April 27, 2006
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
DayJet Corp., expected to be the first new on-demand air taxi service to fly VLJs, got lots of attention from the mainstream press at its launch announcement, held without VLJs on Monday. A news conference in Delray Beach, Fla., included Gov. Jeb Bush and Eclipse CEO Vern Raburn. DayJet CEO Ed Iacobucci said he plans to start service later this year flying Eclipse 500 jets between five small cities in Florida, bypassing the airlines' hub-and-spoke system. "You don't have to go through Atlanta to get to Gainesville, okay? That's a promise," he said. Despite that example, though, the five cities to be served haven't yet been named. Fares are expected to range from $1 to $3 per mile. DayJet is expected to get the first Eclipse jets off the production line.
The company plans to fly them with a two-pilot crew and carry up to three passengers. It is on record as having ordered 239 jets, which, barring special arrangements often granted by manufacturers like Boeing and Airbus, would otherwise suggest a near $30 million investment in the form of deposits. Market research has shown that travelers consistently prefer a 50-minute flight in an Eclipse to a 300-mile trip by car, spokeswoman Vicky Harris told the St. Petersburg Times. While no traveler has ever taken a 50-minute flight in an Eclipse, it may nonetheless be a reasonable answer if presented with the two options -- associated costs notwithstanding. The car is DayJet's real competition, she said. The Monday news conference was rescheduled from an earlier date due to a conflict in executive schedules, according to DayJet's Schwartz communications. Similar start-ups are in the works, such as PogoJet and Corporate Clipper.
With flocks of very light jets readying to arrive in the U.S. market (Spectrum, the VLJ performance leader hopeful, is expected to announce its European strategy in Geneva early next month) Europe is taking notice and wondering if the concept will work for them. "Within Europe's business aircraft operating community," says Kate Sarsfield, writing for Flight International, "the VLJ is being greeted with a mixture of excitement, curiosity, apprehension and skepticism." The Eclipse 500 and Cessna Mustang are expected to earn European certification by late next year, though deliveries may not start until 2008. Critics say the VLJs will likely replace piston twins used for charter, but the cabins are too small to compete with the amenities of larger corporate bizjets now in service. Eclipse CEO Vern Raburn told Flight International he doesn't expect to compete straight-on with the bigger jets, but instead expects to find "a vast untapped market" of business travelers. But aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia is unconvinced that small jets will flood European skies. "VLJs might help a few new charter operators to make cash, but we're talking a few score aircraft, not thousands," he told Flight International.
FAA, NATCA Still Sparring
While VLJs are the next big thing on the horizon, there is always something new just beyond. For aviators, that next next thing could be the comeback of supersonic passenger airplanes. Yesterday, Aerion Corp. announced that it has secured funding for its supersonic jet through program launch -- the point at which production design and prototype development would begin. "All of our activities to this point have shown that the aircraft is technically and economically viable," Aerion Vice Chairman Brian Barents said in a news release. More public definitions for those variables will likely develop along with the aircraft. "This has given us the confidence to enter into discussions with OEMs and first-tier suppliers who would become consortium partners." Barents added that the program is "on schedule and on plan," with ongoing efforts to further refine the design and to confirm supersonic performance. Active discussions with potential partners are ongoing. Aerion engineers said their continuing research has shown that they can achieve gains in range, performance and cabin size beyond their original goals. The Aerion supersonic business jet aims to cruise at Mach 1.6 with a range in excess of 4,000 nautical miles. The company predicts certification five years from program launch.
With contract negotiations stalled, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association is saying that under the last offer from the FAA, many controllers would find it in their best interest to retire before the end of next year ... leaving gaps too big for the FAA to fill with new trainees. "The safety and efficiency of the air traffic system will be dismal if this contract is imposed," Brad Rosenthal, president of NATCA's St. Louis office, told The Associated Press on Monday. If nothing changes, about one-quarter of current controllers could retire next year, the union said. The percentage could be even higher in some facilities. For its part, the FAA has this year hired more controllers than have retired and estimates more than 12,000 (the workforce is currently near 15,000 strong) will have to be hired and trained through 2014, according a column this week in The Washington Post. The FAA plans to hire more controllers than needed to make sure enough stay on and progress to the levels needed to maintain what it believes will be appropriate staffing. At the St. Louis TRACON, 29 of the 52 controllers could retire next year, the union said. The FAA plans to publish an updated staffing plan by July, spokesman Greg Martin told The Washington Post this week.
Meanwhile, the last version of the NATCA-FAA contract awaits congressional action, and with the clock ticking down to a 60-day deadline on that, the union continues to insist that it's not done talking ... and has been led to believe that the FAA isn't, either. At its Web site, NATCA prez John Carr quotes FAA chief Marion Blakey: "If there were an opportunity to go back to the table ... we'd certainly like to sit down and talk," from a C-SPAN National telecast on April 11. Impasse was declared on April 5. The FAA last week, however, said it's done talking and intends to let Congress deal with it from here. A letter that Blakey faxed to Carr on Monday reiterates that stance. "At this late date, resuming collective bargaining makes little sense," she wrote. "Our two sides are like 'ships passing in the night.'" Blakey says "exhaustive" bargaining over key issues yielded no real progress. Yet, she still does seem to leave an opening, however slight: "Absent an about-face by NATCA on these core issues, I don't see how further negotiations would produce anything more than costly delay." The core issues that Blakey sees as intractable are lower pay scales for new hires, replacing automatic pay hikes with performance-based incentives, and unspecified work-rule issues.
Aircraft Engine Services (AES) said this week it will market the V220 and V300T aircraft engines under the trademarked REV brand, and officially unveil them at EAA AirVenture in July. The all-aluminum, FADEC-controlled (the REV 220 and REV 300T are not limited to leaded aviation fuels) geared V-6s first made a splash at Oshkosh in 2003, when they were introduced by Bombardier. The engines reappeared last year with the AES label. The company says the engines are now on track for certification in the third quarter of this year, and are currently undergoing testing at OEM manufacturers of certified piston aircraft. "These launch partners will be instrumental in ensuring the product support organization is in place to support the REV V220 and V300T engines," said Luc de Gaspe Beaubien, director of operations for AES. "The engines will be available on a certified Part 23 aircraft, once the OEM decides to make the announcement," AES says at its Web site. AES has so far not disclosed the names of any manufacturers working with its engines. "Since 1996, when we first began working on the concept for these piston aviation engines, there was a clear strategy for competing with the established players in the certified industry," said de Gaspe Beaubien in this week's news release. "As such, an established development procedure, including exhaustive flight test, was insisted upon for these engines. Today's announcement of the branding is yet another logical step on our path towards public availabilities of the REV V220 and V300T." The REV V220 and REV V300T's product certification schedule and projected market availabilities will be announced at Oshkosh, the company said.
A new rule proposed by the FAA would begin a process to set what are essentially life limits for transport-category aircraft. The new rule would require manufacturers to develop an operational limit and substantiate that widespread fatigue damage will not occur prior to airplanes' reaching that limit. Once the operational limit is set, airplanes cannot be flown beyond that point unless an extension is approved. The FAA says the program would have a total cost over 20 years of $360 million, of which about 10 percent will be faced by manufacturers and the rest by operators. The rule has no affect on GA aircraft. AOPA says aging is not an issue in the GA fleet, and has lobbied the FAA to leave the fleet alone.
"A review by the AOPA Air Safety Foundation shows that the problem of mechanical or maintenance failure due to age is actually declining," said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs, last week. "We ask that the FAA continue to pursue a non-regulatory approach to ensuring the continued airworthiness of the aging general aviation fleet that is data driven and based on sound risk management practices that will yield affordable solutions." Since 1990, more than 540 Airworthiness Directives have been issued for structural aircraft issues, the FAA says. Those rules were prompted by three major factors: Airplanes are being operated beyond original design service goals, original maintenance plans were not required to address potential age-related issues, and the 1988 Aloha Airlines accident in which part of the fuselage tore away in flight.
Conflict over GA airports is one of those recurring issues that just won't go away, but with real-estate markets around the country at record highs -- pushing builders farther into urban outskirts, where the small airports are -- and with more and more GA aircraft being built and sold and flown, the outlook is for more of the same, only worse. That forecast is coming true right now in Southern California, where officials in Bakersfield and Rialto recently moved to shut down their airports. In the 1930s, the Los Angeles basin had 56 active municipal airports and only nine remain, the Los Angeles Times reported this week. Further, Santa Monica may turn into an aviation environmental research center of sorts. But across the country in Florida one airport is buying homeowners out of their homes for more space.
Citing worries about air pollution, a bill in the California legislature would require that the taxi and idle time of every aircraft operating at Santa Monica Municipal would have to be monitored and recorded for an entire year. AOPA is worried that such a measure would set a bad precedent, according to the California Pilots Association. "The small, piston-engine aircraft many of our members fly produce very little emissions," said Owen Sweeney, AOPA manager of state and local government affairs. In Stuart, Fla., another solution is in the works -- the FAA has granted the county $5 million to spend on buying up noise-sensitive homes that are too close to the airport. And it's not only houses that cause conflicts. In Texas, a landfill too close to the runways at an Austin airfield is attracting turkey vultures, a large bird that can do real damage to an airplane. The city has been convinced to close the landfill, but not soon enough. A Cirrus SR22 hit one last Saturday, and was able to land safely despite a damaged wing.
It's been a year and a half since Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne took civilian astronauts into space -- and since then, nobody else has tried it. But a group of entrepreneurs who met last week in Phoenix, Ariz., hope to change that soon. At the Space Access '06 conference, company execs reported on their efforts. Besides trying to serve a space tourism market, several are competing for a half-billion-dollar NASA contract to provide commercial services to the International Space Station. According to a report in The Space Review, Space Systems/Loral says it can provide low-cost cargo transport. PanAero proposes a two-stage "space van" that could also carry tourists or satellites into orbit, at $1.3 million per launch. Three of the companies at the event pledged to save a seat in their vehicles to give to a teacher. Armadillo Aerospace, of Texas, Rocketplane Ltd., of Oklahoma, and California-based XCOR Aerospace each pledged to take a teacher into suborbital space, MSNBC reported. The Teachers in Space project aims to secure funding to provide suborbital space access for up to 200 teachers per year.
The Transportation Security Administration said in 2004 that all flight instructors must complete recurrent annual security training -- but left it up to the aviation industry to develop its own materials. The National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI) has stepped in to that role, with a new CD-ROM. Required training, now available for $10. The course complies with TSA guidelines, NAFI says. Instructors must complete the material on the CD plus have a discussion with a local flight school owner or the manager of an FBO or airport. NAFI recommends that independent instructors get together as a group with the owner or manager to save time and create a more dynamic discussion. The NAFI course may be obtained by calling 800-843-3612.
News in Brief and AVweb Audio
Two professional well-regarded pilots -- one with his three children on board -- were at the controls on Sunday when their two airplanes collided in midair, about 20 miles northeast of Anchorage, Alaska. All five people were killed. David Beauregard, 45, an Alaska Airlines pilot, was flying a Cessna 170B with his three children, Ryan, 16; Conner, 13; and Remi, 9. They had just lifted off from Birchwood Airport at about noontime in clear weather, headed for Talkeetna. William Smoke, 55, a pilot for the Fish and Wildlife Service, was flying a 172. He had apparently just taken off from the same field but was returning for a landing when the two aircraft collided. "According to flight investigators, Smoke in the 172 probably saw the 170 and attempted to gain altitude to avoid the other plane but somehow he ended up crashing into the other plane's belly," a local CBS news affiliate reported. Both aircraft were less than 1,000 feet above the ground. The field is uncontrolled and neither airplane transmitted any distress calls. Two eyewitnesses at the airport did see the entire event, an NTSB spokesman told The Associated Press.
Online video showing Air Force One being spray-painted with graffiti was a hoax...
Tongue-technology interface could enable pilots to "see" in the dark without goggles; now in the works at DARPA...
Two F-16s followed a United Airlines A320 into Denver on Saturday after a passenger said he had a bomb. Passengers subdued the man after he tried to open a door; no bomb was found. One source suggests aircraft have diverted for security concerns more than 2300 times since 9-11...
The wreck of a Bell JetRanger was found last weekend, seven years after it crashed in a South African jungle...
Tired of those steam gauges? Another magic box, this one from VIT Engineering offers a glass-cockpit-in-a-briefcase...
Wish you knew more about your cockpit radar? King Schools offers a new mini-course online...
Exasperated by slow limos from Manhattan to the airport? New helicopter shuttle every half hour, eight minutes, $139...
Aviation writer Dan Johnson reports online about on the aircraft accident that stifled his attempt to attend Sun 'n Fun.
Online Now: Exclusive interviews featuring Scott Crossfield, Cirrus Design's Alan Klapmeier, FAA administrator Marion Blakey, plus Monday's news, and more... Find AVweb's Podcast index, here, or subscribe free to AVweb's podcasts and receive them automatically for listening on your computer, iPod, or while traveling with any MP3 player. You'll hear things you won't find anywhere else.
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Your Favorite FBOs
Say Again? #62: Too Close for Comfort
We can learn a lot from accidents, but wouldn't it be great to learn from near accidents -- those that don't actually have to be reported? AVweb's Don Brown recently saw some dangerous situations that point out the problems with GPS, and he recounts them in this month's Say Again column.
AVweb's "FBO of the Week" contest is sponsored by Aviation Safety magazine, the monthly journal of risk management and accident prevention.
Thanks to all the pilots and AVweb readers who took time to nominate their favorite FBOs in our "FBO of the Week" contest. Today's ribbon finds its target in Florida.
AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to FALCON TRUST AIR at KTMB, Kendall-Tamiami executive airport, Miami, Florida.
LILLIAN LEBLANC filed direct, "THIS FBO IS TRULY THE TAJ MAHAL OF GENERAL AVIATION. THE BRAND NEW, MULTIMILLION DOLLAR FACILITY, OPENED IN JUNE 2005, RAISES THE BAR FOR THE ENTIRE INDUSTRY. THIS FBO IS WORTH A TRIP JUST TO TOUR THE FACILITY - BELIEVE ME, THERE IS NOTHING LIKE IT ANYWHERE."
Keep those nominations coming.
Click here to nominate your favorite FBO and here for complete contest rulesAVweb is actively seeking out the best FBO's in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!
Bonanza & Baron Owners: Learn to Save Thousands on Maintenance
HAVE YOU SIGNED UP yet for AVwebs NO-COST twice monthly Business AVflash? Reporting on breaking news, Business AVflash also focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the Business of Aviation. Business AVflash is a must read. Watch for a Business AVflash regular feature, TSA WATCH: GA IN THE "SPOTLIGHT". Sign up today at http://www.avweb.com/profile/
*** THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
Last week, we took orders for you favorite VLJs. One significant contender the first to fly with its production engines was mistakenly left out.
We're curious to see the votes when it's included as an option, so we're going back to the drawing board and giving you the revised list of contenders this week. If you've already answered, please take a few moments to chime in on this new, revised poll.
(Again, for the sake of the question assume each design meets its goal of certification.)
Click here to answer.
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Use this form to send QOTW comments to our AVmail Editor.
Benefit Aviation and Yourself with the NAA Platinum Visa(R) Card
In addition to favorable Visa(R) rates, National Aeronautic Association (NAA) cardholders receive benefits including discounted rates on NAA membership and on aviation products. You may also qualify for no-cost accidental death and dismemberment coverage and aircraft damage reimbursement. NAA, the first national aviation association, receives a contribution from Chase with every purchase made on the NAA Platinum Visa(R) card. These contributions help NAA preserve aviation heritage by supporting prestigious awards presentations and national aviation record certifications. For more information, visit the NAA web site.
Stop Wondering -- Or Worrying -- Where Your Friends and Family Are!
Do you have friends or family flying in tonight? A business colleague coming in for a meeting? Will your partner get back before you need the airplane? Find out where in the air they are with the AVweb Edition of Flight Explorer. AVweb subscribers can sign up for Flight Explorer at the special price of $9.95 a month. Sign up.
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Comm1 Announces Garmin GPSMap 396 Interactive Guide
Endorsed by Garmin, the VFLITE program for the GPSMap 396 allows pilots to safely practice procedures using their computer rather than flying heads-down. The program incorporates the award-winning VFLITE learning system, so users become familiar with GPSMap 396 operations using a visual, hands-on approach. The VFLITE GPSMap 396 Interactive Guide has higher fidelity simulation and automatic help prompts so pilots get the most from their hardware investment. Click here to order from Comm1.
Gas Prices Keeping You Grounded? Share Expenses on Your Next Flight!
Join PilotShareTheRide.com. This unique site is offered at no cost to pilots AND those who love to fly and don't have access to an aircraft. You can share costs on your next flight! Pilot Share The Ride is supported by advertisers, just like AVweb, so there are no membership costs. Check out PilotShareTheRide.com.
Pilots Comment After Reading IFR: A Structured Approach:
"The GPS chapter alone is worth getting the book. It's the best instrument flying book I have ever read," states Fred Scott. "If one book could help you make the leap from a bit player to a skilled conductor of instrument flight, this is probably it," reads a November 2003 AOPA Pilot review. With the help of this book, you will establish your personal standard of IFR operating practices, including incorporation of checklists, flows, callouts, briefings, and the "fly by the numbers" method of aircraft control. Order online.
Coming Up in the June Issue of Kitplanes:
"The Modern Mustang" -- flying the T-51 alongside the legendary P-51 warbird; "Biplane Boot Camp" -- can you go from tailwheel pilot to Pitts pilot in 10 hours?; "Do You Need a TSO?" -- well, yes ... and we explain exactly what needs to be TSOed; "Avgas 2020" -- the future of fuel; and "True to Form?" -- the results of our year-long TruTrak autopilot flight test. Plus: "Surviving a Kit Company Failure," "O2 for You," and the first part of our "Headset Buyer's Guide." Subscribe to Kitplanes online.
Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions | Past POTW Winners
Wha co-winners?! That's right! For the first time (that we can recall), we've got a tie for first place here at "Picture of the Week"! Here's what happened: We got two terrific photos from this year's Warbirds over Wanaka, an annual air show at Lake Wanaka, New Zealand. We flipped back and forth between the two photos, bounced them up and down our Top Ten list, and finally decided that they must have been submitted by the same photographer so we named our mystery shutterbug this week's winner and proceeded to pick out our runners-up. But to our surprise, the photos came from two different submitters, both of whom were at the show. So rather than pick one photo or the other, we're awarding co-"POTW" honors to Gavin Conroy and Matt McCarty of New Zealand. Congratulations, guys your winning AVweb baseball caps are in the mail!
Remember to submit your aviation photos here, and you'll be eligible to win your very own "POTW' hat. Plus, we'll share the best photos each week right here.
*** THIS WEEK'S WINNERS ***
"Dump and Burn"
Gavin Conroy of Blenheim, New Zealand was positioned underneath this "sinister-looking" F-111 from the Royal Australian Air Force when it performed its signature "dump and burn" move at last week's Warbirds over Wanaka International Air Show.
"Dump & Run"
Matt McCarty of Ashhurst, New Zealand seemed to be right behind Gavin, snapping the same stunt from a different angle.
Next year, Gavin and Matt, we'll expect you both to wear your "POTW" winner hats if only so you can spot each other in the air show crowd!
|AVweb continues to receive a large number of excellent images for our POTW contest. Here are some of the runners-up. Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.|
Magicians aren't allowed to share the secrets of their tricks but thankfully, that isn't always true for photographers. Mint Moore III of Franklin, Ohio writes, "I shot this photo with a Canon 10D from the back of Chris Johnson' TBM Torpedo Bomber. We take the back door off and have shot a lot of photos the past couple of years. The TBM Avenger is a great photo platform, as the speed is compatible to the fighters with no need for flaps."
"Thoroughly Modern Millie"
Chris Anderson of Newark, Ohio operates the switches and knobs of our AVweb time machine this week. This photo, of Chris's grandmother Millie, was taken "many years ago" by granddad Morris.
Jud Phillips of Nashville, Tennessee didn't make it to Sun 'n Fun this year. While "everyone else" (according to Jud, at least) was living it up in sunny Florida, Jud was shlepping around Tennessee's Cornelia Fort Airpark with his camera. Thankfully for us, it panned out as this is the first air banner sign we've seen in the "POTW" contest in quite a while. Keep 'em coming, Jud!
"Night Time Air Show at Sun 'n Fun"
Tim Porter of Unionville, Indiana did make the trek down to Sun 'n Fun. And, we're happy to say, he made it to another event we somehow missed this year the night time air show.
We have got to catch this next year ... !
To enter next week's contest, click here.
A Reminder About Copyrights: Please take a moment to consider the source of your image before submitting to our "Picture of the Week" contest. If you did not take the photo yourself, ask yourself if you are indeed authorized to release publication rights to AVweb. If you're uncertain, consult the POTW Rules or send us an e-mail.Names Behind The News
AVwebFlash is a twice-weekly summary of the latest news, articles, products, features, and events featured on AVweb, the internet's aviation magazine and news service.
Today's issue was written by news writer Mary Grady (bio).
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