May 2021 -Vol 13/No 5
ITALIAN NAVY MariStaEli Luni5° Gruppo Elicotteri
The return of the reusable spacecraft?
• Contrails and climate change • How to be eco-friendly in the aviation industry! • Aircraft on the edge of safety! • Zeroavia announces large hydrogen engine project for 50-seat airliner • A challenging year for MRO market
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May 2021 / Vol.13 / No. 5 3
GENERAL NEWS 8 IAI Concludes Independence Day flyover 14 Airbus and TNO to develop aircraft laser communication terminal 16 Netherlands Air Force takes delivery of the latest CH-47F 18 Airbus A400M conducts major helicopter refuelling certification campaign 30 Rolls-Royce reaches new milestone as world’s largest aero-engine build starts 32 AIRLINE NEWS 38 BAATraining Spain starts pilot training with an Airbus A320 FFS 58 Textron Aviation’s special edition 75th anniversary Beechcraft Bonanza blends modern technology with retro styling 60 MANUFACTURING NEWS 62 A challenging year for MRO market 64 Virgin Galactic unveils its new generation of spacecraft 66 SA’s Pegasus Vertical Business Jet gets ready for lift-off BOOK OF THE MONTH 72 FERRY PILOT - Nine lives over the North Atlantic
Cover: Peter ten Berg
FEATURES 10 Aerospace Technical - Contrails Climate Change 20 ITALIAN NAVY - MariStaEli Luni5° Gruppo Elicotteri 34 Aircraft on the edge of safety 40 How to be eco-friendly in the aviation industry! 42 Bali - Island of Gods 54 Travelling around the world during COVID-19 68 Zeroavia announces large hydrogen engine project for 50-seat airliner 74 The magical place IN CLOSING 78 Like fireworks briefly lighting up the dark sky, aviation hopes for 2021 rose only to drop back down to earth with nary a spark
4 Vol.13 / No. 5 / May 2021
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FUTURE FOR SPACE
into sub-orbital spaceflight from an airborne carrier aircraft before rocketing beyond the Kármán line.
SPACE PLANES: The return of the reusable spacecraft?
Reaction Engines is a British aerospace company founded by engineers Alan Bond, Richard Varvill and John Scott in 1989 after the cancellation of the British spaceplane project Hotol. Its aim was to create Hotol's successor, the ultra-sleek, single-stage-to- orbit spaceplane Skylon, together with the engine that would power it. The Synergetic Air Breathing Rocket Engine (Sabre) is a hydrogen-powered engine that can propel a spaceplane like Skylon from zero to hypersonic speeds by using the oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere, and then when travelling fast enough, blast the vehicle into space using an on-board supply of oxygen like a conventional rocket. Early in 2019, the precooler had worked at 420C (788F) in conditions that replicated flight speeds of Mach 3.3, or more than three times the speed of sound. Mach 5 also happens to be the limit of today's materials used in aircraft production. NowWebber is working on the core of the Sabre engine itself. In electric cars, for example, new efficient light-weight heat exchangers will make lithium batteries charge faster and last longer. "Reaction Engines are doing a nice job of saying we are going to develop this technology first, and then this one," says Christopher Combs, University of Texas at San Antonio. "It is easier to pitch heat exchangers to investors which can be used
Three types of spaceplanes have successfully launched to orbit, reentered Earth's atmosphere, and landed: the Space Shuttle, Buran, and the X-37. Another, Dream Chaser, is under development. As of 2019 all past, current, and planned orbital vehicles launch vertically on a separate rocket. Orbital spaceflight takes place at high velocities, with orbital kinetic energies typically at least 50 times greater than suborbital trajectories. At least two suborbital rocket-powered aircraft, the X-15 and SpaceShipOne have been launched horisontally
A spaceplane is a vehicle that can fly/ glide like an aircraft in Earth's atmosphere and manoeuvre like a spacecraft in outer space. To do so, spaceplanes must incorporate features of both aircraft and spacecraft. Orbital spaceplanes tend to be more similar to conventional spacecraft, while sub-orbital spaceplanes tend to be more similar to fixed-wing aircraft. All spaceplanes to date have been rocket-powered but then landed as unpowered gliders.
Left: The Antonov An-225 Mriya
carrying a Buran orbiter in 1989 Credit: Wikipedia - Author: Vasiliy Koba
6 Vol.13 / No. 5 / May 2021
Dream Chaser test vehicle Credit: NASA
in a jet fighter in five years than pitching the Skylon and saying it will take 30 years to build." To this end, Reaction Engines work with "different interested parties" who might build a spaceplane. In 2020, the company worked with the ESAon a more conservative concept of a two-stage vehicle to be launched from French Guyana within the next decade. It is easy to list the advantages of spaceplanes. There is the compelling idea of "flying" to a space station and back just as we fly in an airliner fromNew York to San Francisco. Spaceplanes can also be used to test military equipment, and even to intercept enemy satellites. "Automation means that we really don't need to send many people into space. It may seem primitive, it may seem undignified,
but rockets are actually all we need at the moment." believe, little demand at the moment to bring satellites back to Earth because they have become cheaper to build, longer lasting and, frankly, disposable. It may be that only a There is also, some analysts billionaire can tolerate the cost of failure involved in developing a spaceplane. Despite the recent success of the Boeing X-37B in a niche military role, spaceplane fans are used to disappointment. Russian- Soviet spaceflight pioneer Friedrich Zander designed an interplanetary spaceplane in 1911 with wings designed to burn off during its ascent. Despite the poor performance of the Shuttle, the US didn't stop dreaming of a reusable spaceplane. The futuristic Lockheed Martin X-33 or
Venture Star was cancelled at an advanced stage owing to technical problems. Other top-secret programmes were rumoured to exist. Out of these projects the unmanned Boeing X-37B was born. Boeing's proposal for a larger, crewed version, was turned down. Whatever future the spaceplane does have, it will involve China. "We know very little about the launch [of China's experimental spaceplane]," says Deville. "But it shows that China is serious about developing its spaceplane concepts." "In the end, people are looking for space access to go beyond what they can do today," says Reaction Engines' Nailard. "They are looking for the ability to launch on demand. And we need to move towards this aircraft model if we are to finally unlock the potential of space." •
May 2021 / Vol.13 / No. 5 7
IAI Concludes Independence day flyover
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), concluded its first Israel Independence Day flyover in 33 years. As part of the flyover IAI flew two Gulfstream 280 business jets as well as the Boeing 777-300ER “Big Twin” passenger-to-cargo conversion prototype aircraft. This past week IAI and General Electric Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) announced the completion of the planned halfway phase of the Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) Development Programme for the 777-300ERSF. The flyover’s flight path passed over major cities such
as Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Rishon Leziyon, Tiberius, Acre, Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and Masada. This is the first commercial Independence Day flyover conducted by IAI in the past 33 years, the last including IAI’s well-known “Lavi” and “Kfir” aircraft. Boaz Levy, President and CEO of IAI: “Speaking to you
form the cockpit of one of IAI’s finest products, the G280 jet, as we fly beside additional historical aircraft developed at IAI, I wish you a happy Israel Independence Day. IAI works around the clock, in space, air, in sea and on land to ensure the security of the State of Israel. We are proud to be here with you on Israel Independence Day.” •
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May 2021 / Vol.13 / No. 5 9
Contrails Climate Change AND
North Atlantic contrail cirrus, seen from a Saab 340 over Scotland
10 Vol.13 / No. 5 / May 2021
Five years ago I wrote an article in this magazine saying that science was starting to suggest that contrails, which we’re all used to seeing in clear skies anywhere in the world, are a significant player in climate change. In those five years, the science has moved on a lot, but has definitely not proved me wrong. So, first of all, let’s remind ourselves what contrails are, and why they matter. A contrail is a product of two things. The first is air which is supersaturated with respect to ice – a term you won’t find in most pilot textbooks yet. This is partly the same as any other kind of supersaturated air – as in it is over 100% relative humidity: holding more water vapour than it technically should. The extra factor is that the air is also below the freezing point of water. So, if anything happens to cause that excess water to be precipitated out, it’ll come out not as water, but as ice. Now if you fly an aeroplane through that supersaturated air, pretty much any aeroplane so long as it has fuel burning engines, those engines will emit various combustion products, including sooty particles. They’re exactly what they sound like – tiny bits of solid carbon compound, left over from the process of burning fuel. When the air is disturbed behind
is that over the last 170 year or so, the earth has been absorbing a bit more shortwave energy than it’s been transmitting longwave back into space – and so we’ve been warming up. And part of this is about cloud. Different clouds tend to have different properties with regard to different wavelengths of radiation but, in general, all cloud reflects both longwave and shortwave. So, in the daytime, it tends to reflect a significant proportion of sunlight back into space, but at night it tends to reflect infrared radiation back into the earth, trapping it near the surface. Hence why cloudless nights tend to be colder than cloudy ones, but clear summers days tend to be hotter than cloudy days. The science is developing now, and some eminent professors – especially in the UK and Germany, have been managing to show the impact of contrails on radiative forcing (the term for the mechanism behind global warming). Their conclusions are consistent, which is that the effect on global warming of airliner contrails is roughly double the effect of their CO2 emissions. Believe it or not, this is really good news. The reason it’s good news is that they’re also showing that the percentage of flights creating these problematic contrails – mainly the ones whose contrails persist through the night, is small, perhaps as few as 3%. So, the question is,
by Dr Guy Gratton
the aeroplane, and those sooty particles mix into the disturbed air, they provide nuclei around which ice can deposit – and it does. Very small ice crystals, but in enormous numbers, and those create a contrail, that we can often see from the ground. Physically a contrail is not much different to cirrus cloud and, in fact if it persists in the sky for more than a few minutes, it does become what meteorologists now call contrail cirrus. In effect, artificial cirrus clouds. This matters because we’ve increasingly appreciated the impact of contrail cirrus on radiation – two sorts of radiation. The earth receives energy from the sun in the form of shortwave radiation (this is a mix of ultraviolet and visible light, and some infrared). Our planet also continuously transmits longwave radiation, which is pretty much all what we call infrared – all bodies at any temperature above absolute zero do of-course. The driver of global warming (an increase in the average temperature of the troposphere, or lower atmosphere), which then creates climate change (changes in average weather)
May 2021 / Vol.13 / No. 5 11
12 Vol.13 / No. 5 / May 2021 those problematic contrails, preferably well in advance, what can we do about this? Well the answer to this problem, is the latest holy grail of my corner of science. If we can predict in advance which flights will create
those flights, but the couple of percent more fuel, and thus CO2 could, cumulatively reduce air transport’s impact on climate change by as much as 2/3rds; and contrails will be something you can tell your grandchildren about,
by knowing what regions of the sky are supersaturated with respect to ice, then we can detour aeroplanes around, under, or sometimes over those portions of sky. This will doubtless be annoying if you’re operating one of
Left: The earth’s energy budget, courtesy of NASA,
of our equations for contrail formation, persistence, and reflectivity. We are getting a lot better there, but when I read the scientific papers on this, I still don’t see experimental proof of them good enough that I’d like to hang my hat on – we need to do some incredibly expensive experiments involving flying airliners above the right radiation instruments on the surface or instrumented aircraft below them, and below the right radiation instruments on satellites or high altitude aircraft. A little bit of that has been done, but not enough. Also this whole issue of whether air is supersaturated with respect to ice – well forecasting models are quite good at predicting that, but are they really good enough? I don’t think that they are, and to make them good enough we might need to do some clever tricks such as putting humidity instruments on airliners, which can then be used to provide hour- by-hour corrections to the forecasts. Last but not least, you need mechanisms for ensuring that airlines will accept those costly re-routings. We know very well that our industry is not universally accepting of the problem of climate change, and also that even before Covid it was operating on tiny financial margins. So some heavy financial or regulatory persuasion will be needed to ensure compliance, even after you’ve got all the meteorological
and air traffic control tools in place to enable it. There may be some other workarounds. There’s limited evidence that airliners running on sustainable, non fossil sourced, fuels may generate less sooty particles and thus be less likely to create contrails – so if that proves true (and there’s a lot of research to be done to settle that science too) it might be possible to let the aeroplanes running on biofuels or e-fuels have the shortest routes through some bits of airspace. Here, I’m conjecting of-course, the science really isn’t good enough to say that yet. And then there’s the elephant in the room. If we can do all this, could we actually deliberately route aircraft to create contrails, that persist in the middle of the day, and reflect sunlight back into space? In other words, create cooling, perhaps even making air transport a factor in reducing global warming. In theory, this is totally possible but the moment you mention that at a scientific conference half the scientists make a run for the exit. The reason for this is that it becomes geoengineering – the deliberate manipulation of the earth’s environment to create a desired outcome. Myself, I think that we absolutely should be exploring that – but we really need to understand the science, the implications, and what the downsides might be. We just don’t want to create new problems in our efforts to save the planet.•
because they’ll never see them. At least that’s the theory, but how might this work in reality? Well, there are a whole load of problems to be solved before we can actually do this. The first and most scientific is simply to be absolutely sure
May 2021 / Vol.13 / No. 5 13
AIRBUS AND TNO TO DEVELOP AIRCRAFT LASER COMMUNICATION TERMINAL
Airbus and the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) have launched a
precise optical mechatronic system. The technology demonstrator will pave the way for a future UltraAir product with which data transmission rates could reach several gigabits-per- second while providing anti-jamming and low probability of interception. In this way UltraAir will not only enable military aircraft and UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) to connect within a combat cloud, but also in the longer term allow airline passengers to establish high-speed data connections thanks to the Airbus’ SpaceDataHighway constellation. From their position in geostationary orbit, the SpaceDataHighway (EDRS) satellites relay data collected by observation satellites to Earth in near-real-time, a process that would normally take several hours. Airbus is leading the project and brings its unique expertise in laser satellite communications,
its experience in high- precision opto-mechatronics, supported by the Dutch high-tech and space industry. Airbus Defence and Space in the Netherlands will be responsible for the industrial
14 Vol.13 / No. 5 / May 2021 will be capable of laser connections between an aircraft and a satellite in geostationary orbit 36 000km above the Earth, with unparalleled technology including a highly stable and are the next revolution in satellite communications (satcom), bringing unprecedented transmission rates, data security and resilience to meet commercial needs in the next decade. The UltraAir terminal programme to develop a laser communication terminal demonstrator for aircraft, known as UltraAir. The project, which is co- financed by Airbus, TNO and the Netherlands Space Office (NSO), is part of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) ScyLight (Secure and Laser communication technology) programme. It covers the design, construction and testing of the technology demonstrator. Laser communication technologies
developed with the SpaceDataHighway programme. It will
coordinate the development of the terminal and testing on the ground and in the air. As key partner of the project, TNO provides
ESA Optical Ground Station. For the final verification, the UltraAir demonstrator will be integrated on an aircraft for flight testing by mid-2022. As satellite services demand is growing, the traditional satcom radio- frequency bands are experiencing bottlenecks. interference and detection, as in comparison to the already- crowded radio frequencies, laser communication is extremely difficult to intercept Laser links also have the benefit of avoiding
production of the terminals. Airbus’ subsidiary Tesat brings its technical expertise in laser communication systems and will be involved in all testing activities. The first tests will take place at the end of 2021 in laboratory conditions at Tesat. In a second phase, ground tests will start early 2022 in Tenerife (Spain), where connectivity will be established between an UltraAir demonstrator and the laser terminal embarked on the Alphasat satellite using the
due to a much narrower beam. Thus, laser terminals can be lighter, consume less power and offer even better security than radio. This new programme is a key milestone in the roadmap of Airbus’ overall strategy to drive laser communications further, which will bring forward the benefits of this technology as a key differentiator for providing Multi-Domain collaboration
for Government and defence customers.•
May 2021 / Vol.13 / No. 5 15
Netherlands Air Force takes delivery of the latest CH-47F Text credit to Frank Mink and Patrick Dirksen. Pics: Media Centrum Defensie
General Dennis Luyt, commander of the Netherlands Air Force addressing delegates.
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On 14 April the Royal Netherlands Air Force 298 Squadron received their first CH-47F MYII CAAS Chinook helicopter. This is the first of 14 newly delivered helicopters from Boeing. The Chinook is a step forward in building a 5th generation air force that is capable of fighting a digital battle in the future. The Ch-47F CAAS (Common Avionics Architecture System) is equiped with a fully digital cockpit, enhanced troop and crew protection and a better loading and unloading system compared to the CH-47D that is currently in use by 298 Squadron. The aircraft is being brought to the Netherlands by ship via the Antwerpen harbour and made ready for its first flight at the DMO (Defence Material Organisation) at Woensdrecht Air Base. Five CH-47F’s will go to the 302 Squadron at the US Army base Fort Hood for training of the pilots and technicians. Six CH-47F that are currently in use by the Air Force will be updated to the CAAS standard so the total capacity will grow to 20 CH-47F’s in the future.
May 2021 / Vol.13 / No. 5 17
Airbus A400M conducts major helicopter refuelling certification campaign
18 Vol.13 / No. 5 / May 2021 simultaneous refuelling of two helicopters for the first time. The tests confirmed over the west coast of France at between 1 000 ft and 10 000ft and flight speeds as low as 105 knots. During those flights, a total of 81 wet contacts and transfers of 6.5 tonnes of fuel were achieved, which included The Airbus A400M new generation airlifter has successfully conducted a major helicopter air-to- air refuelling certification campaign, completing the majority of its development and certification objectives. full helicopter air-to-air refuelling certification later this year with the conclusion of all mandatory night operation trials. The flight tests, performed in coordination with the French Armament General Directorate (DGA), involved operations with two French Air Force H225M helicopters. The campaign took place in day and night conditions Airbus Defence and Space aims to achieve
the positive results of the dry and wet contact operations conducted in 2019 and 2020. Helicopter air-to-air refuelling is a unique military capability and key for Special Forces operations, involving aircraft with different flight profiles and sharing a very limited
common flight envelope, requiring close formation flying patterns at low altitudes and night time conditions. With this capability the A400M becomes one of the few tanker aircraft in the world capable of such operations. The multi-purpose H225M is one of the few helicopters
in the world capable of in- flight refuelling, extending the standard 700 NM range by up to 10 hours flight time. A400M as tanker The A400M is certified as standard to be quickly configured as a tanker. Carrying up to 50.8 tonnes of fuel in its
wings and centre wing box, without compromising any cargo hold area, two additional cargo hold tanks can also be installed, providing an additional 5.7 tonnes of fuel each. The separate cargo-hold tanks allows for the use of different types of fuel, enabling the A400M to cater for the needs of different
types of receiver aircraft. As a tanker, the A400M has already demonstrated its ability to refuel fighter receivers such as Eurofighter, Rafale, Tornado or F/A-18 at their preferred speeds and altitudes, and is also able to refuel other large aircraft such as another A400M for buddy refuelling, C295 or C-130. •
May 2021 / Vol.13 / No. 5 19
Two pilots of the Italian Navy's 5TH Group Helicopters pose for the 50TH anniversary of the constitution of the Group
20 Vol.13 / No. 5 / May 2021
ITALIAN NAVY MariStaEli Luni5° Gruppo Elicotteri By Gian Carlo Vecchi
The 5th Helicopter Group was the first operational group at the La Spezia naval base, established on 1 November 1969, together with technical and logistical support for the helicopters. Helicopters assigned to the Group over the years – AB-47J followed by AB-47G, AB-47J3 and SH-34J Sea Bat were sold by the 1st Helicopter Group which at that time operated from the MARISTAELI Catania Fontanarossa base. The arrival of the Sea Bats marked the beginning of the collaboration with the COMSUBIN and with the San Marco Battalion. From 1971 the Group was equipped with AB-204 AS helicopters and from 1976 the first AB-212s arrived which gradually replaced all previous helicopters.
May 2021 / Vol.13 / No. 5 21
INDUSTRY NEWS Some aspects of training
includes simulation of the recovery of people by use of a winch.
22 Vol.13 / No. 5 / May 2021
Since its establishment, the 5th Group has been engaged in operations in the Persian Gulf, Somalia, Yugoslavia, Albania, Lebanon, andAfghanistan; while at the same time assisting with interventions by the Civil Protection. In 2000, a group of pilots and operators trained for support operations by the Special Forces, was set up at the Group using an aircraft that had been configured by the Navy as suitable for the use of NVG night vision goggles. Arrival of the SH-90A On 15 June 2011, the 5th Helicopter Group received the first SH-90A (aircraft side number 3-04). The introduction of the SH-90A represented an epochal turning point in the helicopter sector of the Armed Force, aimed at ensuring the interoperability of the fleet with those of the most advanced allied navies and maintaining the high standards required by NATO. The new helicopter, SH-90A (ASW /ASuW) and MH-90A (Maritime Eliassalto), weighing up to eleven tons and the first helicopter equipped with fly- by-wire type flight control logic, is powered by two General
and Rescue (SAR), MEDEVAC and CASEVAC missions.
5° Gruppo Elicotteri today Two hangars are used in Luni for the SH-90A, one for the operational aircraft for first level maintenance, the second for more advanced second/ third level maintenance. Amore advanced training sector with a new simulator, the NMST (Naval Mission System Trainer), which recreates being in the helicopter and allows the personnel to gain experience, was also installed. The Navy already has a flight simulator for the EH101 and would like to acquire one for the SH-90A. At the moment, the flight personnel use a SH-90A simulator at the AgustaWestland training site. Transitioning from the AB212 to the SH-90Awas a huge change. A sophisticated machine with a greater loading capacity, higher autonomy, and very advanced sensors, it can deploy the MU-90 torpedo and h as a Link system. The SH-90A configuration includes a very high tech radar with range profile and ISAR (Inverse Synthetic Aperture
Above: Andrew De Natale, commander of 5TH Group Helicopters.
Electric T700-GE-T6E1 motors; it replaces the "glorious" AB- 212 ASW as the "supporting pillar" of the Naval Aviation. Depending on the configuration, the helicopter can carry up to 14 fully equipped soldiers and can be used in surface and under surface combat missions (ASW / ASuW), maritime surveillance and Eliassalto in support of the Navy's amphibious and special forces. Characterised by high configuration versatility and equally effective flexibility of use, it can also be used for Search
Above: Pilots prepare for recovery.
Above: Pilot being winched up to the hovering helicopter.
Above: A crew member who
controlled the winching.
May 2021 / Vol.13 / No. 5 23
Left: The commemorative patch made for the 50th anniversary of 5° Gruppo Elicotteri. Far Left: The the official patch of the 5° Guppo Elicotteri.
24 Vol.13 / No. 5 / May 2021 better sensors, the Final Radar Configuration, AIS (Automatic Identification System), Digital Map Generator, the ADR (Air been brought to FOC (Full Operational Capabilities) standards, which increases engine rpms to 104%. The increase in power increases the maximumwhen taking off, from 10.6 to 11 tons. Another very important aspect is that of communications: a third satellite radio has been installed in the FOC version, which can deploy MU-90 torpedoes and the “Marte” missiles. Ships can also constantly and automatically monitor the helicopter from the landing area to the hangar, and other features, such as anticollision systems, compatible fuel dumps, etc. make it very efficient onboard. Radar), a sonar HELRAS (Helicopter Long-Range Active Sonar), and weapons (MU-90 torpedo, “Marte” andAPMG). The airframe is made from composite materials which guarantee a greater resistance, less weight, less vulnerability and less radar signaling, but all this requires a different approach in its maintenance, thus making the SH-90Amore difficult in its management. Apolyvalent machine defined as an Operative Fighting Unit that can have RMP (Reconnaissance Maritime Pictures) in real time guaranteeing an incredible situation awareness. This is a pre-requisite to carry out any mission, thinking about the anti-piracy context and the control of the cargo traffic. All the SH-90Aunits have In the definitive version of the SH-90A there are also
Left: A pilot and Qatar pilot in training in their flights suites ready for boarding.
Left: Pilot and Qatar
pilot on board the SH-90A preparing for departure.
Left: Operators in their positions ready for departure.
Data Recorder) with video and audio capacity to register calls, dialogue, etc., the new generation IFF MIKE 425 and the crypted SATCOM unit. The 5th Group envisages buying 15 of them. Another very
important task for the Group is the tactical transportation and support of special forces and for this a new version of the helicopter, the MH-90A, has been introduced, since the SH-90A is not configured
From left to right: First patch (Aviazione navale) is for Luni exports and mechanics on the base. The second Patch is of the pilots of Qatar Task Group Hydra. Third and fourth patch are in endowment to the pilots of the 5th Gruppo for the various specialties (Third patch, Eliassalto and special operation, and fourth anti-submarine warfare).
Flying in formation with four SH-90°.
delivered on 24th June 2011 and the 10 MH-90Aversions delivered on 23rd January 2017. In order to knowmore about this unit, JP4 returned to the MariStaEli Luni, a base with two Flying Groups and the
for tactical transportation. 5° Group and the new MH-90A The AB-212ASW/ASuW line has been replaced by 56 newMH-90s with the first one
Experimental Aero maritime Centre, plus the Full Crew Mission Simulator dedicated to the SH-101A, and the Helo Dunker, a unique structure that trains pilots and operators of any armed force for water landing.
May 2021 / Vol.13 / No. 5 25
Interview with C.F. Andrea De Natale, Commander of the 5th Group Helicopters – Commander, could you describe the process to complete before joining the 5th Group? An essential prerequisite is having completed the normal course at the Navy Academy in Livorno and having been selected as a future pilot. The winners of the concourse for “Allievi Ufficiali Piloti di Complemento”, can also be admitted. There is the pre-piloting course at the Naval Academy before training at the US Navy flying schools - a first phase at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida, then a primary flight training on the T-6 “Texan II” at the NAS Whiting
Field in Milton, FL. Advanced flight training – including aerobatic, rotary wing and fixed wing - is according to preference and demonstrated aptitude. For aerobatics the students are trained on the T-45 “Goshawk” at the NAS Meridian, and for rotary and fixed wing they go onto the T-44 “Pegasus” at the NAS Corpus Christi, Texas. Fixed wing pilots go back to Italy while those for rotary wing go back to the NAS Whiting Field where they attend the advanced flight training on the TH-57 “Sea Ranger” helicopter. In Italy the new pilots are assigned to a flight group and continue their training. Apilot can specialise in surface/air-SUB allowing them to operate against surface or underwater threats, or in surface/air-Assault (S/A-EA)
against surface threats or in support of amphibious and special force to be classified as Combat Ready. Simultaneously they follow the course to acquire ‘Bravo’ characteristics, they are trained to land on aircraft carriers during the day, at night and through instruments such as the night vision goggle or augmented reality systems. Could you describe the flight systems and the combat ASW/ ASuW systems? The SH-90A, specialises in Anti-Submarine Warfare/Anti Surface Warfare (ASW/ASuW) and is the result of the scientific and technical evolution based on the experience of the AB-212 line and expertise of major European helicopter manufacturers. RADAR, IFF, FLIR,
26 Vol.13 / No. 5 / May 2021
Pilots and crew of 5TH Group Helicopters who partook in the training exercise.
SONAR and acoustic buoys are integrated, allowing the flight operator to manage real time data. The modularity of the SH- 90Aallows greater flexibility as we can change configuration based on the assigned mission. We can arm our aircraft with Dillon M134D machine guns or be ready with a torpedo MU90 or a missile “Marte” MK2/S in a short time. How has the mentality of pilots and operators changed? Our flight personnel are trained for crew resource management and flight teamwork has always been present. Everyone is an important member of the team and the concentration level is always very high.
The SH-90A and MH- 90A are highly technological machines so the personnel need to be keen on learning, since this is key for a correct management of such technology. Remaining on an ASW/ ASuW theme, how do you carry out the training? We begin with dedicated programmes to acquire specific qualifications and training goes on for the whole career. It mostly takes place while flying, after a theorical preparation, which is critical for a safe conduct. The optimal condition for training is being on a ship, to reach full potential and synergies with the navy teams. First is the Naval Mission Simulator Trainer, a PC network in which pilots and
operators can be trained for the different sensors. Secondly is the Flight Training Device or Full Mission Simulator, that can offer a reproduction of the environment to recreate realistic scenarios. Can we define the SH- 90A as a platform? The SH-90A can be considered as a platform ready to operate within an information network. The Navy has always been aware of the importance of the intelligence capabilities thanks to the use of aircraft to amplify the action range. Indeed, our Navy has been among the first in the world to use aircraft in its operations in 1913. The first flight license was awarded to a Navy official, Lieutenant Mario Calderara in 1910.
May 2021 / Vol.13 / No. 5 27
San Marco Brigade, are some of the most complex in a NATO context, with amphibious units, fast naval means, strike assets and helicopters. Flying in support of special forces can be defined as a support to unconventional operations to obtain political, military or psychological objectives. Flying begins with a briefing, in which two flight crews familiarise themselves with every aspect of the mission, like safety or the manoeuvres. Coordination is critical as the two crews will operate very closely and will need to reduce risk as much as possible. There are not only institutional tasks, but also others like search and rescue or MEDEVAC We guarantee assets that will be ready on a 24/7 basis for the whole year. In general, helicopters can be used for many different missions, frommountain/sea rescue to environmental protection or cooperation with the industry for technological innovation. In particular, support to the civil population manifested itself in ensuring search and rescue missions, for example, not long
ago during the first COVID-19 wave, the 5th Group transported with great rapidity, a sanitary team from the Navy to the hospital in Alzano Lombardo. The cooperation with the Civil Protection is very strong, as we operate in flood areas, like in the Lunigiana region in 2011 or near Olbia in 2013. Could we draw some conclusions after two years of using the MH-90A? The experience has been very positive! With the SH-90A the 5th Group faced a huge technological change. Then, with the arrival of the MH-90A in January 2017, we further increased our capabilities to operate on the sea, from the sea and on land. It is a high performing machine which is also compatible with UN. At the moment there are seven of them and three more planned. I can affirmwith absolute certainty that the helicopter outperformed our expectations, being a versatile and efficient aircraft. The Navy is training pilots and specialists from Qatar, a very important operation. What is the support given by the 5th Group? The QEAF soldiers will follow an intense and complete training programme based on their previous knowledge. Under the careful watch of the 5th Group instructors, they will learn and improve their flight capabilities and use of the sophisticated sensors of the SH-90Aand MH- 90A. During the first part of their training, the soldiers will engage
On the 9th January 2017, the 5th Group received the first MH-90A for tactical transportation. What makes this aircraft special? In the MH-90A there is a rear ramp that the ability to board and disembark up to 16 people in a short time. With respect to the GITA, there are more features for maritime use. The MH-90A has: • Meteorological radar with a 120° coverage • EWS suite with antimissile protection • Pilot helmet with helmet mounted sights displays •Aid for low flying with obstacle warning system • IFF system • U/VHF radio with SATCOM and HF capacity • Pintle machine gun M134D The 5th Group has always guaranteed support to COMSUBIN and San Marco but Heli assault and special operations support have different specificities, could you explain the difference? In theory, there is no distinction between the two configurations, but operations like the one in support of the
Left: Helo SH-90A armed with the
MARTE2 missile, standard armament for the SH-90A of 5TH Gruppo.
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in a forced water landing and then in the theorical and practical phases of helicopter training. The training will finish with the acquisition of the Bravo Characteristics, the ability to land on aircraft carriers. The first Qatari flight crews will complete their training with the Naval team during summer 2021, while the activity will continue until 2025 for a total of five years of collaboration, 900 flying hours and 500 simulator hours per year. It is a great challenge that will require energy and effort and we are there to offer our support and professionalism. •
Flying in formation with two MH-90s. The one above sporting the special badge of the squadron.
The author thanks the Italian navy, press office in Rome, Admiral Placido Torresi, COMFORAER, CV Onofrio Marco Frumusa, CF Andrea De Natale, men and women of the base of Luni, CC Stefano Febbraro and CC Bigari Fabio for the support given to the realisation of this report.
AIRCRAFT ENGINE NEWS
Rolls-Royce Reaches new milestone as world’s largest aero-engine build starts
Undertaking (European Union). UK Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, said: “The UltraFan project is a perfect example of how we are working with industry to deliver green, sustainable flight for decades to come. Backed with significant government support, this project represents the scale of ambition for Britain's crucial aerospace sector. “Companies like Rolls-Royce are playing a critical role as we build back greener from the pandemic and we are committed to giving the whole aerospace sector the support it needs to innovate and reach new heights.” Chris Cholerton, Rolls-Royce, President – Civil Aerospace, said: “This is an exciting moment for all of us at Rolls-Royce. Our first engine demonstrator, UF001, is now coming together and I’m really looking forward to seeing it built and ready for test. It is arriving at a time when the world is seeking ever more sustainable ways to travel in a post-COVID 19 world, and it makes me and all our team very proud to knowwe are part of the solution. “I am delighted that the UK and German governments have supported us in making these significant ground-breaking technology investments. The Aerospace Technology Institute and LuFo programmes, as well as the EU’s Clean Sky, have all helped bring us a step closer to realising the enormous environmental and economic benefits of UltraFan.” As engine build starts, other
key parts are already coming together for delivery to Derby. Work is underway on UltraFan’s carbon titanium fan system in Bristol, UK, and its 50MWPower Gearbox, which is powerful enough to run 500 family cars, in Dahlewitz, Germany. UltraFan is part of Rolls- Royce’s Intelligent Engine vision – for example each fan blade has a digital twin which stores real- life test data, allowing engineers to predict in-service performance. When on test at Rolls-Royce’s new £90m Testbed 80 facility, data can be taken frommore than 10 000 parameters, detecting the tiniest of vibrations at a rate of up to 200 000 samples per second. Data that helps us understand our engines and further improve them. Key engineering features of the engine include: • Anew, proven, Advance three core architecture, combined with our ALECSys lean burn combustion system, to deliver maximum fuel burn efficiency and low emissions. • Carbon titanium fan blades and a composite casing that reduce weight by up to 1 500lb per aircraft. • Advanced ceramic matrix composite (CMC) components that operate more effectively in high pressure turbine temperatures. • Ageared design that delivers efficient power for the high-
30 Vol.13 / No. 5 / May 2021 UK (United Kingdom), LuFo (Germany) and Clean Sky Joint associated technologies by Rolls- Royce and a variety of funding agencies, including the Aerospace Technology Institute and Innovate Rolls-Royce has officially started building the world’s largest aero-engine, UltraFan ® , which will help redefine sustainable air travel for decades to come. Work on the first module is underway at a dedicated DemoWorks facility in Derby, UK, and the demonstrator engine, which has a fan diameter of 140 inches, will be completed by the end of the year. The engine is the basis for a potential new family of UltraFan engines able to power both narrowbody and widebody aircraft and deliver a 25% fuel efficiency improvement compared with the first generation of Trent engine. That performance improvement is crucial to achieving aviation sustainability. Gas turbines will continue to be the bedrock of long-haul aviation for many years, and UltraFan’s efficiency will help improve the economics of an industry transition to more sustainable fuels, which are likely to be more expensive in the short-term than traditional jet fuel. The first test run of the engine will be conducted on 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel. Significant investment has been made to develop the UltraFan demonstrator and
thrust, high bypass ratio engines of the future. •
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delivery to military customers. “Boeing uses a proven in-line production process to efficiently build the aircraft,” said Christian Thomsen, P-8A Europe program manager. “Implementing established best practices and common, commercial production-system tools enables the team to reduce flow time and cost while ensuring quality and on-time delivery to our customers.” Norway is expected to receive its first P-8 later this year. In total, five P-8s will eventually replace Norway’s current fleet of six P-3 Orions and three DA-20 Jet Falcons, and will provide advanced capabilities to maintain situational awareness in neighboring waters on and below the surface of the ocean. To date, Boeing has delivered 104 P-8 aircraft to the U.S. Navy and customers in Australia, India and the United Kingdom. •
Norway’s first P-8A aircraft moves into assembly
In early April the first P-8A Poseidon fuselage for Norway arrived at the Boeing facilities in Renton, Washington, from Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Kansas, marking
Boeing 737 Next-Generation commercial aircraft, the P-8 is first assembled at Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ 737 production line, where the fuselage receives additional wiring and systems needed to support military components, equipment and operation. The aircraft is then delivered to Boeing’s Defence, Space & Security unit for the installation of military systems, testing and
a major milestone in the production of the first of five
Poseidons for the Royal Norwegian Air Force. A derivative of the
Airbus to boost “cold” technology testing as part of its decarbonisation roadmap
ASCEND will assess electric architectures from several hundred kilowatts to multi-megawatt applications with and without liquid hydrogen on board. Airbus will design and build the demonstrator over the next three years at its E-Aircraft System House. Solutions that could be adapted to turboprop, turbofan and hybrid propeller engines will be tested and evaluated by the end of 2023. It will support Airbus’ decision making-process for the type of propulsion system architecture required for future aircraft. ASCEND is also expected to support performance improvements on existing and future propulsion systems across the entire Airbus portfolio, including helicopters, eVTOLs, as well as regional and single-aisle aircraft. The demonstrator is hosted withinAirbus UpNext, anAirbus subsidiary created to give future technologies a development fast-track by building demonstrators at speed and scale, evaluating, maturing and validating new products and services that encompass radical technological breakthroughs. •
Airbus has launched “Advanced Superconducting and Cryogenic Experimental Powertrain Demonstrator” (ASCEND) to explore the impact of superconducting materials and cryogenic temperatures on the performance of an aircraft’s electrical propulsion systems. The introduction of superconducting materials can lower electrical resistance, meaning that electrical current can supply power without energy loss. When coupled with liquid hydrogen at cryogenic temperatures (-253˚C) electrical systems can be cooled in order to significantly increase the performance of the overall electric propulsion system. Airbus will use ASCEND to explore the feasibility of these promising technologies in order to optimise propulsion architecture ready for low-emission and zero-emission flight. Results are expected to show the potential for component weight and electrical losses to be at least halved, as the volume and complexity of systems installation is reduced, as well as a reduction in voltage to below 500V, compared to current systems.
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