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News Letter 7 March 2019

Good day all

I greet you today from a very hot Middelburg where final preparations are being made for the 2019 Aero Club Airweek, Pilot Insure Speed Rally and of course the Middelburg Airshow which will be taking place for the next few days. Very few of the expected visitors have arrived but I am certain that there will be many more later today, the weather in Gauteng seems to be keeping many aircraft on the ground.

The only other event we are aware of is Sport Aerobatic Club Regional Championships which will be held at Swellendam Flying Club from the 9-10 March.

BRS Releases Parachute for Van's RV-10

After 18 months of development, BRS Aerospace says it’s ready to accept orders for the Van's RV-10 ballistic parachute. BRS already offers a kit for the Van’s RV-7 and RV-9 aircraft as well as other experimental.

Priced at $25,990, the system can be retrofitted to flying aircraft or built into airplanes currently under construction. To ease the latter option, BRS is offering the kit in two parts to better incorporate into the build process; first comes the installation hardware then, once the airplane is ready to fly, the builder can purchase the parachute assembly and rocket.

BRS says the RV-10 installation consumes 82 pounds of payload and the right side of the RV’s baggage compartment, opposite the baggage door. The parachute and deployment rocket fit into a box roughly 20 inches on a side, which consumes about a third of the RV’s baggage-bay volume and approximately half the floor area. Builders should watch weight and balance, because the bulk of the system weight is in this area.

When deployed, the chute exits the airframe on the right side, eventually engaging straps connected to the rear rollover structure and the upper edge of the firewall. The straps are run under thin exterior fairings.

Installation is slated to take 48 hours to complete as a retrofit, though RV-10s equipped with air conditioning will require “up to 78 hours.”

Textron Aviation highlights market-leading products and diverse solution capabilities at Avalon 2019.

Textron Aviation Inc. announced its attendance at this year’s Australian International Airshow and Aerospace & Defence Exposition (Avalon), Feb. 26 to March 3 in Geelong, Victoria, Australia with a versatile array of products and solution capabilities.

The company’s slate for the event includes static displays and demonstrations of the Cessna Citation Latitude and Cessna Citation CJ3+, as well as additional displays of the Cessna Grand Caravan EX, Cessna Skylane and a Beechcraft King Air 350 flown by the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia South Eastern Section.

“The vast landscape of Asia-Pacific demands a variety of airborne capabilities, and the Textron Aviation fleet of jets, pistons and turboprops is perfectly suited to meet the diverse needs of our customers, from flight schools to special missions’ operators,” said Jessica Pruss, vice president, Asia-Pacific Sales. “Our robust product line-up continues to lead the region, with nearly 2,000 of our aircraft in service.”

Growing Asia-Pacific’s leading in-service fleet

With more than 1,400 jet and turboprops based throughout Asia-Pacific, Textron Aviation aircraft make up the region’s largest active fleet.

The company’s jet platforms provide Australian pilots and operators with short-field performance, cutting-edge avionics and large interiors customizable for business and special missions utilization. The 1,800-nautical mile-range Citation CJ3+ can fly nonstop with four passengers from Melbourne, Australia to Auckland, New Zealand, as well as large regional hubs like Cairns, Australia.

The Citation Latitude delivers a four-passenger range of up to 2,700 nautical miles, pairing Melbourne, Australia with Asia-Pacific destinations such as Papua New Guinea and Fiji.

“Textron Aviation jets represent 40 percent of the overall jet fleet in Australia, and as business aviation continues to expand in the country and throughout Asia-Pacific, it’s essential that we provide a broad range of solutions that meet the needs of our growing customer base,” Pruss said. “The Latitude’s ability to access smaller airfields while providing a large cabin that elevates the passenger experience, is ideally suited for the region. We’re eager to showcase the jet’s class-leading features and capabilities at Avalon.”

Also showcased at this year’s event are the Cessna Skylane, Cessna Grand Caravan EX and the Beechcraft King Air 350, aircraft representing Textron Aviation’s flight training and special missions’ capabilities. Today, more than 1,000 Beechcraft and Cessna turboprops are based and operating throughout Asia-Pacific. The aircraft are recognized in the region for their superior reliability, rugged performance and payload capacity, making them ideal platforms for cargo, Medevac, surveillance and charter missions.

Five Years After MH 370, Aviation Industry Rolling Out Tech to Ensure No Plane Disappears Again

On March 8, 2014, a Boeing 777 with 239 people went missing on a flight between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing. As details emerged within hours of the airplane’s last communication with air traffic control, it became clear that Malaysian Airlines 370 (MH370) was lost … literally; no one knew where the airplane went once it disappeared from radar about 40 minutes after take-off from Kuala Lumpur. Because the Boeing’s transponder also ceased functioning, tracking the aircraft by air traffic control became impossible.

Five years after the Boeing disappeared, setting off the longest and costliest search ever undertaken for a commercial airplane, the question of what happened remains unanswered: was it hijacked, brought down by a mechanical problem or crashed by a suicidal pilot? We may never know, but away from the spotlight on the investigation, the aviation industry has been refining the technology to ensure that an airliner never vanishes again.

Over the next three years, airlines will begin plugging into a satellite-based system that will always track their planes, anywhere on Earth.

In 2014 it was not unusual for airlines to have little direct contact with some of their airplanes for extended periods of time, especially when they were flying over open water where traditional ground communications and radar don’t work well. To their credit, the airlines operate airplanes that are so reliable, that being out of touch for a sustained period has never been a real problem.

Information emerged in the early days and months following the loss that some routine automatic communications between an Inmarsat satellite and MH370’s aircraft communications and addressing system, or ACARS, might be able to be used to give searchers some idea of where to begin looking. The U.K. Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) presented Inmarsat findings a few weeks after the disappearance indicating the airplane had flown south-westerly toward the Indian Ocean. While the Inmarsat data provided the only available clues to experts, the information really represented no more than a shot in the dark.

Inmarsat explained a bit about their ACARS system. “If the ground station does not hear from an aircraft for an hour, it will transmit a ‘log on/log off’ message – a ‘ping’ – to which the aircraft automatically responds with a short message indicating it is still logged on. This is known as a ‘handshake’. The Inmarsat ground station recorded six complete handshakes with MH370,” before the Boeing fell silent for good.

With this basic handshake data, Inmarsat calculated the aircraft’s range using the time it took the signal to be sent and received. This produced two possible arcs, one if the aircraft had flown north, another south. Engineers using the pings eventually decided MH370 had turned southwestwardly toward the Southern Indian Ocean before it disappeared.

While news outlets around the world were crazy busy trying to figure out what happened to MH370, the loss of the airplane also clearly demonstrated how nearly impossible it was to keep track of aircraft in regions of the world not covered by radar … essentially 75 percent of the earth’s surface. Anecdotally, that international aircraft were so vulnerable to vanishing along with hundreds of passengers when their traditional aircraft radios failed did not sit well with airline passengers then, or now.

Although no one knows where MH370 eventually went down, international agencies like the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the aviation arm of the U.N., began wrestling with how to ensure another airliner never again disappeared without a trace. While the efforts to solve the 24/7 communications problem for airliners have been monumental, the stakes obviously couldn’t be higher. Despite the loss of Malaysian 370, until just a few months ago, no international requirement existed requiring airlines to maintain precise communications with their aircraft. Until November 2018, airliners flying in remote areas were no safer now than they were nearly five years earlier. One reason is that practical, affordable technology to handle global tracking simply did not exist.

Practical or regulatory hurdles aside doesn’t, of course, mean no one has been working to solve the problem. Shortly after the Malaysian 777 disappeared, ICAO convened a conference to discuss how best to track airliners flying anywhere on the planet. One result was the 2016 Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System (GADSS) - Concept of Operations (CONOPS), a set of future standards and best practices to accurately locate aircraft. The way GADSS sees it when the technology allows an airline to detect a problem aboard one of their aircraft, such as a missed position report or suspected distress situation, that company will be able to inform the appropriate search-and-rescue parties. Specifically, the goal of GADSS is to implement a system of receiving aircraft position reports once a minute, giving searchers about a six-mile area to begin a search, a far cry from the tens of thousands of miles searchers had to work with on MH370. The final implementation date of GADSS is scheduled for January 2021, about two years from now.

Sara Orsi says GADSS consists of two primary components. Orsi is the director of marketing and media for FlightAware, the world’s largest aircraft tracking company. The first will narrow the location of an airplane though aircraft updates transmitted every 15 minutes. While certainly better than what exists now, it could still leave an airplane as much as 135 miles away in any direction by the time the next report is transmitted.

This first GADSS element for 15-minute reporting began taking effect in November 2018 and is powered by a data feed from the Aireon company that can track aircraft anywhere around the globe. Aireon is a partnership of leading Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) like NAV CANADA, ENAV (Italy), NATS (UK), the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) and Naviair (Denmark), as well as Iridium Communications, the satellite voice and data company. The FAA plans to begin rolling out Space-based ATC in the Caribbean at the end of 2019.

Aireon's system, which is still undergoing operational testing, receives aircraft position data through a special receiver mounted on each of Iridium’s newly launched network of satellites. In addition to basic position data like the aircraft ID and its altitude and speed, Aireon system tracks 18 other parameters on all subscribing aircraft. A strategic advantage to all parties using the Aireon/FlightAware system is that it does not require any new, expensive equipment to be installed onboard an airplane. Aireon and FlightAware operate the new partnership, called GlobalBeacon, with a technology called Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast, or ADS-B, that is already installed on thousands of aircraft around the world. Most U.S.-registered aircraft will be required to carry ADS-B by the end of 2019. Aireon and FlightAware simply listen in to the ADS-B data stream aircraft are already transmitting. Airlines don’t need to spend an extra dime installing extra equipment to allow their aircraft to be tracked.

his new tracking system was made possible because years ago, the Iridium company was clever enough to see future possibilities and installed ADS-B receivers on their network of 66 satellites. With a clear view of any Iridium satellite, aircraft tracking becomes a snap, anywhere. Orsi said, “This makes Aireon the first satellite constellation to provide 100% global coverage through the Iridium network making it cost-inclusive for any company.”

Some hurdles to the recommendations that produced GADSS were expected since ICAO, as a recommending body, had no regulatory teeth to compel a company or a country to adopt these proposals. That doesn’t seem to have slowed many countries around the world where governments quickly understood the value of preventing another MH370-like event. The first phase of GADSS has already been adopted throughout many European states as well as in Singapore, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, India and Vietnam. The United States plans to begin rolling out satellite-based ATC and tracking in the Caribbean near the end of 2019, with more deployments before 2021.

“The second element of GADSS,” according to Orsi, “is the additional expectation that the airlines will be able to track an aircraft’s position once a minute if the aircraft is identified as being in distress.” That second element won’t be completely in place until January 1, 2021.

“The dates are rolling across the world, but we expect most of the world’s countries will have adopted the protocol by that 2021 date,” Orsi said. Enthusiasm for the new Aireon/FlightAware program is certainly encouraging. “FlightAware has already signed up more than 100 airlines around the world for the new tracking service. U.S. carriers are readily adopting this technology,” Orsi added.

Should an airplane in the middle of nowhere lose two-way radio contact with ATC after January 2021, someone will be able to closely pinpoint the aircraft’s location. Even though the standard only requires one-minute updates when an aircraft is in distress, even if the airplane were hijacked, there is no way for anyone in the cockpit to shut off the ADS-B equipment and terminate this communications link. A truly positive benefit to the new system is that airlines will soon receive 1-minute updates whether an aircraft is in distress.

On an international flight, global tracking will cost an airline just a few pennies per passenger to maintain a subscription on each aircraft. Orsi believes the future has arrived and that, “passengers will soon come to expect this kind of safety technology when they fly.”


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