August 2010 Aviation Articles

'One Hit Wonders' and the state of the marketplace today

“One Hit Wonders” and “Nervous Nelly’s” best describe the potential client base active within the used business jet and turbo-prop market today. A “One Hit Wonder” is someone who makes a very low offer for an advertised aircraft, and if the offer is countered as a part of what would normally be termed ‘normal negotiation’, immediately vaporize and are not available for any further discussion. “Nervous Nelly’s” are buyers whom constantly sit on the fence without stepping off either side of it. They sporadically hang around for days asking all sorts of questions and scenarios, but when you believe that they are ready to make a move, they back away and go quiet for a month or so. “One Hit Wonders” rarely make a deal, but the “Nervous Nelly’s” must be attended to, otherwise six months into the future you learn much to your consternation that they finally reached gestation while talking to another broker, and in turn have bought an aircraft that you would never have shown them, because ultimately it was wrong for them.

Unfortunately this current environment of “Price-Only Buyers” shall most likely prevail as the ‘norm’ for several years to come. Now when I use the term, “Price Only Buyers”, I am describing how, in most cases, the skills and interests normally associated with ‘educated’ and ‘intelligent’ buyers are all but lost today. To illustrate this, an excellent example is found within the Dassault Falcon 20-5 retrofit market. More...

Handguns at the Security Checkpoint: Don't Do It.

According to a recent post on The TSA Blog, at least two passengers a day are caught at security checkpoints with a gun in their carry-on luggage. According to the post, when the passengers are caught, the most common response is "I didn't know it was in the bag." Unfortunately, that excuse works for the TSA just about as well as "the dog ate my homework" works for a high school teacher.

Once caught, a passenger potentially faces a number of consequences. First, the subsequent interaction with and interrogation by local law enforcement will quite often result in the passenger missing his or her flight. Next, the passenger could face criminal prosecution for violation of 49 C.F.R. 1540.111 which prohibits carriage of a weapon on your person or accessible carry-on luggage if security screening was required before boarding of the aircraft. The passenger may also be prosecuted under other local statutes that prohibit possession of a handgun at a checkpoint or in the secured area of an airport. More...

Aircraft Maintenance Costs Can Sting!

A friend was recently stung by a wasp. He was doing some yard work and apparently disturbed the wasp who took umbrage at his summer nap being interrupted. The sting hurt and caused several days of uncomfortable swelling. I was joking with him that aircraft operating costs can be like that. They seem small at first compared to the big amount of the aircraft acquisition, but ignoring them can sting and cause you discomfort.

We find this in two areas when we review costs with operators. The first is failing to understand the cyclical nature of maintenance costs. Things like fuel are very stable and predictable. The more you fly the more your annual fuel cost grows. Maintenance tends to come in chunks. Yes, brakes and tires come at a predictable pace, but those inspections and component replacement/overhauls do not. A heavy maintenance inspection that occurs at infrequent intervals can have a high cost. More...

Gulfstream G650 nears speed of sound, earns title of fastest civilian jet

Courtesy of Gulfstream

The Gulfstream G650 neared the speed of sound in flutter testing this week, hitting Mach 0.995, and established itself as the fastest civilian aircraft on the planet.

In achieving the speed, test pilots Tom Horne and Gary Freeman, joined by flight test engineer Bill Osborne, took the aircraft into a dive where the nose of the aircraft pitched 16 to 18 degrees below the horizon, Gulfstream said in a statement.

Flutter designers applied a range of vibration frequencies during the dive on the tail, wing and flight-control surfaces to make sure the plane could naturally dampen them without further action from the pilots. The company said the aircraft performed “flawlessly” during the test. More...

Shape-shifting rescue planes: Where can we sign up for one?

OK, so maybe the technology has not come this far yet.

It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s a shape-shifting UAV robot?

Developers in Cyprus and Israel, as part of EUREKA, a European collaborative science effort, recently announced creation of an unmanned aircraft that will be able to change shape in order to maneuver in severe weather while performing maritime search-and-rescue missions.

The National Science Foundation this week published a thorough review on the U.S News & World Report web site. The article calls the result from the “E! 3931 ASARP” project a cheap-to-build, small, and handy aircraft that will shorten the duration of sea-based rescue operations and be able to operate from land or water in extreme weather. More...

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