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ABACE 2014 Highlights: Gulfstream Dominates, Airbus Unveils New Interior

by Sarina Houston 16. April 2014 02:44
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Photo Courtesy: Gulfstream

The Asian Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (ABACE) is underway in Shanghai and so far, it seems like Gulfstream has dominated the show. This year, Asia's largest business aviation event is hosting almost 200 exhibitors and over 35 static aircraft displays. Here are the ABACE 2014 highlights so far:

G280 Speed Records (...again):
By now we know that Gulfstream doesn't like to fly anywhere without breaking a record. And they've done it again - this time, with the G280. The super-midsize, long-range jet had already set 45 city-pair speed records before it set two more on the way to ABACE this year, making stops in Germany, Dubai and Hong Kong before flying to Shanghai.

"The G280 flew 2,751 nautical miles/5,094 kilometers from Friedrichshafen Airport in Germany to Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates at an average speed of Mach 0.84 for a total flight time of 5 hours and 49 minutes," Gulfstream said in a statement on April 14th.

From Dubai, the G280 made the 3,449 mile flight to Honk Kong International Airport with a time of 7 hours and 7 minutes at Mach .82.

Minsheng Orders 60 Aircraft from Gulfstream:
In one of the largest business aviation deals ever, Minsheng Financial Leasing Company Ltd. ordered 60 aircraft from Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. The deal was made in the last part of 2013, but the partnership was announced and celebrated at ABACE on Tuesday, according to a statement by Gulfstream on Tuesday.

The order reportedly includes 40 firm orders and 20 options - totaling over $2.6 billion, according to AIN- and includes aircraft from across the Gulfstream product line, including the G280, G450, G550 and G650.

ACJ319 Interior Change:
While Gulfstream stole the show with speed records and heavy orders, Airbus announced a new version of the company's ACJ319 corporate jet called the ACJ319 Elegance.

The ACJ319 Elegance has a newly designed interior, giving customers more options when it comes to customizing their aircraft. In addition, the new design allows for a smooth transition in the event that a customer wants to upgrade to a new cabin in the future, according to Airbus.

The Elegance design offers different module choices for lounge, office, conference or dining needs. It has a bathroom and galley up front, and a bedroom with a bathroom in the back.

Business Aviation Growth in China:
ABACE 2014 headlines also include the general outlook of business aviation in Asia, which is strong according to the deputy administrator for the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

Asian Sky Group (ASG) announced its 2013 Greater China Business Jet and Civil Helicopter Fleet Report at ABACE on Tuesday. According to the report, Gulfstream is dominating the general aviation market in China with almost 40 percent market share. Bombardier follows at 30 percent.

Image © Asian Sky Group

In 2013, the business jet market in China grew by 21 percent, with the largest growth seen by Embraer, Dassault Falcon and Hawker. The G-550 and G-450 are the most popular business jets in China, according to the report.

Finally, between 2007 and 2013, the business jet market in Greater China has grown at a rate of 34 percent, significantly higher than the global rate of five percent.

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AIRCRAFT SALES | Press Release | Sarina Houston

New EAA Video Answers Pilots’ Questions about Completing FAA MedXPress Medical Form

by GlobalAir.com 9. April 2014 09:52
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EAA AVIATION CENTER, OSHKOSH, Wis. — (April 9, 2014) — A new EAA video is answering the most common questions about the now-required MedXPress online form for FAA airmen medical certificates, including how to save time when completing the form.

This unique video features Dr. Greg Pinnell, a member of EAA’s Aeromedical Advisory Council, which consists of EAA-member physicians who volunteer their time to assist other members and guide EAA policy on aeromedical issues. Dr. Pinnell is also a senior flight surgeon for the U.S. Air Force’s 45th Space Wing and founded Air Docs, a health provider focused on aviation medical examinations and certification.

“Many longtime pilots are used to filling out the paper form at their own aviation medical examiner’s office, but the FAA now only allows the online form to be used,” said Sean Elliott, EAA’s vice president of advocacy and safety. “The online requirement has led to many questions and occasional confusion and misunderstanding for pilots unfamiliar with the MedXPress system. This new EAA video answers questions, clears confusion, and ensures the first step in obtaining an airman medical certificate is a smooth one.”

During the 20-minute video Dr. Pinnell goes step-by-step through the MedXPress registration and completion process. That includes displaying individual online screens and easy-to-follow instructions on completing the pre-examination paperwork.

“Along with showing the MedXPress online completion process, the video discusses many of the related questions that EAA headquarters receives on a regular basis, as well as those I receive as a senior aviation medical examiner,” Dr. Pinnell said. “We’ve found that having this type of visual instruction is a great help to clearing much of the confusion and apprehension that pilots might have when using the system.”

EAA embodies the spirit of aviation through the world’s most engaged community of aviation enthusiasts. EAA’s 185,000 members and 1,000 local chapters enjoy the fun and camaraderie of sharing their passion for flying, building and restoring recreational aircraft. For more information on EAA and its programs, call 800-JOIN-EAA (800-564-6322) or go to www.eaa.org. For continual news updates, connect with the EAA Twitter feed.

Landmark Aviation Aquiries RSS Jet Centre

by GlobalAir.com 4. April 2014 11:12
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Image Courtesy Landmark Aviation

Houston, TX – April 2, 2014 - Landmark Aviation has acquired RSS Jet Centre Limited, which operates FBO locations at London Luton Airport (EGGW), Manchester Airport (EGCC), and Glasgow Prestwick Airport (EGPK). The locations will be re-branded to “Landmark Aviation”.

“We are excited to expand our operations into the United Kingdom,” stated Dan Bucaro, President and CEO. “This acquisition increases our presence in Europe, and is representative of our commitment to the strategic growth of our network.”

The FBO at Luton boasts a state-of-the-art facility, including a VIP lounge, spacious passenger lobby, coffee bar, crew amenities, and an executive conference room. The Manchester FBO offers flight planning, passenger and crew lounges, secure parking, hangar and client office space. The FBO at Prestwick is conveniently located with easy access to some of Scotland’s best golf courses, and offers a flight planning center, a VIP lounge, crew amenities, secure parking and a passenger lobby.

This acquisition brings the Landmark network to 57 locations, including eight under license, 13 of which are in Western Europe.

Headquartered in Houston, Texas, Landmark Aviation operates a network of fixed base operations located throughout the U.S., Canada and Western Europe. The Company offers a wide range of services, including FBO, MRO, aircraft management & charter. Landmark is a portfolio company of the Carlyle Group. For more information, visit www.landmarkaviation.com.

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Fixed Based Operators (FBO) | News | Press Release

Live-Streaming: The Future of Flight Tracking?

by Sarina Houston 1. April 2014 21:31
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The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 once again raises questions about the real-time tracking of aircraft. MH370 remains missing after controllers lost contact with it on March 8th. Authorities have assumed the Boeing 777 crashed in a remote area of the Indian Ocean.

The idea of real-time flight tracking has been discussed before, namely after Air France Flight 447 went missing and was later found in the ocean in 2007. It took investigators almost two years to recover the flight data recorder after the A330 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean while en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. Afterward, the public and industry folks alike wondered how we can manage to locate missing cell phones, but not missing aircraft? Even with the addition of NextGen technology like data link and ADS-B that's on board aircraft today, it's strangely not enough to find a missing airliner.

While the search for MH370 continues, industry groups are once again revisiting the idea of a live-streaming flight recorder for airliners. While the costs associated with it aren't anything that airlines want to pay, many believe that the cost is minimal when compared to the added benefits, and that it's an obvious remedy for cases like MH370 and AF447.

The NTSB is one industry group that is still interested in the concept of live-streamed data from aircraft. According to a Reuters article published on Friday, Reuters, the NTSB said they continue to examine potential solutions that could include real time streaming of aircraft data from the flight recorder or ACARS, or both.

What About ACARS?
Currently, many planes are use data tracking services like ACARS - data link technology that uses VHF and satellite communication to gather data from sensors on the aircraft. The data is sent from air to ground at certain times during the flight, transmitting things like flight times, location and fuel usage to air traffic controllers and dispatchers. The ACARS system on MH370 was disabled in flight, but satellites were still able to "ping" the aircraft about once per hour.

Why Can't We Stream Flight Recorder Data?
The short answer is that we can. The technology is there, according to this New York Times article. The cost, however, is prohibitive. And the logistical demands associated with thousands of airliners transmitting real-time data all day aren't there yet. And according to the New York Times article, the infrastructure required for constant live-streaming from thousands of airliners would be huge.

To become equipped for live-streaming, airlines would pay $50,000- 100,000 per airplane, according to some sources, and an additional cost for the service might range from $5-10 per minute. In an already cash-strapped industry, airlines just aren't going to pay that much if they don't have to.

Future Technology
The conversation doesn't end there, though. At least one supplier, Flyht Aerospace Solutions, Ltd., is already able to stream black box data in an emergency.

Flyht claims that while live-streaming technology on airline flights is an investment, there is also a cost-benefit involved. Security isn't the only topic at hand here: Live-streaming of data can alert airlines of maintenance issues immediately, instead of hearing about it after the flight lands or minutes or hours after the event. It also allows for better monitoring of new procedures and the system can record data for future safety and cost analysis. Operators would be able to implement improvements and safety measures with this kind of access to data.

And of course, in the wake of MH370, a more secure system of tracking airliners would be a welcome one. Live-streaming of aircraft data could ensure that an aircraft never disappears again (as long as the system can't be easily disabled or manipulated from the cockpit.)

What's your opinion? Should future airline flight data be live-streamed?

The Reality of Parts Obsolescence – Avionics

by GlobalAir.com 1. April 2014 15:20
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Mark Wilken – Director of Avionics Sales with Elliott Aviation

Cathode ray tubes are commonly found in the Electronic Flight Instrumentation Systems of Beechjets, like this 400A.

Parts obsolescence is inevitable in aviation. The longer the aircraft has been in circulation, the harder it can be to find parts. This especially holds true in avionics because of the parallels they have with consumer electronics. The components that make up the avionics found in the cockpit weren’t originally designed for aviation; they were actually made for the average consumer. To build an Electronic Flight Instrumentation System (EFIS), avionics companies used technology developed for consumer electronics.

Unlike consumer electronics, airplanes are built to fly for many years. Consumer electronics on average have a life cycle of just a few years before something new comes out. As new technology is introduced into the market, old technology becomes obsolete. Consumer electronics have progressed rapidly, especially in the past ten years.

One example that is currently affecting many operators is the cathode ray tube, or CRT, most commonly found in Beechjets and airframes produced through the mid 2000’s. CRT’s were first introduced into airplanes around the 1980’s when microprocessors were coming of age. The simplified version of how the CRT works is that it uses high voltages to excite the screen phosphors within the tube and, in return, creates the picture. However, CRT’s are very susceptible to screen burn. If you can remember, old CRT monitors required screen savers as a preventative measure. If you left the same image on the screen for too long, it would burn the phosphor and leave a shadow of the image. When it came around to installing these CRT’s into the EFIS, specifically attitude and horizon, or HSI, level flights would show the exact same image for hours at a time, eventually burning the screen.

When CRT’s were readily available and plentiful, replacement wasn’t an issue. Consumers were still purchasing CRT TV’s and manufacturers were still producing replacement parts. In fact, Panasonic and Sony produced many of the CRT’s found in EFIS equipped airplanes. However, due to the rapid change in the consumer electronic market, CRT’s switched to LCD’s overnight. This caused the companies making the components for the CRT’s to shutdown and discontinue supporting the product. This is leading to obsolescence in replacement parts for all of the CRT EFIS equipped airplanes.

Avionics manufacturers predict that by the second half of the decade, replacement CRT’s will not be available to repair existing EFIS displays. Unfortunately, this leaves most owners and operators with little choice if they want to keep the same system. One option is to purchase a used EFIS display that was removed from a prior airplane, but that comes with the unknown of how long it will last. Another option is to spend a significant amount of money to send your parts to a specialist for repair at an increasing cost due to shortage of replacement components. Eventually, every CRT will possess significant screen burn. With performance standards gauging this, your airplane could eventually run the risk of being grounded.

Since there are a significant number of quality airplanes still flying, specifically the Beechjet, there will be a need for updated avionics. Engine parts should not be an issue because they don’t have a mass consumer market driving change. Current engine components work as designed and consumers aren’t forcing the need for new and faster components. But for avionics, there will be a point in time where you need to determine whether you want to keep flying the airplane and update the avionics or buy a new airplane.

Fortunately, there are several avionics retrofits available that will keep your plane flying long into the future. In fact, avionics manufacturers have been preparing for this by investing millions of dollars in research and development. For the Beechjet, Collins has updated their Pro Line series from the Pro Line 4 to the Pro Line 21. Additionally, Garmin introduced the G5000. Both of these retrofits are designed to significantly increase the capabilities of the airplane for the fraction of the cost it would take to purchase a new airplane.

Full implementation has yet to happen, but you can expect it within the next few years. The need hasn’t hit all owners and operators yet, but it’s beginning to trickle down. Inevitably, you will need to consider the available options.

Mark Wilken joined Elliott Aviation in 1989 as an Avionics Bench Technician. He was promoted to Avionics Manager in 1996 and joined the sales team in 2003. Mark has led many highly successful avionics programs such as the King Air Garmin G1000 avionics retrofit program. He recently led efforts for Wi-Fi solutions in Hawkers, King Airs and Phenom 300’s. Mark holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Aviation Management from Southern Illinois University and is a licensed Pilot.

Elliott Aviation is a second-generation, family-owned business aviation company offering a complete menu of high quality products and services including aircraft sales, avionics service & installations, aircraft maintenance, accessory repair & overhaul, paint and interior, charter and aircraft management. Serving the business aviation industry nationally and internationally, they have facilities in Moline, IL, Des Moines, IA, and Minneapolis, MN. The company is a member of the Pinnacle Air Network, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), and National Aircraft Resale Association (NARA).

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