Bombardier’s Flexjet subsidiary reported a strong first quarter, led by growth in new buyers as well as higher levels of activity by existing fractional-share, jet card and lease customers. In the first quarter, new business was up 83 percent, fractional share sales up 108 percent and jet card sales up 48 percent over the same period last year. “Our flying is not only up with all the new sales,” said Flexjet president Deanna White, “but also our existing customers are ramping up their flying time. People are starting to open their wallets again.”
Eurocopter performed a demonstration flight of an “optionally piloted vehicle” (OPV) version of the EC145 in late April, with the goal of eventually employing any of its models in unmanned operations such as automated surveillance and cargo hauling. Secret flight-testing began two weeks earlier at Istres air force base in France. The project’s coordination team is based at Eurocopter’s research and development center in Donauwörth, Germany, where the first flights, with a monitoring pilot, took place.
The civil aviation authorities of Indonesia and Myanmar have ordered the grounding of Merpati Nusantara Airlines’ and Myanmar Airways’ Xi’an Aircraft Industries MA-60 fleets for airworthiness checks following a series of accidents.
A Merpati MA-60 crashed at El Tari Airport in Kupang, in east Indonesia, on June 10. On the same day a Myanmar MA-60 skidded and overshot the runway after landing at the Kawthaung Airport.
A Broward County, Fla. jury has returned a $100 million verdict in favor of a 31-year-old pilot who was severely and permanently injured on Nov. 10, 2007, when the Piper Pawnee he had been flying on a banner-tow mission crashed on approach to North Perry Airport, Hollywood, Fla. (KHWO).
The Department of Transportation’s inspector general (IG) released an update last month on the FAA’s progress with the standard terminal automation replacement system (Stars), the program to modernize terminal ATC equipment. The IG report identified a number of problem areas slowing Stars implementation caused by early, as yet unresolved, hardware and software delays that have put the entire program in jeopardy.
On June 27 construction concluded on an engineered materials arresting system (Emas) added to the new runway safety area (RSA) at the departure end of Boston Logan’s Runway 33L. The new crushable concrete system sits atop a 300-foot-wide concrete pier that extends nearly 500 feet into the water. The Emas itself covers an area 500 feet long and 170 feet wide.
The pilot escaped with minor injuries after his Beechcraft King Air 200 crashed on a four-lane road just short of Runway 16 at Chicago Executive Airport (KPWK), Wheeling, Ill., on June 26. No one on the ground was injured. The King Air narrowly missed striking a number of nearby apartment buildings and was substantially damaged when the right wing struck a tree. There was no fire.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), working with the Changi Airport Group, has introduced a number of new procedures on June 19 to ensure safe operations at Singapore’s Changi International Airport (WSSS). The efforts are specific to operations during low-visibility conditions resulting from recent severe haze caused by fires set to clear land in Sumatra. An extra one or two miles of separation will be added between arrivals, and the airport will keep runway lights on during daytime operations.
Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic Airways took the first step toward confronting the formidable threat of the recent British Airways-American Airlines pairing as regulators approved Delta’s acquisition of Singapore Airlines’ 49-percent stake in the UK carrier last week. The acquisition means that Virgin Atlantic and Delta have cleared a major hurdle in their effort toward forming a full joint venture, an antitrust review of which the U.S. Department of Transportation expects to complete during this year’s third quarter.
Unspecified and apparently last-minute computer software problems prompted Bombardier to scrap its end-of-June target for first flight of the CSeries, the company announced last Wednesday. It now expects first flight to happen by the end of this month.