AVwebBiz - Volume 9, Number 23

June 15, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Diamond Secures D-JET Financing

Diamond Aircraft is recalling workers and rapidly accelerating its D-JET personal jet program thanks to an investment from an unnamed source. The money will also enable resumption of the flight test program and the construction of one more test aircraft as the company works toward certification. The amount of the investment was not immediately disclosed but Diamond was turned down by the Canadian government for a $35 million loan that would have formed a share of the $90 million needed to finish the project. While the D-JET was being developed exclusively by Diamond's London, Ontario facility, that has changed with the recent announcement.

Diamond says that now that its plant in Austria has finished some piston-engine aircraft projects, it will lend engineering and technical support to the D-JET program to help get the aircraft into production as quickly as possible. Diamond lost some of its D-JET workers to other companies when it was forced to lay them off earlier this year and the company also worried about its position holders getting nervous. "We especially wish to thank our customers and business partners for their continued loyalty," the company said. "This investment marks a turning point and we are most enthusiastic about our opportunity to refocus on completion of the D-JET."

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Business and Government back to top 

FAA Offers Details On BARR Changes

Aircraft operators who want to block their registration data from being displayed to the public in real-time flight-tracking websites must provide the FAA with documentation showing more than a "speculative or abstract fear," the FAA told NBAA this week. "A generalized, non-specific security concern is unlikely to be found valid," the FAA wrote, in response to questions from NBAA about how operators can document a "certified security concern" to block their aircraft information. Previously, the FAA allowed operators to opt out of the public information display via the Block Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) program. On June 3, the FAA said it would change that policy, effective in 30 days.

"NBAA is opposed to the government's plan to dismantle the BARR program and we intend to challenge it in court and on Capitol Hill," NBAA President Ed Bolen said this week. "Still, aircraft operators have fundamental questions about how to comply with the FAA's new BARR criteria, in the event that we are unable to prevent the FAA's plan from taking effect." Barry Davis, of the FAA System Operations Service Unit, told NBAA there is no form or prescribed format to request an opt-out under the new policy. One way to qualify is to show that someone who flies on the aircraft is protected under a Treasury Department security program. In all cases, the opt-out request will be granted for no more than 12 months, Davis said.

Canada To Outlaw Air Canada Strike

The Canadian government says it will pass a law ending a strike by Air Canada ticket agents if the airline and its employees can't reach a contract settlement. The 4,500 members of the Canadian Autoworkers Union walked off the job at kiosks and call centers at midnight Tuesday and within 12 hours, the government had issued the ultimatum. "They've got a duty to Canadians to get a deal done, and when they can't get a deal done and it ends up having an impact either on Canadians in general or on the economy, then that's the role of the government and we've clearly stated our intention," Labour Minister Lisa Raitt told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. However, union leaders say the unprecedented speed with which the government intervened is massive interference in the bargaining process and smacks of "collusion."

The CAW has been threatening to strike for weeks and the main issue is one that is rippling through much of the aviation industry. Air Canada wants to change its employee pension plans to defined contribution plans. The airline says it can't afford the defined payment plans that are now in force. CAW President Ken Lewenza called the move by the government "clear interference with the right to free collective bargaining" and suggested it might delay rather than speed up a negotiated settlement. There have been some service disruptions and slowdowns at Canadian airports but the airline has maintained a full schedule and expects to continue to do so.

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If It's Summer, Then It Must Be Paris back to top 

Airbus To Dominate Paris Air Show

Boeing executives say they'll let Airbus take center stage on its home turf at next week's Paris Air Show although some industry watchers say Boeing will have to respond somehow to its arch rival's aggressive move against its bread-and-butter 737. With a lot of winking and nudging, Airbus has apparently let it be known that it expects to land a record number of orders for its re-engined A320 single-aisle airliner. Dubbed the A320neo, the aircraft will be considerably more fuel efficient than the latest 737s. Boeing is now weighing whether to make expensive mods to the existing airframe or start with clean sheet and Boeing CEO James McNerney Jr. has said no such announcement will be made in Paris. Centerpiece of the Boeing display will be the new 747-8. Boeing is also cutting back its defense presence at the big show. Meanwhile, the rest of the industry will be looking for concrete signs of a recovery as showgoers stroll the ramps at Le Bourget.

Despite Boeing's coyness, Paris is a must-attend show for all the major planemakers but while it's been a platform for new aircraft introductions and to brag about order books in the past, there's not likely to be much in the way of that kind of news next week. However, shows that were predicted to be slow have surprised us before and we'll be on the lookout for the top news from Paris.

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News Briefs back to top 

Dassault Close To Falcon 7X Trim Fix

Dassault says it has a fix for the runaway trim problem that grounded the fleet of Falcon 7X business jets three weeks ago. The company announced earlier this week it developed a combination software and hardware mod for its flagship aircraft that will address the glitch. It's tested and validated the fix and is now waiting for European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) approval to start implementing it. The approval is said to be imminent.

Last week, Falcon 7X owners were allowed to ferry aircraft to service centers in advance of the fix being approved. Dassault has set up facilities at it factories, service centers and at specially designated retrofit centers in Bordeaux, France and Little Rock, Arkansas. There are 112 Falcon 7Xs flying and owners, including some heads of state, are anxious to get them back in the air. Dassault asked EASA for an order grounding the aircraft May 25 when a crew experienced a pitch trim problem. They were able to get the aircraft under control and land safely.

Alliance To Promote GA Cites Progress

Legislatures in 29 states have passed resolutions in support of aviation, the Alliance for Aviation Across America said this week. The resolutions reflect the efforts of aviation advocates to educate officials about the value of the industry, said Selena Shilad, executive director of the nonprofit group. The Alliance comprises about 5,700 members, including both groups and individuals, and besides lobbying state governments, has been active in Washington in support of the General Aviation Caucus in both the House and Senate. The efforts help to ensure that government officials are informed about GA issues such as avgas availability and the security of the GPS system, members of the group said at a news conference on Tuesday.

"General aviation is such a crucial, yet often under-recognized part of our economy, and I hope that we are finally beginning to help our public to understand how important it is for our nation," Carl Brewer, the mayor of Wichita, Kans., said at the news conference.  "As the 'Air Capital of the World,' we in Wichita know well the tremendous economic impact that general aviation has in our state and across the country.  General aviation drives thousands of jobs and over $7 billion in economic impact here in Kansas alone, and over $1.2 billion jobs annually." The alliance, formed in 2007, aims to support the interests of the general aviation community and ensure that GA services continue to support rural and small communities.

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AVflash Extra! Top Aviation Stories back to top 

Video: B-17 Down, All Escape

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

The Liberty Belle, a B-17 Flying Fortress operated by the Liberty Foundation of Florida, was destroyed by fire after the crew made an emergency landing in a cornfield in Illinois about 10 a.m. Monday morning. All seven people on board escaped without injury, according to the NTSB, but the airplane was a total loss. The B-17 had taken off from Aurora Municipal Airport near Oswego, Ill., and the pilot reported a fire on board shortly after takeoff. Several residents reported seeing the plane flying low with smoke and flames coming from it. "[The pilot] attempted to make a return to the airport, but couldn't make it so he put it down in a cornfield," local fire chief Marty Kunkel told the Beacon News. The field was about three to four miles southeast of the airport, the NTSB said.

The Liberty Belle had been at Aurora to participate in a Salute to Veterans over the weekend. Flights were offered to the public for $430 each over the weekend, but those on board on Monday reportedly were not paying passengers. The airplane had been scheduled to fly at events in Indianapolis, Dayton, and Cincinnati later this month. The World War II-era aircraft was acquired by the Liberty Foundation in 1992 and has been flying since 2004. It had previously been owned by the New England Air Museum in Connecticut. The chief pilot of the Liberty Foundation has posted a statement online about the loss of the aircraft. The NTSB is investigating.

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Goodyear Blimp Catches Fire, Pilot Killed

A Goodyear A-60+ blimp caught fire in Germany on Sunday evening as the pilot tried to land; the three passengers were able to leap to safety, but the pilot was killed. Witnesses said they heard a loud engine noise and smelled fuel as the blimp hovered about six feet above the ground at Reichelsheim Airfield, according to The Sun. The pilot, Mike Nerandzic, 53, of Australia, yelled at the passengers to leap out of the cabin. As they left the aircraft, it shot up into the air about 150 feet and exploded, then crashed into a field where it was consumed by flames, according to online news reports. The passengers were reporters for local news outlets on a photo-taking flight.

The aircraft is one of two owned and operated by Lightship Europe Limited and leased to Goodyear. The second blimp has been withdrawn from service until further notice, the company said in a statement. A former colleague, who declined to be named, told The Telegraph that Nerandzic was a skilled pilot. "He always put other people first," the colleague said. "I don't think he would even have realized he was doing it -- it would have just been instinct. He will be a real loss to our community." The cause of the accident is under investigation. "Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the crew member, and also with our colleagues and the passengers involved with the airship tour in Germany," Goodyear said. The U.S.-based blimps, which are a different model called the GZ-20A, will continue to fly, the company said. The company had recently announced that it will be replacing its famous blimps with zeppelins starting in 2014. The photo is from Germany's BILD video report.

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Who's Where back to top 

Alexandre to Heli-One

Larry Alexandre

Larry Alexandre is the new president of Heli-One, a subsidiary of CHC Helicopters specializing in offshore oil platform work. Alexandre was previously CEO of Sagem Avionics.

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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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: B-17 Down — Not Many Left

This week we learned that the Liberty Belle, a restored B-17 owned by the Liberty Foundation, burned after an off-field landing in Illinois, although everyone escaped alive. Is it just too risky to continue flying these things? Shouldn't we preserve them for posterity? Yes, we should preserve them, says Paul Bertorelli on the AVweb Insider blog — but if they can fly, they should. Leave the museum pieces right where they are. As sad as it is to lose one, it would be even sadder to stop flying these rare treasures while it's possible to do so.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Aviation Biofuels — Continuing Self-Delusion

A recent ASTM conferred technical approval on specs for aviation biofuels. That means we've got a bright new future with these fuels, right? Sure we do, says Paul Bertorelli with an eyeroll in the latest installment of the AVweb Insider. Read his latest blog post for some thoughts on why new-fuel boosters always neglect market (and technical) realities.

Read more and join the conversation.

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

Extreme Low Pass Video

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

Video of an extremely low, low pass is making the rounds on the internet and we thought we'd share. The aircraft appears to be an Argentinean FMA IA 63 Pampa or something similar. It also appears to be flying about three feet off the ground. The picture at right is a screen capture from in-cockpit footage that shows people running out of the way ahead of the jet.

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Don't forget to send us links to any interesting videos you find out there. If you're impressed by it, there's a good chance other AVweb readers will be too. And if we use a video you recommend on AVweb, we'll send out an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you."

Video: Eastman Aviation's CH750 Video Review

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

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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The Top Reporter on Our Crack Staff ... Is You! back to top 

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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:

Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

Scott Simmons

Jeff van West

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