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Service Bulletins Clarified

by Greg Reigel 1. August 2006 00:00
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Back in June of 2006, I wrote an article regarding an opinion by the National Transportation Safety Board ("NTSB") that appeared to state that a manufacturer could specify that its maintenance manual includes all service bulletins and thereby create an obligation under the Federal Aviation Regulations ("FAR's") to comply with those service bulletins. The NTSB opinion contradicted the FAA's longstanding position that compliance with service bulletins, absent an airworthiness directive, was not mandated by the FAR's. It also created quite a stir within the aviation community, including owners, operators and maintenance professionals.

To address the situation, and in an attempt to clarify the confusion, on August 11, 2006 the FAA issued a Legal Interpretation addressing this issue. The Legal Interpretation was issued in response to a specific request regarding whether a manufacturer's service bulletin "requiring" performance of a borescope inspection in connection with cylinder compression test revealing weak pressures during a 100 hour or annual inspection of an aircraft operated under FAR Part 91 was in fact mandatory under the FAR's. Although the Legal Interpretation states that compliance would not be mandatory in this situation, this does not necessarily limit a manufacturer's ability to mandate performance of certain maintenance tasks.

The Request For Interpretation

Procedurally, an individual requesting a legal interpretation from the FAA must provide a specific factual scenario. The FAA will not issue general interpretations of the FAR's. It will only address application of the FAR's to specific facts. In this case, the individual requested a legal interpretation regarding the application of FAR 43.13(a) and FAR 43 Appendix D.

The factual scenario involved an aircraft operated under FAR Part 91 and a manufacturer-issued service bulletin specifying that a borescope inspection must be performed in connection with a cylinder compression test revealing weak pressures during an annual or 100 hour inspection performed pursuant to FAR Part 43 Appendix D. The FAA was asked to provide a legal interpretation to answer the question whether FAR 43.13(a), which requires that maintenance shall be done using methods, techniques and practices prescribed by the manufacturer or other methods, techniques and practices acceptable to the Administrator, mandated compliance with the service bulletin simply because the manufacturer required it.

The Interpretation

The FAA's simple answer was "no". However, it was not unqualified. The FAA stated that "unless a service bulletin is incorporated either directly or by reference into a document that makes its requirements mandatory, the answer is no."

The FAA observed that the text of FAR 43.13(a) "provides a person performing maintenance, alteration, or preventive maintenance on a product with a number of permissible options when performing that work. A manufacturer may legitimately incorporate a service bulletin into one of its maintenance manuals by reference. If it does so, the data specified, and the method, technique, or practice contained therein, may be acceptable to the Administrator." This means that compliance with the service bulletin in this situation would certainly be an acceptable method.

However, it went on to state "unless the method, technique, or practice prescribed by a manufacturer is specifically mandated by a regulatory document, such as an Airworthiness Directive, its contents are not mandatory." Since FAR 43 Appendix D does not specifically require a borescope inspection as the only means for determining the internal condition of the cylinders if the compression test shows weak cylinder compression, other methods such as cylinder disassembly and inspection could be used. As a result, compliance with the service bulletin was not mandatory as long as some acceptable method was used to determine the condition of the cylinders.

According to the FAA, allowing a manufacturer to mandate compliance with a service bulletin would impermissibly authorize the manufacturer to issue substantive rules. Not only does the FAA not have the authority to delegate its ability to make rules, but allowing a manufacturer to issue rules in the form of service bulletins, without public notice and comment, would be contrary to the Administrative Procedure Act.

However, the interpretation also notes that manufacturers do have alternative methods for mandating compliance with the maintenance specified in a service bulletin. A manufacturer could petition the FAA to have the service bulletin incorporated into an AD. Alternatively, a manufacturer could incorporate the maintenance addressed in the service bulletin into its current maintenance manual or Instructions for Continued Airworthiness and, in situations in which compliance with those documents was mandated by regulation, that maintenance work would then be required.

Conclusion

This Legal Interpretation clarifies that compliance with a service bulletin, absent an AD or other regulatory requirement, is not mandatory simply because the NTSB says it is. Although a manufacturer can still accomplish its goal of mandating the maintenance contained in a service bulletin, it will not be able to do so unilaterally. It will need to meet additional regulatory hurdles. For now, compliance with a service bulletin on an aircraft operated under FAR Part 91, absent an AD or other regulatory requirement, is not mandatory.

If you have had any situtations where you have found yourself between the FAA and the manufacturer (the preverbal "rock and a hard spot") we would like to here about it.  Place your comments below.

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Greg Reigel

Aircraft Market Report: 2006 Q2

by Jeremy Cox 1. August 2006 00:00
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Every three or four months I will now be providing you with a Quarterly Market Report that highlights 49 fixed wing and 9 types of rotary wing types of aircraft. Most of the data that will be contained in this report is very courteously and kindly provided by the folks from Kansas at the Aircraft Bluebook – Price Digest, http://www.aircraftbluebook.com/ I would like to especially thank Mr. Paul Wyatt, the Bluebook Editor for the use of his data in the production of my report. I hope that you find the report of some use to you.

Column A, Rows 2 through 59 are the featured Aircraft Types. I have grouped these into a series whenever I deemed it as necessary. What I mean by this is that, if we take the Mooney M20 Series as an example, I have lumped (I can almost hear your protests from here, already) every ‘20' designated Mooney aircraft into one large group that encompasses over 30+ separate models that range from the 1955 Mark 20 through the 2006 M20R Ovation 2GX.

Column B, Rows 2 through 59 are the Current Low Retail Prices quoted by the Summer Edition of the Aircraft Bluebook Aircraft Price Digest for each Aircraft Type, series. If you think back to the example of the Mooney M20 Series in the last paragraph, you will now understand that the number in this column at Row 5, that the 1955 Mark 20 is currently reported by the Bluebook as having a (Base) Retail Value of $20,000.00 USD. Continuing on with this thread, Column C, Rows 2 through 59 are the Current High Retail Prices quoted by the Summer Edition of the Aircraft Bluebook Aircraft Price Digest for each Aircraft Type, series. In this case at Row 5, the 2006 M20R Ovation 2GX has a (Base) Retail Value of $478,000.00 USD. Columns D and E, Rows 2 through 59 are pretty self explanatory, i.e. These are the same reported Values from the Bluebook, 12 Months Ago. I am actually planning on keeping these numbers the same for the remaining two Quarters (Fall and Winter) and thus keeping the same reference point for a year, with its replacement occurring on its anniversary, i.e. every Summer edition of this Report will have a new numbers here (yes, you have sussed my drift; the Current Low and High Retail Prices in this report will become the new ‘Year Ago' Reference Figures, this time next year.)

Now my spreadsheet gets interesting with Column F, Rows 2 through 59 because I have used the following formula to crunch these numbers into a comprehensible market indictor:

((B5/D5-1)+C5/E5-1)-1/2 = ‘Percentage'

What I have done is, I have divided the current ‘Low Retail' by the old (last year), then both the current ‘High Retail' by the old (last year) and then both resultants are added together and then finally this result is divided by ‘two' to provide an averaged percentage result.

Column G, Rows 2 through 59 are the Annual Hours Flown in a twelve month period, as quoted by the Bluebook.

Column H, Rows 2 through 59 are the normal Knots True Airspeed for each aircraft Series, as quoted by the Bluebook.

Column I, Rows 2 through 59 are the typical Nautical Mile Ranges of each aircraft, as quoted by the Bluebook.

Column J, Rows 2 through 59 are the Standard US Gallon Fuel Capacities of each aircraft, as quoted by the Bluebook.

Column K Column I, Rows 2 through 59 purely my own input and the figures entered in this column represent the typical US Gallon per Flight hour Fuel Consumption of each aircraft.

Column L, Rows 2 through 59 is thus a simple computation with the use of the following formula:

I2/J2 = ‘Nautical Miles per US Gallon'

What I have done is, I have divided the typical Nautical Mile Ranges for each aircraft by the typical ‘Standard' US Gallon Fuel Capacities of each aircraft, which results in a fairly accurate ‘Efficiency' number that denotes NM/USG.

Next I am going to skip a column in my explanation and move onto Columns N and O. These are the current figures (as of July 15, 2006) that were being reported by this website, https://www.globalair.com/.

Columns P and Q denote the respective, current and twelve month ago figures (as of July 15, 2006) that were being reported by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) at their website, http://www.opec.org/home/.

Columns R and S denote the respective, current and twelve month ago figures (as of July 15, 2006) that were being reported by Dow Jones for their Industrial Average, derived from their chosen portfolio of publicly traded corporations.

Columns T and U denote the respective, current and twelve month ago figures (as of July 15, 2006) that were being reported by the British Bankers Association for the London Inter-Bank Offered Rate (LIBOR) percentage interest rate, available as an Excel spreadsheet like this, from their website: http://www.bba.org.uk/.

 

Now my spreadsheet should be easily understood. So what can now be gleaned from this document?

  • Well I believe that it will be found to be useful on many different levels and for various purposes:
  • It is a quick handy reference for anyone who wants to know the current value ‘range' (the high and the low) for their type of aircraft series.
  • The performance data is a ‘down and dirty' handy reference (please don't use the data for flight planning purposes because you may crash!)
  • The Annual Fuel Cost portion coupled with the NM/USG ‘Efficiency' portion of the spreadsheet is very telling, especially in today's ever tightening world oil supply markets.
  • And finally, my spreadsheet should be somewhat of a reliable barometer of the current condition of the used aircraft marketplace (the 12 Month Percentage Change) as it relates to the leading economic indicators i.e. the performance of the stock market, the cost of oil and the cost of money.

My spreadsheet thus shows that:

The following aircraft/helicopters saw the largest gains in value, including the normal yearly/model new price increases:

THE WINNERS

  • 16.29% Bell 206/407 Series
  • 12.74% Cessna 210 Series
  • 10.17% Cessna 441
  • 8.90% Mooney M20 Series
  • 7.71% Falcon 50/50EX Series
  • 7.22% Challenger 300

The Overall Market has shown an Increase in value ‘Across the Board', equal to 3.88% over the last twelve months.

THE LOSERS

  • 8.06% Falcon 20/200 Series
  • 6.35% Bolkow/MBB/Eurocopter BK105/BK109/BK117 Series
  • 4.86 Robinson R22 Series
  • 4.39% Cirrus SR20/SR22 Series

 

What does this mean, I hear you ask?

If you have a new/low-time, medium-large aircraft like the Challenger 300 to sell, you will see it sell for more than you paid for it several months ago.

If you are operating one of the older dinosaur jets like a Falcon 20 or 200, your value is dropping much faster now, due to the price of fuel and also the less desirability of owning a forty-plus year old aircraft.

I need to do more research into the smaller aircraft markets, and by the next quarterly market report I will provide a better insight into what is occurring there (maybe it's the cost of money, I don't know), but I am certain that many of you engaged in the operation and sale of these aircraft already know the background behind the percentage points listed in my spreadsheet.

So in November we shall have a new, Quarterly Market Report.

 

I would like to end this month's column by asking for your help. From time to time I have the pleasure of speaking with people that, like you, read this column each month. I feel a certain responsibility in providing fairly decent content here and therefore would like to ask you, dear reader, what it is that you would like to see from time-to-time, discussed in this column. Obviously as I always state at the end of my ranting each month: ‘Any input that you care to make will be of great interest to all of the readers here at Globalair.com. So please don't be bashful and go ahead and write your comments and suggestions here. Please don't forget that whatever you write here, can be seen publicly by everyone that visits this page, so please be funny, be inspired, but most importantly of all, please be nice. See you next month.'

The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight

by Jeremy Cox 1. August 2006 00:00
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LEST WE FORGET.
 
Recently I was extremely fortunate to experience one of the best days of my life, while on business back at home in England. John Sirett, my European colleague, who is in charge of JetBrokers-Europe decided that he wanted me to come over and assist with some new ‘for sale' listings that he had signed up. After a couple of weeks of planning I was winging my way across the North Atlantic on a 777 bound for Heathrow. Even though I was effectively in Europe for 9 only days, our schedule was pretty well packed with client visits in Holland, Austria, Slovakia and even briefly, Hungary (we went through the wrong border crossing and turned back after realizing our mistake.) The piece de resistance of my entire trip and also the subject of this article, was an invitation to RAF Coningsby for the day, as a VIP guest of the Royal Air Force's own, Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF.) This invitation came from a JetBrokers Europe affiliate, ‘Autologic'; a major British Automotive company, and proud corporate sponsor of the BBMF. As an annual thank you to its largest sponsors, the BBMF puts on a private VIP day visit for each sponsor company. I was extremely fortunate to be in England when it was the turn of ‘Autologic' to enjoy their annual visit, and I was invited to come along and including me, our contingent was only 11 people strong, and therefore our visit was very, very intimate, indeed.  The village of Coningsby is in Eastern Central England in Lincolnshire between the towns of Lincoln, Sleaford, Boston and Skegness. This nice village plays host to a fifteenth century church that boasts the worlds largest, one-handed clock; a castle keep tower that is in extremely good repair and dates back to the same century and even earlier; and last, but not least, the Royal Air Forces active Squadrons of ‘3' Fighter Squadron, and ‘17' and ‘29' Reserve Squadrons, all whom fly the modern Eurofighter ‘Typhoon', and ‘6' Squadron who fly SPECAT Jaguars, ‘41' Reserve Squadron who fly PANAVIA Tornados and finally the BBMF.
 
The fact that I am writing this article about the BBMF for posting during the month of September must not go un-noticed. For many years now, I have recognized the grave importance of the Battle of Britain, by screening the 1969 Metro Goldwin Meyer classic film ‘Battle of Britain' at least once, every September. The actual Battle of Britain began in early July of 1940, but it can probably be said to have officially begun on Wednesday, July 10th, 1940 when the Commander in Chief of Fighter Command, Air Chief Marshall Sir Hugh Dowding deployed fifty fighter squadrons, consisting of about 600 serviceable aircraft around the British Isles to stand up against the rapidly increasing number of strikes being made by the Luftwaffe. The end of the Battle of Britain was declared on Thursday, October 31st, 1940. The late, great Winston Churchill called Sunday, September 15th, 1940 as ‘the culminating date' as described by Mr. Peter Townsend in his 1970 book, ‘Dual of Eagles.' This is because, according to the report delivered to the Prime Minister by his Chief Private Secretary, John Martin at 8 p.m. on this day, "It was repellent…' (The reports from the war) – Errors, delays, unsatisfactory answers, bad sinking's in the Atlantic. ‘However,' said Martin, ‘everything is retrieved by the air. We have shot down 183 for a loss of under 40.' After the 15th of September, Hitler seriously doubted his Reichsmarschall of the Luftwaffe, Herman Goering, capable of achieving and winning a successful offensive in the skies of Britain. According to Peter Townsend, Goering was beside himself with rage and disappointment, and he summoned his Luftflotten and Fliegerkorps chiefs to Boulogne on the 16th of September, where he bellowed, purple faced, at his Jäger that ‘our fighters have let us down!' It is reported that Oberst Keller, who later became Goering's Chief of Staff, that ‘The Reichsmarschall never forgave us (the Luftwaffe) for not conquering England.' According to the Guinness Book of Records, World War II was ‘By far the most costly war in terms of human life… in which the total number of fatalities, including battle deaths and civilians of all countries, is estimated to have been 54.8 million, assuming 25 million Soviet fatalities and 7.8 million Chinese civilians killed.' According to Roy Conyers Nesbit's 2000 book ‘RAF in action 1939 – 1945', ‘In the period from 20th July to 26th October, the RAF lost 1,490 Hurricanes or Spitfires damaged beyond repair on operations, plus 360 more in flying accidents. The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight - Observing a Hurricane
 
However, 1,333 new fighters were produced while 723 damaged aircraft were made serviceable. Thus the overall strength of fighters increased, although 537 pilots or other aircrew were killed in the period from 10th July to the end of October, and others wounded. By comparison, the Luftwaffe lost 1,887 aircraft in combat, apart from those seriously damaged, while 2,662 Luftwaffe airmen were killed and many others taken prisoner.' Mr. Conyers Nesbit continues by writing that ‘The Battle of Britain was undoubtedly a resounding victory. Equally important, it boosted morale in Britain and convinced the rest of the World, especially America, that the country could withstand all the enemy could throw at it. It was the ‘unsinkable aircraft carrier' from which victory could be attained…' What the Battle of Britain really means to me, deep, deep down in my soul, is the utterly incredible way that so many young men and women of the British Commonwealth, put their entire existence on the line for what they believed to be right, in the defence of the British Isles. Their sacrifices and the truly amazing accounts of the extreme courage that they managed to find within themselves, all-through-out the Battle of Britain effectively defeating the Luftwaffe and ultimately, with the assistance of our allies, smashing the entire Nazi war machine, which first started darkening the earth with its tyranny, more than seventy years ago, is actually, in my view, feebly but compassionately saluted in the immortal words of Sir Winston Churchill, where he said, early on in the war ‘…Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few…' The term ‘few', should, in my opinion really be changed to ‘many.' There is an awful lot at the BBMF to make anyone extremely proud of the accomplishments and history of the RAF and its personnel. I was deeply touched by the simple brass plaque that was riveted onto the starboard side of the aft fuselage of the glorious Avro Lancaster that is one of the central pieces of the BBMF.
 
The plaque reads ‘To remember the many' and I noticed it after spending a brief, hot, confining and most marvelling, interior, athletic tour of the mid 1945, Chester built ‘Lanc', which is proudly named the ‘City of Lincoln.' (Don't even get me started on my fascination of the Dam Buster Raid. I was an electric experience for me to breathe the air inside the ‘Lanc.')
 
There is only one other flying example of a Lancaster in the world, and it lives up in Canada. Many of you may have been very fortunate to have seen this compatriot ‘Lanc' up close at this year's Experimental Aircraft Association Convention in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. After our very intimate experience with the ‘Lanc' we all gathered for a group photograph for the BBMF and Autologic and then we hopped on a coach and were gracefully transported to the Officers Mess to enjoy a delightful, formal lunch hosted by the BBMF ‘Fighter Leader', Squadron Leader Clive Rowley, MBE who is enjoying his eleventh season flying for the BBMF and who is also now a full-time reservist, after officially retiring from the RAF earlier this year.
 
He had the most amazing and witty stories to share with us over lunch having been active in the RAF flying English Electric
Lightning's, Panavia Tornados, and also a qualified flight instructor on the Scottish Aviation Bulldogs, British Aerospace Hawks, Lightning's and Tornados, and now the BBMF Chipmunks.
 
The BBMF's own, Officer Commanding, Squadron Leader Al Pinner, MBE RAF had a display sortie to fly in one of the Spits and therefore did not attend the lunch with us. Squadron Leader Pinner is an ex-Harrier and CF18 Hornet pilot, and a current BBMF Fighter Pilot. He took over his role at the BBMF in January. After lunch we were again coached back over to the BBMF Flight Operations building, where we got to see two of the Flight's Spitfires depart for a display
mission that had been booked some time in advance.
 
This ability to book a display mission supplied by the BBMF, is one of the truly unique features of this wonderful organization. The British taxpayers finance the BBMF and its fleet of airworthy and I might add, regularly flown aircraft, which include 5 Supermarine Spitfires (soon to be joined by a 6th, which is undergoing restoration at Coningsby), 2 Hawker Hurricanes, an Avro Lancaster, an Douglas Dakota and 2 DeHavilland Chipmunks. It has been a long standing tradition for a Spitfire and a Hurricane to lead the Victory Day flypast over London every May 8th since the end of the war in Europe in 1945. in 1957 the RAF decided to formalize its small collection of flying, historic aircraft (a Hurricane and 3 Spitfires), by creating the Historic Aircraft Flight, which we now know as the BBMF. Back to the fact that this is a public service paid for by the British taxpayers. According to the wonderful brochure that I was presented with during my visit, ‘Records show that for many years after its formation in 1957, the Flight conducted relatively low-key operations; typically making 50-60 appearances per season, a situation that continued into the mid 1960's. By 1992 participation was up to 150 appearances, growing to 200 in 1995 and exceeding 500 in 1996. Since 2003 the Flight has been tasked for over 700 individual aircraft appearances during the year's display season and this is now considered the norm.' The brochure goes on to state that ‘The demand for appearances by the BBMF's aircraft shows no sign of decline and indeed appears to be increasing. In 2005 there were no less than 850 separate bids for BBMF to participate at all kinds of events and the Flight's aircraft appeared at 126 air displays and 304 flypast events, in front of an estimated total audience of 6 million people.' The departure of the two ‘Spits' was extremely evocative and the successive flypast overhead in our honour was heart swelling. It's funny how ones mouth goes dry, and a lump in your throat develops while your eyes start moistening, all because you hear and feel the heavenly music produced by a Rolls Royce Merlin or Griffon Engine, as it sings past you.
 
We were all asked to assemble in the crew ready room so we could receive our pre-flight briefing. After which we split into two groups and the first group (I was in this one) walked out to a hard standing behind the building that we had heard our briefing in immediately before, and then were welcomed by Sergeant Steve Duncan, the Air Loadmaster for our flight in the 1942 Douglas C47 Dakota.
 
Dakota ZA947 is the year-round workhorse for the BBMF, carrying personnel, tools, spares and equipment in support of the BBMF, and often also dropping paratroopers in commemorative displays. This is where our visit to the BBMF took on a whole new level of excellence. The lovable ‘Dak' is fitted with paratrooper seating on either side of the fuselage. Once aboard, we each chose a side facing seat with our backs against the bare fuselage skin. Sergeant Duncan, who is normally instructing on the C130 Hercules J model at RAF Cranwell, gave us a quick briefing on walking to the back of the aircraft, as the sortie that we were about to make was to be flown with the door off, so we could each be put into a harness and then given the privilege of standing in the open doorway, ala parachutist/jumpmaster style.
 
Holy cow! Once airborne and at our cruising altitude of 1,000 MSL, the throttles and props were pulled back to an efficient setting, and then we were each invited, one person at a time, to come aft, wear a safety belt with a strap that clip attached to the static safety line, and then to come back to the main entrance/cargo door and admire the view as it was unfurling at one hundred and fifty knots, or so.
 

 

After looking at the images of each of us, as we stood by the open door in-flight, it is interesting to see that our natural survival instincts appeared to have kicked-in. This is because it is evident that every one of us actually kept our feet well back from the open door, while we all maintained a white knuckle death-grip on the surrounding fuselage structure.

Our flight in the ‘Dak' lasted well over an hour as we flew a triangular course.


  Our final turn checkpoint before the return leg back to Coningsby was over the ancient City of Lincoln. The crew actually used the Cathedral as their checkpoint and we all had a fabulous view of this famous medieval structure that is home to one of the original copies of the Magna Carta.

After our returning taxi-arrival, the crew kept both motors running, while the second contingent of our group assembled and then boarded, after we had walked clear. They had just finished their hangar tour, and ours was about to begin.
 

We were reunited with Squadron Leader Rowley who now, very graciously, became our personal tour guide. His depth of knowledge and his deep personal excitement and respect for the position that he holds at the BBMF, was immediately evident, as he expertly wheeled us around the various aircraft that were safely tucked away in the hangar. He explained that 2006 is the 70th anniversary for the Spitfire. R.J. Mitchell's famed prototype first took to the skies in March 1936. No other British aircraft before or since, has ever matched the number of Spitfires that were produced. 20,341 ‘Spits' were built in 22 different variants over a 12 year production period, while a further 2,408 Seafires, the Naval Variant was also produced. During World War II, the Spitfire flew more than 835,000 separate sorties.
 

 
While the last operational sortie that the RAF conducted in a ‘Spit' took place in Singapore on the 1st of April, 1954. It was a photoreconnaissance mission by a PR XIX version, which is the fastest and last Spitfire version produced. It had a top speed of 460 mph, as it was powered by a Griffon 66 engine that drives a five-bladed constant speed propeller. Even the cockpit was pressurized as it was designed to cruise up to 40,000 feet and loiter there at 370 mph. The BBMF has two of these aircraft in its collection.
 
 
On the other end of the Spitfire spectrum, the BBMF also owns and flies the worlds oldest airworthy Spitfire in the world. It is a Merlin powered Mk IIa and was number 14 of 11,989 built at the Castle Bromwich factory in Birmingham in 1940. This ‘Spit' actually fought in the Battle of Britain and after a busy career that involved a crash landing after a shoot down, and many other dogfights, and seven a spell as a gunnery school aircraft, she was restored for, and then flown in the 1969 film, ‘The Battle of Britain.' What is remarkable about all of the aircraft at the BBMF is their condition and operational readiness. As I mentioned previously, all of these aircraft have to be available for hundreds of flying appearances annually across the British Isles. The only way that this is possible is from a long-term, carefully planned 20 plus year rolling basis, achieved by limiting ‘g' loads, maximum speeds, engine power settings and the number of hours flown each season, by each aircraft. Every winter, all of the aircraft are rigorously inspected and repaired as necessary, while the regularly scheduled major refurbishments are contracted out to third-party organizations. Every aircraft in the BBMF has less than 2,400 flight hours. There is a full-time staff of 25 ground crew persons who maintain the BBMF fleet. Every aircraft is striped and repainted on a rotating schedule, with the chosen design always being a reproduction of a famous aircraft, in remembrance and recognition of those who served by flying and servicing the historic aircraft depicted.
 
All BBMF Aircrew except the Officer Commanding, Al Pinner, are volunteers who normally fly for the RAF operationally as front-line pilots. Getting a posting into the BBMF for an RAF mechanic (engineer) is a ‘dream come true' for anyone lucky enough to be chosen. Some of these highly skilled people actually go on to volunteer for support roles at the various air shows that the BBMF attend. The entire hangar at the BBMF exudes both pride and excellence. It is an extremely heady atmosphere to breath. One of the most interesting tales that Squadron Leader Rowley told us, was about the last Hurricane to ever enter service with the RAF, Serial number LF363, a Mk IIc that first flew in January of 1944. This aircraft was one of the founding members of the BBMF in 1957, but unfortunately in 1991 it had to make a forced landing after its engine lost power and started to run rough. On approach into another RAF station, the engine failed completely. The aircraft did not make it safely onto the runway and actually crashed onto the airfield and was seriously damaged after catching fire. Fortunately the pilot, though baldly hurt, survived the landing and is fully recovered and back to flying. It was decided that since LF363 had a significant historical background, that it should be rebuilt. It was decided that one of the BBMF Spitfires was to be auctioned off to pay for this restoration. With a ‘Spit' sold to Rolls Royce in Bristol, and some ready cash in the kitty, the BBMF sent LF363 out to a private rebuild company that set about completely rebuilding this irreplaceable aircraft. After four long years of work, she once again took to the skies above England in 1998. I believe that unofficially this aircraft has now adopted the name ‘Phoenix' after this misadventure.
 
We wound up our fabulous VIP day at the BBMF with a steaming hot cup of tea, served by the Flight's ‘mum', Di Holland and then it was time to leave via the gift shop to load up on goodies. If you are ever going to England and find yourself within driving distance of Lincolnshire, I feel it would be an absolute crime if you did not make the effort to go and visit the BBMF at Coningsby. The Museum (yes they do have a small museum), the gift shop and the hangar are all open Monday to Friday from 10:00am to 5:00pm. One-Hour guided tours of the Hangar are available from 10:30am to 3:30pm (3:00pm November to February.) For further information and details of any special events or occasional weekend opening telephone +44.(0)1526.344041, fax +44.(0)1526.342330 or email bbmf@lincolnshire.gov.uk
To schedule a BBMF for a display or flypast within the UK, you can make a request to the Participation Committee at RAF's HQ Strike Command at RAF High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire.
 
So, what did you think about the subject chosen for this month's article? Do you have any suggestions for any topics for articles that you would like to see posted here? Any input or suggestions that you care to make will be of great interest to all of the readers here at Globalair.com. So please don't be bashful and go ahead and write your comments and suggestions here. Please don't forget that whatever you write here, can be seen publicly by everyone that visits this page, so please be funny, be inspired, but most importantly of all, please be nice. ‘Au revoir' until next Month, when I hope to bring you my flight-line and grandstand report from the Reno Air Races. Bye.

 

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Jeremy Cox

Summer Reflections

by David Wyndham 1. August 2006 00:00
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It is summer and you know what that means, no not heat waves, but EAA AirVenture! I got my start in aviation at a small airport and along with the EAA, really developed my aviation interests. Today, their air show and meeting covers all aspects of aviation. For those of us not lucky enough to go this year, like me, I'll weigh in on a few items of interest.

For those involved in business aviation, big news event number 1 was the announcement that Honda will build a jet. The HondaJet is another entry in the tight very light jet market. They will be collaborating with New Piper and plan to start accepting sales orders this fall (I'm thinking the NBAA). Honda's goal is to complete type certification within four years. Production will be in the U.S.

They are relatively late entries into what could become a crowded field. Being a Honda-car owner, I see them as a very savvy company who won't enter the competition unless they have a chance at being a leader. The basic data on the jet is promising, and they do have the money, but again, they are late entries and that will work against them.

Business aviation big news event 1B is that Eclipse Aviation received provisional type certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The company expects to receive the full type certification for the Eclipse 500 by August 30th.

Keep an eye on Embraer. I'm hearing some interesting things about how they are developing their Phenom line of aircraft.

The fun will really begin when these point-to-point air taxi services start operations. That is the biggest question surrounding these jets - can it earn a living in the for-hire world? I'm with Missouri - Show Me. Most VLJs are limited in cabin size, thus limited in baggage, too. They might work well for day travel though. However, who is putting in the entire infrastructure at these small airports to handle the passengers – security screening, baggage, waiting areas? It is an interesting idea and now that the Eclipse is almost ready for their first deliveries, it will be time for these point to point carriers to start putting up the numbers. I wish them luck. They will need it.

I was a bit surprised at big news number two - Raytheon (the parent) is again shopping around for a buyer of Raytheon Aircraft Corp. RAC is having a good year, and despite lengthy delays in the certification process of the Hawker 4000, has a good order book. With increasing fuel prices, those stodgy turboprops don't look so bad after all.

I'd like to see them separate from Raytheon and bring back (in full) the Beechcraft name. That won't solve any problems, but will remind them of their incredible heritage. The big issue they will face is in developing new models. They don't have a strong record of accomplishment in recent years of developing new aircraft on time. My two cents is that it's late to be developing another VLJ. They have some great products, but not a lot of new ones.

Light Sport Aircraft were all the buzz again this year – literally with the sound of some of their engines. Last count I think there were some two dozen models to choose from. That is without Cessna entering the fray. Most of these planes are from small entrepreneurial companies (like Cessna, Piper and Beech in their beginnings). These aircraft are much simpler to design and there may be room for a number of manufacturers to exist. Be careful of the hype, however. Their engines still need maintaining and they will still cost something to insure and store. I wouldn't mind having one for fun flying myself. Anyone know of one that will fit a six foot three pilot?

This is one fun part of my job. We don't sell aircraft so we can stay neutral, run the numbers and see where the competition goes next. While not quite the same as aviation's golden age, there sure are a lot of exiting goings on in aviation today. Let's hope $5/gallon fuel doesn't put out the fire.

Where do you think things are going? Click Reply and let me know.

The True Cost of Aviation Fuel

by David Wyndham 1. August 2006 00:00
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We all are quite aware that fuel costs keep rising. GlobalAir has a nifty fuel price checker at https://www.globalair.com/airport/ . A quick check and a few things are apparent. 100LL is clearly more costly than Jet-A (Regional fuel pricing), and at a given airport, two FBO's can have very different fuel prices.

It would not be unusual to find a twenty, thirty or even forty cents per gallon difference. You might ask yourself why anyone would go to an FBO with the high fuel cost? Well, that's not the entire story.

Service counts for a lot. If you need a quick turn but it takes 30 minutes for the fuel truck to show up, then is saving twenty cents a gallon such a good deal?

Make sure you call ahead for the latest prices and make sure to ask about the other fees. Those ramps, hangars, crew rest rooms, courtesy cars and flight planning rooms all cost money. FBO's can be creative in finding ways to pay for them. Sell enough fuel, and those services can be offered "free." To do that with fuel sales, they must add a surcharge. Across the field, the other FBO may elect to do an al a carte pricing and charge for each individual service. Both have their advantages.

If you need the "full service" FBO, than paying the higher fuel price but being able to avail yourself of all the services may be a better deal than the budget fuel price plus paying for each additional service. Most FBO's will have a minimum gallon purchase that will get you the "free" services.

If you need a quick turn, then the lower fuel cost may be the better deal. Why pay for the extra services if you don't need them. Call ahead an ask if there is a ramp fee or passenger transfer fee or other charge in addition to the cost of fuel.

For each FBO, add the cost of the fuel with the cost of the additional fees to arrive at your total cost for the stop. You may be surprised that the lower fuel cost FBO isn't necessarily the better deal.

Lastly, most of us are aware of tankering. If you can get a discounted fuel price at home, tankering fuel is a way to save on the cost of fuel. However, the FBO isn't there as a charity, they are trying to provide a service and expect a fair price for that service. Even if you can make the round trip unrefueled, consider the "courtesy fuel" purchase.

Many operators who tanker fuel still purchase a nominal amount of fuel, typically the amount of their required IFR reserves. This gives the FBO revenues in recognition of their being available with their services.

How many of you do courtesy fuel purchases? Did you use to do it but at $5 a gallon, it's now harder to justify? Would you rather get the low cost fuel and pay individually for each service? Let me know.

 

 

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