October 11, 2005
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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It's not the same as the strange case of the missing 727 from a couple of years ago, but it's not the same as stealing a Cessna for a joy ride, either. "It" is last weekend's apparent theft of a Cessna Citation VII, which went missing from the St. Augustine (Fla.) Airport (SGJ) sometime Saturday and mysteriously materialized a few hundred miles away at the Gwinnett County Airport/Briscoe Field (LZU) in Lawrenceville, Ga., Sunday morning, according to The Associated Press. Published reports say the jet -- which is operated by Pinnacle Air Jet Charter -- landed at SGJ at about 10:40 a.m. local time Saturday. According to the AP, the jet's crew parked the Citation on the ramp, turned loose their passengers and waited for an outbound flight assignment. It was a lengthy wait -- the crew first realized their jet was missing on Monday morning. By Monday, the Citation had already been parked at LZU for at least a day -- since the tower at LZU is closed overnight, local authorities believe the Citation landed before 6:30 a.m. Sunday. The pool of likely suspects can't be that large, of course -- how many Citation VII-qualified pilots were there in the St. Augustine area last Saturday?
To its credit, The Associated Press downplayed the terror threat the theft posed. The news service noted that, "One national security expert said the theft of an airplane does not rank as high of a terrorism threat as a stolen truck or bus.'A tanker truck full of explosive fuel is a much bigger concern than a private aircraft being stolen,' said Jonathan Bernstein, president of Bernstein Crisis Management, a consulting firm." Those same local authorities have searched the apparently undamaged Citation but have not found evidence of drugs, weapons or anything else. Not even lousy catering. "It's a very rare occurrence," LZU airport manager Matt Smith said of the plane's discovery, according to the AP, in our candidate for understatement of the week. "We've ruled out anything diabolical or sinister," he added. Unsurprisingly, the FBI and, presumably, the TSA are investigating. So far, it appears the Citation was merely used for a bit of joy riding, though by whom, why and how they got home remains unknown. Other questions we'd like to ask: Did they file IFR and get into the flight levels, or just go with flight following at 17,500? How will they log the flight? Why the Atlanta area -- didn't the pilot(s) check to discover that the Braves/Astros playoff game was in Houston that night? What did the Pinnacle crew tell the company when they phoned in this one? (AVweb attempted to reach Pinnacle for its side of this story, but we were met with a quick, terse and unsurprising "no comment.")
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Last Thursdays fatal crash of a Cessna Caravan 208B as it tried to return to the Winnipeg (Canada) International Airport has highlighted not only the types problematic history with airframe icing but also the onset of the Northern Hemispheres winter season. In last weeks crash, Nancy Chase-Allan, 49, apparently was attempting to return to the airport after encountering conditions the single-engine turboprop could not handle. According to the Brandon, Manitoba, Sun newspaper, Chase-Allen radioed controllers at the airport, I need an immediate back to the field Im icing up to the point where, uh, I need to come back. The aircraft, operated by Morningstar Air Express as a FedEx feeder flight, crashed shortly thereafter as the pilot complied with vectors back to the airport. Cessnas Caravan series has recently seen heightened government and industry scrutiny of both its icing certification and behavior when confronted with winter weather.
Earlier this year, the FAA issued Airworthiness Directive AD 2005-07-01, which targets Cessna Model 208 and 208B airplanes. The AD responds to recommendations A-04-64 through -67, issued by the National Transportation Safety Board on Dec. 15, 2004. One feature of the AD calls for a tactile preflight inspection of the upper wing surfaces to ensure no frozen contaminants remain on the wing prior to takeoff. Many operators, however, have expressed concerns about the tactile-inspection requirement, noting the precarious situation of a pilot standing on a ladder erected on a wind-swept and perhaps icy ramp to inspect a high-wing airplane. Regardless of its location and whether Canadian operators have a similar requirement, last weeks crash is not likely to help U.S.-based Caravan operators cope with the AD. Although it's much to soon to know, AVweb is hearing informed speculation about even more icing-related regulatory changes involving the Caravan and other aircraft types.
Perhaps with one eye on the calendar and another on last season's icing-related accidents involving high-end general aviation aircraft, three aviation trade groups this week published a joint letter announcing a safety-awareness program designed to mitigate the risk of incidents related to ice contamination. The letter to business aviation operators and FBOs highlights the "extra measures operators should take when operating in a winter climate." The letter also provides references to online resources containing detailed guidance and comprehensive educational tools for icing operations. The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and National Air Transportation Association (NATA) jointly developed the letter and the program it announces.
The letter responds to an FAA request for the trade groups to help the agency develop "guidelines and programs that will help reduce risk in business aircraft operations." Among recommendations in the Oct. 11 letter:
- Ensure that your aircraft's lift-generating surfaces are COMPLETELY free of contamination before flight through a tactile (hands-on) check of the critical surfaces when feasible. We recommend that, even when otherwise permitted, operators avoid smooth or polished frost on lift-generating surfaces as an acceptable preflight condition.
- Provide all flight crews with current cold-weather operations procedures as part of your company's flight operations manual. It is imperative that crews be familiar with the Airplane Flight Manual (AFM) limitations, and procedures necessary to deal with icing conditions prior to flight, as well as in flight.
- Take full advantage of the opportunities available at airports for deicing. Do not refuse deicing services simply because of cost.
- Finally, empower your aircraft crews to delay or cancel a flight if weather conditions do not support a safe operation.
When considering the Caravan, many industry observers believe many of the types problems can be traced to pilots who may be flying an aircraft approved for flight in known icing for the first time. After perhaps years of dealing with icing conditions from the left seat of an airplane armed only with a heated pitot tube, pilots see the big turbine, deicing boots and other equipment installed on the Caravan and consider themselves suddenly immune. But in-flight icing conditions can affect even the most capable aircraft, as Canadas Transportation Safety Board (TSB) noted earlier this year when it issued its final report involving two similar incidents at the Toronto/Lester B. Pearson International Airport on Dec. 7, 2002. In both incidents, Airbus A321-211 aircraft operated by Air Canada in scheduled passenger operations were involved, disproving the theory that larger aircraft are immune to airframe icing considerations.
According to the TSB, its investigation "revealed that, in both occurrences, the aerodynamic shape of the aircraft's wing flaps was modified by ice, and that, in such icing conditions, the Airbus A321 normal, lateral flight control laws programmed into the elevator aileron computer provided higher roll efficiency, which resulted in a reduced stability, causing the aircraft to roll slightly from side to side." Responding to the rolling moments, flight crews aboard both transports "applied right and left control inputs to try to stop the rolling movement, but the magnitude of the oscillations increased." The pilot-induced oscillations (PIO) were blamed on the ice-modified aerodynamics and pilot input. Both crews used different landing configurations and succeeded in landing without aircraft damage or injuries. In a statement eerily reminiscent of the circumstances surrounding the Oct. 31, 1994, crash of an American Eagle ATR-72 regional turboprop, the TSB noted that "prolonged flight in icing conditions with slats extended should be avoided."
THE SJ30-2 IS THE WORLD'S FASTEST LIGHT BUSINESS JET
If youve been awaiting delivery of your very own Citation CJ2+, you may not have much longer until you get the keys. Thats because Cessna last week said the FAA has granted type certification to the newest member of the manufacturers lineup, which was first announced less than a year ago, at the National Business Aviation Associations annual convention. The Model 525A Citation CJ2+ -- a growth model of the CJ2 -- was certified after slightly more than 80 flights and 190 flight hours. When compared to its predecessor, the "plus" model offers an increased maximum payload of 300 pounds over the CJ2, which the company says enables operation in a weight environment of "single pilot plus 1,800 pounds." "Receiving certification on the CJ2+ speaks clearly to the very important and ongoing partnership between our customers and our employees," said Jack J. Pelton, Cessnas chairman, president and CEO.
"We look forward to providing new Citation family members with the exceptionally high standards of safety, quality, comfort, and affordability that have become synonymous with the name Cessna," Pelton added. In addition to improved payloads, the CJ2+s performance was also enhanced, with the ability to climb directly to FL450 feet in 34 minutes at its maximum takeoff weight, a maximum cruise speed of 413 knots at FL310 and a four-passenger, 1,550-nm NBAA IFR range. The CJ2+, which is powered by twin Williams FJ44-3A-24 engines rated at 2,400 pounds of thrust, can take off in 3,360 feet and land in less than 3,000 feet.
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Raytheon late last month said it had obtained Commuter category certification of a heavier Beechcraft King Air 350. The new model features a host of airframe modifications, including heavyweight landing gear, designed to allow operations at a maximum gross takeoff weight of 16,500 pounds, an increase of 1,500 pounds over a standard Beechcraft King Air 350. Once a set of nacelle-mounted fuel tanks is certified, the bulked-up model will be dubbed the King Air 350ER. Aimed at the special mission market, the new version will have the ability to fly a short-range positioning leg of 100 nm, perform a low-altitude surveillance mission for up to eight hours and return to its base, landing with more than 45 minutes of fuel on board. Certification of the King Air 350ER is still slated for the summer of 2006.
"This certification represents the achievement of a significant milestone in developing and certifying the Beechcraft King Air 350ER which Raytheon unveiled at the Paris Air Show earlier this summer," said John Brauneis, vice president of contracts and special mission aircraft. "When fully certified, the Beechcraft King Air 350ER will surpass anything in its class in payload and endurance. It will provide the proven reliability of the King Air and unparalleled cost-effectiveness over a wide variety of military and civilian special missions," he added. In 2004, Raytheon recognized the 40th anniversary of Beechcraft King Air continuous production and celebrated delivering the 6,000th copy of the type.
A NEW RELEASE OF THE BEST
If Czech Republic airframer Evektor-Aerotechnik has its way, its newly proposed EV-55 twin turboprop may soon make a dent in the corporate/utility/training markets. Late last month, Pratt & Whitney Canada (PWC) announced that the EV-55 will be powered by two PT6A-21 engines of 550 shp apiece, giving the to-be-certified twin a cruise speed of 220 knots at 10,000 feet. The PWC announcement -- Evektor-Aerotechnik hasnt formally commented on its plans, although the company has a detailed Web site covering the model -- included reference to completion of the first EV-55 prototype being scheduled for mid-2007, with type certification to FAR Part 23 to follow by the end of 2008. If you've heard of Evektor-Aerotechnik, you're not alone: the company is a leading European manufacturer of Light Sport (in the U.S.), JAR-VLA (in Europe) and so-called "microlight" aircraft.
According to both companies, the EV-55 can be configured for up to 14 passengers or more than 4,000 pounds of cargo while offering excellent STOL capabilities, relatively low operating costs and rough-field capabilities. Presently, the EV-55 is slated to have a maximum gross takeoff weight of 10,140 pounds and weigh 5,617 pounds empty. Performance objectives include standard-day, sea level runway requirements of 1,380 feet for takeoff and 1,310 feet for landing. Looking like the results from crossing a Dornier 28 with an MU-2, the EV-55 will have a cabin volume of 325 cubic feet. For its part, PWC's Stefan Mazareanu, Area Manager, International Business Development, said, "The PT6A-21 is already certified and has proven itself in the field, with a TBO of 3,600 hours. With its excellent reliability and low operating costs, it offers a perfect fit for the EV-55."
TELEDYNE-CONTINENTAL MOTORS IS BUSY BECOMING
Embraer last week announced it had chosen BMW Group DesignworksUSA to design the interior of its recently launched Very Light Jet and Light Jet. The Brazil-based airframer said BMW Group DesignworksUSA delivered "a design solution that creates a feeling of serenity upon entering our aircraft through a simple and elegant first impression." Amenities incorporated into the designs include a private lavatory and a refreshment center, an executive table, and entertainment and communications at the passengers' fingertips, according to Embraer. "In close collaboration with the customer and BMW Group DesignworksUSA, the final design solution reflects customer requirements, melding function and style," said Luís Carlos Affonso, Embraer Senior Vice-President, Executive Aviation.
First announced in May, Embraers Very Light Jet will carry up to eight people and be powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada PW617F engines. Its range will be 1,160 nm -- with NBAA reserves -- with four people aboard and it will have a maximum operating speed of Mach 0.7. The airplane will be designed with short fields in mind and be capable of climbing to FL410. It is expected to enter service in mid-2008 and will be priced at $2.75 million in 2005 dollars. The Embraer Light Jet will be powered by P&WCs PW535E engine, and accommodate up to nine people. Its range is designed to be 1,800 nm -- again, with NBAA reserves -- with six people aboard. It will have a maximum operating speed of Mach 0.78 and be able to climb to FL450. The Light Jet is expected to enter service in mid-2009 and be priced at US$ 6.65 million in 2005 dollars.
|THE COLUMBIA 350 & COLUMBIA 400 HAVE A NEW CORPORATE NAME|
The Lancair Company has re-branded itself as Columbia Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation. The manufacturers of the Columbia 350 and Columbia 400, the world's fastest certified piston aircraft, made the change as part of an ongoing campaign to develop a unique identity for these premium aircraft. The schedule for the Fly Columbia Tour, an interactive Columbia experience, is posted online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/columbia/biz.
Wichita's Cessna and Raytheon recently announced a series of changes in the lineups in their respective media and sales departments. Cessna led off the festivities when it named long-time AVweb friend Steve Fushelberger as its new vice president of marketing, effective Sept. 26, 2005. He will report to Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Roger Whyte. On the 26th, Raytheon said it tapped Mike Turner to become senior manager, media relations, which will involve developing and managing Raytheon Aircraft Companys media strategy for local, trade, national, business and international media. Then, last week, Cessna named three vice presidents in its Citation sales organization: Mike Luethye, vice president, national sales west; Gordon Vieth, vice president, national sales east; and Trevor Esling, vice president, international sales. The three will continue to report to Mark Paolucci, vice president of Citation sales.
Prior to joining Cessna, Steve Fushelberger served as vice president of public affairs for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies and as vice president of marketing communications for the Avolar division of United Airlines. He also held marketing communications positions at Rolls-Royce Corporation and Agusta Aerospace. He is a commercial pilot with multi-engine, instrument and seaplane ratings, and more than 1,500 flight hours. Phil Michel, current vice president of marketing, will remain at Cessna until his retirement in April 2006. At Raytheon, Mike Turner came to the company from the Wichita-based advertising firm Sullivan Higdon & Sink, where he served as an account strategist responsible for the strategy, development and account service functions for multiple aviation clients, including Rockwell Collins and Aerospace Products International. He also is an instrument-rated commercial pilot as well as a former flight instructor. Back at Cessna, Mike Luethye joined the company in 1971 as a market research specialist. Since then, he has had positions of increasing responsibility within the sales department and was most recently the Citation division sales director for the Western United States. Gordon Vieth joined Cessna in 1980 as a marketing administrator and has since had positions of increasing responsibility in both domestic and international management positions. Vieth was most recently Citation division sales director for the Eastern United States. Trevor Esling joined Cessna in 1995 as the Citation division sales director responsible for Citation sales in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Prior to Cessna, Esling held numerous positions with British Aerospace and, later, with Raytheon.
...the next issue of AVweb's BizAVflash will be e-mailed to you on Oct. 26. See you then...