Author Archives: Jon Robinson

ZeroAvia tests world’s largest aircraft to be powered by hydrogen-electric engine

ZeroAvia on January 19, 2023, celebrated the flight of its 19-seat Dornier 228 testbed aircraft, retrofitted with a full-size prototype hydrogen-electric powertrain on the left wing of the aircraft.

The flight took place at ZeroAvia’s R&D facility at Cotswold Airport in Gloucestershire, UK, and lasted 10 minutes. The Dornier 228 completed taxi, take-off, a full pattern circuit, and landing. The landmark flight forms part of the HyFlyer II project, a development program backed by the UK Government’s ATI Program, which targets development of a 600kW powertrain to support nine to 19 seat aircraft worldwide with zero-emission flight.

ZeroAvia says this milestone flight moves the company toward its goal of commercial flights using only hydrogen fuel cell power by 2025, as well as scaling the engine technology to larger airframes. “This is a major moment, not just for ZeroAvia, but for the aviation industry as a whole, as it shows that true zero-emission commercial flight is only a few years away,” said Val Miftakhov, Founder and CEO of ZeroAvia. “The first flight of our 19-seat aircraft shows just how scalable our technology is and highlights the rapid progress of zero-emission propulsion. This is only the beginning – we are building the future of sustainable, zero climate impact aviation.”

The twin-engine aircraft with ZeroAvia’s hydrogen-electric engine on its left wing is operated alongside a single Honeywell TPE-331 stock engine on the right. In this testing configuration, the hydrogen-electric powertrain comprises two fuel cell stacks, with lithium-ion battery packs providing peak power support during take-off and adding additional redundancy for safe testing. In this testbed configuration, hydrogen tanks and fuel cell power generation systems were housed inside the cabin. In a commercial configuration, external storage would be used and the seats restored.

The is the largest ZeroAvia engine tested to date as the company works toward a certifiable configuration to be finalized and submitted for certification in 2023. ZeroAvia explains it two to five MW powertrain program, already underway, will scale the clean engine technology for up to 90-seat aircraft, with further expansion into narrowbody aircraft demonstrators over the next decade.

(Photo: ZeroAvia)

Saugeen Municipal Airport’s bylaws, budget discussed by Brockton council

— By Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times (Photo: Pauline Kerr)

BROCKTON – Clerk Fiona Hamilton prepared a report on the Saugeen Municipal Airport’s revised corporate bylaws.

The discussion that followed included a statement by Mayor Chris Peabody: “Our concerns were not heard.” He said that to “disenfranchise” the municipalities from the asset they own is “unacceptable.”

He and the SMA commission’s new council representative, Carl Kuhnke, noted the commission will be seeking a 10 per cent levy increase from each of the three municipalities of Brockton, Hanover and West Grey.

Kuhnke said the draft budget passed by SMAC is “a revenue neutral budget, if the 10 per cent and $60,000 (fundraising) comes through.”

That statement elicited open surprise from council.

Coun. Greg McLean commented, “I anticipate… an interesting budget discussion.” He further stated that fundraising should never be part of a budget.

Kuhnke said, “You don’t generally take fundraising to fund operational (expenses) – it has to be for a special project.”

Council approved Hamilton’s report, that council “formally request that the SMAC consider formal comments from the member municipalities for formal comment prior to any approval by the commission, and further that the report and resolution be provided to West Grey and Hanover for their consideration.”

Hamilton’s report stated some of the provisions “should reflect the requirements of the Municipal Act, 2001 for local boards.”

KF Aerospace supports Indigenous pilot training after hangar fire

The First Nations Technical Institute (FNTI) flight training program remains open to students following a devastating fire that destroyed much of its campus and hangar facilities in the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory of Ontario last year. With students temporarily re-housed, external support from the aviation industry was pivotal in recovering the program.

In response to the disaster, KF Aerospace volunteered to donate a temporary hangar structure to safely house aircraft required for continued training at Mohawk Aerodrome. KF staff and contractors worked closely with FNTI to identify key facility requirements and complete the installation in time to protect its fleet from harsh winter conditions.

KF Aerospace President & CEO, Tracy Medve says it was a successful collaboration between industry segments: “FNTI does incredible work to support Indigenous representation in the aerospace sector while also addressing Canada’s critical pilot shortage. We were honoured to share our expertise and deliver a timely solution to keep their students flying.”

The First Peoples’ Aviation Technology Program is the only post-secondary Indigenous aviation program of its kind in Canada and provides hands-on flight training for students interested in pursuing a pilot’s licence or working in the aviation industry. In 2022 the program had an enrollment of 42% Indigenous women.

“The loss of our hangar, AMO, dispatch and planes in February was devastating for FNTI and our aviation students, who come from urban and remote communities across Canada,” said Suzanne Brant, President of FNTI. “We are fortunate to have resilient staff who pivoted to provide students with training options, ensuring minimal program interruption. The aviation industry stepped up and offered much-needed contributions toward maintaining uninterrupted pilot training, and providing temporary solutions until our hangar could be rebuilt.”

(Photo: KF Aerospace)

TSB reports on mid-2022 ultralight fatal collision with terrain near Didsbury

Aircraft accident site, looking east. (Source: TSB)

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) released its investigation report (A22W0057) into the July 13, 2022, fatal collision with terrain of a privately registered Zlin Aviation Savage Cub advanced ultralight aircraft near Olds-Didsbury airport, AB.

The aircraft at 9:55am departed a private airstrip approximately seven nautical miles (NM) east of Didsbury for a local recreational flight with the owner/pilot and a passenger on board.

The flight was conducted within 4 NM of the private airstrip at various altitudes up to approximately 1100 feet above ground level (AGL). Details of the flight path were captured by a portable GPS and investigators also obtained a smartphone video of the last minute of the flight recorded from inside the aircraft.

The pilot was conducting intentional stalls of the aircraft, first a power on stall at 1100 feet AGL, followed by another power-on stall at 900 feet AGL, when TSB explains the left wing dropped and the aircraft entered a left spin and eventually impacted a field 0.7 NM south of the airstrip at 10:14 am.

For more information on the investigation visit TSB’s website.

Textron Aviation delivers 3,000th Cessna Caravan

Textron Aviation on January 13 announced it has delivered a Cessna Grand Caravan EX to Brazilian aviation company Azul Conecta, a subsidiary of Azul Airlines based at the airport of Jundiai in São Paulo.

This aircraft represents the 3,000th Cessna Caravan family turboprop delivered worldwide. Azul Conecta transports travelers from smaller cities and remote locations throughout Brazil. Textron Aviation employees and representatives from Azul Conecta celebrated this significant milestone with a special delivery ceremony at Textron Aviation’s location in Independence, Kansas.

“The Cessna Caravan’s versatility and reliability have made it the most popular aircraft in the utility turboprop category, with now 3,000 delivered globally,” said Lannie O’Bannion, senior vice president of Sales and Flight Operations at Textron Aviation.

Conceived as a rugged utility aircraft with low operating costs, the Caravan was designed for use in remote areas with extreme weather changes, mountainous terrain and rough landing conditions. The aircraft’s versatility became renowned in all corners of the world, and the Caravan continues to see wide use in global markets by a variety of customers, including government agencies, law enforcement and militaries, air ambulance operators, freight haulers, corporations and humanitarian organizations.

“This Grand Caravan EX will proudly fly the Brazilian skies and connect our 158 destinations, many of which are made possible by the aircraft’s utility and flexibility,” said Flavio Costa, chief technical officer of Azul and president of Azul Conecta. “As a longtime Textron Aviation customer with a fleet of over 25 Cessna aircraft, we are happy to be a part of this important milestone.”

Customers can choose between four models of the Cessna Caravan aircraft, including: the Caravan 208, the Grand Caravan EX 208B, the Caravan Amphibian and the Grand Caravan EX Amphibian.

Cessna Caravan program milestones
1981 – Cessna launched the Caravan program
1982 – First flight of Caravan 208 prototype
1984 – Caravan 208 received FAA type certification
1985 – Cessna began deliveries of the Caravan 208
1985 – Caravan 208 approved for amphibious floats
1986 – Caravan 208B Super Cargomaster, stretched by four feet in a freight specific configuration, received FAA type certification
1990 – First production Grand Caravan 208B delivered
1998 – Delivery of 1,000th production Caravan 208
1998 – Cessna began deliveries of the new standard Caravan 208, a Caravan 208 that features a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-114A engine rated at 675 shaft horsepower
2002 – Delivery of 1,000th Grand Caravan 208B
2005 – Delivery of 1,500th production Cessna 208
2008 – Garmin G1000 becomes standard avionics equipment
2008 – TKS ice protection offered
2013 – Cessna began deliveries of Grand Caravan EX 208B, featuring a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-140 engine rated at 867 shaft horsepower
2017 – G1000 NXi becomes standard on Caravan and Grand Caravan EX
2022 – 3,000th Caravan, a Grand Caravan EX, delivered to Azul Conecta

(Photo: Textron Aviation)

NASA crash tests eVTOL concept

The RVLT Lift+Cruise Model rests on the ground after suffering a devastating crash. Tests like these enable researchers to understand how a vehicle’s structure reacts to a crash.
(Photo: NASA, Dave Bowman)

NASA researchers recently completed a full-scale crash test of an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) concept vehicle at the Landing and Impact Research (LandIR) facility at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

The eVTOL was a ‘Lift+Cruise’ test article developed by the Revolutionary Vertical Left Technology (RVLT) project in another effort for NASA to advance research for the Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) mission.

NASA explains its vision for AAM is to help emerging aviation markets safely develop an air transportation system that moves people and cargo between places previously not served or underserved by aviation. Understanding how these future aircraft may act in a crash scenario is another key point of research.

Hoisted into the air, then released with pyrotechnic cutters, the model swung forward and down back to the Earth with a loud crash.

“The test was a great success for the crash-worthiness team at Langley,” said Justin Littell, research assistant for Langley’s Structural Dynamics Branch. “We successfully tested the eVTOL vehicle concept representing a six-passenger, high wing, overhead mass, multiple rotor vehicle, obtaining more than 200 channels of data, and collecting over 20 onboard and off-board camera views.”

A variety of experiments were included on the test article. These experiments included several seat configurations including a NASA energy absorbing concept, various sizes of crash test dummies to study the effects of the crash loads on all sizes of occupants, and a modular NASA-developed energy-absorbing composite subfloor.

“While we are still going through the data and video, and these results are preliminary, we see that there are two main events that occurred during this test,” said Littell.

The first event was the floor crushing and seat stroking. The subfloor and energy absorbing seats functioned as intended and limited the effect of the impact on the crash test dummies.

The second was the collapse of the overhead structure. The effect of the overhead structure collapse on the crash test dummies is still being determined.

For this test, an overhead-mass was designed to represent the wing structure, rotor and battery. The decision was made to assume that all the weight of the overhead structure was over the cabin. There are many other overhead-mass configurations which may behave differently in a crash.

“When looking at crash conditions for these types of vehicles, it’s important to note the structural weight and distribution that must be made when examining a specific design,” said Littell.


Canada finalizes deal to purchase 88 F-35 fighter jets

Anita Anand, Minister of National Defence on January 9 announced that Canada has finalized an agreement with the United States government and Lockheed Martin with Pratt & Whitney for the acquisition of F-35 fighter jets for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).

As outlined in its generational Strong, Secure, Engaged defence policy, the Government of Canada was committed to purchase 88 new fighter jets to replace its ageing CF-18 Hornet fleet.

“In today’s complex global environment, Canada requires a military that is flexible, agile and capable of responding to a variety of unforeseen situations,” said Anand. “We are committed to ensuring that our current and future aviators have the most advanced equipment possible to do just that.”

The estimated investment for the purchase of 88 F-35s is $19 billion, which includes associated equipment, sustainment set-up and services, as well as the construction of Fighter Squadron Facilities in Bagotville and Cold Lake. Each plane will cost approximately US$85 million each.

The first deliveries of Canada’s F-35s aircraft are anticipated to begin in 2026. The government anticipates it will reach Full Operational Capability for the entire fleet between 2032 and 2034.

The federal government states the acquisition and initial sustainment of the F-35 project has the potential to contribute over $425 million annually to Canada’s gross domestic product and close to 3,300 jobs annually for Canadian industry and value chain partners over a 25-year period (direct and indirect).

(Photo: Lockheed Martin)

TSB releases report on 2021 helicopter accident near Les Escoumins

Map showing the occurrence helicopter’s track based on data from the GPS (Image: Google Earth, with TSB annotations)

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada on January 10 released its investigation report (A21Q0024) into a 2021 accident involving an Airbus AS350 B2 helicopter registered to Héli-Express Inc. near Les Escoumins, Quebec.

On May 11, 2021, two Héli-Express helicopters were scheduled to carry workers and equipment to a work area at a Hydro-Québec transmission line near Les Escoumins. The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) explains the occurrence pilot was notified that a work platform was ready to be transported from the staging area to the team waiting for it.

(Photo: TSB, Sûreté du Québec)

Shortly after taking off with the platform hanging directly from the cargo hook mounted on the belly of the helicopter, TSB explains the pilot was notified that it was swinging, as had happened on previous flights. The pilot heard a loud noise and released the platform, according to the TSB report, with the pilot subsequently experiencing great difficulty controlling the helicopter’s descent as it landed hard in an upright position on rugged terrain. The pilot was taken to a hospital with serious injuries.

The TSB investigation found that the pilot expected the platform to stabilize as the helicopter accelerated, but it continued to oscillate and struck the tail boom. Analyses by TSB showed that one of the tail rotor blades came into contact with the platform immediately after it was released, tearing out the tail rotor and gearbox in flight without the pilot’s knowledge, and resulting in a yaw (turn) to the left.

The pilot attempted to reduce speed and descend as low as possible, explains TSB, before shutting off the engine to stop the turn. TSB explains when the power was cut, however, the helicopter was likely at a height that could not sufficiently dampen the unpowered descent, resulting in substantial damage to the helicopter and injuries to the pilot during the hard landing.

In its report, TSB states the fixed deadlines at the work site and the potential contractual consequences of not meeting them put time pressure on the site workers and indirectly on the pilots. To save time, TSB notes the pilots opted to transport some external loads without a sling. TSB concludes that given that the risks associated with transporting a light load without a sling were not fully understood by the pilots and the operations manager, and given that no concerns were raised, the pilot concluded that the platform could be safely carried horizontally without a sling.

CubCrafters acquires Summit Aircraft Skis

A Summit Ski equipped Carbon Cub FX-3 explores the wintertime backcountry in Washington State (Photo: CubCrafters)

CubCrafters, the manufacturer of light-sport and experimental aircraft, acquired Summit Aircraft Skis, including the company’s design and manufacturing assets, patents and related intellectual property, from the Summit Aircraft Corporation of Sandpoint, Idaho.

CubCrafters states Summit Aircraft Skis are favoured by Carbon Cub aircraft owners and owners of non-CubCrafters manufactured backcountry capable aircraft.

“We are very excited and pleased to welcome Summit’s customers and products into our family here in Yakima,” said Patrick Horgan, CubCrafters President and CEO. “It has been a joy for our team to work together with Mike Custard, Summit’s founder, to coordinate a smooth ski manufacturing transition.”

Manufacturing of skis has already begun in Yakima and going forward Summit Skis will continue to be available on both CubCrafters aircraft and competing aircraft from other manufacturers.

“Summit Skis, when combined with the outstanding wintertime defrost and cabin heater technology used on our FX-3 model, makes that aircraft the ultimate ski airplane,” said Brad Damm, CubCrafters’ vice president. “The acquisition is part of an ambitious growth and business development strategy that has been supported by the outstanding early success of our recently announced public stock offering.”

Horizon completes hover test of Cavorite X5 prototype

Horizon Aircraft on January 4 announced it has completed initial hover testing of its Cavorite X5 scale prototype, a hybrid electric Vertical Take-off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft.

“This aircraft has exceeded expectations during initial hover testing,” said Brandon Robinson, CEO of Horizon Aircraft. “It is extremely stable, is capable of full hover at only 65 per cent power, and has hovered with 20 per cent of its fans purposely disabled in order to test system redundancy.”

Robinson continues to explain the Cavorite X5 prototype is a large-scale eVTOL aircraft, with a 22-foot wingspan, measuring more than 15 feet in length, and capable of speeds over 175 mph. “It continues to yield valuable data that is constantly improving our full-scale design,” he said.

Horizon explains its patented eVTOL concept allows the aircraft to fly 98 per cent of its mission in a very low-drag configuration like a traditional aircraft and is one of the only eVTOL aircraft currently able to do so. The company continues to explain that flying most of the mission as a normal aircraft is safer, more efficient, and will be easier to certify than radical new eVTOL designs.

Horizon’s full-scale aircraft will be powered by a hybrid electric system that can recharge the battery array in-flight while providing additional system redundancy.

Co-founded by CEO Brandon Robinson and Chief Engineer Brian Robinson, with its primary production facility located in Lindsay, Ontario, Horizon Aircraft plans to move to transition flight testing in the first quarter of 2023 at the ACE Climatic Wind Tunnel located near Toronto.

(Photos: Horizon Aircraft)