October 9, 2003
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by
The biggest business aviation event of the year kicked off with lots of news and hoopla, as The National Business Aviation Association's (NBAA) 56th Annual Meeting & Convention opened its doors on Tuesday. While last year's exhibitors and attendees displayed residual uneasiness a year after 9/11 and amidst a struggling market, the mood at this year's show was much more optimistic. Several major announcements were made at the show, which opened to a record number of exhibitor and static-aircraft displays. The 1,000 exhibitors, 75 informational sessions and 111 aircraft on static display at Orlando Executive Airport made for an impressive display of corporate aviation's marketing muscle. This year's opening general session read like a Who's Who of aviation, with Eugene Cernan, Neil Armstrong and U.S. Congressman John L. Mica, chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee, on hand to offer their insights on the fastest-growing segment of the aviation industry.
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.
Safire Aircraft has kept a low profile, as it transitioned from the S-26 program to the six-seat Safire Jet design and set up shop in Opa Locka, Fla., and acquired 300 orders. At the show, company officials announced that the Williams F-J33 engine -- currently undergoing certification -- will provide 1,530 pounds of thrust to move the $1.395 million jet along at an undisclosed clip. The first Safire Jet flight-test aircraft is planned to fly in the first quarter of 2004. Extra Aircraft took things a step further. Walter Extra himself flew the brand-new EA-500 to the convention's static-display area at Orlando Executive Airport. This marks the first public viewing of the new high-wing executive aircraft and a first for Extra since its reorganization. The EA-500 utilizes the EA-400 airframe, and is powered by the Rolls Royce 450-hp model 250-B17F/2 engines with a MT Propeller five-bladed, reversible composite prop. Company officials recently announced the resumption of work at their Frankfurt facility and a jump-start of stalled work when new ownership came into Extra Aircraft's picture. Aside from the EA500, the company will continue to produce the EA400 and EA300L aerobatic aircraft. So, would you like to get the full scoop on NBAA? AVweb's BizAv has got you covered with a full wrap of the event in its upcoming issue. Don't forget, BizAv is your online source for the latest business aviation news, so stay tuned to AVweb.
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The FAA is not the only outfit around to announce its vision of the aviation future, and this week The Boyd Group, of Evergreen, Colo., held its annual forecast conference, in Nashville, Tenn., and on several points offered views that differ from the FAA's ideas. For starters, aviation consultant Michael Boyd predicted far less passenger growth than the FAA, the New York Times reported on Tuesday. The FAA said in March that passengers will return to 2000 levels by 2006, but Boyd forecast it will take until 2008. Boyd also predicted sharp growth in secondary airports near major cities, the Times said, saying passenger traffic at Long Beach, Calif., will increase five times over 2000 levels by 2008.
Boyd also said that consumer demands for more comfort and jetway boarding will flatten the demand for smaller regional jets in favor of those that seat 100 and up, and code-share alliances among the major airlines will continue to grow. Another analyst at the conference, Jamie Baker of J. P. Morgan, said that by 2006 at least 40 percent of the domestic airline traffic will be handled by discount airlines like Southwest and JetBlue, the Times reported. Boyd, according to the Dallas Business Journal, accurately forecast the financial woes of Denver International Airport, and earlier this year predicted Dallas/Fort Worth Airport will be busier than O'Hare International Airport by 2012.
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When the FAA recently published an "Airworthiness Concern Sheet" noting that cracks have been found in the vertical fin attachment brackets of some Cessna 150- and 152-series airplanes, it requested input from type clubs and pilot groups by October 22. This week, a Cessna 150-152 type club in California published online its analysis of the concerns, along with its recommendations to owners. "We believe the FAA will wait for Cessna to issue a forthcoming Service Bulletin," the group says at its Web site, and expects "inspections will [likely] become mandatory via a new Airworthiness Directive in 2004." Meanwhile, the group suggests, "We recommend that you and your mechanic make an especially diligent inspection of these parts at the next service interval." Owners are asked to notify the type club of their findings. "If you suspect cracks, take the extra effort to document your disassembly and any subsequent repairs with photographs, and keep an accurate record about the availability of replacement parts, and the expense to install them," it says at the site. "Both the authorities and other owners can benefit from your experience. Please e-mail us details of any significant personal experience you have in the inspection and/or replacement of these components." More reaction from AOPA, EAA, the Cessna Pilots Association, and other interested groups is expected by the comment deadline later this month.
When Mesaba Airlines declined to take aboard a teddy bear that was part of a school geography project in Mason City, Iowa, pilot Richard Rogers read about it and was not happy. "The kids had gone to the airport all excited, and went home real disappointed," he told AVweb on Tuesday. That didn't sit well with Rogers, who flies for Pinnacle Food Group in Des Moines, so he tracked down schoolteacher Kelli Moorehead and proposed an alternate plan. Rogers offered to give Ted a lift in the co-pilot seat of his company's CJ2. Ted could travel in style and then relax in the friendly care of FBO staffers till they found him another spot with GA and corporate pilots. "They didn't realize that GA even existed," Rogers told AVweb. "They were thinking of giving the bear to a truck driver, but this is so much better." At last report, Traveling Ted had sent home a postcard from New York City, and was on his way into the wild blue yonder. Where he'll go next is anyone's guess: "He's just kind of freewheeling it from here," Moorehead said. She added that when Rogers called her "out of the blue ... he was the answer to our prayers. It's nice to know that there are people out there who care about what other people are doing and are willing to help them out. The kids really enjoy getting postcards from 'Ted,' and we are keeping track of his journeys on a map." Rogers said, "I just hope the kids learn something from it. They can measure distances and plot great-circle routes as they follow the bear's travels." They might even learn about something more than geography, if they're paying attention.
The FAA's tight grip on the huge chunk of airspace that is the Baltimore-Washington Air Defense Identification Zone is beginning to loosen, if only slightly. AOPA said this week that after more than six months of negotiating, the TSA and FAA and a long list of D.C. security officials have agreed to a 60-day test that will ease restrictions on operations at about a dozen GA airports near the rim of the ADIZ. "AOPA still believes that the ADIZ has outlived its intent and would prefer to see it lifted entirely," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "But until that happens, this should make operations at the edges of the ADIZ a little less complicated." The test begins Nov. 1 and establishes ingress-egress procedures that in some cases eliminate the need to file an ADIZ flight plan and/or require fewer ATC communications. Any deviation by pilots from established procedures will trigger a military response, says AOPA. "This is a very small step forward, but it's one of the first real breaks general aviation has gotten in the ADIZ area," said Boyer. "It's crucial that pilots follow the rules exactly so we can prove to doubting security officials that GA pilots are trustworthy." Meanwhile, EAA said last week that so far only six aircraft owners who are grounded because they do not have two-way communication and/or transponder capabilities have come forward to request that the TSA allow them to relocate their aircraft based within the ADIZ. EAA said it is concerned that there may be additional aircraft and ultralight vehicles grounded inside the ADIZ, and their owners have not yet asked about relocation assistance. Owners are encouraged to contact EAA for help in developing an egress plan with TSA.
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Boeing Co. last week announced its third-quarter deliveries, and said it shipped 210 jets in the first nine months of this year. The projected total of 280 jets for 2003 represents an eight-year low for Boeing. Airbus says it expects to ship 300 jets this year, which would place the European consortium ahead of Boeing for the first time ever. Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported this week that three 777s have made emergency landings this year after their windshields cracked when wiring to their heaters shorted out. In at least one of the incidents, the wiring briefly caught on fire. Boeing has told airlines to tighten the wire connections, the AP said, and is developing circuit breakers that should prevent the problem from recurring.
Cessna is naturally in force at the NBAA shindig in Orlando this week, and on Monday made the most of its chance to hype the latest news about its much-anticipated Citation Mustang entry-level six-seat bizjet. The jet should be ready for type certification in the third quarter of 2006, with first customer deliveries in the fourth quarter of 2006, Cessna said in a news release. About 300 of the jets have already been ordered, according to Bloomberg News. High-speed and low-speed wind-tunnel tests were completed that verified the airframe design, Cessna added. The Mustang will be certified as a FAR Part 23 aircraft, with a cruise speed of 340 knots at 35,000 feet, and a maximum operating altitude of 41,000 feet. According to Mustang Program Manager Russ Meyer III, "We have completed the major critical design reviews and are confident that we have the right design for the airframe and for systems architecture. There have been very few changes from our original expectations." The Mustang is 40 feet long and 13 feet tall. The wingspan is more than 42 feet, and will incorporate an 11-degree leading-edge sweep. Each PW615F engine provides 1,350 pounds of thrust flat-rated to ISA+10*C and incorporates a dual-channel Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC). The Mustang project was unveiled at last year's NBAA conference. This year, a mock-up of the cabin is on display.
This past Sunday New York City's Hudson River Park was assaulted by 35 teams of amateur "aircraft" builders competing for a $7,500 "pilot's training course or cash equivalent" grand prize. An impressive precision parachute jump originated from a helicopter and ended atop the event's floating 30-foot-wide launch pad to open the event. Competitors then began pushing their often-absurd human-powered craft (one was a giant paper airplane) off the end of the 25-feet-above-river-level launch with the help of a 10- to 15-knot tailwind. It was all part of an otherwise shameless promotion of Red Bull energy drink dubbed Flugtag New York, 2003. The av-savvy may have most enjoyed the winning team's 39-foot flight, but there was no lack of entertainment for diving fans, either. Second place managed almost 36 feet after four team members holding onto a rope jumped off the launch pad to catapult the Mighty Whirl in a graceful arc into the drink. For diving fans, the pad's altitude offered the crowd (estimated at 40,000) the somewhat sadistic pleasure of watching team after team splash down before being fished out by diving teams supplied by New York's Finest (the cops) ... and a salvage crew. Future Flugtags are coming this year to San Fransico and Miami.
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Our sister publication, Aviation Consumer, is preparing a customer satisfaction survey on the Cirrus SR20 and Diamond DA40 Star. If you own either and would like to participate, contact the editor at
Three British WWII pilots are recovering after ditching their Cessna 172 seven miles offshore after the engine quit. One of the three gave credit to the "jolly nice chaps" on a fishing trawler who quickly came to their aid...
A 1946 Stinson was destroyed Sunday when it crashed into a house in Pauls Valley, Okla. The pilot and passenger were unhurt and the house was unoccupied at the time...
Pilots Richard Abruzzo and Carol Rymer-Davis are unofficial winners of the 8th America's Challenge Gas Balloon Race, which launched in Albuquerque on Sunday. They landed safely yesterday in Minnestota near Lake Superior, after flying more than 1,100 miles...
The ultralight pilots of Operation Migration were set to depart yesterday with a group of 16 young whooping cranes, leaving Wisconsin for their winter home in Florida...
Carter Aviation Technologies, of Wichita Falls, Texas, said yesterday they will not attempt to break the Mu-1 barrier for rotorcraft this November, as they had announced at Oshkosh. Carter President Jay Carter Jr. said the critical flight-testing phase prior to advancing to Mu-1 has not been completed. No new date has been set for the attempt. Achieving Mu-1 means the gyroplane will be able to reach greater forward speeds by slowing down its rotor and reducing its aerodynamic drag. Mu refers to the ratio of the aircraft's forward speed to the rotor's tip speed, which varies at a wider margin between the advancing and retreating blades as the vehicle's forward airspeed increases. The challenge in achieving Mu-1, according to Carter Copter, is to maintain rotor stability...
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Quiz #73 -- IFR Charts And Procedures For All Pilots
Rumor has it that some pilots fly inside clouds. Yikes! How can they see the interstate highways? VFR pilots should have at least a passing acquaintance with IFR procedures if only to know where IFR traffic might appear. All instrument-rated flyers could use the occasional brush-up on instrument terms and procedures.
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We received over 100 pictures last week. Congratulations to this week's winner, Michael Crook, of Lumberton, NJ. This week, we decided to go with a military theme and the winning
photo, titled "Cleared for contact" is a great way to highlight the concept. The photo captures a C-141B coming in for some gas behind a KC-10 somewhere over Illinois. Great picture, Michael! Your
AVweb hat is on the way.
To check out the winning picture, or to enter next week's contest, go to http://www.avweb.com/potw
Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.
To check out the winning picture, or to enter next week's contest, go to http://www.avweb.com/potw
Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.
AVweb continues to receive a large number of excellent images for our POTW contest. Here are some of the runners-up. Click on the links below to view a larger version.
"A Cirrus Pose"
*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
We received over 300 responses to our question last week on the publics support of general aviation GA). Approaching half (44 percent) of those responding felt many people dont understand the many benefits GA offers the community, while 309 percent said general aviation is perceived as an annoyance. Only 1 percent indicated the public supports GA and clearly understands how beneficial this segment of the industry is.
To check out the complete results, or to respond to this week's question, go to http://www.avweb.com/qotw.
*** THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
This week we would like to know your thoughts on business aviations recovery.
Have an idea for a new QOTW? Send your suggestions to email@example.com. Note, this address is ONLY for suggested QOTW questions, and NOT for QOTW answers.
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Let's all be careful out there, okay?
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