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Volume 5, Number 3
January 31, 2007
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Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Marion C. Blakey yesterday announced her agency will propose increasing the mandatory retirement age for U.S. airline pilots from 60 to 65. Her announcement was made in a luncheon speech at the National Press Club and follows last year's formation of a rulemaking committee that basically punted on the question it was convened to resolve. Changes to the FAA's long-debated Age 60 rule became more likely last year after the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) changed its rules, allowing pilots up to age 65 to serve aboard scheduled carriers. In essence, ICAO's rules allowed foreign carriers to fly to and from the U.S. with older pilots at the controls while the FAA's own rules forbids domestic carriers from conducting the same operation. In response, that FAA panel, formally known as the "Age 60 Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC)," was formed on Sept. 27, 2006, and made its final report to the FAA on Nov. 29. Blakey said her agency plans to issue a formal Notice of Proposed Rulemaking later this year and will publish a final rule after considering public comments. More...

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Aviation security was back on the congressional agenda during a hearing earlier this month before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. The Jan. 17 hearing -- called to review recommendations of the 9/11 Commission -- featured one witness, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Director Edmund S. "Kip" Hawley, who told senators his agency is "working on" a study of what else it can do to enhance general aviation security and that a "more robust" plan may be on the way. There were no specifics, but observers familiar with the TSA speculated the agency may plan some sort of extension of the so-called "Twelve-Five" rule -- which implements a number of requirements for unscheduled commercial operators of aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds, but less than approximately 103,000 pounds -- at least to fractional operators and, perhaps, to private operators of aircraft in that rule's weight range (e.g., bizjets). Hawley's appearance on Capitol Hill came a week ahead of a U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO) report noting progress in all forms of aviation security had been made but that "continued federal action is needed to further mitigate risks." More...

It used to be that the major aviation trade shows -- with exception of Farnborough and the Paris Air Show -- were all in the U.S. during the spring, summer and fall. Not anymore. Now, with EBACE, LABACE, and shows in Singapore and elsewhere in Asia, it's more a matter of which show is being held this month. And the answer is the Middle East Business Aviation (MEBA), which runs today and tomorrow in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, highlighting the industry's growth potential in that region. While AVweb isn't there, most of the big players seem to be, and were already touting their major announcements this week. For example, Airbus put aside its ongoing A380 troubles long enough to announce it had won two new customers for VIP versions of its ultra-long-haul A340s -- one for an A340-500 and one for an A340-300. The airframer said the market for VIP-configured widebody aircraft has been increasingly active in recent years, with the company booking its first firm order for a VIP A340-600 in 2005, plus a VIP A330-200 for an undisclosed customer, in 2006. The company said its latest sales build on a customer base of 40 or so VIP and government versions of Airbus widebodies already in service. More...

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Flight Options, the Raytheon Company's fractional ownership operation, said yesterday the FAA selected it to partner and participate in the “proof of concept” phase of the development and implementation of a formal Safety Management System (SMS) for all air service providers. Flight Options added that it is the only fractional operator -- and the largest of only nine aviation service providers nationwide -- to participate in the FAA program. According to the company, an SMS program is designed to incorporate proven quality and management principles into the practice of safety and involves line management, safety expertise and employee engagement to produce a healthy safety culture in every aspect of the business. A formal FAA-accepted SMS program is expected to become a regulatory requirement for all air carriers by 2009, Flight Options said. To implement this model, the FAA reached out to industry leaders to help define, implement and validate the model SMS. Implementing a formal SMS will integrate safety best practices throughout the organization. More...

Last year at the annual NBAA convention, Piper rolled out its proposed PiperJet, a Williams turbofan-powered single built up from its turboprop-powered Meridian. At the time, neither Piper nor Williams would say much about the personal jet's powerplant except that it would be designated the Williams FJ33-3AP. Now, Williams has released some additional details on its new engine, stressing that it expects to achieve up to a 4% fuel economy improvement over previous versions of Williams engines in its class. Williams said the engine to power Piper's jet will be based on the 3,000-lb-thrust FJ33A presently used aboard Cessna's Citation CJ3 and the forthcoming Grob SPn but de-rated to 2,400 lbs. of thrust. Once certified and after Piper gets its hands on the first few examples, Williams expects to make the new variant available for other aircraft. More...

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NetJets Aviation (NJA) and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) earlier this month signed a new five-year labor agreement, implementing a pact overwhelmingly accepted by the fractional operator's maintenance workers late last year. According to the company, the new contract calls for enhanced pay and benefits and an increase in its maintenance workforce at its Columbus, Ohio, operations base over the agreement's life. Additionally, the contract establishes a "labor partnership" to which both sides say they are committed in support of NetJets' service commitment to owners. The contract went into effect Jan. 4, 2007, and becomes amendable in January 2012. Present at the contract's signing, which took place at a NetJets facility in Columbus, were NetJets Aviation Chairman Richard Santulli, NetJets Aviation Vice President of Labor and Employee Services Rose Doria, IBT Associate Director of Airline Division Mark Luthi and IBT Local 284 President Allen Price. The new contract is in addition to recent labor agreements with the operator's pilots and flight attendants. More...

One of the 10 Gulfstream G150s presently in service recently established three new city-pair records, the manufacturer said last week. The first of the three new city-pair records took place on Friday, Jan. 19. The G150 took off from Westchester County Airport in White Plains, N.Y., at 10:10 a.m. local time and flew 2,542 nm at an average airspeed of 0.78 Mach, landing 5 hours and 53 minutes later at the Long Beach Airport in Long Beach, Calif., at 1:03 p.m. local time. The aircraft flew into headwinds averaging 62 mph and at an average temperature of ISA +10, landing with 1,900 pounds of fuel remaining. The flight was commanded by Scott Evans, Gulfstream chief pilot, advanced programs midsize aircraft, and Wendi Sparks, Gulfstream international demonstration captain. The same five passengers onboard this flight were also onboard the next two record flights. More...

Columbia Introduces 2007 Models
The 2007 Columbias have arrived. Fresh for this year are new, dynamic paint schemes for both the Columbia 350 and 400, as well as a host of thoughtful and unique features for the discerning aircraft owner. See how your new Columbia will look with the interactive online Paint Selector. Just go online and click on the "Paint Your Passion" icon.

Not to be outdone, Bombardier yesterday announced its Learjet 60 set a world speed record in its class, flying from Jeddah to Dubai nonstop, in 1 hour, 59 minutes. The flight was fully sanctioned by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale and will be submitted to the National Aeronautic Association (NAA), according to official procedure, in order to validate the record flight. Once validated, the NAA will submit the record to the FAI in Paris, France, for international ratification. According to Bombardier, this is the second Learjet 60 record in less than five months: On Sept. 21, 2006, another Learjet 60 jet flew Cape Town-Johannesburg, round trip, in 2 hours, 59 minutes. To date, Bombardier says the Learjet 60 has accumulated 13 world speed records over nine routes in five countries. More...

Bombardier earlier this month named Mather Aviation of Sacramento, Calif., as its newest authorized maintenance facility for Bombardier Learjet aircraft, expanding the company's service and support network to 43 authorized facilities worldwide. In turn, Mather Aviation is the second facility appointed in California in the past 12 months, following Landmark Aviation in February 2006. It is also the seventh new facility named worldwide in the past year. Based at Mather Airport near Sacramento, Mather Aviation’s Rancho Cordova Facility offers round-the-clock AOG assistance and line-maintenance service. It is home to an 86,000-square-foot maintenance hangar and a 25,000-square-foot storage hangar. Established in 1991, Mather Aviation includes a staff of 40 factory-trained technicians. More...

Please Help AVweb Serve YOU — Our Subscribers — Better!
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Gulfstream Aerospace last week said it is acquiring WECO Aerospace Systems Inc., a privately held aviation-component overhaul company specializing in electrical, electronic accessories and flight instrument services. The business will retain the WECO name and become part of Gulfstream’s Product Support business operations. The purchase is expected to close by the end of the first quarter 2007; financial details of the transaction were not disclosed. “This acquisition furthers our commitment to providing outstanding product support for our fleet operators. Gulfstream has been one of WECO’s biggest customers,” said Bryan Moss, president, Gulfstream. More...

AVweb's coverage of business aviation news is about to get even better. Starting February 7, AVwebBiz will be published weekly (every Wednesday) to keep you better up to date on the business aviation industry. Also starting next week, the recently revamped AVweb.com will contain frequent business aviation news updates -- subscribe to our business aviation RSS news feed to have these stories pushed to your RSS news reader. More...

Not Keeping Up with FAA Rules & Regulations Can Cost You
In today's flight environment, busting a rule and/or regulation can cost you not only a fine but your ticket. Protect it by being informed. Read Aviation Safety every month for interesting and information-packed articles to sharpen your air readiness. Order your Aviation Safety subscription online for savings from the regular rate.

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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