Even though this past year in aviation legislation has been a quiet one, there has been a discernable undercurrent of change seeping into the foundation of the commercial, business and general aviation industry these past several years. The changes that have been slowly seeping in under most of our ‘news radars’, and when viewed as a composite, are so significant that we all now need to take immediate action before our worst fears become an industry reality.
The changes that I am referring to, and a lot of them are not caused by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or Transportation Security Administration (TSA), are as follows:
Establishment of an International Aircraft Registry in March 2006. This program is mandated by the FAA, whereby a seller cannot warrant ‘Free and Clear Title’ to his or her aircraft, unless it has registered with the I.R. The treaty resulted from a diplomatic conference held in Cape Town, South Africa in 2001. The conference was attended by 68 countries and 14 international organizations. In all, 53 countries signed the resolution proposing the treaty. It took effect when ratified by eight countries: Ethiopia, Ireland, Malaysia, Nigeria, Oman, Panama, Pakistan and the United States.
Failed attempt to introduce Aviation User Fees in June 2007. Proposed by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, along with the then-ranking minority committee member Sen. Trent Lott, and wrapped up in Senate Bill S.1300. The airlines were all for this, because they saw an opportunity to deflect public scrutiny away from their intensely bad ways of managing their respective companies, while firing media shots at business and general aviation. This caused so much division within both houses of Congress that the FAA was put on probation starting in September 2007. Ever since then, the FAA has been on a month-to-month, and sometimes quarter-to-quarter basis for funding.
Failed attempt to introduce the Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP) in October 2008. This regulation would require all U.S. operators of aircraft (both Part 135 and 91) that exceed 12,500 pounds maximum take-off weight to implement security programs that would be subject to compliance audits by TSA. The proposed regulation would also require operators to verify that passengers are not on the No Fly and/or Selectee portions of the federal government's consolidated terrorist watch list.
Failed attempt to introduce an FAA Certified Repair Station (CRS) Security Plan in November 2009. Repair stations on and off airports are so different that it wouldn’t be possible to create a security plan and audit system to fit all of the stations. However, this plan required that all CRS facilities to implement security procedures and infrastructure such as access controls to the facility or aircraft, and a means to identify those who should have access to the facility. Additionally, there would have to be procedures established for challenging unauthorized people who are trying to get access to the facility, along with a security awareness training program for all employees.
Engineers from Cirrus Aircraft gathered in Wisconsin this week to discuss a new aircraft engine that would run on diesel fuel.
According to a report from the Duluth (Minn.) News-Tribune, investors who attended the meeting were encouraged to boost Engineered Propulsion Systems Inc. so it can hire more employees to help develop an engine “that could propel the industry away from leaded fuels.”
The company hopes to finish design work and begin building an engine prototype that could be running by the middle of next year, the report quotes EPS President Michael Fuchs as saying.
Business Jet Traveler recently weighed in on the year that was 2010 in the realm of used business aircraft sales. It still is somewhat obvious to most in business, whether aviation related or not, that markets remain timid. However, some segments of the private jet market have fared better than others.
Furthering a trend seen in new models presented at the NBAA Annual Meeting & Convention in Atlanta this October, large-cabin long-range jets continue to move.
The BJT article notes that buyers went after these aircraft, such as the Gulfstream V at prices below $20 million and the Gulfstream IV/SP under $12 million, and Gulfstream IV under $10 million.
The article notes that these prices hover around half the value for these aircraft three years ago, when the industry saw its pre-recession peak.
We were somewhat late to see this but still wanted to share it.
The video above shows testing by Sikorsky of its X2 helicopter. And boy does it fly.
The X2, which operates with ‘fly by wire’ controls and rear-mounted propulsion system, shattered the world speed record for a helicopter during the testing above, topping out at more than 250 knots in September.
The U.S. Army is also looking a light tactical version of the speedy rotorcraft. According to the video's poster on YouTube, a full-scale mockup can be seen at the video’s start.
Hawker Beechcraft announced Friday that it will stop producing its Hawker 400XP small business jet for the next two years.
Company officials told reporters in a conference call last week that the decision comes as Hawker adjusts to a 23 percent sales drop from a year ago within a challenging market for aircraft manufacturers.
“We made a decision that we think puts the future of that product out beyond the current economic problem and when we can see market recovery,” said Bill Boisture, CEO of Hawker Beechcraft, according to a report on the web site of Kansas TV station KSN.
The decision also comes at a time when the company has reduced its workforce and considered a move from Wichita, Kansas to Louisiana.