Archive for May, 2013

Bizjet market finally reaches bottom? New models entering the market

Friday, May 17th, 2013

It’s not a competition you want to have. Corporate Jet Investor has looked at the data and concluded that, compared to 2012, jet deliveries will be down and 2013 will enter history as the worst since 2004. The General Aviation Manufacturers Association looked at the same data and concluded that 2012 was the worst year. Both surveys point to the fact that it can only get better from here. Corporate Jet Investor’s Alasdair Whyte notes that past news stories from EBACE, a jet show starting May 21 in Geneva, Switzerland, have reported a turnaround in the economy every year since 2009. In 2008 a show-news story even said the good times were here to stay. “Rather than pretending that everything is great, we should be honest and say that the market is still tough. Most companies have adapted to this new world. Life goes on. We are, hopefully, at the turning point for the global market now. But as the stories above show, you cannot hype your way out of a downturn,” Whyte said. His company forecast says manufacturers will deliver 44 percent fewer aircraft in 2013 than in 2008. While the light jet market is “suffering badly,” large aircraft deliveries are down, too. “Learjet prices are falling,” the report adds. Speculation not found in the report is that Beechcraft deeply discounted its remaining Hawker jets before selling them all. Beechcraft may sell off its jet business this summer.

On an upbeat note, here are new jets coming down the line:

Bombardier is offering its Learjet 70, 75, and 85 models this year along with the Global 7000 in 2014 and the Global 8000 in 2018.

Bombardier has announced the Challenger 350. Startup customer is NetJets in 2014.

Embraer’s Legacy 500, a competitor of the Challenger 300, will appear in public for the first time at EBACE this week with deliveries starting next year. The Legacy 450 will be delivered in 2015.

Pilatus has announced its PC-24 jet.

Nextant Aerospace is upgrading its Nextant 400XT (based on the Hawker 400) to the 400XTi. The company captured the early lead in a race with Beechcraft to modernize the Hawker 400 fleet after the former Hawker Beechcraft delayed its modificaton program six weeks due to cash-flow problems. The upgrade includes two 3,050-lbst Williams FJ44-3AP engines. The choice of engines is a heatedly contested argument between Nextant and Beechcraft.

While Beechcraft has no jets coming down the soon-to-be-sold jet line, upgrades to the Hawker 400XPR continue. Winglets developed  at Sierra Industries will be certified in the fall and made available for installation at Beechcraft service centers. Originally, certification of the winglets was expected in January 2013 with deliveries in February. The 400XPR also includes conversion to 3,200-pound-thrust Williams FJ44-4A-32 engines.

Cessna is coming out this year with its M2, the new profit-saving (Cessna-saving?) Sovereign, the new Citation X, and in the first quarter of 2014, the first flight of the Latitude with certification in 2015. The Mach 0.86 Longitude (Cessna’s biggest jet for the next five years) will enter service in 2017. A single-engine turboprop is still in testing, still not ready for public announcement. The SMA diesel-powered piston-engine Skylane JT-A will be certified in June.

Dassault announced the super-midsize Falcon 2000S and 2000LXS.

Gulfstream is working on a replacement for the G450/550 mysteriously code-named the P42. The Gulfstream 650 is making its first appearance at EBACE.

Diamond Aircraft (Canada) and diesel company on the mend

Friday, May 17th, 2013

Not long ago Diamond’s plant in Canada laid off all but 51 workers. That 51st employee was there to oversee the paperwork on the Diamond D-Jet. At the time I was told that there were still partially completed airframes on the line, and when those were delivered as new aircraft, employees would be called back. Now 34 workers have returned, including those needed to lay up more composite airframes. Through all this the Diamond headquarters in Austria has operated normally. A Diamond plant in China continues to churn out 30 to 40 four-passenger DA40 aircraft a year to be delivered in Asia, at this point meaning China. That plant has never built a gasoline-powered model, putting a Thielert diesel engine on the very first one. Only now is the plant transitioning to Austro diesel engines, the engine Diamond turned to when Thielert hit financial and mechanical problems (now solved). Thielert, with its Centurion marketing and warranty arm, is on the verge of emerging from bankruptcy–meaning someone is going to buy it. Whoever does that will suddenly have a family of diesel engines, right up to a 350-hp certified but undeveloped engine.  There are already negotiations in progress which the company can’t disclose. The financial questions that led to Frank Thielert leaving the company will be resolved soon, too, by a German court. Thielert engines have one problem–time between replacement. That means you trash the engine (destructive testing is the nicer phrase) when it reaches 1,500 hours rather than overhaul it. Overhaul might be offered in the future by the new owner. Purchasing the engine is still economical if you happen to live in Europe where avgas is $12.58 or in Niger where it is $22 a gallon. Diesel engines cost 30 percent more but you save 24 to 35 percent on fuel–a good deal for those flying 500 hours a year.

Strange But True General Aviation News

Friday, May 10th, 2013

Better safe than sorry.  A Hawker 4000 jet carrying golfing star Sergio Garcia was forced to make an emergency landing at Ireland’s Shannon Airport after the pilot reported a generator problem, reports the Herald.  The jet was on its way to a golf tournament in Charlotte, N.C. No one was injured.

Landing gear is helpful. It was an unusual sight at Spirit of St. Louis Airport — a 1980 Centurian P210 doing a belly landing, reports

He should have given a hoot. A man who allegedly repeatedly harassed and kicked an owl while paragliding and captured it on YouTube has created a firestorm among animal lovers and paragliders, reports FOX 13.  The Humane Society of Utah suspects it knows the man seen in the video and has asked for an investigation.

Miracle landing number one.  Quentin Elkins is lucky to be alive after his aircraft lost power and made an emergency landing four miles from Knoxville Downtown Island Airport, reports

Miracle landing number two. A pilot of a seaplane had to make an emergency landing in Inlet, N.Y.’s, Seventh Lake, reports WKTV.  He was able to swim to shore uninjured.



Strange But True General Aviation News

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

This is why we read the bill before we vote, folks!  The bill  that put air traffic controllers back to work was passed by the U.S. House of Representative and Senate, but President Barack Obama was unable to sign it into law. Why?  Because of a typo in the legislation, reports ABC News.

Drugs in airplanes just don’t fly.  Two men are facing federal drug charges after the aircraft they had parked at Texas’  Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport was found to have  98 bundles of marijuana, four bundles of hashish and two bundles of mushrooms aboard the Piper PA-28, reports the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

This was a test. This was only a test.  You will be forgiven if you thought a recent training exercise by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service looked real. Fifty firefighters worked with ambulance crews, police officers and workers from other agencies to participate in a drill that used the crash of an aircraft into a high-rise building in Glasgow, reports STV News.

Wheels would have been helpful.  Pilot Roland Rinnerberger made an emergency belly landing at Scottsdale Municipal Airport, reports KJRH-TV.  He was not injured in the accident. Video of the landing can be seen here.

It just blew its top!  Two pilots departing from Midland International Airport flying a World War II-era German Messerschmitt Me 262 lost the aircraft’s rear canopy because it hadn’t been latched properly, reports the Midland Reporter-Telegram.  

It’s always good when you can walk away.  A pilot who made an emergency landing in a vineyard in Santa Rosa, Calif., walked away with no injuries, reports ABC7 News.  The pilot reported he was having a problem with the throttle, which caused his aircraft to idle.

Birthday tribute

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

One of the many IAPs debuting with the start of the current FAA charting cycle today is the BNELE ONE Arrival (RNAV) to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. This standard terminal arrival was designed to bring jets from the lower flight levels over Nashville and Memphis onto an approach to ATL.

The final waypoint on this STAR for arrivals landing to the west on Runway 26 Left or 26 Right is KEAVY, and like many waypoints today, there’s a story behind it.

Keavy Nenninger learned to fly while she was in high school by pumping gas into airplanes at Moontown Airport–a grassroots airport with a 2,180-foot grass runway just outside of Huntsville, Alabama. Ralph Hood wrote about her checkride in Flight Training magazine in the way that only Ralph Hood could write. She earned a degree in aerospace engineering from St. Louis University’s Parks College of Engineering and Aviation in 2010. There, Keavy was a member of the college’s flight team. She pursued a career in aviation, a passion that she lived and breathed. I met her once at a Women in Aviation conference and remember thinking, “Here’s somebody that’s going places in this industry.”

 Tragically, Keavy died July 23, 2011, in an aircraft accident in Maryland. “Keavy’s adventurous spirit was infectious and she died doing what she loved most–flying,” her obituary read.

Today would have been her 27th birthday.

Her friends will gather for a cookout at Moontown Airport on Saturday evening, May 4–not all that far, by air, from KEAVY, just northwest of Atlanta.