September 14, 2004
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
This issue of AVweb's Business AVflash is brought to you by WxServer
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Steve Brown, a longtime aviation-industry veteran and current head of the FAA's air traffic control planning apparatus, will be leaving the agency and joining the National Business Aviation Association as its new senior vice president of operations, the association announced yesterday. Brown will replace Bob Blouin, who resigned his position with the NBAA on Aug. 31. Brown's first day on the job is set for Oct. 4, which means he'll barely have time to find his desk before jetting off to Las Vegas for the NBAA's annual meeting and convention, set for Oct. 12 - 14. "I couldn't be more pleased," said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen, the ink on his own NBAA business cards barely dry. "Steve brings tremendous experience and proven leadership qualities to NBAA. He is a great addition to our team." Various industry observers echoed that sentiment yesterday after Brown's appointment was made public. "Good for Ed [Bolen]. He (Brown) is going to be good in that job ... and attract plenty of good talent," the president of an NBAA member company, an operating member who has known and worked with Bolen for years, told AVweb. Brown has been in his current position as the FAA's vice president for operations planning within the agency's air traffic organization (ATO) only since the ATO was established on Feb. 8, 2004. Before that evolution, Brown had served as the FAA's associate administrator for air traffic services since his appointment to the agency in 1998, managing the 35,000 air traffic controllers, maintenance and software technicians, flight inspection pilots and administrative personnel who run the nation's airspace system. Earlier Brown served as president of the National Aeronautic Association and as senior vice president of government and technical affairs at the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. During his tenure at the FAA, he frequently accompanied the FAA administrator to various public events involving aviation, including AOPA's annual meetings as well as the "Meet the Administrator" sessions at EAA's AirVenture Oshkosh. Brown has also served with RTCA Inc., and was a faculty member at Texas A&M University. An aircraft owner, Brown has worked as an air taxi pilot and full-time flight instructor.
Brown's appointment comes as a tumultuous year at the NBAA heads into its home stretch: the association's annual meeting. With Bolen apparently firmly at the stick, any additional changes will likely be handled with similar deftness. One task remaining to be performed is backfilling the vice president of government and public affairs position, which will be vacated by Pete West on Nov. 1. Once that slot is filled -- a decision on which would be unlikely until the outcome of the U.S. presidential campaign is known (and who knows when that could be ...) -- the NBAA's year of living dangerously could finally be over. Even more interesting, however, will be the extent to which Bolen and Brown seek to transform the NBAA. One of the reasons former association President Shelly Longmuir left the organization earlier this year was her perceived failure to implement change. While learning the true nature of her tenure -- did she fail to make changes after the board of directors approved them or did the NBAA board resist her attempts at a makeover? -- may still be in the future, it's a pretty fair bet that the Bolen/Brown team is in this for the long haul and won't make Longmuir's mistakes. Another fair bet is that the association will not closely resemble itself by this time next year, either in the composition of its staff or the impact of its policy-related activities at the FAA, on Capitol Hill, in the GA manufacturing sector or in the domestic and international operator communities. And for the rank and file NBAA member, that's probably a good thing.
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Gulfstream Aerospace last week announced receiving a type certificate for its G200 business jet from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), enabling the aircraft to be registered in all European Union member countries. Since it acquired the G200, née Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) Galaxy, in May 2001, the G200 has undergone significant modifications, including a newly designed interior and an overall weight reduction of more than 450 pounds. Despite being a part of the General Dynamics corporate umbrella, Gulfstream's G200 aircraft are manufactured at IAI in Tel Aviv, Israel, and then flown to Gulfstreams final phase manufacturing facility in Dallas. The G200 offers seating configurations accommodating up to 10 passengers and can reach speeds up to Mach .85, altitudes up to 45,000 feet and a range of 3,400 nautical miles. The G200 is powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW 306A engines and, earlier this year, Gulfstream began offering Safe Flight Instrument Corporations Enhanced Autopower® Automatic Throttle System (ATS) as a retrofit on in-service G200s and as optional equipment on new G200s.
Just before obtaining the EASA type certificate, Gulfstream rolled out the 100th copy of the G200 before it headed off to be completed. The 100th G200 is slated for delivery to fractional aircraft operator NetJets later this year. "Our final phase manufacturing facility, which outfits and completes the G200, has transformed the aircraft into a true Gulfstream business jet," said Bryan Moss, president of Gulfstream. "Our engineers and technicians have succeeded in improving an already sleek and sturdy plane into one that is reliable, more comfortable and performs better than before," he added The 100th copy of the G200 was a long time in coming. Design work on the IAI-1126 Galaxy began in the early 1990s, with a formal program launch being announced in September 1993. In 1995, a fuselage-production arrangement with Russian manufacturer Yakovlev was terminated. Subsequently, SOGERMA of France was selected to manufacture production Galaxy fuselages and tails. As one result, the Galaxy was first expected to fly in 1996, but that didn't occur until December 1997. FAA and Israeli certification was obtained in December 1998 with the first customer delivery in January 2000.
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Eclipse Aviation Corporation last week announced adding a former senior manager for organizations such as Dell Computer, Gerber Scientific and Marconi Communications to its management. Bill Bonder, most recently a senior global strategic commodity manager for Dell, joined Eclipse as vice president of supply chain management. According to Eclipse, Bonder will work to optimize the Eclipse 500 global supply chain network during preproduction into volume production. "We have successfully identified the worlds highest-quality suppliers, and now is the time to add an experienced supply chain leader to the Eclipse team," said Vern Raburn, president and CEO of Eclipse Aviation. Eclipse says its plans are on track to certify the Eclipse 500 in early 2006; the company says it has a backlog of more than 2,100 orders secured with non-refundable deposits. Eclipse plans to start production in early 2006 with an aggressive ramp to up to 1,000 aircraft per year by 2009. "As in every facet of our business, we will utilize the most innovative business processes and sophisticated technologies to manufacture the Eclipse 500," Raburn added.
Whether you believe the hype -- increased efficiency, higher cruising altitudes and crisper handing -- winglets are all the rage with most modern bizjet manufacturers. Of course, the true effect of such a modification depends on the airframe and the winglet, but one company that has made its mark in the add-on winglet market -- Aviation Partners Inc. -- now is able to sell a new winglet package to operators of one of the most popular mid-size bizjets out there: the Hawker 800. According to Aviation Partners, Hawker 800 operators can now look forward to 7% additional range, faster climb to altitude, higher initial cruise levels and significantly improved performance from high and hot airfields with the company's newly obtained Supplemental Type Certificate (STC), which was announced this week. After adding the winglets, a Hawker 800SP will fly 30 minutes longer, 180 nm farther, 18 knots faster and with a 2000-foot higher initial cruise altitude compared to a standard Hawker 800, according to Aviation Partners, which has installed its technology on some 70% of the Gulfstream II fleet; it is also seen on the Boeing Business Jet, Boeing 737-700/800 NG series and the Boeing 737-300 Classic. "Blended Winglets transform the standard 2510-nm Hawker 800 to a 2690-nm-capable Hawker 800SP," said Sales Director Gary Dunn. Aviation Partners' market isn't anything to sneeze at, either: There are currently over 600 Hawker 800 series aircraft in service worldwide. The STC'd mod for the Hawker 800 will set you back $395,000, including installation.
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It's way too soon to tell what, if any, long-term impact ongoing financial troubles at two major airlines may mean for Bombardier Inc., but if recent trends are any indication, the company may be in for a bumpy ride. Earlier this week, the airframe manufacturer's stock took a hit on news that a major customer -- US Airways -- once again sought protection from its creditors by filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 of U.S. law. According to published reports, the company may see its credit rating reduced to that of junk bonds by the financial industry. Those same reports state that some 40 percent of Bombardier's scheduled commercial aircraft deliveries are planned for the bankrupt airline and that another longtime Bombardier customer -- Delta Air Lines -- is considering bankruptcy protection. For its part, Bombardier maintained in a Sept. 12 press release that US Airways' difficulties "will not affect total aircraft deliveries for this fiscal year." According to Bombardier, 45 Bombardier CRJ aircraft are yet to be delivered to the bankrupt carrier from an original order of 85 aircraft signed in May 2003. "Of the 12 aircraft scheduled for delivery in the remainder of this fiscal year, eight will be taken by GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) in accordance with the original purchase agreement, leaving only four aircraft to be reconfigured for other airline customers," the manufacturer said.
Cessna Aircraft Company last week announced it has released Class A Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS) Service Bulletins covering a large portion of its Citation fleet. According to Cessna, complying with its bulletins "provide the flight crew with aural and visual alerts to unintended approach to terrain. By incorporating airspeed attitude, crew response time, current flight stage and many other factors, it provides additional crew situational awareness." Covered by the new Service Bulletins are the 525 Citation CJ Mark V and Mark VIII models, the 550 Citation Bravo Mark VII and VIII, the 560 Citation Ultra Mark VIII, the 550 Citation II Mark VIII and the 650 Citation VII. Cessna says new Service Bulletins for Sandel Class A and Class B solutions will be available in October. According to Cessna, the FAA has issued its final report on the forthcoming TAWS mandate, which goes into effect March 29, 2005. The FAA's final rule on TAWS established two classes of related equipment: Class A systems, which apply to all Part 121 and 135 operations with aircraft configured with at least 10 passenger seats; and Class B systems, which apply to all Part 91 operators, for aircraft having six or more passenger seats, and Part 135 operators with six to nine passenger seats. The TAWS technology is designed to replaced existing ground proximity warning systems (GPWS) and includes the GPWS functionalities but adds premature descent alerts (PDA) and forward looking terrain avoidance (FLTA). For more information on Cessnas Citation TAWS program, e-mail TAWS@cessna.textron.com.
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General aviation's alphabet soup has been positively hyperventilating the last few days in response to a new bill introduced in Congress by U.S. Rep. Anthony D. Weiner (D-N.Y.). Weiner, who apparently never read what Mark Twain wrote about idiots and Members of Congress, last week introduced H.R. 5035, which would "require the ... same [pre-boarding] screening of all passengers and property ... carried aboard a [general aviation] aircraft as is provided for ... a passenger aircraft operated by an air carrier," among other things. Put another way, you'd have to walk through a metal detector and be screened by the TSA before climbing into your sailplane, hot air balloon or LSA, much less your Gulfstream. Despite the sheer impracticality of being screened before taking off your Cub from your own grass strip, there simply aren't enough bucks in Uncle Sugar's bank account -- and never will be -- to make such nonsense happen. Hopefully, according to AOPA, however, the fork may have been stuck into the Weiner (whiner?) bill by the time you read this. "We're using our professional Washington, D.C.-based legislative staff and our personal, ongoing relationships with powerful members of Congress to drive a stake through the heart of this ill-conceived bill," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "The congressmen closest to aviation issues know exactly how AOPA members feel about this legislation." According to AOPA, the first opportunity for the Weiner bill to advance would be today when the House considers legislation implementing recommendations from the 9/11 Commission. Weiner could try to offer his bill as an amendment to that legislation, but the likelihood of his success is low, according to observers. Meanwhile, the TSA has made it abundantly clear over the last couple of years that it does not consider GA aircraft to be a threat to national security, even though the agency has not yet made itself heard on this legislation. The good thing is that Congress won't be in session much longer this year. The bad news is that Weiner, whose congressional district is centered in the New York City borough of Queens, faces what is widely considered to be token opposition in the coming general election. Do you feel secure yet?
Raytheon Aircraft Services' Toluca, Mexico, facility is now an FAA-certified Part 145 Repair Station and capable of legally performing maintenance on any N-registered aircraft on its certificate. The certification allows RAS Toluca to work on all Beechcraft and Hawker products, plus Falcon 50 and Lear 20, 30 and 60 series aircraft. The yearlong certification process began with the facility changing its work processes to bring them into alignment with FAA requirements. FAA inspectors visited the site once, in July, and issued the certificate July 31, 2004. "Earning FAA certification is an important step in providing the best service possible to our customers in Mexico and Central America," said Skip Madsen, vice president of operations for RAS. "The quality of work done in Toluca is equal to any shop in the United States." RAS Toluca was already certified through La Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil, Mexicos equivalent of the FAA.
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Signature Flight Support last month announced an agreement to acquire U.K-based Execair, one of Europes leading FBO networks, from John Menzies PLC. A traditional FBO chain, Execair has facilities at 10 airports throughout the U.K. and in Europe, all of which will now be operating under the Signature banner. Signatures latest acquisition expands its network to 57 locations worldwide, with 14 in the fast-growing Pan European market. "We are delighted to expand our capabilities and services in Europe," said Beth Haskins, Signatures president and CEO. "The addition of the Execair network is an important step in our overall strategy to expand our presence in key markets in both the U.S. and in Europe."
Turbomeca, one of the leading helicopter engine manufacturers worldwide, recently announced its new "Progress Initiative" division, which is tasked with "deploying, coordinating and steering all the processes directed at progress" within the company and its affiliates from the word go. One of the most visible changes presented by the company's new initiative is the promotion of Max Tulié, formerly vice president of quality, to the new slot of vice president of progress initiative. Additionally, Philippe Larrauri was named to succeed Tulié. Tulié, a graduate from French engineering schools INSA & IAE, began his career in 1975 with Turbomeca (Bordes). In 1981, he was appointed manager of the manufacturing activity at the Tarnos site and, in 1988, became head of the production department. Among other positions, since July 2002 he has held the post of vice president of quality. Larrauri has spent most of his career in the quality function, at the Messier Foundry from 1990 to 1997, then with Schlumberger until 2002, and finally in the Valeo Group. Turbomeca has produced some 50,000 turbine helicopter engines, sold to more than 2000 customers worldwide.
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