In the aftermath of September’s terrorist attacks a number of federal agencies, private companies and pilots have suggested exploring ways of allowing civil aircraft to land themselves in the event the pilots become incapacitated. According to aerospace engineers, the technology for such an airborne system already exists, and would require only modifications to an aircraft’s avionics and flight controls to implement.
Iridium Satellite LLC, the company that has emerged from the bankruptcy of the Motorola-led satellite communications consortium, last month submitted a proposal to the FAA outlining its idea for continuous, real-time broadcast of cockpit voice and flight data through its constellation of 66 low-earth-orbit satellites.
The typical business airplane at different points in its lifetime will receive overhauled engines, a refurbished interior and more than a few coats of fresh paint, along with a host of required periodic maintenance checks and upgrades, all of which constitute the obligatory costs of operating a business jet or turboprop.
The regional airlines became an economic safety net of sorts after September 11, when the majors quickly realized they could not survive flying large airplanes nearly empty. The options–cut flights and market presence entirely or replace mainline jets with smaller aircraft–presented airlines with a clear course of action. Code-sharing regional airliners quickly delivered cost-effective solutions.
If the HondaJet were being developed by a traditional business jet manufacturer, we would undoubtedly know a lot more about its future. Those who follow new-aircraft projects are used to receiving regular updates on milestones and test results along the way as the manufacturer seeks to reassure stockholders, lure new investors–or both.
Brazil’s Embraer said it will lay off 1,800 workers, reduce deliveries this year from 185 to 160 and lower its forecast delivery rate from 205 to 135 next year as part of a plan to stem losses expected to result from September 11. Although the company said all firm orders remain in effect, it expects a number of customers to defer option conversions until the global economic outlook improves.
Alliance Aircraft has reached an agreement to settle an outstanding debt with its largest creditor–Rocket Science Computer Services–after a Superior Court Judge in Brentwood, N.H., ordered Alliance president and CEO Earl Robinson arrested on contempt charges last month.
The demise of Swiss national carrier Swissair has pushed one of Europe’s largest regional airlines to a critical juncture in its development. Crossair–now fully independent of the bankrupt flag carrier–must chart a new course over unfamiliar territory, leaving investors optimistic over the potential for growth but wary of untold pitfalls.
ERA named German operator Eurowings regional airline of the year at last month’s general assembly, 12 months after the German regional airline placed second in the competition. Eurowings attributes its success to its fleet mix and route network; an appropriate alliance policy with German flag carrier Lufthansa, which has an option to increase its 25-percent stake in the regional to 49 percent; and an attractive “customer product.”
Operator attendance at the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) annual assembly in Athens last month was down about a third, as carriers reassessed fleet strategies under their “worst-ever trading conditions” following the U.S. terrorism attacks and an earlier economic downturn.