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News Letter 18 April 2019

Good day and Happy Easter to all

For all that are planning to make for the coast, mountains or the bush this Easter weekend please be safe out there whether you are flying or driving.

Witbank Aeronautical Association will once again be hosting an Easter breakfast fly-in on Saturday 20 April. The past breakfast fly-ins the have hosted have all been a great success so if you feel like an outing on Saturday Witbank is the place to be.

PASA 2019 South African National Skydiving Championships in Canopy Piloting, Formation Skydiving (2-way, 4-way, 8-way and VFS), Artistic Events, Speed Skydiving, Accuracy and Wingsuiting will be held at Skydive Pretoria from 19 to 22 April 2019.

Registration closed 4 April 2019. Should you require more information please email the organisers at:

Comair ensure strike contingency plan is comprehensive

Comair is working flat out to avoid or mitigate a possible strike by airport ground staff who are NUMSA members and ensure its customers reach their destinations this Easter weekend.

NUMSA represents just over 50% of Comair’s 700 airport ground staff.

Comair has a staff complement of 2200 people.

Wrenelle Stander, Comair’s Executive Director – Airline Division says while the company continues to engage NUMSA to reach an agreement, it has also approached the Labour Court for an urgent interdict to prevent a possible strike. The matter was set down for 10h00 this morning.

At the same time, Comair has put in place contingencies to continue its daily operations should the strike happen. “We are hopeful that we will be able to resolve the situation, however, even if this does not happen, we want to reassure customers that our contingency plan is comprehensive, and we intend to continue our daily operations,” says Stander. Employees from across the business have volunteered to assist at airports over the Easter weekend.

The airline is also pro-actively calling as many customers as possible 72 hours before departure to facilitate check in and is providing additional bag-drop counters. Customers are advised to check-in online or use the airport kiosks and to drop bags at the dedicated fast-bag-drop counters.

The dispute relates to salary anomalies of 21 employees hired prior to 2009 being paid higher than the agreed applicable salary scale

Comair and NUMSA disagree on two issues:

Comair believes the matter needs to be dealt with in terms of the Employment Equity Act and should follow and arbitration process. NUMSA believes it is a matter of mutual interest and the recourse is strike action.

In terms of dealing with the anomalies, NUMSA is only willing to consider increasing salaries for the entire bargaining unit to match those of the highest-paid ‘outlier’. Comair has made various proposals to bring the ‘outliers’ into the agreed salary band, all of which has been rejected by the Union. In addition, it offered a once-off goodwill payment to defer an outstanding basket of issues to align with our salary negotiation timeframes.

NUMSA issued Comair a strike notice on 16 April 2019 at 13h00. In terms of the notice this means airport ground staff represented by NUMSA are able to exercise their right to strike from 13h00 on Today, 18 April 2019.

The strike notice follows the CCMA issuing a certificate of non-resolution on 26 March after Comair and NUMSA could not reach an agreement about a salary discrepancy dispute.

NUMSA tabled the current salary discrepancy shortly after signing a two-year wage negotiation setting salaries for the next two years.

Sonaca Aircraft to unveil the Sonaca 200 Trainer Pro at the Aero Friedrichshafen exhibition

For the fourth consecutive year, Sonaca Aircraft were at the Aero Friedrichshafen European general aviation exhibition to present the glass cockpit version of the Sonaca 200: The “Sonaca 200 Trainer Pro”.

Building on the deep experience of its parent companies: Sonaca Group – 80 years of aerostructure experience; and The Airplane Factory – more than 10 years of general aviation leadership in South Africa; Sonaca Aircraft has developed the Sonaca 200, the new generation, two-seater, certified aircraft which combines flight performance and cost-effectiveness. This new aircraft development has been performed in close collaboration with the end-users, so as to fulfil flight school, aeroclub and private pilot’s unmet needs.

The Sonaca 200 is a low-wing, full metallic aircraft with a maximum take-off weight of 750kg. Its conventional structure is composed of advanced aluminum alloy frames, stringers and sheets, which will provide very effective corrosion protection.

To ensure the security and longevity of its aircraft, Sonaca Aircraft has chosen to use proven technologies only from certified manufacturers: Rotax engine (Austria), Beringer brake System (France), fixed-pitch propeller by Duke Hélice propellers (France), Garmin avionics suite (US) as well as the brand new KI300 by Honeywell (US).

By developing a glass cockpit version of the Sonaca 200, Sonaca Aircraft has introduced general aviation to the digital era. Carl Mengdehl, Engineering & Certification Manager at Sonaca Aircraft, stated: “The Sonaca 200 Trainer Pro seduces schools that offer CPL[1] and ATPL[2] training programs because the avionics are similar to that of a commercial aircraft used for ATPL training. The navigation equipment (maps, GPS or ILS approaches, 3D ground database,…), also seduces flying clubs that travel by plane. Finally, the digital option attracts the young generations of pilots who are familiar with touch screens and digital systems.”

“The aircraft, its systems and its user-centred documentation (AFM and AMM), as well as the advanced support platform and after-sales service, make the Sonaca 200 the ideal solution for pilot schools that are looking for an aircraft to complete or renew their fleet of training planes,” said Pierre Van Wetter, Chief Commercial Officer, Sonaca Aircraft.

For the main avionics (primary flight display and navigation system), Sonaca Aircraft has turned to the latest products of the Garmin range. “The Garmin G500 TXi suite coupled with the GTN navigator is modern, reliable, user-friendly, multifunctional and scalable all at the same time. The latter offers unlimited possibilities of connectivity and compatibility with products from the Garmin range and those from other manufacturers.”

The full integration between the main screen, the navigator, the engine control system and the second radio ensure perfect ergonomics and absolute security for both day and night flights.

Sonaca 200 Trainer Pro standard configuration

· Garmin G500 TXi, 10.6-inch screen (Primary Flight Display)

· Garmin GTN 650 GPS (Combined GPS-radio-transponder)

· Honeywell KI300 (Backup flight display)

· J.P. EDM 900 Instruments (Engine Monitoring System)

· Garmin GNC255A second radio (COM/NAV 2. Optional)

· Garmin heated pitot (optional)

· Automatic ELT (optional)

The glass cockpit version provides an “inflight Wi-Fi” option which will allow pilots to download flight maps directly from their tablet to the plane’s GPS. This version can integrate future software and hardware developments dedicated to plane monitoring activities, for instance. “The monitoring function will provide the opportunity to follow and to save certain parameters of the aircraft in flight in real time. It will allow pilots to detect and anticipate any malfunction of the aircraft; it will also allow for predictive maintenance and thus reduce the aircraft’s downtime on the ground as much as possible. Finally, the calculation of airframe wear in real time will ensure full use traceability and will facilitate aircraft fleet management,” said Carl Mengdehl.

Other features such as the ability to make inflight phone calls via Bluetooth, inflight access to updated weather maps, see aircraft in the vicinity on the screen in order to avoid collisions, as well as Internet access via the 3/4G connection are also available in production models or as options.

2019 will be marked by the delivery of the first models of the Sonaca 200 Trainer Pro. Ayjet, an aviation school based in Istanbul (Turkey), will be the first client to take possession of the Sonaca 200 glass cockpit version starting in June.

First Japan-Built Airliner in 50 Years Takes on Boeing and Airbus

As more and more cities in Asia and Europe are seeking to link up with each other and the global air travel network. The Mitsubishi Regional Jet, the first airliner built in Japan since the 1960s, began certification flights last month in Moses Lake, Washington, to satisfy that demand.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.’s new airliner is testing the skies just as rivals are moving to sell off their manufacturing operations for jets with up to 160 seats. Boeing is set to buy 80 percent of the Embraer SA’s commercial operations in a joint venture, while Bombardier last year sold control of its C Series airliner project to Airbus SE and is exploring “strategic options” for its regional-jet operations. At stake, particularly in the market for jets with fewer seats, is $135 billion in sales in the next two decades, according to industry group Japan Aircraft Development Corp.

“Bombardier’s moves do indeed create opportunities for the MRJ,’’ said Richard Aboulafia, aerospace analyst at Teal Group. “It’s the biggest single factor in the MRJ’s favour.’’

With few seats and smaller fuselages, regional jets are a different class of aircraft from larger narrow-body planes such as Boeing’s 737 or Airbus’s A320. The MRJ has a range of about 2,000 miles, while a smaller variant can haul up to 76 people for about the same distance.

A long-time supplier of aircraft components to Boeing, Mitsubishi Heavy is developing the MRJ to emerge from its customer’s shadow. After spending at least $2 billion over more than a decade, the manufacturer is looking to get its jet certified and start deliveries to launch partner ANA Holdings Inc.

Mitsubishi initially planned test flights in 2012 but blew past that deadline because of production difficulties. Now the company, which makes ships, nuclear power plants and aerospace components, expects to have the plane ready for customers next year, a timetable that will test the company, said Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. President Hisakazu Mizutani. “This coming year is extremely important for us,” Mizutani said at a media event on April 16 in the central Japanese city of Nagoya.

A lot now hinges on Mitsubishi’s ability to get the jets ready on schedule, said Sho Fukuhara, an analyst at Jefferies Japan Ltd. who said the company’s current 407 MRJ orders aren’t enough to make the program profitable. “Longer term, there should be an opportunity but right now they have to deliver the very first plane,” Fukuhara said. “Potential buyers are looking at how they proceed with their schedule.”

The company announced in October it was pumping an extra 170 billion yen in capital to its aircraft unit’s existing capital of 100 billion yen; Mitsubishi also cancelled 50 billion yen of the debt owed by the aircraft division.

Mitsubishi Heavy’s challenges is a lawsuit filed by Bombardier in Seattle last October, accusing the Japanese company of acquiring secret information and causing Bombardier “to suffer irreparable financial loss.” Mitsubishi counter-sued, denying the Montreal-based company’s accusations and saying that it violated antitrust laws through “a multifaceted scheme to expand its power within the regional jet market by impeding the entrance of a new competing aircraft.”

Bombardier denies the allegations and will vigorously defend itself, spokesman Simon Letendre said in an emailed statement.

“Our views are completely different, and so we’re looking to get a clear determination in a public forum,” Mizutani said.

In order to compete, Mitsubishi can’t just rely on its home market. The biggest customers therefore could be in the U.S., where large airlines try to cut costs by outsourcing short flights to smaller carriers that fly regional jets. Trans States Airlines Inc., which operates flights for United Airlines under the name United Express, ordered 50 of the planes, with options for 50 more, in 2010.

The weight and capacity of the MRJ now in testing are too large for many regional carriers, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst George Ferguson, although the company plans to introduce the smaller version in 2021.

As part of its preparations to ramp up deliveries and support operations, Mitsubishi’s aircraft unit separated its sales and marketing divisions this month, created a customer support unit and moved its U.S. headquarters to Renton, Washington, the Seattle suburb where Boeing assembles its 737 jets.

“The need for regional jets isn’t going down,” Mizutani said “The MRJ is fully capable of competing in the market.”


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