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November 23, 2004

Business NewsWire Complete Issue

By The AVweb Editorial Staff

This issue of AVweb's Business AVflash is brought to you by …
Piedmont Hawthorne Aircraft Sales

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Gulfstream Crew Warned Of Low Altitude

The crew of a Gulfstream II on approach to Houston’s William P Hobby Airport early Monday was warned by a controller that its altitude was too low about two minutes before it crashed, killing both pilots and a flight attendant. The jet was inbound to Hobby to pick up former president George H.W. Bush for a flight to Ecuador. The Gulfstream was being operated by Jet Place, a Tulsa, Okla., charter operator and departed Dallas’ Love Field earlier that morning for the short hop to Houston. Yesterday, the first officer aboard the Gulfstream was identified as Michael Desalvo, 62, from Roanoke, Texas. Weather at Hobby that morning included low ceilings and calm winds, according to reports. The landing jet’s right wing reportedly clipped a light pole more than three miles from its intended runway. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the accident; so far, the plane’s CVR and FDR had been recovered. Desalvo and the flight’s captain reportedly had some 19,000 hours of flight time each.

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Are You Ready For DRVSM?

Ready or not, domestic RVSM (DRVSM) is coming soon, to a flight level near you. In this case, “soon” means Jan. 20, 2005, at 901 UTC and, despite what you might have heard, the FAA’s postponement of this date isn’t likely. After Jan. 20, your aircraft must be RVSM-compliant if you want to use major chunks of the high-altitude airspace. Most turboprops and just about all piston-powered FLIBs need not apply. The goal of RVSM is to reduce the vertical separation between FL290 and FL410 inclusive from the current 2000-foot minimum to 1000 feet in airspace over the continental U.S., Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic High Offshore Airspace (including Houston and Miami Oceanic airspace) and the San Juan FIR. On the same date and time and at the same flight levels, Canada and Mexico will implement RVSM. Canada implemented RVSM in its Northern Domestic Airspace in April 2002 and plans to expand it into Canadian Southern Domestic Airspace. RVSM was first implemented in North Atlantic Airspace in 1997. It is now implemented in other major airspaces such as Europe, the Pacific Ocean and Australia. The FAA’s (and the airlines’…) goal in implementing DRVSM is to make six additional flight levels available for operations. According to the FAA, implementing DRVSM will allow aircraft to safely fly more optimum profiles, gain fuel savings and increase airspace capacity. We’ll see.

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Is Your Airplane Ready For DRVSM?

On its face, RVSM sounds simple enough -- compress the distance between aircraft operating in the high-altitude en route environment. But it’s not that simple, or easy. For one thing, there are very good reasons previous standards at those altitudes called for 2000 feet of separation. Among them are the unreliability of altimetry and autopilot systems installed in older airplanes. Additional challenges are related to limitations of existing ATC equipment, Mode C altitude-reporting resolution and how quickly a seemingly minor altitude deviation can quickly become a major loss of separation with closure rates of 1100 knots or more. As such, RVSM airspace throughout the world and, beginning in January here in the U.S., will be considered “special qualification airspace,” according to the FAA. Both the individual operator and the specific aircraft type or types in use must be FAA-approved before the operator conducts flight in RVSM airspace. The biggest challenge is gaining RVSM approval from the FAA for older airframes. While the equipment necessary to bring, say, an older Hawker or Lear into RVSM compliance differs from airframe to airframe -- along with the costs -- the FAA says minimum equipment should include two independent altimetry systems, an SSR altitude reporting transponder, an automatic altitude control system, an altitude alert system and a TCAS II installation running software version 7.0 or later. The margins for error in these systems get tighter, too. For example, the altitude alert threshold is +/- 300 feet for aircraft types certificated before 1997; it’s +/- 200 feet for aircraft certificated after that date. And then all this hardware and software has to be monitored and tested on an ongoing basis, sometimes by literally flying the aircraft over a ground-based monitoring station. Look on the bright side: You probably won’t have to go through TSA screening.

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EASA Awards G450 Type Certificate

Gulfstream Aerospace last week said the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) awarded a type certificate for the company’s G450 business jet aircraft. The EASA action allows the G450 to be registered in any of the 25 European Union countries and follows FAA type certification on Aug. 12. Presently, Gulfstream says the first G450 will enter service in the second quarter of 2005. Introduced last year, the G450 is a refinement of the Gulfstream GIV/GIV-SP and features the exclusive PlaneView cockpit, Honeywell's Primus Epic Avionics and Visual Guidance System and Gulfstream’s Enhanced Vision System. The G450 is powered by two Rolls-Royce Tay 611-8C engines and has a range of 4350 nm. According to Gulfstream, the G450 was developed by the same team that came up with the G550, which won the 2003 Collier Trophy earlier this year. The G450 joins its siblings -- the G550, G500 and G350 -- in sharing numerous common aircraft systems as well as the same pilot type rating. For operators flush enough to afford more than one Gulfstream, this means training and maintenance cost savings.

Eclipse Customers To Train With United Airlines

Eclipse Aviation last week announced it had inked a deal with United Airlines (UAL) to provide pilots of its forthcoming Eclipse 500 very light jet with a comprehensive flight training program. The deal with UAL is a reversal of Eclipse’s original strategy for its to-be-certificated jet, in which it planned to perform training in-house. Under the expanded program, Eclipse says its customers will receive both their initial flight-skills assessment, as well as their type-rating transition training, at UAL’s flight training center in Denver, Colo. A full-motion simulator will be used under a curriculum jointly developed by Eclipse and UAL. For its part, UAL has done a separate deal with Boeing’s Alteon subsidiary to provide the pilots and other instructors for the Eclipse training program. “United’s training organization has one of the best safety records in the world, and a philosophy of training that closely mirrors our own. We’re delighted by their desire and ability to translate airline style training into a program appropriate for Eclipse 500 customers,” said Vern Raburn, president and CEO of Eclipse Aviation. According to Eclipse, UAL will pioneer “single-pilot cockpit resource management training for the Eclipse 500.” The UAL flight training facility in Denver conducts more than 1400 pilot training events each month; it was created in 1968 and caters to more than 75 outside customers, including pilots in the U.S. Air Force, NASA and the FAA.

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Can You Surf Me Now?

It’s just the thing for the gearhead who has everything, including his own GV: Gulfstream last week said it received the necessary certification to offer its exclusive ultra-high-speed Internet connection in the company’s long-range business jet. Gulfstream says the FAA issued a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) for the GV allowing the company to install its Broad Band Multi-Link (BBML) system on all 186 GVs in the fleet. The latest STC follows one awarded in October for Gulfstream’s GIV. Instead of a really long wire, Gulfstream’s BBML system consists of a dish antenna mounted under the tail radome of the aircraft, an antenna control unit, a transceiver router and a server. The Gulfstream hardware and software works through the SKYLink system offered by ARINC Direct, a Ku-band service. The service is currently available over the United States, with expansion planned for the North Atlantic, Europe and the Middle East next year and the Pacific in 2006. "Gulfstream is the first and only purpose-built business-jet manufacturer to currently offer in-flight Internet capability at data speeds up to 3.5 megabits per second," said Pres Henne, Gulfstream's senior vice president of programs, engineering and test. FAA approval to install the BBML system on G550 and G500 aircraft is expected before the end of 2004; for the G450 and G350, it is expected by the first quarter of 2005.

Chasing Marine One

When the U.S. president travels, his trip usually begins and ends aboard a helicopter designated as Marine One, a reference to the operator -- the U.S. Marine Corps -- and the importance the service places on the passenger. The equipment is always a product manufactured by U.S.-based Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.; usually, it’s a VH-3D Sea King operated by HMX-1, Marine Helicopter Squadron One, based at nearby Andrews AFB. The president also rides aboard a Sikorsky VH-60N, an executive version of the company’s workhorse Blackhawk, but its cabin is smaller. Unfortunately, those VH-3Ds are getting a little long in the tooth, the type having first flown in 1959, although current models entered service in 1976. For years, though, the Marine Corps has had in mind a replacement for the VH-3D; the only problem is which airframe to choose. The choices come down to a “presidentialized” version of Sikorsky’s S-92A, an FAA type-certificated helicopter that won the 2002 Collier Trophy; or the EH Industries’ EH101, a triple-engine airframe jointly developed by Westland and Agusta. While the Sikorsky offering is 100% U.S.-made, the EH Industries product is only 80% domestic. Most recently, the U.S. Navy -- the Marine Corps’ parent -- announced this week that it had postponed its anticipated decision on a winner until at least January. The decision comes in the same week that AgustaWestlandBell, a joint venture between AgustaWestland and Bell Helicopter Textron, announced moving their corporate headquarters to the Washington, D.C., suburbs. Film at 11; err, in January.

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Embraer Echoes Market Projections

Echoing similar projections by other companies in recent months, Brazil-based Empresa Brasileira de Aeronáutica S.A. (Embraer) recently released the results from its own study of corporate aircraft demand, which estimates an overall market for 7560 business aircraft in the next 10 years. According to Embraer, the super-midsize business jet segment is expected to reach 1485 units over the next decade while anticipated sales of bizjets in the “large” segment should reach 945 units in the same period. Embraer’s Legacy Executive and Legacy Shuttle jets, versions of the company’s line of ERJ 135/145 regional airliners are the company’s primary offering to the bizjet crowd. The company recently announced a number of improvements in the Legacy program at NBAA 2004, including performance enhancements and new interior amenities. First certified in 2002, Embraer’s Legacy jets are currently operated in 11 countries. The Legacy Executive carries up to 16 passengers, cruises at up to Mach .80 and offers a range of 3250 nm with eight passengers and NBAA IFR reserves.

Delta Adds Two Bizjets

No, not that Delta. Instead, it’s Delta AirElite Business Jets -- a subsidiary of the scheduled carrier -- that announced last week it will add two jets, a Learjet 31A and a Hawker 700A, to its Part 135 charter operating certificate. The Learjet 31A will be based at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport and the Hawker 700A at the Lunken Airport in Cincinnati. Delta AirElite Business Jets is a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta Air Lines and provides aircraft charter, aircraft management and a fractional ownership program. Now in its 20th year, Delta AirElite is the only business jet operator owned by a major U.S. airline, despite United Airlines’ aborted attempt to enter the market. "We are experiencing increased demand due to the growth of our Fleet Charter and Fleet Membership programs," said Michael B. Green, president and chief executive officer of Delta AirElite Business Jets, possibly ignoring the abysmal service scheduled carriers are dishing out these days. Delta AirElite presently offers access to more than 400 business jets positioned throughout the United States and says it is aggressively increasing its fleet size. That fleet includes a mix of Bombardier Challenger, Learjet, Gulfstream, Hawker and Cessna jets.

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Watch Your Inbox...

...the next issue of AVweb's BizAVflash will be e-mailed to you on Dec. 15. Until then!

Sponsor News and Special Offers

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Business AVflash is a twice-monthly summary of the latest business aviation
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Have a comment or question? Send it to mailto:newsteam@avweb.com.

Today's issue written by Joseph E. (Jeb) Burnside:
AVweb's editorial team: http://avweb.com/contact/authors.html.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

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