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Volume 5, Number 7
February 28, 2007
Fly with the Bose® Aviation Headset X
Enjoy an unmatched combination of benefits: Full-spectrum noise reduction, clear sound, and comfortable fit. Voted the #1 headset for the sixth year in a row by readers of Professional Pilot magazine's Headset Preference Survey, 12/06. Learn more and order.

Pulling no punches, Cessna Aircraft Company Chairman, CEO and President Jack J. Pelton last week labeled the FAA's proposed scheme of user fees and increased general aviation fuel taxes a "bailout" for U.S. airlines. Pelton's remarks came in a Feb. 23 speech to the University of Northern Colorado, touching on the general aviation industry's recent successes, the advances in technology potentially making future aircraft and air transportation more exciting, and the major obstacle to continued success: user fees. Putting his cards on the table, Pelton's prepared remarks stated, "After an intense lobbying campaign by the nation’s airlines, the FAA this year has proposed to radically change the way it is funded. Instead of the stable, non-bureaucratic gas tax, the FAA is proposing to switch to user fees -- the same method retarding the natural free-market growth in Europe we might otherwise expect to see given the dynamics of that economy. In Europe, the airlines rule the skies, shutting out other air travel alternatives." Pelton went on to gaze into his figurative crystal ball, painting a picture of declining general aviation growth, stifled overall domestic economic activity and reduced U.S. economic competition internationally, all because of airlines getting "the bailout they seek" from the FAA's reauthorization proposal. "What the FAA is proposing is to create a new bureaucracy to collect user fees, which they admit will bring in less than they get now, and would result in an unstable funding stream dependant on continued growth of the system," Pelton said in his remarks. More...

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Last week's FAA announcement that three firms had qualified to bid on the ADS-B portion of the agency's planned Next Generation Air Transportation System (NGATS) brings closer -- or pushes further, depending on your cynicism level -- the date by which the U.S. ATC and air navigation system is modernized. The firms' identities should come as no real surprise: Lockheed-Martin, Raytheon and ITT were selected by the agency’s Joint Resources Council (JRC), a team of top FAA executives that reviews major acquisitions, and were approved to proceed toward the next phase of NGATS implementation. That phase is segment two of ADS-B implementation, which runs from 2009 to 2014. Segment one involves installing ADS-B at Philadelphia, Louisville, and Juneau, along with new stations on oil and gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. Segment one also includes the expansion of ADS-B broadcast services along the East Coast, throughout North Dakota, and along the lower part of the U.S. to Arizona and through Southern California. In addition, it involves the development of ADS-B separation standards and software to interface between ADS-B and other air traffic control systems. Presumably, ADS-B segment two involves nationwide expansion of the technology, but the FAA's fact sheet and Web site were silent on its exact nature. More...

In a Group Plan & Think You're Getting the Best Deal on Life Insurance?
The Pilot Insurance Center (PIC) finds many people believe this is the case. Unfortunately, in some group plans you're only as good as your weakest link. Meaning, while you may be in excellent health, you may be paying a higher premium due to those in the group that aren't as healthy. From airline pilots to weekend warriors, PIC has saved pilots 30-60% on coverage through A+ rated carriers or better. Find out if you are getting the best deal. Call PIC today at (800) 380-8376, or visit online.

As a precursor to final U.S. type certification, the FAA this week published the proposed "special conditions" under which it intends to certify Dassault's forthcoming Falcon 7X trijet. In its statement, the FAA noted the 7X will have "novel or unusual design features" not envisioned in its existing airworthiness standards for transport category airplanes, thus requiring the special conditions. The agency said those features include "side stick controllers, electronic flight control systems, and flight envelope protections," and added that it does not have a regulatory framework in place to ensure appropriate safety standards for these design features. However, rather than an indication of new obstacles to Dassault's type certification of the 7X, the FAA's statement is both a normal action for the agency to take when presented with an advanced aircraft or engine to certify. Basically, the set of special conditions is a good sign that Dassault is that much closer to certifying the 7X. More...

Fly in Ultra-Comfort with LightSPEED Headsets:
Discover the most comfortable headsets in the industry. The in-the-ear Mach 1 weighs less than 1 oz., and the full-size Thirty 3G just under 16 oz. and uses soft conform-foam ear cushions. Try a LightSPEED headset with a 30-day money back guarantee. To order, contact a LightSPEED dealer or call (800) 332-2421 (PST, business hours). For more information and to view a video clip, click here.

Embraer this month embarked on an ambitious multi-continent tour, featuring full-scale mock-ups of its under-development Phenom 100 and Phenom 300 light jets, to include some 30 cities in the U.S. The tour began in Daytona Beach, Fla., where the Embraer road show expected to draw attendees at NASCAR's Daytona 500 race. An additional tour began in Brisbane, Australia, is in Sydney this week and plans to be in Melbourne and Perth in early March. Europe, Latin America and South Africa also are on the company's road show schedule. Meanwhile, one European customer, JetBird, is reporting the Phenom 100's first flight is expected by mid-2007, with the low-cost executive charter operator expecting to take first delivery of a Europe-certified airplane in April 2009. 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.

The Raytheon Company's proposed spinoff of its aircraft-manufacturing business got a green light last week from Europe's regulatory authorities. The European Commission automatically cleared the proposed sale to a new company formed by Goldman Sachs and Onex Partners after no antitrust problems were identified and no complaints from rivals were received. The EC allowed 25 working days for interested parties to oppose the sale. Raytheon announced the $3.3-billion deal Dec. 21, 2006, saying it will sell its Hawker and Beechcraft lines. As AVweb reported, the sale does not include Raytheon's fractional operation, Flight Options, or Raytheon Airline Aviation Services (RAAS), but does include the Raytheon Aircraft Services FBO network. More than 8,500 employees and about 100 facilities worldwide are involved. More...

Attention, Operators, Avionics Shops, and FBOs
Stay within budgets with Bennett Avionics. Bennett Avionics provides quality avionics to meet the needs of business and commercial aircraft operators and those who service their equipment. Before you buy anywhere else, check out Bennett Avionics at (860) 653-7295 or online. You'll be glad you did!

Most of the business links between aviation and Microsoft Corp. have involved the software giant's "Flight Simulator" program, which used to allow would-be pilots to fly their PC into Chicago's Sears Tower. Now, with the recently launched small-business product Microsoft Office Live, the publisher is offering 10 hours of private jet travel on a Citation V Ultra operated by Marquis Jet -- NetJets' flight card operation -- as the grand prize in a sweepstakes promotion targeting small business owners and entrepreneurs as potential users of its new software. The sweepstakes, called "I'm Going Places," targets expansion-minded small-business owners looking for ways to create, maintain and promote their company's Web sites as well as managing their businesses online. More...

San Diego, Calif.-based charter, maintenance and refurbishment facility ElleJet this month said it is entering the charter brokerage business in a big way -- by focusing on filling seats on deadhead, or empty, legs flown by certificated operators. According to Joseph Gold, ElleJet's vice president of sales and marketing, the company maintains the "largest network of empty leg flights in the industry," and offers its customers access to the most exclusive air charter fleets in the world at reduced prices. That makes the company one of the latest to jump into the excess-capacity market: leveraging the near-commodity of empty air charter flights through a network of operators seeking to reduce their costs by filling empty seats on those legs. And there's a ready cadre of well-heeled customers looking to abandon the airlines who are willing to pay the extra price. More...

DA40 Diamond Star a Fleet Favorite
Airline Transport Professionals, Beijing PanAm, Empire Aviation, Middle Tennessee State University, Utah Valley State College, and Utah State University have all selected the G1000-equipped DA40 Diamond Star. For value, efficiency, and safety, the Diamond Aircraft DA40 is the fleet favorite. For more information, click here.

If you think you've heard it all when it comes to air-taxi concepts, think again. West Palm Beach, Fla.-based Earthjet is adding its own twist by using a franchise business model for the Part 135 service, in addition to conceptually designing the roughly 14,000-pound light jet to be used by the franchisees. "We believe the franchise model is a very effective way to structure an air-taxi service. Essentially, Earthjet will provide pilot and business training to franchise owners to ensure consistency of service," company President and CEO Dean Rotchin told AVweb. As for the air-taxi aircraft, Earthjet presented a conceptual design package that includes performance data and supplier bids to several "leading" aircraft manufacturers, and two are interested in building the six-seat (in air-taxi configuration) jet. More...

Phoenix Associates Land Syndicate earlier this month announced it had acquired Noble Jet Inc., a jet aircraft maintenance facility based at the Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Executive Airport (KFXE). The company said it acquired 80% of Noble Jet's common stock for $2.0 million, paid through a combination of cash payments and a 10-year note. Noble Kurth, Noble Jet's principal, will retain a 20% equity position in the company and will continue to manage its day-to-day operations as chief operating officer. Phoenix assumed overall executive control on Feb. 23, 2007. Noble Jet specializes in the Learjet family of aircraft, performing unscheduled repairs, routine maintenance, and major airframe inspections. Several air taxi operators rely on Noble Jet for direct support of their Learjet fleet. More...

Small Business Owners! AVweb's Marketplace Is the Place for You
Showcase your product or service to over 300,000 unique visitors monthly on AVweb. For a small monthly fee, your business-card sized ad, with graphic, will be placed on the Marketplace page. The AVwebFlash newsletter will feature selected ads as space permits. Click here for more information on AVweb's Marketplace (PDF).