AVwebBiz Complete Issue: Volume 10, Number 17

May 2, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Sikorsky's Role in the Eclipse 500 back to top 
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Eclipse Clarifies Sikorsky Relationship

Sikorsky remains a key partner in Eclipse Aerospace's plan to resume production of the very light jet. In a podcast interview with AVweb, Eclipse CEO Mason Holland said comments attributed to Greg Hayes, the CFO of United Technologies Corp. (UTC), the parent company of Sikorsky, that there would be no further investment in Eclipse by UTC may have been misconstrued by some. "We haven't asked for any more money from UTC or Sikorsky," Holland said. "We do have a funded plan for production." He said Sikorsky continues to take an active role in that process, particularly in supply chain management and manufacturing. In fact, the airframe will be built at Sikorsky's PZL plant in Poland. Final assembly will be in Albuquerque.

Holland said the first new production aircraft, designated the Eclipse 550, will roll out in 2013. He said the company intends to build 50 to 100 aircraft a year and that the backlog extends to 2014. A group headed by Holland took over the assets of the former Eclipse Aircraft for pennies on the dollar in 2009 and initially focused on supporting and finishing the fleet of 267 aircraft that were sold by the original company. In 2010, Sikorsky bought a 42 percent stake in the company. Sikorsky CEO Jeff Pino is an Eclipse owner. Eclipse announced the return to production at the 2011 NBAA convention.

Podcast: Eclipse, Sikorsky Deal Solid

File Size 5.3 MB / Running Time 5:45

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

Despite some provocative comments from a senior executive with Sikorsky's parent company UTC last week, the relaunch of the Eclipse very light jet is very much a joint operation between Eclipse and Sikorsky. Eclipse CEO Mason Holland spoke with AVweb's Russ Niles about how the two companies are working together to build the new Eclipse 550.

Click here to listen. (5.3 MB, 5:45)

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More Details on Hang-Gliding Accident back to top 

Hang Glider Pilot Charged With Swallowing Camera Card That Recorded Fatal Fall

A Vancouver-area hang glider pilot and business owner has been arrested and criminally charged in connection with the death of one of his clients in a weekend accident. William Jonathan Orders, 50, of the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby, was charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly swallowing a memory card from a camera that was mounted on the aircraft to record the tandem flight. As we reported Monday, the woman, since identified as Lenami Dafne Godinez, 27, fell about 1,000 feet just after she and Orders launched from a mountain about 80 miles east of Vancouver.

Orders an experienced pilot and instructor owns Vancouver Hang Gliding, which, in addition to instruction, offers "hang gliding experience" flights to first-time flyers. Godinez and her boyfriend bought that package to celebrate an anniversary. She slipped from Orders' back and tried to cling to his feet before one of his shoes slipped off and she fell onto a logged-out area of the mountain. Police arrested him shortly after the incident and took him into custody undoubtedly to see what passes....

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Changing the Paradigm back to top 

Delta Buys Oil Refinery

Delta Air Lines has bought its own oil refinery in hopes of reducing its fuel costs. The airline took an already-closed refinery near Philadelphia off ConocoPhillips's hands for $150 million and plans to spend $100 million to make it crank out as much jet fuel as possible. It will also continue to make gasoline and other refinery products. The fuel will be sent by pipeline to Delta's hubs in the Northeast. Although the logic seems obvious, analysts say the move is nevertheless risky for Delta because it will be at the mercy of world oil prices when buying its feedstock. Most airlines try to cushion against big variations in oil prices by hedging their future fuel needs when prices are favorable. Although it seems like a big risk, the experiment has to be viewed in the context of Delta's staggering $11.8 billion annual fuel bill, and the potential $300 million saving will amount to only a few dollars per passenger flight.

Nevertheless, analysts predict that more airlines will consider the option as fuel costs continue to eat up more of the bottom line. Coincidentally, the oil industry has some refineries on the block. It seems refining is among the most volatile and least profitable aspects of the business and the major companies are shedding refining capacity in the face of reduced demand in the automotive market and cheap imports from Europe.

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Jobs in the Spotlight back to top 

Cessna Adds 150 Jobs In Wichita

Cessna Aircraft will bring back some laid-off workers and also hire some new ones to add 150 jobs to its workforce, The Wichita Eagle reported last week. The workers will help the company boost production in anticipation of increased demand. Cessna also recently hired more sales staff, according to the Eagle. Recent production numbers from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association showed that Cessna delivered more airplanes in 2011 than it did the year before. Since 2009, the company has cut more than 6,000 jobs in Wichita.

Cessna delivered 178 jets in 2010, and 183 in 2011, according to GAMA. Piston deliveries grew from 239 to 245. In the first three months of this year, Cessna delivered 38 Citation jets, compared with 31 in the first three months of 2011, according to the Eagle. The company also has been moving forward with development of its newest jet, the M2, which was introduced last October. The single-pilot-certified M2, with a six-passenger cabin, flew for the first time last month. The jet is positioned as a step up for Mustang pilots.

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News Briefs back to top 

HAI Raises Alarm Over National Park Rules

New legislation now in the works would allow the National Park Service to regulate air tour operators in airspace above U.S. national parks, Helicopter Association International said this week. HAI said the proposal is "unacceptable, establishes a dangerous precedent, and would transfer the FAA's statutory role in overseeing air safety to third parties." The amendment (PDF) to the Senate version of the Highway Authorization bill would grant authority to the Park Service director to regulate commercial air tours above the parks and within a half mile of park borders. If it passes, the bill would enable the Park Service to unilaterally eliminate air tours above the parks, HAI said.

"This amendment would lead to lost jobs for pilots, drivers, guides, and support staff of air tour providers and the local businesses that rely on them," said HAI, "with a ripple effect of lower manufacturing employment within the helicopter parts and maintenance industry." HAI also raised safety concerns, noting that "the last time the National Park Service exerted undue influence on air routes over a national park, a midair collision between a fixed-wing aircraft and a helicopter resulted." Various proposals have been in the works for about 25 years to try to restrict park overflights, according to USA Today. Proponents cite noise concerns, saying visitors have a right to expect "natural quiet" in the parks.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Post-Aero Commentary -- Time for the U.S. to Get Busy

There's a ton of U.S. capital on the sidelines looking for growth opportunities. In Europe, some of it goes into aircraft manufacturing. In special video post to the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli asks, "Why not in the U.S.?"

Read more and join the conversation.

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Who's Where back to top 

Spence Interim IAOPA Head

Craig Spence

Craig Spence has taken over as interim secretary general of the International Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. John Sheehan, who held the role for 15 years, retired May 1.

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.

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.

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

Video: William Rankin, the Man Who Rode the Thunder

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

The story of William Rankin's ejection at 47,000 feet and 500 knots is legendary, not only because the fall took him 40 minutes, but also because he lived to talk about it. There are other and more recent cases of people who have been drawn into thunderstorms under canopy and not every one ends in survival.

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If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

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 world's premier independent aviation news resource.

The AVwebBiz team is:

Tom Bliss

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Scott Simmons

Kevin Lane-Cummings
Jeff Van West

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