Industry News

FSS reauthorization bill back in process
The U.S. Senate at last cleared its FAA reauthorization bill which, among other provisions, funds the Airport Improvement Program at $4 billion in FY 2010 and $4.1 billion in FY 2011. The legislation moves into conference committee to resolve major issues that remain between the House and Senate versions, including a passenger facility charger increase, FedEx unionization, and new ARFF mandates.

Other provisions of the Senate bill include:

  • • Raise the tax on general aviation fuel from the current 21.9 cents per gallon to 36 cents per gallon;
  • • Accelerate the deadlines for adopting existing Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) navigation and surveillance technology, including the development of Required Navigation Performance (RNP) and Area Navigation (RNAV) procedures at the busiest 35 airports by 2014, and for the entire National Airspace System (NAS) by 2018; and
  • • Increase authorized funding for Essential Air Service (EAS) to $175 million annually, a $48 million increase.

Senate holds hearings; harding says no thanks
In March the Senate Commerce Committee and Homeland Security Committee held hearings on the nomination of Maj. Gen. Robert Harding as administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in an effort to fill the void at the top level of the agency, which has been without an administrator for more than a year. Following the hearings, Harding, who had called for more consideration being given to Israeli-style anti-terrorism efforts such as profiling, withdrew his name over concerns raised about military contracts with a security company he founded in 2001 after retiring from the U.S. Army.

Briefings
aaae — American Assn. of Airport Executives president Chip Barclay
testifies to the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Trans-portation Security and Infrastructure Development and urges the subcommittee to give airports a direct role in developing and approving AIT deployment plans; require TSA to pay for space and terminal modifications necessary to accommodate AIT equipment; and proactively address passenger throughput issues.

acrp — Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) and the Transportation Research Board seek industry participation in two industry workshops to solicit feedback about the Airport Performance Indicators (API) Guidebook. Workshops will be held in conjunction with the ACI-NA Economics & Finance Conference (May 2, Miami) and the AAAE annual conference (May 18, Dallas); www.apiworkshops.com.

air associates — is now providing pilot training, aircraft rental, and maintenance services from the West Terminal at the Spirit of St. Louis Airport in Chesterfield, MO.

air europa — of Spain begins non-stop service from Madrid to Miami Int’l Airport on March 19.

akron-Canton (OH) airport — receives $16.625 million from FAA to complete the runway 5/23 safety upgrade and extension. When finished, runway 5/23 will be 8,200 feet long with ILS landing systems at both ends.

ARGUS Int’l, Inc. — introduces a new subsidiary, PRISM Solutions, LLC — Professional Resources In System Management, which offers a range of products and services including safety management system (SMS) solutions, safety and security training, system design and implementation, manuals, and consulting; www.aviationresearch.com.
asig — begins aircraft refueling services for American Eagle and American Connection at Chicago O’Hare Int’l Airport.

austin-bergstrom int’l airport — adds American Airlines’ nonstop service to New York’s JFK Airport from Austin starting July 2, 2010.

avocet aircraft services — begins construction for its new hangar at Orlando Sanford Int’l Airport. Avocet provides aviation repair, maintenance, and aircraft tear-down services for a variety of commercial customers.

Boeing — accelerates the 777 program’s rate increase to seven airplanes per month (from five per month) by approximately six months, from early 2012 to mid-2011. The 747 program’s planned production rate increase to two airplanes per month (from 1.5 per month) will move from mid-2013 to mid-2012.

brian foley associates — projects that the piston-powered fixed-wing segment is now well poised to outpace other categories for the next several years. Piston deliveries could possibly see a double-digit percentage jump, albeit from depressed 2009 levels.

burbank-glendale-pasa-dena airport authority — pursues an alternate approach to addressing the issue of nighttime noise relief, following the rejection by FAA last November of the Authority’s Part 161 Study and Application for a full nighttime curfew. The Part 161 Study took eight years and cost more than $7 million.

cbaa — Canadian Business Aviation Assn. reports it is disappointed over Transport Canada’s decision to take back the certification and oversight functions for business aviation. CBAA won the authority to handle certification and oversight functions for the industry ten years ago, in a move initiated by Transport Canada. TC will now have full responsibility for issuing operating certificates to new applicants, as well as for processing changes to existing certificate holders.

cessna aircraft co. — receives FAA type certification for its Citation CJ4 business jet; OEM expects to deliver 15 units this year and has orders for more than 150.

city of long beach (ca) — extends HNTB’s contract to provide as-needed airport planning, engineering, and architectural consulting services for the reconstruction of the entire air carrier ramp at Long Beach Airport. HNTB will provide design and construction support services for the four-phase project which consists of the reconstruction of ten existing aircraft parking positions; the addition of two new aircraft parking positions; and regrading of ramps.

city of san antonio aviation dept. — opens a 5,000-foot runway at Stinson Municipal Airport. Additional improvements include an extension of taxiways, replacement and upgrade of taxiway lighting, navigational aids for both runways, a new engine run-up area for Runway 32, and a helipad.

ComSec Int’l of Dallas — offers independent certified cargo screening capabilities to meet this August’s TSA screening deadline; www.comsecinternational.com.

Continental Airlines — launches nonstop service between George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, Mexico beginning June 9.
• Continental also shifts all of its Detroit flight operations to the North Terminal at Detroit Metro Airport, allowing the carrier to co-locate with other Star Alliance members United Airlines, Lufthansa German Airlines, US Airways, and Air Canada, which have served the North Terminal since it opened in September 2008. Continental will primarily utilize gates D1, D2 and D8 on the south end of the terminal.

delta air lines — resumes daily nonstop service from Port Columbus (OH) to Los Angeles.
• Delta also announces a new business shuttle service with eleven daily round-trip flights between New York-LaGuardia and Chicago O’Hare Int’l airports.
• Delta and US Airways agree to give up 20 pairs of takeoff and landing rights at La Guardia Airport and Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington to gain federal approval for a larger exchange of those rights between the two airlines.

duncan aviation — enters an agreement with Million Air-Provo to lease hangar space at the Provo Municipal Airport. Duncan will offer service center authorizations from Bombardier and Embraer.
• Duncan locations at Battle Creek, MI and Lincoln, NE complete the training and begin 12 dry bay modifications for Falcon 50, 900, and 2000 series aircraft, per a service bulletin by Dassault Aviation. SB calls for installation of an additional wing dry bay area located outboard of the existing dry bay. Operators have until the end of 2022 to have the modification completed.

eclipse aerospace — based at Albuquerque, NM announces that it is rolling out a new factory refurbishment program entitled “Total Eclipse” for new customers to purchase its certified twin-engine very light jet. The Total Eclipse program marks the completion of the final design of the original EA500 aircraft. Since acquisition of the company, Eclipse Aerospace has been investing in, and completing the design and certification of, the original EA500 jet, which now includes FIKI (Flight Into Known Icing) and GPS coupled autopilot.

faa — Federal Aviation Adminis-tration proposes a $1.45 million civil penalty against Northwest Airlines for operating a number of its Boeing 757 aircraft without proper windshield wiring inspections.
• FAA seeks to collect three proposed civil penalties totaling $787,500 from American Airlines for maintenance violations. FAA alleges American Airlines mechanics diagnosed problems with one of two Central Air Data Computers (CADCs) on a McDonnell Douglas MD-82 jetliner. Instead of replacing the computer, mechanics improperly deferred this maintenance under the airline’s DC-9 Minimum Equipment List (MEL) by noting that the auto-throttles were inoperative. The MEL, however, does not allow deferral of an inoperative CADC.
• At its annual Forecast Conference FAA predicts that, long term, general aviation is expected to grow by about 50,000 airplanes and 52,000 active pilots by 2030. FAA predicts the GA fleet will grow an average of 0.9 percent a year, from 229,149 aircraft in 2009 to 278,723 in 2030. Use of light- sport aircraft is expected to rise by more than 800 a year through 2013, then level to nearly 335 per year. GA hours flown are forecast to increase from 23.3 million in 2009 to 38.9 million in 2030, an average annual growth rate of 2.5 percent.

fargo jet center, inc. — adds a Bombardier Learjet 60 jet to its fleet of charter aircraft.

flightsafety foundation — embraces recommendations to form a Multidisciplinary Task Force of legal experts from the aviation industry, law enforcement, judicial authorities, and the public to achieve “a balanced approach that is supportive of blameless reporting and sharing of critical aviation safety information, and the proper administration of justice.” The Foundation also called upon governments worldwide to begin pooling resources, expertise, training, and authority better, and to form multi-national, independent air accident investigation boards.

florida senate bill 1500 — amendment is withdrawn following lobbying efforts by NATA and the Florida Aviation Trades Association. The amendment sought to control the price of fuel at fixed base operators if they are the sole contractor at a public-use airport. It also would have prohibited storage, landing, or departure fees on aircraft located on public-use airport property for less than 90 minutes. SB 1500 was passed by the Florida Senate Transportation Committee, giving commercial airlines a tax break if they buy their fuel in Tallahassee, an incentive to get more commercial flights.

hai — Helicopter Association International releases an online aviation wire strike safety awareness video, “Surviving the Wires Environment”; www.rotor.com.

Halifax Int’l Airport Authority— announces that Porter Airlines will add a non-stop Montréal route, with connecting flights to St. John’s via Halifax.

hangar bay — of Ottumwa, IA offers Cessna replacement aircraft interiors, offering seat cushions, side panels, carpets; etc.; http://hangarbay.org

hawker beechcraft corp. — of Wichita, KS appoints Hawker Pacific Singapore as the first authorized service center (ASC) in Southeast Asia for its Hawker 4000.

iata — International Air Transport Association halves its loss forecast for airlines in 2010 to US $2.8 billion (compared to the US $5.6 billion loss forecast in December 2009).

jda aviation technology solutions — of Bethesda, MD announces that Paradigm Helicopters, a Houston, TX-based Helicopter Flight and Tour operator, has contracted with JDA for 135 Pro certification support. Program is designed to simplify the process and lower costs associated with obtaining a Part 135 certificate.

jetbird — a European air taxi operator, cancels its agreement with Embraer to buy 50 Phenom 100 very light jets, after failing to raise additional financing to get the business launched. The companies are reportedly negotiating a new contract with a new delivery schedule.

jetblue — announces it will keep its headquarters in New York City, rejecting a proposal to relocate to Orlando.

kissimmee (FL) gateway airport — announces that Orlando Flight Training is adding a sport pilot training program with an addition of four new Cessna Skycatcher aircraft to its fleet in Summer 2010.

klamath falls (OR) airport — applies for two state grants, one that would guarantee northbound service from SkyWest for two years and one that would provide funding for an aviation mechanics program. In conjunction with Coos Bay/North Bend and Salem, Klamath Falls applied for $1.12 million in Connect Oregon III funds and offered a $280,000 local match to purchase upgraded connectivity software for SkyWest. The total project is estimated to cost $4.29 million. Sky West would fund the rest. In return for the grant to upgrade its ticketing software, SkyWest promises to guarantee service from both Coos Bay/North Bend and Klamath Falls to Portland for two years, add four daily flights between Salem and Seattle, invest $2.8 million in the software, and improve connectivity in Portland. SkyWest would guarantee the Salem to Seattle flights for one year.

lakeland (fl) linder regional airport — is awarded a $2.4 million grant from FAA for taxiway construction that will alleviate complex geometric intersections and improve the safety of taxiing at the airport. Construction is scheduled to be completed by spring 2011.

louis armstrong new orleans int’l airport — awards the $16.8 million expansion of Concourse D to McDonnell Group, LLC of Metairie, LA. Concourse D expansion will add six airline gates, doubling the capacity of the concourse. The project will include new food and beverage outlets, new retailers, and restrooms.

midcoast aviation — at Cahokia, IL receives FAA organization designation authorization for supplemental type certificates (STC).

msp jet center — at Minneapolis/St. Paul Int’l Airport receives its Part 145 repair station certificate. ASI Jet Center opened MSP in 2009, and is located at the Signature Flight Support fixed base operation.

new york laguardia — welcomes Life is good™ to its retail mix. Operated by the Hudson Group, Life is good™ is a brand dedicated to spreading the power of optimism.

north american jet charter group — of Charleston, SC announces that it is the first aircraft charter operator to receive FAA Part 135 charter approval for operation of its fleet of Eclipse 500 very light jets in a single-pilot charter configuration. In June 2007, North American Jet Charter Group became the first charter operator in the world to operate the Eclipse 500.

netjets — cancels 65 Dassault Falcon jet orders that the fractional owner had placed for delivery beyond 2014. Move follows NetJets loss of some $711 million last year.

ntsb — National Transportation Safety Board adopts a study concluding that single-engine airplanes equipped with glass cockpits had no better overall safety record than airplanes with conventional instrumentation. The safety study was initiated to determine if light airplanes equipped with digital primary flight displays were inherently safer than those equipped with conventional instruments.
• NTSB also denies an FAA appeal challenging a decision by an Administrative Law Judge that directs the agency to pay Air Trek, Inc., a Florida-based air ambulance operator, attorney fees and expenses in the amount of $120,169.35. NTSB granted additional fees required to respond to the FAA’s appeal. The total award was $121,991.34. On June 10, 2008, FAA issued an emergency order revoking Air Trek’s air carrier certificate; it has since been reinstated.
• And, NTSB determines that Northwest Airlines flight 188 overflew its destination airport of Minneapolis by more than 100 miles and failed to maintain radio communications because the pilots became distracted by a conversation unrelated to the operation of the aircraft.

oliver wyman — a Vancouver-based consulting firm, in conjunction with the International Air Transport Association (IATA), announces the findings of its 2010 Global Air Cargo CEO Survey, which says air cargo firms are cautious about projected improvements in 2010, but almost all foresee a return to 2007 peak levels within one to three years.

phoenix-mesa gateway airport authority — celebrates the arrival of Cactus League Spring Training to Arizona by dedicating the passenger terminal’s outdoor courtyard to both National Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Fergie Jenkins and Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller.

port of oakland (ca) — announces that Terminal 2 at Oakland Int’l Airport (OAK) is awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. OAK received Silver recognition for its environmental leadership in extending and renovating Terminal 2, the first airport passenger terminal in the U.S. to receive the “Silver” level.

san diego county regional airport authority — receives a $9.8 million grant from FAA toward construction of a new aircraft parking apron as part of The Green Build expansion of Terminal 2 West. The grant is a discretionary AIP grant and the second such grant received by the authority for the Terminal 2 West apron project, for a total of $41.2 million in AIP funding.

san diego int’l airport — begins its long-awaited terminal expansion project costing nearly $1 billion and expanding the airport’s Terminal 2 by ten gates, creating a dual roadway to separate arriving and departing passengers, providing a larger concession waiting area, and building a new parking area for jets. Funding for the improvements is coming from a variety of sources, with the primary vehicle a series of tax-free bonds that will be issued by the airport authority.

seaport airlines — will provide Salina, KS with three nonstop roundtrip flights Sunday through Friday and one outbound flight on Saturday to Kansas City with a nine-seat Pilatus PC-12 aircraft for a first-year subsidy of $1,489,435 and a second year of $1,493, 381.

signature flight support — has a U.S. District Judge rule in its favor in a major contract dispute involving a Signature sublessee, Landow Aviation Limited Partnership (Dulles Jet Center). Signature claimed Landow went beyond what the sublease permitted by providing fixed base operator services to Signature’s clients and the transient aircraft market generally at Dulles.

standard aero — plans to close its Little Rock, AR engine shop and transfer the work back to its facility in Springfield, IL, which will begin providing services for Honeywell TFE731 engines later this year.

sterling aviation — headquartered at Milwaukee’s Mitchell Int’l Airport, expands its fleet with the addition of a King Air B200 turboprop.

supermarine — opens a new fixed base operation and a 23,000-sq. ft. hangar at Little Rock, AR., and reports it plans to add a 50,000-sq. ft. complex by the end of 2010.

triumph group — agrees to buy Vought Aircraft Industries from private equity firm Carlyle Group in a $1.44 billion deal. Triumph reportedly will pay $525 million in cash and 7.5 million shares of stock to acquire Dallas-based Vought, which supplies components for commercial, military, and business jets.

TSA — Transportation Security Administration passes along its proposed Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP) to the Dept. of Homeland Security, beginning the vetting process prior to being published as a notice of proposed rulemaking. TSA is expected to hold another series of public meetings on the updated LASP proposal. The previous LASP proposal issued one year ago generated more than 9,000 negative comments.
• TSA also begins testing an electronic monitoring system that uses passengers’ smart phones and other electronic devices to measure waiting times in security lines. By logging the “chirps” emitted by some devices, the system can determine how long an individual passenger spent in line.

twc aviation, inc. — of Los Angeles adds a ten-passenger Dassault Falcon 2000LX to its managed fleet.

urs corp. — as a subcontractor to the Kiewit/Sundt design/build team, is designing the landside improvements in front of Terminal 2 for the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority. The URS subcontract calls for the design of a second-level roadway across from the terminal, an automated departure curb known as a “Smart Curb” that will allow passenger check-in before entering the terminal, two pedestrian bridges, six roadway bridges, a baggage tunnel, and USO and parking management facilities.
U.S. immigration & customs enforcement — opens the Arizona Removal Operations Coordination Center, a new facility at the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport that will streamline the repatriation of citizens from Central American countries illegally in the United States.

U.S. senate — approves an amendment authored by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) to assist FAA in creating a standardized, voluntary set of best practices to assist airports in operating and building sustainable facilities. Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) and other industry representatives are leading a new initiative, the Airport Sustainability Institute (ASI), an independent, not-for-profit agency that would promote sustainability performance standards, and could objectively assess and rate airports, certify their sustainability level, and recognize their achievements.

U.S. travel assn. — forms a study panel to recommend ways to ensure secure, efficient, and customer-friendly air travel. Members include former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and former House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Jim Turner (D-TX); Robert Crandall, former American Airlines CEO; Bennet Waters, former deputy assistant secretary of TSA; and Thomas Ripp, president of L-3 Security and Detection Systems.

In Memoriam
Long-time Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) president John Baker died in March at his home in Angier, NC. Baker started flying in a Piper J2 Cub when he was 15, flew fighters in Korea for the U.S. Air Force, and later graduated from law school. In the 1970s, he became the FAA’s Assistant Administrator for General Aviation, and in 1977 became AOPA’s second president.

Baker is credited with leading efforts to unlock a $4 billion surplus in the Aviation Trust Fund, keeping GA airspace restrictions to a minimum, battling a proposed annual federal tax on all GA aircraft, blocking wholesale closings of Flight Service Stations, and being a leader in the fight for aviation product liability reform.

NATA Challenges Part 135 Report
In March the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure held a hearing on “FAA’s Oversight of On-Demand Aircraft Operators”, during which National Air Transportation Assn. president James K. Coyne challenged a July 13, 2009 report from the DOT Inspector General titled “On-Demand Operators Have Less Stringent Safety Requirements and Oversight Than Large Commercial Carriers”. Coyne charges that the report failed to present an accurate picture of the Part 135 regulatory environment.

The report cited numerous examples of differences between Part 135 and Part 121 regulations but did not offer adequate explanation for the reason for the variances, says Coyne. He added that Part 135 accident rates have steadily improved in recent years, with two fatal accidents occurring in 2009.

FBO snapshots

Odyssey opens at new orleans lakefront
Odyssey Aviation, the former Million Air fixed base operation at New Orleans Lakefront Airport, officially opens its new FBO, offering views of Lake Ponchartrain. Odyssey, one of a Cincinnati-based chain of FBOs, had its previous facilities demolished by Hurricane Katrina. Much of the airfield had to be reconstructed after Katrina, which along with a long permitting process held up the rebuilding effort.

Business jet center expands at oak
Business Jet Center (BJC), a fixed base operation at Oakland Int’l Airport, adds more than 15,000 square feet of hangar space to its leasehold. BJC now manages more than 100,000 square feet of designated business and general aviation hangar space, making it one of the largest FBOs in the Bay Area. Business Jet Center OAK opened in the fall of 2003 and completed a $4 million renovation of the airport’s 8,449-sq. ft. original 1920’s executive terminal building.

LETTER - Fuel Fraud Tax
Editor:
Been reading your articles now for a while. So let’s talk about something that has to be one of the most secretive taxes in the aviation industry: [the] fuel fraud tax. Can we please bring this tax back to the forefront of aviation?

As you know or I hope you know, this additional tax of .024 cents per gallon was imposed in Oct. 2005. Now here is the creative part — the .219 excise taxes we have all paid into the Aviation Trust Fund hasn’t been going there since Oct. 2005. That right, it now goes to the Highway Fund. The only way to move it from the Highway Fund back into the Aviation Trust Fund is by the Ultimate Venders who actually apply for the refund of .024.

Million Air St. Louis applies for the refund. We move the funds, but how many other FBOs have applied to be an Ultimate Vender? How many FBOs are applying for the refund? From what I have seen and heard, not many. Most FBOs I have spoken to know little or nothing about it and choose not to do it. Most pilots know little or nothing about it and we continually have to educate them about it as we ask them for their Federal Tax ID number in case we were to be audited.

Where does that leave us? No wonder we need more taxes for the Aviation Trust Fund — because the aviation funds are now sitting in the Highway Fund.

Let’s bring this to the forefront of our aviation industry.

Cindy Hayden, Customer Service Manager
Million Air St. Louis, Chesterfield, MO

(Editor’s note: The National Air Transportation Assn. has been the lead trade group on getting this issue addressed, per your concerns. VP Eric Byer relates that repeal of the Fuel Fraud Provision of the 2005 Highway Bill remains a top priority for NATA. Says the association in a position statement, “In many cases, operators or fuel providers do not apply for a refund; therefore, the aviation trust fund receives no revenue from the sale of the aviation jet fuel. This policy has increased Highway Trust Fund revenues by hundreds of millions of dollars at the expense of the Airport and Airway Trust Fund.” For information, visit www.nata.aero.)

Quote: Health Care
“Starting in 2010, the bill provides tax credits to small businesses that provide health care insurance to their employees. Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees will be eligible for tax credits of up to 35% of their total employee premium payments. By 2014, tax credits for small businesses will cover 50% of their premium costs. Part-time employees would be counted toward the 50-employee minimum on a pro-rated basis based on hours worked, bringing more small businesses into the group required to provide coverage.”
— Eric Byer blog;
www.nata.aero

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