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The Ups And Downs At Cessna

Cessna Streamlines Production Process For The Sovereign ...

Production of Cessna's Sovereign business jet has taken off thanks to a new construction process being used at the factory. The company has implemented new retooling that promises to cut time and improve overall quality. Cessna claims this state-of-the-art technology allows workers to build the Sovereign from the exterior shell of the fuselage inward.

The retooling uses an air distribution system that sucks the aluminum fuselage skins into place against vacuum plates installed on the tool's walls. Workers then rivet the bottom and top of the sections together and add the inside frames, flooring, seat tracks and other interior components.

According to officials, the change cuts time, reduces flaws, increases consistency and saves money. In fact, Cessna claims this change will offer a 12.5-percent reduction in production time.

The change makes it easier for workers to work inside the fuselage sections because it eliminates the need for contour bars that take up space. Certification of the Sovereign is expected by the end of this year, with deliveries beginning in early 2004.

... As Temporary Furloughs Begin

Despite the start of a seven-week furlough of 6,000 Cessna employees, work on the Sovereign will continue. Faced with the cancellation of some orders from its biggest customer, NetJets, Cessna decided earlier this year to temporarily suspend most of its business jet production from June 2 through July 18. The announcement of the furloughs, which was made in mid-March, has given Cessna employees more than two months to plan for their involuntary weeks off. Nearly every department is affected, including the temporary loss of some senior vice presidents. While they're off without regular pay, Cessna workers can use a combination of vacation, sick leave and up to $345 a week in unemployment benefits. Officials hope this effort, combined with job cuts the company has already taken, will get them through the worst of this weak sales market. While the situation is a bit bleak, Lewis Campbell, chief executive of Cessna's parent company, Textron, told The Wichita Eagle the company is confident of the long-term growth potential for the business jet market. Development of Cessna's new products, such as the Citation CJ3, Mustang and Sovereign, will continue and remain on schedule. However, the production on other Citation and Caravan models will cease altogether.

Bombardier Works Real Estate Deals

Announces Sale of Belfast City Airport ...

On May 23, Bombardier Inc. announced the sale of the Belfast City Airport to Ferrovial of Spain, for a total of C$77.7 million (pounds sterling 35 million). This sale is part of Bombardier's recapitalization program, which was unveiled on April 3. The airport was a subsidiary of the aircraft manufacturer Short Brothers division, which was purchased by Bombardier in 1989 and which now forms an integral part of the aerospace manufacturer's interests.

Although it has unloaded the airport from its hands, Bombardier's presence in Northern Ireland continues through its manufacturing operation in Belfast, which employs 5,700 people. This facility plays a major role in the design and manufacture of Bombardier regional and business aircraft.

You may recall AVweb's recent reports on the company's ongoing phase of budget cuts and cost-cutting. However, Bombardier has also experienced a welcomed phase of growth, with the recall of many employees and the announcement of a new engine line for general aviation aircraft.

... But Keeps Its Wichita Plant

Aside from the recall of some employees, Bombardier's other good news is that it will keep building the Learjet 60, 45 and 40 in Wichita. It is also currently building two other bizjets, the Lear 45XR and Challenger 300, in Wichita, but CEO Paul Tellier did not mention those models in a recent interview with The Wichita Eagle. He did, however, say he was pleased with the red-carpet treatment Bombardier has been getting from local and state governments. "They are doing everything they can to provide an environment conducive to us being competitive," Tellier said. Earlier this year, Bombardier announced that one or more of its six plants worldwide would close and hinted that Wichita had the highest costs. Seeing the writing on the wall, employees stepped up with a wage freeze and benefit concessions. The city recently then forgave $36,000 a year in rent on land, and the city and county agreed to split the $550,000 cost of paving Learjet Way. The local government is also making a pitch on Bombardier's behalf to fund improved navaids at the airport. Now, according to spokeswoman Dominque Dionne, there are no plant closures planned and the company continues work with staff to reduce costs.

Sino Swearingen Regroups After Crash

The NTSB's preliminary report on the crash of Sino Swearingen's SJ30-2 test aircraft is now available online. The report includes comments from the chase-plane pilot who witnessed the event and communicated with Beeler during the accident. The crash may have sparked rumors of the San Antonio company's imminent demise. "That is not true," said Sino Swearingen VP Gene Comfort. "I totally flatly deny it ... We are working our butts off around here." Comfort said the test-flight tragedy did set the program back and staff are now trying to get back on track by outfitting the second flying example of the sleek little jet with all the test booms and monitoring equipment needed for test flight. A third example is also nearing its inaugural flight. Comfort said he made the decision to pass up on the opportunity to exhibit at this year's EAA's AirVenuture so the test program wouldn't be further delayed. "They were all really understanding (at EAA)," he said. Comfort wouldn't elaborate on the revised test-flight schedule but said a news release would be forthcoming. "I can say we are aggressively going after certification," he said.

Textron Names Redenbaugh CEO of Bell Helicopter

Textron announced that Michael Redenbaugh has been named chief executive officer of Bell Helicopter. He will report to Textron's Chief Operating Officer Steven Loranger. Redenbaugh succeeds John Murphey, who has been named chairman emeritus of the Ft. Worth, Texas-based producer of helicopters and tiltrotor aircraft.

In his capacity of chairman emeritus, Murphey, 60, will focus on strategic business development and growth objectives. Murphey has been at Bell for 41 years and was named chairman and CEO in September 2001.

Redenbaugh, 44, joins Textron from Honeywell, where he spent more than 21 years, most recently serving as vice president and general manager of the $1.4 billion Propulsion Systems business and acting president of Honeywell's $4.6 billion Engines, Systems and Services group. He also served as vice president and general manager of Honeywell's Military Helicopter and Industrial Engine business.

Eclipse Boss Gets Involved With Flight Testing

Well, a lot of CEOs say they're hands-on, but there's no disputing Eclipse boss Vern Raburn's claim. Instead of watching the flight test program of the 500 from the corner office, Raburn has flown the chase plane on at least three hops. As of May 20, the re-engined personal jet had flown six times and completed a major portion of the slow-speed aerodynamic and systems work. The test plane has flown as high as 15,000 feet at speeds ranging from 85 to 183 knots. "The results are very positive and prove that the Eclipse 500 airframe program is on track despite earlier engine vendor problems," Raburn said. So far, the flaps, gear, speed brakes and flight controls have been put through their paces -- and the airframe itself has undergone a 2.5-G turn. The Eclipse is flying with a pair of Teledyne drone engines that seem to be holding up. Since abandoning the Williams EJ22, Eclipse has to wait for new engines to be developed by Pratt and Whitney Canada, and the drone engines allow airframe testing to continue until the Pratts are ready at the end of 2004. The summary of each test flight says the airplane behaved "as expected." Unusual Albuquerque weather has given test pilots a glimpse of how the plane behaves in rough stuff. On the first flight, the pilot landed in wind gusts up to 44 knots, saying it behaved well in the turbulence. An advanced telemetry system is helping the company gather more data and at a faster rate than other test programs. "Our engineers are able to see what is happening to the airplane in real time," said Raburn.

NBAA Names Shelley A. Longmuir President

NBAA's board of directors announced on May 30 the selection of Shelley A. Longmuir as the next president of the organization. NBAA says Longmuir has more than a decade of experience in domestic and international aviation, most recently at United Air Lines, where she was senior vice president of international/regulatory and governmental affairs. Longmuir will be appointed by the board on June 24. She will succeed Jack Olcott.

"Shelley brings tremendous talents to NBAA and was selected from among nearly 100 highly qualified candidates," said Don Baldwin, vice chairman of the board and chairman of the selection committee. "Her ability to work effectively with people across the political and professional spectrum, her proven track record of leading effective coalitions, and her natural optimism, make her the right person at the right time for NBAA."

While at United Air Lines, Longmuir led a team of more than 50 attorneys, economists and lobbyists responsible for implementing United's regulatory and governmental affairs agenda and dealing with government agencies and regulatory authorities in the United States and worldwide. Before joining United in 1993, Longmuir held positions with the U.S. Departments of Transportation (DOT), Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Justice (DOJ).

NATA Awards Gwen Mayo

Gwendolyn O. Mayo, Ph.D., Founder and Chairman of Mayo Aviation, received the William A. Ong Award on May 13, 2003, in Las Vegas, Nev. The award is named in honor and memory of the National Air Transportation Association’s (NATA) co-founder and first president. It is the NATA’s highest award and is given annually to acknowledge extraordinary achievement and extended meritorious service to the general aviation industry.

In 1978 Gwen Mayo founded Mayo Aviation as a Part 135 charter operation based at Denver’s Stapleton Field. Since then, the company has grown with its expansion into various sectors of charter flight operations. In 2002, Mayo Aviation moved into a new hangar at Centennial Airport, where its 85,000-square-foot campus houses a fleet of 16 aircraft. In addition to aircraft management, services, maintenance, parts sales, and executive charter, Mayo continues to partner with St. Anthony’s Flight for Life, which claims to be the first hospital-based air medical transport program in the United States.

James K. Coyne, president of NATA, stated, "NATA is delighted to present this prestigious William A. Ong Memorial Award to Gwen Mayo, which she so richly deserves for her perseverance and countless contributions to this great industry."

Although she never learned to fly, Mayo was appointed to NATA’s board of directors and served as chairman of the organization in 1995 – 1996.

Raytheon's Schuster Elected AS GAMA's Vice Chairman

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) has elected James E. Schuster, an executive vice president of Raytheon Company and chairman and CEO of Raytheon Aircraft Company, as vice chairman. In addition to being GAMA vice chairman, Schuster will continue to serve as chairman of GAMA's Security Issues Committee, a position he has held since November 2002. Prior to his current position, Schuster was president of Raytheon's Aircraft Integration Systems (AIS). Throughout his career, Schuster has held senior-level positions at AlliedSignal Aerospace in Torrance, Calif., and Westinghouse Electric Naval Systems in Cleveland, Ohio. The GAMA vice chairman position became open when Clayton M. Jones, president and CEO of Rockwell Collins, was named GAMA chairman on May 1. Schuster was elected to the GAMA board in 2001 as the new head of Raytheon Aircraft.

Raytheon Sells Rockford FBO

Raytheon Aircraft Services announced it will sell its Rockford, Ill., fixed-base operation to Emery Air Inc., its neighbor at the Greater Rockford Airport. Emery says it will retain most of the 43 Raytheon employees and will remain an authorized service center for several Raytheon aircraft, including the King Air, Baron, Bonanza and Hawker 400XP. Raytheon is also examining the possibility of outsourcing plastics work at its plant in Salina, Kan. The Salina plant employs about 350 people and 60 to 70 people work in the plastics area. The company is also reviewing whether to send production of wire harnesses from its Wichita plant to a company in Mexico. It's all part of a plan to concentrate on final assembly of the aircraft and subcontract smaller work. The transition should be complete by 2006.

Gulfstream Appoints Charles Celli VP, Gen. Manager, Dallas

Gulfstream Aerospace has appointed Charles "Charley" Celli as vice president and general manager of its Dallas aircraft service and completions facility. For the past year, Celli has served as director of service center operations at Gulfstream's largest and busiest service center, located in Savannah, Ga. Prior to that, he was director of completions operations at the company's Dallas facility, where he was responsible for interior furnishings and components installations.

Prior to joining Gulfstream in 2000, Celli was director of product verification/quality for twinjet and tri-jet production airframes for an aircraft manufacturer in Long Beach, Calif. He joined the company in 1987 as a structure and fuel tank mechanic.

Global Jet Shares Hires Thinkbig

Global Jet Shares, a worldwide fractional jet ownership company, has hired Thinkbig, an Orange County, Calif.-based advertising agency, to serve as their agency of record. The agency will drive the company's annual marketing and public relations program, designed to reach affluent buyers seeking fractional ownership of Gulfstream jets.

Thinkbig says it will "develop an integrated marketing campaign for Global Jet Shares, including branding, key messaging development, advertising, direct mail, Web site development, public relations and corporate collateral design." The firm has planned a major Global Jet Shares launch at the NBAA annual conference this fall in Orlando, Fla.

Global Jet Shares is Thinkbig's second aviation client. In 2000 - 2001, Thinkbig was the agency of record for Executive Airlines, an online private air travel company.

Biz AV's AD Watch

Dassault Falcon 900 and Falcon 900EX

The FAA has issued a final rule for certain Dassault bizjets. This amendment adopts a new Airworthiness Directive (AD), applicable to certain Dassault Model Mystere-Falcon 900 and Falcon 900EX series airplanes. The rule requires replacement of certain self-adhering soundproofing mats under the passenger consoles in the cabin, which are not sufficiently fire-retardant, with mats that are not self-adhering and are sufficiently fire-retardant. The FAA claims this is action -- which becomes effective July 3 -- is necessary to prevent an uncontrolled fire in the cabin.

Gulfstream Aerospace LP Model Astra SPX and 1125 Westwind Astra

The FAA has issued a final rule for certain Dassault bizjets. This amendment adopts a new AD applicable to certain Gulfstream Aerospace LP Model Astra SPX and 1125 Westwind Astra series airplanes that requires removing the existing oxygen shutoff valve and installing a new oxygen shutoff valve. The FAA claims the actions specified by this AD -- which becomes effective July 3 -- are intended to prevent rapid adiabatic compression within the oxygen line between the oxygen shutoff valve and the pressure regulator due to a shutoff valve that can be opened quickly, which could result in overheating of the oxygen system and consequent fire in the cockpit.

Israel Aircraft Industries 1100 Series

The FAA has issued a final rule for certain Israel Aircraft Industries1100 Series jets. This amendment adopts a new AD, applicable to all Model 1121, 1121A, 1121B, 1123, 1124, and 1124A series airplanes, that requires removing the existing oxygen shutoff valve and installing a new oxygen shutoff valve. The FAA claims this action is necessary to prevent rapid adiabatic compression within the oxygen line between the oxygen shutoff valve and the pressure regulator due to a shutoff valve that can be opened quickly, which could result in overheating of the oxygen system, and consequent fire in the cockpit.

Learjet Model 45

The FAA has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for the Lear 45. This document proposes the supersedure of an existing Airworthiness Directive (AD), applicable to certain Learjet Model 45 airplanes, that currently requires repetitive application of grease to the rotating disk assembly of the nose landing gear (NLG) squat switch mechanism. This action would require replacement of the squat switch camrod of the NLG, which would terminate the repetitive application and would also reduce the applicability of the exiting AD. The FAA says this proposed AD is prompted by results of tests conducted by the airplane manufacturer. The agency claims the actions specified by this proposed AD are intended to prevent moisture contamination and subsequent formation of ice, which could cause bending and damage of the squat switch assembly, driving the nose wheel to an uncommanded angle against the force of the steering system. The agency says this condition, if not corrected, could result in the airplane departing the runway at high speeds during landing. Comments on this NPRM must be received by July 14, 2003.

MD Helicopters Model 600N

This document proposes adopting a new Airworthiness Directive for MD Helicopters Inc. Model 600N helicopters. The AD would require reducing the life limit of the main rotor drive shaft and changing the life limit shown on the component history card or equivalent record. The FAA says this proposal is prompted by the review of final fatigue test data, which indicates that the life limit of the drive shaft should be reduced by 2000 hours time-in-service (TIS). The agency claims the actions specified by the proposed AD are intended to prevent failure of the drive shaft, loss of drive to the main rotor system, and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter. Comments must be received on or before July 18, 2003.

Upcoming Biz Av Events

The following business aviation events will be held within the next few weeks:

Flight Operations Manual Workshop June 23-24, Philadelphia, Pa.

Management Fundamentals For Flight Departments Workshop June 25-26, Philadelphia, Pa.

Eighth Annual Flight Attendants Conference June 27-28, Philadelphia, Pa.

AVweb publishes the Business/Corporate Aviation Update on a monthly basis. To ensure that your business, corporate, and fractional aviation industry news is considered for publication, send it to us.