Several speakers at the FAA’s 10th annual general aviation forecast conference, held in Wichita April 15 and 16, disputed the agency’s numerical prophecies. Helicopter Association International president Roy Resavage asserted the FAA was underestimating the number of in-service civil helicopters by 50 percent, skewing that part of the forecast.
In the two years since it began a $15 million rebuilding program at Dallas Love Field (DAL), Business Jet Center has more than doubled its market share on the field, which hosts seven FBOs. Now with a 24-percent share of the market at busy DAL, Business Jet pumps nearly 3.8 million gallons of Phillips 66 jet-A and avgas annually, averaging better than 315,000 gal per month, according to general manager Stephanie Jordan.
A Cessna 182 recently flew from Daytona Beach, Fla., to Carlsbad, Calif, running on jet-A. The aircraft is powered by an SMA SR305-230 turbodiesel piston engine, reported AOPA. The 230-hp engine was tested at 100-percent power for the entire flight and showed a 40-percent increase in range over a regular avgas-fueled 182, according to Riley Aero International, the Carlsbad company that is developing the conversion.
General aviation fatalities dropped 30 percent last year, to 491 from 703 in 2006, according to the NTSB. But the total number of general aviation accidents was higher, climbing to 1,631 in 2007 from 1,518 in 2006. The total number of accidents includes 20 U.S.-registered aircraft mishaps that occurred outside the U.S., its territories or possessions.
Prodded by perceived FAA failings and the threat of summer air travel delays, the Senate Transportation and Finance Committees reached agreement late last week on how to fund the FAA for the next four years. If the bill is approved by the full Senate today, it is expected to keep avgas taxes at the current rate of 19.3 cents per gallon but increase jet fuel taxes to 36 cents per gallon, up from 21.8 cents.
As the holidays approached, the likelihood of any action on the FAA budget dimmed considerably when lawmakers carved a provision to increase the mandatory retirement age for commercial pilots out of both FAA reauthorization bills and overwhelmingly approved raising the limit from 60 to 65. President Bush signed the measure into law within hours.
If your destination lies within the shadow of the Golden Gate bridge, don’t think that San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is your only option. Oakland International Airport (OAK), which for decades was served by only one FBO, now sports two FBOs, with a third trying to wriggle its way in.
Congress last month once again extended the FAA’s current authorization and aviation taxes until December 14, making it increasingly unlikely that the question of how to pay for operating the FAA and simultaneously modernizing the entire air traffic system will be settled anytime soon.
Of the many companies that have attempted to tackle world markets with a new-technology piston engine for light singles and twins, only Thielert in Germany has demonstrated some success. For that it can thank in some measure Diamond Aircraft, an Austrian company that has established a firm niche as a supplier of all-composite light aircraft, including the DA 42 twin-engine aircraft on display here in the static park.
A small percentage–about 20 percent–of the piston-powered fleet requires 100-octane fuel. Yet these aircraft burn about 70 percent of the total avgas volume, according to Allen Bretz, director of general aviation market at ConocoPhillips.