AVwebBiz - Volume 5, Number 38

October 3, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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Top News back to top 
 

FAA to Pilots: Be Ready for ADS-B by 2020

The FAA said on Tuesday it wants all aircraft flying in controlled airspace to have satellite-based avionics by 2020, so air traffic controllers can track them using Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B). The agency issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (PDF) that says the equipment will allow controllers to handle more traffic more safely with less separation. "Aviation must take the big step into the next generation of technology," said Acting FAA Administrator Bobby Sturgell. "It's safer and more accurate. Satellite technology is here to stay." Pilots with ADS-B cockpit displays can see, in real time, their location in relation to other aircraft, bad weather and terrain. In Southwest Alaska, the fatal accident rate for ADS-B-equipped aircraft has dropped by 47 percent, the FAA said. Aircraft that don't fly in controlled airspace will not be required to have ADS-B avionics, the FAA said.

Under a contract awarded to ITT Corp. last month, ground stations for the new system will be brought on line across the country, starting in the East Coast, portions of the Midwest, Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. Nationwide coverage is expected by 2013. The proposed rule is open to public comment for 90 days, and is scheduled to become final by late 2009. The FAA demonstrated the ADS-B system at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh this summer, click here for the AVweb report and exclusive AVweb video.

Virgin Takes on the Charter Biz

Is there anyone on the planet who hasn't heard of the Virgin brand? Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Records, Virgin Holidays and even space tourism through Virgin Galactic. Now comes yet another Virgin spin off, an air charter company that will trade on the same basic brand. The company is still in the Beta stage, having launched the service in June, but it was being promoted at last week's NBAA show in Atlanta. AVweb readers can get a sneak peek and an invitation to join at www.virgin.com. The concept couldn't be simpler: Virgin will use a slick web-based matching system to connect potential customers with charter operators, some 100 of which Virgin has recruited so far. The would-be charter buyer logs onto the web site, specifies the trip departure, destination and schedule and within minutes—or certainly an hour or two—back comes several quotes from companies bidding on the trip. The customer seals the entire deal right on the web site, including payment, and Virgin takes a single-digit cut to make the effort worth its while.

Virgin says charter customers get competitive quotes—think Progressive Insurance for the jet set—and charter operators don't have to chase deadbeat customers to get paid. The real pot sweetener for the industry, however, may be Virgin's notion that it will be able to market empty legs, a fuel-wasting drag on charter profits.

 
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Daily from AOPA Expo This Week back to top 
 

AVweb Features Daily AOPA Expo Coverage

After one of the most news-intensive National Business Aviation Association conventions in recent memory, the aviation world's attention shifts to Hartford, Conn., this week and the AOPA convention. Our jet-lagged troupe of top-drawer print, video and audio journalists will be there for the full three days, starting Thursday, with daily coverage ensuring sure all 130,000 subscribers in the AVweb community know what's going on and how it might affect them. So far, the most interesting announcement appears to be coming from Piper. In an aside during an update on the PiperJet project, Piper VP Bob Kromer mentioned the company was collaborating on a new product and it looks like AOPA Expo will be the showcase. Some are predicting it will be a light sport aircraft along the lines of Cirrus's adoption of an already-flying European aircraft but maybe it's a more high-performance model to compete with Cirrus, Mooney and Cessna/Columbia. Stay tuned.
 
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News Briefs back to top 
 

Aboulafia Questions Sino Swearingen Buyout

A leading aviation analyst says he's skeptical about the structure of a buyout plan that Sino Swearingen says will finally get the speedy SJ30 to market. After a decade of majority ownership and $600 million invested by the Taiwanese government, a partnership between ACQ Capital and Action Aviation has taken over the company but Richard Aboulafia, of the Teal Group, wonders how effective it will be since Action Aviation is one of Sino Swearingen's customers, as its distributor in the Middle East. "The primary customer for a jet, also having financial responsibility to start up volume production — that's highly unusual to say the least," Aboulafia mused to the San Antonio Express-News. "Is this a genuine rescue?"

Sino Swearingen Chairman Max Lo said Action Aviation is the "perfect partner" because of its experience and track record. Others involved in the project seemed less concerned with who took over, as long as it was taken out of the Taiwanese government's hands. "I think this is what we need, to get it in the hands of a businessman so it isn't micromanaged from the other side of the world," minority stakeholder, and the first SJ30 customer, Doug Jaffe, said.

Hawker Beechcraft Revitalized

Hawker Beechcraft CEO Jim Schuster says the former Raytheon business aircraft unit has been given a will to live under its new owners Goldman Sachs and Canadian-based Onex Corp. "This was not a business that Raytheon saw as a core," Schuster told the Canadian newspaper, the National Post. "The objective of Raytheon was to get it positioned to operate at a certain level and sell it." That, he said, left the company making do with decades-old manufacturing equipment in a business that demands cutting edge innovation and Raytheon's inability to move quickly on product development hurt its position in the industry. But the breath of fresh air that blew in with the acquisition a year ago has changed all that, Schuster said.

He said the cash infusion that came along with the sale has allowed the company to start investing in modernization and aggressive marketing to take advantage of the global boom in business jet sales. "When we meet with Onex and Goldman Sachs, we're talking about strategies many years in the future," Schuster said. "These guys are in it for the long haul." The sale came just as the company gained certification for its Hawker 4000 super midsize, which has been selling well (111 orders) and could vault the planemaker into more prominence in the market. Although Hawker Beechcraft commands about 36 percent of the market in the limited sectors it serves, it only accounts for about 10 percent of total business jet sales.

 
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News Briefs back to top 
 

Business Jets Dominate Indian 'Dialogue on Luxury'

As India continues its transformation into a world economic power, the societal changes it is undergoing are of consuming interest to a country that still relies on ancient methods of doing things in many sectors. So, for the second year, the Economic Times has hosted a conference called The Dialogue On Luxury, and there really weren't many surprises in what the speakers had to say. It seems that as people achieve success in India, they, like the wealthy everywhere else, want unlimited and convenient mobility. Eurocopter South Asia sales director Ludovic Boistot told the conference: "Indians with their changing lifestyle are now increasingly opting for business jets. The demand is definitely growing."

Although Indian jet owners use them mainly for business, there are signs that more personal purposes for their ownership are gaining favor. "Currently, in India people buy private jets so that they can visit their factories and offices in remote areas, not for a trip to Vaishno Devi, though the potential for religious tourism is there." Club One Air CEO Manav Singh told the Times. Others at the conference noted the lack of aviation infrastructure in India. Although the country of a billion has 400 airports, only 91 are in use, according to the Economic Times.

U.S.-Registered Gulfstream Crashes with Four Tons of Cocaine

A U.S.-registered Gulfstream II, with a history of alleged links to the transport of terror suspects to Guantanomo Bay, crashed in Cancun on Monday and rescuers found four tons of cocaine on board. Mexican officials aren't saying much about the crash, including whether there were any casualties or arrests, but the Tacoma News Tribune says the plane changed hands twice in the week previous to the crash. The aircraft was built in 1975.

The aircraft is reported to have made two trips from Washington, D.C. and one from Oxford, Conn. to the U.S. detention center at Guantanomo Bay in Cuba. Some reports claimed terror suspects were on board but the newspaper says there's nothing that proves the aircraft was used to transfer terrorists. How it ended up running drugs in Mexico is also not known.

 
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News Briefs back to top 
 

Airlines Show Dramatic Safety Improvement

The accident rate for U.S. airlines has dropped by 65 percent in the last 10 years, according to a Sunday New York Times story by aviation reporter Matthew Wald. The White House set a goal in 1997 to reduce the rate by 80 percent over 10 years, Wald wrote. Although the decline has fallen short of that mark, it is still an impressive improvement. The data, which excludes the terrorist-caused crashes of 2001, shows a steady decline in fatalities, bearing out recent remarks by outgoing FAA Administrator Marion Blakey that this is "the golden age of safety." Blakey said this is the safest period, in the safest mode of transportation, in the history of the world. The improvements of the last decade reflect the sum of many small changes, Wald said, including better technology, enhanced ground-proximity warning systems, and safer cockpit procedures.

The original goal was set after two crashes in 1996 killed 375 people.

 
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Complete Multimedia from NBAA back to top 
 

NBAA 2007 Podcasting Round-Up: Our Complete Audio Coverage from the Atlanta Convention

Innovation and growth topped everyone's agenda at the 2007 National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. If there was any doubt as to the health of the business jet market, this show eradicated it. As always, AVweb's audio news team was on hand to get the biggest stories straight from the newsmakers themselves. In case you missed them, here's a quick recap of our NBAA 2007 podcasts:

  • DayJet's Ed Iacobucci sits down with us for an extra-long podcast (20 minutes!) about the future of VLJs and the air taxi startups that are driving demand.
  • Cessna Vice President of Sales Roger Whyte explains why Columbia Aircraft Manufacturing might be a better fit at Cessna than many would expect.
  • Piper VP of Sales Bob Kromer takes us behind the scenes of PiperJet's avionics — which might (or might not) include some version of a Garmin G1000 glass panel.
  • Jeppesen's Andy McDowell has a plan to put WAAS-enabled approach-planning in the hands of every pilot via something called "RNP."
  • Larry Riddle from L-3 Communications explains how the SmartDeck EFIS system is making a comeback — and could loosen Garmin's grip on the avionics market.
  • Jamie Luster from Avidyne explains how you can retrofit your Cessna 210 with a full-featured glass cockpit system. It ain't cheap, but it's state-of-the-art.

NBAA 2007 Video Round-Up: Complete Video Reporting from the Atlanta Convention

Original, Exclusive Videos from AVweb | Reader-Submitted & Viral Videos

If there's one thing we cay with certainty about the 2007 NBAA Convention and Trade Show, it's this: Business aviation is healthy and keeping (very) busy. If you don't believe us, check out these three exclusive videos we put together while gathering news reports for AVweb at the show.


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If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

 
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Help Us Make the News back to top 
 

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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.

 
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Names Behind the News back to top 
 

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.

The AVwebBiz team is:

Publisher
Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Editor-in-Chief
Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

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