AVwebBiz - Volume 5, Number 8

March 7, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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Second Sport-Jet In Progress

"We're building the next plane same as the last," Sport-Jet founder Bob Bornhofen told AVweb Tuesday. With the fuselage currently in construction, that aircraft should be in the air "in 10 or 11 months." The project to produce a $1 million certified four-seat single-engine jet that would cruise at 340 knots at 25,000 feet suffered a major setback when the original proof-of-concept aircraft on June 22, 2006, crashed after 25 hours of otherwise "virtually flawless" flight testing. Test pilot James Stewart survived the crash without injury and has stayed on with the project. "We had to convince some financial types that it wasn't the airplane," Bornhofen said, but while the program could always use more money, funding has been secured to see the build of the second aircraft through to completion. The new aircraft will incorporate the design's originally intended aluminum wings and further optimize cabin space. (The original proof-of-concept aircraft flew with composite wings due to a problem with a supplier, according to Bornhofen.) "We haven't found anything that would prohibit the plane from gaining certification," said Bornhofen, who aims to reach that goal in two to three years.

As for the crash, "It was wake vortex -- from our perspective we have a lot of supporting evidence. It's physically impossible for the aircraft to roll that quickly no matter what you do to the controls." The NTSB has yet to issue a probable cause, and the Safety Board's preliminary report says nothing about wake vortex. Bornhofen said that both wings were flying at the time of the crash and the flight controls were working properly. "The one flaw we found is the aircraft can't get through a DASH-8 vortex." Bornhofen concluded, "We did what we said we were going to do. We put a plane in the air, proved it's performance, proved its safety and we're going to go forward."

 
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New Suppliers For Eclipse Avio

Eclipse Aviation and Avidyne decided last week to terminate their relationship, leaving the company's 500 jet's Avio avionics system to the newly appointed hands of Chelton Flight Systems, Innovative Solutions & Support, Garmin, Honeywell and PS Engineering. While working with Avidyne, Eclipse had concurrently "been working closely with this group behind-the-scenes for a number of months, and has already made significant progress" and "this change has no effect on Eclipse 500 production or delivery," said Eclipse spokesman Andrew Broom. Any aircraft delivered with Avidyne Avio systems will be retrofitted with the now fast-tracked Avio NG (next generation) package before year-end, according to Eclipse. Retrofits should consume less than ten days downtime to install and functionality look and feel should remain consistent to provide ease of transition for original Avio users. Meanwhile, Eclipse is still working on obtaining a production certificate to deliver aircraft en masse. CEO Vern Raburn said he plans to announce more news on this front in a couple of weeks.

"The exact timing of the production cut-in is currently being finalized," Broom told AVweb, though the switchover is expected in the summer. "Avio will continue to be an integral part of the Eclipse 500, and we are confident in our ability to deliver all of the promised functionality to our customers on an aggressive schedule." As to the specifics: IS&S will now provide hardware and select software for the Eclipse 500 primary and multifunction displays, while Chelton Flight has been selected to do the flight management system. Meanwhile, Garmin has been picked for its remote-mounted Mode S transponders; Honeywell for its KTR 2280 Multi Mode Digital Radios, as well as its previous selection for the RDR 2000 Weather Radar System and optional KGP 560 Terrain Awareness System; and PS Engineering for its PMA500 remote audio control system.

Passing The Raytheon Beechcraft Baton

The sale of Wichita-based Raytheon Aircraft Company to GS Capital Partners and Onex Partners is expected to be completed in the first half of this year, but that company's pending purchase has already given rise to a new company. Soon-to-be Hawker Beechcraft Corporation will apparently be starting life through the help of Hawker Beechcraft Inc. (HBI) and its subsidiary Hawker Beechcraft Notes Company. HBI "intends to commence a private placement offering to eligible purchasers of $1,200.0 million of a new issue of senior fixed rate notes due 2015." Senior PIK- election notes due 2015, senior floating rate notes due 2015 and senior subordinated notes due 2017 will also be made available, according to a March 5 news release. All notes are expected to be eligible for resale. Upon completion of the sale of Raytheon Aircraft, the entity will be known as Hawker Beechcraft Corporation. GS Capital and Onex will not be acquiring fractional provider Flight Options or Raytheon Airline Aviation Services as part of the deal; instead these companies will remain under the Raytheon Company umbrella. Meanwhile, Raytheon Aircraft on Tuesday said it is moving its international sales headquarters, currently based in Geneva, Switzerland, to the manufacturer's production and service facilities in Chester, U.K.

 
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NetJets Loss Is Its Gain

It's a bright new day at Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary NetJets, which offers fractional shares in a variety of business jets. "NetJets generated pre-tax earnings of $143 million in 2006 as compared to a pre-tax loss of $80 million in 2005," according to a Berkshire Hathaway release. And the turnaround might not be so much about a marked increase in business as it is about management of that marked increase in business. Berkshire CEO Warren Buffett attributes NetJets' 2005 deficit to the company's struggles to cope with increasing demand. In 2005, increases in owner demand caused a shortfall of aircraft availability that NetJets addressed by subcontracting additional aircraft through charter services. Costs associated with subcontracted flights were not recovered in full from clients and led to $85 million in associated costs. An additional $20 million was added to fourth-quarter 2005 expenses due to compensation agreements made under a labor contract reached with pilots and flight attendants late that year. NetJets has now added aircraft to the fleet, allowing for a 23-percent increase in flight operations. "In 2006, occupied flight hours increased 19 percent and average hourly rates increased as well. The number of aircraft managed within the NetJets program over the past 12 months increased 13 percent," according to the company.

Honeywell Working On Helicopter SVS

Honeywell is developing Integrated Primary Flight Display (IPFD) synthetic vision technology for helicopters to enhance flight safety by improving situational awareness and reducing pilot workload. IPFD uses advanced computing power to provide easy-to-understand, three-dimensional graphic displays of surrounding terrain and obstacles, regardless of outside conditions. "Poor visibility, loss of horizon, uncontrolled drift and windy conditions are just a few of the factors that contribute to helicopter accidents," said Honeywell Vice President of Commercial and Military Helicopters Vicki Panhuise. “Our ambient, natural and continuous synthetic vision technology is going to reduce the need for pilots to frequently scan and cross-check indicators on instrument panels, allowing them to focus on safely flying the aircraft.” Honeywell said it integrated display will replicate the view from the helicopter’s windshield on a clear day and overlay the terrain image with flight symbols including icons indicating the aircraft’s planned flight path, vertical acceleration, radio altitude and potential landing zones. Additional display features include various colors and terrain shading for different altitudes, obstacle identification, distance-marking range rings, wind vector identification and a top-down aircraft display. Honeywell plans to market its IPFD technology by 2010.

 
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Raytheon Seeks International Standards For ADS-B

Raytheon suggests we can all just get along -- on the same frequency. The key to lowering ADS-B equipment costs and improving safety lies in "adopting a single international standard for locating aircraft," according to a release distributed by Raytheon's ADS-B team. What that translates to, according to the team, is mandating a single frequency for all ADS-B operations worldwide -- that means maintaining both commercial and general aviation aircraft on the same frequency. A current proposal suggests the two should operate separately. How it all translates through business is that a handful of huge corporations will be burdened with the task, and reap any potential rewards. Raytheon's proposal suggests XM WX Satellite Weather Radio to supply weather information; U.K. defense company QinetiQ's radio design to manage surveillance; Verizon's nationwide telecommunications network to carry the signals and transmit them skyward via cellular towers; and air-ground radio with help from ARINC.

Private Flights Blamed For Israel Near Midairs

Comparing the region to the airspace over metropolitan New York, an Israeli Air Force officer told the Jerusalem Post that private and chartered aircraft sometimes fly recklessly and are the main source of aerial dangers in Israel. A booming aviation economy has its bonuses, but the officer involved in coordinating joint military/civilian use of airspace says that while flight operations there have doubled in the past two years, the expansion has not come without consequence. Two incidents within the past month -- one involving an F-16 and an Arkia airliner, another involving a private airplane and an Arkia aircraft -- have pushed midair safety to the headlines in the public eye. Minimum vertical separation in some areas of Israel is 400 feet, and new radar and monitoring systems installed at some airfields are being used to combat the problem. "We also restrict the number of aircraft allowed in the air at the same time," the official said.

 
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.
 

On The Fly

Cessna says its Mach 0.92 Citation X is gaining popularity, announcing this week that production for the aircraft has risen 40 percent since 2003 and continues to rise to meet demand. More than 260 Citation Xs have been delivered and the model's order backlog extends well into 2008. Cessna delivered 307 business jets last year, and expects to deliver 375 jets in 2007...

General Dynamics CEO Nicholas Chabraja predicts growth in Gulfstream sales of 17 to 18 percent this year, with higher deliveries and pressure to ramp up production in 2008 to meet demand for new aircraft...

Dassault is offering video footage of Falcon 7X extreme conditions testing on YouTube. The eight-minute forty-eight second video is narrated to explain the tests -- which include high speed runs through deep standing water, operations during extreme cold, icing, lightning, and more -- comment on results and note changes resulting from each test program.

 
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Welcome To The New Face Of AVweb

AVweb.com, the world’s best Web site for general aviation news and information, is now even better thanks to a redesigned home page. The revamped home page has more content, easier navigation, a more user-friendly podcast interface and better graphics to complement AVweb's real-time general aviation news, incisive commentary and unparalleled feature reporting.
 
DA40 Diamond Star a Fleet Favorite
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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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