Boeing Backs Biofuel Derived From Tobacco

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The aviation industry continues to strive to be in the forefront of industries with regard to managing carbon emissions. To this end the industry aims to attain carbon-neutral growth by the year 2020 as laid out in a resolution dubbed “CNG2020”, as well as working toward cutting emission by up to 50% by 2050 in comparison with 2005. Biofuels are expected to play a significant role in meeting these goals as research and development continues to turn up new biofuel options, and Boeing recently announced that it is partnering with South African Airways (SAA) and SkyNRG to produce biofuel for aviation from the seeds of a new tobacco plant hybrid.

The new hybrid, named Solaris, is virtually nicotine-free and has a high seed yield. At this time the biofuel will be made from the seed only, but it is anticipated that with the development of new manufacturing processes, at a future date the entire plant may be used to produce biofuel. In a press release from SAA’s Group Environmental Affairs Specialist, Ian Cruickshank, it was noted that using hybrid tobacco allows the project to draw on the knowledge of South Africa‘s tobacco farmers, while giving them the alternative of growing a product the doesn’t encourage smoking. It is anticipated that the new biofuel will be in use in the next few years.

While it’s been proven that biofuels are workable, many onlookers have noted that price is likely to be an issue in implementing them on a large scale. Nobody is likely to take issue with existing tobacco fields being turned into biofuel producing areas, as is the case with food crops, but the question remains whether tobacco farms will be as economically viable producing biofuel crops. Also, various regions will need to find the biofuel crop that works best for them, for example Saudi Arabia is experimenting with a plant that can be grown in the desert and watered with sea water, while other options are algae-based biofuel, or biofuel generated from discarded cooking oil and other waste. Nevertheless, the focus on biofuel is encouraging as it raises awareness of the need to find viable alternatives to fossil fuels.

The Aviation Museum of South Africa

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The Aviation Museum of South Africa incorporates the South African Airways Museum Society, the Dakota Association of South Africa and Skyclass Aviation, all of which aim to preserve and promote South Africa’s aviation resources and heritage in its various forms. These associated organizations, under the auspices of the Aviation Museum of South Africa, coordinate the efforts of volunteer enthusiasts, clubs and societies to achieve their goals of sharing their knowledge of the aviation industry with as wide an audience as possible.

Established in 1986, the South African Airways Museum Society aims to record and preserve the history of South African Airways as an integral part of civil aviation in South Africa. One of the first items to be restored for display by the members of the South African Airways Museum Society was a Junkers Ju 52/3m (CASA 352L) aircraft, and the collection has since grown to include a Lockheed L-18-08 Lodestar; De Havilland DH 104 Dove; Lockheed L1649A Starliner; Vickers VC1A Viking; Boeing 747-244B; Douglas C-54D-15-DC; Boeing 747SP-44; Douglas DC-3 Dakota; Douglas DC-4 Skymaster; and Boeing 707-344C.

Among the goals of the South African Airways Museum, which is located at the Rand Airport in Germiston, is to preserve South Africa’s aviation history for future generations; to maintain an interactive museum in which to display aircraft and aviation related memorabilia; to restore artifacts relevant to aviation; to make visitors welcome and offer them insight into South Africa‘s aviation history while drawing attention to the great strides that aviation has made over the years.

The Dakota Association of South Africa focuses on Dakota aircraft and related artifacts, promoting these to the public. The association was established in 1984 by Victor Philip Fouche, and consisted initially mostly of WWII veterans, and members of the South African Air Force’s 44 squadron, with each having flown Dakota aircraft at some point. As the association came to the attention of the public it received support from others who admired the iconic aircraft and the pilots who flew them. December 17, 2010, was the 75th anniversary of the first flight by the DC-3 and these pioneering aircraft are still in operation to ferry holidaymakers and tourists to their destinations.

With the combined efforts of South African Airways Museum Society, the Dakota Association of South Africa and Skyclass Aviation, the Aviation Museum of South Africa is ensuring that future generations will have the opportunity of seeing just how far technology has come in a relatively short period of time.

Innovative New Aircraft From South Africa

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South African companies Aerosud Holdings and Paramount Group have unveiled what is believed to be the first all-African produced defense aircraft. Dubbed the Ahrlac – Advanced High Performance Reconnaissance Light Aircraft – its developers believe that it will fill a gap in the market for an aircraft that can undertake military and civilian surveillance work. Managing Director of Aerosud, Paul Potgieter, noted in a statement that there is nothing quite like the Ahrlac in the marketplace, and it will primarily cater to African governments undertaking peacekeeping and humanitarian work, as well as serving a role in combat situations.

The compact, two-person Ahrlac features a rear-mounted propeller and bulbous cockpit to facilitate an unobstructed view which is essential for reconnaissance. Group Chairman of Paramount Group, Ivor Ichikowitz, expressed his view that the future of peacekeeping and defense in Africa will be airborne, and with the ability to fly at different speeds and remain airborne for up to seven hours, the Ahrlac will be ideal for African governments which have to deal with vast distances and unsecured borders. Moreover, most African countries do not have the financial resources to avail themselves of jet and helicopter technology, and the Ahrlac will be marketed as a more affordable alternative.

The marketing of the Ahrlac will not be restricted to defense ministries, but will include border patrols, policing authorities and forestry agencies in Latin America, Asia and Eastern Europe. The aircraft will be produced at Aerosud’s premises based in Centurion near Johannesburg. The company already manufactures wing components, galleys and seats for European Aeronautic Defense & Space Co.

By concentrating their efforts in Africa, Paramount and Aerosud will have the advantage over Western contractors, and with the South African defense industry reportedly poised to overhaul the armed forces, the market appears ready for this innovative aircraft. While the developers are keeping tight-lipped about who their customer is, Ichikowitz has been reported as saying that they have received an order for fifty aircraft at a cost up just under $10 million each. Production of two to three Ahrlac aircraft per month is expected to start in late 2012 or at the beginning of 2013.

OR Tambo International Airport

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When it was built in 1952, the OR Tambo International Airport was known as the Jan Smuts International Airport. At that time, it was named after Jan Christiaan Smuts who was the Prime Minister of South Africa between 1919-1924. Not long after the end of apartheid, a number of new governmental policies came into effect, one of which was the policy of not naming airports after politicians. Hence, in 1994 the Jan Smuts Airport was renamed the Johannesburg International Airport. However this policy soon fell out of favor and in 2006 the airport was renamed OR Tambo International Airport after Oliver Tambo who was a prominent South African politician. The OR Tambo International Airport is one of the country’s largest airports and it is situated near the city of Johannesburg in the Gauteng Province of South Africa. It also has the distinction of being Africa’s busiest airport, handling close to 20 million passengers a year.

The OR Tambo International Airport is a public airport operated by the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA). While it mainly serves the nearby cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria, it is viewed as the country’s primary airport for both domestic and international travel, so many people arriving at OR Tambo are not necessarily planning to spend much time in Johannesburg, but are moving on to other destinations. The airport has quite a high elevation of 5,512 ft (1 680 m) which makes it a ‘hot and high’ airport. This basically means that the air is thin at this altitude which affects the performance of the aircraft. Those aircraft which have to travel a long distance will usually have to stop off elsewhere to refuel since the high altitude and thin air limits the amount of fuel that the aircraft can carry at takeoff. Currently the airport has six terminals but these can be easily divided into three major areas – an international terminal, a domestic terminal and a transit terminal. Extensive renovations have ensured that the airport remains world-class and have included an extra terminal, a multiple story parkade and an international trade bureau. The airport also has two runways – one measuring 14,495 ft (4,418 m) in length and the other 11,119 ft (3,389 m). Both have an asphalt surface. Both run north-south and there is also a disused cross runway. The western runway is regarded as being one of the longest international airport runways in the world. The extra length is necessary because of the altitude in Johannesburg.

The OR Tambo International Airport is built in such a way that those waiting for the arrival of passengers or the departure of flights will be able to keep themselves entertained. There are shops and restaurants available as well as the normal facilities such as money changing operations, ATM machines and ticket booking facilities. The South African Airways Museum is housed on the grounds for those who are interested in the country’s aviation history.

South Africa Airports

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Over the recent years, the air traffic in South Africa has increased dramatically due to the influx of tourists, visitors and business related visitors. South Africa has become a leader in safari, wildlife and eco-tourism, and thousands flock to the country every year, to experience the African wildlife and explore a country with diverse cultures, an amazing history and a vast landscape of natural treasures and magical destinations. To accommodate the vast numbers of visitors and travelers, South Africa depends on its strong aviation infrastructure and the network of airports that are scattered over the country.

The airports in South Africa fall into different categories, as some are international and domestically orientated, while others focus on chartered flights and light aircraft. The largest South African airports are owned and managed by the ACSA, or Airports Company of South Africa. Airports under ACSA management include the biggest airport in South Africa namely the O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, the second largest, which is Cape Town International Airport and the Durban International Airport, which is third. Other airports include the Bloemfontein Airport, East London Airport, George Airport, Kimberley Airport, Port Elizabeth Airport, Pilanesburg Airport and Upington Airport. Nine of ACSA’s airports have international airport status and between them handle most of the air traffic in South Africa.

To cover the entire landscape, South Africa makes use of smaller airports, like Margate, Nelspruit, Port Alfred and Vryheid that divert passengers from the bigger airports to specific destinations. Most of these South African airports or airfields make use of light aircraft and assist in flights for privately owned aircraft. The Lanseria International Airport, which is located in Johannesburg, is owned by a consortium of private owners and investors, and was given International airport status in 2001. Lanseria International Airport does deal with commercial airlines such as Kulula, but concentrates mainly on charted flights.The Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport is another airport that deals with chartered flights, but also handles flights from airliners such as SA Airlink, Nationwide, Interlink Airlines, Nelair and Pelikan Air Services. This airport is known as the port to Mpumalanga, and is also close to the world renowned Kruger National Park, and other popular attractions.

The Air Traffic Navigation Services, or ATNS, provide most of South Africa and surrounding countries with a sophisticated, technologically advanced and functional navigational system. They are also responsible for the training of air traffic controllers, to ensure safer skies and better service delivery. Safety standards, licenses and Air Traffic Services that are implemented at airports throughout South Africa, are managed and regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Airports in South Africa:

Cape Town International Airport

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The Cape Town International Airport is managed and under the control of the Airports Company South Africa, or the ACSA. The Airports Company of South Africa is in charge of all the vital airports that are located across South Africa. Being the second largest airport in South Africa, it shares the international and domestic air travel load, with the O.R. Tambo International Airport, in Johannesburg. Cape Town International was formerly known as the DF Malan Airport, but changed its name in the 1990’s due to its apartheid-era connotations.

Annually, Cape Town International deals with approximately 95,000 flights and just over 7.8 million passengers, as reported for 2009. The traffic growth has been so phenomenal that it is expected that the airport will accommodate almost 14 million passengers by the year 2015.

Renovations and extensions have been an ongoing project, with new terminals being constructed in 2001 and in 2003. The most recent terminal, opened in 2003, is 21,000 square meters in size and has the capacity to process 1 million passengers annually, and 1,300 during rush hours. The Cape Town Airport operates from five terminals namely the International Arrivals, Domestic Arrivals, International Departures, Domestic Departures for South African Airways and a terminal for Domestic Departures for all other airline services. Airlines that fly to and from Cape Town International include Lufthansa, Air Mauritius, Mango, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Air Namibia, South African Airways, British Airways, Qatar Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Air Botswana and LTU International. The Cape Town International Airport has two paved runways that are 3,195 and 1,699 meters in length, respectively, and are used for take offs and landings.

Cape Town International is approximately 22 kilometers from the center of Cape Town, and transport to and from the airport is serviced by car rental agencies, shuttle services and taxis. Passengers can safely park their vehicles in the parking areas at the airport and there are more than 2,000 parking bays to choose from. A shuttle service between the parking area and terminals is available for passenger convenience. Facilities at the Cape Town International Airport includes ATM’s, banks, postal services, foreign exchange services, bars, restaurants, cafés, various shops and stores and a medical facility. All facilities at the airport are modeled bearing in mind the limitations faced by disabled people, and ensuring that public amenities are easily accessible to all passengers and visitors.

The Cape Town International Airport has proved itself to be one of the leading airports in South Africa, by winning the award for ‘World Travel Awards’ consecutively from 2001 to 2004. In 2005 it came in second for the award, behind the O.R. Tambo International Airport, but secured the ‘Skytax Best Airport in Africa’ award in the same year.