AVwebBiz - Volume 6, Number 28

July 9, 2008

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Top News: Radar, Audio from Civilian MOA Incursion back to top 
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Radar, Audio Capture F-16 Encounter With Biz Aircraft

When two GA pilots, one flying a Pilatus PC-12 and the other in a Beechcraft Premier jet, encountered an F-16 in a Military Operations Area used by Luke Air Force Base in Arizona last March, they had to take abrupt, evasive maneuvers to avoid the military jet. The incident, after it was first reported in AVwebFlash, set off a lively debate among pilots on AVweb's blog about the wisdom of flying in MOAs, and prompted an in-depth report in our sister publication, Aviation Safety. This week, AOPA obtained a video clip from the FAA showing the radar screen during the encounter, and also the voice tape from Air Traffic Control. (We've put them together in a handy package for you to watch and listen. You can find the video here.) The F-16 pilot has been reprimanded, and Luke officials told AOPA they will alter their training program to encourage their pilots to avoid similar encounters in the future.

In a podcast interview with AVweb, PC-12 pilot Patrick McCall said his TCAS activated about 10 a.m. that day while he was cruising at 16,500 feet (VFR with flight following) and he had to dive his aircraft as the target kept closing on him. The target followed him in the dive and when McCall leveled at about 14,000 feet, he was amazed by the view from his side window. "I then looked to my left side of the aircraft and saw an F16 aircraft off of my left wing," he said in a written report sent to the FAA. "The F16 was no more than 20 feet off of my left wing."

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Service Alert, Sales Chatter Surround Socata back to top 


Some owners of SOCATA's new TBM 850 single-engine turboprop may be facing extended grounding following the company's service alert on cracked compressor drive shafts. Alert SB70-161 was released June 20 after a report of a driveshaft shear failure on a TBM 850. The June alert limited drive shafts to 80 flight hours before replacement while the company works to complete the design and certification of an improved drive assembly. After further review, however, an amendment was released this week that limits the hours allowed on the drive shaft. Stress cracks have been found in the shafts that exceed what was originally anticipated in the first service bulletin. Some aircraft are required to have immediate shaft replacement while others will have their shaft total time reduced to 35 or 40 hours, depending on the aircraft serial number. The latest production aircraft and the replacement shafts sent by the company will retain the original 80 hours total time because of the additional magnaflux inspections during their manufacture.

SOCATA has completed the design of a new drive assembly and is currently fabricating test and evaluation parts. The new compressor drive assemblies are anticipated to be available by mid-October 2008. More information from SOCATA concerning this service bulletin is coming and AVweb will follow the story as it develops.

EADS Hopes To Sell Socata

EADS has announced that it has opened exclusive negotiations with DAHER, a diversified company that dabbles in nuclear energy, the automotive sector, defense and industry along with aerospace, to sell its Socata division. Although Socata is best known in GA circles for its high performance TBM-series turboprop singles, the company also makes parts for Airbuses and that seems to be where the crux of the deal is.

In a brief news release, EADS Socata spokesman Philippe de Segovia said the idea is to "allow the creation of a major actor in the area of aerostructures and business aviation and develop joint projects in these two areas, in particular with regards to the A350 for which EADS Socata DAHER would be a tier-one partner." The release didn't discuss what the sale would mean to the TBM operation.

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News Briefs back to top 

Freight Feeder Finds Launch Customer

Freight Feeder Corp., an Albuquerque company that is developing a purpose-built short haul aircraft to carry containerized freight has announced its launch customer will be Britain-based MK Airlines. The airline, which operates a fleet of Boeing 747 freighters, says Freight Feeder's FF5000 will make an important link in the freight network more efficient. "The Freight Feeder Aircraft could play an important role in the future development of an air cargo industry that is already short of competitive and cost-effective airframe capacity," said MK CEO Mike Kruger. The FF500 is expected to fly next year and has some unique features.

The turboprop twin is expressly designed to carry six standard air freight container in a rear-loading configuration. Empty, it could fly 2,175 nm but with 35,000 lbs of freight aboard it will go 878 nm, striking distance for most regional courier and freight operations feeding a major hub. Normal cruise is 250 knots. The company is also developing the smaller FF4000, a tail-mounted single turboprop.

Bell Backing Off From Civilian Tiltrotor?

Hailed as the ideal combination of speed and convenience for the business traveler, the BA609 tilt rotor aircraft, which has been prominently displayed at most major aviation trade shows in the past year, may be an aircraft whose time hasn't quite come yet, according to Bell. The Fort Worth Star Telegram reported this week that Bell is shifting most of the development work on the intriguing aircraft to its partner AgustaWestland, largely because it will be too pricey to find a market in the U.S.. "We designed the 609 for a new U.S. market and unfortunately we are not seeing that materialize, so we are looking at all options that make sense for the future of this program," Bell Helicopters CEO Dick Millman said in statement issued to the newspaper.

A smaller civilian cousin to the V-22 Osprey now in service with the military, the BA609's price was pegged at around $10 million during development. It could actually be double that and for the utility it provides (six to nine passengers) there are a lot of much faster and larger aircraft at half the price that don't upset local authorities who are increasingly resistant to aircraft landing in urban centers, which is the 609's most compelling ability. Millman said Europeans see such activity differently and that might be the best place to develop the aircraft. There are about 80 orders on the books for the aircraft, which won't be available for delivery until at least 2012.

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 2007, Cessna delivered 1,272 aircraft, including 387 Citation business jets, and reported revenues of about $5 billion. Cessna has a current backlog of $12.6 billion. The global fleet of more than 5,100 Citations is the largest fleet of business jets in the world. More information about Cessna Aircraft Company is available at Cessna.com.
News Briefs back to top 

This FBO Is The Runway Leader

In the intense competition to lure business aircraft traffic, FBOs offer all kinds of amenities to rise above the rest. Well, the new Million Air facility in Victorville, Calif. has all the leather couches, refreshments, flight planning rooms and other facilities one might expect in a destination that hopes to serve the lucrative Southern California market but it also boasts more almost three miles of main runway. The new FBO is at what is now called Southern California Logistics Airport but that 15,050-ft. runway was built by the Air Force to give fighter jocks in the Tactical Air Command plenty of room to operate when the facility was known as George Air Force Base. Those who were stationed at the once-bustling Cold War bulwark (it closed in 1992) will hardly recognize the place.

Million Air has given the Air Force–issue terminal building a $500,000 makeover with all sorts of luxurious amenities that serve a mix of military and private customers. And while the digs are nice, Million Air CEO Roger Woolsey says there's another good reason to consider Victorville when headed to busy SoCal. "This location offers an attractive alternative to those who would rather avoid the hassle and congestion of Los Angeles International Airport, the world's fourth-busiest passenger airport, and other regional airports," said Woolsey. "Completing this renovation brings us one step closer to shifting the facility's client base from almost entirely military to a more balanced mix that includes more business and private customers."

Farnborough 2008

The grand old lady of aviation expositions starts next week, and AVweb will be on the ground covering the highlights of the huge show. Keep an eye on your inbox for the latest from Farnborough.

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

Survey: How Is Flight Service Doing Now That They Supposedly Have the Bugs Worked Out?

Our sister magazine, IFR, is asking pilots nationwide how their experience with Lockheed Martin Flight Service has affected the way they do their preflight prep. We'd love to hear your thoughts on how LockMart is doing these days.

The survey takes just a few minutes. Click here to take part.

(The results will appear in a future issue of IFR magazine. For subscription information, click here.)

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.

Diamond DA40 XL Demonstrator Sale
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AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 

Exclusive Video: F-16 Intercepts Jet & Turboprop Legally Flying Through MOA

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

Last March, AVweb told you about a close encounter between two private aircraft, a Pilatus PC-12 and a Beech Premier and an F-16 in an Arizona Military Operating Area (MOA). AOPA has obtained the radar video and audio from the incident, and AVweb Video Editor Glenn Pew has put them together in an enlightening package.

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

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Who's Where back to top 

Cunningham Heads Marketing at West Star

Debi Cunningham

Debi Cunningham has been appointed Director of Marketing for West Star Aviation, of East Alton, Ill. She's been with the company for six years and was most recently national sales director.

Dubai's Bob Johnson Retires

Bob Johnson, Group CEO of Dubai Aerospace Enterprise Holding, has retired. He held the position since 2006 and is 60.

Sandel Welcomes Jerry Henry

Jerry Henry

Jerry Henry is Sandel Avionics' new Director of Sales. He was most recently Avidyne's Senior Manager of Customer Support.

King to Oversee Hawker Beechcraft Completions

Hawker Beechcraft has appointed Ronald King vice president and general manager of its Little Rock, Ark. completions center. He was most recently plant manager of Eaton Heavy Duty Truck in Shenandoah, Iowa.

Ray Miller at Universal Avionics

Ray Miller

Ray Miller has been promoted to VP and GM of Universal Avionics Corp.'s instrument division in Duluth, Ga. He was most recently the general manager of the instrument division.

Who's Where? You Tell Us

Get a promotion or a new job? Your colleagues want to know about it, and AVwebBiz can get the word out. Drop us a line about the staff appointment, with a nice recent photo, and we'll do our best to include it in our new section, "Who's Where." The items will be permanently archived on AVweb for future reference, too.

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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:

Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

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