AVwebBiz Complete Issue: Volume 5, Number 27

July 18, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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The Burlington Jet Factory: Honda Chooses Engine Site

Honda Aero Inc. and the Alamance Airport Authority yesterday signed an agreement to bring the airframer's new engine manufacturing facility to the Burlington-Alamance Regional Airport outside Burlington, N.C. The deal, expected to provide 30 jobs by next year and some 140 by 2013, involves the authority's selling to Honda 90 acres on the airport's east side. The land will be used for a three-phase project slated to include Honda Aero's headquarters and a manufacturing facility for the GE Honda Aero Engines' HF-120, which powers the forthcoming HondaJet. GE Honda Aero Engines is a joint venture between GE and Honda Aero, established in 2004 for the development, certification and commercialization of jet engines in the 1,000 to 3,500 pounds thrust class. Additional phases at the Burlington facility likely will include a service center. According to early reports, nothing in the deal diminishes Greensboro, N.C., as Honda's choice for final assembly of the to-be-certificated light jet.

The 102,400-square-foot Honda Aero facility will consist of 36,000 square feet of office space, a 58,400-square-foot production plant and an 8,000-square-foot engine test cell, all part of the $65 million investment the company plans. Production at the new engine plant will begin in late 2010 with the 2,000-pound thrust Honda HF120 turbofan. Honda Aero says it will employ approximately 70 when the plant reaches its initial production plan of 200 engines per year, scheduled for within about a year of production startup. The company will invest approximately $27 million for construction of the headquarters and manufacturing facility, including equipment. "This is a major step forward for our company, as we move to establish the home of our jet engine manufacturing operations here in Burlington," said Fumitaka Hasegawa, president and CEO of Honda Aero Inc. "Just as our partnership with GE has created this class-leading engine, this facility reflects an important new partnership between Honda and North Carolina."

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Brazilian Congress Blames Legacy Pilots For Midair

An inquiry conducted by the lower house in Brazil's Congress just concluded U.S. pilots Jean Paul Paladino and Joseph Lepore, who were flying the Embraer Legacy operated by U.S.-based ExcelAire during a midair collision last September with a Gol Transportes Aereos Boeing 737-800, are partially to blame for the fatal accident. Meanwhile, another congressional inquiry, along with an investigation by Brazil's accident investigation team, continues. The completed report found Paladino and Lepore were insufficiently trained in operating the Legacy and negligently disregarded ICAO and Brazilian aviation regulations, engaged in "imprudent handling of the aircraft" and had "poor situational awareness." The inquiry concluded the two pilots should be charged with involuntary manslaughter by having placed an aircraft or vessel at risk. Additionally, the inquiry determined three air traffic controllers had committed the same crime, while one controller should be indicted on voluntary manslaughter. The two pilots and three controllers could face sentences of up to 12 years; the lone controller faces up to 20 years.

Yet the Brazilian Congress' report -- established to look into existing problems with the country's ATC system and corruption, as well as the midair collision -- has come under fire, especially from the body's opposition party. Critics of the filed report point to a lack of technical expertise on the part of those supposedly elected officials lacking an industry background and conducting the inquiry. No timetable was set for the Brazilian Senate to complete its inquiry; the third investigation, being conducted by Brazil's Centre for Investigation of Aeronautical Accidents (CENIPA), is expected to be finished by late August or early September.

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Meanwhile, Embraer Crews: Watch Where You Put Your Feet

Anyone flying an Embraer Legacy or EMB-135/140/145 regional jet should be very careful where they place their feet while airborne. That's according to the FAA, which earlier this month issued a Safety Alert For Operators (SAFO) [PDF] noting pilots "might inadvertently change VHF radio frequencies or place the ATC transponder into standby mode during flight." [Yes, AVweb is aware of the circumstances surrounding the midair collision covered in the story above.] Apparently, an FAA investigation into an undisclosed issue resulted in the agency's discovering "crewmembers who had the simple habit of placing their shoe on the footrest just below the instrument panel could inadvertently put the ATC transponder into standby mode" or change radio frequencies without the crew's knowledge.

As the FAA's SAFO dryly noted, "switching a transponder with a functioning traffic alert and collision avoidance system (TCAS) to standby mode renders the TCAS ineffective, and is therefore one of the most serious consequences of a pilot’s foot inadvertently contacting the radio management unit. Two airplanes equipped with TCAS would fail to see each other if they were on a collision course. Pilots could presume TCAS was operating normally if they failed to notice the subtle TCAS OFF indication on the Pilot Flight Display." The FAA recommends training facilities and operators of affected aircraft ensure their respective crews are aware of this hazard and exercise care when using the provided footrests.


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Mastering ILS Approaches: Position & Airspeed
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Sino Swearingen Said To Be Expecting New CEO

According to the San Antonio (Texas) Express-News newspaper, troubled airframer Sino Swearingen Aircraft Corp. is expecting Monday to welcome its fourth chief executive in five years. Although the new, seven-seat light jet is the fastest in its class, its manufacturer has had ongoing management and financial issues, which some blame for the company's leadership turmoil. Compounding the confusion, Ching-Chiang Kuo -- presumably to be the company's former chairman and CEO -- told the newspaper last week he had resigned effective July 2, yet other company officials said Kuo remained on the job. As if that was not bad enough, the Express-News reported Kuo told it his replacement is someone "he knows only as Dr. Lo, who is from Taiwan's Aerospace Industry Development Corp."

Despite its performance, the Sino-Swearingen SJ30 has not lived up to its promise, with only one copy sold, to an investor in the company originally producing it, the Swearingen Aircraft Corp. Four other SJ30s have been made and the company says it has about 300 orders for the $6.19 million jet. For his part, Kuo told the newspaper his departure stemmed from disagreements with Taiwan's minister of economic affairs over the company's management. "We couldn't get to the same kind of conclusion, so I'm not going to stay here," the Express-News reported Kuo said. Kuo has served as Sino Swearingen's chairman since 2005; he added the CEO title in 2006 after forcing out his predecessor, Carl Chen. In turn, according to the newspaper, Chen is one of several former executives and suppliers who are suing the company over wrongful termination or non-payment of bills.

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FAA Proposes Cabin-Standards Relief For Part 25 Operators

Those using Part 25 of the FAA's rules -- generally private operators of large transport category aircraft -- may get some relief from existing and often problematic regulations concerning how their cabins are laid out and equipped. If it happens, it would be courtesy of new regulatory changes the agency proposed last week. The FAA says its proposed rule would create new standards in lieu of the specific requirements affecting transport category airplanes operated by air carriers and would "provide alternative criteria for transport category airplanes that are operated for private use while continuing to provide an acceptable level of safety for those operations." Since it is a proposed rule, not a final one, the FAA is asking for comments from the public. Interested parties have until Oct. 11, 2007, to submit their reactions to the proposed rules.

According to the FAA, the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) results from industry requests for "differentiating between the airworthiness requirements related to cabin interior for different types of operation." The new proposal does not address operation, ownership or control of aircraft operated under Part 25, which has been growing in controversy in recent years. Instead, the FAA's NPRM concerns itself with handholds, passenger injury criteria for side-facing seats, flight attendants' direct view of the cabin, passenger information signs, emergency exit locations and markings, interior compartment doors, aisle widths, material flammability compliance, fire detection, cook-tops and fire extinguishers.

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FlightSafety Expands Gulfstream Customer Training

FlightSafety International last week announced it will manufacture a fourth Gulfstream G200 aircraft simulator for use at the company’s Learning Center in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas. The new equipment is expected to be available for training during the fourth quarter of 2008. The new G200 simulator will be equipped with FlightSafety’s electric motion and control loading system, which the company says "offers the highest level of aircraft fidelity, enhanced performance and numerous environmental advantages compared to previous generation devices." The G200 simulator will also be equipped with FlightSafety’s new visual system, dubbed "VITAL X." It features continuous global high-resolution satellite imagery and accurately portrays environmental conditions experienced during all phases of flight.

"We are privileged to have been Gulfstream’s factory authorized training organization since 1969. Our close working relationship with Gulfstream enables us to develop high quality training programs and locate simulators where they best serve our mutual customers,” said Bruce Whitman, president and CEO, FlightSafety International. FlightSafety currently provides professional pilot, maintenance technician and corporate cabin attendant training using its fleet of 23 Gulfstream aircraft simulators and other advanced technology training devices. The company's Dallas/Fort Worth Learning Center will have a fleet of eight full-flight Gulfstream aircraft simulators once this new G200 device enters service.

XM WX Satellite Weather Uses a Continuous Satellite Broadcast to Deliver Graphical Weather Data to the Cockpit
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Flexjet Earns 8th FAA Diamond Award

Bombardier Flexjet, the fractional business jet ownership program of Bombardier Aerospace, this week said its maintenance organization has once again been recognized by the FAA with the agency's highest honor for maintenance training, the FAA Diamond Award. Flexjet says it is the only fractional jet ownership program that has received the award for eight years. The FAA created the awards program to encourage aviation maintenance technicians and their employers to actively participate in training programs. To qualify for the employer award, at least 50 percent of an organization’s maintenance technicians must pass specialized, continuous training in aircraft systems, regulations and FAA rules over a 12-month period. In addition to its latest Diamond Award, Flexjet added, it recently completed a full, three-year registration audit in May 2006, leading to being certified as an AS9100-compliant organization. The AS9100 program demands meeting a number of engineering and standards organization requirements throughout the world, along with those imposed by regulatory agencies.

“We’re delighted to be recognized once again with the FAA Diamond Award and congratulate the many employees who also received individual awards for their accomplishments in maintenance training,” said David Gross, vice president of operations for Bombardier Flexjet. “This singular achievement underscores Bombardier Flexjet’s unsurpassed commitment to maintenance service excellence and safety,” stated Mr. Gross. In 2006, the year for which the most-recent award was earned, 71 percent of Flexjet's technicians completed requirements to earn individual awards. Further, 24 percent of those Flexjet technicians also won the individual FAA AMT Ruby Award, requiring more than 60 total hours of formal training.

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NBAA Names Moss, Epps Award Winners

The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) this week said it selected Bryan T. Moss, president emeritus of Gulfstream Aerospace, to receive the association's 2007 Award for Meritorious Service to Aviation; E. Patrick Epps, pilot and founder of Epps Aviation, will receive its 2007 John P. "Jack" Doswell Award. This year's NBAA Annual Meeting and Convention is set for Atlanta, and the awards help recognize the two's strong ties to the business aviation industry and to NBAA, as well as to Georgia, according to the association. This year's convention not only marks NBAA's 60th annual meeting but also Gulfstream's 40th anniversary in Georgia and the state's 100th anniversary of powered flight. Not coincidentally, Georgia's first powered flight was conducted by Ben Epps, Pat Epps' father. A replica of the monoplane flown by the elder Epps will hang over the lobby of Hall C at the Georgia World Congress Center during this year's NBAA convention. Moss and Epps each will receive their awards during the association's Awards Luncheon on Tuesday, Sept. 25.

NBAA's 2007 Award for Meritorious Service to Aviation will recognize Bryan Moss' 40-year career in the aviation industry and substantial contributions to the advancement of business aviation. In 1966, Moss began his aviation career at Lockheed-Georgia Company, where he worked as a sales manager for various Lockheed aircraft, including the JetStar. He joined Canadair as a sales manager in 1979 and subsequently held several positions associated with the Canadair Challenger. By 1992, he was named president of the Business Aircraft Division of Bombardier Aerospace Group. Moss joined Gulfstream Aerospace as its vice chairman in 1995. He became president emeritus of Gulfstream Aerospace in April 2007. Meanwhile, Epps, whose father was killed in an airplane crash when he was only three, today is the driving force behind Epps Aviation, one of the top 10 independent FBOs in the U.S., which is based at the DeKalb-Peachtree Airport in Atlanta. Epps first soloed in a Piper J-3 Cub in 1952, and has over 9,000 flying hours as a commercial pilot, with type ratings in the North American B-25 Mitchell, Douglas DC-3, Learjet and Cessna Citation. After a stint in the U.S. Air Force beginning in 1957, Epps became a Mooney Aircraft dealer, and in 1965 opened Epps Air Service with 19 employees, a 40,000-square-foot hangar and a 10-square-foot office and maintenance area. Epps' love of aircraft and adventure extends to his participation as co-leader of the Greenland Expedition Society team that recovered the Lockheed P-38 Lightning now known as "Glacier Girl."

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CAN Taps Pelton And Rosanvallon For Board

The Corporate Angel Network (CAN) last week announced the election of two new members to its board of directors: Jack J. Pelton, chairman, president and CEO of Cessna Aircraft Company; and John G. Rosanvallon , president and CEO of Dassault Falcon Jet Corporation. Both Cessna and Dassault have been longtime participants in CAN, the national public charity that arranges free flights to treatment for cancer patients using empty seats on business aircraft. Pelton and Rosanvallon join existing board members Chairman Randall Greene, Paul Bollinger, Dave Hurley, Dick Koenig, Wilson Leach, Isabel Olcott, and Jim Schuster.

“CAN’s board is delighted that Jack Pelton and John Rosanvallon are lending their considerable talents to supporting the transportation needs of cancer patients,” said Randall Greene, chairman of Corporate Angel Network. “I’m honored to be part of CAN’s Board and serve with fellow members of the aviation community. CAN is an excellent organization that provides much-needed transportation to some very worthy people,” Pelton said. Added Rosanvallon, "Corporate Angel Network is a perfect example of what can be accomplished in this great industry when we work together for a common cause."

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Phoenix Acquires Jet Aviation Services Inc.

Phoenix Associates Land Syndicate (Phoenix) last week announced it had acquired Jet Aviation Services Inc. (J.A.S.), based at the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, Calif. Phoenix said its latest acquisition complements its existing facilities in other U.S. regions but for which, until now, it had no West Coast location. Phoenix, a public holding company, has assets and/or interests in a variety of industries beyond aviation, including land development, oil and natural gas, commodity brokering, plumbing, trucking, contract hauling, construction and swimming pool construction. The company also notes J.A.S. is located in Hangar #2 at Burbank, which was home to the Lockheed Electra flown by Amelia Earhart.

Paul Alonzo, president and CEO of Phoenix, commented, "J.A.S. is a small but strongly profitable company … J.A.S. carries an unlimited airframe license which is extremely difficult to get in the best of times and currently has back logs of years to get such a certificate. We acquired 80% ownership of J.A.S. in a cash transaction, and we are very pleased to announce that the current operating partner, Dave Heredia, has agreed to stay with Phoenix in the position of President and Chief Operating Officer of J.A.S., Inc."

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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 Joseph E. (Jeb) Burnside (bio).

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