Archive for May, 2011

Teddy bear pilot is one cool dude

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

Bring the kids to the computer. Both the model airplane and the bear-pilot are remotely controlled, as are the cameras.  For those that haven’t seen it, click here . Or, if you want to fly your own autonomous drone, check out DIY Drones here.

Jetman listed by FAA as a light jet

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Just for my own amusement, I called the Las Vegas FAA Flight Standards District Office to see what classification was used for Yves Rossy, who flew down the Grand Canyon for eight minutes with a wing strapped to his back, and four model-airplane jet engines attached to the wing. The FSDO said Rossy was classified as a light jet weighing less than 12,500 pounds, for want of a better guess. Rossy left open the possibility that he might fly somewhere else in the United States, so if you see a guy with a wing on his back, stick around. That means he is going to do it again. Can you see Jetman looping the Golden Gate Bridge? I can.

Nordam sues Cessna over contract loss

Friday, May 6th, 2011

A judge has denied an injunction sought by Nordam Group to prevent Cessna Aircraft Company from awarding the contract for cabinetry used in the Citation CJ4 to a lower-priced competitor. Ken Lackey, chairman of Nordam, told AOPA Pilot that he felt he had won the contract for the life of the CJ4 program, and is suing Cessna for breach of contract. There is also a claim for loss of intellectual property is designing the cabinets to meet the contours of the CJ4 interior. Cessna has not commented on it because it is pending litigation. Cessna work, including thrust reversers, liners, and metal work, amounts to only 10 percent of Nordam’s $500 million-plus in annual revenues, Lackey said. “It’s the principle of the thing,” he added in a telephone interview. He said he wants to help Cessna keep its costs low, and recognized that everyone in the industry is under competitive pressure. He said his company rarely files such a suit. The CJ4 received special mention in the last Textron quarterly report as suffering from high supplier costs, even though it has proved popular with customers. Textron chief Scott Donnelly called Cessna’s performance “disappointing” only days before the sudden retirement of Chairman, CEO and President Jack Pelton. The retirement is not effective until June 1, but Donnelly immediately took over as interim CEO.  An analyst has expressed concern that the issue was possibly a disagreement over expenditure of research and development funds for new products.

Will Textron cut Cessna funds for new products?

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Teal Group aerospace analyst Richard Aboulafia said he is “sort of concerned” that product development and engineering  projects may have been an issue in the sudden retirement of Cessna Aircraft Company Chairman, President and CEO Jack Pelton. The projects are aimed at preparing for an uptick in the jet market that Aboulafia said “all signs point to in 2012.” Cessna has 1,500 engineers working on research and development, down from 2,500 before the recession. Parent company chief Scott C. Donnelly, chairman and CEO of Textron,  is the interim CEO. Days prior to the departure of Pelton, Donnelly had expressed disappointment in the “operational performance” at Cessna and said he was taking necessary steps to restore profitability, “…even as we increase our investments in new products and service offerings.” Textron spokesmen later told the press that the operational performance issue had nothing to do with the departure. Aboulafia said he was “very much surprised” at Pelton’s departure. “He is not too old and very much respected.” Cessna has a new jet, a single-engine turboprop, and upgrades to other jet models in development.  Analysts will watch those projects in coming months to see if they remain fully supported. A group of analysts meeting in Wichita in early May said they expect Cessna will introduce more than one new product this fall. “It’s tough to go from a market leader with big ambitious plans to very little in the pipeline,” Aboulafia said.  He added that Embraer is “gunning directly at half [the Cessna] product line.” He said that competition from Embraer “will get worse” in the next couple of years. A Textron spokesman denied a report that the company is planning to create an aviation division that would include Cessna, and said conversations between Pelton and Donnelly regarding retirement had occurred for “some time.” The spokesman said the search “has begun” for a successor to Pelton.

Upside-down helicopter ride

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Nothing in my flying experience prepared me for flying with Red Bull’s Chuck Aaron, the only helicopter pilot approved by the FAA for low-level aerobatic helicopter demonstrations.

Our short flight on Friday, April 29, included loops and rolls — familiar maneuvers in fixed-wing aircraft — but totally foreign in a helicopter.

Look for a far more detailed article in a future edition of AOPA Pilot magazine.