Volume 2, Issue 3 -- February 11, 2004

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The Top Headlines From AVweb's Expanded Business News Coverage At AVweb's Business NewsWire.

When is a Boeing 737 not a Boeing 737? When it’s a Boeing Business Jet (BBJ), of course. Boeing’s uber-bizjet has long been the subject of both envy and scorn -- and not a small amount of controversy -- because of its size. Yet that size, which means much more flexibility in its cabin configuration, and its commonality with the majority of airliners operated throughout the world has made it a popular choice for businesses that need and can afford all that the BBJ offers. But that doesn't mean it's popular with the general public. Most recently, residents of northern New Jersey claimed victory in a months-long effort to ban the BBJ from Teterboro Airport (TEB) outside of New York. It seems that -- despite claims to the contrary by the FAA, industry and others that the BBJ is not an airliner and not involved in scheduled operations -- the locals were not convinced. The end result was late January's Congressional approval of language sponsored by U.S. Representative Steve Rothman (D-NJ) effectively preventing the FAA from overriding a locally imposed ban on aircraft weighing more than 100,000 lbs. The BBJ's unmodified maximum gross takeoff weight is 171,000 lbs. and, despite various workarounds that have been proposed from time to time, the 69-odd BBJs in service won't be operating at TEB anytime soon. More...

In addition to the immediate effect -- banning the BBJ from one of business aviation's most popular airports -- the new federal law will act to supersede a policy statement the FAA proposed on July 1, 2003, before it even goes into effect. The proposed policy sought to allow operations of aircraft heavier than an airport's local pavement-based restrictions in limited circumstances. In that proposed policy, the FAA basically noted that restrictions based on the ability of runway, taxiway and ramp pavement to support heavy aircraft without damage are based on regular use of the airport's facilities. Instead, said the proposed policy, incidental use of the airport by aircraft exceeding pavement-based weight restrictions would be allowed. That proposed policy statement also noted that, "[i]f there is no showing of need to protect pavement life, or the limit on airport use appears motivated by interest in mitigating noise without going through processes that exist for such restrictions, an attempt to limit aircraft by weight will be considered unreasonable." In other words, when a weight-based restriction is motivated by other than concerns for the life of the airport's pavement, the FAA would consider them inappropriate. More...

The bottom line, for now, is that you can't bring a BBJ -- or a heavier aircraft -- into TEB. Whether the political pendulum will swing back in the direction of reversing or diluting this ban is something else again. One thing for sure, however, is that Congress' recent action to approve Rep. Rothman's amendment will further erode the FAA's ability to establish national standards for airports and reasonable, rational access to them. These combine with the growing plethora of state and local laws designed regulating aviation operations and aviation security to make business aviation more complicated, more costly and more challenging than ever before. The state and local efforts to regulate aviation also make the FAA even less relevant than it has become in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. And there's no end in sight. More...

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Buying and owning an aircraft is anything but an inexpensive proposition, even if its use is strictly for business and therefore, totally deductible. But the benefits from aircraft ownership accruing to a company as a result of its employees' increased productivity, privacy and security -- especially in recent years, as airline services to business travelers decline -- has resulted in a recent resurgence in sales of new and used business aircraft of all shapes and sizes. For many of the same reasons, fractional aircraft ownership was invented and now thrives. As one result, the position in which the business and charter aviation industry finds itself today is in sharp contrast to the late 1980s and early 1990s, when "doldrums" barely described its condition. What has changed since then? Well, in addition to the product liability reforms called for in the General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1996, more favorable tax laws have gradually made it onto the books since 1986, when a number of "reforms" began to slowly erode the advantages of owning and operating an aircraft. Among them was elimination of the investment tax credit. Most recently and in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the federal government enacted tax laws designed to spur investment and to jump-start an economy reeling from uncertainty, among other ills. More...

Since then, one of the most-used tax benefits is the so-called "bonus depreciation" incentive that helps a taxpayer recover investment costs more quickly than before. That tax provision was enacted by the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 last May and allows companies to depreciate an additional 50 percent of their new equipment in the first year of ownership. In order to qualify for the incentive, equipment must be purchased and placed in service before Jan. 1, 2005. According to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) it works. GAMA tells anyone who will listen that sales are up 43 percent in the first three months since bonus depreciation was increased to 50 percent and says that a recent survey of aircraft purchasers revealed that bonus depreciation is a deciding factor in a large percentage of sales. According to GAMA, 14 percent of survey participants chose to buy now rather than later, 5 percent opted to buy new rather than used aircraft and 3 percent bought a more expensive model of aircraft. Despite the seeming insignificant percentages cited by GAMA, the association last week said, to no one's great surprise, that an extension of bonus depreciation was needed, beyond the current Jan. 1, 2005, expiration date. More...

Never missing an opportunity to jump on a good thing, industry groups have been actively marketing seminars, training sessions and other informational products designed to help business and charter aircraft operators deal with tax-related issues. Most recently, the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) announced it is offering a special tax seminar specifically geared toward Part 135 air charter operators. The Tax Seminar for Air Charter Operators is designed to provide answers to some of the most common tax-related issues faced by the charter industry. The one-day seminar will take place on Monday, May 17, 2004, in conjunction with the association's annual convention in Las Vegas, Nev. More...

A pair of Scheydens will be given away every other week to a lucky AVweb winner, a retail value up to $395! The unique flip-up design has become the choice of pilots who demand quality and function in every aspect of aviation. Handmade titanium frames, quality lenses, a Rosewood case, plush micro fiber bag and cloth are standard equipment on all styles. For more information (and to register to win), go to http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/scheyden/biz.

The FAA on Feb. 5 granted Honeywell the certification papers for the company's Runway Awareness and Advisory System (RAAS), a new safety system aimed at reducing aircraft accidents on airport surfaces. Honeywell's RAAS is a software solution grafted onto its Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS), currently deployed on over 20,000 aircraft, and provides ten aural advisories to pilots. These advisories include alerting the crew when:

  • The airplane is approaching a runway – either on the ground or from the air
  • The airplane has entered and is aligned with a runway
  • The runway is not long enough for the particular aircraft
  • The distance remaining to the end of the runway as the aircraft is landing or during a rejected takeoff
  • A takeoff is begun from a taxiway
  • When an aircraft has been immobile on a runway for an extended time.

On Jan. 20, 1964, the original Beechcraft King Air Model 90 lifted off from Beech Field in Wichita. Now, 40 years later, parent Raytheon Aircraft is preparing to commemorate the lineage with a special, 40th anniversary edition. That aircraft, a King Air 350 -- serial number FL 400, registered as N40TH -- will receive a special paint scheme and interior treatment. The company is also creating a special Web site -- address pending -- for the anniversary. That Web site will feature owners' stories and King Air facts and photos. The company also is asking King Air owners and pilots -- both civil and military -- to send in their unique experiences and photographs for publication to a special e-mail address. More...

The latest edition of this real-time flight-tracking display of all IFR aircraft in-flight includes enhanced tracking of individual flights; surface overlays; terrain and elevation maps; and full screen mode for a larger picture on your PC. To subscribe at the AVweb member rate of just $9.95 a month, go to http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/flightexplorer/biz.

Cessna Aircraft Company recently announced its 2003 production results. The numbers include some 842 new aircraft delivered, $2.3 billion in sales revenue and a year-end order backlog of $4.4 billion. Of the 842 airframes delivered, 197 were Citations, 57 were Caravans and 588 were single-engine pistons. Lost in those numbers is that Cessna also delivered its 4,000th Citation since production began. Said Cessna President and CEO Jack J. Pelton, "We expected 2003 to be a challenging year and it was. In spite of the adverse 2003 economic conditions, the Cessna team showed tremendous flexibility in responding to the necessary reduction in production schedules. Our cost structure has been adjusted by implementing a number of efficiency improvements in our manufacturing processes. We can be proud of our 2003 accomplishments, and are confident that our planned 2004 delivery schedule is stable." More...

Bombardier Aerospace last month followed the delivery of its first Challenger 300 super mid-size bizjet by placing five -- count 'em -- copies of its new Learjet 40 light business jets into service. Two Learjet 40s were delivered to U.S.-based traditional operators, two entered service with Bombardier's Flexjet fractional ownership program and one aircraft was delivered to a traditional operator based in Germany. The newest Learjet is certified to FL510 and, with full fuel and a maximum payload, it can fly up to 1,762 nm. Bombardier introduced the Learjet 40 at the 2002 Farnborough Air Show. More...

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Late last month, a truckload of aircraft parts was delivered to Bell Helicopter’s Flight Research Center at the Arlington (Tex.) Municipal Airport. Normally, such an event would simply mean that testing of a new or improved model could continue. But this time, the truck held the remains of the Bell XV-3, the world’s first successful tiltrotor aircraft. Over the next two years Bell employees and volunteers will restore the aircraft to museum-quality display condition. Built by Bell in 1954 in Fort Worth under a joint Army/Air Force contract, the XV-3 successfully demonstrated the concept that by rotating its outboard prop-rotors up or down, the aircraft could take off and land vertically like a traditional helicopter as well as fly with the high speed and range of a fixed-wing airplane. More...

Continuing an already-close relationship, Raytheon Aircraft and NetJets Inc. announced they have signed a 10-year maintenance contract covering the fractional operator's Hawker 1000, Hawker 800XP and Hawker 400XP business jets. The contract, which includes options beyond its initial 10 years, will provide NetJets with full maintenance for the three aircraft types. Also, NetJets added two more Hawker 800XPs to an order it placed in December, bringing the order's total value to more than $385 million. More...

OurPLANE Fractional Aircraft Ownership is the #1 world leader in offering brand-new Cessna, Cirrus, and Raytheon aircraft at a fraction of the cost of sole aircraft ownership. No hassles, no responsibilities with these brand-new aircraft — including the glass-cockpit Cirrus SR22 and Cessna 182T. Lowest-cost aircraft ownership — GUARANTEED! Locations throughout California, Texas, New York, and Connecticut. Call (877) 775-2631 and mention this AVflash, or go online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/ourplane/biz.

Cessna Aircraft Company announced it promoted David Brant to become senior vice president, Product Engineering. Brant's responsibilities will include new aircraft creation, development, design, interiors, flight test and certification, plus product improvements for all aircraft in production and in service. Brant will report to Cessna's President and CEO Jack J. Pelton and serve as a member of Cessna’s Senior Leadership Team. More...

In addition to receiving the original XV-3 tiltrotor for restoration, Textron's Bell Helicopter unit last month announced completing a certification program that increases the internal gross weight limit for the 206B to 3,350 pounds, an increase of 150 pounds. Takeoff at internal gross weight above 3,200 pounds will require that airspeed is limited to 78 KIAS until a corresponding amount of fuel is consumed. The useful load increase will enable the JetRanger to be more competitive in the light helicopter market, according to the company. More...

AirPower Software offers multiple software editions that create instant budgets by manipulating your preloaded information to address your particular usage amounts and/or costs. Changes can be made to an individual preloaded figure or across the entire layout as needed. In addition to the preloaded databases of aircraft, the Budget Analyzer also lets you create your own individualized budget via the "My Aircraft" selection. This allows you to input operating numbers for any type of aircraft. There are six editions: Lite (no aircraft databases included); Piston; Turbo Prop; Helicopter; Jet; and Full (which includes all four aircraft databases). Instant downloads are available on all software products. For complete information, go to http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/airpower/biz.

Looking for the latest information on the state of the general and business aviation industry? Need to know what the future may hold for your company's private aviation investment? Look no further than the General Aviation Manufacturers Association's (GAMA) Annual Industry Review & 2004 Market Outlook. This year's event is set for today, Wednesday, February 11, well past the deadline for this installment of AVweb's Business Aviation NewsWire. However, GAMA's Web site will include electronic versions of the association's reports and presentations. Look for more on what GAMA has to say in two weeks. More...

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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

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Today's issue written by Joseph E. (Jeb) Burnside:
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