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FlightCm African Aviation

Edition 135 | JANUARY 2020 Image: Avisys

THE LANDING GEAR SPECIALIST – WHERE THE RUBBER MEETS THE RUNWAY

WHAT HAPPENED TO DENEL?

AIRLINK’S RODGER FOSTER ON AFRICAN EXPANSION

CAN BUSINESS RESCUE SAVE SAA?

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SA Flyer 2019|12

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Ed's note... JANUARY 2020 Edition 135

5 Bush Pilot - Hugh Pryor 7 Airlines - Mike Gough 11 Companies - AviSys 17 GIB Events 20 SAA Business Rescue 25 Dubai Airshow 29 Face to Face: Rodger Foster 35 Defence - Darren Olivier 39 AEP AMO Listing 41 Back Pages 44 Industry Update

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HEN I acquired SA Flyer magazine back in 2006 I soon realised that my interests were broader than just South African flying and included the entire aviation industry, especially the airlines. So in October 2008 we launched FlightCom Magazine. Many readers and advertisers seem to struggle to understand the role of FlightCom. By way of explanation, I am fond of quoting Jonathan Livingstone Seagull author Richard Bach, who differentiates between flying and aviation; he maintains that flying is a passion, a sport and a great way to live in three dimensions. Aviation is the industry behind flying. It’s about airlines and air forces and maintenance. It’s about the flying training industry and pilots’ futures. FlightCom has been a fantastic success, instantly becoming the largest circulating African aviation magazine. The reason is simple: Rather than start a new publication from scratch, we bound it into SA Flyer. And, it’s worth repeating - SA Flyer is by far the largest selling and circulating monthly general aviation magazine in Africa (and in page count – the world!) So, like the sparrow on the back of the eagle, FlightCom launched from SA Flyer’s altitude. However, one of Africa’s many problems is that the postal services are unreliable, non-existent, or prone to theft. Magazine distribution in almost all countries north of Southern Africa is also very limited. The only way we could get FlightCom to the key aviation decision makers in Africa is by couriering it – for free. Thankfully internet distribution of digital copies is now

by-passing physical deliveries. To overcome the challenges of distribution, we make sure that we produce a publication people want to read – that fulfils our key objective of entertaining and informing our readers. Fortunately we have been blessed to have developed a core of contributors that make FlightCom unique. I am most grateful to Hugh Pryor, who after meeting me for just a quick cup of coffee, gave me a memory stick with hundreds of his priceless stories of bush flying in North Africa. Shortly thereafter, Mike Gough, then a senior first officer with SAA, and the owner of a thriving flight school at Lanseria, came on board to write about airline operations and pilot training. For the past four years we have been privileged to have Darren Olivier’s expert analysis on African defence. And, for the past couple of years, I have been working on a PhD on the air connectivity provided by African airlines. The spin-offs from this have also provided many fascinating industry insights. Our columnists form the core of FlightCom and I am grateful for their commitment to quality writing and fresh insights. With them, and the topical articles we provide, I am confident that we have indeed fulfilled our mandate to entertain and inform our readers and provide the best channel for our advertisers to reach their market. I wish all our readers a wonderful festive season and a great 2020.

Guy Leitch

Publisher Flyer and Aviation Publications cc Managing Editor Guy Leitch guy@flightcommag.com Advertising Sales Wayne Wilson wayne@saflyermag.co.za Layout & Design Emily-Jane Kinnear 70

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FlightCom Magazine

ADMIN: +27 (0)83 607 2335 Postal Address P O Box 71052 Bryanston, 2021 South Africa

TRAFFIC: +27 (0)81 039 0595 ACCOUNTS: +27 (0) 82 875 9630

© FlightCom 2019. All rights reserved worldwide. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronically, mechanically, photocopied, recorded or otherwise without the express permission of the copyright holders.

Editor


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Contact Maartin Steenkamp: C +27 (0)82 807 6701 Pierre Kieser C +27 (0)82 577 7815 T +27 (0)11 064 5624 F +27 (0)86 673 9129 E sales@ascendaviation.co.za

SA Flyer 2019|03

For our list of available aircraft head over to our website www.ascendaviation.co.za.


Industry Update Report: Owen Heckrath

UPRATED CIVILIAN HERCULES

FORMULA ONE SPARKS The electric airplane racing league was announced last year and we will soon see eight aircraft flying head to head around a five-kilometre course at altitudes of around 30 feet and at speeds approaching 500 km/h.

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IR Race E unveiled an electrified Cassutt Formula One race plane capable of 300 MPH (480 km/h) at the recent Dubai Air Show. The tiny aircraft, which is familiar to those who get their thrills the National Championship Air Races in Reno, USA was modified with a 150-kilowatt motor and about 100 kg of lithium batteries replacing the Continental O-200 that traditionally pulls it along. It also sports contra-rotating props to harness the torque of the electric motor. The aircraft which was unveiled was designed specifically for the electric racing environment. The batteries will supply enough power for five minutes of flat-out racing and about 10 minutes of loitering at lower energy consumption. Eight teams have confirmed participation in the race series and they’ll soon be announced. The tendering process for the host city for the inaugural race is underway and an announcement of the location is forthcoming. 

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FlightCom Magazine

Many operators who rely on a rugged go-anywhere ability for their African operations have settled on the Lockheed L-100 Hercules Freighter. These are now reaching the end of their operating life and operators requested an updated version in line with Lockheed’s C-130J upgrade.

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OCKHEED Martin’s LM-100J commercial freighter—the civilian variant of the C-130J Super Hercules, recently received its FAA type design update certification. “The worldwide and particularly the African, L-100 fleet is much tasked and much relied upon,” said Rod McLean, Lockheed Martin’s vice president and general manager of Air Mobility & Maritime Missions. “As this fleet nears the end of its operating life, customers told us that the only replacement for the L-100 would be an LM-100J. The LM-100J is a modernised version of the company’s C-130based L-100 freighter, of which more than 100 were produced between 1964 and 1992. Upgrades to the LM-100J include better fuel efficiency, improved payload and range, automated maintenance fault reporting and an integrated Head-Up Display (HUD). According to Lockheed Martin, the C-130J model has accrued more than 2 million fleetwide flight hours. The LM-100J variant is powered by four Rolls-Royce AE 2100D3 engines and has a 50,000-pound (22,700 kg) payload, a range of 2390 NM and a maximum cruise speed of 355 knots. The first two LM-100Js are scheduled to be delivered to launch customer Pallas Aviation later this year. South African operator Safair – at one time the largest C130 operator in the world, has an LM-100J on order. 


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SA Flyer 2018|10

CONTACT:


BUSH PILOT HUGH PRYOR

STAY OF EXECUTION I am the youngest of six children. My father was killed during World War II leaving my Mum to bring us all up.

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HE extraordinary thing about my childhood was that it was jam-packed with the happiest of memories. Days spent exploring or climbing trees or swimming or boating or fishing, followed by evenings sitting captivated by stories of high adventure, read to us by Mum or one the uncles or aunts. In other words, a childhood of pure magic punctuated by memorable Christmases. Childhoods just don’t come any better. The only drawback to an otherwise magic existence was that I had to share a room with my elder brother and we used to fight like cat and dog. These were not friendly ‘rough and tumbles’, they were all out war. During one particularly intense encounter, which I was winning, he looked at me with hate-filled eyes and through gritted teeth he spat the words that no aspiring pilot would wish to hear. “You will die in an air crash before you reach the age of twenty-one!” That caused me to loosen my grip round his neck and release him. Some years later I went for two years’ service in the remote jungles and mountains of New Guinea. To get there, I signed on, aged seventeen, as an apprentice on a ‘Tramp ship’ called the ‘Cedarbank. My choice of transport had nothing to do with the death threat issued by my brother. It was just the cheapest way to travel. In fact, I was

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actually paid £42 per month, which covered my bar bill back in 1963. It was after I had disembarked in Madang that my brother’s death sentence suddenly came back to haunt me. I had a two-week course of briefings before being sent to work among the Pigmy people of the Karem ethnic group up in the Simbai valley, on the border between the Madang and the Western Highland Districts. It was brand new country for the colonialist Australian Government and the first Europeans had only penetrated this far into the mountains some four years previously. For me it was the fulfilment of boyhood dreams. To be the very first European who most of the local population had met was the stuff of pure adventure. Then Tony Austin was killed trying to get into Simbai in a Cessna 180. The sources of the Ramu River may be found in five valleys which lead down from the forested mountains like the fingers of a hand. The palm of the hand is a large bowl, from where the mighty river meanders through the fetid coastal plains into the sea. The valleys are steep sided, narrow and covered with thick rain forest. The Kompiai, the Kaironk, the Tembiump, the Simbai and the Aiome valleys are confusingly similar when viewed from the cockpit of an aircraft. In New Guinea the weather deteriorates very quickly after midday. The clouds come down over the mountains with vicious thunderstorms threatening anybody brave or stupid enough to attempt to fly

amongst them. New Guinea has a horrific safety record in the air, because of the lethal mixture of mountains and weather. The rains had been so severe that there had been a landslide in the Simbai Valley which had killed twenty-three people. Tony got the wrong valley and being inexperienced, flew up the middle of it. He was forced lower and lower into the ‘V’ until the only way out was to climb through the storm and that is when the C180 met the mountains. The last few moments of Tony Austin’s life must have been unimaginably terrifying. Two weeks later it was my turn to brave the trip in the slightly beefier Cessna 185. I lost sleep for three nights knowing that these would be my last ones on Earth before I became a little pile of charred bones high in the undiscovered remoteness of New Guinea. The morning of our intended flight, I arrived at Madang Airport. The aircraft belonged to a start-up company called ‘Talair’, the pilot was a chap called Max Parker and my fellow passenger was a tiny lady called Margaret Kibikibi. She and I were seated on the minimally cushioned bench seat attached to the rear bulkhead. Access to the cabin was via a small luggage hatch, because the cabin had been piled from floor to ceiling with supplies to the extent that Mrs. Kibikibi and I were carrying boxes on our knees. Max Parker’s Pre-flight Briefing consisted basically of an instruction to keep our seat belts fastened during the whole flight and if anything went wrong, we were to wait for him to sort things out before we tried to get out. We felt the plane rock as Max climbed in. We heard him mutter his litany of prestart checks, then there was a loud click and mechanical groan, followed by a vehement Australian expletive, followed by another click and a groan and an even more vehement


“Listen.” I said in disbelief. “I have never been here in my life! I have never been in an aeroplane before!...This is my first time!...How do you expect me to know?” Max just shrugged his shoulders, raised his hands in the air and said, “Well how are we going to find it then?” My heart rose into the back of my throat as we passed the entrance to one of the now darkened valleys and I noticed that there was wide strip of yellow rubble which had torn its way down through the green of the forest like a great yellow wound. It looked like the mountain had collapsed taking the trees with it. There was a little line of local houses either side of the wound and suddenly I realised that I was looking at a dramatic landslide which had swept away the little houses in-between the two settlements on either side of it. I nervously drew Max’s attention to what I had seen and suggested that this could actually be the Simbai Valley. “Are you absolutely sure?” he said and I replied incredulously, “No, of course not! I told you before! I have never been here in my life!” “Oh well,” said Max, “Let’s give it a try.” And then he added as an afterthought,

“I just hope that you are bladdy right!” We stuck so close to the trees on my side of the valley that I was convinced that Max was trying to scare the living daylights out of his innocent passenger. Actually, by sticking to the side of the valley he was giving us a chance to turn around if I had got the wrong valley. As we rounded the last spur of forest, by what seemed to be sheer luck Simbai airstrip miraculously appeared right on the nose. We landed beautifully smoothly and my life started again! We were greeted by a party of people which included Olive, the missionary’s wife who was also the medic. As I climbed down to the ground she grabbed my arm and said “Are you okay? You look as though you have seen a ghost.” So I told her what I had just been through. “That Max is a wicked man!” she laughed, “He has been here dozens of times!” And that was fifty-five years ago, so I got quite a bonus, didn’t I? 

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SA Flyer 2020|01

expletive. Then we heard Max’s door open and moments later our little hatch opened and Max stuck his head in to inform us that the “Bladdy starter motor was Fcuked” and that we should “come back tamorrah”. Now I knew for sure that this would be my last sleepless night. This was confirmed the following morning when Mrs. Kibikibi failed to turn up having probably decided to seek an alternative form of transport. Since even a month’s walk through impenetrable swamps would be preferable to Tony Austin’s ghastly end. Max put me in the front with him the next day. We were late, because Max had had to fix the starter, so we eventually got started after midday and the clouds had begun to build up threateningly as we followed the Ramu up towards the mountains. When we reached the ‘Palm of the Hand’ they were well down and we could no longer see the peaks of the mountains, only the jaws of the little valleys. We circled around the bowl and then Max said, “So which one is it, Blue?” And suddenly I realised that he was asking me the way to Simbai.


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exposure,” says SANSA MD, Dr Lee-Anne McKinnell. “Highfrequency radio communication, as well as ground and airbased navigation systems, can be affected or knocked out entirely by space weather storms. Delicate electronics can also be damaged and radiation exposure poses a hazard for crew and passengers, particularly on long haul flights.” Space weather can also have a major knock-on effect on airlines and airports.

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AIRLINE OPS MIKE GOUGH

THE BIG LEAGUE One of the more mind-numbingly boring things I get to do on a regular basis are Language Proficiency Rating (LPR) tests. This is an ICAO mandated requirement that all pilots and ATCs have a reasonable chance of understanding and being understood, in English. It’s not too tricky getting pilots to talk, but getting them to shut up may be more difficult.

I

have had the joy of doing over a thousand of these since 2007 and have found that it’s not too tricky getting pilots to talk, but getting them to shut up may be more difficult. One question I ask during the voice recording phase is along the lines of “where do you see yourself in aviation in five years’ time?” This is almost always to someone about to complete their initial PPL skills test. As most of my current students in General Aviation are aiming for the CPL,

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the normal answer is “Captain on A380 / B777 / A320”. Noble thoughts indeed and why not aim for the stars in the shortest possible time? I can clearly remember when I had completed my PPL in 1989, my sense of grandeur was limited to trying to impress the ladies from my university classes by wearing Ray Bans while convincing them to come for a flip with me. I also needed company to try and split the cost of hiring that fire-breathing Cessna 172. Beyond that, the thought of obtaining a

CPL seemed so hopelessly out of reach that dreams of airliners were simply downright foolishness. The world has most certainly moved on. As instant gratification, fuelled by the information age, has fanned the fires of millennial expectations, the perception of what is possible has changed completely. Maybe the notion of ‘paying one’s dues’ is completely irrelevant in the current pilot marketplace. The two recent, highly publicised 737 Max accidents have shone a spotlight on the relevant crews’ experience and ages. While Boeing has become Aviation’s Public Enemy Number One (whether justified or not), in both crashes the actions of the crew are most definitely considered contributory. What does it take to transition from freshly-minted CPL to successful inhabitant of the air-conditioned flight-deck set? Well in a nutshell, it’s a completely different training approach which is being implemented in the form of the MultiCrew Pilot Licence, or MPL. I have banged on about this before, so won’t labour this particular point. In the same vein, having a few neardeath experiences in General Aviation training and charter operations, with ropey aircraft in dodgy weather, hardly builds the ideal skill set for the transition to complex, multi-crew operations. So, let’s assume that a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed commercial pilot has completed all the theory related to flight that man has learned from the time the Wright Brothers


first flew through to when Generation Four aircraft were certified. He or she (if we can even assign such restrictive genders in this age and day) would then complete the softskill courses, and learn all the theory for Crew Resource Management (CRM) and Multi-Crew Cooperation (MCC). Yet have next to zero practical knowledge. Next up is the somewhat obvious fact that the flying of a heavy, fast, high altitude aircraft with major weight and centre of gravity variations has handling characteristics somewhat removed from a light aircraft. Before one can get close to touching a type-specific simulator (never mind the actual aircraft), a few recalibrations of one’s grey matter is required. Something as simple as a checklist is for the most part, misused and misunderstood in General Aviation (GA). In a single crew environment – where we spend most of our time while becoming a CPL holder – the checklist is almost impossible to use correctly and inevitably becomes an action list, which is fraught with human factors issues. An action list checks nothing, thus contradicting the title of the check list. Learning the Standard Operating Procedure in its entirety is essential to getting all normal actions done and then being checked by the reading of a list by a monitoring pilot, is the absolute basic, entry level application of multi crew cooperation. We then add standard call-outs and actions by phase of flight and we start acting like the big boys. The large jet transport aircraft has been the subject of much discussion over the years, since it emerged in its first successful commercial iteration in the form of the Boeing 707. Not to be unkind to the Brits with their Comet of the early ‘50s, this leap in technology, while a hugely important learning curve, was so entrenched in WW2 style design philosophy that the design complications prevented it from becoming a commercial success. The performance objectives of all jet transports obviously dictate its physical design and the myriad systems that are not found in GA aircraft. It must cruise at high speed. Thus, we need a way of convincing the airflow around the aircraft to cooperate with this need, and not fight it, as much as possible. Above fifteen thousand feet altitude and 250 knots airspeed (approximately), air becomes compressible and weird things start to happen aerodynamically. The value of Indicated Airspeed (IAS) and the actual (true) speed of the aircraft through the air (TAS), start to diverge

An action list checks nothing, thus contradicting the title of the check list. considerably and some form of constant, that accounts for the variables of temperature, pressure and density is required. In 1929, Ernst Mach, an Austrian physicist and philosopher (we need to be deep-thinkers at these airspeeds,

data from a pair of pitot tubes mounted on the vertical tailplane which measured the local airflow at that point. This was carried through to the NG versions of the aircraft and became part of the infamous MCAS system that we have all learned about

We legally battle to breathe above 10,000 feet.

apparently), devised a relationship between two variable speeds, namely TAS and the local speed of sound. This is displayed to the pilot as a decimal percentage of the actual speed of sound at the aircraft’s current altitude. Due to various curvatures of the upper and lower wing surfaces, tail surfaces, fuselage sections and so on, each part of the aircraft travelling at an overall constant Mach number, has local airflows all doing their own thing at vastly differing speeds. This leads to certain areas having subsonic, transonic and supersonic airflow all at the same time. This is described by terms such as Mach Crit and Mach Tuck as well as a host of other aerodynamic swear words. The original Boeing 737-100 and -200 had a system automatically trimming the horizontal stabiliser at high Mach numbers to prevent unexpected pitching moments, called Mach Trim. This derived its airspeed

recently in great detail. MCAS itself of course, operates as a consequence of Angle of Attack, as opposed to Mach number. Those sexy looking swept wings that appeared on the B707 and then the 737 were not the result of the need to look good. A swept wing is structurally way more complicated to build than a straight one, but this was born out of the necessity to ‘fool’ the airflow that it was actually travelling at a slower speed over that particular portion of the wing. This hugely assists with delaying the onset of Mach Crit, or the critical Mach number at which transonic flow occurs. As this happens, shockwaves are formed at various points on the wing, creating massive drag and playing havoc with the post-shockwave airflow behind. The swept wing presents a more gradual curvature of the aerofoil section to the relative airflow and the relative velocities are prevented from accelerating in excess. The unintended consequence of this is

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Flaps are well known to the GA pilot, but we also have to learn about slats.

that, when a significant yaw motion is encountered (for example, when an engine failure occurs), the airflow suddenly ‘sees’ the wing for what it actually is and a whole bunch of additional lift is created. This leads to a significant roll effect that the new jet pilot has to learn to counter with accurate and astute inputs to keep the blue side up. I recall being trained on the B732 to initially use aileron to counter this secondary effect of yaw and then smoothly feeding in rudder input to mostly centralise the control column. This is a very different technique to how one is trained on GA aircraft. Great – so we have created a wing that can travel a lot faster than the likes of the DC3 and Hercules, for example. We can’t obviously take off and land at 220 knots unless we build epically long runways and create Superman tyres capable of withstanding such speeds. Thus, we need devices to force the airflow to work hard at low speeds, without losing its enthusiasm and abandoning the airframe altogether, in what would be an aerodynamic stall. Flaps are well known to the GA pilot, but we also have to learn about slats, which are moveable surfaces at the leading edge (or front) of the wing. These ‘high lift’ devices change the airflow pattern completely around the wing and when extended on

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very specific speed schedules, allow a large aircraft, weighing two to three hundred tonnes, to slow down to a respectable 140odd knot approach speed. As the swept wing does not respond as optimally to aileron input for roll control that our GA aircraft so obligingly does, the clever guys designed large surfaces that arise from the upper wing area to ‘spoil’ the creation of lift in certain areas. This greatly assists roll control and is also used on touch down to get the landing distance performance to an acceptable level. However, as these spoilers are deployed, the centre of pressure of the wing moves forward rapidly, resulting in a pronounced nose-up pitch, which must be countered by the pilot. If this is mis-handled on touch down a tail strike is possible, with the resultant cold tea / no biscuits with the Chief Pilot. As drag is one of the major villains in the aerodynamic movie, a cunning plan to reduce this overall effect is to fly as high as optimally possible. As we know, we legally battle to breathe (according to our air law) above ten thousand feet and thus we need to convince our biological beings that we are only around seven to eight thousand feet up. By forcing more air into the cabin than is being allowed out at any point in time, we create a differential pressure to the outside

environment, allowing all on board to breathe normally. Any system that an airliner has that enables it to operate in the hostile environment of high altitude, high speed flight, has to fail at exactly the worst possible time and still be safely dealt with by the crew. That’s why most of a complex conversion consists of failures, emergencies and decision-making processes to deal with them. I have obviously only briefly touched on just a few of the design-induced issues and associated systems of an airliner here and as mentioned earlier, veritable tomes of wisdom have been written on this subject. I haven’t even mentioned the handling characteristics of high-bypass jet engines… Getting back to the new, starry eyed CPL wishing for immediate occupancy of the complex flight deck. What you don’t know can hurt you a lot. Baby steps, and be aware of the massive amount of learning, training and gathering of experience that lies ahead. Ten years of experience still takes ten years to obtain. Merry Christmas. 


Gemair AMO 1003

YOUR PEACE OF MIND IN AVIATION MAINTENANCE Gemair is an SACAA Approved Maintenance Organisation, AMO 1003 with 5 other African AMO Approvals and has a team of 9 full time engineers who together have a combined total of over 50 years aviation experience. Gemair are able to perform all aviation maintenance requirements on a variety of Non-Type certiďŹ ed aircraft, light singles and twins up to turbo propellers and light jets.

SA Flyer 2018|11

Gemair also holds electrical and instrumentation approvals

TEL: 011 701 2653 or 082 905 5760 Hangar 110, Gate 13, Turn right (old Pical hangar), located behind Spectrum Air Surveyors, Lanseria South Side, 1748

FlightCom Magazine

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SIMPLY THE BEST DESIGNED FACILITY ON THE CONTINENT Designed with an ambition to host a world-class facility for stress-free business aviation at OR Tambo International Airport, Fireblade Aviation offers a full-range business terminal and charter facilities to cater for every flying need. The FBO offers all terminal luxuries you would expect from the best for your aircraft. With a dedicated private apron, private fueling facility, hangarage and tailored services your flying assets will be looked after. Your VIP’s can be hosted in the Terminal with small nuances like day rooms, el fresco kitchen offerings, an exercise room, private staterooms and boardrooms. Our Fireblade charter fleet has full access to the FBO service bouquet. This means that you not only get world class aircraft and crew but your journey starts when you arrive at our facility.

FIREBLADE AVIATION’S CHARTER FLEET

PC-12 NG’S

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Company Profile

AVISYS where rubber meets tarmac An aircraft’s undercarriage, tyres and brakes regularly handle the enormous loads from all types of landings, whether at – or beyond – crosswind limits, or from ham-fisted pilots dropping the aircraft onto the runway.

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NDERCARRIAGE components take such a hammering that they can only be effectively maintained by a specialist with knowledge and sophisticated equipment. AviSys Aviation Systems, SACAA AMO 1089 based at Hangar 17 Wonderboom Airport, is a long-established maintenance organisation with SA-CAA accreditation to perform component maintenance and overhaul under its Category B rating. AviSys Aviation Systems’ vision is; “To set new standards in aviation by developing strategies to hone and develop our skills and capabilities to new levels of excellence. This sets the standard for others to benchmark from.” AviSys’ driving mission is its quality approach to delivering maintenance of the highest standards and it is convinced that customer satisfaction is what differentiates it from current industry standards. The company is able to provide superlative advice and service to cater for client’s needs on the following types: B727

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FlightCom Magazine

and B737 Series, Douglas DC-8 and DC-9 Series, PC12 Series, Douglas MD80 Series, Beechcraft and the following OEM Makes; ABSC, Honeywell / Bendix, Goodrich and Meggitt Aircraft Braking Systems. AviSys has three divisions: The Brake Shop: This is equipped to work on: 727, 737, DC8, DC9, DC10, MD80, PC12 & Hawker HS125, KingAir and Beech 1900 brake assemblies. On arrival all brakes are visually inspected and assessed. They are then stripped down to individual components, where a more in-depth inspection process is performed, using the latest Non Destructive Testing techniques (dye penetrant, magnetic particle, eddy current and ultrasonic). Worn or faulty parts are either repaired or replaced, in accordance with the component maintenance manual. The brakes are then reassembled, tested and given a final inspection, before being returned to the customer.

AviSys has a fully equipped landing gear repair and overhaul facility.

The Wheel Shop: This has the capability to maintain almost any wheel assembly; specifically, B737, C130, LearJet, Citation, Dornier Jet, Fokker F100, PC12, KingAir, Dash 8 and more. On arrival all wheel assemblies are stripped, cleaned and assessed. All the wheels are NDT inspected and parts are either repaired or replaced, in accordance with the component maintenance manual. Wheels are then reassembled, a leak check is performed followed by the final inspection before returning to the customer. The Landing Gear Repair and Overhaul Facility: This facility houses a fully equipped machine shop with capabilities that currently include: B727 & B737 Boeing, Douglas DC9, DC8, Hawker HS125 Series and Beechcraft aircraft. In addition, AviSys is able to perform helicopter servo actuator repair and overhaul, flexible hose build-up and engine fire bottles HPT and service. AviSys founder and CEO Dewald Krynauw stresses their interest to extend AviSys’ capabilities to provide whatever the customer may need. AviSys Aviation Systems’ many years of cumulative aviation experience in its field is supported by means of dedicated staff members who are committed to deliver service excellence and quality workmanship at market related prices. Contact AviSys on: +27 83 442 5884 Email: dewald@avisys.co.za or igena@ avisys.co.za or for more detail visit their website at: www.avisys.co.za - or phone 012 567 0046 


W a h ishi ap ng py all fes ou tiv r c e s lie ea nts so n!

AviSys Aviation Systems is an established Maintenance Organization AMO 1089 with SA-CAA, and other African CAA accreditation to perform component maintenance and overhaul capabilities under its Category B rating. Currently, AviSys is equipped to cater for our Clients needs as per the SA-CAA Approved Capability List and Operational Specifications on the following: • Aircraft Braking Systems repair and full overhaul capability with SA-CAA Component Release to Service ARC (Authorized Release Certificate) on the following OEM Makes; ABSC, Honeywell / Bendix, Goodrich and Meggitt Aircraft Braking Systems. • Aircraft main and nose wheel assemblies for the above makes, to repair and overhaul. • Landing Gear Repair and Overhaul • Helicopter Servo Actuator Repair and Overhaul • Flexible Hose Build-up • Engine Fire Bottles HPT, Service, Fill and Re-charge AviSys Aviation Systems is committed to deliver Service Excellence and Quality Workmanship at market related prices, brought by with years of cumulative aviation experience in our field by means of dedicated hand-picked Staff Members. AviSys Aviation Systems Quality approach to delivering maintenance of the Highest Standards, and Customer Satisfaction is what sets this Maintenance Organization apart from the current industry standards.

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AviSys looks forward to establish long and just relationships with our client base, in order to meet our high standards of customer satisfaction. Our aim is to set new standards in aviation by developing strategies to hone and develop our skills and capabilities to new levels of excellence, thus setting the standard for others to benchmark from! Hangar 17, Wonderboom National Airport

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Defence D arren O livier

DENEL

AEROSTRUCTURES –

WHAT HAPPENED?

Denel, like so many other state-owned enterprises (SOEs), is in trouble. Having only just emerged from a cash crunch so severe that it was unable to fully pay salaries until local banks stepped in with a temporary loan.

I

T had gone months without paying suppliers, freezing all of its production lines until receiving a R1.8 billion cash injection from the national budget at the end of August 2019. Now, the most crucial production lines are running again, bringing in much-needed revenue, but the company is far from out of the woods. Its turnaround plan depends in part, on receiving another R2 billion from government in February this year.

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In South Africa’s public debate, the most common sentiment around Denel amongst both opposition politicians and media editorials is ‘sell it’ or ‘close it down’. This is usually accompanied by an expressed opinion that there is no value in the company continuing to exist as a stateowned enterprise and in addition that it has been a never-ending sink for taxpayer funding over its existence. This article will be split into two parts. The first will describe how Denel reached

this point and will explore whether the popular view is accurate. The second part will investigate whether Denel may have any real value to the country in its current form and which of the options available to government will result in the least cost to taxpayers. To keep things concise and in line within the ambit of this publication the focus of this article will be on Denel Aerospace and not on the company’s landward and maritime divisions.


While it may seem difficult to believe now, only a few years ago Denel was an example of an SOE going right and surviving without further government assistance. It had taken years to reach that point following a troubled start in the 1990s and early 2000s when it was an unfocused, unwieldy and inefficient conglomerate formed from all the manufacturing business that had been housed in Armscor during the apartheid era. Few of its constituent parts had any shared expertise, experience, administrative staff, or even properties. Each operated as a mostly independent silo just as it had when it was part of Armscor and when defence funding was effectively limitless. Some administrative functions and costs were centralised within the Denel head office, including employee payrolls and other HR function. But achieving an integrated and focused business was a difficult task at a time when all attention was on merely surviving in an open market era. After all, the holding company or conglomerate approach was one to which most South African professional managers were most accustomed and felt safest with, as it was the primary means by which corporate SA diversified its risks under sanctions. And it’s still the preferred way that many countries structure their stateowned defence industry companies. By 2005, the company had reached an inflection point. It was nearly bankrupt as the majority of Denel’s divisions and subsidiaries provided products and services that were custom-created for the needs of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF). As a result of its dwindling budget, this was no longer sufficient to sustain Denel through large and regular equipment acquisitions or maintenance contracts.

Cracking the export market had also been more difficult than initially assumed, requiring a set of marketing, sales and product development skills that the local defence industry had never needed to learn. Realising it needed to rethink its strategy on Denel, the government at the time appointed a new CEO, Shaun Liebenberg to head the firm and come up with a new strategy to first, save Denel and then make it selfsufficient and profitable. Liebenberg and his executive team came back with three options: Run Denel as a subsidised government business, as had been done with Armscor

government and the shareholder, beyond the loss in industrial capability and the impact on the SANDF. Implement a turnaround plan to convert Denel into a leaner and more focused company able to compete in the global market. Non-core parts of the company would either be shut down or sold off into joint ventures where Denel would maintain only a minority stake. What remained would be modernised and streamlined. This would require R3.5 billion in an upfront cash injection to pay off existing debts, followed by another R1.7 billion cash injection to be used to update the company’s near-obsolete

Cracking the export market had also been more difficult than initially assumed, requiring a set of marketing, sales and product development skills that the local defence industry had never needed to learn. during the Apartheid era. It would have no obligation to be profitable, but that also meant that it could be a home for longrunning research and development (R&D) initiatives at lower Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) that might otherwise be too risky for a commercial entity. Shut Denel down or sell it off piecemeal. This was calculated at the time to cost R19 billion (R41 billion in 2019) in various shutdown costs that would fall upon

production machines and facilities, much of which were already old and outdated when Denel was formed in 1992. The Cabinet chose Option 3, gave Liebenberg the green light to implement the turnaround strategy and provided the initial R3.5 billion over three years. However, in a nonsensical move, both government and Parliament then reneged on supplying the promised R1.7 billion to modernise Denel’s equipment, even though they had signed off

Denel aerostructures is yet another casualty of the destruction wreaked by state capture.

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BELOW: Denel Aerostructures made large investments to build key parts of the A400M.

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on the turnaround strategy that incorporated it. Nonetheless, the executive team got to work implementing as much of the plan as they could. A majority stake in Denel Optronics was sold off to Carl Zeiss, becoming Carl Zeiss Optronics. It still exists as Hensoldt Optronics. Somchem, Naschem, Swartklip and related businesses were bundled up and a majority stake sold to Rheinmetall with the company still currently doing well as Rheinmetall Denel Munition. Saab came on as an equity partner in the aerostructures business, which became Denel Saab

to make the division profitable, especially once Saab divested from the company. That work had paid off when Aerostructures won manufacturing contracts for additional A400M parts, assemblies on the HondaJet and pylon secondary structures for the A3501000 under subcontract to GKN Aerospace. That’s an extraordinary achievement, given the hugely competitive and high-standard nature of the aerostructures market, and the fact that those contracts were won through open bids and without any offset incentives in place. The first few months and years of deliveries were going well. With those

Aerostructures – and so on. However, an attempt to bring on MBDA as a partner for Denel Dynamics and BAE Systems as a 20% equity partner for Denel as a whole were both blocked by government, for asyet-unexplained reasons. Despite that interference and the investment funding shortfall and even though Liebenberg left in 2007, the turnaround plan was successful. By the 2011/12 financial year, Denel was profitable. What’s more, it was consistently profitable at a group level even though some of its divisions continued to struggle. One by one its divisions and subsidiaries were streamlined and made more efficient, becoming integrated into global supply chains and as suppliers to toplevel OEMs. Not everything was perfect, of course: Parts of Denel still struggled with subpar management and a lack of skills and the structure remained unwieldy. But the outlook for most of the group and especially its most critical high-tech units was positive. For instance, massive effort had been made by Aerostructures’ leadership

contracts and all the relevant top-tier certifications in place, Aerostructures was well-placed to win a lot more work on the same level and scale. Today, Aerostructures has been shut down. After all that effort, the cash flow crisis within Denel as a whole meant that from around 2017 onwards Aerostructures could no longer buy the raw materials and subcomponents to fulfil its orders to Airbus, GKN, and HondaJet, resulting in massive penalties and reputational damage that meant the business was no longer commercially viable. Its most modern part-making machinery is being returned to lessors or sold off and its staff are being retrenched. A long history of airframe and parts manufacturing dating from the formation of Atlas Aircraft Corporation in 1965, is over. What happened? How did a company go from being profitable and winning lucrative contracts to being unable to deliver to the point where penalties forced an entire division to close? In two words: State Capture. The most

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important thing to understand in any debate about Denel and its future is that the cash flow crisis that began in 2016 had little to do with the company’s fundamentals or how it had been run up until then. In 2015 the Zuma administration replaced Denel’s entire board with unqualified individuals widely regarded as being picked for their friendliness to the notorious Gupta family, who had captured the state through their corrupt relationship with the president. That new board in turn, acted swiftly to first suspend and then sack Denel’s top leadership, including Riaz Salojee, its well-regarded CEO and replace them with pliant individuals willing to do the Gupta’s bidding. The impact on the business was both rapid and devastating. Rather than managing cash flow properly, always crucial in a defence company, the new executive team set about enriching the Gupta family through a number of mechanisms. VR Laser, a once-respectable supplier of armoured steel plating, was taken over by Gupta associates and soon after subcontracted to perform vehicle manufacturing work for the Hoefyster combat vehicle programme that had originally been intended for LMT, a Denel subsidiary. Denel also spent a substantial amount of money setting up Denel Asia, a joint venture with VR Laser Asia (a shell company) that would effectively channel half of Denel’s profits in that entire region to the Gupta family. Other publications such as the Daily Maverick and amaBhungane, have covered this subject in far greater detail than there is space for here, but the evidence is overwhelming. Since the Ramaphosa government took office it has replaced the tainted Denel board and the company’s top leadership. The new CEO, Danie du Toit, has impeccable credentials from his time working on both the South African and international defence industries. He and his staff have, in turn, been tasked to develop a new turnaround plan that has been presented to and accepted by, both Cabinet and Parliament. The belief is that if Denel’s present crisis was caused by its becoming a pawn in South Africa’s largest ever corruption scandal there’s a chance its fundamentals are still sound and that it can be made commercially viable again. Next month’s article will explore that possibility, along with the implications for both the SANDF and the rest of the defence industry. 


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Feature G uy L eitch

THE

NUCLEAR OPTION

What does Business Rescue mean for SAA?

After threatening for a number of years, trade union Solidarity has decided that they too have had enough of SAA’s incompetent management and have launched an application to force the airline into Business Rescue. 25

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S

OLIDARITY argues that if drastic action is not taken then the airline will collapse – leading to the loss of its 30 members’ jobs. These 30 members may be tiny compared to the cacophony of threats, counter threats and intimidation emanating from the Cabin Crew and Metal Workers Union strikers, but it is potentially a far more serious threat for the airline’s existence and will have a huge impact on the government’s finances. SAA is properly bankrupt. It has still not submitted its 2018 and 2019 financial results due to its being unable to certify that it is a going concern. Further, the airline fails almost every solvency and going-concern test: SAA’s liabilities are in the order of R100 billion, while realisable assets are less than R10 billion. It also fails basic liquidity and corporate governance requirements. Losses have increased from an average of R1 billion a year to R6 billion per year. Yet we, the taxpayers, are expected to continue to bail it out. Any normal business would be declared insolvent and those owed money when it shuttered its windows would enjoy what are wryly called the ‘cold comforts of concurrent creditors.’ But SAA staggers along, being drip fed just enough taxpayer money to keep it going. Meanwhile the mountain of debt grows. What are the options – should it be put into Business Rescue? And is Business Rescue equivalent to airlines in the USA seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection? In South Africa the Business Rescue process, (as defined by the Companies Act of 2008), aims to “facilitate the rehabilitation of a company that is “financially distressed” by providing for: the temporary supervision of the company and management of its affairs, business and property by a business rescue practitioner. A temporary moratorium (“stay”) on the rights of claimants against


THE BUSINESS RESCUE PROCESS WOULD THUS PROVIDE SAA WITH THE OPPORTUNITY TO REORGANISE AND RESTRUCTURE ITS AFFAIRS the company ….. and the development and implementation (if approved) of a business rescue plan to rescue the company by restructuring its business, property, debt, affairs, other liabilities and equity.” The business rescue process would thus provide SAA with the opportunity to reorganise and restructure its affairs and to structure a payment scheme with its creditors, whilst also saving jobs and allowing the business to continue trading as an economically contributing entity. It sounds good, and that’s why Solidarity wants to force SAA into Business Rescue against the wishes of its shareholder, by an order of court. The following actions are then prescribed by the act: 1. Within 10 business days after being appointed, the practitioner must convene a meeting of the creditors and a meeting of the employees and advise them of the prospects of rescuing the company. 2. A business rescue plan, as proposed by the practitioner, must be

3.

published by the company within 25 days after the date on which the business rescue practitioner was appointed. A moratorium on payments must be declared to creditors. This has far reaching effects on creditors, financial institutions, shareholders and employees.

Unlike the American Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection, South African Business Rescue protects the rights of employees, but it will still have a significant effect on employees and staff morale. Those employed by the company when it goes into business rescue have their jobs secured – and on the same terms and conditions. Airline workers in the USA have

SAA Asset values are well short of its liabilities.

“The practitioner may also remove any person who formed part of the pre-existing management of the company from office or appoint a person as part of the management of a company. In some instances, the practitioner will need to obtain the approval of the court for an appointment.”

no such protection. Which is why in the USA, Chapter 11 bankruptcy is almost a rite of passage for airlines seeking to rid themselves of excess staff and onerous supplier agreements. In South Africa there is nonetheless a temptation to consider business rescue an

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Pravin Gordhan would close SAA down rather than allow it to go into business rescue.

equivalent process and thus useful for airline turnarounds. It should however be noted that they are dissimilar processes, albeit intended to achieve similar outcomes. During the USA’s Chapter 11 process, the business and creditors come up with a plan for the majority of the creditors. The main difference is that in the South African Business Rescue process, an independent practitioner takes over the running of the business – whereas in the US the company still maintains control. Secondly, in the US, the creditors need not agree on the proposed outcomes since the court can impose them, whereas in South Africa

IF SAA IS IN DEFAULT ON ONE LOAN, THIS WILL CAUSE A DEFAULT IN ALL THE FINANCE/LEASING AGREEMENTS. the creditors (or other stakeholders) have a much greater say in the outcome. Further, in the USA the companies seek the protection from the courts while in South Africa the creditors (or other stakeholders) seek the intervention of the court. South African business rescue thus results in negotiated settlements between the business and its creditors. In contrast, American Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection allows a court to override contracts without the agreements of all parties. In effect, an airline in trouble in the USA can use the uncertainty of the courts’ ruling as a negotiating tactic. Furthermore, during the American process, the business is protected from creditors and the recalling of loans. It need be noted that business rescue has a poor success rate. There is international evidence that only 5% of business rescue cases are successful. Whilst South African studies are still underway to determine the success rate of business rescue, there are estimates that this rate is somewhere between 10% – 12%. The failure of 1time airline under business rescue is a case in point. So business rescue in SA is substantially different from American Chapter 11 protection and there are huge problems with trying to apply business rescue to SAA. This is one of the reasons

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Pravin Gordhan, as the Minister of State-Owned Enterprises, has threatened to close the airline down rather than allow it to go into business rescue. One of the key problems is a booby trap of a bomb embedded in the airline’s aircraft leases. A memo, dated November 6, 2015, was sent to the SAA Board of Directors by the then Acting CEO, Thuli Mpshe. A key component of the memo relates to SAA’s commitment and exposure to Airbus for Pre-Delivery payments (PDPs) for the then new Airbus A330300s. This was ultimately resolved with the delivery of the aircraft in 2017. However, SAA attempted to supress the memo as it brought to light some extremely important consequences of any compromise with creditors. This would include any compromise effected by business rescue proceedings. The key condition refers to SAA defaulting on any of its leases or other loans …. “if a specified amount (typically $10m) of Financial Indebtedness is not paid by SAA after being declared due, repayment of the debt may be accelerated.” So all the debt could become due at once – and that would be an estimated R64 billion or so for aircraft leases. And that’s not all. The memo goes on to note; “almost all of the finance/leasing agreements are subject to a Cross Default clause so that, if SAA is in default on one loan document/financial indebtedness, this will cause a default in all the finance/leasing agreements.” It is difficult to estimate the likely amount having to be immediately repaid should such cross default clauses be called in by lenders. However, two figures should be borne in mind: 1. The 30 billion SAA owes banks 2. Add to that the settlement cost of aircraft leases. Rough estimates as to the amounts owing on these leases is as follows: Note that this includes the four A350-900s on short term leases currently being delivered. It disregards the return value of the aircraft or the ability to on-lease them elsewhere. In the case of the A340, this is virtually nil but the A330s (and A350s) should be reasonably easy to return or on-lease. Estimated SAA Aircraft lease exposure:

Thus, it is possible that SAA would be required to repay R64 billion in addition to the amounts due to banks in the event Business Rescue triggers cross default clauses in the aircraft leases. A further consideration is that in the event of SAA defaulting on any of its lease agreements or loan covenants with banks, this could in turn trigger cross default loan clauses to other parastatals whose loans have been underwritten by the South African government. Estimates in the general media have suggested that this exposure may be in the order of R300 billion. This would not only have destroyed the airline – but bankrupted the entire country. While business rescue is a useful strategy and possibly the only one capable of forcing the government to make difficult political decisions regarding job cuts and the loss of patronage, it needs to be handled with the same care as a nuclear bomb. 


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DUBAI AIRSHOW

2019

Business in the Desert

Al Maktoum International Airport, about 40 km into the desert from the famous Dubai Marina, has grown from a basic regional airstrip in the early 1990s to become one of the world’s leading airports. Since it houses the Dubai Airshow, it is also fast becoming an epicentre of aviation industry business. R eport : O wen H eckrath

Air Arabia and Airbus closed a deal for 120 new aircraft.

T

HE Dubai Airshow started life as Arab Air in 1986, a small civil aviation trade show at the Dubai World Trade Centre. At launch, it barely created a ripple in the aviation industry but a lot has changed since then. The past few years have seen unprecedented changes in the aviation industry and the Dubai Airshow has helped lead these changes by creating a world class trade exhibition, which showcases the latest and greatest in military, general and commercial aviation. The 2019 Dubai Airshow was hailed as the biggest ever and a resounding success by its exhibitors, delegates and sponsors alike. By the end of a lively week of trading, the airshow had cemented its place as an epicentre of aviation business with more than 1,288 exhibitors in attendance, 161 aircraft on the event’s static display and a packed schedule of flying displays, conferences and keynote presentations. There were 84,043 trade attendees and the all-important sales announcements set records with the onsite order book reaching US$54.5 billion by close of business. THE PROGRAMME Among those who had stands were 100 new exhibitors, including Saudi Arabia’s

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The Helicopter Company, which was also a key event sponsor. Also making its debut was EDGE, which launched shortly before the show. EDGE is a group comprising 25 local entities working in five aerospace capability clusters. Among the firms sitting under the EDGE umbrella is Al-Tariq whose CEO, Theunis Botha said the Dubai Airshow had been a great way to establish the brand’s presence in the region. Elsewhere, a host of speciality conferences, offering industry-specific keynotes, Q&A sessions and networking opportunities attracted huge crowds of aviation professionals. Set across two days, the Global Air Traffic Management (GATM) conference took a close look into the future of traffic control. Virtual towers proved to be a particularly hot topic.

Cargo Connect, a show within the show, focused on the airfreight industry. Here, data sharing across both geographical and business boundaries was a key focus. A growing focus on space exploration was recognised with its own conference programme. This opened with ‘Women in Space’, hosted by the UAE Space Agency and featuring speakers from the UN and Boeing, among others. The programme aimed at examining the key role that female scientists, researchers, engineers and astronauts will play in the future of the global space industry. This conference proved to be a huge draw and former astronaut, the European Space Agency’s Claudie Haigneré, commented that she found the level of engagement “very encouraging.”

THE ORDER BOOKS Dubai Airshow has seen some of the biggest deals signed in recent years. However, sales at the show began slowly with day one having only the sale of two Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners to Biman Bangladesh Airlines, worth a reported US$585 million at list prices. With A380 production ending in 2021 and the Boeing 777x experiencing further delays into commercial service, the focus remained on the region’s largest carrier’s fleet renewal plans. If day one was lacking in large orders, other days certainly didn’t disappoint. Airbus announced an agreement with Emirates for an additional 20 Airbus A350s. This brings the airline’s total order to 50 aircraft worth US$16 billion. Delivery is expected to begin in 2023.

Al Fursan team perform a flying display.

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Amongst the emerging technologies was the Leonardo AW609 TiltRotor.

Bizjets were well represented like this innovative HondaJet.

Emerging technologies were also well represented, like this contra-rotating prop electric E-Racer.

Exhibitors take a breather inside a Falcon AW169 on display.

Saab surprised visitors with its GlobalEye airborne early warning and control aircraft.

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More than enough displays across all aspects of aerospace to keep the visitors busy.

The air displays, which go on for hours each day, are a show highlight.


Another big announcement from Airbus was a deal with budget airline Air Arabia who signed for 120 new A320 family aircraft worth US$14 billion. Airbus will begin the delivery of the 73 A320neos, 27 A321neos and 20 A321 XLRs in 2024. As a week of top-level bartering drew to a close, it became clear that 2019’s sales would pass those previously recorded. And it wasn’t only Airbus who had good days at the show. Normally Boeing does well at airshows, but had been struggling to recover from the 737 MAX situation. That said, Boeing secured a deal with Turkish airline SunExpress for an additional 10 737 MAX 8s worth US$1.2 billion. Further big news was the announcement by Emirates of a reduction in its 777X orders. Dubai’s flagship carrier cut its 777X orders by 30 aircraft to 126 using its substitution rights to swap the order for 30 Boeing 787-9s. Emirates will still be the launch customer for the 777X, which is now expected to enter service in 2021. Canadian manufacturers also had bumper order books at the show. The former Bombardier, now De Havilland Aircraft, announced more orders for its Dash 8-400. Aurora, a subsidiary of Aeroflot, signed a letter of intent to purchase five Dash 8-400s and the Republic of Ghana agreed to buy six aircraft. ACIA Aero Capital Ltd also signed a conditional purchase agreement to buy three Dash 8-400s and De Havilland landed a further order for 20 Dash 8-400s from lessor Palma Holding. Though less likely to be announced publicly, a good deal of military business was also conducted at the show. UAE purchased defensive missile systems and three Airbus A330 MRTT aerial refuelling aircraft. THE NEW TECHNOLOGIES On Day one, Leonardo and Falcon Aviation Services presented a revolutionary rotorcraft-dedicated terminal concept, to meet the growing demands for sustainable and vertical lift mobility and greater access to urban areas. The new rotorcraft terminal uniquely combines a helipad, showroom and lounge areas into a single citybased heliport. Key to this concept were its new Leonardo tiltrotor aircraft. The impact of both technology and space research on all aspects of industry was a high interest topic at the show. Exhibits ranging from Dubai Police’s new flying bike for hard to reach emergencies, to new products in the medivac field, through to the first commercial space flight suits from Virgin Galactic, were all on show. THE FLYING DISPLAYS The flying display demonstrates the technical capabilities of exhibiting companies’ aircraft. The display at the Dubai Airshow 2019 included the Airbus A380 and A400M, the F-16, F/A-18, F-22 Raptor, V-22 Osprey, B-1B, Eurofighter Typhoon. There were also delightfully colourful aerobatic displays by international teams including Patrouille de France, the UK’s Red Arrows and Al Fursan from the UAE. Commenting on the show’s culmination, Michele van Akelijen, Managing Director of show organisers Tarsus F&E LLC Middle East, said: “We always strive to outperform our previous show and 2019 has gone above and beyond expectation, with so much great business being done alongside an engaging and innovative programme of conferences, exhibits and flying displays. We have already seen exhibitors rebooking for the next edition, and we look forward to seeing what the next two years of aerospace development will bring to our 2021 show.” 

The apron at Al Maktoum International Airport is becoming an epicentre of aviation business.

Visitors queue at the entrance each day.

While less public, a lot of military business was conducted.

You can get a lot closer to parts of the plane than you are typically allowed.

FlightCom Magazine

32


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34


FACE TO FACE WITH THE CEO: Airlink has pioneered new routes with its fleet of new Embraer E-Jets - such as to St Helena.

RODGER FOSTER

REGIONAL EXPANSION PLAN In this wide-ranging conversation, Guy Leitch talks to Airlink CEO Rodger Foster about his relationship with troubled SAA, about FlySafair, about growing his airline into Africa – and lots more.

GL: The South African market now seems to be mature - what about further expansion into Africa? RF: We have already applied for a number of bilaterals, and now been designated to operate routes which we are considering the financial case for opening. But it’s tough; you need a foreign operator’s permit and sometimes that state’s civil aviation authority has to come and do an audit on you, to access your proficiency, despite the fact that your proficiency has already been tested by your own competent authority – and is demonstrated by the fact that you hold an air operator’s certificate. You have to go through all those hoops, and they take time. You also have to get a general handling agent; sometimes the general sales agent can also do that. In South Africa we are spoilt for choice. But when we want to go into some states, there is only one handler and it happens to be that state’s national carrier, who is also your competitor. So now you have to negotiate with someone who has a monopoly and is fond of extortion. They can charge you US1,500 a pop for ground handling. But when they want to come into South Africa, they pay maybe R1,000 for a turnaround. You look at the difference and

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FlightCom Magazine

know that there is no way you can make money going into their domain. But they can come and eat your lunch. The net result is that the Yamoussoukro Declarations and the Single African Air Traffic Market (SAATM) are a complete fallacy. There is a historical problem: because SA played a key role in the African Union, the past Chairperson; Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma had to lead by example. So South Africa liberalised and offered fifth freedom traffic rights to anybody who wished to get access to SA via another market – or directly. We basically just gave away the family jewels. The whole idea of Yamoussoukro and SAATM is reciprocity. If you get access to a market, then somebody else gets access to your market on an equal basis. And then its open skies, and the free market forces will prevail. Ultimately there should be no more bilaterals. But it is not like that in Africa – there are 54 states with 54 sets of bilateral regulations, air services regulations and different acts and technical standards. Even though they are all aligned with ICAO, they are all different; because they came along at different eras in ICAO development. And then there are the different regulators. The moment you have that porridge mix, you have to find out which set of regulations you

must comply with: which bilaterals, which competition regulations etc. Can you give us an example? Rwandair can get access to SA markets directly, as well as through Fifth Freedom rights. For example, they can fly from Kigali to Harare on the third and Fourth Freedom traffic rights agreed between the states of Rwanda and Zimbabwe. But they can also get access to the markets between Zimbabwe and SA using Fifth Freedom rights. And they can do them freely. Airlink is already designated to fly Harare - Cape Town, but now we have a subsidised competitor. We have a similar problem with Namibia in that they would not let us carry passengers from Windhoek to St Helena. What happened with you and the FlySafair takeover? That was blocked by the Competition Board. The board’s primary concern was that Airlink has a relationship with SAA and Safair and SAA are competitors. They see Safair as a market disruptor and they don’t want that disruptor to be tamed by the dominant carrier. They saw Airlink as the conduit for SAA to constrain Safair. We denied that, because it was never part of our strategy to bring Safair under the control of


What would the resultant structure have been – who would have owned what? Had the deal gone ahead, Safair would have been a subsidiary of Airlink and the Safair shareholders would be minority shareholder in Airlink. The reason it didn’t work out is that deals get fatigued. And the fatigue was a result of the delay caused by the Competition’s Commission ruling against the deal. The appeal took too long and the appetite had gone as the parties had moved on. It says a lot about Safair – that it must have been struggling in that its owners and directors were prepared to give their bouncing young baby away. I think Safair was still in its early days, with a difficult start due to Comair’s objections. It has done fantastically well since then. We were bitterly disappointed that we were not able to do that deal. The efficiencies of scale would have been great. Would the Safair brand have disappeared? I don’t think so. FlySafair is a very good brand. It is well received by the travelling public because they have focused on the right things. Primarily: reliability and on time performance. They have been the leading OTP performer – except in the last few months where Airlink has pipped them, and that’s by ACSA measurements – not ours. They have endeared themselves to the travelling public by offering a high value proposition and quite frankly run rings around their competitors. We see FlySafair as a good Low Cost Carrier brand and Airlink as niche regional operator. So we would not have abandoned the FlySafair brand. But it might have given you a good alternative to use if SAA folds? It would have provided a way out. Yes, I suppose we could have used their booking system to draw inventory through from another system like Amadeus, which is what our plan was. Could it still happen if you untangle yourself from SAA? That would be the difficult bit. As we well know, SAA has not been in good health and the market forces are dynamic and volatile. The encroachment in the sub-regional markets by Turkish and the Gulf Three has meant that SAA has had its lunch eaten. That is detrimental to us in the long term. And it means that because of the franchise system, we cannot talk directly to Emirates – we have to talk to SAA and then they talk to Emirates. Yet we need to talk to Emirates because a lot of our customers come in to say the Okavango from the likes of Emirates and Qatar and so on. We need to have access to those customers, otherwise we will lose them to a competitor. We have to shift our thinking, which is what we have been doing for the past two and a half years. And now we are ready, but we don’t want to move away to the detriment of SAA. I think that the next big war we are going to see in the airline industry is over ownership of airports. We have already seen Kenyan lose its CEO over its failed attempt to take over Jomo Kenyatta Airport. Airports are thoroughly in IATA’s sights for being cosy monopolies that are fleecing passengers. Operating

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SAA. After all, SAA has just a 3.5% shareholding in Airlink, so we didn’t get that rationale, but they persisted.

Tel: (011) 8054720 Fax: (011) 3156275 Email: cwp@cwprice.co.za

e r th o f t bes ear! e Y th All New

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Airlink has already established a good regional operation - as with this service to Vilanculos from OR Tambo.

What happened to Margate? We used to operate Margate on behalf of the Hibiscus local authority, but when we stopped flying to Margate, we handed it back to the local authority. We did the honourable thing and donated the infrastructure we had built to the municipality. We even provided ground handling to our competitor for a while. And we cancelled the lease and management agreements.

two airports, Phalaborwa and Skukuza, must make you are a little vulnerable in that regard? Skukuza is in fact owned by SanParks and we are in a public private partnership. We put in the bid to procure that public private partnership in 2013 and it’s been operational since 2014. Anyone else could

have put in a bid – and others did. Ours was the best so it was chosen. Skukuza has a limited number of scheduled slots available due to environmental considerations and we are using all of them. However, if an operator wants to provide a non-scheduled service, there are slots available.

How is Phalaborwa doing for you? My sense is that it is being eclipsed by Hoedspruit. Yes it is. CemAir and SAX provided more capacity to Hoedspruit than was probably justified. It has been drawing in the markets that were basically around the catchment of Phalaborwa. So we have trimmed down the Phalaborwa frequencies – from three to one J-41 daily and we are doing double daily to Hoedspruit with a 98 seater EMB-190. 

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Industry Update Report: Owen Heckrath

THERE’S LIFE IN THE OLD GUPPY YET

BOEING PRESSURE BREACH The Boeing 777X was planned to fly for the first time this year with customer deliveries planned for 2021, but this date has already been moved back due to developmental problems with its GE-9X engines. Now, it appears that additional issues may add to the 777X woes and further delay deliveries.

I

N September last year, the 777X was undergoing its pressurisation testing when a failure was experienced during the final test. But according to new information reported by the Seattle Times, this failure may have been worse than it was at first estimated by onlookers. As claimed by the report, what was originally thought to be a blown-out cargo door, was actually a significant fuselage breach. Images supplied by the Times show a breach in the fuselage just behind the wing. The failure reportedly occurred at 1.48 times the limit load, which is one percent short of FAA certification requirement minimums. A Boeing spokesperson reported that a detailed analysis of the incident had not yet been completed but the company believes it “will not have a significant impact on the aircraft’s design or indeed the preparations for its first flight.” While Boeing will likely need to reinforce the area affected by the failure, it is considered unlikely that the company will be required to retest the aircraft as long as its analyses show that the problem has been adequately addressed.

NASA acquired its Super Guppies back in 1997. And the last Guppy aircraft still flying recently transported NASA’s Orion spacecraft from Florida’s Kennedy Space Centre to Mansfield Lahm Airport (MFD) in Ohio.

T

HE 23 year old aircraft was greeted by a crowd of almost 1,500 people when it arrived at MFD. NASA Super Guppy program manager John Bakalyar commented that, “Orion and the service module will be the heaviest payload ever transported in the Super Guppy. We actually had to make some modifications to the aircraft to accommodate it, but this is exactly the kind of thing for which we like to use the Guppy – it allows us to play a small role in getting Orion to space.” The Orion spacecraft was headed to NASA’s Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio, for testing. Plum Brook houses facilities such as a space simulation vacuum chamber measuring 100 feet in diameter by 122 feet high and an acoustic test chamber that can simulate the noise of a spacecraft launch up to 163 decibels. While there, Orion will undergo thermal testing, during which NASA says the spacecraft will be subjected to temperatures ranging from minus 250 to plus 300 degrees Fahrenheit “to replicate flying in-and-out of sunlight and shadow in space.” Electromagnetic interference and compatibility testing will also be conducted. Once testing is complete, Orion will be returned to Kennedy, no doubt in the Super Guppy again, for integration with the Space Launch System in preparation for the crewless Artemis I Moon mission. 

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Industry Update G arth C alitz

EMBRAER’S E195-E2 ‘PROFIT HUNTER’ Embraer, the world’s leading manufacturer of sub-150seat commercial aircraft, recently brought their flagship Embraer E195-E2 to Fireblade Aviation as part of its World Demo Tour.

T 39

HE E195-E2 performance targets are similar to its predecessor, the E195, yet it carries greater payload and burns a remarkable 25.4% less fuel. With a

FlightCom Magazine

maximum range of 2,600 nautical miles at full passenger load, 600 nm more than the E195, this is an attractive regional carrier for the emerging intra-African market. Airlines can configure the cabin in a two-class 120 seat, or a single-class up to 146 seats option. The 31 inch pitch economy seats were surprisingly comfortable with ample leg room, but what really impressed was the significantly reduced noise levels in the cabin. Even on takeoff the PW1900G geared turbofans were quiet enough to allow passengers seated in the rear of the cabin to have a normal conversation. Together with its siblings, the E190-E2 and the E175-E2, The E195-E2 claims the longest maintenance intervals in the single-

aisle jet category: 10,000 flight hours for basic checks and no calendar limit for typical E-Jet operations. This means an additional 15 days of aircraft utilisation over ten years compared to the current generation E-Jets. Representatives of all the major airlines in Southern Africa were invited to experience the E195-E2 first-hand on a demonstration flight. As Embraer’s largest African customer, SA Airlink’s Rodger Foster was particularly interested. 


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FEATURE

BURGUNDY

JETS Report: Owen Heckrath

A French winemaker has got his priorities absolutely right. Michel Pont, a vintner who lives in the Burgundy region of France, grows grapes for wine and collects jet fighters. In fact, he holds the worldwide record for the largest private collection of fighter jets.

P

ONT, a former racing driver, bought 12 hectares in the heart of French wine country. The property includes a castle built in 1340. The surrounding land originally wasn’t worth much, but after clearing it, Pont set aside four hectares for vine cultivation and two to three hectares for aircraft. Pont’s collection includes aircraft from the dawn of the jet age, like the Royal Air Force’s Meteor fighter, all the way up to the modern F-16 Fighting Falcon. He has 110 aircraft, mostly fighters but including a handful of military helicopters. His collection is diverse and chronologically starts with the Gloster Meteor, the U.K.’s first jet fighter and the only Allied jet to serve in combat during World War II. Next oldest might be an F-86 Sabre in Luftwaffe markings, which served West Germany in the 1950s. Next is a whole bunch of fighters from the 60s and 70s, including the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter,

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English Electric Lightning, the rare F-100 Super Sabre and Mirage III. The collection has some uncommon finds, like the Republic F-105 Thunderchief (AKA Led Sled or Thud), one of the largest fighters ever to serve with the USAF and a workhorse of the Vietnam war. There are also several fighters from the former Soviet Union, including a Sukhoi Su-7 ‘Fitter’ ground attack aircraft and several MiG-21 ‘Fishbed’ fighters which were purchased from former Warsaw Pact countries like Poland and Hungary. The most modern and difficult to procure fighter in Pont’s inventory is an F-16A Fighting Falcon. According to Pont, he was friends with a Belgian Air Force general and expressed an interest in acquiring a Belgian F-16. Unfortunately the U.S. typically gets quite antsy on how American-made equipment is dispensed, even by its closest allies. And for a long time the answer from the Belgium Air Force was Rows of military Jets on a wine estate.

a sympathetic “No.” Pont eventually got his F-16. Pont’s collection has received the stamp of approval from the Guinness Book of World Records. Unfortunately, it’s getting harder than ever to amass collections of military equipment like this. Older aircraft, particularly those operated by foreign countries, are easier but more modern U.S. Air Force and Navy aircraft are somewhat difficult, if not impossible for private collectors to acquire. For example, although the F/A-18C Hornet no longer flies active duty, concerns about technology transfers and parts making their way onto the international black market mean it’s hard to imagine private collectors ever getting their hands on one. Pont’s castle at Savigny-lès-Beaune, along with his fighter jet collection, is open every day from 09h00 to 17h30 for wine tasting and jet fighter viewing – A double drool. 


BACKPAGE DIR DIRECT ECTORY ORY A1A Flight Examiner (Loutzavia) Jannie Loutzis 012 567 6775 / 082 416 4069 jannie@loutzavia.co.za www.loutzavia.co.za

Alpi Aviation SA Dale De Klerk 082 556 3592 dale@alpiaviation.co.za www.alpiaviation.co.za

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Chem-Line Aviation & Celeste Products Steve Harris 011 452 2456 sales@chemline.co.za www.chemline.co.za Comporob Composite Repair & Manufacture Felix Robertson 072 940 4447 083 265 3602 comporob@lantic.net www.comporob.co.za Corporate-Aviators/Affordable Jet Sales Mike Helm 082 442 6239 corporate-aviators@iafrica.com www.corporate-aviators.com

Fly Jetstream Aviation Henk Kraaij 083 279 7853 charter@flyjetstream.co.za www.flyjetstream.co.za Flying Frontiers Craig Lang 082 459 0760 CraigL@fairfield.co.za www.flyingfrontiers.com

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Sport Plane Builders Pierre Van Der Walt 083 361 3181 pmvdwalt@mweb.co.za

Precision Aviation Services Marnix Hulleman 012 543 0371 marnix@pasaviation.co.za www.pasaviation.co.za PSG Aviation Reon Wiese 0861 284 284 reon.wiese@psg.co.za www.psg aviation.co.za

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