AVwebBiz - Volume 4, Number 14

July 19, 2006

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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NTSB Lending a Hand to ATC back to top 
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Someone to Watch Over Me?

Among the air traffic controller's many tasks is to monitor aircraft and issue safety alerts if it appears they might be too low, or flying toward rising terrain. Controllers generally have some help with this task — the minimum safe altitude warning (MSAW) and conflict alert systems installed at terminal and en route facilities. Together with some training and standards, the MSAW system is designed, in part, to help prevent accidents involving controlled flight into terrain, or CFIT. But according to a series of recommendations [PDF] made last week by the National Transportation Safety Board, changes in the existing MSAW and conflict alert systems are necessary "to direct controller attention to CFIT hazards or impending collision." The recommendations come on the heels of NTSB investigations into 10 CFIT accidents and one midair collision the NTSB says "have caused serious concern" about the MSAW and conflict alert systems' effectiveness. Accidents examined by the NTSB include the Dec. 17, 2002, near-disaster on Guam involving a Philippine Airlines Airbus A330; the May 10, 2004, fatal crash of a Piper PA-44 Seminole near Julian, Calif.; and the Nov. 22, 2004, accident involving a Gulfstream G-1159A, which struck a light pole adjacent to a roadway and crashed in IMC while on an ILS approach to the Houston (Texas) Hobby Airport. In investigating these and other accidents, the NTSB said it believes changes to the MSAW and conflict alert systems — as well as better controller training — may have prevented them.

Interestingly, the NTSB in its recommendation letter went out of its way to discuss the importance of what it called "good ATC judgment" even when automated warnings were not provided. In discussing the Oct. 24, 2004, crash of a Learjet Model 35A shortly after departing San Diego, Calif., the NTSB noted, "the controller failed to use available information to recognize that he had left the pilot with no viable options." "Because the controller declined to issue the pilot an IFR clearance until the aircraft reached 5,000 feet (the minimum vectoring altitude in the area), the pilot was effectively unable to climb legally, and the aircraft was caught between the ceiling and the ground in an area of rapidly rising terrain," the NTSB said in its recommendation letter. Specifically, the NTSB recommended that the FAA:

  • Redesign the MSAW and conflict alert systems and alerting methods so they reliably capture and direct controller attention to potentially hazardous situations.

  • Implement any software and adaptation modifications needed to minimize or eliminate unwarranted MSAW alerts.

  • Perform a technical and procedural review at all ATC facilities with MSAW or conflict alert capability to consistent procedures.

  • Amend FAA Order 3120.4L, “Air Traffic Technical Training,” to emphasize that controllers should maintain awareness of aircraft altitudes to detect and effectively react to situations in which a safety alert may prevent an accident.

Cessna Updates Citation Mustang Progress

Cessna this week updated attendees at the Farnborough International Airshow 2006 on its progress toward bring the Citation Mustang very light jet (VLJ) to FAA certification later this year. According to the company, the three Mustang prototypes participating in the flight test program have accumulated more than 1,400 total flight hours spread among more than 850 flights. Fifteen Mustangs are currently on the production line in Independence, Kan., Cessna added, with the first flight of the fourth Mustang occurring June 15, two weeks ahead of schedule. This jet will enter service as a marketing demonstration aircraft later this year. The Citation Mustang will be certified as a FAR Part 23 aircraft, with a cruise speed of 340 KTAS and maximum operating altitude of 41,000 feet. With all that activity, it's no surprise the company says the Citation Mustang remains on track for FAA certification later this year and EASA approval during the second quarter 2007. With nearly 250 orders, the Mustang is sold out into the third quarter of 2009.

Cessna added that the Mustang's airframe has completed five lifetimes of structural fatigue testing, qualifying for certification without a life limit. Other Citation Mustang testing completed so far includes:

  • Flight envelope expansion to maximum airspeeds

  • Aircraft stability and control

  • Autopilot certification

The company says FAA icing, avionics, performance and engine handling/operation certification tests are underway and that more than 3,100 hours have been accumulated on the Mustang’s Pratt & Whitney Canada PW615F dual-channel FADEC engine. Currently, about 60 percent of Mustang orders are from outside of the United States, with 30 percent from Europe. The Citation Mustang program was announced in September 2002.

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Bombardier Moving Challenger Jets back to top 

Bombardier Scores Challenger 605 Fleet Sale

Bombardier Aerospace said yesterday it took a firm order for three of its forthcoming Challenger 605 business jets, plus options for two more copies, from the same European operator, VistaJet, a premier business jet charter operation, financing and brokerage company. The company said it is the first and largest multiple aircraft order placed by a European company for the new jet. VistaJet, headquartered in Switzerland with an operations base in Salzburg, Austria, currently has 11 jets in operation or on order. The company will take delivery of its first new Challenger 605 aircraft in late 2007, shortly after the aircraft’s scheduled entry into service. The list price for the typically equipped aircraft, excluding options, is approximately $81 million. VistaJet will also take delivery of one additional Global Express XRS ultra-long-range aircraft and two Challenger 604 business jets. “This latest order further demonstrates VistaJet’s commitment to offer the newest fleet, coupled with the finest services to satisfy customers who demand the very best,” said Bing Chen, chief executive officer, VistaJet. VistaJet currently operates two Bombardier Learjet 60 midsize jets, two Challenger 604 widebody aircraft and one ultra-long-range Global Express XRS business jet.

Launched in November 2005, the Challenger 605 features the widest stand-up cabin of any large business jet and operates at a maximum cruise speed of Mach 0.82. The widebody bizjet is equipped with Rockwell Collins' Pro Line 21 avionics suite, including real-time satellite weather imagery and electronic charts, and features a state-of-the-art Ethernet-based cabin electronic system. The type's first flight took place on Jan. 22, 2006; as of July 14, the aircraft had accumulated over 185 flight hours during 53 flights. Certification by Transport Canada is expected in the fourth quarter of 2006 and the aircraft is scheduled to enter service in the fourth quarter of 2007.

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Innovations and Advances back to top 

Gulfstream to Offer Synthetic Vision Cockpit

Gulfstream Aerospace on Monday said its Synthetic Vision – Primary Flight Display (SV-PFD) upgrade to current operators of PlaneView-equipped Gulfstreams will make it the first business jet manufacturer to offer synthetic vision technology for new production and in-service aircraft. The company will offer the system as an optional upgrade to current G550, G500, G450 and G350 operators with the PlaneView system and, following FAA certification in 2007, will begin offering the optional upgrade to current and future customers. Gulfstream said its SV-PFD features a three-dimensional color image of terrain overlaid with the PFD instrument readings. The system combines previously certified terrain data from Honeywell’s Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS) with obstacle data, and using a new state-of-the-art graphics processor, SV-PFD accurately depicts terrain, obstacles, runways and approaches at locations throughout the world. "With its real-time, pilot’s view of the world beyond the cockpit windshield, SV-PFD increases a pilot’s ability to accurately interpret the depth and texture of terrain, obstacles, runways and approaches,” said Pres Henne, senior vice president, programs, engineering and test, Gulfstream.

The company said the SV-PFD system includes both traditional and head-up display (HUD) symbology. Current symbology for data such as attitude, altitude, airspeed, bank and steering cues, flight path marker, terrain awareness and warning system (TAWS) alerts, and traffic alert collision avoidance system (TCAS) all will remain the same. "SV-PFD’s flight guidance symbology and truer terrain images provide pilots information in terms of terrain distance and horizontal and vertical bearing,” Henne added. “This increased level of awareness means safer operations and is especially beneficial near airports and in mountainous areas.” The new HUD-like symbols include a flight path marker, a path-based flight director runway outline and a runway lead-in line.

Pratt & Whitney Completes First Run of Embraer Phenom 100 Engine

Pratt & Whitney Canada Corp. (P&WC) on June 29 successfully conducted the first run of its new PW617F engine, which is slated to power Embraer's forthcoming Phenom 100 light jet when it makes its first flight in mid-2007. The PW617F leverages the extensive testing already accumulated by the PW600 family, which will also power the Eclipse 500 and Cessna Mustang very light jets. In its PW617F configuration, the engine features a dual-channel full authority digital electronic control "best-in-class" environmental friendliness. The engine has now entered into an extensive test program, from individual component rig testing to complete in-flight performance demonstrations leading to engine certification in the fourth quarter 2007. "This milestone is a big step toward the first flight of the first Phenom 100 in mid-2007," said Hermann Ponte e Silva, Embraer Vice-President, Programs — Executive Jets. "We are very pleased with the partnership we have developed with Pratt & Whitney Canada for the Phenom jets."

Meanwhile, Embraer said its Phenom 100 program continues on track for deliveries to begin in mid-2008 and is now in its detailed design and certification phase. Among other equipment, the new jet will feature a brake-by-wire system with anti-skid capability, plus Garmin’s all-glass, fully-integrated Prodigy avionics suite as standard equipment. The Phenom 100 will accommodate four passengers in a typical club-seating configuration and offer maximum operating speed of Mach 0.70. Range will be 1,160 nm with NBAA IFR reserves and its maximum ceiling will be FL410. The Phenom 100 is priced at $2.85 million in January 2005 economic conditions and is expected to enter service in mid-2008.

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VLJ Certs a Theme of 2006 back to top 

Adam A700 Inches Closer to FAA Certification

With FAA certification of the Eclipse 500 imminent, and Cessna saying it still plans to get its paperwork later this year, other manufacturers wanting to compete in that market are racing to get their aircraft approved. For its part, Adam Aircraft last month said it has begun systems and flight testing for the A700 VLJ, with flights of the prototype jet taking place virtually every day. The company said it continues to add experienced test pilots, demonstration pilots, and other flight department professionals, increasing its ability to keep planes in the air, check off required flight hours for certification, and complete necessary certification summaries and reports. Currently, two A700 examples are flying, s/n 001 and 002, with 576 and 45 hours of flight time, respectively.

Meanwhile, Adam continues working toward full certification of its A500 piston twin. In May, the company delivered A500 s/n 007 to its customer and has already completed the layup process for s/n 012's carbon-fiber composite fuselage. In addition to working on full certification, ongoing efforts at the factory include streamlining the assembly hangar and accelerating the manufacturing process for future A500 copies. Adam said that, as its manufacturing team learns from each completed airplane, staff hours per task continue to decrease, which will allow the firm to reach the corporate goal of six A500 deliveries per month in 2007. In May, Adam Aircraft President Joe Walker told the European Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition (EBACE) in Geneva, Switzerland, that economic expansion in Europe and the Middle East could mean a market for up to 1,000 VLJs in that region alone over the next 10 years. Adam clearly wants some of those sales and appears to be hard at work to make it happen. The firm looks forward to achieving European A700 certification by the end of 2007.

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Hires, Hires ... back to top 

Bombardier Names News Head of Business Aircraft Unit

Bombardier Aerospace earlier this month announced appointing Pierre Gabriel Côté as its new president, Bombardier Business Aircraft. The move became effective July 10. Côté comes to Bombardier's bizjet unit experienced in executive leadership positions nationally and internationally in operations, sales and marketing. His previous positions include service as president and chief executive officer at Rogers Sugar Income Fund, as senior vice-president, international operations and energy at Abitibi Consolidated Inc. as well as executive vice-president at Kruger Inc. In his new position Mr. Côté will head the team responsible for profit, cost, quality and customer management from order to delivery of Bombardier business aircraft.

“Pierre Gabriel brings a wealth of national and international leadership experience to Bombardier,” said Pierre Beaudoin, president and chief operating officer, Bombardier Aerospace. “His impressive track record is one of delivering solid results on aggressive targets, notably in increasingly senior roles in operations management. We are pleased to have him join us at a time when our Bombardier business aircraft product portfolio is leading the industry in revenue market share.” Côté holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Université Laval (1982) and is a licensed private pilot.

Randy Nelson Is Raytheon's New Product Development VP

Raytheon Aircraft Company last week said it named Randy Nelson as its new vice president, product development and engineering. Nelson joins the company from Cessna Aircraft Company, where he recently held the position of vice president, research and advanced technology. A 28-year industry veteran, Nelson joined Cessna’s technical engineering department in 1978, holding various positions. He served as section chief of Aerodynamics in charge of developing the aerodynamic configuration of the Citation X, and was also the director of CJ2 and Sovereign development programs.

“Randy is a respected leader in the industry and brings a wealth of experience to his new role,” said Raytheon Aircraft Company chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jim Schuster. “He will play an integral role in ensuring Raytheon Aircraft continues our long tradition of developing and building the finest quality aircraft available.” Nelson is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati and Wichita State University. He holds a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering and a master’s in business administration.

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... And More Hires back to top 

Aerion Hires James Stewart as CFO

Aerion, the startup airframer working on the Aerion Supersonic Business Jet, said Monday it hired James Stewart, former chief financial officer (CFO) at Bombardier Aerospace, as its new CFO. In his new position, Stewart will lead the company's effort to lure potential OEM partners and refine its business case. Stewart has served in a number of senior financial positions at Bombardier units or divisions. He has been CFO of Learjet and Short Brothers, vice president of specialized finance for Bombardier’s commercial aircraft programs and CFO of Bombardier Aerospace.

“Our initial discussions with OEMs have elicited strong interest,” commented Aerion Vice Chairman Brian Barents. “During this phase we will examine the aircraft’s bill of material and every facet of its development cost; explore various partnership structures; and develop a financial plan to assure an attractive return on investment to the partnership.” Aerion said its efforts to develop the world's first supersonic business jet continue on track. High-speed testing of the supersonic laminar flow wing is set for next month, and the company said it expects to announce one or more partners in 2007.

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Hiring Announcement back to top 

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Watch Your Inbox ... back to top 

... the next issue of AVwebBiz will be e-mailed to you on August 2.

AVwebBiz is a twice-monthly summary of the latest business aviation news, articles, products, features, and events featured on AVweb, the internet's aviation magazine and news service.

Today's issue was written by Joseph E. (Jeb) Burnside (bio).

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