July 2013 - Page 3 Aviation Articles

DiamondShare Hopes to Make Flying Make Sense Again

by Keely Mick

Essentially, the ideal way for one to live their life is to be economical, realistic and invest their hard earned money wisely. When life throws at you opportunities to travel, the average American will automatically choose to go by way of airline: Fact. But, why is this the case? For a lack of better reasoning we will say this; people believe that airline travel is cost-effective, statistically safe and highly effective. However, as aviators, we must stop and question this. What viable percentage of those American people are aware that there are other ways? Do they know that airplane travel does NOT always entail large airports, waiting in lines, highly invasive security checks or missing baggage?

With airline travel comes many burdens that are avoidable; simple as that.

I’m here to tell you about a different way to go about things; a newer way. Diamond Aircraft recently developed a program known as DiamondShare with hopes of making flying make sense again. This dynamic new program has been designed for simplicity, in turn making the economics of personal aviation sensible, and a real possibility. DiamondShare was inspired and created to provide all pilots with a more affordable option in order to have ownership and/or access to an amazing new and modern aircraft. The secret is "sharing".

Recently I was given an opportunity to meet with one of the top advisors for the DiamondShare program, John Armstrong. John broke this down so well for me, I was instantly on board, what a fantastic program this is! I can’t think of a better promotion to offer a new or a young pilot fresh on the market for a single engine aircraft. Everyone wants the hottest items on the market be that technology, automobiles, boats or aircraft. "Yes I want the Garmin G1000, yes I want the all glass cockpit, and yes I want the auto-pilot feature, but let’s be realistic; the hottest aircraft on the market certainly won’t be the cheapest. This brings us right back where we started; I want to be economical, I want to be realistic, and I want to invest my money wisely.

So check this out, did you know that on an annual average, most aircraft owners will only use their planes 80 - 100 hours per year? That equates to roughly 5% of the total hours in a working year, excluding weekends of course. Obviously, that scenario is less than ideal and it’s certainly not economical or wise. Not to mention, along with aircraft ownership comes numerous fixed costs that are essentially inevitable; including insurance costs, hangar fees as well as avionics subscriptions. So why would anyone invest so much money in the purchase of a brand new, top of the line aircraft? The answer is simple; most people wouldn’t.

Due to these factors, the average buyer on the market for an aircraft (especially in an economic crisis) is going to "settle" for an older, more outdated model; if for no other reason, simply to justify their investment. DiamondShare wants to change this. With the Share and Save Program, the new owner can now leverage his/her assets while radically reducing their cost of ownership. The owner still maintains full control and as a bonus, this usually enhances tax advantages.

Moving right along, the aircraft that I am discussing is the Diamond DA40 XLS; a fantastic and beautiful, completely state of the art aircraft. Say you are a student pilot (such as myself); perhaps you are not seeking aircraft ownership right away. Nonetheless, depending on how much a person enjoys the freedom of flight, how much would that person realistically invest every single month on aircraft rental and fees? Aside from that, your local FBO only has so many training aircraft available for hourly rent; this doesn’t allow much capacity for personal travel. $135.00 per hour seems tolerable; until you reach 8 or 9 hours that is. But what other choice is there?

That’s it; you have just discovered the reasoning behind the creation of the DiamondShare program. Suddenly, the brand new Diamond DA40 XLS seems relatively affordable and certainly obtainable. Whether you are seeking full or part time ownership, if $995.00 per month is a budget that you can justify for fractional ownership, I would like to invite you to visit www.diamondshare.com

In conclusion, the DiamondShare program was inspired and created to provide pilots from every walk of life a brand new opportunity to make a gratifying investment. Whether you seek full ownership or just easy and convenient access to an amazing and modern aircraft, DiamondShare has potential for you. By pooling your love for aviation with other flight-goers and literally sharing the wealth, you are now capable to own the latest and greatest, hottest new aircraft on the market; the sky is literally the limit!

The Importance of WAAS/LPV

Don’t Let Less Than Ideal Conditions Ruin Your Approach
John Crabtree of Elliott Aviation, Avionics Manager

Sometimes, one experience can change your entire perspective on flying. A few years ago, a Hawker 800 pilot relayed a story to me about WAAS LPV. The pilot had been requesting WAAS/LPV in their aircraft but had been denied his request because the aircraft owner saw it as a high cost with very little value. One business trip from Nashville to St. Louis changed the value seen in LPV.

The aircraft owners were flying in for a very important business meeting and planned to land at Lambert Field but the ILS was down and there was a very low ceiling. This forced the aircraft to divert to an airport many miles away. Meanwhile, the owner witnessed a Cirrus land right after their missed approach.

Because it was an unplanned arrival at a very small FBO, they had to wait for a car to become available and drive nearly an hour out of their way, missing their meeting. Needless to say, the owner was very upset that his mid-sized jet could not get into an airport while he witnessed a small piston aircraft land with ease. The owner scheduled a WAAS LPV system installation the following day.

WAAS (wide area augmentation system) and LPV (localizer performance with vertical guidance) is a system that uses satellites and ground-based radio systems to enhance GPS signals for the entire flight path of the aircraft, including approaches that can get you down to 200 feet. From an approach standpoint, the FAA’s most recent update (November 15, 2012) shows LPV approaches at 1,519 airports including 1,307 LPV’s to non-ILS airports. This flexibility can get you closer where you want to go.

Other benefits include cutting distances between airports, saving time and fuel because the aircraft does not have to follow routes based on ground based systems alone. It also allows safer flight at low altitudes because older system equipment is often blocked by terrain or elevation changes. Simply put, WAAS will get you to where you want to go faster, safer, and often times with less fuel.

John Crabtree oversees over 30 avionics technicians at Elliott Aviation’s headquarters in Moline, IL. Crabtree has 28 years of avionics experience that started in the US Navy where he was an Avionics Technician. He has worked on avionics systems with Gulfstream, Standard Aero and Hawker Beechcraft Services. As part of John’s current duties, he is leading one of the most successful avionics retrofit programs in history, Elliott Aviation’s industry-leading King Air Garmin G1000 retrofit program.

Elliott Aviation is a second-generation, family-owned business aviation company offering a complete menu of high quality products and services including aircraft sales, avionics service & installations, aircraft maintenance, accessory repair & overhaul, paint and interior, charter and aircraft management. Serving the business aviation industry nationally and internationally, they have facilities in Moline, IL, Des Moines, IA, and Minneapolis, MN. The company is a member of the Pinnacle Air Network, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), and National Aircraft Resale Association (NARA).

Limiting Personal Liability With A Corporation Or Limited Liability Company

You have probably read the ads in several of the aviation magazines suggesting that aircraft buyers should "incorporate in Delaware" etc. Also, quite often an aircraft buyer's accountant or attorney will recommend that he or she form a corporation or limited liability company ("LLC") to own the aircraft. But does this make sense?

One of the primary benefits of a corporation or LLC is the limited personal liability protection the entity affords. An owner of a corporation or LLC, simply by virtue of that ownership interest, is not personally responsible for the debts and obligations of the entity, other than to the extent of his or her ownership interest in the corporation or LLC. This is in contrast to a sole proprietorship or a co-ownership/partnership situation in which the individual's mere ownership interest in the aircraft does result in the individual owner being legally responsible for the debts and obligations related to the aircraft.

Similarly, a director/officer of a corporation or governor /manager of an LLC is not personally responsible for the debts or obligations of the entity as long as the individual was acting within the scope of his or her duties on behalf of the corporation or LLC, as the case may be. For example, if an individual leases a hangar on behalf of a corporation or LLC and then the corporation or LLC defaults under the lease, the landlord cannot hold the individual who signed the lease responsible for the default, unless the individual was not authorized to enter into the lease on behalf of the corporation or LLC or the individual otherwise personally guaranteed or obligated him or herself under the lease.

However, in the context of aircraft ownership, this limited liability protection is not absolute. If an individual, who may be a shareholder/director/officer of the corporation or member/governor/manager of the LLC, is operating an aircraft owned by the corporation or LLC and that individual is involved in an accident or incident that results in damage to property or personal injury, that individual could still be held personally responsible for his or her negligence etc., in addition to the corporation or LLC.

Additionally, if that same individual improperly performed maintenance on the aircraft (e.g. changing the oil but forgetting to safety wire the oil drain plug) which later resulted in personal injury or property damage, even though the individual wasn't flying the aircraft at the time, that individual could still be personally liable. Also, if an individual acts outside of the scope of his or her authority to act on behalf of the corporation or LLC, he or she may be held responsible for any consequences of those actions.

So, owning an aircraft with a corporation or LLC can provide some personal liability protection for the individual owners of the entity. However, that entity won't be able to shield an individual owner from liability based upon that individual's conduct. If you are going to own an aircraft and someone else will also fly or maintain the aircraft, a corporation or LLC is probably a good idea. On the other hand, if you are going to be the sole owner and operator of the aircraft, the corporation or LLC likely won't be much help, at least from a personal liability perspective.

If you are unsure whether a corporation or LLC is right for you and your aircraft, you should talk to an aviation attorney, to get the answers you need to make an informed decision.

Don't Sell, Upgrade Your Aircraft

If you are looking to upgrade to a newer aircraft, here are three things to consider:

1. The value of your current aircraft has taken a beating since 2008 and you will not be happy with the loss in market value.

2. While you should be able to negotiate a good purchase price for a newer aircraft, many owners still may not be willing to part with their aircraft at today's prices (see #1 above).

3. Your financial institution may not be willing to lend on terms that you find desirable. If the aircraft you are buying is new or nearly so, this isn't an issue. But it is for older aircraft.

If you need "more" as in seats, payload or room, your only alternative is acquiring a larger aircraft. If you need more speed or more range, and want newer avionics, but are happy with your aircraft's cabin, there is another alternative: upgrade your current aircraft. 

Companies like Aviation Partners, Raisbeck and Blackhawk have been quite popular for many years.  They, and others, have performance and engine upgrades that allow your current aircraft to fly faster, further, or both. There a top notch avionic shops offering upgrades that can turn your old steam-ship panel into a modern marvel. Recover the seats and add a new paint job, and voila — a new plane. Is it worth it? Before you undertake such a major project, here are some things to consider:

Why You Might Not Want To Upgrade Your Existing Aircraft

Older aircraft cost more to maintain than newer ones. Wear and tear items, aging aircraft issues, second or third engine overhauls all drive the cost up. Your aircraft must be in excellent mechanical condition and essentially free of corrosion, otherwise don't consider the upgrades.  

You think that the upgrade will add enough value to pay it back when you sell your aircraft. Some upgrades add value to your aircraft while others add value only to you. With today's market, do the upgrade if it has value to you. If it has value in the market place, so much the better but do it for you.

If your current aircraft cabin is plenty suitable, here are some upgrades to consider:

Enhanced Aerodynamics & Engines

Performance enhancements can range from winglets to engine retrofits. Given the cost of fuel, things that make the aircraft go faster on the same fuel, or engines that burn less fuel, can be desirable. 10 knots more speed on 3% less fuel may not sound like  much, but over time will add up. Do the gains make sense to you and your operation?

Glass and More Glass

Update the avionics. There are impressive upgrades that can turn your old analog cockpit into a glass heaven. This can range from updated Nav gear to a full panel replacement. When looking at new systems, look at what the current variant of your aircraft (or closest relative) has for its avionic system. Done right, these systems enhance both safety and reliability.

Budget carefully and talk to other operators who have done the same upgrades. As long as your current aircraft is in excellent mechanical condition and you plan to keep it for the next few years, the added utility and flexibility of the upgrade can add all the value you need.



The Future of Aviation in the U.S.

By: Brent Owens
Owner/Publisher: iflyblog.com

future of aviationWhen the group was deciding on a theme for this month’s Blogging in Formation series (#blogformation), we agreed to anchor it around July 4th (U.S. Independence Day). We settled on The Future of Aviation in the U.S., but we encouraged each other to explore the edges, good or bad, as we saw fit.

We Are The Future of Aviation In The United States

Aviation in the U.S. is at an interesting crossroads. We have enjoyed large populations of pilots and a commensurate number of airplanes through the bulk of the last century. Now with Baby Boomers aging and economies melting, the population of aviators has reached historically low levels. Couple that with the cost to fly at unprecedentedly high levels, things aren’t looking good. Also, we have more regulation, more oversight, more scrutiny, and our safety record, although good, is not good enough in the eyes of regulators. Combine all this with our modern distractions and it is very tough to recruit young men and women into our ranks, especially as a career. Flying for fun, or for a living, in the U.S. has proved to be a very difficult proposition in recent decades.

So with all this as the backdrop you would think that aviation here has gone the way of CB radios or Disco, but you’d be wrong. The group that has remained in this new era is more vibrate, engaged, and resourceful than ever. If you have been to Oshkosh, you know what I mean. It is truly amazing to be in the presence of such an awesome group of dedicated people.

The passion from those of us left is infectious. We are constantly looking for alternative ways to continue to do what we love and spread the gospel of flying. The organizations that represent us, are as strong as ever and are working hard to make sure we don’t give up any more of our freedoms to bureaucracy and security theatre.

Since we are in the eve of Independence Day in the United States, it is more than appropriate to celebrate our successes and put behind us our losses. Looking forward is the only way to get where we want to be in the future. It is incumbent on us to be leaders in our small family and do our part to light the way for future generations.

In a related article I wrote about how the EAA is working on a program to bridge the gap between Young Eagles prospects and future pilots (to be announced at Oshkosh 2013). This endeavor, will tap into a great deal of grassroots energy and it is bound to succeed. With it, we may come away with our own version of a “pilot boom” that hasn’t been seen since the Baby Boomers took up wings.

New pilot starts is really an important concept, because this is what will fuel the industry into the future. If we don’t have this, our ranks will keep dwindling away and soon we will have no voice to counter opposition and no economy of scale. If that occurs it’s only a matter of time before flying will be completely inaccessible to the average American. Several organizations have recognized this decades ago and started working on plans to stave off the bleeding, but it hasn’t been enough. Our current economic climate hasn’t helped either.

My plan is to do my part to support all these new (and old) efforts, because I know the greater good is the end goal. That also means; giving rides to people who are interested in flying; getting involved in local and national organizations that support us; writing my politician when our freedoms are under attack; volunteering at events; flying for charity, if possible; speaking at functions about aviation; (add your ideas here). See related article here.

We all have a choice to make, fly and be free or accept a fate of mediocrity. WE are the future of aviation in the United States and with that comes an awesome responsibility. What are your intentions?

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