Business NewsWire Complete Issue

August 24, 2004
By The AVweb Editorial Staff

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Bob Blouin To Leave NBAA...

The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) announced earlier this week that Senior Vice President, Operations, Robert P. Blouin would resign from the organization effective Aug. 31, 2004. Blouin's departure comes in the same month the NBAA announced its selection of General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) President Ed Bolen as its new leader. The two developments -- and the short fuse between Blouin's announcement and his scheduled departure date -- fueled speculation that his decision was somehow related. However, Blouin told AVweb yesterday that his decision had nothing to do with Bolen's pending arrival. Instead, Blouin said his decision to leave the NBAA has been "in the works for some time" and that the timing was related more to his scheduled vacation than to any other factor. According to the NBAA, Jay Evans, the association's director of operations, will serve as acting vice president of operations, until a replacement for Blouin is found.

Noting that he has been "blessed" with offers of new opportunities since deciding to leave the NBAA, Blouin said in a prepared statement, "I have had a wonderful seven years at NBAA and have learned much from the board, members and staff. I am very thankful for the opportunity given to me with such a great organization. I am especially proud of the people I have in the Operations Department. They are a great human resource to the Members. Looking forward, Ed Bolen is absolutely going to be great for NBAA. I have extended an offer to assist Ed, the Board, Staff and Members in any way I can. My choice to leave really comes down to expanding my professional experience, and to be able to face some new and exciting challenges and opportunities."

...On Good Terms

For the association's part, Blouin's departure seems to be on good terms. "Bob has made enormous contributions to NBAA and the business aviation community in his seven years with the Association," said Don Baldwin, NBAA board of directors chairman and interim president and CEO. "We are sorry to see Bob leave, but we wish him all the best in his new endeavors." In another sense, however, Blouin's departure was expected. In fact, the announcement followed one from March 30, 2004, which occurred near the beginning of a sequence of events leading to then-President and CEO Shelley Longmuir's departure from the NBAA after only nine months on the job. Of course, Blouin subsequently decided to remain with the NBAA after Longmuir left. That episode, among other events, led to Bolen being named the association's incoming president earlier this month. In fact, Blouin jokingly referred to that resignation this week with AVweb when he noted that his decision had been some five months in the making.

Despite those events, Blouin's departure failed to raise any eyebrows around Washington's aviation alphabet soup. One observer with whom AVweb spoke said he was "not surprised" by the announcement. When you've been "passed over for promotion, you clear the field for the new guy to run with," the observer added, referring to Blouin's widely rumored candidacy for the association's top spot. Still, none of that should come as a surprise, since the NBAA traditionally has never promoted from within to the position of its president. In considering whether Blouin's departure was decided based on a supposed incompatibility with Bolen, another observer asked rhetorically, "How does one not get along with Ed [Bolen]?"

For his part, Blouin told AVweb that he's "very proud of his last seven years" at the NBAA and is simply looking forward to his scheduled vacation. He has a "couple of things" he'll be working on in the future. Meanwhile, what will occur next at the NBAA is anyone's guess. What's known right now is that Bolen will come aboard on Sept. 1 and head straight into the association's annual meeting, set for Oct. 12, 13, and 14 in Las Vegas. After that, it's what comes next is up in the air, although several in the aforementioned alphabet soup speculated on a limited merger between the NBAA and GAMA, perhaps involving their government and public affairs activities. Somewhere in there, the NBAA will need to find a replacement for Blouin, either from outside or from within. As Blouin's departure confirms, it's not likely to be the latter.

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Gulfstream G450 Receives FAA Type Certificate

Gulfstream Aerospace earlier this month was awarded a Type Certificate by the FAA for its new large-cabin, long-range Gulfstream G450 bizjet. Receipt of the paperwork for the latest in the company's stable of sought-after jets -- introduced less than a year ago -- means Gulfstream is on schedule to begin customer deliveries in the second quarter of 2005. According to Gulfstream, the same internal team that developed the G550 -- which earlier this year was named the recipient of the 2003 Collier Trophy by the National Aeronautic Association -- and the G500 developed the G450. All three aircraft, plus the to-be-certificated G350, include the highly automated PlaneView cockpit, which presents an advanced flight deck designed to significantly reduce pilot workload.

"The technical and design similarities between the G350, G450, G500 and G550 translate to cost savings in terms of same pilot type ratings, crew training and maintenance for our customers who operate multiple-aircraft fleets," said Bryan Moss, president of Gulfstream. In fact, 2004 is turning out to be a big year for the company, Moss added. "Since February, we introduced the G350; received the Collier Award for the G550; received the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Type Certificate for the G550; and now, the G450 has been certified by the FAA. We anticipate receiving Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) and EASA validation of the G500 and G450 in the next few months and FAA type certification for the G350 before the end of the year." Go for it, guys.

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Raytheon Offers New RVSM Package

Raytheon and D&D Aviation Services of Marietta, Ga., announced this month a service allowing business aircraft owners to obtain operational DRVSM (Domestic Reduced Vertical Separation Minimums) approval for Beechcraft and Hawker aircraft. The service revolves around D&D's Domestic RVSM Procedures and International Operations manuals and joint development of an application data package for submission to the FAA or appropriate international regulatory authority. According to Raytheon, once the packages are approved by the FAA, the operator receives a Minimum Equipment List (MEL) specific to their aircraft and operating and placarding procedures, as well as the required control pages in a computerized format. According to Raytheon, it can also provide the required RVSM altitude monitoring services to ensure the aircraft’s performance meets all RVSM flight requirements. Raytheon Aircraft Services’ GPS-Based Monitoring Unit (GMU) Data Collection service includes collection of the flight data during one GMU flight, which will then be forwarded for evaluation.

“This powerful tool ensures a guaranteed approval as well as a less stressful experience for the operator,” said Ed Dolanski, vice president of customer support operations for Raytheon Aircraft. “With domestic RVSM effective January 2005, it’s critical that business aircraft owners get this task accomplished.” To complete the package, Raytheon Aircraft has also teamed with FlightSafety International to provide pilot familiarization for operations in the RVSM environment. This new service is available for new aircraft owners, as well as current aircraft owners wishing to update their aircraft and pilot capabilities to operate in RVSM airspace.

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India Flies Business Turboprop Prototype

It looks kind of like the results of an immoral mating between a Hawker and a Starship, but it didn't come from Beech/Raytheon. Further, it's apparently not the result of any U.S. aerospace jobs being exported to India. Instead, the latest project to come out of that country's fledgling aircraft manufacturing industry -- dubbed "Saras," for crane -- is billed as an all-original 14-seat executive transport with both military and civilian missions in mind. The design made its first flight on May 29, 2004, when an experimental version flew for 25 minutes. This week, what is apparently a production prototype aircraft first flew for 20 minutes, culminating an effort involving as many as 700 designers and engineers since 1990, according to published reports. The Saras, with two Pratt and Whitney of Canada PT6A-66 turboprop engines mounted on its tail in a pusher configuration, is a brainchild of the National Aeronautics Laboratory (NAL), a subsidiary of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research in Bangalore. Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. is also participating in the project.

According to the NAL, the Saras is designed to top out at about 335 knots (620 kph) and cruise at around FL240. Other performance goals include a takeoff distance of 1870 feet (570 m), a landing distance of 1985 feet (605 m), maximum rate of climb of 2364 fpm, and a maximum range of about 1000 nm. Those numbers put the aircraft squarely in King Air territory. Its 14-year gestation period was slowed by external political developments: consequences from the Soviet breakup in the early 1990s and U.S.-imposed sanctions following India's nuclear testing in 1998. Despite these delays -- and barring new ones, political or otherwise -- the aircraft is planned to be in production and delivered for traditional uses by 2010. So far, the Indian air force has ordered six examples of the Saras, which the NAL says is the first aircraft designed completely within India. The NAL expects demand for the aircraft to reach as many as 150 copies over the next 10 to 15 years. So far, the NAL has built two prototypes; the Indian government has yet to decide whether to approve manufacturing.

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Will New Mexico's Governor Get a New Plane?

Speaking of politics, that's what appears to stand in the way of New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's (D) getting a new King Air. And the details won't surprise the average corporate aviation manager who has to deal with his own internal bureaucracy. After soliciting as many as six bids, Richardson's administration is in the throes of completing a deal to buy a new plane as early as next week. But Republicans in the state legislature, which must approve the deal since it would be funded with as much as $4 million in state highway money, are balking. The state presently owns three turboprops and would use the new plane to replace a 1966-vintage Aero Commander. According to the published reports, Richardson's staff wants a pressurized turboprop seating at least nine passengers and has narrowed its search to one of two Beechcraft King Air 350s. The wire service quoted House Minority Leader Ted Hobbs, an Albuquerque Republican, as saying, "I haven't seen any justification that we need another plane. He has got a squadron already. I just don't see the need to step out and buy a new plane."

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Raytheon Adds Two Authorized Hawker Service Centers

Raytheon this week announced that two of its Raytheon Aircraft Services (RAS) locations were designated as authorized Hawker Service Center facilities. By adding the two facilities -- RAS San Antonio and RAS Indianapolis -- to its list of authorized Hawker service centers, Raytheon has upgraded nine of the 10 U.S.-based RAS facilities to authorized Hawker Service Centers. Additional facilities include Hawker Aircraft Services in Little Rock, Ark., and in Chester, U.K. According to Raytheon, the designation means that both centers "passed rigorous audit compliance standards to ensure the highest quality maintenance standards for Hawker business jets." "Our intent is to be able to offer full service to every Beechcraft and Hawker owner throughout the United States,” said Skip Madsen, president of operations for RAS. “These designations demand the highest quality standards, and we’re proud to have achieved those standards,” he added.

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Cessna Names New Customer Service Vice Presidents

Cessna Aircraft Company this week announced the promotion of two long-term employees to its customer services operation as vice presidents. Jack Stiffler has been named vice president of Citation parts distribution and Peter Wilkinson has been named vice president of Cessna parts distribution. Both Stiffler and Wilkinson will report directly to Ron Chapman, senior vice president of customer service. "Jack and Peter’s familiarity with our products and customers’ needs will allow them to continue to lead their respective areas in developing industry leading programs that exceed our customers’ expectations,” said Chapman. Stiffler, who joined Cessna in 1995, will be responsible for Cessna’s Citation aftermarket business. Wilkinson is responsible for Cessna’s propeller aircraft aftermarket business, including Cessna’s parts distribution facility. He joined Cessna in 1997.

TSA Watch: "Robolander?"

It's baaaaack. "It" is something dubbed "Robolander," variously described as a device or a software package ultimately designed to allow ATC to take control of an aircraft and land it in the event of, ummm, "trouble." Systems like it were widely proposed in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, although it quickly fell out of favor once the reality of the costs and logistics of fitting it to every airliner sunk in. Similarly, the possibility that a "system" could inadvertently take a crew and passengers for an excursion to the nearest airport has meant the idea hasn't really caught on. We can't imagine why. According to published reports, however, at least the concept has been tested by the U.S. government (Department of Homeland Security). Those reports say NASA recently flew a Boeing 757 over a Washington, D.C., mock-up and tried to fly it into the White House. Reportedly, the "Robolander" system prevented the pilot from doing so. AVweb inquired of NASA regarding this report and requested any additional details but was not able to obtain the agency's response by our deadline. While the concept is not a new one -- President Bush was the first to give it any respectability -- whether and how it might be implemented by 2010, as reported, is anyone's guess.

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