I really thought we had heard the end of the FAA’s one-level-of-safety mantra after Colgan Air Flight 3407, masquerading as a Continental Airlines codeshare, crashed in a fiery ball in a residential area just outside Buffalo, N.Y., one snowy February night four years ago.
Controller operational errors are on the rise, according to a February 27 audit report from the DOT’s Office of the Inspector General (IG), prompted by requests from the Senate subcommittee on aviation operations, safety and security and, separately, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. According to FAA data, controller operational errors at the Southern California (SoCal) Tracon, jumped from 33 in FY09 to 189 in FY10, an increase of 473 percent.
The FAA lowered the boom on airports serving mainly GA, business and regional airline traffic, announcing on March 22 that it will close 149 ATC contract towers as part of its effort to slash spending by more than $600 million in the current fiscal year under the federal government’s “sequester” mandate. The action could spell the end of the agency’s 30-year-old contract tower program.
Operators at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Bridgeport, Conn., are stepping up efforts to keep their ATC tower open after withdrawal of federal funding. Kyle Slover, COO of local FBO Volo Aviation, told AIN that discussions about options for keeping the tower open on a privately funded basis were already under way before the FAA’s March 22 announcement that 149 towers are to close at U.S. airports beginning April 7.
This year’s Heli-Expo continued the show’s record run, exceeding the number of attendees at the Helicopter Association International’s annual convention for the sixth year in a row. The final numbers included 20,393 attendees, 60 helicopters and 736 exhibitors, according to HAI president Matt Zuccaro.
With this year’s Asian Business Association Conference & Exhibition (ABACE) now less than three weeks away, aircraft brokerage firm Asian Sky Group has released a comprehensive survey of the number and types of business jets operating in China. According to the Hong Kong-based company’s report, the fleet of private jets in the greater China area numbered 336 as of the end of last year, with 57 percent based in mainland China and 33 percent in Hong Kong (the remaining 10 percent presumably based in Macau and Taiwan).
The FAA released guidance yesterday to the 149 airports whose contract towers are scheduled to close as a result of budget cuts that outlines the shutdown schedule and addresses what will happen to the tower structures and equipment.
Eclipse Aerospace received an amended production certificate (PC) today from the FAA, authorizing the Albuquerque, N.M.-based aircraft manufacturer to do final assembly, test and certification of new-production Eclipse 550s. The original PC granted to Eclipse last year allowed Eclipse to manufacture the EA550 and requisite parts in compliance with FAA-approved type design, but required direct FAA oversight of the flight-test and certification phases.
Bombardier Aerospace and its Flexjet division will celebrate Learjet’s 50th anniversary with Beverly Hills flair: the Learjet 85 will be the first aircraft ever to appear on Rodeo Drive. To honor Learjet’s golden anniversary, the Rodeo Drive Committee has also selected “The Jet Age” as this year’s theme for its annual parade on Father’s Day, which features vintage and racing cars and motorcycles lining Rodeo Drive north from Wilshire Boulevard to Santa Monica Boulevard.
UK-based Bristow Helicopters, an affiliate of the Texas-based Bristow Group, today announced a 10-year contract with the UK’s Department for Transport for search-and-rescue (SAR) services for all of the country. The $2.5 billion agreement has a phased-in transition period beginning in April 2015 and continuing until July 2017.
Under the contract, Bristow will provide 11 Sikorsky S-92s and 11 AgustaWestland AW189 medium-twin helicopters across 10 UK bases. Each SAR base will operate either two S-92s or two AW189s. In addition, there will be two training aircraft.