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Volume 25, Number 2c
January 12, 2018
 
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Record Year For Boeing
 
Myron Nelson
 
 

Boeing reported that it delivered more commercial airplanes than any other manufacturer for the sixth consecutive year and set an industry record with 763 deliveries in 2017. The results were driven primarily by high-volume output of its 737 and 787 jets. The company, whose shares have more than doubled over the last 12 months, also reported that it grew its manufacturing backlog with 912 net orders reflecting heavy and popular demand for its commercial product line. The order book represents approximately seven years of production at current levels. 

The company reached a new high on the 737 program by raising production to 47 units a month and delivering 529 aircraft including 74 of its newest MAX 737 variant, in use by carriers such as Southwest Airlines and American Airlines. Carriers that have started using the new MAX 737’s in line operations have reported significant reductions in fuel consumption over previous-generation airframes. “The strong sales activity reflects continuing strong demand for the 737 MAX family, including the ultra-efficient MAX 10 variant that we launched last year, and the market’s increasing preference for Boeing’s family of twin-aisle jets,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President & CEO Kevin McAllister. Boeing’s competitive rival, Airbus, the primarily European aerospace giant, is expected to announce its 2017 sales and delivery totals next week.

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Guest Blog: Retrofit Avionics Up 28 Percent
 
Paula Derks
 

Some financial analysts predict that the tax reform recently enacted will see corporate earnings grow in the 8 to 12 percent range in 2018. 

As all of us in the general aviation industry know, this projected growth could have a positive trickle-down effect for our market.

In my segment of the industry – avionics manufacturing, distributing and repair – where we are still recovering from the Great Recession of the 2008-2009 era, avionics sales are already trending upward over the last several months, and it appears the increase is partially due to the ADS-B Out mandate for Jan. 1, 2020.

As everyone should be aware by this late date, the Federal Aviation Administration is requiring all aircraft flying in controlled airspace to be equipped with ADS-B technology to modernize the U.S. national airspace system. The FAA predicts this mandate will apply to 120,000 to 160,000 aircraft, of which nearly 100,000 aircraft still need to equip within the next 24 months.

Five years ago, my organization – the Aircraft Electronics Association – created a quarterly avionics sales report to assess the true dollar size of the business and general aviation avionics market. The AEA is an international trade association whose membership roster is compiled of avionics manufacturers and distributors and government-certified repair stations that service, install and maintain the general and business aviation fleet. 

Today, 23 avionics manufacturers submit their quarterly sales to the AEA. The sales report provides valuable information to the industry, as well as promotes the business and general aviation avionics industry to investors and informs elected officials of its global economic value.

The dollar amount reported includes: all business and general aviation aircraft electronic sales – including all component and accessories in cockpit/cabin/software upgrades/portables/certified and noncertified aircraft electronics; all hardware (tip to tail); batteries; and chargeable product upgrades from the participating manufacturers. The amount does not include repairs and overhauls, extended warranty or subscription services.

In the first nine months of 2017, total worldwide business and general aviation avionics sales amounted to more than $1.73 billion as reported by the participating companies. The figure represented a 4.1 percent increase in year-over-year sales compared to the first nine months of 2016 amount of more than $1.66 billion. 

Even better, sales during the third-quarter months of 2017 had a 7.1 percent increase compared to the 2016 third-quarter sales of more than $548 million. 

These are significant increases in a cautious general aviation economy. Interestingly, of the more than $1.73 billion in sales during the first nine months of 2017, 57.7 percent came from the retrofit market, while forward-fit sales amounted to 42.3 percent of sales. 

The third-quarter report indicates that the retrofit market appears to be thriving, as those sales have increased more than 28 percent in the past year. Why the surge in retrofit sales? While the AEA Avionics Market Report should not be considered a predictive indicator of future industry sales activity, the results in the third quarter may be attributed to an increase in ADS-B installations in existing aircraft. 

The retrofit surge also could be partially attributed to the possibility that aircraft owners are choosing to have additional avionics work done while simultaneously coming into ADS-B compliance. Many avionics shops are telling us that aircraft owners are electing to order full-panel avionics upgrades rather than just the ADS-B equipment. 

Whatever the reason, retrofit sales increased more than 32 percent during the third-quarter months alone. This is consistent with what shop owners in the U.S. have been telling me during our AEA Connect Conferences last fall, as many have a backlog of work ranging anywhere from two to six months.

With such a short time span left to comply with the ADS-B Out mandate, aircraft owners and operators may now realize time is getting short, and the supply of authorized avionics shops performing these installations will be in great demand throughout 2018 and 2019. 

Although the mandate was first introduced in 2010, with a 10-year compliance calendar, owners have been slow to react. Suspecting the FAA may extend the mandate beyond 2020, owners procrastinated, and demands for lower equipment prices were heard throughout the industry. The manufacturers responded positively, and today, there are several lower-priced options available, as well as more offerings for the Part 25 market. 

Who knows how long it will take corporate tax cuts to trickle down to our industry segment or what the new year may bring; in the meantime, the avionics industry, as usual, will march on, work hard and do our part in modernizing the nation’s airspace.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

As president of the Aircraft Electronics Association, Paula Derks presides over the international trade organization that provides regulatory representation, training and member services to nearly 1,300 general aviation electronics entities in 43 countries around the globe. 

In coordination with the AEA board of directors, Derks’ position includes long-range planning and budgeting, representing the AEA at industry events, and ensuring the strategic objectives of the association are realized. She is the publisher of Avionics News, the association’s monthly magazine.

 

Icom A25N Portable Transceiver
 
Larry Anglisano
 
 

Icom introduced the new A25N portable transceiver to replace its flagship A22. It has a variety of modern features, including Bluetooth connectivity for interfacing with a tablet app, a GPS receiver and more transmit power. In this video, Aviation Consumer Editor Larry Anglisano offers a look at the radio on the Aviation Consumer test bench before heading to the airport to go flying.

Make Or Break Search For MH370
 
Myron Nelson
 
 

The government of Malaysia has announced that it has signed a unique agreement with a U.S. oceanic research company to resume the search for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, which mysteriously disappeared in March of 2014. The private company, Ocean Infinity, based in Texas, has signed a speculative “no-find, no-fee” contract for 90 days that has the potential to reward the research company up to $70 million on a graduated fee scale based upon search results and the amount of area covered within the allotted time. The search will focus on an area in the Southern Indian Ocean approximately the size of Vermont that experts have narrowed down as having the best chances for success. 

The company will use its vessel Seabed Constructor for the search. The vessel is outfitted with a fleet of eight autonomous, non-tethered underwater vehicles fitted with high-tech cameras, sonars and sensors. It is believed that this new technology will be able to accurately map and search the area significantly more accurately, efficiently and at a much faster pace than the technology previously used in the search. “We have a realistic prospect of finding it,” said Ocean Infinity Chief Executive Oliver Plunkett. “While there can be no guarantees of locating the aircraft, we believe our system of multiple autonomous vehicles working simultaneously is well suited to the task at hand.” It has been reported that while the reward fee potential of the venture is speculative, the Malaysian government has agreed to underwrite the operating costs of the search effort and that two of its naval officers will be on board the search vessel as observers, participants and consultants. The vessel is on its way to the search area and search efforts are scheduled to start by Jan. 17.

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Virgin No More
 
Myron Nelson
 
 

Virgin America officially ceased to exist on Thursday. The quirky carrier was set up on a market branding agreement with Britain’s Sir Richard Branson, the billionaire founder of Virgin Atlantic and minority investor in Virgin America. Alaska Airlines closed a $2.6 billion acquisition of Virgin America in December of 2016 after the Justice Department approved the deal. The two carriers now operate on a single operating certificate, and Virgin America will drop its air traffic control call sign “Redwood” for Alaska’s simple “Alaska.” Logos, livery, and other branding from Virgin America will still remain temporarily for several more months until removal and replacement are complete. 

April 24 will be the last day that customers can book flights on Virgin America’s website before being re-directed to Alaska’s site. Officials of Alaska Airlines maintain that they plan to incorporate and continue many of the popular features of Virgin America, such as its brash interior lighting effects and varied electronic entertainment options. A new Airbus A321NEO originally intended for Virgin America has already entered service in traditional Alaska livery.

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Search Ended For Animal Rescue Pilot
 
Myron Nelson
 
 

The U.S. Coast Guard released an official statement announcing that it was ending its search for Dr. Bill Kinsinger of Oklahoma, who disappeared over the Gulf of Mexico in his Cirrus SR22T.  The aircraft was last observed by radar approximately 200 miles northwest of Cancun, Mexico. Although no definitive determination can be made at this time, it has been widely reported that the prime suspected cause of the errant overfly of filed destination and subsequent continuation over the Gulf of Mexico is pilot incapacitation due to hypoxia.

In its press release, the Coast Guard reported that it had searched 17,458 square miles of the area in missions totaling 79 hours. Various fixed-wing, rotorcraft, and surface vessels were incorporated into the search. “Ending a search is a difficult decision that we put the upmost thought and consideration into…," said Coast Guard spokesman Capt. David Cooper. "Dr. Kinsinger was a well-loved man and our hearts go out to everyone impacted during this tragic time.” At least two Mexican Naval vessels were also involved in the search.

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Pilots Fired For Leaving Cockpit In Fight
 
Myron Nelson
 
 

Indian airline Jet Airways announced that it has fired two of its flight crew members after a much-publicized incident that occurred between the two pilots on a flight from London to Mumbai on New Year’s Day. Media reports in both Britain and India report that the crew, a female captain and a male captain acting as first officer, had an “altercation” during the flight which resulted in the female pilot leaving the cockpit in tears and reporting that she had been slapped by the other pilot. At one point, both the pilots reportedly left the flight deck unattended. Universal airline regulations state that one crew member may leave the cockpit under strict specified procedures for “physiological needs,” but at least one qualified crew member must be properly stationed at the controls of the aircraft at all times.

The crew members eventually returned to their stations, and the flight, a Boeing 777 with 324 passengers and 14 cabin crew, landed safely. Jet Airways, launched as a scheduled air carrier in 1995, is a major full-service airline based in Mumbai and is ranked as India’s second largest carrier in terms of passenger market share. The airline terminated its direct flights to the United States in recent years but has code share agreements with U.S. carriers Delta Air Lines and United Airlines. The carrier continues to offer North American service through Toronto. 

Picture of the Week
 
 
Going places is the great thing about personal aviation and some, like Poppy, get to go to some pretty nice places. Jake Ruhl shot this of his obviously appreciative dog near Bend, OR.

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Brainteasers Quiz #239: Have A Little Fun, Already
 

The FAA can be so serious when discussing regulations and safety of flight -- which are important -- but many of us began flying simply because it was fun. To keep it safely enjoyable, simply ace this quiz.

Click here to take the quiz.

Short Final
 

We flew a group of customers from North Carolina to Canada for a factory visit. This was a part 91 corporate trip, in a King Air 200. When we returned several days later, our Canadian airport had turned into the ice planet of Hoth: not just snow but ice everywhere. We got clearance to taxi from ground and I was barely moving trying to steer with just differential thrust. An airport vehicle called for clearance to move and he was told to hold for the King Air taxing out. The following exchange took place.  

Airport vehicle: "What King Air?" 

Tower: "I don't see him. Oh wait, there he is. He is BARELY moving" 

Me, in my obviously Southern drawl: "Hey, we are doing the best we can!"

Tower: "Don't you have spikes on your tires?" 

Me, in an even deeper Southern drawl: "Well we bought some chains, but nobody onboard knows how to put them on!" 

Tower: "Sounds of multiple people laughing."


 

Dan Moore 

 

Need Hangar Tools? Snap-On Comes At A Premium
 
Larry Anglisano
 
 

 

If you’re setting up a personal hangar for light DIY wrenching, it’s worth following the lead of maintenance shops that know what’s good. Walk through a real maintenance hangar and you won’t have to look hard to spot the Snap-On tool logo. Whether it’s a gigantic rolling tool cabinet or a pair of cutters, there’s a reason why professional technicians invest big for Snap-On tools. There’s a rich heritage behind what many believe to be the gold standard in tools, which dates back to 1920.

Gregory Narozniak, an independent authorized Snap-On franchisee in central New Jersey, rattled off a long list of traits that lend to Snap-On quality. The photo here is the interior of his traveling tool warehouse—part of the Snap-On convenience and support effort.

According to Narozniak, when a tool is designed or an improved version is created there are hours upon hours of engineering incorporated into that tool, which is evident in user ergonomics and precision. “When the instinct handle on a Snap-On screwdriver fits better in the hand, it simply makes the tool more efficient,” Narozniak told me. Additionally, the steel that’s used during manufacturing is often specific to a tool.

For example, the shock-resistant steel used in Snap- On screwdrivers, punches, chisels and so forth isn’t particularly the best fit for the company’s sockets, so a different steel blend is used in those sockets. Similarly, a different blend of steel is specific to Snap-On wrenches. One of the many primary differences between lower-quality tools and high-end tools like Snap-On is accuracy. Snap-On’s sockets and wrenches utilize flank drive, a concept that came at the request of the United States Navy in 1960. There was a need to remove bolts with rounded corners and as a result, the socket had to be designed to grab the flat part of the fastener rather than the corners. The design is still in use today on Snap-On flank drive and flank drive-plus tools.

The other draw that keeps technicians coming back to Snap-On is the support and warranty. According to Narozniak, Snap-On battery-powered tools are one of the only industrial product lines that carry an extensive warranty, which can initially be one or two years, depending on the item, and after the warranty expires, the tool is covered with a flat-rate repair should anything go wrong.

Moreover, nearly all of the company’s hand tools are covered under a no-hassle lifetime warranty. “Simply hand the item to your Snap-On franchisee and it will be covered,” Narozniak told me. It's a sales pitch, but worth boasting about. I once dropped a small Snap-On torque wrench off a wing and the visiting rep grabbed a replacement from his truck and handed it to me on the spot.

Snap-On tools are available for purchase through a local authorized Snap-On franchisee or via Snap-On Tools direct.

Look for a full report on equipping a personal hangar with tools for DIY aircraft wrenching in the January 2018 issue of Aviation Consumer  magazine.

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