News Letter 4 April 2019


Good day all

Aviation will be a buzz this weekend all over South Africa the SAPFA Nationals are underway at Stellenbosch in the fairest Cape, although it doesn’t seem like any flying is happening today as torrential rain has been the order of the day today. The weather for tomorrow looks far more promising, we hope for the best. The competition is scheduled for Thursday, Friday and Saturday after which the SA National team will be announced.

The Coves on the banks of the Hartbeespoort Dam is going to be a hive of activity on Saturday, when the “carnival comes to town”. A full programme of flying has been planned and this promises to be a wonderful event.

Robertson Vliegklub will be hosting their annual Breakfast Fly-in on Saturday 6 April, the fly-in last year attracted over 60 aircraft this year is expected to be as popular.

Ethiopia says pilots followed Boeing guidance before crash

The pilots of the Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max that crashed last month killing 157 people followed Boeing’s emergency instructions but were still unable to stop the plane’s nose repeatedly pointing down, investigators said.

The Ethiopian government said data from the plane’s recorders showed “repetitive un-commanded aircraft nose-down conditions” and said Boeing should review its aircraft control system.

The country’s transport minister, Dagmawit Moges, did not cite the aircraft’s controversial anti-stall system, but said: “The crew performed all the procedures repeatedly provided by the manufacturer but was not able to control the aircraft.”

The Boeing jet crashed on 10 March shortly after take-off from Addis Ababa. It was the second crash of a 737 Max in five months, after the Lion Air disaster in Indonesia in October, which killed 189 people.

Ethiopian Airlines said the report clearly showed the pilots followed procedures. “Despite their hard work and full compliance with the emergency procedures, it was very unfortunate that they could not recover the plane from the persistence of nosediving,” it said.

Ethiopian investigators said the full investigation to determine what other factors may have been involved could take up to a year.

While air investigation reports do not apportion blame, the Ethiopian inquiry has again highlighted the 737 Max control system. Indonesian investigations into the Lion Air crash have focused on Boeing’s anti-stall system, MCAS, new on the Max model of 737 aircraft.

Pilots on the Lion Air flight, which also crashed within minutes of take-off, battled to keep the plane pointing upwards as MCAS forced the nose down. After that crash, Boeing issued instructions to pilots on how to override the MCAS system, but the Ethiopian crash report suggests they may not have worked.

Boeing could be left liable for huge pay-outs to victims and airlines. Lawsuits relating to both disasters have already been filed in the US, and some pilots have complained that the new features in the Max were not the subject of more comprehensive retraining.

The manufacturer also faces an investigation by the US Department of Justice, with FBI involvement, into its development process, and Senate hearings into how the Federal Aviation Administration allowed it to self-certify parts of its aircraft.

The 737 is Boeing’s bestselling current model, with around 5,000 orders worth up to $600bn, of which 370 planes have so far been delivered to airlines. Both Ethiopian and Lion’s models had been in operation only for a matter of months before the crashes occurred.

Last week Boeing outlined a planned software fix to prevent MCAS from repeatedly operating and said cockpit alerts to warn of potentially incorrect data from sensors would be fitted as standard.

Regulators around the world grounded the plane in the aftermath of the second crash, with the US eventually following suit.

Blockchain Technology can Offer Tremendous Benefits for The Aviation Industry

Blockchain technology enables distributed public ledgers that hold immutable data in a secure and encrypted way and ensure that transactions can never be altered. While Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are the most popular examples of blockchain usage, this “distributed ledger technology” (DLT) is finding a broad range of uses. Data storage, financial transactions, real estate, asset management and many more uses are being explored.

The president of the United Nation’s specialized agency for aviation has said that blockchain technology could offer tremendous benefits across aviation systems globally.

The president, Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, made his remarks to an international audience of government officials, aviation and tech experts during the inaugural Council for the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Blockchain Summit and Exhibition in Abu Dhabi.

Dr. Aliu noted that with global air traffic volumes anticipated to double over the next 15 years, blockchain technologies have a major potential to reduce pressure on current resources, while sustaining quality amid increasing demand.

With increased air traffic, ground, passenger, ticketing and cargo handling activities are set to intensify, along with the accompanying tracking, administrative and certification requirements. In this light, Dr. Aliu emphasized that:

“Blockchain has the potential to virtually exclude loss, distortion, or forgery of vital log data in all aviation sectors where certificates are issued and controlled.”

He further reportedly noted that blockchain implementation can be envisioned across virtually all areas of aviation where complex records — that are crucial for safety — need to be created and updated including personnel licensing, aircraft maintenance, operational approvals and cargo manifests.

The ICAO president also reportedly isolated verifying traveller identity as a major area where blockchain can offer benefits for the aviation industry and governments worldwide.

Given its prospective transformative impact, Dr. Aliu stressed that integration of the technology is likely to present fundamental challenges for the industry:

“The aviation system today relies mostly on human agents or intermediaries to assume validation activities, and so we can foresee that the integration of blockchain in support of a state’s aviation safety oversight system, for example, would likely require substantial adjustments to related regulations, procedures, and responsibilities.”

He thus stressed the need to mitigate cyber risks and to ensure that stakeholders and states coordinate a robust and global cybersecurity strategy where blockchain — and notably, smart contracts — could be used to manage critical safety and security processes for civil aviation.

As previously reported, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was ostensibly selected as a host venue for the ICAO summit due to local authorities’ ongoing efforts to implement blockchain at state level in various areas of the local economy. The event is being held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and included the country’s minister of economy as speaker.

Piper Aircraft Receive Record Breaking Fleet Contract

Piper Aircraft announced today that L3 Commercial Aviation has placed an order for up to 240 new Piper aircraft options to expand and modernize its aircraft training fleet across its Airline Academy pilot training sites. The new fleet will support the growing demand for its cadet pilot programs in light of the global shortage of pilots. This is the largest civilian fleet order received in company history and comes on the heels of a similar deal announced in 2018 for 152 aircraft from Fanmei Aviation Technologies.

The aircraft on order will be equipped with the latest technology used on commercial jets, providing the perfect training environment for pilots of the future as they prepare for their goal of joining a commercial airline. As part of the contract, the first 26 aircraft will be delivered in 2019 from April onwards. The order includes 19 single-engine Piper Archers and seven twin-engine Piper Seminoles.

“Many cadets tell us that the first time they take to the skies is one of the most exhilarating and important momentswithin their training journey. That’s why we are continuously exploring ways to improve both the quality and capacityof our training facilities,” said Geoff van Klaveren, Vice President of Airline Academy, which is part of L3 Commercial Aviation. “This significant investment in expanding and modernizing our fleet with these brand-new aircraft will help us in our aspiration to provide the highest-quality training while meeting the increasing international demand for new pilots from our airline customers.”

“We are delighted to sign this long-term agreement with L3, knowing that trusted Piper trainer aircraft will once again launch thousands of aspiring pilots’ careers around the world,” said Simon Caldecott, CEO and President of Piper Aircraft. “Our advanced training aircraft are the ideal classrooms for cadets to learn and first experience the unique joy of flying.”

The new aircraft will be based at L3’s Airline Academies in Florida, U.S.; Ponte de Sor, Portugal; and in the U.K. The deal represents a significant investment in L3’s infrastructure and training capacity throughout its international footprint.

Space-Based Tracking Set to Revolutionise Aviation

Space-based Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) is a mouthful that will revolutionize the way aircraft fly and it has just gone live in trial across the North Atlantic.

In a move that air navigation technology provider Aireon rightly claims marks a new chapter in aviation history, the system provides real-time air traffic surveillance of all ADS-B equipped aircraft across the planet.

It will help minimize the chances of another airliner disappearing like Malaysia Airlines MH370 and help provide additional insights into aircraft accidents.

NAV Canada and the UK’s NATS are the first air traffic control providers to use the service and predict it will reduce overall flight safety risks by about 76 percent. They are also among a group of investors backing Aereon.

Aireon says improved visibility and control over airspace will allow airlines to fly routes at optimal speeds and levels, saving about $US300 per trans-Atlantic flight and roughly two tonnes per flight of CO2 emissions.

That might not sound huge on a per plane basis but multiply it by about 500,000 flights a year crossing the world’s busiest oceanic airspace and the implications become obvious. That traffic is expected to increase to 800,000 flights a year by 2030.

ADS-B is already used in conjunction with ground stations and relies on aircraft broadcasting every half second their identity, a precise Global Positioning System (GPS) location and other information such as altitude, heading and speed.

Aireon takes that a step further by using the Iridium NEXT satellite constellation to provide full, continuous air traffic surveillance across the globe.

The globe-spanning technology compares with coverage by conventional ground-based systems of about 30 percent of the Earth’s surface and position updates every 10 to 14 minutes.

“For the first time in history, we can surveil all ADS-B-equipped aircraft anywhere on earth,” said Aireon chief executive Don Thoma.

“Our air transportation system has operated with a safe but less than efficient system in the 70 percent of the world that does not have real-time surveillance.

“With the launch of our space-based ADS-B service, Aireon now provides a real-time solution to that challenge—one that will radically optimize flight safety and efficiency.”

The trial over the Atlantic will allow air traffic controllers to reduce the in-trail separation between aircraft from 40 nautical miles to 14nm.

NAV Canada chief executive Neil Wilson described space-based ADS-B as a transformation change to how air traffic controllers manage traffic.

“The Aireon system provides an immediate boost to aviation safety and airlines will benefit from more fuel-efficient routings and flight levels,’’ he said.

“Over 95 percent of the North Atlantic traffic is already ADS-B equipped so the fuel savings, along with the reduced carbon dioxide emissions will be attained very quickly.”

NATS chief executive Martin Rolfe predicted the trial would demonstrate to the aviation industry how space-based AdSB could revolutionize the service air navigation service providers provide to airlines and the public.


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