April 27, 2004
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
This issue of AVweb's Business AVflash is brought to you by Global Aviation, SA
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It's been anything but a dull month at the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA). As AVweb reported in the last edition of Business AVflash , President and CEO Shelley Longmuir departed her position on April 1 after only nine months on the job. The association's press release about Longmuir was accompanied by news that two longtime staffers, Bob Blouin and Cassandra Bosco, would remain at the association, despite their announced resignations. That same April 1 press release also announced the departure of Bob Warren, executive vice president and COO, who was hired by Longmuir, and the appointment of NBAA Chairman Donald E. Baldwin as interim president and CEO. A search committee, headed by NBAA Vice Chairman Ken Emerick, was formed to begin work on identifying a new president and CEO. All of which seemed to be the end of the beginning for the NBAA's transition to a new president. Indeed, it all seemed to be over except for the shouting. What no one knew at the time was how long the shouting would continue.
The shouting began in the form of an April 15 letter from Warren to the NBAA's members in which he described the association's board of directors' decision to terminate Longmuir's employment -- which he said began with a mandate to be a "change agent" -- as a return to "business as usual" and "foreclosing NBAA from advancing a meaningful political agenda." In addition to describing the NBAA's keystone aviation security policy initiative -- the Transportation Security Administration Access Certificate, or TSAAC -- as "limited" and "inadequate," Warren went on to raise a series of what he called "troubling management issues," including "imprudent financial management, inappropriate staff travel [and] ... excess staff and Board expenditures," among other criticisms. His letter to the NBAA's members concluded by saying that the association's board of directors "went the wrong way in causing someone with [Longmuir's] credentials to leave. They need to hear from you loud and clear to get back on the right course." Perhaps in response to Warrens challenge -- perhaps in helping to ensure that the lines of communication between the organization and its members remained open -- the NBAA has established a Web page dedicated to obtaining from its members suggestions on its next president.
Normally, Warrens letter to NBAA members would be enough for anyone -- and way too much for others. However, he didnt stop there, getting even more "airtime" via an article published by the National Journal, a weekly magazine for policy wonks focused on the happenings inside the Washington, D.C., Beltway. That article, which described Capitol Hill's view of the NBAA as "a sleepy organization," included an interview with Warren in which he took things even further. According to the National Journal, Warren maintains that the NBAA's board of directors "said they wanted change, but at the end of the day, they didn't -- because they came to understand that changes were actually going to be made." The article continued by saying "Longmuir's predecessor as president, Jack Olcott, had a mostly hands-off management style. According to Warren, the NBAA board, not Olcott, directly managed the staff and set the group's direction. 'The board liked running the organization,' Warren said." For her part, Longmuir is staying out of these trenches, telling the National Journal that she "has turned a new page" and has not commented publicly -- since her own April 1 statement, anyway -- on either her departure from the NBAA or on the various letters floating around.
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While that was apparently all Warren had to add -- at least until we check e-mail again -- the NBAA had yet to formally respond. That changed on April 16, when association Chairman Don Baldwin wrote a letter to the membership. It changed again two days later when former NBAA President Jack Olcott wrote his own letter. Baldwins letter started out, in part, by noting that, "Until now, the Board had tried to remain generous in its comments regarding the separation. However, we must now set the record straight." The Baldwin letter went on to say that Warrens "version of events contains wholesale misrepresentations of role, fact and emphasis." Specifically, according to Baldwin, "Ms. Longmuir and Mr. Warren failed to follow through on a whole host of issues they raised, despite receiving the Board's complete approval and repeated urging to implement approved changes over many months." Perhaps in response to Warrens charges -- perhaps by coincidence -- Baldwins letter also announced the hiring of a new director of security and said that the NBAA had "instituted improvements in our financial controls, including changing investment counsel."
But the NBAA didnt stop there. Perhaps the association figured that, if Warren got two bites at the apple -- his letter and his interview -- so should the association. So, in further response, Olcott sent his own letter to NBAA members, referencing both the Warren letter that started it all as well as the National Journal article. Olcotts letter on April 18 -- Olcott retired from the NBAA in 2003, as Longmuir came aboard, and now is president of his own firm, General Aero Company Inc. -- was a much more detailed refutation of Warrens accusations than Baldwin had written -- or could have written. Instead, Olcott -- from his perspective as Longmuirs predecessor and, perhaps, from his need to perfect and protect his own legacy as the NBAAs prez -- responded to many of the opinions in Warrens letter and interview with opinions of his own. Those included his belief that "'business as usual' at NBAA was characterized by a high level of Staff productivity." Olcott closed his letter, in part, by noting that Warren had been a "key member of an Office of the President that never seemed to find its stride."
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Since the April 18 Olcott letter, things have been much quieter on the NBAA front. Although the past few weeks events have clearly put a strain on things, no new eruptions have been noticed, either at the NBAA or from among its recent departures. One can almost hear the sigh of relief -- kind of like a King Air winding down at the end of a long day -- from among business aviations faithful that this latest chapter of the NBAAs history seems to be behind it. Sticking the fork in this episode -- especially when its trying to find a new president -- probably cant come too soon for the associations board, staff and members. In the meantime, the NBAA maintains its search for a new president and continues to solicit ideas, names and other input from its members. The content of that input -- as well as its quality and quantity -- remain internal to the association: Ken Emerick, the board member responsible for collecting it, was not available when AVweb spoke with NBAA staff earlier in the week. Not surprisingly, there are no new rumors on whom the NBAAs next leader will be.
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Meanwhile, the rest of the industry went about its business. Bombardier hooked up with CAMP Systems in a move designed to allow CAMP to assume responsibility for providing maintenance-tracking services for Bombardier business jets. CAMP will provide service for more than 700 Bombardier business aircraft currently enrolled in Bombardiers in-house Computer Integrated Maintenance Management System (CIMMS); the company will retain Bombardier teams of CIMMS specialists in Wichita and Montréal, and will offer extensive training seminars at locations worldwide to help familiarize customers and operators with its maintenance-tracking systems. Bombardier developed CIMMS in 1994 as an extensive maintenance programming and inventory record-tracking service for all Bombardier-built business jets. "Were confident that we will offer the high level of technical and product expertise that customers have come to expect from Bombardier Aerospace," said Ken Grey, president of CAMP Systems. CAMP has been providing computerized maintenance tracking services for the business aviation market for over 35 years.
Its not the first of its type to enter service, but its the first to go to a private operator. "It" is a new Bombardier Challenger 300 bizjet, delivered to Dean Phillips Inc. on April 15, and is the fifth Challenger 300 to enter into service to date. The first four examples have been operating since January with Bombardiers Flexjet fractional ownership program. Powered by two new Honeywell HTF7000 high-bypass turbofan engines, the Bombardier Challenger 300 delivers a top speed of Mach 0.82 and a maximum nonstop range of 3,100 nm, enabling eight passengers to cross the United States in just five hours. According to Bombardier, Dean Phillips and his spouse, Dee, are both experienced Learjet pilots, with type ratings on the Bombardier Learjet 31A, Learjet 45 and the Learjet 60. They also recently graduated from the Bombardier Challenger 300 pilot training program at Bombardiers training center in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas. "Weve completed training and now we have the aircraft -- I just cant wait to fly this new jet," offered Mr. Phillips, a pilot for 40 years.
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Theyre perhaps not the traditional business aircraft operation but, these days, anyone who hangs out around aircraft is suspect. "They" are crop-dusters -- er, aerial applicators, or agricultural operators -- and, according to an article in The Wichita Eagle, have been subject to new scrutiny by the FBI in recent months. The newspaper reports that more than 3,000 people involved in agricultural operations have been questioned by the feds as a result of lingering worries that the slow and lumbering but specialized aircraft could be used to launch some kind of terrorist attack. There have been no arrests, according to the article, which was based on documents submitted to the commission investigating the 2001 terrorist attacks. Much of the federal inquiry -- into agricultural and other types of operators -- has been conducted since Iraq II began in March 2003. According to the article, the inquiry is continuing. Dont worry -- theyll get to you, soon.
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What goes down, can come up, according to Cessna. Earlier this year, the manufacturer revised its sales projection downward after fractional operator NetJets aborted a large order for the companys Citations. Now, however, Cessna says new orders it has received so far in 2004 will allow it to recoup those losses, and then some. Instead of 165 to 170 new jets, the company expects to deliver 170 to 175 during the year. And, in 2005, Cessna plans to ship some 200 Citations. By comparison, Cessna delivered 197 jets in 2003. Cessna "blames" the potential new business on what it sees as improving economic conditions -- and no one discounts the continuing decline of airline service as a major force behind business aviations potential. Finally, a number of incentives -- from domestic RVSM to tax breaks -- exist to buttress new-plane sales. All anyone really needs now for the market to break wide open is the "next big thing."
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David M. Stone, the TSA's acting administrator, plans to meet May 7 with the General Aviation Coalition (GAC), a loosely defined collection of all the GA trade associations from the largest to the smallest. The meeting, the latest in a series of ongoing dialogues between the agency and the "problem child" GA community, probably won't generate much in the way of earthshaking developments, however. Likely items on the agenda include the upcoming presidential campaign season and associated airspace restrictions, the status of the TSA's efforts to develop a plan leading to reopening Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) to non-scheduled operations and continuing efforts to scale back the Washington Air Defense Identification Zone. In other words, the same set of issues with which the industry has been grappling since roughly, umm, September 2001. Other topics could include the status of the TSAs apparently stalled efforts to promulgate a series of security recommendations applicable to GA. As far as the upcoming meeting with Stone is concerned, however, it might be best if that question is not asked -- the industry may not like the answer. Look for more information on this meeting, and the scoop on its outcome, if any, in the next edition of AVweb's Business AVflash.
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...the next issue of AVweb's BizAVflash will be e-mailed to you on May 12.
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...the next issue of AVweb's BizAVflash will be e-mailed to you on April 28. More...
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