AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 16, Number 42

October 18, 2010

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Bombardier Details New Jets Ahead Of NBAA

Bombardier didn't wait for NBAA to announce two new aircraft aimed at the ultra-long-range, large-cabin market. The Global 7000 and Global 8000 aircraft are extensions of the Global series that currently rests with the XRS model. Bombardier announced Saturday that the 8000 model, due for delivery in 2017, will be the longest-range aircraft in its class. The eight-seat aircraft will have a 7,900-nm range, making Hong Kong-New York and L.A.-Sydney flights available nonstop. The larger cabin (10-seat) 7000 will be available in 2016 and go 7,300 nm. Top cruise is listed as .9 Mach for both, slightly less than the Gulfstream G650, which is projected to do .925 in hurry-up mode.

Bombardier says the new planes will be cleaner and greener than the existing fleet, with their GE TechX engines pumping out half the nitrous oxide of comparable aircraft and burning 8 percent less fuel than the company's current flagship, the XRS. In another nod to its arch rival Gulfstream, the new aircraft will have 80-percent bigger windows. More details to come from the convention floor, but also keep an eye out for other companies following Bombardier's lead and jumping the gun on NBAA.

UAVs Are (Almost) Capable of See And Avoid, Says Air Force

As unmanned aerial vehicles inevitably find their way into the National Airspace System, both the FAA and other airspace users worry that these remotely piloted aircraft can't see other traffic the way a human pilot can. The reality, says the Air Force, is that the current generation of UAVs may be able to see traffic better than a human pilots because of sophisticated sensors that operate in both the visual and infrared spectrums. Recall that in a previous story, we reported that the Air Force and FAA are jousting over how best to fit UAVs into the airspace system, especially in North Dakota, where the service has six Predators stationed awaiting deployment for training. The Air Force proposed a 35- by 45-mile restricted area in which to operate the drones, but the FAA has pushed back against the airspace grab, arguing for more deliberation. Brig. General Leon Rice told AVweb that the Air Force actually doesn't favor a restricted area as a means of integrating UAVs into the airspace, but would like to eventually move to a more normal "file-and-fly" stance, something the FAA isn't ready to approve. Specially designated UAV MOAs are also on the table. Rice says that those who worry about the see-and-avoid issue may not know that the current generation of UAVs have two sensor balls, one for ground scanning and one for scanning the airspace. Each has a dedicated human operator.

These sensors are capable of resolving targets in great detail out to five miles and they can determine range and vector in order to initiate avoidance maneuvers. What's not in place yet, Rice said, is the data and procedures the services need to support onboard, visually-based see-and-avoid by UAV operators. But Rice believes this will be possible within two to five years and that drones will be fully integrated into the NAS for normal operations in about 10 years. The UAVs were placed in North Dakota by order of Congress, Rice told us. Other more remote bases with generous restricted areas, such as Nevada's Nellis Air Force Basis, are at or near saturation for UAV training.

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Welcome to the Working Week back to top 

Machinists Reject Hawker Beechcraft Deal

Machinists employed by Hawker Beechcraft have rejected a new seven-year contract, raising questions about the company's future in Wichita. The workers voted 55 percent against the deal, which would have cut their pay by 10 percent and raised their health insurance premiums. "It was just a bad contract. Everything. Wages, insurance and everything else was just bad," sheet metal worker Gerald Church told the Wichita Eagle A new contract was a condition of a state incentive package aimed at keeping the company and its 6,000 employees in Wichita in the face of an attempt by Louisiana to lure the company there. However, some employees leaving the voting said it was their belief that the contract would just delay the inevitable and that Hawker Beechcraft has already decided to move. Hawker Beechcraft CEO Bill Boisture didn't directly address the company's future in Wichita. "The company will continue exploring all options and making a series of business decisions in order to remain profitable and competitive in this smaller market," Boisture said.

Hawker Beechcraft makes mostly midsized business jets and it's that sector that has suffered the most during the economic downturn. At this week's National Business Aviation Association convention, much of the news is expected to be generated in the large-cabin sector. Like other companies, Hawker Beechcraft has laid off thousands of workers in response to the downturn and union members seem particularly peeved that the company is outsourcing some of the jobs that remain. "There's been a lot of unknowns for a long time for the members, with all the outsourcing going on," said union spokeswoman Rita Rogers. "They decided to hold on to what they had right now, and they feel they had enough."

Record Profits Predicted, Quiet Workforce Numbers Reported

Nine major U.S. airlines could collectively post $2.4 billion in profits, a record for the third quarter, according to AirlineFinancials.com, while the DOT's workforce figures through August haven't recorded much positive change. AirlineFinancials predicts the airlines will post average net profit margins of 7.2 percent in the third quarter, with combined revenue figures near $33 billion. Those would be the second-highest revenue figures in history. Delta Air Lines will lead the pack, according to the analysts, with $8.8 billion in revenue, translating to roughly $740 million in profits. Meanwhile, preliminary data generated by the Department of Transportation showed a reduction of 1 percent in U.S. airlines' overall workforce from August 2009 to August 2010. Employment figures were up slightly from July to August of this year, when they grew from 563,570 to 564,055, but were down from August '09's figure of 569,477. As with their profits, Delta stood out for workforce growth -- but there are other very significant factors to consider.

Delta Air Lines has 66 percent more workers than it did last year, according to the Wall Street Journal. You can account for that through Delta's acquisition of Northwest. Another leader appears to be Frontier, which added 12 percent year over year, according to the Journal. In the broader picture, however, the DOT's numbers show that the hirings have not translated into a large uptick in the overall workforce. The nine carriers cited by AirlineFinancials' profit and revenue predictions are: Delta, American, United, Continental, US Airways, Southwest, JetBlue, Alaska, and AirTran (which Southwest is seeking to acquire). According to Bob Herbst, who runs AirlineFinancials, mergers are giving the airlines pricing power. Herbst expects fares may rise up to 15 percent next summer, in part, to help carriers dig their way out of the billions lost over the past decade.

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Trials and Travails of Flying Abroad back to top 

European Pilot Ruling Delayed

European pilots flying under FAA certificates and with N-registered aircraft have a couple of months of breathing room in which to press their case against proposed rule changes they believe will seriously damage general aviation in Europe. A conciliation committee between the European Union Commission and the national governments has delayed until December a decision on rule changes put forth by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The rules would have essentially eliminated the longstanding practice of thousands of pilots maintaining and operating GA aircraft under American regulations. The meeting was held in private and there are no transcripts or minutes available to the public, but the delay itself is seen as a hopeful sign.

According to Jan Brill, managing editor of Pilot und Flugzeug Magazine, indications are that the conciliation committee favors a softer stance on the issue of so-called "third country aircraft" and that the issue won't be resolved any time soon. The EASA proposal would have required pilots currently flying on FAA IFR tickets to pass the ATP-style instrument ratings in force in Europe. Aviation groups in Europe almost universally panned the proposals, saying they would have devastated GA there.

China Prepares To Relax Airspace Restrictions

Reports from China Friday state that authorities there have approved guidelines to reform low-altitude airspace management over the next five to 10 years with the goal of encouraging the development of general aviation. Under the guidelines, low altitude is defined by airspace below 1,000 meters (general aviation advocates had pushed for a 3,000-meter boundary). The reform would provide non-military aircraft access to that airspace with relaxed restrictions. Other than on specified commercial routes, non-military and non-airline flights over mainland China are otherwise controlled by the air force. Shanghai Securities News reported that the new guidelines call for two trial flight control zones to "be deepened," first -- one near Shenyang and one near Guangzhou -- followed by a staged nationwide rollout of low-altitude airspace reform beginning in 2011. Details about precisely how pilots would gain access to the airspace, and through what governing body, are still scarce, and there are lingering skeptics among the hopeful.

So far observers expect to see relaxed flight regulations in the defined low-altitude zones, but just how relaxed remains to be seen. No one is expecting the new guidelines to allow unrestricted unannounced access to low-altitude airspace. And the exact procedures for access, including the time involved in preparing a request, is yet unknown. Also unknown is what entity would review and approve flight plans and oversee expanded low-altitude general aviation operations. Still, industry insiders quoted by Shanghai Securities News hoped the new guidelines would help usher in a landmark transformation for general aviation in China. According to one source (Hurun Rich List) quoted by China.org.cn, economic conditions in China over the past several decades have created roughly 875,000 native millionaires and more than 15 percent of them hope to buy a private aircraft.

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News Briefs back to top 

Contracts Awarded For DARPA "Transformer" Flying Car

Six companies, including Lockheed Martin and a division of Pratt & Whitney, have won 12-month contracts for early phase development studies of a semi-autonomous "Transformer" vehicle that aims to combine the "HumVee" with the helicopter. The Transformer, or TX program, aims to develop a "robust ground vehicle" that has vertical takeoff and landing capability and is good for 250 nautical miles of air, land or combined air/land travel. It also aims to do that while carrying 1,000 pounds of troops and gear (roughly four soldiers) and being non-pilot friendly. According to DARPA, such a vehicle could escape "trafficable terrain," making vehicular troop movement less predictable and more flexible. Such an aircraft will require the incorporation or development of significant technologies, and that's what the program's first-phase contract winners will set out to research.

AAI Corporation and Lockheed Martin; Carnegie Mellon University and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne; Aurora Flight Sciences working with ThinGap; and Metis Design Corp. have been selected to conduct various "trade studies." DARPA says those studies will "develop and mature" propulsion systems, wing structures, materials, vehicle configuration, energy distribution and semi-autonomous flight control systems prior to a possible second phase of development. Click through for DARPA's news release (PDF).

Toilet Paper Bomber Charged

Charges were brought against pilot Warren Saunders after he admitted to police that he dropped from his aircraft three rolls of toilet paper that landed near the active athletic fields of a New Jersey middle school, Wednesday evening. The toilet paper rolls were not dry when they reached the ground, though authorities seem to believe they were dry when they left the aircraft. "They apparently got wet on the way down," Westwood Police Chief Frank Regino told local newspaper the Cliffview Pilot. Parents of soccer players who were using the field for practice at the time of the incident called police. "Based on the advice of the advice of the FAA and the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office, we drafted a complaint under Title 6, Chapter 2, dash 11 (Title 6:2-11)," Regino said. "It's basically a fourth-degree crime of dropping things from a plane." Sixty-year-old Saunders' drop was meant to be a practice run for a second drop he'd planned for Saturday.

Police estimate there were roughly 100 people on or around the field at the time of Saunders' first attempt. The second drop would have taken place over a high school football game and Saunders was apparently trying to learn how he'd eject colored streamers from the aircraft, or how they might fall. Detectives followed the trail to Saunders after a parent brought to their attention that high schoolers were discussing the prank online. Police contacted the FAA through Teterboro airport and collected the names of local pilots. The trail quickly ended with Saunders. Of the three rolls dropped, one landed on the field, another landed near bleachers and a third wound up near some trees.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Me and My iPad

The iPad ought to be the best cockpit gadget ever — and although there are some great apps out there (and more coming), it somehow falls short. On the AVweb Insider blog, iPad lover wannabe Paul Bertorelli explains why.

Read more and join the conversation.

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AVweb's NBAA Coverage This Week back to top 

NBAA Starts Tuesday

File Size 5.3 MB / Running Time 5:50

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

National Business Aviation Association President Ed Bolen says this year's convention will be "upbeat" with some major announcements and a growing sense of optimism. He spoke with AVweb's Russ Niles.

Click here to listen. (5.3 MB, 5:50)

NBAA Next Week, AVweb Is There

The business aviation world is collectively shining its shoes and pressing its suits for the largest convention dealing specifically with bizav. The National Business Aviation Association Meeting and Convention will be held at the Georgia World Congress convention center from Oct. 19-21 and AVweb will be there to provide a full package of news, video and audio reports on the big show, which, despite the economy, is still a big show. This one is shaping up to be a battle of the heavyweights.

Bombardier Aerospace has let it be known that it considers itself the dominant player in the large business jet sector and it will answer the challenge put forth by Gulfstream and its G650, an ultra-long-range aircraft with a projected top speed of .925 Mach. Bombardier will announce a new aircraft (or an upgrade of an existing one) that is expected to give the G a run for its money. AVweb is also aware of several new product announcements from other companies and will be offering the most comprehensive coverage of those developments. Our special show editions will run Oct. 19, 20 and 21.

Related Content:

  • We've already heard from many of the exhibitors at NBAA 2010, but if you're planning to be at the show and have announcments you want us to know about, please send your news to editor@avweb.com.

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AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 

Video: The Expedition E350 — Backcountry Brawn Meets a Glass Panel and Leather Seats

Original, Exclusive Videos from AVweb | Reader-Submitted & Viral Videos

Aviation Consumer's Jeff Van West took a closer look at the descendant to the Found Aircraft Bushhawk XP.

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Help Us Celebrate AVweb's 15th Anniversary back to top 

15 Years and Now 15 Grand Giveaways ... It's Your Chance to Win 100,000 Air BP Bravo Rewards Points

CLICK HERE to Register for All 15 Drawings

Now's your chance to win 100,000 Air BP Bravo Rewards Points — there are more than 45 million reward options available through the Bravo program — as we celebrate our 15th Anniversary! All you have to do is click here to enter your name and e-mail address. (You only have to enter once, and you'll be entered in our prize drawings for the entire year — so if you've already entered, you're all set.)

And no, we're not going to rent or sell your name, ever. Tell your friends, and invite them to sign up for AVweb so they can qualify for our 15 Grand Giveaways prize drawings, too. (We won't spam them, either — but we hope they will sign up for our newsletters.)

Deadline for entries is 11:59pm Zulu time Friday, November 5.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: American Airports (Gen. William J. Fox Air Field, Lancaster, CA)

Nominate an FBO | Rules | Tips | Questions | Winning FBOs

AVweb reader Charlie Tipton attended Edwards Air Force Base's recent GA fly-in on the Rosamond Lakebed — and while he didn't get us the proverbial "lousy t-shirt," he dropped a fantastic gift on us when he mentioned his trip blog in this week's FBO nominations. (In fact, we'd better stop reading and get back to work!)

Having visited 37 airports in 29 states on his cross-country flight to Edwards, you could say Charlie conducted his own version of our "FBO of the Week" contest. "There were other FBOs who are also did a super job," he writes, but "my personal, hands-down winner is" — drumroll, please — American Airports at Gen. William J. Fox Air Field in Lancaster, California.

Charlie writes:

Within minutes of our first meeting, manager Steve Irving gave me unsolicited complimentary hangar space to ensure that my [L-16A] warbird didn't get rained on with the unexpected storms that were brewing in the area the night before the big event. At the time, I didn't even know there was a potential threat, but it sure came to pass that night. He also provided personal transportation to a Lancaster hotel when I unexpectedly arrived the second time after weather forced me to return there following the fly-in — and he again offered the hangar space.

His staff, including Mark, Rick, Ken and others, went out of their way to ensure that all my needs were met. ... They were available 24/7, and, no matter what shift was on duty, their service was uniformly consistent. Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect was sharing in the aviation camaraderie that was pervasive throughout the operation and particularly evident at lunch or breaks taken in the wonderful Foxy's airport restaurant, where waitress Brandy and others quickly made me feel like one of the long-time regulars.

Keep those nominations coming. For complete contest rules, click here.

AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!

The Top Reporter on Our Crack Staff ... Is You! back to top 

AVweb's Newstips Address ...

Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something 200,000 pilots might want to know about, tell us. Submit news tips via email to newstips@avweb.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.

The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

Overheard flying into Reno for the air races this year, about a TFR for a fire about 100 miles east of the city:

Cessna Pilot to Oakland Center:
"Cessna XXX checking in. VFR 8,500."

Oakland Center:
"Be advised your present route will take you into a TFR about 20 miles ahead of you."

Cessna Pilot:
"O.K. We're looking —"

Art Andersen
via e-mail

Names Behind the News back to top 

Meet 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.

The AVwebFlash team is:

Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

Scott Simmons

Jeff van West
Mariano Rosales

Click 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 here.

Have a product or service to advertise on AVweb? A question on marketing? Send it to AVweb's sales team.

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 here.

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