AVwebBiz - Volume 6, Number 6

February 6, 2008

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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User Fee Battle Heats Up ... back to top 
 
Sponsor Announcement

Groups Oppose User Fees--Again

At last October's National Business Aviation Association meeting in Atlanta, leaders of the major general aviation groups agreed that despite headway made in Congress on the user fee issue, they believed the matter was far from settled. On Monday, with the FAA functioning on an extension of its 2007 budget because of the administration's failed attempt to restructure the agency's finance structure in last year's budget, the White House again called for a budget including a user fee-based system that levies a $25 per leg charge on turbine-powered GA aircraft. It also cuts funding for the Airport Improvement Program. NBAA, which has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying against user fees, is pledging to keep up the fight as are other groups. "Once again, the Bush administration wants huge new taxes and user fees imposed on general aviation, and it wants to slash and burn the Airport Improvement Program," Pete Bunce, president and CEO of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, said. "What part of 'NO!' doesn’t the White House understand?" asked AOPA President Phil Boyer. "Despite Congress saying 'no' to the Administration's proposal to scrap the current funding mechanism for a less efficient one that imposes user fees, they have once again launched an effort to complete a FAA reauthorization bill by proposing the exact same failed plan," he said. DOT Secretary Mary Peters insisted the system needs to change. "Traditional approaches are not capable of producing the results we need to keep America's economy growing," she said. Meanwhile, Acting FAA Administrator Bobby Sturgell gave a "terse defense" of the administration's decision to recycle a reauthorization proposal that failed last year in Congress, wrote the Wall Street Journal. "There are no changes," Sturgell said.

 
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... Even as Sturgell Heads Toward Confirmation back to top 
 

Sturgell Confirmation Hearing Thursday

Three days after Acting Administrator Bobby Sturgell put his stamp of approval on an FAA budget that would retain the user fee proposal, President Bush's nominee for the five-year appointment as administrator will go before a confirmation hearing of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. It's been more than three months since Bush nominated Sturgell to take over from Marion Blakey and this is the first action the Senate has taken toward the necessary confirmation. Sturgell's nomination has been controversial, with most of the established user groups (including NBAA, AOPA, and EAA) willing to work with him, despite his apparently categorical endorsement of user fees. However, there is plenty of opposition to Sturgell's appointment for other reasons. NATCA is vehemently opposed because of Sturgell's participation in the labor situation with air traffic controllers. But the noisiest opposition may come from Senators in the Northeast, who have been lobbied heavily by constituents unhappy with the FAA's ongoing redesign of busy airspace in the region. Bush was prevented from pushing through the nomination during the holiday recess because Senate leaders held brief daily sessions and no official recess was held. Election-year politics could cause further delays, as Senate leaders may be reluctant to confirm a five-year assignment from a lame-duck administration that will be changing in less than a year.

 
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Quotes reprinted with permission. Aviation Consumer, August 2007.
 
Closings and Consequences back to top 
 

Silver State Leaves Long List Of Creditors

Hundreds of creditors are named in court documents obtained by AVweb relating to the bankruptcy of Silver State Helicopters. The aggressive Las Vegas-based training company, which had 34 locations, closed them all earlier this week, leaving a trail of unpaid bills. “We were caught flat footed like everybody else,” Robinson Helicopter Vice President Kurt Robinson told AVweb. “They had several helicopters on order. We’re going to scramble and figure out what to do.” Silver State purchased more than 100 Robinson R22 and R44 helicopters from the Torrance, Calif., manufacturer since beginning its flight training operations in 1999. The company closed Sunday afternoon and is blaming external factors for its demise. Company president Jerry Airola did not return phone messages left for him at Silver State’s headquarters on Tuesday. A prepared statement said the action was the result of “a rapid, unprecedented downturn in the U.S. credit markets, which severely curtailed the availability of student loans for the company’s flight academy students and resulted in a sharp and sudden downturn in new student enrollment.” Airola, a former police officer, became known throughout the industry for using aggressive sales tactics to recruit students to the program, including radio ads that aired in major U.S. markets as recently as two weeks ago.

 
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Next Gen Displays back to top 
 

Gulfstream Synthetic Vision Certification

Gulfstream Aerospace last month became the first Part 25 original equipment manufacturer to have an FAA-certified synthetic vision system -- and it's 3-D, according to Gulfstream. The company's Synthetic Vision-Primary Flight Display (SV-PFD) and Enhanced Vision System (EVS) II are approved on Gulfstream G350, G450, G500, and G550 aircraft. The SV-PFD, which is expected to become available to customers in the second quarter of 2008, shows three-dimensional color terrain images overlaid with primary flight display symbology. The EVS II, which is 22 pounds lighter and packed with considerably more computational power than its original incarnation, provides infrared imagery on a head-up display (HUD). The two systems work together as the EVS II confirms the imagery displayed on the SV-PFD. Using both systems together provides flight crew "unmatched magnitude of pilot situational awareness and a flight path that is always visible" regardless of what's going on outside, according to Gulfstream. What's next? Gulfstream is working with Rockwell Collins to create a head-up display that will integrate flight information and infrared image information. The HUD-II would be compatible with EVS-II and integrated with PlaneView.

 
Cessna Aircraft Company, the World's Largest General Aviation Manufacturer
Based on unit sales, Cessna Aircraft Company is the world's largest manufacturer of general aviation airplanes. In 2006, Cessna delivered 1,239 aircraft, including 307 Citation business jets and reported revenues of about $4.2 billion. Cessna has a current backlog of $11.9 billion. The global fleet of more than 5,000 Citations is the largest fleet of business jets in the world. More information about Cessna Aircraft Company is available online.
 
Mergers & Acquisitions back to top 
 

Sentient Completes Acquisition Of TAG

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but Sentient Flight Group Thursday announced completion of its acquisition of TAG Aviation USA and the formation of the Sentient Aircraft Management Division. Former TAG President and CEO J.W.P (Jake) Cartwright will lead the division. The new division will integrate Sentient's existing fleet management team and TAG USA's aircraft management structure. Sentient says the program means that clients seeking outside charter revenue will now have access to "the unparalleled jet demand generated by Sentient's Jet Membership and Charter clients." Last year, TAG had come into the sights of the FAA over concerns of TAG's relationship with AMI Jet Charter. TAG acted as a charter broker for AMI and owned a 49% interest in the company. TAG admitted no wrongdoing and settled with the FAA to the tune of $10 million.

 
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BizJets Soaring Above Economic Fears? back to top 
 

Business Jet Demand Not In Recession

Bombardier Aerospace's future president and CEO, Pierre Beaudoin (son of current president and CEO Laurent Beaudoin), says his business has not been impacted by economic worries in the U.S. "On the contrary, we see demand that continues to rise," he told reporters in late January. The younger Beaudoin, who is slated to take the reigns of Bombardier in early June, said his company's order book has the company backlogged by three to four years. The company's decision to proceed with development of a proposed 110- to 130-seat CSeries airliner is expected this year (keep your eyes on Farnborough). The possibility of the new CSeries aircraft may be solidified with customer interest and Bombardier is already promised funds by Canada if it does move forward with the program. Further, the company has a production agreement with China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC). AVIC would invest $400 million in the CSeries and build the aircraft's fuselage, according to a Reuters report. Current plans would see the aircraft fitted with a new Pratt & Whitney engine designed to cut fuel burn by 20 percent. At least one analyst estimates Bombardier will deliver 230 jets this fiscal year and 250 more in 2009. That kind of projection suggests that even if deliveries level off, margins may continue to rise based on better pricing.

 
Featured AVweb Classified Ad: FBO Wanted
The Wood County Regional Airport Authority in Bowling Green, Ohio, is soliciting proposals for an FBO operation at the Wood County Airport (1GO).
For contact information regarding this ad, to view more ads, and to post your no-cost ad, click here.
 
Who's Where back to top 
 

ROBERT MAXSON HEADS NOAA AVIATION WEATHER
NOAA
Robert Maxson has come out of retirement to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Aviation Weather Center. Maxson retired as head of NOAA's aircraft operations in 2005 and, in the interim, flew as a research pilot for the National Science Foundation in Boulder, Colo. More...


GREG WILLIAMS NEW PRESIDENT OF EDWARDS AND ASSOCIATES
Bell Helicopters
Bell Helicopters has appointed Greg Williams president and general manager of Edwards and Associates, the company's completion and service subsidiary. Williams replaced Phil Dietreich, who retired after 42 years at Edwards and Associates. Williams has been with Bell 31 years. More...

 
You Pay More for the Unbiased Truth — To Ultimately Save More
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AVweb Media: Look, Listen and Learn back to top 
 

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

On November 2, 2007, an F-15C with the 110th Fighter Squadron (of the 131st Fighter Wing) broke up while conducting an air-to-air training mission. This video, produced by Glenn Pew for AVweb, covers the military investigative board's findings.


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

Related Content:
F-15s Grounded, Structural Failure Suspected

 
Aviation Consumer Needs Your Input back to top 
 

Tell Us About Your Interior Shop

Our sister publication, Aviation Consumer, is preparing a report on interior shops. If you recently had an interior redone, the editors would like to hear from you, whether the experience was good or bad.

To take part in the online survey, click here.

The results will appear in a future issue of Aviation Consumer. For subscription information, click here.

 
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 that 130,000 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.

 
Names Behind the News back to top 
 

Meet the AVwebBiz Team

AVwebBiz is a weekly summary of the latest business aviation news, articles, products, features, and events featured on AVweb, the internet's aviation magazine and news service.

The AVwebBiz team is:

Publisher
Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Editor-in-Chief
Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

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