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Plastic Airplanes and the Balance of Payments

by Jeremy Cox 31. January 2013 10:05
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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

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Jeremy Cox

The Invention of the Airplane as Well as the Birth of an Industry

by Jeremy Cox 4. January 2013 16:35
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I predict that you will read a lot about the Wright Brothers and their inventing of the airplane, this year. This is because it will be the 110th anniversary of the birth of our industry.

To reflect upon how the technology that makes the aviation industry what it is today, and how it has developed over this past century plus ten, can certainly cause a considerable amount of brain ache, I think.

Obviously the world was ripe for man-made machines to navigate across the skies, so much so, that developments and advances in aviation, especially in the first sixty-plus years came and spread almost as fast as the flame front of a pool of ignited gasoline.

Think about this as we make a quick review of some of the technological milestones that have taken place in aviation and are now laid down within our history books:

1903 the Wright Brothers invent the airplane

1914 the airplane fights in European skies during WW1 while at the same time the world’s first scheduled airline service is established on the west coast of Florida

1919 Alcock and Brown fly non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean in two days, which is at least a week faster than the most rapid sea vessel of the day

1919 man is first able to climb higher than the highest point on the earth, thanks to Roland Rohlfs in a Curtiss Tri-Plane

1924 a DH 4B made the first all instrument only flight after take-off, and before landing (575 miles from Ohio to New York; and later in 1929 the first all instrument flight that included the take-off and landing too

1939 to 1945, the airplane fights again during WW2, this time in all of the skies of the World

1942 is the year that the Jet Engine is invented

1947 Chuck Yeager exceeds Mach-1 and is the first person to exceed the speed of sound

1957 the first man made earth orbiting satellite is shot into space

1959 the world’s first business jet became available for purchase (MS760 Paris Jet)

1969 men went to space, took a walk on the moon, and then returned home to tell the world what they saw and experienced while they were strolling/hopping about there

1976 the paying passenger public were first able to fly faster than a rifle bullet at 1,354 mph when they purchased a ticket on Concorde

1980 a flight across the English Channel was successfully flown/pedalled from dry land, across water to dry land over a distance of more than 22 Miles, powered entirely by energy provided by the lone pilot

1986 an airplane made a flight that completely circumnavigated the world, all on one load of fuel - from take-off to landing for 24,987 miles

2010 a solar powered airplane makes a flight of more than 26 hours

Now think about how other epic man-made technologies developed in the last 200,000 years:

It took man about 140,000 years to invent the ‘Wheel’

Agriculture; or the tending of crops to feed a group of people that remained in-one place, instead of going out to ‘hunt-and-gather’ isn’t first recorded until 185,000 years after hybrid apes technically become Homo sapiens’, i.e. one of us!

Metal hand-working tools were not in existence until 193,000 years had elapsed

It was only a full 1,000 years before metal had been made and fashioned; that the world’s first boat took to water

A simplistic article: the candle took over 197,000 years before it was invented by man

It was 199,600-odd years after the birth of ‘man’ when animal power was finally challenged by, and firmly put on the road of obsolescence by the man-made invention: the steam engine.

The locomotive quickly followed, and the automobile didn’t come until almost 300 years later. A full 25 years after Karl Benz invented the world’s automobile, the Wright Brothers then invented the airplane.

I don’t know about you, but this passage through time really makes my head spin; what do you think?

I hope that you don’t condemn me for saying this, but I sometimes feel that since the late 1970’s, safety and reliability has certainly benefited from technological advances, namely the computer, while in actuality our ability to fly high-fast and furious has actually regressed.

Long live the memory of Concorde and the Space Shuttle, and come January 2016 none of us will ever again have the pleasure of hearing a pair of Rolls-Royce Speys or Pratt & Whitney JT-12’s or CJ610’s, etc at running at full tilt as they blast a swept-winged beauty from any runway near me, you, or anyone that you know that may be living in the good old U.S.A. after that date.

Happy New Year!

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Jeremy Cox

Business Aviation: A Survival Guide for the Next Four Years

by Jeremy Cox 3. December 2012 13:56
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This is not a Democrat-bashing article, so if you are one of the 50% who chose to re-elect President Obama, I promise you that it is safe for you to read this article.

If you, like me derive 100% of your income from the Business Aviation Industry, then it is likely that you are worried about the next four years living under a re-elected President that appears to detest our industry. To prevent insanity I suggest that we then must all adapt both our mindsets and also the way that we approach our lives. Here follows the adaptations that I am working into my daily routine to retain my sanity and to keep everything on an even keel; I am calling this my Survival Guide for the next four-years.

Be a much better Advocate for Biz-Av
There is no one who works within this industry that is not 100% sold on the distinct advantage that the use of a Business Aircraft provides. We all know that Corporate jets are business tools with varied uses. About 74 percent of corporate jets carry sales, technical and middle-management employees to more airports domestically, none of which have airline service. It is a fact that corporations that use Business Aircraft, and are members of the National Business Aviation Association, earn annual revenues equal to one half of the $14.7 trillion dollar economy of the United States while they employ more than 19 million people worldwide, thus making Business Aviation users the single largest economic driving force within this country. Consider the previous passage to be a suitable elevator speech that you might start using.

Unfortunately we continually preach this message to each other, as well as to the people that work on Capital Hill, but not to many others outside of this limited group. For the next four years, I challenge us all to promote and advocate this message to everyone that we come into contact with away from the airports where we work. There are over 1.25 million of us who work in this industry. Let’s say that we actually manage to give our ‘elevator speech’ similar to the passage that I underlined above, to 60 people a-year for the next 4-years (that’s about 10 people a-week), then by the fall of 2016 we would have promoted Biz-Av to every man, woman and child in this country (312,000,000 people), then the term “Fat-Cat” that both our President and the media loves to bandy around, will become totally passé as it simply is not true statement!

Get more involved in the NBAA and your local Biz-Av Association
Close to 50,000 of us attend at least one NBAA function a-year whether it is the Annual Meeting and Convention, a Regional Meeting and Forum, or one of the many Professional Development Programs held all-through-out the year. Fortunately for many of us, if it is technically or financially impossible for us to attend any of the NBAA events, it is still possible to participate by joining and attending the meetings and events offered by your local Biz-Av association. At the last count, there are 62 Regional Aviation Associations that are Biz-Av centric.

Here is the list:

Addison Business Aviation Association
Arizona Business Aviation Association
Aviation Council of Pennsylvania
Aviation Professionals Sharing Information (New-York, New-Jersey and Pennsylvania)
Business Aviation Professionals of New England
Centennial Airport Business Pilot's Alliance
Chicago Area Business Aviation Association
Colorado Aviation Business Association
Connecticut Business Aviation Group
Eastern Region Helicopter Council
FNL Pilot Association (Northern Colorado)
Friends of Meacham International Airport Association
Georgia Business Aviation Association
Greater St Louis Business Aviation Association
Greater Waco Aviation Alliance
Greater Washington Business Aviation Association
Houston Regional Aviation Professionals
Idaho Business Aviation Association
Kansas City Business Aviation Association
Las Vegas Schedulers & Dispatchers Association
Little Rock Business Aviation Association
Long Island Business Aviation Association
Love Field Pilots Association
Maine Business Aviation Association
Massachusetts Airport Management Association
Massachusetts Business Aviation Association
Michigan Business Aviation Association
Minnesota Business Aviation Association
Morristown Aviation Association
Nebraska Business Aviation Association
New England and Eastern New York Schedulers and Dispatchers Group
New England Helicopter Council
New Jersey Aviation Association
New York Aviation Managers Association
NorCal Business Aviation Association
North Dakota Business Aviation Association
North Florida Business Aviation Association
North Texas Business Aviation Association
North Texas Commission
Ohio Regional Business Aviation Association
Pacific Northwest Aviation Association
Pacific Rim Schedulers & Dispatchers Association
PAMA Houston Chapter
Rocky Mountain Metro Airport Business Aviation Group
San Antonio Area Business Aviation Alliance
South Florida Business Aviation Association
Southern California Aviation Association
Southern Colorado Business Aviation Group
Southern/Northern California Dispatchers Group
Tampa Bay Aviation Association
Teterboro User's Group
Texas Aviation Association
Texas Corporate Aviation Schedulers & Dispatchers Group
The Partnership for Corporate Aviation Training
The Wichita Aero Club
Tri-State Area Dispatchers Group
Utah Business Aviation Association
Westchester Aircraft Maintenance Association
Westchester Aviation Association
Western Michigan Business Aircraft Association
Wisconsin Business Aircraft Association
Women in Aviation, Intl. - Space City Chapter

If you want more information on any the Associations that are listed above, I suggest that you contact NBAA’s Director of Regional Programs: Mr. Steve Hadley, tel. +1.254.235.7924, or email. shadley@nbaa.org

Reach out to everyone that are also Biz-Av Industry Members, especially locally
Maybe it time that you became a better ‘Ambassador’ towards your fellow industry folk. For too long (since before the First World War) there has been the Officer & Gentleman thing running through our industry; you know – like the adage: “You can take a Pilot and make him into a Mechanic, but you can’t take a Mechanic and make him into a Pilot”; which as we all know is complete crap! Then there is the believe by many that “Ground-Crew are neither to be seen or heard, unless they are standing in-front of the aircraft to clear the start of my engines, and to pull my chocks”, etc. What a total pile of steaming rubbish, but unfortunately our industry has suffered from these bizarre attitudes for way-to-many years in my opinion.

It takes a massive amount of people to make our national aviation system work. The pilots often take most, if not all of the spotlight and glory; but think of the number of aviation maintenance technicians, line service personnel, engineers, designers, detailers, sales people, air traffic controllers, handlers, administrators, painters, upholsterers, inspectors, regulators, and entrepreneurs that are right behind the pilot, thus making his role possible within this marvellous system. Please have Alexandre Dumas’ inspiring phrase used by his fictional characters: ‘The Three Musketeers”...”All For One, One For All” should be your newly adopted phrase.

Pay better attention to what our Elected Representatives in Washington are doing
Prior to election-2012 there were 57 members that sat on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chaired by Congressman John Mica. These folks make up only about 11% of the 535 Senators and Representatives that collect a pay-check from the Federal Government. If you are not watching what they say and do about Biz-Av, I suggest that you start now and regularly take them to task and protest. You will find the following links helpful in getting your elevator speech and your beliefs across to these donuts:

http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

http://transportation.house.gov/subcommittees/aviation.aspx

The Alphabet Groups use a large slice of your membership dues to lobby and cajole these folks with our collective message, which is all to the good. I can tell you though, that a personal letter, email or telephone call received by a representative in Washington, from one of their constituents (You) has a lot more power than you could imagine. Lobbyists’ buy them dinners and cocktails; Votes (yours and mine) buys them two-to-six years of free dinners, and life-long healthcare. Trust me, we individuals have more pull than the Alphabets so do your-self a favour and start making your voice heard in Washington and your States Capitol.

Write more Letters and Get Noticed
Generally speaking, the Media can be either our friend, or our enemy. The natural reaction by most of us in Business Aviation to a call from a reporter to ask questions about our industry, is to shy away and duck the questioning because we don’t want to be caught ‘telling any tales out of court.’ By its nature, Business Aviation is also ‘Private Aviation’ and therefore we all feel the need to keep our activities and operations ‘private’ as well. Well this is my call to action for this shyness to be suppressed and a new openness to be adopted. No, I don’t want you to divulge anything that you and the folks that ride our jets would not be comfortable with. Instead, I suggest that you keep your elevator speech close to your telephone and computer so you can start educating the press on what Biz-Av is really all about. If you read a ‘Fat-Cat’ statement or assertion in your local newspaper, internet blog, or on T.V. or radio, please get out your pen and write a fact-based protest against the remarks. As soon as you do this regularly you will get noticed by the media (in a good way) and they will start to call or email you for your side of the story rather than printing or broadcasting the pap that they believe to be right.

Be a Mentor
The future of aviation lay’s in the hands of today’s youth, and unless you work at an aviation school, you have probably noticed that there are not too many young people hanging out at your airport, like they did when you were first bitten by the love of aviation bug. This is a gathering storm that will eventually turn into a cataclysm that will consume the industry that we all love, if none of us make the time to give a leg-up to youngsters that are our future. Now is the time for you to start sharing your love of aviation with the younger generation. How can you do this?

To start with, why don’t you talk to your neighbours where you live and ask if any of the children in the neighbourhood would like to come to the airport with you to look around and get up-close to some aircraft? I promise you that the first time that you make a move in this effort; your heart shall be gripped with an overwhelming sense of good. If your own passion for aviation might have been flagging of late, the joy of aviation that the young people find thanks to this, your first effort shall, I am certain, encourage you to do more of this aviation experience sharing. If you fly, take the youngsters up. Maybe later you will become so enamoured by the way that this benevolent new side of you makes you feel, you might start speaking at local schools in your area? You will also have the undivided attention of the parents. Now you can give your elevator speech to them too, and open their eyes to what our industry is really all-about.

Turn Off the T.V.
In my opinion and that of many others, much of radio and all of television has evolved into an advertising delivery system where the content is squeezed in merely to fill in the gaps between the paid messages that constantly invade our ears and eyes. You might consider this to be a depressing point of view, but it is not far-off the truth. Thanks to the human condition that we all share, hate, anguish, and anger grips attention better than other types of message, except for maybe sex. I would be willing to wager that the whole ‘fat-cat’ characterization sells more product than if ‘good news and successes’ were reported instead. Don’t get discouraged by Hyperbole, just turn off the box when the hate starts flowing.

Be Grateful for We Have Got and Believe That You Do Make a Difference
You can personally fill in the blank space here. Just remember this: It is fact number one that...

“....the liquid that flows through the economic veins of this country is Jet fuel, and the roots of the Global Aviation Industry is 100% All-American; and Aviation is absolutely Vital to the Economic Prosperity of all American Citizens.”

Let’s reconvene four years from now to see what we have all accomplished after following this Survival Guide. I am willing to say that we will have a better lot of it, if we do follow my suggestions. Thanks for reading.

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Jeremy Cox | GlobalAir.com

65th Annual NBAA Convention, Orlando 2012 - A Personal Memoir

by Jeremy Cox 4. November 2012 23:28
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The possibility of a Presidential Temporary Flight Restriction coupled with the East-Coast landfall of Hurricane Sandy overshadowed the beginning of this year’s convention, the 8th to be held in Orlando since the first in this central Florida town in 1996 (see the historical list of convention cities below.)

Fortunately the U.S. President decided to cut his Orlando electoral campaigning visit short thus allowing the NBAA Aircraft Static Display to be settled in-place ready for opening time on Tuesday. The folks all-along the N.E. Coast did not do as well. The resulting death and destruction wielded by the Hurricane definitely reduced the number of people that actually attended.

My convention began in St. Louis on Monday morning at Lambert St. Louis International Airport’s East Terminal. I swear that virtually everyone attending from the Greater St. Louis area, were all on the same Southwest flight to Orlando as me. After many “hello-s” and see you “later-s” said, a taxi deposited me at the Peabody Hotel (the ride seems longer every-time I make it.) I really didn’t recognize the ‘Duck’ hotel since my last visit there in 2009 because it has tripled in size since then.

After a late lunch, some email catch-up, badge collection at the convention centre and a quick spruce up, I spent a couple of hours in the Atrium Lobby Bar during which the Duckmaster marched his foul group out of the bar fountain over to the waiting elevator to take these pampered ducks up to their Royal Suite (later in the week, my great friend and collegue: Mr. Tom Crowell, Jr. took an iPhone shot of a duck egg next to its Mallard Hen depositor laying at the fountain edge – quite bizarre.)

The Embraer customer appreciation party hosted at Disney’s EPCOT Centre was both classy and quite stunning. Welshman Ernie Edwards, Embraer Executive Jets President was ‘Mein Host’ for this extravagant evening, where the Legacy 450 was the talk of the tent, so-to-speak. I headed back to the ‘Duck-Bar’ at the Peabody while the fireworks started bomb-bursting over the Disney lake.

There was plenty of scuttle-buck to be digested once back at the marble palace on International Drive. Over a Ginger Beer I was gobsmacked by the news that Wichita was awash with both ‘white-tales’ and ‘painted-tails’ that were either unsold, or had recently been returned by their former owners, because the monthly payments were killing them. “...so the owner drops in and hands the keys to his airplane to the line service guy that greets him, and then promptly leaves in a taxi to hop the airlines home. “Critical mass” is what I heard said several times Monday night.

My Tuesday morning foray to the Static Display at the Orlando Executive Airport had me grateful that I haven’t succumbed to wearing a wig to hide my rapidly receding hairline. If I was as vane, my hairpiece would now be drinking from a saucer of milk somewhere on the Island of Bermuda. While chatting to an old friend in front of the Hawker 1000A that he was displaying at the show, I was convinced that his tent-concrete anchors and all were tugging off the ground in response to each gust. Talking of Hawkers...

...Hawker Beechcraft might have been better served by pulling the plug on their attendance at this year’s show. It was evident to many of us that they have reached the ‘Rome is burning stage’ in their business battle to stay afloat. Their displays both at the convention centre as well as at the static was ‘big-splash’ gargantuan, while the effect was a ‘splosh’ I’m afraid to say. Hawker Beechcraft Chairman, Mr. Bill Boisture has a tenuous row-to-hoe in bringing his company through to the other-side of the bankruptcy thundercloud that they are currently flying through. Many of the front-liners at this years’ show were more intent on selling themselves rather than the products that their company builds. Both the Premier and Hawker 4000 owners are contemplating their next move when their product-line support is relegated to orphan status. Walter and Olive-Ann Beech were never ‘jet people.’ They dominated the business aircraft piston and turbo-prop segment of the industry. Beechcrafts’ entre into the biz-jet arena started with the Moraine Saulnier 760 ‘Paris Jet’ in 1955. That program was short-lived. Next came the purchase of the Mitsubishi line in 1985, which has been problematic for them all these years since, as they look to once again re-engineer the long-serving MU300 Diamond design into a re-engine’ed ‘Williams-Rolls’ version of their Hawker 400XP. The original DeHavilland Dragon-Jet program also found a new home in Wichita at Beechcraft, where they have been final-assembled there ever since Beechcraft bought them from British Aerospace in 1994 starting with the tail-end of the Hawker 800A production-run, and now with the 850XP and 900XP being the current production versions of this venerable design and approximately 3,500 aircraft built in-total.

I will hate to see the day when Beechcraft stops making and selling a jet; it does appear however that this will come to pass. A track record of more than 6,500 turbo-props built by Beechcraft versus 3,500 jets does certainly put Mr. Boisture’s problem into perspective methinks.

On the opposite end of the economic spectrum, the Gulfstream static display area imbued a sense of supremacy. From an example of the soon to deliver G650 line, on down to the new G280 and dutiful G150 models that were on-display, the company looks so solid that it feels more like an institution rather than an aircraft manufacturer. Gulfstream refreshments and hospitality is second to none. A visit to the Gulfstream camp out at the Static is always on my agenda when attending the NBAA annual meeting and convention.

After lunch I motored South back to International Drive and entered the convention centre through the ‘Light Aircraft’ Static Display in the parking lot off to the side of this massive building which is the Orange County Convention Centre. There I saw that the Eclipse2 shall be sporting new avionics when it starts delivering again; Rockwell Collins introduced “a hip” cabin entertainment system called ‘Skybox’; Execjet Mobile brought their revolutionary low-cost wireless router to the show...and it turned into an ordering frenzy for the folks at their booth. Embraer had their Legacy 450 mock-up on display, while 3-new aircraft were announced on the exhibit floor: the Boeing BBJ-Max, the Dassault Falcon 2000LXS, and the new Cessna Sovereign.

I opted out of the Avfuel Party at the Hilton that evening, and instead managed to arrange my rental of a car so I could fulfil my invitation to join Mr. Tracy Forest, the Founder and Chairman of the Citation Jet Pilot / Owners Association at his hangar at the Sanford Airport (an hour N.E. of Orlando), along with a couple of hundred of his other friends that included Mr. Bob Hoover, Mr. Paul Poberezny, Mr. Clay Lacy, Mr. Joe Clark, Mr. Kermit Weeks, and many others, all there for his wonderful party called: ‘Cockpits and Cocktails.’ After watching a North American T-6 do low-level night aerobatics above us in our honour, while all the time it trailed, dropped and swirled firework, upon firework from both of its wingtips, the banquet that followed was quite decadent and the music made it beyond syncopating (McKinley & Beggs.) What a night, and yes Tracy does have a recreation of a Key West Quay House in the centre of his hangar!

06:30am came-way too soon for my liking back at the Duck Palace the next morning when I and about 500 other folks sat down to breakfast with Mr. Serge Dassault and his management crew at the Annual Dassault Falcon Family Breakfast. Here we learnt that 65 new Falcons (F2000’s, F900’s and 7X’s) would be delivered by the end of the December to complete their order book for 2012. The spectacular performance capabilities of the new Falcon 2000LXS was explained to us all, as well as a very touching tribute to the Late-Great founder of FlightSafety International, Mr. Al Ueltschi was provided us by Dassault’s President and CEO, Mr. John Rosanvallon. A great way to start the day!

Various meetings and roundtable events at the convention centre; several drinks meet-ups, a private dinner, and a restorative sleep quickly led up to Southwest flight homeward-bound on Thursday. After recuperating this weekend, I have had time and distance to reflect upon the success of this year’s Annual Meeting and Convention, and to sum it up in but a few words, I must say the following:

Amongst the week’s events that included an inconvenient Presidential visit, weather-borne tragedy, gloomy flight-hour utilization statistics (numbers are dropping), the threat of the introduction and passing into law of damnable “User Fees” possibly coming this January, along with the messy future for one of the industries longest running and better known OEM’s, the biggest news of the show was, in my opinion to be found at the booths of the Avionics vendors that were attending. This year’s event was neither earth-shattering, or knee trembling; it was however “steady as she goes.” I’m sorry if you missed it; this years show that is. Let’s plan on meeting up in Las Vegas at next year’s convention instead?

 
 

Annual Meeting Locations by Year.xlsx (13.56 kb)

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Jeremy Cox | GlobalAir.com

Business Aviation Networking British Style

by Jeremy Cox 4. October 2012 11:45
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Texan born Samuel Cody motored into the skies above Farnborough, England in 1908, thus officially entering Great Britain into the age of powered flight. 100 years later, the owner of this prestigious airport (Farnborough Airport – EGLF) Techniques d’Avant Garde, known simply as ‘TAG’ opened their world-class VIP hotel ‘The Aviator’ to complement their FBO and Business Aviation Services by TAG Aviation at this London Gateway Airport.

It seems very fitting to me that the historic site of the first powered flight in Great Britain is the location of choice for the bespoke business aviation networking event, that has come to be known in the industry as: ‘The Aviation Supper Club.’

 

160 movers-and-shakers from the business aviation industry gathered from all across the globe: UAE, UK, USA, France, Ireland, Slovakia, Belgium, Denmark, Holland, Czech Republic, Spain, Italy, Poland and Russia to attend this 5th Aviation Supper Club event held at the Aviator Hotel on the evening of September 27th, 2012.

Universal Weather & Aviation, Jet Support Services, Barclays Wealth and Execujet Aviation Group were the main sponsors of the event, while others including Signature Flight Support, Synergy Aviation, TAG and SG Equipment Finance donated items for a charity auction that benefited the charity: ‘Flying Scholarships for Disabled People.’ Mr. Bruce Dickinson, the lead singer of Iron Maiden and who is also an accomplished pilot and business aviation entrepreneur was the auctioneer and after-dinner speaker.

There were no Billionaire Jet Owners or any alphabet Aviation Associations or groups in attendance. Instead, this grassroots networking event is only accessible by people that are actively working within the trenches so-to-speak, of business aviation. The whole intent is to rapidly connect the dots between the doers of this industry through a relaxing but high quality social event. ‘An event born by the industry - for the industry.’ There is no administrative organization that has to be fed and supported by members.industry.’ There is no administrative organization that has to be fed and supported by members. No exhibitors to accommodate and best of all - no buyers/users/clients to bow down to. Instead the atmosphere is 100% relaxed and focused on the people that make business aviation. Pure and simple.  

 
The Aviation Supper Club’s founder is Brendan Lodge, the Business Development Director of JetBrokers Europe and also the current serving Chairman of the Central European Private Aviation (CEPA) organization. Brendan is “Quite delighted by all of the people that apply to attend.” Unfortunately rooms and dinner places are quickly snatched up. “There is always more demand than there are places for people to attend” explains Brendan. “Unfortunately we also need to ensure that a decent balance of disciplines and sectors of business aviation are properly represented at the supper club. It would not be right if there was an imbalance of people from a specific area of our industry; for instance banking or insurance, is not dominant at the event. We want the networking to be a target rich environment for all.”

The 18th Century Champagne House: Veuve Clicquot wetted the lips of all 160 attendees, during the pre-dinner reception which spilled across the Aviator’s Sky Bar and first-floor Landing. New friendships and alliances were made over plates and dishes of salmon, beef, chicken, caviar, elderberries, risottos, pannacottas and coffees. While flights of red and white wines, and Napoleon brandy kept the conversations well juiced. >

Few saw their hotel suites until well past three A.M. It is clear that all who attended then retired to their beds with a firm conviction that their evening was truly spent well.

The Aviation Club meets twice a year. It soon will expand onto mainland Europe in Prague. My colleagues and I are now planning the first event of its kind here in the USA. Coming soon – Aviation Supper Club USA and I am very much looking forward to seeing you attend dear reader.

So until next month; however before then I will see you at the 65th Annual Meeting and Convention of the National Business Aviation Association down in Orlando, Florida, October 30th to November 1st. If you can’t make it there yourself, I will be covering it for you here at Globalair.com.  


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