AVwebBiz Complete Issue: Volume 5, Number 6

February 21, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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NTSB Transcript Rekindles Midair Angst

Speculation is reborn from the release of published excerpts from the cockpit voice recorder of the Embraer Legacy 600 jet that last September survived airborne contact with a Gol Airlines 737-800; all 154 aboard the Boeing died. But the renewed controversy might center on the exact translation of the scripts from English to Portuguese and their context. The 290-page transcript includes colorful language and apparent language problems between the Legacy pilots and Brazilian controllers, and suggests the pilots might have been unfamiliar with some procedures and equipment. However, the transcript also seems to confirm the Legacy jet was cleared to fly its entire route at 37,000 feet (the collision altitude) and that they were "exactly where they were supposed to be," according to an ExcelAire spokeswoman who spoke with Newsday. That the pilots may have been somewhat foul-mouthed is irrelevant to their expertise, said the spokeswoman, and ExcelAire contends that translation errors have been compounded by efforts to interpret aviation-specific verbiage. While not helping quench any cinders of blame still burning in Brazil for the American Legacy pilots, Brazilian reports continue to cast blame on the Brazilian controllers as well.

 
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Emergency AD For GE CF34s

All operators of certain Bombardier Challenger 600-series aircraft with General Electric CF34-3A1/-3B/-3B1 turbofans will soon receive word in the form of an emergency airworthiness directive 2007-04-51 informing them that an electrical arc-out defect potentially introduced during manufacturing could lead to uncontained engine failure. The FAA found that the defect can be introduced during the part-marking phase of manufacturing. This emergency AD results from the investigation of a fan disk failure episode aboard a Canadair Regional Jet that resulted in in-flight departure of the fan, forward cowling and fan reverser. Operators must comply within 20 engine flight hours of receipt of this emergency AD, specifically performing visual and tactile inspections on 31 fan disks listed in the AD that have not had a shop-level inspection.

NBAA: FAA's Feb. 14 Budget Plan Sweet For Airlines

The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) last week called the FAA's proposed funding plan a huge tax break for large airlines that punishes small and midsize general aviation businesses, while stripping Congress of its aviation system oversight. Basically labeling the plan as a Valentine's Day gift from the FAA to the airlines, NBAA says airline lobbying would through this plan more than triple jet-A fuel taxes (from 21.4 cents to 70 cents per gallon) paid by general aviation, impose fees on flights simply passing near large airports, add transactional fees for pilot licensing and aircraft certification, and create a new control board likely dominated by the airlines. And then, says NBAA, there are the bureaucracies that must be generated and funded to sustain these new burdens -- all of which would be imposed while revenues going into the Airport and Airways Trust Fund (without the proposed changes) are at record levels. The changes would "overthrow a funding structure that has proven to be stable, reliable and efficient," said NBAA President Ed Bolen, who hopes voices in Congress will stand to oppose the "big new government bureaucracies" and show care for "the nation's small and rural communities."

 
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Dassault's New Projections And New Project

Dassault took a record 158 orders in 2006, expects its 7X to continue flying toward certification in April and then plans to produce 10 each month for two years -- but the company already has its sights set on a new midsize jet offering and that project should give the company something to do with the profits from a predicted record number of Falcon deliveries in 2007 that would crown the record 158 total orders taken in 2006. Chief Executive Officer Charles Edelstenne this month said his company is currently setting size, technology, and performance parameters for the new jet, and that outline should be set this month, according to Flight International. If all goes well, that program should launch following 7X certification, which should come soon, followed by first delivery in the second quarter. More than 60 percent of the company's business is composed of Falcon jet sales. Delivery rates, which clocked in at 61 in 2006, are expected to increase through 2008. Dassault Falcon recently received type certification from Transport Canada for the Falcon 900EX EASy, Falcon 900DX and Falcon 2000 family of business jets.

Bombardier Boosts After-Sales Support

On Tuesday, Bombardier launched Parts Express service for Learjet, Challenger and Global aircraft operators, and simultaneously opened its new 100,000-sqare-foot Dallas Service Center. Parts Express leverages the flexibility of Bombardier's Flexjet fleet for aircraft on ground (AOG) parts deliveries within the U.S. According to the company, the Parts Express service will be a valuable tool in helping to ensure Bombardier aircraft are ready to meet their mission. The program is available to Bombardier business aircraft operators whose aircraft are currently under warranty. Meanwhile, the $17 million construction project at the Dallas Love Field service facility features a 52,500-square-foot hangar and 45,000 square feet of back shops and office space. The expansion increases maintenance capacity in Dallas by more than 60 percent, adding Challenger and Global aircraft maintenance services to the previous Learjet Bombardier Flexjet fractional fleet capability at the location.

 
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Gulfstream's Sonic Silent Treatment

It's all about the spike. Equipped with a Gulfstream-patented prosthetic nose (a.k.a. "Quiet Spike" sonic boom mitigator), a NASA F-15 managed to convert its transonic sound signature from a climactic boom to a series of small "almost inaudible" rumbles. The test flight program concluded this month, marking a critical step "moving us forward in the development of a supersonic aircraft," Pres Henne, Gulfstream's senior vice president for the project, last week told the Savannah Morning News at Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport. Aerodynamically, size matters -- the telescoping spike rests at a length of 14 feet in subsonic flight. It extends to its full length of 24 feet as that speed once called the sound barrier is penetrated. The result is an overall increase in length for the aircraft that softens shock waves spreading outward from the plane. If you're thinking that would make a nice selling point for a supersonic business jet, Gulfstream agrees.

For Gulfstream, development of the spike addresses practical overland supersonic operations that hinge not only on economics, but also on environmental factors. "From the outset it has been understood that the sonic boom must be reduced to acceptable levels before consideration could be given to developing a prototype quiet supersonic jet," Henne told the newspaper. According to Henne, fitting the Quiet Spike to a supersonic business jet specifically constructed to muffle the adverse sounds of supersonic flight is on the agenda. NASA and Gulfstream have been testing the structural integrity of the spike since June. So far, performance comes with a price -- the spike weighs about 470 pounds.

Raytheon Plans Indian Maintenance Facility

Raytheon Aircraft, spurred by the sale in India of 20 aircraft in two years (as well as five in barely the first two months of this year) has announced plans to firm its foundation in that country by building a repair and maintenance facility in association with an FBO there. The company hopes to deliver up to 12 aircraft to buyers in the country this year, building on its 14-month Indian bizjet sales tally of $90 million. A Raytheon facility and FBO in India would cater to those aircraft and all other callers, but Raytheon has yet to announce a specific partner for the project. One thing is clear: The company is seeking entities interested in taking up the locally rare project as a joint venture. Toward that end, industry estimates may help woo Raytheon's future co-conspirator as forecasts project India's current universe of 150-or-so business jets to swell beyond 500 in number by 2010. Raytheon says it is already in early talks with a few prospective partners, but the fine details -- including the division of shared financial burdens -- have not yet been addressed.

 
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.
 

Oakland ARTCC Expands 30/30 Trials

Oakland Air Route Traffic Control Center will on March 13 at 1800 UTC expand throughout the Oakland Oceanic CTA operational trials of 30-nm lateral and 30-nm longitudinal separation (30/30). Aircraft operating 30/30 carry required communications, navigation and surveillance equipment, along with authorization, but those aircraft not so blessed will still be accommodated. Specific instructions for convective weather avoidance and other operational and procedural guidelines are included in the "Pacific CNS Requirement/Options" Web site. The 30/30 program aims to allow air traffic control greater flexibility to manage and accommodate aircraft on user preferred routes and flight levels. Equipment improvements, including Automatic Dependant Surveillance-Contract (ADS-C), of eligible aircraft are largely responsible for improved safety under the program. For more, click here.

GWBAA Self-Improvement Agenda In D.C.

The Greater Washington Business Aviation Association (GWBAA), established to "represent the interests of business aviation in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia," has announced a March 8 "Safety Standdown" meeting at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Northern Virginia. The gathering includes presentations from Bob Agonstino, director of flight operations for Bombardier; former NTSB members Bob Francis and Greg Feith; Jim Burin of Flight Safety Foundation; Ben Winfree of Fatigue Training; Rob Rottman of DHS; and others. Topics will include aeronautical decision-making, human factors in aviation maintenance, cabin security and safety, fatigue management and security for business aviation operators. The GWBAA says space is limited and registration is necessary to secure a spot. The group recommends flight department managers, pilots, safety managers, schedulers/dispatchers, maintenance, flight attendant and security management professionals attend. The registration form is available online.

 
Join NAA and Help Shape the Next Century of Flight
It's a great time to join the National Aeronautic Association (NAA), the nation's oldest aviation organization. At $39 a year, NAA membership is a terrific value for any aviation enthusiast! Members receive the Smithsonian's Air & Space and NAA's Aero magazines, plus access to aviation records, product discounts, and much more. Call (703) 527-0226 to become an NAA member, or sign up online.
 

Meet the AVwebBiz Team

AVwebBiz is a weekly 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 Contributing Editor Glenn Pew (bio) and Editor In Chief Chad Trautvetter.

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