December 2010 Aviation Articles

FAA Proposes More Restrictive Interpretation Of Part 135 Flight And Rest Time Regulations

In a Notice of Proposed Interpretation published on December 23, 2010, the FAA is proposing to interpret the application of FAR 135.263 and the rest requirements of FAR 135.267(d) to a situation where an operator plans a flight that is anticipated to be completed within a 13.5-hour duty day but, unanticipated delays (e.g. late passengers, late cargo etc.) occur before the last leg of the flight, and these delays would extend the flight beyond a 14-hour duty day if the last leg is completed.

The FAA's current interpretation of these regulations, based upon legal interpretations issued in the 1990's, permits flight crewmembers to take off on flights that were scheduled to be completed within a 14-hour duty period even though circumstances beyond the crewmembers' control extended the actual duty time beyond the permissible 14-hour period. However, this interpretation is inconsistent with its current interpretation of the near identical language in
FAR 121.471(g) which would not permit the crewmembers to take off on the last leg of the flight.

The FAA's interpretation of the language of
FAR 121.471(g), which was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, created an exception to pilot flight time limitations, but did not provide an exception for pilot rest requirements. In the Court of Appeals decision, the Court also stated that "[t]he substance of the rules in FAR Parts 121 and 135 is essentially the same and the rules are likewise interpreted." The FAA's interpretations of FAR 121.471(g) along with the Court of Appeals case have been known as the "Whitlow Letter line of interpretations."

According to the proposed interpretation, "[t]he FAA has determined that it is illogical that the nearly-identical regulatory language in sections 121.471(g) and 135.263(d) is interpreted in two different ways" and "the Whitlow Letter line of interpretations best reflects the FAA's current understanding of the pertinent regulatory language." As a result, under the proposed interpretation, if a flight crewmember knows at the time of departure on the last leg of the flight that he or she has not had the required rest,
FAR 135.267(d) would prohibit him or her from departing on the last leg of the flight.

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Comments to the proposed interpretation are due on or before January 24, 2011. If you have any questions regarding the proposed interpretation or would like further information, you may contact Alex Zektser, Attorney, Regulations Division, Office of Chief Counsel, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20591; telephone: (202) 267- 3073; e-mail: Alex.Zektser@faa.gov.

This proposed interpretation could have a potentially significant impact on the operations of Part 135 on-demand air carriers. I encourage all Part 135 operators and pilots who fly for those operators to submit comments to the proposed interpretation.  Your comments are most welcome as we all learn through open dialogue.

Learjet 85 news

 

An update on the Learjet 85: Bombardier Aerospace announced just before the holiday weekend that its first-ever composite Learjet aircraft will have its wing structures manufactured at its Belfast, Northern Ireland facility. The plant also will make wings for the CSeries aircraft.


After the wing skin panels and spar components are finished, final assembly of the wings will take place at the company's new production plant in Queretaro, Mexico. 


Bombardier announced in September that constriction of the Mexico facility was on schedule


The composite business jet is expected to hit a high-speed cruise of Mach 0.82 and a range up to 3,000 NM, the fastest and farthest reaching Learjet to date.

 

HondaJet Makes Maiden Flight

In recent news AINonline reported the first conforming Honda Aircraft HA-420 HondaJet took off from Runway 5 at Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro, N.C., at 3:31 p.m. EST yesterday. Piloted by chief test pilot Warren Gould and test pilot Stefan Johanson, the light twinjet took off in clear weather with a slightly gusty 10-knot crosswind, according to Michimasa Fujino, president and CEO of Honda Aircraft, who watched the first flight along with all the Honda Aircraft employees in Greensboro.

This was also the first flight of the HondaJet powered by the
GE Honda Aero HF120 engine, which is more powerful than the Honda-designed and -built HF118 used in the prototype HondaJet. The HF120 made its first flight about two weeks ago on a GE CitationJet testbed.

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N420HJ is equipped with the production-conforming cockpit interior, including the Garmin G3000 touchscreen-controlled avionics system. Gould and Johanson flew N420HJ with the landing gear extended to 12,500 feet and between 170 and 180 knots during the 51-minute first flight.

The conforming HondaJet performed much better than the prototype, Fujino said, because of the more powerful engines and drag reductions that engineers were able to achieve in the latest airframe. “Static stability is much better,” he said, “and damping characteristics are better.

Not a huge change but an improvement from the [proof-of-concept aircraft]. The first flight was encouraging.

This is a milestone for us to show our capability to build the conforming aircraft. Five conforming HondaJets are planned, and the second has completed structural testing in preparation for flight testing.

A third jet will be ready to enter the flight-test program early next year. Deliveries will begin in the third quarter of 2012.

For locating aircraft for sale and market conditions please see www.globalair.com/aircraft_for_sale

 

Dassault gives update on Falcon SMS, replacement to Falcon 50

Falcon 50 business jet aircraft
The Falcon SMS will replace the Falcon 50 (above)

Business Jet Traveler recently posted an update on the progress on the "super mid-sized" Falcon SMS. The article says Dassualt Falcon is ramping up the new business jet model to "full-speed development," with wind-tunnel tests being performed on a basic shape.

The company hopes to have the aircraft certified by 2016. Read more
here.

The Falcon SMS twin engine will be a replacement to the three-engine
Falcon 50, produced from 1996 to 2008, when the last Falcon 50 was delivered and plans were announced for the new model.

Tips To Maintain Your Aircraft's Value

It is a process, not an event.

First off, maintain the aircraft.

A well-maintained aircraft will always have a higher residual value than one that is not. Well-maintained in this case refers to an aircraft that is maintained beyond what the minimum regulatory standards require. Airworthiness is related to safety, not value. 

Being well-maintained means more than keeping up with the required inspections and component overhauls. It means the aircraft has its equipment in functioning order, non-critical wear and tear items are taken care of, and cosmetics are recognized as important, too. There may be optional service bulletins that add to the functionality and maintainability of the aircraft. These optional service bulletin items should be chosen with maintainability and mission effectiveness in mind.

The aircraft exterior should be kept clean and polished. Interior comfort and convenience items need to be maintained in good working order and updated as required. A clean aircraft is not only more appealing, but problems and issues are spotted earlier and thus, may be easier and less costly to remedy. Paint and interior should be kept in good condition continuously, not just in the week prior to putting your aircraft up for sale.

The best ones to maintain the aircraft, if possible, are your own in-house maintenance staff. A well-trained, dedicated maintenance staff is your first and best opportunity to keep the aircraft in top condition. Your choice of a major MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul) facility is important as well. Picking an MRO is more than just going with the lowest bidder. The MRO must have the knowledge and skills to perform the required maintenance, and when necessary, troubleshoot and repair your aircraft. They must do so in a manner that inspires confidence in their work. They do this by meeting schedules, communicating regularly, and by returning your aircraft in such good condition that follow-up work is minimal, if at all required. In-house maintenance plus an MRO with a top reputation for your aircraft type is a one-two combination for maintaining your aircraft value.

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Maintain the aircraft records.

Maintenance records are the health record of your aircraft. Detail beyond "Required inspection complied with" helps with maintaining your aircraft value by providing a written record of the quality of your aircraft. When I see my physician for my annual checkup, I want to hear more than "looking good, see you next year." What is my weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, etc? The aircraft maintenance records not only need to be a true and exact representation of your aircraft, they are also the written proof as to the quality of the maintenance. This is the tool to use to communicate the health of your aircraft to your maintenance staff, MRO, and any future buyer. Missing and incomplete maintenance records call into question even the basic airworthiness of an aircraft. 

Be careful with upgrades.

As aircraft age and the production numbers get sufficiently high in number, there are always third party companies that seek to enhance the aircraft in terms of functionality, performance or looks. When evaluating an aftermarket upgrade for your aircraft, you need to consider the impact on the aircraft's value. 

Does this upgrade represent a step forward in technology closer or equal to that of a new variant? If the current production models have a particular feature that is also offered as an upgrade to your model, then that likely adds value to your aircraft. An example might be upgrading your old avionics to the current production model's avionics suite. 

Is it something that is going to be commonly accepted by most buyers? One-of-a-kind is great in art, but not with production aircraft! If your aircraft is one of a few upgraded with a particular modification, then where or who will be able to work on it? Why isn't that feature more commonly requested or installed?

While first and foremost, an upgrade has to make sense for you and your aircraft mission, you also need to be aware of its impact on the future value of your aircraft. 

A clean, well-maintained aircraft will tend to be more reliable in its day-to-day use. Along with its records, this will speak volumes to a future buyer that they are indeed getting a quality aircraft.

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