AVwebBiz Complete Issue: Volume 7, Number 23

June 10, 2009

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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CBP on "Heightened Alert" During Customs Check back to top 

Customs and Border Protection Justifies Ramp Check

A spokeswoman for the Washington headquarters of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) says the drawing of weapons in the ramp inspection of an aircraft in Long Beach, Calif., last month was justified but not "normal." Kelly Ivahnenko also told AVweb that general aviation pilots can expect more ramp checks by CBP agents thanks to the newly-instituted Electronic Advance Passenger Information System (eAPIS). She stressed it's unlikely many of the checks will have the level of intensity employed May 22 with Long Beach, Calif., pilot David Perry and his three passengers. Ivahnenko said in an interview on Tuesday that there was a "heightened alert" involved in the Long Beach operation but she also said she could not discuss the circumstances that led to a more aggressive posture than normal by the CBP and local police. She also said that while eAPIS had nothing to do with the Long Beach inspection, information provided through eAPIS could result in more frequent GA inspections. The system, which involves the online filing of flight and passenger information for transborder flights, became mandatory on May 18. In an interview and podcast with AVweb, Perry said he and his passengers were put in unnecessary peril by gun-wielding enforcement officials. Ivahnenko stressed Perry's experience is not what most pilots should expect if they're checked by the CBP. "This I would not classify as common or routine," she said. She said the Long Beach action was justified, even though the search turned up nothing illegal. "While the involvement of more than one law enforcement agency and the heightened alert of the situation were slightly unusual, it is within (CBP's) authority to inspect inbound and outbound travelers, vehicles, planes, cargo, etc.," she told AVweb. She also said that only the Long Beach police officers assisting the operation actually drew weapons and CBP agents kept theirs holstered, something Perry vehemently disputes. "Every one of them had their weapons out," Perry said.

Perry also said that while most of those who surrounded his airplane carried pistols, he saw at least one assault rifle carried by a CBP agent. Ivahnenko said the CBP agents involved are not equipped with assault rifles and the tactical team that does carry them was not in Long Beach that day. Perry adamantly disagrees with Ivahnenko regarding the presence of assault rifles. While Ivahnenko maintains CBP agents did not draw weapons, she said it was their idea that the Long Beach police officers have their guns out. "We are taking responsibility as the lead agency who requested assistance from Long Beach," she said. "That was simply part of the security protocol for that part of the inspection." Perry said he and his passengers were ordered at gunpoint to first put their hands on their heads and then get out of the airplane one by one. They were individually questioned and they and the contents of the plane were searched. Perry said he's considering filing a civil rights action against the CBP and has been told by an attorney that the search may have violated the 4th Amendment of the Constitution that limits search and seizure powers of the government. Ivahnenko said the controversy stirred by the Long Beach inspection may prompt an outreach campaign by the CBP to address concerns being expressed by the general aviation community about the new border-crossing rules.

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Onex Seeks to Expand Aircraft Leasing Holdings back to top 

Hawker Beechcraft Owner Bids For ILFC

The Financial Post is reporting Onex Corp., one of the parent companies of Hawker Beechcraft, is reportedly making a play for International Lease Finance Corp., the world's largest aircraft leasing company. ILFC is now owned by American International Group (AIG), which is busy shedding assets to pay off the loan portion of its $182 billion government bailout. ILFC leases airliners to most of the world's airlines and has been a reliable cash cow for AIG since it purchased the company from founder Steven Udvar-Hazy in 1990. Onex, which bought Raytheon's general aviation division in partnership with Goldman Sachs and renamed it Hawker Beechcraft in 2008, is a Toronto-based investment company that frequently delves into aerospace enterprises. Onex President Gerry Schwartz is characteristically tight-lipped about the ILFC bid.

Onex also owns Spirit Aerosystems, which was formerly known as Boeing's Wichita division, and is a key contractor on the Boeing 787. Schwartz also participated in a failed bid to buy Qantas Airlines in 2006 and Air Canada in 1999. According to the Post, ILFC is doing well financially (revenues up 16 percent this year) but it's principal asset, the credit rating that it assumed as part of AIG, has, of course, become more of a liability. Onex is reportedly looking for partners in the acquisition in a bid that will be less than the $7.8 billion book value of IFLC but will include assumption of the company's $32 billion debt. Some of that debt comes due in October.

Business Aviation Will Help Companies Not Only Survive
But Prosper During the Current Financial Crisis

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If It's Green, It's Got to Be Good (Right?) back to top 

'Green' Flight Grabs Attention

The FAA and American Airlines have wrapped themselves in the eco banner in selling the benefits of the NextGen airspace system. The agency and airline are promoting the environmental benefits of the system with the announcement that the latest technology and techniques will be used for a "green" flight from Paris to Miami on Thursday. But what it really comes down to is that the 767 will go GPS direct rather than following the airways and use gradual rather than stepped climbs and descents. In other words, it will operate like general aviation has for more than a decade. The flight has earned a remarkable amount of attention from the mainstream media.

The Miami Herald trumpeted the flight as a "Step Forward For Aviation" and newspapers all over the world picked up on the potential fuel savings. However, there were those who pointed out that there's nothing really new about this except that it's a regularly scheduled airliner doing it. "The event scheduled for this week with the American Airlines aircraft is simply a publicity stunt," the National Air Traffic Controllers Association said in a statement. "The flight will be using Global Positioning System (GPS) technology that we have been using for years." Miami was chosen as the destination because it's the first air traffic control facility in the U.S. to be outfitted with the NextGen gear.

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Union, Airline Clash Over Airbus Upgrades back to top 

Air France Speeds Airbus Pitot Replacements After Pilots Complain

Air France has accelerated its effort to replace pitot tubes on its Airbus aircraft after members of one pilots union threatened to refuse to fly the unmodified airplanes, the New York Times reported on Tuesday. The airline had said over the weekend it would replace the sensors on all Airbus A330 and A340 airplanes over the next few weeks. But on Monday, Alter, a union representing about 12 percent of Air France pilots, posted a notice on its Web site urging its members to "refuse any flight on an A330/A340 which has not had at least two pitot sensors modified," according to the Times. SNPL-ALPA, which represents the largest share of Air France pilots, made no such suggestion, but union spokesman Eric Derivry told the Associated Press: "What we know is that other planes that have experienced incorrect airspeed indications have had the same pitots. And planes with the new pitot tubes have never had such problems."

A U.S. Navy ship and the French nuclear attack submarine Emeraude are both en route to the crash site of Air France Flight 447 to aid the search for the cockpit voice and flight data recorders. The Navy also flew two devices called Towed Pinger Locators to Brazil on Monday. The five-foot-long devices can detect the signals from emergency beacons from as deep as 20,000 feet. They will be towed behind French tugboats. Crews so far have recovered 28 bodies from the crash site. They have been flown via Blackhawk helicopter to Fernando de Noronha, an island 400 miles off the coast of Brazil, and later will be taken to the mainland in a C-130. Identification by fingerprints and dental records is expected to take some time. A total of 228 people died in the crash. On Monday, the airplane's vertical stabilizer was recovered, the largest piece of the aircraft that has been found so far. The piece showed no evident signs of fire or explosion.

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News Briefs back to top 

NTSB Holds Three-Day Hearing On Hudson River Ditching

The NTSB this week is holding a three-day hearing on the January ditching of US Airways Flight 1549 in New York's Hudson River. On Tuesday, the board heard Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger recall his decision-making process on that day. After considering all the possible choices, "The only option remaining in the metropolitan area that was long enough, wide enough and smooth enough to land was the Hudson River," he said. "I couldn't afford to be wrong." Passenger Billy Campbell, who was the last passenger off the airplane, told the NTSB that the jolt when the airplane hit the water was violent, and water immediately began to rush into the cabin through a broken window. After everyone got out of the airplane, the life raft that some were in began to sink, because it was still tethered to the airplane, but somebody on a nearby boat tossed them a knife to cut the rope. Campbell said there was not just one lucky break that day but many that allowed everyone to survive. "There were 14 or 15 miracles that had to occur," he said.

Also, on Monday, scientists from the Smithsonian said the Canada geese that destroyed the Airbus A320's engines were migrants from Canada, not local geese. At least two females and one male goose were ingested. The hearing will continue through Thursday, and will cover issues including pilot training regarding ditching, bird detection and mitigation efforts, certification standards regarding ditching for transport-category airplanes, cabin safety emergency procedures, and certification standards for bird ingestion into transport-category airplane engines. The board also released the transcript of the cockpit voice recorder, but most of that conversation was heard previously on ATC tapes released in February. The NTSB's comprehensive docket of documents and information about the ditching is available online.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Air France 447 — This One's Gonna Be Tough

The airplane's automation is a popular and understandable whipping boy. But, asks resident blogger Paul Bertorelli on the AVweb Insider, what if the crew just drove the thing into a level 6 thunderstorm? Sometimes the simplest theories are the hardest ones to accept.

Read more.

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Who's Where back to top 

Campion Picked for Hall of Fame

Don Campion

Don Campion, president of Banyan Air Services, was inducted into the Florida Aviation Trades Association (FATA) Entrepreneurial Excellence Hall of Fame. Banyan opened 30 years ago at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport.

Luketic, Fowler Join Pilot Journey

Pilot Journey Airplane Sales has added two staff members. Dan Luketic will be Director of Airplane Sales and Marketing, and Doris Fowler will be the Assistant to the Director.

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.

International Civil Aviation Organization — ICAO
ICAO documents are now at the AVweb Bookstore in convenient and economical eBook format. ICAO, a division of the United Nations, sets the global standards for international aviation, including communications, airport design, overseas routes, ATC, hazmat transport, and much more. If you are involved with international air transportation, these documents are critical information for your operations and planning departments. Click here for the growing product listing.
AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 

Exclusive Video: TV News Copters Made Affordable

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

Thanks to seismic shifts in the news business, many local television outlets can no longer afford their own turbine-powered eye-in-the-sky. As a result, Robinson is doing a brisk business selling its R44-based ENG camera ship. AVweb visited Robinson in Torrance, California for a closer look.

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

Video Marketplace Spotlight

Bendix/King AV8OR Demo
When Bendix/King rolled out its AV8OR portable GPS last summer, the $749 retail price — about $675 discounted — caught GPS buyers by surprise. So did the AV8OR's feature set, which includes a touchscreen interface and automotive navigation as built-in standard capability. In this video, AVweb's editors took the AV8OR out for a spin to wring out its major features.

Click here to watch the video (and discover other great products) at AVweb's Video Marketplace.

Economic Challenges Call for Proven Advertising Results — AVweb Delivers Results
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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 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.

Safety Equipment — Add Aviation Safety to Your MEL
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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

Scott Simmons

Jeff van West

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