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|Top News: Reauthorization Debate Re-Energized||back to
REAUTHORIZATION BILL BACK IN PLAY
A new bill that would reauthorize the nation's
aviation programs for another four years was introduced in the U.S.
House on Monday. The bill does not call for any new aviation user fees,
and would authorize nearly $70 billion in spending for the FAA through
2012. "This legislation is long overdue," said U.S. Rep. James Oberstar,
chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
"Short-term funding extensions and continuing resolutions have led to
delays in critical capital projects. Timely passage is needed to sustain
FAA's programs and keep the FAA moving forward on airport development
and the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen)." Oberstar
added that despite the past delays, he believes the new bill will move
forward quickly. "We have a new President and a new Congress," he told
EAA. "This time we'll get the job done." The bill was the subject of
a hearing on Capitol Hill Wednesday afternoon. More...
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|Wait, Bizjets Are Good for Something
BEECHCRAFT JOINS BIZ DEFENSE
Hawker Beechcraft has launched
an ad campaign promoting business aviation but it's taken a different
tack from Cessna's challenge to CEOs to keep their jets. Instead, Hawker
Beechcraft is recommending CEOs to ditch their jetsand buy a King
Air. "If the three Detroit CEOs had arrived in Washington in the
Beechcraft King Air 350, they might have received a warmer reception
from their legislative hosts," the company says in a cheeky reference to
the incident that started the latest backlash against the use of
business aircraft. Beech isn't afraid to name names in its comparison of
the King Air's speed and fuel efficiency in comparison to the jets used
by the CEOs and also claims the latest incarnation of the venerable
turboprop is the "world's greenest and highly efficient aircraft."
FIGHTS BACK WITH PRO-JET ADS
Cessna, along with the rest of
the bizjet industry, has been watching its orders tank in the last two
months, and on Wednesday the company launched a counterattack to all the
bad publicity that started with those auto execs flying to Washington,
hats in hand, in their cushy corporate jets. A new Web site and an
intensive ad campaign aim to make it OK again -- even
imperative -- for the captains of industry to fly. "Today, we are
demanding business leaders and managers work at their absolute peak to
turn their companies, and our economy, around," said Cessna CEO Jack
Pelton. "We think it's time the other side of the story be told, and
that support be given to those businesses with the good judgment and
courage to use business aviation to not only help their businesses
survive the current financial crisis, but more quickly forge a path
toward an economic upturn." Cessna is calling its new initiative "The
Leadership Campaign," and the first ad says: "In today's corporate
world, pity the poor executive who blinks. The good news is, in trying
times like these, fortune tends to favor those who make bold, decisive
moves." One blogger, at gawker.com, characterized the campaign as, "Only
wimps give up their jets." Cessna, which has downsized its staff by
about one-third due to the downturn, has allocated more than half its
advertising budget to the campaign, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Editor-in-Chief Russ Niles responds to Pelton's comments on the AVweb
CESSNA IS UP AGAINST: A "NEW REALITY"
Here's an example of
what Cessna's campaign is up against -- on Wednesday, Citigroup CEO
Vikram Pandit apologized during a U.S. House Financial Services
Committee hearing for almost taking delivery on a $50 million
Falcon 7X bizjet. "I would also like to say something about the airplane
that was in the news," he said, the Washington Tribune reported. "We did not adjust
quickly enough to this new world, and I take personal responsibility for
that mistake. In the end, I cancelled delivery. We need to do a better
job of acknowledging and embracing the new realities. Let me be clear
with the committee: I get the new reality and I will make sure Citi gets
it as well." Of course, Citigroup is subject to extra public scrutiny,
since it accepted billions in federal bailout funds. Pandit was one of
eight CEOs who traveled to Capitol Hill on Wednesday via Amtrak and
commercial flights, trying to show that they understand they are no
longer entitled to such perks as private jet travel. More...
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SHERPA MOVE FORWARD WITH NEW AIRPLANES
The aviation industry
may be going through tough times right now, but that's not stopping
entrepreneurs from moving forward with new projects. Icon Aircraft,
based in southern California, announced this week that its Icon A5
amphibious light-sport aircraft has completed its phase-one flight
testing. The A5 has a folding-wing design to make it easier to store or
transport by trailer, and was created by a team that included automobile
designers as well as aircraft engineers who previously worked at Scaled
Composites. So far, the aircraft has completed a series of 27 flights,
and data was gathered across a wide range of speeds, gross weights,
centers of gravity, flap settings, altitudes and sea states. "While
there are areas to be further optimized, as with any flight test
program, the A5, overall, performed as designed and is a blast to fly,"
reported lead engineer and test pilot Jon Karkow. The A5 prototype
demonstrated exceptional water stability and handling, easy takeoff and
landing performance, as well as light control forces with responsive yet
docile flight characteristics, the company said. The estimated base
price of the A5 is $139,000, and deliveries are scheduled to begin in
late 2010. At Sherpa
Aircraft, in Scappoose, Ore., the company is moving forward with
flight testing of its prototype turboprop eight-place utility aircraft.
The versatile taildragger can take off and land in about 100 feet, the
company says, and carry a useful load of up to 3,000 pounds. The first
12 Sherpas will be sold in kit form and produced under a builder-assist
program at the Oregon site. Base price for the Sherpa with a
factory-remanufactured 5400 TBO Honeywell-5 engine ready to fly is
BOEING, BIKINIS, BITCHING -- AND BOOMING
While everyone else
in the aviation world seems to be in a dark and deepening slump, none of
that is rubbing off on Virgin CEO Sir Richard Branson. The irrepressible
Brit brought his retinue of Virgin execs to Seattle the other day clad
in T-shirts and shorts, while female cabin attendants sported bikinis,
despite the damp and chilly weather. He was there to take delivery of a
777-300ER that is the launch vehicle for his newest airline, V
Australia. But he made it clear -- painfully clear, no doubt, to Boeing
executives -- that he wasn't happy about the delivery delay. He said the
new airline was ready to go last Christmas, but had to wait for
airplanes, due to the strike at Boeing. "The strike hurt hundreds of
thousands of our passengers," Branson told reporters. "It messed up Virgin Atlantic, it
messed up Virgin Blue in Australia, it ruined people's Christmas
holidays. It was absolutely and utterly ghastly." He certainly didn't
brighten Boeing's day when he added: "If union leaders and management
can't get their act together to avoid strikes, we're not going to come
back here again. We're already thinking, 'Would we ever risk putting
another order with Boeing?' It's that serious." Boeing spokesman Jim
Proulx later told reporters, "We never want to disappoint our customers
to such an extent. We are committed to doing everything we can in the
future to satisfy our customers in the manner they deserve." As for
Virgin, it seems unaffected by the current worldwide slump, and while
other companies are cutting staff right and left, Branson is looking to
hire. "We have just launched our new group-wide careers site," he
announces in his latest blog post. "We have roles in offices, on shop
floors, in call centres, gyms, on trains and planes, in resorts and
across different geographies. From customer service to finance to
product development to sales ... and much more." More...
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CUTS ANOTHER 300 JOBS
Citing a "deepening global recession,"
Piper Aircraft, based in Vero Beach, Fla., abruptly laid off another 300
workers on Tuesday. "People aren't buying planes," Piper spokesman Mark
Miller said in a statement. "Similar to many other businesses, general
aviation has been experiencing one of the worst downturns in its
history, and sales of airplanes have sharply deteriorated over the past
few months. These unforeseeable business circumstances are virtually
unprecedented and have caused the company to take agonizing and painful
actions." The workers were laid off effective immediately, and several
of them spoke with local reporters as they left the plant. "I am still
in shock," Robert Krauss, who worked for Piper for three years, told TCPalm. "I am worried about my house, my kids, my
wife. ... I don't know what we're going to do." Miller said the company
regrets the pain caused by the layoffs, and added that Piper will do all
it can to rehire impacted employees when the economy improves. But
meanwhile, the 650-plus workers who remain can expect a one-week
furlough in April and another one in July, without pay, to prevent the
buildup of unnecessary inventory. These shutdowns will affect everyone
in the company, including management, Miller said. "If market conditions
continue to deteriorate, it may be necessary for the company to take
additional actions," he added. Piper will do "everything possible" to
preserve its remaining jobs and ensure the company remains viable,
Related Content: More...
interview with Mark Miller
The FortWorth Star-Telegram is reporting that Textron
CEO Lewis Campbell told an investment conference on Tuesday that the
corporation may have to sell either Cessna or Bell Helicopter to cover
losses by its financial arm. Campbell told a Barclays Capital conference
in Miami Beach that the company needs to raise $1 billion in the first
of this year and that means one of the aviation units could be put on
the block. Which will go will likely depend on which has the most
perceived value. Both companies are cutting back in the face of
decreased demand. More...
AVWEB'S BUSINESS AVIATION NEWSLETTER
Have you signed up yet for AVweb's no-cost weekly
business aviation newsletter, AVwebBiz?
Wednesday morning, AVwebBiz focuses on the companies, the
products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the business
aviation industry, making it a must-read.
Add AVwebBiz to
your AVweb subscriptions today by clicking here and choosing
"Update E-mail Subscriptions." More...
Are You An Air Safety Ace?
Test Your Skills Now
In aviation, you've got a split second to make the right decision. Put
your safety skills to the test and take the Air Safety
's online safety quiz. New quizzes are posted every other
week on topics from icing and stall/spin awareness to emergency
procedures and more. Quizzes only take minutes to complete
minutes that could save your life.
Take the ASF Air Safety Quiz now
COLLISION TAKES OUT IRIDIUM SATELLITE
As improbable as a
midair collision is, the chance of two satellites finding each other is,
well, astronomical. But it happened in the sky over Siberia Tuesday when
a dead Russian spacecraft and a perfectly functional and likely highly
expensive Iridium communications satellite turned into about 600 pieces
(at last count) of orbital space junk. "They collided at an altitude of
790 kilometers (491 miles) over northern Siberia Tuesday about noon
Washington time," Nicholas Johnson, NASA's chief scientist for orbital
debris at the Johnson Space Center in Houston told CBS News "The U.S.
space surveillance network detected a large number of debris from both
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THE FLY ...
The FAA will impose a TFR over Chicago this
weekend as President Obama visits...
Heli Expo coming up, Feb.
22-24, in Anaheim, Calif....
A new documentary film aims to inspire
the next generation of aviators...
A new $1,000 learn-to-fly
scholarship is available. More...
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|The Top Reporter on Our Crack Staff ... Is You!||back to
OF THE WEEK: WALK A MILE IN THE AIRPLANE MAKERS' SHOES
There's no question about it: Washington is down
on bizjets. Now that major airplane makers like Cessna
are mounting campaigns to remind everyone why companies use them, we
thought a little armchair quarterbacking might be in order. This week,
we invite you to picture yourself as the head of a major airplane
manufacturer and tell us how you'd respond to the current
Plus: Last week, we asked if the FAA should
take a closer look at helicopter EMS procedures and perhaps create a new
class of regulations; click through to read what AVweb readers
had to say on the subject. More...
VIDEO: JETLEV-FLYER WATER-POWERED JET PACK
Fly on water thrust this new
jet pack idea may not be the best way to get to work, but it sure does
look like a good time. The German company MS Watersports GmbH is
marketing the JetLev-Flyer and selling it (lessons included) for about
$128,000 or just about what a brand-new two-seat 120-mph light
sport aircraft costs. (Click through to watch.) More...
VIDEO: ARE LED LIGHTS BRIGHT ENOUGH?
Judge for yourself by viewing AVweb's
latest product report video. Editorial director Paul Bertorelli
demonstrates traditional incandescent bulbs, HIDs, and new-age LEDs. The
results are revealing. (Click through to watch.) More...
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the European General Aviation market. In addition, Messe
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OF THE WEEK: AVWEB'S FLYING PHOTOGRAPHY SHOWCASE
We were a bit worried that delaying last
week's installment of "POTW" to Monday would leave us with a thin
selection this week but we should've known better. AVweb
weren't discouraged by the delay, and we've got a great assortment of
photos to share with you this week, starting with this shot from the
"Is-That-What-I-Think-I'm-Seeing?" file. According to submitter Sam Brown of Panama City, Florida, these
two Hueys (spaced with separator bars) were being evacuated for
maintenance "at Chu Lai, sometime around the 1968 Tet." While the photo
is a little worn, we were immediately struck with the odd nature of the
operation and Sam's comment: "This was an experimental rig. (It
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THE AVWEBFLASH TEAM
AVwebFlash is a weekly
summary of the latest news, articles, products, features, and events
featured on AVweb, the
internet's aviation magazine and news service.
AVwebFlash team is:
here to send a letter to the
editor. (Please let us know if your letter is not
intended for publication.)
Comments or questions
about the news should be sent
Have a product or service to advertise
on AVweb? A question on marketing? Send it to AVweb's
If you're having
trouble reading this newsletter in its HTML-rich format (or if you'd
prefer a lighter, simpler format for your PDA or handheld device),
there's also a text-only version of AVwebFlash. For complete
instructions on making the switch, click
Navigate. Communicate. More...