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Atlas/Aerotek ACE/Ovid NGT

kaiserbill

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This was a project intiated by Aerotek, the aviation arm of the CSIR, and Atlas Aircraft, in 1985.

At the time, South Africa was under an arms embargo, and operated the largest fleet of T-6 Texan/Harvard training aircraft in the world, with well over 100 airframes in use. The new aircraft, originally called Project Ovid, or just Ovid, was an excercise in designing and producing an all composite turbo-prop aircraft, that would also be suitable for use as a T-6/Harvard replacement.

The prototype flew in 1991, and in the same year, as the Atlas ACE, was entered into a competition to replace the T-6/Harvard. The ACE, which stood for All Composite Evaluator, was the worlds first all composite turboprop training aircraft.
The Pilatus PC-7Mk2 won the competition.
There was much controversy surrounding this decision, with the SAAF stating that they wanted a proven design, even though Atlas were prepared to underwrite a 20 000 hour fatigue life for the ACE. The Pilatus purchase was the first post embargo purchase by SA, which was preceded by hard political lobbying. The SAAF also gave as a reason the fact that they were more geared toward maintaining aluminium/rivet construction.
Of the aircraft looked at, the Tucano (shorts and Embraer versions), the Pilatus PC range (3 versions), and the Atlas ACE, the ACE actually scored highest.

Atlas continued developement after the competition, but in 1995, the prototype was badly damaged in an accident. Atlas was working on a more advanced second model, but this was cancelled as a result of the accident and downturn in defence spending worldwide after the Cold War.
 

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kaiserbill

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The ACE was powered by a P&W PT6 delivering 750hp. The follow on Mk2 being assembled had a more powerful engine.
 

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kaiserbill

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A few more, including an interesting one of the all composite wing.
 

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Rafael

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Any 3-views?. The disposition of the staggered cockpit positions look very appealing.
 

Trident

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Nice, that's a new one for me! Thanks for sharing, it's certainly an appealing design.
 

JFC Fuller

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kaiserbill,


Thanks for posting, I had often wondered whether South Africa had ever considered an indigenous replacement for the Impala but I had never thought of a T-6 replacement!
 

Stargazer2006

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sealordlawrence said:
kaiserbill,


Thanks for posting, I had often wondered whether South Africa had ever considered an indigenous replacement for the Impala but I had never thought of a T-6 replacement!


The "Ovid", or Atlas ACE, or Denel ACE, whatever you call it, was built circa 1988 and flown in 1991, so it is quite an "old" program that was never carried on.
 

kaiserbill

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sealordlawrence said:
kaiserbill,


Thanks for posting, I had often wondered whether South Africa had ever considered an indigenous replacement for the Impala but I had never thought of a T-6 replacement!

It's something I've pondered over too. I suppose the ACE would have taken over some of the training duties of the Impala Mk1, but this doesn't cover the armed strike role of the Impala Mk2, nor the OCU or LIFT role of an armed jet.

I'd always thought in terms of a South African MB-326 development, such as a South African version of the MB-339, seeing as it had very large commonality with the MB-326 Impala. With a commercial turbofan, or uprated Viper, and stepped cockpits, it would have made the most sense IMHO?

Assuming Apartheid and the Cold War carried on, the gradual indiginization of the SAAF would have occurred. The early, middle, and late 1990's would have seen Oryx, Rooivalk, ACE, Carver come into service, out of necessity.
It would have been interesting to see what would have followed.
 

kaiserbill

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Rafael said:
Any 3-views?. The disposition of the staggered cockpit positions look very appealing.
I am 99% convinced I saw a threeview somewhere, but do not have it on my hard drive, and a quick basic search hasn't revealed one. I know I've seen one somewhere though. I have to assume it was in a book or catalogue.
 

kaiserbill

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A couple more pics.
 

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kaiserbill

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Some clippings from 1993.
 

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a brand

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kaiserbill. any video clips available of the Ace flying ?.
 

kaiserbill

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a brand said:
kaiserbill. any video clips available of the Ace flying ?.
I personally don't have any.

Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever seen any.

Maybe ask over at the saairforce forum.
 

Graugrun

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Ovid, NGT, ACE, then finally ACE Two - IIRC...

Here is the brochure for ACE, it gives some specs and perhaps one or two new pics (I also have a brochure for ACE Two, which includes a 3 way view, I will post it soon).

A real pity with this one, South Korea was one of the countries interested in terms of partnering with us on this, I always had the impression that certain people might have benefited by choosing the Pilatus instead...
 

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Graugrun

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Brochure on the ACE Two as promised, it doesn't seem to mention anything about an uprated engine - perhaps they left it unchanged, so as to not delay things for the then SAAF competition (new testing, qualification etc..etc)

At a quick glance the big change over the ACE would be the removal of two small extensions at the front of the horizontal stabilizers.
 

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Graugrun

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Some additional information and pics.

Most interesting for me is the table comparing ACE 1 to ACE 2 and that the article states that ACE 2 is not necessarly a replacemnet for ACE 1 but rather it was meant to compliment it. Ace 1 was meant for the intermediate training market and the ACE 2 with it's updates (including more powerful engine) was aimed at the more advanced trainer market.

Article courtesy of AirReport 1995
 

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Graugrun

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kaiserbill said:
A few more, including an interesting one of the all composite wing.

Here is one including the all composite body being built.
 

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Henry Mitchell Berry

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While attending a 30 day camp at 21 Squadron, an old 21 Squadron colleague, Uwe Kahl, who was working at the CSIR at the time, contacted me and asked whether I would be willing to assist with the engine integration on the ACE, also called OVID, program. I jumped at the opportunity of course and was lucky enough to view the aircraft that very same day! At the time I was unaware that Mr David Taylor, who would become my boss in 2012, was one of the aerodynamic designers of the aircraft. Sadly, David passed away just a few short weeks ago. I never met David during all the time that I was involved with the engine integration. I had the pleasure and good fortune to work with a fantastic team of people like Dr Robert Speth, Mr John Learmonth and many others. Given the very tight delivery schedule, I placed an AOG (aircraft on ground) order on our suppliers at Beechcraft in the USA, for all the engine cables and fittings that were needed to carry out the engine integration. We managed to get the spares in record time by using an existing King Air Serial number that was in for scheduled maintenance at the time. The spares arrived just one week later and we were able to finish the engine integration in time and ACE was airlifted to the Aircraft Test Flight Centre outside Bredasdorp. I joined the team a few weeks later and we went through the engine rigging and the first engine start-up sequences. This was followed by taxi tests and ultimately the first flight. The aircraft went through a comprehensive flight test program and I was very fortunate to be called on to carry out two scheduled maintenance sessions on the engine. To this day I regard my minor involvement with this project, to be the highlight of my aviation career.
 

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Henry,
I am a new member to the forum and am building a 1:24 scale model of the Ace and was hoping you may be able to shed some light on the P&W Engine used in the aircraft. Was the PT6A-25 used? Any photos you may have would really be appreciated. I have attached a few images on the fuselage I have built thus far. I appreciate that this thread has been running for many years so responses from the wider community will be really helpful. Many thanks!
 

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kaiserbill

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Nice work Beaky.
I doubt he would have been allowed to photograph stuff, given the secrecy at the time pertaining to anything military related, but you never know!

Henry, interesting story.
 

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Many thanks Kaiserbill, much appreciated. Many thanks to you for sharing all the pictures and information as this has formed the data required for me to build the model. The cockpits and engine are the missing areas however a bit of artistic licence will be the order of the day!
 

riggerrob

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ACE was mentioned in Jane's All The World's Aircraft.
At the same time, South Africans also built a prototype bush-plane to compete with Cessna 185. It looked like a cross between a Cessna and a Found with an all composite airframe, cantilever wing and four cabin doors.
 

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You are quite correct riggerrob, it was designed and developed by Pieter Celliers in Ermelo under the name Celair Eagle 300. I built the proof of concept model back in 1984 and I attach an image of the final flying prototype
 

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kaiserbill

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Wow...I was not aware of this.
Any further details of this plane you could share?

Edit: Actually, that pic and any further info might be better put into the South African aviation projects thread here:


Edit2: I found some further info on this hitherto unknown-to-me aircraft.
A comment stated it was funded by the Defence Force to replace their Cessna's.
Beaky, I'm going to repost that pic with the info I found in that thread if that is ok with you?
 
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Beaky

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Wow...I was not aware of this.
Any further details of this plane you could share?

Edit: Actually, that pic and any further info might be better put into the South African aviation projects thread here:


Edit2: I found some further info on this hitherto unknown-to-me aircraft.
A comment stated it was funded by the Defence Force to replace their Cessna's.
Beaky, I'm going to repost that pic with the info I found in that thread if that is ok with you?
No problem at all, I will try an dig out what I have kaiserbill. Funding wise, I am not too sure. Please go ahead on reposting the image
 

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