Al Marsh Archive
Every holiday season it seems one company, usually Macy’s, captures media attention for the most luxurious gift. This time, it may be Flexjet. If you really loved your family and friends this holiday season, you would buy them the new Abercrombie and Kent offering–a $1.5 million trip around the world for eight aboard a Flexjet Challenger 605. Hotel rooms, granted they are luxury accomodations, are double occupancy at that price. So what did you expect for only $1.5 million? The leather seats transform into beds if the pace wears you down.
Yes, excess, I know. I’m just the reporter here. For the record, I am a lot more likely to go around the traffic pattern at Frederick, Maryland, in a rented Diamond DA40 than I am to go on this trip.
The price includes private showings and events at every stop that the rest of us will never see. The two-week grand tour includes a visit to Japan to see the Toji Temple and the emperor’s private retreat, both of which are closed to the public. There are two nights in Beijing, two nights in Hong Kong, and two nights in Agra, India, near the Taj Mahal. There are also two nights each in Turkey and France.
Trips start after the current travel season ends in February. The Challenger will repeat the trip as many times as there are millionaires who are willing to pay the price. Or, at least they were millionaires before the trip began.
Maybe one day you can get your multi-engine rating in a Cub–sort of a Cub, anyway. It’s based on the Cub heritage but is a clean sheet design and is meant for the rough bush country. The DoubleEnder has a tractor prop and a pusher prop and unprecedented forward and side visibility, unless you spend your flying hours in a bubble-nosed helicopter, of course. It may end up as a kit one day, but development has been in progress many years. It has two Rotax engines modified to produce 130 horsepower. You’ll see a full report on bydanjohnson.com here.
Want to go “cliff diving” in Alaska aboard the DoubleEnder? Watch this video. Here’s a much more relaxed look at the DoubleEnder Prototype practicing SHORT landings. The next DoubleEnder will have side by side seating.
Mooney Announces Its Comeback
With New Funding, Mooney Sets Itself to Re-enter the Single Engine Market
Kerrville, Texas – After a five-year hiatus from manufacturing single-engine airplanes Mooney is pleased to announce that it will restart manufacturing at the beginning of January 2014 at its headquarters in Kerrville, TX. New funding from Soaring America Corporation, a California based Company will provide necessary capital to re-launch and sustain the legendary brand. Details of the financial arrangements will remain confidential. The company will continue to manufacture the Acclaim Type S, and the Ovation series.
“It’s a new day for Mooney. And with a new investment group that is committed to the future, we’re expecting to make a strong move in the industry,” noted Barry Hodkin, Chief Financial Officer for the company. It’s been a long time coming and we couldn’t be more excited about our return to manufacturing one of the finest and most trusted airplane fleets in the industry.”
The first order of business will be to hire and train a new workforce and reestablish the supply chain. The company is projected to recruit up to 100 people within the first year of operation. The company has a large variety of personnel needs that includes technicians, engineers, line workers, accounting and sales people. Within two years, the company is anticipating employing significantly more people depending on the demand for its products.
“While we expect to be reunited with some of our previous employees, we are confident we’ll attract new talent as we re-enter this aviation space. We’re looking for the best and brightest people to help meet our vision for the future,” said Hodkin.
The Acclaim Type S is recognized as the world’s fastest single engine airplane. The turbo-normalized airplane is home to over 130 speed records with a normal cruise speed of 230 ktas and a service ceiling of 25,000 feet. The Ovation series has cruising speeds up to 190 ktas and a service ceiling of up to 20,000 feet.
“It’s too early to provide the details, but we’ll have some very exciting announcements in the near future about the technological advances that will accompany the Acclaim Type S and Ovation series,” said Hodkin.
During the difficult economic times starting in 2008, when single engine sales dropped by over 30 percent compared to the year prior, Mooney ceased production. Over the last five years, the Company that was started by Al Mooney more than 80 years ago has remained in business, focusing on customer support for the Mooney planes still in service. Given more positive economic indicators and the unique market niche for Mooney airplanes, the company feels confident about a sustaining future in the industry.
In that simulator, candidates are to learn some of the upset recovery techniques. Randy Brooks, a vice president at Aviation Performance Solutions in Mesa, Arizona, said a study of 16 accidents involving upsets (extreme banks, climbs, dives) revealed the pilot did the wrong thing. “In 16 out of 16 accidents the pilot did something that was contradictory to whatever training they would have had,” he said. As it turns out, the International Civil Aviation Organization that happens to be headquartered in Canada (it is for the world, not just Canada) will recommend to the world at some point in the future that upset training extend to those wanting the commercial pilot certificate. Once again, AOPA has officially expressed concerns that the suggestion consider all the consequences. The FAA doesn’t have to follow the suggestion.
Simcom Training Centers’ Tracy Brannon said the new ATP multiengine rules “…elevate the requirements to meet the title of the certificate.” His company, where he is the chief operating officer, is planning an ATP course that will be close to the ones Simcom offers for a full type rating. A full type rating course includes 14 hours in a simulator, and the new FAA requirements for the ATP call for 10 hours. The academic part will also be very similar. He has had inquiries from airline companies interested in sending applicants to such a course.
Brannon pointed out that the new ATP rules apply only to multiengine aircraft. So, the pilots like myself who got the multiengine ATP, just for fun, can still have the option of getting the single-engine ATP that does not fall under the new requirements. Simcom has a Saab 2000 simulator that meets the new requirement for training in a simulated 40,000-pound simulator, but company officials have asked the FAA to consider letting them use less costly simulators for the Hawker 800 and Dornier 328 that simulate aircraft weighing less than 40,000 pounds. There is no word from the FAA as yet on the request.
The FAA guidelines also require that the ATP candidate demonstrate a proper recovery technique after being startled. Brooks manages to startle students while flying an actual training aircraft by distracting them. “Then we’re going to talk about things you like to do besides flying, where you live, whether or not you’ve got kids–anything that will take you out of the cockpit, thinking I’m not going to do something, and wham. You’re going to have a simulated wake vortex encounter, and you’re going to hear me say ‘recover.’” Brooks can train students to automatically recover in three 45-minute flights. The new ATP rules call for use of a simulator for situations where the nose is too high or too low.
Opponents of the new rules warned that they could reduce the supply of airline pilots. “They’re going to pay $12,000 and then we start them out in a $10,000 job,” said the owner of a North Carolina flight school. The full impact won’t be known until after the rules take effect late next summer. In the meantime, a few hours of aerobatic training can pay big benefits. Make sure the instructor startles you before you graduate.
Aldredge looked at 25 jets and found all but seven of them are in a buyers’ market. If 10 percent of the fleet of, say, Lear 60XR aircraft are for sale, then it is a buyer’s market. If the percentage is less and few are available, it is a seller’s market. The Lear 60XR is in a buyer’s market because 22 percent of the Lear 60XR fleet is for sale, and the used inventory is growing. The Global Express, Falcon 900, Citation II, Beechjet 400A, CitationJet 525, and Gulfstream IV, IVSP, and V, are all in a buyer’s market. The Gulfstream 450 and 550 are in a seller’s market. You can see the whole list for yourself right here.
Tatiana Anodina of the USSR predicted a fully automatic system in which controllers would act as supervisors. We don’t seem to be moving that way. She also said the future system would be heavily dependent on satellites. Absolutely correct.
MIT professor Robert Simpson said the U.S. could lose its dominance of aviation manufacturing, and its monopoly on commercial air services, to Asian countries. That one remains an interesting prediction.
William Rouse of Search Technology said a computer he named CAL could instantly revamp the entire air traffic flow based on a flood of travelers, such as a sporting event in one city. He also said politicians delayed on their flight could address a banquet crowd from their seats (creating a new hell for fellow travelers). Fortunately those predictions failed, but a speaker late to a speech could combine Skype with onboard wi-fi. (Don’t tell them.)
Fred Singer of the U.S. Department of Transportation proposed unmanned supersonic freighters carrying 20-ton payloads at Mach 2 and 3 over the ocean. Command destruct capability, a switch that would blow up errant unmanned aircraft, might be necessary so the flights would be mostly over water. Cargo shippers probably wouldn’t like the odds, but unmanned aircraft are here, growing, and they aren’t over water.
Paul Muto of NEC Corp. of Japan said aircraft with satellite navigation would be cleared onto minimum time tracks, while aircraft using conventional navigation tools would still use airways. Ground-based navigation aids would be retained only as long as users want to pay for them. Sounds like he was on the right “track,” making the part about “paying for them” a little scary. But we have AOPA. He also said, “We will not forsake our controllers. Both pilots and controllers will have their jobs.” Good call–so far.
A final thought: What if an unmanned aircraft that has been programmed to go one direction finds itself in conflict with an unmanned control room that wants it to alter course? Would there be a cyber argument leading to overheated circuits?