Efforts to get the South African Air Force’s (SAAF’s) VIP jet fleet flying again appear to be bearing fruit, with one of the Falcon 50s taking to the skies after some 18 months on the ground.
The aircraft (ZA-CAS) is one of two with the SAAF’s VIP 21 Squadron and was apparently tracked performing airworthiness test flights.
This follows tenders issued by Armscor in May for parts and ad-hoc maintenance for the SAAF’s Cessna Caravans and Beechcraft King Air aircraft, as well as ad-hoc engineering support services and the procurement of spares for the aircraft ZS-CAQ and ZS-CAS, both Falcon 50s, and ZS-NAN, a Falcon 900.
The Falcon 50s were delivered to 21 Squadron in 1982 and 1985 with an upgrade done on both in the United States in 2005/6. This saw interiors redone as well engines upgraded to improve economy, reduce maintenance costs and improve range. A full digital upgrade was also done to the avionics suite.
The Falcon 900 was delivered to its current home at AFB Waterkloof in 1991 and as far as can be ascertained, an avionics update is all the upgrading work done. An upgrade, including engines and avionics, was apparently scheduled for the 2010/2011 financial year.
The Presidential Boeing Business Jet ‘Inkwazi’ may also soon be operational again after all aircraft at 21 Squadron were effectively stuck on the ground for around a year.
Armscor is also seeking spares for the C-47TP transport/maritime surveillance fleet. On 8 August it issued a tender for thousands of spare parts for the fleet, including minor items like isolator bolts, shim gaskets, propeller mounting bolts, washers, nuts and a borescope. The tender has a closing date of 28 August.