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March 15, 2005

Business NewsWire Complete Issue

By The AVweb Editorial Staff

This issue of AVweb's Business AVflash is brought to you by … JA Air Center


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Blue-Light Special? Paying Attention To Parts

Once you buy the airplane and put it into operation, that's only half the battle: You still have to maintain it. Getting parts for a broken aircraft can be excruciating, especially if it's out of production. And for some aircraft from some manufacturers, paying for the parts can be as expensive a proposition as acquisition. Now, two companies -- Bombardier and Raytheon -- are working to take the sting and the wait time out of getting and paying for parts. Bombardier Aerospace last week announced launching a "new high-priority parts delivery program" designed for aircraft-on-ground (AOG) situations. The program is designed to deliver much-needed parts to North American business aircraft operators within 12 hours, compared with the 24-hour industry standard. Bombardier is centralizing all AOG parts deliveries with Expeditors International, a global freight forwarder with 170 offices worldwide. In addition, AOG orders are now routinely ready for shipping within one and a half hours of receiving a customer's request. The program was initially launched in December 2004. Meanwhile, Raytheon Aircraft Company's customer support organization says it is rolling back prices on over 17,500 parts. The company's RAPID parts component -- Raytheon Aircraft Parts Inventory & Distribution -- is selling Beechcraft and Hawker parts at a reduced price -- many reduced as much as 50 percent from original. The company's latest round of discounting follows an earlier one, announced in October 2004. According to RAPID, customers can actually see each new part price update on the company's Web site, where regular updates will be posted.

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Eclipse Update

Eclipse Aviation Corporation last week announced reaching a series of milestones in the company’s march toward certification of its first very-light jet (VLJ) sometime next year. According to the company, its test aircraft fleet -- seven Eclipse 500 aircraft -- is nearing completion. Five of the seven test aircraft are presently in final assembly positions. Eclipse also announced that its second piece of friction stir welding equipment is operational, providing an additional 24 inches of height over the first one. According to Eclipse, the new piece of equipment, called a gantry, provides greater flexibility in joining parts. The new equipment also features upgraded software for improved control of the welding process. As for its certification test aircraft, Eclipse reports it has finalized fabrication of all vertical fins and horizontal stabilizers for the entire test fleet, including instrumentation and strain gauges. The upper and lower cabin assemblies for two test aircraft, N505EA and N506EA, were recently joined, while aircraft N502EA and N504EA are being instrumented for flight testing. The fuselage for the static test airframe has also been completed. These represent significant steps toward the successful completion of Eclipse’s test fleet, culminating in FAA certification of the Eclipse 500. These test aircraft will join N503EA, which entered flight testing on Dec. 31, 2004. Five aircraft will be used in flight testing and two for static and fatigue testing. Eclipse says it recently received the PW610F engines for N502EA, the second FAA-conforming Eclipse 500 test aircraft, which is slated to enter flight testing in April.

Sino Swearingen Makes Milestones

Another entry in the very-light jet market is the Sino Swearingen SJ-30, which recently achieved two milestones in the process leading to the jet's certification. Sino Swearingen Aircraft Corporation's (SSAC) receipt of FAA type inspection authorization allows Sino Swearingen to move to the next phase of testing for the items passed. Additionally, the San Antonio, Texas-based company announced late last month it had completed all required static testing for FAA certification of the twinjet's airframe. The completed testing includes pressurization, ultimate wing loading, landing gear drop testing and other airframe tests. Dr. Carl Chen, CEO and president of SSAC, stated today, "Now that all of our critical high-speed flight testing is finished ... we are aggressively finishing the additional flight testing required for the FAA certification. [The type inspection authorization] is a significant and major milestone in that process." Final FAA certification of the SJ30-2 is projected by SSAC in the second half of 2005. The SJ30-2 is designed for a 2875-sm range and a high-speed cruise of Mach .83. The company expects to certify its aircraft to FL490 feet and for single-pilot operation.

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Lufthansa, NetJets Link Up

Lufthansa Private Jet is the name; flexibility and comfort for the German carrier's customers is the game. The new service is a partnership with U.S.-based NetJets and its European operation to provide private jets from more than 1,000 airports around Europe to Lufthansa’s Munich hub to board connecting flights there in first or business class to destinations around the globe. Similarly, passengers arriving in Munich can take a NetJets plane to their final destination. The new service goes into effect March 29. “Business travellers are attaching a growing importance to sovereign command of their time. Many of our customers want maximum flexibility in their travel planning. In NetJets, we have found an ideal partner for this segment," said Lufthansa Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Wolfgang Mayrhuber on inking the agreement with the fractional operator. NetJets' Richard Santulli added, “We are delighted to be partners with Lufthansa -- ensuring their most valuable customers have extraordinary choice and flexibility. We are especially thrilled that Lufthansa selected NetJets as its partner -- as no one knows more about aviation in Germany." The new operation will go through some six months of market tests in operating flights targeting a select group of the scheduled carrier's first- and business-class passengers.

Scheduled Bizjet Service?

It was just a matter of time: Executive Jet Management (EJM) has filed an application with the U.S. Department of Transportation to offer business jet service between Chicago and New York, and New York and Los Angeles. According to published reports, the carrier plans to use Chicago's Midway Airport (MDW) and Westchester County Airport (HPN, outside of New York City) as two service points. There was no immediate word from the DOT on whether or when the operator's application -- which called for some 30 round-trip flights each week in the Chicago/New York market and 10 between New York and Los Angeles -- would be approved. The proposed scheduled service would be a first for EJM, a unit of NetJets. The application did not specify which aircraft EJM would use, nor did it mention a Los Angeles-area airport. The proposed service would obviously present an attractive alternative for many well-heeled business travelers weary of the drama and turmoil of scheduled airlines but reluctant to bite the bullet and pony up for fractional aircraft ownership. There was no word, also, on what, if any, security measures the proposed operation would be forced to comply with.

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FAA's Diamond Award Goes To RAS

The FAA this month named Raytheon Aircraft Services (RAS) recipient of the agency's highest award for maintenance excellence, the Diamond Award. The recognition was presented to nine RAS service centers. Additionally, some 278 employees earned awards of their own ranging from Bronze to Diamond. The individual awards are based on how many hours of FAA-approved training a technician has received during a calendar year. For example, in order to qualify for an individual Diamond Award, a technician must receive 100 hours of FAA-approved training. Part of the FAA’s Aviation Maintenance Technician Awards program, the awards highlight the importance of aviation safety and education for professionals working within the industry, and specifically focus on training. Service centers as well as their employees are eligible. To earn a Diamond Award, a facility must have at least 25 percent of its employees earn honors in the FAA’s Maintenance Technician Program. The RAS facilities recognized by the FAA are located in Little Rock, Ark.; Bakersfield and Van Nuys, Calif.; Tampa, Fla.; Atlanta, Ga.; Indianapolis, Ind.; Wichita, Kan.; Atlantic City, N.J.; and Houston and San Antonio, Texas. “Last year, we set out with the goal of having each facility earn a Diamond Award. Our employees made it happen,” said Skip Madsen, vice president of operations for Raytheon Aircraft Services.

Jets vs. Airports I

The battle between communities, airports and the operators that use the facilities shows no signs of abating. In Bucks County, Penn., near New Jersey's Trenton-Mercer County Airport (TTN), local residents are taking on a new strategy in their ongoing attempts to fight back against noise. A local activist, Paul Krupp, has begun a letter-writing campaign, according to published reports, among area companies using the airport. Krupp is urging companies like General Electric, Johnson and Johnson, and Merrill Lynch to cut back on noise. Krupp and his compatriots are reportedly becoming increasingly frustrated by late-night noise from nearby TTN and other facilities. And, it's the same old story -- ATC procedures for IFR arrivals and departures tend to favor the same fixes, turning points and routings for similarly performing (and sounding) bizjets. Local growth at TTN and other nearby airports hasn't helped.

Chicago Palwaukee Municipal Airport, the region's premier business-aviation facility, is seeking industry proposals that require hangars (36,000 sq. ft. approx.) and adjacent offices and shops (14,000 sq. ft. approx.). The airport will consider a variety of business possibilities to complement the airport's predicted growth, including aircraft charter, maintenance, flight training, aircraft sales, or aviation manufacturing. Contact Airport Manager Dennis G. Rouleau, C.M., at (847) 537-2580 ext. 114 for complete proposal materials. An Executive Summary is available at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/rfp/biz.

Jets vs. Airports II

At the other end of the spectrum, a Florida airport is seemingly gearing up to accept larger and noisier jets. According to published reports, the Kissimmee (Fla.) Gateway Airport (ISM) could soon be accommodating aircraft as large as the Boeing 737, all of which comes about as airport officials announced that engineers had discovered the runway pavement is thicker than previously thought. The thicker pavement allows heavier aircraft, like the 737 and/or its Boeing Business Jet cousin, to safely operate from the facility. The discovery came as the airport planned to rework its pavement, anyway. The airport has asked the FAA to review the findings and formally approve the heavier aircraft. It's not at all clear whether ISM would seek to divert the Mickey Mouse scheduled traffic from nearby Orlando International (MCO) or whether it is simply building on its existing designation as a reliever to attract larger and heavier bizjet traffic. Of course, before any scheduled traffic could use ISM, a terminal would need to be built, including facilities to screen passengers, as well as an approved fire station.

Raytheon's Frequent-Flyer Programs

Airlines are not the only aviation industry participants that have their own frequent-flyer programs. Raytheon Aircraft Company (RAC) this month announced it has launched two new programs -- dubbed MaxPower and MaxServices -- to help reduce costs and build brand loyalty among operators using its FBO facilities throughout the U.S. The new, simplified MaxPower program is an enhanced version of the company’s existing fuel-purchasing program. According to RAC, it features better benefits and lower thresholds for customers to earn discounts and rewards. MaxServices, on the other hand, rewards RAC customers for maintenance performed at Raytheon Aircraft Services. The rewards are in the form of additional fuel discounts. According to RAC, an operator who spends $100,000 on turbine maintenance or $25,000 on piston maintenance in a year can earn an extra dime-per-gallon discount on top of the 10 cents to 75 cents they may already be earning with the MaxPower program. Enrolled customers automatically earn credit for their purchases, which are tracked electronically within the entire Raytheon Aircraft Services network.

The Columbia 400's twin turbochargers can now be put to full effect with the aircraft's recent certification to 25,000 feet. With the added altitude to play with, the Columbia 400 gives pilots even more flexibility than before. Set the throttle to 80% power and cruise at 235 knots — that's faster than any other piston-powered aircraft in production today. Or ease the power back and increase range to standard-setting levels. A company official recently flew an unmodified Columbia 400 non-stop from Bend, Oregon to Fort Worth, Texas (a distance of more than 1,300 nm) while averaging 200 kts. Find out what a Columbia 400 can do for you at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/lancair/biz.

Transport Canada Proposes New Bizjet Rules

Canadian business jet operators may soon be operating under new rules, Transport Canada announced this week. The new rules would include regulations on such operations as "visual and instrument flight rules; weather, weight and balance and airworthiness standards; and licensing and medical requirements," according to the department. However, instead of being regulated by the government directly, Transport Canada will be delegating certification and monitoring duties to the Canadian Business Aviation Association. "Many businesses operate their own aircraft to transport their own employees or employees from companies under the same corporate umbrella," Transport Canada said in a statement. "The proposed amendments would also allow operators to develop training programs, operating procedures and related manuals that are suited to their individual operations." Interested parties have 30 days to comment on the proposed rule changes.

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Watch Your Inbox...

...the next issue of AVweb's BizAVflash will be e-mailed to you on Mar. 30. See you then...

Sponsor News and Special Offers

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