AVwebBiz Complete Issue: Volume 10, Number 24

June 20, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Good News for Airlines back to top 
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Survey: Airline Fares Up, But So is Passenger Satisfaction

Although airline passengers are paying higher fares and being charged to haul bags, they're apparently happier with the airline experience than they were a couple of years ago, according to a new consumer satisfaction survey. The Michigan-based American Consumer Satisfaction Index reported this week that at 67 on a scale of 100, customer satisfaction with the airline industry is as high as it's been for decades. In 2012 alone, the industry gained 3.1 percent in approval points, this despite higher fares, more crowded flights and fewer scheduling options. What's going on here? "I think in part it's because customers are becoming cleverer when they fly at avoiding the various fees. We're finding that while passengers aren't terribly satisfied with checked baggage fees, fewer of them are checking baggage," says ASCI director David VanAmburg.

And perhaps with no bags to get lost or charged, passengers breeze through the airport more seamlessly. If they also pack lighter as a result, airlines benefit through reduced fuel consumption. Ironically, the deep discounters such as Spirit Airlines, have the best satisfaction ratings because customers go into the deal knowing what to expect. Traditional mainstream carriers such as Delta, United and American are at the bottom of the satisfaction scale, according to ASCI. In the most recent survey, JetBlue displaced Southwest as the satisfaction leader, perhaps, says VanAmberg, because Southwest is merging with AirTran, which may be causing some service ripples. Although the airlines are doing better than a year ago, as an industry, they lag other segments and remain in the bottom three among 47 industries ASCI surveys, including hotels, fast food and full-service restaurants. For more on ASCI's airline survey, check out AVweb's podcast with David VanAmburg.

Podcast: Scoring Points with Passengers

File Size 9.7 MB / Running Time 10:22

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

Amid numerous changes for the airlines in recent years is one you might not expect: Customer satisfaction is up. Paul Bertorelli asked David VanAmburg from the American Customer Satisfaction Index to explain.

Click here to listen. (9.7 MB, 10:22)

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Flight Tracking Makes a Quantum Leap back to top 

Iridium, NavCanada To Offer Global Flight Tracking

A constellation of 66 new satellites that will be launched starting in 2015 will make it possible for operators to track their aircraft anywhere in the world, even across oceans and remote regions where coverage is not currently available, the project partners announced on Tuesday. Iridium Communications is providing the technology, and NavCanada is the launch customer. For routes that operate in oceanic airspace, the new Aireon satellites will provide a "quantum improvement" in efficiency, said NavCanada CEO John Crichton. For example, NavCanada said, flights across the North Atlantic should save $100 million per year thanks to more efficient routing. The satellites, which are scheduled to be online by 2017, will communicate with the ADS-B devices on airplanes.

The FAA is also working with Iridium, and is expected to be the second customer for the technology, according to Reuters. "Because the insight and control of air traffic management through space-based ADS-B is unparalleled, the FAA will be engaged with Iridium and its Aireon partners in setting the specifications and configuration of space-based ADS-B surveillance," said Chris Metts, vice president of FAA's air traffic program. The new technology "will enable commercial airline operations to be more efficient, safer and more environmentally friendly," according to Iridium's news release.

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Aviation Safety: Gulfstream Crash Update back to top 

NTSB, Gulfstream At Odds In Investigation

NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman has criticized some of the actions of Gulfstream staffers during an investigation into a fatal crash during a flight test of a G650 in New Mexico last year. In a letter dated April 4, 2012, that was recently posted to the NTSB's public docket, Hersman says that while interacting with Gulfstream, NTSB investigators "encountered a variety of situations that are not typical when dealing with parties to investigations." She goes on to list her concerns, including "noncompliance with instructions from the NTSB investigator-in-charge relating to quarantine of accident-related telemetry data … unexplained missing evidence, including a computer hard drive containing accident-related telemetry data… [and] general conduct and dilatory tactics prejudicial to the investigation." Gulfstream President Larry Flynn defended the company's actions in a letter, also posted to the docket, stating that "Gulfstream has responded to each and every request for information from the NTSB as promptly as possible."

The missing hard drive was accidentally thrown away by an employee, who was later fired, Flynn said. He expressed concerns over the NTSB's use of proprietary data. "Because the accident occurred during a developmental flight test, Gulfstream has provided an enormous amount of trade secret and proprietary information to the NTSB -- much more than would be required for an accident involving an in-service model," he wrote. The NTSB was not clear about which redaction requests had been granted and which documents would be published, he said. "Gulfstream has fully supported the NTSB investigation, has behaved with the highest ethical standards, and has at all times made the safety of its flight test and flight operations its highest priority," Flynn wrote. The investigation is ongoing, and is expected to be completed later this year.

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Make Way for U.S.-Born Phenoms back to top 

Embraer's Florida Plant Earns Production Certificate

Embraer's first manufacturing plant in the U.S. earned its production certificate this week. The Melbourne, Fla., facility has been shipping Phenom 100s since last December but the aircraft were certified under the type certificate for Brazilian-made Phenoms. The aircraft are assembled using assemblies made in Brazil. The plant was opened a little more than a year ago.

Embraer says the Melbourne facility is its first "paperless" line, meaning all reference and documentation materials are electronic. "We are justly proud of this facility in which we combined highly educated, high-tech people with advanced production techniques that are on the leading edge of modern aircraft production," said Phil Krul, managing director of the plant. The plant is geared to make up to about 100 Phenoms a year.

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More Good News for Airlines back to top 

CSeries First Flight By End Of Year

Bombardier says its CSeries single-aisle airliner is on schedule and will fly by the end of the year. Marc Arcomone, president of commercial aircraft, also says first deliveries will be made by the end of 2013. "Yes, the CSeries program is on track," he told analysts ahead of the all-important Farnborough Air Show in a few weeks. He said that from a technical standpoint, there are no major issues in the way of the current timeline and he also said he's satisfied with the modest (by clean-sheet airliner standards) order book to date for the 110 and 130-seat aircraft. "We are exactly where we want to be with 11 customers and 317 orders," he said. Central to the efficiency claims being made about the CSeries (20 percent on fuel burn) and much of that is due to the PurePower geared turbofans being developed by Pratt & Whitney Canada.

At the conference, P&WC spokesman Bob Saia said that when Bombardier has an airframe, his company will have the engines ready. "We are well on track to certify our engine later this year, and deliver our first engine, so we're very well pleased with our overall results," Saia was quoted by the the Montreal Gazette as saying at the conference. He also said the fuel efficiency is a little better than predicted.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: How Do You Do a Go-Around?

Do you push the throttle up to max, nudge the pitch and worry about the trim later? Or do you prefer to modulate the power to see if you can handle the pitch change forces? On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli discusses the pros and cons of each approach.

Read more and join the conversation.

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

Video: Viking Air Twin Otter Factory

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

Viking Air is quickly ramping up production of its new build Twin Otter 400 series. AVweb's Russ Niles toured the Victoria, British Columbia factory with VP of Operations Dan Tharp, a Wichita aircraft production veteran recently hired by Viking to boost production.

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

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

Survey: What's That LSA Costing You? 'Aviation Consumer' Wants to Know

If you're operating a light sport aircraft -- either a legacy or late-model new airplane, our sister publication, Aviation Consumer, would like to know what it costs.

Click on this link to take the survey and leave comments.

We're interested in all kinds of light sports, but we especially want to know what costs are like when the airplanes are in partnerships.

The results will appear in a future issue of Aviation Consumer. For subscription information, click here.

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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Who's Where back to top 

Larsen New AVP at ERAU

Rick Larsen

Rick Larsen is the new associate vice president of marketing, corporate and alumni relations at Embry-Riddle. He was most recently VP of Marketing and Communications at EAA. He is an ERAU alumnus.

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.

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

Scott Simmons

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Kevin Lane-Cummings
Jeff Van West

Ad Coordinator
Karen Lund

Have a product or service to advertise on AVweb? Your advertising can reach over 225,000 loyal AVwebFlash, AVwebBiz, and AVweb home page readers every week. Over 80% of our readers are active pilots and aircraft owners. That's why our advertisers grow with us, year after year. For ad rates and scheduling, click here or contact Tom Bliss, via e-mail or via telephone [(480) 525-7481].

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Comments or questions about the news should be sent here.

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