From their home base at PWK (Chicago Exec, IL) N-Jet flies their clients to international and domestic destinations in a diverse ns fleet including Falcon, Cessna, and Astra jets. With one of their tio a er managed Falcon 900EX EASys are Founder/President/CEO Howard Seedorf (on stairs), Op l a with Director of Maintenance Scott Spjuth (L) and Chief Pilot Chad Seedorf. ion I
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Vol 53 No 2
8 POSITION & HOLD Investment in R&D has decreased when compared to GDP growth by Bob Rockwood 28 OPERATOR PROFILE N-JET has over 40 years of service by Brent Bundy With 15 jets and 35 pilots, this Part 135 company flies customers to domestic and international destinations. 34 INTERNATIONAL OPS FAB, HKG and TLC are popular ports of call by Grant McLaren Attentive services from TAG, HKBAC and Manny’s make visits to these airports smooth and rewarding. 40 ROTARY-WING AIRCRAFT Small helicopters are still going strong by Brent Bundy Robinson, MD, Bell, Leonardo, Airbus lead the single-engine helo field. 46 PILOT IN COMMAND Good decision-making is never easy for a captain by Peter Berendsen It’s harder to say no and it’s still lonely in the left seat.
50 KEEPING SHARP Pilots need to practice manual flying by Shannon Forrest Automation can misbehave. Remaining proficient requires self-awareness and dedication to basic airmanship. 54 EFVS Advanced flightdecks for international operations by Glenn Connor Global standardization in use of enhanced flight vision systems is sought after by manufacturers and aviation authorities.
58 WEATHER BRIEF Blizzards by Karsten Shein Nature’s winter fury produces many challenges for aviation. 64 LONG-HAUL BIZJETS Extended-range business aircraft offer superior flexibility, luxury and productivity while minimizing fuel stops by Don Van Dyke Improved capabilities meet buyer desire for more range, more luxury and space to bring distant destinations within comfortable, efficient reach. 70 SPACE EXPLORATION Mission updates by Bruce Betts Mars InSight, asteroid explorers and China’s lander on the far side of the Moon have all done well.
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Vol 53 No 2
Departments 10 VIEWPOINT Asset Insight President Tony Kioussis gives advice to optimize value when selling an aircraft. 16 TERMINAL CHECKLIST Quiz on procedures when flying helos into DCA (Washington DC). Answers on page 18. 20 SQUAWK IDENT Pro Pilot readers explain what attracts them to visit their preferred FBOs for tech stops. 26 SID & STAR Star goes on an aerobatics practice flight with his friend Mitzi.
Cover From their home base at PWK (Chicago Exec, IL) N-Jet flies their clients to international and domestic destinations in a diverse fleet including Falcon, Cessna, and Astra jets. With one of their managed Falcon 900EX EASys are Founder/President/CEO Howard Seedorf (on stairs), with Director of Maintenance Scott Spjuth (L) and Chief Pilot Chad Seedorf. Photo by Brent Bundy
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POSITION & HOLD an editorial opinion
R&D investment by tech corporations has been less in current years when compared to GDP growth By Bob Rockwood
Managing Partner, Bristol Associates
Rather than investing in research and development, big aerospace companies are growing by observing those involved in the booming innovation market and buying up the ones that are involved in promising areas.
ith the United Technologies/Rockwell Collins deal; the Boeing/Embraer deal; the Airbus/ Bombardier deal, along with Japan Airlines $10 million investment in Boom Technologies; Boeing’s acquisition of Aurora Flight Sciences; and Joby Aviation’s Average R&D vs GDP Growth, US 4.00% 3.50% 3.00% 2.50% 2.00% 1.50% 1.00% 0.50% 0.00%
Average R&D Growth 98 – 08
Average GDP Growth 08 – 15
raising of $100 million in venture capital (supersonic, pilotless flight, electric aircraft propulsion respectively) it’s hard not to think about merger/acquisition activity in the aerospace sector. This is inexorably tied to Research and Development (R&D) spending and innovation. In 2004, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia argued that monopoly power was a good thing. “The opportunity to charge monopoly prices, at least for a short period, induces risk taking that produces innovation and economic growth.” In sum, large, monopolistic organizations will provide the market with product development. Scalia’s supposition appears to have been dead wrong. Between 1994 and today, the Fortune 500s percentage of GDP has risen from 58% to 67% (and has been as high as 73% in some years). Yet, according to the National Science Board, US R&D growth averaged 1.4% annually from 2008–2015 versus 3.6% from 1998–2008. Average US GDP growth for those same years, respectively, was 1.5% and 2.2%. In other words, not only was R&D growth less in absolute terms but suffered even more so when contrasted to GDP growth. And this occurred as large corporations were becoming even more dominant.
8 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / February 2019
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Deal value ($ Billion)
If you review some of the current Deal volume and value (2006 – 2015). All deals literature dealing with innovation and R&D, 2 things become apparent: (1) 400 70 Large corporations and organizations 62.8 aren’t doing it internally because they 350 60 aren’t good at it, and (2) these same 300 50 folks are watching those involved in 41.3 250 40 the booming small-scale innovation 30.0 200 30 market and are buying up the compa24.3 23.1 22.0 22.2 nies that show promise or are involved 150 20 13.4 14.3 9.1 in promising areas. 100 10 Taking this into consideration and 0 0 narrowing our focus to aerospace, we 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 might conclude that there is a lot of Merger and Acquisition (M&A) activiTotal deal value ($ Billion) Number of deals ty going on. Well, sort of. Deal volume tanked in 2009 as we well and truly entered the Great Recession. And might 10 -year historical deal value and volume table - all deals I ask, why do we call it the Great Re2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 cession? To my knowledge, there was nothing great about it. But I digress. Total deal value ($ B) 22.2 41.3 23.1 9.1 13.4 30.0 22.0 14.3 24.3 62.8 Deal volume, along with the prices Number of deals 228 291 306 270 289 299 297 258 306 350 of deals as measured by the multiples of EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) that were being paid, started to come back, but may have developments. If you were a big company with lots of temporarily peaked in 2017. And 2018 numbers are not money and no talent for R&D internally, buying these cain yet, but the consensus is they will be down from 2017. pabilities was your go-to action. The 2 things that drove this activity are: What does all this mean for the professional pilot read• A resurgence in airline passenger traffic which in ing Professional Pilot magazine? Given that the supreme turn was driven by the recognition that the middle classcourt’s decision surrounding Scalia’s incorrect statement es in countries like China and India were growing. This took place 14 years ago, and that nothing has changed promised a continuation of passenger growth, and, when since then to make me believe the court will be less facombined with surging online shopping, cargo growth. vorable to major companies, it’s a good bet that large Tier 1 and tier 2 suppliers to OEMs (for example, Boeing) companies will continue to get larger and more dominant became more valuable both financially and strategically. financially. Not a bad place to land as a pilot. • The 2nd phenomena that drove M&A activity was a In the alternative, if you have the talent, patience, and lot of out of the box thinking about travel. Talk of comability to raise initial funding allowing you to develop a mercializing space travel became prevalent. The concept hydrogen-powered 5-passenger VTOL that emits nothing of supersonic flight was back on the table. And of course, and can be flown pilotless for $.17 per mile: (A) contact ideas about urban transportation surfaced that started Uber immediately, and (B) I want in. driving pilotless flight and electrification of propulsion The real conclusion here is aerospace is not a bad place to be these days. There is a personnel shortage to drive up wages. There’s money pourM&A Annual Dollar Volume ing into the industry for consolidation purposes. And perhaps most important, there’s $80.00 money being bet on development and new $70.00 technologies that, while perhaps changing the landscape of the future, guarantees there $60.00 will be a future. $50.00 $40.00 $30.00 $20.00 $10.00 $0.00
Bob Rockwood has been in the aircraft brokerage business since 1978. During his tenure at Omni Intl Jet Trading Floor he began writing The Rockwood Report, which discusses the corporate aircraft market. In 1986 he joined Bristol Associates as a managing partner.
PROFESSIONAL PILOT / February 2019 9
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VIEWPOINT an editorial opinion
Optimizing value when selling an aircraft RV Trends vs Maintenance Adjusted RV $2,800,000 $2,600,000 $2,400,000 $2,200,000 $2,000,000 $1,800,000 $1,600,000 $1,400,000 1
RV Trend By Anthony Kioussis President, Asset Insight
Maintenance Adjusted RV
Table A. Traditional Residual Value forecasts are represented as a line similar to the RV Trend line, but that does not take the aircraft’s maintenance condition into account.
you may have just completed a $1 million double-engine overhaul, but it may only add $750,000 (perhaps less) based on the aircraft’s age and its “market desirability.” Some aircraft owners, as well as inexperienced brokers, believe it is not possible to predict an aircraft’s Residual Value (RV) more accurately than basing the aircraft’s future value trend on the model’s value degradation history. Thus, traditional RV forecasts start with an estimated Current Value, usually based on aircraft prices obtained from an industry “source.” The Current Value estimate is then degraded based on the aircraft model’s average historical annual depreciation percentage, and the resulting RV fig-
ot many aircraft buyers acquire an aircraft with a specific date in mind to sell or replace the asset. While a little planning could help optimize their investment value, this thought process rarely comes into play during the exciting, and sometimes less than rational, aircraft acquisition period. In a recent Pro Pilot Viewpoint article (November 2018, page 10) we discussed the importance of distinguishing between “low price” and “good value” in an effort to optimize an aircraft investment at point of purchase. Let’s have a look at the financial ETP Ratio Days on market Days on market Date dynamics that come into play when selling Differential ETP ratio 40% ETP ratio 40% the asset. March 30, 2017 + 65% 203 334 I have yet to speak with an owner who believes their aircraft is anything but “the June 30, 2017 + 52% 211 319 best” asset available for purchase when it 229 300 September 28, 2017 + 31% is listed for sale. Fortunately, Asset Insight’s December 29, 2017 + 42% 199 244 tools allow for logic to prevail in the form of objective analytics and a standardized grad189 303 March 29, 2018 + 61% ing system allowing anyone to determine 169 291 June 29, 2018 + 72% how their aircraft truly compares with like 280 374 September 28, 2018 + 34% models listed for sale, as well as how it rates within the model’s active fleet. There are 246 386 December 31, 2018 + 57% also tools that make it possible to determine exactly how any aircraft’s Residual Value is Average + 48% 216 319 affected by the estimated expense of maintenance due, as well as the appraised value of Table B. Aircraft whose maintenance Exposure to Price Ratio exceeded 40% took, on avmaintenance events completed. Simply put, erage, nearly 3.4 months longer to remarket during 2017 and 2018. 10 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / February 2019
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Maintenance Adjusted RV vs ETP Ratio $2,800,000
Maintenance Adjusted RV
Excessive ETP Ratio line
Table C. With a little planning, an asset’s peak Maintenance Adjusted Residual Value can be realized while the aircraft’s ETP Ratio is less than 40%, improving the likelihood of a shorter remarketing period.
craft’s past/historical depreciation rate and its RV figures. 3. The aircraft’s future maintenance condition, perhaps the most important value influencer, is not accounted for appropriately – if at all. Asset Insight’s RV calculation methodology differs substantively from the traditional, simplistic modeling approach. To begin with, it does not rely upon historical figures to structure Residual Values, as historical values and trends play no role in the market’s future behavior and how Comparable Aircraft are likely to affect the Subject Aircraft. Second, the aircraft’s RV for any given month accounts for the aircraft’s upcoming and completed maintenance events, adding or subtracting value within the RV calculation. The Subject Aircraft, competitive aircraft, and the mar-
ures are usually presented as a line graph similar to the RV Trend line shown on Table A. The estimated RV figures are then reduced by the cost of the selling broker’s commission and some “estimated” maintenance costs associated with the pre-purchase inspection to derive the anticipated net proceeds from the sale. The calculation is straight-forward, simple to follow, easy to compute and, in all probability, dead wrong. There are multiple problems with the traditional RV forecasting methodology, with the 3 primary ones being: 1. Transaction figures provided by many “sources” are not truly “current” or are intentionally vague, with the figure often quoted in terms of “approximately” and the value frequently inflated. 2. There is rarely a strong correlation between an air-
Maintenance Adjusted RV vs Net Proceeds $2,800,000 $2,600,000 $2,400,000 $2,200,000 $2,000,000 $1,800,000 $1,600,000 $1,400,000 $1,200,000 $1,000,000
Maintenance Adjusted RV
Table D. Based on the aircraft’s Maintenance Adjusted Residual Value and ETP Ratio, the seller’s optimum sales point and net return should occur at month 17.
12 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / February 2019
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Net Proceeds Comparison $3,000,000 Optimum marketing period $2,500,000 $2,000,000 $1,500,000 $1,000,000 $500,000 1
RV Trend line Net Proceeds
MARV Net Proceeds
Table E. Utilizing the Residual Value Trend as the basis for their sales timing and pricing, the seller could potentially forego a net gain ranging between $300K and $950K during the asset’s optimum marketing time period.
ket as a whole are “moved forward” each future month, based on each individual aircraft’s maintenance program and each asset’s anticipated utilization rate. At that point, another complete valuation is run for that month on all competitive aircraft and the Subject is then placed (valued) into context. This same process is repeated for each subsequent month covering the RV term, thus creating a Maintenance Adjusted Residual Value (MARV) line such as the black, jagged line displayed in Table A. Once an aircraft’s MARV has been established, and assuming the owner is not forced to sell the asset on a specific date, the aircraft’s projected maintenance Exposure to Price Ratio (ETP Ratio) needs to be computed to help determine the best time period to list the aircraft so as to optimize the net proceeds from its sale. The ETP Ratio is a useful indicator of an aircraft’s marketability and it is computed by dividing the asset’s Maintenance Exposure (the financial liability accrued with respect to future scheduled maintenance events) by the aircraft’s Ask Price. Days on Market (DOM) analysis has revealed that when the ETP Ratio exceeds 40%, a listed aircraft’s Days on Market increase by more than 30%. Table B displays the DOM for aircraft posting an ETP Ratio below 40% and those posting a higher figure during the past 2 years. The higher ETP Ratio equates to an average differential of 48% – a remarketing period increase equivalent to 3.4 months. Table C plots the anticipated ETP Ratio against the asset’s MARV. Since we do not wish to prolong the asset’s remarketing period (DOM), we need to list the aircraft when its ETP Ratio is sufficiently below 40% for a reasonable period of time. In this example, those windows are between months 1 and 7, as well as between months 10 and 19, inclusive. By virtue of some advance planning, that timeframe matches up well with the aircraft’s peak MARV which occurs on month 17. Having determined the optimum remarketing period, the ETP Ratio also helps us derive at what point we are likely to optimize the proceeds earned from the aircraft’s sale. In computing this figure we will make the following assumptions:
• The seller will use a broker to remarket the aircraft, and the broker will receive a 5% commission on the sale. • When the ETP Ratio is below 40%, the seller will absorb the cost to ensure that no scheduled maintenance is due for 90 days following delivery to the buyer. • When the ETP Ratio is 40% or greater, the seller will absorb the cost for completing scheduled maintenance due for 180 days following delivery (in an effort to increase the aircraft’s marketability). Based on those assumptions, and utilizing the MARV as the actual Transaction Value, the Net Proceeds from the sale of this aircraft over the next 48 months are displayed on Table D. In this example, the seller would optimize the net proceeds from a transaction that occurs on month 17. Alternatively, had the seller relied on the RV Trend line as the basis for their sales timing and pricing (and utilizing the same assumptions relative to brokerage fees and maintenance required to complete the deal), they would have sought to close a transaction immediately, potentially foregoing a net gain ranging between $300K and $950K during the asset’s optimum marketing time period (see Table E). There is, of course, no way to guaranty that a sale will occur during the optimum trading month, or even during any desired time period. However, knowing what is possible to achieve by investing in some simple and inexpensive analytics allows an owner to rationally identify the optimum time to remarket their asset and restart the exciting, and sometimes less than rational, aircraft acquisition process.
Anthony Kioussis is President of Asset Insight, which offers aircraft valuation and aviation consulting services. His 40+ years of experience in aviation includes GE Capital Corporate Aircraft Finance, Jet Aviation, and JSSI.
14 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / February 2019
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Terminal Checklist 2/19 Answers on page 18 Refer to the 11-4 COPTER ILS or LOC DME Rwy 1 at KDCA/DCA (Washington DC) when necessary to answer the following questions:
6. The Radar Altimeter (RA) minimum of 106 ft is based on the terrain elevation on the final approach course. a True b False
Reproduced with permission of Jeppesen Sanderson. Reduced for illustrative purposes.
9. Select the true statement(s) regarding flying the final approach segment of the ILS approach. a The maximum speed is 90 KIAS. b The maximum groundspeed is 90 knots. c Deviations beyond ¼ scale of the localizer or glideslope require a missed approach.
5. The 3 prohibited areas shown on the approach chart extend from the surface to 18,000 ft MSL. a True b False
8. The PAPI angle intersects the final approach course at D2.4 IDCA. a True b False
7. Select all that apply. To fly the LOC DME approach procedure at a groundspeed of 90 knots ______ a use DCA DME to identify fixes. b remain at 620 ft MSL until reaching the Visual Descent Point (VDP). c initiate the missed approach at 3:12 minutes when timing from BADDN. d initiate the missed approach procedure at 1.1 DME from the runway threshold.
4. Select the true statement(s) about minimum altitudes and terrain/obstacle depiction. a The highest charted obstacle is 1049 ft MSL. b The MSA of 2600 ft MSL is for emergency use only. c Staying above the charted structures ensures adequate obstacle clearance. d ATC may use a Minimum Vectoring Altitude (MVA) that is lower than other minimum altitudes on the chart.
3. This approach overlays a Category II ILS approach. a True b False
2. To fly this approach the helicopter must be equipped with an autopilot, flight director or head-up guidance system. a True b False
1. Select the items required to fly the approach to a DA of 114 ft MSL. a DME. b PAPI. c ALSF-II. d Radio altimeter. e Special aircrew and aircraft certification.
Not to be used for navigational purposes
d A 531 ft/min descent should maintain the glideslope at a groundspeed of 100 knots. 10. Select all that apply. The missed approach procedure
requires ______ a ADF. b DME. c a minimum climb rate of 400 ft/nm. d a climb to 420 ft MSL before turning left.
16 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / February 2019
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FLIGHTSAFETY VALUE AD - PROPILOT - Trim: 8.375” w x 10.875” d Terminal Checklist 2-19 lyt.indd 17
Bleed: 8.625” w x 11.125” d 2/1/19 10:04 AM
Answers to TC 2/19 questions 1. c, d, e Note 1 in the landing minimums section indicates that special aircrew and aircraft certification and a radio altimeter is required. Cat II ILS ground facilities are required, including approach lighting (in this case, an ALSF-II). PAPI is not considered an approach lighting system and does not affect landing minimums. DME is only required for the localizer approach. 2. a According to the FAA Instrument Procedures Handbook, to fly an ILS approach to Cat II ILS minimums the helicopter must be equipped with an autopilot, flight director, or head-up guidance system. 3. a Copter ILS approaches that allow a decision height below 200 ft and minimum visibilities as low as RVR 12 must meet TERPs requirements for Cat II minimums so these approaches must overlay an existing Category II ILS approach procedure. The ground facilities (approach lighting, signal in space, hold lines, maintenance, etc) and air traffic infrastructure for Cat II ILS approaches are required to support these procedures. 4. a, b, d Terrain high points and structure elevations cannot be relied on for terrain or obstruction avoidance because there might be higher uncharted terrain or obstructions within the same vicinity. The highest charted terrain point or obstacle is indicated by an arrow. Minimum safe/sector altitudes (MSAs) are published for emergency use and normally provide 1000 ft clearance over all obstructions within a 25 nm radius of the indicated facility. MVAs are established in radar environments. Because of differences in the areas for MVAs and those applied to other minimum altitudes, and the ability to isolate specific obstacles, some MVAs may be lower than the nonradar minimum altitudes depicted on charts. 5. b The note on the plan view addresses Prohibited Area P-56 (A and B), which are north of the airport. These 2 areas extend from the surface to 18,000 ft MSL. A separate chart, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport Noise Abatement and Prohibited Area (P-56) Avoidance Procedures, shows these areas in more detail. Additional flight information sources must be consulted to determine the dimensions of P-73 west of the approach course (a prohibit ed area that extends only to 1500 ft MSL over Mount Vernon).
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6. a The RA height shown in Note 1 of the landing minimums is based on the distance from the landing threshold point (LTP) to the point that the decision altitude (DA) occurs. At this distance, the terrain elevation on the final approach course is subtracted from the DA to calculate the RA. 7. c Procedural note 1 in the Briefing Strip indicates that the ILS DME (IDCA) should be used to identify fixes on the localizer course. The profile view shows a descent from 1600 ft MSL to 620 ft MSL until JARAL. At JARAL, a descent to the MDA of 480 ft MSL should be performed. To ensure obstacle clearance, remain at the MDA until reaching the VDP descent angle even if the required visual references are in sight. The descent/timing conversion table shows the MAP at either D1.1 IDCA or timing of 3:12 from BADDN at a groundspeed of 90 knots. 8. a The VDP of D2.4 IDCA is the point on the final approach course from which normal descent from the MDA to the runway touchdown point may be commenced, provided the required visual references are in sight. The VDP is where the VGSI (in this case a PAPI) angle intersects the final approach course at the MDA. The VDP is placed on the procedure so pilots know where they can begin to fly the VGSI angle when at the MDA. 9. a, c, d According to the FAA Instrument Procedures Handbook, the maximum airspeed is 90 KIAS on any segment of a copter only approach. In addition, for copter CAT II ILS operations below 200 feet HAT, approach deviations are limited to ¼ scale of the localizer or glideslope needle. Deviations beyond that require an immediate missed approach unless the pilot has at least one of the visual references in sight and otherwise meets the requirements of 14 CFR Part 91.175(c). The descent/timing conversion table shows a 531 ft/min descent to maintain the glideslope angle of 3.00° at a groundspeed of 100 knots. 10.
c, d The missed approach fix can be identified as D5.9 from the DCA VOR on the 325° radial, as the intersection of the 325° radial from DCA and the 247° radial from BAL, or as Georgetown (GTN) NDB (shown as the alternate missed approach fix). According to the FAA Instrument Procedures Handbook, a minimum climb gradient of at least 400 ft/nm is required for copter missed approach procedures unless a higher gradient is published on the approach chart.
2/1/19 10:04 AM
It’s time. What are the most precious things in your life? Your family, your friends, your business? Whatever they are, the most precious resource that links them all together is time. That’s why we’ve taken the time to make CorporateCare® even more comprehensive, with additional line maintenance, expanded support and even nacelle coverage on later engine models. Supported by the industry’s leading global service network and cutting-edge digital tools, we are focused on getting you to your destination on time, every time. It’s time to protect your most precious resource. It’s time to consider CorporateCare Enhanced. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org The future. Rolls-Royce.
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Photos courtesy Sheltair
In your opinion: What brings pilots and aircraft into an FBO for a tech stop? Is it a well-trained quick-acting line service? Responsive CSRs? Low fuel prices? Good food close by? Weather service? Well-known reputation?
Photo courtesy Banyan
very pilot, unless driven to a specific facility, may have a different motivation. In my case, I am looking for fair pricing across the board. I also want to know the reputation of this FBO and want to know this activity has efficient service. I most often fly an MU2 turboprop and not a jet. So when I am put down in service priority as number 10 behind all the business jets with larger fuel tanks, then I will think seriously about whether or not I will return to that particular FBO. Patrick Cannon ATP/CFI. Beechjet 400 & Mitsubishi MU2 President Mission Air Service Lewisville TX
ime is my most important consideration. So when I stop at an FBO for a tech stop, I want to see fast action from the line crew. Keeping the time on the ground short is an important consideration. I want good service fast so I can continue my flight. Of course reputation is always a factor in this equation. You want knowledgeable ground service personnel who can assist you with your needs and allow you to continue quickly on your way. Alex Serck ATP. Falcon 7X Captain Flyit-Management BVBA Sint-Martens-Latem, Belgium
or those of us flying for Netjets Europe only the service centers designated by the maintenance department will be used. Hence, we stop at one of the preselected service providers that have been audited to work to company specifications. Only technical expertise and high quality of work governs the selection, not fuel price, food or any other side items. Rainer Schattleitner ATP. Challenger 350 Captain NetJets Europe Lisbon, Portugal
Banyan FXE (Ft Lauderdale Exec) is an alltime favorite. Count on Founder & CEO Don Campion to provide visiting flight crews with every possible service along with quick turns.
ey FBO attractions I want are geographical location and customer service. Of course fuel prices are always important too. But if the FBO staff can’t take care of what I need and in a fashion that reflects the high amount of money I’m spending with them, I will gladly pay a little more for services at an FBO that does. Marina Saettone ATP. Airbus AS350B3E Pilot SaeMarke Aviation Mesa AZ
Sheltair’s new FBO at BJC (Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport/Jeffco-Denver) is now open. It is currently providing service from their temporary facility while new terminal is under construction. BJC’s long runway is 30R - 12L with 9000 x 100 ft.
hen I go to an FBO I check the following 3 items: 1. Well-trained and quick linemen, 2. Low fuel prices. 3. Well-known reputation. The service on the line has to be knowledgeable and fast. Fuel prices need to be competitive. And the reputation of the FBO needs to be flawless. Glenn Dawson ATP. Challenger 601 & Sabreliner 40A Av Dir and CEO Dawson Aviation Services White Lake WI
ostly we don’t get to pick the FBOs we visit. Our customers make those selections. But if we had the right to pick the FBOs that service our aircraft they would have to have good facilities for crew rest and of course good food close by. All the other amenities are expected but I think the most important are crew rest, low fuel prices, effective and prompt service and good food to eat. Michel Zangara ATP/CFII/Helo. Sikorsky S76 Captain Associated Aircraft Group Highland NY
n my opinion what bring the pilots and their aircraft to an FBO are: service quality and effectiveness, good fuel prices, well-earned reputation, and ease of parking for quick service and for later quick leaving. James Moore ATP/Helo. Global Express & Sikorsky S76C+ SVP Citi Aviation Moneta VA
20 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / February 2019
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think the service at most FBOs is good so for me the key item I want is to have the lowest fuel price. Fuel cost is at the top of my list. Lamar Childs ATP. Pilatus PC-12/47 Chief Pilot Allen Air Pensacola FL
work with pilots and I believe that the service that is knowledgeable and quick is the most important consideration at any FBO. And the 2nd factor for pilots is the money they need to outlay for the fuel and other services at the FBO. Ron Peters FBO Manager Salem Aviation Fueling Salem OR
ow fuel prices are the first thing I’m looking for when I’m selecting an FBO when I’m on a trip. Chip Martin ATP. Citation Encore Chief Pilot Beef Products Sioux City IA
afety first, of course. So at the top of my list is to be met by a well-trained and careful line staff. I want personnel who know what they’re doing when they service my aircraft. And after that I must admit I want to be purchasing fuel at competitive prices. Nathan Carter ATP. Astra 1125SPX Chief Pilot Green/Savoree Transportation Indianapolis IN
e select FBOs for tech stops based on their quick turn capability and reputation for such. Fuel prices are also a consideration. Top factor, however, is the service provided and if the FBO personnel can accomplish a quick turn. Time is of the essence. Keith Woods ATP/CFII/A&P. Citation XLS/CJ4 Senior Captain Fagen Inc Granite Falls MN
Business Jet Center at DAL (Dallas Love TX) is certainly a “hop-to-it” FBO, serving Phillips 66 fuel and with a big weather-protection shelter for off-loading and on-loading aircraft.
ime is important so when I stop at an FBO I want to have a welltrained quick-acting line service team, responsive CSRs, low fuel prices, good food either at the FBO or close by, a good weather service, and also an FBO with a well-known reputation. All of these qualities together form high-quality FBO service that will bring me and other pilots back time and again. Allan Englehardt ATP. Falcon 900B Captain MMB Aircraft Leasing Harriman NY
Photo courtesy Monterey Jet Center
or me the most important items at an FBO are low fuel prices, customer support at the FBO and welltrained line service personnel. And I give equal weight to these 3 considerations. Sam El-Jamil ATP. Gulfstream G550 & Airbus A320/A330/A340/A380 Captain Jet Edge Intl Las Vegas NV
Monterey Jet Center MRY (Monterey CA) is a superservice FBO. Team spirit is high and visiting flight crews praise the professional line crews and CSRs.
ll the choices mentioned are considerations. However, at the top of my list is the desire for welltrained, quick and active line service. After that I want responsive CSRs, low fuel prices, good food close by, a qualified weather service. I stick with those FBOs that have a good reputation in providing the ground service needs that I have mentioned here. Bill Marshall Pvt-Inst. Piper Malibu Mirage Owner Bare Bones Aircraft Ft Walton Beach FL
he primary goal of a tech stop is to get in and out quickly. Therefore, I’m looking for educated and quick-acting personnel on the line and inside responsive CSRs are of great value also. Of course I need to check weather so a weather service is essential. And low fuel prices are always a plus. Usually we don’t have a need for any fancy catering but it’s always nice if there is good food available. Werner Pfeifer ATP/CFI. Cessna C182/C172 Check Pilot/Mission Pilot Civil Air Patrol - Tenn Wing Knoxville TN
Photo courtesy Business Jet Center
arious services as you have listed are certainly what I’m looking for. I want an FBO with quick service, clean rest rooms, friendly support personnel. Catering is also important for a tech stop. Often I will also want international customs. And yes, of course I want reasonable prices on both services and fuel. Rodney Hill ATP/A&P. Falcon 50EX Pilot Colonet Corp Tequesta FL
PROFESSIONAL PILOT / February 2019
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alling ahead on Unicom is a great way to save time with an anticipated arrival. Let the FBO know you’re coming and the line staff will have the fuel service ready and available. You’ll find you will also receive quicker and more efficient service. You want those well-trained line techs as well as courteous CSRs. There is an ATP FBO App that I have found to be a major benefit in obtaining quick and efficient service. Bert Botta ATP/CFI. Gulfstream G200 Captain NetJets Petaluma CA
xcellent line service is certainly one of the important factors that brings me to an FBO. Also fuel prices must be competitive. And I really appreciate having crew cars available so I can get out and about before my departure. Responsive CSRs also contribute to a pleasant FBO stop and make the departure go well to continue the flight or to call it a day and rest up at a nearby hotel. Jerry Kostrana ATP. King Air B100 Pilot UP Development Deland FL
ost important for me at an FBO is highly professional line service, friendly CSRs who seem to be able to accommodate just about any request that’s given to them and a nice facility that’s clean and comfortable are worth their weight in gold in my opinion. Keven Christopherson ATP/CFI. King Air B200 Chief Pilot PacificCorp South Jordan UT
have to admit that our tech stop FBO selections are most often driven by fuel price. But after that we’re looking for a well-trained line crew, friendly CSRs, and a clean terminal with amenable services. Paul McVay ATP/CFII. Hawker 800XP & Gulfstream II Lead Captain Clay Lacy Aviation Watertown CT
osts of flight operations are important. So when I choose an FBO I make sure I check for low fuel prices. Also, if it is a tech stop I want to save time and expect to have a quick turn. Samuel Pennella ATP. Beechjet 400 Chief Pilot 400 HH Inc Lebannon NJ
hen I make plans to bring my aircraft to an FBO I’m looking for: 1. The earned reputation of the FBO for both maintenance and service. And 2. Good fuel prices. Marshal Adkins Comm-Multi-Inst. King Air 90L & Baron 58 Chief Pilot Mountain State Insurance Agency Hurricane WV
look at the amenities and the condition of the FBO. Fuel prices and other ground service fees are important to consider as well. I don’t necessarily look for the lowest fuel prices but I want fair fuel prices and other fees that are in line with what is offered. Well staffed line service personnel are very important and you want them readily available so that you’re not searching for help when it is needed. Charlie Polkingkorn ATP. Gulfstream G200 Chief Pilot FIMCO Industries Sioux City IA
Photo by Jose Vasquez
Jet Aviation at TEB (Teterboro NJ) is the corporate aircraft gateway for New York City. Busy, yes, but personalized service and quick-turns are the rule.
hile fuel price certainly plays a part to a point, more importantly having well-trained and helpful line personnel who care about your needs form the most essential element for a successful FBO in my opinion. And after you have the aircraft parked it is great to be met inside the FBO terminal by CSRs who have bright, outgoing personalities and greet you with a “What can I do to help make your day better?”attitude. These are the people factors that bring me back to an FBO. Kenny Hicks ATP. Citation II/CJ4 Captain Contract Aviation Services Centreville AL
Photo by Rafael Henriquez
Clay Lacy VNY (Van Nuys CA) has every possible service including air charter and aircraft management from famed Clay Lacy and his dedicated staff. Fast fuel, ﬁne catering, quick-turns.
want to know the reputation of the FBO. What are this FBO’s prices on fuel and other services? Does this FBO offer crew cars? Is there good food on base or nearby? Will I have a clean hotel close to the airport or on the airport if I need it? But especially important is the professional training of the line crew and the CSRs. Craig Randall ATP/Helo/CFI. Citation XLS & Bell 206 Chairman Rexford Penn Group Lyons OR
PROFESSIONAL PILOT / February 2019
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4.25” W x 10.875” H (plus .125 bleed on top, bottom, left)
imeliness is very important for our Gulfstream G550 flights so I want to stop at an FBO with 24/7 operations, quick turn capability and competitive fuel prices. Ken Woodsides ATP. Gulfstream G550 Senior Captain Coca-Cola Roswell GA
f it’s a tech stop then normally what you want is fast and efficient service coupled with low or at least competitive fuel prices. That’s a 2-pronged combination that’s a winner every time. Jon Cohn ATP. Gulfstream G550/G450 Chief Pilot Wingtip Aviation Chicago IL
ost of our tech stops are at airports on the northeast of the US, and then down to Florida, or from Florida back up throughout the US northeast. I choose our tech stops with the following considerations: 1. The FBO choice for refueling should be on an airport close to the flight plan routing. In other words, the FBO should not be far out of the way. 2. I try to make the tech stop close to the half-way point of the trip. 3. Weather at the time of descent should be good enough to make a fairly easy approach. 4. The airport should have good approach facilities and sufficiently long runways. 5. Quick-turn reputation of the FBO. Generally, at a successful tech stop we will be on the ground for refueling no more than 30 minutes, block in to block out. This allows our pax to deplane and use restroom facilities during refueling, and time for us to pick up catering, get crew meals, etc. 6. Fuel prices should be in line but fuel price is not a major consideration. Thomas Conrad ATP/CFI. Beechjet 400 Pilot Travel Management Co Verona PA
on’t squeeze us in. I want ease of parking on the ramp and, of course, good ramp line services. After that, yes, I want fair fuel prices. George Lupinacci ATP. Gulfstream V/IV Captain Washington Penn Plastic Gibsonia PA
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or most of our situations speed is the major factor. We want to get in and out quickly. But the quality of the available services must also be judged. We consider the FBO’s reputation and their established relationship with other flight crews before making our decision to use a particular FBO. Jeffrey Artz ATP/A&P. Gulfstream G650/G550 Captain 21st Century Fox Hegins PA
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We invite readers to submit story lines that would work for a 6-panel Sid and Star cartoon. Send your thoughts by e-mail to Pro Pilot Publisher Murray Smith at email@example.com. If we use your idea we’ll credit you by name and pay you $100.
26 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / February 2019
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FBO terminal rendering.
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N-Jet has 40 years of service under Founder Howard Seedorf
Photos by Brent Bundy
With 15 jets and 35 pilots, this Part 135 op is based at PWK near Chicago and flies customers to domestic and international destinations.
N-Jet Founder, President and CEO Howard Seedorf began his career as an aerospace engineer nearly 50 years ago before following his dream to fly.
By Brent Bundy
Phoenix Police Officer-Pilot AS350, AW119, Cessna 210/182/172
ircraft charter operations in the Chicago market can be quite competitive. There are dozens of companies either based in or offering services from the metropolitan area of the 3rd most populated city in the USA. Perhaps the best way to stand out in such a hotly-contested region is to establish a solid reputation. And for the past 40 years, N-Jet has done just that. With
From a single Cessna 172, N-Jet has grown into a full-service charter, maintenance and management operator for their clients in and around the greater Chicago region.
a firm foundation in safety, this family-owned business has evolved into a top choice for aircraft transportation, management and maintenance in the upper Midwest.
The beginning Howard Seedorf grew up on the family farm in the outskirts of Cedar Rapids IA. His father, a milkman
by trade, enjoyed the competitive hobby of harness horse racing. “My dad had cut a practice track on our property. One day, when I was 3 or 4 years old, I was out watching him ride when I looked up and saw the contrails of an airplane. I remember telling my mom, ‘look, that plane is following dad’s racetrack!’ From that day, I knew that’s what I wanted to do,” Seedorf recalls. “When I was in high school, I told my guidance counselor I wanted to be a pilot. He told me I should probably go to a university and get an aerospace degree then I could probably get a pilot job. So that’s what I did. I got a degree in aerospace engineering from Iowa State in 1972. The only problem was that I found out after graduating that I could build them, but I couldn’t fly them!” Not to be deterred, Seedorf put his education to work in his chosen field when he joined Collins Radio Company (later becoming Rockwell Collins and now Collins Aerospace) as an intern while still in college. During his time there, he even worked on avionics that were used in the Apollo space program. He stayed with Collins after graduation but soon realized that being an engineer was not his calling. Unable to afford flight training, he looked for an alternate method to earn his wings and joined the Air Force. “I signed up in 1974, was sent to Lackland Air Force Base, and started officer training school. Four weeks later, the Arab oil embargo started and President Nixon
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shut down non-essential oil uses, which included pilot training. I was offered a desk job but that’s not what I wanted, so I left the Air Force after 4 weeks!” Following his abbreviated military career, Seedorf went back to engineering work, this time for Sundstrand Aviation in Rockford IL. During his 4 years at Sundstrand, his space-connection continued when he contributed on components for the Space Shuttle program. This was also the time when he finally began flight training through the company’s flying club. After earning his private pilot and instrument ratings, he purchased a brand-new Cessna 172 and started the Northern Illinois Flying Club. Little did he know at the time, but this was the beginning of his life’s endeavor. This small flying club established on a grass strip near the Illinois-Wisconsin border in 1979 would become N-Jet.
From flying club to N-Jet Seedorf explains, “As word spread about what we were doing, people would come to me and ask me to put their planes in my club and before long, we had 4 planes. Soon, we moved to the western suburbs of Chicago and began adding more and bigger planes.” By the mid-1980s, Seedorf was offered the opportunity to take over the flight school operations at 3CK (Lake in the Hills IL). “Our ‘flying club’ name didn’t sound too sophisticated so, with a friend’s suggestion, we changed the name to the Northern Illinois Flight Center, which allowed us to keep the same initials. To this day, we still operate under the NIFC corporate name,” he declares. The origins of the current company name were equally unexpected. Seedorf remembers, “We went to the FAA to obtain a callsign and gave them our list of requests. When they came back with what they would allow, it was ‘ENJET’, which we hadn’t even requested! We liked it but didn’t want to spell it out like that so for the new company name, we went with N-Jet.” Within a couple years, they would become the majority fuel purchaser at 3CK as more planes were added to their fleet. Shortly after, they were approached by a customer who told them they needed more capable
Chief Pilot Chad Seedorf currently oversees N-Jet’s 35 pilots, some of whom have been with the company for over 20 years.
aircraft. Seedorf says, “He told us we needed some King Airs. So, he bought us a couple King Airs! Then a few years later he said, ‘You really need a jet.’ So, he bought us a Citation! He owned them but leased them back to us.” By that time, N-Jet was nearly the sole fuel customer on the field so, when the opportunity was offered, they purchased the FBO. Just as the initial growth of the flying club came by word of mouth and chance, so did the expansion of N-Jet. “We weren’t looking for business, it just came to us,” Seedorf states. “And as more business came, the aircraft got larger and larger. When a customer purchased a Falcon 50 and later moved up to a Falcon 900, the 3800 ft runway at Lake in the Hills just wouldn’t work.” So, with the need for more runway and more hangar space, they moved to their current location of PWK (Chicago Executive, IL) in 2002.
ning the flight school and I would sit in the back of his 172s during flight training. I flew my first solo flight when I was 16 and had my private pilot’s license by 17.” Chad joined the family business while still in high school in 1993. “This is the only place I’ve ever worked,” he states. Even with that background, he still wasn’t sure he wanted a career in flying. “I always knew I wanted to fly but not necessarily as a job, so I went to college to be an accountant. I hated it. That’s when I came back to work for my dad. I enjoy working with numbers and I like accounting work, but I couldn’t see myself in an office all day. I need to be out and about.” He first became a captain on their Beechcraft Baron, then moved on up through the Cessna Conquest and Citation, and is now a check airman in the Citation Excel and the Astra. Even with his administrative duties as the chief pilot, he still flies around 40 hours a month and has accumulated over 13,000 flight hours. Those daily duties have him overseeing the 35 pilots that work for N-Jet. While the current pilot shortage has had some effect on them by losing a few to the airlines, they have very little turnover throughout the company. “We have several employees, including pilots, who have been with us for over 20 years,” Seedorf points out, and credits much of that to the way his father has run N-Jet over the years. “A lot of it is our transparency, in the way we handle our people and our planes.
Operations today As business expanded and their fleet grew, N-Jet needed someone at the helm to assist Seedorf in the dayto-day operations. They didn’t need to look far. In fact, Seedorf didn’t even need to leave home. Second in command at N-Jet is Chief Pilot Chad Seedorf, Howard’s son. Having grown up around the family business, Chad was exposed to aviation quite early. “I was flying before I was even born!” the younger Seedorf exclaims. “My dad was run-
DOM Scott Spjuth worked in corporate aviation and for an airline before taking over at N-Jet’s repair and maintenance operation.
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With 75,000 sq ft of hangar space at PWK, N-Jet can easily house and maintain their diverse fleet of chartered and managed aircraft. They have been at this airport for 17 years and moved into their current space in 2013.
The proprietary online apps and SMS (Safety Management System) that we have developed, no one else has. They actually help us sell ourselves to potential customers as well as pilots.” After joining N-Jet, pilots receive simulator training twice a year, once in each of the 2 types of aircraft they fly. CAE is utilized for the Falcons and Citations, and FlightSafety is used for the Astras.
Diversified fleet As Chief Pilot Seedorf points out, like their pilots, they have experienced low turnover rates on their airplanes. “We don’t own any of the planes that we operate, but when a customer brings us their plane to manage and charter for them, we rarely lose them as a client. Just as we have employees that have been with us for 2 decades, we also have airplane owners who have been clients with us for that long.” While the beginnings of their operations can be traced back to that first Cessna 172, the current fleet has evolved to an impressive selection of 15 aircraft that provides their charter customers several options, whether traveling domestically or internationally. For their longest-range flights, they offer 1 of 3 Dassault Falcon 900s, a B-model and 2 EX EASys. Intermediate distances are covered by their Falcon 2000, Astra SPX and Astra G/100s. Shorter flights are flown in a selection of Cessna Citations including a CJ3, V, Excel and Encores. All flights are available with
a variety of services including catering with onboard cabin attendants, transportation options at departure and destination, and much more, which can be arranged through their scheduling team, 24-hours a day, 365 days a year. Several of the aircraft are also equipped with inflight WiFi. Unlike other charter operations, N-jet has no membership fees or monthly charges, just straightforward pricing and booking of flights.
Culture of safety Of all the accomplishments the senior Seedorf has achieved, perhaps his proudest is his SMS, which was developed by Seedorf himself, tapping into his years of engineering and flight experience. While it’s easy to claim to put safety first, N-Jet has
VP of Marketing & Sales Trevor Janz has been in the aviation industry for his entire career. He joined N-Jet in late 2018 due to their reputation and high safety standards.
made it a part of their culture. “We have an extremely robust SMS that is so seamless and so integrated, our staff is using a safety system without even realizing it. As they build their flight time in the program, the risk analysis is completed simultaneously. But what is unique about what we do is that we capture the data and analyze it. We can go back to 1994 with the data that we have collected.” This SMS was put into place in 2008, the same year that N-Jet became the first charter operation to obtain approval for iPad use in their paperless cockpit. In 2012, they were also one of the initial operators to go live with the FAA’s Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP), a voluntary platform that allows employees to self-report safety issues and events, with the goal of preventing accidents and incidents by reviewing reports and correcting rather than disciplining. This dedication to safety by N-Jet is recognized by not only their customers but by standardization organizations as well. Their efforts have garnered them the accreditation trifecta: IS-BAO Stage 3, ARGUS Platinum and WYVERN Wingman Certification. “We’re proud of our reputation and the safety program we’ve put in place for our pilots and our clients,” Seedorf proclaims.
Maintenance done in-house Another contributor to the safety at N-Jet is their maintenance facility. The volume of flights they operate necessitated early-on that they obtain their own Part 145 Repair Station Certificate. Housed at the N-Jet facility at PWK, the maintenance is completed by Chicago Executive Service Center (CESC), a subsidiary of N-Jet. In charge of this endeavor is DOM Scott Spjuth. Growing up a mile from O’Hare airport, he saw the aircraft arriving and departing on a daily basis but was never drawn to aviation until later in high school. “I always liked tinkering with things, taking them apart, putting them back together. With a little guidance, I started looking into aircraft maintenance,” Spjuth recalls. After completing his associate degree at Lewis University, southwest of Chicago, Spjuth went to work for Air Wisconsin. Following a break from aviation for a couple years, he
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Under the N-Jet umbrella is Chicago Executive Service Center, a Part 145 Repair Station. They perform maintenance on their aircraft as well as non-managed customer planes.
began working for a Falcon 10 owner who brought his plane to Howard Seedorf for management. “That was 20 years ago and I’m still here! I came over as a mechanic and then 2 years later I was offered the DOM position.” Spjuth holds that title at both N-Jet and CESC. They were separate entities until 2005 when they were joined and Spjuth began the dual-oversight. Spjuth currently has a quality control person and 4 mechanics working for him. He feels that this is enough for their current workload but if replacements or additional positions are needed, he knows it will be difficult. “You can’t find them right now. The pilot and maintenance shortages are real and getting worse. We’re always looking and so is everyone else, especially the airlines.” Having spent time in corporate and commercial work, Spjuth has seen both sides and is quite happy where he’s at. “Unlike the airlines, there’s no pressure here. Everything with N-Jet is about safety,” he remarks.
Steady growth for a solid future As Howard Seedorf mentioned, N-Jet has been fortunate to have much of their business come to them without seeking it out. That applies to customers as well as internal personnel. The most recent to join the team is Vice President of Marketing & Sales Trevor Janz. With his father in the Air Force and an uncle who
owned an FBO, Janz declares, “I was born in aviation!” Although his eyesight kept him from flying in the military, he still pursued his passion and had his private license and instrument rating by the time he was 19 years old. After college, his first job was selling aircraft exhaust systems. “I loved it, that was my ‘in’ to the industry, and it’s a great industry. Aviation is a family.” When Janz decided he wanted to expand his career, he knew he had to be involved in jet aircraft versus the smaller piston planes he’d always worked with. When he started looking for a new position, one thing that was vitally important to him was reputation, both his and whom he’d work for. “No matter what I’m selling, it’s still me. And when I looked at N-Jet, I couldn’t find a bad word. They have a top-notch reputation and that meant the world to me.” Janz has only been with N-Jet for a few months but in that time he has been indoctrinated to their safety culture. “We have great aircraft, a prime location, etc, but what makes my job easier is the importance of safety. We don’t ‘sell’ a customer. We just show them the facts and figures and N-Jet sells itself. That is also key to our slow-but-steady growth.” Assisting with that growth is another member from the family tree, founder Howard Seedorf’s daughter, Erika Seedorf Walker. She started her career early working small jobs for N-Jet in the late 1990s but joined
in a full-time capacity in 2010. And now she currently handles marketing and internal communications including press releases, website copy, and the employee newsletter. Erika says, “I’ve watched my dad tirelessly build N-Jet since before I can remember. I take great pleasure putting my skills and experience to work for the family business.” The building of N-Jet has also included conservative expansion. In addition to the CESC repair station, they own another charter operation, Wolf Aviation in Syracuse NY. It is solely a charter facility with no aircraft on-site, although N-Jet is considering all options for that location. They also recently took over the management of 3 Astra jets in Phoenix AZ for an air medical operator. As far as other developments, President Seedorf states, “I’m living the dream, literally. If more opportunities present themselves, we will look at them, but I love what we’re doing now.”
From farm field to the future Several decades ago, a young boy looked to the skies and saw a plane. To him, it was more than just a plane, it was his future. There was no way he could have known that he was looking at the inspiration to a lifelong adventure. What that boy did know, was that somehow, someday, he would live his dream of aviation. From that Iowa farm field to a grass strip in northern Illinois and the skies of the world, Howard Seedorf has lived that dream. 40 years ago he set in motion what would become one of the top choices for aircraft charter, management and maintenance in the greater-Chicago area. With a foundation in safety, backed by a solid reputation, and judicious expansion, N-Jet is well-prepared to continue Seedorf’s dream. Brent Bundy has been a police officer with the Phoenix Police Dept for 27 years. He has served in the PHX Air Support Unit for 17 years and is a helicopter rescue pilot with nearly 4000 hours of flight time. Bundy currently flies Airbus AS350B3s for the helicopter side of Phoenix PD’s air unit and Cessna 172, 182s and 210s for the fixed-wing side.
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FAB, HKG and TLC are popular international ports of call
Photos courtesy TAG
At these airports attentive services from TAG, HKBAC and Manny’s make bizav visits smooth and rewarding.
TAG Farnborough CEO Brandon O’Reilly (inset) is focused on infrastructure development and capacity enhancements to prepare for growing business aviation movements at FAB. TAG Farnborough Airport is always a welcoming sight for corporate crews after a long transatlantic flight.
By Grant McLaren Editor-at-Large
here are popular business aviation friendly airports here and there throughout the world, but some are truly shining examples in terms of infrastructure, General Aviation (GA) access and bizav support levels going above and beyond international norms. This month we feature 3 of the best international ports of call: FAB (Farnborough, London, UK), HKG (Hong Kong) and TLC (Toluca, Mexico). TAG Farnborough delivers consistent world-class service from a stunning architecturally-pleasing facility just southwest of London. Uncongested and unconstrained by airport slots, FAB is one of Europe’s most popular business aviation destinations. At HKG, one of the most highly-regarded GA destinations in Asia, Hong Kong Business Aviation Centre (HKBAC) attracts steadily growing bizav traffic while continuing to fine tune operations and infrastructure to keep at the top of its game. With recent changes to HKG airport slot procedures, GA access has become somewhat easier and more reliable as of late. And TLC’s 14,140-ft run-
way and full service FBOs offer ample parking availability and high-end service support for operators heading to Mexico City. TLC has the advantage of being free of airport slots, PPRs and noise restrictions. All 3 airports offer fine services, handling support, fuel and customs processing, and present welcoming environments to both based and transient business aviation. As with operations to any popular international ports of call, there are particular requirements, suggested lead times and operating constraints crews should be mindful of. Here are some tips to help make your trip a success when blasting off to London, Hong Kong or Mexico City.
FAB – Farnborough Airport One of 7 or so airports available to business aviation in the London area TAG at FAB handles just over 30,000 bizav flights per year with aircraft up to the size of Airbus ACJs and Boeing BBJs. FAB has approval to boost ops to 50,000 movements per year and traffic last quarter was up over 20% from a year earlier. The trip into central London involves about an hour by car or train and just 10–15 minutes via helicopter shuttle.
Operating tips: A dedicated and welcoming business aviation airport and FBO, TAG FAB is located just 35 miles southwest of London. There are no airport slot requirements here, customs/immigration is usually cleared onboard, and you’re not competing with any scheduled commercial activity. Hours of operation are Monday to Friday from 0700 to 2200 local, and weekends and holidays from 0800 to 2000 local with access restricted to Stage 4 ops. TAG FAB CEO Brandon O’Reilly says that bizav traffic is up and there’s still plenty of capacity to handle additional movements. “Last year, GA movements were 30,700, an increase of 14% from the previous year, with North American ops being the largest category after European Union movements,” he says. Regarding capacity, O’Reilly adds, “We currently have authorization for 50,000 annual movements. As we’re a dedicated business aviation airport, we’re focused exclusively on GA customers and the success of their missions.” Parking at FAB is never an issue with 1.2 million ft of ramp space and 240,000 ft of hangar availability in 6 bays, of which just 70% of hangar space is currently occupied.
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A REFLECTION OF EXCELLENCE
TAG Farnborough Airport Design and people working beautifully together The purpose-built airport for BUSINESS, for PRIVACY, for LONDON tagfarnborough.com
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No delay fuel uplifts are SOP and a newish on-airport hotel is available for overnighting crews. Aircraft up to the size of ACJ320neos or BBJ2s are routinely accommodated here and there were 1200 large corporate aircraft movements here last year. Incoming international crews look forward to no-delay arrivals, onboard customs clearance and the ability to bring private vehicles onto the ramp. If staying locally, you can be in your FAB hotel room 20 minutes after engine shutdown. Or, if heading into London, a new smart computer flow-controlled motorway inaugurated in 2017 reduces drive time to within an hour. There are also options for quick helicopter commutes into the city. Should you have a pet onboard, a dog, cat or ferret, it can be efficiently processed and admitted into the UK at FAB under an approved UK pet travel scheme, a service TAG handles with its own local personnel. “Because we own the airport, the FBO, the land, and provide the fuel services, everything here is within our control,” says O’Reilly. “Our entire focus is on bespoke business aviation support. Anything that needs to get done can be accomplished quickly and without huge layers of management.”
HKG – Hong Kong International Inaugurated 20 years ago at the then new Chek Lap Kok airport, HKBAC offers the best direct access to Hong Kong and supports steadily growing bizav ops with consistent high standards of service. Closest alternates include MFM (Macau) and
SZX (Shenzhen, China) but they’re not nearly as popular or convenient as HKG. HKBAC handles all business aviation services at HKG and is recognized as one of the best – if not the best – business aviation facilities in Asia. Over the past couple of years, GA parking spot availability has increased, new procedures have made airport slot management more workable, FBO pilot facilities have been tweaked, and hangar capacity has been expanded. “GA airport slots become available 14 days prior. Once a slot is obtained, parking and handling can be requested,” says Dir of Administration and Business Development Sheree Cheung. “The good news is that slot cancellations occur on a regular basis, GA night slots can be had, and we have more parking options available today.” The aircraft parking was reduced from 4.5 m to 3 m to optimize parking spaces while improving safety standards, backed by a full operational risk assessment performed and documented in line with associated procedures, policies and employee training. Together with additional space available on completion of the new northern apron extension, the number of parking stands have risen from 21 to 30 inside the HKBAC apron. Looking to the future, a 3rd runway is in the planning at HKG. The airport will leap forward with capacity and new initiatives in 2024 while HKBAC keeps innovating to better serve its clients and improve maintenance services. New high-speed rail and faster motorway links have made access easier to mainland China, and the Greater Bay Area is now linked to Hong
Photos courtesy HKBAC
HKBAC celebrating its 20th anniversary recently boosted parking capacity and options at HKG. (L–R) Kadoorie Group Director Philip Kadoorie, Sir Michael Kadoorie, Under Secretary for Transport of Hong Kong Raymond So, Dir General of HKCAD Simon Li, and Chairman of Sun Hung Kai Raymond Kwok. The Company has made significant investments in bizav infrastructure at HKG over the last 20 years and has never looked back.
Kong via a new bridge. This further strengthens Hong Kong’s position as the strategic international gateway to the Great Bay Area. So there are many positive signals on the horizon in terms of driving demands in GA in the region. And looking still further into the future, access to/from the Hong Kong region will benefit from the “Greater Bay Development,” a top national commitment which will make more airports available to GA in the 9 municipalities that make up the Greater Bay. Currently HKG has about 100 based business aircraft and HKBAC is accommodating some 20–25 GA movements per day.
TLC – Toluca International Ever since 1994, when the Mexican President issued a decree closing MEX (Mexico City, Mexico) to GA, TLC has been the business aviation access point for the Mexican capital. Airport infrastructure, facilities and ground handling options are constantly improving and bizav volume is on an upward trajectory with about 20% of arrivals/departures being international ops. Operating tips: Very little lead time is needed for ops to TLC, although 24–48 hours notice may be advised in some cases depending upon specific requests like special catering and secure local transport. Permits are needed for charter ops and indefinite blanket charter permits are recommended for regular operators. Be mindful that securing a blanket charter permit is a complex process that can take up to 1 year. For private ops, flight notification only is needed, although operators may apply
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Photos courtesy Manny Aviation
TLC is home to multiple high quality FBOs, top notch ground handling support and efficient fuel uplift services. Manny Aviation Services and Manny’s Catering, overseen by Managing Director Manuel Romero Vargas (pictured), provide complete FBO services and extensive catering options to the most discerning of international operators.
for annual blanket permits. Note that CIQ, both inbound and outbound, is cleared at the general aviation terminal. This requires at least 15 min advance notice to have a parking spot assigned, with CIQ clearance typically involving 15–30 min. Fuel is available from government supplier PEMEX and provided to FBOs via ASA. You’ll need to organize an ASA-compliant fuel release, which may take up to 24 hours to obtain, unless using the services of private fuel trucks at some of the FBOs. Excellent catering options are available at TLC and vetted private transport can be arranged into Mexico City. While secure transport is often requested for passengers, most crew members use regular, unsecured transport. Toluca has about 6 fair to good hotels available for crew accommodation, but crews staying more than a couple of days usually choose hotels on the western side of Mexico City. “Operating to TLC is a reasonably priced proposition and generally less expensive than flying into such popular tourist destinations as CUN (Cancun), CSL (Cabo San Lucas) and PVR (Puerto Vallarta),” says Manny Aviation Services and Manny’s Catering Managing Director Manuel Romero Vargas. Romero Vargas says that traffic remains steady to TLC, an airport that continues to be a straight-forward
bizav operating arena. He notes that with recent cancellation of the under-construction new Mexico City airport, the government is now focusing on developing TLC to accommodate additional scheduled commercial traffic. “The current plan, by 2024, is to expand TLC to take on more commercial flights and to add 2 runways at NLU (Santa Lucía Air Force Base, Mexico), to repurpose the airfield from military to scheduled-commercial capable. As we currently have plenty of extra capacity at TLC, these new developments should not negatively impact GA ops or support here,” he explains.
Summary Popular ports of call exist throughout the world. Such stops are highly regarded as efficient, welcoming, pleasant and no-surprise experiences for crews. Still, for best end results and to ensure side-stepping of any potential operating snags/issues, it’s always important to be aware of unique requirements, idiosyncrasies and best practice operating tips for each particular airport. FAB, HKG and TLC exemplify the best of what popular international ports of call have to offer. Service level commitments are well entrenched, continuous investments are being made in infrastructure, and steps are being planned to consider
and manage future growth in GA traffic movements. That said it’s always possible – just as it is anywhere – for things to go sideways, particularly in the case of non-sufficiently prepared operators. There will be times when tight slot conditions might frustrate attempts to get into HKG at preferred times, and making one too many charter trips to Mexico without a blanket charter permit can surely get you into hot water. Meanwhile, if you show up at FAB with a non-approved pet type, perhaps a favorite badger rather than the permitted dog, cat or ferret, there will be inevitable complications. We always recommend working closely with your international support provider (ISP), as well as with your local ground handler and providing as much planning lead time as practical. For now, and into the foreseeable future, FAB, HKG and TLC look forward to doing what they do best: providing world-class support for the varied needs of the global business aviation community. Editor-at-Large Grant McLaren has written for Pro Pilot for over 20 years and specializes in corporate flight department coverage.
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Small helicopters are still going strong Robinson, MD, Bell, Leonardo, Airbus lead the single-engine helo field. By Brent Bundy
Phoenix Police Officer-Pilot AS350, AW119, Cessna 210/182/172
Bell 407GXI Bell 505 Jet Ranger X
Photos courtesy Bell
Bell 525 Relentless
ed in their scope due to sheer size, maneuverability and cost, among other factors, the small single-engine helicopter has proven itself to be nearly boundless in the roles it can accomplish. Traditional activities attributed to these models, such as Law Enforcement (LE), Electronic News Gathering (ENG), and pilot
Roles they play While the larger models in the helicopter arena are often limit-
training, still lead the way for their primary use. However, the versatility of multiple offerings from the various manufacturers has shown them more capable and more efficient in many functions than their bigger brethren. Over the years, small helos have found their niche in fields such as aerial application of pesticides, liveAirbus H130
Photos courtesy Airbus Helicopters
or several years, the trend in the aviation market has been “bigger is better.” Whether it’s the latest business jets or luxury and utility helicopters, just like the vehicles we drive or the phones we communicate with, everything seems to be getting larger. Recently, Airbus brought the H160 to market, Leonardo continues to see strong sales of their AW139/169/189 models, and impending certification of Bell’s 525 Relentless have all shown the strength of the medium-lift airframe. With all this attention placed on the big-boys, it’s easy to forget where many of these helicopters got their start and what is still the backbone of the fields these aircraft support.
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Photo courtesy MD Helicopters
Photos courtesy Robinson Helicopter Co
Players in the game The development of the helicopter began shortly after the dawn of the 20th century but it wasn’t until Igor Sikorsky developed his R-4 in 1942 that the industry truly got its start. Although the Sikorsky company moved onto, and still concentrates on, larger aircraft, another early entrant into the vertical lift field was Bell Helicopter. Bell’s first offering, the Bell 30, became the Bell 47 and is still flown. They soon brought out the 206 and 407 which contributed to the Bell 505 Jet Ranger X, the newest in this market. The 206/407 have well-established reputations in LE, ENG and executive transport, and the 505 is already following suit. Around the same time that Bell hit the scene, what would become today’s MD Helicopters came to market. Originally developed for the military, their 500 model has been the basis for multiple civilian versions and one of the most popular helicopters. Still produced in various forms, the 500 sees wide use in logging, tour and personal use. A popular version in the series for use over metropolitan areas is the 520/600 line for its NOTAR anti-torque system with a quieter noise signature. The 500 series with its low operating costs, small footprint, and great maneuverability has made it a perennial favorite for police agencies worldwide. Strongest sales of late have been to military sources, where they continue to be a top choice for special forces. The current favorites in a variety of fields including Search and Rescue (SAR), Emergency Medical Services 42 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / February 2019
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Photo by Brent Bundy
stock gathering, power and pipeline inspection, logging, tourism, and more. What the smaller helicopter lacks in power and capacity, it makes up for with its flexibility. MD 530F
(EMS), LE, ENG, tour and more are light-single offerings from Airbus. The H125 (formerly the AS350 line) debuted in the mid-1970s and has developed into a leader in many of the areas in which it competes. Additionally, this “helicopter workhorse” can be found performing duties in firefighting, parachuting, wildlife survey, and nearly every application a small helicopter can be used. It is also the only helicopter to have landed at the peak of Mt Everest. A derivative of the H125 is the widebody H130 (formerly EC130) which has seen its broadest acceptance in tour and passenger transport use due to its 7-passenger capability.
Robinson has strong popularity When one thinks of small helos, often the first models to come to mind are the products of Robinson Helicopters. There is good reason for this because, from their founding in 1973 and first delivery in October 1979, they have delivered in excess of 12,000 aircraft to over 60 countries, all from their southern California factory. Along the way to becoming the leader in number of helicopters sold for several years, they have set numerous world records for piston helicopters, including around-theRobinson R66
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Photo courtesy Enstrom
Leonardo and Enstrom Leonardo may be seeing their most acclaim as of late for their medium and intermediate airframes, but they continue to maintain a presence in the light-single realm. As the most spacious small helicopter in the market, the AW119Kx has enjoyed its greatest success in the EMS and SAR fields and also sees use in LE and executive transport, due in large part to the roomy, easily accessible passenger compartment.
Perhaps not the household name of others in this industry, Enstrom has been producing small single-engine helicopters since 1968 from the same location in Wisconsin. With over 1300 aircraft shipped to more than 50 countries, they have an established reputation in the small airframe market. Enstrom currently manufactures the 280FX and F28F, the only turbocharged piston helicopters, along with their turbine 480B. While many of their models have seen recent sales to foreign military for training, they have also found success in agriculture spraying and civilian training as well as renewed interest from LE purchasers. Their low acquisition and operating costs, ease of flying, ruggedness, and solid product support are leading them back into a stronger presence in commercial sales.
Into the future The last decade has been a tough one for both fixed and rotary-wing sales. However, even during tough times, the small helicopter has persevered and continued to deliver on its promises of flexibility, practicality, and possibly most important, value. Whether paid for by government taxes being used for military or law enforcement, healthcare budgets for EMS or student loans for flight training, the small helicopter has shown that dollar-for-dollar, it’s hard to beat the return on investment of the light, single-engine rotorcraft and its near-limitless possibilities and often unbeatable performance. What does the future hold in this segment? MD’s 6XX and upstarts like Kopter from Switzerland show
advancements on the decades-old theme, while Uber’s Elevate program and alternate-powered existing models show that the future could morph into something completely different. What probably won’t change is that no matter how big, advanced or evolved the next generation of vertical lift aircraft becomes, there will always be a need for the ones that started it all. In whatever form they may take, with their lower cost of entry and operation, ease of use, and longevity, small helicopters will continue to be the value choice for today and the foundation of future models.
Photo courtesy Kopter
world flights. Robinson has continually improved and added features to their product line since its debut, even adding a turbine model R66 in 2010. Their low-cost, relative ease of learning, and continuous development are some of the reasons why they are found in many fields of use, particularly pilot training and remote environment operations. Their R22/R44/R66 lineup has also found unique roles including tuna spotting from boat-based platforms and cattle wrangling, in addition to being popular LE, ENG and tour aircraft.
Photos courtesy Leonardo Helicopters
Brent Bundy has been a police officer with the Phoenix Police Dept for 27 years. He has served in the PHX Air Support Unit for 17 years and is a helicopter rescue pilot with nearly 4000 hours of flight time. Bundy currently flies Airbus AS350B3s for the helicopter side of Phoenix PD’s air unit and Cessna 172, 182s and 210s for the fixed-wing side.
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PILOT IN COMMAND
Good decision-making is never easy for a captain It’s harder to say no. And it’s still lonely in the left seat.
nix. And they found that a crankshaft bearing with the wrong part number was installed, with a diameter just a bit too large.” And he handed me an official commendation from the university flight department. What a great lesson for a young pilot from an educator in the best sense.
Always stick to the safe decision
The left is traditionally the seat of the PIC. He is personally responsible for the operation of the aircraft and the safety of passengers, crew and cargo. It takes experience to make sound decisions.
By Peter Berendsen
ATP/CFII. Boeing 747, MD11
mbry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU), my alma mater, is a very good school. In the early 80s I was a happy student at their Prescott, Arizona campus. Somehow I had managed to become a member of the Flight Fellowship program, which meant that I could be a flight instructor at their PRC (Prescott AZ) flightline while still taking classes to complete my undergraduate degree in Aeronautical Science. It was a special honor, and it was also a financial relief to my empty purse. Flight training at ERAU is very structured, and checklists are sacrosanct – as they should be. After starting the engine of our Cessna C172Q training aircraft on an early morning with great flying weather, the student and I went through the checklist. “Oil pressure?” “Checked!” Really? I looked again. The yellow oil pressure light was flickering on and off. I advanced the throttle a little. The light went out. Then it came on again, flickering, sometimes dimly. We waited, tried different RPMs, no change. There was always a flickering yellow oil pressure light. But
the oil pressure gauge itself showed sufficient pressure. Still, I decided to write up the deficiency. We were transferred to another aircraft, and flew our lesson. That same afternoon I noticed that this aircraft was flying again, so I assumed the faulty oil pressure indication, probably a wiring fault, had been found and fixed by our maintenance department’s engineers. But the interesting part started when 2 weeks later I got this aircraft assigned to me again with the same fault showing up. Now, as a novice flight instructor, do you override the expertise of the maintenance engineers and experienced and more senior instructors that accepted and flew the aircraft without problems over weeks? Well, I did. I refused the aircraft again. A few weeks later I received a memo from the flight department chairman John Brittain to appear in his office. In my mind I bade farewell to a hopeful career in aviation and stood straight in his office as he greeted me. “Peter, I just wanted to thank you for being so insistent regarding the faulty oil pressure light,” he said. “We took the engine out and drove it to Lycoming in Phoe-
It is now 25 years later at ORD (Chicago IL). It’s snowing, we taxi our MD-11 freighter out in a long line for our flight to EMA (East Midlands, UK). The aircraft is loaded with express time-guaranteed shipments. While looking at holdover time tables, we get an EICAS message: TAIL ANTI-ICE SENSOR 2 FAULT. The Minimum Equipment List (MEL) does not permit flight in icing conditions with this fault. So we taxi back to the cargo apron. On the MD-11F It is very difficult for line maintenance to work on the no. 2 engine, especially when it is winter and snowing, as it is up high in the empennage. After a few hours we are ordered back to our hotel, the flight is canceled and the company will have to ship free of charge and refund the customers as the time guarantee was not met. Then 25 years and 6 months later, I’m at FRA (Frankfurt, Germany). It is midnight, we push back for our 8 hour flight to NBO (Nairobi, Kenya). The courier seats in the back and the 2 jumpseats in the cockpit are occupied by 4 mechanics. We have another MD-11F grounded in NBO and they are on the way with required spare parts to fix it up. After starting our 3 CF-6 engines, we configure for takeoff. Before we can even begin to read the Before Taxi checklist, a message pops up: TAIL ANTI-ICE SENSOR 2 FAULT. Yes, it is the same aircraft again. It is a longhaul flight, and icing conditions are to be expected during part of the cruise flight as we fly in extended
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anvil tops around the many CBs in the Intertropical Convergence Zone over Sudan. The lead mechanic sat in the flightdeck, and knew right away which C/B to pull in order to make the message go away. He did so without asking, sat down again, saying that we were good to go now. This was one of those moments again. While the onboard expert on maintenance had created a clean visual illusion of the technical situation onboard, the onboard expert on flight safety and the commander of the aircraft, in other words, me, was not happy at all. After a quick review with my experienced FO, we returned to the gate and wrote up the issue in the maintenance log. You can imagine that my situation was not that comfortable. Senior line maintenance engineers came to the flightdeck. They basically said the aircraft has had this problem, but it was an indicating error, and they would pull the C/B so the message would go away. After the incident, I asked for the item history to be printed out, which somebody brought to the aircraft 30 minutes later. The history of this item was as thick as a telephone book, I couldn’t believe it. “See” I said, “and that’s why this aircraft needs to be finally repaired. We won’t take it.” This is a great way to be not loved as a captain by the company. Now 2 aircraft were grounded. The Chicago flight was parked close to us. On the operations frequency I heard the ops center ask them if they would take over our aircraft and fly to NBO, but they refused, knowing that solidarity between pilots is essential. The aircraft was towed to the maintenance hangar, out of service for a week and finally fixed. I also have to mention that the engineers were actually quite happy to finally get the ground time needed to fix this aircraft properly. As professionals, engineers have to deal with many constraints in their work, so my decision gave them the opportunity they needed to work on that aircraft.
As captain you are responsible I tell you these old stories because as digital technology becomes more deeply ingrained into our daily flight operations, a pilot’s decisions and actions become ever more important. The captain, the aircraft com-
Decisions regarding maintenance issues are often made on the ground. Sometimes operational pressure may influence the decision.
mander as he is legally called in Europe, is the advocate of all passengers, crew and cargo onboard. He is with them on their journey through the skies, guides them and ensures a safe arrival. With the help of his crew, of course, but in the end personally responsible. At the same time, the captain is also the representative of the aircraft owner towards passengers and cargo regarding their contract of carriage, and towards the crew regarding their employment contract. It takes experience and a well balanced, open-minded and calm decision maker to get this fine line right. At todays large network airlines, many decisions are canned. The airline rightfully strives for a seamless, frictionless air transport system that is run safely but also cost-efficiently. While the responsibility of each captain for his flight is never questioned, the system leaves little room and time for individual variations or considerations. As we have a great civil air transport safety record in the western world, the system seems to work quite well. But still, each pilot, each captain, should always remember that they have final responsibility. They represent the humans on board, the passengers and crew who in the end are the ones that put their lives on the line. And if something does go wrong and there is a legal aftermath, the captain will find out very quickly that he has to fend for himself if he
does not have a good professional organization behind him. Most flight organizations have a very structured framework of rules and regulations. The operations manual is approved by the authority (in the US, the FAA) and is not just guidance but the hard rule book for flight operations. We all learn to refer to it as we are growing up as professional pilots. But there are other guidance systems as well that influence our decision-making. Think for example of the training materials or online learning courses that we use to acquire knowledge about our aircraft type and our company’s operational rules, or the so called processes, procedures that are laid down in the company’s publications about how each department should handle certain tasks. Computer programs or even apps have taken over many routine tasks and do so very well. But in some instances they may not reflect perfectly what the legal text says, depending on how detailed the analysis of the program and the programmer was. And then there is the human factor. Experience, network and buddies, but also the motivation that results from performance goals agreed to by a manager may cause a person to look at the rules from a different angle. These different guidance mechanism does not always conform 100% or may emphasize different aspects and goals of the flight operation. In a complex situation, the captain is the one who must review the situation. Safety is of course the top and “musthave” priority, but economy, punctuality and passenger comfort also play a vital role. They do not always agree with each other. After consulting fellow crew members and as required engineers, operations center or relevant ground staff, the captain has to decide. Hopefully he works for an organization where his decisions are respected, even if he opts for a more expensive or less convenient solution in the interest of safety.
Safety is the rule Security has become an important consideration and is a good illustration of this dilemma. On a passenger flight to EZE (Buenos Aires, Argentina) with a Boeing 747-400, we were advised of an increased security threat level. Checks of passengers PROFESSIONAL PILOT / February 2019 47
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seated in first class from JFK (New York NY) to FRA beside a fellow captain who had risen to the highest ranks of management. Over a fine dinner he told me that my diversion to Macao had at the time outraged the head of the cargo division, as he had expected us to extend our duty time even though we were fatigued and without weather improvement. That was not really surprising. But it is notable that I never heard about all this. The flight department protected captains from outside influence, because they knew that good safe and sound decisions required freedom from pressure and influence.
Make the right choice The captain is the advocate of passengers, as he does his best with his crew to ensure their safe, punctual and comfortable arrival. He is also the representative of the company and its interests.
and crew were meticulous and time consuming. When I asked if cargo had also been screened 100%, I got a surprising answer: Transit cargo had not been screened, as it was high priority and time-guaranteed. My request to have the transit cargo pallets screened as well was denied as there was not enough time for this before departure. So I did what the operations manual very clearly required of me: If the commander had any doubt about the security status of cargo, he had to have it offloaded. So I did, and was casually informed that the pallets in question came from an airport in northern Africa. We had a midnight departure and 14 hours of flight time. While still in the air, next morning the satellite phone rang. The cargo department wanted to discuss the offloading of this time-guaranteed shipment. A flightdeck, especially inflight, is not a place to have controversial phone calls, so we postponed the discussion. But it was quite clear that the parameters the cargo department operated under were quite different than the flight department’s. Luckily I work for a company with an exemplary safety culture and a strong support for our captains. So the issue was worked out and the cargo department amended their procedures for certain transit cargo. But the goals of the cargo people, who had responsibility to fill and sell the available cargo space, clearly were only on the surface conformal with
the goals of the passenger flight operation. Cargo wanted to ensure that they had a sign-off, a signature on a paper that somebody had done the legally required checks. Passenger flight operations wanted to make sure that the flight was never in danger at all. The ability to show after an accident or terror attack that your paperwork is in order is quite different from the actual ability to survive a flight.
Respect fatigue After diverting from Hong Kong to Macao after 3 attempts to land with severe windshear on final approach, it became clear that no MD-11F from my company had ever landed there. So the local authorities needed quite a bit of time to clear our paperwork, especially at midnight. Fuel came by truck in 10 ton increments every 45 minutes. For a total of 70 tons of Jet-A, which were recommended by operations to make the empty and therefore very light aircraft heavier and give it more steadiness in the turbulence, we were looking at several hours of fueling. As we came from Dubai already and had no extra pilots, we were quite tired. Our duty time ran out very quickly and I decided not to extend it as the weather had also not changed. We left the aircraft parked on the apron, again with time-guaranteed cargo. We slept in a nice hotel, and continued the next morning. Years later I was deadheading and
Just culture, openness and fairness in your organization are quintessential to enable and encourage captains to make the right decisions. The trust that is put in a captain has to be used wisely. You don’t want to be known as difficult or obstructionist, or be stripped of your command. But you also do not have to agree with everything. If you come to a difficult decision point – and many times the difficult decisions come up during ground handling, not in the air where things are much clearer – try to make some space for yourself. Do the outside walkaround inspection or get yourself a coffee. In that little time, you will likely come up with a wise and balanced decision, that keeps everyone safe and happy. The skill to make a balanced and wise decision is acquired with time and experience. When your ATP license is handed to you for the first time, you probably still have much to learn in this respect. But over the years, you realize that each year of experience gained contributes to your ability to see the whole situation and get the decision just right. If it was a good decision, you will never hear from it again. As you have read here, I went through this learning curve, too. Peter Berendsen flies a Boeing 747 as a captain for Lufthansa Airlines. He writes regularly for Pro Pilot on aviation-related subjects.
48 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / February 2019
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Pilots need to practice manual flying skills as automation can misbehave Remaining proficient requires self-awareness and dedication to basic airmanship.
Pilot flying Airbus 319 on final approach. A visual approach is an opportunity to decouple the automation and assess whether skills have deteriorated.
By Shannon Forrest
President, Turbine Mentor ATP/CFII. Challenger 604/605, Gulfstream IV, MU2B
hat’s your favorite airplane to fly? is a common question posed to pilots. Those aviators who have weathered the low points of the fickle aviation industry might respond with the sardonic answer, “it’s the plane that’s currently responsible for providing a paycheck.” While that’s true for some, most pilots have a favorite. At the early stage of one’s career the answer tends to favor fast and glamorous. An aircraft that climbs quickly or looks fast just sitting on the ramp garners a lot of affection. Others prefer smooth handling characteristics. However, seasoned professional pilots come to love an aircraft that makes life easier and more comfortable. Although it’s fun to reminisce about flying a Cessna off the grass or performing loops in a weathered military trainer that reeked of air sickness from the thousands of pilots that came before, the thought of having to return to those days can be unsettling, especially in the later stage of life.
So perhaps the relevant question is twofold: what’s your favorite airplane to fly for fun, and what do you prefer to fly for work? A professional pilot that enjoys flying a Piper Cub to an airport barbecue has a different answer when faced with flying an ILS to minimums in Boston during a February nor’easter.
Flying automated aircraft The unwritten expectation when it comes to pilot career advancement is that increasing seniority corresponds with better equipment and lower workload – and higher pay. In pilot parlance: less mental gymnastics and physical labor for the same or better compensation. An experienced pilot that has acquired a large knowledge base and skill set expects to employ less of it over time. All things being equal, a fully automated aircraft requires less effort to fly. What skills are necessary is a function of technology and, correspondingly, the operating environment. The demise of the NDB (Non-Directional Beacon) serves as an example. The ADF needle still exists on some instrument panels, even though GPS has supplanted the NDB
ground-based navigational system (at least in US domestic airspace). Although pilots who were trained to fly fixed-card NDB approaches might be able to annunciate the mnemonic that on-course occurs when “the intercept angle equals the deflection,” today only a small percentage could fly an NDB instrument approach – much less a hold – to ATP tolerances without some coaching. Nor would they need to. It’s a lost art but one that is completely superfluous in the modern era, as even when used to define an airway in international operations, pilots almost assuredly use GPS or a flight management system instead. However, the fact that a pilot can’t perform an NDB approach does not mean the pilot is complacent. Technology has simply rendered the skill obsolete. On the other hand, complacency does occur when a pilot is unaware that a necessary skill has deteriorated or vanished. Overreliance on technology and automation can mask or contribute to a deficiency, hence the adage “Given enough automation, a good pilot will turn bad; and a bad pilot, good.”
Proficiency lapse A leading cause of proficiency lapse is an autothrust/autothrottle system. From a definition standpoint, an autothrottle moves the levers while changing power, whereas an autothrust system leaves the levers in a fixed position. However, both systems are tasked with increasing or decreasing thrust. The most troubling example of this occurred in July 2013, when Asiana Airlines flight 214 (a Boeing 777) struck the seawall while on a visual approach to runway 28L in SFO
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Self awareness and poor performance The greatest challenge when measuring proficiency is self-awareness (or lack thereof). Flight instructors that conduct Biennial Flight Reviews (BFRs) can relate. Every now and then, a candidate comes along that requires more training before the instructor is willing to endorse the BFR as complete. The post flight debrief ends 1 of 2 ways: (1) the pilot realizes he needs more work or (2) he argues with the instructor that he’s perfectly fine and deserves a sign off. The same thing happens, albeit to a lesser extent, when conducting recurrent training in a simulator. Lack of proficiency is a problem, but lack of introspection and accurate self-assessment regarding said proficiency is a bigger one. In 1999, Cornell psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger codified this effect in a scientific paper enti-
The Dunning-Kruger effect
Kruger and Dunning demonstrated that experts and novices often self-assess the same level of confidence, despite a wide disparity in skill level. Difficulties in recognizing one’s own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessment.
(San Francisco CA). The aircraft was cleared for a visual approach and, according to the NTSB, “neither the pilot flying, the pilot monitoring, nor the observer noted the change in A/T (autothrottle) mode to HOLD.” The reversion to the HOLD mode is relevant because in that condition the thrust setting does not increase or decrease to control the airspeed. In the case of Asiana 214, the thrust remained at idle while on final approach. With no thrust input, the airspeed rapidly decayed, yet no one on the flightdeck detected the anomaly or acted to rectify a rapidly deteriorating situation. The NTSB went on to point out, “the flight crew’s insufficient monitoring of airspeed indications during the approach resulted from expectancy, increased workload, fatigue, and automation reliance.” The accident report also chided Asiana’s automation policy: the emphasis on using full automation all the time and discouraging manual or hand flying. The irony is that from day 1 of flight training, pilots are taught the inexorable concept that pitch plus power equals performance. One of the unfortunate pitfalls of automated thrust management is overconfidence that the computer will faithfully mirror pilot intentions. As history shows, that’s not always the case.
tled “Unskilled and Unaware: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments.” Essentially, it’s the phenomenon that people that are truly bad at something don’t know how bad they are or, more worrisome, they spuriously believe themselves to be better than average (or even good) at a task when they are not. The Dunning-Kruger effect has been cited frequently in the media as a way of explaining poor performance on everything from driving to office work. However, outside of scientific literature, the reason why people remain unaware of subpar and unskilled behavior is not made clear. One reason for low self-awareness is the lack of negative feedback from others or from the environment. If an instructor conducting a BFR or training event merely “checks the box” and does not point out deficiencies, he does the student a disservice while at the same time reinforcing a specious belief that the airmanship was proficient. A pilot that never has an incident, accident or violation won’t receive situational feedback despite how bad he is. Nor will a pilot that uses the automation to keep him out of trouble or “save the day.” Some people avoid misfortune by being lucky. Dunning and Kruger point out that attributional ambiguity – or the tendency to attribute failure to reasons
other than oneself – is also responsible for overestimating one’s abilities. Under this theory, an unstable approach might not be attributed to poor airmanship, inadequate workload management or automation misuse; rather, it would be blamed on something like “ATC gave me a bad vector or left me high.”
Automation steals airmanship Automation is a wonderful thing, especially when it comes to controlling aircraft pneumatic, fuel, electrical and hydraulic systems. Highly automated aircraft have changed the training curriculum from the “build the system” mentality to one of “Green is good, red is bad, and yellow is sort of bad.” What this all means is that in technically advanced aircraft, deep systems knowledge (including a litany of memory items) is no longer required and has been replaced by checklist procedures and “switchology.” For example, a manufacturer might specify that all the buttons should be dark, the switches positioned at 12 o’clock, and functions set to auto, and should remain that way unless something turns yellow or red. Then, pilots are cautioned to change something only when directed to do so by the checklist. The desired outcome is that a pilot can spend more time focused on flying and less on having
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Pilots practicing with FlightSafety’s type-specific upset prevention and recovery training. These training sessions build confidence and remind pilots the importance of keeping their manual flying skills sharp.
to know which electrical bus powers the coffee pot in the galley. Nonetheless, pilots are still not doing a lot of hand flying as surveys show the autopilot is engaged approximately 98% of the time. As previously mentioned, pilot career progression usually equates to flying more advanced aircraft over time. That’s not always the case in corporate aviation because aircraft turnover more frequently than the airlines. As aircraft come and go, pilots are sometimes tasked with flying with less automation than they’re accustomed to. And along with it comes a philosophical downshift. A captain-qualified corporate pilot with widespread international experience described his recent move from the Bombardier Global 6000 to a classic Gulfstream as, “The Global was pretty much completely automated. Now I feel (jokingly) that I’m being paid based on the number of switches and checklists I run. The Gulfstream is a highly capable aircraft for sure – I can fly 13 hours, 12 of it at Mach .85 at flight level 450 – but it’s still not as automated as the Global which made repeated flights from the US to London, brainless.”
Remaining proficient If nothing else, changing aircraft illustrates how comfortable – and perhaps complacent – a pilot has
become with the automation status quo. It might also point out a deterioration in basic airmanship as a function of automation reliance. An obviously solution is to occasionally decouple the automation to the extent possible to retain basic flying skills. One of the first things to go is the instrument scan. That’s predictable given that many aircraft now have a Flight Path Vector (FPV) symbol that shows where the aircraft is headed. Steep turns during recurrent? No problem, set the FPV on the horizon and the aircraft will never lose a foot of altitude. Since 45º banks are not part of normal flying, the intent of the maneuver is to manage multiple parameters simultaneously. Unfortunately, a pilot tends to omit a couple of those (weakening the instrument scan) when using the FPV. Also, pilots who want to remain proficient might consider taking advanced maneuvering courses delivered by the Part 142 training providers. Both FlightSafety International and CAE offer courses in upset prevention and recovery. For those who have never taken an upset course or those who haven’t had one in some time, it’s important to note that the simulation modeling has gotten better. The experience is more realistic, and unlike the past, the simulator has the capability to generate and display a Vg diagram to an output device.
Because simulators are unable to replicate G-loading or “seat-of-thepants” flying sensations, a pilot traditionally left the simulator feeling every upset recovery was successful (if he didn’t hit the ground). Based on pilot actions, the aircraft specific Vg plot will display if any (and which) parameters were exceeded during the recovery. The takeaway is that what appeared to be successful might have resulted in structural failure of the airframe. The whole exercise allows a pilot to tailor and refine a better method of recovery and increase the likelihood of a successful outcome should an upset occur. It also forces the pilot to step away from the automation and practice basic visual aircraft control. Visitors to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington DC will likely notice the X-15 research aircraft hanging in the main hall. Some might know the history of the craft and the role it played in aircraft stability and control systems. The X-15 was an important precursor to the US space program and an X-15 pilot that specialized in flight control systems would eventually become the first man to walk on the moon. What is not on display, however, is the press release that accompanied the aircraft when it was donated to the museum in 1969. It reads: “The capability of the human pilot for sensing, judging, coping with the unexpected, and employing a fantastic variety of acquired skills remains undiminished in all of the key problem areas of aerospace flight.” Automation has come a long way since then, and now augments or replaces the pilot for most basic flight functions. The theory espoused by the NASA press release holds true today with one caveat: the pilot is the best “computer” aboard an aircraft if he keeps his skills sharp and takes corrective action when the actual computers misbehave.
Shannon Forrest is a current line pilot, CRM facilitator and aviation safety consultant. He has over 10,000 hours and holds a degree in behavioral psychology.
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Advanced flightdecks for international flight ops Global standardization in use of enhanced flight vision systems is sought after by both manufacturers and aviation authorities. By Glenn Connor ATP. Cessna 425 President, Discover Technology Intl
The Falcon 8X cockpit, along with the 6X, is one of several new Dassault flightdecks with dual CVS HUDs offering low visibility solutions to both pilots. These cockpits also feature EFVS and SVS imagery integrated into a single CVS image that can be seen by both pilots.
Photos courtesy Dassault
armonization, or better said, standardization, is what most all in aviation strive for. It is essential to safety, accident reductions and efficiency. And when you fly an ILS approach in Europe, North America, Asia or anywhere, because of international standards, the ILS “needles” move the same way. You, the pilot, are expected to operate the aircraft on the approach in a standard manner – follow the needles. The main reason that this standardization process works is the continued discussion that happens globally with both regulators and operators, consummated with agreements to collaborate, validate and approve aircraft certification programs for global operations. Examples of this collaboration include the FAA–EASA bilateral agreement, and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), created in 1947 after World War II. As commercial aviation routes and carriers spread post war across the continents, ICAO and everyone that flew or made an airplane, knew that we all had to come to the same understanding of how things would work. The ICAO standards are well known from the use of the alphabet (Alpha, Bravo, etc) to emergency radio calls (Mayday, Pan Pan) and even fuel reserves. But there are some subtle and not so subtle differences today concerning international flight operations that must be known and observed. What is interesting is that many of these “differences” can be found connected to the new technology in the flightdeck.
FalconEye blends SVS and EFVS images into a single view on the HUD. This Dassault CVS installed on a Dassault Falcon 2000LXS shows the SVS above the horizon line and EFVS below.
Use of EFVS in Europe As it turns out, Enhanced Flight Vision Systems (EFVS) is one of those areas where some international differences have emerged, mainly within Europe.
EFVS operations is the use of an electronic imaging sensors to allow the pilot to “see” in low visibility, and is permitted in the US, Canada, South America and Asia. The 1st EFVS was certified by Gulfstream in 2001 in the US with the FAA, soon
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HUDs and PFDs with CVS evaluated by NASA Langley Research Center. In the near future, flightdecks will host dual HUD configurations, EFVS and advanced sensors integrated with SVS displayed head up and head down.
followed by Bombardier with Transport Canada, and Dassault jointly with FAA and the Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA). EFVS is established as a means to comply with the published minimums regardless of the reported natural visibility. ICAO also has published revisions to Annex 6 for Aircraft Operations and for the Manual of All-Weather Operations, DOC 9365, which provides a great deal of internationally accepted standards for EFVS operations, training and related procedures. In Europe the differences regarding EFVS are related to some specific areas of flightdeck equipment, and in the regulatory framework on how EFVS is established to permit you to approach and land legally even when the naked eye cannot see. The process for approvals, however, is a source of confusion.
Copilot monitor The main difference, that regarding equipment, has to do with the copilot monitor. Here, the ability for the copilot to see the EFVS image is a requirement for EASA. The EFVS monitor requirement by EASA is for aircraft that have a single Head-Up Display (HUD) for the pilot but no means for the copilot to observe the EFVS functioning. By European regulations, the copilot is supposed to have access to the same
information on the flightdeck as the pilot. A single HUD installation and no other video display will not provide the required access. Most all new aircraft have multiple means to display the EFVS sensor image on the main displays, but for the aftermarket EFVS programs, small monitors have been added to meet this requirement. For the US and other operating regions, there is no requirement for an EFVS copilot monitor, but in practice most all cockpits with EFVS have it.
Equipment credit Another difference is the basis for the approval, which is characterized as an equipment credit as compared to a means of compliance with visual segment of the approach. In the development of the early JAA approval for EFVS in 2008, the equipment credit could be translated to a table of reduced minima. The original JAA rule, EU Subpart E 1.43 (now SPA LVO 100, Special Approval Low Visibility Operations), shows the value of the credit. The EFVS equipage credit then provides relief from the approach ban limit dictated by the standard minima of 1800 ft RVR. This would mean you could begin the approach. From the piloting part, the operation of the EFVS is the same as with the FAA, Transport Canada and other organizations: if
you see the visual references, you can continue to 100 ft visual transition to natural vision. By comparison, the FAA established the first EFVS regulations in 2004, and the operational credit is based on the operation. The operation of EFVS is to enable the pilot to comply with the visual segment at the published minimums. In other words, the pilot must “see” the runway, the approach light systems and other specified legal visual references. If the visual references are not present at minimums or disappear at any time, then a go-around is required. The FAA has introduced a number of official terms, and EFVS Operations is now in the books. The FAA later followed up with changes and updates in 2016, the most recent being the ability to approach and land with EFVS. Significant in the new regulations for Part 135 operators is the ability to dispatch with weather below published minimums. The FAA regulations are performance-based, meaning the operational limit is a function of the EFVS sensors operation in weather. This performance is defined as how well the EFVS sensor works, better known as “visual advantage.” Many consider the FAA approach as “future proof” because it has no written limits; it comes from how the equipment is certified and how the FAA defines its limits. PROFESSIONAL PILOT / February 2019 55
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Table A: Operations utilizing EFVS/CVS — RVR/CMV reduction RVR/CMV (m) required without the use of EFVS
RVR/CMV (m) required with the use of EFVS
EASA EFVS operations In 2016 EASA began a wide sweeping review and updating of their EFVS operating and compliance regulations to include HUDs, EFVS, Synthetic Vision Systems (SVS) and Combined Vision Systems (CVS). The current and proposed new operational regulations reside under section 4, called “AMC3 SPA.LVO.100 Low visibility operations.” In reference to operational credit, paragraph F states, “approach operation utilising enhanced vision systems (EVS) for which an operational credit is applied to reduce the runway visual range (RVR) minimums by no more than one third of the published RVR.” A long title, but it incorporates the EASA plan to provide a means to operate with EFVS closer to the means described by ICAO, FAA, Transport Canada and others. Some of the key elements of the new EASA proposed regulation are that: • The DA/H used should be the same as for operations without EFVS. • The lowest RVR minima to be used should be determined in accordance with criteria specified in the AFM for the expected weather conditions. • By reducing the RVR determined for operation without the use of EFVS/ CVS in accordance with Table A. Table A shows equipment credit for EFVS in terms of reduced minimums. With an EFVS-equipped and approved operator on an approach with published minimums of 1800 ft RVR, the operational credit could be as low as 1200 ft RVR. In other words, if the actual visibility was reported as the 1200 ft RVR, as a Cat I
operator you could begin the approach with EFVS. EASA is also addressing the EFVS landing regulations. On its coming new EFVS operations, the organization has outlined aspects similar to those in the FAA’s FAR 91.176 regarding use of EFVS to land. There are 2 different EFVS operations: (1) EFVS-A (approach), which is equivalent to the type of most of the EFVS operations flying today (the ability to fly the approach and transition to natural vision at 100 ft HAT), and (2) EFVS-L (landing), which is also mostly harmonized with the new FAA rule for landing. An important change to highlight is the definitions as EASA has changed the old EVS to EFVS, further aligning with the term used within the FAA regulatory system. Another new area for international flight operations that is new here is CVS, or the integration of SVS and EFVS into a single display – first certified by Dassault in their FalconEye system. Dassault also offers dual HUD installations for the Falcon 8X and 6X business jets, providing the means to meet the copilot monitor requirement, no matter who’s flying. And following suit, last year Bombardier announced their movement to combined vision for the Global 7500 at Farnborough this summer as well. The operational approval difference seems to boil down to an EFVS Letter of Authorization (LoA) for Europe that an operator will need to show compliance with equipment certification and crew training. In the past the FAA was reluctant to add still another LoA for Part 91 operators along with the myriad of others
such as RVSM, Cat II and more, but with the new EFVS regulation (FAR 91.176) and the need for a LoA for this capability in the US, the path to European approvals may have already arrived.
Confused harmonization Are you confused? Well, join the club. From the US perspective, the FAA has been engaged with the JAA and EASA in reaching harmonized EFVS operations since the beginning in 2001. For US operators flying in Europe, the FAA advises that you check. Within the EFVS Operational Advisory Circular 90-106, Enhanced Flight Vision Systems, Change 1, the FAA says “U.S. and foreign regulations with respect to EFVS operations may differ.” EASA has recently introduced the idea of EFVS operations where no approval is needed, called the EFVS 200 Operation. EFVS 200 Operation is a new term by EASA and states that “operators will be permitted to conduct certain EFVS operations without needing a specific approval (SPA) from the competent authority. Such operations may be conducted only in Cat I or better meteorological conditions (ie not LVOs) and down to a height of 200 ft above the runway threshold (the approach may only be continued below 200 ft if the pilots have ‘natural’ visual reference).” In the meantime the FAA and OEMs in Europe and elsewhere continue to expand the scope of EFVS operations internationally. AC 90106A provides the process for Foreign operators with EFVS coming to the USA. EASA’s SPA.LVO.100 provides a lot of details as well. As a seasoned pilot friend points out, you check all the rules of your home country (USA) FAA, International (ICAO) rules, and all sovereign states or countries that you’re flying over. But that can often be a very complex task.
Glenn Connor is president of Discover Technology Intl. He is a pilot and a researcher specializing in the development of enhanced vision systems and advanced avionics.
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SkyLens™ wearable HUD brings a new vision in flight deck avionics to business aircraft. Ideal for retrofit or forward-fit, SkyLens is the all-weather EFVS solution. Lightweight, comfortable and easier to install than fixed-mounted HUDs. Vive la révolution!
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Blizzards Nature’s winter fury produces many challenges for aviation.
By Karsten Shein Comm-Inst Climate Scientist
he heavy snow was driving hard and it was difficult to see too far ahead. Fortunately, the wind was also blowing the snow clear of the taxiway and runway. Taxiing onto Runway 36, the pilots called out their intentions on the CTAF. Even though they couldn’t see the sky above the runway approach end, they were confident that no one was going to shoot the approach on a day like this. Met with radio silence, they powered up and released their brakes. The jet liked the subfreezing air and quickly accelerated. Just a few seconds into the takeoff roll, both pilots lost sight of the runway and any marker lights. But at nearly 110 kts, they were fast approaching V1. In their estimation, aborting would pose the same risks as continuing the takeoff, so they decided to go on. Unfortunately for them, the 35 kt wind was 20 degrees off centerline and gusting to 45 kts. In the split second required for their
Aircraft on the ramp at ACH (St Gallen-Altenrhein, Switzerland) during a winter storm. Blizzards are a special case of winter storm with high winds and blowing snow that last for over 3 hours.
decision, the same wind gust that dropped visibility to zero also began to push the aircraft off the runway. With no visual reference, the pilots didn’t realize what had happened until they felt the impact of their mains running over the edge lighting of the narrow strip. Within seconds, the gear sank into the verge that was still a boggy morass from the rain the day before. For many pilots, especially those based at mid-continental airports in the higher latitudes, blizzards are a frequent winter weather hazard. But, as these pilots know, proper planning can tame many of these atmospheric monsters.
What are blizzards The term blizzard is widely used and often associated with any winter weather event containing wind and snow, but it does have a fairly specific definition. The US National
Weather Service’s definition is heavy falling or blowing snow, winds over 35 mph (sustained or gusts), visibility of less than ¼ mile and those conditions lasting for 3 hours or more. Winter storms that have snowy and windy conditions of lesser severity are simply termed “winter storms,” though these should not be accorded any less respect than a proper blizzard. The term blizzard has been in use since at least the early 1800s, but not as a meteorological term. Initially, blizzard meant something along the lines of to blast, as in shoot with firearms, and gradually came to mean an overwhelming assault of some sort – a blizzard of shot, a blizzard of words, or a blizzard of punches. The meteorological association occurred in the 1870s, when it was used in an Iowa newspaper article to describe a severe winter storm (a blizzard of snow). By the 1880s, the term had been adopted worldwide.
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Midlatitude blizzards Because blizzards depend primarily on snow and strong winds, the atmospheric condition that most commonly produces them is the midlatitude cyclone. These storm systems are signified on surface maps with a big letter L for Low and have cold and warm fronts extending from that central low pressure. These cyclones begin as a disturbance in the polar front – the boundary between the frigid polar air and the warmer subtropical air. Divergence in the flow of air in the polar vortex (the polar jet stream) allows surface air to ascend, lowering the surface pressure. This in turn generates the cyclonic circulation that draws warm air poleward ahead of the low, and pulls cold air equatorward behind it. As the warm, and often more humid air flows poleward, it rises up
Closely spaced isobars and the position of the magenta 5280 m (1000–500 mb thickness) line suggest an impending blizzard for southern Norway in this weather model forecast chart. Tropospheric thickness lower than 5400 m (blue dashed line) suggests air cold enough to support snow.
over the colder air. While this may produce rain or mixed precipitation ahead of the warm front, eventually the air spirals around the top of the low, rising over ever colder air, cooling further and dropping its precipitation through the coldest region of the storm – frequently as heavy snow. The other component of the blizzard mix is high wind. Unfortunately, the same region of the cyclone that experiences cold and snow is also the region in which winds are likely to be strongest. This is thanks to the high pressure center that is frequently found poleward and trailing the low. The positioning of the low and high results in the strongest pressure difference of the storm being in the line between the 2 pressure centers. Wind speed in this area is a function of that pressure gradient. The greater the change in pressure over a distance, the stronger the wind. Strong lows are normally coupled with equally strong highs, making the winds even stronger. The strongest systems can support winds in this region that exceed 50 kts with gusts surpassing tropical storm strength. What can enhance the blizzard effect is when there are few obsta-
cles at the surface that may act as wind breaks. Such landscapes are common across Siberia and central North America, as well as along western continental coastlines, allowing the winds to sustain full force for hours on end.
Image courtesy IPS Meteostar
Blizzards and similar winter storm systems occur throughout the world, generally between about 40 and 60 degrees latitude in both hemispheres. They even occur in the high latitudes, well above the arctic and antarctic circles, but these blizzards tend to form by different means than the ones experienced in the middle latitudes. Many blizzards, such as those found in Antarctica or in mountainous regions, are due to katabatic wind storms. Katabatic winds occur as cold, dense air flows downhill. They normally do not last long enough to create blizzards, but can attain speeds of up to 100 kts and may quickly mobilize already fallen snow to generate a ground blizzard. Ground blizzards happen when already fallen snow is blown about by the wind, achieving the same effect on visibility as snow falling through high winds. As with fog, often pilots may see blue sky above the blowing snow, or the blizzard conditions are masked by the underlying snow pack when viewed from above, thus ground blizzards can be deceptive to pilots. Close attention should be paid to surface reports whenever there is freshly fallen snow and winds are significant, or are expected to be so. A sudden gust across the runway on takeoff or landing can quickly reduce or eliminate forward visibility.
Blizzard conditions Given the defining conditions of winds over 35 mph (30 kts/56 kph) and airborne snow, there exist several factors that will affect aviation operations. The most obvious is visibility. Snow is very effective at reducing visibility. Each snowflake acts as a tiny opaque obstacle to vision. When those flakes join millions of their cousins in the air, forward visibility is quickly reduced, and in some cases eliminated entirely. Snowflakes are also highly reflective and can scatter light in any direction depending on their orientation. This makes the use of aircraft lighting a challenge. Though not generally to the same degree as fog, shining a landing or taxi light ahead into falling snow is just as likely to reflect the light back into the cockpit rather than illuminate the path ahead.
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Bombardier Global Express kicks up a cloud of snow on departure from MDW (Chicago IL). Snow is just one challenge pilots face as part of winter weather operations.
The combination of greatly reduced visibility and potential backscatter of aircraft lights means that a pilot’s ability to see other aircraft or obstacles before they become a danger is substantially diminished in blizzard conditions. Blizzard winds also are strong and frequently gusty. This often produces unmanageable crosswinds on takeoff and landing, and may create momentary upsets at critical points, such as when the aircraft is low and slow in ground effect. Pilots should remember to include gusts in their crosswind calculations, as a strong gust can push an aircraft off the glidepath before the pilot has time to respond with rudder or aileron. Additionally, strong sustained winds mobilize snow, especially freshly fallen snow. These ground blizzard conditions may extend several hundred feet above the surface. And though a pilot may be on final in clear air, and be able to see the runway, that snow can rob visibility during the last few feet of the descent. If the sun is shining above, the reflection off millions of ice crystals can be blinding. Polarized sun glasses are a good idea in these situations. Snowfall during blizzards can be copious, and may overwhelm the ability of airport crews to remove it from runways and taxiways. The wind can quickly rearrange fallen snow into drifts that may extend into the runway pavement. Should a tire hit one of these drifts at high speed,
it is likely that the aircraft may lose control or even suffer landing gear damage. Drifting and blowing snow can also adhere to airport signage, making navigation at an unfamiliar airport a challenge. Pilots should be aware that visiting aircraft may accidentally turn onto an incorrect taxiway or runway in these conditions. While many blizzards are accompanied by subfreezing temperatures, this is not a requirement, and these winter storms sometimes occur in temperatures near freezing. In these situations, icing becomes a danger, both on aircraft and on the runway. Conversely, winter storms may begin in warmer air, and as the low passes by the airport, surface temperatures drop precipitously. Chemical ice melt applied to the runways to keep them clear in the early phases of the storm may not be effective in the super cold air accompanying the blizzard, and standing pools of water can gradually refreeze to form slick spots on the runway and taxiways. Additionally, blowing snow in the blizzard can mask these slick spots, as well as create a thin film of snow in spots that acts as slippery as ice.
Forecasting blizzards At a general scale, blizzards are not difficult to forecast. Meteorologists and weather models are able to track winter cyclone development with a great degree of accuracy several days in advance. However,
some of the remaining difficulties in blizzard forecasting are the strength of the winds, quantity and type of precipitation, and the expected duration of blizzard conditions. The reason for this level of uncertainty is that while the track and development of a winter cyclone is based on larger scale patterns and well understood atmospheric dynamics, the intensity, magnitude or duration of the individual conditions depend far more on smaller scale dynamics in which even small inputs can aggregate into substantial changes in outcome. For example, a few percent difference in humidity and a 1 or 2 degree error in temperature in the middle level of the troposphere can mean the difference between snow falling at a rate of 2 and 6 inches per hour. Forecasts of snowfall totals and estimates of peak wind speeds may continue to change even just a few hours ahead of the storm. However, the variability of the estimates decreases dramatically as the storm nears. Pilots facing a forecast blizzard or strong winter storm should simply assume the worst of the possible forecast conditions and plan accordingly. If it is possible to adjust flight departures or arrivals to avoid the worst of the storm, that is the best option.
Planning for blizzard conditions Significant winter storms are normally tracked closely by meteorologists several days to even weeks before they may impact a location. Because these storms frequently occur beneath and follow the larger ridge and trough pattern of the polar jet, pilots can anticipate which part of the storm is most likely to affect their route of flight or the airports from which they are operating. If the track of the storm’s center is poleward of the airport, the blizzard conditions, which normally only occur in the upper rear quadrant of the system (poleward and behind the low) are far less likely to strike. On the other hand, if the low is tracking equatorward of the airport, then that may place the blizzard zone right over you. Of course, this does not mean that pilots should take any part of a winter storm system lightly. All parts of the storm contain adverse fly-
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Blizzards are extreme winter storms with high wind and falling or blowing snow that combine to reduce visibility to less than ¼ mile for 3 hours or more. They have high potential to significantly disrupt aviation operations across the impacted region, sometimes for days.
ing conditions, from icing beneath the warm front to possible thunderstorms ahead of the cold front. During the worst parts of a blizzard, controllers may temporarily halt aircraft operations. This is not only for pilot and passenger safety, but also to give ground crews a chance to clear runways and taxiways for a quick resumption of operations when conditions improve. Icing, for example, can occur any place the temperature is at or below freezing and there is water present. Since mixed and supercooled liquid precipitation can occur to temperatures as cold as -40° C (-40° F), precautions should be taken against ice accretion. Similarly, pilots should anticipate slick patches on the runway and taxiways, even if none have been reported. Reduced visibility in blowing snow is a given, and momentary (almost instant) losses of forward visibility also should be anticipated. If at any time during taxi, you cannot see ahead, it is best to stop where you are (unless you were crossing an active runway at the time), announce your stop to ATC or CTAF and wait. Visibility will often improve as the gust passes, or else ask ground controllers for a guide. The last thing you want to do is run into something you couldn’t see or drive your aircraft off the pavement. In the air on approach, it is best to follow regulatory or company guidance for missed approaches if visibility drops below minima. Though many pilots operate under rules (such as FAR Parts 91 or 97) that permit takeoffs
in limited to zero visibility, the wise option remains to delay the takeoff until the pilot can be sure they can see far enough ahead that they won’t run into anything or run off the runway at a high rate of speed.
Know the track of the storm Knowing the track of the storm ahead of time will help you plan for potentially strong crosswinds. Pay attention to wind forecasts, or if they are unavailable, use a surface weather map to estimate the wind. On a surface weather map, winds will spiral inward and counterclockwise around the low in the northern hemisphere (clockwise in the southern hemisphere). The angle of approach of these winds is about 10–20° inward from flowing parallel to the surface isobars (less over open water and more over complex terrain). The wind speed is a function of the spacing of those isobars as well as the Coriolis effect (latitude dependent) and surface frictional force. Thus estimating wind speed isn’t straight forward from a weather map, but can be done using either a geostrophic wind scale, or if available on the map, station observations of wind speed and direction. Compare these to the isobaric spacing to estimate the wind speed at your airport. If winds (are likely to) exceed the crosswind capabilities of your aircraft, consider operating out of an airport with a more favorable runway configuration.
Perhaps the most important planning pilots can do for blizzard conditions is to prepare themselves and their passengers. Given the cold and the high wind, wind chill and frostbite can happen quickly – even in the span of time it takes to do a preflight walk around or trudge from the warm FBO to the airplane. In a blizzard with a 35 kt wind and -4° F (-20° C), it takes less than 10 minutes for exposed skin to get frostbite. A warm jacket, gloves, and perhaps even ski goggles are a good idea for venturing out to prep your aircraft in a blizzard. Blizzards are an extreme variation on the winter storm, with high winds and mobilized snow making aircraft operations treacherous, both on the ground and in the air. The worst of the conditions, and the most dangers from a blizzard are faced during takeoff or landing when the snow and wind conspire to eliminate visibility and push your aircraft off its path. As always, your feedback on conditions to controllers and other pilots after you are clear of the runway will be most appreciated to those who follow. Karsten Shein is cofounder and science director at ExplorEiS. He formerly was an assistant professor at Shippensburg University and a climatologist with NOAA. Shein holds a commercial license with instrument rating.
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Extended-range bizjets offer superior flexibility, luxury, productivity while minimizing fuel stops Improved capabilities meet buyer desire for more range, more luxury and more space to bring distant destinations within comfortable, efficient reach.
NBAA 2018 showcased long-range and ultra-long range business jets at Orlando Exec Airport.
By Don Van Dyke
ATP/Helo/CFII, F28, Bell 222. Pro Pilot Canadian Technical Editor
n our increasingly globalized world, long-range and ultra-long range (LR/ULR) aircraft fill a need for range, utility and comfort beyond the reach of smaller jets by incorporating features to make such trips – and accompanying jet lag – more bearable in terms of comfort and productivity. The terms LR and ULR, while not formally defined, generally refer to non-stop flights planned to exceed 2500 nm (5 hours duration) and 6000 nm (12 hours duration), respectively. These purpose-built aircraft are optimized for range, capacity, speed, short-field performance, dispatch reliability, and operating costs, aspects which are particularly important when operating over remote or challenging areas. The key technological advances contributing to value-added capabilities and accommodations (work, rest, and entertainment) include next-generation wings with optimized aerodynamics and highspeed performance, improved maintenance and diagnostic systems, lighter materials, and greater use of fly-by-wire (FBW) control. Powerplants. Perhaps the greatest contributors to the extended operating performance are new turbofan families from Pratt & Whitney Cana-
da (P&WC), Rolls-Royce (R-R), General Electric (GE), Honeywell and Safran (formerly Snecma) featuring greater thrust and reliability, lower Specific Fuel Consumption (SFC) and emissions, and quieter operation. Avionics. Flightdeck suites offer innovative ergonomics such as touchscreens, and aesthetics which reduce workload and provide pilots with upgraded comfort and control of features like airport moving maps, real-time traffic, advanced weather detection and vision systems (enhanced, synthetic or combined) with head-up displays (HUD). Cabins. The latest LR/ULR jets incorporate reimagined, finely-crafted interiors with décor inspired by latest trends in functionality, evolving personal tastes and effective soundproofing. Cabin Management Systems (CMS) control extends to a varied range of environment, comfort, lighting, connectivity and entertainment schemes. Bombardier’s patented Nuage (French for cloud) seat tilt-link, deep-recline design, introduced on the Global 7500, is touted as the 1st redesign of the business aircraft seat in 30 years. In addition, onboard gourmet kitchens are sized, appointed and designed to help make each meal unforgettable by adding sensory pleasure to each flight. Milestones. Recent industry milestones include the re-engined Das-
sault Falcon 6X replacing the Falcon 5X, which was canceled owing to development delays in the Safran Silvercrest engine. Gulfstream delivered the 1st large-cabin G500 in September 2018. Embraer unveiled the mid-size Praetor 500 and Praetor 600 in October, reflecting its new focus on executive aviation and defense. And the Bombardier Global 7500, currently the largest and longest-range business jet, was 1st delivered in December 2018. Notably, development of the Textron Aviation Cessna Citation Hemisphere, a clean-sheet design accommodating up to 12 passengers in an 8.5 ft wide cabin with 3 reconfigurable zones, was halted pending outcomes from testing of a new Silvercrest HP compressor in June 2019. Emerging designs. Few details are known about the Chinese Caiga CBJ800 Pegasus except for claimed long-range, large cabin, high cruise speed, FBW, integrated avionics, new-generation propulsion, and a production target of 2020. The Nextant 604XT will be an upgraded Bombardier Challenger 604 powered with GE CF34-3B engines with a 4-passenger range of 4535 nm. The Aerion AS2 supersonic (M 1.4) business jet announced in October 2018 aims for a range of 4750 nm and a 1st flight in 2023.
Don Van Dyke is professor of advanced aerospace topics at Chicoutimi College of Aviation – CQFA Montreal. He is an 18,000 hour TT pilot and instructor with extensive airline, business and charter experience on both airplanes and helicopters. A former IATA ops director, he has served on several ICAO panels. He is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and is a flight operations expert on technical projects under UN administration.
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Bombardier Global 5500
Bombardier Global 6500
Bombardier Global 7500
CABIN Seats (crew + executive/max)..................3+8/16 Length (max) ..........................................40.8 ft Noise .................................................49 db SIL
CABIN Seats (crew + executive/max)..................4+8/17 Length (max) ..........................................43.3 ft Noise .................................................49 db SIL
CABIN Seats (crew + executive/max)..................4+8/19 Length (max) ..........................................54.4 ft Noise .................................................49 db SIL
WEIGHTS BOW..................................................50,861 lbs MTOW/MLW.........................92,500/78,600 lbs Payload w/max fuel..............................2390 lbs Fuel w/max payload...........................34,750 lbs Max fuel weight.................................39,250 lbs
WEIGHTS BOW..................................................52,230 lbs MTOW/MLW.........................99,500/78,600 lbs Payload w/max fuel..............................2474 lbs Fuel w/max payload...........................41,750 lbs Max fuel weight.................................45,050 lbs
WEIGHTS BOW..................................................56,800 lbs MTOW/MLW..............................106,250/NA lbs Payload w/max fuel.................................NA lbs Fuel w/max payload.................................NA lbs Max fuel weight.................................47,450 lbs
PERFORMANCE Maximum cruise altitude.....................51,000 ft Long-range cruise (LRC)...........M 0.85/470 ktas High speed cruise.....................M 0.88/505 ktas MMO..........................................................M 0.9 Range@LRC (200 nm alternate)..........5700 nm
PERFORMANCE Maximum cruise altitude.....................51,000 ft Long-range cruise (LRC)...........M 0.85/470 ktas High speed cruise.....................M 0.88/505 ktas MMO..........................................................M 0.9 Range@LRC (200 nm alternate)..........6600 nm
PERFORMANCE Maximum cruise altitude.....................51,000 ft Long-range cruise (LRC)...........M 0.85/487 ktas High speed cruise......................M 0.9/516 ktas MMO......................................................M 0.925 Range@LRC (200 nm alternate)..........7700 nm
AIRFIELD PERFORMANCE (SL, ISA) Field length (MTOW/MLW)............5490/2207 ft
AIRFIELD PERFORMANCE (SL, ISA) Field length (MTOW/MLW)............6370/2236 ft
AIRFIELD PERFORMANCE (SL, ISA) Field length (MTOW/MLW)............5800/2520 ft
POWERPLANT(S) Manufacturer & model.......................2 x R-R BR710 (Pearl 15) MTOT/Flat rating..............15,125 lbs/ISA+15° C
POWERPLANT(S) Manufacturer & model.......................2 x R-R BR710 (Pearl 15) MTOT/Flat rating..............15,125 lbs/ISA+15° C
POWERPLANT(S) Manufacturer & model.................................2 x GE Passport 20 MTOT/Flat rating..............18,650 lbs/ISA+20° C
AVIONICS Standard suite.....Global Vision (Rockwell Collins)
AVIONICS Standard suite.....Global Vision (Rockwell Collins)
AVIONICS Standard suite.....Global Vision (Rockwell Collins)
PRICE.......................................2019 (est) $46M
PRICE.......................................2019 (est.) $56M
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Textron Cessna Citation Hemisphere
Textron Cessna Citation Latitude
Textron Cessna Citation Longitude
CABIN Seats (crew + executive/max)...............2+NA/12 Length/Volume ......................................NA/NA Noise ...........................................................NA
CABIN Seats (crew + executive/max)....................2+9/9 Length/Volume ......................................NA/NA Noise ...........................................................NA
CABIN Seats (crew + executive/max)...................2+8/12 Length/Volume .................................25.2 ft/NA Noise ...........................................................NA
WEIGHTS BOW........................................................NA MTOW/MLW......................................NA/NA Payload w/max fuel.......................................NA Fuel w/max payload......................................NA Max fuel weight...........................................NA
WEIGHTS BOW..................................................18,656 lbs MTOW/MLW..........................30,800/27,575 lbs Payload w/max fuel..............................1000 lbs Fuel w/max payload.............................9850 lbs Max fuel weight.................................11,394 lbs
WEIGHTS BOW........................................................NA lbs MTOW/MLW..........................39,500/33,500 lbs Payload w/max fuel..............................1600 lbs Fuel w/max payload......................................NA Max fuel weight...........................................NA
PERFORMANCE Maximum cruise altitude..............................NA Long-range cruise (LRC).......................NA ktas High speed cruise.................................516 ktas MMO..........................................................M 0.9 Range@LRC (200 nm alternate)..........4500 nm
PERFORMANCE Maximum cruise altitude....................45,000 ft Long-range cruise (LRC).....................368 ktas High speed cruise.................................432 ktas MMO..........................................................M 0.8 Range@LRC (200 nm alternate)..........2700 nm
PERFORMANCE Maximum cruise altitude....................45,000 ft Long-range cruise (LRC).....................449 ktas High speed cruise.................................478 ktas MMO........................................................M 0.84 Range@LRC (200 nm alternate)..........3500 nm
AIRFIELD PERFORMANCE (SL, ISA) Field length (MTOW/MLW)......................NA/NA
AIRFIELD PERFORMANCE (SL, ISA) Field length (MTOW/MLW)............3580/2480 ft
AIRFIELD PERFORMANCE (SL, ISA) Field length (MTOW/MLW)............4900/3400 ft
POWERPLANT(S) Manufacturer & model............................2 x Safran Silvercrest MTOT/Flat rating..............12,000 lbs/ISA+15° C
POWERPLANT(S) Manufacturer & model.............................2 x P&WC PW306D1 MTOT/Flat rating................5907 lbs/ISA+15° C
POWERPLANT(S) Manufacturer & model.......................2 x Honeywell HTF7700L MTOT/Flat rating................7600 lbs/ISA+19° C
AVIONICS Standard suite..................Honeywell Primus Epic
AVIONICS Standard suite...............................Garmin G5000
AVIONICS Standard suite...............................Garmin G5000
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Embraer Lineage 1000E
Embraer Praetor 500
Embraer Praetor 600
CABIN Seats (crew + executive/max)................4+13/19 Length/Volume ..........................76.6 ft/4085 ft³ Noise ...........................................................NA
CABIN Seats (crew + executive/max)...................2+4/9 Length/Volume .................................26.8 ft/NA Noise ...........................................................NA
CABIN Seats (crew + executive/max).................2+4/12 Length/Volume .................................26.8 ft/NA Noise ...........................................................NA
WEIGHTS BOW..................................................70,548 lbs MTOW/MLW......................120,152/100,972 lbs Payload w/max fuel..............................1828 lbs Fuel w/max payload..........................40,124 lbs Max fuel weight................................48,217 lbs
WEIGHTS BOW..................................................22,908 lbs MTOW/MLW.................................37,567/NA Payload w/max fuel..............................1601 lbs Fuel w/max payload.................................NA lbs Max fuel weight.......................................NA lbs
WEIGHTS BOW..................................................24,339 lbs MTOW/MLW..................................42,850/NA Payload w/max fuel..............................2534 lbs Fuel w/max payload......................................NA Max fuel weight............................................NA
PERFORMANCE Maximum cruise altitude.....................41,000 ft Cruise (LRC).............................M 0.78/454 ktas High speed cruise.................................472 ktas MMO........................................................M 0.82 Range@LRC (200 nm alternate)..........4602 nm
PERFORMANCE Maximum cruise altitude....................45,000 ft Long-range cruise (LRC)..............................NA High speed cruise.................................462 ktas MMO........................................................M 0.83 Range@LRC (200 nm alternate)..........3250 nm
PERFORMANCE Maximum cruise altitude....................45,000 ft Long-range cruise (LRC)..............................NA High speed cruise.................................466 ktas MMO........................................................M 0.83 Range@LRC (200 nm alternate)..........3900 nm
AIRFIELD PERFORMANCE (SL, ISA) Field length (MTOW/MLW)............6076/2450 ft
AIRFIELD PERFORMANCE (SL, ISA) Field length (MTOW/MLW)............4263/2090 ft
AIRFIELD PERFORMANCE (SL, ISA) Field length (MTOW/MLW)............4800/2070 ft
POWERPLANT(S) Manufacturer & model..............................2 x GE CF34-10E7-B MTOT/Flat rating..............18,500 lbs/ISA+15° C
POWERPLANT(S) Manufacturer & model.......................2 x Honeywell HTF7500E MTOT/Flat rating.................6540 lbs/ISA+18° C
POWERPLANT(S) Manufacturer & model.......................2 x Honeywell HTF7500E MTOT/Flat rating.................7528 lbs/ISA+18° C
AVIONICS Standard suite..................Honeywell Primus Epic
AVIONICS Standard suite....Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion
AVIONICS Standard suite....Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion
6.6 ft 6 ft
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Dassault Falcon 6X
Dassault Falcon 7X
Dassault Falcon 8X
CABIN Seats (crew + executive/max)..................3+8/16 Length/Volume ..........................40.4 ft/1845 ft³ Noise ..............................................52 dB SIL
CABIN Seats (crew + executive/max)..................3+8/19 Length/Volume ..........................39.1 ft/1552 ft³ Noise ................................................52 dB SIL
CABIN Seats (crew + executive/max)..................3+8/16 Length/Volume ..........................42.7 ft/1695 ft³ Noise ..............................................52.0 dB SIL
WEIGHTS BOW..................................................NA MTOW/MLW..........................77,460/66,190 lbs Payload w/max fuel......................................NA Fuel w/max payload......................................NA Max fuel weight.................................33,790 lbs
WEIGHTS BOW..................................................36,600 lbs MTOW/MLW..........................70,000/62,400 lbs Payload w/max fuel..............................1660 lbs Fuel w/max payload...........................29,200 lbs Max fuel weight................................31,940 lbs
WEIGHTS BOW..................................................36,800 lbs MTOW/MLW..........................73,000/62,400 lbs Payload w/max fuel..............................1259 lbs Fuel w/max payload...........................32,200 lbs Max fuel weight..................................35,141 lbs
PERFORMANCE Maximum cruise altitude.....................51,000 ft Cruise (LRC)............................ M 0.8/459 ktas High speed cruise.............................M 0.85/NA MMO..........................................................M 0.9 Range@LRC (200 nm alternate)..........5500 nm
PERFORMANCE Maximum cruise altitude.....................51,000 ft Cruise (LRC)..............................M 0.8/459 ktas High speed cruise...................M 0.866/497 ktas MMO..........................................................M 0.9 Range@LRC (200 nm alternate)..........5670 nm
PERFORMANCE Maximum cruise altitude.....................51,000 ft Cruise (LRC)..............................M 0.8/459 ktas High speed cruise.........................................NA MMO..........................................................M 0.9 Range@LRC (200 nm alternate)..........6450 nm
AIRFIELD PERFORMANCE (SL, ISA) Field length (MTOW/MLW)............5480/2490 ft
AIRFIELD PERFORMANCE (SL, ISA) Field length (MTOW/MLW)............5710/2070 ft
AIRFIELD PERFORMANCE (SL, ISA) Field length (MTOW/MLW)............5880/2240 ft
POWERPLANT(S) Manufacturer & model................................2 x P&WC PW812D MTOT/Flat rating........................13,460 lbs/ISA
POWERPLANT(S) Manufacturer & model................................3 x P&WC PW307A MTOT/Flat rating.................6402 lbs/ISA+17° C
POWERPLANT(S) Manufacturer & model................................3 x P&WC PW307D MTOT/Flat rating.............. ..6722 lbs/ISA+17° C
AVIONICS Standard suite...EASy III (Honeywell Primus Epic)
AVIONICS Standard suite...EASy III (Honeywell Primus Epic)
AVIONICS Standard suite...EASy III (Honeywell Primus Epic)
6.2 ft 6.2 ft
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CABIN Seats (crew + executive/max)..................4+8/19 Length/Volume ..........................42.7 ft/1695 ft³ Noise......................................................NA WEIGHTS BOW..................................................48,470 lbs MTOW/MLW..........................91,000/75,300 lbs Payload w/max fuel..............................1800 lbs Fuel w/max payload...........................36,900 lbs Max fuel weight..................................41,300 lbs
CABIN Seats (crew + executive/max)................4+16/19 Length/Volume ..........................45.2 ft/1884 ft³ Noise......................................................NA WEIGHTS BOW..................................................51,440 lbs MTOW/MLW..........................94,600/76,800 lbs Payload w/max fuel..............................1800 lbs Fuel w/max payload...........................37,560 lbs Max fuel weight..................................38,760 lbs
CABIN Seats (crew + executive/max)................4+11/19 Length/Volume ..........................46.8 ft/2138 ft³ Noise......................................................NA WEIGHTS BOW..................................................54,000 lbs MTOW/MLW........................103,600/83,500 lbs Payload w/max fuel..............................1800 lbs Fuel w/max payload...........................43,500 lbs Max fuel weight..................................48,200 lbs
PERFORMANCE Maximum cruise altitude.....................51,000 ft Cruise (LRC)..............................M 0.8/459 ktas High speed cruise.....................M 0.87/575 ktas MMO......................................................M 0.885 Range@LRC (200 nm alternate)..........6750 nm
PERFORMANCE Maximum cruise altitude.....................51,000 ft Cruise (LRC)............................. M 0.85/488 ktas High speed cruise.....................M 0.90/516 ktas MMO......................................................M 0.925 Range@LRC (200 nm alternate)..........6500 nm
PERFORMANCE Maximum cruise altitude.....................51,000 ft Cruise (LRC)............................. M 0.85/488 ktas High speed cruise.....................M 0.9/516 ktas MMO......................................................M 0.925 Range@LRC (200 nm alternate)..........7500 nm
AIRFIELD PERFORMANCE (SL, ISA) Field length (MTOW/MLW)............5910/2770 ft
AIRFIELD PERFORMANCE (SL, ISA) Field length (MTOW/MLW)...............5700/NA ft
AIRFIELD PERFORMANCE (SL, ISA) Field length (MTOW/MLW)............6299/3000 ft
POWERPLANT(S) Manufacturer & model........................2 x R-R BR700-710C4-11 MTOT/Flat rating.............15,385 lbs/ISA+15° C
POWERPLANT(S) Manufacturer & model..........................2 x P&WC PW815GA MTOT/Flat rating..............15,680 lbs/ISA+15°C
POWERPLANT(S) Manufacturer & model........................2 x R-R BR700-725A1-12 MTOT/Flat rating..............16,900 lbs/ISA+15° C
AVIONICS Standard suite.................Gulfstream PlaneView II
AVIONICS Standard suite....................Gulfstream Symmetry
AVIONICS Standard suite.................Gulfstream Planeview II
25.8 ft 96.4 ft
25.7 ft 99.8 ft
6 ft 6.4 ft
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Mission updates Mars InSight, asteroid explorers and China’s lander on the far side of the Moon have all done well. By Bruce Betts
InSight seismometer housing shortly after being placed on the surface by the robotic arm.
Photo courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech
Chief Scientist and LightSail Program Manager The Planetary Society
This is NASA InSight’s first selfie on Mars. The lander’s solar panels and deck are visible. On top of the deck are its science instruments, weather sensor booms and UHF antenna. The selfie was taken on Dec 6, 2018.
he last couple months have been busy ones in planetary exploration. Mars InSight successfully landed on Mars and has deployed its seismometer to detect marsquakes. OSIRIS-REx and Hayabusa2 have reached near Earth asteroids and started making discoveries as they prepare to collect samples for return to Earth. New Horizons completed the most distant encounter with an object ever. And Chang’e-4 completed the first landing on the far side of the Moon. Let’s go over each of these and take in pictures that have been returned as part of these amazing feats of space exploration.
Mars InSight As previewed in the November 2018 issue of Professional Pilot magazine (page 74), the NASA InSight lander successfully touched down on Mars on November 26, 2018. As with all Mars landings, it was a
nail-biting experience during the final minutes as InSight descended towards the Mars surface. In the end, all went flawlessly and the spacecraft set down gently on its 3 legs near the equator in the western portion of the volcanic plain Elysium Planitia. As hoped-for, the landing area was quite flat and mostly devoid of rocks. This is enabling the lander to deploy its instruments successfully on and in the surface of Mars. InSight is the first spacecraft focused on studying Mars’ deep interior. This will help us to not only better understand Mars and its formation and evolution, but also the formation and early evolution of all rocky planets. During the first weeks after landing, and after characterizing its landing environment, InSight used its robotic arm to deploy its seismometer onto the surface. The seismometer, after being leveled with the surface, will have a cover placed over it to protect it from the wind and from the extreme thermal
changes Mars experiences on a daily basis. During InSight’s 2 Earth year mission, the twin 3-axis seismometers will detect marsquakes caused by movement within the interior of Mars and those caused by meteorite impacts. Just as we do on Earth, seismologists will use that information to learn about the interior of Mars. The next instrument to be deployed will be InSights’ heat probe. A percussive drill will pound the probe a few meters into the surface, much deeper than we have ever gone into the subsurface of Mars. And it will detect the heat flow from the interior, giving insights about the planet’s current nature inside.
Asteroid explorers As discussed in the December issue of Professional Pilot magazine (page 70), 2 missions reached their target near Earth asteroids in the last few months, the Japanese Hayabusa2 and the US OSIRIS-REx mis-
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Image courtesy NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona
Mosaic image of the 500 meter asteroid taken by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft from a range of 24 km.
Images courtesy NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
sions. In December I shared images from Hayabusa2 of its target asteroid Ryugu. Since then, Hayabusa2 has performed rehearsals of sampling the surface prior to the actual sampling that will take place in the coming weeks and months. As part of that process, it deployed highly reflective target markers on the surface to assist with navigation when the spacecraft slowly lowers itself to the surface to perform a touch-andgo, and collect a sample using its robotic arm. As for OSIRIS-REx, much has happened since it reached the asteroid Bennu at the beginning of December. The spacecraft has performed initial characterization of the asteroid and discovered water bound up in minerals within rocks. One of the reasons this asteroid was selected was because it showed interesting properties including carbonaceous materials. Such asteroids may have brought water to the early Earth as well as the building blocks of life.
Hayabusa2 target marker on the asteroid Ryugu. The marker, used as a navigational aid as the spacecraft descends to sample the surface, includes the names of all Planetary Society members as well as others who wanted to send their names to an asteroid.
Finding evidence of bound water so quickly is an exciting confirmation of the interesting nature of this asteroid and others like it. In early January, OSIRIS-REx went into orbit around Bennu. This may sound like a normal activity for a spacecraft, but the very low gravity of a 500-meter asteroid makes actually orbiting it extremely difficult. In fact, Bennu is the smallest object that has ever been orbited by a spacecraft. With surface gravity only 5 millionths as strong as Earth’s, a single orbit takes 62 hours even though it orbits only 1.75 km from the center of the asteroid. OSIRIS-REx will continue its characterization of the asteroid and selection of sampling locations on the surface before carrying out its touch-and-go sampling in the coming months. Both missions will be returning samples to Earth for study in laboratories.
Get out your 3D glasses to view this 3D view of 2014 MU69 created by combining 2 New Horizons images taken from different angles.
Farthest encounter ever The New Horizons spacecraft flyby on January 1, 2019 of the 31 km (19 mi) long Kuiper Belt Object 2014 MU69 (unofficially nicknamed Ultima Thule) was the most distant object ever encountered. The spacecraft was 6.6 billion km (4.1 billion mi) from Earth during the encounter compared to the previous record holder, the 2015 New Horizons encounter with Pluto at 4.8 billion km (3.0 million mi). The spacecraft is so far away that data takes 6 hours to reach Earth traveling at the speed of light. Initial images and data came down soon after the encounter, but the full data set, which includes higher resolution images and composition information, will come down over the next
Color image of the 31 km long 2014 MU69 taken by New Horizons about an hour before closest approach from 137,000 km away. The image combines higher resolution black and white with lower resolution enhanced color featuring infrared, red and blue channels.
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Earth Moon Lagrange point, a point of gravitational balance 65,000 km beyond the Moon from Earth. Chang’e-4 landed in the Von Kármán crater, which is located within the enormous South Pole-Aitken basin, an ancient impact basin that may expose portions of the Moon’s mantle. Studying this region may provide new insights about the Moon.
Photo courtesy CNSA/CLEP
The coming months
The Yutu-2 rover shortly after being deployed from the Chang’e-4 lander in Von Kármán crater on the Far Side of the Moon.
20 months. It’s a slow process getting information from that far away. Ultima Thule is the most primitive, pristine object we’ve ever explored, a remnant of early solar system formation in the outer Solar System. Studying it will provide insight into a huge population of similar objects beyond the orbit of Neptune, and also information about the origin of our Solar System. Ultima Thule was discovered as part of a Hubble Space Telecope search for objects in a region of space New Horizons could reach after its Pluto encounter. It was discovered in 2014, 8 years after New Horizons launched. This makes it the first primary target of a spacecraft that was discovered after the spacecraft launched. What have we learned so far? The object looks like a 2 ball snowman. More scientifically, it is a contact binary: there were 2 nearly spherical objects that came together in a slow collision to form the final object. This has confirmed that processes such as this occurred as part of the earliest
accretion of objects in the Solar System. The surface has a reddish color, probably caused by exposure of hydrocarbons to sunlight over billions of years. The imagery is all the more amazing considering Ultima Thule is inherently very dark, and the lighting at the surface is very dim, as it receives only about 0.05% of the light from the Sun that Earth does. And, New Horizons flew by at a relative speed of 51,000 km/hour (32,000 mi/hour).
First landing on the far side of the Moon Also in January, the Chinese Chang’e-4 spacecraft completed the first landing on the far side of the Moon. Soon thereafter, the Yutu-2 rover was deployed from the lander. In order to provide communication to Earth, which is never visible from the far side of the Moon, China launched the Queqiao relay satellite in May 2018. It orbits the L2
All of these missions promise to deliver more stunning images and great science in the coming months. InSight has yet to begin its primary science. Once all instruments are deployed, it will spend about 2 Earth years detecting marsquakes, detecting heat flow and measuring subtleties in the wobble of Mars’ rotation, all of which will give us insight into the interior of Mars and, by extension, insight into the evolution of the terrestrial planets. Hayabusa2 and OSIRIS-REx will both be carrying out remote study and direct sampling of their asteroids as they prepare to select, collect and return samples to Earth. Chang’e-4 and its Yutu-2 rover have only just begun to explore their landing site in Von Kármán crater. Though New Horizon’s encounter with Ultima Thule is over, the data return to Earth has only just begun. So we expect better pictures and scientific discoveries from compositional as well as photographic studies. There is even a chance in the coming years they may find another object New Horizons would have enough fuel to fly by. Planetary science is filled not only with new scientific insights, but also with the joy of exploration. And we have more of both to look forward to in the near future.
Bruce Betts, PhD, is a planetary scientist with degrees from Stanford and Caltech. He is Chief Scientist at The Planetary Society and has done research focused on infrared studies of planetary surfaces. He also managed planetary instrument development programs at NASA Headquarters.
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Professional Pilot Magazine February 2019