January 10, 2006
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
YOUR HEADSET IS A KEY PIECE OF EQUIPMENT, SO CHOOSE THE PERFORMANCE
JA AIR CENTER, YOUR GARMIN GPSMAP 396 SOURCE, IS LOOKING TO PURCHASE USED GPS UNITS,
AVIONICS, AND AIRCRAFT
NEW MACH 1 HEADSET BY LIGHTSPEED: SMALLER CAN BE BETTER
Spectrum Aeronautical, LLC, last Saturday successfully flew its new Spectrum 33 twinjet for the first time from the company's facility at Spanish Fork, Utah, marking the next step in a development program that was largely unknown until its formal announcement at last year's NBAA annual convention. The Spectrum 33 is a lightweight bizjet built using a "next-generation, carbon-graphite construction process," according to a company statement, but designed to cruise at up to 415 knots and feature a 2,000-nm range. Spectrum's engineering plans say the new plane will consume half as much fuel as current-production aircraft of the same size, range and speed because of its lightweight construction. As we reported in November, Spectrum is headed by long-time industry veteran Linden Blue who led Beechcraft in 1983 when the Starship was born and later served as general manager at Learjet and was CEO of Learfan. This marks an important point in our development program, said Blue. Weight reduction is key to boosting fuel efficiency and lowering operating costs. The first flight of Spectrum 33 is a testament to the dedication and hard work put in by an extremely talented team.
The aircraft was built by a Spectrum Aeronautical and Rocky Mountain Composites (RMC) joint-design team at RMCs plant on the Spanish Fork-Springville Airport, about eight miles southeast of Provo, Utah. The company said the Spectrum 33 required only about 750 feet of runway on its first flight, even at reduced takeoff thrust. William Bill Davies, Spectrums Chief of Flight Test, and Ian Hollingsworth, another veteran test pilot, were at the controls. The acceleration and climb performance ... [were] remarkable, Davies said. Immediate plans include additional test flights from the airport at Provo and its longer runway, which will allow safe testing beyond what can be done at Spanish Fork. The current aircraft, which Spectrum dubs a proof-of-concept version, will be used to validate engineering assumptions before freezing the design and building conforming flight-test aircraft for certification testing. Spectrum says it is targeting FAA type certification for late 2007 or 2008.
After slightly more than two years with the company, Bill Boisture last week resigned his position as president of NetJets, the U.S.s premiere fractional operator. According to a company statement, Boisture will continue to work for NetJets as a consultant under a long-term agreement. That statement added that W. Boisture & Associates LLC -- a consulting firm headed by its namesake -- will support and assist NetJets on several strategic projects. Boisture joined the company, a unit of Berkshire Hathaway, in October 2003. Bill has made a strong mark on the NetJets operations, said Richard Santulli, chairman and CEO of NetJets. Boisture came to NetJets after some 10 years at Gulfstream, from which he retired as president in 2003. Boisture is a U.S. Air Force academy graduate; he was decorated for his military service, which included flying fighter jets.
His contributions have exceeded my expectations and, by retaining him as a consultant, we will continue to benefit from his management expertise and be in a position to apply his experience across all the NetJets companies, Santulli added. During his tenure at NetJets, Boisture tackled several complex tasks with long-term impacts on the company. He recently completed the negotiations of five-year labor contracts with the company's pilots and flight attendants. In addition, he led changes that paved the way for operational improvements in planning, forecasting, scheduling, command and control, aircraft maintenance and management information systems. The changes have led to increased fleet availability, reduced operating costs and improved customer satisfaction. As a consultant to NetJets, I remain committed to the company's long-term success, said Boisture. I look forward to continuing my association with this fine company, its employees and owners.
THE SJ30-2 IS THE WORLD'S FASTEST LIGHT BUSINESS JET
Blaming supplier delays -- not regulatory issues -- Eclipse Aviation late last month formally announced a delay in certifying its Eclipse 500 very light jet (VLJ). Even though the Eclipse program is one of the best-financed and best-managed to come from a start-up company in recent years, the delay was not a surprise: Eclipse officials were telegraphing the postponement during the recent NBAA annual convention. Last month's announcement -- moving the planned certification date from March 2006 to late in the second calendar quarter of 2006 (read: late June) -- will obviously delay customer deliveries. "We have always been honest and forthcoming about our challenges, and today we are sharing an issue that will affect the timing of the Eclipse 500 certification program," said Vern Raburn, the company's president and CEO. "Over the last few months, we have been working with our suppliers to recover their schedules. Unfortunately, an in-depth assessment of the new schedules has made it clear that these slips will force a delay in our overall certification effort."
Saying the company was clearly disappointed in the unavoidable delay, Raburn attempted to put the best face on things, noting, "[T]he big picture is that we are heading into 2006 with a test fleet of five flying aircraft, our first TIA from the FAA in hand and more then 850 flight hours under our belts." Even so, the delay's impact on operators basing their business plans in whole or in part on availability of large numbers of the new VLJs was not known. Those fleet operators include Linear Air, JetSet Air Ltd., DayJet, Aviace and OurPlane.
If the hype surrounding VLJs -- including their pricing, performance, reliability and automation -- is any indication, companies marketing non-VLJ turbine airplanes in the sub-$3-million price range may have to come up with innovative ways to add value and retain customers. Which has a lot to do with Raytheon's latest offering, the Beechcraft King Air C90GT, certified by the FAA in December. Billed as "the latest evolution" of the baby King Air series, the C90GT features enhanced performance resulting from fitting Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-135 engines to the venerable airframe. In fact, the company is not at all bashful about targeting VLJs: Beechcraft President and General Manager Randy Groom said in a statement, On typical missions, the C90GT will deliver its passengers in a nearly fifty percent larger cabin and within minutes of even the closest competitive very light jet." The King Air C90GT's certification brings to four the number of new types Raytheon certified in 2005.
According to the company, the King Air C90GT features a 26-knot increase in max cruise speed, a 50-percent time-to-climb reduction and shorter takeoff distances at all field elevations when compared to the King Air C90B it replaces. Maximum cruise speed is now 272 knots -- still a bit short of the 300-plus knots advertised by VLJ manufacturers -- while improved climb capability means Raytheon's latest King Air will need 22 minutes to reach its FL300 ceiling. Standard takeoff distance is reduced by 312 feet from the C90B model. Raytheon touted other benefits over VLJs: the "proven and reliable" airframe design, seating for up to seven passengers, a heated and pressurized baggage storage area easily accessed during flight and a fully enclosed lavatory. And then there are other issues confronting those trying to decide between a VLJ or a similarly priced turboprop: fuel efficiency, lower insurance costs and type ratings.
ZULUWORKS IS NEW AND IMPROVED!
While Raytheon would love to sell you a re-engined King Air 90, they're just as happy selling single-engine trainers to the military. Earlier this month, the company announced it had begun producing the 300th copy of the T-6A Joint Primary Aircraft Training System (JPATS) aircraft, which both the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy use in their respective primary pilot training programs. Meanwhile, the services have decided to exercise their options on new copies of the two-seat trainer. This current option exercise extends deliveries into 2009. To date, the two U.S. military branches have ordered 418 T-6A aircraft; 283 have been delivered. Raytheon Aircraft Company is proud of the success of the T-6A, said Jim Smith, vice president of Government Business at Raytheon Aircraft Company.
JPATS has matured into the best flying training system in the world and we are pleased to continue our strong support of the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy training requirements. The JPATS program, which is the primary pilot training program for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy, calls for nearly 800 aircraft through the year 2017. The U.S. Air Force began training pilots in the T-6A at Moody Air Force Base (Ga.) in October 2001. The U.S. Navy is conducting Undergraduate Military Flight Officer training at NAS Pensacola, Fla. In addition, the NATO Flying Training in Canada program purchased 26 T-6As and has been training pilots with the T-6A since 2000. The Hellenic Air Force of Greece ordered 45 aircraft, all of which have been delivered. Raytheon says it will continue supporting the T-6A through 2050.
Two non-U.S. airframers this month announced their respective first-ever sales in third-party countries, providing further evidence of business aviation's increasingly global reach. Our first success story comes courtesy of Switzerland's Pilatus, which announced its first delivery of a PC-12 turboprop single to Brazil. OceanAir Táxi Aéreo, its exclusive dealer for Brazil, which was appointed in March 2005, sold the new aircraft to its end customer. Meanwhile, Italy's Piaggio Aero Industries matched Pilatus' entry into the Brazilian market by selling a P.180 Avanti II twin turboprop in -- where else? -- Switzerland. Maybe these two should get together in a smoke-filled room somewhere.
We are delighted to deliver the first Avanti II into Switzerland as we ring in the New Year, said Piaggio Aero CEO Jose di Mase. The Avanti II received its EASA certification in October and features up-rated P&WC PT6A-66B engines, plus Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics. Piaggio said it expects FAA validation of the EASA Type Certificate "soon." Back in Brazil, that country's first PC-12 will be based in São Paulo and be used for executive transport. The PC-12 is ideally suited for Brazil, said Thomas Bosshard, president and CEO of Pilatus Business Aircraft Ltd. Its combination of high speed, long range, executive-class cabin, superior economics, and short-field performance is unmatched by any other aircraft.
|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.
The National Transportation Safety Board this week formally recommended that the FAA require operators to comply with an existing service bulletin affecting Eurocopter model AS-350-BA helicopters in the wake of a 2004 accident that injured three. The accident, which involved a television news operation on May 4, destroyed the helicopter and resulted from a loss of hydraulic system power while hovering. The NTSB's investigation determined that the hydraulic pump drive belt failed in flight, approximately 160 flight hours short of its 600-hour life limit. Post-accident examination of the hydraulic pump drive belt at the NTSB's Materials Laboratory found the belt had been installed inside out. According to the NTSB, the belt's failure and subsequent lack of power to the ship's hydraulic pump meant a rapid loss of hydraulic system pressure.
In addition to having been installed inside out, the belt's exterior surface, as installed, displayed numerous lateral cracks. In addition to the facts of this accident, the NTSB found some 43 failures and/or replacements of the drive belts since February 1995. Some 460 AS-350 helicopters of various models are currently in operation in the U.S. Eurocopter issued a service bulletin on May 27, 2002, which offered an improved drive belt with a significantly longer service life of 1,500 hours. The service bulletin recommended replacement of the old-style belt with the new one along with hydraulic pump drive pulleys and pulley bearings. A Jan. 21, 2003, fatal accident in Mekatina, Ontario, also involving a Eurocopter AS-350 helicopter, resulted from failure of an old-style belt, according to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.
Jet Aviation (Teterboro) has a new general manager. The FBO named John Langevin as the facility's senior vice president and general manager, succeeding Michael Szczechowski, who was promoted to senior vice president and general manager of Jet Aviation's aircraft management services in the United States. In his new position, Langevin will oversee the TEB FBO. According to Jet Aviation, Langevin brings more than 20 years of FBO management experience to the position. Prior to his new role, he served as director of FBO Services at Teterboro. Jet Aviations expertise in maintenance and FBO services is unparalleled in the industry, said Langevin. Our Teterboro facility is considered to be the busiest FBO in the world and our valued customers can rely on us to provide them with consistently high-quality, efficient service.
|ISN'T IT ABOUT TIME YOU CHOSE SOMETHING EXTRA?|
Pilot-inspired, German-engineered, and internationally renowned that's the difference in Extra Aircraft's EA-500. Extra's certified, Rolls Royce-powered, 6-seat turboprop EA-500 is in a class all by itself. The only new-technology cabin-class airplane, the EA-500 averages 220 kts, gets 11 mpg, and costs less than $200/hr to operate. Find out more about Extra's EA-500 at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/extra/biz.
In another personnel change of import to business aviation, the FAA this month named David Bowen as the agency's new Chief Information Officer and Assistant Administrator for Information Services. Bowen replaces Dan Mehan, who left the FAA at the end of September 2005, and interim CIO Walter Iwanow. Bowen comes to the FAA from Blue Shield California, one of the largest not-for-profit health plans in that state, where he served as senior vice president and chief information officer. Bowen will formally join the agency Feb. 21. In a statement e-mailed to agency employees, FAA Administrator Marion Blakey said, "We are indeed fortunate to have someone of David Bowens technical background and leadership skills. As Senior Vice President and CIO of Blue Shield for the past five years, he operated the company's IT department at more than 3 percent below budget, while improving the department's customer satisfaction scores. Among his cost-cutting measures, he negotiated and implemented a new IT contract," saving Blue Shield over $7 million in operating expenses during its first year. Could something similar be in store for AVweb's Favorite Aviation Agency, which has recently stepped up the tempo and volume of its drumbeat for more revenues?
...the next issue of AVweb's BizAVflash will be e-mailed to you on Jan. 25. See you then...
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