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The Top Headlines From AVweb's Expanded
Business News Coverage At AVweb's
When is a Boeing 737 not a Boeing 737? When its a Boeing Business
Jet (BBJ), of course. Boeings 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.
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...
WHO'S REALLY IN CHARGE?
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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BUSINESS AIRCRAFT OWNERSHIP LESS TAXING?
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.
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...
INDUSTRY GEARS UP "HOW-TO" SESSIONS
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.
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KICKS RAAS (OUT THE DOOR)
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
KING AIR TURNS 40
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.
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."
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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XV-3 TILTROTOR RETURNS HOME
Late last month, a truckload of aircraft parts was delivered to Bell
Helicopters 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 worlds 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.
NETJETS GET CLOSER
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
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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 Cessnas
Senior Leadership Team. More...
UPS JET RANGER USEFUL LOAD
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...
CALCULATE OPERATING COSTS WITH THE INTERACTIVE AIRCRAFT
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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
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