The NTSB concluded that the pilot’s “inadvertent flight” into severe icing and his “inadequate planning” for the forecast weather was the probable cause of the Jan. 11, 2005 accident involving a Mountain Flight Service air ambulance King Air E90. The two pilots and a medic were killed when the turboprop twin crashed into mountainous terrain while on approach to Rawlins Municipal Airport, Wyo.
In response to recommendations of the joint industry/government International Helicopter Safety Team, MD Helicopters will include as standard equipment on all its aircraft wire-strike protection systems, cockpit voice and video recorders, health and usage monitoring systems and terrain awareness warning systems starting next year.
The major U.S. fractional providers appear to be poised for growth this year, if estimates of pilot hiring and aircraft delivery intake are accurate. NetJets recently said it plans to hire 450 pilots this year, and New York-based analyst UBS Investment Research predicts that the New Jersey-based fractional provider will take delivery of 76 business jets by year-end.
Sino Swearingen, which is preparing to start deliveries this year of the SJ30-2 light jet, last week fired its president, Carl Chen, who immediately sued the company for breach of contract and damages from alleged slander “with malice” by current chairman and CEO Ching-Chiang Kuo.
While the FAA drastically cut down on the numbers of very light jets estimated to take to take to the air in the next decade, comments and speeches at the agency’s 31st Annual Forecast Conference this week indicate there will be changes in the way the aviation industry is to pay for operating the nation’s aviation system. For general aviation, it could be in the form of new user fees, higher fuel taxes or both.
Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren Buffett, in his latest annual letter to shareholders issued Saturday, said the company’s flight services division–FlightSafety and NetJets–reported $120 million in pre-tax earnings versus $191 million in 2004. According to Buffett, “Earnings improved at FlightSafety as corporate aviation continued its rebound…[but] operating results at NetJets were a different story.
Several leadership changes, including two U.S. appointments, have recently been made at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the Montreal-based group that provides recommendations and standards intended to be followed by its 189 member countries. Assad Kotaite, who will retire on July 31 after nearly 30 years as ICAO Council president, will be replaced by Kobeh González, who has served as ICAO representative of Mexico.
The two companies that run ATC in Britain and Spain have launched a joint-venture company to develop a new air traffic management system for both countries. The new company, Sacta, will be owned jointly by the UK’s National Air Traffic Services (NATS) and Spanish counterpart Aena. Sacta ATC areas will be phased in starting with Canary Islands Center in 2007.
Gulfstream Aerospace, which experienced a 12-percent increase in aircraft production last year compared with 2004 and expects that growth to continue, revealed plans yesterday for a $300 million expansion of manufacturing and service facilities at its Savannah, Ga. headquarters. This project, to unfold over the next seven years, includes a new 570,000-sq-ft service center–more than twice the size of the existing center.
Last Thursday’s union victory for the Flight Options pilots has received mixed reactions.