Business NewsWire Complete Issue
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
The Cessna Citation certification machine continues to run more or less on schedule: Cessna Aircraft on June 2 celebrated FAA type certification of its newest model, the model 680 Citation Sovereign.
The mid-size business jet is the latest to join Cessna's Citation stable and includes many technical and operational innovations, according to the company. Additionally, the Sovereign marks the first
time customers can train their pilots in a certified level-D simulator prior to first delivery. In AVweb's opinion, Cessna has once again demonstrated its relentless ability to bring new models
to its customers with less muss and fuss than other manufacturers. The company's latest achievement also debuts Cessnas first use of the Maintenance Steering Group inspection program (MSG 3), an
industry-recognized set of procedures designed to enhance aircraft maintenance through ongoing fault analysis. The MSG 3 programs are designed to both result in significant savings in scheduled
maintenance costs and improve dispatch reliability.
"This is a great day for Cessna," said Jack J. Pelton, Cessnas president and CEO, in a press release. "We have been working with the FAA on the Sovereigns certification for the past few
months. In the Cessna tradition, the Sovereign exceeds the performance numbers we originally announced. Everyone at Cessna who helped make this new airplane a reality should be extremely proud." The
Cessna employees to whom Pelton referred include the Citation Sovereigns integrated design team. According to the company, this group developed many new engineering and manufacturing
efficiencies that can and will be used on future aircraft programs at Cessna. The Cessna Sovereigns performance numbers reflect its mid-size, mid-range design philosophy and include a 459-knot
cruise speed, 2730-nm range, 3694-foot takeoff distance and 47,000-foot ceiling. Also, according to the company, the Sovereign has the largest cabin and external baggage compartment of any Citation
and will accommodate up to 12 passengers, a crew of two and 100 cubic feet, or 1,000 pounds, of external baggage. Up front, the newest Citation features a fully integrated Primus Epic avionics suite
by Honeywell. Typically, Cessna has received over 100 firm orders for the model 680, worth $1.5 billion. The first Citation Sovereign delivery is expected in the second half of 2004.
At almost the same time Cessna was celebrating its latest Citation certification, Raytheon Aircraft popped the party favors over the 100th delivery of its top-of-the-line Premier I bizjet, to
FDRS Air Inc. of Norfolk, Va. Although the delivery occurred in April, the company didn't get around to formally announcing it until late May, in conjunction with the EBACE bizjet exposition in
Geneva. The company took the opportunity to release an update on the Premier I program, stats for which include delivery of 31 copies to international customers, more than 23,000 accumulated flight
hours, RVSM certification, three new speed records and more than 230 pilots typed by FlightSafety. Unsurprisingly, Raytheon's Beechcraft President Randy Groom said, "We are getting outstanding reviews
from our customers. They are telling us that the Premier is setting the industry standard in customer support. And the template for how we serve Premier I owners is being rolled out to our other
Beechcraft and Hawker aircraft. We're serious when we say we want to be the industry-leading manufacturer in customer support."
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But a cloud of sorts looms over Raytheon's horizon in the form of a series of runway overruns involving the Premier I. In the most recent U.S. occurrence, on May 27, a Premier I operated under FAR
Part 91 ran off Runway 7 at the North Las Vegas (Nev.) Airport after a wind shift was recorded during the flight's approach and landing. According to the NTSB, the aircraft was substantially damaged
when it collided with a fence. Another overrun accident occurred April 7 at Blackbushe Airfield in the United Kingdom when a solo pilot was positioning a privately owned example of the type. The pilot
suffered minor injuries, but the airplane was reported destroyed. Typically, failure of the airplane's lift dump spoilers to deploy on landing has been implicated in these accidents and incidents.
When that occurs, the wheel brakes lose efficiency. In response, the FAA has issued two Airworthiness Directives aimed at updating the Premier I's Airplane Flight Manual to add information on "Landing
Performance for Operation of the Airplane with Lift Dump Inoperative." At this point in the investigation into the May 27 accident, it's not clear if the spoilers were an issue or if the wind shift
was a major factor.
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Even though Cessna and Raytheon are celebrating, all is not well in bizav land. Miami, Fla.-based Safire Aircraft Company announced on June 10 that it had "temporarily suspended most operations while
it secures additional funding." In a prepared statement, the company said it is "actively pursuing a very promising financing opportunity" but that, although it "had expected to have new funding fully
in place by the end of May 2004," Safire "encountered some unforeseen setbacks that have caused us to shift our negotiations and slightly delay the closing." Those statements were attributed to
company President and CEO Camilo Salomon. Safire Aircraft was founded in 1998 and began marketing and development of its six-place entry in the ongoing light-light jet sweepstakes, Safire Jet. Priced
at $1.395 million, the company's principal product was scheduled to make its first flight this year, with deliveries beginning in 2006. Safire expects this to be only a temporary setback. "There is no
doubt that there will be some impact to the project. We will know more and be in a better position to assess that impact when we secure the new round of financing," said Salomon. AVweb
contacted Safire in an attempt to learn more about the company's immediate plans but had not spoken with any company personnel by today's deadline.
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At long last, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has acted to clarify the way in which it applies the so-called "Twelve-Five" standard security program for aircraft weighing 12,500
pounds or more to aircraft weighing exactly 12,500 pounds: It won't. Since enactment of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA) in late 2001, non-scheduled commercial operators of this
class of aircraft have been subject to a statute directing the then-new agency to develop security programs for them. The statute was worded to include aircraft such as the Beech King Air 200, which
has a maximum gross takeoff weight of exactly 12,500 pounds. In essence, someone helping to write the statute looked up the FAA's definition of a "small" aircraft and fudged it. Now, according to the
TSA, such aircraft can be removed from an operator's Twelve-Five program altogether. In other words, the TSA has decided that the Twelve-Five Rule applies only to non-scheduled commercial aircraft
weighing more than 12,500 pounds. To make that happen, operators of affected aircraft need to contact the TSA Principal Security Inspector responsible for their operation and ensure affected aircraft
are removed from the agency's records. This means that some operators may no longer be subject to TSA security rules; for more information, Twelve-Five operators should check the TSA's dedicated and
restricted-access Web board. If you meet the TSA's requirements for being covered under the Twelve-Five Rule and you don't know how to do that, well ...
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Jan. 20, 2005, is not that far away, only a few months. It will start like pretty much any other day, but by midnight of that Thursday, much of what business aviation operators in the U.S. have come
to know may have been turned on its head. No, this has nothing to do with one event planned in Washington, D.C., that day -- the inauguration -- but could be the subject of other events elsewhere in
that town. You see, Jan. 20, 2005, in addition to being Inauguration Day, is the date selected by the FAA a few years back on which it plans to implement reduced vertical separation minimums in
domestic airspace; DRVSM, it's called. On that date, at 0901 UTC to be exact, any aircraft operating between Flight Levels 290 and 410 in U.S. airspace must be RVSM-compliant. RVSM was first
implemented in North Atlantic Airspace in 1997, and is now all the rage over other major areas like Europe. Putting the "D" in DRVSM will, according to the FAA, "provide user and provider benefits in
domestic U.S. operations that have been enjoyed since 1997" outside the U.S. RVSM makes six additional flight levels available for operations between FL290 and FL410. It's all about system capacity
and making the FAA's job easier. It's also about ensuring that flights between FL290 and FL410 are conducted with aircraft equipped and certified to ensure they can accurately maintain the 1,000-foot
vertical separation. For some operators flying older aircraft for which RVSM-compliant equipment and paperwork is not available, though, that chunk of airspace may be closed to them. The FAA,
meanwhile, is forging ahead with its plans and has repeatedly stated that there will be no delays in the January 2005 implementation. Most recently, the agency posted some new or revised documents on
its DRVSM Web site. Among other recent changes is availability of an FAA notice on DRVSM policy and procedures and other pubs
that have been updated to reflect new documents. If you want to operate your aircraft between FL290 and FL410 after January and haven't checked out the FAA's Web site, now would be a good time.
Ah, the large print giveth and the small print taketh away. Imagine our excitement when we spied Gulfstream's latest press release, which announced a series of price reductions. Could AVweb
finally afford one of the Savannah, Ga.-based company's uber-jets? But it was not to be: The price reductions -- up to 48 percent -- only apply to Gulfstream parts, not the entire airplane. Shucks.
"Over the past few months, weve been cutting our prices on many of our most popular consumable parts, some by nearly half," said Larry Flynn, president, product support, Gulfstream. In May and
June, Gulfstream sent letters to all of its aircraft owners and operators, announcing the price reductions on various spares, including hardware and a select group of popular interior, airframe and
major components. The reduced prices are for as long as supplies last. Alas, AVweb will be forced to wait a bit longer for our new Gulfstream -- it's still cheaper to buy the whole airplane
than to acquire a bunch of spare parts and build one from there. Still, we can dream.
...the next issue of AVweb's BizAVflash will be e-mailed to you on June 30.
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Today's issue written by Joseph E. (Jeb) Burnside:
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Let's all be careful out there, okay?