ST Engineering forges joint venture devoted to MRO solutions

 ST Engineering Aerospace is branching into Vietnam for the first time with a new joint venture (JV) devoted to component MRO solutions. Vietnam Singapore Technologies Engineering Aerospace Co. Ltd. (JVCo), a JV between ST Engineering Aerospace and Vietnam Airlines subsidiary Vietnam Airlines Engineering Co. (VAECO), is expected to begin operations by the end of this month.

According to ST Engineering Aerospace president Lim Serh Ghee, the JV is aimed at catering to the growing need for aircraft component MRO services in the region. JVCo will provide services to both Vietnam Airlines and other operators in Indochina.

“Asia is a key region driving the growth of the global commercial aerospace sector,” says Lim. “A presence in Vietnam, which enjoys double-digit growth in the air travel sector, will enable us to better capture that growth with an expanded MRO network in the region.

Formation of the JV follows a memorandum of understanding announced by ST Engineering Aerospace and VAECO in April 2018. At the time, the companies also entered into a 14-year component maintenance-by-the-hour contract to support 58 Airbus A321ceos and 20 A321neos.

JVCo will invest in new infrastructure to carry out component MRO work at Vietnam Airlines’ existing maintenance facilities at Noi Bai International Airport (HAN) in Hanoi and Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) in Ho Chi Minh City. According to Lim, leveraging Vietnam Airlines’ existing maintenance facilities will enable JVCo to set up capabilities quickly and begin operating with a “ready base-load.”

The facilities will be equipped to carry out MRO work on pneumatics, hydraulics, electrical components, safety equipment and wheels and brakes for aircraft types such as the A320 family, A350, ATR72 and Boeing 787.

ST Engineering holds a 49% stake in JVCo and VAECO holds the remaining 51%. The JV was set up with paid-up capital of $3.9 million. According to ST Engineering, the setup of JVCo is not expected to materially impact its consolidated net tangible assets per share and earnings per share for the current financial year.


Thai Airways partners with Airbus to build new MRO hub at U-Tapao Airport

 Thai Airways, under a new partnership with Airbus and backed by Thailand’s Board of Investment, is investing in the use of drones, robots and predictive maintenance technologies for the creation of a new maintenance, repair and overhaul hub at U-Tapao Airport to capture future increased demand for aircraft services that will result from the ongoing growth of the Asia Pacific commercial airline fleet.

Right now, Thai Airways is investing $181 million into construction and civil works and another $114 million into tooling and equipment that will bring new digital technologies and a major expansion of the existing MRO hangar located at U-Tapao Airport. The new facility will span 84 acres, and be capable of servicing up to 12 narrow body or five wide body aircraft simultaneously, according to Catipod Keadmonkong, deputy director of Thai Technical’s aircraft MRO department.

U-Tapao currently services 3.7 million passengers per year, a number that Thailand’s government wants to grow more than fifteen times over, to up to 60 million passengers per year. The airport’s increased capacity — and the availability of land nearby for expansion — is critical to the Thai government’s ambitions in the MRO sector.

In June 2018, Airbus and Thai Airways signed an agreement to establish a new 50-50 joint venture MRO located at U-Tapao, for which the government has reserved space in the planned MRO center expansion. The ambitious project seeks to capture 20 percent of the regional market for commercial maintenance needs.

The new MRO facility at U-Tapao is expected to open for business in 2022, with a focus on widebody aircraft, according to Keadmonkong. The MRO will have the capacity to service the Airbus A380, A350, A330, and A320s, as well as Boeing 777, 787, 737 and 747 aircraft, for C- and D-level checks. The facility will also have a number of on-site workshops, including sheet metal, mechanical, passenger seat, plastics, fiberglass/plating, and painting and cleaning. Thai Technical is also looking to expand the use of predictive data analytics and smart technologies such as 3-D printing used as the facility as well.

Expansion at U-Tapao and how it will occur is reflective of industry forecasts about the Asia Pacific region published by Airbus, Boeing and industry groups such as the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) in recent years. According to Boeing’s 2018 pilot and technical outlook, the Asia Pacific region will require a combined 799,000 new commercial airline pilots, technicians and cabin crew members between 2019 and 2038.

During that same period, IATA is forecasting that the number of routes to, from and within the Asia-Pacific region will grow by 4.8 percent annually to a market size of 3.9 billion passengers by 2037. Thailand is expected to add 116 million new passengers to carry a total of 214 passengers annually by 2037, entering the top 10 passenger markets in the world and bumping Italy from that list.

“For repetitive jobs, the robots are more consistent than people. People make more errors,” said Keadmonkong.

The existing MRO hangar at U-Tapao Airport will be significantly expanded over the next two years.Brian Garrett-Glaser

A major goal for the flight operational side of Thai Airways coincides with the coming expansion of the MRO hangar at U-Tapao as well. Outside of the joint venture to expand the hangar’s size and mix of smart technologies, Airbus has also been in discussion with the airline for the eventual full adoption of their Skywise big data and predictive analytics platform.

Dassault Aviation expands MRO Footprint

 Dassault Aviation’s recent acquisitions of ExecuJet’s MRO Services and TAG Maintenance Services in Europe represent ‘a changing strategy’ for customer support, according to Jean Kayanakis, senior vice-president of worldwide Falcon customer service and maintenance network. 

“For 40 years, we relied on third-party authorized service centers. But the market is changing. Customers are expecting OEMs to have better control of their experience as a customer. MROs are becoming more important. The business is becoming more influenced by the aftermarket,” he said in an interview at the annual Falcon Maintenance & Operations (M&O) Seminar in Paris. “In days past, engineering input was primary in a new airplane. Tomorrow, it is what the customer may expect in total benefit, including utilization of the aircraft.”

The ExecuJet acquisition from Luxaviation, announced in late January, adds 15 maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) centers across Africa, Asia-Pacific, the Caribbean, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East to the five company-owned Dassault Falcon Services locations in Europe and Dassault Aviation Services in North America.

Dassault is also in the process of acquiring the European MRO activities of TAG Aviation in Geneva and Sion, Switzerland; Farnborough UK (which Dassault expects to expand); Lisbon, Portugal; and Paris, France.

The ExecuJet and TAG centers will retain their identities and management teams, and will continue to service multiple OEM types in addition to Dassault Falcons. For example, TAG has an extensive Bombardier business jet clientele. “For many reasons, it is quite impossible to start from scratch. They know the customers and the vendors, and we hope to teach them more about Falcon,” said Kayanakis. Currently about 10- to 15 percent of the business conducted through the new acquisitions is on Dassault models.

“We will try to adapt to the competition,” Kayanakis added. “The main idea is to extend our network footprint in Asia and Europe, as well as the Middle East, Africa and Australia. This was our first move.”

Will there be future acquisitions, for example in North America? Of the 2,120 Falcons in service worldwide (1,260 operators, 90 countries), more than two-thirds—69 percent—are in the Americas. Europe, the Middle East, and Africa account for 25 percent, Asia-Pacific only 6 percent. “The US market has the same kind of expectation. We don’t want to rely only on independent organizations. We will need to be clever, maybe.”

Kayanakis stated, “We will need some more capacity,” citing the new Falcon 6X, expected to enter service in 2022, “and another airplane in the future.” The support space needs are also driven by the trend toward larger aircraft. “Capacity has a direct impact on our ability to service the fleet.”

“We need opportunities to be involved in most aspects with our customers—including maintenance and pilots—to get a more comprehensive experience. We want to strengthen that to improve the product and customer service,” he said.


Aerospace cubesat captures high resolution nighttime imagery

 The Aerospace Corp. showed it could capture high-resolution nighttime imagery with three cameras that fit inside a cubesat measuring ten centimeters on a side.

“We’ve got what we need to study cities at night and know where the clouds are,” Dee Pack, CubeSat Multispectral Observing System (CUMULOS) principal investigator and director of Aerospace’s Remote Sensing Department, told SpaceNews. “I don’t think anyone has done anything quite like this before in a cubesat form factor.”

CUMULOS launched in 2017 on a Northrop Grumman Antares rocket, is equipped with one visible camera plus a short-wave infrared and a thermal infrared camera. CUMULOS takes up less than one-third of the Aerospace triple cubesat that houses Integrated Solar Array and Reflectarray Antenna (ISARA), a Ka-band communications system capable of transferring data at speeds of up to 100 megabits per second. The CUMULOS demonstration began in June 2018 when ISARA completed its demonstration mission.

Since then, CUMULOS has shown promise for studying major metropolitan areas, wildfire, gas flares, volcanic eruptions and weather, Pack said.

“We wanted to assess low-cost, commercial-off-the-shelf uncooled infrared cameras for cloud monitoring,” Pack said. “That played in with my desire to image cities at night because you need to know when you have clear skies.”

CUMULOS provides imagery with a resolution of about 130 meters per pixel. In contrast, the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration’s Very High Resolution Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite offers resolution of 740 meters per pixel. It’s important note, however, that VIIRS offers global nighttime coverage.

“To come close to that, you would have to put up a lot of cubesats,” Pack said.

There are missions, though, that would not require a large constellation. “You might not need a swarm of cubesats to lay down a good baseline for what Earth’s major cities look like,” Pack said. “Once you have a baseline, you can look for change, economic growth, contraction or the effect of natural disasters on the power grid.”

The CUMULOS mission began when Pack realized the same precision attitude determination and control system Aerospace Corp. uses to keep lasers or precision radio frequency antennas pointed at receivers, could help a camera stare at a target on the ground. CUMULOS cameras focus on targets for up to half a second.

Next, Aerospace would like to build a more sophisticated cubesat to demonstrate additional multispectral mission capability, Pack said.

“Equipped with laser communications, we could map out many urban lights over the course of a year or so,” Pack said. A follow-on mission could be automated, with the satellite capturing imagery of cities, fires, volcanoes. “That would be a lot of fun to try. I’m looking forward to pitching that to NASA or other research agencies,” Packs said.


NASA to open ISS for commercial opportunities

 NASA is to allow tourists to visit the International Space Station from 2020, priced at $35,000 (£27,500) per night.

The US space agency said it would open the orbiting station to tourism and other business ventures.

There will be up to two short private astronaut missions per year, said Robyn Gatens, the deputy director of the ISS.

NASA said that private astronauts would be permitted to travel to the ISS for up to 30 days, travelling on US spacecraft.

"Nasa is opening the International Space Station to commercial opportunities and marketing these opportunities as we've never done before," chief financial officer Jeff DeWit said in New York.

NASA said that private commercial entities would be responsible for determining crew composition and ensuring that the private astronauts meet the medical and training requirements for spaceflight.

The two companies hired by NASA are Elon Musk's SpaceX, which will use its Dragon capsule, and Boeing, which is building a spacecraft called the Starliner.

These companies are likely to charge any private astronaut a similar "taxi fare" to what they intend to charge Nasa for its astronauts - close to $60m per flight.

Nasa had previously banned any commercial use of the space station and prohibited astronauts from taking part in for-profit research.

Nasa does not own the station however - it was built, beginning in 1998, with Russia, which has taken a more relaxed approach in recent decades to commerce.

In 2001, US businessman Dennis Tito became the first tourist to visit when he paid Russia around $20 million for a round trip.

NASA's recent announcement is part of a move towards full privatization of the ISS. US President Donald Trump published a budget last year, which called for the station to be defunded by the government by 2025.

The space agency recently announced that it planned to return to the moon by 2024, taking the first woman there and the first person in decades.

Dr. Bastaki joins aviation industry as a specialist in aviation medicine

 Dr. Nadia Bastaki, the first Emirati woman to be registered as a specialist in aviation medicine, has achieved her lifelong ambition and has become involved in the UAE space program, conducts medical tests for UAE astronauts.

"In partnership with the Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre, I have participated in conducting medical tests for the team chosen to work in the UAE Astronaut Program, where more than 100 candidates were screened for the program until the finalists were selected," Dr. Bastaki told WAM.

Graduated in aviation medicine from the King’s College London, Dr. Bastaki has over 20 years of experience in aviation. She is currently working at Etihad Airways, with the country's first specialized center in aeromedical medicine, which is accredited by the UAE Civil Aviation Authority.

She said that she had been motivated by the quote of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai that "Becoming number one is not impossible – the word impossible doesn't exist in our dictionary." This gave her confidence, she said, to "search for the competence through which I can achieve the first place and then serve my country."

She added, "The efforts of H.H. Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women's Union, President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation, to empower Emirati women have contributed significantly to building generations capable of giving in all fields."

Dr. Bastaki also said her parents had helped her to think of entering a unique field in which she could realise her family's aspirations and hopes. "I chose to study medicine," she said, noting that the death of her mother, a trainee doctor, led her to take up the challenge to become a doctor to help people.

She concluded by saying, "Emirati women have the will and the potential that will enable them to carry the banner of creativity and excellence in all fields."

Growing number of women in aviation

 Pam Prdue has been flying for 27 years, starting with pilot training at a flight school in Sanford, Florida.  Her father, John, who was a commercial pilot for Delta, inspired her.

"Growing up, there were other dads who were pilots, but he was one of the few dads who was reaching out to all the young girls saying, 'You should be a pilot, you should be a pilot!" she explains.  

For Pam, the adrenaline rush of being in the cockpit never goes away.

"You're just so excited, because you're about to lift a giant machine off the earth, and there's nothing like it!"

There's also something special about the reaction she gets from passengers as they walk off the plane and realize it was pam who got them to their destination safely.

"I get a lot of high-fives and 'go girl' and 'girl power! especially from older women, women in the 70s or older."

Pam isn't the only one to get those curious looks.  Laura Spolar is one of only a handful of women to hold that title at United Airlines.  She's also the president of Central Florida Women in Aviation, and a founding member of ‘Chix-Fix’ -- the only all female aircraft maintenance technician team.

This group of lady technicians competed against 84 other teams last year and came in 9th overall.

Laura says one of the biggest misconceptions is the job is too physically demanding for a woman.

"Like when you're changing a tire? I mean yeah, the tires are huge, but we have tools that help us with that. I don't know many men who can change a 787 tire by themselves."

Adjusting the wings of today's young people and turning them on to a career in aviation is something both Laura and Pam take seriously.

Etihad Holiday's unveil Eid getaway packages

Etihad Holiday's unveil Eid getaway packages

Etihad Holidays’ has re-launched its booking system, allowing visitors to access some of the best rates available including three-night package deals with Etihad Airways with flights and accommodation starting from just AED 1,519  per person. Travellers can choose from a fantastic selection of hotels and resorts including three, four or five-star hotels such as Radisson, Sheraton and Ritz Carlton.

Hareb Almuhairy, Senior Vice President Destination & Leisure Management, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to celebrate Eid with family or friends. We are proud to offer these fantastic packages for those looking to get some much-needed rest and relaxation.”

With the opportunity to explore the world, travellers can grab an Eid getaway from now until 31 May 2019 with packages to Phuket from AED 3,359 per person, Munich from AED 3,781 per person or Los Angeles from AED 5,928 per person.

Travellers can experience Etihad’s acclaimed inflight hospitality and have the ability to curate every aspect of their journey, whether they choose a neighbour-free seat or additional treats from the new ‘Sweet or Salty’ retail menu in Economy, or upgrade to Business, Etihad offers unparalleled levels of choice.

Residents wanting to enjoy the UAE’s fabulous beaches and warm, clear waters, can enjoy Abu Dhabi packages from AED 659 per person, Dubai packages from AED 439 per person and Ras Al Khaimah packages from AED 1,099 per person.

The promotion is valid for travel from 1 June until 9 June 2019.

Etihad Holidays offers an extensive section of packages which when combined; offer the best deals including flights, hotels, transfers and tours. Etihad Guest members will also earn miles when booking with Etihad Holidays. 


3 Chinese airlines seek compensation for Boeing Max 8s groundings.

Air China announced recently that it has sought compensation from the aircraft manufacturer over losses from the grounding of its fleet.

Cirium’s fleets data shows that Air China has 16 737 Max 8s in storage, and has another four aircraft on order.

China Southern and China Eastern Airlines did not make comments, but CCTV reported that both carriers have also filed compensation claims with Boeing over the Max grounding.

Fleets data shows that China Southern has 24 737 Max 8 aircraft, with another 35 on order.China Eastern does not operate any 737 Max aircraft, but its China Eastern Yunnan subsidiary has four in storage, and its Shanghai Airlines subsidiary has 11 in storage.The Chinese carriers join other carriers such as Turkish Airlines and Flydubai in seeking out compensation from Boeing.On 21 May, Turkish Airlines chairman Ilker Ayci told FlightGlobal that “compensation is on the table” in its discussions with Boeing.


Boeing says that it does not comment on its customer discussions.

No indication has been given so far about when the beleaguered aircraft, the subject of a worldwide ban, will return to the skies. Boeing said on 16 May that it has completed the software update development of the 737 Max, and is now working the US Federal Aviation Administration to schedule its certification test flight.



UAE's Mars Hope Probe plans to reach Mars by 2021

 The UAE Space Agency and Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) have announced that 85 percent of the Hope Probe project has been completed.

In a joint statement, the two organizations confirmed that most of the main parts of the project have been completed and are currently undergoing testing.

The probe has already entered an intensive testing phase to ensure its readiness before the launch date, with less than 500 days are remaining for the launch, the statement added. It is planned to reach Mars by 2021, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UAE.

Several aspects related to the design, assembly of the structure, cameras and control have been verified. So far, the team has checked the probe’s systems and components, as well as its ability to communicate with the ground station.

The scientific devices the probe will be using, including The Emirates eXploration imager (EXI), Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer (EMUS), and the Emirates Mars Infrared Spectrometer (EMIRS), are also ready.

These devices are key to achieving the objectives of the scientific mission, which is a deeper and wider understanding of the Martian atmosphere, and the study of climate change and its relationship to atmospheric erosion.

Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills and chairman of the UAE Space Agency, said, “The Emirates Mars Mission’s Hope Probe is almost complete. The UAE is on the verge of making history, after turning its dream of becoming the first Arabic and Islamic country to send a spacecraft to Mars into reality.

"This monumental endeavor is the culmination of the efforts of a skilled and experienced team of young Emiratis, who with the support of the nation and its visionary leadership will secure the UAE’s position at the forefront of space exploration and the international space sector.”

Yousuf Hamad Al Shaibani, director general of MBRSC, said, “Completing 85% of the Hope Probe in this short period was a great challenge that we overcame through the guidance of our wise leadership and the efforts of our youth.”

MBRSC is responsible for the implementation and supervision of EMM – Hope Probe, and its various scientific, educational and awareness initiatives.

The center is also responsible for the execution and supervision of all stages of the design, development and launch of the Hope Probe in 2020.

The UAE Space Agency is funding and supervising procedures and necessary details for the implementation of this project.


UAE Space Agency committed to ‘bridging the space divide in emerging countries’ at GLEC2019

 The UAE Space Agency participated in the Global Conference on Space for Emerging Countries 2019 (GLEC 2019), organized under the theme ‘Bridging the space divide in emerging countries’ that was held between 24 – 26 April in Marrakesh, Morocco.

Key representatives attended the conference from the UAE Space Agency, led by His Excellency Dr. Eng. Mohammed Nasser Al Ahbabi, Director General of the UAE Space Agency, and Chair of the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) 2020 Local Organizing Committee.

During the three-day conference, the Agency highlighted the benefits of space applications and the importance of educating and encouraging youth to study science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM), as expertise in such fields directly contributes to the enhancement of space capabilities within emerging countries.

H.E. Dr. Eng. Al Ahbabi participated in two panel discussions during the conference alongside a number of senior space leaders and decision-makers. The panelists extolled the importance of space programs and activities in contributing to sustainable development in emerging countries.

Commenting on the UAE’s role in motivating, educating, and training young professionals by launching ambitious space projects to provide a promising future for youth in the region, H.E. Dr. Eng. Al Ahbabi said, “The UAE Space Agency’s participation in the Global Conference on Space for Emerging Countries reaffirms our commitment to supporting the growth of the global space sector and engaging with international partners to exchange knowledge and expertise. We are delighted to have had the opportunity to share our experience of developing a national space program with regional and international experts.

“Recently, we announced the formation of the Arab Space Coordination Group, which aims to promote space research, share expertise, and develop opportunities for increased regional collaboration.  We are keen to collaborate with African countries and work with them to unlock the socio-economic benefits of space, added H.E. Dr. Eng. Al Ahbabi”.

H.E. Dr. Eng. Al Ahbabi added, “Space is an excellent vehicle with which to engage with youth across the region and the world to inspire them to study STEM subjects and consider entering the space sector. We continue to highlight opportunities for young people within the sector and look forward to welcoming the international community to Dubai in 2020 for the 71st International Astronautical Congress”.


Dubai-based students launch rockets as part of space education program

 More than 150 aspiring astronauts took the first step in realizing their dreams when they launched their model rockets into the clear blue Dubai sky recently.

Donning blue NASA space suits, excited students from schools across the UAE — accompanied by their eager parents — gathered at the sprawling parking lot of Dubai Parks and Resorts, which served as the launch station for 164 rockets built and fired by the students.

Part of a space education program for children ahead of the UAE’s launch of its first astronaut into the International Space Station (ISS) in September, the event was organized by the Space and Rocketry Academy UAE (SARAUAE), part of Compass International.

Supported by the UAE Space Agency, the region’s biggest model rocket launch was the culmination of SARAUAE camps held over the last 10 months that exposed students to the workings of space missions, creating mission patch, while allowing them to taste real space food.

The children also constructed their very own model rockets, equipped by solid fuel rocket motor engines.

The model rockets were built under the guidance of Michael Flachbart, a NASA expert in model rocketry. “I am really excited to be part of this camp. I joined the camp a few months ago and learnt to build a rocket and also other things about rocket science and space. Rocket science always excited me but before this camp I didn’t know much about it, now I am definitely going into the space sector for higher education,” said Adam Ali, a grade 10 student who was one of the 164 students who launched rockets.

Two types of model rockets were flown: Research Express, a single stage rocket and Sky Metra, a two-stage model.

The rockets were powered by single use, low power pre-packed motors, generally used for basic rocketry. The students built these based on a design approved by the National Association of Rocketry. “It was a really cool experience and I believe this will really help me in the future as I look forward to being an astronaut,” said Noura Al Fardan, a 12-year-old Repton School Dubai student.

Going by the degree of excitement among children for space and rocket science, it seems a significant future population will be in space at any given time and the authorities are happy to channelize the energy.

“We are delighted to support the Space and Rocketry Academy UAE and collaborate with Compass International to raise awareness among students, teachers and parents of the importance of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and space exploration by inviting international experts to the UAE to share their knowledge and experience. Through events, initiatives and activities such as these camps we aim to build national human capacity and inspire the next generation of space pioneers,” said Dr Mohammad Al Ahbabi, director-general of the UAE Space Agency.


SpaceX successfully launches cargo mission for NASA

 SpaceX has successfully launched a cargo mission for NASA to the International Space Station (ISS), its fifth launch of the year, after being delayed by a few days due to a couple of issues.

The Falcon 9 rocket was lifted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida. On board was an uncrewed Cargo Dragon spacecraft carrying 2,500 kilograms (5,500 pounds) of supplies for the astronauts on the ISS as part of the CRS-17 mission.

“If you have to be up, I can’t think of a better reason than to see one of these launches — it was absolutely spectacular,” Kenny Todd, ISS Operations and Integration manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, said after the launch in a press conference. “We’re really excited to get Dragon on board in a couple of days.”

About eight minutes after launch, the first stage of the rocket landed successfully on the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You several miles out in the Atlantic Ocean.

The launch had originally been scheduled to take place earlier this week. But an electrical problem on the ISS caused the mission to be pushed back while the problem was resolved. 

The Dragon spacecraft used on this flight has flown before, on the CRS-12 mission back in August 2017.  But the Falcon 9 rocket itself was brand new – although recovery was important, as NASA are hoping to use the first stage booster of the rocket again on another one or two missions.

Dragon was carrying a variety of supplies and experiments to the ISS, including one that will investigate the possibility of using microalgae for food on long-duration spaceflights, and another that will watch cells make DNA repairs in the micro-gravity environment on the ISS.

When it returns to Earth in four weeks, Dragon will bring back about 1,900 kilograms (4,200 pounds) of experiments, hardware, and supplies. Until then the spacecraft will remain attached to the space station.

“We had a beautiful launch today; it was really great,” Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX’s Vice President of Mission Assurance, added at the press conference. “Dragon is on the way, the orbiter is great — it’s right on the money.”


More women needed in strategic positions in aviation industry, states Ledwaba

 Despite support at grassroots level from organizations like the Airlines Association of Southern Africa, the environment in the aviation industry is not yet enabling for women, according to Refilwe Ledwaba, founder of the organization Women & Aviation.

Apart from being a social entrepreneur, she is a qualified helicopter and fixed-wing pilot, and passionate about aviation youth development and women empowerment in Africa.

"Women are not given opportunities in positions where they would make strategic decisions in the aviation industry," Ledwaba told Fin24 on the sidelines of the AviaDev aviation development conference in Cape Town.

"Less than 3% of CEOs in the global airline industry are women, for instance. A lot of women work in HR (human resources) in the aviation industry and I am not saying that is not a good career, but there are not enough women in strategy positions, otherwise they would be seen at aviation events like AviaDev."

For her the small percentage of women attending an event like AviaDev shows that the industry is still dominated by men.

"That makes it so important to get more women exposed to taking part and making presentations at aviation events," said Ledwaba.

She suggests that one should start at grassroots level to inspire girls to take subjects like maths and science - to equip them for careers in the technical side of the aviation industry.

"Unfortunately, there are still not enough role models for girls in this regard. At the same time, men are still getting used to women being able to be as good as they are in the aviation industry, while many women still have a perception that they cannot be as good as men in the industry."

She was given the opportunity at AviaDev to share the stage with three young "AviaDev Ambassadors" - young people in the aviation industry in SA.

"If we do not innovate, there will not be any companies left to innovate for," said Ledwaba. "It is very important to start inviting young leaders in the industry to platforms like this to discuss future solutions for challenges in aviation."

Some of the other "AviaDev ambassadors" also shared views on the challenges in the industry.

Kutloana Sebetlela, one of the young AviaDev ambassadors, said many companies do not properly invest in their pilot development plans.

"We are faced with the need to train better pilots faster by using better training systems," she told the audience.

"It is very important to ensure the vetting criteria for candidates for pilot training select the most suitable candidates. Employees must also be equipped with the best data to make sure they can stay relevant."

Kgomotso Mokwena, another one of the young AviaDev ambassadors, explained that Africa has only 3% of the air traffic in the world. She emphasized that two important challenges to address are to create increased air connectivity and explore the contribution secondary airports can make. 

The third young AviaDev ambassador, Shingai George, suggested airlines look into how it can reduce fuel usage, and therefore fuel costs, by removing certain items from the duty-free selections on planes.

He also suggested that the African aviation industry works together to develop a carbon emissions scheme more suitable for the continent.


CAE introduces American Airlines as partner of the CAE Women in Flight scholarship program

 CAE recently made an announcement at the World Aviation Training Symposium its fifth partner for the CAE Women in Flight scholarship program, American Airlines.

“We are very excited to collaborate with American Airlines to offer a scholarship to aspiring female pilots in the US,” said Nick Leontidis, CAE’s Group President, Civil Aviation Training Solutions. “The program encourages passionate and exceptional women to accomplish their goal of becoming professional pilots and inspire a new generation of female pilots.”

CAE is a training provider of the American Airlines Cadet Academy, delivering training at the CAE aviation academy located in Phoenix, Arizona. This first-of-its-kind scholarship program provides an opportunity for future pilots to become first officers at one of American Airlines’ three wholly owned regional carriers, with the opportunity to eventually fly larger aircraft at the airline.

The CAE Women in Flight scholarship recipient will receive a full tuition scholarship that will cover the entire cost of training in the American Airlines Cadet Academy program at CAE, including accommodations and travel. Additionally, the recipient may have the opportunity to become a certified flight instructor (CFI) and work at the CAE aviation academy in Phoenix to gain the number of hours required for certification.

American Airlines joins four other global airline partners who offer CAE Women in Flight scholarships to cadet pilots: Aeromexico, AirAsia, Cityjet and easyJet. CAE will unveil the first scholarship recipients this summer.


Tayaran aviation academy opens in KSA’s KAEC

 The National Aviation Academy of Saudi Arabia (Tayaran) was inaugurated at its headquarters at King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) recently by Prince Sultan bin Salman, head of its board of trustees.

The prince said Tayaran had been established to train talented individuals pursuing careers in various aeronautical fields in accordance with the highest international standards, and would provide sustainable employment opportunities for young Saudi citizens. 

“The academy will strengthen the Saudi economy and the aviation industry. With the Kingdom’s strategic position and strong economy, it continues to make great progress in aviation, with the largest airports, the largest freight jets, and many significant international aviation conferences and forums,” he said.

Tayaran’s general manager, Capt. Mohammed Al-Subaiei, said the academy would support 1,650 trainees annually, including 1,200 in aircraft maintenance and 450 pilots, making it the largest center of its kind in the Middle East. There are also programs to sponsor talented students unable to fund themselves.

“We have 35 male sponsored students. We accept sponsored applicants who pass our admission tests regardless of their gender,” he said, adding that Tayaran would eventually open its doors to international students.

“In three years, the academy will accept students from around the world. Such an ambitious project will initially begin with around 5 percent of the total number of applicants.”

He added that Tayaran would also conduct courses at their center in Al-Thumamah from September 2019, focusing on piloting aircraft and operating drones.

“As a science, aviation is a sophisticated field of study, not only for the safety and security conditions it demands, but also for the high cost of the training equipment it requires to ensure the best educational outcomes. Students can finish their maintenance program in 36 months.”

Al-Subaiei said the Kingdom’s expanding civil and military aviation sectors would need about 8,800 pilots and 11,700 technicians over the next seven years.

“The academy is committed to utilizing the best technologies and teaching internationally accredited programs to prepare its members to become pioneers,” he said. “The academy will provide job opportunities for young people who, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said, are our foremost resource.”

The International Air Transport Association expects airline passenger demand to double over the next two decades, requiring up to 460,000 new commercial pilots by 2031. A Boeing outlook report published in 2012 indicated that 601,000 new commercial technicians and engineers would also be needed. Meanwhile, the Emirates Flight Training Academy (EFTA), the world-class flight training facility developed by Emirates Airlines, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Tarayan to share their expertise and jointly promote their training programs and facilities.

Signed in Riyadh, the MoU was agreed by EFTA Vice President Capt. Abdulla Al-Hammadi and Al-Subaiei, in the presence of Prince Sultan and the governor of Riyadh, Prince Faisal bin Bandar.

This collaboration reflects the shared interests between the two academies and the strong bond between the Kingdom and the UAE.

“The EFTA is very pleased to partner with Tayaran. This collaboration will help develop the talent pool supporting the future growth of the aviation industry in our region,” Al-Hammadi said.

He added that he looked forward to working closely with Al-Subaiei to provide expertise and share technology, as well as to create a platform for a mutually beneficial exchange program between the two sides.


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