...Bigger Names, Bigger Planes...

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FAA Administrator Marion Blakey and Congressman John L. Mica both expressed frustration with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association's ongoing battle with the contract-towers issue, which Blakey characterized as a "non-issue." Mica indicated the debate is holding up the pending FAA Reauthorization Bill, which among other things provides $100 million for the general aviation post-9/11 recovery. Bombardier Aerospace offered its biggest headline this year: the official launch of the Ultra-Long Range Global Express XRS business jet. The $45.3 million jet will feature improved performance over its predecessor and offer an amazing 6,500-nm range at .82 Mach. Claiming the jet "takes the outstanding performance of the Bombardier Global Express even further," Bombardier will eventually replace the current Global Express design with the XRS. The XRS will also sport new cabin features including increased pressurization (4,500-foot cabin altitude at flight level 450), two added windows and the latest LED lighting system. Bombardier also celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Learjet family and the 600th delivery from the Challenger group. Armstrong and Cernan, respectively the first and last man to walk on the moon, were on hand to present the First Annual Harry B. Combs Award to famed aviation photographer Dan Patterson. Cernan described his "romance" with aviation and how it helped shape his very successful career, while Armstrong reflected on the many innovations Harry Combs developed for the business aviation community. The frail Combs was on hand to personally present the award to Patterson.