Business NewsWire Complete Issue

September 28, 2004
By The AVweb Editorial Staff

This issue of AVweb's Business AVflash is brought to you by …
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NBAA Faithful About To Flock

It's that time of year again. If you're in or near Las Vegas in mid-October -- the 12th through the 14th, to be exact -- it will be hard to ignore the coming invasion of business aviation's faithful for the National Business Aviation Association's (NBAA) 57th Annual Meeting and Convention. Just about everywhere you look -- except maybe the roulette tables -- you'll see ads, banners and the odd airframe manufacturer's logo adorning a bus or limo, all extolling the virtues of BA. You'll also be rubbing elbows with as many as 30,000 attendees visiting over 1,000 exhibitors and more than 100 aircraft on static display. When all that becomes too much, you can sidle into a seminar session covering just about every topic, from security to substance abuse. Attendees will also get the skinny on new airframes from Cessna -- a new Citation model, probably -- and Aerion -- a start-up aiming to launch a supersonic bizjet -- among others. Additional topics for detailed discussion will be the Transportation Security Administration's latest shot across GA's bow, a new rule expanding previous reporting and background-check requirements for foreign nationals wishing to obtain flight training in the U.S. Look for detailed coverage of what's news at this year's NBAA convention in the next edition of AVweb's BizAvFlash.

Perhaps of greatest interest to NBAA's members and others will be what, if any, new direction for the association may be announced. As AVweb has covered on numerous occasions, 2004 has been tumultuous for the association, with on-again, off-again staff resignations followed by the sudden departure of its then-new president Shelley Longmuir and her number two. Finally, after a lengthy search, NBAA hired Ed Bolen, then president of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. Bolen, who assumed the position only Sept. 1 and who has already been making the rounds to bizav hotspots, steps into the maelstrom for real in a couple of weeks at Vegas. In addition to those staff changes, NBAA lost its longtime operations head, Bob Blouin, on Aug. 31 -- he'll be replaced by soon-to-be-former FAA air traffic control planner Steve Brown. With all these changes over the past year, NBAA members may be asking some tough questions of the association's management in a couple of weeks. It's likely, however, that NBAA will have plenty of answers.

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Dassault Marks 20th Falcon 900 Anniversary...

French airframer Dassault this month reminded the industry that a Friday some 20 years ago -- Sept. 21, 1984, to be exact -- saw the first flight of its venerable Falcon 900 trijet. That initial flight, from Merignac, France, has since spawned more than 330 copies and five different versions of the trans-Atlantic bizjet, including the 900DX scheduled for certification in December 2005. An outgrowth of the similarly configured Falcon 50, the 900 was first announced at the 1983 Paris Air Show, although its prototype had been prototype-launched in March 1981 under the moniker FGF, for Falcon Gros Fuselage -- a wide-body Falcon. Then fitted with Garrett TFE 731-A engines, Falcon's top-of-the-line aircraft had an operating range of 4,000 nm, plus a then-new EFIS flight-deck package. March 1986 saw the 900 achieving its certification status.

...Opens New Ops Center At TEB...

Almost at the same time as it celebrated the 900's 20th anniversary, Dassault opened a new Flight Operations Center at the Teterboro (N.J.) Airport. According to the company, the new facility will be home to a 23-person flight operations department and the Falcon demonstration fleet. It will also house three local field service representatives. The new facility is directly across from Dassault Falcon Jet's headquarters. "Having the Flight Operations Center so close means that we can more easily show our customers and operators our products; meet with customer flight crews; and enhance the spec and design process in one visit," said Matt Boyle, senior vice president and general counsel at Dassault Falcon. A new 32,200-square-foot complex provides much more space for Dassault's existing staff -- and plenty of room for expansion. The hangar can house as many as six Falcons and is a far cry from the company's first facility in North America, which a press release labeled "half of a lean-to with 1,600 square feet of work space." The new TEB facility is the third new opening this year for the company. Earlier, Dassault's Little Rock Completion Center and Dassault Falcon Jet in Wilmington both opened new paint facilities.

...And Names Eric Monsel VP of Programs

Dassault earlier this month named Eric Monsel vice president of programs as replacement for the retiring Marc Valle, who has been with the company in numerous capacities since 1967. In his new position, Monsel -- who most recently served Dassault as deputy vice president of engineering in Merignac, France -- will coordinate all new Falcon options and new projects developed for the completion programs. "Eric comes to this new position at a unique time for Dassault Falcon," said John Rosanvallon, president and CEO of Dassault Falcon Jet Corporation. "The first 7X is nearing completion and will take flight in the second quarter of 2005 and our EASy flight deck was recently certified in our most popular airplane, the 2000EX." If you ever wanted to know what education it takes to rise to such a position for a French bizjet manufacturer, Monsel has a degree in mechanical engineering, a Ph.D. in engineering and an M.B.A. He joined Dassault in 1983 as an avionics engineer.

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TSA Watch: Another Misstep?

When it first opened its doors and began it primary mission, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) began to be called "Too Stupid to Ask," a reference to the then-new agency's uncanny and repeatable ability to act first and then ask questions of the industry it was trying to regulate. As it became more accustomed to its role -- and as people more experienced with the airline industry came aboard and were actually listened to by top management -- industry's problems with the TSA lessened in severity, if not number. Now, however, as the agency seemingly catches its breath with many of the challenges of airline security tamped down, "mission creep" has become the watchword among many outside observers. Even though its newest role was handed to it by Congress, that watchword is coming home to haunt a general aviation industry still wrestling with the impact of the new rule on flight training dropped on desks last week. Among the major issues with the new rule is the short time frame allowed to flight schools, independent CFIs and many other flight-training providers to understand and comply with the rule before its two effective dates: Oct. 5, for training in an aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds, and Oct. 20, for training in smaller ones. But, it's not like no one knew this was coming.

The underlying statute was enacted into law on Dec. 12, 2003, the basic program has been in effect at the Department of Justice since 2002 and aviation's alphabet soup has had most of a year to get ready for it. To be sure, the new rule is onerous in its reach and record-keeping requirements. Also, many aspects of it are as yet unclear. What liability will a CFI assume when determining that a person is or is not a U.S. citizen under the rule? What penalties might be imposed for making a mistake in, say, reading a birth certificate or a passport, neither of which the average CFI is trained to review? AOPA said yesterday that, "As currently written, the rule requires every student and pilot to prove his or her citizenship status prior to taking any kind of flight training, including flight reviews. Flight instructors are required to keep copies of pilots' personal information (which could include social security cards, birth certificates, or passports) for five years." In sum, the new rule -- and especially the short fuse it carries for compliance -- stands to set back relations between GA and the TSA to the "bad old days" when the agency couldn't shoot straight. Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail at the TSA and detailed guidance will be forthcoming. AVweb will continue to monitor and report on this developing issue.

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Gulfstream's G550 Marks One Year

While Dassault was celebrating the 20th year of its flagship bizjet line, Gulfstream Aerospace marked the first anniversary its large-cabin G550's entry into service. Not content to merely push them out the door during the past year, Gulfstream pilots flying the G550 established more than 10 city-pair speed and distance records as well as a long-distance, nonstop 7,301-nautical-mile flight between Seoul, South Korea, and Orlando, Fla., according to the company. And, in May, the G550 development team was awarded the Collier Trophy for its work on the G550, described as “an innovative aircraft that offers measurable safety enhancements and practical, applicable and useful advances in aerospace technology.”

“This has been an incredible first year,” said Bryan Moss, president of Gulfstream. “The 25 aircraft that currently make up the G550 in-service fleet have accumulated more than 7,600 flight hours and are experiencing a dispatch reliability rate of 99.73 percent. The fleet leader has already reached over 900 hours.” The G550 features Gulfstream's PlaneView cockpit, an integrated flight deck incorporating large, easy-to-read displays and is available with the company's see-through-the-dark Enhanced Vision System. The G550 can accommodate up to 18 passengers, fly at a maximum speed of .885 Mach and cruise at FL510.

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Rockwell Collins Gets Challenger 300 Sim Nod

Rockwell Collins announced this month that its NLX subsidiary received FAA Level D qualification on the company's Bombardier Challenger 300 Full Flight Simulator. For NLX, which was acquired by Rockwell late last year, the paperwork marks the first commercial aircraft flight simulator for Bombardier. New to the business aviation simulator market, NLX markets a wide range of training systems and technical services for many military and commercial platforms. These include the U.S. Navy's P-3C Visual System Modifications and the Black Hawk Flight Simulator for the U.S. National Guard, in addition to the Bombardier Challenger 300 simulator.

"NLX has provided us with support during the development and certification of our Challenger 300 FAA Level D simulator and associated FTD,” said Hank Blasiak, general manager of Bombardier Customer Training Services. “Their flexibility and resourcefulness during a parallel dynamic aircraft development program was critical to our success."

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Augusta Names Grand U.S. Launch Customer

Agusta Aerospace Corporation said this month that Seacor Holdings Inc. will be the U.S. offshore oil and gas industry launch customer for its recently announced Agusta Grand light twin turbine helicopter. The Grand was unveiled at the recent Farnborough air show; deliveries are to start in 2005. Seacor is an international provider of marine transportation services to the petroleum industry. “The Agusta Grand’s spacious cabin, high cruise speed and payload/range capability are important considerations for our helicopter operations. We are excited about the potential of the Agusta Grand,” says Ed Washecka, vice president at Seacor. Agusta's Grand is slated to have Pratt & Whitney PW207C turboshaft engines with FADEC control and an up-rated transmission allowing a max gross takeoff weight of 7,000 pounds. According to Agusta, more than 20 firm orders have been received for the Grand in the two months since its announcement.

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...the next issue of AVweb's BizAVflash will be e-mailed to you on Oct. 13. Until then!

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