AVwebFlash - Volume 12, Number 48a

November 27, 2006

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Raytheon Aircraft Sale "Imminent"? back to top 

Three Equity Firms In The Bidding For Raytheon Aircraft

A rejuvenated Raytheon Aircraft could have new owners in the next month, according to The Wichita Eagle. The newspaper reported Friday that the Carlyle Group of Washington, D.C., Cerberus Capital Management of New York and Onex Corp of Toronto are the three finalists in the bidding contest for the planemaker, which builds Hawker and Beechcraft business jets, turboprops and piston singles and twins, as well as military trainers at its Wichita plant. A recent surge in sales, particularly on the bizjet side, has put the company in a profit position and the forecast for continued strong sales in that sector has made the company an attractive acquisition target, according to various analysts. Raytheon Co. let it be known in July that it was considering putting the aircraft division on the block, noting that it’s outside of its “core” business. Raytheon is one of the U.S.’s largest defense contractors, supplying a wide range of high-tech warfare gear to military forces all over the world. It bought the airplane company from Beech in 1980.

All Raytheon Aircraft Bidders Have Deep Pockets

One of the bidders, Onex Corp., is no stranger to Wichita. The Canadian company bought Boeing’s Wichita commercial operations last year and formed Spirit AeroSytems Holding. The new company is doing well building Boeing 737 fuselages and parts for the 787 Dreamliner, and analysts say the Raytheon acquisition would be a good fit. As a foreign-owned company, Onex would have to clear some security hurdles, however, because of Raytheon Aircraft’s military connections (mainly the Texan II trainer). Onex is also involved in a controversial bid to buy Qantas Airlines. The Carlyle Group and Cerberus are also considered strong contenders for Raytheon Aircraft. The Carlyle Group has numerous aviation connections in its portfolio, including Aerostructures Corp., Vought Aircraft Industries, Landmark Aviation and 64 percent of Firth Rixson, a metal parts provider. Cerebrus manages more than $18 billion for its clients and is involved in dozens of companies, although its aviation experience appears limited. Raytheon has said it wants $3 billion for the aviation business, which employs 6,300 in Wichita. The investment companies have declined media comment on their bids, and AVweb was unable to reach a Raytheon spokesman for comment on the holiday weekend.

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News Briefs back to top 

Another Lycoming Crankshaft Lawsuit Filed

A separate legal complaint recently filed in Illinois against Lycoming carries similar wording, and may be added to, original suits filed this September (see AVweb's prior coverage) seeking class action status representing owners ill-affected by a series of Lycoming Service Bulletins (SBs) ultimately calling for "early retirement" of nearly 4,000 Lycoming crankshafts within three years. Attorney Robert Mills, who filed the initial suits (two in Philadelphia covering 49 states, and one in California), this weekend told AVweb that six law firms are already working cooperatively on the case and the new filing may seek inclusion, or lead to wrangling for lead attorney status. The case has been stayed and awaits review -- either in January, or more likely March -- by a multi-district litigation panel that will determine its class certification and assignment, or throw it out altogether, Mills said.

If the case moves forward, Mills said lawyers will seek to determine, among other things, if allegations formally presented by the Cessna Pilots Association (CPA) hold water. In its comments to the FAA, the CPA openly questioned Lycoming's chronologically staggered Service Bulletins as "a ploy on Lycoming’s part with the FAA’s assistance to spread out the cost and time to Lycoming and to get a significant portion of the fleet with flawed crankshafts beyond warranty." Following Lycoming's issuance of the SBs, the FAA issued an Airworthiness Directive dictating replacement of affected crankshafts at the "first opportunity," and within 12 years from the time the crankshaft entered service. Owners are currently expected to share in replacement costs and cover all labor costs associated with replacement of the crankshafts.

Identity Theft Unlikely In DOT Laptop Thefts

The Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) says it’s unlikely that any of the personal information on 9,500 pilots stored in two laptops stolen from its agents earlier this year will be used for identity theft. And in determining that welcome news, the OIG may have helped bust up a laptop-theft ring in Miami. In July, a laptop containing the names, Social Security numbers and other personal information on the pilots was taken from a locked car outside a restaurant in Miami. Three months earlier, another OIG laptop went missing in Orlando. To date, according to the OIG, none of the information has been used to commit fraud. In fact, in the case of the Miami laptop, it’s more likely to have been used on a teenager’s term paper. After the Miami theft, the OIG, FBI and local police set up a sting operation and caught someone stealing a decoy computer left as a trap. The decoy computer was taken by the thief to a computer store, where a new operating system was installed, overwriting and concealing the data on the computer. After retrieving the decoy, the OIG did a forensic analysis and determined there’d been no attempt to get at the personal data stored on the hard drive. Subsequent interviews with those involved revealed the existence of a small laptop-theft ring in which the stolen computers were sold on the used market, mainly to high school students. There have been no such breaks in the Orlando case but neither has there been any indication that the information has been accessed and used.

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News Briefs back to top 

Point2Point Growing Exponentially

A North Dakota air taxi operator that uses Cirrus SR22 aircraft has doubled its business in each of the last two quarters. In an update to city of Bismarck officials, principal John Boehle says he expects to have 100 airplanes (not necessarily all Cirruses) and 134 pilots by 2010. The company started last January and flew about 30,000 miles in the first three months, Boehle told the civic officials (who fronted $1.25 million in public funds for the startup). Business almost doubled to 54,000 miles in the second quarter and it doubled again in the third quarter to 112,000 miles. A 600-mile round-trip flight costs about $500 per seat, according to a report in the Bismarck Tribune. Although Point2Point was conceived as an alternative to the hub-and-spoke airline arrangement, it’s being asked to consider jumping into that business with scheduled service to Minneapolis. There’s a lot of traffic between Minneapolis and North Dakota’s three major cities (Bismarck, Fargo and Grand Forks) and Boehle said he has a plane stationed in Minneapolis, where it gets a lot of work. Meanwhile Boehle said he’s concentrating on raising capital to buy new airplanes (Diamond DA-42 TwinStars and Cessna Caravans are possibilities) and on working out an Internet-based reservation and ride-sharing system.

GAMA Elects Officers

John J. Grisik, Executive Vice President of Operational Excellence and Technology at Goodrich Corp., has been elected chairman of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association for 2007. Grisik is vice chairman for 2006 and Cirrus CEO Alan Klapmeier will move into that spot next year. GAMA also announced that it had accepted three new members, including Eclipse Aviation, Sino Swearingen and SMA. Eclipse and Sino Swearingen recently received type certification for their Model 500 and SJ30 jets, and GAMA CEO Pete Bunce said it’s the first time GAMA has simultaneously added two OEMs with freshly certified products to its ranks. SMA is developing diesel light aircraft engines and is based in France. GAMA also filled its other executive slots. They are: Product Liability & Legal Issues Committee, Alain Bellemare, Pratt & Whitney Canada; Flight Operations Policy Committee, Jack Pelton, Cessna Aircraft Company; Security Issues Committee, John Rosanvallon, Dassault Falcon Jet Corporation; Communications Committee, Adrienne Stevens, L-3 Communications; International Affairs Committee, Mark Van Tine, Jeppesen; Safety Affairs & Training Committee, Larry Williams, Ballistic Recovery Systems; Technical Policy Committee, Robert Wilson, Honeywell.

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News Briefs back to top 

Martinsburg Picked For Corporate FBO

Arcadia Aviation is building a $20 million corporate aviation center at Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport (MRB) in Martinsburg, W. Va., just outside the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) that surrounds Washington, D.C. The company announced last week that it will initially build a 20,000-sq.-ft. hangar and administrative offices, but future plans call for purpose-built facilities that can handle Boeing Business Jets, 757s and other airliners. Arcadia also operates the full-service FBO at the airport. The airport will have no problem accommodating the big iron Arcadia hopes to attract, thanks to the West Virginia Air National Guard. The Guard is currently extending the main runway (8/26) in advance of taking delivery of C-5 Galaxies. The Guard currently operates C-130s. Arcadia hopes to break ground on the expansion early next year.

Personal Jet Engine In Development

So-called personal jet manufacturers may soon have another power option for their aircraft. Price Induction, of Tarnos, France, has reportedly test run its DGEN380 turbofan engine, which is designed specifically for aircraft weighing as little as 1,650 lbs. Company President Bernard Etcheparre told AVweb Sunday the engine was run on the bench for the first time three weeks ago. We target a certification type CS-E for the end of 2008, meaning a first flight around the beginning of 2008," Etchebarre said in an email. "But this phase is a complex period and you have to be conscious of the difficulties [in following] this timing." The engine puts out about 600 lbs. of thrust (most current VLJ engines are 1,100 lbs. and up) and weighs just 150 lbs. (dry but including the accessories needed to run it). According to the company Web site, the engine is designed to fit adaptations of existing airframes and its performance is optimized for 10,000 to 12,000 feet at a speed of about 235 knots. This, according to the company, puts jet power within reach of about 50 GA manufacturers that might not have considered it as an option. The company also envisions clean sheet designs ranging from a two-seat single-engine aircraft to six-place three-holer weighing up to 5,500 lbs. It sees the ideal application as a four or five-place (most likely pressurized) twin weighing about 3,500 lbs. that will cruise at 235 knots at 25,000 feet with a range of about 1,000 nm on about 160 gallons of fuel. The test run took place about a year later than the company had hoped.

Precise Flight's HID Landing Light Now Certified for Bonanzas with Cowl-Mounted Lights
Precise Flight's HID landing light system is now certified for Beechcraft Bonanzas equipped with cowl-mounted landing lights. The stellar combination of increased light output, reduced power consumption, superior lamp life, and brilliant light quality are a few of the major benefits of high-intensity discharge lighting. The PreciseLite HID for Bonanzas replaces the existing lamp in the cowl and is available in 12 and 24 volts. Click here for additional information
News Briefs back to top 

Socata And EAA Offer Oshkosh And Paris To College Interns

Two North American college students will get a chance to intern at EADS Socata in France next summer, under a new program developed by Socata and EAA. The students, who must be juniors or seniors pursuing an aviation career, will spend five weeks in France. They'll visit several Socata factories and tour the Paris Air Show. Then they’ll spend a week in Oshkosh at the EAA Advanced Air Academy, where they'll act as mentors to the youngsters at the camp and attend AirVenture. The internships, which include transportation and accommodation, will be awarded to one male and one female student. "I hope that this will be part of a process to reinforce transatlantic ties between American and Europe's aviation communities," said Socata CEO Stéphane Mayer. "The students who visit us will be able to see with their own eyes that aviation has only one universal language, and that is the shared passion for flight." Students must be citizens of the U.S. or Canada, and must apply by Feb. 27. For complete details, go to the Young Eagles Web site

Give The Gift Of Flight Via Project Pilot

Most pilots know somebody who's shown an interest in learning to fly "someday," and you can help bring that day closer with the gift of a Project Pilot introductory flight. AOPA's new learn-to-fly initiative has an online database of over 3,500 flight schools, many offering first flights for $49 to $89. The Web site also has FAQs for beginners, an introductory video, tips for choosing a flight school and an instructor and advice on how to finance training. At the airport, the gift recipient will be shown how to preflight the aircraft, how to taxi and take off and go for a local flight. It’s a gift that’s more memorable than just another gift card or necktie. Project Pilot also recruits AOPA members to act as mentors to new students. If that appeals to you, find out more at its Web site.

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News Briefs back to top 

Insurer Asks Victim's Widow To Pay Court Costs

Ellen Dixon, of Brentwood, Calif., survived the helicopter crash that killed her husband, David, at a Livermore air show 11 years ago. She won a lawsuit against the helicopter company -- the pilot had run out of gas -- but there was little money there to collect. She also won a suit against the city, which sponsored the show, but it was overturned on appeal. Now the city's insurance company is demanding that Dixon come up with $41,000 to pay their legal bills -- money that Dixon, who still suffers pain from the injuries she suffered in the crash, doesn't have, reports the Tri-Valley Herald. The only way she could raise it is to sell the house that she bought with her husband, where she still lives. Dixon's lawyer, Terry O'Reilly, is livid, according to the Herald. Dixon needs the $41,000 a lot more than the insurance company does, O'Reilly says. The insurance company said it is simply following standard procedure.

Flight To Canada By "Refugee" Raises Security Concerns

A Colombian man living in the U.S. was refused permission to enter Canada when he tried to cross the border earlier this month. So he rented a Piper Cherokee in Illinois, flew across the border, landed at Windsor Airport in Ontario and claimed to be a refugee. Officials wouldn't release many details about the case, but said the man was returned to the U.S., according to Canada.com. The incident raised concerns about security. ''The broader question is a very important one,'' said Canadian Senator Colin Kenny, who chairs a committee on national defense. ''What protections are in place in the event the plane was larger and loaded with explosives?" Andrea Kent, spokeswoman for the Canada Border Services Agency, said the pilot wasn't a threat. ''His sole purpose was to apply for entry to Canada,'' she told Canada.com. ''There are no security risks or threats in relation to this case."

Columbia Simplifies Buying & Selling All Aircraft Brands
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News In Brief back to top 

On The Fly

A student pilot got a very graphic demonstration of the dangers of wake turbulence at Seattle’s Boeing Field a couple of weeks ago. According to the NTSB, the student was on final for Runway 13L in a Cessna 172 when Boeing’s modified 747 Large Cargo Freighter passed it on final to Runway 13R. A nine-knot crosswind blew the 633,000-pound freighter’s wake turbulence over the 1,800-pound Cessna. The instructor on board was able to recover from the resulting upset with 150 feet to spare…

The pilot of a Piper Saratoga lined up for takeoff on the wrong runway at Lexington Airport a couple of weeks ago. According to WFIE TV , the aircraft was cleared to use the 7,000-foot main runway but the pilot mistakenly headed for the 3,500-foot GA strip that Comair Flight 5191 used before it crashed. Although the Saratoga would likely have had room to spare on the GA runway, controllers noticed the Saratoga pilot’s error and directed the aircraft to the assigned runway…

The FAA says it doesn’t currently support a plan by a Florida community to shorten the main runway at Witham Field. Martin County commissioners recently voted to tear up 460 feet of runway in a bid to cut noise problems. The FAA says it can’t support anything that will affect the safety or utility of the airport, but it’s giving the community a month to gather more information to make its case.

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Find all of today's stories in AVweb's: NewsWire

AVweb's Business AVflash

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New On AVweb back to top 

New Articles and Features on AVweb


Probable Cause #20: Switching Tanks
It's an article of faith that major maintenance work isn't complete until a full test of all components and systems can be made. Here's why.

Reader feedback on AVweb's news coverage and feature articles


AVmail: Nov. 27, 2006
Reader mail this week about single-engine IMC, quality of FSS and more.

AVweb Audio News

AVweb posts audio news on Mondays, plus a new in-depth interview each Friday. In Friday's podcast, you'll find an interview with Honda v-p Jeffrey Smith, who talked everything HondaJet with AVweb at Honda Aircraft's open house last Monday. And AVweb's podcast index includes interviews with Cirrus Design cofounder and CEO Alan Klapmeier; Cessna chairman, president and CEO Jack Pelton; Spectrum Aeronautical chairman Linden Blue; Adam Aircraft chairman Rick Adam; and New Piper CEO Jim Bass. In Today's news summary, hear about who's bidding for Raytheon Aircraft, another Lycoming crankshaft lawsuit, a smaller turbofan engine that could spawn more personal jets, Project Pilot gift-giving idea and more. Remember: In AVweb's podcasts, you'll hear things you won't find anywhere else.

Pilot Journey Isn't Just for Students & Instructors; There's Something for Everyone
You know Pilot Journey's Discovery Flight program converting leads to students. However, all pilots can find something at Pilot Journey: Pilot e-mail accounts, pilot eCards; a pilot cruise with seminars; AvCareers, where position wanted and positions available are listed; and much more. Pilot Journey is the pilot's choice online.
FBO Of The Week back to top 

FBO Of The Week: Million Air KLSC

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

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AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Million Air at KSLC in Salt Lake City, Utah.

AVweb reader Harlan Ribnik said he was treated, well, just like a millionaire at the facility, even though he didn't pull up at the ramp in a jet aircraft.

"From the instant I taxied to their ramp, I was met with the friendliest line crew I've ever met. The atmosphere was incredibly friendly, service-oriented. I was made to feel an honored guest, rather than just somebody bringing business to the store. I have been at many FBOs who so clearly tailor their service to the type of aircraft being serviced, that it was a very welcome surprise to be treated as well as the G5 pilot, even though I flew a Mooney. Even when things did not go as smoothly as might be optimal, the staff made me feel comfortable and confident that I and my airplane would be well cared for. And we were!

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!

Buying, Selling, Looking to Do Both?! Go with AVweb's No-Cost Classifieds!
Easy. No cost. And you reach over 150,000 Avweb subscribers with your ad. Go online to post your ad, or find what you want!
Video Of The Week back to top 

Video of the Week: Impressive Landing

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

AVweb reader Brett Bohannon brought this amazing video to our attention over the Thanksgiving holiday. (Watch your mailbox for an official AVweb hat, Brett!)

The video was originally posted to YouTube by user Gooney87. Watch as an unidentified pilot brings his Cessna to a graceful landing with only one landing gear available:

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Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

Don't forget to send us links to any interesting videos you find out there. If you're impressed by it, there's a good chance other AVweb readers will be too. And if we use a video you recommend on AVweb, we'll send out an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you."

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The Lighter Side Of Flight back to top 

Short Final

Overheard in the vicinity of Buchanan tower in Concord, Calif.:

Cessna: "Buchanan tower, this is Cessna One Two Three, seven south of Buchanan, 2000 feet, request transit, northbound."

Tower: "Cessna One Two Three, transition approved. Report clear."

Half minute pause, and then: "Tower, this is Cessna One Two Three; where is Clear?"



Choose the Flight Explorer Edition Right for You
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Holiday Special from Comm1 Radio Simulators
Comm1 CD-ROMs are designed to teach pilots how to communicate safely and professionally with Air Traffic Control. Available in VFR, IFR, and Clearances on Request versions, Comm1 Radio Simulators let you experience real flight situations through high-quality audio and graphics from the safety and privacy of your desktop. Special Offer: A complimentary multimedia stereo headset with any purchase. Offer ends December 25th. Order online.

Going Off to Visit Friends and/or Family This Holiday Season?
Get there by sharing a ride. Pilot or passenger, long cross-country or short hop, PilotShareTheRide.com is for you! No cost to sign up, and you will save by sharing expenses! Check out the web site today.

Names Behind the News back to top 

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 Contributing Editors Russ Niles (bio), Glenn Pew (bio) and Mary Grady (bio).

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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