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News Letter 19 January 2020

Good day all

Welcome back and Happy New year to everyone may this be an amazing year for everyone.

The aviation calendar is slowly coming to life with a few events planned for this weekend, SAC will be hosting the joint “Judges Trophy” and Gauteng Regional aerobatics championships on Saturday and Sunday at Vereeniging Airfield (Click on Picture for more Info)

SAPFA will be hosting a Rally Navigation Training Day at Aerosud in Centurion, anyone that is interested in joining the growing Rally Flying fraternity or just want to learn a bit about Rally Flying this is your opportunity to learn from the best. (Click on Picture for more Info)

Man airlifted to safety by 15 Squadron Oryx

A 15 Squadron Oryx helicopter was called in to assist in the rescue of an injured man who had slipped down a 100m cliff in Swayimana, northeast of Pietermaritzburg, on Wednesday.

ER24 paramedics, Life Healthcare, the police's search and rescue unit and the Durban University of Technology (DUT) rescue team arrived on the scene and immediately started scouring the area. After an extensive search, the man was found near the bottom of the cliff. Despite their best efforts, medics and rescue personnel were unable to reach the injured man.

A request was then made to the South African Airforce for assistance, they responded by tasking an Oryx Helicopter from 15 Squadron, based in Durban, to assist in the rescue. A SAAF member was winched down to the patient, who stabilised the patient before hoisting the hoisting him into the hovering helicopter. Once the patient had been rescued, an ER24 advanced life support paramedic was picked up to treat the man for his serious injuries while he was airlifted to Grey's Hospital in Pietermaritzburg for further care.

GE Aviation forced to cut 70 workers due to 737 Max production halt

GE Aviation is laying off seventy temporary workers from its site in Bromont, Quebec, citing Boeing’s decision to halt 737 Max production as one factor leading to the cuts.

The Ohio-based engine maker confirms it has “informed 70 temporary workers of a temporary layoff” at the Bromont facility, which is about 80km east of Montreal.

Those workers account for 13% of the approximately nine hundred GE Aviation production workers at Bromont, where the company performs engineering, robotics and production work for several engines, including CFM International Leap turbofans.

GE Aviation, which owns CFM International in partnership with Safran Aircraft Engines, confirms that the layoffs stem at least partly from the 737 Max production halt, set to take effect imminently. The job cuts, reported by Quebec media outlet la Voix de l’Est, reflect variations in component output.

GE Aviation has no additional “large scale” layoffs planned but cannot rule out small staff adjustments at some sites, GE Aviation has also responded to the Max issues by transferring employees from Leap assignments to those involving other engine programmes and to parts manufacturing roles in its growing aviation services business.

“The company may also reduce its use of temporary workers and contractors, and cut back on employee overtime, a key priority is protecting our ability to ramp production back up”, GE Aviation says.

Boeing intends to temporarily suspend 737 Max production in the middle of this month due to uncertainty about when regulators will lift the aircraft’s grounding. Last week, top 737 supplier Spirit AeroSystems disclosed it is laying off 2,800 employees in response to the Max issues, with more layoffs possible. Boeing has not yet laid off employees but is transferring Max workers to other programmes.

Delta 777 Dumps Fuel Over School

A Delta Air Lines Boeing 777 dumped fuel that fell on a Los Angeles-area school as it returned to LAX after an “engine issue” on Tuesday. The flight, headed for Shanghai, had an undisclosed engine issue after departure and had to dump fuel to achieve landing weight. Los Angeles County Fire dispatched more than seventy firefighters and paramedics to the Park School Elementary school to treat seventeen children and nine adults.

The aircraft landed safely after an emergency fuel release to reduce landing weight,” a Delta spokesperson said. The Park school is in the city of Cudahy, about twenty kilometres east of LAX and on the approach to the runways typically in use this time of the year.

Late Tuesday night, Delta issued this statement: “Shortly after take-off, Flight 89 from LAX to Shanghai experienced an engine issue requiring the aircraft to return quickly to LAX. The aircraft landed safely after a release of fuel, which was required as part of normal procedure to reach a safe landing weight. Delta is in touch with Los Angeles World Airports and the LA County Fire Department as well as community leaders, and shares concerns regarding reports of minor injuries to adults and children at schools in the area.”

The FAA will be investigating the incident. “The FAA is thoroughly investigating the circumstances behind today’s incident involving a Delta Air Lines flight that was returning to Los Angeles International Airport. There are special fuel-dumping procedures for aircraft operating into and out of any major US airport. These procedures call for fuel to be dumped over designated unpopulated areas, typically at higher altitudes so the fuel atomizes and disperses before it reaches the ground,” the agency said in a statement. A Boeing 777-200ER’s maximum landing weight can be some 186,000 LBS lower than its maximum take-off weight. It’s not known how heavy Delta 89 was at take-off and, therefore, how much fuel it would have to dump to reach a safe landing weight.

Boeing Gets New CEO

David Calhoun officially took over as president and chief executive officer of The Boeing Company on Monday. Calhoun follows Dennis Muilenburg, who stepped down from the CEO position at the end of December amidst ongoing criticism for his handling of the problems surrounding the company’s grounded 737 MAX model. Upon assuming his new role, Calhoun published a letter outlining his initial priorities for the company, which include returning the 737 MAX to service safely, rebuilding stakeholder trust, focusing on company values and maintaining production health.

“With deep industry experience and a proven track record of performance, Dave is the right leader to navigate Boeing through this challenging time in our 104-year legacy,” said Chairman of the Boeing board of directors Lawrence W. Kellner. “We’re confident Dave will take Boeing forward with intense focus on our values, including safety, quality and integrity.”

Calhoun has held senior leadership roles at organizations such as the Blackstone Group, Nielsen Holdings and GE. He has served on the Boeing board of directors since 2009 and held the position of chairman of the board from Oct. 11 to Dec. 22, 2019. According to Boeing, it currently employs more than 150,000 people worldwide and has customers in over 150 countries.

Multiple failures led to Iran's attack on a Ukrainian jetliner

Details about why Iran air defence forces mistook a Ukrainian airliner for a cruise missile remain unclear, safeguards for operating surface-to-air missiles are supposed to prevent that kind of mistaken identity and all seemed to have failed.

The “error”, which killed all 176 people aboard the plane on last week, was probably the result of multiple layers of failure that extend into high levels of the government and military, said Steven Zaloga, senior analyst for missile systems at the Teal Group. "There's any number of potential problems here," Zaloga said. "This incident strongly suggests that the methodology has failed and the technology has failed as well”

Iran has vowed to conduct a thorough investigation of what happened and bring the "culprits" to justice. Among the questions that remain is why authorities allowed civilian flights to operate during the tense hours after its attack on the Iraqi bases.

Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752 was flying in a very different manner than the cruise missile it was supposedly mistaken for. It was following the normal departure path from Tehran's airport and was clearly transmitting its identity when it was taken down.

While a highly effective weapon against short-range threats, the SA-15 Tor missiles used in the strike early Wednesday have a guidance system that's designed for use in war zones and can't by itself easily distinguish between airliners, cruise missiles and other military aircraft.

As a result, nations that deploy the Tor typically link them into a broader air-defence command system capable of tracking civilian planes, Zaloga said. In those circumstances, soldiers operating missile batteries aren't supposed to fire them without approval from higher authorities. Flight 752, a Boeing 737-800, was transmitting its position for civilian radars and the newest flight tracking system that uses global-positioning data, according to data posted by FlightRadar24.

While the Tor's radars might not have been able to discern between civilian and military targets, other systems in Iran were tracking the plane and that information should be available to missile battery commanders, he said

FlightRadar24's track for the Boeing 737-800 showed it flying a normal profile. About two minutes after becoming airborne, it made a slight turn to the right, which is typical for departures from that runway. When it climbed to about 7,900 feet altitude, it suddenly stopped transmitting its position, most likely as it suffered damage from the missile.

"Even without having been made directly aware of this flight, a SAM operator crew should have easily been able to identify that this flight pattern and radar profile was completely at odds with any suspected U.S. missile or combat aircraft strike package," Justin Bronk, a specialist in military technology at Britain's Royal United Services Institute, wrote in a post on the think tank's website.

A later statement by Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of Iran's Aerospace Force, said the jet was identified as a cruise missile. The missile operator was supposed to obtain approval before commanding a strike, but communications were disrupted and he only had 10 seconds to decide, Hajizadeh said. "We accept full responsibility for this action and we will obey any decision taken by the authorities"

The U.S. versions of those self-guided drones are designed to hug the ground to avoid detection, often flying within 100 feet of the surface, Zaloga said. The Ukrainian plane was rapidly climbing and was several thousand feet higher.

Iran's Civil Aviation Organization, which had initially adamantly denied a missile was involved, said it hadn't received any information on the plane being shot down despite repeated requests for information from military authorities.

In spite of those factors, the failure points to broader issues with Iran's air-defence system, Zaloga said. Even though the country has had some successes, such as when it shot down a U.S. drone last June, it's generally seen as antiquated and ineffective, he said. "The source of the problem may be that they thought they were better than they were”.

Among the questions that also remain is why authorities allowed civilian flights to operate during the tense hours after its attack on the Iraqi bases.

The Federal Aviation Administration, which had imposed several flight restrictions on U.S. carriers in the region in recent months as tensions rose, reissued those warnings prior to the Tehran crash. The FAA became more aggressive in issuing such warnings in the wake of the 2014 loss of a Malaysian Airlines plane.

There are relatively few surface-to-air missile systems operating around the world that are sophisticated enough to take down a jetliner and they typically aren't activated unless there's an imminent threat, Zaloga said. But last week's incident shows better controls are needed. "That is something that needs to be discussed at an international level," Zaloga stated.

It wasn't the first such case of tragic mistaken identity. In 1988, an Iran Air Airbus A300 was shot down by the U.S. Navy over the Persian Gulf, killing 290 people. Its crew mistook the jet for an Iranian fighter jet. In 2014, a Russian-made Buk missile downed Malaysia Airlines flight as it flew over eastern Ukraine, where fighting was occurring between rebels and that country's forces.


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