Today, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association launched a seven-figure initiative aimed at reversing the decline in the number of U.S.-licensed pilots, which is down 25 percent over the last 30 years, and arresting the estimated 80-percent student-pilot dropout rate. The association’s Center to Advance the Pilot Community will be funded by the AOPA Foundation and will initially focus on supporting flying clubs, with the goal of creating 1,000 new clubs over the next five years.
New online aircraft charter broker CharterBox is bringing the “name your price” concept to the charter aviation market through a real-time marketplace that matches buyers and sellers of charter. The company says its model will help operators supplement their traditional retail charter business by optimizing the transient movement of their aircraft. CharterBox uses only operators that are Argus Gold or better and/or Wyvern Wingman compliant.
NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen condemned “disparaging” remarks about business aviation by President Obama in a presidential debate last night with Republican nominee Mitt Romney. During the debate, Obama called to eliminate some corporate tax breaks, saying in part, “Why wouldn’t we eliminate tax cuts for corporate jets? If you have a corporate jet, you can probably afford to pay full freight, not get a special break.” According to Bolen, “The President’s comments completely mischaracterized the businesses and groups that depend on a [corporate] airplane.”
Russian Helicopters has received an order for 18 Ka-226TG light twins from NefteGazAeroCosmos, a gas “research and production center.” Six helicopters are scheduled for delivery next year, with the rest to follow in 2014. The Ka-226TG, a “modernized” version of the in-development Ka-226T, is designed to “meet the client’s needs for operations in the Far North and on the Arctic shelf.” It will feature a KBO-226TG avionics suite for low-visibility operations, and additional fuel tanks. It retains Turbomeca Arrius 2G1 turboshafts.
Russian Helicopters has received “initial credit ratings” from Fitch Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service, which assigned long-term ratings of BB+ and Ba2, respectively, with “stable” outlooks. “Credit ratings are an important step in the development of Russian Helicopters, as the company seeks to emulate global best practice standards of corporate governance and financial transparency,” said Russian Helicopters CEO Dmitry Petrov.
Global offshore helicopter service provider Bristow Group is making a $250 million minority interest investment in VIH Aviation unit Cougar Helicopters. Bristow said it expects to complete the transaction by year-end, subject to Canadian regulatory approval. As part of the deal, Bristow will acquire various Cougar operating assets, including eight Sikorsky S-92As and Cougar’s Canadian passenger and maintenance facilities at St. John’s, Labrador, and Halifax. The purchased aircraft and facilities will then be long-term leased back to Cougar.
Eurocopter, which is nearing completion of a new development center in Donauwörth, Germany, that will house 900 engineers, has begun building another development center in Marignane, France. Employees currently based in Ottobrunn will move to the new German facility next spring. In Marignane, the project includes the construction of a “Helicopter Zero” building, with test benches integrating various helicopter systems to be delivered in April. New construction will start in July, with the goal of accommodating 1,000 people in “plateau” concurrent engineering.
Bombardier Aerospace has opened a new regional support office in Moscow. The RSO, operated by Bombardier Aerospace Services Russia, will serve as a regional support hub for the growing number of commercial aircraft customers in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). It complements Bombardier’s customer services expansion strategy and is the 11th regional support location to open outside North America in the past four years.
Amac Aerospace has been granted Boeing 747-400 and 747-8 Part 145 approval. It allows the MRO provider to offer base and line maintenance services for the aircraft with no restrictions. The company also recently announced Amac Aerospace Basel has received UAE CAMO approval authorizing it to provide continuous airworthiness management services on UAE-registered aircraft.
Pattonair has opened a European Hub in Derby, UK, where the Pattonair Group head office is located. It will serve as a central hub for all of the company’s European operations. Pattonair’s supply chain services include kitting, line feed, distribution, aftermarket and MRO, consultancy, reverse logistics, warehouse management and supplier management. Customers include large global aerospace OEMs and Tier 1, 2 and 3 manufacturers such as Rolls-Royce, Goodrich Actuation Systems and Parker Aerospace.