Nelspruit, Mpumalanga-based Micro Aviation South Africa will export the first of 200 Bat Hawk light sport aircraft (LSA) to India in the near future.
The export contract is valued at R50 million according to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). The deal was finalised last month during a DTI outward selling mission to the sub-continent. Terry Pappas, Micro Aviation chief executive, is reported by the DTI as saying the export deal was three years in the making.
A DTI statement said: “Bat Hawk Aircraft designs and manufactures light sport aircraft surveillance aircraft primarily for surveillance and conservation purposes. Aircraft are supplied as ready to fly and feature a strut-braced high-wing, two seats in a side-by-side configuration open cockpit, fixed tricycle landing gear and a single engine in tractor configuration”.
Pappas is reported by the DTI as saying: “Previous discussions more than three years ago kicked off with a commitment for ten aircraft we were scheduled to sign on the margins of the recent outward selling mission. With the help of the DTI, the SA High Commission in India and the Confederation of Indian Industry, we succeeded in signing a contract to supply 200 Bat Hawk aircraft to Max Adventure Sports in India”.
Signing of the contract will be followed by a site visit by Max Adventure Sports to the factory in Mpumalanga, to finalise contract details.
The contract will lead to more jobs at the Nelspruit factory, especially on the manufacturing side. The big advantage of manufacturing aircraft in South Africa is the cost of the local aluminium the company sources. With most labour going into installation of the engine and wiring, the contract is expected to create new work in the factory on the raw material side.
The Bat Hawk was developed as an LSA with particular use areas identified as conservation and surveillance.
The aircraft complies with the ASTM2245 Build Standard rules and regulations as well as SA Civil Aviation Authority Type Approval.
As a conventional three-axis Light Sport Aircraft, Bat Hawk does not rely on pilot weight shift to affect control. Side-by-side seats give full dual control and both crew members are protected from weather by an aerodynamic fibreglass pod and wraparound windshield. The aircraft is powered a four-cylinder Rotax engine giving an all-up mass of 540kg with an 80 litre fuel tank. Bat Hawks have also been powered by CAMIT engines.
The manufacturers maintain the Bat Hawk’s propeller being “up and out of the way” reduces the risk of damage by grass, sticks and stones, making it a “true bush plane”.
Bat Hawk is in service by the Botswana Defence Force which has 14 in its fleet and plans to arm at least some. This will enable the pilot to fire a 5.6mm light machine gun fitted outside the cockpit.
The Bat Hawk is widely used in the conservation role and operates in a number of game reserves and parks, including Kruger for anti-poaching, surveillance and game spotting duties, among others.