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News Letter 23 August 2018

Good day all

This weekend the Airshow Circus Makes it way to Bethlehem in the Free State, Bethlehem Airshow always deliverers displays that are not often seen anywhere else in South Africa. The weather is looking good and I’m sure Bethlehem will deliver once again.

Some photos of what to look forward to at Bethlehem Airshow

Sheila Taylor Fun Rally will take place at Krugersdorp Airfield on Saturday 25th August; the Rally is an official SAPFA event. If you are interested in joining the fun please register online here.

Fun Rallies are a great way to improve your navigation skills while having a wonderful flight and a great social outing with fellow aviators.

The New PC-12 Demo Aircraft

The new Pilatus PC-12 NG Demonstrator has been in the air since early June, sporting an eye-catching colour scheme based on a paper cut design. Paper cutting, a traditional Swiss craft, combines precision work and down-to-earthness. Two qualities which also apply to the PC-12. So why not put the two together?

Why a paper cut on an aircraft? An idea which Pilatus presented to Bernese paper cutting artist, Esther Gerber. It had to be typically Swiss, obviously. “I took the idea and placed it an overall context.” Esther Gerber started by drawing rough sketches of the design on a small scale. After approval by Pilatus, the design was enlarged to approx. 1.20 m in length. At this point, the real work got underway: “The drawing itself took around one week, but the actual cutting-out work took well over a month”, explains Esther.

Esther Gerber’s finished design was then digitalised and enlarged to fit the aircraft. Once finished, it took several hours to apply the black film to the white PC-12 NG. Here too, precision, craftsmanship and attention to the tiniest detail were essential. The individual sections of the design had to be placed in just the right position to ensure an optimum overall effect. We think it’s a job well done!

A typical Swiss chalet is the focal point of the design. There are sheep grazing in the meadows and cows on their way to mountain pastures, accompanied by farmers and flag-wavers in traditional dress. Two ibexes also adorn the aircraft. A young couple can be seen dancing to the sounds of musicians as deer listen. Hikers and lantern bearers can also be spotted amongst the figures. And in the distance, the Bernese Alps with Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. And the Matterhorn, of course! Not forgetting the Swiss flag, an edelweiss and Mount Pilatus.

So, how can an aircraft be compared to a paper cut? “An aircraft moves fast, a paper cut takes a long time”, explains Esther Gerber. And the down-to-earthiness of paper cutting is the absolute opposite to an aircraft in the air. There are plenty of contrasts! But even though the two activities appear to be far apart, there are at least as many parallels. Every time you look at a paper cut, you spot fresh details – exactly like the PC-12. Paper cutting is a traditional art uniting craftsmanship of the highest order and Swiss quality. The same qualities may be attributed to the PC-12.

The way Esther Gerber works with such a small pair of scissors, the way she cuts out the intricate figures and weaves them together to create an immense work of art is absolutely top class! Here too, there are parallels with the PC-12, which requires countless hours of work to mill, cut and assemble the smallest individual parts to create the overall finished product.

The Pilatus PC-12 Demo was presented to the general public for the first time at EBACE in Geneva. Pilatus is the only company to have an indoor booth complete with aircraft. It would be difficult to estimate how many photographs were taken of the PC-12 – a lot, that’s for sure! Very few visitors made it past the Pilatus stand without getting out a smartphone or camera. There was enthusiastic feedback about the new livery. Esther Gerber was there too, understandably keen not to miss this opportunity to see “her” PC-12 in Geneva. She also talked to Markus Bucher, Pilatus CEO, in person and generously shared some paper cutting tips with him. Giving it a try himself, he was able to appreciate the complexity at first hand – a little more practice, perhaps?!


'The number of passengers delayed by between one and two hours will grow from around 50,000 each day to 470,000 a day,' says Eurocontrol

The number of aircraft in the skies will more than double by 2037, according to the latest Global Market Forecast by Airbus.

The Toulouse-based plane maker says half the present 21,450 aircraft flying will still be aloft in 20 years. With 37,390 new planes predicted to take off, the world’s total will increase by 123 per cent to 47,990.

The expected total number of aircraft is 11.3 per cent higher than it was in the last big forecast by Airbus, a year ago.

The vast majority of the new planes will be smaller, narrow-bodied jets. More than three-quarters of deliveries will be from the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 families, or aircraft of a similar scale from other manufacturers.

Assuming the 737 is still being made in 2037, it will be the most enduring aircraft in aviation history, having first flown 70-years earlier.

Of the 28,550 predicted new narrow-bodied planes, one of Airbus’s leading hopes is the A321 NEO, a re-engined version of an aircraft that attracted little attention when it was launched as a stretched A320 in the early 1990s.

The latest version can hold up to 244 passengers, and the long-range variant can fly 4,600 miles – the distance from Manchester to Seattle. The economics of the A321 are very tempting to 21st-century airlines, particularly for “long, thin” routes.

Primera Air has launched a network from Stansted to North America using the aircraft, though the airline has blamed late deliveries from Airbus for causing drastic cuts to its intended schedule.

Boeing’s most recent global forecast, made a year ago, predicts a very similar number of single-aisle aircraft: 29,530.

Wide-bodied aircraft, divided into medium, large and extra-large categories, will make up only 24 per cent of new planes according to Airbus.

Of these, the majority will be “medium” planes, defined as having 230-300 seats and a range of up to 5,750 miles – such as some versions of the A330 and Boeing 787.

“Large” aircraft are those with 300 to 350 seats and a range of 11,500 miles, such as shorter versions of the A350 and Boeing 777.

In the “XL” category, where the definition is 350-plus seats and a range of 11,500 miles, an extra 1,590 are expected. But few of these are likely to be the A380 “SuperJumbo”. The world’s biggest passenger plane has struggled for orders, and the production rate is slowing.

But Airbus believes that, with 90 per cent-plus of passengers travelling through just 65 cities, the Airbus A380’s time will come.

Airbus has barely one-third of the current order backlog for large jets, with the Boeing 777-300 the leading contender.

In its report, Airbus also says that planes are flying fuller than ever, with an 81.4 per cent “load factor” – the proportion of seats that are occupied. On a 180-seat Airbus A320, an average of 33 seats are empty. Traditionally, a load factor of 70 to 75 per cent was regarded as satisfactory.

Europe’s two biggest low-cost airlines, Ryanair and easyJet, are achieving load factors in the mid-90s.

Airbus says: “Over the last 30 years, air transport’s ‘centre of gravity’ has moved south and east.” In 1988, it was in mid-Atlantic, reflecting the domination of North America and western Europe.


Piper Aircraft, Inc. announced today that sales of Piper trainers in the second quarter of the year increased 126% when compared to the same period in 2017. Both their single and multi-engine trainers have solid order book backlog into Q3 of 2019. The twin engine Piper Seminole lead the increase with 150% growth in deliveries followed by both the Arrow and Archer, which showed a combined growth of 85%.

Piper Aircraft continues to fill its 2019 and beyond order book with new aircraft sales to Auburn University, Epic Flight Academy, as well as Utah Valley University. Additionally, existing customers like Aims Community College, ATP, and Central Washington have expanded their original orders to help support their growing pilot training programs. The increase in demand for Piper trainers can be directly attributed to the looming pilot shortage and the resulting demand for pilots.

“Flight training organizations are selecting the Piper brand not only because we are the only OEM to provide a full trainer product line up, but because of our demonstrated commitment to the trainer market. It is our desire to develop long term relationships with our customers that reach far beyond the sale of the aircraft,” said Piper Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Customer Support, Ron Gunnarson.

For 2018 Piper is on track to deliver more than 100 PA-28s – a combination of single engine Archers and single engine, complex trainer, Arrows. In addition to the success with Piper’s PA-28 products, sales for the twin-engine Seminole will reach their highest level in more than 15 years.


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