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New hope or false dawn for the A380? Print Post Approved 100007959




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MARCH 2018


‘The need for good experienced pilots cannot be met locally.’ NEVILLE HOWELL p26

20 Big commitments

A new hope or a false dawn for the Airbus A380?

26 No train no gain

Pilot training in the spotlight as government re-opens the door to foreign pilots.

54 From the frontiers

Space tech is not just for rocket scientists.

58 Ready for launch

Unmanned systems finally taking off in ADF service.

A refurbished ex US Army Black Hawk is fast proving to be a game changer in the world of aerial firefighting p32

66 Going for Gold

Gold Coast Airport gears up for the Commonwealth Games and beyond.

72 The need for speed

A rusty pilot flies Diamond’s DA62, a little gem p48

The US’s Future Vertical Lift program could result in Australia’s next battlefield helicopter.

82 Flying the doctors

A team of skilled pilots is critical to the success of the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

86 From 789 to 10

Boeing’s 787-10 and the 787 at 10.

92 Looking for answers

Eye in the Sky GA black box born out of personal heartbreak.

Our incredible front cover image shows the wake vortices created by an Emirates A380 as it appears through a cloud bank on approach to Brisbane Airport.

No.357 MARCH 2018 AU $13.95 NZ $14.50


New hope or false dawn for the A380? Print Post Approved 100007959

michael marston

RAAF Hawk training is being enhanced by aircraft upgrades and new simulators p40

4 Locked On 10 Notam 12 Debrief 18 Good kit 96 Racer’s Edge 98 Traffic 102 Warbirds 104 Airports 104 From the Regions 105 Rotor Torque

105 Fire & Ag 106 Cabin Pressure 107 Right Hand Seat 108 Contrails 109 On Target 110 The Human Factor 111 Flight Levels 112 Yesteryear 113 Asia Watch 114 Pinstripe

MARCH 2018 3

Locked On J etstar 787-8 VH-VKF departs Sydney for Denpasar on January 30, the day before the rare ‘super blue blood moon’. michael marston

Locked On R AAF aircrew step out to their Super Hornets for the last Operation Okra strike misson on January 14. defence



Locked On V irgin Australia Boeing 737-800 VH-VUE Curl Curl Beach parked at the gate at Brisbane Airport. lance broad




Two sides of the same coin

The changing dynamics of the airline pilot jobs market


‘The airline pilot jobs market is an increasingly global one.’

re we, finally, in the grips of a pilot shortage? Given that the federal government has just added pilots to its new skilled worker visa there’s some evidence that we are. I was surprised – although perhaps in this era of eternal outrage, I shouldn’t have been – at the strength of the reaction to the decision. The whole ‘foreigners taking Aussie jobs’ angle not only borders on xenophobia, but also neatly ignores the facts that a) foreign pilots could apply to work in Australia under the old 457 visa regime until as recently as last April, and b) one of the key reasons ‘foreign’ pilots are needed is because foreign airlines, from the Gulf to China, are recruiting Australian pilots to work overseas. We can’t have it both ways, happily accepting that Australian pilots work overseas while complaining that foreign pilots shouldn’t work in Australia. Of course those are two sides of the same coin. The airline pilot jobs market is an increasingly global one, and countless Australians have headed off to work overseas, the beneficiaries of booming airline traffic growth and the often insatiable demand of Middle Eastern and Asian carriers for more pilots to fly more aircraft to meet that booming passenger demand. And for good reason, with Australian pilots highly respected abroad for their experience and skills. But that’s not to say the hiring of Australian pilots doesn’t have flow-on effects locally, where regional airlines in particular, arguably at the bottom of the airline pilot food chain, can be hard hit. Whenever a Qantas or a Virgin loses an experienced pilot to an Emirates or an Etihad, they in







Christian ‘Boo’ Boucousis Gerard Frawley Jordan Chong

Solange Cunin Mark Jessop

Daniel Frawley





Andrew McLaughlin Owen Zupp


Louise Harry

Bruce McLaughlin

turn recruit from the regional airline operators. But often that new recruit is an experienced regional airline captain, denuding that airline not just of skills but experience. For now, Australia’s two major airline groups, and especially Qantas, are big enough and ugly enough to look after themselves as far as pilot recruitment goes. But the regionals, and flying schools, are hurting – hence the push to reinstate visas for foreign pilots. That’s likely to prove a band-aid solution at best. After all, Australia is now competing in a global market for skilled and talented pilots. Australia certainly has the lifestyle appeal, but can we compete on wages? And how many foreign pilots would want to relocate to Australia when their visas last just two years? Ultimately, the solutions to any pilot shortage in Australia are what they have always been – better pay and conditions so pilots are less tempted to work overseas in the first place, but also better, more affordable pilot training pathways. Becoming an airline pilot has always required grit and determination, especially for those that have self-funded their training and worked their way up through the general aviation ranks. But the trade-off to that was that once the goal of a position with a major airline was achieved, the conditions and professional and private lifestyle that that afforded made all that effort worthwhile. But all that is changing, the hard grind that is the life of a low-cost carrier pilot in particular is a far cry from the pay and perks of an A380 pilot with a legacy carrier. Plenty of people still want to fly,


Tom Ballantyne, Max Blenkin, Geoffrey Thomas, John Walton. CONTRIBUTORS

Eric Allen, Ben Cook, Rob Finlayson, Chris Frame, Kirsty Ferguson, Steve Gibbons, Seth Jaworski, Denise McNabb, Chris Milne, Robert Nutbrown, Dave Prossor, Gordon Reid, Ian Thompson, Paul Sadler.

and love to fly. But the danger is that the airline pilot career path is losing its glamour and appeal. How many pilots of today’s low-cost airlines in particular would encourage their kids into a flying career? Weigh that against the challenges and cost of self-funding a pilot career, and Australia’s airlines will face a pilot supply problem not just at the top, thanks to foreign airline recruitment, but at the bottom, if fewer kids choose a flying career pathway. Improving current pilot employment conditions (not just money, that’s important, but working conditions and corporate cultures are equally strong considerations) would be a good start. But better, more affordable pilot training pathways (HECS for pilots, anyone?), plus a better regulatory and financial environment for flying schools in Australia, would help even more.


I wanted to thank and acknowledge Gordon Reid and Tony Arbon for their contributions to Australian Aviation over many, many years. The JanuaryFebruary issue marked Tony’s last Register Update contribution, while this issue we farewell Traffic. Both columns have been part of Australian Aviation for over 30 years. That is an amazing record and I want to thank Tony and Gordon for their terrific and well-loved columns over that time. The magazine, and the broader aviation industry, has been much the richer for them. Personally, it has been a pleasure and a privilege working with you both. I will miss your contributions, as I know many of our readers will as well. Thank you.


Aviator Media Pty Ltd ABN: 52 622 564 827 PO Box 3926, Manuka ACT 2603, Australia. Phone: (02) 6232 7474 Printed by Bluestar Web. Distributed to newsagents by Gordon and Gotch. Ph: 1300 650 666

ISSN 0813-0876 © Aviator Media 2018. All material published in Australian Aviation is copyright and may not be used without the express permission of the publisher.


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The future is here


The arrival of Virgin Australia flight VA1105 into Brisbane Airport from Newcastle on Saturday February 3, the airline’s last commercial flight with the Embraer E-Jet. The E190 VH-ZPH is the last of Virgin’s 19 Embraer E190s to be withdrawn from service. EMIL COOPER

News briefs from across aviation


Qatar Airways will lift capacity on its Doha-Perth service by 44 per cent from May 1 when it upgauges its existing daily flight to the Airbus A380 from the Boeing 777-300ER currently serving the route. – The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said the “excessive” fees airlines impose when passengers cancel flights was a major cause of complaint among the travelling public and a potential breach of the nation’s consumer laws. ACCC chairman Rod Sims said the 1,400 complaints by consumers with the ACCC about airlines between the start of 2016 and December 2017 had “some very consistent themes and bugbears”, including no refund statements, excessive fees for cancelling or changing flights, and issues relating to consumer guarantees. – Cathay Pacific says it is encouraged by the performance of its freighter service out of Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport a little over a year since it established a regular cargo link between Queensland’s Darling Downs and

Hong Kong. While the initial rationale for the Wellcamp route was to enable local producers in the Darling Downs to export their goods to Asia and beyond via Cathay’s Hong Kong hub, Cathay Pacific Airways regional cargo manager for south west Pacific Nigel Chynoweth said there had also been demand for inbound freight. – Also, Cathay Pacific general manager for South West Pacific Rakesh Raicar has described Sydney as an ideal candidate for the Airbus A350-1000, as the airline plans to grow its presence in Australia with larger aircraft. While things were still in the planning stage, Raicar said Sydney might see the A350-1000, the largest variant of the A350 family, later in 2018. – FlyPelican has added a third nonstop route out of Sydney with the start of nonstop flights to Taree which started in late January with 19-seat Jetstream 32 aircraft. FlyPelican also flies from Sydney to Mudgee and Newcastle. – In other FlyPelican news, the airline has also launched a new three times

a week Newcastle-Adelaide nonstop service which would begin on March 26 2018. The route will be flown by Alliance Airlines on behalf of FlyPelican with 80-seat Fokker 70s or 100-seat Fokker 100s. – Regional Express (Rex) is expanding its presence in Western Australia after being announced as the preferred tenderer for Perth-CanarvonMonkey Mia services, a state government regulated air route. The route is currently operated by Skippers Aviation, with the deed of arrangement set to expire on July 1 2018. Details of flight schedules and air fares would be announced after the five-year deed of agreement has been signed. – Silkair became Australia’s inaugural Boeing 737 MAX operator in early January, when 737 MAX 8 9V-MBC touched down in Darwin following its four-and-a-half-hour journey from Singapore. It also started 737 MAX flights between Cairns and Singapore. – Malaysia Airlines (MAS) plans to resume nonstop flights between Brisbane


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Debrief and Kuala Lumpur from June 6 2018 with four flights a week using Airbus A330-300s after a near three-year absence on the route. The flights have been scheduled as a morning departure from MAS’s Kuala Lumpur hub and an overnight service from Brisbane. It will be the only carrier offering nonstop flights between Brisbane and Kuala Lumpur. – Alliance Airlines is celebrating the 90th anniversary of the first transPacific crossing with a special livery Fokker 100 VH-FGB and a commemorative beer from Newstead Brewing Co called Smithy’s FGB available for purchase on all its flights. Sir Charles and fellow Australian pilot Charles Ulm, as well as radio operator James Warner and navigator/engineer Harry Lyon from the United States, completed the 10-day 6,300nm Pacific crossing from Oakland in California to Brisbane on June 9 1928. – Qantas’s new Melbourne-San Francisco flights with the Boeing 787-9 will start on September 1 and operate four days a week. The start of MelbourneSan Francisco flights has prompted a reduction of the Melbourne-Los Angeles schedule from 13 flights a week (seven with the A380 and six with the 787-9) to nine flights a week (seven with the A380 and two with the 787-9). – In other Qantas 787 news, the airline will let the first of its 15 Boeing 787 options lapse, CEO Alan Joyce has told Reuters. The first of those 15 options was due to be exercised in February, while Joyce says Qantas would make a decision on firming up further options into firm orders in a “few more months”. – Further, Qantas’s Network Aviation subsidiary is to operate Airbus A320 narrowbodies on intra-Western Australia charter services, taking over some flying currently operated by Boeing 737-800s. The two A320s are being sourced from the Jetstar fleet and are expected to start flying with Network Aviation from April. – Eight Qantas Airbus A380s will be repainted in the airline’s new livery by Emirates Engineering. Beginning in March 2018 the aircraft will be stripped and repainted at the Emirates Aircraft Appearance Centre in Dubai, which Emirates says is the largest aircraft painting facility in the world owned by an airline.

– Finally, Qantas will operate 10 flights a week between Brisbane and Los Angeles from September 1 as its fleet of Boeing 787-9s joins the 747-400s currently operating the route. Under the new schedule, the 787-9 will fly Brisbane-Los Angeles daily, while the 747-400 will operate three services a week. The 747-400 will then disappear from the route completely from December 1, with the 787-9 to operate on Brisbane-Los Angeles 11 times a week. – United added a third long-haul route from Sydney in January with the start of daily nonstop flights to Houston with Boeing 787-9s. Houston is United’s largest hub and the airline’s third destination from Sydney alongside existing nonstop flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco. All flights are served with Boeing 787 equipment. The Star Alliance member’s vice president of international network Patrick Quayle said the new Houston route would offer passengers a greater choice of one-stop itineraries between the US and Sydney. – Virgin Australia has added a new codeshare partner for two international routes after Australia’s International Air Services Commission (IASC) approved its request to have Virgin Atlantic’s VS airline code added to its Melbourne-Hong Kong service, as well as its nonstop flights from Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney to Los Angeles. – Singapore Airlines (SIA) regional vice president for Southwest Pacific Philip Goh says de-linking Canberra with Wellington under a revamped schedule for the two capitals would allow both cities to “chart their own

growth path”. From May 1, SIA will serve Canberra daily with four-class, 264-seat Boeing 777-300ERs as part of a Singapore-Sydney-CanberraSingapore rotation and end its Canberrra-Wellington-Canberra tag flights. However, the Star Alliance member and Virgin Australia partner will maintain service to Wellington via Melbourne instead, with a four times weekly Singapore-MelbourneWellington rotation with 777-200s. – Philippine Airlines (PAL) will offer three nonstop flights a week between Brisbane and Manila hub from March 27 with Airbus A340-300s, increasing to four flights a week from May 1. The new service replaces the current one-stop option via Darwin with Airbus A320s. Also, PAL said the A340-300 would be replaced with the A321neo later in 2018. – Malaysia-based low-cost carrier AirAsia X has announced plans to move its flights to Melbourne from Tullamarine to Avalon Airport after signing a 10-year agreement with Avalon’s owners. No date has been publicly announced for the move to Avalon, with the airport requiring immigration and quarantine facilities to be put in place before flights can begin.

‘Network Aviation is to operate Airbus A320 narrowbodies on intraWA charter services.’


Technology provider SITA says trials of facial recognition technology at Brisbane Airport have shown a 70 per cent reduction in processing times for boarding and check-in. SITA president for Asia Pacific Sumesh Patel said the trials, which commenced in March 2017 for check-in and boarding and were the first of its kind in Australia, would be expanded to include automated bag drop kiosks and border processing.

Silkair has begun operating the 737 MAX to Australia, on its flights to Darwin and Cairns (pictured). ANDREW BELCZACKI

MARCH 2018 13

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The RAAF’s deployment of fighter jets to the Middle East to support combat operations against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has concluded with the final rotation of six F/A-18F Super Hornets returning to RAAF Base Amberley in south-east Queensland on January 24. DEFENCE



Marand has opened its Precision Engineering F-35A tail manufacturing facility at Moorabbin Airport in Melbourne. The facility, which was partly funded through a grant from Defence’s New Air Combat Capability Industry Support Program, will support 44 new production jobs and will manufacture vertical tails for the F-35 program.


The RAAF’s fourth and fifth Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning IIs – A35-004 and A35-005 – made their first flights in mid-January .

– The NSW Government has committed $450,000 to investigate a runway extension at Lord Howe Island Airport after signing a new four-year deal with QantasLink to maintain air links to the island. – Brisbane Airport has named Gert-Jan De Graaff, a senior executive from New York’s John F Kennedy Airport, as its new chief executive to take over from Julieanne Alroe from the end of June.


Lockheed Martin delivered 66 F-35 Lightning II aircraft in calendar 2017, in line with the company’s targets and an increase of 40 per cent from the prior year. Production volume was expected to reach about 160 aircraft in 2023.

The first group of students has commenced training on the ADF’s new training helicopter, the EC135, at the HMAS Albatross-based Joint Helicopter Aircrew Training School (JHATS). The JHATS, run by Boeing Defence Australia and its partners including Thales Australia, welcomed the first 37 trainee pilots and aircrew at 723SQN on January 17 at the Naval Air Station near Nowra in NSW. – The NSW Government officially opened the NSW Ambulance and Toll Rescue Helicopter Base at Bankstown Airport in late January. The purpose-built facility, which provides patient rescue, retrieval and treatment services, also features a full flight AW139 simulator, as well as specialist medical training rooms and helicopter simulation technology such as the Helicopter Underwater Emergency Training (HUET) theatre.



Airbus will have a new chief executive by April 2019, with current boss Tom Enders to step down by the company’s annual shareholders meeting in April 2019, saying the company needed fresh minds for the 2020s. Meanwhile, Airbus chief operating officer and Airbus Commercial Aircraft president Fabrice Bregier was due to leave by February to pursue other interests following a two-decade career in various roles at the company. Airbus Helicopters chief executive Guillaume Faury was named Bregier’s successor at Airbus Commercial Aircraft. – In other Airbus news, the company’s first BelugaXL is on track to make its maiden flight later in mid-2018 after the first of five of the over-size transport aircraft emerging from final assembly in early January. – Also, Airbus’s first long range A321LR narrowbody completed its maiden flight at the end of January, bringing the aircraft a step closer to perhaps being seen in Australia. The twohour-and-36-minute flight of the A321LR, MSN7877, powered by two CFM Leap-1A engines, took place from Airbus’s Hamburg facility, with the six-person flightcrew testing the aircraft’s flight controls, engines and main systems including flight envelope protections, both at high







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Debrief –

Boeing reported a record 763 aircraft

An apparent catastrophic engine failure has seen an RAAF EA-18G Growler catch fire after an aborted takeoff from Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada on January 27. The Growler’s crew, comprising a pilot and an electronic warfare officer, were able to exit the jet on the ground without ejecting. The aircraft is believed to have been damaged beyond repair. BARRY AMBROSE

Kestrel Aviation/Erickson S-64E N957AC Helitak 342 is brought to bear on a fire at Mt Cottrell, north of Melbourne on January 6. DAVE SODERSTROM

and low speed. Certification was expected in the second quarter of calendar 2018. – Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce took over as Minister for Infrastructure and Transport in December 2018 following a cabinet reshuffle, taking over ministerial responsibility for aviation matters from Darren Chester. – Technology provider Frequentis plans to demonstrate its digital air traffic control tower to New Zealand’s air traffic manager Airways New Zealand. The demonstration would “assess how the technology could improve visualisation during persistent weather issues, extend the hours of air services at regional locations and in turn improve the effectiveness of airport operations as well as safety”, Frequentis said in December. – Perth-based Electro.Aero has completed the first Australian flight of a production-built electric light sport

aircraft made by Slovenia-based Pipistrel. The Pipistrel Alpha Electro two-seater, which received Australian certification in late 2017, completed two circuits around Jandakot in early January. It was the first flight of a production electric aircraft in Australia, notwithstanding some experimental flights undertaken previously. – The search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has resumed after the Malaysian government accepted an offer from Ocean Infinity to look for the Boeing 777-200ER on a “no cure, no fee” basis, which means the USbased company gets paid only if the aircraft is found. – Turboprop maker ATR more than tripled the number of firm orders in calendar 2017 as it broadened its global footprint around the world. The company said it secured firm orders for 113 aircraft in the 12 months to December 31 2017, up from 36 firm orders in the prior corresponding period.

delivered in calendar 2017, with the result within previously issued guidance of 760-765 commercial aircraft deliveries for the year and 15 aircraft higher compared with the 748 deliveries in calendar 2016. Looking ahead to the current year, the airframer has guided the market to expect between 810 and 815 aircraft deliveries in 2018 amid growing passenger demand and rate increases for its 737 narrowbody program. – In other Boeing news, the company in January released images of an autonomous drone designed to carry cargo and bulk shipments with its unmanned electric vertical-takeoffand-landing (eVTOL) cargo air vehicle (CAV) prototype. Built in three months, the prototype successfully completed initial flight tests at Boeing Research and Technology’s Collaborative Autonomous Systems Laboratory in Missouri. – Production of Boeing’s iconic 747 looks set to stretch into a seventh decade, with the final assembly line Everett facility likely to be churning out the “Queen of the Skies” well into the 2020s thanks to a new order from United Parcel Service (UPS) for up to 14 freighters amid “unprecedented demand” in its air freight business. The global freight and logistics company has exercised options to purchase 14 747-8Fs it held from a previous order made in 2016. – Bombardier has received a boost with a surprise ruling in its favour from the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) in its dispute with Boeing over its C Series aircraft. The ITC ruled that Bombardier did no harm to Boeing with the sale of the C Series to Delta Air Lines. Boeing had alleged Bombardier sold the aircraft to Delta at unfairly low prices and it benefited from illegal subsidies from the governments of Canada and the UK. – Scientists from Boeing and Australia’s peak science research agency CSIRO will work together on space projects as part of a new partnership between the two long-time collaborators. The new initiative will feature joint research and development on space technologies with a focus on the developing needs of the Australian space market.


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MARCH 2018 19

Airbus A380


Newly-delivered Singapore Airlines A380 9K-SKU comes in to land at Sydney Airport. seth jaworski

A new hope or a false dawn for the Airbus A380?


MARCH 2018 21


irbus bills its A380 as “the passengers’ favourite”. That’s the message on Airbus’s “I fly A380” marketing website devoted to the world’s largest passenger aircraft, which among other things features a wall of social media posts from scores of happy travellers. The popularity of the A380 among the flying public is also borne out in the numerous consumer surveys that have been conducted in the 11 years since Singapore Airlines (SIA) operated the first commercial flight in 2007. When pressed, passengers talk about the spaciousness, the wide aisles and the quietness of flight, not to mention – in the premium cabins at least – the innovations brought about by airlines having a big blank canvas to work with. Think vodka bars, onboard duty free shop and in-flight showers. While Airbus highlights the potential of two full-length decks to increase capacity into slot-constrained airports such as London Heathrow, aviation analysts see an aircraft that some airlines struggle to fill because of its sheer size. A look through the order book shows the caution with which airlines have approached the A380. Emirates Airline dominates with 101 aircraft in the fleet and 41 more on order. A large gap follows to the nextbiggest operator SIA, which has 19 A380s in its fleet. Lufthansa is third with 14 aircraft, followed by British Airways and Qantas, who both have a dozen of the type. The passengers’ love for the aircraft has not quite translated into bumper sales, with the A380 program enduring an order drought that stretched through most of 2016 and 2017 broken only by Emirates topping up its existing order book in early January. However, the arrival of the first of SIA’s five new-build A380s in midDecember 2017 was regarded by those at Airbus as a cause for some cautious optimism. The five new A380s will replace SIA’s five oldest A380s in the fleet, which will remain at 19 aircraft. Further, SIA is spending US$850 million (A$1.07 billion) to upgrade its A380 interiors to a consistent configuration with new cabin products including a new-build business class seat, revamped first class cabin with fewer Suites and a dedicated premium economy section


T op – Singapore Airlines crew at the delivery ceremony for 9K-SKU. Above – Emirates chairman and chief executive Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum signs an MoU for 20 A380s with outgoing Airbus Commercial Aircraft chief operating officer for customers John Leahy. airbus

‘They just don’t do it to please Airbus.’ FABRICE BREGIER

at the front of the lower deck. (See the December edition of Australian Aviation for a full run-down of SIA’s new A380 cabins.) It was this significant investment that showed SIA’s commitment to the A380 and highlighted the aircraft’s utility in what is a competitive market, according to Airbus chief operating officer and Airbus Commercial Aircraft president Fabrice Bregier. “Today, if it is not a success with this fantastic delivery I don’t know what I can say,” Bregier told reporters at the arrival ceremony of SIA’s A380 9V-SKU in Singapore on December 14. “You have an airline, which is in a very competitive environment in Asia with many new long-haul carriers, including low-cost, and they decide to maintain the A380 in their fleet, to buy another five new, and to retrofit the old cabin. “They just don’t do it to please Airbus. “It means that an airline like Singapore Airlines knows how to

make business and make money with the A380. So this is for us a strong vote of confidence.” (It was announced shortly after the events in Singapore that Bregier was stepping down and leaving Airbus by the end of February as part of leadership changes at the global aerospace giant.) While SIA plans to maintain its A380 fleet at 19 aircraft, there is likely to be fewer than 19 SIA A380s operating while the new aircraft are being delivered and older ones returned in the first half of 2018, as well as during the retrofit program of 14 existing A380s that will run from the middle of 2018 to 2020. Similarly, the retrofit program for 14 existing A380s will take place from the middle of 2018, once all five newbuild aircraft have been delivered, and run until 2020. SIA chief executive Goh Choon Phong said the US$850 million price tag for the reconfiguration of the A380 cabins included the design, conceptualisation, certification and installation of the seats. The return on investment would come from being able to take advantage of market opportunities in the future. “In the first place we believe that we want to be able to continue to lead in terms of our product in the market and we want to also leverage this opportunity to bring new technology onto the aircraft so we can future proof,” Goh told reporters in Singapore at the arrival ceremony of 9V-SKU on December 14. “This is also precisely what our customers want in terms of more personalised space and so on and as you also realise as a result of that redesign and also the reconfiguration

Airbus A380 we are having a lot more seats and therefore revenue opportunities. “So from our perspective we believe that we will have a good case of realising that revenue opportunity. “We believe that we are doing a good investment but the realisation of it depends on the market itself.” SIA retired its first A380 in November 2017, with 9V-SKA MSN003 stripped of its original livery and returned to lessors to be placed in storage in Tarbes, France. Meanwhile, the first A380 with the new cabin products commenced revenue service on December 18 and currently operates a daily SingaporeSydney rotation. The next two destinations for the new-build A380 would be Hong Kong and London Heathrow, SIA said in January. Bregier said he “absolutely” expected more A380 airline customers to retrofit their A380s to take advantage of the latest trends in cabin layouts and seat technology. “It is clear the cabins have evolved dramatically. When you look at the new business class so if they want to maintain the attractiveness of the aircraft retrofit of the cabin is a must,” Bregier said. “Without giving you the name of an airline – it’s a European one – we had this discussion and the answer was ‘yes but we can’t retrofit it now because the aircraft is fully booked so we need the aircraft’. “So marketing the A380 takes time because you have seen that with this cabin you can’t think normal way. This is not a traditional aircraft. You need to attract the passengers, you need to think differently, to make sure that they will fly again next time giving priority to the A380.”

Further, Airbus said the A380plus package also featured longer maintenance check intervals, including a reduced six-year check downtime, to help cut maintenance costs and increase the available flying hours of the aircraft. This was on top of previously announced “cabin enablers” to add up to 80 more seats in the cabin, such as an 11-abreast economy and nine-abreast premium economy on the lower deck, new stairs, the removal of sidewall stowage bins on the upper deck and a combined crew rest compartment.

A irbus has had to slow A380 production in line with a declining order book. seth jaworski

Airbus Commercial Aircraft head of A380 marketing Frank Vermeire said A380Plus was a “development study” with a proposed entry into service from 2020 onwards. However, some of the “cabin enablers” would already be seen on some airlines, such as SIA’s decision to do away with sidewall stowage bins on the upper deck for business class passengers. “There are certain what we call cabin enablers which you will see going into service in the next couple of years but the entire package is something which we look at putting


At the 2017 Paris Airshow, Airbus presented an updated version of the A380 featuring new winglets and other operational improvements packaged together as A380Plus designed to improve the aircraft’s operating economics and perhaps attract new orders for the program. Airbus said at the time the new winglets, measuring 4.7 metres in height (an uplet of 3.5m and a downlet of 1.2m), would help improve aerodynamics and reduce drag. The A380 wings’ overall dimensions would remain within an 80m x 80m envelope, maintaining the aircraft’s compatibility with airport infrastructure. MARCH 2018 23

into service in 2020,” Vermeire told reporters in Toulouse on December 12. “And that very much includes those large winglets.” There are also a number of potential new business models for the A380. One idea is for a low-costcarrier to carry close to the aircraft’s certification limit of 868 passengers. Another is for the aircraft to be used on religious pilgrimage flights to Saudi Arabia, which is currently being trialled by Malaysia Airlines. And in November 2017 aircraft leasing company Amedeo floated the idea of operating A380 flights on behalf of other airlines or even companies from outside aviation using its own cabin crew and pilots. Bregier was keen to also talk up the potential of the Chinese carriers using the A380 in future years amid a surge in outbound travel from the country. “Why can’t you imagine that a Chinese airline, with the growth in the international traffic, could not do the same with a new hub in a new Beijing airport,” Bregier said. “It’s a matter of daring and I believe that many airlines are looking for the easy path, which is why I reduce my risks, but I reduce my reward as well. “We have to convince them that the level of risk to operate a big fleet of A380s is lower than what they have in mind and the reward is higher. “This is I think what we have to work out. The attractiveness of this aircraft, which was designed and put in service 10 years ago, is still intact.” He described the A380 program as in a transition phase. “This is not very easy but I am sure in a few years we will have additional orders, additional customers and we will be in a better position to retrofit it – it is still a young aircraft – to optimise it and make it even better,” Bregier said. Bregier did not have to wait long. On January 18, Emirates signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that included a firm order to purchase 20 A380s and options for 16 more. The aircraft will be delivered from 2020. The deal ended a 21-month period without any A380 orders and offered the program a significant boost just three days after a senior Airbus official publicly canvassed the possibility of shutting down the A380 production line should Emirates, the world’s biggest customer of the type with close to half the total order book, not order any more A380s. Emirates chairman and chief


executive Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum conceded as much when he said the order would “provide stability to the A380 production line”. Further, Sheikh Ahmed said Emirates would continue to work closely with Airbus to “further enhance the aircraft and onboard product”. It has been reported that the Dubai-headquartered carrier has been pushing for updated engines to improve the aircraft’s fuel efficiency and operating economics. Days earlier, at Airbus’s 2017 orders and deliveries announcement on January 15, Bregier acknowledged there was a commercial challenge around the A380, noting an internal analysis of the program’s supply chain determined that there needed to be

‘The deal ended a 21-month order drought for the A380.’

a “minimum of six aircraft a year to maintain industrially an efficient production line”. “I can confirm today that we can have an industrially robust process to deliver down to six aircraft a year,” Bregier said. “I am not pleased with the ramp down but this is controlled.” Airbus planned to slow the production rate of the A380 from 15 aircraft delivered in 2017 to a projected 12 aircraft in 2018 and just eight in 2019. Before the new Emirates commitment the A380 order book stood at 317 at the end of December, with 222 aircraft delivered and a backlog of 95. In one of his first comments since

Airbus A380

taking over from John Leahy the manufacturer’s chief salesman, Airbus Commercial Aircraft executive vice president and chief of sales, marketing and contracts Eric Schulz said there were still airlines out there looking at the A380. “I was talking to a couple of customers who are still interested on the A380,” Schulz told reporters at the Singapore Airshow on February 6. “I believe that the door will continue to be open on some very specific markets where growth is a big issue with restricted airspace, restricted airports. I think we will continue to have some opportunities. “Will that be a dozen every day? Probably not. But that will be probably sustainable and that will help us to

continue to live with a program which is delivering value for the customers.” Schulz said the order from Emirates was very important for the program. “That order from Emirates will absolutely stabilise the A380 production,” Schulz said. “We know that at a rate of six we are what we call industrially viable. This means that we have the opportunity to keep a final assembly line open. But we also keep our suppliers in situations and in volumes able for them to sustain the activity.”

SIA TO BE AN A380 OPERATOR FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE Under the new configuration, SIA will have 471 seats on its A380s,

Where would the A380 be without Emirates? victor pody

comprising six suites in first, 78 in business, 44 in premium economy and 343 in economy. Suites is being moved to the upper deck alongside business class, while premium economy and economy will stretch out across the entire lower deck. This represents a capacity increase of between seven per cent and 24 per cent from SIA’s two A380 configurations currently flying. These feature either 379 seats (12 suites, 86 business, 36 premium economy and 245 economy) or 441 seats (12 suites, 60 business, 36 premium economy and 333 economy). SIA executive vice president for commercial Mak Swee Wah said the reconfiguration program reflected changing market demand and the rise of the premium leisure passenger willing to fork out extra dollars for more comfort. “The A380 is already 10 years in operation so we look at the market, we look at the demand and we’ve got a bit of data,” Mak told reporters at Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, France on December 12. “We’ve seen how the market has changed and we think that the new configuration suits the demand better.” Mak said SIA had no plans to grow its A380 fleet beyond 19 aircraft, believing it was the right number for its route network. And despite some conjecture about the viability of the A380 program amid a dearth of new orders, Mak expressed confidence in the aircraft. “Fleet development is an ongoing thing but as far as we can see now, for the forseeable future for the kind of markets that fits that particular mission, we need the A380,” Mak said. “As far as we are concerned, Airbus is committed that this aircraft will be supported.” Airbus executive vice president for sales and marketing Kiran Rao said SIA was a strong partner of the A380. “The most important aircraft type that we have placed with Singapore Airlines is the A380,” Dr Rao told reporters just before 9V-SKU took off on its delivery flight from Toulouse to Singapore on December 13. “The additional five plus the reconfiguration of the existing 14, what it says to us and what it says to the world is Singapore Airlines continues to be a strong partner in the A380 and that’s extremely important.” Airbus will no doubt be hoping the A380’s second decade represents something of a new dawn for the double decker superjumbo. MARCH 2018 25



Pilot training in the spotlight as government re-opens the door to foreign pilots WRITER: JORDAN CHONG


or more than a decade, a team of aviation professionals with strong airline and training backgrounds has been attempting to establish the Australia Asia Flight Training School at Glen Innes Airport, a small airfield in the NSW Northern Tablelands. Consultant Neil Hansford was part of this team. The little-used airport, located within new Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Barnaby Joyce’s electorate of New England, would have been home to a residential college for 600 trainees and all the facilities needed for ab initio training or type conversions for Airbus and Boeing aircraft. Governments at all levels backed the project, offering grants and building sewage and water pipelines to


the airport. Shovels were practically at the ready. And why wouldn’t they be? All the forecasts show the demand for pilots will only grow as the number of air travellers worldwide doubles to nearly 8 billion a year by 2036. However, the project failed to get off the ground due to what Hansford, the chairman of aviation consultancy Strategic Aviation Solutions, described as a lack of interest from the financial community in Australia to invest in the project or generally fund anything related to aviation. “The fundamental thing that screams out is that it is nigh impossible to finance from Australian sources such as the big four banks, merchant banks or high net worth individuals, a commercial flying

A ustralia has lots of natural advantages for flying training. paul sadler

academy in Australia to have Australia take the leadership in the region for commercial pilot training,” Hansford told Australian Aviation in an interview. “None approached could fault the financials and business case in general and all agreed that the market was very lucrative. “They can all agree there is demand, but nobody has any interest in investing in commercial pilot education despite it being one of the very few businesses in Australia where you receive your revenue in advance. “All they are interested in investing in is the leasing of the heavy metal assets.” The frustration is all the more acute given Australia represents one of the most ideal locations for training pilots.

‘Nobody has any interest in commercial pilot education.’ NEIL HANSFORD MARCH 2018 27

“Everything is there for Australia to be the training capital for the southern hemisphere – you can train for about 340 days a year, we’ve got uncrowded skies, a safe environment and a predictable regulator,” Hansford said. “All the ingredients are there for Australia to be training 2,500-3,000 commercial pilots a year, compared with about 1,000 a year today. If there was some investment in the sector we could do up to 5,000 a year. “And the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) licence is of such a high standard that it is attractive to airlines, particularly English-speaking airlines, around the world.” The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of Australia (AOPA), which represents the interests of the general aviation sector, agrees. Its executive director Ben Morgan said Australia had the perfect environment for flight training. “There really isn’t a good reason as to why we can’t be a world leader in providing candidates not only for our domestic needs but for I guess our international partners overseas,” he told the Australian Aviation podcast in late December. “Aviation continues to be one of those industries that attracts an enormous amount of interest and the demand and the interest in aviation is possibly the highest it has ever been.” However, Morgan said the regulatory environment, a lack of investment and ageing aircraft were combining to act as a handbrake on the sector. “If we have a working, flexible and productive regulatory framework, we should be able to attract investment, therefore we should be able to attract financial investment in aircraft, in businesses, in personnel and to get this flight training industry moving,” Morgan said. The Boeing 2017-2036 Pilot and Technician Outlook, published in July 2017, showed there is a need for 637,000 new commercial airline pilots, 648,000 airline maintenance technicians and 839,000 new cabin crew members around the world over the next two decades. The Asia Pacific would comprise the largest source of demand with 40 per cent of new pilots, 39 per cent of technicians and 37 per cent of cabin crew to be recruited in the region between now and 2036. Hansford estimated there is a 20,000 deficit in pilot training places per annum throughout the world to meet the forecast demand from


‘Hansford estimated there is a 20,000 deficit in pilot training places per annum.’

estimates such as Boeing’s. The issue of pilot training and recruitment came to the fore in late December, when details emerged of the federal government’s decision to again allow foreign pilots to work in Australia. But first, some background. In April 2017, the federal government announced it was ending the 457 temporary skilled worker visa scheme. In its place are two new temporary skilled worker visas. The first is a twoyear visa that includes one option to extend for two more years. However, visa holders will not be able to apply for permanent residency.

There is also a four-year temporary skilled worker visa that can be renewed. This visa does include a pathway for permanent residency in Australia after three years. The federal government also cut scores of occupations that were eligible for the new visas, compared with the 457 visa, including pilots and aircraft maintenance engineers (avionics). And those applying under the aircraft maintenance engineers (airframe and engine) categories would only be eligible for the shortterm two-year visa and therefore not able to seek permanent residency. The 457 visa was introduced by Prime Minister John Howard in 1996


and allowed companies to employ overseas workers for job vacancies difficult to find Australian workers for. It also allowed 457 visa holders to have their family live with them in Australia on a 457 secondary visa. Current 457 visa holders were unaffected by the changes. After lobbying from the Regional Aviation Association of Australia (RAAA), and others, the federal government in late December added pilots back onto the list of applicable occupations for its temporary skilled worker visas. However, pilots would only be able to apply for the two-year visa and would not be eligible to apply for

permanent residency. RAAA chief executive Mike Higgins said the former 457 visa scheme had been used to bring experienced pilots into the country as cover for the exodus of Australian pilots to overseas carriers. Further, Higgins said it was not being used as a source of pilots for normal crewing. “We are not relying on the import of foreign captains forever and into the future, it is just so we can get these first officers trained up to take their place,” Higgins told Australian Aviation. “We still have sufficient numbers of right-hand seat qualified pilots.

R ex is feeling the pinch from pilot recruitment drives from expanding international airlines. seth jaworski

It comes back to the shortage of experienced pilots that is causing the problem. “The pilots’ associations and the RAAA want exactly the same thing. At the end of the day we all want Australian-based pilots flying Australian-based aeroplanes in Australia. It is just a matter of this short-term hiatus and the visa is the only answer in the short term.” When the 457 visas for pilots was abruptly scrapped in April, that meant experienced Australian captains being recruited by overseas airlines could not be quickly replaced. At Regional Express (Rex), that led to more cancelled flights due to a shortage of pilots, according to the airline’s chief operating officer Neville Howell. “The tighter regulations enacted in April of this year have caused havoc on Australian airlines,” Howell said in a statement on December 29. “It is a total mystery why Australia would choose to deter highly trained and scarce professionals like commercial pilots, causing major disruptions to the travelling public in the process.” Figures from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) showed Rex had a cancellation rate of 0.2 per cent in December 2016. The figure for all carriers covered in the BITRE report – Jetstar, Qantas, QantasLink, Rex, Tigerair Australia, Virgin Australia and Virgin Australia Regional Airlines – was 1.8 per cent Fast forward to December 2017 (the most recent month for which figures were available at the time of publication) and Rex’s cancellation rate had risen to 1.0 per cent. However, the figure for all carriers was down to 1.5 per cent. While the RAAA’s Higgins gave the government credit for its change of heart, the association was continuing to lobby for pilots to be eligible for the four-year visa, rather than the two‑year visa. “The driving force behind the push for four-year visas for pilots is twofold,” Higgins said. “Firstly, it takes about four years of experience in the right-hand seat before you can sit in the left-hand seat and gain a command and during that four-year period there is a training and mentoring relationship that is very important and we would like to see that relationship unbroken so that’s why we are requesting four-year visas. “Secondly, the sort of experienced MARCH 2018 29

A PILOT SHORTAGE? captains we’re looking for have obviously been flying for a couple of decades and are more likely to have families established and so forth, so to ask them to pack up and come halfway around the world for four years is much more attractive than say a twoyear period.” Despite setting up the Australian Airline Pilot Academy in Wagga Wagga in 2007, Howell said Rex had conducted recruitment drives in South Africa, the United Kingdom and United States at various times to supplement its pilot body. The 457 visas allowed the airline the flexibility to recruit pilots when needed. “Rex speaks with good authority when we say that the need for good experienced pilots cannot be met locally,” Howell said. Australia’s two biggest airline groups Qantas and Virgin Australia have stepped up their recruiting efforts in recent times and this visa change was understood to be unlikely to have a significant impact on their operations. At Virgin Australia, the airline has been reducing the number of aircraft types in its fleet, with all Embraer


‘The need for good experienced pilots cannot be met locally.’ NEVILLE HOWELL

Qantas has launched its ‘Qantas Future Pilot Program’ in partnership with five universities. qantas

E190s withdrawn by early February and up to eight ATR 72 turboprops also headed for the exits. While the fleet reduction had placed some constraints on pilot numbers, given some were undergoing conversion courses for new types, this has now mostly ended. A Virgin Australia spokesperson said the airline had a range of entry points for pilots, including its cadetship program in partnership with Flight Training Adelaide that has been running since 2012. The cadetship program’s intake was being increased from 12 people in 2017 to 18 in 2018. Meanwhile, experienced pilots are able to join the company as first (737/ Fokker 100) or second officers (777) on its jet fleet or as a captain or first officer on its turboprop fleet. “We have a range of measures in place to help manage the number of pilots required to operate our fleet and flight schedules,” a Virgin Australia spokesperson told Australian Aviation. “Virgin Australia welcomes the federal government’s review of the short-term skilled occupation list,

particularly in relation to how this is impacting on pilot shortages in Australia.” Qantas has also been on a pilot recruitment drive as it inducts the Boeing 787-9 into its fleet. The airline announced in February 2016 plans to hire 170 new pilots over the following three years to support growth, its first significant recruitment of pilots since 2009. Its regional arm QantasLink has also been recruiting, as more experienced pilots in its ranks moved across to the “mainline” Qantas jet fleet. In December 2017, QantasLink launched a partnership where students at five universities – Griffith University, RMIT University, the University of NSW, the University of Southern Queensland and Swinburne University of Technology – can apply for a 12-week airline transition course at the end of their degree. Called the Qantas Future Pilot Program, the students would be mentored by QantasLink pilots and trainers to be qualified first officers on Q400 and Q300 turboprops. Qantas is also focusing on diversity

in its search for new pilots, recently launching the Nancy Bird Walton initiative. Named after the pioneering Australian aviatrix, the initiative aims to increase the number of qualified women in its pilot recruitment programs to 20 per cent in 2018 and doubling it the following year. “Our goal is to reach an intake that is 50 per cent men and 50 per cent women within a decade,” Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce wrote in the January edition of the airline’s inflight magazine. “We know it’s not going to be easy to reach our targets. Today, women make up only 20 per cent of aviation students across Australian universities. And the number of women and girls studying science, technology, engineering and maths subjects shows that not enough see careers in technical roles as an option. “We need to change that mindset.” Pilot groups for both the major carriers were lukewarm on the visa changes. Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA) president Captain Murray Butt said the use of foreign pilots was a short-term fix and called on the federal government to establish a white paper on pilot training in

Australia. AIPA represents about 2,000 Qantas Group pilots. The Virgin Independent Pilots Association (VIPA), which represents Virgin Australia group pilots, also backed AIPA’s push for a white paper on the “serious and growing shortage of pilots”. VIPA president John Lyons said the visa reversal for foreign pilots was not a long-term answer to the question of pilot numbers. “The problem is systemic in that the traditional sources of recruitment for airlines has dried up. General aviation has been forced into decline largely because of an over regulated, punitive system enforced by CASA and the flow of experienced RAAF pilots has dwindled,” Captain Lyons said in a statement. “Thirty years ago the general aviation industry was thriving. It employed a lot of pilots and licenced engineers which provided an experienced source of recruitment for the airlines. Stifling regulatory changes and prohibitive costs have forced many general aviation operators and flying schools out of business.” The director of specialist careers consultancy Pinstripe Solutions Kirsty Ferguson said more needed to be

T he Virgin Independent Pilots Association says visas for foreign pilots is not a long-term solution to a pilot shortage. seth jaworski

‘It is an industry issue that we have to create these pathways.’ KIRSTY FERGUSON

done to offer newly qualified pilots the opportunities to progress through the ranks once they had completed their studies. “The gap is that while we have training facilities here for local pilots, we don’t have pathways from the flying schools and from the universities through to the regionals or through to the mainline carriers or even into general aviation,” Ferguson told the Australian Aviation podcast in late December. “It is an industry issue that we have to create these pathways.” AOPA’s Morgan said there needed to be a partnership between the regional, domestic and international airlines with the general aviation industry. “Nobody wants to see local jobs being given away to foreign candidates,” Morgan said. “It’s an accepted norm that if we have got the demand locally, if we’ve got young Australians who are looking to break into the industry, we should be cultivating, fostering and nurturing those people through to employment. “What we really need in Australia is a solid partnership between the regional, domestic and international airlines with the general aviation industry.” MARCH 2018 31

D E R K W A H g to n i v o r p t s a k is f w a H k c ing a t l h B g y fi e m r r fi A l S a ex-U f aeri d o e d h l r s i o b r w u e f h e Ar r in t e g n a h c e be a gam WRITER: MICHA



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‘The Blacks Hawk wae doing th ee r h t f o k r o w medium .’ helicopters MARCH 2018 33

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hanks to a unique partnership struck between Scone-based Pay’s Helicopters and Idahobased Timberline Helicopters, an ex US Army UH-60A Black Hawk, registered N5630J and equipped with a collapsible 3,400 litre multi-shot BBX7590 Bambi bucket, has become an invaluable asset to firefighters on the ground. This marks the second fire season that a Timberline Black Hawk has seen action, after another, N434TH, was first brought out in January 2017. While that season proved to be quiet with only about 105 hours of flight time, the Black Hawk’s performance convinced Pay’s to bring out N563OJ last December. Pay’s Helicopters managing director Ross Pay said the decision to use the aircraft for firebombing operations added another dimension to aerial firefighting. “I think sometimes people are wary of new things and things that are expensive to operate,” he said. “The Black Hawk sat around for quite a while and then we had those bad bushfires out west of Scone at Dunedoo last February, the Sir Ivan

N5630J takes on fuel close to the fire front. AMMY JORGENSEN

s ‘Sometimee people arew wary of n t things thasive are expene.’ to operat


fire, which kept us busy for a couple of weeks.” The results were impressive with good feedback from fire and emergency services in the area. “Once they used it, they realised the Black Hawk was doing the work of three medium helicopters. When you look at the cents per litre delivered to the fire, the aircraft is cheaper to run than anything else they used,” Pay said. “People were genuinely shocked at how much water this thing was putting on a fire. I know it’s a different tool and it’s not dropping retardant in lines, but if you’re just talking about pure volume, there’s not much out there that can match a Black Hawk.”

Joining forces

The story behind how Pay’s and Timberline came together is one of both good timing and demand for a better supported rotary-wing platform. Since starting operations in 2004, the Kaman K-Max, with its unique intermeshing dual rotor configuration, had been a stalwart of Timberline’s heavy lift operation, much of which focused on heli logging and ski lift construction.

But faced with uncertainty over the future of the K-Max, company vice-president Brian Jorgenson began looking at other options in 2014. Those included the Sikorsky S-61, Aérospatiale SA330 Puma and even upgraded Bell UH-1 Hueys. “There was more demand than there were aircraft and you couldn’t buy a K-Max. They weren’t in production at the time,” Jorgenson said. “All of a sudden the Black Hawks popped on to the scene. It was unexpected. I literally looked at the government auctions website and here’s 10 Black Hawks for sale. “It was literally a shot in the dark. We jumped in a plane, flew down to Alabama where they were parked waiting for sale. We took a mechanic with us who had been in the military for 10 years and had a lot of experience with Black Hawks. He crawled all over them and said ‘If you’re going to do this, these things are in absolutely great shape’.” That would eventually result in the company’s first refurbished Black Hawk, N434TH, going on display at Heli-Expo in Louisville, Kentucky in March 2016.


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Ross Pay was also at Heli-Expo, and was in the market for a new helicopter to join his firefighting fleet, which has been operating for the past 25 years. “We’d done a bit of research and figured the old Hueys had done a pretty good job over the years but really, they’re getting to be a pretty old helicopter,” he said. “With all these Black Hawks coming into the civilian market, we figured they’re the next best thing in helicopter firefighting that will be around for probably the next 20 years. So we really wanted to become involved with it. I did some research on Timberline and their history and I thought they’d be a good fit.” Introduced by mutual friend and HeliOps magazine publisher Ned Dawson, Pay and Jorgenson soon began talks on how to bring a Black Hawk over to Australia for the fire season. “Ned knew Ross was toying with the idea of bringing Black Hawks in by either buying or leasing one to help move the Australian industry forward with the next generation of aircraft,” Jorgenson said. “After Ned introduced us, I flew over to Australia a month later and met Ross. I was really impressed with

the operation Pay’s had and the feel of everything. “We took it forward, figured out how to make it work and we did it.” While Timberline and Pay’s don’t have a formal contract with firefighting agencies, Jorgenson said “call when needed” agreements are in place with New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia to use the aircraft. Indeed, Jorgensen admits it was

N5630J on the ground at Scone. AMMY JORGENSEN

a gamble to bring the aircraft to Australia without a formal contract, albeit a calculated one that is now starting to pay off. “We bear the risk of bringing it over here and having it available,” he said. “The Black Hawk is not a Swiss army knife, it’s just another tool, but when used correctly it can do a lot. Once we got out to Australia and got working, it went really well.”

N5630J has been available to state agencies on a ‘call when needed’ basis. MARK JESSOP

MARCH 2018 35

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RED HAWK Just like new

Filling the 3,400 litre multi-shot BBX7590 Bambi bucket. AMMY JORGENSON

The refurbishment of an ex-military Black Hawk for civilian use is both a long and extensive process. Timberline bought the first two of an eventually six-strong Black Hawk fleet at a military auction back in October 2014. While the Black Hawks themselves were well maintained and in good condition, they still required a thorough overhaul with the first airframe, N434TH, taking 8,000 man hours alone to refurbish. Timberline stripped out more than 400kg worth of excess wiring and military communication systems. That included removing two hover infrared suppression systems (HIRS), each weighing about 60kg, taking out the back seats and stripping off the original paint. Civilian radio and communications equipment was then installed, including a Technisonic TDFM-9000 radio with several Motorola APX-8000 modules allowing the radio to be programmed to work with all Australian fire and emergency services. The airframe’s exterior and interior were also repainted. With a starting weight of between 5,260kg and 5,360kg depending on the airframe, Jorgenson said the empty weight of the refurbished airframe is somewhere between 4,810 and 4,860kg – an eight-nine per cent lighter aircraft. Timberline’s Black Hawks have kept their standard twin General Electric T700-GE-700 engines, each producing 1,622shp. Jorgenson said while there was an option to upgrade to GE’s latest T700-701D engine, currently used in Boeing’s AH-64E Apache, the small increase in performance at altitudes above 4,000ft was not worth the extra cost at this stage. “At this point, it doesn’t make sense to make that transition to those engines,” he said. “The small increase in hot and high performance has not been something our customers are willing to pay for.” Following its refurbishment, N434TH received its Restricted Category type certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in late February 2016, with the Black Hawk put to work by April of that year. The aircraft spent about 800 hours on heli logging, firefighting and ski lift construction operations before it left the US for Australia in November 2016, arriving in January.


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However, before it could come out, Timberline had to seek International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) approval from the US State Department for a license to operate the Black Hawk in Australia, which included clearance for Pay’s personnel and anyone needing access to the Black Hawk. Pay’s also hold the Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) from CASA to allow the Black Hawk to fly in Australia. Now on its second Australian tour, Pay said those approvals were easier to achieve thanks to good working relationships with CASA and the US State Department. “We know we can get the Black Hawk over here two weeks before the contract starts so it’s up-and-running and ready to go,” he said.

Delivery on demand

The key advantage the Black Hawk holds over other rotary-wing firebombers is its speed. “All the helicopters I’ve ever flown pretty much have an 80kt VNE (velocity to never exceed) with an external load. The Black Hawk’s VNE is 140kt,” Jorgenson said. “We can pick up a full bucket of water and scoot along at about 110kt going back and forth. It’s much quicker across the ground from a water source to a fire. “And then with the pump, we’re able to get full buckets out of pretty small water sources.” The Bambi bucket can draw water from dams or creeks with between 30cm and 40cm of water, with the pump able to reach full capacity in under 40 seconds. “Firefighters like it because we turn up with as much water as an AT-802, and depending if there’s a dam close by, we’re filling up every three or four minutes with another 3,400 litres of water,” Jorgenson explained. “When you’re in a crisis mode of trying to slow a fire down or trying to protect a house, it really comes down to how much water you get there and how fast. “Our bucket is infinitely variable in that we can make as many drops as we need to.” At the time of writing, the Black Hawk had only seen action in New South Wales, but Jorgenson and his crew were kept busy with a spate of fires near Newcastle and Pilliga National Park near Coonabarabran in January. Timberline even brought out a third pilot to help with the workload. The company normally brings out two

N5630J demonstrates its 3,400 litre Bambi bucket. MARK JESSOP

MARCH 2018 37

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pilots and an engineer to Australia, along with a 40ft shipping container containing spare engines, blades and other parts. “It ends up being about $1 million worth of spares that we bring with us, just in case,” Jorgenson said. Once being tasked by the Rural Fire Service, Timberline’s crew have 15 minutes to get airborne. “We’re on a 15 minute response window so at that point, we’ve already turned up earlier in the day, done a pre-flight inspection and got everything ready,” Jorgenson said. “It’s just a matter of getting changed, strapping our helmet on, firing it up and going.” With the collapsible Bambi bucket already loaded into the back of the aircraft, the Timberline crew can transit as fast to the scene of the fire as 150 knots before finding a suitable clearing to land, unload and hook up the bucket. “We then talk to the Air Attack Supervisor to get an idea of what the plan is, where the water sources are and what their most urgent need is,” Jorgenson said. Flying in a small fixed-wing aircraft or helicopter, the Air Attack Supervisor is in constant communication with firefighters on the ground to help co-ordinate payload delivery. The role is similar to that of a forward air controller in military operations where airstrikes are involved. “The incident commander or ground crew will tell him what their objective is, and he’ll confirm if that will work or not,” Jorgenson said. “The Air Attack Supervisor monitors us and allows us to do our jobs without having to spend a lot of time talking to other people.” Jorgenson said a firebombing tactic which worked well during January’s Pilliga National Park fire was to follow in two or three single-engine air tankers (SEATs), such as AT-802s, which would drop their payloads in a mostly straight line across the fire front. With the bulk of the fire extinguished and its main progression stopped, the Black Hawk could then come in and clean up any remnant fires across valleys or fingers of the terrain. “Wherever the Black Hawk goes to fight fires, it quickly convinces the firefighters that it’s the machine for the job. It’s just a matter of it being used to its capability and what it can do,” added Pay.

‘It quicklys convince rs firefighte e that it’s thfor machine the job.’ ROSS PAY

“When you look at it on paper, the hourly rate is quite dear but when you look at it in terms of cents per litre delivered to the fire per hour, it becomes quite economical. “Most people have been blown away by how effective it is and how much water it can shift in a short amount of time.”


Despite its temporary presence, the Black Hawk is a valuable tool in Pay’s arsenal of firefighting aircraft, which also included a UH-1 Huey, AS350 B2 Squirrel and two AT-802 Fire Boss aircraft with amphibious scooping floats, among other types.

The Sir Ivan bushfire west of Pay’s base at Scone in February 2017 turned out to be something of a proving ground for how Timberline’s Black Hawk linked in with the rest of the firebombing fleet, joining forces with Pay’s Huey and Air Tractor 802s. “The Black Hawk offers increased capability but it also complements the existing fleet,” Pay said. “For firefighters, they’ve got to have a broad range of aircraft on contract and fixed wing aircraft are quite a bit cheaper to maintain than the helicopters. “I think it’s the way aerial firefighting works. You’ve got to have


Fire Hawk.indd 38

9/2/18 7:36 pm


a number of different tools in the toolbox. Some suit certain situations better than others and there’s some situations where they all work.” Pay said his company was looking at further opportunities for the Black Hawk to be used in Australia, now that its capability as a firebomber had been well and truly proven. “With the Black Hawk’s fast transit speeds, once you’re flying around at 140 or 150kt, you can get somewhere fairly quick to be effective and help, as opposed to a Skycrane which, while it carts a big load, is a very slow helicopter and takes a long time to get anywhere,” he said.

“It’s just getting people’s heads around its speed and the load it carries.” In the near future, Pay’s is looking into the possibility of having Australian pilots trained on Timberline Black Hawks, subject to the various regulatory approvals that would need to be met. And there’s the possibility of working on heavy lift operations outside of firefighting involving powerlines and ski lift construction. “We’ve got something that lifts almost four tonnes. It’s just a matter of making powerline companies and those sorts of people aware there’s a lifting capability,” Pay said.

A good fit for firefighting anywhere in Australia? MARK JESSOP

“Timberline is one of the most professional helicopter companies I’ve ever dealt with. With the way they run their business and how their pilots conduct themselves and fly, I’m very happy to be associated with Brian and his crew. “I believe the Black Hawk is a good fit for firefighting anywhere in Australia. We’d look at taking the Black Hawk to any state that wanted to use it.” Timberline’s Black Hawk was expected to remain in Australia into February before returning home to the United States. When it goes it will certainly have left behind a lasting impression. MARCH 2018 39

Fire Hawk.indd 39

9/2/18 7:36 pm

‘We had an aeroplane which was designed in 1999 and now it’s 2018.’ GPCAPT CHRIS HAKE

The RAAF’s Hawks are being upgraded to a standard similar to the RAF’s new Hawk T.2. darren mottram



KEEPING IT REAL RAAF Hawk training enhanced by aircraft upgrade and new simulators WRITER: ANDREW MCLAUGHLIN

MARCH 2018 41



raining and simulation is playing an increasingly important role in the development of capability, not just in the Royal Australian Air Force, but across the Australian Defence Force and indeed into the commercial transport domains as well. In an air training context, simulation was previously seen as little more than a replacement for airframe hours where the per hour cost of operating a simulator was a fraction of that of a ‘real’ aircraft. Aspiring


The new Hawk simulator at RAAF Base Pearce. cae

pilots were given time in the simulator to develop their ‘scan’ and muscle memory of the key systems before being let loose on the real thing. But in the wake of the tragic loss of an RAAF Boeing 707 in October 1991 with the loss of five crew members while rehearsing asymmetric flight procedures, it was decided to bring training into the 20th century and to drastically upgrade the RAAF’s training environment to include high fidelity simulators across the force.

Simulators don’t just afford a trainee pilot or air combat/ warfare officer (ACO/AWO) their first opportunity to be immersed in the cockpit, cabin, or combat centre environment of their future operational aircraft, vehicle or ship. Now, thanks to improvements in the processing power of these systems and the fidelity they offer, simulators can now be networked to augment real systems in exercises, and to develop and test system upgrades and new tactics.


As aircraft are upgraded, so too do their synthetic training devices need upgrading in order to continue to provide a representative and realistic training environment. It is with this in mind that Australian Aviation was recently afforded the opportunity to visit the RAAF’s new Hawk 127 Lead-in Fighter Capability Assurance Program (LIFCAP) full mission simulators at RAAF Base Williamtown.

The new devices were delivered by CAE as a key element of the Project AIR 5438 LIFCAP, which has seen this key fast jet training capability upgraded in order to better prepare the next generation of RAAF air combat pilots. “The program is running in lockstep with the LIFCAP upgrade,” Phil Randerson, CAE Australia’s training solutions manager said in a January 24 briefing. “One of the decisions that was

‘Simulators can now be networked to augment real systems.’

made was to procure a training system that was going to continue to improve the training of pilots through the key introductory fighter course (IFC).” The project acquired three simulators, two of which are located in a new dedicated Hawk 127 training facility adjacent to the RAAF’s 76SQN headquarters at Williamtown, and the other at RAAF Pearce where 79SQN is located. After being awarded their ‘wings’ with 2FTS at Pearce on the Pilatus PC‑9/A (soon to be replaced by the PC-21), those pilots streamed onto fast jets complete a Hawk conversion course with 79SQN, before moving to 76SQN to learn combat and weapons tactics on the Hawk. From 76SQN, graduate pilots are posted to an operational conversion (OPCON) course on the Hornet, Super Hornet, Growler, and soon the F-35A. While 79SQN has already conducted two LIFCAP conversion courses on the new simulators and upgraded jets, 76SQN commenced its first introductory fighter course in January. The AIR 5438 LIFCAP program has seen several key upgrades made to the Hawk 127, which entered service in 2001, and which should ensure it achieves its planned life-of-type in the late 2020s. The project sought to address five goals: to ensure the effectiveness and viability of the Hawk until its planned withdrawal; to address obsolescence issues; to enhance safety; to not only maintain but increase fast jet pilot output; and to adapt the IFC to match the requirements of increased networking in the F-35, Super Hornet and Growler. “What we wanted to do, we had an aeroplane which was designed in 1999 and built in 2000, and now it’s 2018,” explained officer commanding 78 Wing, GPCAPT Chris Hake. “So, when we were doing this project we wanted to ensure the Hawk would remain viable as a technical trainer, a lead-in fighter trainer, right up to our planned withdrawal, which is sometime late next decade. “A sufficient amount of time to train is important for our Air Combat Group (ACG) battle rhythm,” he continued. “Because we’ll start our OPCON at the start of the year, and our students for the IFC course, the introduction to weapons and tactics and fighter operations and culture needs to fit into that environment.” The upgrade is a combination of MARCH 2018 43

elements from several other Hawk programs around the world, but is broadly based on that of the Hawk T.2 Mk128 program being undertaken by the UK’s RAF, and the Mk165 and Mk166 programs for Saudi Arabia and Oman respectively. “Basically, what we have in the airplane now is the T.2 avionics package adapted for our specific airframe,” GPCAPT Hake said. New systems for the LIFCAP jets include new mission computers and operational flight program (OFP); a traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS); mission simulated datalinks including radar, weapons, chaff/ flares and radar warning receiver; the ability to carry an ACMI pod; a new IFF system; a new joint mission planning system (JMPS); a comms/ audio management unit (CAMU); the three new simulators and associated synthetic devices; and the associated technical publications and documentation. “Of course, technology has moved on since the Hawk was built, so there are also lessons and issues that needed to be dealt with,” GPCAPT Hake said. “So, we also wanted to enhance safety. The PC-21, F-35, Hornets, they all have ground proximity


The CAE-supplied and operated simulators are based on the Hawk Mk128 & Mk165 fullmission simulators. cae

‘Missile training can now be conducted on the Hawk.’ GPCAPT CHRIS HAKE

warning systems because of the risk of controlled flight into terrain. “We also manage that through procedures, but if you can put technology in so the ground proximity system will say ‘pull up, pull up,’ or ‘roll right,’ to provide a verbal warning that they’ve got terrain coming up, that’s a neat example of increased safety where technology like TCAS can go in to prevent bad things occurring.” Maintaining and increasing rates of effort was another requirement, GPCAPT Hake added. “What we’ve had happen in the fighter training space, is there has been a classic download from the front line down to the introductory trainer of stuff which would have been in the Hornet OPCON back in the nineties such as night training and having a missile warning. “Missile training can now be conducted on the Hawk as we added a simulated beyond visual range (BVR) missile capability, so the key concepts, the knowledge skills and attitude, can also be trained here. Now that we’ve got a whole range of new weapons and sensors which need to be trained, so the student can graduate from the operational type and go straight to the front line and be deployed.

“There are no lone rangers out there in the fighter force anymore raging around in their F-104 or their Mirage killing everything,” GPCAPT Hake said. “You’re now part of the network, and we needed to bring that in to the Hawk. The airplane now can simulate that, and also can do a whole bunch of things like simulating RWR receivers from things like SAM sites. They’re not 100 per cent operationally representative, but if you indoctrinate the knowledge, skills and attitudes right off the get go when you’re on the Hawk, you’re more likely to succeed.” To date, about 20 of the 33 Hawks in RAAF service have undergone the LIFCAP upgrade. Each upgrade takes about 15 weeks to complete and four aircraft are in various stages at any one time. In addition to this, prime contractor BAE Systems Australia is also taking the opportunity to address any fatigue or structural issues with the jets while they undergo the upgrade. All aircraft should have completed their upgrades by the end of this year. The CAE-supplied and operated simulators are based on the Hawk Mk128 & Mk165 full-mission simulators (FMS) with elements

LIFCAP of the M-346 simulator developed for Singapore, while the constant resolution visual system (CRVS) is a Boeing product developed from its F-15E visual system upgrade. CAE has a large training and simulation footprint within the ADF, both from a supplier viewpoint, and through its ongoing Maintenance and Support of ADF Aerospace Simulators (MSAAS) contract. Apart from the new Hawk devices, that footprint also includes management, training, engineering, and maintenance capability for the KC-30A at Amberley, the MRH-90 at Oakey and Townsville, the S-70A Black Hawk at Oakey, the C-130J Hercules at Richmond, the AP-3C Orion at Edinburgh, the new MH-60R Seahawk Romeo at Nowra, and the B350 King Air at East Sale. In addition, CAE is supplying P-8A Poseidon operational flight trainers to Boeing for the RAAF, and is working on a C-130J fuselage trainer at Richmond. MSAAS and the parallel Aerospace Simulation Through Life Support (ASTLS) contracts allow for common contract terms and flexible work scope, and provide significant Australian-based engineering and training capability. CAE is currently

the only ADF-accredited Approved Engineering Organisation for flight simulators, and is ISO 9001:2008 accredited. But rather than just providing hardware and courseware, CAE’s vice president & general manager, Asia-Pacific/Middle East, Ian Bell told Australian Aviation that his primary focus is to forge training and simulation partnerships with its customers. “CAE designs and builds some of the best kit, if not the best kit, in the world,” he explained. “Our focus is changing and, as a training company which probably, unashamedly, have the most students in the air domain training globally, we’ve learned a few

T o date about 20 of the 33 Hawks in RAAF service have undergone the LIFCAP upgrade. darren mottram

T he upgraded Hawk, and its simulators, are intended to better prepare pilots for the F-35 and Super Hornet. cae

things about how to train and how to deliver training. “So, I think what we can offer, because we train so many different friendly forces, [is] inter-operability of training,” Bell said. “We are hoping to build a far greater and closer strategic bond with the ADF and, as I look to the future, I think we enjoy an enviable position in the air domain. “Is it perfect? Well, absolutely not. But it’s like any marriage, it will have ups and downs, but we’re there to make it work. We’re there for the long term, we’re not in and out, and that’s important.” “We’re only limited by our own imagination,” he said. “And I think the important fundamental is to take a young kid and, we expect a lot, as citizens of our various nations, we really expect a lot of our military. We put them in harm’s way and we want them to come home. “I think what we can do is play the very important part in getting them mission ready, equipping them as best we can for what we think they might face. And of course, no plan survives first contact with the enemy, you know, that’s one of the sort of givens. But if we can prepare them as best we can, we can bring them home safely, and that’s all we can hope to do.”

MARCH 2018 45

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AIR TEST Diamond DA62

Little gem A rusty pilot flies the Diamond DA62 WRITER: CHRISTIAN ‘BOO’ BOUCOUSIS

‘If I can fly and navigate this aircraft, it’s highly likely anyone can! 48 AUSTRALIAN AVIATION


t the outset I want to stress to our readers that I am a very rusty pilot. Very. While aviation was my first career, it’s been a good 11 years since I’ve been at the controls of an aircraft and there’s quite a big difference between a Tornado F.3, the last aircraft I flew professionally and today’s subject, the Diamond DA62. When I reflected on this and internally reviewed my credentials to conduct this air test on your behalf it dawned on me that perhaps this isn’t a bad starting point, as the type of pilot who would buy and operate a DA62, the biggest twin in the Diamond fleet, is likely to be a non-professional aviator. Therefore if I can fly and navigate this aircraft, it’s highly likely anyone can! I am happy to say that

The seven-place DA62 is arguably the most advanced twin on the market today. mark jessop

in my limited experience of flying GA aircraft, the DA62 was one of the easiest and most intuitive aircraft I have ever flown.

Getting started

I met Fernando Villalon, my pilot for the day at Hawker Pacific in Bankstown. He’d very kindly let me off the hook with any flight planning prior to embarking upon our sortie or the need to roll the aircraft out of the hangar. Fernando has over 750 hours of experience on Diamond aircraft and possesses one of those wonderfully unique GA backgrounds, having retired as a corporate high flyer he has embraced his passion for flying later in life. In addition to his duties at Hawker Pacific, including ferry flights around the region, he is also a Class 1

instructor keeping local pilots up to date with their instrument ratings. I immediately felt comfortable with his capabilities! The flightplan was fairly straightforward, departure from Bankstown to Mudgee via Katoomba (KADOM), where we were landing to pick up our photographer for the day, Australian Aviation’s own Mark Jessop. Onwards to Temora VFR for a few meetings, then back VFR via Mudgee to drop Mark off before landing back in Bankstown. Fuel tanks were full at 86 US gallons (326 litres) which was ample for our flight which included four departures and approaches. The only notable thing about the day was the temperature, with 43 degrees forecast at Mudgee and Temora. There was no doubt I’d

MARCH 2018 49

be testing the aircraft’s hot weather performance!

G armin’s G1000 suite dominates the panel. mark jessop


Walking towards the aircraft the first impression I had was that this is a very different looking aircraft. But to be honest, I quite liked the bulbous look of the fuselage as it trails away to a back end more reminiscent of a helicopter, albeit with a T-tail! The raked winglets round out what is a very unique and purposeful looking airframe, almost cool looking in the Big Bang Theory sense of the word. The powerplants also looked a bit different, again the word that immediately came to mind is bulbous, due to the size of the liquid cooled Austro AE330 turbodiesel engines encased in their composite nacelles. Diamond has led the way in the application of avtur-burning diesel engines in aircraft. Derived from the Mercedes-Benz B-Class’s diesel engine and modified for use with cheaper and more accessible avtur, each AE330 is rated to 180hp (135kW). In discussions with a number of GA pilots it’s obvious that these powerplants are a game-changer and perfect for more remote flying as avgas becomes increasingly harder to find. The aircraft sits tall on very rugged looking landing gear and climbing


‘I really felt part of the aircraft and very comfortable prior to engine start.’

onto the wing with hands full of flight kit, headsets, water and snacks (it was a long day) proved to be extremely simple. Once on the wing it was simple to unlock the gull-wing doors with a single hand and the door swings well clear of the cockpit to allow the pilot easy access to the seat. I liked the design feature where the edge of the seat pan can be folded back toward the seat allowing more room for the pilot to step through to place a foot on the cockpit floor and I immediately thought this aircraft would suit a BIG pilot. Two doors on each side means there is no climbing over backseats or over the PIC seat to get into the aircraft. The walk around is very simple thanks to the ergonomic design of the aircraft and within five minutes the fuel and oil were checked, hatches closed and locked and I was comfortably seated in the right-hand seat. I have to admit it was nice to see a stick vs yoke in the cockpit, I always find flying with a stick more intuitive than the yoke, or maybe it’s just the flashbacks the stick invokes to the glory days of my early career. Once seated behind the controls, setting the pedals couldn’t have been easier with the press of the pedal button by my right knee moving them

electronically to just the right position, I really felt part of the aircraft and very comfortable prior to engine start and I am happy to report that this feeling remained throughout the day in all flight regimes. The aircraft I was flying in today was the fully optioned model and you couldn’t help but think you were sinking into the cockpit of an AMG Mercedes or an M model BMW. Leather trim on the seven seats (including the rear bench seat for two passengers which is also an extra) and airconditioning make the interior welcoming for pilots and passengers alike. To manage adverse flight conditions and keep those passengers and the pilot safe the aircraft was also equipped with a weather radar, integrated oxygen system and TKS known icing protection system (FIKI). Fernando confirms the efficiency of this system as he has experience with the usage of them in real icing conditions.

Start up and taxi

The DA62 is possibly the easiest aircraft to start I’ve ever come across. MASTER AV – ON, wait for the Garmin G1000 to fire up, Engine Master – ON, wait a few seconds for the glow plug light to go out and

AIR TEST Diamond DA62 push the ENGINE – START button. Repeat and very quickly both AE330s were quietly rumbling with all the gauges in the green. As the flightplan had already been uploaded earlier by Fernando (what a luxury!) it wasn’t long before we taxied to the run‑up bay. While Fernando managed this aspect of our journey out of Bankstown, I did have the opportunity to manage this phase of the flight from Mudgee and Temora. Like any new aircraft it takes a few seconds and bit of goosestepping to get a feel for the rudder pedals’

Bulbous nacelles encase the AE330 diesel engines. mark jessop

effectiveness on the ground. Visibility out of the cockpit is brilliant and the airconditioning in warm weather was far more effective than I was expecting, sparing me the ‘wet back’ effect prior to line up that is my usual companion on any aircraft I’ve flown thanks to the stinking hot cockpit environment. The aircraft is equipped with nose wheel steering, however I found myself using brakes and power to negotiate the aircraft around the apron – the DA62 was very well behaved. True to Diamond’s pedigree the run up was…simple. This is thanks to the incorporation of an engine management system. No pitch levers, no mixture, no magnetos, just two throttles, which you don’t need to manipulate for the run-up! Just hit both the test button, one for each engine and within 30 seconds engine RPM checked, props checked and we’re ready to go.


Once lined up on the runway centreline at Mudgee, I checked the trim tabs, in the right-hand seat you need to use the trim wheel, in the left-

hand seat the trim is on the stick and I noted a little right trim set on the yaw tab. As I eased the throttles forward to 100 per cent the aircraft accelerated quite comfortably even with the temperature showing 42 degrees, while it became apparent that the yaw trim balances a tendency for the aircraft to pull left under power and needed a touch of right rudder to keep the aircraft tracking the centreline. I gently pull back on the stick at 75kt, set a climb attitude of five degrees and we climb away comfortably, raising the gear quickly after confirming a positive climb rate, powering back to 95 per cent, selecting flap up as we accelerated through 90kt. Upon raising the flaps there is a notable ‘wallow’ or “sink” sensation, but watching the rate of climb on my second departure there is no accompanied loss in altitude, then I accelerate out to our climb speed of 110kt. We climb out at 1,000ft/min and more quickly than I was expecting we level out at our cruise altitude of 8,000ft. The Diamond is a very easy aircraft to load up and go with a MTOW and a max landing weight of 2,300kg –

MTOW and MLW are both 2,300kg, mark jessop

MARCH 2018 51

AIR TEST Diamond DA62 allowing a takeoff distance of 480m /883m, landing distance of 441m /779m.


This aircraft is born to cruise! At top of climb Fernando brought the range display up on the G1000 10in display and it was comforting to note that our max endurance was over 11.5 hours and our range rings highlighted a max range extending to the East Coast of the NZ South Island, with reserves! It’s during this part of the flight regime these incredible engines come into their own. En route to Mudgee and Temora the aircraft accelerated to a cruise speed of 165kt TAS with 75 per cent power set and our total fuel burn was a measly 15 USG/hr (57 litres/hr). On the return trip to Mudgee we cruised back at an even thriftier 12USG/hr with power set at 65 per cent and the cruise speed settling back to 155kt TAS. Heading back into Bankstown the warm weather had generated enough convection to allow storm clouds to build and to ensure we beat them home we set max continuous power of 95 per cent, accelerating the aircraft to 182kt TAS and a thirstier, though still impressive 19 USG/hr (72 litres/hr). This aircraft was also equipped with a fully-integrated GFC700 Autopilot, yaw damper and electronic stability and protection system (EPS) and we utilised this technology throughout the flight through the G1000. Let’s just say, if I could figure out the autopilot on the first leg of our flight, anyone can. Often in an air test we forget one of the most important elements of a passenger aircraft, the passengers themselves! Mark is a tall and lanky chap, the kind of fellow you’d instantly think is going to need to be crowbarred into your average light aircraft. The Diamond successfully ticked all the boxes for the passenger experience with Mark who was sitting directly behind the pilots and when asked to describe his two hours of cruising in the aircraft he responded “plush, smooth and relaxing” with ample leg room in the forward seats. Granted, this starts to get a bit tight in the back row if you option the aircraft out for the bench seat at the rear of the aircraft bringing the total to seven seats.

General handling

As a fully composite airframe I did notice a difference between the ‘metal’ twins I had flown previously,


‘Control loads on the stick are firm, though balanced.’ Fying with a stick more intuitive than the yoke. mark jessop

principally Barons and the ubiquitous Duchess. The Diamond seemed smoother, quieter and more comfortable with the added bonus of the EMS managing all the synchronisation issues that form part of light twin flying. Control loads on the stick are firm, though balanced and the aircraft provides great feedback to the pilot, especially this one who hasn’t needed to push a rudder pedal in flight unless it was in an air combat mission! Power is extremely easy to set using the throttles and when something goes “wrong”, in this case a simulated engine failure, the aircraft

was very easy to handle after feeling the indications of the failure through the seat of the pants and applying a small amount of rudder to square the aircraft up. The final check conducted during the flight was the aircraft’s stall characteristics which we tested at 7,500ft. As we decelerated to the stall the aircraft kindly reminded us with its disembodied voice to lower our landing gear and as we reached the stall at 63kt the right wing dipped slightly as did the nose, around five degrees. With the simultaneous application of power and a slight lowering of the nose the aircraft

Big doors provide easy access. mark jessop

The Diamond is an all seasons aircraft. mark jessop throttles were brought back to idle while making a small check back on the stick, around ½ inch, arresting the rate of descent and allowing the aircraft to settle gently on the runway. The landing distance with very light braking was around 1,000ft or half the length of Runway 05.

The golf club test

The Diamond is an ‘all seasons’ aircraft possessing the ability to comfortably fit two golf bags, three at a squeeze without disturbing the five passengers during the warmer months and four sets of skis for the trip to Mt Hotham or Queenstown during winter. Although with a trip of that range you’d need to be aware of the inability to take a comfort break in the confines of the cabin in anything other than single pilot operations!

Want one? accelerated, and we climbed back to our cruising altitude after a loss of about 120ft. Importantly for infrequent aviators the ESP assists the pilot by preventing them from getting into a stall or placing the aircraft in a position where the aircraft is over-banked (greater than 45 degrees AoB) or placed in an unusual attitude. If required the ESP system can be overridden by the pilot by the application of more force to the control column.

Approach and landing

Each of our approaches was a breeze, at TOD we set a 500ft/min rate of descent into each airfield before flying a visual approach to land. On one of our approaches I had the opportunity to test the G1000 and the aircraft’s performance in the terminal area after Fernando set us up for a RNAV approach into

RWY 05. Setting a terminal area speed of 130kt I had great situational awareness as we descended into the initial approach fix and subsequently down the full approach. Passing 2,000ft I disengaged the autopilot and continued the descent. I’ve never flown an aircraft without a gear speed limit before and while leaving the power set I lowered the landing gear at 130kt, which had little effect on my attitude and the aircraft decelerated comfortably to around 95kt on glideslope. The aircraft was very stable, requiring only minimal power inputs all the way down the approach including the lowering of full flap, allowing the aircraft to decelerate to its threshold speed of 90kt. A gentle 5kt crosswind from the right required only a touch of aileron and rudder in the flare while the

Walk around is very simple thanks to the ergonomic design of the aircraft. mark jessop

The Diamond DA62 I had the opportunity to fly was fully optioned with an asking price around A$1.7 million, with basic pricing for a new DA62 starting at US$1,135,000 ex Canada. If I had to take an extra option as a leisure pilot, I would definitely add the airconditioning mod at a cost of around US$20,000 – it worked perfectly on what was a very hot day. In all I was quite taken with the whole look and feel of the Diamond. It is well designed from a pilot and passenger’s perspective and the manufacturer has taken on board all the lessons learned from its GA predecessors. It’s a disrupter in today’s GA market and there is no doubt with a combination of innovative power plants, composite construction, a partnership with Garmin and modern glass cockpits these aircraft from Austria will influence the market for some time to come. MARCH 2018 53

Space tech

From the frontiers

Space tech is not just for rocket scientists WRITER: SOLANGE CUNIN


he debate of the value of investing in space is at the front of the Australian space agency conversation. The private space sector has to justify the value of the government’s planned investment continuously, looking for ways that the R&D and technology can apply to other sectors and the general public. It’s a difficult conversation, because it is hard to imagine that any of the elaborate technologies that are built to realise space missions, would have any benefit to us mere Earthlings. Well, it does. We use rocket science technology in our everyday lives more than you think. The aviation industry, more than any other, benefits from the R&D and innovations that come out of the space sector. Despite aviation paving the way for the space sector in terms of universal standards and commercial scaling, the innovations achieved by major space agencies like NASA are in turn critical to innovation within the aviation industry. There are thousands of examples of NASA technologies and innovations that have gone on to benefit other sectors and are used in almost every facet of modern life. This includes innovations that


help find disaster survivors trapped under rubble, purify air and surfaces to stop the spread of germs, and test new materials for everything from aeroplanes to sports shoes. “NASA technologies dating as far back as the Apollo missions still are improving our quality of life,” says Daniel Lockney, NASA’s technology transfer program executive. “Meanwhile, innovations made in support of upcoming missions, such as the Orion capsule and the James Webb Space Telescope, are already finding commercial applications. The benefits of the space program continue to accumulate every year.” With a new space agency coming to Australia, the aviation industry can look forward to the long-term benefits of shared innovations, as happens in other countries with space agencies. And as the STEM talent crisis continues to cause issues within all technology fields, including space and aviation, the ability to demonstrate the social or human purpose will become the driving factor for recruiting more young people with the skills we need, into the industry While indirect, the application of space technology in our everyday lives drives the STEM education mission.

‘The benefits of the space program continue to accumulate every year.’ DANIEL LO CKNEY

The HondaJet’s design was refined in NASA’s National Transonic Facility. hondajet MARCH 2018 55

Space tech With space being at the forefront of inspiration hooks for STEM education, the awareness around how work with the space sector translates to the individual only drives millennial motivation to join the field. “NASA’s work represents an investment in the future, not just for air and space travel, but for the nation,” said Stephen Jurczyk, associate administrator of the Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington. “At the same time that NASA’s space exploration missions are inspiring young people to become scientists and engineers, the agency’s work in support of those missions is creating jobs for them across many industrial sectors. Commercial

‘NASA’s work represents an investment in the future.’ STEPHEN JURCZYK

S imulation of the Orion Launch Abort Vehicle using the Pegasus 5 software suite. nasa/ames

technology spun off from NASA research and technology programs, and missions creates new companies, grows the economy, saves money, keeps us safer, and even saves lives.” National space agencies across the world target education directly as well. They regularly tie classroom lesson plans, students software licences and other educational materials to their new research and developments, and almost always for free. There are some innovations that have been used directly in education. For instance, NASA funded a project, AeroPod, that teaches students about climate change and remote sensing through aerial monitoring of ponds and streams, and students can learn the history of the Apollo era through a VR simulation that takes them from launch to landing on the moon of Apollo 11, for free in their classroom. Is there a better way to inspire young people than allowing them to experience a space mission to the moon?

Innovative design propels the HondaJet faster, further with less fuel Honda, the budget-friendly, fuelefficient family car manufacturer, is now making budget-friendly, fuelefficient high-powered jets. The HondaJet has the fastest maximum cruising speed in its class and can fly at the highest altitude in its class. It is also less expensive to operate than other light jets because of its higher fuel efficiency.

Honda Aircraft collaborated with NASA and worked with its wind tunnel experts to test its designs of the plane body and its breakthrough overthe-wing engine mount at NASA’s National Transonic Facility, or NTF.

Simplified aircraft modelling packs weeks of analysis into minutes

Any aerospace engineer who has spent weeks waiting for their CFD simulation to complete, only to have to make a small change and to do it again, will be envious of this NASA innovation. In order to speed up the CFD analysis of aircraft flight conditions, NASA Langley Research Centre created a piece of software that simplifies the computer model of the aircraft. This innovation turns week-long CFD computations into a matter of waiting minutes, enabling faster and more agile design practices – something aerospace engineers dream of. The software, called reduced order modelling, is now available for licence (so you can stop dreaming), and Huntsville, Alabama-based CFD Research Corporation is using it for current and planned future contracts. This innovation looks set to fast track the rate in which we can design and innovate within aviation.

Virtual reality helps pilots ‘land’ inflight

Takeoffs and landings are the highest risk phases of flight and also take a toll on aircraft structures, so finding

The Fused Reality system brings augmented reality for training tasks on real aircraft. sti


xx xx a way to more effectively train pilots for these critical phases of flight will benefit everyone. With help from Armstrong Flight Research Center, an innovation developed in industry using augmented reality allows safer, more accurate, and cheaper training, and further assists manufacturers to evaluate and design aircraft. The Fused Reality technology comprises a head-mounted virtual reality tool which layers virtual elements over a view of the real world during flight, allowing pilots to practice landings, inflight refuellings or other demanding scenarios while in the air. “You actually get the dynamics of the exact airplane you’re flying,” says Bruce Cogan, an aeronautical engineer at NASA Armstrong. “That means external factors like cross-winds, as well as intrinsic ones like how the plane handles, are all real.” The software, Cogan explains, can create a virtual runway, where “you can train for this landing task at 5,000ft, so if you mess up, you won’t hurt the airplane. You can go try again.” “Say I want to practice doing a cross-wind landing in winds that are very close to the limits of how you could actually do a landing,” adds David Landon, CEO of Systems Technology (STI), which built Fused Reality, says. “If I did it using that virtual runway, I can make an approach down to a virtual touchdown.”

Design software that transforms how commercial airliners are designed

Computational modelling and testing has been a major innovation to benefit the aviation industry, making designing and testing far quicker and cheaper than ever before. In the early days, using these software packages was almost a profession in itself, but with the NASA-funded Pegasus 5, the work necessary to prepare a design for CFD analysis was greatly reduced, and the level of expertise and training required was also significantly lowered. NASA Ames took over the program and refined it with Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Pegasus 5 has been used in the design of most every NASA spacecraft for the last 15 years, while Boeing has used the software extensively, including in developing the 787 Dreamliner, 737 MAX and the forthcoming 777X.

A Boeing 777 model in NASA’s National Transonic Facility. nasa

Drone traffic forecasting

Drones are incredibly useful and have become very popular across a range of applications. But that means we are going to have to get even better at managing airspace. As NASA Ames worked with the US government to craft regulations for future drone traffic, the team ran into a problem: it needed data on drone flights that wouldn’t exist until regulations were already in place. Under Ames SBIR contracts, a drone traffic forecast was created using planned drone operations from scores of companies and agencies. The enormous dataset is now commercially available to anyone planning drone operations.

Space-grade insulation keeps beer colder on Earth

Did you know that keeping your beer keg cold can benefit from space technology? You can now keep your keg cold all day by just adding ice to a cover made from the reflective insulation that NASA developed in the ’60s. It’s used in spacecraft and space suits, and now to keep your drink cold!

A I company Neurala is using technology first used by NASA’s Mars rovers for self-driving cars. neurala

Earth images enable near-perfect crop predictions NASA has been producing constant imaging of Earth’s surface since the 1970s. It has worked with a startup out of Boston Uni to create a software product that combines Earth-imaging data with historical data, weather models, and other information to make predictions on crops. This was able to predict soy yields in 2016 to 99 per cent accuracy.

Planet-navigating AI “brain” helps drones and cars avoid collisions

‘I can make an approach down to a virtual touchdown.’ DAVID LANDON

US-based AI company Neurala has worked with NASA to take advantage of the technology used on Mars rovers where relying on cloud-based AI systems isn’t plausible due to the delayed communications with Earth. The technology is being used with drone companies, industrial robot manufacturers, and a major automotive manufacturer looking toward self-driving cars. The navigation and advanced collision avoidance are especially exciting future developments for this technology. MARCH 2018 57

‘Our tactical UAVs were also a potent psychological tool.’ LTCOL JOHN FREWEN




Unmanned systems finally taking off in ADF service


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hen Australian troops first deployed to Afghanistan in late 2002, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) had no unmanned aircraft and not much experience beyond some trials, which did show the vast potential for this technology. Sixteen years on, the ADF is becoming a UAS (unmanned aerial systems) force with all three services set to possess its own advanced UAS capability to meet its particular operational requirements. As the ADF becomes increasingly networked, the aspiration is for UAV product to be distributed across the Defence Force to precisely where it’s needed. That could be a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) image of a suspect illegal fishing vessel in the Southern Ocean taken from a Triton 50,000 feet overhead, video of a terrorist gathering in the southern Philippines taken from a Reaper – and followed up with a Hellfire missile – or an image of an insurgent hideout in southern Afghanistan, obtained surreptitiously by an Army Black Hornet, a sparrowsized UAV. In time of bushfire, cyclone or flood, ADF UAVs such as Triton or Reaper can overfly an area before and then again afterward, producing very detailed current imagery of the extent of damage to allow relief to be most appropriately directed. ADF UAVs with their very advanced sensors could join search and rescue missions or a hunt for lost hikers or be deployed as the eyes of a taskforce engaged in a peace restoration mission. The ADF appetite for UAVs has emerged and grown steadily since the late 1990s when the Army conducted trials with the Australian Codarra, developed by Codarra Advanced Systems, of Queanbeyan, NSW. This early UAV was rudimentary, essentially a radio-controlled model aircraft with a camera, but it gave the Army an introduction to this capability. In August 2003, Australian troops tried out four Australian-made Aerosonde UAVs during the peace restoration mission in the Solomon Islands. This was the first ever Australian operational deployment of UAVs and proved extremely useful in learning just how to use these new devices and just what they could do. As well as producing useful imagery of some of the more remote areas


A n Aerosonde is launched from an Army Land Rover during the 2003 Solomon Islands deployment. defence

‘UAVs in many guises have existed longer than manned flight.’

and less accessible villages of the Solomons, these had a less tangible but nonetheless real effect, as mission commander Lieutenant Colonel John Frewen wrote in Defence magazine at the time. “Our tactical UAVs were also a potent psychological tool that clearly played on people’s minds. We openly displayed our abilities and the imagination of the locals took over from there,” he said. The war on terror showed how UAVs could be far more than just useful novelties. As US forces bore the brunt of fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, they turned to UAVs for long‑endurance intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions and increasingly for strike. UAVs in many guises have existed longer than manned flight. Wikipedia dates the first use of a type of UAV to 1849 when the Austrians launched balloons full of explosives at the city of Venice. Pilotless aircraft, tried out

after World War 1, followed the development of radio. In the absence of useful sensors, this technology was directed to producing target drones, widely used for gunnery practice during World War 2. Australia’s own Jindivik first flew in October 1950 and remained in service right through to 1998. This technology was also directed to missile guidance. During WW2, the US Army Air Force used war-weary B-17 and Liberator aircraft, packed with explosives, fitted with early TV guidance and radio-controlled from another aircraft to attack German V-1 launch sites and U-boat pens. None of the 14 missions succeeded and what was code-named Operation Aphrodite is chiefly remembered for the death of one pilot, Lieutenant Joseph Kennedy, older brother of the future president, killed when his aircraft exploded prematurely over southern England. The Cold War and the need to see what the other side was doing

ADF UAS gave impetus to development of reconnaissance drones. The US had its very effective U-2 manned spy plane but a flight over the USSR in 1960 caused no end of trouble when the aircraft was shot down and its CIA pilot captured. The US used unmanned surveillance aircraft extensively for missions over North Vietnam throughout the Vietnam War and these proved most useful and also expendable. Israel enthusiastically adopted UAVs for ISR and the Israeli Air Force showed just what was possible in a single day in June 1982. Using Tadiran Mastif and IAI (now Israel Aerospace Industries) Scout UAVs for real time battlefield surveillance, Israeli aircraft obliterated Syrian air defences in the Bekaa Valley and then shot down as many as 86 Syrian aircraft for no losses. This one-sided victory had wideranging consequences, including demonstrating the force multiplier effect of imaginatively deployed UAVs. The General Atomics Predator and its successor the Reaper, perhaps the best known of the current generation battlefield UAVs, stemmed from a series of CIA and US military projects launched in the early 1980s.

The first Predator flew in 1994 and its first deployment was to the Balkans in 1995. Loss rates of these early aircraft were high, mostly as a result of operational accidents rather than enemy action. In mid-2000 the USAF thought maybe it could arm these aircraft, and trials with the Hellfire missile showed it was indeed possible – just in time for operations in Afghanistan. Afghanistan and Iraq were very much UAV wars, with a near insatiable demand for their ISR product. After Aerosonde, the Australian Army acquired the Israeli Elbit Skylark – a tactical UAV with a two-metre wingspan – in a rapid acquisition in 2006 specifically to support the taskforce in southern Iraq. Skylark also operated in Afghanistan and East Timor, where in May 2007 one drew attention to the capability by crashing into a house in Dili. There were no injuries and defence personnel fixed the modest damage to better than it was precrash. The mishap was attributed to an unspecified technical fault. Skylark was speedily followed by the Scan Eagle from Insitu Pacific, a Boeing subsidiary. This was a larger three-metre wingspan petrol

Army acquired the Shadow tactical UAV in 2011. defence

engine‑powered UAV with endurance around 14 hours. Scan Eagle flew 45,000 hours in Iraq and Afghanistan. In one incident in southern Iraq, an Australian Scan Eagle spotted a group of Iraqi insurgents setting up a rocket rail and then firing a rocket into Basra. They speedily dismantled the rail, loaded it into a vehicle, scooted up the road then stopped to set up again. A JDAM, apparently from a Dutch F-16, ended their day. Scan Eagle remains in the Australian Defence Force inventory, although now with the Navy. Australian Special Operations Command also acquired the widely used AeroVironment RQ-11 Raven

The Scan Eagle was used widely by the Army. defence

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for use in Afghanistan. This is a small 1.3 metre wingspan hand-launched UAS for tactical use. With its taste for UAS thoroughly stirred, the Army acquired the US AAI Corporation Shadow in 2011. This is a tactical UAV with a 4.3 metre wingspan which flew 10,000 hours in Afghanistan. It remains in the Army inventory. The US military experimented with weaponising the Shadow after one in Afghanistan spotted a large number of high value targets and could do nothing but look on as they escaped. Trials showed this was possible but even a modest munition substantially degraded performance of an aircraft whose main role should be persistent surveillance. Operations in Afghanistan also showed the need for a UAV with capability greater than that provided by the smaller tactical UAVs. What was needed was what’s termed a medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAS. Just such a capability became available with Australia taking over the lease of Canadian IAI Heron aircraft as Canada drew down its military presence in Afghanistan. Between January 2010 and November 2014, the RAAF flew Herons more than 27,000 hours out of their operating base at Kandahar, providing overwatch of ground operations by Australian and coalition forces. “It got the Air Force into the game and we much needed that. There was no real selection. The Canadians had a lease which was coming up and we could take it over and gain a capability,” said one former RAAF officer. “It was in great demand because there was such a scarcity of ISR.” Heron flew its last mission from Kandahar in November 2014 and officially retired from the ADF inventory in June last year. That has left the ADF without a MALE UAV until new capability is delivered under project AIR 7003, likely early next decade. This will be a very controversial acquisition as Defence has specified that this new UAV be armed. As well as providing persistent ISR for ground forces, it would also be able to provide close air support. There appear to be two contenders – IAI with the Heron TP, a larger version of the familiar Heron, and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems which is offering a choice of


The RAAF retired the Heron in mid-2017 after gaining invaluable UAS experience on the type. defence two – the MQ-9 Block 5 Reaper (also known as Predator B) as now used by the US Air Force, or the MQ-9B SkyGuardian, the latest variant set to be provided to the UK. SkyGuardian is larger, has a longer range and greater payload, and is GA’s preferred offering. Although the RAAF cut its teeth on the original piston-powered Heron, General Atomics with Reaper appear to be the frontrunner at this time. RAAF personnel have even trained on Reaper in the US since 2015, even flying as pilots and missions systems operators on actual missions as embeds with US units. Defence has said little about how it will proceed with this procurement. There’s been speculation that it could proceed straight to a single source acquisition. Whatever is acquired, this will be a contentious decision, with the inevitable accusation that the ADF

A payload operator prepares for a Heron mission. defence

is acquiring ‘killer drones’ just like those the US has used in its campaign directed at militants in northern Pakistan and elsewhere. The ADF has even proposed that there be a PR campaign designed to show that these aircraft will have many other uses, including disaster relief and search and rescue, that they

ADF UAS aren’t autonomous and that there are clear procedures and policies governing lethal use. From Afghanistan, the Army also learned that while UAV big picture ISR is useful, what’s also useful for soldiers on the ground is the ability to look over a hill or even over the wall of a mud brick compound to see if insurgents are inside or if it’s been wired up with improvised explosive devices. After three years of trials, the Army is rolling out a pair of systems designed to give the soldiers just

this ability, with the government announcing it would spend $101 million on a small UAS for the Army. That’s the AeroVironment Wasp AE, a hand-launched fixed-wing UAS with wing span just over a metre, endurance of 50 minutes, range of about five kilometres and operating altitude of about 150 metres. Most importantly, Wasp has both day and night cameras on board. The datalink is line of sight in the encrypted military band, about 2.2Ghz, with imagery transmitted to a

A rmy personnel with the hand-launched Wasp AE and the Black Hornet nano-UAS. defence

ruggedised tablet. “All of that imagery goes to a laptop with a moving map with all the data displayed and the commander gets all of that. If it goes to a laptop that gives us extra capabilities. We can tie it into a network, put it up onto a big screen – do all sorts of things,” Lieutenant Colonel Keirin Joyce, manager of the Army’s unmanned aerial systems (UAS) program told Australian Aviation. There’s also Black Hornet, developed by Prox Dynamics of Norway and in service with the Norwegian, British and German armed forces. Black Hornet has been used by the British Army in southern Afghanistan where it proved particularly useful for looking into compounds for lurking insurgents. Termed a nano-UAS, this is a truly tiny rotary wing UAS which comes in two variants equipped with different sensors – grey airframe for daytime and black for night. It will be issued down to platoon level. “We have had these in trials now for three years. We are rolling them out across the army over the next two years. So every combat unit in the Army will have access to Black Hornet,” LTCOL Joyce says. “It is the size and weight of a sparrow. This has the capability of operating up to two kilometres away for 20 minutes. Through its built-in cameras you basically put an eye in the look at your next step to help in planning – over the hill, around the corner or inside windows if you are going into urban terrain.” The Navy is a relative latecomer to UAS but will soon be a major operator. Flying UAVs from ships presents different challenges to overland operations and the Navy has been on a significant journey to determine just what maritime UAS (MUAS) can do, how they can be operated from aboard a ship and what skills and training their operators need. The plan is to first acquire MUAS for operation from new Offshore Patrol Vessels and then new Future Frigates and other warships. The US Navy took an early interest in UAS, signing a deal with Insitu, now a subsidiary of Boeing, in 2005 and now has extensive experience of operating Scan Eagle UAVs from its ships. The Australian Navy started looking hard at MUAS in 2012 with the formation of the Navy Unmanned MARCH 2018 63

ADF UAS Aerial Systems Unit (NUASU), soon to be commissioned as a Navy squadron. NUASU officer in charge Lieutenant Commander Ben Crowther said the aim was to establish a basic understanding of UAS operations, develop orders, instructions and procedures on their safe and effective operation. “It was about making Navy an informed customer,” he said. That started with learning the basics on small quadcopters, which actually may have an enduring use for conducting ship hull and mast inspections and for discrete observation of intercepted vessels. In early 2013 Navy took over the Army’s Scan Eagle contract with Insitu Pacific and in 2015 purchased a pair of Scan Eagle systems outright, each with ground stations and four aircraft, making a total of eight aircraft, at an all-up cost of $15 million. It conducted a trial deployment of six Scan Eagles to Christmas Island in 2016 and last year conducted their first real operation, with four Scan Eagles deployed on HMAS Newcastle, flying more than 200 hours during a six-month deployment to the Middle East. During this mission, the Navy tried


‘This is the way of the future.’

Then Chief of Air Force AIRMSHL Geoff Brown inspects a USAF Reaper during a 2013 visit to Afghanistan. defence

out what’s termed manned-unmanned teaming, with Scan Eagle operating in conjunction with the embarked Seahawk Romeo helicopter. This is the way of the future and not just for Navy UAS, with the UAV performing the tedious repetitive surveillance then handing off where needed to the manned platform – think Reaper and Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter or Triton high altitude long endurance maritime surveillance UAV and P-8A Poseidon. Since the Navy has vast experience flying helicopters from warships, it’s also looked at rotary-wing UAS and after trials, decided to buy an Austrian Schiebel S-100 system, comprising two aircraft, two ground stations and two years of support to further explore this capability. Fixed-wing and rotary-wing UAS each have advantages and disadvantages. Scan Eagle can stay aloft in excess of 12-hours, is efficient and covert. But it has a small payload of a single sensor package, albeit very good ones. Sensor capability across all UAS is improving all the time. S-100 is larger than Scan Eagle – it weighs almost 200kg – and much more complex and has around half the

endurance. But it can carry a much larger payload of up to 50kg, which could include multiple sensors. It even has sufficient power output to run a radar. For a small UAV, Scan Eagle has a big deck footprint, requiring a pneumatic catapult to launch and skyhook, which catches the wing, to land. That amounts to around 2,500kg of equipment. S-100 only needs a clear deck area to take off and land. Both systems have a similar requirement in another area, needing six-seven bunks for the embarked crew, not always easily obtained on a vessel heading off on a long deployment. A permanent MTUAS capability is now being acquired under the SEA 129 project, likely to be the S-100 or the larger Saab/UMS V-200 Skeldar. When it comes to UAS, there’s nothing to match the Northrop Grumman Triton, an airliner-sized UAV with a very special mission – to patrol at high altitude out over Australia’s vast surrounding oceans, their sensors scanning for all sea traffic below. Australia has long required a

broad area maritime surveillance (BAMS) capability and not just to look for asylum seekers arriving on small boats. There’s illegal fishers operating in Australia’s eight million square kilometre exclusive economic zone, drug smugglers and potentially, terrorists. Australia is also responsible for one of the largest search and rescue areas in the world, some 53 million square kilometres in the Indian, Pacific and Southern Oceans. As well, it’s useful to have an understanding of the patterns of sea traffic in our part of the world. Australia already has part of a BAMS capability through the RAAF’s fleet of AP-3C Orion aircraft, now being replaced by the Boeing P-8A Poseidon, and the Jindalee over-thehorizon radar system which can detect ships and aircraft far out to the north and west. What makes Triton special is an ability to fly very high for a very long time – over 55,000ft for 24 hours at a time. Flying from RAAF Edinburgh in South Australia, a single Triton could range far out into the Indian Ocean and up almost to the Indonesian archipelago, spotting every passing vessel, even small boats, using its advanced sensors. As UAVs go, Triton is big. Its 39.9 metre wingspan is four metres larger than the Boeing 737’s. It’s been a long time coming. In 1998 Global Hawk, Triton’s predecessor, made its first flight and in April 2001 amply demonstrated its ability to cover intercontinental distances when a development airframe flew non-stop from Edwards USAF base to RAAF Edinburgh, covering 13,219km in 22 hours.

That was the first pilotless aircraft to cross the Pacific and a world record for absolute distance flown by a UAV. Despite the potential of this technology and the obvious need, Australia has run hot and cold on making a firm commitment. The coalition government of John Howard was dead keen and in July 2006 gave first pass approval for participation in cooperative development of a maritime Global Hawk with the US Navy. But in 2009 Labor defence minister Joel Fitzgibbon announced Australian involvement would be deferred, citing pressures on the RAAF as it transitioned from Orion to Poseidon. The US proceeded and the first Global Hawk configured for maritime surveillance, the MQ-4C Triton, flew in May 2013. Then in 2014, new PM Tony Abbott announced we would get

T he Triton will significantly boost ADF maritime surveillance capabilities. northrop grumman

A Scan Eagle is launched from the deck of HMAS Newcastle. defence

Triton. The 2016 Defence White Paper says there will be seven, operating in conjunction with 15 Poseidons. It now appears the government will make the long-awaited gate two decision this year with the first aircraft entering service in 2023. Northrop Grumman says it’s a good time for Australia to be making this commitment as it moves from low rate initial production to full production for the US Navy. This would be a Foreign Military Sale (FMS) deal through the US Navy. Media reports have cited a unit price around $200 million each. Just how well Triton works will soon be seen with the US Navy deploying two aircraft to Guam where they’ll fly in support of the US Seventh Fleet, conducting intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions over some of the most sensitive territory on the planet.

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Qantas’s ‘Retro Roo II”, 737‑800 VH-VXQ, on approach to the Gold Coast’s Runway 14. brock little


Gold Coast Airport gears up for the Commonwealth Games and beyond WRITER: STEVE GIBBONS



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ake your pick: straight in or downwind for left base, the view on approach to Runway 14 at the Gold Coast is arguably one of Australia’s best. First, the heady combination of creeks and estuaries, rolling surf, kilometres of beach, ubiquitous canals and canal homes, parks and gardens, then the oceanside high rises that evoke more than a passing thought of Waikiki. Key domestic services bound for Runway 14 from Sydney and Melbourne generally cross the coast just south of the Queensland-NSW border, between the iconic tourist destination of Byron Bay and sleepier Brunswick Heads, before heading north for left base around Burleigh Heads national park and its worldclass surf break. International flights from SouthEast Asia typically overfly Brisbane before turning over picturesque North Stradbroke Island and closing in on the mainland coast around Southport; services from Japan generally make landfall over Fraser Island before taking a wider ocean course before crossing again at Burleigh. Whatever the point of entry to the Runway 14 final, the multistorey Gold Coast monoliths – many architecturally stunning, some that


Gold Coast Airport handled 6.5 million passengers in the 2016-17 financial year, making it Australia’s sixth busiest airport. gold coast airport

‘Arriving when the sun is shining and the surf is up takes some beating.’

have seen better days, even more underway – provide a striking backdrop to Queensland’s premier holiday playground, notwithstanding the first-time arrival in a window seat who might view them as uncomfortably close. The ride will never match the drama of the once arm-rest gripping roller coaster between the skyscrapers at Hong Kong’s Kai Tak, but when conditions are right a cheeky updraft from Tugun Hill, a few hundred metres from the runway threshold, adds to the frisson of flying by all that concrete and glass, sea and sand. If first impressions count for anything, arrival into Gold Coast airport when the sun is shining and the surf is up genuinely takes some beating. Airport operators Queensland Airports Limited (QAL) hope this and a whole lot more logistical planning will win them a gold medal, or at least a gold star, when waves of a different kind hit the coast next April for the XXI Commonwealth Games (GC2018) and associated arts and cultural festival. The statistics alone paint a picture of what’s ahead: the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Corporation (GOLDOC) will welcome more than

670,000 visitors as well as 6,000 athletes and team officials from 70 countries to Queensland venues including Brisbane, Townsville and Cairns. The vast majority will call the Gold Coast home for what the city describes as “the biggest sporting spectacular the Coast has ever seen”. The City of the Gold Coast Council says it is “one of the largest elite multisport events in the world, equivalent to staging 15 world championships simultaneously” and “the biggest international sporting event staged in Australia for a decade”. The sports and entertainment schedule between April 4 and April 15 will attract more than 1.5 million spectators while broadcast rights will take the Games and the Coast to a television audience of 1.5 billion. A huge temporary workforce includes 15,000 volunteers and 3,500 accredited media representatives, while a more established longer-term workforce has been beavering away for several years on associated games infrastructure. Overall the Games are expected to pump around $2 billion into the Queensland economy. If the projected incoming head count isn’t enough of a challenge for what is already one of the fastest

GOING FOR GOLD growing airports in Australia, and the busiest outside a capital city, then factor in the overlapping Easter school holidays, the world renowned Byron Bluesfest and the Quicksilver Pro surfing event. To some it may seem the recipe for the perfect traffic storm. To major event planners it is a wonderful challenge. It’s a confluence that has been top of mind for the Gold Coast Airport team since the city was announced as the Games bid winner in November 2011. With work on airport infrastructure already underway to meet ongoing growth projections, subsequent Games-specific planning in conjunction with GOLDOC, and state and local governments, has delivered a raft of innovative improvements, airside and landside, to cope with the rush. As an added bonus, the airport has something of a secret weapon in its chief operating officer, Marion Charlton, whose career saw her move from Dublin to Sydney in 1990 and on to the Gold Coast in 2001. In Sydney, after involvement in operations linked to the Kingsford Smith parallel

runway development, the winning of the 2000 Olympics bid in 1993 led her to a role observing on-site logistics at Atlanta Airport during that city’s staging of the 1996 Games. That experience proved invaluable in Sydney Airport planning for handling its own Games traffic in 2000. A family decision to move north in 2001 coincided with a period of great turmoil and subsequent springboard for growth at the Gold Coast Airport, sparked by the Ansett collapse and the arrival of low-cost carrier Virgin Blue and its highly competitive fares model. Any thoughts of taking time out as a new resident on the Coast evaporated when Charlton took up the challenge of joining QAL. Charlton, who was also present at the 2014 Games in Glasgow, has been applying her Games knowledge to key management and wider airport team planning since the GC2018 bid win. That includes everything from numbers of scheduled and potential arrivals and departures, to baggage handling (loading, offloading, collection and drop), security arrangements, domestic and international check-in, gate facilities,

‘To some it may seem the recipe for the perfect traffic storm.’

A ir traffic controllers handled 42,570 aircraft movements in 2016-17. gold coast airport

airside passenger movement, and links to landside transport. Of key importance is engagement with members of the Games Family (athletes, coaches, officials and so on) as well as business-as-usual passengers, spectators, non-Games holidaymakers and business travellers when they set foot off the tarmac and into the terminal. Charlton is well aware of the importance of those first impressions. “We want to make sure we provide a warm welcome and efficient goodbye not only to Games Family, but everyone who passes through the terminal during that time,” she said. “We want to offer people an end to end experience; for them to know they have landed at the home of the Commonwealth Games.” Charlton said that, for example, a large space is being converted into a representation of the Gold Coast, complete with a boardwalk, beach scenes, and wildlife encounters, backed by an accompanying terminal‑wide program of entertainment including music, stilt walkers and pop-up theatrical performances on peak arrival and

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Most teams and officials are expected to utilise current domestic and international regular carrier services. “We are not expecting charters in the sense of full teams on different airlines but we are expecting VIPs to drop in on RPT-sized aircraft and other private jets. This will be a late call. The very nature of this VIP traffic means it is hard to predict because there is likely to be little notice of arrival.” Airside, a recent RPT apron expansion provides parking space for four aircraft additional to normal scheduled operations. As well as new stadia and existing sporting stadium upgrades, key Gold Coast infrastructure improvements include the extension of the Gold Coast light rail network to link Broadbeach, 18 kilometres north of the airport, with the mainline rail terminal at Helensvale. Games planners hope direct rail access to and from Brisbane via this network will ease road traffic congestion on the M1 arterial. While the extent of traffic snarls to and from the airport precinct remains an unknown, it and other hubs will be well served by public transport. Games ticket holders will travel free and all visitors are being urged to take advantage of enhanced public transport services. departure days. Additional staffing comes from a combination of increased numbers of volunteer airport ambassadors and a program utilising cross-skilling and other training to expose what Charlton describes as “the current fantastic team” to wider key roles in and around the terminal at Games time. Games Family will have a dedicated lounge space which will give them a private area to relax before and after their flights and to help ease congestion for business-as-usual traffic. Passenger movements are expected to be comparable to peak periods such as Christmas and New Year (figures show the airport handled a record 24,076 passengers on Saturday, December 23 last year) with the most dramatic spike forecast for April 16, the day after the closing ceremony. In the past 12 months, in conjunction with airline partners, the airport has rolled out self check-in and bag drop facilities, resulting in queuing and congestion dropping from up to 45 minutes down to a couple of minutes on average.


However, April 16 will present unique challenges. “We are expecting around 2,000 athletes to depart with around 10,000 pieces of baggage on that day alone,” Charlton said. Some of those pieces will test baggage handling: think vaulting poles, javelins, massage tables, and para-Games event wheelchairs among a plethora of competition-associated equipment. To further assist a smooth Gold Coast exit and ease congestion, Games Family will be checked in at the Athlete’s Village rather than the airport, and a dedicated security lane applied. Charlton said learnings from Sydney showed that it is essential to make any waiting inside the terminal on key capacity days as comfortable as possible for all travellers, hence a rolling program of entertainment. At the time of writing, and with the best of airport planning firmly in place, there were still some unknowns, particularly around inbound traffic. “We are still working with GOLDOC on what that traffic looks like before we nail it down,” she said.

Jetstar, AirAsia X and Scoot all operate low-cost long-haul services to the Gold Coast. gold coast airport & brock little

‘We are expecting around 2,000 athletes to depart on that day alone.’ MARION CHARLTON

From Coolangatta to Gold

Gold Coast Airport has come a long way since its establishment in 1936 as an emergency landing ground for aircraft flying mail between Sydney and Brisbane. Three grass strips were prepared in what is now the suburb of Bilinga at a time when the Coast’s reputation as a holiday destination as much as a mineral sands resource began to take a firm hold (though it would be another 20 years before the then “South Coast” became known as the Gold Coast). According to the airport history, the first regular passenger services started in 1939. By 1947 regular Queensland Airlines and Better Air Transport services were in place, followed in 1954 by TAA using DC-3s and later Skymasters and Convairs. Construction of the northern part of the original terminal was completed in the early ’50s with annual passenger movements approaching 12,000. By 1958 the runway and taxiways were sealed along with the access road and carpark and a light aircraft apron was provided. Work on the existing terminal

GOING FOR GOLD complex began in 1980 with annual passenger movements exceeding 650,000. Upgrading of the main runway for widebodied aircraft (767 and A300) operations came along in 1982 with the first international charter flights starting eight years later. Privatisation saw ownership of the airport shift from the Federal Airports Corporation to Queensland Airports Limited (QAL) in 1998. For many years, it was known as Coolangatta Airport in recognition of the nearby burgeoning holiday destination and while the name changed in 1999 a significant remnant remains in its IATA designation OOL and ICOA tag YBCG. Since the turn of the century, growth has been exponential, matching the needs of a growing Gold Coast permanent and transient holiday population as well as the city’s emergence as an economic, educational and development powerhouse. An original and continuing focus on the low-cost airline market has expanded with full-service international carriers now recognising Gold Coast potential. A case in point is the relatively recent Gold Coast Hong-Kong route (outward bound via Cairns) operated by Hong Kong Airlines which further opens a wider Asian market serviced by Jetstar (Tokyo, Osaka), Scoot (Singapore) and AirAsia X (Kuala Lumpur). Apart from Australian domestic services operated by Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin, Tigerair and JetGo, there are Gold Coast connections to New Zealand via Jetstar, Virgin, Air New Zealand and AirAsia X. Charlton said the most recent major redevelopment of the terminal was completed in 2010, a $100 million project that, at the time, was Australia’s first purpose-built low-cost carrier terminal. The airport now welcomes 6.5 million passengers a year with 420 flights a week off its 2,492 metre Runway 14-32 handling everything from private aircraft to 737s to A330-300 and 787-9 Dreamliner “heavies”. While the overall story is overwhelmingly positive, significant community debate was stirred by an ongoing project to install an ILS, principally as a bad weather supplement to the current RNAV approach and to help prevent the need for weather diversions. Despite government approval in 2016, it drew objections from some residents worried about potential for greater aircraft noise along an

extended flightpath. The project became subject to ruling by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, preventing installation in time for the Games. Charlton said the ILS is expected to be completed by the end of 2018 and fully operational by 2019. Noise Abatement Procedures (NAPs) have been developed to ensure the ILS will only be used when operationally required. Meanwhile, an existing curfew restricts airport operations between 11pm and 6am.

I n partnership with its airline customers, Gold Coast Airport has rolled out self check-in and bag drop facilities, leading to dramatically reduced queuing times. gold coast airport

Gearing for growth

If lead role in the airport Games project wasn’t enough, Charlton also has a long term “day job”: oversight of the ongoing $340 million transformation of airport expansion known as Project LIFT. “When the business of the Commonwealth Games is done, we will move into construction of our southern terminal,” she said. “This includes a new three-level terminal with aerobridges which will house

G old Coast Airport is gearing up to handle 16.5 million passengers by 2037. gold coast airport

the airport’s international operations. A range of other upgrades are also planned as part of the project including a consolidated ground transport facility. “We are also working on a broader property strategy to activate commercial opportunities within the airport precinct. A key part of this is the delivery of a four-star Rydges hotel which we will break ground on this year. It will feature 192 rooms and facilities for business and leisure guests.” It is all about QAL and the airport catering for Gold Coast growth projections that demographer Bernard Salt says will see the city’s resident population double by 2050 to 1.5 million. Charlton says the airport masterplan reflects passenger growth from 6.5 million to 16.5 million by 2037. When asked if keeping pace with the requirements of such a steep growth curve was a problem for management, Charlton was succinct. “It’s a great problem to have,” she said.

MARCH 2018 71


Bell’s new tiltrotor is first to take to the skies in the countdown to Future Vertical Lift



The US’s Future Vertical Lift program could result in Australia’s next battlefield helicopter


MARCH 2018 73


he US military’s effort to introduce the next generation of vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft has quite literally taken off, with the Bell V-280 Valor tiltrotor completing its maiden flight. The air vehicle concept demonstrator aircraft is being developed under the US Army initiative known as the Joint MultiRole Technology Demonstration. This endeavour is exploring new vertical-lift capabilities, and is a forerunner to the Future Vertical Lift program that is expected to produce VTOL aircraft that will fly faster and further, carry heavier loads and operate with unmanned systems. And the historic flight offers a glimpse into the future for Australia, which is understood to have entered into discussions with the US government to join the Future Vertical Lift effort. The V-280 prototype achieved first flight on December 18 at the Bell Helicopter assembly facility in Amarillo, Texas. Marketed by the company as promising “more than twice the speed and range of current helicopter platforms”, the V-280 is anticipated to have a cruise speed of 280kt, hence the name.


What’s in a name? The V-280 is expected to have a cruise speed of 280kt. bell helicopter

‘What that provides to the commander is a huge leap in capability.’ KEITH FLAIL

By way of comparison, the UH‑60M Black Hawk helicopter has a cruise speed of 151 knots and the AH-64E Apache has a maximum level flight speed of more than 150 knots. It remains to be seen whether Bell will be able to achieve double the speed. Meanwhile, the tiltrotor aircraft’s self-deployable range is listed as 2,100nm or more (without refuelling). “As we go through 2018, our goal is to demonstrate...the helicopter mode, through conversion to aeroplane mode; showing the speed, showing the range, showing the [hot and high] capability of the aircraft,” Keith Flail, Bell vice-president of advanced tiltrotor systems, told Australian Aviation. “We have made that commitment to the [US] Army leadership that we intend to exercise and to expand the envelope, so that we can demonstrate all those capabilities; so that they have the most informed position possible for the Future Vertical Lift program as we inform the requirements and continue to reduce risk for the future.” The V-280 has a footprint that is comparable to that of the UH-60, although it is “a little bit” wider, Flail said. Indeed, observers have noted that the shape of the V-280’s fuselage

is similar to that of the Black Hawk. With a crew of four (two pilots and two crew chiefs), the tiltrotor would be capable of carrying 12 troops, depending on requirements. Flail expressed confidence that Bell will be able to demonstrate “incredible” agility at both high and low speeds, and described a hypothetical operational scenario to illustrate the point. Imagine that a V-280 is about four miles from the landing zone (LZ), 100ft up and travelling at 250kt. Within one minute, the tiltrotor would be on the ground and soldiers would be egressing the aircraft through two 1.8m-wide side doors. And then within about 35 seconds of leaving the LZ and getting back to 100ft, the aircraft would be speeding away at more than 200kt. “If you map that out compared to what a Black Hawk can do, when you want to talk about agility – low-speed agility, high-speed agility, as well as the operational agility; what that provides to the commander – it is a huge leap in capability,” Flail declared.

Lessons learned

The V-280 is regarded as a clean-sheet design, but it leverages lessons learned from the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey

NEED FOR SPEED tiltrotor, which famously combines the vertical flight capability of a helicopter with the speed and range of a fixedwing aircraft. As a measure of this experience, it was announced in November last year that the V-22 fleet (including the US Marine Corps MV-22 and the US Air Force CV-22) has surpassed a total of 400,000 flight hours. Sadly, the Osprey’s safety record has been under the spotlight here in Australia after three US marines died when an MV-22B crashed off the coast of the Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Queensland in August. There are significant design differences between the V-22 and the V-280. While the entire rotor system and engine/transmission nacelles that are mounted on each wingtip of the Osprey rotate 90 degrees, the Valor’s engines are designed to remain fixed when the next-generation tiltrotor converts from helicopter mode to aeroplane mode for horizontal flight. Avoiding rotating the GE Aviation T64-GE-419 engines by adopting the fixed engine/rotating proprotor nacelles design is intended to

maximise cabin ingress and egress clearance for troops. “The United States Army, which has the largest vertical-lift fleet on the planet, they have been coming out of side doors of aircraft for air assault operations for decades,” Flail observed. “Understanding that customer, how they operate; being able to come in operationally to a landing zone with an aircraft that has twice the speed, twice the range; that element of surprise, speed and survivability. “To come in, open the side doors,

S ikorsky’s X2 demonstrator aircraft (below) validated the Defiant’s coaxial rotor/pusherpropeller design (bottom). sikorsky

troops come out of the aircraft; no safety issues with main rotors and tail rotors, with the engine in the fixed position and just the props rotating, gives them 7ft of clearance under the wing to come in and out of the aircraft. “You can put machine guns on the aircraft to provide suppressive fire as you are coming into the LZ. So some of it was for technical reasons, some of it is from the learning from the V-22 experience and some of it is for pure operational reasons.” And unlike the V-22 with its forward-swept dihedral wing, the V-280 has a simpler straight wing design. “We are very focused on design for affordability, design for manufacturing,” Flail said. “How we build that wing significantly gets cost and complexity out. “We no longer have a mid-wing gearbox over the fuselage, because we do not have the sweep and dihedral in the aircraft.” The V-280 is being equipped with what is known as the Pilotage Distributed Aperture Sensor, which is a system that will provide 360-degree situational awareness.

MARCH 2018 75

This capability would allow pilots and troops alike to ‘see through’ the aircraft structure, offering a view of what is happening on the battlefield below. The V-280 will be cyber-hardened, and will support an open system architecture to facilitate hardware and software upgrades.

Speed and range

Bell is not only targeting the US Army; the company envisages the nextgeneration tiltrotor becoming a multiservice, multi-mission aircraft. An automatic blade-fold/wingstow capability similar to that of the Osprey, which is a key feature of its shipboard compatibility, could be incorporated into the Valor design if required. “The V-280 could be used for utility transport operations; it could be configured as an attack aircraft, and also for medevac, especially with the speed and range that we have, what that means in that golden hour if you have wounded troops out there on the battlefield,” Flail said. The medevac variant might be of particular interest to Australia, given that the 2016 Defence White Paper talked about investigating options to enable the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to undertake combat search and rescue (CSAR) tasks more quickly and at longer ranges. Defence will explore options for


The original SB>1 Defiant undergoing a ground run. sikorsky

acquiring a long-range aeromedical evacuation and CSAR aircraft that would be capable of operating from the Canberra class amphibious assault ships, according to the Integrated Investment Program that was released with the Defence White Paper. The capability investment document lists the Long-Range Combat Search and Rescue Aircraft program as having a timeframe of 2023 to 2032. “Speed and range equate to operational productivity, and give commanders so much more operational flexibility in terms of what they can do,” Flail explained. “You can pick an operation, whatever part of the

planet you want to. “So if you are looking out into the Pacific, where helicopters are extremely challenged because of the limited range that they have and just the geography that they have to deal with, you get so much more capability in the Pacific. “Look at Africa and the tyranny of distance of all those operations, what speed and range can mean to you.” Bell is reluctant to comment on any possible acquisition of the V-280 by Australia as any potential sale of its military aircraft would be a government-to-government deal under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program.

NEED FOR SPEED However, Flail said he understands that Australia, among others, has “expressed interest in a variety of ways” in dialogue with the US government. And he raised the possibility that the Future Vertical Lift program could potentially adopt a model along the lines of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, with partner countries joining the effort. For now, Defence is remaining tight-lipped. When asked about a media report stating that Australia has submitted

a ‘letter of interest’ regarding participation in the US effort, a spokesperson for Defence simply said Australia “remains interested” in the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration and the Future Vertical Lift program.

Rival design

Sikorsky is partnered with Boeing to develop the SB>1 Defiant helicopter under the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration program. This demonstrator aircraft design has coaxial counter-rotating rigid

D espite appearances there are significant design differences between the V-22 (below) and the V-280 (bottom). defence & bell helicopter

main rotor blades and a pusherpropeller to enable high-speed acceleration and deceleration. Lockheed Martin, which owns Sikorsky, says the development of the Defiant will prove the scalability and flexibility of the X2 technology that is also the basis for the S-97 Raider prototype helicopter. With a crew of four, the Defiant medium-lift helicopter is expected to be capable of carrying 12 troops and their equipment. First flight for the Defiant had been expected to be achieved in 2017, but this is now due to occur some time this year. “Our Defiant aircraft is mostly built,” Randy Rotte, director of business development for cargo helicopter and Future Vertical Lift programs at Boeing, told Australian Aviation. “We have tested nearly all of our onboard systems, to include hydraulics, engines, fuel systems, electrical systems, avionics and some electronically actuated flight control surfaces. “We lack only the delivery of some key components to complete our build.”

MARCH 2018 77

NEED FOR SPEED Rotte did not specify which components are missing. However, according to a media report from September last year that quoted US Army Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration program director Dan Bailey, the delay in achieving first flight is down to challenges relating to the manufacture of the Defiant’s rotor blades. The prototype aircraft is being assembled at Sikorsky’s Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, where all of the ground and flight testing of the Defiant will be conducted. “The Sikorsky/Boeing team is taking a disciplined, risk reduction approach to the SB>1 Defiant program, which will culminate in flight test of the demonstrator,” Rich Koucheravy, business development director for Future Vertical Lift at Sikorsky, told Australian Aviation. “We plan to fly in 2018 after successful completion of integration testing, ground test, dne [do not exceed limits] establishment and testing on the propulsion system testbed ground test stand. “We believe this approach will safely lead us to a productive, informative flight test program that will assist the DoD in its objectives.”

‘That gives you some innovative new ways to do air operations.’ DR MALCOLM DAVIS

Hard landing

As for the Raider program, Sikorsky suffered a setback in August last year when S-97A registration N971SK made a hard landing during a test flight in Florida. The experimental helicopter sustained “substantial” damage and both pilots suffered minor injuries in the accident, according to a preliminary report issued by the National Transportation Safety Board. At the time of the hard landing, a second Raider demonstrator was already about 80 per cent built. “We are in the process of completing that build, and estimate that we will be complete and that we will resume flight testing over the next several months,” Koucheravy said. The cause of the accident has been identified, Sikorsky says, and changes have been made in an effort to prevent such an incident from happening again. “The Raider and Defiant share a common technology base, X2 technology; as a result, we have a process in place to share lessons learned from Sikorsky’s Raider program with the Sikorsky/Boeing team that is working on Defiant,”


Bell’s unmanned V-247 Vigilant tiltrotor would complement the V-280. bell helicopter

Koucheravy said. “The cause of that hard landing is unrelated to the X2 technology, but we nonetheless shared that lesson learned with the Defiant team.” An issue with the flight control system software was to blame, according to media reports quoting Chris Van Buiten, vice-president of Sikorsky Innovations. Lockheed Martin envisages the Raider light tactical helicopter as carrying six troops and external weapons. At the time of an announcement regarding the achievement of its first flight in May 2015, Sikorsky stated that the aircraft’s coaxial rotor/ pusher-propeller design was expected to enable the Raider to hit a cruise speed of up to 240kt. The predecessor to the Raider, the X2 demonstrator aircraft, clocked up a total of about 22 flight hours before its retirement, having achieved a maximum cruise speed in level flight of 253 knots in September 2010. A promotional video states that Future Vertical Lift aircraft from Sikorsky and Boeing will be capable of cruise speeds of more than 250 knots. Thus far, the Sikorsky/Boeing team has not provided the ADF with detailed information about the Defiant helicopter beyond some basic information that has been approved for public release. However, this situation is expected to change if Australia decides to get involved in the Future Vertical Lift program. “We are aware that the US government is discussing potential international cooperation with Australia on the Future Vertical Lift program, and so we look forward to the opportunity to provide the ADF detailed information on Defiant after

obtaining the appropriate approvals from the US government,” Rotte said. “We have expressed our desire to do so to the US government and are beginning the process of obtaining that approval.” Rotte added that Boeing and Sikorsky are confident the Defiant would be suitable for use by the ADF, and declared that detailed discussions would demonstrate this. “The US and Australia share much in common about the way they use vertical-lift aircraft to support military operations, and the two countries place a great emphasis on interoperability,” the Boeing spokesperson noted.

Transition platform

Although any potential acquisition of Future Vertical Lift aircraft by Australia may be some way off, the decision on replacing the Tiger ARH attack helicopter will be a key factor in determining the path that the Australian Army follows. That is the view of Dr Malcolm Davis, senior analyst in defence strategy and capability at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI). Dr Davis told Australian Aviation that he understands the Tiger replacement, which is to be introduced from the mid-2020s, is envisaged as a “transition platform” that would pave the way for a Future Vertical Lift capability for Australia in the late 2030s. Australia will likely acquire the Boeing AH-64E Apache ‘Echo’ to replace the Tiger (subject to funding and capability requirements), the ASPI analyst said. “Whatever we get in the next step to replace the Aussie Tiger will determine probably where we go in

Joint Vertical Lift will replace the US Army’s UH-60 Black Hawks. defence

the following step with the Future Vertical Lift side of things,” he said. “Decisions that are made over the next few years about replacing the Aussie Tiger I think are going to be fairly influential in deciding what is the future down the track in the 2030s and beyond.” As the Integrated Investment Program states, the future Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter Replacement capability that will succeed the Tiger could involve manned or unmanned systems, or a combination of both. Dr Davis anticipates the US Marine Corps being the first adopter of the V-280 Valor, rather than the US Army, and sees the tiltrotor as a suitable option for Australia. “The V-280 obviously would give Australia a high-speed troop-carrying capability,” he said. “You could attach weapons pods to it, so it gives it an armed troopcarrying capability, which would be very useful. “And so in terms of tactical mobility across the battlespace, the V-280 is obviously a good option.” The troop-carrying Valor aircraft could be escorted by Bell’s unmanned V-247 Vigilant tiltrotor, he added. “That gives you some innovative new ways to do air operations across

the battlespace, because you can exploit speed, manoeuvrability, surprise and so forth, which you cannot really exploit with traditional rotary-wing platforms like Chinook, for example, or the Black Hawk,” Dr Davis said. “You have got greater range, you have got greater speed, you have got greater manoeuvrability, and you have that potential for a mannedunmanned teaming that is really important, not only for the Future Vertical Lift but also for the nextgeneration platform, like Apache Echo.” However, when considering the acquisition of new types of aircraft, it is not just a matter of weighing up the pros and cons of a particular platform and assessing the costs involved. “There is that cultural resistance

 hatever platform the US Army W chooses for its Joint Vertical Lift requirement could ultimately replace Australia’s MRH-90s as well. defence

that militaries have to get through – and it is happening in the US military as well; there is a degree of cultural resistance to unmanned combat air vehicles, for example – that I think you have to think about when you are looking at these procurement decisions,” Dr Davis observed. An armed service must be ready to embrace the introduction of a new sort of capability for the first time; in this case, tiltrotor aircraft. “When the V-22 came out there was a great deal of resistance and we did not go down that path,” the ASPI analyst said. “Now that the tiltrotor concept has matured a bit, and I think is starting to show its advantages, will [the Australian] Army take that path more easily in the future? “It is possible that you could see with that combat search and rescue requirement that they do go down the tiltrotor path, and then that leads them to a V-280, V-247 platform choice in the 2030s.” Rather than settling on just one type of aircraft design for all missions, it is likely the US Army will end up with a mix of tiltrotor and coaxial aircraft. And it will be fascinating to see what path the ADF takes in the coming years. MARCH 2018 79

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‘His mission was to provide a “mantle of safety” for people living in the bush.’

A patient is loaded onto an RFDS Pilatus PC-12, the type which Nick Tully flew with the RFDS Central Section. rfds





ince the early days of powered flight, the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) has been providing critical aeromedical services to those living in rural and remote Australia. Founded in Queensland in 1928, the service was the brainchild of Rev John Flynn. His mission was to provide a ‘mantle of safety’ for people living in the bush. From humble beginnings all those years ago, the RFDS has grown to operate across all states and territories in Australia. Ninety years may have passed since that first flight, but the heart and soul of the RFDS remains in Queensland. From its headquarters at Brisbane International Airport a fleet of 17 aircraft are monitored and controlled in a carefully orchestrated operation that protects people living across the 1.85 million km2 state.

The Queensland Section alone flew over 7.52 million kilometres in the past year. This was achieved by a staggering 23,135 flight hours with 11,359 patients accessing the vital service. The service is supported by a team of highly motivated professionals whose skills range from doctors to mechanics, fundraisers to pilots.

Flying for the Doctor

A team of skilled pilots is essential to the success of the Flying Doctor. In Queensland the pilots are based at a number of locations across the state, including Charleville, over 700km west of Brisbane. Here, six pilots and a team of doctors and nurses cover the western-most parts of the state utilising a single Beechcraft King Air. The senior base pilot at Charleville is Nick Tully, who joined the RFDS in 2014.

MARCH 2018 83

Having grown up in remote Queensland, working for the RFDS had been an aspiration for Tully for as long as he can remember. With a large family living so far from major cities and towns, Tully like most people living in the bush has an acute understanding of how important the service is. “RFDS was a big part of our lives, with eight boys and two girls all out doing things like riding motorbikes, there were accidents and most of my family had been flown out by RFDS at some point,” Tully told Australian Aviation in January. “We all looked up to them as the all-encompassing guardian angel. That’s how it is for people living in the rural communities, the RFDS is a lifeline.” Tully’s flying career started in aerial mustering where he clocked up 800 to 1,000 hours per year. This four-year stint saw him flying across 17 stations in a single-pilot environment, which quickly accelerated his skills and expertise as a pilot. It’s this early experience with rural flight that taught the young pilot the skills and discipline required to fly for an aeromedical service. “The biggest benefit for me was flying remote and rural to start with. I grew up remote so this is what I wanted to do. But I had to make a choice to go out day after day and do those hours, single pilot in the remote areas,” Tully explains. “This is what taught me how to be a good RFDS pilot. The more remote flying you can do, the better.” After a move to Western Australia Tully exchanged his aerial mustering career for a role at the Goldfields Air Services in Kalgoorlie. Here he flew larger two-pilot aircraft and gained further skills in the coordination and cooperation required by a multiperson crew. Tully realised his aspiration to fly for the RFDS when he joined the Central Section (South Australia and Northern Territory) in 2014 flying Pilatus PC-12s. But his heart remained in Queensland, so when the opportunity arose to return to his home state he took it up and hasn’t looked back.

No ordinary pilot

The pilot’s role at the Flying Doctor is unlike nearly any in the aviation industry. Flying as a solo pilot across the vastness of Queensland might sound lonely; but pilots at the RFDS work hand in hand with the doctors


Nick Tully is senior base pilot at Charleville. rfds

‘We may be mid-flight and then need to divert unexpectedly.’ NICK TULLY

and nurses during aeromedical retrievals to ensure the highest chance of a positive health outcome for each patient. “This job isn’t the same as the pilot you see on your commercial flight. We are flying as a single pilot but when the aircraft is on the ground we’re out there helping with the medical retrieval,” comments Tully. “Patient loading is the pilot’s responsibility and I always go along to the hospitals to lend a hand, such as collecting gear or assisting the nurses with the patient transfer. It’s a very diverse job and also very satisfying.” And unlike commercial flights where the destination is known at the time of departure, the nature of the work undertaken by the Royal Flying Doctor means that Tully and his team are often required to make changes on the go. “The nature of aeromedical retrievals means there are sometimes ad-hoc tasks and changes on the go. For example, we may be mid-flight and then need to divert unexpectedly to another location due to a medical situation that has developed since

we took off. It’s a great challenge and exceptionally rewarding for a pilot.” Some of the challenges facing pilots include the distances across Queensland, as well as a need to keep on top of fuel levels, particularly when faced with diversions when urgent medical situations develop while the aircraft is in flight. As such, flight crews at RFDS ensure a maximum diversion capability is maintained, to ensure they can get patients safely back to the base each and every time. While the quintessential image of the Flying Doctor is the saviour in an emergency situation, the work done by the service is extremely varied. In fact, emergency aeromedical retrievals form just one part of the work of the RFDS in Queensland. Other key activities include regular visits to 85 remote communities, a fly-in GP service that helps around 95,000 people and 6,500 remote health clinics throughout Queensland. This leads to a wide range of flight profiles on any given day. “On most clinic flights I fly with a doctor and a nurse. We fly in the morning, run the clinic and are back home in time for dinner. On hospital transfers, it’s often myself and a nurse, while on the priority aeromedical retrievals we will carry the medical personnel that are required for each specific situation, and we are away for an unknown amount of time. Every one of those retrievals is different and we need to manage fatigue to keep things safe.”

Important work

Fourteen Beechcraft King Air B200s form the backbone of the Queensland Section’s fleet. Fully pressurised they are able to offer a stable ride, which is important for both patient comfort and the delivery of care. Each aircraft contains a bespoke medical fitout, transforming the interior into a flying intensive care unit. Two stretcher beds as well as an array of associated medical equipment make the cabin of the aircraft look like a modern hospital, while the standard passenger door has been replaced by a custom cargo door allowing for quick and easy loading of stretchers and equipment. The aircraft are equipped with extra batteries as a backup for medical equipment, an oxygen and suction system and a special intercom that links the cabin to the flightdeck for communication inflight. The complexity of this fitout along with the nature of the work can be

FLYING THE DOCTORS daunting to new starters at the RFDS. However, Tully says that the training provided to pilots at the Queensland Section helps recruits learn to prepare for the task at hand, which is key to a successful flight. “Someone’s life may depend on you so it’s natural to want to rush out and get going. But the only way to ensure a successful flight is to take the time needed to prepare. The training at RFDS in Queensland prepares us for this. Take a step back, take a breath, plan the flight and complete all the checks. That’s a big part of our success.” And despite years of real-life experience, there are times when even experienced RFDS pilots have to take stock and remember their training, especially when the retrieval is of a critical nature. “When you get a critical retrieval, especially a child, it adds an extra layer of stress to the team. The instinct is to get going, quickly! But we have been conditioned not to rush and put safety first,” Tully explains. “You don’t mess around; but we go through the correct steps to plan the flight as best we can to ensure that once we arrive we can offer the patient the highest chance of a successful retrieval. That makes all the difference.”

Successful challenges

Challenging flying conditions is part of the job for RFDS pilots, and goes hand in hand with the type of work undertaken by the service. The urgency of aeromedical retrievals can often lead to landings in unexpected places, or diversions inflight to pick up victims of accidents and injuries. “Dirt strips can be a challenge, but that is what we are trained for. Sometimes it might be an approved road landing strip that the police will close off for us in an emergency,” Tully comments. Fortunately, the RFDS maintains a strong connection with the local community in Queensland. This bond ensures locals are willing and able to assist when needed. “Sometimes there’s no lights so we are contacting the station or those on the ground to light up a station strip for us. Sometimes this is done with tins filled with sand and diesel and we’ve even had runway lights made up of toilet rolls set alight to guide us in.” And the complexity of the job doesn’t stop with a successful landing. Once the aircraft is safely on the ground, the medical side of

the operation kicks into action. A successful retrieval requires the total commitment and cooperation from the entire team, which is supported by a positive and supportive culture at the Queensland Section.

Rewarding career

The high intensity of aeromedical retrievals is matched only by the variety of the flight profiles that pilots such as Nick Tully face. The Royal Flying Doctor Service covers a vast distance, with Queensland Section handling fights to some of the most remote locations in Australia. “You get every different type of flying when working for the Flying Doctor and it goes from one extreme to another,” Tully comments. “On any given day we could be taking off from a remote strip in the

N ick Tully in command of an RFDS PC-12. The Queensland Section no longer operates the type, standardising on a fleet of King Airs and Cessna Caravans. rfds

bush and within a few hours we could be on an ILS approach into Brisbane International Airport. That’s two extremely different styles of flying but in the RFDS we regularly get to experience that kind of diversity.” A big part of the success of the Royal Flying Doctor in Queensland over the last ninety years has been the supportive culture that has been built. From its headquarters at Brisbane Airport out to the most remote bases such as Mount Isa and Longreach, the team works together as one in an inclusive and open atmosphere. Nick Tully believes that such a culture is essential when operating the aircraft, as it ensures that pilots, doctors and nurses are supported which ultimately benefits the patient. “RFDS in Queensland has developed a very strong team culture. Onboard the aircraft I may be the only pilot but we aren’t alone – there’s a nurse aboard every flight, sometimes two, and on high priority flights a doctor will fly with us too. While the pilot gets on and flies the aircraft, there’s a team approach to the retrieval or transfer and this is all designed to achieve the best results and outcome for the patient.” After all, a commitment to caring for those in the bush by providing a mantle of safety is the lasting legacy of John Flynn; a legacy that is in safe hands with Nick Tully and his colleagues.

MARCH 2018 85

787 at 10

FROM 78 Boeing’s 787-10 and the 787 at 10 WRITER: JOHN WALTON



s Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner begins its second decade, the promises that this first composite airliner will fly farther, cheaper and with less fuel burn than previous generations have been clearly demonstrated. 630 aircraft are currently in service with 45 airlines on every continent, with Boeing citing 218 million passengers over 2.9 billion revenue miles during 6.5 million revenue flight hours. But beyond the numbers, the 787 has opened up numerous new

routes since its introduction, adding weight to Boeing’s arguments about the Dreamliner shifting the huband-spoke model towards point-topoint service, although Australia’s position within Airbus A330 range of China has meant that much of the 787 effect here has been adding new nonstop hub flights rather than new destinations. A large part of Jetstar’s expanded post-A330 international network has developed since the introduction of the 787, while offerings like United’s

new Sydney-Houston route, its nonstop LA-Melbourne flight, Qantas’ upcoming Perth-London service, and Air India’s Australia operation, rely on the economics and performance of the Dreamliner. “The 787 has flown over 1,500 total routes, and has made possible over 170 new nonstop routes to connect the world like never before,” Boeing regional director of product marketing Tarun Hazari says. “These are nonstop markets that never existed. So network and fleet

9 TO 10 xxx.

planners basically started off from a clean canvas and created these routes that are now extremely profitable.” The aircraft also continues to enable changes for existing routes, creating major efficiency gains when replacing four-engined aircraft like the Airbus A340-300 (LATAM) and Boeing 747-400 (Qantas, United), or allowing airlines capacity flexibility compared with currently operating twinjets like the A330-200/300 or 777-200ER (Vietnam Airlines, Japan Airlines, Air New Zealand).

787-10 certification is the latest chapter in the Dreamliner story

Boeing’s latest Dreamliner model, the 787-10, achieved its amended type certificate for the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000-powered version from the US Federal Aviation Administration earlier this year. “The certificate is a major milestone,” Boeing’s Bob Whittington explains, “as it officially clears the airplane for commercial service. We secured ATC on Friday, January 19, after demonstrating the quality, safety,

and reliability of the type design. Following first flights in March, May, and June of 2017, our three test airplanes were taken through an assortment of tests to validate our design, and to confirm handling, systems, reliability, and overall performance.” “Our test programs spanned about 900 flight hours, and took us to a variety of locations including the US states of Texas, California and Colorado, to name a few, and Newfoundland in Canada. We also

‘The 787 has opened up numerous new routes.’

MARCH 2018 87

made two appearances at airshows in Paris and Dubai,” he says. “Throughout the test program the airplanes operated as designed and as expected. The 787-10 is over 95 per cent common with the -9. The test program was smooth. We predicted a quiet test program, and we delivered. Our next steps are continue to work with other validating agencies as we work toward the first delivery to the launch customer, Singapore Airlines in the first half of the year. We’re eager to fulfil our customer orders. We currently have 171 orders in backlog from nine leading customers.” In addition to Singapore Airlines, Air France, All Nippon Airways, British Airways, Emirates, Etihad, EVA Air, United Airlines, plus lessors GECAS and Air Lease Corporation, together with eight aircraft for unidentified customer(s), have ordered the jet. For the 787-10, Whittington explains, “we are complete with all flight testing required for the delivery. First delivery is to Singapore in the Rolls-Royce family. There is a little bit more testing to be done for the GE-powered airplanes a little bit later on. The typical way we certify the airplanes, the FAA gives us our amended type certificate, and has for


‘The -10 has achieved over 95 per cent commonality with the -9x.’

The 787-8 is the shortest member of the family. rob finlayson

the 787-10. Beyond that, then each of the airlines will get a validation from their regulatory agencies prior to taking delivery. So every foreign carrier will line up with a new validation program that’s unique to each operator.” (Boeing, in a financial quiet period ahead of announcing its financial results for 2017, was unable to provide further detailed commentary on this and other forward-looking issues, but confirmed that the launch customer for the version powered by General Electric’s GEnx engines will be United Airlines, with the airframer citing a delivery window in the second half of this year.) Designed for long-haul, but not ultra long-haul, flights, the -10’s example range doesn’t quite reach the US east coast from Sydney. “The 787-10 Dreamliner is a game changer to the market. It’s the newest and longest member of our family. As a stretch of the -9 airplane, it adds a lot more seats and cargo capacity, really setting a new benchmark for fuel efficiency and operating economics. In fact, it’s got the lowest CASM or cost per available seat mile in the industry,” Boeing’s Tarun Hazari argues. “It’s capable of flying 330 passengers over 6,400 nautical miles,

or almost 12,000 kilometers. This second derivative offers basically 25 per cent better fuel per seat and emissions than the airplanes it replaces, making it the absolute most efficient twin available today.” “When you combine it with all the passenger pleasing features of the 787 family, which everyone’s familiar with – the spacious cabin and windows, the large bins, the higher humidity, smooth ride technology – it truly is second to none. It really accentuates the family,” Hazari continues. “Most noteworthy, however, from an environmental perspective, our planes have saved over 21 billion pounds of fuel. The 787-10 will make the perfect addition to the fleet, unlocking enhanced efficiency never before seen. We’re all eagerly awaiting its first delivery and entry into service.”

The 787 family is flexible around performance, both between and within models The launch 787-8, 57m long, carries Boeing’s example case of 242 passengers in a two-class configuration over 7,355nm. The midsized 787-9 measures 63m in length, accommodating an indicative 290 passengers with a range of 7,635nm. The newest aircraft, the 787-10, is

787 at 10 stretched to 68m and Boeing uses a 330-passenger model to give a range of 6,430nm. Commonality between models is a concern for many operators, and Boeing has seen success here. “We heard from our customers quite clearly, that they loved the -9, and the closer we could make the -10 to both the -8 and the -9, the better off it would be,” Boeing’s Bob Whittington explains. “It clearly made our job easier in the certification program. Having the -10 be so close to the -9 allowed us to shrink the flight test program significantly.” By contrast, as far as the percentage goes between the 787‑8 and -9, Boeing’s Tarun Hazari explains, “it’s in the upper 70s as far as commonality, when you talk about the recommended spare parts list, which is a benchmark that we use for commonality. I would say as a family we’re definitely in the low to mid 80s combining the -8, -9, and -10. The -9 and -10, 95 per cent commonality, and I would say upper 70s for the -8 and -9. That’s an approximation.” Returning to the passenger and range numbers, for all airframers these are both linked and indirectly proportional – and also a little murky in the part they play in manufacturers’ performance promises. At its most simplest, the principle is that the fewer passengers on board, the greater the range. Jetstar’s 787-8, for example, carries 21 passengers in recliner business class seats and 314 in economy: 93 more than Boeing’s example. Jetstar cites a range of 5,500nm for this aircraft, 1,855nm less than Boeing’s standard data. Japan Airlines, meanwhile, carries only 161 passengers in its long-haul 787-8 configuration (where half the aircraft is fully flat Rockwell Collins Apex seats in business class, and only one third is economy, with even that the very spacious eight-abreast configuration), 81 fewer than Boeing and almost half of Jetstar’s capacity. That allows JAL to quote a range of 7,990nm for the aircraft, nearly 2,500nm more than Jetstar, almost the distance from Sydney or Melbourne to Denpasar in Bali. Weight has always been a crucial consideration for airliners, particularly long-haul jets. But these differences in range highlight the extent to which modern airlines make decisions about outfitting their aircraft, and indeed why Qantas needs a different aircraft for its Project Sunrise ultra long-haul nonstop ambitions.

“Orange you glad you ordered the 787?”

When Jetstar became the first airline in Australasia – and one of the first low-cost carriers in the world – to fly the 787 in 2013, the aircraft revolutionised the way that passengers fly long-haul. Nearly seven million passengers have flown on Jetstar’s 787s alone, travelling on routes to Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, China, and Honolulu in the United States. “The ideal distance for our 787 fleet operationally and economically is between 3,500 to 4,500nm”, Jetstar’s 787 team tells Australian Aviation via an airline spokesperson. “This aircraft has improved the travel experience for our customers and it has given us a competitive advantage in the rapidly growing Asian LCC sector,” the airline says. “Our customers have been able to enjoy the aircraft’s more space and comfort, less noise, bigger windows, gate to gate entertainment and the best Jetstar service.” On board the airline’s eleven 787-8 aircraft, three rows of large recliners in a 2-3-2 configuration make up the 21 Jetstar business class seats, with the 314 economy class seats in their 3-3-3 layout stretch from ahead of doors two to the very back of the cabin. In addition to the operational efficiency of newer, carbon-fibre aircraft compared with the older A330-200 jets the airline previously operated, “from an operational point of view, the introduction of the 787 has led to significantly lower use of fuel with increased cruise speed and higher altitude capability,” Jetstar

T he first 787-10 on the Boeing Charleston final assembly line. boeing

‘This aircraft has improved the travel experience for our customers.’

says, noting that “the 787 also records a better rate of successful approaches in poor weather conditions, with increased situational awareness for flight crew through enhanced displays, (eg, vertical profile display and headsup display).” That operational knowledge is already being transferred within the Qantas Group ­– one marked advantage of having a subsidiary airline operate a new aircraft before the parent carrier. “Jetstar has been able to share the experience with Qantas after four years operating eleven Boeing 787‑8s. Jetstar pilots have been training Qantas pilots, both in the simulator and on the line, and our engineers have been sharing their learnings with Qantas engineers on the maintenance requirements of the aircraft,” the airline explains. The big question for Jetstar’s Dreamliners is what’s next. Competitors like Scoot have already taken the larger 787-9 version that Qantas is also taking, although in February the Qantas Group allowed one 787-9 option to lapse, so immediate expansion for Jetstar’s long-haul services seems unlikely. That’s particularly true given the rise in inbound traffic from international carriers from growth destinations like China. Looking to the future for Jetstar’s 787 operations, “We’ll continue to operate the 787 on our international network. The Qantas Group has 45 options and purchase rights for the 787, which have flexible delivery dates right through the next decade and the MARCH 2018 89

flexibility to be deployed across the Group.” All in all, “the 787 aircraft have been fundamental in the success of Jetstar’s long-haul operation. They are more fuel efficient, they require less maintenance and, importantly, our customers love them.”

Jetstar operates 11 787-8s. seth jaworski

The 787’s passenger experience continues to be a mixed bag

Previous generations of mostly metallic airliners standardised on a cabin pressurisation of approximately 8,000ft. Much of the altitude-related malaise of flying, including jetlag, dehydration and lower oxygen levels, result from the combination of a higher cabin altitude and low moisture in the air. New carbon fibre aircraft, of which the 787 was the first, can be pressurised to around 6,000ft, and can handle a more humid atmosphere. That 2,000ft reduction might not sound much, and indeed when the Dreamliner entered into service, early passengers wondered whether the promised benefits of the lower cabin pressurisation would come true. For the most part, they have. Quite apart from manufacturer-produced empirical data, the 787 and Airbus’s A350 are in wide enough circulation that passengers can compare like for like flights and have felt it for themselves. The 787’s larger windows, too, have proven largely popular, although the


‘The 787’s larger windows, too, have proven largely popular.’

electronic dimming of the windows does not always meet with passenger acclaim, particularly since flight attendants can override individual controls and plunge the cabin into total darkness. Despite these improvements, however, the 787 has not brought an overall upgrade in passenger experience for most passengers – quite the opposite. When Boeing originally advertised the Dreamliner, it was with some of the widest economy class seats in the industry in an eight-abreast configuration. Only ANA and Japan Airlines took delivery of this layout, and only JAL’s long-haul 787s remain with seats arranged 2-4-2. This densification is not unusual in the history of commercial aviation. The 747 was originally delivered to many airlines in a nine-abreast layout before being universally retrofitted to 3-4-3, as was the narrower 777. The problem is that passengers are simply not the size they were in the 777’s 1990s, let alone the 747’s 1960s. While regional differences remain, better nutrition and other factors mean that people taking their first long-haul flight on a 787 are taller and broader than people whose first flight was on a 747. Indeed, the 787 in nine-abreast configuration gives the least amount of personal space of any widebody airliner in widespread service. (Longhaul low-cost carriers and leisure

operators like AirAsia X, Cebu Pacific or France’s Air Caraïbes operate nineabreast A330s and ten-abreast A350s with narrower seats, but these are by no means the primary configuration for the A330 or A350.) Airlines would, of course, argue that with the advent of premium economy passengers who want more space have an option to buy it, and the Dreamliner’s standard 2-3-2 premium economy configuration is indeed very comfortable. From the traveller perspective, however, premium economy is between 1.5 and 3 times the price of economy on most routes, a multiplier that is not feasible for all or even many passengers — or airlines would install more of these seats. Indeed, numerous airlines and airframers readily admit that premium economy is the most profitable real estate on the aircraft. Business class too, is often tricky on the Dreamliner. Early buyers of the delayed aircraft ended up locked into older seats that have not aged well, with angled lie-flat seats and fully flat beds that lack the now almost mandatory direct aisle access ripe for replacement. The fact that the 787’s regular maintenance intervals are further apart is a benefit in many ways, althought that does provide fewer cabin upgrade windows. In business class, the yields from which often make the difference between the success and failure

787 at 10 of a route, the cross-section of the Dreamliner is notably narrower than the slightly larger A350 and the much larger 777. The narrower cabin creates design, space and safety certification challenges for airlines trying to create direct aisle access products, particularly those in the popular herringbone configuration. The passenger experience world has moved on from where it was when the size of the 787 was selected, and like the 777 before it — where the half-a-generation derivative 777X will sculpt out extra inches from the sidewalls — the time seems ripe for cabin upgrades in particular.

Where next for the 787?

After more than a decade since rollout and, next year, a decade since its first flight, Boeing has yet to reveal any kind of technology roadmap for the 787, whether for incremental cabin interior updates or incorporating improvements in systems and technologies that have been developed since the Dreamliner’s design was finalised a decade and a half ago. That is in contrast to the approximate amount of time between, for example, the Boeing 777’s 1995 entry into service for the

first generation (-200/-200ER/300), second generation (-200LR, -300ER) nine years later in 2004, and third generation (-8/9) planned for 2019. On the subject of the 777, Boeing’s Tarun Hazari explains, “We’ve continuously improved and made those more valuable to our airline based on customer needs. With the 787, we see the same thing happening. We will continue to evolve. We will continue to make “it better and even more competitive”. Referring back to the 767’s passenger version’s development – curtailed by the 787, with many arguing then and now that

PERFECT TEN? The Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 awaits next generation

After major fleet groundings by operators of Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners with “Package C” Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines, airlines are anxiously awaiting deliveries of replacements — whether of fixed older Package C powerplants or the newer Trent 1000 TEN that succeeded it. Fatigue cracking of turbine blades caused by corrosion has caused significant early blade wear and concern among operators. Air New Zealand, All Nippon Airways and Virgin Atlantic have been among the worst affected. “We identified an issue with sulphidation on Intermediate Pressure Turbine (IPT) Blades back in 2016,” a spokesperson for Rolls-Royce tells Australian Aviation. “In simple terms the part was affected by corrosion fatigue, and therefore needed replacing sooner than forecasted. We have a modified standard for this blade which is available both for new deliveries and for engine overhaul.  A long-term maintenance plan was put in place for the replacement of IPT blades and is ongoing today – the parts are only replaced as required, depending on usage. Since the IPT blade upgrade work started we have identified a small number of other improvements and checks that need to

J etstar’s experience with the 787-8 has helped inform Qantas 787-9 entry into service planning. victor pody

be made to various populations of engines – not all engines are affected by all issues.” “Right now,” Boeing’s 787 chief project engineer Bob Whittington notes, “of all the operators across the fleet, it is primarily limited to the Package C Rolls-Royce engine. I don’t have the exact number... but you can take it as all of the Rolls-Royce operators across the fleet have seen some of the wear out issues in the Rolls-Royce engine.” In August, Rolls-Royce told investors that the wear issues affected some 400‑500 of the Trent 1000 engines. Aviation safety authorities continue to investigate and have issued airworthiness directives concerning these engines. Boeing, Whittington says, is not shying away from the issue. “I would take issue with the idea that this is not a Boeing problem. They’re Boeing customers, they’re Boeing airplanes. And we’re deeply involved with Rolls-Royce every single day to try to help each of the operators get the airplanes back flying as soon as possible. “We’re engaged all the time. I do expect the TEN engine to be their primary source, the driver, in the fleet. But we’re working really hard to get the airlines, like Air New Zealand, back in the air. We understand how difficult it is, and we’re linked very closely with Rolls,” says Whittington.

simultaneous production of both airliners would have been a smarter move – Hazari says, “if you remember back in the day with the 767, once the 777 came out, we came out with this beautiful 767 Signature Interior that really enhanced the cabin.” “When we put that into the 767,” Hazari notes, “the responses we got back after we did the surveys and the research studies much, much preferred that interior compared to the old 767 interior.” “We see those things happening with the 787 family, incremental advancements and improvements, as we’ve done with all of our models.”

“It’s not uncommon for long‑term programs to experience these types of issues and we are well placed to manage them,” Rolls-Royce’s spokesperson says. “Over the life of the Trent 1000 engine we have accumulated Continuous Parameter Logging data (an intensive form of engine health monitoring) from over 100,000 flights across six operators, giving us unparalleled insight into the engine. When combined with our typical engine health monitoring data, this gives us a wealth of insight into the performance of a specific engine, allowing expert engineers in our Derby-based Aircraft Availability Centre to ensure we undertake maintenance as required and manage issues proactively.” However, Rolls-Royce concedes, “Despite our absolute commitment to minimising customer disruption, the removal rate of engines has at times been higher than the rate at which we’ve been able to recover engines meaning that our customers have experienced disruption. In these cases, we have apologised to our customers. We expect any disruption caused to gradually reduce through 2018 and are taking additional measures such as adding engines to our lease pool to help relieve pressure in the system.”

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FINDING ANSWERS Eye in the Sky GA black box born out of heartbreak



t comes as no surprise to Louisa ‘Choppy’ Patterson that preliminary investigations have been unable to fathom why a De Havilland Beaver floatplane was off course and crashed into the Hawkesbury River north of Sydney, killing all six on board on New Year’s Eve. It’s yet another tragic aviation accident that vindicates a decision by the chief executive of Queenstownbased luxury helicopter tour operator, Over the Top, to invest tens of thousands of dollars in a “black box” audio and video flight data recorder for general aviation aircraft. Called Eye in the Sky, it will be launched in the first half of this year, initially in Australia and the United States at a cost of around $NZ4,400 (A$4,053) per unit, though Patterson says there will be an introductory offer. She dearly wishes the device, that is little bigger than her hand, wasn’t a necessary evil but she is pragmatic


even if it was born out of personal heartbreak. If it hadn’t been for the death of her 18 year-old son, James Patterson Gardener and 42 year-old Wanaka pilot, Stephen Combe when a Robinson R44 helicopter broke up in the Lochy River Basin, northwest of Queenstown in February 2015, Eye in the Sky might have been a pipe dream. “It’s a little bit like putting the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, but since we’ve developed it to give answers on this particular aircraft there is a lot more positive things that have come out of it,” Patterson says. She has been involved in flight training for many years and believes light aircraft and helicopters will benefit greatly from the recording system as it not only finds causes of air accidents in small aircraft, but it is also a valuable tool for aviation safety and education. “It can tell engineers, for instance, about the noise they can hear in an

E ye in the Sky view of the helicopter cockpit. over the top – the helicopter company

aircraft on shutdown. If a pilot has a warmer start than anticipated it would be good to be able to have a picture of it,” she says. “The actual benefits are enhancing aviation and raising the safety bar as a whole. “Once you have a breakup of a helicopter our device will be able to prove the reason why. That’s why we put the benefit of the identifying cause of accidents and reoccurrence at the bottom of the list of benefits. “If a pilot is aware he has a flight data recorder in his aircraft it may mean that he flies slightly higher or adheres to the rules slightly more. It’s a consideration he has to make if he is going to fly low or possibly break a rule.” After her son’s accident New Zealand’s 80 Robinson R44s were grounded because a portion of the blade was found a distance from the aircraft. The ban was lifted a few days later after blade disintegration was

deemed a consequence, not a cause of the accident. The New Zealand Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) concluded the crash was due to mast bumping – where the inner part of the blade bumps the mast, be it as a result of turbulence, stalling or for another reason. There was no conclusive proof this was the cause and Patterson is not convinced. “We are yet to establish that cause in our own mind and we are having some second tests done on the blade,” she says. “As an aviator of some 45 years I believed that if an aircraft has a problem and a pilot puts in a control that will make it catastrophic and the aircraft won’t return to normal flight mode then it shouldn’t be certified to fly. “The implications are [from the crash] that a control input was put into the aircraft, which could have

‘Our device will be able to prove the reason why.’ LOUISA PATTERSON

resulted in this catastrophic failure. “The bottom line is that aircraft do not break up in flight and this helicopter broke up in flight and they continue to do so,” says Patterson, citing 147 Robinson R44 aircraft accidents since her son’s death with around 23 having unexplained breakups. She says Robinson was positive about Eye in the Sky and was talking about developing its own version or joining forces with her company. “They are encouraging their use but I am not sure about their theory as they feel the accident was pilot input. We will find out unfortunately.”


On her wrist Patterson wears a blue band inscribed in white in Ancient Greek, which translated to English says, “ever to excel”. It is a daily and poignant reminder of her son who was due to take up residence at St Andrew’s College at

the University of Sydney to study engineering two days after that fateful flight. The phrase is also the motto of the James PG Foundation Patterson created in her son’s memory. Profits from the sale of the Eye in the Sky will go to the foundation to enable youth with the potential to excel in their chosen field to attend University of Sydney as James had intended. The foundation was launched recently with income from other areas of the business. Patterson says it will open doors to young people of all levels who are trying to reach their full potential, whether it be working in the aviation industry or where someone requires endorsement or sponsorship in a particular company. “Through our contacts we will assist youth whether it be financial, philanthropic, or beneficial.”

MARCH 2018 93

worth a thousand words, but a video is priceless.” Patterson and Collier will be back at the heli-expo in Las Vegas in March, followed by the Australian Helicopter Industry Association’s Rotortech expo on the Sunshine Coast in May. “Potentially the first market is helicopters, then planes, Patterson says. “But there is potential for all sorts of things from engineering to training incidents and complaints.”

Legally speaking


The TAIC report into the R44 accident suggested it would be a good idea for cameras to be installed in small aircraft. By the time that report came out Patterson was well into developing Eye in the Sky. “Quite soon after James and Steve’s death it became obvious that if we had had an apparatus in the aircraft it would have answered all the questions, in particular being able to look at the controls where the pilots’ inputs are,” she says. “We began working with the authorities on how we were going to make this work.” The first consideration was getting a supplementary type certificate (STC) to allow the device to be fitted in aircraft. Over the Top’s pilot and product developer, Brad Collier, says the STC process is expensive and technical. “We’ve employed a lot of help to assist us getting this civil aviation (NZ CAA) authorisation.” It is now getting authorisation in other countries. Black boxes (actually aviation safety orange), housed in the tail of large aircraft record cockpit instruments and conversations between the pilot and co-pilot but they do not have cameras. Patterson describes Eye in the Sky as a small, technically-advanced version of the large black box in that it has both audio and video components. “In the past few years cameras have become more prominent in one’s life


Louisa ‘Choppy’ Patterson with her Eye in the Sky flight data recorder. over the top – the helicopter company

whether you are in a taxi or a lift or anywhere really.” “We’re taking this way beyond the traditional idea of a black box.” The device was originally black, but following feedback from countries such as Papua New Guinea about regulatory colours for aviation it was changed recently to orange.


One chap with 80 aircraft wanted them for his entire fleet. LOUISA PATTERSON

The aviation orange Eye in the Sky flight data recorder positioned in the helicopter cockpit. denise mcnabb

Patterson and Collier introduced Eye in the Sky to the industry at the helicopter industry’s largest event, the Hai Heli-Expo in Dallas last year. “We went there to gauge interest and promote the product and got a lot of positive feedback that has helped shape the final version that we have today,” Patterson says. “One chap with 80 aircraft on the east coast of America wanted them for his entire fleet. He told us a picture is

Over the Top uses America’s Rugged Video unit in its helicopters to showcase customers inside and outside the helicopter and at the end of the trip they are given the footage on a USB stick. Patterson says Eye in the Sky is not designed for that sort of output. Secured high in the cockpit behind the front two people it films in high definition video the control panel and the control inputs so it can’t take footage of outside those parameters that might threaten breaches of privacy. “You won’t even necessarily get a view out the front of the helicopter,” Collier says. Because the STC designates the unit as a flight data recorder it would be available to air accident investigators, but like the large black box, not to the courts as evidence in a prosecution. “That in itself encourages people to install it because it is there for safety not for prosecution purposes,” Patterson says. But she says if there were a situation where a company was thought to be breaking some rules it wouldn’t stop Civil Aviation looking at the footage with the onus on the operator to provide it, not the pilot.

FINDING ANSWERS Technicalities

Patterson has worked with New Zealand, American and Chinese companies and has visited China and the US in her journey to get the final product to assembly stage. She declined to reveal who they are because it was propriety information, except to say they were in the high definition video field, had expertise for the required submersible detection and metallurgic experts helped with the case. The battery runs off the helicopter’s power when it is turned on and goes off when the helicopter engine is turned off. In the event of electrical failure the battery will run for a certain period before it stops recording over an SD card in the unit. Depending on the size of the SD card it will run for up to 60 hours. “Eye in the Sky records ambient audio as it has its own microphone so it will pick up any noise from the engine. It is also plumbed in directly to the pilot’s aviation audio panel so anything the pilot hears and says, whether it be from the cockpit or the radio call, is also captured on a separate channel,” Collier says. If, for example, there was an incident involving air traffic control it would pick up something a pilot might be saying to another pilot and what air traffic control might be saying to that aircraft. “This obviously has benefits in post-incident analysis,” Patterson says. The casing is made of high grade metal to a level where data could still be taken off a card if the unit was involved in a fire. Patterson and Collier met with representatives of a company recently that says it can make a casing for the unit that will withstand very high temperatures. It will be incorporated into a later batch and provide an option to have the fireproof casing go around the present casing. As part of the STC process the unit must also pass an audio interference analysis check, an electrical load analysis check and electronic engine control approval. All of the mounts are load certified and tested. The mounting and wiring for the aircraft comes with the package and each unit is part and serial numbered. It also comes with an SD card and a special tool to remove the unit’s cover, making it tamper-proof.

To market

Collier says while flight data recorders have been around for a long time they are expensive and bulky and it’s taken a while for some of those ideas to filter down to light aircraft. He also suspects some people flying helicopters and recreational aircraft might not have liked the idea of being accountable for flying low on occasions when they shouldn’t have been. “I think we are the only one doing it cost-effectively,” Patterson says. “We will have them to market within the first half of this year but we’ll take orders earlier than that. We are just waiting on some paperwork from various testing people.” She won’t make a forecast on potential sales. “It depends on where they go, what they put them in and what the authorities say.” Wearing a tourism hat she says can also say to the major suppliers of

T he Eye in the Sky flight data recorder in an Over the Top –The Helicopter Company helicopter at Queenstown Airport. denise mcnabb

her tourism clients that because her company has Eye in the Sky in its helicopters they should mandate that they be fitted to other aircraft they supply tourists to as well. The final prototype came back from the US recently after testing revealed anomalies with two audio channels, but with these sorted the green light is fast approaching. “If it takes off I think the foundation would benefit immensely and a lot of young people in New Zealand and Australia will reap the benefit,” Patterson says. “I feel personally that if we sold one unit and it was in the right aircraft then I would have done my bit for aviation and particularly, in honour of my son.” Patterson says the foundation is pretty much her long-term project.

More details at: MARCH 2018 95


The right decisions

A new season, and new challenges, demand the right approach


T he Matt Hall Racing Team is ready to face the challenges of a new season. predrag vuckovic/red bull content pool

Matt Hall’s Edge 540 features new colours and new sponsor logos for 2018. andreaslangreiter /red bull content pool


s I was sitting on the start grid ahead of the third and final practice session of the first round of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, I watched the UAE Air Force display team arrive in a seven-ship formation. I reflect on my time in the military, and whether I miss it. The respect for others who serve their country is hardwired into my brain. My life as a fighter pilot in the Royal Australian Air Force more often than not pays dividends in my current life as a Red Bull Air Race pilot. Precise planning and preparation, mental fortitude and strong teamwork are all things that win races. And for us, months and months of preparation usually comes down to around 55 seconds in a racetrack. Similar timelines for a single bombing run in a modern day fighter. When it all goes to plan, there is no better feeling. When it doesn’t,

the hindsight of what you could have, should have or would have done will keep you awake at night – or on the 14-hour flight home to Australia. The first race in Abu Dhabi did and didn’t go to plan. We finished fifth, which was a great result and my best finish there since I was second in 2015. On the other hand, there were a few things that popped up throughout our time in the Emirates that threatened to hinder us. Unfortunately, those hindrances were reflective of the past few months spent preparing for this race season, and meant I needed to draw on much of my experience to get to race one of 2018. Rewind the clock back to October 2017; we’ve finished the season off with everything looking bright for the year ahead. Our race team have had podiums in the back half of the season, we’ve won qualifying sessions and overall everyone on the team has gelled seamlessly.

We depart each other’s company for a few weeks, and then in late November my race tactician Peter Wezenbeek, technician Ron Simard and I are back together in northern California refining our race plane. Everything goes well, we improve handling and speed and leave prior to Christmas knowing that we will be damned fast come 2018. Over the break the plane will also go into a paint shop to be stripped and repainted in new colours. It’s a big job to re-brand one of these race planes in just a few weeks, but we’re all relatively relaxed that the job will come out well, and that the team will power into 2018. On December 17 2017 I have my entire team with me – including those who are part of the Aussiebased Team MHR operation. All that is, except Ron, who is at home with his wife in Panama. We’ve gone out for the afternoon on a boat on Lake Macquarie, NSW to celebrate a

predrag vuckovic/red bull content pool

challenging, and yet rewarding season. Everything is good. Three days later that equilibrium is broken when I learn that Ron has had a plane crash in Panama City and sadly lost his life. It’s a shock to the system and no matter how long you’re involved in aviation, this side of it never gets easier. My primary concern is Ron’s wife, family and then informing my team of this awful news. As suddenly as that news hit me, there is a part of me that kicks into action and my mind is racing: • We’re three weeks out from our newly painted aircraft needing to be shipped to Abu Dhabi for round one of the season. • Our plan to head back to the USA and re-build the plane, test fly it and then pack it for shipping will need to change. • I will need to find someone to fill Ron’s shoes on the team. And so the MHR team and I get to work analysing our best course of action. At this stage, there may have been a race scheduled for the end of January, but that won’t be a factor unless we can plan a solution and keep our heads on straight to make the right decisions. As it happens, the best decision for the team is that instead of scrambling to find a race technician with experience and luring them back to the air race, the logical fit will be

to bring in newly appointed domestic technician David Finch to the racing arm of the business too. Just like that ‘Finchy’ will be going on the road with us, which is a slight change of pace following 12 dedicated years at the Temora Aviation Museum. With personnel sorted, for me it was back to the USA to tick off a list of items that need attending to, including the build and shipping of my race plane. It isn’t until I arrive back home, two weeks out from the new race season that the events of the past few weeks sink in. My mind finally shifts back a few gears. Ron was 72, or 18 with 54 years of experience, as he liked to say, at the time of his death. He was a hard-core racer, had a sharp mind and undoubtedly would be looking down and telling us to get on with the business of racing to win. So that’s what we aimed for in round one at the beginning of February, even if the best laid plans of the early off-season were slowly starting to unravel. Our new paint job is heavy; the centre of gravity has moved three per cent towards the tail. The ridges in the paint disturb the airflow, and overall it made the aircraft a handful. It wasn’t the silky smooth machine in Abu Dhabi that it was in 2017. That’s not an excuse; these were the cards we had to play with. As intended

we put our best foot forward in Abu Dhabi. We arrived with a plan and adapted it as needed. Unfortunately the result wasn’t what we hoped, despite our efforts. And so with two months in our pocket before round two of the series in Cannes, France, we left the Middle East with a plan. It’s not a plan that we hope works, but one we are confident will provide solutions. During my military career I had absolute trust in my colleagues, there’s no option but to have such a mentality. When I watched those serving for the UAE flying past me ahead of that third practice session, I could see the trust they had in each other also. It’s the same trust I have in my team now. Even when the world outside the cockpit isn’t as it was intended to be. When a setback or unexpected problem rears its head, a good aviator has a plan, and can calmly analyse the best course of action. The next time I find myself on the Red Bull Air Race start grid preparing for practice three, I have absolute faith that our team will have addressed the deficiencies of race one to improve what we can achieve. Once again, we’ll fly with the aim of being the best we can with the equipment we have, and the knowledge that we have a strong foundation on which to build our season.

R ound one of the Red Bull Air Race provided plenty of food for thought. xalazs gardi/red bull content pool

‘That’s not an excuse; it’s the cards we had to play with.’ MARCH 2018 97


Key aircraft movements from across the region


Hi-Fly A330-223 CS-TQW in service with Air New Zealand and wearing a special colour scheme ‘Clean Seas - Turn the Tide on Plastic’. duncan watkinson


In this issue we report the delivery of two 787-9s to Qantas. 787-9 VH-ZNB Waltzing Matilda was delivered to Qantas in Melbourne on December 10 after it ferried in from Paine Field as QF6026. VH-ZNB entered service with Qantas on December 14 as QF414 from Melbourne to Sydney and operated its first international service on December 16 as QF95 from Melbourne to Los Angeles. 787-9 VH-ZNC Quokka was registered to Qantas on December 20 and operated its maiden flight on January 12 as ‘Boeing 271’ from Paine Field to Moses Lake and return. VH-ZNC was then delivered to Melbourne from Paine Field as QF6026 on January 24 and entered service on January 29 when it operated QF775 from Melbourne to Perth. 787-9 VH-ZNA operated its first international flight on December 15 when it operated QF95 from Melbourne to Los Angeles. 787-9 VH-ZND msn 63390/669 is planned for delivery in early


March and will be painted in an indigenous design. 747-438ER VH-OEF operated a scenic charter flight from Melbourne over the Antarctic on December 31/ January 1 as QF2904. 737-838 VH-VYJ ferried from Brisbane to Townsville as QF6101 on January 1 where it was painted in the new Qantas colours. It returned to service on January 21 as QF967 from Townsville to Brisbane. 737-838 VH-VZB operated QF978 on January 20 from Brisbane to Townsville where on arrival it entered the Flying Colours hangar for painting in the new Qantas livery. QantasLink had Dash 8-402Q VH-QOB painted by Flying Colours in Townsville between January 4 and January 17, while Dash 8-402Q VH-QOC arrived at Townsville from Mount Isa as QF2475 on January 16 for painting. Jetstar Pacific took delivery of A320-232 VN-A577 msn 7988 in Ho Chi Minh City on January 10 after the aircraft ferried in from Toulouse and Al Maktoum.


In this issue we report the delivery of two Fokker 100s to Alliance, an RJ100 to Cobham and a BAe 146‑200QT to Pionair Australia. Departing was an ATR 72-500 of ANZ Link. Air New Zealand grounded 787-9 ZK-NZD on December 6, 787-9 ZK-NZE on December 4 and 787-9 ZK-NZH on December 6 due to engine problems. To cover the down time with the 787-9 Air New Zealand wet leased aircraft from Hi Fly of Portugal. A340-313X 9H-FOX, which was all-white, ferried into Auckland from Lisbon and Los Angeles as HFM671P on December 12 and entered service on December 15 when it operated NZ101 from Auckland to Sydney. A330-223 CS-TQW ferried into Auckland on December 15 as HFM411P from Kingston, Jamaica and Papeete. CS-TQW, which carried a special colour scheme ‘Clean Seas - Turn the Tide on Plastic’, entered service with Air New Zealand on December 16

when it operated NZ175 from Auckland to Perth. CS-TQW was withdrawn from Air New Zealand service on January 15 after operating NZ175 from Perth to Auckland (arriving January 16) and departed Auckland for Panama City as HFM361P on January 20. Air New Zealand then leased A340-313X 9H-SUN from Hi Fly and on January 15 as HFM011P it arrived in Auckland from Cairo and Halim. 9H-SUN entered service with Air New Zealand on January 16 when it operated NZ175 from Auckland to Perth. ANZ Link/Mount Cook withdrew ATR 72-500 ZK-MCW from service on November 26 (Traffic/January) with the aircraft then having its titles and the koru removed. ZK-MCW, which was ferried by Southern Cross as SXI1814, departed Christchurch on January 5 for Brisbane, Darwin and Jakarta where it was prepared for delivery to Novoair. The ATR, now registered S2-AJK, departed Jakarta on January 29 for Subang and Dhaka.


New arrival for Alliance Airlines, Fokker 100 OE-IIC. lance broad ANZ Link/Eagle Airways ferried their Beech 1900D ZK-EAE into Bankstown on October 18 ’16 with the aircraft then being registered VH-OYV on November 29 ’16. VH-OYV then remained parked at Bankstown until January 24 when it departed for the Gold Coast and after overnighting it continued on ferry to South America via Apia, Papeete and Easter Island. Airwork Flight Operations reportedly took delivery of 757-223 N689AA at Goodyear, Arizona on December 8 after the aircraft ferried in from Roswell, New Mexico. At Goodyear the 757 will be converted to a freighter. Fokker F27-500s ZK-PAX and ZK-POH, which were stored at Auckland, have been sold to HARS. ZK-PAX, which was cancelled from the New Zealand register on January 16, was then registered VH-EWH to HARS of Albion Park Rail, NSW on January 18. ZK-POH was also cancelled from the New Zealand register on January 16 and on January 18 it was registered to HARS as VH-TQN. Alliance Airlines took delivery of Fokker 100 OE-IIC msn 11406 at Brisbane on December 16 after the aircraft ferried in from Kupang. It was registered VH-VIF on December 19 with the owner VIF Aircraft of Sydney and the operator Alliance Airlines of Eagle Farm. VH-VIF will enter service in mid 2018 in the high end charter aircraft market. Alliance took delivery of Fokker 100 VH-FGB at Brisbane on January 17. The ferry flight was operated by Southern Cross as SXI1801 from Norwich, UK to Brisbane initially via Trabzon and Al Ain and latterly via Kupang and Townsville. VH‑FGB was previously registered VH‑UQG and carries a special colour scheme commemorating the 90th anniversary of the first trans‑Pacific flight. Cobham Aviation took delivery of RJ100 G-CFAH msn E-3384 at Adelaide on January 18 after the aircraft completed its ferry flight from Cranfield, UK via Denpasar and Darwin. It was registered VH‑NJE to Cobham Aviation on January 24. JetGo will reportedly take delivery of ERJ-140LR VH-JGK msn 145318 ex N14923 in February. Pionair Australia took delivery of

Newly delivered Alliance Airlines Fokker 100 VH‑FGB carries a special colour scheme commemorating the 90th anniversary of the first trans-Pacific flight. bernie proctor BAe 146-200QT G-OTIF msn E2056 at Bankstown on February 3. after the aircraft ferried in from Warton, UK via Denpasar, Darwin and Alice Springs.


In this issue we report the delivery of a 737-800 to Virgin Australia and the departure of the airline’s last E190. Virgin Australia registered 737-800 VH-YWE msn 41015 on January 3 and on January 21 as ‘Boeing 827’ it made its first flight from Renton to Moses Lake and Boeing Field. VH-YWE Dreamtime Beach was delivered to Brisbane on January 31 as VOZ9940 from Boeing Field, Kona and Nadi. EMB 190-100IGW VH-ZPT was withdrawn from service on December 30 after operating VOZ642 from Sydney to Canberra and later that day VH-ZPT was ferried from Canberra to Brisbane as VOZ9901. As VOZ9941 it was later ferried from Brisbane to Darwin and Clark Field in the Philippines. E190-100IGW VH-ZPH, which is the last of type in the Virgin fleet, was withdrawn from service in Brisbane on February 3 after operating VA1105 from Newcastle. A330-243 VH-XFC departed

Melbourne for Singapore as VOZ9943 on January 16 for planned maintenance.

Virgin Australia Regional Airlines/VARA ferried Fokker 100 VH-FZI as VOZ9941 from Perth to Port Hedland and Seletar on January 7 for planned maintenance. ATR 72-600 VH-FVZ, which was damaged in a hard landing at Canberra on November 19, remained there until January 24 when it was ferried to Brisbane as VOZ9907.


In this issue we report the delivery of two ATR 72-600s to Air Caledonie, two Saab 340s to Air Chathams and a Cessna 208B to Great Barrier Air. Departing was an ATR 72-500 of Air Caledonie. Air Caledonie took delivery of ATR 72‑600 F-OZKN msn 1459 at Noumea/La Tontouta on December 16 after the aircraft ferried in from Toulouse via Seletar, Broome and Cairns. ATR 72-600 F-OZNO msn 1472 was delivered to Air Caledonie at Noumea on December 23 after the aircraft ferried in from Toulouse via Seletar, Broome and Cairns. Air Caledonie has withdrawn ATR 72-500 F-OIPS from service on termination of its lease and on

January 19 now registered 9N-AMF the ATR departed Noumea for Cairns, Kupang and Seletar where it was prepared for delivery to Buddha Air of Nepal. Air Chathams took delivery of Saab 340A(QC) N135GU msn 340A-135 at Auckland on January 9 after the aircraft, which was previously operated by Skydive Guam, ferried in from Guam and Honiara. The Saab was registered ZK-CIY to Air Chathams on January 24. Saab 340B N357GU msn 340B-357 was also operated by Skydive Guam and was delivered to Air Chathams at Auckland on January 13 after it ferried in from Guam and Honiara. It was registered to Air Chathams as ZK‑CIZ on January 24. Convair 580 ZK-KFJ was cancelled from the NZ register on January 29 as ‘withdrawn from use’. Air Kiribati took delivery of Dash 8-102A C-GRXH msn 388 at Tarawa on October 30 (Traffic/December) and by December 1 had registered the aircraft T3-AKA. Air Sanga has added DHC-6-200 P2‑ASL to its fleet. The Twin Otter, then registered P2-MCR, was previously operated by PNG Air. Fiji Link took delivery of DHC-6-400 C-GUVT on October 30 (Traffic/ MARCH 2018 99

Air Caledonie has withdrawn ATR 72-500 F-OIPS from service. It is pictured here transiting Cairns, bound for Seletar. andrew belczacki December) and later registered the aircraft DQ-FJS. DHC-6-400 DQ-FJQ msn 959 ex C-FZVM and DHC-6-400 DQ-FJR msn 961 ex C-GVSW are planned for delivery to Fiji Link. Great Barrier Air took delivery of Cessna 208B N2057 msn 208B2057 at Auckland on January 19. The ferry flight was operated by Rangeflyers and had earlier departed Wichita on January 11 for Auckland via Santa Maria, Hilo and Apia. The aircraft was registered to Great Barrier Air on January 24 as ZK‑SDC. Sharp Airlines took delivery of Metro 23 VH-OYN at Launceston on December 10 after the former Pearl Aviation Australia aircraft ferried in from Darwin and the Gold Coast. On December 18 VH‑OYN was ferried from Launceston to Adelaide and the following day it entered service flying from Adelaide to Challenger. Metro 23 VH-OYG changed operators on November 13 from Pearl Aviation to Sharp Airlines.


In this issue we report the delivery of a Global Express and a Challenger 650. Global Express VH-UPH msn 9281 was delivered to Bluefield P/L of

Abbotsford, Victoria at Melbourne on November 16. Challenger 650 VH-LEF msn 6100 was registered on December 7 with the owner Linfox Express Charter of South Melbourne and the operator Air National Australia of Essendon Fields. VH-LEF is the first of type in the region and was delivered to Essendon from Nadi on December 10. In propjet news King Air 350i N817AP msn FL-1017, which was delivered to Bankstown on August 15 (Traffic/October), was ferried to Cairns on November 26 where it was registered VH-ZPE to Hawker Pacific on December 18. King Air 350i N5062T msn FL-962, which was delivered to Bankstown on December 20 from Biak and Cairns, was registered VH-ZPG to Hawker Pacific on January 4. King Air 350i N979KA msn FL-979, which was delivered to Bankstown on December 18 from the US via Saipan, Biak and Cairns, was registered VH-ZPJ to Hawker Pacific on January 4. King Air 350 VH-NDT departed Toowoomba on November 11 for Mount Isa, Darwin and Denpasar where it arrived on November 12. It was later reported arriving at Chester, UK on November 23 after arriving from Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic. VH-NDT

was cancelled from the register on November 29 when sold in Canada. King Air B200 F-OIAA msn BB-932, which was delivered to Perth on October 18 (Traffic/December), was registered VH-PFT to Airflite of Perth Airport on December 12. Aero Rescue King Air 200T VH-OYT, which had been in storage at Darwin, was cancelled from the register on December 11.


Monashee Helicopters Bell 212 C-GSRH had been unloaded from a Cathay Pacific freighter at Toowoomba/ Wellcamp and was later assembled at Casino. On January 27 C-GSRH departed Casino for Redcliffe and the following day it was noted at Townsville, Cairns, Lockhart River and Horn Island on its way to operations in PNG. Nautilus Aviation Bell 505s VH‑VSB msn 65030 and VH-VTB msn 65031 arrived at Bankstown in containers on December 4. Cessna 208B/EX N85PF msn 208B5407 completed its trans-Pacific ferry at Cairns on December 22 when it arrived from Wichita via Santa Maria, Honolulu and Majuro. Cessna 208B/EX VH-PQX ex N85PF was registered to the State of Queensland on January 24. Pacific Air Holdings Cessna 208B N842PH msn 208B1174 ex VH‑IOV

New Cobham Aviation RJ100 G-CFAH arrives into Adelaide on January 18. ryan hothersall

was noted at Moorabbin on December 13 and it remained there until January 23 when it departed for Charleville, Cairns, Horn Island and Biak, where it arrived on January 24. SkyWest Aviation of Albuquerque Cessna 340 N1022W arrived at Broome from Johor Bahru on December 19. The Cessna was later noted at Carnarvon, Ceduna, Port Lincoln, Launceston, Essendon, Portland, Flinders Island, Burnie and Lilydale before continuing to Coldstream on January 6. DHC-6-400FP N153QS arrived at Brisbane from Nadi and Noumea on January 8 and after overnighting continued to Mackay and Cairns. PAC-750XL ZK-KDJ msn 207, which returned to Hamilton from Darwin on November 23 (Traffic/ January-February), departed again from Hamilton on December 9 for the Gold Coast, Longreach, Darwin and Manado and onward delivery to the Chinese Sport Parachute Industry. RAAF Pilatus PC-21 HB-HWK c/s PCH44R in company with Pilatus PC-21 HB-HWL c/s PCH44R arrived at RAAF East Sale on January 22 after ferrying in from Stans, Switzerland via Kupang, Darwin, Alice Springs and Adelaide. The two aircraft have since been allocated RAAF serial numbers A54-011 and A54-012 respectively. Commander N9116N, which was delivered to Essendon on December 5 (Traffic/January), was registered VH-XAS to Kennedy Aviation of Gunnedah on January 25. Thai Aviation Services Sikorsky S-92A HS-HTH, which had been in maintenance with Sikorsky Helitech (Traffic/ November), departed Brisbane on December 25 for Emerald and Normanton before continuing to Groote Eylandt and Darwin on December 26.


Global Jet Luxembourg A319-115(CJ) P4-MIS arrived in Sydney from Kansai on December 29 before continuing to Queenstown on January 1. It then arrived in Brisbane from Dunedin on January 4 before continuing the same day to Mackay. On January 8 P4-MIS departed Mackay for


Traffic Hamilton Island, Cairns and Honolulu. RMAF A319-115(CJ) 9M-NAA was noted at Melbourne on December 24 before continuing to Perth on December 29. It departed Perth for Kuala Lumpur on January 2. Air X Charter A340-313X 9H-BIG arrived in Perth from Cape Town on February 1 as flight AXY3102 and departed to Al Maktoum as AXY3202 on February 2. Ukraine Air Alliance An-12BP UR-CGV as UKL5060 arrived in Perth from Johor Bahru on December 28 and departed in the early hours of December 29 as UKL5061 to Johor Bahru. Antonov Airlines An-124 UR-82007 as ADB2355 arrived in Port Hedland from Shanghai on January 23 and continued to Perth on January 24. It departed Perth for RAAF Scherger and Cairns on January 25 before continuing as ADB308F to Phu Cat, Vietnam on January 30. Antonov Airlines An-124 UR-82008 as ADB2302 arrived in Adelaide from Honolulu and Brisbane on December 12 and later the same day as ADB206F departed to Mattala, Sri Lanka. Antonov Airlines An-124 UR-82073 as ADB2303 arrived in Adelaide from Honolulu and Brisbane on December 19 before departing the same day to Mattala as ADB206F. An-124 UR-82073 later arrived in Perth on January 25 as ADB2346 from Johor Bahru and Darwin and as ADB246F departed for Johor Bahru on January 26. CGG Aviation (Canada) Basler BT-67 C-GGSU arrived at Port Moresby from Ambon on January 26. The BT-67, which was noted crossing the North Atlantic from Iqaluit to Reykjavik on January 12, was later seen at Southampton, UK on January 16. Crystal Luxury Air 777-29M(LR) P4-XTL operating as CXB772 arrived in Sydney from Singapore on December 30 and departed to Honolulu on January 1. Silk Air 737 MAX 8 9V-MBC operated the inaugural service by type into Australia on January 7 when it operated SLK801/802 SingaporeDarwin-Singapore. RAAF P-8A A47-006 was delivered to RAAF Edinburgh on January 15 from Renton via Honolulu and Guam. Coulson EC-130Q N130FF ‘Bomber

Global Jet Luxembourg ACJ P4-MIS arrives in Brisbane from Dunedin on January 4. lance broad

Antonov Airlines An-124 UR-82007 departs Cairns on January 30 bound for Phu Cat, Vietnam. andrew belczacki 390’ arrived at Avalon on January 4 from Majuro and Brisbane as a replacement for Lockheed L-382G N405LC – see below. Coulson L-382G N405LC callsign ‘BMR132’, which arrived at Richmond on August 26 (Traffic/

October), was later moved south to Avalon. It remained on firewatch at Avalon until January 6 when it departed for Cairns and Port Moresby. Volga Dnepr Il-76-90VD RA-76950 as VDA3142 arrived in Alice Springs from Kuala Lumpur and Darwin

on January 25. On board the Il‑76 was a replacement engine for Malaysian Airlines A330-323E 9M-MTM which had diverted into Alice Springs on January 18. The Il-76 departed Alice Springs for Darwin and Kuala Lumpur on January 27.

Air X Charter A340-313X 9H-BIG arrives in Perth from Cape Town on February 1. keith anderson

MARCH 2018 101


Warbirds, classic aircraft, museum and airshow news


Next issue Australian Aviation will profile the Pay family, including their warbird and aerial firefighting activities. As a preview here is a beautiful image of Hawker Hurricane VH-JFW recently returned to airworthiness by Pay’s Warbirds. mark jessop


The HARS airliner collection expands yet again! From New Zealand HARS has obtained two Fokker F27 Friendships previously operated by Airwork Flight Operations of Manukau. ZH-POH, c/n 10680, was struck off the NZ register on January 16 to surface on the Australian register as VH‑TQN on January 18. ZK-PAX, c/n 10596, used the same dates and became VH-EWH. TQN is a former TAA marking and will probably see the aircraft wear TAA colours. VH-EWH is a former East West Airlines registration and so we will also probably see this aircraft take up East West markings. It is reported that both aircraft will probably be based at the Parkes Air Museum, a division of HARS. In other HARS news the organisation’s Catalina, VH-PBZ, was due to fly home in midFebruary. The Black Cat, dubbed Felix, had suffered an engine issue


when about to do a demonstration at the Rathmines Catalina Festival in October. The big water bird diverted to Maitland and had been stuck there while a replacement engine was fitted. After engine runs on February 1 the Cat was scheduled to fly home to Albion Park on February 3, but this was delayed due to unfavourable weather. Readers can help keep Felix in the air by making a donation to HARS – donations/catalina/


A new Ryan has been imported, a model ST-A, c/n 118, with the registration VH-ROM reserved. The machine was purchased by Peter and Sarah Nelson of Brisbane and has arrived at Caboolture for assembly and to be put on the Australian civil register. The future VH-ROM was built in 1936 and was used as a trainer with the Ryan School

of Aeronautics at Lindberg Field, California with serial #13 registered as NC14986. In later years it became N1151 and then N14986. It was bought by Alain Grisay of Kemble in the UK, where it was flown under its US registration.


An oldie but a goodie! Yak‑11 VH‑YII was struck off the Australian register a decade ago on December 20 2007 as sold overseas. After all this time it has finally turned up, added to the US register on October 23 2017 to Artemis Aviation Group, Wilmington, Delaware as N525YK. The real owner and base is unknown at this time. The Yak first came to Australia from the Czech Republic in 1998, acquired by David Saunders of Western Warbirds, Perth as part of a deal to send a former RAAF CAC Sabre to Prague. Restoration of the Yak began at Jandakot but

its condition was poor and instead it was sold on as a project to Archie Knappstein of Lenswood, SA to be registered as VH-YII in November 1999. It is unclear if the aircraft actually flew in Australia. In other Yak news, Jim Wickam’s Yak-9UM, VH-YIX, c/n 0470409, has changed hands. Previously based at Tyabb, Victoria, the aircraft is now hangared at Latrobe Valley, Victoria. The change of owner is recorded as January 22 to Keith Astrella, Berwick, Victoria. It was noted flying the circuit at Latrobe Valley on February 2 with many spectators on the ground watching on.


CAC CA-25 Winjeel VH-NSJ previously A85-404 with the RAAF, has returned home to Australia. Built in 1955, after its RAAF career the machine was exported to New Zealand and became

Warbirds ZK‑WJL with GC Aviation of Taupo. Returning to Australia last year it was put back on the register on April 21 to Stephen Botwell of Morayfield, Queensland. It made its first flight back in Australia on December 20 after being returned to airworthiness by Aerotec at Toowoomba. The machine is in the unique colour scheme of orange and white, sometimes described as the Fanta can scheme after the soft drink. Also now at Toowoomba is CAC CA-25 Winjeel VH-WIJ. It has been acquired by the Zucolli Aircraft Collection and arrived in Toowoomba in late January.

Winjeel VH-NSJ is back in Australia and back in the air. lenn bayliss


Former RAAF Lockheed AP-3C Orion A9-756 is now taking pride of place with the South Australian Aviation Museum. Dismantled and transported by low loaders from Edinburgh to Port Adelaide, the big aircraft arrived at SAAM in December and is now the pride and joy of the museum, albeit with one wing on and one wing off for display. The Orion is now part of the museum’s large and ever expanding collection. Everything is undercover and there are steam and maritime museums nearby – well worth visiting. Moving further north to Longreach and the Qantas Founders Museum received a big boost in December when Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce announced that the Federal Government had allocated $11.3 million to cover the cost of building what is called an airpark roof. This covering will better protect the museum’s aircraft and provide shade for visitors, some 40,000 of whom passed through its gates last year. The Qantas Founders Museum is home to a Boeing 747, Boeing 707, DC-3, Catalina and Lockheed Constellation. At present the aircraft are on static external display in the elements. While rain is not a major issue the aircraft are exposed to the sunshine.


North American AT-6D VH‑XNA changed hands last year, with its new owner Richard Mason of Mildura, Victoria. The former South African Air Force machine was first registered in Australia in

May 1997. Since then it has been sighted at Tyabb, Caloundra and now Mildura – well travelled in recent times but little flown. Built in 1942 the trainer has a constructor’s number of 88-9754,

the USAAF serial of 41-33274 and the SAAF serial 7086. A second Harvard is Canadian‑built T-6 VH-JSZ, c/n CCF-4-542, which was struck off the register on January 9. It will

most likely return to the register in due course. Former Eastern Bloc trainer Iskra TS-11 VH-ISK these days can be seen at Lethbridge, Victoria. Previously based at Essendon Airport the red and white painted Iskra has been re-engined with a Rolls-Royce Viper Mk 22 engine. First built in Poland in 1970 it has serial 1H0608 and is registered to Saario Holdings of South Melbourne. It has not been sighted in the air. Taylor J-2 VH-FZL, c/n 1754, had a change of owner to Christopher Sharp of Prospect East, SA on December 13, while Aero L-39C VH-ITJ took up a new owner on December 18 to Charles Camilleri of Raglan, NSW. A new entry on the register is SNCAN Stampe SV-4B VH‑SGV. With c/n 633 this 1947-built aircraft is owned by Chris Harrison of Heyfield, Victoria. It previously held Canadian registration C-FXME. Finally, Wright Model A replica VH‑SOF was struck off the register on November 14. It was last registered to Wright Bros Aircraft Project Inc of Narromine, NSW. The aircraft was built at Narromine with limited flying being conducted by the late Col Pay. It will no doubt be a part of the Narromine Air Museum located on the airport.

Contact Dave: MARCH 2018 103


Vital connections

Landing and parking fees are not unreasonable at regional airports

I ‘Regional airports remain complex pieces of infrastructure.’

was disappointed to read about the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of Australia’s (AOPA) call to scrap general aviation landing and overnight parking fees at Wagga Wagga recently (Daily Advertiser, January 11 2018). AOPA’s ludicrous claim that the City of Wagga is imposing conditions that discriminate against aircraft owners lacked the professionalism their members should expect of their association. Our regional airports not only provide vital connections for their local communities, but also create opportunities for AOPA’s members to access and enjoy the regions. AOPA should therefore be standing alongside local councils to support the sustainable operation of their airports, for the benefit of their members. Instead, they chose an approach

that – quite simply – demonstrated a lack of respect and understanding for the hard work of our councils to support the national aviation network. Regional airports remain complex pieces of infrastructure, and the maintenance of runways, terminals and associated facilities requires ongoing investment. Our councils invest significant funds to maintain local airports and airstrips, while ensuring the safety and security of those that use them. In fact, many councils must supplement any income their airport does generate to maintain it, to ensure it continues to meet community needs. This can be very challenging, with councils needing to balance limited funds with a wide range of obligations to their ratepayers. So just as motorists pay fuel levies

and car registration fees, boat owners pay for a mooring and caravan owners pay for a spot at the caravan park, aircraft owners should expect to pay to land and park at a local airport. This is a long-established, industrywide practice – and one that’s worked well for our regions and the aviation industry as a whole for many years. To suggest private owners who have the ability to purchase, maintain and operate their own aircraft cannot afford less than $10 per tonne to use airport facilities is highly insensitive, and not in the best interests of the aviation community. It’s time that we, as an industry, work together to ensure we can all enjoy access to regional airport facilities throughout the country. Any failure to do so represents a choice to put the vested interests of a few ahead of the many.

Safety benefits

CASA’s planned frequency use changes for low-level Class G


ASA has issued a notice of proposed rule making with the intent of changing the procedures for radio frequency use in low level airspace. The aim is to maximise aircraft operating at low-level in Class G airspace to be on the same frequency and to make and receive broadcasts for ‘alerted see-and-avoid’. To ensure safe and effective implementation, CTAF areas would be expanded. This will ensure that aircraft conducting instrument approaches are on the same frequency as aerodrome traffic, prevent multiple frequency changes during climb and descent, and ensure transmissions at busy aerodromes do not experience clutter from the MULTICOM frequency. This proposal has two elements intended to be implemented together: The first is to establish a MULTICOM below 5,000ft. This change would allow VFR and IFR aircraft to monitor and broadcast on the MULTICOM frequency of 126.7 MHz up to but not including 5,000ft


AMSL in Class G airspace where a discrete frequency, such as a CTAF or broadcast area, does not exist. Secondly, CASA seeks to expand the airspace volume of CTAFs. At noncontrolled aerodromes this change would expand the volume of airspace contained in the CTAF to a 20nm radius laterally and up to, but not including, 5,000ft vertically. For the few aerodromes with an elevation of 3,000ft or higher, the vertical limits would extend to 3,500ft AGL. The RAAA supports CASA’s proposal. The proposal will ensure that aircraft conducting instrument approaches, or those high performance RPT jet and turboprop aircraft using the aerodrome, are on the same frequency as aerodrome traffic. This would have the desired effect of eliminating multiple frequency changes during climb and descent and ensure transmissions at busy aerodromes do not experience clutter from the MULTICOM frequency.

However, the only way to ensure safe and effective implementation would be for all CTAF areas to be expanded under the proposal. We understand that at non-controlled aerodromes this proposed change would expand the volume of airspace contained in the CTAF to a 20nm mile radius laterally and up to, but not including, 5,000ft AMSL vertically. The RAAA also supports the proposal of establishing MULTICOM below 5,000ft, as this would allow VFR and IFR aircraft to monitor and broadcast on the MULTICOM frequency in Class G airspace where a discrete frequency, such as a CTAF or broadcast area, does not exist. These changes would provide safety benefits for IFR and VFR flights, provide additional protection for passenger transport operations and reflect the strong preference from the aviation community for keeping air traffic control transmissions separate from general transmissions, particularly at aerodromes.


‘The RAAA supports CASA’s proposal.’



‘AAAA has made real inroads into powerline safety.’

New year, new agenda 2018 is looking good as a year


AAA’s outlook for the coming year is unusually optimistic – including on the regulatory front. Recent media coverage has started to shine a light on the pilot shortage and short-term visa changes, but it is yet to make the links between those issues and the underpinning causes of complexity and cost of regulation and most importantly, the difficulty the industry has in promoting aviation careers when pilots have to self-fund their expensive training. Why would a young person – other than the most committed and aviation inspired – chose aviation as a career when they can’t access HECS through CASA-approved flying training schools? This simple policy bias against aviation does not stand up to scrutiny from a fairness, economic or nationbuilding perspective. The best policy change would be to back the Australian industry

through a high-level task force looking at optimising our aviation training opportunities – both domestically and internationally. A critical starting point must be an independent review of the CASR Part 61/141/142 rule set with a view to major reform in 2019, if not before. CASA also has to provide workable remedies to the CAO 48.1 debacle. Building on the momentum of the last quarter 2017, CASA could make a real difference to safety by implementing simpler rules and better access to simple FRMS for general aviation. AAAA has made real inroads into powerline safety with the support of Essential Energy in NSW, Ergon Energy (now Energy Queensland), QBE and CASA through its Powerline Safety Program. A new Australian Standard AS 3891 Part 2 is out for public comment, turning that guidance into a performance-based approach.

Network mapping is available in NSW and Queensland. New higher visibility cost-effective markers are now available and trials on optimal colours and spacing are now underway. This is real safety innovation. AAAA is the catalyst for bringing this strong focus to aerial application issues. However, many AAAA efforts have positive implications for other sectors – such as pushing CASA to a true classification of operations approach using sector risk profiles for GA – enabling massive red tape reduction and an improved focus on meaningful safety initiatives. Finally, the AAAA Convention and Trade Show is set for May 30-31 at Seaworld Resort at the Gold Coast. Details are on the AAAA website. 2018 is looking good as a year of positive outcomes. All we need is good weather, good government and good flying.

Much achieved, more to come


The AHIA is recognised for its proactivity


ew are aware of the history and achievements of the Australian Helicopter Industry Association (AHIA). The AHIA was incorporated in November 2012 after many years of the helicopter industry not having a representative body. Since then there have been many achievements, which have assisted the industry, and the AHIA has been recognised as one of the most proactive associations in negotiations for regulatory reform Our current structure comprises: president – Peter Crook; vice president – Ray Cronin; secretary/treasurer – Bridgette Hasting; director – Peter Howe; CEO – Paul Tyrrell; IME airwork and training – Myles Tomkins; IME mustering – John Armstrong. The AHIA also has many affiliations and participates in a number of forums and committees. We are an affiliate member of the

Helicopter Association International (HAI); a member of the International Federation of Helicopter Associations (IFHA); and a member of The Australian Aviation Associations Forum (TAAAF) Committees and panels we have participated in include the CASA Director’s Aviation Safety Advisory Panel, the Part 61 Solutions Task Force, the Aviation Industry Consultative Council, the General Aviation Advisory Group, and the NSW Rural Fire Service Aviation Industry Reference Group. But to ensure we represent all sectors of the helicopter industry efficiently and without prejudice, please convey any concerns or suggestions to CEO Paul Tyrrell at or 0438 114 372. Become a member and help us help you. Membership details are on our new website at


In May 2017 AHIA entered into a long-term sponsorship agreement with Industry Defence and Security Australia Limited (IDSAL), the Conference and Events arm of the convenors of the Australian International Airshow, Avalon. This agreement gives the AHIA financial stability and the resources to better represent the helicopter industry. Consequently, our biennial conference, Rotortech, is being organised on our behalf by IDSAL and is being held at Novotel Twin Waters Resort on the Sunshine Coast over May 24-26. Come and listen to our keynote speaker, Chuck Aaron, the former Red Bull helicopter aerobatic pilot. All details are available at www. We’ll see you there! But in the meantime, have a safe and prosperous 2018!

‘Since then there have been many achievements.’ MARCH 2018 105


All economy class seats are not the same, but it’s complex to find out exactly how they differ. john walton

‘Passengers don’t have the information they need to make an educated choice.’ 106 AUSTRALIAN AVIATION

Caveat viator

Traveller beware the increasingly fragmented airline experience


hat does an economy class ticket buy you these days? How about business class, or premium economy? Those are increasingly hard questions to answer. More than ever, airlines are blurring the lines between the classes of services as they seek to split their markets into segments. Can a full-service airline capture thrifty passengers with an “economy minus” option, and squeeze a few extra dollars for seats with more legroom? Can a low-cost carrier pick off savvy business travellers with a keenly priced premium option, even if it’s not today’s business standard? These answers are easier: yes. On the surface, that sounds great – more choice for flyers. The problem is that many passengers don’t have the information they need to make an educated choice, and most corporate travellers (who often determine a route’s success or failure) don’t have travel policies flexible enough to account for the differences. As a concept, market segmentation is nothing new, as shown by the late 1970s creation of a “Club Class” section by British Airways and the first proper business class by Qantas, as well as the 1992 addition of “Mid Class” and “Economy Deluxe” by Virgin Atlantic and the then EVA Airways, respectively. Indeed, airlines keep trying to fill the gap between business and economy, especially as the business class passenger experience improves and the economy experience, largely, declines. Airbus calls the gap between economy and business the “comfort canyon”, but the canyon isn’t just a

2D cross-section, where airline X’s economy class reaches a certain level of comfort and business reaches another. Economy and business classes vary significantly – even within the same airline, let alone airline groups and alliances. Fly Qatar Airways, say, and you might get some of the world’s most spacious economy seats on the Airbus A380 or A350, but seats 1-2 inches narrower on the ten-abreast Boeing 777 or nine-abreast 787. (To make matters even more confusing, Qatar also operates some older 777s with a spacious nine-abreast layout.) Qantas passengers will find something similar when moving between the airline’s A380s with their wide seats and the Boeing 787’s markedly narrower ones. It’s the same with many airlines flying into and out of Australia. On Qantas Group long-haul flights alone, the range of seating options between Jetstar’s most basic economy, its bundles that include extra legroom seats, and its premium economylite “business class”, plus Qantas’s economy, premium economy, business and remaining first class, means that the airline offers seven basic flight options before you even start really playing around with flexibility or ancillary revenues. How much more should you pay for a Jetstar Plus bundled economy fare than a regular Qantas economy sale ticket? How about Jetstar business versus Qantas premium economy? Part of the problem is that many passengers’ needs are different, based on their height, build, and what they want inflight. Finding a way to properly compare across airlines

remains difficult and often riddled with inaccuracies. Comparison websites don’t always help either, not least because the actions and inactions of airlines and comparison websites create confusion. Delta Air Lines’ use of the fare code W, which is generally used for international premium economy — the class with recliner seats like domestic Australian narrowbody business class — is a good example. Using the Google Flights search engine for a premium economy return flight from Sydney to Los Angeles, Delta Air Lines returns a nonstop premium economy price of A$1,657, some thousand dollars less than Virgin Australia’s premium economy, and $2,800 less than Qantas’. If you’re thinking that sounds odd, since Delta only has premium economy on its brand new Airbus A350 aircraft, which don’t operate to Sydney, you’re right, but Delta doesn’t go out of its way to show it. On clicking through to Delta’s website to book, passengers are presented with flights in “Delta Comfort+”, Delta’s extra-legroom economy product, which doesn’t offer different seats, different service concept, or different benefits including additional luggage allowance, priority checkin, extra frequent flyer points, and so on. Delta’s own website flight search is clearer, but other flight search and comparison websites gave similarly questionable information for “premium economy” searches on Delta. Some of this is obviously inexpert coding, but how many passengers turn up having bought what they thought is premium economy to find that they really only got a few inches of extra legroom? Setting expectations is key to the passenger experience. Airlines control what fares they allow comparison and flight search sites to use. They also control their own websites, and have the option to show interstitial messages and images of exactly what passengers coming from other sites are buying. In the age of fragmented passenger experience, more clarity – and perhaps more of a sense of responsibility – is sorely needed.


The pilot-in-command should take reasonable steps to ensure that the aircraft carries sufficient fuel for the proposed flight. paul sadler

‘Fuel gauges in light aircraft are only reliable when they read zero.’

Liquid gold

Managing fuel is critical to a safe flight


uel. The stuff that an aero engine needs to keep turning to keep you and your aircraft in the air. The trouble is that both here in Australia and in the US at least one aircraft a week runs out of fuel in the air, and those are only the ones that the regulators get to hear about! In recent times CASA has been pushing pilots to dip tanks both before and after flight in order to check the fuel available and the fuel used, which can then be matched with a recorded fuel burn. Remember that fuel gauges in light aircraft are only reliable when they read zero. It’s commonly said that about the only time you can have too much fuel is when the aircraft is burning. In reality a pilot simply has to plan to have enough fuel on board to cover the A to B flight plus start, taxi and climb, a reserve and maybe additional fuel for contingencies such as a diversion, holding, a stronger headwind than expected, a higher fuel burn than expected (maybe an unleaned engine!) and unforecast en route and destination weather. Then there are the unexpected. An aircraft slower than planned for. This could include something as simple as having a cowl flap open or flying to a remote strip and finding that a disabled aircraft is in the middle of the single runway. In years gone by the regulator stipulated what reserves a pilot had to carry. Then with a change of

regulations came the onus being put on the pilot’s shoulder that they had to calculate and carry enough fuel for the flight. Most opted for keeping the 45 minutes reserve and the additional 15 per cent for commercial operations. At the same time CASA put out the Civil Aviation Advisory Publication, now CAAP 234-1(1), Guidelines for Aircraft Fuel Requirements. There is still Regulation 234 that says the pilotin-command of an aircraft should take reasonable steps to ensure that the aircraft carries sufficient fuel and oil for the proposed flight. In recent times CASA has proposed re-introducing a regulation stipulating what fuel quantities a pilot should carry. This no doubt comes about as a result of aircraft repeatedly running out of fuel in flight. It is said that the current CAAP is not law and is advisory material only but one can see a Coroners Court with the question being asked of the pilot ‘Were you aware of CAAP 234? But you chose to ignore those recommendations and as a result we have a fatal fuel exhaustion accident!’

ALWAYS CHECK AND DOUBLE CHECK THAT YOU HAVE ADEQUATE FUEL FOR THE FLIGHT In the fuel usage game most flight schools send their private pilot trainees out with full fuel, if nothing else this is to try to prevent a fuel exhaustion event. One catch here is that when that

PPL becomes a CPL and goes to work for a commercial operator they will be told to carry just enough fuel to meet the basic mission requirements. The rest of the available payload is then available for the aircraft to carry more paid-for widgets. This comes as quite a shock to our PPL holder, now a new CPL, as in the past they carried an excess of fuel, if only to ensure their own safety. Then we have to look at the quality of the fuel and the required uplift. As we move into the era of more aircraft using diesel or Jet A1 fuel we are going to see more events caused by the wrong brew being put into fuel tanks. It has happened already. The fuel tanker guys are good at making sure that we get the right fluid for our aircraft but the pilot has to help. Specify avgas or Jet A1 when ordering fuel and be present when the aircraft is refuelled in order to check both the type of fuel and the quantity. Quantity. When refuelling it can be a good move to be present to ensure the correct amount goes into the correct tanks. If you fly long enough you will come across the situation like where you want 50 litres. So then the fuel guy puts 50 litres in each tank! Poor communication and supervision. There are three ways of ascertaining the fuel quantity in the tanks. A dip stick, gauges and fuel records. A wooden dip stick is easier to read than a metal stick. Gauges are only accurate when they read zero. Fuel records can be good if meticulously recorded. Always use two methods to check fuel levels. Quality. One has to be super careful with fuel quality and ensure that it has no foreign matter such as water in it. A pilot needs to get into the habit of checking the drains before the first flight of the day, after a refuel and after a rain dump. Fuel caps can and do allow water to seep into the fuel tank. One can never be too careful with regard to water in the fuel, be it avgas or jet A1. Safety first means that a pilot has to ensure that he has fuel in the tanks all the way to the engine shut down at the destination.

Contact Dave: MARCH 2018 107


Twenty years ago, there were just 70 international flights a week into Perth and now there are almost 300. geoffrey thomas

‘Come the 24th of March we will be that gateway into Europe.’ KEVIN BROWN


Future proofing

Perth Airport on the front foot


n the late 1950s the former aviation director for the US state of Ohio, the late Norm Crabtree, uttered the famous and oft-quoted words that an “airport runway is the most important main street in any town”. For Western Australia’s economy, which is an economic engine of Australia, even in tough times, that main street is indeed the runways – and terminals – at Perth Airport. And given the importance of the airport to WA’s economic development it is refreshing to see positive signs that the airport wants to be an enabler of growth. For a number of years in the last decade the airport was labelled as one of the worst in Australia as un-forecast growth caught it – and most of the state’s planners – off guard. It took five years to catch up and management is now focused on keeping well ahead of demand. Perth Airport’s chief executive Kevin Brown is refreshingly candid about the problems and challenges. “We know we’ve come a long way in a short period of time but we’ve barely started and there’s a heck of a lot more to do. But we’re firmly committed to do what is needed.” And what is needed is to make the airport future-proof – something started by former chief executive Brad Geatches. While the average yearly growth at the airport since 1960 is 8.44 per cent – nothing about WA’s economy is average. There have been great highs of 25 per cent growth and deep lows of minus 14 per cent, making planning a difficult challenge.

On the radar now are a new international pier, a second parallel runway and the move of Qantas to the eastern side of the airport. All of these projects which are worth $2.50 billion are expected to be completed over the next seven to ten years, subject to growth. And automation will figure proximately in those plans suggests Brown. “We are really excited about the automation opportunities going forward for this business,” Brown told Contrails. The airport is currently working with its airline partners to develop the facilities that passengers will expect and will demand in years to come. “We want to be ahead of the curve in that and automation brings so much opportunity.” But Brown is not relying on tumbling airfares and FIFO workers to drive traffic. “If Perth Airport fully realises its potential then this state fully realises its economic worth. Our focus is not just on leisure, it’s business, it’s the whole economic package with all aspects of export which includes education,” he said. “We’ve got fantastic universities that have world-wide credibility in many fields whether it’s in exploration and oil and gas or mining.” “And that in itself is a fantastic opportunity for further growth of international students in our region. “Not only do the students live here but the friends and family come and visit so every student is worth four and a half seats a year which helps underpin services.”

Brown also sees great potential with tourism. “If we look at just tourism in itself, it’s one of the five pillars of the Australian economy and it’s growing three times faster than the national economic average.” “So, it is a really supercharged element for the economy and one that we’re very keen to work on with tourism authorities.” As part of that tourism push Brown plans to make Perth Airport a global hub. “We have to make sure this great state fully realises its potential not just for the city but for the broader economy and our focus is on making Perth Airport a worldwide hub,” he said. “Come the 24th of March we will be that gateway into Europe with direct services to London which will be an historic moment. “We’re really excited to work with Qantas to make that happen but we’re equally as excited about the possibility that India presents. “India as a tourism market has grown 15 per cent last year and we are seeing more visitors coming to WA and we would see so many more if we have direct flights and that’s certainly something we’re keen to do.” China’s tourism potential is massive, says Brown. “Australia is woefully undercooked when it comes to Chinese tourism and if you overlay that with the percentage that comes to WA and we’re barely off the scale so there’s a heck of a lot of opportunity.” Certainly, international tourism is a big growth story. Twenty years ago, there were just 70 international flights a week into Perth and now there are almost 300. And Brown says in that same timeframe overall passenger numbers have grown from 4.5 million to just under 14 million. “That’s phenomenal growth but our work is not done because we see a potential for a further 10 million passengers over the next 15 years. “We need to make sure our facilities are fit for purpose and ahead of the curve and ready for those passengers. Brown sums up thus: “Our ambition is to be brave and really encompass the future.”


Disrupting air supremacy

Emerging technologies threaten the West’s command of the air


‘That land forces can win control of the air should not be surprising.’ An Israeli Air Force F-4 Phantom with three kill markings. During the Yom Kippur war the IAF sustained heavy early losses. oren rozen

ir supremacy has been the essential start-point of every Western-led military campaign from the end of World War 2. The West’s politicians and generals have been safe in assuming that their armies and navies would be able to operate free from enemy air attack, and that their own air forces would exploit the skies to apply overwhelming force, gather information, rapidly resupply, and so on. The West’s model of air supremacy has been founded on the classic “dogfighting” approach to aerial combat, in which superior pilots equipped with superior platforms, information, weapons, and command and control systems, have dominated their enemies. It seems possible, however, that emerging strike technologies and the spread of advanced ground-based air defence (GBAD) systems could disrupt that model. Emerging strike technologies include long-range threats, typified by North Korea’s nuclear-armed intercontinental missiles (whose speed of development has caught US analysts off guard); while shortrange threats are typified by swarms of hundreds of drones, whose inherent characteristics - cheap, minimal infrastructure, ‘pop-up’ from anywhere, sheer numbers, variety of weapons, etc – will pose novel challenges to a model based on pilots who cost $10 million each to train and who fly strike/fighters that cost $100 million each to build. Turning to the spread of advanced GBAD, Russia reportedly is prepared to export its S-400 ‘Triumf’ surface-

to-air missile system, with Turkey and Saudi Arabia as potential customers; while Israel may sell its anti-rocket Iron Dome system to the Saudis. (Talk about common enemies – Iran and Hezbollah – making strange bedfellows.) Tactical innovation will be critical in countering these disruptive threats. Although Western fighter pilots have shot down a handful of unmanned aerial vehicles in the Middle East, it is early days in the fight against drones, and a great deal more thinking on the subject is required. GBAD systems, by contrast, have been around for over a century, ranging from the anti-aircraft batteries of World War 1 to the S-400 in Syria today. Some of the more interesting tactical thinking within this domain occurred during the October 1973 war between Egypt and Syria, and Israel. Arab air power had been utterly crushed by the Israeli Air force during the 1967 Six-Day War. Egyptian and Syrian planners consequently decided that in any future conflict they would try to fight the IAF on their terms, rather than the Israelis’. Specifically, this meant avoiding air-to-air engagements and instead relying on GBAD. In the interval between 1967 and 1973, the Egyptians constructed a radar, missile and gun-based defensive system along the Suez Canal-Cairo axis, while the Syrians did the same in the Golan Heights. Constructed with Soviet help and incorporating advanced SA-6 and -7 missiles and rapid-firing ZSU-23-4 AAA, those defensive barriers were as intense as any in the world.

The war began on October 6 when Egypt and Syria launched a sudden attack against Israel, catching their over-confident enemy off-guard. Israeli commanders were shocked when their previously dominant Air Force found itself unprepared for the quality and tactical disposition of the Arabs’ GBAD. The IAF started the war with 290 frontline F-4 and A-4 strike/fighters; within days, some fifty had been shot down. It was an unsustainable loss rate. Unable to breach the GBAD, the IAF was in serious trouble. Unexpectedly, the breakthrough in the critical battle to control the air overhead the Suez Canal came not from fighter pilots, but from tank crews and infantry. Prior to the war, Egypt’s generals had (sensibly) concluded that their ground forces should not move beyond the protective umbrella of their GBAD. However, excited by early success, they decided to extend their army’s advance. It was the worst tactical decision of the war. Lacking control of the air, the Egyptian Army was exposed to the classic Israeli combination of fast-moving armour, infantry, and attack aircraft, and rapidly lost the initiative. On October 15, by-now charging Israeli armoured formations and paratroopers crossed the Suez Canal into Egypt, where they destroyed scores of SAM and AAA sites, thus opening up a gap in the GBAD system through which the IAF could operate safely. In other words, the Israeli Army had established control of the air. The notion that land forces can win control of the air should not be surprising. In World War 2, Allied armies did precisely that as they rolled up scores of Luftwaffe air bases and air defence systems during their march from France and the USSR into Germany; while during the American war in Vietnam, Viet Cong soldiers (who never even had an air force) regularly asserted local control of the air for specific periods using heavy machine guns and medium AAA. The point to take away here is less about October 1973, and more about alternative thinking in the face of disruptive threats. MARCH 2018 109


‘There is only one real mistake in life: the one you don’t learn from.’

The human factor

Are you optimally prepared and focused?


’m delighted to be joining Australian Aviation to offer monthly insights into applied human performance and human behaviour. I’m your new human factor. I will explore many issues including how organisational culture can heavily influence what we’re prepared to do when no one is watching – regardless of the policy and rules. While safety management systems play a role, my view is it’s now less about safety and more about the ability of an individual or an organisation to uphold and maintain high standards. Achieving steady continuous improvement over time is the ideal outcome for any high performing individual or team, helping to enhance our professional standing so that we can truly enjoy the dynamic world of aviation. My practical insights will help make you ruthlessly professional!


In simple terms, applied human factors use contemporary behavioural and sports science (not the academic stuff – just the practical bits) to optimise the relationship between people, equipment, and the environment or conditions in which you operate. The people you work with, as well as your loved ones, all influence your behaviour and wellbeing within a work environment. The effective application of human factors knowledge and skills contributes to enhanced professional standards. They challenge individuals and teams to innovate by providing new and enhanced skills to question


the status quo and seek better ways of doing business. When human factors strategies are tailored to provide practical tools that make sense to you, they deliver a better understanding of the factors that allow you to excel under pressure, and help you understand why certain factors erode your normal performance. There is only one real mistake in life: the one that you don’t learn from to make permanent and positive change (and avoid the process repeating). And best practice is holistic – it’s not only how you perform in the aviation environment, it’s how you apply the same techniques to take care of close friendships and relationships.


Back in the 1970s and 1980s, serious aviation incidents and accidents occurred far too often and the consequences were devastating: families lost loved ones, and some businesses were shut down due to a loss of public confidence. Yet today, more than 30 years later, many aviation organisations are considered highly reliable – they’re ultra-safe with personnel capable of handling, and recovering from, very challenging situations that involve many hazards, complex technologies and demanding work environments. One of the key disciplines that has helped aviation achieve good operational success is the application of human factors. More recently, other hazardous industries including mining, oil and gas, and rail have come on board, with some of their human factors programs recognised as best practice. The reality is simple: if you enter aviation as a career or as an exciting hobby you will at some stage be confronted with competing demands under time pressure. The outcome will be higher levels of stress and often a requirement to make a critical decision that will determine whether you get back safely or expose yourself (and others) to unnecessary risk or a serious incident. In those big open skies around you the world can change quickly – are you optimally prepared and focused?


Attentional control and focus in a world of constant distractions (smartphones, iPads, Facebook, emails, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Instagram…the list goes on) is essential for developing specialist teams that can act decisively. A good understanding and application of human factors (such as error-producing conditions, violation-producing conditions, and high workload) is critical to ensure personnel can maintain adequate situational awareness with consideration of their own limitations, plus an ability to make accurate and decisive decisions in time-constrained environments. The best individuals and teams in all parts of our industry are often not necessarily the most technically proficient; rather they’re the people who understand their own ‘human’ limitations: they have good selfawareness of their boundaries and they respond prior to losing the big picture. It doesn’t matter in which sector you fly – for a hobby or as a professional career – applied human factors offer the key to a long-term, successful and rewarding aviation experience.


My first feature article in the April edition will further reflect on the Pel Air ditching from a whole-of-system perspective, considering the operator, the regulator, and the investigators that tried to make sense of what really happened. It and some follow-on articles will include insights into culture, egos, trust, decision-making, expectation bias, fatigue risk management, and systemic (organisational) investigations.

Over the past 20 years, Ben has worked with diverse sectors across aviation, including high performance civil and military teams, regulators, emergency medical support operations, high and low capacity regular public transport, flying training, and mum and dad operators doing their best to make a small aviation business viable. He is a former military transport pilot, flying instructor and low-level aerobatics pilot.


‘The bell is beginning to toll for the Queen of the Skies.’

Delta is the latest airline to retire the 747. rob finlayson

Ageing gracefully

The incredible legacy of the Boeing 747


ne by one, airlines around the world are farewelling the Boeing 747 from their fleets. A giant in its physical dimensions, the size of its impact upon air travel can hardly be measured. It didn’t merely take aviation to the next step in 1969 when it first took to the sky, it made a massive leap that changed our world. The 747 was born of a time when air travel was expanding at a great rate and airport congestion was a growing problem. Pan Am’s president, the legendary Juan Trippe, sought out Boeing to design an aircraft far greater in size than the existing 707 and under the guiding hand of the chief engineer, Joe Sutter, the vision became a reality. Across the decades the ‘Jumbo Jet’ has evolved from that first aircraft into its latest form, the ‘Dash 8’. Along the way it has been the stumpy, but long-legged SP, a freighter, and the immediately recognisable Air Force One. NASA has used it to piggy-back the Space Shuttle and serve as a stratospheric observatory. It has been a private jet for Royal Families, complete with gold taps, and a fire-bomber belching brightly coloured retardant. It has worn every paint scheme imaginable from Qantas’s Wunala Dreaming to Iron Maiden’s skeletal mascot and everything in between. There are very few forms, physical or aesthetic, that the 747 has not taken and with that diversity its admiration has reached across generations. Just as there are those who admire cars, there are those who hold aircraft in awe with

an almost emotional attachment to their rivets and alloys. And the aircraft does not necessarily have to be a giant of the skies, as beauty most definitely lies in the eye of the beholder. Whether it an F/A-18 or a Cessna 152, pilots often form an attachment to aircraft that play a significant part in their life. And so, it is for those who have crewed the 747. Models sit on their bookshelves or framed photographs hang from walls. Even so, that child-like passion can sometimes fade, impacted by the dayto-day normality of operations. The affection is no less, just lost amongst the world’s other demands. However, sometimes the strongest reminder is generated by those who have never held the control column or advanced the thrust levers to TOGA power. There is a veritable army of passionate aviation enthusiasts – avgeeks – and the passing of a particular aircraft type results in an outpouring of sentiment across the internet and beyond. Whether the relationship was spawned sitting in Seat 47E or perched at the airport perimeter with camera in hand, it is a genuine admiration of what an aircraft’s life has achieved. Millions of lives have been safely transported around the globe in this marvel of modern engineering. While the most common association is that of uniformed pilots, so many people along the way have contributed to an aircraft’s

history. From the original designers, to the maintenance engineers, cabin crew and myriad other roles, far too many to mention. The sheet metal, composites and rivets may have formed the armour, but it was always the people that gave the machine its heart – its pulse. When that final flight is announced, the booking program is generally inundated with those wishing to take their seat in history. To ride the skies one more time on a familiar steed and to say farewell. There will be commemorative covers, T-shirts, coffee mugs and scale models, but the memories will be the most prized possession. For the last time pilots will ink the aircraft type into their log books, along with the route and flight time. It will look like any other of thousands of entries but will mean somewhat more. Some will make an additional comment – “Final Flight’. For many there will be no sentiment, but sometimes it takes the passage of time and the ability to reflect for significance to find its place. And when the final commercial flight is done, she wends her way on one final flight and parks for the final time, virtually abandoned, in some distant desert boneyard. Once proud colours are blanked out and once roaring engines are silenced in shrouds. Row upon row of steeds that have safely carried their millions, retire in silence, awaiting the scrappers blade or a rare chance at rebirth. If only those now-lifeless flightdecks could share the sights that they’d seen or whisper the tales of a life well-lived, what stories they could tell. Ultimately, for the pilots, engineers, cabin crew and avgeeks alike, all good things must come to an end. This time around the bell is beginning to toll for the Queen of the Skies – the Boeing 747. Its records may never be rivalled, but then again, this is aviation and who knows what will occur over the next century. That being said, even if they are able to design warp drives and offer twohour low-cost hops to Mars, the 747 will still be able to hold its head high. It didn’t merely change the face of aviation, it changed faces all around the world. MARCH 2018 111


A formation landing of A-4G Skyhawks at an airshow at HMAS Albatross, Nowra on April 28 1974. eric allen

‘That was not quite the end for Australia’s Skyhawks, though.’ 112 AUSTRALIAN AVIATION

Heinemann’s hotrod

The A-4 Skyhawk joins Australia’s Fleet Air Arm


he Douglas A-4 Skyhawk evolved from chief engineer Ed Heinemann’s concerns at the trend of increasingly heavier combat aircraft with degraded performance and increased cost. Held in high affection by its pilots and maintainers, the aircraft was given several nicknames, such as Scooter and Heinemann’s hotrod, which reflected Ed Heinemann’s compact design approach (most notably the Skyhawk could fit on an aircraft carrier lift without requiring folding wings, but it could also carry the same payload as a WW2 B-17 bomber). The prototype XA4D-1 Skyhawk had its maiden flight from Edwards AFB, California on August 14 1954. Production would continue until 1979, with 2,960 Skyhawks delivered. Australia was the first new-build Skyhawk export customer, with Minister for the Navy, Fred Chaney, announcing on October 26 1965 that 10 Douglas A-4E Skyhawks would be acquired for the RAN at a cost of £9.2 million. At the same time an order of 14 Grumman S-2 Trackers was announced, with the two types to replace the RAN’s de Havilland Sea Venoms and Fairey Gannets, respectively. That first batch of eight A-4Gs and two TA-4Gs, plus the S-2 Trackers, were transported to Australia on board HMAS Melbourne, loaded onto a lighter at Jervis Bay on November 21 1967, and transported by road to Naval Air Station Nowra. The RAN’s operational Skyhawk unit, 805 Squadron (later VF805 when the RAN adopted US Navy squadron prefixes), was then commissioned at Nowra on January 10 1968. Training was the responsibility of 724 Squadron

(later VC724), which operated the TA‑4G alongside first the Sea Venom and Vampire and then the Macchi MB‑326H. Australia’s A-4G Skyhawk was based on the USN’s A-4F but was powered by the uprated 9,300lb Pratt & Whitney J52-P-8A, could carry the AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missile, and lacked the A-4F’s distinctive ‘hump’ and ability to launch guided air-to-ground weapons – reflecting their fleet air defence mission. The dual-seat TA-4Gs, meanwhile, were similar to the USN TA-4F. Interestingly, only the A-4G could operate from Melbourne, as the TA-4G lacked the performance to successfully complete a ‘bolter’ (a go-around after failing to catch an arresting wire with the tailhook on landing) from the carrier’s small deck. (Melbourne was a WW2 era ex-Royal Navy ‘light fleet carrier’ which was significantly smaller than its USN counterparts.) A further order for 10 Douglas A-4G Skyhawks, again eight A-4Gs and two TA-4Gs, was announced by Minister for Defence Malcolm Fraser on March 10 1970. That second batch, all ex-USN A-4F/TA-4F aircraft brought up to A-4G/TA-4G standard, arrived on HMAS Sydney and were unloaded at Jervis Bay on August 11 1971. In the meantime, HMAS Melbourne had undergone a major refit at Garden Island, Sydney, which was completed during February 1969. The normal complement of four Skyhawks on Melbourne was joined by six Trackers and eight Westland Wessexes, a mix that could be varied with up to eight A-4Gs on board. During 16 years of RAN Skyhawk operations on HMAS Melbourne, the

aircraft participated in numerous exercises with allied navies throughout Pacific and Asian waters. The demanding nature of their operation saw a high attrition rate with half of the Skyhawks, eight A-4Gs and two TA-4Gs, lost in accidents. The causes were varied, engine and other mechanical failures, accidents during carrier operations such as catapult and arrestor wire failure, with one lost over the side during a storm, and in a collision. The most spectacular recovery occurred with N13-154910 off Singapore on November 8 1973 when the catapult failed and the aircraft crashed into the sea. The pilot suffered the harrowing experience of the ship passing over his sinking aircraft. He freed himself and was rescued. Sadly two RAN pilots were lost in other Skyhawk accidents. The fate of the Skyhawk in RAN service was intertwined with the replacement of HMAS Melbourne. Eventually, on March 14 1983 the newly-elected Hawke Labor government announced that Melbourne would be retired without replacement, followed soon after by the May 3 1983 decision that RAN fixed-wing flying would be phased out. Six Skyhawks were to be withdrawn by June 30 that year and with four remaining aircraft, retained for low-level target towing, to be withdrawn by June 30 1984. That was not quite the end for Australia’s Skyhawks, though. After extensive negotiations, the sale to New Zealand of 10 Skyhawks, eight A-4Gs and two TA-4Gs plus spares for $28.3 million was announced on July 9 1984. In RNZAF use the aircraft were upgraded to A-4K and TA-4K ‘Kahu’ standard. From 1991 to 2001 two single-seat and four dual-seat RNZAF Skyhawks even returned to Nowra in an air support role. (Sadly one pilot was lost in an accident while practising for the 2001 Avalon Airshow.) And even with the Skyhawk’s 2001 retirement from RNZAF service, ex-RAN A-4Gs fly on to this day – six of the eight A-4Ks sold to Draken International, which provides aggressor and target simulation services to the US and other militaries, are former Australian aircraft


Vietnam Airlines has a number of suitable aircraft types in its fleet able to operate nonstop to the US, including 11 Boeing 7879s (pictured) and eight Airbus A350‑900s. rob finlayson

‘Vietnam welcomed nearly 13 million foreign visitors last year.’

A final frontier

Nonstop flights between Vietnam and the US are on the horizon


here aren’t many country pairs around the globe today that don’t have direct non-stop flights connecting them. Flying between Australia and the UK is one of them but that’s about to come to an end this month (March) when Qantas Airways launches its landmark Perth to London Heathrow nonstop service using the new Boeing 787-9 for the 17-hour flight. So it might come as a surprise to learn that another example is Vietnam and the United States. Surprising considering the history of the two countries in war and peace and the fact that after the Vietnam War ended in the late 1970s there was a flood of Vietnamese refugees heading over the Pacific. By 1980, according to census figures, there were 261,729 Vietnamese Americans. In the latest census, for 2016, that figure had reached close to 2.1 million. They are the fourth-largest Asian American ethnic group after Chinese Americans, Indian Americans, and Filipino Americans, and Vietnamese is the seventh most-spoken language in the US. Some 50 per cent of American Vietnamese live in California and Texas. Yet if they want to visit the country of their roots to see relatives, or their relatives want to come see them, they can’t do it on a nonstop flight. They must fly from the US West Coast to Vietnam through transit points in Asia such as Hong Kong, Taipei, Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai and Beijing, with the total time taken to travel being up

to 24 hours. Alternatively, for those living on the US East Coast, they can transit through Europe in countries such as the UK, France and Germany. A direct flight – the flying distance from Ho Chi Minh City (HCM) to Los Angeles is 7,100nm – would take around 16 hours. That’s about to change later this year. The deputy director of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV), Võ Huy Cuong, in January announced national carrier Vietnam Airlines (VNA) plans to launch direct US services sometime in 2018, probably from HCM to either San Francisco or Los Angeles. The signing of an air services agreement between the two countries will also allow other carriers to launch, with fast-growing budget operator Vietjet already having said publicly it is interested. VNA is best positioned because it already has suitable aircraft, with 11 Boeing 787-9s and eight Airbus A350‑900s (with 16 more to come) in its fleet. Also on order are eight 787‑10s which will start arriving in 2019. But like the launch of any new route, adding the US to VNA’s network isn’t going to be easy. As deputy director Cuong puts it: “The competition is very fierce so the Vietnamese airlines planning to fly directly to the US must analyse and evaluate the situation carefully.” Saying the competition is fierce is an understatement. For example, in Japan major carriers Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways ply the onestop route. In Korea, Korean Air and

Asiana are both in the game. And they will be offering good ticket deals to keep their existing passengers. All of these airlines are chasing the custom of Vietnamese Americans travelling to visit relatives or on business. The US is the fourth largest source of foreign visitors to Vietnam, with more than 614,000 people coming in 2017, up 11 per cent from 2016, according to Vietnam’s General Statistics Office. Vietnam welcomed nearly 13 million foreign visitors last year and raked in nearly US$22.3 billion from tourism. It hopes new air routes will increase the number of visitors to 20 million in the next two years, when tourism revenues will contribute 10 to 12 per cent to the country’s GDP, compared with the current seven per cent. For airlines, it is a rapidly growing market, with air traffic expanding at similar rates seen in boom markets such as China, Indonesia and India. The growth is so significant, however, that Vietnamese authorities are struggling to cope. In January the Vietnam Air Traffic Management Corporation (VATM) submitted a plan to the country’s Ministry of Construction to build a new air traffic control centre at HCM at a cost of US$61.7 million. The existing 12-yearold area and approach control centre’s technology and equipment will soon be outdated and its infrastructure is declining. By the end of last year, VATM handled around 800,000 flights. “Given the current growth rate, the air traffic management output will reach 1 million flights by 2020 and 1.8 million flights by 2030, double a forecast we made in 2009,” said a VATM official. Along with the fast growth of registered aircraft for navigation services, VATM added that demand for technology upgrades as well as flight safety and security enhancements are among the main reasons for the group to upgrade services. If the plan is approved, the new facility will be built with loans and the group’s capital. Construction is scheduled for three years, starting around the first quarter of 2018. MARCH 2018 113


Participants in an Air Force Flight Camp, which is aimed at encouraging girls and young women to consider a flying career. defence

‘Starting on this career path requires grit, tenacity, passion and, more than anything, planning.’ 114 AUSTRALIAN AVIATION

The sky is the limit

But it is better to get potential pilots interested early


few years back I was in Botswana, about to embark on a small charter flight to the remote Makgadikagadi salt pans when a young cheeky Aussie accent from the direction of cockpit called out, “Hey Kirst, I know who you are, I’m heading back to Aus soon as I am nearly at 1,500 hours and can apply to the airlines, so I’ll be looking you up!” This pilot had been flying in Zambia, Nigeria and Botswana building hours after gaining his CPL in Australia. He was among 15 or so Aussie and Kiwi pilots I had come across during my month-long Africa adventure hopping tourists between luxury safari camps. What a great way to kick off your flying career. Depending upon the direction you choose, a general aviation career can take you from the extremes of the Northern Territory, flying to remote outback destinations to 100,000 hectare cattle stations mustering from the air or even on-call for the Royal Flying Doctors, offering a critical link for remote patients to medical help. An airline career may well see you seated in the cockpit of the very latest aircraft technology, the 787 or A380, today’s leading widebody jets, traversing the seas on ultra long-haul flights across multiple time zones. Often I hear from candidates coming into the industry from other careers such as engineers or construction workers or flight attendants who are now in their late 30s or early 40s. They wanted to fly

from a young age and all too often were given the wrong information at the outset. Quite often that wrong information was, you are not smart enough. Rubbish, academic achievement or intellect alone will not make you an excellent pilot. Whatever path you choose, becoming a pilot is one of the limited number of careers where you can combine intellect and hands-onaptitude. By that I mean you must have the ability to manage the maths, science and physics elements of the training as well as a love of getting your hands on technology, something in the industry we call ‘hands-on-flying’. You will be physically in control of this expensive piece of equipment and have to guide it with every changeable breath of wind and diversity of terrain while sharing the skies with a multitude of other aircraft whizzing about. Sounds exciting, and it can be. Sounds challenging, and it will be! Starting on this career path requires grit, tenacity, passion and, more than anything, planning. Perhaps you are considering this as a career, as a high school student, now is the time to set in place the right course selections to ensure you meet the entry requirements for a career pilot. That means as a minimum the educational requirements you need to have passed will be Year 12 or equivalent in English, advanced maths, physics or chemistry.

If nobody tells you early enough you might not make the right choices during high school. You can take bridging courses to attain them post graduation but of course it is easier to do them first time around. Don’t know what to expect from this career? Then I encourage you to jump in a simulator, they are available for hire in every state, and get an initial feel for the big jets. Or ask mum or dad for an introductory flight in a single-engine Cessna, perhaps for your birthday. You will see first hand the technology, planning, aptitude and responsibility this job holds. If it grips you at this point then this career may well be for you. So what are your options to become a pilot? Well there are a variety of ways to enter this career and I’ll list the standard ones below: »» Pilot cadetships: There are two kinds of cadetships offered by both regional and mainline airlines, the ab initio cadetship for pilots with little or no flying hours and the advanced cadetship/traineeship for pilots who have low flying hours, usually under 1,000 
(every airline differs in this regard). »» Australian Defence Force: The Air Force, Army and Navy all offer pilot roles, and operate 18 or 19 different aircraft, both fixed-wing and rotary from fast jets to helicopters. »» Flying schools will take you through PPL and CPL, after CPL you will exit with a few options: become an instructor; apply for airline cadetships; or become a general aviation pilot (scenic, charter, survey, station pilot, crop duster, skydive, medevac etc…) For much more detail for anyone considering this career path we provide a flying students workbook. While the perceived romance and stature once associated with the role of pilot has changed,, it remains a career that, if committed to, offers just about everything you can imagine to those who are passionate enough to pursue it. Who’s ready to jump in a simulator? Why not… you might just have what it takes.

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Australian Aviation March 2018