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Wall Street reacted Monday to rumors that Garmin Ltd. may be targeted by Microsoft Corp. as an acquisition -- Garmin shares jumped
5 percent as a result. Head equity traders told Bloomberg News that the speculation may be riding a wave borne of news that Nokia Oyj had agreed to buy Navteq Corp., which happens to produces data
used by Garmin in its navigation programs. That buyout is credited with triggering a "who's next" mentality among some traders and apparently Garmin is imagined as the most likely target. Others,
however, put little faith in the rumors. "It doesn't make any sense at all ... Microsoft always is rumored to be buying someone," Rob Sanderson of American Technology Research told the Kansas City
Star. Sanderson says Microsoft has not yet bought another company as large as Garmin and for that reason a buyout seems unlikely. Speaking for Garmin, Ted Gartner declined comment. Garmin stock has
been both volatile and pricey lately. Shares rose or fell by more than 3 percent each day through most of last week and have been pricey -- over $105 per share.
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Gulfstream, Supersonic Aerospace International and Aerion Corp. are all whittling away at their supersonic bizjet models as the market for
such designs leaps closer to credibility. The Teal Group, through Vice President of Analysis Richard Aboulafia, believes that demand for supersonic travel is significant -- over 20 years of
production, the Teal Group sees a market for up to 400 jets and Aerion aims to make its jet the first available offering. Aerion expects to spend time and $2.2 billion to land its jet in the market by
2014, citing a lack of available talent (a shortage of engineers) as a primary obstacle. The Aerion aircraft aims to be efficient both in subsonic and supersonic flight, catering to current (and
unlikely to change) rules that prohibit supersonic flight above the continental U.S. Those countries that allow supersonic flight would be open to supersonic bizjets so long as the associated boom is
imperceptible. The entire industry remains bullish on bizjet sales in general and with prices climbing toward $50 million, speed and time may make an $80 million supersonic bizjet appear more
reasonable to those with that kind of money to spend. It's the promise of supersonic flight from New York to Paris in four hours and 15 minutes and coast-to-coast in less than four hours of subsonic
flight, and a design that fills at least some of the void left when the Concorde was taken out of service in 2003.
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The FAA last week, citing operational control violations, declared an "emergency order" suspending AMI Jet Charter Inc.'s Part 135
air carrier certificate. The action came after a seven-month review of AMIJC's operation and apparently centered on operational control specifications -- details that allow passengers a clear
understanding of who is providing service and, for pilots and maintenance personnel, the name of their employer. Complicating matters and perhaps at the root of the suspension, TAG aviation owns 49
percent of AMIJC, which manages nearly 80 of TAG's jets. Some suppose AMIJC may be seeking purchase of some larger percentage from TAG, but those suspicions are yet unconfirmed. TAG Aviation USA Inc.
currently arranges charter flights as an agent for AMIJC and the precise wording posted to AMIJC's Web site that describes the relationship between the two entities may be at issue. The greater issue
of operational control as it relates to safety may be the FAA's motivation behind the suspension, but specific to AMIJC, Wyvern Consulting Ltd., an on-site air charter auditing firm, has found the
company to have "an impeccable safety record."
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Textron announced this week it has agreed to buy United Industrial Corp. for $1.1 billion, giving Textron responsibility for the Shadow
tactical unmanned aerial system currently working in Iraq and Afghanistan, and providing the company a fresh card to play in the UAV market. "This industry is still in the very early stages, but at
some point most of the military's surveillance aircraft and even many of its fighter aircraft will be unmanned," Paul Nisbet, aerospace and defense analyst for JSA Research Inc. in Newport, R.I., told
The Boston Globe. Aircraft like the Shadow are attracting attention from various agencies interested in expanding their use to include domestic roles, perhaps with homeland security. Acquisition of
the product puts Textron in competition with Northrop Grumman Corp. and others for contracts in related fields and brings 2,500 more employees under Textron's umbrella, supporting 74 Shadow systems
sold to the Army, National Guard units and Marines.
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ARINC Direct this week unveiled coverage expansion for its SKYLink satellite broadband for business jets. The coverage will by Q4
2007 include major portions of Central and South America with SKYLink Ku-band coverage of the entire Caribbean, though partnerships with SES AMERICOM. The service's total coverage area will by
year-end include coverage stretching from Central Europe across the Atlantic, including southern Greenland, through northern portions of South America. In other words, SKYLink customers will be able
to fly from Central Europe, through North America and on to South America with uninterrupted e-mail and Internet service. Much of the new service provided by SES AMERICOM comes through a new ground
station in Miami. "Providing 'in flight' connectivity to owners and passengers of business jets is becoming a 'must have' service for business executives on long-haul flights, and AMERICOM is
delighted to provide the bandwidth and infrastructure to facilitate SKYLink's growth and expansion," Orlando Skelton, vice president of enterprise services for SES AMERICOM, said in a press release.
Specific coverage areas will include Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, Colombia, Ecuador, Northern Bolivia and Northwestern Brazil. Most of
Mexico is already covered by SKYLink's service. SES AMERICOM is able to provide end-to-end telecommunications solutions to any region of the world via a fleet of 37 satellites.
XM WX Satellite Weather Uses a Continuous Satellite Broadcast to Deliver Graphical Weather Data to the Cockpit
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Lower fuel burn and lower noise is the aim of the new Geared Turbofan engine from Pratt & Whitney to be tested in flight next year and
later carried commercially in a new Mitsubishi Regional Jet. Aboard the jet, the engine aims to offer best-in-class efficiency, reduced environmental impact and lower operating costs, making it a
player in the demand for next-generation technology. The gearing system in the engine works by allowing the engine's fan to operate independent of the low pressure compressor and turbine. The
resultant slower fan speed produces less noise while providing greater fuel efficiency and lower emissions. "We believe the Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbofan engine offers a technological breakthrough
that will provide the best economy and performance for the Mitsubishi Regional Jet," said Kazuo Tsukuda, president of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. The Mitsubishi Regional Jet is a 70- to
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The California State Assembly would like to assess property taxes on all fractional ownership flights in the state, according to
NATA's review of Senate Bill 87. NATA reported yesterday that under the legislation, signed into law on Aug. 24, all flights operated in California as part of a fractional ownership program would be
subject to the property taxes of whatever county the operation occurs in. The legislation establishes a formula to be used by the ownership management in determining how much it must pay. According to
NATA, "The formula includes a fraction by which the total number of operations conducted in a county is divided by the total number of operations for the fractional ownership company." Read the text
of the bill, here.
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Add another stick to the arsenal of information ARINC offers the modern cockpit. The company announced last month a new graphical
weather radar service for business jet operators called Expanded Weather RadarSM. The product is available immediately, bundled as a "no extra cost" addition to the standard ARINC Direct
flight-service portfolio and includes "first-time coverage of major world regions where aviation weather radar data has not previously been available," according to ARINC, plus "true local radar
coverage." The Expanded Weather Radar is offered to those ARINC Direct customers operating Honeywell EpicTM avionics equipped aircraft. Aside from offering coverage that includes Alaska, Hawaii,
Canada, Puerto Rico, Western Europe, Australia, Japan, Korea and Guam, the coverage will by year-end expand to include East Asia, including Malaysia, China and Taiwan. But the expanded coverage area
isn't the only advantage. "It also improves on conventional weather radar by providing accurate overlays of the true local radar coverage. This outline feature allows pilots to identify parts of a
flight path where severe weather might develop without being detected by ground radar," according to ARINC.
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.
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