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December 10, 2003

Business NewsWire Complete Issue

By The AVweb Editorial Staff

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

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Business AVflash Sample Issue

HAVE YOU SIGNED UP yet for AVweb’s NO-COST twice monthly Business AVflash? 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! We hope you enjoy this introductory issue. Sign up today at http://www.avweb.com/profile/

Business Aviation Stars In Pop Icon’s Scandal

Michael Jackson Sues Jet Company For Alleged Illegal Videotaping…

Business aviation is playing a big part in the showbiz scandal of the year. Allegations that the charter jet used by Michael Jackson for his much-publicized flight from Las Vegas to Santa Barbara was rigged with small video cameras have caused uproar from the Jackson legal team. Lead attorney Mark Geragos recently held a news conference to discuss the video, which allegedly captured Jackson and his lawyer in conversation on the flight. Jackson surrendered to authorities shortly after the flight. Geragos alleged that XtraJet, the charter company in question, secretly videotaped Jackson during the flight and then tried to sell the footage. He reportedly learned of the video on Nov. 24 after receiving calls from news outlets whose reporters had seen the footage. An XtraJet attorney, whom Geragos subsequently contacted, reportedly acknowledged that videotaping equipment had been secretly installed in the plane, but refused to surrender the tapes. "The videotaping of my client conferring with me was illegal and outrageous, as was the aircraft company's attempt to sell that tape for profit," Geragos said in a statement. Geragos says he is outraged at the recording of Jackson on the plane and has filed suit against the company.

…As The Investigation Begins…

A criminal investigation was also launched into the matter. According to the Los Angeles Times, FBI agents seized videotapes from XtraJet's Santa Monica, Calif., office and launched a formal criminal investigation to determine whether the company broke any laws. The Times report said that XtraJet officials claimed they had allowed reporters from various news outlets to view the videotapes not to create a bidding war, but instead to "rebut news reports that Jackson had acted erratically on the flight or had asked to flee" the country. XtraJet corporate officer Jeffrey Borer told the newspaper that his company had received offers to buy the tape from several news outlets, which the company declined. Borer also said that the company had explored selling the tapes "as any businessperson would." That won’t happen any time soon, as a judge has barred the charter operator from physically altering the plane pending a December hearing and Geragos has secured a court order that prohibits the company from releasing the video footage until at least Dec. 19. AVweb attempted to contact XtraJet officials to get their side of the story but none of our numerous phone calls was returned.

…Man Arrested After Allegedly Boarding Jackson Jet

Adding to the already bizarre situation is the report of an intruder aboard the Jackson charter aircraft. A man who identified himself as a news and photo agency reporter was arrested after allegedly climbing aboard the jet while the pop star surrendered to authorities, police said. Lee Kevin Madden, 27, was arrested Nov. 20 after Jackson's security staff discovered him aboard the plane and held him for Santa Barbara police, authorities disclosed. Officials said Madden, of Los Angeles, had a video camera, digital camera, notepad and metal clipboard, and claimed to be a reporter with the Splash news and picture agency. The possibility of a connection between the alleged trespass and the videotapes was under investigation, but no connection had been made, Santa Barbara police Sgt. Dave Gonzalez told the Times. Madden was charged with misdemeanor trespassing and later released.

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Air Taxi Company Shuts Down

SkyTaxi Halts Service; 18 Laid Off…

Financial problems have grounded SkyTaxi Inc, an Oregon start-up that received national exposure for its hybrid air service. SkyTaxi, whose business blended elements of regular airline service and charter service, vacated its maintenance hangar at the Salem airport and laid off employees last month. None of the headquarters' approximately 18 employees are left on the payroll, although a few SkyTaxi backers continue to work on a voluntary basis at its administrative offices, Ray Morrow, chairman of SkyTaxi, told the Salem News Statesman. [More...] Prospective SkyTaxi passengers will have to find another means to travel for now, but Morrow is counting on finding venture capital to get the business aloft again. “We’re very optimistic. The bottom line is we have lots and lots of customers and a business model that works,” Morrow said. The company is “restructuring at this point” and the shutdown is temporary, he said.

…Founder Hoped For Unique Rural Service

Morrow, the Salem entrepreneur, who is best known as a pioneer in aviation navigation systems and his excursion into the snowboard manufacturing business, helped start SkyTaxi last year. The company’s strategy is to provide air service to towns overlooked by the major airlines through a network of SkyTaxi franchisees. Several of these franchisees, in communities such as Klamath Falls, Newport, Corvallis and Medford, originally agreed to buy $500,000 Cessna 414 airplanes to get their foot in SkyTaxi’s hangar door. Morrow claims the initial operations were fairly smooth. In October, however, SkyTaxi’s business hit some turbulence when a key operations manager abruptly quit. The position needed to be filled to meet FAA requirements and, during the hiring process, SkyTaxi was forced to suspend its flights for several weeks until a replacement was found. SkyTaxi briefly resumed operations, but the nearly month-long suspension of its flights stretched its finances. The company decided it was best to stop operations and look for additional capital. “I think it has proven it’s a valid concept,” said M.C. “Bic” Bickert, an investor in Sky Taxi.

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The Citation Family Moves Ahead

A Trio Of CJ3s Takes Flight…

Cessna now has three Citation CJ3s in its certification flight-test program. The third plane took its first flight earlier this month. Cessna’s second production CJ3 (serial number 002) completed its first flight on Nov. 6, 2003. A standard production first flight profile was flown during the 2.6-hour flight. Over 340 hours and 200 flights have been accumulated on all three CJ3s with the CJ3 prototype recording the majority of these hours (262.8) as it continues to complete developmental flight-testing. The first production CJ3 (serial number 001) is currently being used for flight training simulator data collection, and the second production CJ3 (serial number 002) will primarily be used for avionics development and post-certification service tests. Cessna announced the single-pilot-operated Citation CJ3 at the 2002 NBAA convention, and anticipates first customer delivery in the fourth quarter of 2004.

…Elliott Aviation Expands Citation Services

In support of the recently announced agreement with Cessna Aircraft Company to modify and sell select trade-in Citations, Elliott Aviation announced it has expanded its Citation service capabilities. Already experienced in Citation 550/560 service support, the additional maintenance capabilities have included factory tooling and training for the XL (Excel) and 525 (CitationJet) series of Citations as well. Elliott Aviation has facilities in Moline, Ill.; Des Moines, Iowa; Minneapolis, Minn.; and Omaha, Neb., and has been selling and servicing business aircraft since 1936.

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Bombardier Settles $75M Housing Deal

Bombardier Aerospace has agreed to stop blocking a Canadian housing development. Some say this move is a signal the manufacturer doesn't want to be seen as playing politics with city hall over the Toronto Island airport bridge. According to the Toronto Star, Bombardier instructed its lawyers to finalize a settlement with the city over 30 hectares of land near its deHavilland plant. A story in the paper quoted Councilor Howard Moscoe and airline entrepreneur Robert Deluce as saying Bombardier had linked its go-ahead for the project with a city council vote in favor of the bridge to the island airport. During months of nasty debate over the bridge, complete with threats of lawsuits, proponents warned that if Bombardier loses a contract to supply Deluce with planes, it could end up closing its Toronto plant and taking 2,500 jobs out of the city. Bombardier indicated it would agree to a deal -- worth $75 million CAD to the city -- before the council voted against the bridge. The 32-12 vote means the city no longer supports the bridge and that the Canadian government will be asked to change an agreement authorizing it. Moscoe, long involved with the project, said he was pleased with the decision, calling Bombardier an "honorable company." Officials seemed intent on staying on good terms with the company, as Toronto has purchased close to $1 billion worth of subway cars from Bombardier since 1992.

Raytheon Aircraft's Premier I Certified In China

Raytheon Aircraft's Premier I business jet has received certification to fly in China. The country’s Civil Aviation Authority awarded the certification in late November. While primarily used in corporate aviation circles, the first Premier will enter service this year with Hainan Airlines of Haikou, China. Randy Groom, president of Raytheon's Beechcraft Division, anticipates placing many more Premier Is in China, as he feels the country’s infrastructure is expanding, and travelers are taking advantage of the security and privacy of business jet travel.

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New International Aircraft Charter Service Available In Canada

An international aircraft charter operation has taken flight in Canada. Corporate Airlink Ltd. was originally founded in 1996 as a corporate aircraft management and charter service. With 15 employees and two Cessna Citation Excels and one Cessna Citation CJ1, the firm maintains a domestic operation at its head office in Mississauga -- adjacent to Lester B. Pearson International Airport -- and has regional support/operations centers at both the Hamilton and Kitchener, Ontario, airports. Corporate Airlink Ltd.’s current fleet of small- and medium-sized business aircraft was recently expanded with the addition of a BD-700 Global Express, which now allows the company to offer long-range international services. The aircraft owner awarded management and operation of this 12-passenger jet to Corporate Airlink, and, under this agreement, the operator provides the air crew, operational and administrative support and maintenance for the aircraft. Based at Pearson, this is the first Global Express to receive commercial operational certification by Transport Canada. For private operations, the aircraft has been registered under the Canadian Business Aviation Association’s POC (Private Operations Certificate -- the next evolution to the CAR 604).

Van Emburgh Joins NATA As Mgr. Of Gov't And Industry Affairs

Beth Van Emburgh has joined the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) as manager of government and industry affairs. Van Emburgh will focus on airport, security and environmental issues. She will also serve as the staff liaison for the NATA Airports Committee. Van Emburgh comes to NATA after over a year in the civil aviation department at the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) and three years in the regulatory affairs department at the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE). She focused on general aviation airport issues at AAAE and on international and domestic noise and emissions policy issues at AIA.

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Biz AV’s AD Watch

Bombardier Model CL-600-2C10

The FAA has a final rule that supersedes an existing Airworthiness Directive (AD), applicable to certain Bombardier Model CL-600-2C10 series airplanes, that currently requires a revision to the Airplane Flight Manual (AFM) to prohibit operations into known or forecast icing under certain conditions. That AD also requires an inspection to detect damage of the wing anti-ice (WAI) ducts to determine if the external shrouds of the ducts are open or cracked, and replacement of any damaged duct with a new duct or a duct with the same part number, and an optional terminating action. This amendment, which becomes effective Dec. 31, 2003, requires accomplishment of the previously optional terminating action for the AFM revision and inspection. The FAA claims actions specified by this AD are intended to prevent the WAI ducts from collapsing, cracking, or rupturing, which could cause leakage of hot air in the under-floor pressurized area of the fuselage when the anti-ice system is turned on. Such leakage of hot air results in insufficient heat for the anti-ice system and consequent aerodynamic degradation.

Eurocopter

The FAA adopted a new airworthiness directive (AD) for certain specified Eurocopter France (Eurocopter) helicopters that requires inspecting the fuel air vent hoses (air vent hoses) for chafing and fuel leakage in the interference areas, inspecting the length of the latch support attachment screws, installing spacers to prevent interference with the latch support attachment screws, and removing one tyrap clamp support. This amendment is prompted by a report of a fuel leak in the air vent hose at the 9 deg frame on the pilot's side of the helicopter. The FAA claims the actions specified by this AD, which becomes effective Jan. 5, 2004, are intended to prevent fuel leakage, toxic fumes inside the cabin creating a fire hazard that could lead to a fire and smoke in the cabin, and a subsequent loss of flight control.

MD Helicopters

The FAA has published a final rule for certain MD model helicopters. This amendment -- scheduled to become effective today -- adopts a new Airworthiness Directive for the specified model helicopters modified with a Helicopter Technology Company, LLC, Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) No. SR09172RC, SR09074RC, or SR09184RC. This action requires recording on the component history card or equivalent record the number of torque events (TEs) on each main rotor blade. When a blade accumulates 13,720 TEs and 750 hours time-in-service (TIS), the AD requires inspecting both surfaces of the blade for a crack at specified intervals. If a crack is found, the AD also requires replacing the blade with an airworthy blade. Also, the AD establishes life limits for certain part-numbered blades. This proposal is prompted by several reports, including a recent report dated July 24, 2003, of blade cracks due to a high number of TEs per hour. The FAA claims the actions specified in this AD are intended to prevent fatigue cracking of the blade, blade failure, and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter.

Sikorsky Helicopters

The FAA has published a NPRM for certain Sikorsky model helicopters. The AD would require installing a Number 5 bearing chip detector in each engine, installing an on-board chip detector annunciation system, and revising the Rotorcraft Flight Manual (RFM) to add procedures for crew response to an on-board chip detector annunciation. This proposal is prompted by reports of the failure of the engine's Number 5 bearing that resulted in erratic movement of the high-speed engine-to-transmission shaft (shaft), oil leakage, an in-flight fire and an emergency landing. The actions specified by the proposed AD are intended to detect an impending engine bearing failure and prevent a bearing failure, oil leakage, severing of the shaft housing, an uncontained in-flight fire, and a subsequent immediate emergency landing. Public comments on this NPRM must be received on or before Jan. 23, 2004.

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We Welcome Your Feedback!

Business AVflash is a twice-monthly summary of the latest business aviation news, articles, products, features and events featured on AVweb, the Internet's Aviation Magazine and News Service. http://www.avweb.com

Have a comment or question? Send it to mailto:newsteam@avweb.com.

Today's issue written by News Writer Arturo Weiss:
http://www.avweb.com/contact/authors.html#aweiss
AVweb's editorial team: http://avweb.com/contact/authors.html.

Have a product or service to advertise on AVweb? A question on marketing? Send it to AVweb's sales team: mailto:sales@avweb.com.

Let's all be careful out there, okay?



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