Downsized... but business activity is strong

Jan. 8, 2002

Downsized " but business activity is strong

By John F. Infanger and Lindsay M. Hitch

January 2002

NBAA By the Numbers20012000• Attendance11,738 29,421 • Exhibitors 670 965

NEW ORLEANS — The trademark receptions were absent. Show and attendance were down to about a third of normal, and the static display was only a fraction of itself. Yet, those who came for this year’s delayed NBAA show found a ripe business climate, as well as an opportunity to share ideas on the changing face of aviation security.
Business aviation’s annual big show, sponsored by the National Bus-iness Aviation Association, was held December 12-14, having been originally set for September 18-20. In the interim, the technical sessions were redirected to include security-oriented presentations and discussions. The sessions were well attended and sparked comments of interest from speakers and audience alike.

Addressing the audience of corporate flight departments and others interested in business aviation, John Moran admits that "FAA and TSA [Transportation Security Admin.] are rookies at handling security in business aviation." Moran is FAA security representative to DOT’s rapid response team for airport security.
He says that FAA’s security interests have always focused on FAR Part 107 (airports) and Part 108 (airlines). Recognizing that many business aircraft are modified airliners and thus just as large a threat in another 9/11-type scenario, Moran says it’s time for Part 91 operators’ security procedures to be looked at more closely.
The supplemental FAR Part 91 released in late 2001 allows for FAA to dictate security regulations for aircraft greater than 25,000 pounds. The SFAR does not include any regulations, but rather the ability for FAA to put them in place. For now, Moran says the focus will be aircraft of 95,000 pounds and above, and that FAA regional offices are in the process of sending notification letters to affected operators. Moran says that this new security program has no surprises, but is intended to put security requirements in writing and have a minimum standard for larger Part 91 operators.
Essentially, says Moran, the program is structured around three basic questions:
• What are we protecting (aircraft, passengers, etc.)?
• Where are the vulnerabilities?
• How can we check those vulnerabilities without killing the business we’re trying to protect?
Moran points out that business aviation is already a safe transportation sector; the emphasis now should be on staying aware of who’s around and what’s going on.
Several panelists recommend looking at the aircraft from the perspective of wanting to do harm, evaluating how to go about it, and then determining how to protect against those tactics.
Dick Marchi, senior vice president of technical and environmental affairs for the Airports Council International - North America, recommends that corporate flight departments establish regular communication with the security directors at airports they use regularly. Being aware of the airport’s security efforts and adopting voluntary security programs will increase the safety of the system overall, he says.
Bill Wagner, who heads up the flight department for Townsend Engineering, says that the security of aircraft ultimately rests with the operators. There are three different concerns, he says, to take into account: home base security; transient security; and international security.
Regarding home base security, Wagner says, "Your people are not the problem, it’s the others wandering around the airport." He stresses that unless the nearby FBO’s employees are well known to the flight department, they are a threat. Even if the hangar where aircraft are parked is property of the FBO, it is up to the flight department to ensure the hangar and aircraft are secure.
When away from the home base, Wagner recommends having a member of the flight crew available to the FBO at all times as well as getting 24-hour security whenever possible. And, he stresses, the flight department’s schedule should never be public knowledge. Townsend Engineering does not post its schedule anywhere, does not send schedule information via e-mail, and shreds all documents with that information, he says.
Other general recommendations include changing the elements of the security program regularly and not posting specific procedural information in public areas or on websites.

Steve Lee, vice president of marketing and business development for Signature Flight Support, says that after September 11 the company sent out to all locations security program guidelines which included two contract guards at each base around the clock, locking down the facilities, third-party security audits, auditing existing employee background checks, etc. In an earlier session, a number of attendees cited the Signature program as particularly impressive.
"FAA does not have clear guidelines; [FBOs] can’t wait, they have to do it themselves," says David Brinson, vice president of business development for Piedmont Hawthorne Aviation. He adds that he’d like to see security modules worked into existing training programs like the National Air Transport-ation Association’s Safety 1st.
Brinson echoes the theme of the earlier session as much for security as for safety reasons, saying, "Don’t trust the FBO. Don’t walk away when the plane is being serviced. There are too many airframes to know how to service every one."
Cliff Runge of Aspen Base Operations goes as far as to ask operators to disable their aircraft with prop locks, disconnected batteries, etc.

While the business of FBOs is built on customer service, Charlie Priester of Priester Aviation (now Signature Flight Support) warns that rights and freedoms aren’t as important today. "If we have another aviation incident, the American public will go to Congress to ’get’ aviation. We need to answer public concern. Controlling who gets in the system answers it."
Paul Schweitzer of AIRchef Concierge Services expresses concern that caterers often get in the back door of facilities and are not supervised — a potentially dangerous situation. He recommends moving refrigerators to visible, public areas and pre-qualifying specific supplier chains and deliveries.
Piedmont Hawthorne’s Brinson encourages checking passenger identification as pilots and passengers often do not know one another.
Doug Schwartz of AT&T’s flight department is working with FAA and industry groups to develop a Letter of Authorization (LOA) that would pre-qualify access to restricted airspace for authorized Part 91 operators. Those requesting access will submit the LOA and be required to support why they should be granted access.

Trade show briefs …

AIR CHARTER GUIDE—unveils CharterX, a Web-based booking system and network that makes pricing and booking of charter aircraft available on the Internet. Provides real-time availability;

AIR SERVICES OF CLEVELAND —is appointed exclusive distributor of Mentor Radio Company products; (216) 267-3711.

AMSAFE AVIATION—of Phoenix offers an FAA/JAA-certified inflatable restraint system for business jets and GA aircraft; (602) 242-0099, ext. 103.

AVOLAR—the new business aviation subsidiary of United Airlines, officially opens for business and announces it has signed a letter of intent with Bombardier Aerospace to purchase up to 57 Learjet 45 and 60 aircraft, a transaction worth some $632 million. Avolar also signs a letter of intent with Raytheon Aircraft for 15 Beechjet 400A aircraft, valued at $150 million.

BE-A-PILOT—presents its $10,000 prize for best local marketing of flight training to Pittsburgh Flight Training Center. Campaigns included 15 "Give the Gift of Flight" billboards, and cable and radio advertising.

CHEVRONTEXACO—through an agreement with Horizon Business Concepts, Inc., of Broken Arrow, OK, makes available the Total FBO management software to its dealers.

EXECUTIVE JET, INC.—unveils the NetJets supplemental lift program to complement corporate flight deparments’ capabilities;

GARRETT AVIATION—a subsidiary of General Electric, teams up with Rockwell Collins Aviation Services to provide improved dispatch reliability by offering the Collins Avionics Services Program (CASP) through Garrett’s service centers. In other news, Garrett ...
• develops an electrically driven auxiliary hydraulic pump for Hawker 1A and 800 series aircraft; unit allows flight or maintenance crews to operate the system without using the conventional hand pump or hydraulic system;
• obtains an FAA Supplemental Type Certificate for the Primus Epic Control Display System on Gulfstream III aircraft;
• launches an avionics retrofit program for Falcon aircraft featuring the Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 advanced flight deck.

IBIS AEROSPACE—appoints distributors for its Ae270 propjet: Elliott Aviation, Moline, IL; Cutter Aviation, Phoenix; Woodland Aviation, Wood-land, CA; and Field Aviation Sales Ltd., Mississauga, ONT.

MITSUBISHI HEAVY INDUSTRIES AMERICA, INC.—appoints Winner Aviation, Youngstown, OH, and Nashville Jet Center as MU-2 authorized service centers.

MSA AIRCRAFT PRODUCTS, LTD.—of San Antonio offers a new Accordia Ultra Slim window shade system for the Galaxy/Gulfstream 200 aircraft; (210) 590-6100.

NATA—National Air Transportation Assn. announces it has acquired the Aviation Training Institute (ATI) from Aviation Resource Group Int’l. NATA will expand its Safety 1st program to include training materials previously offered by ATI; (800) 808-NATA.

ROLLS-ROYCE—in its 2001-2020 Corporate Aircraft Market Forecast, projects that some 31,000 engines valued at $52 billion will be needed over the next 20 years to meet the demand for some 14,300 new corporate jets.

SHADIN COMPANY, INC.—of St. Louis Park, MN, announces an agreement with Flight Int’l of Newport News, VA, to manufacture and support the Digital Fuel Quantity Indicator to replace original systems in Learjet 24, 25, 35, and 36 models; (800) 328-0584.

THE NORDHAM GROUP—and BOMHOFF, Inc., suppliers of aircraft interior components, announce they are forming a new entity, BOMHOFF NORDAM, LLC.