Business aircraft flying activity in the U.S. fell 2.2 percent in December, compared with a year ago, according to TraqPak data released this week by aviation services company Argus. While Part 91 flying remained in positive territory with a 2.1-percent increase over December 2010, it was not enough to offset the declines of 3.6 percent and 8.4 percent, respectively, at the fractional and charter providers. This also marks the 11th consecutive month of lower flying activity at Part 135 operators.
AINalerts » January 12, 2011
Aircraft charter provider VistaJet plans to step up its expansion of operations across Russia, Asia, Africa and South America, the company revealed in a presentation to financial analysts in London today. By 2015, the Switzerland-based group also intends to double the size of its fleet to more than 60 jets, it said. VistaJet is currently in talks with prospective partners in China and expects to have an established operation there by year-end.
The FAA published a draft Notice that proposes to require that FAA inspectors review Part 135 operators’ pilot training programs “to identify and correct those programs which erroneously issued credit for previous training or checking.” Operators have been complaining that their FAA inspectors are no longer allowing previous training by new job candidates or temporary (contract) pilots to be used to meet initial training requirements.
With Super Bowl XLVI a little over two weeks away, Indianapolis-area FBOs are preparing for the arrival of approximately 1,500 business and general aviation aircraft. “We’re already at more than 60 parking reservations for the game,” Million Air Indianapolis regional director Drent Sarault told AIN.
Bell Helicopter received Transport Canada approval today for a 500-pound increase for its Model 429, bringing the medium twin’s maximum takeoff weight to 7,500 pounds. The raised limit is an exemption to the Part 27 certification limit of 7,000 pounds and will enable the 429 to carry additional fuel reserves, increasing both range and loiter times, and enhance its IFR utility, the company said. According to Bell vice president Larry Roberts, this enhancement is especially useful for EMS and law-enforcement customers.
Former Grumman and Gulfstream Aerospace chief test pilot Robert Smyth, 84, died Tuesday at his home at the Leeward Air Ranch in Ocala, Fla. During his career at Grumman, he test flew the F9F Cougar, F11F Tiger, A-6A Intruder, F-14A Tomcat and the Gulfstream I twin turboprop, in addition to helping with the Apollo Lunar Module development in the 1960s. Smyth joined Gulfstream in 1981 and retired in 1993 as vice president of operations. His family is planning a remembrance ceremony.
Embraer delivered 50 business jets during the fourth quarter, a figure that includes the first Phenom 100 assembled at its new facility in Melbourne, Fla. For the entire year, the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer shipped 99 executive jets (83 light jets and 16 large jets), down from the 115 jets it delivered in 2010. Embraer’s firm order backlog, which includes both airliners and executive jets, currently stands at $15.4 billion.
Cessna Aircraft and Bell Helicopter parent company Textron is reportedly conducting a “strategic review” that could result in the divestiture of some of its businesses, according to Reuters. Similar speculation surfaced about two years ago, with no spin-offs resulting. However, analysts believe that the outcome might be different this time, as Textron’s defense businesses encounter declining military spending. Bell Helicopter was specifically named in the story as being a candidate for divestiture.
Robinson Helicopter built 356 helicopters (212 R44s, 88 R66s and 56 R22s) last year, a significant increase from the 162 helicopters it manufactured in 2010. The Torrance, Calif.-based company also booked orders for 360 turbine R66s last year, and it began this year with an order backlog for 400 helicopters. Robinson recently expanded its manufacturing facility and announced it is hiring additional employees.
A Kestrel Aircraft spokeswoman dismissed reports that the start-up aircraft manufacturer is planning to relocate from Brunswick Landing, Maine, to Superior, Wis., as premature, but acknowledged it was a “possibility.” Next week the Douglas County (Wis.) Board will vote on transferring airport-adjacent county land to the Superior Redevelopment Authority, which could then sell it to Kestrel at a discount.
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