Business NewsWire Complete Issue

November 25, 2003
By The AVweb Editorial Staff

This issue of AVweb's Business AVflash is brought to you by …

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Raytheon Migrating Work To Mexico

Wiring Jobs Head South…

The growing trend to outsource American jobs is also gaining popularity in the aerospace market. On Nov. 7, 350 Raytheon Aircraft Co workers in Wichita learned their jobs were heading south of the border to Mexico. Officials at Raytheon's wire harness division in east Wichita announced it would transfer the wiring work to Labinal Inc.' s division in Pryor, Okla. However, most of the work will be done at Aerotec de Mexico, Labinal's subsidiary in Chihuahua, Mexico. The first job cuts will begin early next year and run through 2004. Paris-based Labinal is a multinational corporation that supplies wiring systems and engineering services to the aerospace industry. The decision to move the work “was an extremely difficult one,” said Raytheon Aircraft spokeswoman Jackie Berger. "As we try to turn around the company and secure jobs for the majority of the people for the future, there are some very difficult decisions we have to make along the way," she added. Will this move help the struggling manufacturer, which claims it has lost more than $1 billion in the past three years? Some don’t think so.

…Workers Cry Foul Play…

After months of tension and uncertainty in response to Raytheon’s ongoing struggle to remain afloat, the Machinists union said the decision to outsource leaves a bad taste in their mouths. “It is sad that companies are thinking of only one thing -- how cheap can they get their work done," Machinists District 70 spokesman Steve Rooney recently told The Wichita Eagle. While the company will not divulge the exact amount of operating costs saved with the outsourcing, officials did claim it was "significant.” The union officials don’t buy the company's findings, which they claim are inflated. The Machinists union claims it presented a proposal to the company that offered a feasible plan for keeping the work in Wichita. Nevertheless, in March, the company began studying Aerotec and another Mexico-based plant, assessing whether either facility could make Raytheon's wire harnesses and panels. This is the second time the plant's wire-harness workers have attempted to save the work from going across the border. Raytheon first announced that it planned to outsource the work in 2001 but the union said it constructed a plan “to improve efficiency and cut costs.” After reviewing the proposal the company announced the work would stay in Wichita. This second time around, the decision was made to move the wiring work.

…More Outsourcing Is Planned

Aggravating the bad feelings between management and the workforce, Raytheon officials also announced the tentative decision to outsource a limited number of machined parts and precision assemblies. The company claims it plans to outsource all of the company's parts manufacturing work by 2006 but final assembly would be kept in house. If that outsourcing proceeds, about 50 to 60 more jobs would be lost, officials admit. The only possible silver lining in this storm cloud is that Raytheon says it is focusing on domestic sources for the work.

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NATA Pushes For Reopening DCA To Charter

National Air Transportation Association (NATA) President James K. Coyne praised four more members of the United States House of Representatives for signing a letter to President Bush encouraging the reopening of Washington, D.C.'s Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport to on-demand air charter operations. This latest letter adds to the growing list of more than 60 members of Congress that have come to support NATA’s initiative. The House members that joined the letter include: Rep. Ernest Istook (R-Okla.), Chairman, House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury and Independent Agencies; Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.), Chairman, House Committee on Science and member of the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure; Rep. Michael Honda (D-Calif.), member of the House Subcommittee on Aviation; and Rep. Marion Berry (D-Ark.), a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security. “As we embark upon the historic centennial of flight, we hope that our intelligence and security officials within the federal government will heed the advice that these letters offer, demonstrating that this fight will continue until Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport is open to all on-demand air charter operations,” Coyne concluded.

Aero Vodochody Cutting Workers

While Ibis Aerospace continues developing the Spirit turboprop, its parent company has moved into a major cost-cutting program. Despite profits, Aero Vodochody can't seem to lift itself out of debt. The Czechoslovakian aircraft manufacturer, which is hanging on the brink of a financial crisis, announced it would trim the company's staff by year's end. The company’s board of directors decided to cut about 200 administrative and production employees from a total workforce of 2,124.The manufacturer, which is 35 percent owned by Boeing, specializes in manufacturing a line of military aircraft, most notably the L-159 subsonic jet trainer, but in the business aviation world, co-sponsors the Ibis Aircraft project. This year, orders have dried up. Aero will deliver the last of 72 L-159s ordered by the Defense Ministry for the Czech air force in 2007. Marketing head Viktor Kucera has been involved in negotiations dubbed "promising," but thus far no major international orders have been forthcoming. The company is searching for a compromise between maintaining production capabilities and keeping costs low. While Boeing, which bought its stake in Aero Vodochody for approximately $30 million in 1998, would like to cut all redundant workers, Aero President Antonin Jakubse is more conservative, favoring keeping part of the highly skilled workforce to enable a relaunch of L-159 production once orders start coming in again. He said the civilian sector holds some promise, and Aero produces aircraft parts for export.

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Learjet Vs. Flock Of Birds: Both Lose

It was a collision with a flock of birds that forced a Learjet pilot to make an emergency landing in an Illinois farm field a few weeks ago. The fully-fueled plane burst into flames but, remarkably, there were no serious injuries. St. Clair County officials said the flight originated in Farmington with a pilot and co-pilot on board. The plane made a stop at the Downtown St. Louis Parks Airport to pick up two passengers en route to North Platte, Neb. The plane hit the birds shortly after takeoff. The flight's co-pilot told emergency officials the birds caused engine damage and he and the pilot fought to keep the plane upright and away from populated areas as they searched for an alternative landing sight. The flight crew successfully guided the plane into a field just southwest of Belleville, Ill. All four on board eventually evacuated the jet safely before emergency crews arrived. According to reports, the co-pilot and two passengers, possibly helped by a bystander, went back into the plane and pulled the pilot out before the fire started. The NTSB is leading the accident investigation.

Light Jet Biz Discussed For Wiscasset Airport

While many light jet programs are still in the development stage, some airport planners are planning ahead for an extra boom in hangar facilities. Such is the case in the Northeast, where the forecast for the upcoming expansion of Maine’s Wiscasset Airport will include provisions for small jets within 10 years. This includes the possibility of building more T-hangars and constructing a crosswind runway as outlined in the 20-year master plan. “In 10 years we plan for small jets as part of a whole development package,” Mike Muchmore, co-manager of Wicked Good Aviation, the airport operator, told the Lincoln County News. Muchmore considers movement on the master plan “way ahead of schedule,” as two T-hangar projects are already finished and awaiting approval by the condominium association. Some time ago, the town purchased property so that it could extend the runway and also provide a crosswind runway. The existing runway often has a 90-degree crosswind. Andrew Gilmore, town economic development director, said a recent meeting he had with state and local officials will help speed the expansion.

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Port Authority Won't Make Room For Big Jets At Teterboro Airport

The fight over big iron at Teterboro Airport has flared once again. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has renewed its efforts to fight a federal proposal that would allow larger jets to land at the busy GA airport. On Oct. 29, Port Authority Chairman Anthony Coscia told FAA officials his agency would not provide funding for any site changes that would be needed if the plan to allow jets weighing more than 100,000 pounds to land at Teterboro was approved. "We are not going to adapt our runways, create a blast fence, or expand our taxiways. We are not going to make those changes to Teterboro," Coscia told The Record of Bergen County. "We are not going to do anything from a practical standpoint to allow those planes to land there." The Port Authority fears the plan could open the door for more jets of similar size to land at Teterboro, plus other planes that normally fly to Newark Liberty International Airport. Currently, the large jets are banned because they could damage Teterboro's runways. However, Boeing had lobbied the FAA in a bid to gain access to the airport for its 737 Business Jet, citing its proximity to Manhattan.

Quik Flight Enters Air Ambulance Biz

Fractional and charter operators are finding new ways to diversify their business and carrying the sick and hurt seems to be a popular route. Like other companies have, Quik Flight, a year-old charter flight service, is starting air ambulance operations. The FAA approved the move just a few weeks ago. The company, based at Schenectady County Airport, soon will begin using its Piper Cheyenne I as a ferry for patients needing to make interstate medical runs, said Chandler Atkins, the company's president. Fixed-wing services such as Quik Flight are different from helicopter airlifts that whisk accident victims to hospitals. "Our trips are more planned," Atkins said. The region has been without a locally-based air ambulance since 2001, when Global Air Response left the market. Since then, medical charters have had to fly in from elsewhere. "We're going to have the medical team and the plane and everything right here," Atkins said. Quik Flight spent about $60,000 to outfit its lone plane with a customized stretcher and other medical equipment. Flights are priced at $3.40 a mile, or $800 an hour, the same as regular charter flights, with the cost for medical personnel charged extra. Atkins says he will continue making regular passenger charter runs, since the plane can be converted from an air ambulance to an executive shuttle in 20 minutes. Mike Paston, chairman of the fixed-wing special interest group of the Association of Air Medical Services, an international trade group based in Alexandria, Va., said there are about 40 similar services in the United States.

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Biz AV’s AD Watch

Dassault Falcon 50

The FAA is proposing the adoption of a new Airworthiness Directive (AD) that is applicable to certain Dassault Model Mystere-Falcon 50 series jets. This proposal would require applying PR (fuel tank sealant) and installing PR patches over the internal side panel recesses of the left-hand and right-hand feeder tanks at certain frames and stringers. The FAA claims this action is necessary to prevent fuel ignition in the event of a lightning strike and consequent uncontained rupture of the fuel tank(s). All comments must be received by Dec. 18, 2003.

Dassault Falcon 2000 and 900EX

The FAA is also proposing the adoption of a new AD for certain Dassault Model Falcon 2000 and 900EX and Dassault Model Mystere-Falcon 900 series airplanes. This proposal would require measuring the paint thickness on the upper and lower surfaces of the left and right sides of the horizontal stabilizer, performing corrective actions if necessary, and installing maintenance caution placards on the upper surface of the left and right sides of the horizontal stabilizer. The FAA claims this action is necessary to prevent structural damage to the horizontal stabilizer after a direct lightning strike, which could result in reduced controllability of the airplane. This action is intended to address the identified unsafe condition. All comments must be received by Dec. 15, 2003.

Pilatus PC-12

The FAA has issued final special conditionsand a request for comments for a supplemental type certificate on the Pilatus PC-12/45 turboprop. The FAA claims this airplane will have novel and unusual design features, including the installation of two Honeywell Model AM-250 electronic barometric altimeters. The agency claims these units do not contain adequate or appropriate airworthiness standards for the protection of these systems from the effects of high intensity radiated fields (HIRF). The published special conditions -- Oct. 31, 2003 -- contain the additional safety standards that the FAA considers necessary to establish a level of safety equivalent to the airworthiness standards applicable to these airplanes. All comments must be received on or before Dec. 15, 2003.

Learjet 31, 35, 36

The FAA is proposing the adoption of a new AD applicable to certain Learjet Model 31, 31A, 35, 35A (C-21A), 36, and 36A airplanes. This proposal would require modification of the drag angles of the fuselage and engine pylons to gain access to the shear webs of the forward engine beams; repetitive inspections of the shear webs of the forward engine beams for cracks; follow-on actions; and modification/repair of the shear webs of the forward engine beams, as necessary, which would terminate the repetitive inspections. The FA claims this action is necessary to prevent significant structural damage to the engine pylons, possible separation of the engines from the fuselage, and consequent reduced controllability of the airplane. All comments must be received by Dec. 29, 2003.

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Let's all be careful out there, okay?