Popular Refrain: 'It is what it is'

ORLANDO — The biggest news of this year’s annual Meeting & Convention hosted by the National Business Aviation Association here in October was the show itself. No record-setting this year; no flurry of new aircraft introductions, no earth-shattering orders. The event reflected the step back that business aviation has been forced to take during the past year, due to economic and political forces. But the 22,920 in attendance plodded along, encouraged by reports across the trade show floor that many companies had experienced an ‘uptick’ in activity in August and September.

NBAA reports that attendance was down one-fourth from the 30,811 that attended in 2008. Ninety-one percent, or 1,075 of the exhibitors from last year’s convention, returned for 2009.

Actual floor space was down some 16 percent, the group says, with some manufacturers only exhibiting at the Static Display, with some 100 aircraft at Orlando Executive.

The most visible sign of change was exemplified by Cessna Aircraft Company, which was conspicuous by its absence from the trade show floor.

Comments Cessna chairman Jack J. Shelton, “We’re going ‘back to basics’ this year at NBAA, concentrating on exhibiting our products at the static display and not having a booth in the convention hall.”

Regarding the economy itself, Pelton says, “I’m far from ready to call a turnaround, but we do continue to see some encouraging developments.Financing is more readily available, used aircraft inventory is lowering, and prices for used aircraft have increased for the first time in several quarters.

“Average Daily Utilization figures for the Citation fleet have stopped dropping, and bookings for maintenance work are on the rise. We are seeing signs of stabilization and some indicators that the business jet market is starting to move in a positive direction. Single-engine retail sales have been particularly strong in recent weeks which is usually a forerunner for the rest of the product line.”

FAA talks SMS
This year’s opening general session featured a presentation by FAA administrator J. Randolph Babbitt on the topic of safety management systems (SMS). Says Babbitt, “There’s data all over the place, but in too many instances, we can’t get to it.

“In order to ratchet up the level of safety, safety management systems are the only option. When you have as few accidents as we do, it’s difficult to spot a trend with a chart that has only three data points on it. SMS is the solution.” SMS doesn’t wait for accidents, he says, and industry has nearly eliminated the common causes of aviation accidents. “But safety management systems will allow us to spot precursors,” says Babbitt. “That’s the data; that’s where we need to dig.”

The fact of the matter is we can’t regulate professionalism, he says. “That’s why I continue to stress the need for mentoring; it’s clear that SMS will enable us to connect the dots with the data — professionalism and mentoring will help us put it to good use,” relates Babbitt.

Tapping Social Media
New to the annual convention program was a session dedicated to relating the value of social media and the best ways to use it. In many ways, social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are changing the way business aviation professionals are communicating with each other. Comments JetWhine blogger Rob Mark, “The one thing I have found personally about social media is that I have met more people that I would have never met in my life.”

Mark says that social media to him is really about engagement; and conversation. “We are really using new technology to do something we have all been doing all of our lives, which is talking to and trying to find people that we have something in common with,” says Mark. “The beauty of the technology is that now with certain kinds of keywords, tags, and such, you can easily find those people.” Mark warns however, that social media is a tool, and not the “be all, end all of business.”

The bad news is, says Aviation Week group online managing editor Benét Wilson, there is no handbook with step by step instructions on how best to use social media tools.

“It’s trial and error,” says Wilson. “For me, [social media] is reaching out into a community that I am already in, but digging deeper than I could otherwise.”

NBAA communications manager Patrick Dunne relates that the association has been utilizing social networking with its Air Mail lists before social networking was even a term. With regard to modern e-networking, “We have launched onto Twitter and we have Facebook pages; we use that to weigh in on the conversations that are going on about business aviation,” says Dunne.

“Aviation is a community, and a family,” says manager of marketing communications for Cutter Aviation Ryan Keough. “We are a group of people that are separated by miles and miles — how can we unite more than 30,000 locations and people across the country, and do it so they aren’t taking a lot of time out of their schedule to do so?”

That’s social media, says Keough. By viewing status updates on Twitter and Facebook, “You are seeing your fellow colleagues talking about their day-to-day business, and what they are doing to improve the industry and their own businesses,” remarks Keough. “It’s that exchange of ideas...we benefit from each other’s knowledge and information.”

Another aspect of social media relates to how customers use social platforms to critique, criticize, or express gratitude towards a particular business or individual. The panelists on NBAA’s e-media session all agreed, apart from using social media to keep customers of a broad online audience informed in a noninvasive manner, companies can also keep an eye on what is said about them — and in turn, confront and address directly potential negative perceptions about a business or the industry.

Ultimately, comments Mark, “The way people gather information is changing, and as a business, if you don’t want to share information that people want answers to, they are going to go around you.

“Social media is about stimulating the conversation; the value and power of the message is not defined by the company anymore — it’s defined by the customers.”

Breakthrough Fueling Technologies

  • Garsite’s new stainless steel inner linings for double-wall above ground fuel storage tanks are changing the market, says Garsite’s Paul Sundby. “We have raised the standard for tanks; and for the same price,” says Sundby.
    The stainless steel inner linings replace traditional epoxy-coated lined tanks resulting in improved longevity and operational reliability, according to the company. The stainless steel linings preserve the full integrity of the fuel tanks while also providing a maintenance-free interior.
  • FuelerLinx compares contract fuel prices, and direct FBO prices, at any quantity, at any airport, according to the company. It then dispatches the fuel release and reconciles the fuel invoices. Additionally, the software produces detail reporting which incorporates ramp fees, posted retail price, catering charges, taxes, ITP fees, etc.
    “When a flight department begins the process of planning a trip, they often have the cumbersome task of contacting various fuel suppliers to determine the best cost of fuel for each fueling segment,” president Kevin Moller explains. “FuelerLinx works with more than 25 fuel vendors as well as FBO direct locations to find the lowest fuel price automatically at any IATA/IOCA location worldwide.”
  • FuelMaster’s Automated Data Capture (ADC) system can handle complete fueling data acquisition, calculate real-time temperature compensation, and locally pre-authorize credit cards all in an easy-to-use handheld device. The product is a solution for problems encountered while performing vehicle or tank fueling operations at remote sites, says the company.

NBAA news in brief ...
airbp — launches a new customer rewards program, Bravo, that offers over 45 million merchandise options, including a concierge service to help customers obtain custom items. Free membership; available at AirBP dealers in the U.S. and Canada.

air routing international — now offers a comprehensive technical suite of full service, one-stop solutions for international flight planning. The online flight planning service is a single-source solution that provides users with analysis, GPS RAIM predictions, fuel releases, and airport information, says the company; www.airrouting.com.

becker avionics, inc. — a supplier of communication, navigation, surveillance, and search & rescue products, announces the TSO certification of its BXP6403 Mode S Transponder Class I and II series. The BXP6403 is a compact and lightweight single block Mode-S transponder.

cae — initiates its first CAE Simfinity(TM)-equipped classroom for maintenance training at the Honeywell Aerospace Academy in Phoenix. High-fidelity, simulation-based multi-screen displays will be used to support technical training across a range of Honeywell-equipped business aircraft platforms. The first course taught in the CAE Simfinity classroom addresses Air Transport Association (ATA) Level III line maintenance for the Honeywell Primus Epic(R) integrated avionics.
• CAE also announces that eight additional business aircraft full-flight simulators are expected to be ready for training in the next few months at its pilot/maintenance training centers in Dallas, New York, London, and Dubai.

chevron global aviation — will debut its new FBO trainer web program, Refueler, Operator, and Maintenance Training, on November 5. The software program will include training modules related to fuel truck components, pre-trip instruction, vehicle start-up and shut-down, fueling/refueling, and line ops troubleshooting. Operators will be tested in between modules and will receive certification upon completion of the online training course; www.totalga.com.

crane aerospace & electronics — a Crane Co. segment, signs a Letter of Intent with Duncan Aviation, Inc. for the latter to support Crane’s effort to secure Supplemental Type Certifications (STCs) for the SmartStem® Wireless Tire Pressure Indication System on business jets. Crane currently has received STCs for the Cessna Sovereign and Citation X.

duncan aviation — of Lincoln, NE, and Wayfarer Aviation, Inc. of Rye Brook, NY announce a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a fleet savings package to support Wayfarer’s fleet of managed aircraft. Wayfarer has over 25 aircraft under management varying from Global Express, Challenger, Cessna, and Falcon aircraft based internationally from Florida, New York, California, and Singapore.
• Duncan also will soon open a European sales and support office to provide ongoing relationship and sales support for business aircraft operators based throughout Europe, the Middle East, and India.

eagle creek aviation — a major purchaser of Embraer Phenom 100, endorses JSSI as its preferred hourly cost maintenance provider, by offering the Phenom to its clients covered by the JSSI Program, subject to custom pricing developed solely for the Eagle Creek Phenom positions.

ets aviation — introduces the Aviation Footprinter, a new software package designed for the aviation industry to enable easy recording, monitoring, and reporting of carbon emissions. The system organizes flight data and internal quality procedures in a way that annual emissions reports can be audited accurately and in a timely manner; www.etsaviation.com.

flexjet — Flexjet launches a Corporate Supplemental Lift Program offering a full suite of customizable aviation solutions for flight departments. Flexjet -- the fractional jet ownership company of Bombardier -- offers its Walk Away Lease program, with the option to exit the program with just a 90-day notice. Additionally, the Flexjet 25 Jet Card program, operated by Jet Solutions, offers owners the benefit of purchasing 50 percent of their total hours in one aircraft type and 50 percent of the remaining hours in another type.

gama aviation inc. — signs a multi-year agreement with Signature Flight Support to cover fueling, office space, and hangarage for its U.S. operations. Gama will establish a presence at Signature Teterboro with 30,000 square feet of hangarage and office space. This adds to Gama’s existing facility at Signature Palm Beach which encompasses 30,000 square feet of hangar and 10,000 square feet of office space. Signature will be Gama’s preferred FBO services provider through a network fuel program.

hawker beechcraft services (hbs) — reaches an agreement with Raytheon Airline Aviation Services (RAAS) to upgrade its Beechcraft 1900D demonstrator with Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 Integrated Display System (IDS).
• HBS and FlightSafety International will launch a full schedule of technical training courses at FlightSafety’s new 44,000-sq. ft. Maintenance Training Center, beginning Nov. 9, 2009. The first course to be offered, MxPro, is a maintenance training program that leverages HBC’s knowledge of aircraft design, manufacturing, and support with FlightSafety’s experience as the world’s leading aviation training provider.

horizon’s totalfbo — aviation and business management software now offers the FlashTurn system, an online concierge request system for subscribing FBOs and aircraft operators. FlashTurn allows operators to post requests for fuel and services at no charge from any web browser while also allowing FBOs to advertise their facilities and services and provide their customers with confirmed fuel pricing; www.hbcinc.com.

innovative solutions & support (issi) — of Easton, PA is selected by Dassault Falcon to provide flat-panel cockpit displays that will be offered as part of an upgrade program for operators of Falcon 2000 and 2000EX aircraft. Dassault Falcon is developing an STC for Falcon 2000 and 2000EX operators that have the original flight deck displays. The STC will allow operators to upgrade to a set of four flat panel LCD displays. The upgrade adds the functionality of e-charts and satellite weather.
• ISSI also announces its Engine Instrument Display System (EIDS) has been selected by BAE Systems, Crestview, FL, for integration and installation on the U.S. Navy C-130T fleet.

jssi — an independent provider of hourly cost maintenance programs for business aviation, enters into a new Service Center Agreement with Duncan Aviation, providing for repair and maintenance services performed at Duncan Aviation facilities at favorable terms to JSSI customers.

kansas city aviation department — is nearing completion of a $70 million refurbishment program at its Downtown Airport. The MKC refurbishment program, begun in 2005, includes a $28 million project to raze and resurface both airport runways; $20 million to bulldoze 40 old hangars and replace them with 96 new hangars; $17 million for runway safety projects and construction of a $1 million general aviation terminal, an aircraft self-fueling avgas station, and outdoor aircraft wash bay.
• Also at MKC: Executive Beechcraft completes an extensive refurbishment of its FBO facility, including the pilots’ lounge and conference and meeting rooms.

kilfrost — manufacturer of de-cing and anti-icing fluids, introduces a new Type II fluid, ABC-K Plus. The new fluid offers improved anti-icing holdover to traditional Type II fluids and can be applied cold, or hot as a one-step de-icing and anti-icing solution, says the company; www.kilfrost.com.

mid-continent instruments — of Wichita is partnering with AeroMech Inc. in the certification of the new MD835 Emergency Power Supply. This teams Mid-Continent’s lithium battery with AeroMech’s expertise in the development of avionics STCs, including a number of complex RVSM certifications for fixed-wing aircraft.
• Mid-Continent Instruments also introduces the MD420-1 Emergency Power Supply, with a 2.5 Amp-hour battery that powers electronic flight displays, standby instruments, or other critical avionic systems.

million air — adds locations at Indianapolis; Moses Lake, WA; and Tallahassee. Franchise chain also nears completion of its complex at San Bernardino Int’l, featuring a 35,597-sq. ft. hangar/office facility and U.S. Customs building; breaks ground on a new FBO at Gulfport-Biloxi Int’l; and, opens its new FBO at Tucson Int’l Airport, featuring a 20,000-sq. ft. hangar.

nbaa — announces that $168,000 was raised at the NBAA/CAN Charity Benefit held during this week’s convention, with the proceeds going to Corporate Angel Network (CAN).
• NBAA awards its 2009 David Ewald Platinum Wing Award for lifetime achievement and excellence in journalism to William (“Bill”) Garvey, editor-in-chief of Business & Commercial Aviation magazine.

panasonic avionics corp. — announces the availability of its Global Communications Suite for business aircraft, offering enhanced connectivity and productivity for business flyers through a combination of the following services: eXConnect, eXPhone, and the Panasonic Airborne Television Network. The suite provides the bandwidth to support simultaneous voice, Internet, VPN, live television, and video conferencing.

sagem avionics — (Safran group) of Grand Prairie, TX and Wayfarer Aviation, Inc. are combining efforts to establish an industry-leading Corporate Flight Operational Quality Assurance (CFOQA) program, based on the Sagem AGS Software package and FDM Suite (Flight Data Management). C-FOQA provides information about flight safety issues, allowing operators to enhance flight safety and efficiency. By collecting and analyzing recorded flight data, unsafe and abnormal operations can be detected and addressed.

sextant advisory — in collaboration with Analytical Management Techniques Corp., develops Financial IQ for Aviation, which provides detailed, fully allocated profit and loss data for each

flight segment -- both looking forward (for developing quotations) and looking backward (for business analysis); www.sextantadvisory.com.

signature flight support — appoints David Best as its chief commercial officer, Steve Lee as chief operating officer and Mark Johnstone as chief financial officer. All three roles are new executive level positions at Signature.
• Signature also triples AVTRIP points at U.S. locations through the end of the year when a customer “tops off” the aircraft. Promotion will be active at participating Signature Flight Support and Executive Beechcraft locations.
• Signature London Gatwick (LGW) completes a renovation of its dedicated fixed base operation, adding two VIP lounges and a crew lounge with a business center. Amenities include WiFi Internet access and a new convenient service for VIP passengers transiting to and from the commercial terminal.

skybuyhigh — announces the launch of its e-boutique service on-board private and charter aircraft and for use in FBO locations, creating a new stream of revenue for the aviation industry. Charter operators and brokers earn commissioned income from items purchased on SkyBuyHigh systems placed on their aircraft, and FBOs earn revenue by offering the system in their lounge or by loaning out the system to be placed on-board charter and private flights that frequent their location. No set-up fees or other charges; www.skybuyhigh.com.

standard aero — A DAE company of Tempe, AZ and Wayfarer Aviation, Inc. of Rye Brook, NY sign a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a fleet savings program to support Wayfarer’s fleet of managed aircraft.

3m — announces its Mobile Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS) solution, a system which offers charter companies, general aviation, and FBOs with an accurate, portable, and flexible way to collect, store, validate, and transmit APIS data for Customs and Border Protection passenger screening with forwarding to TSA for vetting; www.3m.com.

west star aviation, inc. — of East Alton, IL announces that Aviation Partners, Inc. (API) has named it their newest Blended Winglet installation center for the Falcon 2000 series aircraft. STC’s have been received for U.S., Europe, Canada, and Brazil.

Light Business Aircraft Conferences on Tap

Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) announce that, beginning in 2010, AOPA and NBAA will each host Light Business Aircraft Conferences as part of their annual conventions.

Comments NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen, “This new collaborative effort to address the needs of a vital sector of the industry – the small businesses which use aviation – will enhance the value of each organization to our members and can help businesses that do not yet take advantage of business aviation understand why it would be in their interest to do so.”
The AOPA Aviation Summit and NBAA’s Annual Meeting and Convention are often on opposite sides of the country; thus, say the associations, the jointly hosted Light Business Aircraft Conferences will be able to reach more pilots each year.

Online Resource

NBAA and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) unveil a new online resource to help businesses of all types and sizes calculate and explain the value a business aircraft brings to a company’s overall business objectives.

The new Business Aircraft E-Valuation Toolkit identifies five basic resources every company in business aviation should have for measuring an aircraft’s value – regardless of the size or type of the business involved, which are:

  • A policy statement for use of the company’s aircraft.
  • A method for establishing metrics to quantify an aircraft’s value.
  • A document-retention program to catalogue relevant information about the missions conducted with the aircraft.
  • A presentation for a company’s internal audiences, so that employees can become advocates for the flight operation.
  • A presentation for external audiences – including the news media, lawmakers and others – so that a company can promote the benefits of business aviation.