Tag Archives: Aviation industry

Saab strengthens ties to Quebec and Canada through CRIAQ partnership

This collaborative relationship aims to leverage Quebec’s R&D ecosystem’s strengths to encourage the development of collaborative research projects between Saab and Canadian industry, as well as universities and research organizations.

This collaboration has been formed to support Saab’s future Industrial and Technological Benefit (ITB) commitments, if the Gripen fighter is selected for Canada’s Future Fighter Capability Project (FFCP).

Flight test with the first Brazilian Gripen E fighter aircraft.

“The quality and breadth of aerospace research and innovation in Canada is globally recognised, with the Quebec region home to many excellent companies and institutions. Therefore, it was natural to reach this agreement with an important organisation like CRIAQ. We look forward to working together to benefit research and the fostering of talent in Quebec,” said Jonas Hjelm, Senior Vice President and Saab’s Head of business area Aeronautics.

“During such unsure times within the industry, this partnership demonstrates that the aerospace industry in Quebec and Canada remains attractive and world class. We are very pleased with this signing as we continue to develop our aerospace industry, adding a new global player to our ecosystem. I am convinced that CRIAQ’s academic, industrial and SME community, and the Quebec economy as well, will clearly benefit from this international collaboration,” said Alain Aubertin, CEO of CRIAQ.

Swedish Air force Gripen E

The ITB Policy is the government’s main tool for leveraging procurement to create jobs and economic growth in Canada. Saab has submitted an offer of 88 Gripen E fighters for the Canadian FFCP, and a core element of the Gripen industrial offering includes CAE in Montreal, Quebec who will supply training and mission systems solutions.

C-390 Millennium receives Aviation Week Grand Laureate in the Defense Segment

São Paulo, Brazil, October 19, 2020 – The Embraer C-390 Millennium multi-mission aircraft, manufactured by Embraer, today received the Grand Laureate in the Defense Segment and the Laureate Award for the “Best New Product” in Defense from Aviation Week Network. The citation for the award reads, “The first C-390 tanker/transport, the largest and most sophisticated aircraft yet developed by Embraer, was delivered to the Brazilian Air Force in 2019.”

“To receive an award with as much prestige as the Laureate is a very significant acknowledgement of the exceptional work of all Embraer employees. This is a substantial recognition of the merits of our engineers and the ability of our workforce to execute the development of such an advanced product with excellence,” said Francisco Gomes Neto, Embraer S.A. President and CEO. “Embraer’s new business strategy seeks to increase revenue and profitability, and the C-390 Millennium plays an important role in solidifying the Company as a serious entrant in a new market segment.”

“We are honored to receive this award, which recognizes the excellence of our programs and of this aircraft, which was developed to set new standards in its class, bringing exceptional performance complemented by the lowest life-cycle cost in the market,” said Jackson Schneider, President and CEO of Embraer Defense & Security. “The C-390 Millennium offers greater flexibility and value to operators performing air transport and air mobility missions, among others.”

The Aviation Week Laureates Awards recognize the extraordinary achievements and innovative personalities that represent the values and vision of the global aerospace community. Programs honored with Laureates Awards have changed the way people work and move around the world. Aviation Week continues to recognize the very best accomplishments in the four pillars of our industry: Defense, Commercial Aviation, Space, and Business Aviation.

In 2009, the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) contracted Embraer to design, develop, and manufacture the C-390 Millennium aircraft as a replacement for its aging C-130 fleet. Deliveries to FAB started in September 2019. The C-390, which was recently ordered by the Portuguese Government, is a new generation multi-mission transport aircraft that offers unrivaled mobility, fast reconfiguration, high availability, and enhanced flight safety, all on a single, exclusive platform.

The aircraft can perform a variety of missions, such as cargo and troop transport, cargo and paratrooper airdrop, aerial refueling, search and rescue, aerial firefighting, medical evacuation, and humanitarian missions.

Flying faster and delivering more value, the Millennium is the right sized platform for major airlift deployment scenarios. Minimized intervals and on condition maintenance, combined with highly reliable systems and components, reduce downtime and costs, contributing to outstanding availability levels and low life cycle costs.

The C-390 benefits from a modern fly-by-wire flight control system with integrated technology that lowers the workload of the crew and increases the safety of its operation. Furthermore, the aircraft can refuel other aircraft in flight, with the installation of removable internal fuel tanks. The aircraft can also be refueled in flight, thus providing greater flexibility for longer missions. An advanced self-defense system increases the aircraft’s survival capability in hostile environments.

Equipped with two International Aero Engines V2500 turbofan engines, the latest avionics, a rear ramp, and an advanced cargo handling system, the C-390 is capable of carrying up to 26 metric tons of cargo at a maximum speed of 470 knots (870 km/h), with ability to operate in austere environments, including unpaved or damaged runways. The aircraft can carry troops, pallets, armored wheeled vehicles, and helicopters.

Aero Engines V2500 turbofan engines

Aviation industry tests a key solution to fly seamlessly and with more efficiency in Europe

  • The COVID crisis underpins the urgency for Europe’s aviation industry to push ahead with delivering the future Digital European Sky, and building a smarter, more sustainable and resilient system in the long term.
  • An essential component of the future system is ground-to-ground interoperability, a solution designed to enable the swift and seamless exchange of flight trajectory information in real time between Europe’s network of 63 air traffic control centres.

Europe’s aviation industry has completed the final test of a new SESAR Solution on ground-to-ground interoperability, which is designed to allow the network of 63 European en-route control centres to exchange information on the flight trajectories in real time, thus supporting seamless operations and improving flight efficiency.

This milestone has been reached at a time of unprecedented crisis, due to the COVID pandemic, which is compelling the industry to push ahead with delivering the future Digital European Sky, in support of a smarter and more sustainable recovery in the long term.
Air navigation service providers in Germany (DFS), France (DSNA), Spain (ENAIRE), Italy (ENAV) and EUROCONTROL’s Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre (MUAC), together with the technology provider manufacturing industries Indra, Leonardo and Thales, have worked together on its development, within the context of the SESAR Joint Undertaking research and innovation programme (SESAR 2020).

This solution addresses a frequent problem that affects Europe’s air traffic, whereby flights crossing borders or different airspace sectors have to adjust their trajectory or speed to avoid conflicts with other aircraft. The problem is caused largely by en-route control centres sharing information in a sequential way and updating the trajectory information.
To address this situation the SESAR JU ‘4DTM’ ground-to-ground interoperability (IOP) project, coordinated by Indra, has developed a solution that allows the sharing of information in real time.

With this solution, control centres involved in the management of a flight can share reliable, complete and updated flight trajectory information from take-off to landing, taking into account any existing and shared internal restrictions in the airspaces that the flight will cross.
Final tests of this solution – following the first trials successfully held in April 2019 – took place last June during two weeks in an environment simulating the operations of the Maastricht UAC, Reims UAC, Karlsruhe UAC, Geneva and Zurich UACs, Padua and Milan UACs.

Thanks to the IOP solution, all actions carried out in one centre are immediately visible in all other centres, removing any uncertainty over the conditions under which a flight would enter another airspace.
The end goal is to attain a smoother control process, which will improve the efficiency of air traffic control in Europe and make it possible to manage more flights with greater precision and punctuality, offering cost savings to airlines, reductions in CO2 emissions and ultimately providing a better service for passengers.

The solution will also help carry out the ATC process “quietly”, without the need for the air traffic controller to coordinate with his/her counterparts in adjacent centres by phone. For this purpose, and implementing the “flight object” concept, all control centres share the same information and have the possibility to request changes to flight trajectories in real time.
Some use cases on which the solution was tested:

  • Changes in flight level requested by the aircraft in order to avoid storms Route changes requested by the aircraft in order to shorten route
  • Real-time updates on the information regarding a particular flight trajectory by using the Flight Object data
  • Flexible flight transfer procedures between control centres
  • Flight management coordination between centres
  • What-if mechanism to preview and negotiate changes

IOP is the enabling ground-ground communication technology and protocols for seamless flight operation across regions and national boundaries, and underpins the 4D flight trajectory with the real-time sharing of the trajectory among all the ATM actors
The results of these tests will be released at the end of this year, and will be used to update the ED133 standard developed by the European Organisation for Civil Aviation Equipment (EUROCAE), which will support subsequent industrialisation and implementation.

Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) upgrades continue for US Guard, reserve and active-duty fighters

BALTIMORE – Oct. 15, 2020 – The U.S. Air Force has met Full Operational Capability (FOC) readiness for Northrop Grumman Corporation’s (NYSE: NOC) AN/APG-83 SABR active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar on Air National Guard F-16s to meet a U.S. Northern Command Joint Emergent Operational Need (JEON) for homeland defense.

On Sept. 7, the U.S. Air Force began installation of APG-83 radars on Air National Guard F-16s at Joe Foss Field, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the fourth U.S. Air Force base to receive AN/APG-83 SABR AESA radar upgrades.

Northrop Grumman’s AN/APG-83 radar being installed in an Air National Guard F-16 at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C. (U.S. Air Force photo/released)

The radar upgrade of Air National Guard F-16s extends the operational viability and reliability of the fleet while providing pilots with 5th-generation fighter radar capabilities to defend our nation’s airspace.

“SABR enables F-16 pilots to detect, track, identify and target a greater number of threats faster and at longer ranges from outside the threat envelope,” said Mark Rossi, director, SABR programs, Northrop Grumman. “This upgrade will keep the multirole F-16 fighter relevant and capable for decades to come.”

The AN/APG-83 features all-weather, high-resolution synthetic aperture radar mapping to present the pilot with a large surface image for more precise target identification and strike compared to legacy systems. Its design incorporates proven hardware and advanced operating modes from Northrop Grumman’s fifth-generation F-35 and F-22 AESA radars. The high degree of commonality and shared manufacturing processes and infrastructure drives efficiencies and affordability improvements across all of Northrop Grumman’s AESA radar programs.

The AN/APG-83 AESA is now an official program of record for both the active and reserve U.S. Air Force as well as the Guard after the service procured units in February for Air Combat Command and Air Force Reserve F-16 aircraft.

An Air National Guard F-16 Fighting Falcon from Kelly Field, Texas

Northrop Grumman solves the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the ever evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Our 90,000 employees define possible every day using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products and services.

Joe Ford joins Draken International as Chief Executive Officer

Las Vegas, NV – The Board of Directors of Draken International, LLC has elected Joseph “Joe”Ford as Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. Ford will also serve as a member of the company’s Board of Directors.


Ford previously served as President, DynAviation at DynCorp International. At DynAviation, Ford was responsible for all aspects of the segment’s profit and loss performance with functions including operations, supply chain management, finance, quality assurance, human resources, contracts and internal and external business development.


Ford will succeed Jared Isaacman who has served as Draken’s Founder and Chief Executive Officer since 2011. Isaacman will become the non-executive Chairman of the Board of Directors and will assist Ford through the transition.

Mirage F1B


“During a period of tremendous growth for our company and the commercial adversary air industry, there is no better person to lead Draken International,” stated Isaacman. “After serving
his country with distinction for 25 years and growing defense companies that support the U.S. military, Joe has the leadership, strategic vision and record of execution to fly Draken to new heights. His insight for how to apply modernization to our comprehensive fleet of fighters will prove beneficial and is exactly what Draken needs as the company enters its next
chapter of expanded growth.”


“I am beyond thrilled to join the Draken family,” stated Ford. “I understand the need to provide the U.S. military aviation community with the readiness it needs while making every taxpayer dollar go further. Draken is the best in the business and I am honored to have Jared and the Board’s support as we remain focused on supporting our nation’s military aviators every day.”
Before his career in the private sector, Ford had a distinguished military career, retiring from the U.S. Air Force as a Colonel in January of 2007 as the commander of the 401st Air Expeditionary Wing at Aviano Air Base, Italy.

Other roles during his military career include commander of the
18th Operations Group at Kadena Air Base, Japan and commander of the 35th Fighter Squadron at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea. Mr. Ford is a combat veteran with four fighter deployments to
the Middle East. His aviation career includes over 4,000 hours in aircraft including the F-4C/D,A-7D, F- 117, F-16A/B/C/D, F-15C/D, HH-60, E-3 and KC-135R.

Aero L159s


“Draken is the kind of mission driven company with which we like to partner,” said Todd Hirsch, Senior Managing Director at Blackstone Tactical Opportunities and a member of the company’s board. “A decade ago, Draken was an idea – that commercial adversary air support
can improve readiness and reduce sustainment and training costs for the U.S. Armed Forces.


Today, Draken is the industry’s leading provider of military aviation readiness training,completing over 20,000 flight hours with a fleet of more than 100 mission capable aircraft.

Ex South African Air force 2 Squadron Cheetah C (375) recently took to the skies after 18 years on the ground 2 weeks ago at Denel Aeronautics base at OR Tambo International Airport,South Africa.This will also be one of Drakens assets!Picture by Casper van Zyl

Under Joe’s leadership, it will continue to set the standard in airborne adversary support, flight training, threat simulation, electronic warfare support, research, testing, as well as other missions
uniquely suited to their fleet of aircraft.” Hirsch continued: “On behalf of the rest of the board and all our employees, we thank Jared for

creating this industry leading firm and guiding it so well. We are grateful to continue to have him as a partner.”

Mirage F1M


The board also elected Bill “Sweet” Tart as Chief Operating Officer. Sweet joins Draken from DynAviation where he was Senior Vice President, Business Development. Prior to his private sector career, Sweet served in the United States Air Force for 25 years, retiring in 2014 as the Director of the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Division at the Pentagon. He previously served as the commander of the 432nd Operations/Expeditionary Operations Group at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada and the senior military assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs. Sweet is a Risner Trophy winner for outstanding performance at USAF Weapons
School.

Ex South African Air force Cheetah C serial (370) “Vlaggie” one of twelve Cheetahs that have been sold to Draken International from Denel Aeronautics.
Dassualt Mirage F1B, recently Draken got a handful of ex Mirage F1s from various air forces around the world that recently retired them for use.

Draken International is the world’s largest operator of ex-military aircraft. With over 100 tactical fighter aircraft incorporating modern 4th generation capabilities, the company is the partner of choice to support the growing global demand for commercial air services. Draken
employs world class, military trained fighter pilots including USAF Weapons School Instructors,Fighter Weapons School Graduates, TOP GUN Instructors, Air Liaison Officers, and FAC-A Instructors. In 2019, funds affiliated with Blackstone Tactical Opportunities completed a strategic investment into Draken International to facilitate the next phase of modernization and growth. 

Denel Cheetah C “375” flies again after 18 years!

October 9th 2020,after sitting on the ground for 18 years, Cheetah C “375” took to the skies again over OR Tambo international Airport in Kempton- Park this past week.

The aircraft was flown by Denel fixed wing test pilot Ivan “Viking” Pentz,who has a number of flying hours on both the Cheetah B,D,D2 and C models.He has also flown the Hawk MK120,Mirage F1,The AHRLAC and many more!

Denel Cheetah B “Bandit”

Extremely high quality restoration to flight work by Denel. After a few test flights, it’ll be boxed up and sent to Draken International in Florida as said by African Defence Review Darren Olivier.

DRAKEN INTERNATIONAL HAS CREATED A NEW STANDARD IN AVIATION SERVICE CAPABILITIES FOR ALL BRANCHES OF THE UNITED STATES MILITARY, DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE AND ALLIED MILITARIES GLOBALLY. WITH A FLEET OF 150 TACTICAL FIGHTER AIRCRAFT, DRAKEN OWNS AND OPERATES THE WORLD’S LARGEST COMMERCIAL FLEET OF TACTICAL EX-MILITARY AIRCRAFT.

DRAKEN SUPPORTS MILITARY TRAINING OBJECTIVES AROUND THE GLOBE, PROVIDING TREMENDOUS COST SAVINGS OVER THE USE OF TRADITIONAL MILITARY FIGHTER ASSETS. AS AN ORGANIZATION, WE ARE UNIQUELY POSITIONED TO ANSWER THE GROWING DEMAND FOR CONTRACT AIR SUPPORT.

The Atlas Cheetah was a South African fighter aircraft designed and produced by the aviation company Atlas Aircraft Corporation now known as Denel Aeronautics. It was developed at the behest of, and principally operated by, the South African Air Force until the aircraft were retired from SAAF service to be replaced by the SAAB Gripen in 2008.

Pictures by Casper van Zyl

Aero Club Celebrates a Centenary of Recreational Flight

By Rob Jonkers

There is a sense of achievement on reaching a Century, on all manner of occasions it calls for a celebration, subject for congratulations on the significance and justifiable pride, the past century of the existence of the Aero Club of South Africa has been integral in seeing the growth in Recreational Aviation, the collective of the various disciplines
that make up flying for fun, that have allowed the freedom of development in the achievement of products, ideas, adventures, competitions that are existential of this magical world that is recreational flight.

This journey has been long, sometimes tedious and difficult but the persistence and passion of our members across the century has made it possible for the Aero Club to be the success it is today. One of the many great benefits and joys of living since the 20th Century is that we have had the immeasurable privilege to be able to fly, as since the dawn of mankind we have aspired to the ease and freedom of flight that only birds could enjoy, and from those early 20th Century years mankind learned to fly!

On the 10 th October 2020, after many months after postponement since C-19 made us all go into hiding, the Aero Club’s official Centenary Balloon Launch took place at Bill Harrop’s Balloon Safaris in the Magalies Valley. The weather outlook also looked great, and the launch event was a go sent out by the organisers just after 5 am. The wind started picking up somewhat, and first off the ground were the three commercial balloons that occurred at 6am, thereafter the Aero Club Balloon which was rebuilt in Aero Club Centenary colours (carrying the registration ZS- HOI as the ex Capital Radio balloon) was unfurled and prepared for a tethered inflation and launch.

Chairman of BAFSA Richard Bovell who was also this Centenary event organiser was the first pilot supported by student pilot Sema Mathebula, got the balloon off the ground in somewhat gusty conditions, the wind at that stage would not have been favourable to actually fly. Hanke Fourie took over from Richard for a second tethered stint, giving a good photographic opportunity for the guests in attendance.

After the balloon landed and was furled up again, the guests were treated to a scrumptious breakfast, as only one can experience as an early morning African sunrise breakfast in the bush. As MC for the event Richard Bovell gave a short speech on a brief history of sport ballooning in South Africa, thanked the guests for their attendance, and handed over the very first Aero Club Centenary Yearbook which is hot off the presses to the Doyen of Ballooning in South Africa Terry Adams, who since his arrival in SA in 1976 established the mainstay of balloon manufacturing
and pilot training in SA.

Thereafter Rob Jonkers as the Chair of the Aero Club thanked BAFSA and their team of hosting this one of a kind event, and the only event marking the Aero Club’s Centenary that will take place in 2020. A ceremonial Centenary cake cutting was then carried out by the Aero Club’s Executive Committee, Rob Jonkers (Chairman), Marthinus Potgieter (Vice-Chairman), John Gaillard (Hon Treasurer) and Hanke Fourie (Exco Member).

Although the year 2020 will go down in history as a great disrupter and has essentially rained on our Centenary parade, we will be looking at recovering much of the planned events in 2021 as time and resources will allow to bring justice to our 100 year heritage, especially poignant is to hold a 100 aircraft of all types flypast ( 101 also looks like a good number…) and an all Recreational Aviation Airweek as was initially planned for this year at Middelburg.

The Centenary coffee table book, which is now available for sale (details on the Aero Club website), is a compendium of each of our flying disciplines, historic and contemporary with numerous personalities with some
remarkable stories in recreational flying as a celebration for this signature Centenary Year.

Retirement Of SAAF Lieutenant General Fabian Msimang

On Wednesday 30 September,members of the South African Air force and members of the media got to witness a series of beautiful flypasts from a number of aircraft of squadrons based across South Africa.A fitting tribute and thank you to the former Chief of the South African Air force!

Lieutenant General Fabian Zimpande (Zakes) Msimang integrated into the South African National Defence Force in 1994 after the first Democratic Elections as a qualified helicopter pilot.He received his flying training at Frunze 1 Central Officers Training Center – Kirghistan, in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics between 1986 to 1991.

He graduated from the institution with a diploma in Command and Tactics of Military Aviation.During Msimang’s Career he has flown the Mi8, Mi25 ,Alouette III and Oryx Helicopters.He also completed a factory conversion onto the Agusta A109E Helicopter at Agusta/Westland now known at Leonardo in Italy.

Mil Mi8
MIL MI25
Alouette III
Agusta A109LUH

He was a member of the Umkhonto We Sizwe (MK),the military wing of the African National Congress.He engaged in combat in Angola in 1986.In 1994,he completed the Air force Junior Staff Course in Zimbabwe before returning to the South African National Defence Force.Post 1994,he served as an operational pilot in both maritime and inland operations.

In 2000,Msimang was appointed the assistant project officer on the acquisition programme of the Agusta A109LUH in Italy.He went onto successfully complete the Senior Staff Course at the Italian Air force War School.On his return in 2003 from Italy,he was appointed the Officer Commanding of 87 Helicopter Flying School at Air force Base Bloemspruit. The Following year he successfully completed the Joint Senior Command and Staff Programme at the South African National War College.

First South African Air force Agusta A109 In Italy
Oryx Helicopter

In 2005,he was appointed officer commander of Air force Base Bloemspruit and promoted to the rank of Colonel.In 2006,he completed the Executive National Security Programme at the South African National Defence College.In 2007,Msimang,after a two and half year tour as OC at Air force Base Bloemspruit,he was appointed Director Helicopter Systems and Promoted to the rank of Brigadier General at Air Command.

Eldorado Park Aviation Expo 2017 with Gripen display Pilot Major Geoffrey “Spartan” Cooper

In November 2010,he was appointed Chief Director Air Policy and Plans and then promoted to the rank of Major General,responsible for Air force Strategy,policies,capabilities and resource allocation.On 28 September 2012 he was accepted command as the Chief of the South African Air force from Lieutenant-General Carlo Gagiano.

Bell APT 70 Successfully Completes NASA’s Systems Integration and

Fort Worth, Texas (1 October, 2020) – Bell Textron Inc., a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, announced today the successful flight of the Bell Autonomous Pod Transport (APT) 70 as part of a joint
flight demonstration with NASA. Bell was selected to participate in NASA’s Systems Integration and Operationalization (SIO) activity in 2018, which includes multiple flight demonstrations focusing on
different types of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and their flight environments.


The objective of Bell’s SIO demonstration was to execute a Beyond Visual Line-of-Sight (BVLOS) mission in an urban environment transitioning into and out of Class B airspace representing future commercial
flights. Mission results will be used to evaluate and demonstrate Detect and Avoid (DAA) and Command and Control (C2) technologies for use in future certified operations in controlled and uncontrolled
airspace. Data collected during the demonstration will be used to support future standards development and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification guidelines.


“This successful demonstration highlights the great potential for the APT 70 to complete complex
missions for businesses and healthcare providers,” said Michael Thacker, executive vice president,
Innovation and Commercial Business. “With teammates like NASA, we can carve a path forward for future commercial operations to solve the cargo and goods transportation challenges our world currently faces.”
Launching from Bell’s Floyd Carlson field in Fort Worth, TX, the APT 70 flew a preprogrammed 10-mile circuit path along the Trinity River. Once armed from the ground control station, the APT 70 initiated a
vertical takeoff.

The vehicle then rotated to fly on its wings where it became nearly silent to the ground below. The vehicle executed its mission profile at an altitude of 500 feet above ground level. The route
included a road crossing and transition in and out of Class B airspace. Communication between the ground station and the aircraft was maintained through a redundant datalink. A prototype airborne detect
and avoid system, along with visual observers, provided the remote pilot with awareness of air traffic in
the vicinity and recommended flight maneuvers.

NASA is excited to partner with Bell to help accelerate routine UAS operations into the national airspace
with this successful flight demo,” said Mauricio Rivas, UAS integration in the NAS project manager at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center. “Our efforts with Bell and our other SIO industry partners will
help commercial UAS move closer towards certification to make missions like this transport flight a
common event.”

Bell’s technology partners for the demonstration include Xwing and the University of Massachusetts
Amherst’s Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA). Integrated onto the APT
70 is Xwing’s airborne, multi-sensing detect and avoid system. Xwing’s system comprises of radars, ADS- B, visual system and onboard processing to provide aircraft tracks and pilot alerts transmitted to the
ground station. The APT 70 also includes CASA’s intuitive, integrated display to provide pilots with local weather risk awareness and route-based weather alerts issued by their City Warn Hazard Notification
System deployed in the DFW metroplex.


It is envisioned that in the future, an operational APT 70 could provide efficient, rapid and dependable transport for payloads up to 70lbs. The APT 70 is estimated to move three times as fast as ground transportation. The vehicle is capable of autonomous flight, automatically flying a programmed flight route and handling an array of contingency functions. Potential uses for the APT 70 include medical deliveries,
third-party logistics, offshore delivery, humanitarian relief and many more.

Cuban South African Airforce Graduates

by Lt Gen F.Z. Msimang, Chief of the South African Air Force

Life is indeed cyclical. Many years ago, in the mid-80’s a young soldier by the name Zakes Khulu along with his comrades found themselves in a foreign country pursuing aviation studies. They learned all they could in that country, immersing themselves in its culture, its ways of life. They would eventually return home with their newly acquired skills, eager to start collaborating in establishing a new democracy. Looking back at their journey in many ways mirrors your own. You too were deployed to a foreign country to learn, to grow, to improve and be immersed in a culture engendered with liberation so that when you returned, which you have now done, you will continue the democracy building project. That Zakes Khulu with some of those surviving comrades, stand before you now beaming with pride for your extraordinary achievements, watching you ride the waves of endless possibilities. We are extremely proud of you all.

We are here, today, under strict Covid-19 regulations, which we must observe and respect accordingly, to welcome all of you on parade and your proud families, loved ones and friends to this auspicious and memorable occasion. We are here to honour a group of military aviators who trained in the Republic of Cuba; we welcome them home to their esteemed SAAF flying community. 

Graduates, you have touched my heart. You have carried yourselves with exceptional grace and honour. You kept your promise to me. You have brought home commendable results but know this road still unfolds before your feet. Baba Mandela – the Father of our Nation – once said: “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”

This parade marks one of the many summits you will have to reach in your long careers in the SANDF.

But as your achievements belong to you they belong also to your unwavering support structures. It was a community project. This journey would have been impossible without the commitment and dedication of your instructors, your mentors and of cause – the support of your proud parents, family members and loved ones. A special word of thank you to all the SAAF members who helped you work through obstacles, while you tenaciously invited the universe to mold you into fine soldiers. 

Our unbreakable bonds between the Cubas and our government can be traced to its support of African liberation movements, following the overthrow of the Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959 by “The Movement,” formed by late longtime Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Cuba supported the anti-apartheid struggle in this country opposing racial segregation when it was not fashionable to do so. It criticised the international community for blatantly ignoring South Africa’s human rights’ violations – the very rights that many are taking for granted in this country today. 

When the democratic South African National Defence Force entered into bilateral agreements with The Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces to create study opportunities for our soldiers,  the South African Air Force (SAAF)  embraced this opportunity with open arms.

We identified disciplined young men and women to undergo training in Cuba, where they would be immersed in a different culture, social structure, and political landscape. In 2014, we sent twenty-seven candidates to undergo various training specialties in aviation engineering, air traffic control and pilot training fields. They stand before us now: a result of a bond based on shared revolutionary principles. 

I kept an eagle eye on your developments in Cuba. I was pleased to learn that you turned every challenge into an opportunity for growth. Your results speak for themselves. You received golden awards for both academia and sports. You even experienced the devastating hurricane Irma and used that difficult time to learn major survival skills. Your stay in Cuba also coincided with the mourning of the passing of one the world’s finest revolutionaries Fidel Castro, his message of resistance to oppression resounding strong. Cuba provided you with immense lessons in patriotism, survival and determination. May these lessons nourish you.

Additional  SAAF students commenced with their aviation training in Cuba in 2018 and 2019. We are expecting more graduates in 2021, 2022 amd 2026. Extending the SAAF training scope to various foreign countries will ultimately bring about a generation of differently trained individuals who if nurtured and allowed to plough back their knowledge, will enhance our outlook as part of the global community.

And as we reach our close, I must stress that the knowledge you have acquired is crucial in meeting our Constitutional mandate and requirements. Our constitution states that “the Defence Force must be structured and managed as a disciplined military force”. As a soldier, for me, the success of the SAAF will be underpinned by an enforcement of discipline and the concentration on functional, developmental and physical training. May we be soldiers who live in integrity: for ours is to serve with discipline, dignity, professionalism and patriotism. You have answered our Nation’sd call – Which is Service, and Country. May you grow to be airmen with integrity,…… for ours is to serve with discipline, dignity, professionalism and patriotism. 

As proud and devoted members of the SANDF, we must have  an eagle’s eye view on any challenge and hover above  it menacingly, in the knowledge that our citizenry expects nothing less  than a deep sense of security from us.

The Chief of the SAAF concluded his speech below:

TO THE MEMBERS ON PARADE, I WISH YOU ALL SUCCESS IN YOUR FUTURE ENDEAVOURS. YOU ARE OUR FUTURE LEADERS.  GO OUT THERE AND SERVE THE NATION.   THE AIR FORCE COMMAND COUNCIL WILL CERTAINLY BE FOLLOWING YOUR CAREERS WITH INTEREST – CONTINUE WITH THE HARD WORK AND DISCIPLINE YOU HAVE DEMONSTRATED THUS FAR.

MAY YOU BE ABUNDANTLY BLESSED. 

I THANK YOU.

Aero L39s of the Cuban Airforce were used as ab-intio trainers for South African Air Force pupil pilots!

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