All posts tagged 'aviation news' - Page 6

What's next from Bombardier? Will it be a revamped XRS? Some say yes, some say no

Bombardier could announce plans for a new ultra long-range business jet, maybe as soon as the NBAA convention next month. At least that is what a few people of note in the aviation world have said.

Company officials told Aviation International News this week that they will not comment on rumors or speculation, but that has not stopped some in the industry from doing just that.

Not all opinions align though on what will happen next, or exactly what aircraft will emerge from Montreal.

Differing opinions on the speculation after the jump. [more]

In an article released this week, AIN’s Chad Trautvetter spoke with George Tsopeis, VP of aviation services for Zenith Jet.

Tsopeis predicted a new offering from Bombardier to compete with the Gulfstream G650, and he “strongly believes” it will be a modified Global XRS with the same Rolls Royce engine as the G650, along with a newer, lighter interior and upgraded wings.

Under Tsopeis’ speculation, such a model could reach customers by 2013, sooner and cheaper than rolling out a new model, and in time to jockey for orders with the new Gulfstream.

Read the full article here.

Aviation Week’s Fred George posted a differing opinion today to the Super XRS theory on the Business Aviation Now blog. He cites unnamed “company insiders” who say, in his words, “that’s just not going to happen.”

Subtle ushering from company representatives to potential customers has focused on Project 170, a larger, 7,000 nm, .85 Mach cruise successor to the Global Express, according to George.

This model could be certified by as soon as 2016, he says.

Read the full article here.

Regardless, an announcement of some sort in the not-too-distant future probably will happen, as Bombardier positions itself to compete for its share of $208 billion in new jets to be delivered this decade, as Zenith Jet predicts in an AIN article written by Trautvetter earlier this month. It says more than half of those sales will consist of large, ultra-large and long-range aircraft.

Read that full article here.

Political expediency, the only thing faster than a private jet

Campaign ad in the New Mexico governor race

Is the political climate in your state capitol a little toasty? Wait five minutes; it will change. It always does.

Apparently, the only thing quicker than a Gulfstream G650 in a flutter test this election-year summer is the amount of time it takes for a politician to throw the state plane under the proverbial bus.

Nearly two years since leaders of the Big-3 automakers flew privately to Capitol Hill to ask for government assistance, striking up blue-collar outcry in the midst of a bleak recession, still today audience members of the political theater gasp at the mention of a public servant on a private flight.

As the finish line of the election cycle nears, some candidates think that ditching the jet is a fast fix to a sure win from a populist electorate that, at the moment, frowns upon big-ticket items on the government payroll.

Susana Martinez, Republican candidate for the New Mexico governorship, vowed last month to rid the state’s executive branch of its jet, a 2005 Citation Bravo. The state also owns a 2006 King Air and 1983 Turbo Commander, which she said would remain only for “emergencies or official state business that is a priority.” The campaign staff, according to an account in the New Mexico Independent, gave no examples of said priorities.

Martinez’ move comes as her Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, faces criticism from a report showing her use of state aircraft cost more than $360,000 during the past five years, and she reportedly violated state cost-efficiency rules 39 times.

Denish responded that she did not know of the rules and defended the jet as a necessary tool for state government. The lieutenant governor also called it a bad time to sell the Citation, which cost $5.45 million in 2005.

A quick look at the Citation Bravos listed on show that slightly older models, likely with a little higher time, will sell for a fraction of what the state paid a few years ago. Though the jet in New Mexico might get $3.5 million or more, those who understand the values provided by such aircraft will wonder the true cost of selling it.

Coincidence or not, Martinez jumped ahead in the polls near the time she announced her jet-scrapping plan.

Click to see how politicians in Florida, California and West Virgina are also making general aviation use a politcal hot button. [more]

All this comes alongside an NBAA announcement last week that highlighted New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Denish’s former boss and ticket-mate, after he issued a proclamation that designated September as Aviation and Aerospace Appreciation Month there. A statement from the NBAA notes that the fifth-largest state in geographic size only receives airline service in Albuquerque, making its many miles dependent on general aviation so state leaders can properly serve constituents.

However, the Land of Enchantment is not the only territory to see a fight take flight this fall on whether or not to spare the Citations owned by we the people.

Florida, the Sunshine State, also prepares itself for a stormy debate on its gubernatorial aircraft. Political newcomer Rick Scott, the Republican candidate in a three-horse race, wants to purge a 2003 Citation II owned by the taxpayers. However, the state’s outgoing agriculture commissioner called this a risky idea, especially with shoddy commercial airline service in Tallahassee, the capitol, rerouting many flights down the peninsula by first going north and parking in Atlanta. How else will a governor travel in during the aftermath of a possible hurricane? he asks.

A report on the web site of the Fort Myers, Fla., News-Press compares and contrasts the options of commercial flight (yes, it's time consuming and at times more expensive), as well as charter and fractional options. The paper says the latter option might make good sense for a governor in these string-tightening times. It is this same option that helped Arnold Schwarzenegger, governor of near-bankrupt California, take an economic development trip to Asia last week. The cost of using a jet can offset the benefit of business it creates.

Alas, what would a post about political wrangling be without a further mention of California and its own longstanding and unique political culture?

Current state attorney general and former governor Jerry Brown, the Democratic nominee, faces Republican Meg Whitman this November to replace Schwarenegger. A column by Scott Herhold posted on the Silicon Valley Mercury News web site looks into the history of gubernatorial aviation in the Golden State, including a tidbit on Brown’s father, former governor Pat Brown. When Ronald Reagan succeeded him as governor, he famously sold the state’s airplane, the Grizzly II.

Reagan, however, much like the current Governator, relied on a lease option to fly on state business. By the time the younger Brown ascended to the title he, a former presidential candidate, famously drove a Plymouth economy car to his office to show his penny-pinching skills and opted not to renew the aircraft lease.

Times change, though. The Whitman campaign this year drew fire to 10 flights Brown made as attorney general, trips his campaign said were law-enforcement related. However, many jaded voters construe it as a thin defense. At the same time, Brown’s staff countered that Whitman, former CEO of eBay, has spent millions of her own money to fly around the state for whistlestops.

Whew! Three states, three battles, and we haven’t even mentioned a newspaper article from Charleston, W. Va., that looks at two aircraft (a piston vs. a jet) flown by that state’s candidates for U.S. Senate.

Political postures change as often as the weather in election cycles so, for now, business aviation probably will remain a lightning rod, no matter if it costs as much to run the King Air as it does to fly the Citation.

While having no plane might mean some gain for jet-selling candidates at the looming polls, we only have to look at political history to predict the political future: Statements made during a campaign often have few things in common with the actual governmental decisions made once the ensuing term begins.

California man sentenced for 'reckless' landing with no license and 'flying high'

Landing out of control on a California runway, while under the influence of marijuana and Oxycontin, landed Michael Dana McEnry with a federal prison sentence this week.

In a what-else-can-be-done-wrong-here series of events, McEnry, an unlicensed pilot with about 1,200 student hours, hovered ‘recklessly’ along Runway 12 at Eastern Sierra Regional Airport (BIH), Bishop, Calif., in a Cessna 210 before putting the wheels down just short of the end of the runway.

Federal prosecutors say another aircraft preparing to take off was in danger of striking his plane.

He then spun out in a field before turning back onto the runway, stopping and exiting.

McEnry then, according to a witness account, asked bystanders where he could find a restroom, because, “I just scared the s--- out of myself.”

Further, the reckless, illegal flyer seemed clueless of where he was. When told he asked, “Where is that in relationship to the rest of the world?”

When cops arrived, via local media reports, McEnry allegedly told them he “always flies high.”

Follow the jump to read more about the aircraft’s possible illegal origins. [more]

Police said they found a bottle of the powerful pain-reliever Oxycontin in the cabin.

The Central Valley Business Times looks deeper into law enforcement’s suspicion that the Cessna, a common plane used by narcotics smugglers, was stolen in Mexico in 1997 and changed hands several times. Investigators say McEnry and a business partner paid $40,000 cash for the aircraft and intended to use it to transport marijuana, as investigators say they found evidence of cultivation at the suspect’s residence.

A federal court in Fresno, Calif., sentenced McEnry this week to 21 months for the criminal flight in a plea deal, according to the Sacramento Bee. The Justice Department said he faced as long as a three-year sentence.

Bee reporter Denny Walsh concludes: “It remains unclear if (McEnry) landed at Bishop because the plane needed a pit stop or he did.”

ATC Tower talk: Changing the way to say stay put - FAA switches at the end of this month from 'position and hold' to 'line up and wait'

At the end of this month, some of the chatter you hear from the tower in your headset will change slightly. That is when new FAA “phraseology” will take effect, changing the command of “position and hold” to “line up and wait.”

At face value, the change presents itself as a non-dramatic one. The ICAO already uses the same language, and Canadian airspace regulators made the switch a couple of years ago.

When an aircraft taxis to a runway, and traffic is taking off or landing, a controller will tell the pilot “line up and wait” rather than “position and hold.” In other words, you want to stay safe? Stop short of the line and do not move. Let the other planes take off or land first.

The change came about following a recommendation by the NTSB in 2000 to switch to the international protocol and alleviate confusion. A subsequent FAA safety-risk analysis showed that the words “position” and “hold” show up in many tower commands a pilot can receive on the ground.

(Links to an animated video and info on an online training course after the jump.) [more] 

If a pilot hears only part of an instruction, it can cause confusion.  The NTSB believes the phrase “position and hold” (in many cases along with a busy tower) contributed to accidents and near-collisions on the ground, some resulting in fatalities.

While it obviously will take extra alertness to ensure controllers and aviators use and understand the new language, it likely will not cause a monumental shift in the way tower and aircraft communicate.

Nonetheless, the FAA has a video, complete with an animated Cessna taxing and lining up to a runway set a funky piece of background music, as well as a training course on its web site.

View the FAA “line up and wait” video here.

Check out the safety course by clicking here.

Then join the conversation in the comment section. What difference will the change mean to you? Was it worth the wait of 10 years between the NTSB advice and the FAA resolution? Ever been affected by a position-and-hold situation? Be sure to let us know.

AOPA begins 'special report' on avgas transition

In what the organization called a special report, the AOPA released a series of stories this week on the future of 100LL.

Several stories in a newsletter distributed by the pilots’ association discuss several aspects that anchor the debate of any transition, one that in all likelihood is a matter of when rather than if.

Articles cover subjects such as the role of federal agencies, such as the EPA and FAA in a transition, what steps may need to be taken to convert aircraft, how 30 percent of the GA fleet consumes 70 percent of the 100LL stock for anti-knock protection and a Q&A session.

AOPA President Craig Fuller also weighs in with a statement to group members, saying a “SWAT team” of communications and government-relations specialists from the organization have stepped to the plate as the nation discussion over removing lead from avgas has become more active. [more]

“AOPA has focused on representing the interest of all our members in regulatory proceedings  and keeping you informed,” Fuller wrote.

Here concludes that several principles dominate the landscape of 100LL’s transition. They are:

-       100LL will remain readily available, but there is currently no clear “drop-in” replacement for 100LL;

-       An industry avgas coalition has organized around a Future Avgas Strategy and Transition Plan—that is committed to a process and path that will address the needs of the entire GA fleet;

-       This process toward a single-fuel solution that assures safe operations, meets infrastructure concerns, and affordable economics will take many years.

Register for the “Getting the Lead Out’ Newsletter at this link.

View the Sept. 7 edition the AOPA mailed out by clicking here.

AOPA Online: GA coalition submits first round of avgas comments to EPA

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