Category Archives: General News and Airshow Reviews

Leonardo AW159 Wildcat helicopter conducts first successful firings of Thales ‘Martlet’ Lightweight Multirole Missile (LMM)

Leonardo and Thales are proud to announce the first successful firings of the Thales ‘Martlet’ Lightweight Multirole Missile (LMM) from Leonardo’s AW159 Wildcat helicopter. The firings were conducted as part of the UK MoD’s Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon (FASGW) programme and demonstrated the integration of the Martlet onto the AW159 platform. This represents a major milestone for the programme and will enable this high-end capability to enter service with the Royal Navy later this year.

The firing trials were conducted from 27th April to 21st May 2020 and despite the current COVID-19 situation, Leonardo and Thales were able to support the UK Ministry of Defence by completing this critical activity. All of the teams involved had to adopt strict distancing procedures, in some cases having to find new ways of working, in order to make sure that the trials could go ahead. It is a testimony to the professionalism of those involved that these trials were successfully completed under such challenging and novel circumstances.

“This major milestone demonstrates that the combination of the AW159 Wildcat and Martlet missile will be a flexible and effective tool for the Royal Navy. Next year the Wildcat fleet will embark on Carrier Strike Group missions with HMS Queen Elizabeth on its maiden operational deployment. As the only British company to design and manufacture helicopters on-shore, we’re extremely proud to be equipping the UK Armed Forces with world-beating sovereign capabilities.” said Nick Whitney, Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters (UK).

“The successful live firings of the Thales LMM Martlet from the AW159 Wildcat is a key milestone in the programme, delivering a significant step-change in capability for the platform. LMM Martlet will ensure that the Wildcat has the best-in-class offensive capability to protect HMS Queen Elizabeth and her task group during her maiden operational deployment next year. With each platform capable of carrying up to 20 Martlet, the Wildcats deployed with the task group will be a significant deterrent to anyone wishing to interfere with UK interests.” said Philip McBride, General Manager, Integrated Airspace-protection Systems, Thales UK.

In July 2014, Leonardo signed a contract with the UK Ministry of Defence to integrate, test and install the MBDA Sea Venom (heavy) and Thales LMM (light) missile systems onto Royal Navy AW159 Wildcat helicopters, a programme called Future Anti Surface Guided Weapon (FASGW).

The FASGW (light) part of the programme has now seen the LMM, with its associated launcher and airborne laser guidance unit, successfully integrated into the Leonardo AW159 Wildcat sensor, displays and avionics systems. The LMM provides a step-change in capability for the Royal Navy which, in the maritime environment, faces a major challenge in engaging smaller, fast-moving, asymmetric threats, due to their high mobility, their small thermal and radar signatures and the severe background clutter encountered. The LMM is capable of surmounting these issues where traditional electro-optic and radar guidance systems do not provide the certainty of hit required.

On-board the AW159 Wildcat platform, the LMM Martlet could also allow operators to engage air targets such as UAVs and other maritime helicopters.

The launchers are mounted to the AW159 via the new Leonardo Weapon Wing, developed at the Company’s design and manufacturing facility in Yeovil and first trialled last year. Each weapon wing will be able to carry either ten Martlet or two Sea Venom missiles and generates additional lift for the helicopter in forward flight, reducing demands on the main rotor.

The twin-engine multi-role AW159 is able to conduct missions ranging from constabulary to high end warfighting where it has the capability to autonomously detect, identify and attack targets on land and at sea, including submarine threats. The high-performance platform has state-of-the-art systems, including a Leonardo Seaspray multi-mode electronically-scanning (E-scan) radar, and integrated electronic warfare Defensive Aids Suite (DAS).

Over 50,000 flight hours have been logged by the helicopter. The AW159 has also been chosen by the British Army, the Republic of Korea Navy and the Philippine Navy as a new maritime operator of the helicopter.

South African Airways Looks Forward To Resuming Domestic Service

JOHANNESBURG. 26 May 2020. South African Airways (SAA) is currently retaining its domestic schedule, as published between Johannesburg and Cape Town, with effect from mid-June 2020. Accordingly, SAA is focusing on ensuring operational readiness to resume flights once permissible.

This position will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.

At the same time, SAA is cancelling all planned scheduled flights on regional and international services until the end of June 2020 with immediate effect. This decision has been taken as a result of the continuing global impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. Many restrictive rules and regulations still apply to civil aviation across the world. On this basis, it is not yet possible to resume operations beyond South Africa’s borders in a sustainable manner.

“Everyone at SAA is looking forward to welcoming and serving our customers once again. Our operational preparedness is underlined by the significant role the airline has played in global repatriations to and from South Africa and by our desire to serve the domestic market,” stated Philip Saunders, SAA’s Chief Commercial Officer.

For those customers holding unused SAA tickets for these flights, there is no need to contact the airline at this time. All customers will be able to use their ticket’s full value as a credit for travel on any SAA service up to an including 24th March 2022. SAA will also permit a free name change if any individual customer no longer wishes to travel. This represents an important part of SAA’s continued commitment to support our customers in these unprecedented times.

SAA is committed to restart further operations on an incremental basis, and will regularly provide updates on progress.

2 Squadron Gains Two New Gripen Pilots

Air force Base Makhado situated in the shadows of the Soutpansberg mountain range,is home to fighter town South Africa.Where the South African Airforces elite fighter squadrons are based,85 Combat Flying School flying the lead in fighter trainer the Hawk MK120.2 Squadron which is the sharp end of the SAAF,flying the smart fighter,The JAS39 Gripen!

Early May 2020 saw two new Gripen pilots going solo,Major Jabulani “Cyrax” Mabona and Captain Klyde “Ronin” Ross Naidoo. Their story below will show the hard work one has to take to get to Gripen and living the fast jet life dream.

Jabulani “Cyrax” Mabona

Major Jabulani Mabona was born in a township called Mamelodi West, Pretoria East. He attended Primary school at Ndima PrimarySchool (year) and matriculated at Vukani Mawethu Secondary School in 2004.
Major Mabona became interested in being a pilot when he was 9 years old. “There was no other career that I considered pursuing apart from becoming a pilot, specifically a fighter pilot.” He started applying when he was doing grade 11 and only got an acceptance letter to do the selection process in 2006.

The selection process included psychometric tests, psychomotor tests, flight medicals followed by interviews. His military career began when he was accepted to commence his Basic Military training in January 2007 and right after a successful completion commenced with Officers Forming Course in July the same year.

In 2008 he enrolled at the SA Military Academy in Saldanha, he spent a year studying Technology and Defence Mangement, which included modules in Mathematics, Physics, Statistics, English, Management, Aerodynamics and Economics. In 2009 January he had to go through Land and Sea Survival Training followed by Ground School Training for flying. In 2010 he started with his basic Ab initio Training in Cessna 172, followed by Astra stationed at AFB Langebaanweg. He was then selected to complete his pilot training in the United States of America where he flew the Texan T6 and qualified as a military pilot giving him the opportunity to be selected to fly Jets.

Jabulani was trained by former United States Air force F16 Viper Demonstration pilot Captain John “Rain” Waters.

Babcock Flight School Cessna C172
Babcock Flight School Cessna C172
Central Flying School Pilatus PC7MKII
Central Flying School Pilatus PC7MKII
US Airforce T6 Texan II
US Airforce T6 Texan II
Former United States Airforce F16 Viper display Demo Pilot Captain
John “Rain” Waters who was Major Mabona’s Instructor!
United States Airforce F16 Viper

In 2012 he went back to Military Academy to complete his degree in Defence and Technology Management which he successfully completed in 2015. In 2016 he was transferred to 85 Combat Flying School where he began to train as a fighter pilot in Hawk MK120 and a year later successfully completed the course. He served as a Flight Commander and was selected to do Flight Leaders Course which he completed in December 2019. He was then transferred to 2 Squadron in January 2020 where he began Operational Conversion Course in the SAAB JAS 39 where he currently serves as a Survival officer”.

Jabulani Flying the Hawk MK120 during a capability demo at the 2017 Rand Easter Show,Nasrec Johannesburg.
“Seraph” & “Cyrax” airborne out of AFB Swartkop during the 2018 SAAF Museum Airshow!
Lieutenant Colonel Craig “Shark” Leeson & Jabulani “Cyrax” Mabona during the 2018 SAAF Museum Airshow.

The challenges he encountered were being far from his family and being able to successfully complete each and every phase towards achieving his goal.He has served in the South African Air Force for 13 years has never looked back. While he was stationed at 85 Combat Flying School had the opportunity to serve as a Survival Officer and a Flight Commander.
He says; “my solo flight in a Gripen was such an astounding feeling, a feeling out of this world, especially the supersonic part of the flight.”

SAAB JAS39C Gripen
Gripen Solo Flight
Jabulani after his Gripen solo with Lieutenant Colonel Jaco “Weasel” Labuschagne

Major Mabona is 32 years old and married to Nomsa and together they have a beautiful daughter Njabulo. He says flying high speed jets is such an honor and comes with lots of responsibilities because you fly with live weapons onboard and also fly in close proximity with other jets. He says his family always supported him and they are the ones that are always boosting his confidence level when it comes to his career.
To further on his career, the next step will be Instructor’s Course so that he can also give back to the young men and women which are aspiring to become fighter pilots.

Fighter Formation over AFB Swartkop during the 2019 SAAF Museum Airshow.

Lastly he says “all the instructors that were part of my development for me to become a fighter pilot are my mentors. Before every flight, preparation is key, you go through your procedures, you play the scenarios in your head and most importantly you prepare for all the possible emergencies that you might experience.

Klyde “Ronin” Ross Naidoo

Captain Klyde Ross Naidoo approaches with a plan of crafting an aviation legacy that the South African Air Force (SAAF) and this country can be proud of. When asked to introduce himself Captain Naidoo call sign Ronin said “Born: 17/06/1992 at Westville hospital, residing in Reservoir Hills initially, turn 5 and started school at Resmount Primary School.

We moved to Pinetown and I moved to Atholl Heights Primary School for grade 1 and 2, my dad then moved to Johannesburg for work and we followed, staying in Centurion and completing primary school in Laerskool Uitsig, moved to Hoerskool Uitsig followed by Pro Arte Alphen Park and finally completing my high school career at Reservoir Hills Secondary School in 2009.

In my childhood we spent a lot of time moving to new places and schools due to my dad’s, Kuban Naidoo, work in telecommunications. My mum, Ron Naidoo, is now a retired hairdresser and in my unbiased opinion is the best hairdresser in the world. I have two older sisters, Kelly and Robyn, who are great support, throughout my childhood and adult life, although the role of my super fan falls to my mum.

Growing up I spent a lot of time playing sports for schools, such as swimming, played competitively in rugby, cricket and softball. Presently I spend a lot of time at the gym and try to keep fit by running. The scariest thing I’ve done was the big swing at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, I consider bungee jumping from Bloukrans Bridge in Tsitsikama rainforest to have been easier. The most exciting thing I’ve done professionally thus far is when I took up a Gripen solo and broke the sound barrier sending down a bone rattling sonic boom over my awaiting wife.”

From an avid nomadic, together with his family, his military career is a gift that he does not take for granted. “At the end of my schooling career I sought out bursaries in order to study further in the fields of engineering or medicine as well as applying for pilot training in the SAAF. In 2010 upon receiving the call for pilots’ selections in the SAAF I had declined the bursaries I was offered for the other fields of studies, not realising that it was just a selection week and not actually accepted.

The SAAF selection is a four tier selection process, each eliminating potential candidates as you progress through. The first part is the paper selection, wherein you either download the form from the internet, or cut it out the newspaper it appears in early every year. Submitting the required information in the leaflet with all matric/ grade 11 results all the applications go to SAAF HQ and are scrutinized to select the best candidates for the job, once that process is completed, the successful candidates are contacted by to make arrangements to attend a week long selection camp.
At the second-tier process, all members are split into groups and go through a process of psychometric and psychomotor testing.
In the third process, a full flight medical examination is required.
The final step is a panel interview in front of high-ranking specialists at the SAAF HQ.

Although a long process, it is to allow only the best candidates to make it through to the training, from initial paper selection of thousands to only about 20 people being selected and finally only 9 qualifying from pilots’ wings course.” He said.

In January 2011, his humble beginnings in the ranks and military industry proved, thus far to be a firm foundation for the amazing military aviation. “I was called up for Basic Military Training at the SAAF Gym in Hoedspruit. It was a gruelling 6 months – taking a civilian and making a soldier. In June 2011, I started officers forming course at the SAAF College in Pretoria, this involved 6 months of cramming policy and standards expected from an Officer and a gentleman.

SAAF Gymnasium

In 2012, I enrolled at the Military Academy in Saldanha. I spent a year studying Technology and Defence Management, which include modules in Mathematics, Physics, Statistics, English, Management, Aerodynamics and Economics, achieving a certificate of higher education.
Before advancing to Langebaanweg for further training, two weeks of gruelling basic survival training was required, this included sea survival, coastal survival and land survival. The most daunting part of the experience involved the escape and evasion component of land survival training.

In 2013, I started ground school at Langebaanweg and later that year began flying the SAAF PC7 MK2, well known for being the aircraft flown by the Aerobatic Display Team of the SAAF, The Silver Falcons. The course consisted of ground school theoretical training in the following fields:

Pilatus PC7MKII

Aerodynamics (including high speed, rotary wing and multi engine aerodynamics)

Aviation law

Medicine

Aircraft technical

General aspects related to flying and aviation.

The flying training consisted of basic general flying, basic instrument flying, advanced general flying, advanced instrument flying, navigation, close formation and a “Wings Phase” which incorporated aspects from all the preceding ones.

Central Flying School Pilatus PC7MKII

Once all phases were over and all test results were tallied up another selection board is held to stream pilots into one of the three lines in the air force: Maritime and Transport, Helicopter systems or Combat Systems. The directors of the three lines would there decide on the path that each pilot would then follow, taking into consideration the members preference, but ultimately selecting you on your course performance, attitude and perceived potential. I graduated as a pilot in the Air Force in December 2014 and was streamed to the fighter line.” He opined.

While expanding on his career path, formal education was still his goal. He relates that he has a massive respect for education as the SAAF does, and through education and the SAAF he has had fun serving with the most brilliant of minds and continually travels the world. “In 2015, and early 2016, I continued studies toward my degree at the military academy and flying at Langebaanweg whilst waiting to be transferred to 85 Combat Flying School at Air Force Base Makhado.

I, together with 3 other members, moved to Makhado in April 2016 to begin training to become fighter pilots. Which upon arrival was met by another week of survival training exercise in Port Saint Johns, after which we have yearly survival training due to the nature of our job.

Our fighter training was done on the BAE Systems Hawk LIFT Mk120 and the courses consisted of Hawk Conversion Course, a condensed version of what I had done on the PC7 MK2, followed by Operational Training Course. With the ability to fly the aircrafts, we were taught how to use it as a weapon by delivering various ammunitions and being trained in various aspects of Air and Surface warfare, so we could be utilised in operational roles in the SAAF. After a year of consolidation flying, two candidates were selected to complete Flight Leaders Course, Major Jabulani Jerry Mabona and myself. FLC was completed in November 2019.

85 Combat Flying School Hawk MK120 “Gannet”
Armed Forces Day Capability Demonstration De Brug Weapons Range Bloemfontein February 2018
Fighter Formation over AFB Swartkop during the 2019 SAAF Museum Airshow.
SAAF Museum Airshow 2019

As Flight Leaders we were then eligible to be transferred to 2 Squadron and begin Operational Conversion Course on the SAAB JAS39C/D Gripen. I completed my first solo flight in the Gripen on May 5th, 2020, a first for an Indian South African Fighter Pilot.

SAAB JAS39D Gripen

In 2010, I met my wife, Marcia Naidoo, but had only really started speaking too her in 2012, being in the western cape and her in KZN it wasn’t often I got a chance to see her, unless it was a trip home to see the family. We started dating in 2013 and even though had such distance between us the relationship grew to me finally proposing in 2017 and tying the knot in September 2018. Throughout my flying career she’s been a keystone to my support, from not being able to fly a thing to taking to the skies in a modern fighter jet, with all the good and the bad she would be there, either the most excited or ready to throw down with anyone that may have gotten me upset. Although I’m the soldier she’s the tougher of the two of us.

As a youngster I’d always been fascinated by flying, from as early as my second birthday it was evident that I wanted to be a pilot, my parents had gotten me an aircraft cake and dressed me up in a white suit. Being from Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN) I didn’t know it was a possibility for me to be an air force fighter pilot, as there’s not much publicity for the defence force in the KZN community. It was by chance that I happened across a leaflet in the newspaper and my mum had made further inquiries. It was only then that I had decided that I was going to be a fighter pilot in the SAAF. Hard work and perseverance will always pay off.”

He was sure adamant to wear the SAAF uniform and inspire confidence, thus he hastens to say that he keeps himself busy with researching on everything that has to do with the latest aviation technology while mastering the art of being a proud fighter pilot. “There’s still a long road ahead of me to complete Operational Conversion Course on the Gripen and becoming the best Fighter pilot at the SAAF. At some stage in the distant future I will go down to Langebaanweg once again and do pilot Instructors’ Course and give training to the future pilots of the SAAF. Thereafter returning to 85 Combat Flying School for pilot attack instructors’ course on the hawk and move over to give instruction to aspiring fighter pilots in training on the Gripen as well.

Hawk MK120 MK82 Bombing run,Roodewal bombing range Limpopo

What I’d like to say to aspiring SAAF pilots is that nothing comes easy, but nothing is impossible, follow the procedures laid out and don’t be afraid to ask for help, it’s often said on courses that individuals don’t pass the course, those who work together, find motivation in themselves and their peers to complete the course together. Work hard in school in physics and maths, be a good person and never stop trying.

Through this journey I’ve seen it doesn’t matter where you come from, what your skin colour is or what school you went to, what matter is the work you put in. I have come from many places but now I am Captain Klyde Ross Naidoo, a fighter pilot in the SAAF.” He concluded

Ice cold bath after Klydes Gripen Solo

Well done to Ronin and Cyrax,we wish you many more happy and safe flying hours,from all of us at Aviation Central.

Completion of Gripen solo and traditional ice cold bath at 2 Squadron

Lockheed Martin Announces Proactive Measures to Mitigate COVID-19 Impacts to F-35 Production

F-35 Production Employees Will Temporarily Adjust Schedules to Sustain Aircraft Delivery

FORT WORTH, Texas, May 19, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — In response to previously reported COVID-19 F-35 supplier delays, Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) is taking proactive measures to mitigate impacts and position the program for the fastest possible recovery by adjusting work schedules, maintaining specialized employee skillsets, and accelerating payments to small and vulnerable suppliers, to continue meeting customer commitments.

Lockheed Martin Logo (PRNewsFoto/Lockheed Martin) (PRNewsfoto/Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Com)

Today Lockheed Martin and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) agreed to a temporary alternate work schedule for F-35 production line employees in Fort Worth to maintain their skilled workforce.

The new schedule, which will begin May 23, divides each shift into three groups. On a rotation, each group will work for two weeks and then will have a week off. During the adjusted three-week work schedule, employees who work 96 hours or more will be compensated an additional 24 hours for their off week while receiving full pay and benefits.

The alternate schedule allows Lockheed Martin to staff the production line to meet a slower workflow resulting from supplier delays. In addition, it provides a work rhythm that retains the expertise of the talented workforce and provides opportunities to adjust work to better support production.

“These are challenging times, but managing tough challenges is when the F-35 program performs at its best. The alternate work schedule maintains the specialized skillset of the employees and provides opportunities to for us to adjust our workflow to account for supplier delays due to COVID-19,” said Aeronautics Executive Vice President Michele Evans. “Our F-35 workforce is the best in the world at what they do, and we will continue to deliver on our customer’s mission.”

The temporary alternate work schedule agreement will continue for its first three-week cycle. The company will then evaluate business needs and can alter the schedule as needed with the option to discontinue as warranted or continue until Sept. 4. Lockheed Martin and the IAM have also agreed to allow employees to volunteer to be furloughed for 30 days where they maintain their benefits but forgo pay during this period.

Raytheon Technologies to train Afghan Air Force pilots

ORLANDO, Fla., May 12, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — The U.S. Army Contracting Command has selected Raytheon Intelligence & Space, a business of Raytheon Technologies (NYSE: RTX), to train Afghanistan Air Force pilots under a three-year contract valued up to $145 million.

Raytheon will conduct initial flight training for the U.S. Army’s Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation. The Afghanistan Air Force students will go through flight school in third-party nations in Europe and the Middle East. Raytheon will provide tailored training for the Afghanistan Air Force pilots, including classroom, fixed-wing and rotary aircraft instruction.

“Raytheon training experts help the Afghanistan Air Force develop a pipeline of skilled flyers and officers,” said Bob Williams, vice president of Global Training Solutions at Raytheon Intelligence & Space. “Our program uses the latest training techniques, and a focus on individual mentorship to produce well-rounded officers that will help create a secure future for Afghanistan.”

The Raytheon Afghanistan Air Force pilot training program began in 2010. The original mission for basic flight proficiency has expanded to advanced aircraft qualifications and flight techniques. Raytheon’s focus on mentorship and leadership training helps the program maintain a 93 percent graduation rate with every student returned to Afghanistan.

The Afghanistan Air Force Pilot Training program was awarded under the Enterprise Training Services Contract vehicle. Raytheon previously announced a related task order for the Aviation Maintenance Training program.

About Raytheon Technologies
Raytheon Technologies Corporation is an aerospace and defense company that provides advanced systems and services for commercial, military and government customers worldwide. With 195,000 employees and four industry-leading businesses ― Collins Aerospace Systems, Pratt & Whitney, Raytheon Intelligence & Space and Raytheon Missiles & Defense ― the company delivers solutions that push the boundaries in avionics, cybersecurity, directed energy, electric propulsion, hypersonics, and quantum physics. The company, formed in 2020 through the combination of Raytheon Company and the United Technologies Corporation aerospace businesses, is headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Rolls-Royce Launches First-time Immersive Virtual Reality Training For Business Aviation Customers

Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Rolls-Royce continues to ensure world-class support for our global customer base. As part of our IntelligentEngine vision we are further expanding the use of immersive Virtual Reality technology for customer training.

The latest addition to the remote training programme is an instructor-led distance learning course, providing a comprehensive overview of the construction, design and operation of the Rolls-Royce BR725 engine that powers Gulfstream’s current flagship G650 business aircraft family. After completion of this comprehensive two-day training course, participants will be able to service the engine and undertake non-routine maintenance.

Gulfstream’s current flagship G650

Andy Robinson, SVP Customers and Services – Business Aviation, Rolls-Royce, said: “Rolls-Royce has been the leading engine supplier for business aircraft for more than two decades thanks to our continued commitment to the highest levels of service support. We are tremendously proud to have been voted number one in the latest Engine Product Support Services Survey of Aviation International News (AIN) by our operators.

Digitalisation plays a vital role in in bringing our IntelligentEngine vision to life; we use it to design, test and maintain our engines. This new immersive live Virtual Training tool is nothing short of a game-changer – it makes us the leader in technical training and allows customers to participate in the new training, wherever they are in the world. They just need an internet connection, and the required VR equipment, which will be shipped directly to their door,” Andy added.

Lee Bradshaw, Director of Technical Operations, Cox Aviation, said: “The new Virtual Reality maintenance course is a great example of the innovative thinking that is needed to meet the challenges of our ever-changing world. This programme allows each student to immerse themselves in an augmented environment full of realistic images, interactive functions and auditory feedback to delve deeper into the engine like never before. The course complements the industry-leading service already provided by Rolls-Royce and is another reminder of why this company is pioneering the way in creative solutions for the future.”

While not intended to completely replace practical training, Rolls-Royce see the value Virtual Reality adds for customers, such as higher flexibility and the elimination of the need to ship a full size training engine. The user finds themself as part of two realistic scenarios – the engine installed on the aircraft in a virtual hangar and the BR725 engine alone, just like it would be in our in-person training courses. The immersive environment allows them not only to watch the process steps to get familiar with the respective task, but to interact with the engine and the tools, and actually accomplish the task under the constant supervision of the instructor.

Where to enroll? https://rollsroycetraining.wufoo.com/forms/maj05r114g9sx7/

About Rolls-Royce Holdings plc

1.          Rolls-Royce pioneers cutting-edge technologies that deliver clean, safe and competitive solutions to meet our planet’s vital power needs.

2.         Rolls-Royce has customers in more than 150 countries, comprising more than 400 airlines and leasing customers, 160 armed forces, 70 navies, and more than 5,000 power and nuclear customers.

3.         Annual underlying revenue was £15.3 billion in 2019, around half of which came from the provision of aftermarket services.

4.         In 2019, Rolls-Royce invested £1.45 billion on research and development. We also support a global network of 29 University Technology Centres, which position Rolls Royce engineers at the forefront of scientific research.

5.         The Group has a strong commitment to apprentice and graduate recruitment and to further developing employee skills.

At Cruising Altitude in 2019 and Prepared for Turbulence in the Future-Pilatus

Pilatus reported another very successful business year in 2019, exceeding the one billion mark yet again with turnover of approximately 1.1 billion Swiss francs. Operating income totalled 153 million Swiss francs, incoming orders amounted to 1.1 billion Swiss francs. Pilatus staff enjoyed a share in this success with a generous bonus payout – even in the current difficult economic climate.

2019 will go down in the company’s 80 year history as another very successful twelve months overall. The figures were very similar to those reported in 2018. Total aircraft deliveries came in at 134 – 83 PC-12 NGs, 40 PC-24s and 11 PC-21s – the most extensive production programme yet.

Successful PC-24 market launch

The market rollout of the brand-new PC-24 is now complete and Pilatus has well and truly left the build-up phase. 75 PC-24s have been delivered to date and are in use on every continent. The PC-24 with the most hours in the air has already flown over 1,800 hours. The order book re-opened in May last year and demand for the world’s unique Pilatus Super Versatile Jet remains as high as ever. The PC-24 has won prestigious new clients such as Volkswagen and KSA, the Swedish air ambulance service – important milestones in a programme which is still young as yet.

Pilatus PC24

A comprehensive post-certification test campaign was performed in 2019 to have the Super Versatile Jet approved for operations on rough field runways and in other conditions. All PC-24s are now authorised for use on wet and snow-covered unpaved and grass runways. In the same vein, other PC-24 product improvements have been made to eliminate initial teething problems and provide customers with extra added benefits.

Excellent response to the PC-12 NGX

Pilatus launched the PC-12 NGX in autumn 2019: compared to its predecessor, this further development of the world’s best-selling single-engine turboprop in class now boasts an improved engine, smarter avionics and a completely re-designed cabin with larger windows. The new PT6E-67XP engine by Pratt & Whitney Canada is particularly impressive: its electronic propeller and engine control system is a worldwide first in this market segment. After obtaining certification in 2019 and making appropriate changes to the production line, the market launch generated a large number of orders. This month saw the first customers take to the skies aboard their new NGXs.

Pilatus PC12 NGX

Major PC-21 order from Spain

Finalised in 2019 and signed in January 2020, the PC-21 order from Spain is a very important step in securing future operations. From 2021 onwards, Pilatus will deliver a total of 24 PC-21s to the Spanish Air Force, the Ejército del Aire. Spain is the third European air force to opt for this Next Generation Trainer. If the General Aviation Division is indeed heavily impacted by the current economic difficulties, this order will prove essential for Pilatus in terms of providing sufficient activity for the workforce and continued business success for the company. It also demonstrates the importance of the two-pillar strategy – civilian and military business – in guaranteeing future economic viability.

Pilatus PC21

Pilatus delivered the last of a total of 49 PC-21s to the Royal Australian Air Force in November 2019. This delivery – the final one for the time being – brings the worldwide fleet of PC-21s up to a total of 211 aircraft. An impressive figure indeed, and proof that the PC-21 is now the world’s most modern, most efficient training system.

Employee profit-sharing – nothing changes

At 2,289 the number of full-time jobs across the Pilatus Group increased slightly in 2019. The very good figures for the year deliver the most effective means of thanking Pilatus employees: from apprentice through to senior manager, all employees received their personal share in the profits for 2019 as usual. This year’s bonus, paid in April 2020, is equivalent to almost 1.5 times the respective monthly salary. This performance-related employee profit-sharing model is contractually agreed with the company’s own Workforce Committee and has been in place for over 25 years.

Turbulent times in 2020

Pilatus started the year with orders worth over two billion Swiss francs, not including the major order from the Spanish air force. But the corona crisis is bound to leave its mark, and the promising outlook of the early weeks of the year has had to be revised downward. Pilatus was quick to take appropriate countermeasures, including the introduction of short-time work for large numbers of staff. In the meantime, fewer than 20 percent of employees are still affected by this measure. Supply chains remain disrupted, necessitating continuous reassessment of the situation.

Oscar J. Schwenk on 2019 and the future

Oscar J. Schwenk, Chairman of Pilatus, commented on the annual results as follows: “I am very pleased with our performance in 2019. I note, however, that the corona pandemic has pitched us – and many others – into a period of severe turbulence requiring constant fact-based readjustment of our chosen heading. Every pilot learns how to make the all-important corrections to flight path and altitude. We are doing exactly, reverting to the basics, as taught from the first hours of flight instruction – encompassed in the term good airmanship: aviate, navigate, communicate. In other words, retain control of the business, apply an analytical approach to problems and, finally, define a fact-based plan of action and communication.

Under the leadership of CEO Markus Bucher, I have always tailored my management style to economising during the good times in preparation for the challenges of the future, all the time keeping our feet firmly on the ground – all entrepreneurs know that healthy liquidity comes before everything else! Specifically, that means paying realistic salaries, monitoring fixed costs at all times and distributing profits with prudence. Happily, our investors have supported this sustainable corporate strategy – one which we have deliberately kept free of external loans – for years.

We are not the only ones having to tighten our belts. In a situation which no one could have foreseen, it is reassuring to know that the financial reserves set aside in the past will ensure we are able to navigate the current crisis in preparation for a clean landing and a renewed take-off into the future, together. In the final instance, our business success benefits everyone!”

Gulfstream G700 Development Accelerates

SAVANNAH, Georgia, May 8, 2020 — Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. today announced the second and third all-new Gulfstream G700™ test aircraft have taken flight, further advancing toward certification and customer deliveries of the industry’s new flagship.

The second G700 flight-test aircraft had its first voyage on March 20, departing Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV) and flying for 2 hours and 58 minutes. The aircraft reached an altitude of 45,000 feet/13,716 meters and a speed of Mach 0.85. Also departing from SAV, the third flight-test aircraft flew for the first time today, soaring over Savannah for 3 hours and 2 minutes. It also reached an altitude of 45,000 ft/13,716 m and a speed of Mach 0.85.

“The G700 flight-test program is running very well, a reflection of the extensive testing we conducted in our ground labs,” said Mark Burns, president, Gulfstream. “All three flight-test aircraft are performing exactly as we expected them to, and that helps us ensure a safe and thorough certification of the highest performing, most spacious and technologically advanced aircraft in business aviation.”

The three flight-test aircraft have flown more than 100 hours since the program’s first flight on Feb. 14. The G700 has reached a maximum altitude of 54,000 ft/16,459 m and a maximum speed of Mach 0.94.

The current flight-test aircraft are being used for envelope expansion, flutter testing, flying qualities and flight control, as well as mechanical systems, flights into known icing and environmental control systems, among other tests.

The G700 features the longest, widest and tallest cabin in the industry with 20 Gulfstream panoramic oval windows and up to five living areas, along with an ultragalley with more than 10 feet of counter space and a crew compartment or passenger lounge; a master suite with shower; and the industry’s only ultrahigh-definition circadian lighting system.

The G700 is powered by Rolls-Royce Pearl 700 engines and can fly at its high-speed cruise of Mach 0.90 for 6,400 nautical miles/11,853 kilometers or at its long-range cruise of Mach 0.85 for 7,500 nm/13,890 km. The G700 also includes the Gulfstream Symmetry Flight Deck™ with the industry’s only electronically linked active control sidesticks; the most extensive use of touch-screen technology in business aviation; and Gulfstream’s award-winning Predictive Landing Performance System.      

M-345: Leonardo’s new jet trainer certified and ready for the global market

  • The DAAA (Directorate for Air Armaments and Airworthiness), the certification Authority of the Italian Ministry of Defence, has given the initial certification for Leonardo’s new M-345 trainer 
  • Leonardo’s new M-345, close to entering into service with the Italian Air Force, and future aircraft of the Italian Airforce acrobatic team Frecce Tricolori, is an aircraft capable of providing jet trainer aircraft-like performance and efficiency at the cost of a turboprop
  • The initial certification of the M-345 is the result of intense in-flight and on-ground test activities – which total almost 200 flights, carried out also thanks to the collaboration with the Italian Air Force, aimed at assessing aircraft and equipment compliance with stringent performance and safety standards   

Leonardo is pleased to announce that the DAAA (Directorate for Air Armaments and Airworthiness), the Italian Ministry of Defence’s Certification Authority, has issued the “Initial Certification” for Leonardo’s new M-345 training aircraft. This important achievement for the M-345 programme is the result of intense activities with two hundred dedicated flights logged alongside the critical support of the Italian Air Force’s Flight Test Centre, 61st Wing and 10th Aircraft Maintenance Unit.

Lucio Valerio Cioffi, Managing Director of Leonardo Aircraft Division, commented: “The achievement of the Initial Certification for the M-345 – unique in its segment for acquisition and operational costs – confirms the aircraft features excellent characteristics and capabilities and makes it available for the international market. This result stems from a consolidated collaboration between the industry, the Certification Authority and the Italian Air Force under a full national effort and embodies the heritage in training excellence which is widely acknowledged to the Italian Armed Forces.”

The Initial Certification of the M-345 marks the first case of enforcement of the new AER (EP) P-21 rule for a fixed-wing aircraft. This rule adopts the European EMAR-21 – (European Military Airworthiness Requirements) – a stringent international certification requirement that will also be beneficial to the export of the aircraft. 

The M-345, thanks to its performance and advanced integrated training system provides the Air Force with a significant improvement in training effectiveness greater efficiency and a strong operating cost reduction. The new aircraft, designed to meet basic and basic/advanced training needs,  will complement the M-346s used for the advanced phase of pilot training and, in the framework of the “International Flight Training School” project, will support the reinforcement and internationalisation of the training offer launched by Leonardo in partnership with the Italian Air Force.

The Integrated Training system based on the M-345 confirms Leonardo’s world technological leadership in training pilots allocated to current and future generation aircraft, benefiting from the experience and technology already developed for the M-346, including the “Live Virtual Constructive” capability. This allows the integration of the in-flight aircraft with simulated “friend” or “foe” elements, allowing the future pilot to be exposed to the complexity of every possible operational scenario. 

Another Successful rescue for 15 Squadron

Jonathan Kellerman, NSRI Durban station commander, said:

At 11h57, Wednesday, 06th May, NSRI Durban duty crew and Netcare 911 ambulance services were placed on alert for a pending mission to patient evacuate an ill sailor suffering a medical condition (not Covid-19 related) off a bulk carrier motor vessel approaching Durban.8

At 12h45 an SA Air Force (SAAF) 15 Squadron Oryx helicopter, a ShipsMed doctor, Netcare 911 rescue paramedics and NSRI Durban rescue swimmers were activated and preparations, including Port Health Authority authorisations, were set in motion.

The SAAF 15 Squadron Oryx helicopter, carrying 2 SAAF pilots, a SAAF flight engineer, 2 Netcare 911 rescue paramedics, a ShipsMed doctor and 2 NSRI rescue swimmers rendezvoused with the ship 7 nautical miles off-shore of Park Rynie, KZN South Coast.

A rescue swimmer, the doctor and a rescue paramedic were winch hoisted from the helicopter onto the ship and the doctor and the rescue paramedic took over medical care of the patient, a 43 year old Filipino sailor, from the ships medical crew.

A second rescue paramedic was winch hoisted onto the ship with a Stokes basket stretcher and the patient, in a serious but stable condition, was secured into the stretcher and winch hoisted with one of the rescue paramedics into the helicopter.

The remaining rescue crew were winch hoisted into the helicopter and in the care of the doctor and the 2 rescue paramedics, who continued with medical treatment to the patient in the helicopter, the patient was airlifted directly to a Durban hospital and he has been taken into the care of hospital staff.

All Covid-19 precautions and protocols were observed during the operation.

NSRI Emergency Operations Centre, Telkom Maritime Radio Services, WC Government Health EMS, Netcare 911 ambulance services, ShipsMed, Transnet National Ports Authority and Port Health Authorities assisted Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in communications, coordination and logistics during the operation.

The operation completed at 17h20.

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