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Onex Corp. announced on Thursday morning that it is joining with GS Capital Partners, an affiliate of Goldman Sachs, to acquire
Wichita-based Raytheon Aircraft Company for $3.3 billion. The deal will be completed by Hawker Beechcraft Corp., a newly formed joint venture between Onex and GS Capital Partners. The equity
investment of approximately $1.06 billion will be split equally between Onex and GS Capital Partners, with Onex's share of the investment to be made by Onex Partners, a large-cap private equity fund.
The deal -- expected to be completed by mid-2007, pending regulatory approvals -- includes Raytheon Aircraft's manufacturing plants in Wichita and Salina, Kan.; completion center in Little Rock, Ark.,
and all of the Raytheon Aircraft Services facilities. Not included in the sale is fractional provider Flight Options and Raytheon Airline Aviation Services. "We believe strongly in the future growth
of the business aviation sector, as new demand in Europe and Asia adds to strength in North America," said Onex Managing Director Nigel Wright. "The Hawker, King Air, and Beechcraft brands are
recognized leaders in business aviation." Hinting that the current management structure would stay in place at Raytheon Aircraft, Wright added, "We believe that the company's management team, lead by
its CEO Jim Schuster, can build on that strength and create additional value through operational improvements."
Raytheon Aircraft is not the first aerospace company that Onex has acquired, and it probably won't be the last. In June 2005, the
Canadian buyout firm purchased Boeing's structural components business in Wichita for $1.2 billion, forming Spirit AeroSystems. Last month, it did an initial public offering for Spirit AeroSystems,
raking in some $1.4 billion from stock sales. And this past April, Onex bought BAE Systems Aerostructures, which incidentally manufacturers Hawker 800XP subassemblies in the UK. According to Onex
Managing Director Nigel Wright, "We have become increasingly optimistic about the aerospace industry as we have made it a significant focus for Onex in the past few years. Our growing experience and
expertise, along with our solid relationships in the industry broadly and in the Wichita business environment specifically, give us a great deal of confidence that this investment [Raytheon Aircraft]
represents a terrific opportunity for all involved." Onex is currently part of a group of bidders looking to buy Australian airline Qantas.
Raytheon Aircraft CEO Jim Schuster said he believes Onex and GS Capital are committed to ensuring that Raytheon Aircraft builds the best
aircraft and expands its product line. On this note, Teal Group Vice President of Analysis Richard Aboulafia told AVweb, "Raytheon Aircraft really needs to diversify its product line, and the
move to split the Hawker 850XP into two models the Hawker 750 and 900XP was a good start. They should be using other people's technology, such as new engines and avionics, to create a
broadened product line with strategic price points much like Cessna does." He said it is "very much time" that the Premier I be made into a family of aircraft: "The new owners need to launch
the Premier II and then later on the Premier III. Derivatives are a great way to broaden a product line." But since the Premier I is no longer considered an entry-level airplane, Aboulafia noted that
Raytheon should look at developing a very light jet in the $3.5 million to $4 million price range. While such a VLJ could cannibalize sales of the King Air, he said "it's better than having your
competition do this for you." However, he pointed out that the King Air line could easily be improved just by adding more range and interior improvements. Aboulafia suggests that the newly certified
Hawker 4000 is also a good platform for another family of airplanes.
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Even though you likely turn it on only to see if it still lights up, it might be premature to throw out that old Loran
taking up space on your panel. Whats old is new again as Britain is considering revamping the venerable ground-based radio navigation system as a backup for GPS. And, according to a report in FCW.com, the U.S. is looking at a similar system to ensure precision navigation is available if GPS signals suddenly
become unavailable because of jamming or other causes. Whether your current gear will work on the so-called eLoran (the "e" is for extended range) is not clear in the reports. eLoran borrows
technology from GPS to make the ground-based system even more accurate (and perhaps raising the question of why we might need all those expensive satellites in the first place). Conventional Loran
measures the time difference from radio signals sent by two transmitters in the Loran station to determine the position of the receiver onboard the vessel or aircraft. eLoran incorporates differential
correction systems and the ability to analyze signals from multiple transmitters to increase accuracy and dependability. Britain has already invited proposals from would-be vendors (deadline is Jan.
7) and FCW.com says the U.S. is getting close to a decision on the type of GPS backup system it will install.
The NTSB is looking into the role a reportedly unreliable obstruction light played in the crash of a Cessna 210 at Lee
Airport in Edgewater, Md., on Dec. 9. According to the NTSB preliminary report, witnesses who arrived on the
scene shortly after the crash reported that the light was not illuminated and a pilot who landed there three days earlier had also reported the light wasnt on. However, tests conducted by the
NTSB the day after the crash showed the light was in proper operating condition, and when power was applied to the switch, the light illuminated. The light is about 30 feet below the tops
of 130-foot trees and 560 feet from the runway. The 210 hit those trees about 15 feet from the light before cartwheeling to the ground, killing the pilot and part owner of the aircraft, Timothy
Kramer, and his passenger Deborah Giant. The 2,500-foot runway (476 feet displaced threshold) is also equipped with pilot-controlled edge lights and a slope indicator. The report does not say whether
theyd been activated. Kramer and Giant were on their way from College Station, Texas, to New York. Lee Airport, which is privately owned, was the second planned stop on the trip. According to
the Bryan-College Station Eagle, Giants family has launched a lawsuit naming the airport operator, Cessna, two other owners of the airplane and the heir to Kramers estate as
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While a union spokesman described a
state of panic in air traffic control facilities in Seattle Dec. 15 during a record storm that interrupted power, the FAA was patting itself on the back for a system that functioned almost uninterrupted thanks to
ingenious coast-to-coast ATO teamwork and a new organization-wide contingency plan. These notably divergent points of view grew from the systems experience with one of the worst storms
ever to blow through the Pacific Northwest. When power went out to the Seattle terminal radar approach control center (TRACON), an emergency generator kicked in as planned. But the generator failed 16
hours later, leaving the TRACON on battery power. Before the batteries faded, the decision was made to move TRACON controllers to the Sea-Tac tower and an air route traffic control center (ARTCC) 25
miles away. According to local rep for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association Dan Olson, thats where things fell apart. "We had controllers escorted by police in police vehicles to the
center because we didn't know. It was a state of panic," Olson told KOMO-TV. He said the controllers were then put in front of consoles that they were unfamiliar with because ARTCCs use different
systems. But the FAA noted that despite the need to abandon the TRACON, flights were disrupted only for about an hour during the whole ordeal, although some might have been delayed because they were
spaced farther apart for safety. FAA spokesman Mike Fergus told KOMO-TV that the system worked. "It comes down to what are enough levels of backup," he said. "We had three levels and that was
sufficient." Normal power was restored after about 24 hours.
Lighter, more fuel-efficient gas-turbine engines are $1.5 billion closer to reality, or at least closer to creating some 1,500
jobs at Pratt & Whitney Canada's facilities and its network of suppliers. The company is investing its own money (and the equivalent of $350 million from the Canadian government) in what company
President Alain Bellemare told CBC News is "the most important commitment made by [Pratt & Whitney
Canada] in its history." Company facilities at Longueuil and Mississauga, Ont., will bear the brunt of research and development while Pratt & Whitney Canada itself bears the brunt of rhetoric from the
Canadian Taxpayers Federation. The federation says that while the $350 million is "repayable," P&WC's "repayment history and omnipresence at the trough" means "it is Canadian taxpayers who will be
burned." Actually, according to CBC News, federation Director John Williamson said in a release, "Giving Pratt & Whitney [Canada] more of taxpayers' money is like giving a pyromaniac a jerry can and
pack of matches."
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Lockheed Martin recently graduated 46 Flight Service Specialists from its Flight Service Academy in Prescott Valley, Ariz. The
class includes U.S. Air Force veteran John Lockheed, great grandson of company founder Allan Loughead. Together with the group, Lockheed will have experienced 10 weeks of academic classes that present
"pre-requisite core knowledge, including meteorology and basic navigation." The classes and graduation will be followed by deployment -- the students will be sent to actual Flight Service Stations to
receive on-the-job training with an end goal of certification as Lockheed-employed Flight Service Specialists. Presumably the move brings Lockheed Martin closer to its own stated goal for FSS.
"Dramatically improving the speed of information transfer to pilots, Lockheed Martin will serve the flying community with a revitalized system consisting of three new hubs and 17 refurbished automated
Flight Service Stations."
The maintenance supervisor for Turkish Airlines lost his job, but it was a camel that paid the ultimate price for a
maintenance crews jubilation over the retirement of a particularly troublesome aircraft. As is customary during times of great joy in Turkey, the maintenance crew was so happy to be rid of the
Avro RJ100 aircraft the airline had leased for the past 13 years that they decided to kill a camel -- on the tarmac at Istanbuls Ataturk International Airport. According to The Associated Press, newspapers carried photos of the joyous event, which
is apparently in step with the tradition in Turkey of sacrificing an animal to God when wishes come true. Well quaint though it might be, Turkish officials thought the ritual slaughter was a little
too old-fashioned for a country thats trying to get in step with more modern practices as it tries to join the European Union. So Turkish Airline officials called for chief mechanic Sukru
Cans head (figuratively, of course). A picture of one of Cans mechanics hoisting a piece of bloody camel meat on the tarmac was accompanied by a story in a local newspaper quoting
Cans explanation for the carnage. "We are happy to be rid of planes which frequently broke down without causing major headaches to Turkish Airlines," the daily Cumhuriyet quoted Can as saying
after the ceremony. Turkeys Transportation Minister Binali Yildirim didnt share Cans enthusiasm. It is not possible to approve such an incident," he told the newspaper, adding
that canning Can was an adequate response. Among the promises Turkey has made to the EU in its application for membership is a bid to stop the random slaughter of animals by imposing fines
on anyone who kills an animal outside of an approved slaughterhouse.
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Officials in Hickory, N.C., say one way to improve the Hickory Airport would be to close a 4,400-foot
runway. The runway, which sees only 6 percent of the airports traffic, will need a $2.3 million paving job in a few years and that got the creative thinkers at city hall pondering its fate.
Tearing up the asphalt and relying entirely on the 6,400-foot main runway would pave the way for more hangars and commercial development, they reason. This is an opportunity to have more planes
and more activity at the airport that will make it more self-sufficient in the long term, Assistant City Manager Tom Carr told the Hickory Record. Interim Airport Manager Terry
Clark said theres little room for expansion at the airport and the only developable areas would need about $1 million in site preparation. He noted that neighboring airports in Burlington and
Statesville closed secondary runways for development, and those projects were considered successful. We need to do something for the present and the future, so when a company comes and needs a
hangar, we could meet that, Clark said. It opens us up for future growth here. City officials will be talking to the FAA about the proposal.
While it may not be exactly what more traditional aircraft makers have in mind for the term, it would be hard to argue
the definition with Yves Rossy. The 47-year-old adventurer, who made headlines two years ago by gliding across the English Channel with a pair of strap-on wings, has taken the natural evolution of
that feat and added power -- and plenty of it -- to his birdman exploits. For the past couple of years hes been tinkering with model jet engines and earlier this year felt ready to demonstrate
their remarkable effectiveness with the fold-out, strap-on wings that hed developed earlier and produced a pretty interesting video of his exploits. Rossy has swooped around for six minutes or more after first dropping from a skydiving airplane. Human landing gear is a little tender for the landing speed
that would be required so recovery is via parachute. Still, the video shows a man fully in control of himself as an integral part of his flying machine, and it sure looks like fun.
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More than 70 competitors took part in Chinas first national-level indoor model airplane competition. The sport, which is very popular in Europe, is growing rapidly in China
A Michigan company has won the contract to fly caskets and remains of U.S. troops killed in action from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to funeral locations. Kalitta Charters will use four Falcon 20
bizjets to take the soldiers on their final flights
Sino Swearingen has received approved product inspection status from the FAA. The designation allows the company to inspect its own products under a system developed in cooperation with the
AOPA is taking the message about the pending fight over user fees to the airwaves with a series of ads on the Weather Channel. The ads point out the threat from user fees to general aviation and the
range of services that might be affected.
Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something that 130,000 pilots might want to know about, tell us. Submit news
tips via email to email@example.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.
Join NAA and Help Shape the Next Century of Flight
It's a great time to join the National Aeronautic Association (NAA), the nation's oldest aviation organization. At $39 a year, NAA membership is a terrific value for any aviation
enthusiast! Members receive the Smithsonian's Air & Space and NAA's Aero magazines, plus access to aviation records, product discounts, and much more. Call (703) 527-0226 to
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Motor Head #17: All I Want for Christmas... AVweb's Marc Cook doesn't believe in fairy tales -- he knows he can't get turbine power and
reliability at piston prices and fuel consumption, for instance -- but he does want Santa to give him a few nice improvements to his engine.
You can now get the latest general aviation news from AVweb -- the world's premier independent aviation news source -- as it happens at AVweb.com. Or sign up for our news feed and have the most recent headlines pushed directly to your RSS-based news reader. Either way, you'll be
able to read the same concise, but comprehensive, news stories that you've come to expect from AVweb. And for major breaking general aviation news, AVweb will send out news alerts via e-mail to keep
subscribers informed. Dont worry -- you'll also continue to receive AVwebFlash every Monday and Thursday.
WingX 2.0 Now Available With NACO Approach Charts, SmartTaxi, Online Weather, and Podcasts! Hilton Software LLC has just released WingX 2.0 for the Pocket PC now with approach charts, weather images, podcasts, N-number search, helicopter W&B, and SmartTaxi to
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AVweb posts audio news on Mondays, plus a new in-depth interview each Friday. In last Friday's podcast, you'll find an interview with NORAD's Stacia Reddish on its Santa tracking project. And AVweb's podcast index includes interviews with Bill Lear, Jr.; NATA President Jim Coyne; Eclipse Aviation's Vern Raburn; Honda Aircraft's Jeffrey Smith; Cirrus Design
cofounder and CEO Alan Klapmeier; Cessna chairman, president and CEO Jack Pelton; and Spectrum Aeronautical chairman Linden Blue. In today's
news summary, hear about the Goldman Sachs/Onex deal to buy Raytheon Aircraft for $3.3 billion, Loran making a resurgence in the UK as a GPS backup, a truly personal jet called Jet-Man, Pratt &
Whitney Canada's plans to build more fuel-efficient turbofans and more. Remember: In AVweb's podcasts, you'll hear things you won't find anywhere else.
HAVE YOU SIGNED UP yet for AVweb's NO-COST twice monthly business newsletter, AVwebBiz? 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. Sign up today at http://www.avweb.com/profile/.
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AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Goshen Air Center at KGSH in Goshen, Indiana.
AVweb reader John Wesley said this FBO has been turned around by its current owners.
"Zane Gillin and Randy Sharkey took over this operation 14 years ago, it was broke and had been on the skids for years. They have developed it into a clean, modern facility that cheerfully serves
everyone in aviation from the ultralight through the large corporate jet. They have a courtesy car, wireless Internet, pilot lounge, flight-planning room, meeting room, a large comfortable waiting
area and free lunch Friday."
AVweb is actively seeking
out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!
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Aviation-themed videos will return next week, but since we're posting this edition of "VOTW" on Christmas morning, December 25, 2006, we thought we'd take a few moments to sip our hot cocoa and
share one of the most fun viral videos that's hit the web in the last few years. This week's amazing video showcases the patience and ingenuity of Ohio electrical engineer Carson Williams,
whose 2004 Christmas lights display, synchronized to the music of Trans-Siberian Orchestra's "Wizard in Winter" (buy it here) sparked so
much chatter that it has its own page on the myth-busting web site Snopes.com:
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."
No Cute Cartoons, No Fancy Covers. IFR Magazine Brings You the Hard Facts IFR magazine has insightful facts to polish your proficiency, updates on changing regs, and articles that help keep your decision-making skills sharp in the demanding IFR environment.
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Twas the night before Christmas, and out on the ramp,
Not an airplane was stirring, not even a Champ.
The aircraft were fastened to tiedowns with care,
In hopes that come morning, they all would be there.
The fuel trucks were nestled, all snug in their spots,
With gusts from two-forty at 39 knots.
I slumped at the fuel desk, now finally caught up,
And settled down comfortably, resting my butt.
When the radio lit up with noise and with chatter,
I turned up the scanner to see what was the matter.
A voice clearly heard over static and snow,
Called for clearance to land at the airport below.
He barked his transmission so lively and quick,
I'd have sworn that the call sign he used was "St. Nick".
I ran to the panel to turn up the lights, The better to welcome this magical flight.
He called his position, no room for denial,
"St. Nicholas One, turnin' left onto final."
And what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a Rutan-built sleigh, with eight Rotax Reindeer!
With vectors to final, down the glideslope he came,
As he passed all fixes, he called them by name:
"Now Ringo! Now Tolga! Now Trini and Bacun!
On Comet! On Cupid!" What pills was he takin'?
While controllers were sittin', and scratchin' their head,
They phoned to my office, and I heard it with dread,
The message they left was both urgent and dour:
"When Santa pulls in, have him please call the tower."
He landed like silk, with the sled runners sparking,
Then I heard "Left at Charlie," and "Taxi to parking."
He slowed to a taxi, turned off of three-oh
And stopped on the ramp with a "Ho, ho-ho-ho..."
He stepped out of the sleigh, but before he could talk,
I ran out to meet him with my best set of chocks.
His red helmet and goggles were covered with frost
And his beard was all blackened from Reindeer exhaust.
His breath smelled like peppermint, gone slightly stale,
And he puffed on a pipe, but he didn't inhale.
His cheeks were all rosy and jiggled like jelly,
His boots were as black as a cropduster's belly.
He was chubby and plump, in his suit of bright red,
And he asked me to "fill it, with hundred low-lead."
He came dashing in from the snow-covered pump,
I knew he was anxious for drainin' the sump.
I spoke not a word, but went straight to my work,
And I filled up the sleigh, but I spilled like a jerk.
He came out of the restroom, and sighed in relief,
Then he picked up a phone for a Flight Service brief.
And I thought as he silently scribed in his log,
These reindeer could land in an eighth-mile fog.
He completed his pre-flight, from the front to the rear,
Then he put on his headset, and I heard him yell, "Clear!"
And laying a finger on his push-to-talk,
He called up the tower for clearance and squawk.
"Take taxiway Charlie, the southbound direction,
Turn right three-two-zero at pilot's discretion"
He sped down the runway, the best of the best,
"Your traffic's a Grumman, inbound from the west."
Then I heard him proclaim, as he climbed through the night,
"Merry Christmas to all! I have traffic in sight."
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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) and Glenn Pew (bio) and Editor In Chief Chad Trautvetter.
Click here to send
a letter to the editor. (Please let us know if your letter is not intended for publication.)
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