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The Top Headlines From AVweb's Expanded
Business News Coverage At AVweb's
IS ONE FAA FOCUS...
The FAA made it pretty clear to charter and corporate aviation
industry representatives last week that the recent spate of fatal
turbine-powered aircraft accidents has the agency's attention.
Attendees and the top-level agency officials present pledged to work
together in tackling the challenge of improving this industry
segment's safety record. The meeting, though planned for some time,
came on the heels of six fatal crashes since October involving, well,
airplanes that shouldn't be crashing. Before the meeting, ostensibly
held to discuss with industry voluntary safety measures operators
should be taking, top officials at the FAA made it clear to observers
that improving safety among turbine operators was of huge importance.
Basically, one observer told AVweb, either the industry
addresses the safety issue of improving or the FAA will do it for
them. The meeting came at a time when many industry participants and
the FAA are working closely to modernize -- and in some cases
liberalize -- the existing Part 135 operating and certification
regulations through a years-long aviation rulemaking committee (ARC)
convened to address FAR Parts 125 and 135. Although the ARC's final
meeting and recommendations approval is scheduled for this week, what,
if any, impact the FAA's heightened concern will have on that effort
is not known at this time. More...
CHALLENGERS ARE ANOTHER
The same day the FAA met with industry representatives to discuss
voluntary steps aimed at improving business and charter aircraft
safety, the agency issued an Airworthiness Directive (AD) against an
aircraft type involved in two of the recent six accidents that have
drawn attention to the issue. The not-unexpected AD targets
Bombardier's Canadair Challenger 600-series bizjets and requires
operators to more carefully inspect the planes for airframe ice and
contamination before takeoff. The type was involved in a Nov. 28 crash in Montrose, Colo., and in the Feb. 2 crash at Teterboro. Both accidents -- the
one in Montrose involved fatalities -- involved cold-weather takeoffs,
although the NTSB's investigation into them continues.
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AVIATION ROLLS OUT FALCON 7X
Originally announced at the 2001 Paris Air Show, the first example of
Dassault Aviation's newest trijet, the 7X, was rolled out last week at
the company's facility in Bordeaux-Mérignac, France. "Today we
have made a huge step forward in the industry," said Charles
Edelstenne, chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation. "Due to the new and
unique design and manufacturing process ... we have started a new
industrial revolution that will take us through this century."
According to Dassault, the first 7X "went together exactly as planned
and was assembled in seven months." The company is using a new design
and assembly process it calls "concurrent engineering," which involves
developing digital models to test, validate and anticipate everything
from tooling and assembly to aerodynamics and maintenance. The 7X also
will be the first bizjet to feature fly-by-wire technology, replacing
all mechanical linkages between controls and control surfaces with
wiring, circuits and actuators. More...
CELEBRATES ITS COMEBACK...
The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) last week held
its annual production review and market outlook, and to no one's great
surprise, business aircraft led the industry's charge to growth.
According to GAMA, deliveries of new general aviation aircraft climbed
10 percent in 2004, with billings increasing 19 percent. Turboprops
led the growth, with an 18-percent (272 vs. 321 airframes) increase
over 2003 while business jets followed closely with a 14.1-percent
(518 vs. 591) jump in sales. Counting piston-powered, GAMA members
sold $11.9 billion of new aircraft in 2004. James E. Schuster,
chairman of GAMAs board, said, Bonus depreciation, coupled
with the continuing growth of the U.S. economy, helped make 2004 a
turning point for our industry. The fact that total shipments
increased indicates that this turn-around is broadly based. GAMA
member companies believe this bodes well for the future of general
LOOKS FOR MORE
Meanwhile, back in Wichita -- home to the vast majority of general
aviation's manufacturing capacity -- city fathers are looking to help
ensure the industry continues to call the area home by developing an
aircraft maintenance training facility at the local Col. James Jabara
Airport. According to The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle newspaper, the city
plans to develop an existing building at the airport to house the
ongoing program, currently run by the Kansas Technical Training
Initiative (KTTI) and the Cowley County Community College. The KTTI is
a coalition of local aircraft manufacturers, including Boeing, Cessna,
Raytheon and Bombardier, plus city and county officials, said the
INSURANCE CENTER (PIC) TEAMS WITH AVEMCO TO OFFER LIFE
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doesn't penalize them for being pilots. PIC is the industry's leader
in offering exclusive pilot-friendly rates. Now, Avemco is sponsoring
a Term Life Insurance Program underwritten by well-respected
insurance companies that have products tailored to general aviation
pilots. The Avemco Program will be administered by the Pilot
Insurance Center, using PIC's unique criteria. This collaborative
effort will make life insurance more widely available to pilots at
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MATES CITATION MUSTANG WINGS ON SCHEDULE...
The wing mating of Cessna's first Citation Mustang is the latest step
the company has accomplished in bringing the type to market.
Approximately 50 Cessna employees from the company's Independence,
Kan., and Columbus, Ga., facilities have temporarily relocated to
Wichita to help build the first five Citation Mustangs. These five
airframes are in various stages of assembly at Cessnas Pawnee
facility in Wichita. Once completed, three airframes will be used for
flight testing and two airframes will be used for structural testing.
MOCK-UP BEGINS WORLDWIDE TOUR
Meanwhile, Cessna has a mock-up of the Mustang and is taking it out on
the road. The company's worldwide tour began last week in Chicago --
that stalwart defender of all things general aviation -- and is
scheduled to conclude on May 20, 2005, at the EBACE convention in
Geneva, Switzerland. The Citation Mustang has been enormously
well received by the market, said Steve Saflin, manager of
Citation Mustang marketing. More...
AVIATION ADVANCES CERTIFICATION TEST FLEET
There's a lot of mating going on in aviation this month. In addition
to Cessna putting the wings on its first Citation Mustang, Eclipse
Aviation last week announced its next two Eclipse 500s, N502EA and
N504EA, have completed wing-mate and are standing on their own landing
gear. These two aircraft will join N503EA, which has been in flight
testing since Dec. 31, to complete the Eclipse 500 FAA certification
flight-test fleet. A fourth aircraft, N505EA, which will be used in
Eclipses beta test program, will be on its own gear by the end
of this month. Meanwhile, the first conforming Eclipse 500, N503EA,
continues its flight-testing regime and now enjoys a flight envelope
expanded from 72 knots to 230 knots, up to 3 g and altitudes up to
17,500 feet. More...
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Fractional operator NetJets Aviation said earlier this month it plans
to hire at least 300 pilots this year and has already begun the
interview and hiring process. NetJets currently has more than 2,800
pilots, flying customers on the world's largest, global fractional jet
fleet. Last year, NetJets flew more than 275,000 flights to more than
140 countries. More...
...the next issue of AVweb's BizAVflash will be e-mailed to you
on Mar. 16. More...
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