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Big News from the Flying Musicians

by GlobalAir.com 21. May 2015 14:36
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Flying Musicians Assn

The Flying Musicians Association is again the proud recipient of a 2015 Wolf Aviation Fund grant to assist in strengthening the bonds between aviation and music in the FMA's programs that enhance outreach and education.

“We have re-focused our efforts of sharing our passions (aviation & music) with others through our outreach to inspire, educate, encourage and now assist youth (& adults) in growing through aviation and music.” Says FMA President/CEO John Zapp.

Since 1992 the Wolf Aviation Fund has awarded special grants for efforts supporting and promoting general aviation. For example, among the more than 350 previous recipients is Sandra Campbell, in flying helmet and goggles, performing for students "Follow Your Dreams," a stage recreation of the exciting story of Bessie Coleman, the first African-American woman to win her wings as an aviator. Another small seed grant to School Superintendent Gordon Schimmel eventually resulted in a million dollar project creating and distributing a wonderful “Inventing Flight” Wright Brothers curriculum with videos and teachers guides to school systems across the United States. Other grants supported community outreach, technological development, airfield preservation, effective networking, organizational development, and inspiring the next generation.

Additionally, the Flying Musicians Association has announced that once again members will be on the ramp at each AOPA Fly-In across the country. FMA encourages all pilot / musicians and friends to participate. “This is about outreach!” says John Zapp, CEO FMA. “We want all who have a love of music to join us as we liven up the ramp while inspiring, encouraging, educating and now assisting folks to grow through aviation and music. Just as a pilot certificate is a certificate to learn, being a musician requires constant learning, practicing and performing. The AOPA Fly-Ins are a wonderful way for members to reunite across the country.”

AOPA Fly-Ins will have something for everyone. Spend a Saturday with AOPA participating in aviation activities, exploring exhibits and seminars, enjoying a couple of meals, music and building relationships.

Look for FMA members set up on the ramp at the following locations:

  • 6/6 Frederick, MD (KFDK),
  • 8/22 Minneapolis, MN (KANE)
  • 9/26 Colorado Springs, CO (KCOS)
  • 10/10 Tullahoma, TN (KTHA)

Visit the FMA website for more information and to contact the FMA coordinator to participate.

About the Flying Musicians Association, Inc:

The Flying Musicians Association (FMA) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization of pilots who are musicians, spanning the globe, proficiency levels and genres. The goal is to share our passions in order to inspire, educate, encourage and assist others by creating enthusiasm and promoting personal growth in aviation and music. “Pilot Musicians sharing their passion while encouraging and educating youth (& adults) in the science and art of aeronautics and music.”

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Flying | Airports | News | Press Release

8 Important Questions to Ask Before Buying Your First Airplane

by Sarina Houston 15. May 2015 13:02
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Buying an airplane isn't quite as simple as buying a car. From operating costs, maintenance requirements, storage and insurance, there are many elements to consider when purchasing an aircraft. If you're a first-time buyer or are considering an aircraft purchase, take the time to investigate the process, learn about the market and ask a lot of questions. To get you started, here are a few things you'll want to consider:

  1. What's your budget?
    This seems obvious, but first-time buyers should take a detailed look at their budget. There are many costs associated with owning an airplane beyond the price tag. You'll need to consider the loan payment, insurance, maintenance, operating costs, hangar or tie down fees, and other surprise costs that might occur out of your control like mandated avionics upgrades.

  2. What can you fly safely?
    Everyone wants a larger and faster airplane, but don't be tempted to buy an airplane that's out of your league. Buy an airplane that you're comfortable flying safely and within your personal skill limitations. Even a slightly more powerful engine, or just a slightly larger airplane can have much different handling characteristics, and advanced avionics can leave you behind in a hurry if you're not familiar. Buying an airplane you don't have a lot of experience in can lead to regret.

  3. What's the purpose of the airplane?
    First-time aircraft buyers need to evaluate their reasons for buying an airplane. What kind of aircraft will provide the function you need? If you really analyze your purpose, you may find that the aircraft you initially have your eye on isn't actually in line with what you need. If you intend on flying an occasional joyride on the weekends in the local area, for example, you probably don't need an overpowered multi-engine machine with top-of-the-line avionics. If you travel long distances for business, an IFR certified, speedy, retractable gear aircraft might be more in line with your needs. Try to avoid buying an airplane based on emotion. Just because it looks cool or has large, powerful engines does not make it a good fit for you.

  4. How much is insurance? What are the requirements to be insured?
    Insurance is complicated. Buying aircraft insurance is not quite as easy as buying auto insurance. Nor is it as cheap. Make sure you know what the insurance costs will be before you start looking for airplanes to purchase. It's no fun to buy your dream airplane just to find out that insurance will be double what you thought it might be - after the insurance company requires you to attend an expensive training class and obtain a certain number of instructional hours in the airplane. These are standard procedures, but can be costly if you're not prepared prior to choosing an aircraft.

  5. Where will you keep it?
    Will you buy or build your own hangar? Will you rent one from the airport? Is there hangar space available at your airport, or will you be tossed out on the ramp? Do you have a back-up plan in place in case your hangar owner decides not to renew your lease? You'll want to ensure you have a place to store your aircraft, and you'll need to budget for those storage costs.

  6. Who will maintain it?
    Choosing a maintenance facility is probably the most important decision you'll make as a new aircraft owner. But don't wait until after your purchase the aircraft to choose a maintenance facility. Finding a trusted mechanic to help you with your purchase will save you time and money in the long run. A trustworthy mechanic can help you with a pre-buy inspection and can offer advice about certain aircraft types and model numbers before you make the purchase. And after the purchase, your mechanic will need to be someone you can completely trust and rely on to provide quality maintenance in accordance with the FAA and manufacturer's standards.

  7. What technology will you need?
    Taking a detailed look at aircraft technology is necessary when you're purchasing an airplane. Make sure you know what technology is necessary for your flying purposes, know what you're willing to sacrifice, and know how much you're willing to pay for the added conveniences of certain technologies. You might be able to get away with purchasing an older aircraft with outdated avionics if your flying is accomplished in good weather and in uncontrolled airspace. But if you often fly in Class B airspace, or mostly on IFR flight plans, you'll want to invest in modern avionics. And what about other technology, like aircraft anti-ice systems, digital engine monitoring, or weather radar? Do you need these things or, if not, do you intend to fork over the money for the added convenience and safety factor?

  8. What's the resale value?
    They say nothing lasts forever, and there will likely come a time when you'll want to or need to sell your aircraft. Do some basic market research about your aircraft to make sure that you'll be able to sell it easily when you want to. Is there a known mechanical problem with this particular make and model? Will the age of the avionics prevent people from wanting to purchase it in five or ten years? Is the safety record good, or is it a type of aircraft that has particular hazards associated with it? Is the logbook history complete and accurate? Has it been well maintained?

There's a lot to think about before buying an airplane. Talking to a number of skilled aviation professionals about the topics listed above will assure that you're armed with as much knowledge as possible before making decisions before, during and after the aircraft buying process. Still in over your head? Consider an aircraft broker.

Have you successfully purchased an airplane before? Share your advice with us!

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AIRCRAFT SALES | Flying | Sarina Houston

Scary Thoughts

by David Wyndham 7. May 2015 10:14
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It is May, not September or October, but I'm starting to have scary thoughts about where the global economy and business aviation in particular are headed. There is mixed negative news out there. Here are some things that have me wondering what is to come.

The US Standard & Poor's listing is close to all all-time high for its P/E Ratio. A stock's P/E ratio is equal to the stock's market capitalization (or simply, value of its shares)  divided by its after-tax earnings over a 12-month period (think about profitability). Companies with high P/E Ratios are generally considers as more risky investments as investors are will to pay more for the company's profitability. Right now, the Standard & Poor's index P/E ratio is very high relative to the average. This could indicate an overheated market and foretell a coming downtown in stock prices. If high net worth individuals fear a downturn, they are not as likely to be buying aircraft. Similarly companies fearing a downturn will also spend less, thus be less likely to purchase business aircraft.

There are business aviation reports that support this. Jim Donath of Donath Aircraft Sales puts out a very well researched quarterly report on the pre-owned business jet market. From the first quarter of 2015, news isn't good. Flying activity is higher than in 2014 in the US, but down in the EU. Pre-owned business jet inventories are up for the second consecutive quarter. Donath reports 465 aircraft listed in inventory, the highest since the last recession. Transactions are not keeping pace relative to the growth in inventory. Many of these are older business jets and thus, values and selling prices are low, and the time it takes to sell them is increasing. 

Asset Insight's quarterly market report supports Donath. They state: 

Quality assets are readily available, but increasing maintenance costs are accelerating financial obsolescence for many aircraft.  With nearly 47% of the models we track averaging an ETP Ratio in excess of forty percent, as much as half the “for sale” fleet may be resting with the aircraft’s final owner.  

As mentioned earlier, flight activity in the EU is down 2.7% from 2014 with very light jet activity down 11% in April. Emerging markets for business jet sales, like China, although still growing, are not showing the strenth as in the past.

All of this is at a US or global level and may have a lot or little impact on your business aircraft operations. Still, be cautious and look for warning signs within your own organization.  What is the business climate for your industry?  What is your flying schedule looking like for the rest of the year. Are you flying more trips or more hours than you forecast? Ask your customers what they are anticipating for their air travel needs in the next 12 to 18 months. This can impact your expected maintenance budget for the year.

How are your actual costs compared with your budgeted costs? I bet your fuel expenses are down, but what about overall? I know your flight operation is operating pretty lean, but are there more cost savings to be had without sacrificing safety or service? 

If you are looking at selling your aircraft soon, look at the comparable models for sale. How does your aircraft fit in? Do you have a prime example or just an average aircraft? Are your turbine engines on a guaranteed hourly maintenance plan? If you want your aircraft to sell, you may wish to accelerate upcoming major maintenance to offer the buyer 12 to 24 months without having to do any heavy maintenance. Same thought with avionics upgrades - plan on them before offering your aircraft for sale in order to better define your aircraft as the one to buy.

For us as a company, we are having a good year so far. But we are watching our expenses and being watchful with our cash flow. My question y=to you is this:

Will 2015 end up as a better or worse year for your flying activity than 2014 was? 

 

 

 

 

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AIRCRAFT SALES | David Wyndham | Aircraft For Sale

Shedding Light on Advancements in Cabin Illumination

by GlobalAir.com 4. May 2015 13:11
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By Adam Doyle, Paint & Interior Sales Manager
www.elliottaviation.com

Lighting is one of the most important elements of cabin design. It serves multiple functions like providing safety, assistance in performing tasks, creating an atmosphere, and in general pulling together the overall design. Understanding cabin lighting technology can assist in making the right decision for your cabin.

At first cabin lighting choices may seem relatively simple, but with recent advancements there are a large amount of new lighting technologies to choose from. This is a great thing for aircraft owners and operators because lighting can make a big difference in the upgrade of a cabin and cost considerably less than other available upgrades.

The cost of upgrading lighting varies depending on the specific aircraft model and the choice of upgrades. Manufactures are providing multiple options for almost all different airframes.

LED Technology
The recent influx in lighting advancements is no surprise to the industry because consumer electronics drives what goes into an airplane. As new options are available in the consumer market they are adapted into the aviation market as well.

Recently in the consumer market there has been a rapid rate of Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology change being driven by the idea that the brighter, the better. This has created new advancements for aviation, too.

Most general aviation aircraft with any kind of up-wash or down-wash lighting come from the factory with Compact Fluorescent Lighting. The problem with CFL is consistency and long term cost for replacement bulbs and/or power supplies. Don’t forget about the labor involved and potential for damaging interior components that comes with replacement.

LED Lighting
Generally, when deciding to upgrade cabin lighting, the choice is more often than not whether to make the change to LED lighting. LED technology is typically the line between newer and older generation aircraft. Lamp brightness, color, power consumption, heat management, and lamp lifetime are a few of the main differences between the two technologies.

Problems with individual power supplies, hot ballasts and individual bulb replacement are nearly eliminated with an LED option. Also, when a CFL bulb burns out it is easily noticed, but when individual diodes fail at different times within an LED cluster, they contribute incrementally to illumination decline.

LED technology also offers an overall 50 to 75 percent power savings for an aircraft lighting system. This means problems with individual power supplies, are virtually eliminated with LED.

The technology has safety and aesthetics benefits, too. LEDs are shock resistant, emit low heat, and have no bulb breakage. Also, they emit color consistency and a brighter light. Prior to installation you can even pick different colors as several manufacturers are also beginning to offer optional colored lights.

However there are different LED options or upgrades.

Plug & Play
A major switch the industry is seeing is from incandescent bulbs for reading lights to LED plug and play. The major benefit is cost savings. This option allows you to retain the original fixture. When replacing the fixture don’t forget you’ll incur labor and plating fees along with light longevity.

With plug and play you can pull the face off the light, unplug one bulb and plug the new one in. Plug and play lights are also easy to replace. Once done, that’s the last time you will ever replace it. This means when converting to LED you don’t have to rewire the whole plane and you can do it as needed instead of all at once.

It typically costs anywhere from $300 to $600 to replace just one CFL bulb. On top of that, there is also labor. CFL bulbs have a much shorter life span than LED so it needs replaced when the LED typically does not.

Unlike CFL, LED lighting is relatively maintenance-free once installed. The technology has a considerably longer life than florescent bulbs. At about 500,000 hours, the useful life of an LED is roughly five times that of an incandescent light, according to IDD Aerospace.

This saves labor, materials, and downtime. There is more initial investment for the plug and play LED technology but when it comes to the overall life of the aircraft, LED out performs and will cost less.

Self-ballasted
Self-ballasted lights are another LED upgrade. Un-ballasted lights run off of the aircrafts power supplies while self-ballasted lighting provides its own power. The owner can get rid of extra power supplies because it has its own power.

The need for less power supplies creates a weight savings, which leads to less fuel usage.

Disadvantages of LED
While offering many advantages, LEDs also present challenges to operators. The rapid rate of LED technology change in the consumer market brings concern to the aviation industry. The idea that brighter is better is driving components to be replaced or updated at a rapid rate. This kind of change rate creates parts obsolescence for the future.

Choosing a source for a particular aircraft interior lighting task ultimately is not as simple as it may seem. Before making a decision it’s best to evaluate all of the options and pick which one is best for the specific aircraft and use.

Adam Doyle joined Elliott Aviation in 2000 as an interior technician after graduating from Wyoming Technical Institute. While at Elliott Aviation Adam has experienced many different promotions on the shop floor including Install Team Lead, Soft Goods Team Lead, Assistant Interior Shop Manager and Seat Shop Manager. Adam’s most recent promotion has been to Paint and Interior Sales Representative for Elliott Aviation. He uses his experience with various vendors, products and processes to educate our clients by providing direction and helping plan for future investment with realistic and accurate figures.

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). More information can be found at www.elliottaviation.com

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Aviation Technology | Maintenance

Aviation's New Challenge: Software Glitches and Hackers?

by Sarina Houston 1. May 2015 18:44
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Photo: FAA

The next generation of flying has arrived: From paperless boarding passes to paperless cockpits, we are moving to a completely computerized aviation future. It's almost like something out of a futuristic cartoon like The Jetsons with our tablet computers, internet-ready modernized passenger seats and synthetic vision glass cockpits.

Today's flights are planned on computers and sent to pilot's iPads, replacing the pounds of manuals, charts and checklists that pilots used to lug around. Outdated navigation systems are being replaced with a single, incredibly accurate, satellite based system called ADS-B. Inflight Wi-Fi service for passengers has not only become popular, but it's now almost expected from frequent airline travelers. And our nation's airspace system is getting a complete overhaul with NextGen, which includes programs like ERAM, Datacomm and many other communications systems.

This is all good news… until something crashes (or gets hacked). And we were recently reminded that sometimes computers do crash, when a few dozen American Airlines crews were left without proper charts after their iPads suddenly crashed on them while flying. The software glitch left dozens of flights and many passengers delayed.

Computers are clearly the efficient way to modernize aviation, and it's a welcome and inevitable progression toward a more effective airspace system. But there are a few things that haven't fully kept up with the fast-moving aviation industry, like software management and cyber security.

Are airplane computers secure?
Experts have warned that our industry's efforts to keep iPads, ADS-B and other onboard communication devices secure aren't comprehensive enough. An April 2015 GAO report evaluated the cyber security strength of the FAA's six major NextGen programs: Surveillance and Broadcast Services Subsystem (SBSS), Data Communications (Data Comm), NAS Voice Switch, Collaborative Air Traffic Management (CATM), Common Support Service-Weather (CSSWx), and System Wide Information Management (SWIM), which will all use an IP-based network to communicate with each other, as well as with thousands of aircraft flight deck technologies.

You can imagine that an entire system based on a computer network might be susceptible to hackers. Passengers are connected through in flight Wi-Fi. Pilots are sometimes connected to Wi-Fi via their company iPads, and will also be vulnerable to the hacking of onboard equipment through an IP network. And ATC is going to be on the ground, potentially connected to the same network. While the FAA has taken some measures to secure the networks, information in the GAO report demonstrates that the system is still susceptible to hackers.

"According to FAA and experts we interviewed, modern communications technologies, including IP connectivity, are increasingly used in aircraft systems, creating the possibility that unauthorized individuals might access and compromise aircraft avionics systems, " the GAO report states. In the past, on board systems have been insolated, but IP networking included in the many new NextGen technologies could leave not just one aircraft's systems vulnerable, but any other computer on the network.

How can operators avoid software glitches?
Besides choosing a reliable third-party developer and a company with a sound history in computer application design, there's not much an airline or an operator can do to avoid an occasional software glitch except to prepare for and expect the occasional software glitch. So far, the airlines have been lucky. American Airlines had a few delays, yes, but the problem was one that was easily fixed by handing paper charts to pilots or getting them to a place where they could re-boot, upload new charts and move on. At no time were they actually in any danger.

But what happens when a seemingly trivial software glitch isn't so trivial anymore? This is a question that was relevant yesterday, remains relevant today and will be relevant still in the future. Computers are already in use at most ATC facilities and in most aircraft. A software glitch in an aircraft is a problem, but not necessarily a dangerous one. Airplanes have backup navigation systems, backup electrical systems and backup instruments that are powered by something other than a computer.) A pilot can fly safely if their onboard computer crashes. It would test their skills, for sure, but that's what pilots train for.

A computer failure or software glitch at an ATC facility can cause major delays, possibly even for days. Remember that fire at the Chicago ARTCC facility? It not only knocked out both the primary and secondary communications networks, but it knocked out the whole region's ATC capabilities. Everyone survived, albeit painfully.

If we can glean anything from recent events, it's that in order for our industry to move forward in the world, we are going to have to rely on computers, and computers are not perfect. We have to do what's necessary to mitigate and control any associated risks, like those from hackers and software issues. And as we learn to protect our computer systems we'll likely have a few problems along the way similar to American Airline's software glitch, but the overall outcome will be an impressive, capable air traffic system that allows us to fly even more efficiently and safely than ever before.

What are your thoughts?





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