Midweek Update 23 November 2023

Compiled by Willie Bodenstein


Paramount and AAL moving forward with composite rotor blade production.
Boeing begins Moroccan Apache production ahead of 2024 deliveries.
Piper Aircraft announces new fleet agreement with AeroGuide Flight Training Centre.
Bell delivers first Bell 429 for offshore operations in Cameroon.
Volocopter dazzles with first flight in New York City.
Archer Aviation and Air Chateau International announce Air Chateau International's planned purchase of up to 100 Midnight aircraft worth up to $500M.
SNC Wins $554-Million contract to modernize U.S. Army's A-ISR jets with RAPCON-X™.
First three Bell 505 Helicopters delivered to the Republic of Korea Navy.
This week in History - Richard Byrd and crew make the first flight over the South Pole.
Worldwide incidents and accidents.

Bonus Video - Ford Tri Motor Flight 2013

Aero Club Awards 50 Viking Way Rand Airport (Menno Parsons hangar). Contact Sandra Strydom sandra@aeroclub.org.za Tel: 011 082 1100

SAA Museum Rand Airport in Memoriam SA 295 Helderberg. For more information call 076 879 5044 or email

EAA Chapter 322 monthly gathering, fly-in breakfast EAA Auditorium. For more information contact Neil Bowden E-mail: airadventuresa@gmail.com

2 to 3
SAC ACE of Base Heidelberg airfield Contact Annie Boon E-mail: info@anniesaviationcorner.com

8 & 9 December
SACAA ICAD annual airshow Bisho. Contact Noel Godwin E-mail: noelcg05@gmail.com Cell: 082 414 7702

16 to 22. Welkom Fly in and SSSA Open Gliding Championship.


Paramount and its United Arab Emirates-based partner AAL Group have successfully completed initial testing of their composite helicopter blades for Mi-type helicopters.
Guy Martin www.defenceweb.co.za

AAL's team, in partnership with Paramount, will continue the testing process to achieve full qualification, Paramount said on 15 November at the Dubai Air Show, where the rotor blades are on display.

“This significant achievement represents a pivotal step towards the planned commencement of composite blade production at AAL's MRO [maintenance, repair and overhaul] facilities in Sharjah, UAE,” Paramount said.

In February, Paramount Aerospace Systems inked a strategic partnership with AAL Group for the marketing of Mi-type helicopter solutions and the production of Mil main and tail rotor composite helicopter blades.

“The integration of our advanced composite blades on AAL's Mi helicopter is a tangible demonstration of our commitment to providing innovative solutions in the aerospace industry,” said Steve Griessel, Paramount Global CEO. “These blades represent a significant leap forward in terms of performance, durability, and cost-effectiveness, and we are excited to showcase them at the Dubai Airshow.”

“Paramount's presence in the UAE, in partnership with AAL, exemplifies our commitment to building global networks and supporting the defence and aerospace capabilities of countries worldwide,” added Griessel. “We are excited about the future and look forward to continuing our fruitful partnership with AAL Group.”

Paramount Aerospace Systems offers composite rotor blades for Mi-17/24 series helicopters. Although the production of the composite blades is more expensive than metal blades, the operational life (at 20 000 hours, five to eight times that of metal) makes the overall cost of operation substantially cheaper, Paramount said. Individual blades can be replaced rather than the whole set.

Paramount acquired the composite rotor capability from Advanced Technologies and Engineering (ATE), which became Paramount Advanced Technologies, which opened its composite rotor blade facility in Midrand in October 2006.

AAL Group CEO Olga Martyshchenko said, “Our collaboration with Paramount is yielding impressive results. The new composite blades are a game-changer, and we are proud to have them integrated on our Mi helicopter for the world to see at the Dubai Airshow.”

Paramount added that amidst the current supply and delivery challenges of main rotor blades, the production of composite blades provides a reliable source for ongoing operations, ensuring security and defence support.

Established in 2000, AAL Group provides a range of services and support for Mi-type rotary-wing aircraft. It specialises in support for Mi-17/Mi-171 (Mi-8T, Mi-8MTV-1, Mi-17, Mi-171, Mi-8AMT and Mi-17V-5) helicopters, including maintenance, repairs, overhauls, modification, lease/charter operations, programme management, contractor logistics support, calibration, special process services and training.

Paramount also has a rotor blade partnership with India - already manufacturing armoured vehicles under a joint venture with Bharat Forge Limited, in February the company announced that it was partnering to develop and manufacture composite helicopter rotor blades as well as mission systems and stores management systems for medium helicopters in India.


Boeing has started manufacturing the first of 24 AH-64E Apache helicopters for Morocco at its Mesa, Arizona, facility, ahead of deliveries to the North African nation from 2024.

“By acquiring the Apache, Morocco will receive the world's most advanced, proven attack helicopter that will enhance their defence forces for years to come,” said Christina Upah, Vice President of Attack Helicopter Programmes and senior Boeing Mesa site executive. “Boeing's partnership with the Kingdom of Morocco spans decades, and I am proud the Apache is now part of this legacy.”

Preparations are underway at the Khouribga military base to accommodate the new Apaches, Far-Maroc reported.

Morocco in June 2020 ordered 24 AH-64Es in a deal worth $440 million, after requesting the aircraft in late 2019. The contract is expected to conclude by March 2025.

Boeing is building the new Moroccan Apaches under a contract with the US Army through the US government's Foreign Military Sales process.

In November 2019 Morocco requested the sale of 24 new helicopters and 12 options, along with AGM-114R/L Hellfire missiles, Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System munitions, AIM-92H Stinger missiles, M261 rocket launchers, 70 mm rockets and 30 mm cannon ammunition.

The AH-64E that Morocco has ordered features an improved Modernized Target Acquisition Designation System that provides day, night and all-weather target information, as well as night vision navigation capability. In addition to classifying ground and air targets, Boeing said the Fire Control Radar has been updated to operate in a maritime environment.

Morocco has been seeking a new attack helicopter for some time. In early 2019, reports emerged that Morocco had selected the Apache over the T-129 ATAK and Bell AH-1Z. Morocco's military has no dedicated attack helicopter, instead relying on two dozen Gazelles, which are flown by both Army Aviation and the Royal Moroccan Air Force.

Boeing said its partnership with Morocco spans decades. “Boeing is a partner of the MATIS Aerospace joint venture, which produces airplane wire bundles and harnesses. In 2016, the company signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Kingdom to create an ecosystem of aircraft equipment suppliers,” it said.

Morocco is also acquiring other military aviation assets from the United States, including 25 F-16C/D Block 72 fighter jets to replace the Mirage F1s it received in the 1970s, the Northrop F-5E/F Tiger IIs it received in the 1980s, and to augment and eventually replace the F-16C/Ds it received from 2011.


Piper Aircraft announced today that AeroGuard Flight Training has placed an order for ninety (90) new Archer TX aircraft. The addition of these new Piper trainers will almost double AeroGuard's fleet size, bringing it to over 200 aircraft.

AeroGuard Flight Training Centre has four campus locations, three in the U.S and one in Saudi Arabia. These locations train more than 2,000 student pilots, preparing them for their careers at the world's leading airlines such as Cathay Pacific, SkyWest and Korea Aerospace University. AeroGuard also has partnerships with many other airline and university partners across the Middle East, India and the rest of Asia.

“We are thrilled to sign this agreement with Piper Aircraft to bring 90 new Piper Archers to AeroGuard's fleet,” said Joel Davidson, CEO of AeroGuard Flight Training Centre. “This investment represents our commitment to providing our airline partners' student pilots with every resource they need to succeed while experiencing the highest quality flight training in the world. With these additional aircraft, AeroGuard has the capacity to welcome hundreds of new airline cadets to our pilot training programs.”

“It is an honour to expand our fleet partnership with well-known Piper Flight School Alliance member, AeroGuard,” said John Calcagno, President and CEO of Piper Aircraft. “We pride ourselves in the relationships we build with schools such as AeroGuard and on the training aircraft we provide them, known for their reliability and ease of use, to train the next generation of pilots.”


Bell Textron Inc., a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, announced a signed purchase agreement with Caverton Helicopters Limited for a Bell 429, which will be utilized for offshore operations in Cameroon. This is the first Bell 429 to operate in the oil and gas market in West Africa.

“Caverton's choice to introduce the Bell 429 into its fleet not only demonstrates the strengthening of our relationship with Caverton, but also the Bell 429's ability to exceed the critical requirements of West Africa's offshore utility market. The hard-working men and women who are the core of the most important industries in West Africa will come to count on the Bell 429 to ensure mission success,” said Patrick Moulay, senior vice president, International Sales.

Caverton Helicopters is a subsidiary of the Caverton Offshore Support Group Plc (COSG), which is a fully integrated offshore support company providing aviation and marine logistics services to businesses operating in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria and across West Africa.

“Having operated a variety of Bell products across our operations over the years, we are excited to continue with this brand, synonymous with excellent performance,” said Rotimi Makanjuola, Chief Operating Officer, Caverton Offshore Support Group. “Introducing the Bell 429 into our fleet is an exciting milestone for us and will enable us to provide the best support for our oil and gas clients across the continent.”

There are currently more than 450 Bell 429s operating around the world, with over 602,000 global flight hours. The Bell 429 keeps crews safe in treacherous environments and protected from wear, combining a large multi-mission cabin with impressive speed and modern technology to provide capabilities that are critical to operators around the globe.


Bruchsal, 13 November 2023: Volocopter, the pioneer of urban air mobility (UAM), completed its first flight test at the Downtown Manhattan Heliport (DMH) in New York City (NYC) with its crewed Volocopter 2X.

Hosted by the Mayor of New York City, Eric Adams, and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), the Volocopter 2X participated in the world's largest and first public event showcasing multiple electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft in a city. Volocopter has now successfully and safely conducted flights in the heart of two of the busiest metropolitan hubs of the world, NYC and Singapore. The success of this flight is an affirmation of the company's skilfulness to bring safe, quiet, and sustainable UAM to megacities worldwide.

With the iconic Lower Manhattan skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge in the background, the Volocopter 2X electric air taxi flew in a stable, quiet, and smooth manner, weathering East River conditions. Volocopter's multicopter design is particularly suited for short- to mid-range urban missions, producing zero emissions in flight and very little noise pollution that is hardly audible in a busy metropolis like NYC.

As part of the public showcase, the City of New York outlined a new vision for the future of the Downtown Manhattan Heliport, seeking to reduce emissions, noise pollution, and improve the quality of life for residents. It aims to reshape heliports such as DMH to accommodate eVTOL aircraft so that the city can diversify its mobility options to reduce congestion, while still meeting the transport needs of one of the busiest cities in the world. DMH is a well-known transport hub for travellers in need of an efficient ride to neighbouring airports or for touristic flights to view the NYC skyline.

Kitplanes for Africa


Archer Aviation Inc. (NYSE: ACHR), a leader in electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, and Air Chateau International DWC LLC, one of the leading private aviation operators in the UAE, today at the Dubai Air Show 2023 signed an MOU covering a planned purchase by Air Chateau of up to 100 of Archer's Midnight eVTOL aircraft with an approximate value of $500M and providing for an initial non-refundable, pre-delivery payment of $1M by December 31, 2023.

Air Chateau plans to own and operate the Midnight aircraft in the region. The two companies will now work to formalize the definitive agreements covering the planned purchase over the coming months, with $4 million of additional pre-delivery payments contemplated to be paid following signing.

Air Chateau was the first private heliport operator company in the UAE to have its heliport and lounge terminal at the land side of Dubai World Central Al Maktoum International Airport, Dubai Helipark and with multiple touch points across the UAE. Air Chateau's operations offer last mile services targeted at ultra-high net worth individuals, including connectivity between airports, cities and strategic points and key attractions.

The relationship is intended to further strengthen Archer's recently announced plans to commence air taxi operations in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai in 2026. The parties intend to explore opportunities to collaborate on bringing in the infrastructure investment necessary for these cities to be ready for these planned operations.

“It was an honour hosting Air Chateau's team at the Dubai Air Show 2023 during which they were able to touch, see and feel our aircraft as it headlined the show,” said Archer Founder and CEO, Adam Goldstein. “Their recognition that our Midnight aircraft meets what the customer demands in the UAE market and desire to secure the purchase of up to 100 Midnight aircraft is another exciting validation of our efforts to bring to market an aircraft that will revolutionize how people move in and around cities.”

“This remarkable opportunity signifies the ongoing evolution of Air Chateau, heralding a transformative era in our industry. Embarking on our journey into being an infrastructure provider two years ago for helicopters, today, we stand at the precipice of realizing our vision for the future of urban air mobility with eVTOLs in Dubai and across the UAE. The support of our visionary partners has been instrumental in our journey, and as we unveil this exciting chapter, we are privileged to share a collective vision. We are very grateful for having the opportunity to pave the way for the future of Air Mobility in Dubai with Archer,” said Dr. Samir Mohamed, Chairman and Founder of Air Chateau.

In October, as part of Archer's announcement of its plans to commence air taxi operations in the UAE in 2026, Archer also laid out its intent to build an engineering Centre of Excellence to support the growing advanced air mobility industry in the UAE and across the Middle East and to collaborate with local manufacturing companies and Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul providers in Abu Dhabi to spearhead the production of eVTOL aircraft, furthering Abu Dhabi's efforts to grow its Smart and Autonomous Vehicle Industry cluster.


SNC has been awarded a multi-year, $554-million contract to deliver aerial intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (A-ISR) jets in support of the Army's Theatre Level High-Altitude Expeditionary Next Aerial-Signals Intelligence (ATHENA-S) project.

Currently in production, the RAPCON-X family of systems is the newest addition to SNC's turnkey, A-ISR-as-a-service model for contractor-owned-contractor-operated (COCO) capabilities - including aircraft, pilot, flight and maintenance operations, and logistics support - that is deployable within just hours.

“We are proud to continue supporting the Army as a prime contractor with forward-thinking solutions that put the warfighter first,” said Tim Owings, executive vice president of SNC's MST business area. “This award is the direct result of SNC's commitment to putting 'skin in the game' and staying one step ahead by anticipating challenges and innovating solutions years in advance.”

The ATHENA-S project is a critical part of the Army's “campaign of learning” to familiarize its aviation and intelligence branches with high-altitude sensing operations. It seeks to inform the Army's aerial surveillance needs until the Army-operated High Accuracy Detection and Exploitation System (HADES) program of record enters service later this decade.

SNC's RAPCON-X solution is a fully shaped aircraft with a functional mission interior featuring workstations, a galley, lavatories and crew berthing quarters. It is designed using model-based systems engineering (MBSE), creating the ability to rapidly engineer modifications, and utilizes an open architecture for mission systems that significantly reduces the time required to integrate new systems and add capabilities.

To ensure readiness to meet the Army's deadline, SNC took possession of two RAPCON-X Bombardier Global 6500 jets in 2022, positioning SNC to have both aircraft operational by Q3 2024. The aircraft have been undergoing engineering integration for more than 20 months through SNC's internal investment channels.

“Our born-digital design process and engineering techniques place RAPCON-X among the most capable and rapidly configurable A-ISR platforms worldwide,” said Owings. “RAPCON-X is a system-of-systems that arrives ready to complete the mission, whenever and wherever the need is, quickly modifying as the battlespace evolves.”

Rapid configurability means the aircraft is swiftly adapted to specific recon missions by quickly switching out on-board equipment to match tactical needs. In its baseline configuration, RAPCON-X is able to collect and process signals intelligence, electro-optical reconnaissance, and ground moving-target signatures using a synthetic aperture radar. SNC will perform work on this contract from its aircraft integration facilities in Hagerstown, Maryland.


Bell Textron Inc., a Textron Inc. (NYSE:TXT) company, has completed the delivery of the first three Bell 505 helicopters to the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN), putting into motion a contract that is expected to see up to 40 Bell 505 helicopters built and delivered by 2025.

In May 2022, a contract between the Republic of Korea's Defence Acquisition Program Administration and Bell was signed after the Bell 505 was selected as the new Republic of Korea military helicopter trainer. The Bell 505 helicopters will be used by both the ROKN and the Republic of Korea Army (ROKA) to train their pilots.

“The Republic of Korea Armed Forces' decision to induct the Bell 505 is a testament to their need for an advanced helicopter training platform. The Bell 505's state-of-the-art training environment unmatched in that class of helicopter will deliver skills to their next generation of pilots that will enhance their operational readiness. We are privileged to play a part in building these critical capabilities and supporting the Armed Forces' fleet with our industry-leading aftermarket programs” said Sameer Rehman, managing director, Asia Pacific, Bell.

The inclusion of the Republic of Korea Armed Forces takes the total number of government agencies worldwide that utilize the Bell 505 as its helicopter trainer to seven - Indonesian Navy, Jamaican Air Force, Japan Coast Guard, Horizon International Flight Academy of the UAE, Armed Forces of Montenegro, and the Royal Jordanian Air Force.

Since the Bell 505 was introduced in 2017, over 400 deliveries of the aircraft have been made and more than 100,000 global fleet hours clocked. With its dual-channel FADEC-controlled engine, glass cockpit, customizable cabin space, tie-downs and two-bladed rotor system, the Bell 505 is a leading aircraft in its class - one that ensures efficiency and dependability in every facet and on every flight.

27 NOVEMBER 1929

Richard Byrd and crew make the first flight over the South Pole in a Ford Trimotor.

Born on Richard Evelyn Byrd Jr. 25 October 25, 1888 an American naval officer, was a pioneering American aviator, polar explorer, and organizer of polar logistics. Aircraft flights in which he served as a navigator and expedition leader crossed the Atlantic Ocean, a segment of the Arctic Ocean, and a segment of the Antarctic Plateau. He is also known for discovering Mount Sidley, the largest dormant volcano in Antarctica.

Byrd said that his expeditions had been the first to reach both the North Pole and the South Pole by air. His belief that he reached the North Pole is disputed.

He was a recipient of the Medal of Honor, the United States Armed Forces' highest military decoration, and the Navy Cross, the second highest honour for valour given by the U.S. Navy.

On May 9, 1926, Byrd and Navy Chief Aviation Pilot Floyd Bennett attempted a flight over the North Pole in a Fokker F.VIIa/3m tri-motor monoplane named Josephine Ford after the daughter of Ford Motor Company president Edsel Ford, who helped finance the expedition. The flight left from Spitsbergen (Svalbard) and returned to its takeoff airfield, lasting 15 hours and 57 minutes, including 13 minutes spent circling at their Farthest North.[4] Byrd and Bennett said they reached the North Pole, a distance of 1,535 miles (1,335 nautical miles).[16]

When he returned to the United States from the Arctic, Byrd became a national hero. Congress passed a special act on December 21, 1926, promoting him to the rank of commander and awarding both Floyd Bennett and him the Medal of Honour. Bennett was promoted to the warrant officer rank of machinist. Byrd and Bennett were presented with Tiffany Cross versions of the Medal of Honor on 5 March 5, 1927, at the White House by President Calvin Coolidge.

Bird passed away on 11 March 1957.

Kenya, Masalani, Garissa County: An exam official was hit by the tail rotor of a Eurocopter AS 350B3 Ecureuil in Masalani, Garissa County, when he was collecting examination papers due to recent floods in the region. He died and the tail rotor of the helicopter broke off.

USA, Punta Gorda Airport, Punta Gorda, FL: The pilot reported seeing sparks from the front of the aircraft on departure. The airplane circled the airport once and eventually returned to land on runway 15. The sparks were observed again during the landing roll. The post-flight inspection revealed that a tow bar on the runway that was still attached to the airplane.

USA, Plano, TX: A Mooney M20 crashed at a parking lot in Plano, half a mile west of Air Park-Dallas Airport (F69), Texas. The sole pilot died and the aircraft was destroyed by a post impact fire. The pilot was in radio contact with Addison Tower and stated he might divert to Addison if he would not be able to land at F69. He reported seeing the runway and radioed that he would attempt to land to the north.

Australia, Port Phillip Bay, about 12km W of Mornington, VIC: After a midair collision with another SIAI-Marchetti S.211 "Viper1" (VH-DQJ) it crashed into Port Phillip Bay, about 12km W of Mornington, Victoria. Police have confirmed that the two occupants, pilot and film cameraman, are presumed dead. Search operations are being conducted and some orange-coloured debris are already found. VH-DQJ landed safely at Melbourne-Essendon Fields Airport.

Indonesia, near Keduwung Village, Puspo District: Two Indonesian Air Force Embraer EMB-314E Super Tucano (A-29) of Skadron Udara 21, crashed on the slopes of Mount Bromo, near Keduwung Village, Puspo District. The aircraft (TT-3103 and TT-3111) were part of a four-ship formation that had departed Malang-Abdul Rachman Saleh Air Base. At the time of the accident, they were flying in a box formation. The pilots of both planes died in the crash.

USA, W of Everett-Stewart Regional Airport, Union City, TN: An XtremeAir XA42 was practicing aerobatic maneuvers when it nose-dived into a solar farm west of Everett-Stewart Regional Airport (UCY/KUCY), Union City, Tennessee. Both occupants deceased and the aircraft was written off.

USA, Alachua County, near Micanopy, FL: Live ATC records indicates a possible VFR into IMC scenario by the pilot of a Piper PA-28-180 Cherokee. Flightaware tracking shows the airplane flying erratically after encountering IFR conditions enroute. At 5:45 pm local, the aircraft began squawking 7600 (lost radio communications) The last recorded ADS-B return shows an average descent rate of about -6,600 fpm. Several individuals in Payne's Prairie report seeing and hearing the aircraft as it descended. Several pilots reported hearing the pilot on guard frequency calling for help before the crash. Media reports that the wreckage was located around 5:15 pm local. The certificated private pilot, age 21, had recently purchased the airplane for the purpose of time building in hopes of an airline career. The aircraft was destroyed, and the pilot was fatally injured.

Ford Tri Motor Flight 2013

Aviation Economy
Midweek Update

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