there, The Food, atmosphere and general hospitality by the members of Rustenburg Flying Club is always great.

Lufthansa orders up to 16 Airbus and Boeing aircraft

The Lufthansa Group will order up to 16 aircraft from Airbus and Boeing in a deal valued at €2.1 billion ($2.5 billion) at list prices.

The orders include up to 12 Airbus A320 family aircraft for Lufthansa Group carriers, two Boeing 777-300ERs for Swiss and two 777 Freighters for Lufthansa Cargo, the Frankfurt-based carrier says. The Lufthansa Group board approved the deals today.

The A320 family order is split between up to six A320s that will be delivered "depending on availability" this year to offset A320neo delays, and the conversion of six A320neo options to firm orders with deliveries in 2022.

Swiss will take the 777-300ERs in 2020 and use them for growth.

Lufthansa Cargo will use the 777Fs to replace ageing Boeing MD-11s.

Lufthansa Group carriers operate 350 A320 family and 10 A320neo family aircraft, 10 777-300ERs and five 777Fs, Flight Fleets Analyzer shows. Not including the latest deal, they have firm orders for 61 A320neos, 45 A321neos and 20 777-9Xs.

Global pilot shortage looms large

The aviation industry is facing a global pilot shortage. This was initially thought to only be a threat in the rapidly expanding Middle East and Asian markets, but the shortage has spread to North America, Europe and Africa, suggesting that international airlines may start plundering pilots from South Africa.

Currently, according to commercial aviation consultancy AirInsight, the global supply of commercial airline pilots is estimated at 281 000. Airbus and Boeing both foresee strong traffic growth continuing, with Boeing projecting global demand for 558 000 pilots by 2034.

AirInsight, including more conservative Airbus projections, puts the estimate at 428 988 pilots by 2034. Therefore, even the more conservative estimate is for a 53% growth in commercial pilots over today’s numbers. Their report states: “The first impacts of the pilot shortage are being manifest already. The problem is therefore significant.”

In fact, since AirInsight’s projections, Boeing has increased its 20-year projection to 617 000 new commercial airline pilots, a 10.5% increase over its 2015 outlook. This unprecedented demand will be driven by record orders which will see the world’s airliner fleet almost double from 23 000 aircraft in 2014 to a 44 500 by 2033.

The most conservative outlook represents a global requirement for about 21 500 new airline pilots annually, or over 400 pilots per week. Of these, at least half will need to be pilots with years of experience, globally recognised training and the skills and acumen acquired through thousands of hours of airline flying.

According to SAA Pilots Association (SAAPA), most of the 750 pilots of South African Airways meet these requirements and have a cumulative total of over 12 000 years of experience at SAA alone.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) projects a 4.15% annual growth in airline traffic. With traffic growth comes a need for more seats on more aircraft and additional crews to fly these aircraft. Due to this unprecedented worldwide demand for skilled pilots, ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organisation, published an information paper in January 2015: “Potential Safety Risks Caused By Pilot Shortage”.

There are already many signs of the pilot shortage. During October, Ryanair, Europe’s number one airline, announced that it is to launch a major recruitment drive for 1 000 pilots as it plans to take delivery of 50 new aircraft in the next 12 months. Eddie Wilson, Ryanair’s Chief People Officer, said in a media release, that its aircraft numbers would grow from 355 to over 500 in the next five years.

According to a report in Bloomberg, Chinese airlines alone need to hire approximately 100 pilots a week for the next 20 years to meet accelerating travel demand. Facing a shortage of candidates at home, these airlines are offering lucrative pay packages to foreigners with cockpit experience, and are active in Johannesburg at the moment to fill their needs for experienced airline captains.

Air traffic across China is set to almost quadruple over the next 20 years, making it the fastest growing market, according to Airbus Group SE. Air transport is booming in China, where the fleet more than tripled in a decade to 2,650 according to the Civil Aviation Industry Statistics Report.

As a result, some of these carriers are paying about 50% more than what some senior captains earn in the United States. This means that pilots in emerging markets such as South Africa could quadruple their salaries.

SAA Pilots Association (SAAPA) chairman Captain Jimmy Conroy, says he fears the local airline industry and the country may lose a large number of pilots to international airlines. “SAA has a normal attrition rate of 15 – 25 pilots per year. Recent negative publicity together with hostility from certain quarters has caused some pilots at SAA to re-evaluate their career options.

Foreign carriers looking for suitably trained pilots realise that SAA may be a source of scarce skills to be exploited. In doing so, they obtain experienced pilots at little or no cost. To compound this problem, South African Airways (SAA) is currently not training any new pilots through its previously highly successful Cadet Training Programme, which had until recently been making substantial inroads into the transformation of the pilot profession in South Africa.

He adds that he is aware of 60 pilots who had left various South African carriers to take up positions with foreign carriers over the last 12 months. “Most of them took up positions with Middle Eastern carriers. South African licences were recently recognised by the Chinese aviation authorities, which further opens the market to experienced South African airline pilots.”

Conroy concludes that pilot training anywhere in the world is very expensive, and that there are aviation colleges who train pilots but few pilots are sponsored by airlines in South Africa, with none currently sponsored by SAA.

“According to 20-year industry projections, it is clear that the shrinking pool of experienced or future pilots is going to heat up competition among global carriers for the best and most proficient pilots. SAA, in this scenario, can ill afford to lose any pilots.”