AVwebBiz Complete Issue: Volume 5, Number 10

March 21, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Dubai Firm Eyes U.S. Aviation Companies

Dubai Aerospace Enterprise has proposed a $1.5 billion deal to buy Landmark Aviation, an FBO network with 35 locations, and Standard Aero, a provider of overhauls and maintenance for turbine engines. The proposed deal has raised some eyebrows in Washington, where the deal is expected to be subjected to scrutiny. A proposal from Dubai interests last year to manage some U.S. ports was derailed amid security concerns. DAE is a fairly new company, established in February 2006, with plans to expand into all sectors of aerospace over the next 10 years -- from training to manufacturing to aircraft leasing and maintenance -- investing $15 billion and employing 30,000 workers. It's owned by the state and chaired by Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of the Emirates airline group. Robert Johnson, formerly the CEO of Honeywell Aerospace, was named CEO last summer. If the deal goes through, Johnson told Bloomberg News on Tuesday, "We have no intention of moving them [Landmark and Standard Aero] from where they are. But as the market becomes more global we think there's an opportunity to extend them into regions of growth,'' such as Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The deal would be subject to congressional review, but Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who led the opposition to the Dubai Ports deal, told the Financial Times: "This purchase is not as much of a security risk as Dubai Ports World, but because it deals with maintenance of aircraft, it certainly raises security questions." According to Bloomberg, Schumer also said that following proper security reviews, "the deal is unlikely to have problems in Congress."

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NBAA's Bolen Continues Push For Traditional FAA Funding

National Business Aviation Association President and CEO Ed Bolen stated last week before Congress his belief that proposed FAA modernization and funding plans ignore that the general aviation community has lead the effort in expanding aviation system capacity, modernization and safety through several significant initiatives. Further, he maintains that the current funding system will allow those efforts not only to continue "but to accelerate." The proposal introduced as part of the FAA's reauthorization bill would replace this "ultra-efficient funding system for one based on new user fees and massive tax hikes," according to NBAA. And Bolen says the big airlines' proposal is not a modernization plan, but "a ploy to reduce Congressional oversight and shift taxes." He added that by taking the initiative to install advanced telemetry systems, business aircraft have effectively doubled the nation's en-route capacity through RVSM. Also, ADS-B -- a system expected to be the cornerstone of next-generation air traffic control -- was demonstrated in Alaska through the steady push of the general aviation industry, according to Bolen, and that continuing investments in technology are largely general aviation motivated. In short, Bolen urged Congress to dismiss the new "scheme" and get on with the serious work of expanding the nation's air traffic capacity.

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NATA Comments On Security Legislation

On March 13, the Senate passed S.509 as part of a homeland security bill (S.4) that includes legislation that would within one year require the TSA to develop a "standardized threat and vulnerability assessment program for general aviation airports," according to the National Air Transportation Association. The legislation states that a study would be designed to ascertain the feasibility of grants to upgrade security at those airports. NATA supports this part of the legislation, so long as those grants offset any financial burdens incurred by mandatory compliance. For foreign-registered general aviation aircraft, a risk-assessment program would be put in place with those identified as higher risk required to supply passenger information to the TSA. The legislation will now move through a House-Senate conference where changes may be made. Language already contained in the bill supportive of TSA screener unionization might kill it, and President Bush has threatened a veto if that verbiage is kept intact.

SEC And Former Raytheon Execs Settle

The Securities and Exchange Commission claim that three former Raytheon Co. executives from 1997 to 2001 disguised the aircraft division's weakening fiscal situation. Now, three previous Raytheon executives -- former CFO Franklyn A. Caine, former Controller and Lead Auditor Edward S. Pliner, and former CFO James E. Gray -- will pay $1.5 million to settle charges of their participation in that act without admitting or denying the allegations, according to the Associated Press. Caine and Pliner will pay civil penalties of $125,000 and $150,000, respectively along with restitution of past bonuses, plus interest. Raytheon last June agreed to pay a $12 million fine to settle. Former Chairman and CEO Daniel Burnham at that time agreed to pay $1.2 million and Aldo Servello, then-deputy CFO and controller, agreed to pay $34,628.

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Jumpjet Offers New BizJet Service

Jumpjet, which claims it can offer private jet travel for less than the price of an airline ticket, began enrolling members this week for service to begin on May 29. Members will be treated to first-come first-serve reservations departing from any of 12 originating cities and flying to any continental U.S. airport that is both safe and legal for business jet use. Member fees are associated with a maximum number of flights per month and guest allowances and are tiered from $1,500 to $4,000 per month. The company says the program works by "leveraging the power of numbers via a membership model and modest advance reservation requirements." The more you fly, the more the per-flight costs begin to align with first-class, business class "and even full-fare coach airline fares." However, there are rules: Jumpjetters (our term) may book only two reservations into the system at any given time and can place only one reservation per 24-hour period. Jumpjet's 12 originating cities are: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles/Orange County, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.

Von Essen and PremiAir Leverage Assets

PremiAir Aviation Group is poised to take on new challenges following its acquisition by the von Essen Group of companies. PremiAir has managed von Essen's fleet of business helicopters and jets, and closer pairing with von Essen's luxury hotel collection produce "some very interesting business opportunities ahead," PremiAir Managing Director David McRobert notes. Along with the acquisition, PremiAir also announced that he London Heliport LTD will soon become part of the PremiAir Aviaion Group, that the heliport's adjoining area will be developed into a luxury von Essen hotel. The heliport is London's only commercial heliport. Twenty-year-old PremiAir operates a comprehensive business helicopter charter service in the UK with more than 150 employees. Its fleet includes Sikorsky S-76, Agusta A109, Bell 222 and Eurocopter Twin Squirrel helicopters. All are equipped for night and instrument flight.

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Flight Options Adopts New Regs

Flight Options, LLC, has adopted OpSpec A008 FAA regulations designed to increase transparency and operational control oversight for FAR Part 135 charter operators. The fractional provider says its advance compliance showcases its "industry leading status within the realm of aviation safety," but, in point of fact, "we were already operating under these standards," according to CEO S. Michael Scheeringa. With a fleet of more than 140 aircraft, including the largest gaggle of Beechjet 400As and Legacy Executive aircraft, Flight Options is the first fractional provider selected by the FAA to participate in the Aviation Safety Action Program and to partner in the development of the Safety Management System prototype. Meanwhile, the FAA has started to conduct audits of Part 135 operators to ensure compliance with OpSpec A008. Last week, the FAA audited West Coast charter firm TAG Aviation, and the FAA plans to conduct more reviews of Part 135 operators over the coming months and years.

CIT Financing Aids NetJets' Expansion

NetJets and CIT Group offered each other complimentary pats on the back this week as CIT surpassed $1 billion in total lease and loan originations with owners of NetJets. The mark reflects the strength of the companies' 12-year relationship and CIT's ability to serve up "a wide range of competitive, flexible and easy-to-use loan and lease options," according to CIT President C. Jeffrey Knittel, as well as NetJets ability to work with CIT to "customize competitively priced lease and loan products to suit any situation," notes John Colucci, executive vice president of NetJets. NetJets claims to sell "more fractional shares than all other companies combined." CIT is also responsible for development of a fleet-financing program with Marquis Jet Partners that allows clients to purchase NetJets subleases of 25-hour blocks. Marquis says that working with CIT has allowed it to accelerate expansion of its private jet card business.

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

Embraer's recycling program earned it $6.6 million in 2006, claiming 79.6 percent of its recyclables and weighing in at 9.947 tons. The program has grown 5 percent since 2005.

Eclipse Aviation last Wednesday delivered the second Eclipse 500 (S/N 003) to an unidentified customer, company spokesman Andrew Broom confirmed. He told AVweb that Eclipse will continue to deliver more very light jets sans announcements...

Soloy has delivered the fourth of five development engine inlet Assemblies for Grob's SPn light business jet. Deliveries of SPn production inlets are due later this year...

Sikorsky has taken a major step toward establishing roots for its European operations through the acquisition of PZL Mielec. Sikorsky will modify PZL's 1.2 million-sq-ft facility to support Black Hawk production...

Former Gulfstream executive vice-president of marketing and sales Robert H. "Bob" Cooper, 81, passed away on March 17. Cooper's career spanned North American Aviation, Rockwell International and Gulfstream, and more recently he was on the board of Supersonic Aerospace International and The Air Group. He died among friends on a golf course.

AVweb's Newstips Address ...

Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something that 130,000 pilots might want to know about, tell us. Submit news tips via email to newstips@avweb.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.

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.

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
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.

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 Editors Glenn Pew (bio) and Mary Grady (bio).

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