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News Letter 26 September 2019

Good day all

The weather in Gauteng seems to be a bit confused this week, its supposed to be summer but it feels like winter has returned for one last cold spell. Nevertheless, the weekend seems to be returning to the temperatures we expect from this time of the year, so we can expect good flying weather.

Witbank will be hosting a Spring Bash Fly-in on Saturday 28 September which promises to be a great event.

If you are in the Cape and feel like landing at a SAAF Base to share your passion with some young people then Overberg is the place to be, you will however need clearance documents completed before you can fly to AFB Overberg. If you are keen to join please e-mail to get the two forms you need to complete

Barnstormers MFC will be hosting a Warbirds Day Airshow on Sunday 29 September, whether you are an experienced pilot or flying for your first time, Barnstormers Model Flying Club will welcome you and assist where necessary.

Thomas Cook Travel Company Collapses

Hundreds if not thousands of vacationers were left stranded when one of the world’s oldest tour companies, Thomas Cook, abruptly announced Monday, with some of its flights still in the air, that it was going out of business. Amid scenes of confusion at European airports, British officials scrambled to bring home 150,000 travellers, chartering dozens of jets to bring people home from as far away as Malaysia. It was described as the largest peacetime repatriation effort in the country’s history.

The tour company, said that all its bookings, including flights operated directly by the agency, had been cancelled. “We are sorry to announce that Thomas Cook has ceased trading with immediate effect,” it said. With that, travel plans for hundreds of thousands were snarled, and tourism officials in vacation hot spots braced for a potentially devastating hit to their economies.

Thomas Cook was no ordinary travel company. Founded in 1841, it changed the face of British travel. Its ubiquitous storefronts specialized in low-cost package holidays that put beach vacations in exotic locales within the budgets of middle-income Britons. So, its demise felt a bit like the end of an era — and it seemed in keeping with the larger mood in Britain as the country moves closer to a withdrawal from the European Union.

Indeed, though the company’s brick-and-mortar business model was overtaken by time, some also saw in its travail’s early signs of Brexit damage to come. They said a weakened pound and uncertainty among would-be travellers had played a role in the collapse. Many of the travellers affected on Monday were already abroad and wondering how they would get home. Others found their vacation plans dashed.

The Britons stranded on holidays number as many as 600,000 vacationers left high and dry worldwide. Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement that it had arranged 60 flights to get people home on Monday, and that the effort would extend until Oct. 6. It was unclear whether citizens of other countries could expect similar help. “We will try our level best to get them home,” said Prime Minister Boris Johnson. “There will be plans ready to deal with that if it is necessary.”

If Thomas Cook’s customers were surprised, British officials had less reason to be. The government had refused to mount a financial rescue of the battered company; doing so, Mr. Johnson said, would create a “moral hazard” by encouraging other troubled companies to take undue risks. It was unclear, however, what steps, if any, the government took to prepare for the possibility of hordes of stranded travellers.

Tremors from the collapse radiated across the world, to Malaysia and San Francisco, but were felt most acutely in Europe. In Greece, where 50,000 vacationers were expected to be repatriated to their home countries in the coming days, and in Spain, there were fears about the effects on their critical tourist industries.

In Crete, alone, the tour company brought 400,000 visitors this year. Michalis Vlatakis, the head of the Greek island’s union of tour operators, described its collapse as a “7-magnitude earthquake.” Things were at least as dire in Spain, particularly in the Canary Islands and the Balearic archipelago. Together, they accounted for about 3.2 million of the 3.6 million passengers flying each year to Spain on planes owned or chartered by Thomas Cook, according to the Spanish National Airport Authority. Beyond the chaos and disappointment for travellers, the company’s collapse put 21,000 jobs at risk.

The 178-year-old travel company had been in poor financial health for some time. It announced it’s closing after negotiations to obtain £200 million pounds, or $250 million, in emergency financing fell apart over the weekend. Analysts said Thomas Cook, struggling with a debt pile approaching 2 billion pounds had failed to adjust to the changing times. While other travel companies went totally online, for instance, Thomas Cook held onto its extensive chain of storefronts. “What everybody is not lending their thoughts to is that this has been a thoroughly badly run company,” David Buik, a financial analyst, said in an interview with LBC radio on Monday. “It has had far too many shops. But the company also suffered from a number of factors beyond its control, particularly Brexit, the planned British withdrawal from the European Union, which has cut the value of the pound. That has discouraged travel and squeezed profits.

“If the majority of your business is in destinations which are in euros and you are against the backdrop where there is a lot of capacity and you cannot raise prices, then there is a cost squeeze,” Chris Tarry, an independent airline analyst, told the BBC. Peter Fankhauser, the chief executive of Thomas Cook, said, “There is now little doubt that the Brexit process has led many U.K. customers to delay their holiday plans for this summer.”

Mr. Fankhauser also cited a prolonged heat wave in the summer of 2018 that brought high prices in the Canary Islands, a popular destination for the tour operator. Terrorism and political unrest in North Africa, Turkey and Egypt have also hit the operator particularly hard in recent years, analysts said.

Although as many as 600,000 Thomas Cook customers were traveling when it announced that it was closing its doors, it was unclear how many were actually stranded. Some of the company’s local partners said they were still operating. Condor, a German subsidiary airline of Thomas Cook, for example, was requesting a bridge loan from the German government and insisted that it would continue to serve the 240,000 of its customers — not all of them vacationers — currently out of the country.

Because Thomas Cook customers are covered under a government insurance program, they are assured of refunds for cancelled trips and repatriation free of charge. Those who bought only flights from Thomas Cook do not have the same protections and may need to rely more on personal travel insurance, if they have it. The government insurance program also reimburses hotels for the cost of the customers’ stay, even if cut short. Some resorts, however, appear not to have gotten the message.

The C-5M Super Galaxy could turn into a flying ambulance

The Super Galaxy's ability to carry huge amounts of cargo would give it an unmatched ability to evacuate those needing medical assistance. The C-5M could ferry in supplies as it ferries out casualties, moving more people and supplies faster when time is the most critical.

The U.S. Air Force is taking a hard look at using the C-5M Super Galaxy airlifter in the aeromedical evacuation role.

The C-5M’s cavernous cargo area, plus newly added electrical capacity, would be useful ferrying wounded troops, refugees, and injured personnel out of war zones and natural disaster areas. The Super Galaxy’s long legs make it capable of crossing the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in a single bound, quickly bringing those in need of medical care to the continental U.S.

The C-5 Galaxy is the largest plane in the U.S. military’s arsenal. Operated by the U.S. Air Force, the monstrous airplane is 247 feet long with a wingspan of 222.8 feet. The C-5 can easily carry a quarter million pounds of cargo or passengers. The jet’s cavernous fuel tanks allow it to fly up to 5,500 miles unfuelled, enough to make nonstop flights from Yokota Air Base in Japan to Travis Air Force Base in California, or Incirlik Air Base in Turkey to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

In the late 2000s the Air Force upgraded 52 C-5 Galaxies to the new C-5M Super Galaxy standard. The -M upgrade includes new, more reliable engines, glass cockpits, all weather flight control systems, and GPS navigation. All of this plus a cargo box 13.5 feet high, 19 feet wide, and 143.75 feet long makes the Super Galaxy a large and useful piece of flying real estate.

The Super Galaxy’s huge internal volume plus its ability to power lifesaving medical devices makes it an attractive prospect for airlifting people in need of medical attention. The C-5M could not only move people out of war zones or disaster areas, it can move scores of them in a single flight. The aircraft would embark Air Force critical care teams to keep the injured stable until they reach their destination.

The Air Force’s C-130 and C-17 transports currently fulfil the aeromedical evacuation role, with the C-17 capable of carrying up to sixty stretchers at a time. The C-5M, the Air Force thinks, could lift more than a hundred stretchers at a time. That would be particularly useful in a wartime scenario. In addition to the evacuation role the C-5M could also bring in emergency workers and medical and disaster relief supplies. A C-5M could load up to 281,000 pounds of food, water, water purification supplies, rescue equipment, tents, and first aid supplies, unloading the contents at the airport to help those in need and then loading serious medical cases for a flight back home.

The C-5M would face some challenges in the aeromedical role. The big plane is less capable of taking off and landing from smaller, unimproved runways, particularly those devastated by natural disasters. Then again, all aircraft would have problems in a major disaster. The Air Force maintains several rapid-response civil engineer units, known as RED HORSE teams, to swoop in during emergencies and work to quickly reopen airports and air bases.

The C-5M is currently being evaluated for the medical evacuation role, with the concept currently being tested during the Mobility Guardian exercises. If the airplane is certified for the job the Air Force would have an unmatched ability to scoop up evacuees and ferry them to safety. The C-5M is expected to operate in U.S. Air Force service through the 2040s.

Cessna Citation Longitude business jet receives FAA Type Certification

Textron Aviation Inc. announced it has achieved Type Certification by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for its innovative super-midsize jet, the Cessna Citation Longitude, paving the way for customer deliveries.

“With the broadest line-up of business aviation platforms available worldwide, today Textron Aviation welcomes the Longitude into the esteemed Citation family of products and begins a new era of best-in-class solutions for our customers,” said Ron Draper, president and CEO, Textron Aviation. “The Longitude revolution starts now.”

FAA Type Certification follows the most robust flight, structural and component qualification testing completed on a Citation to date. The experimental and demo fleet completed close to 6,000 hours of flight time. In addition to 11,000 test points during the certification process, the Longitude also completed a 31,000-nautical mile world tour, demonstrating the aircraft’s outstanding long-range performance capability and reliability in a variety of environments. The Longitude, produced at Textron Aviation’s manufacturing facility in Wichita, benefits from state-of-the-art assembly and fabrication tools and techniques.

“The real success of the program comes from the talent and customer focus our employees bring to work every day,” Draper said. “Their hard work and dedication have been spectacular through every step of the program, from initial concept, through design and testing, production and now into product support.”

The Citation Longitude is equally designed around the pilot experience, passenger comfort and overall performance, delivering an aircraft that lives up to its designation as the flagship of the Citation family of business jets.

The Longitude has one of the most thoroughly researched cabin experiences and elevates passenger expectations in the super-midsize category. The comfortable, bespoke interior of the Longitude has class-leading legroom, cabin sound levels that are nearly twice as quiet as the nearest competitor, a low cabin altitude of 5,950 feet and more standard features than competitors in this segment.

With seating for up to 12 passengers, including an optional crew jump seat, the Longitude features a stand-up, 6-foot tall flat-floor cabin. A standard double-club configuration delivers the most legroom in the super-midsize class – 11 percent more room than the nearest competitor. Fully berthable seats are designed and manufactured in-house. State-of-the-art cabin technology enables passengers to manage their environment and entertainment from any mobile device, maximizing in-flight connectivity and productivity.

Early in the development program, the Citation Longitude exceeded initial performance targets and achieved an improved transcontinental range of 3,500 nautical miles (an increase of 100 nautical miles) and full fuel payload of 1,600 pounds (an increase of 100 pounds). The longest-range Citation delivers a maximum cruise speed of 483 ktas.

“The Longitude is the best flying Citation yet,” said Ed Wenninger, chief pilot for Textron Aviation engineering flight test. "The FADEC-equipped Honeywell HTF7700L turbofan engines feature fully integrated auto throttles with envelope protection and provide responsiveness and excellent power.”

The clean-sheet design of the Longitude integrates the latest technology throughout the aircraft, including the next evolution of the Garmin G5000 flight deck. The spacious cockpit incorporates easier access and an ergonomic design that fully focuses on crew comfort and efficiency.

U.S. Air Force selects Boeing T-X as its new advanced pilot training aircraft.

The U.S. Air Force has awarded Boeing a contract for the T-X pilot training program worth up to $9.2 billion. The Air Force plans to purchase 351 jets, 46 simulators and associated ground equipment.

"The announcement is the culmination of years of unwavering focus by the Boeing and Saab team," said Leanne Caret, president and CEO, Boeing Défense, Space & Security.

"It is a direct result of our joint investment in developing a system cantered on the unique requirements of the U.S. Air Force. We expect T-X to be a franchise program for much of this century." The fighter-like trainer aircraft, which was designed for ease of maintenance, is the cornerstone of an all-new pilot training system that also includes classroom training and simulators. It will help train future fighter and bomber pilots for generations to come.

The USAF's Air Education and Training Command (AETC) began developing the requirements for a replacement for the Northrop T-38 Talon as early as 2003. Originally, the replacement trainer was expected to enter service around 2020. A fatigue failure in 2008 killed the two-person crew of a T-38C, and the Air Force advanced the target date of initial operational capability to 2017. In the Fiscal 2013 budget proposal, the USAF suggested delaying the initial operating capability to 2020 with the contract award not expected before 2016. Shrinking budgets and higher priority modernization projects pushed the IOC of the T-X program winner to "fiscal year 2023 or 2024". Although the program was left out of the 2014 budget entirely, the service still viewed the trainer as a priority.

In cooperation with its Swedish aerospace group partner, Saab Group, Boeing's submission was to the competition was the Boeing T-X, a single-engine advanced jet trainer with a twin tail, tandem seating and retractable tricycle landing gear. The submitted aircraft and demonstration models were powered by a General Electric F404 afterburning turbofan engine.

Boeing revealed its aircraft to the public on 13 September 2016, the first T-X aircraft flew on 20 December 2016. Boeing's design was officially announced as the U.S. Air Force's new advanced jet trainer, replacing the T-38 Talon. A total of 351 aircraft and 46 simulators, maintenance training and support are to be supplied at a program cost of US$9.2 billion.

In May 2019, Saab announced that it would open a U.S. manufacturing facility for the T-X in Indiana in partnership with Purdue University. On 16 September 2019, the USAF officially named the aircraft the "T-7A Red Hawk" as a tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen and the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk.


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