|Volume 2, Number 14 -- July 21,
The Top Headlines From AVweb's Expanded
Business News Coverage At AVweb's
PRO PILOTS PROS?
You're a pilot. You stopped counting hours long ago; now you count
engines, instead. Your FAA certificate comes with page numbers and looks
like a list of every ticket and rating the FAA hands out. Flying is your
main source of income. You fly as a professional, act as a professional
and get compensated as a professional. But, unless you fly for an air
carrier, you may not be a professional in the eyes of the federal
government. That interpretation comes from a rule issued in April by the
U.S. Department of Labor that attempts to define who is and is not
exempt from the department's wage and hour requirements. The rule's
impact affects how employers treat pilots when considering minimum wages
and overtime, among other considerations. Of course, being a
"professional" in the eye of the federal government may not be a good
thing if you depend on overtime to make ends meet. The new rule,
published April 23, 2004, and scheduled to go into effect Aug. 23, 2004,
has created a lot of uncertainty within the corporate flight department,
at charter operations and elsewhere. In other words, everywhere
"professional" pilots work. Both the National Business Aviation
Association (NBAA) and the National Air Transportation Association
(NATA) recently were forced to look at the new rules and determine if
their constituencies were affected. That jury is seemingly still out,
however. A quick read of the new rule shows that the essential problem
has to do with the department's outdated understanding of how pilots are
trained and compensated. More...
I: HEY, BUDDY. WANNA BUY A LEARJET ... COMPANY?
Its all a rumor, say company officials. Nevertheless, its a
rumor gaining visibility. "It" is the concept that Canadian aerospace
giant Bombardier is trying to sell its Wichita-based Learjet subsidiary.
But, like Mark Twains death, rumors of Learjets pending sale
are premature, according to the parent company. Published reports quote
Bombardier Aerospace spokesman Leo Knaapen as saying, "It's absolutely
untrue." According to The Wichita Eagle, Knaapen added, "Bombardier is
committed to corporate aviation, and Learjet is part of the Bombardier
family." But the rumors seem to have traction, having first appeared
last week in The Montreal (Canada) Gazette and later confirmed by the
Eagle with numerous industry participants. Bombardier presently
manufactures the Model 31A, the Models 40, 45 and 45XR, and the Model 60
II: GOING UP AGAINST BOEING, AIRBUS?
Even as the rumors of a Learjet company sale swirled around Bombardier,
the company may also be getting into the "real" airliner market. Already
manufacturing one of the world's most popular regional jets, Bombardier
officials say a new plane designed to compete in the airliner market for
100- to 150-seat jets may soon take shape. Dubbed the CSeries -- for
Competitive, Continental, Connector -- the newest ride in the company's
stable would target those air carriers currently operating aging DC9s,
Fokker 100s, Boeing 737 Classics, BAe-146s and MD80s that are beginning
to need replacement. Also targeted, of course, are similarly sized
offerings from Boeing and Airbus, the 717 and the A318/A319,
respectively. Also involved in that low-end market is the 98-seat
Embraer 190, which has not yet entered service. "The market for the 100-
to 150-passenger commercial aircraft segment is estimated at $250
billion U.S., or roughly 6,000 aircraft over the next 20 years," said
Gary Scott, president of the Bombardier New Commercial Aircraft Program.
Perhaps even more interesting, said some observers, is the potential for
a "CSeries" Bombardier to be placed into traditional business and
corporate aviation use. More...
RINGS IN WITH NEW LINE...
Bell Helicopter this week announced the first flight of Bells MAPL
(Modular Affordable Product Line) tail-fan demonstrator at the
companys new XworX research center in Arlington, Texas. The
company said its new aircraft on July 15 was test-flown, briefly,
including hover, low-speed maneuvers and pedal turns before safely
landing. Bells says its tail-fan-equipped demonstrator will be used to
research applications for its new product line. That new line could
include the tail-fan technology as well as an advanced rotor system, the
demonstrator for which is planned to fly later this year. Bell said it
expects the first new aircraft in its MAPL family to be available in
MODEL 427I LAUNCH CUSTOMER
Air Methods Corporation will be the launch customer for Bell
Helicopter's new Model 427i twin-engine helicopters, the manufacturer
announced this week. Fifteen of the new 427i aircraft are scheduled for
delivery to the aeromedical operator, beginning in late 2007. The
agreement between Bell and Air Methods provides for a minimum delivery
of three aircraft per year. Bell Chief Executive Officer Mike Redenbaugh
said, "The 427i is an aircraft that will have tremendous performance
capability. To have it operated by the largest provider of air medical
transport services for hospitals in the business is a testimony to the
acceptance the 427i has already received in the marketplace."
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One of the industry's major concerns about the forthcoming flood of
light-light jets like the Eclipse and the Safire Jet is training.
Turning loose, say, a Baron pilot in a jet cruising 150 knots faster at
much higher altitudes is not something to be taken lightly. Just ask the
insurance companies. Perhaps recognizing this, Eclipse Aviation
Corporation this week took the cover off its new six-phase pilot
training program. The company also announced the first module of its
self-paced study course and revealed that it recently purchased an L-39
Albatross for use in upset recovery training. "Our commitment to
innovation extends far beyond the design and manufacture of the Eclipse
500 jet," said Vern Raburn, president and CEO. "We have defined a
six-phase program that will train customers of various experience levels
to be safe and successful in the Eclipse 500 jet. These latest
milestones demonstrate our progress in delivering on that promise," he
Meanwhile, Eclipse inked a long-term deal with Compass Aerospace
Corporation calling for Compass to manufacture structural components and
sub-assemblies for the cockpit, fuselage and doors on the Eclipse 500
jet. Compass is currently supplying the structural components and
assemblies for Eclipses pre-production, certification-program
aircraft and expects to begin its production ramp in 2005 and achieve
full-rate production levels soon thereafter in support of Eclipses
delivery of production aircraft, Eclipse said in a press release.
Compass' work will initially be performed at the company's facilities in
California, Kansas and Washington. More...
MEDIA GUIDE GAINING GROUND
The recently announced media guide from the General Aviation
Manufacturers Association (GAMA) -- long overdue, in AVweb's
opinion -- has already seen pretty significant exposure. According to
the association, more than 10,000 page views were registered since it
went online last week, with more than 4000 hits to the guide's home
page. The association told AVweb that "overall feedback from the
public has been very positive thus far. Since going live a week ago, we
have made very few changes/corrections." More...
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TWEAKS FLIGHT OPERATIONS DEPARTMENT
NetJets announced changes to its flight operations shop. Senior Vice
President of Flight Operations Dave MacGhee, Maj. General U.S. Air Force
(Ret.), who has joined the company to assume the position, will take
over the company's flight ops. Among other challenges MacGhee will face
are preparations for FAR 91K/FAR 135 operations. MacGhee is a former
U.S. Air Force command pilot with 3,700 hours in more than 20 types of
high-performance aircraft. Gary Hart will also join NetJets as Vice
President of Flight Operations/Director of Operations.
Italian manufacturer Agusta this week announced its forthcoming A109
Grand helicopter during the Farnborough 2004 air show. The new light
twin helicopter fits at the upper end of the light twin FAR/JAR 27
segment, according to the company. The A109 Grand will have a maximum
takeoff weight of 3,175 kg./7,000 lb. and be powered by an 815-shp Pratt
& Whitney PW207C and an uprated transmission. More...
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There is little new or definitive in the ongoing saga of Safire Aircraft
Company's struggle to find new financing to bring its planned
light-light Safire Jet to market. As AVweb reported, the company suspended
operation on June 10 and set off to find new financing opportunities.
However, some good news for the company may be announced as early as
next week. More...
WATCH: AOPA AND THE "DUMBBELL" TFR
As the nation's political season approaches with a fury, so do new,
larger and more prevalent temporary flight restrictions (TFRs). As
President Bush and presumptive Democratic nominee John Kerry hit the
road, TFRs will follow them everywhere they go -- kind of like a homing
beacon. And now, according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
(AOPA), comes the "dumbbell" TFR: two circular areas connected by a
narrower corridor. More...
...the next issue of AVweb's BizAVflash will be e-mailed to you
on Aug. 11. More...
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