AVwebBiz - Volume 4, Number 22

November 7, 2006

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Will Election Change U.S. Aviation Policy?

As this issue of AVweb's AVwebBiz was being finalized, mid-term election polling places were just closing and votes across the U.S. were still being counted. Based on the expected close races in some areas, several days may pass before the leadership and composition of the 110th Congress, which convenes in January, will be known. Until then the election's impact, if any, on the general and business aviation industry can only be measured by looking at the U.S. Representatives and Senators in close races and the final outcome. As one example, if the majorities in either or both houses of the U.S. Congress change as a result of the election, so will the chairmen and senior minority members of the respective aviation subcommittees. As another example, two members of the Senate Subcommittee on Aviation -- Conrad Burns, R-Mont., the panel's chairman, and George Allen, R-Va. -- were facing tough re-election challenges. In the U.S. House of Representatives, where all members were up for re-election, the unknowns were less about whether individuals would be re-elected and more about which party would have a majority and be setting the agenda. At stake is the outcome of several aviation issues during the next two years, including the 2007 FAA reauthorization bill and the fate of user-fee proposals.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, in which most observers expected to see Democrats take the majority, Rep. James L. Oberstar, D-Minn., would likely rise to become the new chairman of the full House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, the full committee's current chairman, likely would become its ranking Republican, although existing party term-limit rules may force him to step down from that post. The new Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Aviation likely would be Jerry F. Costello, D-Ill., with current Chairman John L. Mica, R-Fla., also assuming a role in the minority. Meanwhile, in the Senate, how things will play out was even more unclear. If both Burns and Allen are defeated and Republicans retain control of the Senate, it's not at all clear who would be next in seniority or who might decline the post in favor of some other assignment. The picture gets much murkier if Democrats win a majority in the Senate, where the ratio of committees and subcommittees to elected members is larger and seniority doesn't count as much. In that event, a simple changeover was less likely. The final details of who will be in charge of setting Congressional aviation policy next year may not be known until the new Congress convenes in January. The next issue of AVweb's AVwebBiz will attempt to sort out the changes and make some sense of all the shuffling in both houses. Watch this space.

Adam Aircraft Designs & Manufactures the A700 AdamJet & A500 Centerline Piston Twin
The Adam Aircraft A700 features twin Williams FJ-33 engines, state-of-the-art avionics, and comfortable seating for eight (or seven with an aft lavatory). The A700 is currently undergoing flight test and development. The Adam Aircraft A500 centerline piston twin has been Type Certified by the FAA and offers superior safety, range, and performance, along with the pressurized comfort of a roomy six-seat interior. For complete details on both aircraft, go online.

Aircraft Operational Control: NTSB Wants Clarifications

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board last week said it wanted the FAA to ensure each Part 135 air taxi operator "can demonstrate to the FAA that it is maintaining adequate operational control over all on-demand charter flights conducted under the authority of its certificate." The recommendation was one of several handed down by the NTSB as it concluded its investigation into the Feb. 2, 2005, crash of a Bombardier Challenger CL-600-1A11, at the Teterboro Airport (KTEB) in New Jersey. According to the NTSB, the jet rolled off the departure end of KTEB's Runway 6 at a ground speed of about 110 knots, through a perimeter fence, across a six-lane highway and into a parking lot before impacting a building. The two pilots were seriously injured, as were two occupants in a vehicle; the airplane was destroyed. The NTSB's finding of probable cause concluded the Challenger's center of gravity was "well forward of the forward takeoff limit, which prevented the airplane from rotating at the intended rotation speed." The NTSB also found the flight was operated by Platinum Jet Management, LLC (PJM) of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., under a management agreement with Darby Aviation (Darby) based in Muscle Shoals, Ala. According to the NTSB, PJM conducted charter flights without proper FAA certification or compliance with Part 135.

Most important, Darby failed to maintain operational control over flights being conducted by PJM, resulting in systemic flight crew deficiencies. Additionally, the Birmingham, Ala., FAA Flight Standards District Office failed to provide adequate surveillance and oversight of operations conducted under Darby’s Part 135 certificate while the agency gave tacit approval to arrangements like the one between Darby and PJM. In response to the NTSB recommendations, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) said it supported the NTSB's recommendations. "NBAA supports the NTSB's reasonable and effective recommendations for improving the safety of charter flights," said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. "We are confident that industry will be receptive to the recommendations, making charter operations, which already enjoy a strong safety record, even safer." The NTSB recommended that the FAA provide more detailed specifications concerning what constitutes an appropriate operational control relationship. The clarification is expected to assist aircraft owners and charter operators in understanding the difference between appropriate and inappropriate operational control relationships.

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FedEx Buys Boeing 777 Freighters, Cancels Airbus A380 Order

FedEx said yesterday it will acquire 15 new Boeing 777 Freighter aircraft, with options to purchase an additional 15 of the big twins. FedEx's decision to purchase the 777F was made after Airbus announced significant delays in delivery of the A380 cargo version; FedEx also said it had notified Airbus that it has cancelled its order for 10 A380-800Fs. "Global demand for air cargo and express services continues to grow rapidly and FedEx has made significant investments in our network to meet customers’ needs and fulfill our business objectives. Therefore, it was necessary and prudent for us to acquire the Boeing 777 Freighter," said Frederick W. Smith, chairman, president and chief executive officer, FedEx Corp. FedEx Express continues to be Airbus' largest wide-body airplane customer and will add additional new and used Airbus wide-body aircraft to its fleet in coming years. Six new A300-600 aircraft are scheduled to join the FedEx fleet in 2007.

The airplane FedEx is buying from Boeing is the world’s largest twin-engine cargo aircraft with a range of more than 6,100 nm and a revenue payload capacity of 171,000 pounds. When compared to the MD-11F, FedEx's current primary long-haul airplane, the 777 represents a 2,200-nm increase in range and an additional 8,500 pounds of revenue payload. To FedEx, the difference means more nonstop, point-to-point routes with shorter flight times. “The Boeing 777F will allow FedEx Express to fly directly between major markets and hubs in Asia, Europe and the U.S. with more freight and in less time than it takes today, improving fuel efficiency and lowering total operating costs,” said David J. Bronczek, president and chief executive officer, FedEx Express. FedEx expects to take delivery of four of the 777 aircraft in calendar year 2009, eight in 2010 and the remaining three in 2011.

Cessna Delivers 100th Citation Sovereign; Follows 100th CJ3 Delivery

Cessna yesterday handed over the keys to its 100th Citation Sovereign business jet, just over two years after the first example of its type was delivered. The 100th Sovereign was sold to Canada-based Agrium, a global producer and marketer of agricultural nutrients, industrial products, and fertilizers, and a major supplier of agricultural products and services in North and South America, and closely followed the company's 100th delivery of a Citation CJ3, which took place slightly more than two months earlier. The Citation Sovereign received its FAA type certificate in June 2004; it is currently one of Cessna's top three best-selling business jet models worldwide. It has a 459-knot cruise speed, 2,847-mile range, 3,640-foot takeoff distance, 2,650-foot landing distance and a 47,000-foot ceiling. The eight-passenger Citation CJ3, also one of the three best-selling Cessna business jets, was certificated in October 2004. It has a maximum cruise speed of 417 knots, 1,875-mile range, 3,180-foot takeoff distance, 2,770-foot landing distance and a 45,000-foot ceiling.

"While we've long been a leader in the light jet category, the Sovereign has given Cessna a strong competitive position in the mid-size jet segment," said Cessna Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Jack J. Pelton. "The Citation Sovereign appeals to a broad segment of the business jet market worldwide. So far, 25 Sovereigns have gone to international customers in 17 different countries, including South America, Europe, the Middle East, Mexico and Australia. We anticipate demand will continue to increase for the Sovereign as we are already sold out of this model well into 2008."

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Did Brazilian Controllers Screw Up?

Brazilian authorities have detained two U.S. pilots since the Sept. 29 midair collision involving their brand-new Embraer Legacy 600 business jet and a Boeing 737, operating as Gol Airlines Flight 1907. The two pilots, Joseph Lepore and Jan Paladino, have been "guests" of the Brazilian government ever since they managed to land their damaged jet at a remote military base. Authorities held the two -- both a state and a federal judge ordered the pilots to relinquish their passports -- while an investigation was underway. At one point, Brazilian authorities appeared ready to accuse the crew of manslaughter in the Boeing crash. Now it appears an ATC error may be responsible for the collision, which resulted in the deaths of all 154 aboard the Boeing. According to the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper and citing a cockpit voice recorder transcript it said it obtained, air traffic controllers reportedly cleared the Embraer to cruise at FL370, the same altitude being used by the Boeing.

Additionally, some 12 controllers on duty the day of the collision have refused to give interviews to Brazilian federal law enforcement officials conducting an investigation. According to some reports, the controllers remain "too traumatized" by the crash to give their testimony. These and other, unrelated, developments prompted an assistant to a Brazilian judge to tell Long Island's Newsday that evidence and changes in public opinion may soon allow the two U.S. pilots to return home. If so, they will be greeted by a lawsuit filed Monday by the victims' families again their employer, ExcelAire Service Inc. of Ronkonkoma, N.Y., and Honeywell International Inc. The lawsuit alleges the two pilots were flying at an incorrect altitude and the aircraft's transponder was not functioning.

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AirCell Puts Broadband In Your Cabin

AirCell, the airborne telecommunications manufacturer, last week said the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has granted its request for specific radio frequencies, enabling the company to provide exclusive broadband connectivity to U.S. airlines and business aircraft beginning in early 2008. The company said its initial service offerings to the airline market will include wireless Internet connectivity and airline operational communications capabilities; services available for business aviation operators at about the same time will be similar. AirCell said its current customers with an AirCell Axxess communications system can add the forthcoming broadband link by installing the appropriate radio and a small, air-to-ground antenna.

Jack W. Blumenstein, AirCell president & CEO, said, “Receiving this exclusive air-to-ground broadband license is a historic event in the airborne telecommunications industry. In just over a year, the flying public will have the ability to use their own Wi-Fi-enabled laptops and PDA’s to communicate just like they do on the ground.” AirCell’s FCC license means it will be the exclusive U.S. provider for the broadband service; service throughout Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean is expected at about the same time as the U.S. connections come on line.

Columbia Simplifies Buying & Selling All Aircraft Brands
Selling an aircraft can be a challenging odyssey. Aircraft owners need to: locate a broker with national resources to sell for top dollar; select and utilize the most effective advertising; access no-cost, no-obligation finance pre-qualification; consult aviation tax experts; and obtain insurance quotes with higher liability limits. Columbia Aircraft has created a tool to assist pilots and aircraft owners of all brands. Check out their web site.

CitationShares Simplifies Its Fractional Product

It used to be that the only thing simple about buying a fractional share of a business jet was you knew you had to write a series of big checks. In recent years, fractional operators have worked at simplifying their offerings, including so-called "jet cards," which are essentially pre-paid charter agreements. Now, Connecticut-based CitationShares, a joint venture of Cessna and TAG Aviation USA, late last month said it has launched a new program for fractional customers offering payment predictability, customized program options and cost savings "never before seen in the industry." The new program, dubbed "Citelines by CitationShares," encourages customers to fly on non-peak days and save. The program also combines all management and operating costs for the year into one predictable payment.

According to CitationShares, its new program leverages the value differential between peak and non-peak days. With the new Citelines program, the fewer peak days selected, the higher the cost savings. CitationShares CEO Steve O'Neill commented, "Customers who do not fly on peak travel days should not have to pay the same as those who plan travel on those days. And, for those with flexible travel schedules, Citelines provides cost savings to travelers that are not currently available by others.” A similar advantage is now available through the company's 20-flight-hour Vector JetCard by CitationShares. Those who agree to fly only on non-peak days will receive bonus hours at no additional cost.

Bizav Pioneer Alan Conklin Dead At 86

Alan H. Conklin, co-founder of Conklin & de Decker, a leading business aviation research, consulting and education firm, died last week near his home in Orleans, Mass. He was 86. Conklin first began his aviation career as an instrument instructor pilot for the U.S. Army Air Corps in the early 1940s; later, he served as a cargo pilot for the U.S. Air Force. Once leaving the military, his career seemingly saw him staying ahead of business aviation's "wave": In the 1950s, he sold Aero Commanders, Trekker Gulls and eventually Cessnas through a Minneapolis distributor and went on to market King Airs for Atlantic Aviation in the 1960s. In the 1970s, he sold Falcon Jets for AiResearch then Pan Am Business Jets where he became National Sales Manager and met a young engineer named Bill de Decker.

The two shared an office as well as their concerns for a realistic set of operating costs and performance values for the Falcons. From their early collaboration, the Conklin & de Decker Company was born in 1989 after Conklin and his wife started Al Conklin Associates and began selling the "Aircraft Cost Evaluator," a business aircraft purchasing aid. “Al Conklin was a real gentleman with great integrity and fairness,” said Bill de Decker, co-founder of Conklin & de Decker. “He believed that if you do the best job you know how to do and take good care of your customers, the Good Lord will take care of the rest. That was the story of his life and he will be missed.” Al Conklin is survived by his wife of 64 years, Martha Conklin, and his daughter Chris.

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AVwebBiz is an every-other-week 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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