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The Transportation Department's recent decision to dismantle the BARR (Block Aircraft Registration Request) program, which allows
aircraft operators to block identifying data from public flight-tracking systems, now faces a legal challenge from general aviation advocacy groups. NBAA, AOPA, and EAA said on Monday they will seek
an injunction to prevent the DOT decision from taking effect and will ask the courts to invalidate the new policy altogether. "The DOT ... appears to have simply ignored the thousands of individuals
and companies that voiced their strong and principled opposition to this change," said NBAA President Ed Bolen.
Bolen said the BARR decision is "an alarming development" with implications that extend well beyond aviation. "This is the first time an agency has claimed the public's interest in 'open
government' requires public dissemination to anyone with an Internet connection of wholly personal and private information simply because it happens to be in the government's possession." Bolen said
BARR retains widespread support from both Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate. "Unfortunately, the Administration's sudden, unilateral decision to curtail the program forces us to look
to the courts for help in preserving the privacy, competitiveness and security of Americans and American companies while Congress reviews the program," Bolen said.
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Business aircraft traffic is now within 10 percent of the April 2008 peak and while that's good news for some parts of the industry, the manufacturing side is still in the doldrums in many sectors.
USA Today quoted JSSI CEO Lou Seno as saying flight hours took a big
jump in the first quarter of the year. He said the 1,300 customers for whom JSSI manages aircraft, on average, flew 11.4 percent more hours and the trend continued into April, which saw a 7-percent
increase over March. "We are not back to late '07, early '08 levels, but we're really off the bottom of where we were," says Lou Seno, president and CEO of JSSI. "In the fall of 2008, following the
decline of the financial markets flying literally fell off the charts, and because of the economy and everything else, it has been slow to recover. But the recovery we're seeing has been
encouraging." While bizjet owners are using their aircraft more, most are still not in a buying mood.
The latest report from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association showed business jets were among the weakest categories for deliveries in the first quarter compared to 2010, which was hardly a
banner year. Most analysts believe the manufacturers have another tough year ahead of them before there's enough confidence among business leaders to start updating their equipment and the glut of
used aircraft currently on the market gets back to normal. "It appears that people are getting back to doing business and out using their airplanes for the purpose which (they're) meant to be
used," Seno said. "For guys who have to go out and make it happen, the only way to do it is in a corporate airplane, where you can get in and make five stops in one day."
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It's been a good week for Bombardier's CSeries program with a few new orders and a more positive outlook for the potentially game-changing design. An unnamed airline took three 110-seat versions of
the ultra-efficient single-aisle aircraft and options for three more. The $350 million deal, if the options are exercised, is small in airline terms but it comes on the eve of the Paris Air Show and
some pundits are suggesting this sale and last week's 10-plane order from Sweden's Braathens are teasers before a blockbuster announcement at the big show. Regardless, the orders are the first in 15
months for the CSeries and Bombardier's arch rival in just about everything, Embraer, is watching from the sidelines as it assesses the market potential for single-aisle jets in an increasingly
Actually, Embraer says it's really only interested in what Boeing will do before it decides whether to enter the fray. Embraer, which already produces regional airliners in the 50-100-seat range,
is considering a 150-seat aircraft that would put it in direct competition with whatever the 737 will become and Airbus's refreshed and re-engined A320. That's not to mention China and Russia's
entries to the market. However, it's Boeing's plans that have Embraer on the fence and the company says it won't decide what it will do until Boeing decides whether to upgrade the 737 or build a
single-aisle version of the 787. "We plan to wait to see what Boeing decides," Paulo Cesar de Souza e Silva, president of Embraer's commercial aviation unit, told Bloomberg. "We believe it's important
to have every piece of information about our competitors for us to make a sound decision." If they build it, Embraer intends to make it even more efficient than the offerings now being built or
proposed. An open rotor engine is a possibility.
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Aviation advocates working with the TSA last year made progress in lessening the impact of TFRs on Hawaii's airport businesses
during a presidential visit, and now six GA groups are asking the TSA to loosen its grip nationwide. In a letter (PDF) to TSA Administrator John Pistole, the groups ask for procedures that would allow general aviation operations at near-normal levels while still addressing the security
measures necessary to protect the president. Plans already in place at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport allow GA aircraft to share the airspace with the president, the groups said, and those
procedures could be implemented elsewhere.
The impact of TFRs as they are currently imposed is not inconsequential. "For instance, a fixed base operator at Chicago's Midway Airport loses an average of $60,000 in revenue daily when the
president visits the Chicago area," says the letter. "Also, helicopter air tour operators In Hawaii and Las Vegas experience losses in excess of $150,000 during each presidential visit." Presidential
TFRs typically stop or severely limit GA operations at airports within a 30-nm radius of the president's location, causing serious financial consequences for GA operators while allowing commercial
airline flights to continue. The letter was signed by the leaders of NBAA, AOPA, EAA, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Helicopter Association International and the National Air
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Hawker Beechcraft says it's about halfway to certification of the Hawker 200 light business jet it unveiled last October at the
National Business Aviation Association convention in Atlanta. Executive Vice President Shawn Vick said the second preproduction 200 had its first flight last week and is now taking part in the
certification flight testing. There are also two modified Beech Premier jets. The 200 is an updated version of the Premier 1A and was originally named the Premier 2. Although they look the same on the
outside, the systems changes and performance upgrades make it virtually a new aircraft.
The 200 has Williams FJ44-3AP engines that give it a 20-percent range boost (up to 1,500 nm with four pax) and a cruise speed of up to 473 knots. It will, of course, sport a full glass cockpit with
all the bells and whistles and it will include a 10-year warranty on the composite fuselage. Cost is about $7.5 million. Vick said there will be a new full-scale mockup of the fuselage making the show
rounds this year to gauge customer response to the layout and choice of materials.
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One reason so many people die in stall-related accidents may be that we don't have good training doctrine to detect and respond to loss of power incidents on takeoffs. And we persist in the notion
that turning back to the runway is never a good idea. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli offers a different viewpoint.
Paul Bertorelli's been looking at the numbers from a single year of GA accident fatalities and he shares his findings on the AVweb Insider blog. When you look at the numbers,
says Paul, it's not easy to see any low-hanging fruit because there isn't any. Stall-related accidents still kill the most pilots every year, but plain, unimaginative loss of control is a close
second. And don't even get him started on the bad judgment calls.
Fly More for Less
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There are only a few LSAs that qualify for true STOL status, and Eastman's CH750 is one of them. With full-span flaperons and leading-edge slats, it won't win any beauty contests, but
it could excel at some short landing contests. In this video, Aviation Consumer editor Paul Bertorelli takes a spin with Eastman's Gary Webster.
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