Midweek Updates 20 June 2024

Compiled by Willie Bodenstein

This week in Midweek Updates

Introducing the Sling issues, concerns and events reporting system.
India's Chief of Air Staff visits South Africa.
Nigerian military heritage delegation fact finding visit to two SA military museums.
US starts to exit Niger.
Archer completes Midnight's transition flight; Midnight is Archer's second full-scale EVTOL aircraft to achieve this milestone.
Fun Fly Zone celebrates ultralights, LSA, and rotorcraft at AirVenture 2024.
Cessna Citation Ascend test program soars ahead as second flight test article successfully takes flight.
Lilium and eVolare confirm the signing of sale and purchase agreements for 4 Lilium Jets, with potential deliveries of up to 12 additional aircraft.
This week in history - First flight of the Dassault Mirage IV, the first European supersonic jet bomber.
Bonus video - PTAR 25 05 2024 Final Leg Arrivals.


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India's Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari, Chief of the Air Staff, recently visited South Africa where he engaged with his local counterpart in an effort to strengthen military ties between India and South Africa.

Chaudhari was in South Africa from 6 to 10 May, and his visit included presentations of Air Force Bases Ysterplaat, Overberg, and Langebaanweg, showcasing the capabilities and advancements of the South African Air Force. "A highlight of the visit was the tour of the SA Air Force Museum Ysterplaat Hanger 4, where heritage aircraft are displayed, symbolising the rich history and valour of the air forces of both nations," wrote Lieutenant Colonel James V du Toit for the South African Air Force (SAAF).

"The collaboration between India and South Africa is not just limited to military prowess but extends to a shared vision of peace, stability, and prosperity in their respective regions and beyond. The visit underscored the commitment of both countries to work together in various domains, including defence, trade, and cultural exchange, to foster a relationship that would benefit not just the two nations, but the global community as a whole," du Toit continued.

The recent visit by the Chief of the Air Staff of India has laid the groundwork for a robust partnership that will undoubtedly contribute to regional stability and open new avenues for bilateral cooperation," the SAAF said.

SAAF Chief, Lieutenant General Wiseman Mbambo, visited Chaudhari in India during a November 2021 goodwill tour that also took in meetings with the heads of the Indian Navy and Army.

India and South Africa witness frequent high level military visits, as well as training exchanges, military exercises and sharing of each other's good practices. This includes Exercise IBSAMAR, a series of major naval exercises between the navies of South Africa, India and Brazil held biannually since 2008. Indian Navy warships are also regular visitors to South Africa.


Current expertise allied to experience gained, in one instance over more than 50 years, by South African military museums attracted the attention of the Nigerian Army Heritage and Futures Centre.

This developed into visits by senior staff to the SA Naval Museum in Simon's Town and the SA Air Force (SAAF) Museum at Air Force Base (AFB) Ysterplaat in Cape Town.

The Nigerian centre in Abuja was taken into service in January last year and has a multi-pronged raison d'etre. On one hand it is charged with research to develop and formulate policy frameworks to entrench and preserve the heritage of the Nigerian Army. Other taskings relate to monitoring implementation of bilateral agreements and, according to a Nigerian report, "institutionalising and mainstreaming novel solutions to tactical, operational, administrative and logistics challenges of the Nigerian Army".

Calls this month to Ysterplaat and in April to the Naval Museum were fact finding in nature with benchmarking and learning the priorities.

At Ysterplaat, one of three Western Cape SAAF bases and the only one in the province housing a museum, the Nigerian visit was billed as "a significant event that fostered international relations and cultural exchange".

The Ysterplaat museum, along with its headquarters at the Air Force Mobile Deployment Wing (AF MDW), previously AFB Swartkop, the oldest in the SAAF base inventory, and the Gqeberha museum at Air Force Station (AFS) Port Elizabeth, are collection, exhibition, conservation and research centres for the aviation component of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).

While at Ysterplaat the Nigerian delegation were introduced to the world's last surviving Shackleton Mk III (P 1722) in hangar 4. They also had the opportunity to get "up close and personal" with other aircraft in the museum inventory and see currently in-service platforms including the Super Lynx maritime and Oryx medium transport rotorcraft.

In April, the Nigerian delegation was thoroughly briefed on museum operations for the SANDF maritime service, ranging from function through to cultural, society, environmental and economic aspects, before an hour-long museum tour.

Of the visit, Museum Officer in Charge, Commander Leon Steyn, said: "The recent trend and intent - to establish new military museums in Africa - points to a new and exciting era".

"Revitalisation and appreciation of own military history and heritage is to be commended and supported."

Two years before the Nigerians arrived to learn how the SANDF manages its heritage, they were preceded by a Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF) delegation. The Ugandans' first stop was at AF MDW to see how the SAAF Museum, set up in 1973, manages its exhibits, research library and a sizeable component of vintage and airworthy military aircraft. Stop number two was Simon's Town for the naval museum, presently marking 31 years of welcoming local and international naval enthusiasts and visitors keen on learning about the maritime service.


The departure of a United States Air Force (USAF) C-17 Globemaster III from Niamey marked the start of US assets and forces withdrawing from Niger. A US Africa Command (Africom) statement has it the withdrawal progressed from initial preparations to re-deployment, calling the C-17 flight the beginning of "a significant transition".

The flight, according to the statement, exemplified productive co-operation between the US and Nigerien armed forces through the Joint Disengagement Commission (JDC), tasked with overseeing and co-ordinating an orderly and safe withdrawal of US forces from the West African country.

Through the JDC's co-operative and transparent efforts, a small contingent of US personnel went to Niger to provide logistic support, ensuring an efficient withdrawal of remaining forces and assets from Air Bases 101 and 201, African said. At the same time some US forces elements redeployed from Niger to home stations with mission contributions concluded.

"Both US and Nigerien officials are dedicated to completing a safe, orderly and responsible withdrawal by September 15. They emphasise their commitment to the protection and security of American forces during this process.

"The US Department of Defense and the Nigerien Ministry of National Defence recognise the joint sacrifices made by both nations' forces in the fight against terrorism. They commend each other's efforts in strengthening the Nigerien Armed Forces and express a shared commitment to continued co-operation in areas of mutual interest.

"This withdrawal of US forces will not impact on ongoing development relations between the US and Niger. Both countries remain committed to sustained diplomatic dialogue to shape the future of their bilateral relations," the statement reads.


Archer Aviation Inc. (NYSE:ACHR), a leader in electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, today announced that on June 8th its Midnight aircraft successfully completed transition flying at a speed of 100+ mph. Archer has now achieved transition with two different full-scale eVTOL aircraft.

Transition is well known in the industry as a very difficult milestone few companies have reached. At ~6,500 lbs, Midnight is believed to be one of the largest eVTOL aircraft to complete transition, which is critical to being able to carry commercially viable passenger payloads.

A transition flight occurs when the aircraft takes off vertically like a helicopter, accelerates forward, transitions from thrust-borne to wing-borne flight like an airplane with tilt propellers forward before decelerating and landing vertically.

"Transitioning two generations of full-scale eVTOL aircraft in less than 2 years is another remarkable achievement for Archer's team. This shows we continue to successfully execute against our plan to create the most efficient path to market with an aircraft that is designed for certification and to be manufactured efficiently at scale," said Adam Goldstein, Archer's Founder and CEO.

Midnight is now the 7th full-scale eVTOL aircraft that Archer's CTO, Tom Muniz, and Chief Engineer, Dr. Geoff Bower, have successfully built and flown in their respective careers. Archer's first generation full-scale eVTOL aircraft, Maker, successfully achieved transition in November, 2022, eleven months after its first flight, and still flies regularly in the company's flight test program. Just seven months after Midnight's first flight, Archer has now successfully transitioned its production eVTOL aircraft as the company continues to build momentum towards commercialization.

"Successfully completing the transition from hover to wing-borne flight with a full-scale eVTOL aircraft is a tremendous engineering feat that only a handful of companies in the world have achieved," said Dr. Geoff Bower, Archer's Chief Engineer. "Over the seven eVTOL aircraft I've built and flown in my career, they have gotten progressively larger as we pursued payloads that made the aircraft platform commercially viable. Midnight is believed to be one of the largest eVTOL aircraft ever to achieve transition and one of the first that is purpose built to carry enough passengers to be able to operate a successful air taxi business. I'm extremely proud of Archer's team as we have now achieved this milestone with two generations of full-scale aircraft."

Midnight's flight test program will now continue its progress with plans to fly simulated commercial routes to demonstrate the aircraft's operational readiness, executing high-rate flight operations, testing additional flight maneuvers that will be used in commercial settings along with continuing to expand its speed and endurance flight envelope.

Archer continues to make certification progress as the company has now received its Part 135 and Part 145 certificates from the FAA. Additionally, Archer is one of two companies in the world to have its final airworthiness criteria for an eVTOL aircraft issued by the FAA. Midnight is now in the final "implementation" phase of its Type Certification program with piloted flight testing on track to begin later this year.

Archer's goal is to transform urban travel, replacing 60-90-minute commutes by car with estimated 10-20-minute electric air taxi flights that are safe, sustainable, low noise, and cost-competitive with ground transportation. Archer's Midnight is a piloted, four-passenger aircraft designed to perform rapid back-to-back flights with minimal charge time between flights.


EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2024 attendees can experience one of the more accessible sides of aviation by visiting the Fun Fly Zone located south of the Vintage area along Wittman Road. The area is home to ultralight vehicles, light-sport aircraft (LSA), homebuilt rotorcraft, and hot air balloons, 60 commercial exhibitors, and a 900-foot grass runway adjacent to the Ultralight Barn.

The ultralights pattern has been updated for 2024. Pilots flying in this area must obtain and possess a copy of the current FAA NOTICE and follow the procedures outlined on page 21.

Daily grass runway operations during AirVenture run from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. with a break from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. for the afternoon air show. The flight schedule is divided into time periods to allow similar aircraft in the pattern at the same time. A mass hot air balloon launch is also scheduled for 6 a.m. on 27 July 2024.

Two ultralights are celebrating anniversaries this year: the Titan Tornado (30 years) and the Mini Max (40 years)

Twilight Flight Fest begins at 8 p.m. at the Fun Fly Zone on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday of AirVenture (July 22, 23, 25, and 26), offering demonstrations of a variety of aircraft including powered paramotors, STOL airplanes, RC aircraft, and skydivers. Twilight Flight Fest is sponsored by Horizon Hobby.


Textron Aviation today announced the successful flight of its second Cessna Citation Ascend flight test article (P1) as certification momentum builds for the newest Citation business jet.

The milestone flight follows the Ascend prototype, which completed its first flight in 2023 marking the P1 aircraft the first conforming production flight test aircraft. The Citation Ascend business jet was unveiled during the 2023 European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE), and the aircraft is expected to enter into service in 2025.

The initial flight of P1, piloted by Michael Bradfield and Maurice Girard, lasted 1-hour and 24-minutes, reaching a max altitude of 13,500 feet with a max speed of 308 knots. The aircraft will be used for the flight test program, primarily for systems testing, including propulsion, human factors, environmental control and avionics.

"Today's successful flight of the second Citation Ascend test article marks another achievement for the program, and that's a testament to the many great employees involved with this project," said Chris Hearne, senior vice president, Engineering. "The aircraft has continued to perform well through the phases of testing, and I continue to be confident in the program's momentum and in our skilled team members who make it possible."

The Citation Ascend flight test certification program is expected to complete certification testing with the two test articles - the prototype and P1. To date, the program has accumulated more than 400 flight hours. 

Textron Aviation designed the Citation Ascend based on customer feedback for ultimate performance and comfort.   

With sleek and modern features, customers will enjoy many of the luxuries found in the bestselling Citation Latitude and Citation Longitude, including a flat floor to provide generous legroom and flexibility for passengers. The aircraft will offer Pratt & Whitney Canada PW545D engines designed to deliver fuel efficiency and increased thrust, as well as state-of-the-art Garmin G5000 avionics that feature the latest software and hardware, including autothrottle technology. The Ascend also features a Honeywell RE100 [XL] Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) approved for unattended operations. 

With 19 standard USB charging ports and three universal outlets throughout the aircraft, all crew and passengers will enjoy access to at least one charging port in the Citation Ascend. The aircraft has a standard seating configuration of nine passengers. 


Lilium N.V. (NASDAQ:LILM), developer of the first all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) jet and global pioneer in regional air mobility (RAM), and eVolare, a subsidiary of Volare Aviation, one of the United Kingdom's largest helicopter and private jet operators, announced the signing of binding sale and purchase agreements for the acquisition of 4 Lilium Jets.

The purchase agreements include delivery schedules, guarantees, and warranties along with deposits and pre-delivery payments. The parties have also agreed on terms for the reservation of up to an additional 12 Lilium Jet production slots for eVolare and its customers. Based in Oxford, UK, eVolare plans to operate Lilium Jets in the London area, connecting London with outer cities and the coastal areas of England.

The current agreements follow an initial firm agreement between Lilium and eVolare in 2022, as the parties have been working together to reinforce their relationship, develop a network of vertiports in the region, and plan for operations of the aircraft upon entry into service of the Lilium Jet. This work has led to binding agreements with potentially up to 16 aircraft being deployed in the London area.


The aircraft, which will be known as the T-54A, replaces the Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA) fleet of T-44C Pegasus aircraft at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi. A variant of the twin-engine and pressurized Beechcraft King Air 260, the T-54A will modernize the fleet and be more representative of follow-on fleet aircraft. The T-44 has been in service for more than 40 years.

The T-54A includes an updated avionics suite and automation qualities to better prepare students for the advanced aircraft they will fly in the fleet.

"The T-54A benefits from an active Beechcraft King Air assembly line in Wichita, Kansas, where all required METS avionics and interior modifications are installed on the line; keeping costs down, aircraft conformity consistent across the fleet and optimizing the delivery schedule to the Navy," said Bob Gibbs, vice president, Special Missions Sales, Textron Aviation. "We are thrilled to continue our 47-year relationship of Textron Aviation aircraft conducting multi-engine flight training for Navy, Marine and Coast Guard Aviators."

METS-specific capabilities include factory options for TACAN (Air-to-Air), angle-of-attack (AOA), V/UHF radio, digital audio system, engine trend monitoring, condition-based maintenance plus, observer/jump seat, passenger mission seats and full-face oxygen masks.

Earlier this month, TRU Simulation + Training Inc., an affiliate of Textron Aviation Inc., announced the company was awarded the METS Ground Based Training System (GBTS) contract providing the U.S. Navy with a fully integrated training system of aircraft and training devices. The contract base award is for three Unit Training Device (UTD) simulators in a King Air 260 standard configuration, one Operational Flight Trainer (OFT) simulator in the METS T-54A configuration, one Simulator Support Station (SSS) in the METS T-54A configuration and 21 Desktop Trainers for avionics training.

When government, military and commercial customers want airborne solutions for critical missions, they turn to Textron Aviation. The company's aviation solutions provide the high performance and flight characteristics required to address the unique challenges of special missions' operations. With unparalleled quality, versatility and low operating costs, Textron Aviation products are preferred for air ambulance; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR); utility transport; aerial survey; flight inspection; training and a number of other special operations.

More than 7,700 Beechcraft King Air turboprops have been delivered to customers around the world since 1964, making it the best-selling business turboprop family in the world. The worldwide fleet has surpassed 62 million flight hours in its 60 years, serving roles in all branches of the U.S. military and flying both commercial and special missions' roles around the world.

17 JUNE 1959

First flight of the Dassault Mirage IV. The first European supersonic jet bomber, is made in France. This high-performance combat aircraft flies at Mach 2 (twice the speed of sound).

The Dassault Mirage IV was a French supersonic strategic bomber and deep-reconnaissance aircraft. Developed by Dassault Aviation, the aircraft entered service with the French Air Force in October 1964. For many years it was a vital part of the nuclear triad of the Force de Frappe, France's nuclear deterrent striking force. The Mirage IV was retired from the nuclear strike role in 1996, and the type was entirely retired from operational service in 2005.

On 19 September 1960, René Bigand (replacing Glavany as test pilot) increased the world record for speed on a 1000-kilometre closed circuit to 1,822 km/h (1,132 mph) around Paris and the Melun base. Flight 138, on 23 September, corroborated the initial performance and pushed the record on a 500 km closed circuit to an average of 1,972 km/h (1,225 mph), flying between Mach 2.08 and Mach 2.14. The Mirage IV 01 prototype underwent minor modifications during testing in the autumn of 1959, most noticeably, the tail was enlarged.

All bomber variants were retired in 1996 and all reconnaissance variants in 2005.

USA, Sheboygan, WI: A local flying club was conducting part 91 Air Tour Operations out of Sheboygan County Memorial Airport on June 16, 2024. At approximately 14:04 local time the plane made a forced landing in a field a few miles short of Runway 22 at KSBM. Witnesses at the airport later reported that the plane had run out of fuel. All three occupants survived with minor injuries. Damage to the plane's wing and main gear strut were later reported by a member of the flying club.

USA, Hanover County Municipal Airport (OFP/KOFP), Richmond/Ashland, VA: The B-17G Flying Fortress "Sentimental Journey" of the American Airpower Heritage Flying Museum sustained damage to the outer right wing after a fuel truck struck it. No injuries.

USA, near Morton, TX: The aircraft was conducting aerial spray operations and collided midair with N8525V a similar aircraft busy in the same operation. The aircraft caught on fire; the pilot was seriously injured. The pilot of N8525V was killed.

China, Poyang County, Shangrao, Jiangxi Province: A helicopter carrying three occupants crashed onto hilly terrain in Poyang County, Shangrao, Jiangxi Province. Locals near the crash site told journalists that the helicopter was flying "very low" before it came down. Chinese state media did not provide details about the circumstances of the crash. A video purportedly from the crash site showed scattered debris in a forest with the main wreckage in blaze. Online source connected to Beijing's propaganda apparatus claimed that the aircraft involved is the prototype of Avicopter AC313A, and there is at least one fatality.

PTAR 25 05 2024 Final Leg Arrivals

Aviation Economy
Midweek Update

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