All posts tagged 'aircraft' - Page 11

Growing Fleet Of Aging Bizjets Sits Idle

By: Matt Thurber
Aviation International News - September 2012

         What one expert calls an “overhang of unsold aircraft” is afflicting the business jet ecosystem. “These old business jets are not going to sell,” says Rollie Vincent, president of Rolland Vincent Associates. “Take a Hawker 700 with mega hours… There appears to be no market for it and it’s time to say goodbye.” This overhang, he adds, “is like a freight train coming.”

         The glut of old jets is a problem for many reasons, according to Vincent. At some point these jets have zero trade-in value. As jets age, the supply chain that formed to manufacture all the parts, avionics and complex components is gone. Another factor is the jets’ engines: “If the engines are getting close to overhaul, you’re looking at very little value,” says Vincent. “I’ve seen Falcon 20s with no engines. Those aircraft will never fly again, and at some point they get scrapped.”

         It used to be that third-world countries welcomed old business jets, but that is no longer the case. Many countries now limit the age of imported used jets. And, says Vincent, “emerging markets bring in new aircraft; they’ve been able to afford it.” Financing is elusive for buyers of older jets. “Most bankers won’t touch them anymore,” says Vincent. It’s also getting harder to find maintainers who know how to troubleshoot and repair old jets and who have the necessary equipment and parts. Vincent expects to see about 2,200 business jets taken out of service in the next 10 years.

Never Selling

         JetNet pulled some statistics on older business jets from its database for AIN. (See pie chart below.) Some models, stubbornly remaining unsold, are headed for the scrap heap. Lear 24s, for example, have no pulse, languishing on the market for an average of 2,605 average days– more than seven years.

         According to JetNet, 1,818 business jets have been retired from service since 1957. (These numbers include some aircraft that were likely registered with the FAA as preproduction prototypes, such as three Adam A700s–an airplane was never certified.)

         Logically enough, the majority of retired jets hail from earlier eras (see bar chart at right). Many aircraft delivered in the 1960s have been retired, as well as 1970s-delivered jets. Retirements of jets delivered in the 1980s taper down, and aircraft delivered in the 1990s have seen few retirements, according to JetNet. The bottom line is that in the next 10 years, if Vincent’s prediction is correct, the aviation industry will see about 2,200 business jets retiring from the fleet, which is 400 more than the number that retired during the first five decades of business jet manufacturing. Two thousand two hundred is a lot of jets to dispose of, especially when compressed into a period of 10 years rather than 50.

Where Do They Go?

         The high number of soon-to-beretired and already-retired jets poses a challenge for manufacturers of new jets. A Gulfstream III, for example, could be gold-plated with new avionics, paint, interior and a digital-age entertainment system, for less than the cost of a used GIV and far less than the cost of a new Gulfstream. The GIII is a perfectly good airplane, other than the fact that it faces a Stage III noise ban beginning Dec. 31, 2015. Two Stage III noise-reduction kits– from Hubbard Aviation and Quiet Technology Aerospace–are available for the GII and GIII, so the types may yet have some life left. Conversely, GIVs selling for around $5 million could swiftly kill off the GII/III market.

         Would it make sense for manufacturers simply to buy old jets and recycle them? Vincent doesn’t expect this to happen: “They have other fish to fry, including active research and development plans and new product development. They’re going to wait for somebody else to do it.”

         As for what owners should do with jets that no longer have any value, Vincent advises, “People need to know what they’re looking at. They’re looking at nothing. Just write it off.”

Broker Action

         Jeff Carrithers used to be an aircraft broker, but in 1995 the brand new World Wide Web beckoned and he launched Globalair.com, an aircraft sales listing service that includes airport and fuel pricing information and a proprietary system for aircraft brokers called BrokerNet. From his perspective, many older jets linger on the market because the owner can’t afford to sell at today’s lower prices and because there simply isn’t any demand. He sees Citation IIs, Falcon 10s and Westwinds as examples of types that are dying in the marketplace. “A lot of the problem for these owners is that they bought aircraft in the 2007-2008 heyday, and we’ll never see that kind of activity ever again. With the economic conditions today, operators will just park the aircraft.”  

Parked Airplanes

         Most of the airports in the Southwest U.S. that store unneeded and obsolete airplanes are repositories for airliners. At Kingman Airport in Arizona, Kingman Airline Services has just one business jet, a GII that will soon be dismantled, according to a spokesman. The company is currently storing 50 EMB-135s, forty 727s, 20 MD-80s, eight DC-8s and 20 CRJ200s. Some of these airplanes are headed for recycling, while others will fly again, and Kingman Airline Services can handle either destiny. Airplanes that will fly again are kept on life support–the required storage maintenance processes outlined by manufacturers. For airplanes that will never again charge down a runway, some parts are still worth salvaging, especially the engines. The remaining airframe is then dismantled by another company, which hauls away the metal for recycling.

         Norm Hill Aviation at California City Airport in the Mojave Desert opened in 2008, and since then founder Norm Hill’s company has parted out 21 Gulfstreams. He thinks there is still plenty of life left in old Gulfstream airframes and thus a steady demand for parts that he can supply.

         With the upcoming Stage III deadline banning non-hushkitted GIIs and GIIIs from flying in the U.S., Hill expects to see as many as 85 older Gulfstreams parted out in the next few years. But there are also plenty of airframes with relatively low hours and cycles that can keep flying, if hushkitted. “What I’m doing is going to be good for quite a while,” says Hill, adding that his technicians dismantle the airplanes carefully, not with a chainsaw but rivet by rivet when necessary, to preserve as many good components as possible. “We’re stocking all those parts with traceability data all the way back to birth.”

         One factor that accelerates the decision for owners to give up on their older jets is the cost of upcoming heavy maintenance events. This includes older Gulfstreams that are due for a 72-month inspection and a 5,000-landing event. “That’s $500,000 to $600,000,” according to Hill. Add to that the cost of overhauling the Rolls-Royce Spey engines, and that’s another $400,000 for the midlife service and $800,000 for overhaul, for each engine. “This perfect storm is there and people are falling into it,” he said.

         Hill currently has eight GIIs and two GIIIs in California and one GIII being dismantled in Opa-Locka, Fla. Hill says his company is providing a service to the used airplane community, because, he says, an owner can get more from selling a decent jet to Hill than from dumping it on the used market. And if Hill can extract more value by selling good parts, he says he shares that with the seller.

         Companies like Dodson International Aircraft Parts have long specialized in what CEO JR Dodson calls “demanufacturing” of obsolete aircraft. “The last three years we’ve been buying a lot of older business jets,” he said. Most of these are jets coming up on major maintenance events or overhauls and some are bank repossessions that can’t be sold. “There’s more supply than demand right now.” Dodson International also carefully removes valuable parts, and the leftover carcass is either stored at the company’s 120 acres in Rantoul, Kan., or sent to the smelter for recycling. The company has parted out more than 3,000 aircraft since opening in 1980. There are currently about 1,000 gutted airframes at the facility, which parts out about 100 aircraft every year, ranging from turbine helicopters to business turboprops and jets to Boeing 747s.

Serial Number 10

         And then there are the hopeless cases, such as a GII and Hawker 700 parked on the Western Jet ramp at Van Nuys Airport in Southern California. The buyer of the GII thought he was getting a great deal when he purchased the airplane–S/N 10, one of the last GIIs built at the Grumman facilities in Long Island, N.Y. He bought the airplane in Panama, and the seller promised to send the logbooks, but they never arrived. Western Jet founder Jim Hansen finally told the owner that to bring the GII up to safe and legal standards would take about $5 million, because all components would need overhauling, given the lack of documentation. “I’ll have to chop it up,” Hansen said sadly. “It’s not worth the parts.”

         A Hawker 700 parked next to the GII is also in a sorry state. The owner, perhaps unknowingly, let the jet sit at another maintenance facility for more than two years without covers on the engines or application of any preservation processes. “There is no value,” Hansen said.

Kentucky Institution For Aerospace Education - Reaches For The Sky


MISSION: to improve student learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and create career pathways in aerospace throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

         Albert Ueltschi, born in 1917 and was raised in Franklin County, Kentucky. Ueltschi attended high school in Franklin County and eventually developed the school’s first ever aeronautical course in 1946.

         Decades later, a man by the name of Tim Smith is teaching an algebra mathematics course in this very same high school. Since algebra is often as mentally straining as rocket science, one might presuppose that this subject does not typically come as natural to the average 15 year old. Mr. Smith recognized a potential problem as he watched his students struggle. With this, he began to generate a brilliant solution!

         Mr. Smith began studying; he was searching for a way to reach out to his adolescent peers. He longed to find a method of teaching that would allow room to engage in fun, yet educational activities; both inside as well as outside of the classroom. According to Mr. Smith, students always ask where they will use what they have learned in school throughout their real lives. Without a reason for learning, these students are likely to approach important topics with a lack of motivation and according to Mr. Smith; this lack of motivation creates poor learning habits in students. “Mathematics and science are tough enough for kids as it is. So why not give them what they are asking for?” says Mr. Smith. The STEM program was developed to reach out to these students, providing hands-on training in aircraft technology with hopes of making difficult school subjects more relevant and fun for students, while quietly boosting state test scores as well. He intends to show his students how subjects such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics are relevant in the world and he intends to teach these skills through aviation. “Why not restore and rebuild old aircraft?” He says. With that, The Kentucky Institute for Aerospace Education was developed.

         As Mr. Smith continued with his research he discovered and learned of Albert Ueltschi and his achievements in aviation at Frankfort High School. “During Ueltschi’s time, the aviators were the rockstars!” Mr. Smith exclaims. “Everyone wanted to grow up to become a pilot, and when people looked up to the sky what they saw were heroes. Now, it seems our students don’t look up at all, growing up to become a pilot is not even considered an option.” He states. Educators hope to use the Kentucky Institute for Aerospace Education hand in hand with the STEM program to change this theory. Aviation is in fact a very attainable goal; especially for high school students who have been offered the opportunity to jump start their careers through programs such as the Kentucky Institute for Aerospace Education. An event such as “Aviation Day” out of Capital City Airport is just one of many events that this Institution is reaching out to; all with high hopes of inspiring young adults in our community. According to Mr. Smith, the Kentucky Institute for Aerospace Education simply wants to show young adults how aviation can be a very real opportunity for them. “This is definitely an opportunity that has the potential to change their lives” says Mr. Tim Smith.

         During the first 3 years, the Kentucky Institute for Aerospace Education maintained their program out of Frankfort High School. Only one other school in the area had caught on so they simply worked together. However as more of Kentucky educators began hearing about and sharing this fantastic opportunity, the program grew immensely. Today, a mere 7 years later the program has expanded to include 15 different high schools throughout the state of Kentucky. They have acquired and built a total of 8 aircraft, 2 of which are airworthy and now in use for student training. Recently the Kentucky Institute for Aerospace Education was offered a generous donation of land from the Capital City airport of Frankfort (FFT) as well as the Kentucky Department of Aviation for the production of their program’s soon to be hangar. Through the Kentucky Institute for Aerospace Education high school students are able to examine and experience firsthand what it may feel like to work in multiple fields, while receiving college credit to do it. If a student chooses piloting for example, they are given an opportunity to acquire a private pilot’s license completely free of charge to them. If that is of no interest, other programs are offered including Aeronautical Engineering, Space Systems as well as Operations and Maintenance.

         The Kentucky Institute for Aerospace Education is currently in the process of building a hangar for its students to get more involved. Eventually, the program would like to have an entire facility specifically for the education of its students. This is a 501(c)(3) non-profit program, but with the help of generous donations and grants, Mr. Smith says he would eventually like to see this program offering not only a full staff of teachers, but also specially designed classrooms, aircraft and tools. This is a fantastic opportunity for high school students today. Overall there are a total of 60 programs similar to this one throughout the United States. Of that 60, 15 of those programs are based out of the state of Kentucky thanks to this very program. This is a part 61 training course and there are currently over 600 students involved.

For more information please contact: [email protected]
Or call: (502)320-9490

 

Above are photos of a Cessna 195 that the high school students of the Kentucky Institute for Aerospace Education are currently in the process of rebuilding. All of these parts have been salvaged and will be refurbished entirely. Mr. Smith says the objective for this aircraft (as for many others) is air worthiness and eventually student training.

Assembly Of Test Airframe For Bombardier CSeries Aircraft Well Underway

Article By: www.aero-news.net
FMI: www: www.bombardier.com
Virtual Flights Being Conducted With 'Aircraft 0'

Assembly of the test airframe for Bombardier's all-new CSeries aircraft is well underway at the company's Experimental Test Facility in St-Laurent, Quebec, the company said in a news release Friday. The test article will be used during the Complete Airframe Static Test (CAST) that is designed to demonstrate the static strength of the airframe and show compliance with certification requirements. 

"Every day brings a new development and it's very exciting. Whether it's the start of a new test, the results of a new test, or the arrival of a new production part, the team is very enthusiastic about all these milestones," said Rob Dewar, Vice President and General Manager, CSeries, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft. "The assembly of the test airframe is another significant development as we make headway in the intense ground testing phase before the CSeries aircraft's flight test program. The fuselage sections in the test airframe are being joined and we're looking forward to adding the wings and the empennage, and starting the stress tests."

The test airframe - comprised of both metallic and composite structures - is being fitted and assembled in a test rig consisting of a superstructure of steel towers and trusses, as well as loading structures and loading actuators that will be used to apply loads to the test airframe. To demonstrate static strength, a series of load cases - representing flight maneuvers, landing, take-off and other in-flight and on-ground conditions - will be applied to the free-floating, non-restrained, counterbalanced test airframe. For selected load cases, internal cabin pressure will also be applied when simulating in-flight conditions.

During testing, strain gauges will be used to measure and record up to 8,000 parameters at defined locations on the airframe. Data from the strain gauges will be monitored by Bombardier's stress engineers, as well as by the partners and suppliers that are involved in the development of structural components for the CSeries aircraft.

Bombardier also recently announced that the company is now conducting virtual flights with "Aircraft 0" - the on-the-ground Integrated Systems Test and Certification Rig (ISTCR) for the CSeries aircraft at Mirabel, Quebec. The avionics, electrical, flight control, fly-by-wire, hydraulic, landing gear and wiring systems are all commissioned, and systems integration and communication have been successfully demonstrated.

Other rigs being used during the ground test phase are: the Engineering Flight Simulator (ESIM) designed and built by CAE and now being installed at the Mirabel ground testing facility; the avionics Systems Integration Test Stand (SITS) and the Flight Controls Integration Lab (FCIL), which are already commissioned at Rockwell Collins' and Parker Hannifin's facilities respectively; and the Interior and Environmental Control Systems (ECS) rig which is being completed at Mirabel.

(Image Credit: www.aero-news.net)

Dutch Mid-Air Collision Caught On Video

Article by: www.aero-news.net

Both Airplanes Manage To Land Safely After Being Briefly Stuck Together

Two airplanes chartered by Dutch political parties were briefly stuck together after they collided in mid-air ... and the incident was captured by a cameraman aboard one of the aircraft.

The two aircraft were flying over a beach in Wassenaar in the Netherlands. One was towing a banner for the Christian Democrat political party, the other had members of the country's Socialist Party on board. A person on the Socialist's plane was taking video when the two airplanes collided, and the tow plane's landing gear became embedded in the other aircraft's wing.

The planes were flying at an altitude of about 450 feet when the incident occurred, according a person who was on board one of the aircraft. In the video, which appeared on Netherlands television NOS and has been posted on YouTube, the planes are seen briefly out of control before they separate.

Both planes reportedly landed safely, according to a report appearing in the U.K. newspaper The Mail. The airplane with the damaged wing landed on the beach, the other made it safely back to Rotterdam airport. No one on board either plane was injured. The incident is under investigation by Dutch aviation authorities.

(Image from YouTube Video)



Embraer Starts Phenom 300 Production in Florida

Article By: Chad Trautvetter
www.ainonline.com

Embraer started Phenom 300 production at its Melbourne, Fla. facility this week, the Brazilian manufacturer announced today. Phenom 100s have been assembled at the Florida plant since early last year, with 14 of the U.S.-built light jets delivered to U.S., Canadian and Mexican customers to date.

The first wing and fuselage for Phenom 300 S/N 118 arrived last week at the Melbourne facility, and pre-production work on the assemblies is currently under way. The aircraft, which will be an Embraer demonstrator, will be moved onto the Phenom production line tomorrow, Melbourne facility manager Phil Krull told AIN. S/N 118 is expected to roll off the line in March.

“We have added the Phenom 300 to bring production closer to our customers,” Krull said. “Customers have been benefiting from the delivery of the entry-level Phenom 100 produced in Melbourne since last year and we are now ready to expand these operations.”

According to Krull, the Melbourne facility will deliver 15 Phenom 300s and 24 Phenom 100s next year. The plant has the capacity to manufacture up to eight Phenoms per month, he noted.

(Images provided by www.ainonline.com)

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