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Losses Mount for NetJets in Second Quarter

Fractional aircraft provider NetJets’ second-quarter revenues fell 43 percent year-over-year to $550 million, and for the first half dropped $1.024 billion–or 42 percent–from the same six-month period last year. According to parent company Berkshire Hathaway, NetJets’ declines reflected an 81-percent dive in aircraft sales and a 22-percent reduction in flight operations revenues “primarily due to lower flight revenue hours. NetJets reported pre-tax losses of $253 million for the second quarter and $349 million for the first six months, compared with gains of $192 million and $255 million, respectively, in the same time frames last year. Further, Berkshire said that NetJets owns more airplanes than it requires for its present level of operations “and further downsizing will be required unless demand rebounds. NetJets founder and now former chairman and CEO Richard Santulli left the company last Tuesday, just three days before Berkshire released its second-quarter results.

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Airlines, travelers prepare for more stringent ID rules

 Feds want more info at booking to compare to terrorist watch lists
The Transportation Security Administration wants to know more about who’s boarding commercial flights in the United States.
Beginning Saturday, the federal agency will begin collecting additional data from airline passengers at booking time, including full name, date of birth and gender. That data must match whatever is on the form of government-issued identification — driver’s licenses and passports are the most common — that a passenger uses to check in and board the flight.
The new requirement will affect all airline bookings made beginning Saturday and is just the first phase of a larger program called Secure Flight. That program’s goal is to vet 100 percent of airline passengers through the TSA’s watch lists by next year. TSA’s goal is to vet 100 percent of passengers on all domestic commercial flights by early next year, and all passengers on all international commercial flights by the end of 2010.
The agency, known best for its takeover of the airport security screening process following the Sept. 11 attacks, is touting the program as a better way to keep dangerous travelers from boarding planes, while preventing confusion for passengers with names similar to people on the government’s “No Fly” and “Selectee” lists. Those lists bar some would-be fliers and mark others for “enhanced screenings” at airport security checkpoints.
Extra information helps
Because the government will have access to additional pieces of identifying information, the TSA says it will be better able to distinguish between, for example, a 25-year-old John A. Doe who is OK to fly and a 37-year-old John Z. Doe who is not. In addition to the data required of passengers, fliers who have had difficulty with watch list confusion can include a “redress” number. Those are issued to cleared passengers who have been stopped or delayed before because of similar names or other confusion. “By enhancing and streamlining the watch list matching process, the Secure Flight program makes travel safer and easier for millions of Americans,” Gale Rossides, the TSA’s acting administrator, said in a statement.
The Secure Flight program was born out of a Department of Homeland Security directive issued in 2006 that required the TSA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to start working together to implement a system to make sure airline passengers have been cleared.
Aside from the additional information collected by the airline, Secure Flight will mean a closer relationship between those airlines serving the United States and the TSA. The new requirements call for passengers to provide the information to airlines when they book flights. The information, in turn, is sent to the Secure Flight system, which matches up names with watch lists, and determines whether the matches are legitimate or errors.Secure Flight then sends information back to the airlines, separating passengers into those who are cleared to fly, those who aren’t and those who will be subjected to enhanced screening. Initially, Secure Flight requires passenger information to match up exactly with what’s on the ID, so if a passenger’s license says “Richard,” for example, a ticket shouldn’t be booked under “Dick.”
Matching up names
“During this phase of the Secure Flight program, passengers are encouraged to book their reservations using their name as it appears on the government-issues ID they will use while traveling,” Rossides said. Most airlines say they’re implementing procedures to help passengers comply with the regulation so they’re not delayed or denied boarding. Airlines have been preparing for the new requirements for months. Delta Air Lines Inc., the world’s largest airline, which operates its second-largest hub at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, will roll out revamped online pages that will allow passengers booking tickets via the Internet to submit the required information beginning Saturday, said company spokeswoman Susan Elliott. Additionally, the airline will allow fee-free name changes on tickets, so names on reservations will match up with the documents passengers use to check in and clear security checkpoints.
By: Nathan Hurst / The Detroit News

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Cessna CEO Jack Pelton: Business jet market is stabilizing

After a monthslong free fall, it feels like the business jet market is starting to stabilize, said Jack Pelton, head of Cessna Aircraft.  “At some point there, we’ll be able to call the bottom,” Pelton, the company’s chairman, president and CEO, said of the drop in the market. “The negatives, like (order) cancellations are slowing down; we’re starting to see orders start to rise again.”  Aircraft deliveries are expected to hit their low next year, which will be followed by a steady climb, he said. “The slope of that rise will be dependent on what the economy does,” he said. Pelton’s boss, meanwhile, said Cessna’s parent company is not interested in selling the Wichita company. “I don’t know where all the rumors come from,” said Scott Donnelly, president and chief operating officer of Textron. “I think I can be clear that no one is interested in any way, shape or form in divesting Cessna out of Textron. It’s a central asset of what Textron is.”

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Aviation industry told to brace for 8-pound birds

With environmental protection measures giving rise to the number of birds, federal safety officials in the US have called for the construction of planes that can withstand attacks by 8-pound creatures.  According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), current airframe design standards were devised in the 1970s and need to be strengthened to meet the demands of skies shared by birds and aircraft.  A Tuesday NTSB vote recommends that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ensure that the airframes of tomorrow be able to withstand a collision with a 4-pound bird and that the plane tails be able to withstand the impact of 8-pounders.  The recommendation comes in response to five people losing their lives in Oklahoma on March 4, 2008 when a business jet collided with a flock of white pelicans, which can weigh up to 30 pounds.  According to investigators, striking the pelicans caused severe damage to one wing of the Cessna Citation 500 and knocked out the power in one engine. They further pointed out that the plane could have continued to fly using its other engine, but not with the wing damage.  In another incident last January, US Airways Flight 1549 ditched into the Hudson River after it struck a flock of Canadian geese following takeoff from New York’s LaGuardia Airport. It was dubbed the “Miracle on the Hudson” when all 155 people aboard survived.  The risk of bird-aircraft collision is on the increase. On one hand, populations of most large avian species in North America have been increasing due to environmental protection. The species now have average weights double or triple current airframe impact standards. On the other hand, air traffic has increased dramatically which means more planes and more large birds sharing the skies and increasing the crashing risk. 

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IG report accuses FAA of inadequate charter oversight

In a report on the on-demand Part 135 charter industry issued last week, the Department of Transportation Inspector General (IG) concluded that the “FAA does not effectively target inspections to higher-risk on-demand operators” nor provide enough inspector oversight of charter operators in comparison with Part 121 airlines.  The IG suggests that if Part 135 on-demand and Part 121 regulations were similar, then some notable accidents might not have occurred. While the IG audit notes that “the number of fatalities from on-demand operations makes it imperative that FAA take action to address these issues,” the IG was not able to analyze Part 135 versus 121 accident rates to support its concerns. The IG audit, said the Regional Air Cargo Carriers Association, does not place “enough emphasis on the inherently-more-risky 135 environment.”
Much of the flying is done in foul weather, on demanding schedules, in relatively unsophisticated aircraft, with a single-pilot. And according to National Air Transportation Association president Jim Coyne, “The IG largely conducts an apples-and-oranges comparison. Part 121 is very homogenous with regard to the types of aircraft and operations. Part 135 contains every possible mission profile and includes single-engine pistons up to large cabin jets. Of course the requirements are going to be different.”

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Embraer Sees Bizjet Growth Returning in 2012

“Only in 2012 will [business jet] deliveries start growing again,” Embraer executive vice president Luis Carlos Affonso said Tuesday in a pre-LABACE press briefing. He recognized 2010 and 2011 as “difficult years” for the business aviation industry, but noted that there are already signs of an upturn and said the company will meet Phenom delivery goals if it can only make them fast enough. The Phenom 100 is Embraer’s first dedicated business jet, and the “natural challenges of the start of production” could impede the ambitious goal of manufacturing 110 of the light jets in its first full year of production this year. If the company can deliver 55 to 60 Phenoms by the end of the third quarter, then Affonso believes this year’s goal can be met. The Phenom 300 is on schedule for certification and deliveries by year-end. Affonso sees year-to-year U.S. charter numbers finally making an uptick after dropping 35 percent, while the less affected European charter market shows stabilization. Additionally, net ownership of fractional jet shares is up, he said. Meanwhile, Affonso said the drop in inventory of younger used jets, which compete with new aircraft sales, is even more accentuated than that in the pre-owned market as a whole.

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Mobile Phone Use Remains Banned on Most Flights, CAA Says

A ban on using mobile phones on aircraft remains in place for safety reasons, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said last week, despite tests on cell phone systems on some aircraft.  An increasing minority of passengers appear to be ignoring instructions to turn off phones on aircraft, but mobile use is forbidden unless cabin crew say otherwise.  The CAA said: “Use of mobiles can adversely affect navigation and communication functions, producing significant errors on instrument displays and background noise on pilot radios.”  Pilots complain that interference from phones has led to false notification of unsafe conditions, the malfunction of aircraft systems and interrupts flight crew communications.  CAA head of flight operations Bob Jones said: “The safety risks of using a mobile on board an aircraft are well established. Some airlines are testing various systems, but this does not weaken in any way the ban on phones being used on board the vast majority of UK aircraft.  “Unless told otherwise, people must not text or phone while the cabin doors of an aircraft are closedA ban on using mobile phones on aircraft remains in place for safety reasons, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said last week, despite tests on cell phone systems on some aircraft.  An increasing minority of passengers appear to be ignoring instructions to turn off phones on aircraft, but mobile use is forbidden unless cabin crew say otherwise.  The CAA said: “Use of mobiles can adversely affect navigation and communication functions, producing significant errors on instrument displays and background noise on pilot radios.”  Pilots complain that interference from phones has led to false notification of unsafe conditions, the malfunction of aircraft systems and interrupts flight crew communications.  CAA head of flight operations Bob Jones said: “The safety risks of using a mobile on board an aircraft are well established. Some airlines are testing various systems, but this does not weaken in any way the ban on phones being used on board the vast majority of UK aircraft.  “Unless told otherwise, people must not text or phone while the cabin doors of an aircraft are closed.”

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New FAA Chief Counsel

WASHINGTON — Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Randy Babbitt has announced the appointment of David Grizzle as the new FAA chief counsel.  “David Grizzle has top-level experience and I’m looking forward to having him on the team,” Babbitt said. “He understands the challenges of leading a diverse, international organization, as well as the complex interaction between governmental processes and our ultimate stakeholders, the American people.”  Grizzle comes to the FAA following a 22-year career with Continental Airlines, Inc. From 2005 to 2008 he served as senior vice president of customer experience, where he was charged with developing and implementing new operating strategies and improving product deficiencies and services. From 1986 to 2004 Grizzle served in many other leadership positions at the airline, including senior vice president of marketing strategy and corporate development, where he headed up a group of 150 finance, planning, operations and marketing professionals.  From 2004 to 2005, Grizzle was tapped by the U.S. Department of State and took leave from Continental to serve as the transportation and infrastructure coordinator and attaché for the Afghanistan Reconstruction Group, Kabul, Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, he worked with the FAA and other government organizations to accelerate reconstruction efforts for air and surface transportation projects as well as power, and telecommunications.  Prior to his career at Continental, Grizzle served as vice president of administration and general counsel for New York Air, Inc. from 1984 to 1986. From 1978 to 1984 he practiced law at several New York-based law firms, including as a partner at Kellner, Chehebar, Deveney&Grizzle from 1983 to 1984.

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Bruce Willis Plans to Build His Own Airport

The superstar actor Bruce Willis has incurred the wrath of local critics over his plans to build his own airport near his ski lodge, the Soldier Mountain resort, in Idaho. The Die Hard star reportedly wants to have the private airport close to the small town of Hailey, where he moved almost 20 years ago. He believes this will stimulate the state’s economy, because it will enable more traffic to come through, most of which would be private jet owners (read: moneyed visitors).
Also, the Sixth Sense star promises “fresh employment opportunities,” should his airport get built.

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Supersonic Business Jet Inching Closer to Reality

Richard Tracy, founder and chief technology officer of Aerion Corporation, said he “feels pretty good” that the firm will enter into a joint venture to develop a Mach 1.6 supersonic business jet (SSBJ) by the end of 2009, as a result of confidential discussions with potential business aircraft manufacturers.  Most technical issues have been resolved, he said, including validation of full-chord laminar flow over most of the aircraft’s wing at speeds up to Mach 2.0 at full-scale Reynolds numbers in the European Transonic Wind Tunnel (ETW) in Cologne in August 2008. The ETW tests support Aerion’s range, speed and fuel consumption predictions, thereby providing reference data to support a second round of scaled wing tests aboard a NASA F-15 at supersonic speeds later this year or early next year.  Tracy also is more confident about prospects for the program because of potential consensus between US and European regulatory authorities regarding supersonic flight over land. He said that last year FAA’s Office of Environment and Energy moved towards creating a policy that would permit supersonic flight over land if “it can be deemed to be acceptable” with respect to mitigating sonic boom. Tracy said ICAO already has a policy that allows supersonic flight over land “if there is no unacceptable situation at the surface”. Tracy believes the Aerion SSBJ can meet this requirement by flying its SSBJ at up to Mach 1.1 over land.  With a 4,000 nm range at Mach 1.6, the Aerion SSBJ can fly from New York to Paris in 4 hrs 14 min, saving 2 hrs 47 min off the trip time in a G650 cruising at Mach .90, Tracy asserts. He also claims the Aerion SSBJ can fly from New York to Tokyo in 9 hrs 33 min, including a one hour stopover in Anchorage for refueling. That would be 2.5 hours faster than a G650 flying non-stop at Mach .87 between New York and Tokyo, according to Tracy.  Speed isn’t the Aerion SSBJ’s only asset. Tracy also said his design has the smallest size, lightest weight and lowest drag of any competing SSBJ concept, thus it has the lowest environment footprint. That, too, should be appealing to a potential joint-venture partner.

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Business Aviation Worried About New Climate Bill

Business aviation advocates are becoming increasingly concerned that a sweeping climate-change bill that has the potential to shape the future of aviation operations continues to progress through Capitol Hill with few details on how it might impact the aviation industry.

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NBAA Welcomes Proposal to Create LASP Rulemaking Committee

The National Business Aviation Administraion (NBAA) recently welcomed a congressional proposal that would require the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to work more closely with the general aviation industry on its controversial proposed Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP) and other security initiatives.    Representative Charlie Dent (R-15-PA) introduced legislation that would require TSA to create a rulemaking committee with general aviation (GA) industry stakeholders when developing security measures for the industry. H.R. 3093 was cosponsored by eight other House members.    “This legislation shows that Congress understands that we can accomplish more good if we work together rather than separately,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. In the time since the TSA introduced the LASP last October, Bolen has repeatedly called for a rulemaking committee like the one envisioned in the legislation introduced today.   “The business aviation community has a long and demonstrated history of partnership with government in developing effective yet workable security measures for the industry,” Bolen added. “A rulemaking committee, like the one proposed by Rep. Dent and others, would provide a consistent forum for stakeholder information sharing and the development of measures that enhance security while recognizing the need for mobility and flexibility.”   More than 7,000 comments were submitted to the TSA in February regarding the LASP proposal. Almost all of the comments suggested that the proposed changes would be onerous to the thousands of businesses that rely on GA aircraft.  -NBAA

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Prices Dropping, but Used Bizjet Inventory Stabilizing

According to JP Morgan Global Equity Research’s latest Business Jet Monthly report, June used business jet inventories remained stable at 14.4 percent of the active fleet, “a further sign of stabilization at this very high level.” Used inventories of Cessna, Embraer and Hawker Beechcraft jets decreased, according to the report, “while other OEMs saw inventories rise.” Of the 23 aircraft models tracked by JP Morgan, 12 had higher inventories, 10 were lower and one was flat. Although used inventories appear to have peaked, average asking prices dropped 2.8 percent in June, the report noted, “decreasing for the seventh straight month. We expect prices to continue falling to bring the used market toward equilibrium, though this could take some time.” Monthly takeoffs and landings in the U.S. “appear to have stabilized” around the 280,000 range, “off a low of 264,000 in February.” The latest results, for the month of May, show year-to-year flight operations 27 percent lower, “the twelfth straight double-digit decline and the seventh decline of more than 20 percent. Flight ops are down 28 percent year-to-date.”

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Lafayette Regional Airport Evacuated

Lafayette Regional Airport was evacuated for a short time this morning as fumes from a can of animal mace discovered in checked baggage caused burning eyes and respiratory distress.

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Biofuel Could Lighten Jet Fuel’s Carbon Footprint Over 80%

The seeds of a lowly weed could cut jet fuel’s cradle-to-grave carbon emissions by 84 percent. David Shonnard, Robbins Chair Professor of Chemical Engineering, analyzed the carbon dioxide emissions of jet fuel made from camelina oil over the course of its life cycle, from planting to tailpipe.  “Camelina jet fuel exhibits one of the largest greenhouse gas emission reductions of any agricultural feedstock-derived biofuel I’ve ever seen,” he said. “This is the result of the unique attributes of the crop–its low fertilizer requirements, high oil yield, and the availability of its coproducts, such as meal and biomass, for other uses.”  Camelina sativa originated in Europe and is a member of the mustard family, along with broccoli, cabbage and canola. Sometimes called false flax or gold-of-pleasure, it thrives in the semi-arid conditions of the Northern Plains; the camelina used in the study was grown in Montana.  Oil from camelina can be converted to a hydrocarbon green jet fuel that meets or exceeds all petroleum jet fuel specifications. The fuel is a “drop-in” replacement that is compatible with the existing fuel infrastructure, from storage and transportation to aircraft fleet technology.  “It is almost an exact replacement for fossil fuel,” Shonnard explained. “Jets can’t use oxygenated fuels like ethanol; they have to use hydrocarbon replacements.”

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FAA Approves High-Speed Internet System for Jets

Aircell Inc. received certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for a high-speed Internet system designed for business-aviation jets.  The Broomfield-based company announced Thursday the FAA gave full approval to the system, which lets passengers use their own Wi-Fi-enabled devices such as laptops, smartphones and PDAs to surf the Internet, and to send and receive e-mail with attachments at full mobile speeds.  The system is the first that provides “a true high-speed Internet experience that equals what passengers are accustomed to on the ground, while being small and light enough to fit on virtually any business aircraft,” according to a news release. The company said it finished a testing program for the new system three months ahead of schedule.  The first installation was completed by Midcoast Aviation aboard a Bombardier Challenger 6005 aircraft.  Airlines representing more than half of the North American market —including American Airlines, Virgin America, Delta Air Lines and AirTran Airways — are using the commercial airline version of the service, called Gogo Inflight Internet. Northwest Airlines, Air Canada and United Airlines plan to add the service.  In June 2006, Aircell agreed to pay $31.7 million for a 3MHz air-to-ground spectrum in a Federal Communications Commission auction in June. In November 2006, the FCC gave AirCell approval to provide broadband service to U.S. airlines.

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Air France A330 Missing Due to Electrical Issue

An Air France A330-200 flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris overnight suffered an electric circuit fault while flying in a storm just before air traffic control lost all contact with the aircraft.  Air France says AF447 flew into stormy conditions and heavy turbulence around 4 a.m. Paris time, or around four hours into the 11-hour flight. An automatic message about an electric fault was received around 4:14 a.m. Paris time.  Air traffic control from Brazil, Africa, and France failed in efforts to contact the aircraft, which was flying far off the coast of Brazil at the time.  The aircraft was carrying 216 passengers: 126 men, 82 women, seven children and a baby. Additionally, three pilots and nine cabin attendants were onboard.  The pilot in command, who has not been named, had 11,000 flight hours and 1,700 on Airbus A330/A340s under his belt. The copilots had logged 3,000 and 6,600 flight hours each, with 800 and 2,600, respectively, on the Airbus type model. The aircraft, registered F-GZCP, was powered by General Electric CF6-80E1 engines. The A330 had logged 18,870 flight hours and entered service April 18, 2005, Air France says. The last hangar visit came April 16.  The aircraft had taken off at 7:03 p.m. local time, or 12:03 a.m. Paris time (6:03 p.m. EDT). Air France says it has notified the French accident investigation office, the BEA. Airbus, meanwhile, says it is ready to assist.  The crash in only the latest in a number of accidents Air France has suffered this decade, including the high profile July 2000 crash of a Concorde after takeoff from Charles de Gaulle killing 100 passengers and nine crew. In August 2005, the airline also suffered the loss of an A340-300, which overran the runway in poor weather conditions. All onboard survived.

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Lagging? Here’s the 411

Travelers flyingacross time zones should expect to experience jet lag. The fatigue, upsetstomach and disorientation that occurs is normal, says Dr. Andrea Meredith,assistant professor of physiology at the University of Maryland School ofMedicine.

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