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News Letter 31 January 2019

Good day all

The South African Airforce (SAAF) will be hosting their Prestige Award Evening tonight at Airforce Base Swartkops, the aim of the Prestige Evening is to showcase service excellence by bestowing honours and eminence to the sterling work done by different SAAF entities and individuals in their varied stations.

The following day, Friday 1 February 2019, there will be an impressive exhibition of SAA military finesse during the Air Force Day Parade, where the Chief of the Air Force provides a strategic plan of action for the year ahead.

The Silver Falcons, Hawks and a Gripen have made their way to Pretoria for the two events so they Promise to be something spectacular, unfortunately no mention has been made that the SAAF is 99 years old this year. We can just hope that next year the Airforce Centenary will be celebrated in style.

Morning Star airfield will be the home of the third “Speed Rally”, the speed rally concept was the brainchild of Jonty Esser and was started as a test for the new format that will be used in the Presidents Trophy Air Race (PTAR).

The concept has already shown much interest almost capacity entries for the previous two and as of today only one place was open for Morning Star.

Friday 1st February

18h30 - 20h30 First Briefing and official number handout

20h30 - UNTIL LATE Entertainment and Social mingle (Going to be great fun try not miss this)

Saturday 2nd February

07h00 - 07h30 Breakfast and Arrivals

07h30 - 08h00 Registrations and logger handout

08h00 - 08h30 Briefing




13h00 - 14h00 Results and loggers downloading

15h00 Announcing the RACE Winners and Shortest Route Flown Winners (Prize Giving)

16h00 Departures

The SAAF Museum will be the place to be on Saturday if you are in Gauteng and looking for your aviation ‘Fix”. The first monthly flying training day will be taking place, Food and refreshments will be available as well as vendors selling their aviation and military memorabilia. All the airworthy aircraft at the Museum will be put through their paces.

British Airways Retro Liveries

British Airways has announced plans to paint selected aircraft with a series of retro liveries , as the carrier celebrates its centenary year in 2019. The first aircraft to receive a commemorative paintjob will be a B747 (registration G-BYGC), which will be painted in the 1964-1974 era British Overseas Airways Corporation livery.

BOAC was a direct predecessor of British Airways, having combined with British European Airways (BEA) to form the British Airways brand in 1974. The retro-painted aircraft will arrive at Heathrow on February 18, and will retain the livery until its planned retirement in 2023.

The BOAC livery is the first of a number of retro designs set to be unveiled this year, with BA using it as “an opportunity to revisit history of UK commercial aviation in British Airways’ centenary year”.

British Airways said that the B747 jumbo had been chosen for the BOAC livery, “as it is a later variant of the same aircraft type that adorned the design when it was initially in operation”.

The carrier stresses that all new aircraft entering the fleet will sport BA’s established Chatham Dockyard design – including the forthcoming A350s, the first of which is due to be delivered to the carrier this year.

Commenting on the news Alex Cruz, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO, said“So many British Airways customers and colleagues have fond memories of our previous liveries, regularly sharing their photos from across the globe, so it’s incredibly exciting to be re-introducing this classic BOAC design. “Our history has shaped who we are today, so our centenary is the perfect moment to revisit our heritage and the UK’s aviation landscape through this iconic livery.”

British Airways traces its history back to August 1919, when Aircraft Transport and Travel Limited launched the world’s first daily international scheduled air service, between London and Paris.

SA Express Gets one over Solenta Aviation

South African Express airline says it is happy that it has been vindicated after a Gauteng high court ruled in its favour following a protracted contractual dispute between the airline and charter operator Solenta Aviation in an arbitration hearing.

Gauteng high court ruled in favour of SA Express following a protracted contractual dispute between the airline and charter operator arbitration hearing on Monday.

Solenta Aviation applied for the liquidation of the South African Express over an unpaid R87.3 million it owed the charter operator in unpaid leasing debts. Three Embraer ERJ 145’s wet-leased from Solenta between October 2016 and June 2017.

SA Express said in a statement that it was happy to be vindicated by Monday’s ruling“It is unfortunate that the dispute had to drag on for such a prolonged period of time, but we are just relieved that the matter is now behind us and we can now focus on the core business of restoring SA Express’s fortunes as we continue on our quest to reclaim the airline’s mettle as a leader in the local and regional aviation industry,” interim CEO Siza Mzimela said.

The ruling coincides with the airline’s celebration of its key performance milestone - the reopening of its second largest base in Cape Town.

U.S. Air Force Receives First Replacements for Its 60-Year-Old Stratotankers

The KC-46 is three years behind schedule and cost Boeing billions in overruns.

The U.S. Air Force has finally received the first of dozens of new aerial refueling tankers, nearly two decades after issuing a requirement for them. The KC-46A Pegasus tanker, built by Boeing, will replace some of the oldest aircraft in USAF inventories, KC-135 Stratotankers more than sixty years old.

On January 25, two KC-46A tankers took off from Boeing’s airfield at Everett, Washington, and flew to their new home at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas. The aircraft will take part in operational testing with the 344th Aerial Refueling Squadron. Ultimately the Air Force is expected to build 179 of the new tankers in a contract estimated to be worth $44 billion.

The KC-46A is actually a Boeing 767 commercial airliner modified to carry large amounts of fuel. The newer tanker carries up to 802507 litres of fuel at a time, 45000 litres more than the jet it replaces, and can fuel at a rate of 4500 litres per minute. It can refuel 64 different types of U.S. and foreign military aircraft using a boom lowered from the rear of the jet or pods that drag hoses from the rear, a system called a “drogue.”

The Air Force first issued a requirement for a new tanker in 2001, but there were numerous delays thanks to corruption, congressional opposition (the Air Force originally wanted to lease tankers from Boeing, which Congress didn’t like), and the competition for a winning tanker design being restarted. Boeing’s KC-46A design was chosen in 2011 and the company was supposed to deliver 18 planes, two spare engines, and nine sets of wing-mounted refueling pods by August 2017.

The KC-46A’s delayed development is largely due to technical problems, including a remote camera designed to help the tanker crew mate up with thirsty airplanes in complete darkness, and problems with the tanker’s refueling boom. Boeing has incurred $3 billion in cost overruns getting this far, costs it was forced to absorb.

The KC-46A will replace the KC-135 Stratotanker. The KC-135 was based on the Boeing 707 jetliner and first entered service in 1956. KC-135s have served in every U.S. war from the Vietnam War up through the campaign against ISIS.

Airbus H160 Helicopter

In most helicopters, turning upside down is somewhat alarming, since it’s the sort of thing that usually precedes a crash. In the new Airbus Helicopters H160, though, it's a “non-event”. Just a smooth upward pitch, followed by a nose-over onto the helicopter’s back. No shuddering vibrations, no crushing g-forces, no brick-like plummet.

Airbus made the H160, which will enter service next year, for everything from executive travel and oil-rig landings to emergency services. It can seat 12 passengers, fly up to 530 miles on a full tank, and hit a top speed of 177 mph. It burns 15 percent less fuel than aircraft equipped with previous-generation engines, and will cost in the double-digit millions. That’s competitive with other helicopters in its medium-duty class, but the European aviation giant hopes pilots and passengers will appreciate the innovative design.

The pitch-over demonstration, executed over the fields of western New Jersey during a demonstration flight for prospective buyers, was intended not to show how pilots might fly the H160, but to demonstrate the “margins” they have when things go sideways in the air. “I’m all about margins,” Airbus experimental test pilot Olivier Gensse says. “When you have margin, or the capability of manoeuvring out of trouble, that makes you comfortable because you’re able to use the aircraft to its fullest.”

Gensse also demonstrated the H160’s composure in the case of excessive inputs in an emergency, via another mildly terrifying move. He quickly increased the throttle and then just as quickly decreased it, with a violent jerking of the throttle for the dual 1,300-horsepower Safran Arrano turboshaft engines. This put us into a brief but controlled free fall, as the aircraft interpreted the pilot’s inputs and executed a rapid but still controlled and smooth response, whereas another helicopter could easily lose control during such erratic inputs.

“You can get out of critical situations very easily,” Gensse says, adding that the automatic pilot system, Airbus’s most advanced yet for helicopters, can help pilots focus on flying by managing many of the details relating to the power and flight control systems. The “glass cockpit” swaps analogue dials for electronic displays, to help prioritize whatever’s most important at the moment. The high-visibility canopy, with minimal structural obstructions, is a further plus for situational awareness, and according to Gensse, eliminates the claustrophobic feeling that comes with many cockpits.

It’s all indicative of Airbus’ move away from aircraft-centric thinking where raw functionality motivates design toward being pilot- and even passenger-centric. From the pilot’s perspective, the aircraft reduces the amount of training required to safely fly the helicopter. “It’s a new way of imagining flight,” Gensse explains. “Previously we’d have a given helicopter and a pilot, with a lot of training required to mix them. So you’d need a high level of training to get out of a critical situation. Now, though, we try to build the aircraft to be very easy. If it’s easy, it will be safer.”

The scimitar shape of the main rotor reduces the noise generated as each blade tip cuts through vortexes left in the wake of the blade ahead of it.

This means minimizing the pilot’s workload. Thus the double-click button on the yoke to stabilize the aircraft, and the autopilot’s steady, always-on presence, which allows the pilot to instantly shift attention while the system maintains its current direction, altitude, speed, and so on. The advanced autopilot, which represents a significant evolution from previous versions, also helps modulate hovers and landings, even easing descents into brownout or whiteout conditions when visibility drops to zero.

On the passenger side, Airbus has focused on the rider experience in the H160, which isn’t always prioritized for aircraft that serve mostly utilitarian roles. It’s not just catering to VIPs, Gensse says. Keeping everyone comfortable contributes to safety. The scimitar shape of the main rotor reduces the noise generated, as each blade tip cuts through vortexes left in the wake of the blade ahead of it. Airbus says this reduces the noise beneath the helicopter by 50 percent—great news for people inside as well as on the ground.

The enclosed tail rotor, which Airbus calls the rear fenestron, sits angled 10 degrees toward the ground, contributing to lift as well as countering the helicopter’s tendency to rotate beneath the main rotor disk. Introduced on military aircraft, this is its first appearance on a civilian helicopter. The stabilizer on the tail boom uses a stacked “biplane” configuration, instead of single panels. This improves low-speed stability by halving the amount of surface area affected by the main rotor downwash, without compromising aerodynamics in forward flight.


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