AVwebBiz - Volume 9, Number 20

May 25, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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NTSB: "Something Happened in That Cockpit" back to top 
 
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"Pilot Unresponsiveness" Cited In Stevens Crash

The NTSB says it can't be sure, but it seems likely that something bad happened to the pilot of the turbine Otter that crashed in Alaska last Aug. 9, killing Sen. Ted Stevens and four others. It's not often that NTSB investigators fail to agree on the probable cause of an accident, but on Tuesday the board wrapped up its investigation of the crash by concluding that the evidence available is inadequate to determine what really happened. The facts available fail to support any single theory above others, NTSB chairman Deborah Hersmann said. "We believe something happened in that cockpit," she told reporters after the meeting. The pilot, Theron "Terry" Smith, had been grounded for two years after a stroke, but had regained his certificate in 2008. The board said Smith, who died in the crash, may have suffered another stroke or seizure in the last moments of the flight, or might have been stressed by the recent death of his son-in-law. A front-seat passenger was asleep at the time of the crash, and the three other survivors could not recall anything unusual that might explain what happened.

The board couldn't find any mechanical failure to explain why the Otter flew into a mountain, and the weather was not especially bad. They concluded that the crash was due to "the pilot's temporary unresponsiveness for reasons that could not be established from the available information." The board said they would have had a better chance at finding a cause if the airplane was equipped with a cockpit recorder system that could capture audio, images, and parametric data. Their report also recommends that the FAA should review its procedures for re-issuing medical certificates after a stroke, and says AOPA should work to educate pilots of Part 91 operations about "the benefits of notifying passengers about the location and operation of survival and emergency communication equipment on board their airplanes." A synopsis of the board's findings has been posted online.

 
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Don't Count the D-Jet Out, Says Diamond back to top 
 
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D-Jet Financing Alternatives Explored

Diamond Aircraft President Peter Maurer says the company isn't ruling out anything, including Chinese investment, to get the D-Jet to market. As AVweb reported last week, the Canadian government turned down Diamond's $35 million loan application to finish the development program. In a podcast interview with AVweb, Maurer said the government loan, despite the dire scenarios portrayed by the Ontario media, was a "long shot" and the company has been working on other potential funding solutions throughout the politically charged talks with the government. Although Chinese involvement is a possibility, it's not the only one and Maurer said Diamond didn't start that discussion. "We've never talked about it. We've been asked about it a lot, though," he said.

Maurer noted Diamond has a long history of working with the Chinese and is involved in a joint venture to build diesel-powered DA40s in the country. Regardless of how the D-Jet is funded, the company and the private investors who have poured $120 million into the project have no intention of walking away from it. He said that when it comes to market, it could have the personal jet market virtually to itself, which is a far different scenario from five years ago when the project was launched and the light jet market was viewed as the next big thing. Diamond has about 200 firm orders for the D-Jet.

Podcast: Diamond Has Other Investment Ideas

File Size 6.3 MB / Running Time 6:50

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Although the failed application for $35 million from the Canadian government was portrayed in some circles as a doomsday blow to Diamond Aircraft and the D-Jet program, Diamond President Peter Maurer says there are other funding options in the works. And yes, he told AVweb's Russ Niles, China may be part of the mix.

This podcast is brought to you by Bose Corporation.

Click here to listen. (6.3 MB, 6:50)

 
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Business Knows No Boundaries back to top 
 

Hawker Beechcraft Eyes China

Hawker Beechcraft is the latest to announce it's considering building aircraft in China. CEO Bill Boisture told Bloomberg the company has been negotiating with Chinese officials about a technology transfer in exchange for greater access to the Chinese market, which is expected to grow rapidly with the relaxation of airspace regulations. Hawker Beech could potentially get 20 percent of its future business from China, Boisture said.

He said talks now revolve around a possible joint venture that will start with parts manufacturing and ultimately final assembly of aircraft in China. "I've been there three times since the first of the year and there are serious discussions about potential joint ventures," Boisture said. Among the considerations for a Chinese business jet is making it easier to fly, he said. The company is already working with Rockwell Collins, Honeywell and Garmin to develop new panels. "We have to pay attention to design and simplification of the product," he said. "You're going to see flat-screen displays and intuitive icons to get across the language barrier."

Nigeria Lucrative For Bizjet Companies

As the business jet industry expands geographically, if not economically, companies are finding well-heeled customers all over the world and oil-rich Nigeria is among the newest targets for the well-traveled sales leaders of the major airframers. According to the Daily Independent at least six high-end business jets have been sold to Nigerian nationals in the last year. The new airplane owners, all of them billionaires, took delivery, collectively, of about $225 million worth of aircraft.

At least two of the sales went to Bombardier, with industrialists buying Global Express XRS aircraft, Bombardier's current top-of-the-line model. A religious leader bought a Gulfstream V. The newspaper wasn't able to identify the owners of the three other aircraft but said sources pegged their value at a minimum of $35 million each. The aircraft are based at Lagos's Murtala Muhammed Airport.

 
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News Briefs back to top 
 

Jury Clears Cirrus In Lidle Crash

Cirrus Aircraft was not at fault in the accident that killed Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle and instructor Tyler Stanger in 2006, a New York court ruled on Tuesday. A six-person jury decided the wrongful-death suit after a four-week trial and three hours of deliberation. "We're gratified that the jury reached a decision that confirmed what the National Transportation Safety Board found and what we have always believed: the SR20 did not cause this accident," said Bill King, Cirrus vice president of business administration, shortly after the verdict was announced. "We very much appreciate the hard work of the jury and the court in this matter. Our hearts are with the Lidle and Stanger families who are still grieving." Attorneys had asked the court to award $40 million to Lidle's survivors and $3.5 million to Stanger's family, alleging that jammed flight controls caused the accident.

Despite the jury's decision, however, the matter may not be settled. Hunter Shkolnik, the lawyer for the families, has asked the court to set aside the jury's finding, according to The Associated Press. Jurors were not allowed to hear testimony that would have supported claims that the airplane had mechanical problems, Shkolnik said. Lidle and Stanger were killed when they tried to complete a 180-degree turn along the East River in New York, and hit the side of a building.

WSJ Reveals 'Hidden World' Of BizJets

In a page-one story published over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal reported on the use of private jets as documented by FAA flight records obtained via Freedom of Information Act requests. The FAA released data from 2007 through 2010, including details of privately operated flights that are protected under the BARR program (Blocked Aircraft Registration Request). Once reporters had aircraft registration numbers, they identified owners via the FAA's online database. About one-third of the private-jet trips were to resort destinations such as Aspen and Palm Beach, the Journal said. The National Business Aviation Association wrote in a letter to the Journal that companies need to block their flight data for competitive and security reasons.

The Journal published all of the FAA data online, listing the details of jet trips taken by celebrities such as John Travolta, Oprah Winfrey, and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. The FAA has recently proposed to limit the BARR program to those operators who claim a "valid security concern." In his letter to the Journal, NBAA President Ed Bolen wrote: "What is most startling about the proposed rollback of these privacy rights is that no one has even identified the interest -- other than prurient voyeurism -- that the invasion of privacy advances. What's next? Under the DOT's logic, the government could next release the records on drivers' E-Z pass use on highways, passenger manifests for airline flights, individuals' cell-phone calling traffic, and consumers' credit card use." NBAA and other aviation advocacy groups are lobbying Congress to preserve the BARR program in its present form. The House version of the pending FAA reauthorization bill includes a measure that would preserve BARR, but it still needs to be reconciled with the Senate version, which lacks the BARR provision, before it can become law.

 
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Opinion & Commentary back to top 
 

AVweb Insider Blog: Dropping the Third Class Medical — Good Idea?

Dropping the Third Class medical is an idea whose time may have come, says Paul Bertorelli — but in his latest post to the AVweb Insider blog he reminds us that it will have significant consequences for the LSA market.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Sky King, Where Are You?

International Learn to Fly Day reaches out to the general population and provides plenty of information on aviation — but inspiration is a lot harder to come by. On the AVweb Insider blog, Mary Grady wonders what fills the adventure-shaped hole in the heart of today's prospective pilots.

Read more and join the conversation.

 
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Who's Where back to top 
 

Davis to TAC Air

Matt Davis

Matt Davis is TAC Air's new Director of Business Development. He was previously VP of aviation marketing for FlightAware.


Ramsay Joins Columbia Aircraft Sales

Gordon Ramsay

Gordon Ramsay has been appointed the Piper Aircraft program manager for the Northeast for Columbia Aircraft Sales. He has extensive experience in aircraft sales.


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.

 
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AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 
 

Video: 100 Years of Naval Aviation — Erik Hildebrandt's 'Fly Navy'

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

No one does aviation quite like the Navy, and carriers are only half of the story. In this vodcast, author/photographer Erik Hildebrandt talks about his experiences in shooting and compiling an impressive history of a century of naval aviation.

Related Content:

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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: Simulator Training for GA with 'IFR' Magazine

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

Come ride along on some simulator training in a Cirrus SR22 to see the kinds of things you can do better in the box than in the real world. We'll also give you some tips for getting the most out of your simulator time.

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

 
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 255,000 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.

 
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:

Publisher
Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Editor-in-Chief
Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

Webmaster
Scott Simmons

Contributors
Jeff van West

Click here to send a letter to the editor. (Please let us know if your letter is not intended for publication.)

Comments or questions about the news should be sent here.

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