All posts tagged 'Biz-Jet'

Why you should always park your Aircraft when Volcanic Ash is in your Path

On April 14th, 2010, both the U.K.’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and its National Air Traffic Services (NATS) and Luftfartstilsynet (Norway’s CAA) made what appears to many as having been a brave but rash decision to close all of its nations airspace (initially Norway closed only its most northern airspace) to all traffic as a result of the eruption of the Icelandic volcano: Eyjafjallokul located in the South-western portion of this small Island Nation.

There appears to be a rising tide of disgruntlement forming amongst the European air-travelling public as well as the employees of the many companies that service this segment, against the sweeping decisions made by both of the CAAs, NATS, Eurocontrol and EASA that a “no-fly” ban to be placed over much of Europe. This ban lasted more than seven days, thus throwing the travel plans of millions into utter chaos, and according to Giovanni Bisignani, the director general and chief executive of IATA “For an industry (Airlines) that lost $9.4bn last year and was forecast to lose a further $2.8bn in 2010, this crisis (the ban) was devastating..."

 

I personally must contest this negative discourse that is gathering momentum over the decision that was made, because when the facts of the very real dangers that exist within the plume of a volcanic ash cloud are systematically reviewed, it becomes obvious that the right decision was made.

In appendix 2 of the FAAs Airmen Information Manual, you will find a specific form titled: Volcanic Activity Report (VAR) which must be completed and sent to the Global Volcanism Program headquarters at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. The AIM further states in section:

7-1-27. PIREPs Relating to Volcanic Ash Activity

a. Volcanic eruptions which send ash into the upper atmosphere occur somewhere around the world several times each year. Flying into a volcanic ash cloud can be extremely dangerous. At least two B747s have lost all power in all four engines after such an encounter. Regardless of the type aircraft, some damage is almost certain to ensue after an encounter with a volcanic ash cloud.

b. While some volcanoes in the U.S. are monitored, many in remote areas are not. These unmonitored volcanoes may erupt without prior warning to the aviation community. A pilot observing a volcanic eruption who has not had previous notification of it may be the only witness to the eruption. Pilots are strongly encouraged to transmit a PIREP regarding volcanic eruptions and any observed volcanic ash clouds.

c. Pilots should submit PIREPs regarding volcanic activity using the Volcanic Activity Reporting (VAR) form as illustrated in Appendix 2. If a VAR form is not immediately available, relay enough information to identify the position and type of volcanic activity.

d. Pilots should verbally transmit the data required in items 1 through 8 of the VAR as soon as possible. The data required in items 9 through 16 of the VAR should be relayed after landing if possible.

The two Boeing 747 incidents cited in the AIM are the four-engine flame-outs that occurred to, first on the night of June 24th, 1982 where British Airways flight number 9 dropped from FL370 down to about 10,000 feet M.S.L. after flying through the volcanic plume from Mount Galunggung in West Java, Indonesia; second on December 15th, 1989 where KLM flight number 867, on its way from FL250 to FL390 fell to an altitude below 11,000 feet after flying through the black plume that was being spewed from the erupting Mount Redoubt near Anchorage, Alaska, here in the U.S.A. Fortunately in both cases, some, if not all of the effected engines were restarted, and both aircraft were able to make emergency landings without injury, at a suitable diversionary airport.

Even though there was no loss of life involved in both of these incidents, considerable damage occurred to both aircraft as a result of their unfortunate forays into volcanic ash clouds. 

Most recently in Europe ash damage has been found in the engines of a World Airways MD-11, a Thomas Cook B757, several of the RAF Typhoon Euro-fighters and a Finnish F-18 Hornet. As engine inspections are stepped-up because normal air operations are returning to the skies of Europe, I would be very surprised if more reported examples of engine damage don’t become prominent in the aviation press.

How does volcanic ash cause damage to an aircraft and its engines? Allow me to explain...

The columns of ash that spew from a volcano, normally settle in the flight levels between FL320 and FL350. If seen in daylight, these extensive clouds of debris vary in colour from light brown to jet-black. The worst aspect of them is that they do not show up on Radar.  Every year there are normally 60 volcanic eruptions around the globe. Usually 10 of these are classified as being “major.” Every eruption poses many unknown ash hazards, and normally more than 100,000,000 tons of ash is thrown into the air from any major eruption. The properties of an ash plume are both abrasive and acidic and normally consist of hard, sharp fragments of glass and rock in varying sizes and having high concentrations of Sulphur Dioxide, which when mixed with water, becomes Sulphuric Acid.

All windows, light lenses and leading edges are severely damaged by the abrasive ash encounter. Pitot/static systems become clogged and when on the ground, braking action and traction is severely affected by the ash-bed that lays on a runway or taxi-way.

The lethal danger associated with volcanic ash is how quickly it will cause a flame-out and in-flight shutdown of a gas turbine engine. All of the compressor and turbine blades are severely eroded, causing immediate loss of power. Bleed and cooling airway holes quickly become blocked and immediately start affecting the normal airflow through the engine. The fuel-air mixture rapidly becomes too rich, and the engines flame-out. Before the engines do rich-cut, the chances are extremely high that enough igneous rock debris has made it through the hot section of the engine to start reforming as a glass coating or build up on many of the interior components. It goes without saying that if the engine does restart at a lower altitude; its serviceability is shot, whereby only an expensive teardown and overhaul will render it back to a serviceable state.

As I said earlier, volcanic ash plumes will not paint on Radar, therefore at night, when all visual cues have become shrouded by darkness, the only technology that will indicate its presence is either a laser or infra-red system. Usually however, it is the olfactory senses provided by the good old fashioned human nose, which will first sense the ash plumes proximity. In virtually all cases of aircraft that have flown through ash clouds, the crews have all reported that they smelled, or even saw smoke in their cockpits.

Now back to the AIM. As you have seen in this article, the existence and tracking of a volcanic plume is extremely difficult to be achieved by most aviation meteorological organizations. These groups rely heavily upon Pilot Reports (PIREPS) and therefore it is critical to air safety that if you encounter ash conditions in-flight, that you report them immediately. If operating in a known area of volcanic activity, make certain that you have read all NOTAMS and PIREPS that are available to you. Plan a reroute around all actual and forecasted ash clouds. Do not climb into ash. Instead reverse course and descend. Remember you are now in an emergency situation. If you encounter ash on the ground upon landing, do not use reverse thrust, and expect your traction and braking action to be minimal at best. If you are in the unusual position of being cleared to take-off on a runway contaminated by volcanic ash, it is imperative that you perform a long, slow and gentle running roll take-off, to not kick-up too much ash from your passage over it.

Do you still feel that it was a bad decision that was made recently over the volcanic ash contaminated skies of Europe? Hopefully your response is not just “no”, but “hell no” instead.

EBACE 2010 (May 4th, 5th & 6th, 2010) On-The-Convention Floor-Update

Greetings all of you Global Air Blog-o-sphere readers. Today is Thursday, April 29th. I am sitting at my desk in my JetBrokers office at the Spirit of St. Louis Airport (KSUS), just West of St. Louis in Missouri. On Saturday I and my esteemed colleague, Tom Crowell, Jr shall be departing KSTL on a Boeing that is bound for Geneva via Chicago and London.

Why am I telling you this you might ask? Well the fact is, as long as Jeff and his technical boffins at Globalair.Com are able to hook me up with a means to adding to this Blog by Blackberry, I will be bringing you various 'roving reports' from both the convention floor and the static display all-through-out EBACE.

Of course you will not only find the commentary interesting and insightful regarding the aircraft and services that are on display at this years convention; you will also get to go to (through me) all of the same parties, seminars and meetings that I go to. The next week should see this Blog groaning from data, because Tom and I have a lot of people to see, and events to attend, including meeting with our European Group: JetBrokers Europe, and attending the Epicurean RDV and Dassault Parties to name three of our pre-planned events.

So might I suggest that you sit-back, relax, and enjoy your "from the Convention Floor" coverage provided to you by Globalair.Com and JetBrokers, Inc. I will see you in Geneva.

MONDAY MAY 3, 2010 - EBACE EVE

Gulfstream G650 is now the World's Fastest Business Jet after reaching 0.925 Mach yesterday.

Hawker Beechcraft announces New Single Turbo-prop is in-work. It will compete with the likes of the TMB850, the Caravan and the PC12.

Bombardier Stand-Down attracts many attendees to the Crowne Plaza Hotel at the Palexpo Centre.

Rain was forecasted for the entire week; today though was a puffy white/gray cumulus cloud day with blue skies and alpine sunshine. Let's hope the meteorologists are wrong on all of their predictions!

JetBrokers and JetBrokers Europe hold a very productive summit meeting in Montreaux.

The convention hotel bar is burgeoning with eager delegates all wanting to do business!

The plot thickens tomorrow...watch this space.

Ciao,

Jeremy

 

TUESDAY MAY 4TH, 2010 - EBACE DAY ONE

Even though we all woke to the news that the airspace over Ireland and the Western portions of Scotland was closed due again to ash-cloud activity, the convention hall was buzzing with expectant optimism. This is rather jumping about a bit, by my typing this, but I heard a comment from one of my fellow party revelers at the Altitudes Cigar, Champagne and Jazz affair tonight that "...with EBACE, we no longer need to attend the NBAA show in the U.S." A little narcissistic possibly, especially since EBACE is probably only 3/8's of the size of our home-grown NBAA convention, however the Static Display is almost as big as the one in the U.S.A; I did feel that this comment was too good not to share. Talking about the static display, the rain again held off, but there was a pretty icy wind cutting through the packed apron outside of the convention halls, that kept many inside instead of walking the lines of aircraft that are on show here.

Even though Honda is very much evident again at this year's EBACE, many of their sales execs are having to deliver the bad news of more delays with their aircraft to their clients, with the GE/Honda engine being the continuing cause of the delay - 2012 is now projected, but as my mum always say's "we'll see..."

The exhibit hall is populated by many familiar companies who are the main-stay's of the NBAA convention. Interestingly Cessna prominently featured a display of all of their piston/light aircraft models in the forecourt of their booth display. Indispersed amongst the booth aisles are companies that we never get to see or hear about when back on U.S. soil. Charter/management is heavily represented here making it appear that aircraft ownership is still a tough sell on this side of the Atlantic. Of course many here at this show live in the hope of meeting the Russian Oligarch, or the Arabian Sheikh who will be the 'golden customer' that will bring riches through their cash tills. Dassault announced that they delivered the first of a four-aircraft order today at the show - a Falcon 7X which will work in the private jet program that is now being offered by Saudi Arabian Airlines; the only Russians I saw were wearing micro skirts and gargantuanly tall high-heels as they clicked about the exhibit halls advertising FBO's and Handling Agents that are sprouting-up behind the former 'iron curtain.'

Something else not as evident at the big NBAA show, but prominently featured here, were all of the various helicopters that are on offer as a real solution to the overpopulated urban streets and the inter-city short hops that are so common on this side of the Atlantic.

At the sophisticated and swanky reception hosted by Dassault in the historic Edouard Sarasin Manor House, glasses of Chateau Dassault, Perrier champagne and various tray-bourne confections were passed out, while distinguished guests jostled and danced for eating and drinking room. After being greeted by the stoic Jean Rosanvallon on the doorsteps of the manor house, we got to meet a French America's Cup winner, a Collegiate Chief of Staff, an Aviation Museum Director of great note, plus other illustrious people. Two relevant conversations were with EBAA Chief Executive Brian Humphries, and our own NBAA President Ed Bolen. Both industry association leaders were quite vocal on the issue of Carbon Credits and how they are preparing to work against their implementation; also how they are each individually trying to promote the benefits of business aviation. Brian finds the science of global warming to be extremely questionable, while Ed would love to see Warren Buffett to become one of business aviations' most prominent advocates to promote the benefits of business aviation.

By 11:30 back at the lobby bar at the Crowne Plaza, the crowd re-took their seats to wind-down from the excitement of the various parties that closed the night of Day One at EBACE. This was a day where more than 10,000 attendees walked through the exhibit halls. More tomorrow. 

 

 WEDNESDAY MAY 5TH, 2010 - EBACE DAY TWO

The rain finally hit us today, thus everything became extremely soggy including many of the delegates. Before the rain rolled in, we got to do the 'meet and greet' around the static display. The CJ4 was popular, and so were the Embraer Phenoms (100 and 300.) The same Legacy that was provided by Embraer to transport the Greater St. Louis Business Aviation Association lobbyists (that included both TJ and I) from St. Louis to the Missouri state capitol, was the large aircraft on display there for Embraer. The sight of that lovely aircraft brought back a fond memory of a successful day back in March. St. Louis local Mike Press was there with one of his EA500 Eclipse's (he formed the group that purchased the bankrupt assets of Eclipse Aviation.) He was there to promote and sell their: "virtually new aircraft." Interestingly the example at EBACE was the first example to be approved for known icing operations, and the static vent areas were coated with a rough paint, so as to negate any ice from building around the vents. Surprising because this approach fly's in the face of the philosophy that the static ports on all other aircraft are a 'critical area' that cannot withstand paint cracks, blemishes, etc. around the ports because they cause position errors. Interesting.

Another sight at the static display that could be classified as being labeled "bizarre" is the "Air Deck" Platform that extends from the floor below the cargo door on the Avro RJ70 Business Jet (BAe 146.)

 

Mr. Brian Barents was manning an impressively large booth at EBACE this year, to again ask for deposits so his Aerion Super Sonic Business Jet (SSBJ) design might one-day leave the drawing board and finally be manifested as cut, bolted and riveted metal that really can fly! It's still a great concept, but will probably take $20+ Billion to get it to that stage. Another concept that never really found success, as yet is the "Air-Taxi." Well since the demise of the Adam 700 and DayJet's Eclipse program, many could easily believe that this idea is dead. Not so at EBACE. Now it looks like the "Air Taxi" program will be London based and will operate with Phenom 100's and Citation Mustangs. I hope that it works. I also saw a fractional program being operated for the yet-to-be built D-Jet as well. This is all good stuff in a quarter hemisphere of the world (Europe) that is probably better suited for King Air and Helicopter Operations, to be setting its sights on all-jet operations instead?!?!...

Lunch at the Dassault booth was very civilized. Thanks again Dassault Falcon Jet (I didn't like the foie gras flavoured creme brulee last night, but your sandwiches today were excellent!) Dinner by Lake Geneva with the great folks at World Aircraft Sales Magazine tonight was unforgettable. I recommend the Perch if ever you come to EBACE (Casanova's Restaurant - Great.) We were sorry to see that most of Geneva shut down at 1AM this morning, however it has allowed me to get to this blog sooner.

See you this time tomorrow for the Last EBACE Report.

Arrivederci!

Jeremy

THURSDAY MAY 6TH, 2010 - EBACE DAY THREE - CLOSING

Well we actually had some sunshine today!! As you can see, the rain clouds rolled back, and so have the volcanic ash clouds too:

 

 

It looks like the flight home will be okay, even though the NOTAM's show that we shall probably have to take a Southerly North Atlantic Track and add time to our London-Chicago leg. Hey-ho, at least we wont be shut down because the God of Fire deems it to so be not.

The biggest news at this year's EBACE is the attendance. According to the gate receipts, more than 13,000 badges were scanned/passed out. By noon today, as with any convention on it's last day, the halls began spewing delegates, and the aisles became wider and wider with fewer and fewer people. According to Sandy Wirtz, the Seminars Director at the NBAA, this is the second best attended EBACE ever, with 2008 being the most attended. Of course that was weeks before the walls of Jericho figuratively came tumbling down in the world's financial markets. 

JetBrokers was in the news two out of the three days, as follows:

From AIN and BCA...

JetBrokers Seeks New Clients in Germany and Italy
JetBrokers Europe has appointed Ilaria Cicchetti to spearhead a push to acquire new clients in Germany and Italy. Cicchetti will be based at the company’s office in Berlin, where she has lived for the past seven years. “I think of myself as an Italian from Berlin and I’m looking forward to generating a strong network in this market as there is great potential,” said Cicchetti, who is fluent in German, Italian and English.

JetBrokers Europe managing director Tim Barber believes in dealing with clients in their mother tongues, and to this end the JetBrokers Web site will be updated with versions in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish in the next few days. Barber hopes to add Russian to his team’s language capabilities in the near future.
The company, whose European division is headed by Switzerland-based chairman John Merry, has reported increased activity in the pre-owned aircraft market since the beginning of this year, with more than 30 aircraft available for sale at any one time in conjunction with its U.S. parent JetBrokers Inc. Barber said, however, that “it will be a long time before there is a return to the premium pricing in certain sectors.”

From the International Herald Tribune...

I.H.T Special Report: Business Aviation

Forecast for Business Jets: Slow Climb

Tim Barber, managing director of JetBrokers Europe, which trades in used business aircraft, said his company was seeing the same split between the high and low ends of the market.

“Older, less desirable aircraft continue to decline in value, but we are seeing a genuine increase for aircraft like the Gulfstream 550 and Bombardier Global XRS,” Mr. Barber said, referring to two of the latest generation of large long-distance business jets. “There are lots of distressed sellers, while the financially stronger types are buying.”

As everything winds-down here in Geneva, everyone agrees that this year's show is a very strong indication that economy is bouncing back towards a recovery, quicker than many had first believed to be possible. I know that from our perspective, we are very glad that we attended this year. We have definitely come away from this year's EBACE with more business than which we came with on Sunday.

This entry is the last, and therefore concludes this Blog.

 

 

 

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