January 2013 Aviation Articles

ICAO President to Keynote ABACE2013

Contact: Dan Hubbard, (202) 783-9360, [email protected]

Washington, DC, January 31, 2013 - The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) today announced that International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Council President Roberto Kobeh González will serve as a keynote speaker at the 2013 edition of the Asian Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (ABACE2013).

Scheduled to take place April 16 to 18, 2013 at Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, ABACE is the region's largest show dedicated strictly to showcasing business aviation products and services to thousands of the region's top business leaders, entrepreneurs and other purchase decision-makers.

“China and the broader Asian region are playing an ever-increasing role in the global aviation community, so it is fitting that the president of the world’s aviation oversight body will speak at the Opening General Session for ABACE,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “We thank President Kobeh for joining us in Shanghai and look forward to the perspectives and insights he’ll provide to open the show.”

In a letter accepting Bolen’s invitation to serve as an ABACE keynote speaker, Kobeh noted his participation there “will provide me with an excellent opportunity to meet with government officials and industry leaders to discuss the future of business aviation in the Asia and Pacific region, now the largest in the world in terms of passenger and freight traffic.”

An engineer, former head of air navigation services in Mexico and former representative of Mexico on the Council of ICAO, Kobeh has served as president of the council since August 2006. In addition to being the keynote speaker at the conference, Kobeh will also tour the ABACE show floor in the Shanghai Hawker Pacific Business Aviation Service Centre and the show’s Static Display of Aircraft on the airport.

Kobeh has previously appeared before the business aviation community at NBAA-hosted events. In 2008, he served as a speaker at the Opening General Session for the association’s Annual Meeting & Convention in the U.S. His address focused on several key issues facing the business aviation community including safety, security, airspace management and environmental concerns.

In partnership with the Shanghai Airport Authority, ABACE2013 will be presented by NBAA, the Asian Business Aviation Association and the Shanghai Exhibition Center.

The event will feature more than 200 exhibits showcasing business aircraft, as well as aviation financiers, service providers, legal specialists and more. The Static Display of Aircraft will feature more than 30 aircraft available for side-by-side comparison. Educational sessions to be held throughout ABACE2013 will provide information on financing, purchasing, operating, and maintaining a business aircraft.

More information is available at www.abace.aero.

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Founded in 1947 and based in Washington, DC, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) is the leading organization for companies that rely on general aviation aircraft to help make their businesses more efficient, productive and successful. The Association represents more than 9,000 companies and provides more than 100 products and services to the business aviation community, including the NBAA Annual Meeting & Convention, the world's largest civil aviation trade show. Learn more about NBAA at www.nbaa.org.

Members of the media may receive NBAA Press Releases immediately via email. To subscribe to the NBAA Press Release email list, submit the online form at www.nbaa.org/news/pr/subscribe.

Plastic Airplanes and the Balance of Payments

I rarely take much interest in what is going on in the airline industry, as I view airline travel as one of life’s necessary evils (private aviation rules as far as I am concerned, I only wish that I could personally afford it.) The massive people carriers of today are truly wondrous works of engineering-scale; all of them are designed to not require hangarage when they are rarely parked for more than a brief stop-over at a gate, while the weights that they are designed to carry, day-in-day-out for usually up to 80,000 to 90,000 hours over the duration of their service life is frankly stupendous. An issue from that side of the aviation industry that I am not in-tune with, but that now has me flustered under the collar at the moment, is the airline industry’s new Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

The Dreamliner is supposed to be all of these things: an engineering marvel, an economic game-changer, the most efficient airliner-ever, the fastest-selling airliner, etc, etc. However it is very late into entering into service with the launch airline customers; it leaks fuel, it appears to catch fire; and is it now also grounded until which time in the future that the FAA deems it safe to go back to service.

For me, I have always believed that Boeing and Safety were both synonymous with each other. Even though the company carries the name of a man from the late nineteenth century, I have always felt that this name both labels and epitomises what is the best and safest airline-size aircraft, ever in existence. Now however, there is the possibility that I might be proved wrong in this belief.

To maintain the integrity of producing a truly revolutionary aircraft, Boeing engineers decided that the application of Japanese built Lithium Cobalt Oxide battery technology was to be an advantage for them. Some feel that this type of battery has still yet to be perfected. I remember the stories from the old-timers who remembered when Nickel-Cadmium (Ni-Cad) batteries first became the #1 choice for business jet and turbo-prop aircraft. Thermal runaway events with Ni-Cads were quite common in the early biz-jets. Stories abound of pilots landing and running to the outside rear compartment of a Lear or Falcon to try and remove offending runaway battery before it melted itself apart and through the compartment floor. I don’t recall ever hearing that an aircraft was lost because it’s battery melted away. Therefore battery fires are not, in my mind the biggest safety issue for me to have sufficient reason to refuse to board a Boeing, or in-fact any other aircraft.

What bothers me is the propensity with which the Dreamliner appears to leak fuel. I do not have any inside information about the faulty or incorrectly installed Eaton fuel connectors and valves, but as an outsider I do have to wonder if the fuel plumbing system has leaks because of the flexibility of the carbon fibre structure, moving differently during flight, than which good-old fashioned aluminium does? I always joke that the only time that a Merlin or an older Hawker does not leak fuel is when the aircraft is empty; probably because it all leaked out! Having an aircraft of this size, technology, and age, i.e. cutting-edge designs that are pushing the boundaries of aircraft manufacture beyond what we are used to, and then leaking like an old Hawker usually does, is really not acceptable in my mind.

The concept of spiral wound or vacuum formed carbon fibre manufacturing has long been a holy grail that aircraft manufacturers have pushed for their engineering departments to tackle head-on. The rewards are certainly beacon of light to accountants and engineers alike. Unfortunately, apart from the small successes found by several manufacturers where certain main structural components of an aircraft have had aluminium replaced with carbon fibre, for example the horizontal stabilizer and flight controls on all new Dassault Falcon aircraft, the manufacture of an entire aircraft from this material is obvious to an outsider like me, as being much too risky for any manufacturer that is foolhardy enough to bank their entire future on. Examples of failed or discontinued aircraft are beginning to make a lengthy tome in aviation history:

LearFan, Starship, Visionair Vantage, Adam 700, Grob Spn, Spectrum Freedom and Independence, the Diamond Jet, Premier, and Hawker 4000.

There are others that are not mentioned on my list however memory fails me in their recollection...maybe you can add some for me in the comments section below?

The fact is that the elimination of aluminium, rivets, and others fasteners, along with the massive reduction in man-hours to assemble an aluminium aircraft structure, appears to add-up to an incredibly attractive cost saving for a manufacturer; the raw material cost and processes required to make an equivalent structure from carbon fibre, appear to be extremely costly, and might even exceed the cost of a conventionally made metal aircraft.

The Dreamliner is set to make a significant entry into the aviation history books. I am worried though that the Dreamliner might write its’ own history book entry negatively instead. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that Boeing aircraft - from the 707 on-up are some of the safest and best design aircraft ever to grace the skies. I can’t say that I feel entirely safe when I ride an Airbus, especially in heavy-weather. With this said, I shall continue my attitude of scepticism regarding all-plastic airplanes, until I see the Dreamliner still plying the commercial jet routes of the world well past 2033.

My fear of the possible misplaced allure of plastic that has beckoned to the engineers and management at Boeing, also leads me to start wondering about how the balance of payments in this country’s economy will hold up if Boeing’s bet on plastic turns out very badly wrong?

According to Fortune Magazine’s “Fortune 500” list, Boeing is ranked at #39; with Exxon-Mobile and Walmart taking spots #1 & #2 respectively. The $1.48 Trillion U.S. Dollars export of tangible goods includes $87.5 Billion, or 6% of all ‘balance of payments’ contribution that the manufacture and export of ‘aircraft’ and ‘spacecraft’ contribute to our economy. The Dreamliner sells in two versions: the 787-8 for $206.8 Million U.S.D., and the 787-9 for $243.6 Million U.S.D. According to recent Boeing figures, 850 Dreamliners have been sold since it was first brought to market. By my reckoning that adds up to $195.5 Billion U.S. Dollars, which is more than twice the current annual sales contribution derived from the export of aircraft today. What a catastrophe it would be, if the Dreamliners’ name is added to the list of failed plastic birds?

Fast on the heels of the Dreamliner, is the Arbus A350, which too is a carbon-fibre design. The battle that is slowly unfolding before our eyes is possibly a little too exciting for my feeble post-GFC stomach to not cramp-up.

What are your thoughts?

Also, again can you remember any other plastic aircraft that should be added to the list of failures?
  • LearFan
  • Starship
  • Visionair Vantage
  • Adam A700
  • Grob Spn
  • Spectrum Freedom and Independence
  • Diamond Jet
  • Premier
  • Hawker 4000

FIFI, the World's Only Flying B-29 Superfortress, Returns to the Sky


Addison, Texas - The Commemorative Air Force's (CAF) famous Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber, FIFI - the only remaining flying example of the aircraft in the world - returned to the sky Saturday, January 13 and flew to her home base in Addison, Texas. The flight crew arrived in Midland, Texas and conducted a successful maintenance flight followed by the one and a half hour trip. It was FIFI's first flight since October 2012.

The B-29 experienced trouble with the number two engine and returned safely to the ground during a routine photo mission at the conclusion of AIRSHO. The B-29 is equipped with four radial engines, which are needed to power the massive aircraft. It was determined the number two engine would need major repairs and therefore the aircraft was grounded. For three months maintenance crews worked tirelessly to repair the engine and get this historic aircraft flying again as quickly as possible.

"It's all the difference in the world seeing it fly instead of in a museum," said Preston McPhail, the 70 year old son of a former B-29 mechanic. "You can smell the exhaust from the engines."

And for today's children, FIFI brings a history lesson to life.

"It's hard not to cry, it's real emotional. I'm happy these guys are keeping them flying," said Melanie Skinner, who brought her 8 year old niece to see the B-29 in Lexington, Ky. Skinner went on to say "My niece is a child of the millennium. (To her) World War II is ancient history. To be able to touch them, to feel them, to hear them, that's what history is all about."

A fundraising campaign was launched in November with a goal of raising $200,000 to repair the engine and purchase a replacement. Currently the campaign has raised just over $105,000 to get FIFI flying again, but is still short $95,000 to purchase a 5th engine, a spare, which will ensure continuous future operation and flight. For more information about the FIFI engine fund and how you can help, visit www.keepFIFIflying.org.

Kim Pardon, Tour Media
(913) 636-6250
[email protected]


World’s largest air show team flies custom-built Van’s RV kit aircraft

EAA AVIATION CENTER, OSHKOSH, Wis. — (Jan. 18, 2013) — Team AeroDynamix, which made a spectacular EAA AirVenture Oshkosh debut in 2012, will be returning this year as a featured act in the event’s afternoon and night air shows. The 61st annual EAA fly-in convention, known as “The World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration,” will take place July 29-August 4 at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh.

The formation team, which changed its name to Team AeroDynamix from the original Team RV at the start of the 2013 show season, features graceful aerobatics and precision formation flying in an action-packed performance. With a combined total of more than 100,000 hours of flying time in military, commercial, and civilian aviation, the professional pilots of Team AeroDynamix bring a diverse background to flight operations. This experience equips the team with the discipline and safety required for close formation flying, as often less than three feet separates the planes during the show.

The RV-series custom-built aircraft flown by Team AeroDynamix are stressed for 6g (six times the force of gravity) and attain speeds of up to 200 mph during their performances. Most of the team’s pilots built their own planes, and no two planes are exactly alike. Each paint scheme creates a colorful palette for spectators.

“Team AeroDynamix was one of the most talked-about acts at Oshkosh in 2012,” said Jim DiMatteo, EAA vice president of AirVenture Features and Attractions. “The team is unique not only because of the number of airplanes flying during their colorful performance, but also because these custom-built aircraft appeal to the thousands of EAA members who have constructed their own airplanes.”
The team will fly on several days during EAA AirVenture’s air shows, where the world’s finest performers create an all-star lineup of aerial skill. Each day’s show lasts several hours and is sponsored by Rockwell Collins. They are an exciting highlight of the unmatched schedule of aviation events and experiences that are found only at Oshkosh.

“Flying at Oshkosh is unlike flying anyplace else in the world, because we’re performing in front of tens of thousands of fellow aviators as well as the public,” said Mike “Kahuna” Stewart, the team’s flight lead and founder. “We always strive to be better for every show, but the excitement of flying at EAA is something special. We know people will feel the same anticipation and exhilaration that we feel up in the air." More information on Team AeroDynamix is available at www.teamaerodynamix.com. Additional EAA AirVenture Oshkosh air show performers will be announced as their appearances are confirmed.

About EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
EAA AirVenture Oshkosh is “The World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration” and EAA’s yearly membership convention. Additional EAA AirVenture information, including advance ticket and camping purchase, is available online at www.airventure.org. EAA members receive lowest prices on admission rates. For more information on EAA and its programs, call 1-800-JOIN-EAA (1-800-564-6322) or visit www.eaa.org. Immediate news is available at www.twitter.com/EAAupdate.

NBAA Welcomes Rep. LoBiondo's Appointment as Chairman of Key House Transportation Subcommittee

Contact: Dan Hubbard, (202) 783-9360, [email protected]

Washington, DC, January 16, 2013 – National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) President and CEO Ed Bolen issued the following statement today, in regard to the appointment of Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-2-NJ) as Chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee’s Subcommittee on Aviation, which was announced today by T&I Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-9-PA):

“Congressman LoBiondo is an outstanding choice for Chairman of the Aviation Subcommittee, as he has a solid understanding of the industry, in part because his Congressional district is home to several significant aviation facilities, including the Federal Aviation Administration’s Tech Center, the Transportation Security Administration’s Security Lab, the Federal Air Marshal training facility and the Atlantic City International Airport. He is keenly aware of the essential role that all aviation, including general aviation, plays in job creating jobs, fueling economic growth and connecting communities. He also has a firm grasp of the industry’s priorities, including the need to continue development of a Next Generation air traffic system, so that America retains its world leadership position in aviation. Our congratulations to Congressman LoBiondo, and we look forward to working with him on policies to foster the industry’s growth.”

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Founded in 1947 and based in Washington, DC, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) is the leading organization for companies that rely on general aviation aircraft to help make their businesses more efficient, productive and successful. The Association represents more than 9,000 companies and provides more than 100 products and services to the business aviation community, including the NBAA Annual Meeting & Convention, the world's largest civil aviation trade show. Learn more about NBAA at www.nbaa.org.

Members of the media may receive NBAA Press Releases immediately via email. To subscribe to the NBAA Press Release email list, submit the online form at www.nbaa.org/news/pr/subscribe.

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