News Letter 20 December 2018


Good day all

I hope most of you have safely reached your holiday destinations and are busy unwinding from a busy year. Flightline Weekly will be taking a break from our normal editions but will be periodically reporting on urgent news if there is to be any, our normal weekly Editions will commence again early in January. I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your families a very merry, peaceful and above all safe Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.

The next few days will be a very quiet one as far as aviation evets go, the only upcoming event that we are aware of is the St. Francis Fly-In on 27 December the 28th Dec as a reserve day in case of bad weather. Contact Barry Culligan 083 611 3333

The SACAA Cemair battle highlights deep-set problems

The ongoing battle between Cemair and the SACAA have highlighted a few worrying factors that prompted me to ask a few important questions.

Why is the SACAA seen as the enemy of aviation in South Africa where in other parts of the world the regulators are seen as friends?

This seems to have a lot to do with the regulators perceived attitude towards all sectors of aviation. The CAA generally seem to have a “Speed Cop” attitude to towards aviators rather than having a “How can we help” attitude. I am sure everyone in aviation from the big airlines to the weekend pilot in his LSA wants the sector to be as safe as possible so why does it seem as if the CAA is trying to nail everyone rather than assisting in finding solutions that will benefit everyone?

The SACAA’s actions in the Cemair case appear to be vindictively motivated rather than the regulator working for a safer flying environment. Grounding an airline on the busiest day of the year seems like a very harsh punishment (yes I use the word punishment not corrective guidance) for the relatively minor indiscretions Cemair were charged with. Unfortunately this type of action will not assist in making the skies safer but only deepen the chasm between operators and the regulator.

In short it seems that the SACAA have lost the confidence of the very people they are appointed to assist. Some serious introspection is necessary to regain that confidence of the flying community without which the industry is heading for more difficulties similar to what we have experienced in the last few days.

After reading both the SACAA and Miles van der Molen’s (CEO Cemair) statements it seems as if the CAA realized that they were not going to win the battle on the legalities and then opted to settle with conditions that in some way help them to save a bit of dignity. There was no mention of the alleged Level 1 findings against Cemair in their Statement released on Tuesday.

I have included both the SACAA and Cemair’s Statements

Drones Cause Chaos at London Gatwick

Thousands of plane passengers are expected to face more chaos today after all flights were grounded at Gatwick as two drones were spotted flying over the airfield. Staff at the airport were desperately trying to ensure the flight schedule returned to normal after a night of total mayhem sparked by a major security alert on Wednesday.

The runway was briefly reopened just after 3am on Thursday but more drone sightings meant that it was closed again, causing further disruption to passengers using the airport. Gatwick's chief operating officer, Chris Woodroofe, said drones had been spotted over the aircraft as late as 7am on Thursday. Speaking to BBC Radio 4, he blasted the "irresponsible" act and said up to 10,000 people had been affected by the closure, including 2,000 whose flights had been unable to take off.

He said there were two drones which had been seen flying "over the perimeter fence and into where the runway operates from. They disappeared and reappeared over the night period from 9pm until 3am, at which point we reopened the runway.

That lasted 45 minutes before the drones reappeared again and we are currently closed and it is our intention to review the situation when we have daylight at 8am." Mr Woodroofe added the drones had sparked "very significant disruption for passengers" but that police did not want to shoot them down because of the risk from stray bullets.

Last night there were 10,000 people disrupted, there were 6,000 people flying in from around the world to Gatwick who were diverted to alternative airports as we closed, there were 2,000 people who didn't take off from their origin airport and there are a further 2,000 people here who couldn't fly to their destination because the airport closed." He added that 20 police units from two forces were hunting for the pilot, saying: "The police are looking for the operators and that is the way to disable the drones. We also have the helicopter up in the air but the police advise us that it would be dangerous to seek to shoot the drone down because of what may happen to the stray bullets."

Gatwick has warned passengers the disruption will continue and told those travelling to or from the airport to check their flight’s status as there was a huge backlog of flights. It comes after frustrated customers were held on the runway for hours, with many flights even been diverted to other airports amid the chaos.

Any major problem at Gatwick causes a ripple effect throughout Britain and continental Europe, particularly during a holiday period when the air traffic control system is under strain. It is a busy airport 27 miles (43 kilometres) south of London, hosting a variety of short- and long-haul flights and serving as a major hub for the budget carrier easyJet.

Gatwick normally operates throughout the night but the number of flights is restricted because of noise limitations. The airport website said it usually handles 18 to 20 flights overnight during the winter months. There have been occasional reports of drones nearly hitting commercial airliners in the London area in recent years. Strong sales of small consumer drones have led to repeated warnings about a possible threat to scheduled flights.

SAA – Emirates Code Share Deal

South African Airways (SAA) and Emirates will expand their strategic cooperation with enhancements to their codeshare agreement, opening up new destinations for customers. Pending governmental approval, the partnership will see the relationship between the two carriers grow across a wide spectrum of commercial and customer touch points.

“The expansion of our partnership will further strengthen key focus areas of the implementation of our turnaround plan,” said SAA CEO Vuyani Jarana.

“We have seen great success with the codeshare agreement, having enabled greater connectivity to both SAA and Emirates customers, by offering more choice, flexibility and ease of connections to a wide range of cities via Dubai and across more points in Southern Africa,” said Sir Tim Clark, president, Emirates Airline.

In 2017/18, the codeshare agreement between Emirates and SAA saw approximately 90,000 passengers benefit from seamless travel and greater connectivity, in this year alone, both groups said in a joint statement.

SAA offers seats on the eight daily flights operated by Emirates between South Africa and Dubai (four daily flights from Johannesburg including its iconic A380 aircraft, three daily flights from Cape Town and one daily flight from Durban).

The enhanced agreement means the codeshare will be expanded across both carriers’ networks. Included in the new agreement are plans to enhance the frequent flyer programmes, Emirates’ Skywards and Voyager by SAA. The airlines will separately work on other areas of bilateral cooperation and an exchange of best practices across multiple airline functions.

UK's First Digital Air Traffic Control Centre

Cranfield Airport’s new Digital Air Traffic Control Centre was today officially opened by the Aviation Minister, Liz Sugg. The airport is the first in the UK to have an operational digital air traffic control centre.

Over the next few months, the airport will continue its work with the regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, in order to complete the transition from a traditional air traffic control tower to the new digital centre, providing a high-quality air traffic control service.

Supplied by Saab Digital Air Traffic Solutions, the innovative technology replicates what can be seen through the windows of a traditional air traffic control tower. It enables smarter approaches to air traffic control by digitising and integrating airport functions and improves a controller’s situational awareness, enabling quick and informed decisions.

Aviation Minister Liz Sugg, said: “Cranfield’s new control centre is a fantastic example of harnessing technology to improve the efficiency of flights. “The upcoming Aviation Strategy consultation will set out how the Government proposes to encourage the use of innovative technology to achieve sustainable aviation growth and enhance passengers’ experience.”

Professor Sir Peter Gregson, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Cranfield University, said: “The Digital Air Traffic Control Centre is a significant boost for Cranfield’s global research airport and the research capabilities of the University. Combined with our existing and future facilities, it will cement Cranfield’s place as the home of leading aerospace and aviation research, at the heart of the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford growth arc.”

The new system provides controllers with a 360-degree view of the airport and the ability to zoom-in on aircraft, improving visibility.

Rob Abbott, Cranfield Airport’s Director of Aviation Operations, said: “This is an exciting time for us. The installation of the new Digital Air Traffic Control Centre, as well as significant upgrades to Cranfield Airport’s infrastructure and capabilities, will put us at the forefront of digital aviation.”

Johan Klintberg, CEO of Saab Digital Air Services said: “This is a historic moment for air travel in the United Kingdom and shows the future of the UK’s aviation sector lies in leading edge technology combined with operational expertise. Saab and Cranfield University started on this journey in October 2017, and have enjoyed an excellent working relationship that has resulted in today’s success. We look forward to welcoming more UK airports on-board as users of this innovative technology as well as to the research benefits that this facility will contribute to the marketplace.”

There are no digital control towers currently fully operational at UK airports. In 2015, the airports in Örnsköldsvik and Sundsvall in Sweden became the first in the world to be controlled via digital air traffic control in Sundsvall.

Digital aviation has often been cited as being the next significant business transformation in the sector and one which can support the aerospace industry towards delivering greater customer satisfaction while addressing efficiency, cost and capacity issues.

With the pace of air travel growth already causing strains across the sector, and UK passenger numbers expected to increase by 49% by 2050, solutions other than expansion of airport capacity and ground infrastructure need to be found.

As well as serving Cranfield Airport, which is owned by Cranfield University, the Digital Air Traffic Control Centre is an integral part of the £67 million Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre (DARTeC). Scheduled to open in 2020, DARTeC will address research challenges facing the aviation industry such as:

The integration of drones into civilian airspace;

-Increasing the efficiency of airports through technological advances

-Creating safe, secure shared airspace through secure data communication infrastructures

-Increasing the reliability and availability of aircraft through self-sensing, self-aware technologies.

Co-investment support for DARTeC is being provided through a consortium of leading aerospace and aviation companies including Thales, Saab, Monarch Aircraft Engineering Limited and Aveillant – as well as Research England and Cranfield University.

Professor Graham Braithwaite, Director of Transport Systems at Cranfield University and Principal Investigator for DARTeC, said: “This as an important step in the vision for DARTeC, which will spearhead the UK’s research into digital aviation. The Digital Air Traffic Control Centre will enable greater integration between aircraft and emerging technologies such as drones and autonomous vehicles. This is a prime example of our commitment to re-imagining ‘the airport of the future’.”


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