With their fleet of 72 silver and red Bombardier aircraft flying worldwide, VistaJet has become the 1st and only global aviation company in the 14 years since they were founded. With 1 of their US-based Global 5000s at Teterboro Airport TEB in New Jersey are (L) Pres of VistaJet US Ron Silverman and Chief Commercial Officer Ian Moore.
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October 2018 Page
Vol 52 No 10
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2 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / October 2018
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Vol 52 No 10
8 POSITION & HOLD Bizjet market recovery: If not now, when? by Richard Aboulafia High end will see some growth while other segments will need to cope. 42 OPERATOR PROFILE VistaJet by Brent Bundy Current fleet of 72 Bombardier business jets flies customers worldwide.
50 VSTOL INNOVATIONS The helicopter industry is back on track by Brent Bundy New ideas serving new markets bring prosperity to the vertical lift market. 58 INTERNATIONAL OPS London area airports by Grant McLaren There are many choices for visiting business aircraft. Here are the most popular. 68 FLIGHT OPS & SAFETY Managing flightdeck startle and surprise by Don Van Dyke Successful event handling depends on defenses learned and practiced. 76 ZERO AOG WITH BIG DATA Sharing aircraft systems data in real time by Glenn Connor Monitoring systems provide actionable mx details while the aircraft flies.
82 CONNECTIVITY ALOFT Demand for inflight WiFi continues to increase by Shannon Forrest Recreational use of internet is outpacing business tasks during flight ops. 86 CAREFUL TAXIING Runway Incursions by David Ison Navigating the confusing data available on these infractions. 92 SAFETY IN NUMBERS Lowering accident levels by Peter Berendsen Evidence-based risk management can assess the safety of your operation.
98 WEATHER BRIEF Autumn weather by Karsten Shein The fall season brings changes in flight conditions important to pilots. 104 WICHITA TODAY Surviving a recession, now back and moving forward with diversity and growth by Al Higdon 108 OUTER MARKER INBOUND Thomas Watson Jr, president of IBM and early pioneer of business aircraft use by David Bjellos
110 EV FLIGHT Enabling electric aircraft by Dennis Bushnell & Robert Moses With changes in propulsion will also come changes in design.
4 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / October 2018
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LEGACY 500: YOU’LL NEVER WANT TO FLY ANYTHING ELSE “What we liked most about the Legacy 500 is the technology and value it added to our flight department. The cockpit enhancements, the autothrottle, autobrakes, the HUD, the EVS, the cabin enhancements – those were all things that stood out for us. Compared to other aircraft I’ve flown, the Legacy 500 is much more advanced and gives you a lot more confidence. The fly-by-wire technology makes the entire flying operation safer because of its redundancy, its precision and its ability to take the workload off the pilot. The avionics system is also very intuitive; it is very easy to transition into and become proficient flying. I always tell people, once you fly the Legacy 500 and feel how precise the aircraft is and know how reliable it is, you’ll never want to fly anything else. Really, I can’t imagine flying anything else anymore. It’s just a fantastic airplane with wonderful support. I can’t say enough. I highly recommended it.” - Paul Kohler, Aviation Manager/Chief Pilot, Michels Corporation Watch Paul’s story and request more information at executive.embraer.com/paul
The game-changing Legacy 500, with its exclusive full fly-by-wire controls – previously available only in modern airliners and much larger business jets – is the benchmark for the future in performance, comfort and passenger experience. On the flight deck, the advanced Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion™ platform puts pilots in complete control in a cockpit environment that provides superior ergonomics. With seating for up to 12 passengers, the Legacy 500 features a spacious stand-up cabin with a flat floor, fully equipped galley, state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment system, elegant seating that converts into fully flat berths and the lowest cabin altitude of any medium-cabin aircraft. Its extensive main baggage compartment is complemented by a generous in-flight-accessible cabin stowage space. Boasting enviable speed, the clean-sheet design Legacy 500 delivers a high-speed cruise of Mach 0.82 and excellent runway performance.
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Vol 52 No 10
Departments 14 HORIZON Thoughts on cyber security for aviation and the future of electric flight.
16 VIEWPOINTS Opinions from NBAA President & CEO Ed Bolen, Bristol Associates Managing Partner Bob Rockwood and Asset Insight President Anthony Kioussis. 26 TERMINAL CHECKLIST Quiz on procedures when flying into MKE (Milwaukee WI). Answers on page 28. 30 SID & STAR Sid, Star and Emil go to NBAA and look at an electric business aircraft. 32 SQUAWK IDENT Pro Pilot readers tell what aviation organizations they value the most for providing them with support and information.
Cover Duncan Aviation was founded in 1956 as an aircraft sales organization and is a founding member of NARA. Since 1956, we have conducted more than 3,500 transactions. Backed by 2,150 aviation experts worldwide, each with an average of 12 years with the company. The aircraft sales team partners with these experts to provide technical support before, during and after the aircraft transaction.
With their fleet of 72 silver and red Bombardier aircraft flying worldwide, VistaJet has become the 1st and only global aviation company in the 14 years since they were founded. With 1 of their US-based Global 5000s at Teterboro Airport TEB in New Jersey are (L) Pres of VistaJet US Ron Silverman and Chief Commercial Officer Ian Moore. Photo by VistaJet.
VISIT US AT NBAA BOOTH# 3896
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FalconEye_212x276_PP_uk.indd 1 Contents 10-18 lyt.indd 7
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POSITION & HOLD an editorial opinion
Business jet market recovery: If not now, when? High end will see some growth while other segments will need to cope. Bottom half bizjet segment vs top half $20
Market value in 2018 $ Billions
2003 – 2008 CAGR: 19.7% Bottom, 15.3% Top
$16 $14 $12
2010 – 2017: 2.3% Bottom, -0.6% Top
$10 $8 $6 2008 – 2010: -56.8% Bottom, 3.5% Top
$4 $2 $0
89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Bottom half (<$26M)
By Richard Aboulafia VP, Teal Group
ast year market the 10th year since the Great Recession began impacting business jet deliveries. This impact has been longer-lasting and more unpleasantly transformational than expected. Today, the combination of macro and microeconomic market drivers is almost impossibly perfect. The positive way of viewing this situation is that we’re finally on the cusp of a sustainable growth cycle. The negative viewpoint, of course, is that if these excellent numbers don’t shock the market back to life, then perhaps nothing will.
Lost decade or new normal? There’s no sugar-coating the state of the industry. Deliveries last year were still down 27% by value (in 2018 dollars) relative to the 2008 peak. But as our segment deliveries chart makes clear, this industry became 2 markets after 2008. Large cabin jets (costing above $26 million) kept growing until 2014, when a combination of factors resulted in a retreat to the previous 2008 peak. But small and midsized jets collapsed, falling 57% in value in just two painful years. In all, it really means nothing that the market is down 27%. It’s more important to note that the small and medi-
Top half (>$26M)
um cabin segment was still 48.5% lower in 2017 relative to 2008, while the top segment was just 3.9% down. As a result of this market bifurcation the composition of the market has been altered, perhaps irrevocably. In the run-up to the peak (2005-2008) the market was perfectly 50-50 by value of deliveries, split between the large and small/medium halves of the industry. But by 2010 a completely unprecedented 71% of deliveries by value were for top half jets. By 2013, this figure had reached 77%. Understandably, over the past 10 years most business jet manufacturers began thinking about new product development for the high end, and not much else. But a very slight bottom half uptick, coupled with the top half’s post-2015 downturn, reduced the top half share to 66% in 2017. Whichever way we slice the market, it is clear that we haven’t seen any recovery from the grim market conditions that afflicted most of the industry after 2008. If this is because of a serious overhang – the consequences of overproduction in 2003-2008 – then we’ve just been through a lost decade, and are finally about to see a belated recovery. But it’s also possible that this flat market is also the new normal, that our industry has entered a post-growth phase. This year’s exciting (and perhaps anxiety-inducing) reality is that today’s market drivers are so good that we are about to find out.
8 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / October 2018
Position & Hold Oct 2018.indd 8
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Global 5500 | Global 6500 Longest range | Largest cabin | Smoothest ride businessaircraft.bombardier.com
Exceptional by design The Global 5500 aircraft and Global 6500 aircraft are currently under development and the design tolerances remain to be ﬁnalized and certiﬁed. All speciﬁcations and data are approximate, may change without notice and subject to certain operating rules, assumptions and other conditions. The interior images shown are for information purposes only and may represent some optional conﬁgurations. Pearl is a registered trademark of Rolls-Royce. Bombardier, Global, Global 5500, Global 6500 and Exceptional by design are registered or non-registered trademarks of Bombardier Inc. or its subsidiaries. © 2018 Bombardier Inc.
DDBA0471_EBACE2018_ProPilot_V5.indd 1 Position & Hold Oct 2018.indd 9
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Business aircraft deliveries and corporate profits $30 $25
$20 $1500 $15 $1000 $10 $500
Deliveries in 2018 $ Billions
Corporate profits in $ Billions
64 66 68 70 72 74 76 78 80 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 00 02 04 06 08 10 12 14 16 18 Value of deliveries
Macro indicators: Excellent
Plenty of money but not for bizav
Broader economic conditions are now as good as they get for business aviation market health. And nobody can complain that President Trump doesn’t set a positive political tone for business aviation usage. Yet something seems to have gone wrong, at least for the past few years. Business jet market booms, and busts, are closely associated with corporate profits. As these profits vastly increased in 2 discrete cycles, in the mid-1990s and mid2000s, business jet sales vastly increased in 2 discrete cycles too. Then, when profits declined, a business jet bust cycle followed, usually within 2 years. This narrative has worked very well, until the past four years. The jet market’s upturn (purely in value, not units delivered) in 2013-2014 was quite anemic compared with the strong increase in corporate profits seen in 20102014. And the relatively modest hiatus in corporate profits growth seen in 2015-2016 wouldn’t account for the business jet market’s decline in 2016. Worst of all, as clearly indicated by our corporate profits chart, last year and this one have seen a complete disconnect between the market and profits. We are now in exceptionally healthy macro territory. Thanks to the Trump administration’s tax cuts, taxes paid by US companies fell 33% year-over-year in the 2nd quarter. They saved over $100 billion at an annual rate. Partly as a result, total US after-tax profits rose 16.1% year-overyear. Unlike recent growth spurts that were propelled by a handful of technology or financial firms, this profits rally is quite broad, and accompanied by generally optimistic comments from executives in a wide array of sectors. This business profits strength has been accompanied by similar performance in equities markets and the broader economy. The US economy grew at a 4.2% annual rate in the 2nd quarter, above expectations of 4.1%, and is on course for full year growth of 3% (the 2nd quarter was boosted by international orders for US goods before tariffs kick in). This is the economy’s best performance in 4 years.
US GDP growth in the 2nd quarter was particularly strong in the business investment segment, which includes investment in new business aircraft. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, investment spending as a share of total US GDP rose from a low of 9.5% in July 2009 to a post-recession high of 14.1% in January 2015, and now stands at a very respectable 13.3% (as of April, the latest number as of this writing). US private nonresidential investment in the second quarter of 2017 hit a new record of $2.43 trillion. But for some reason, so far, relatively little of this money is being spent on business aircraft. Oil prices are relatively high again too, which matters, due to the close correlation between large cabin business jets and fuel prices. Oil-rich economies such as most Arab Gulf countries and Russia are key markets for business jets, as are oil and gas exploration/extraction companies. In fact, energy company profits this quarter showed the strongest year-over-year growth for any US corporate segment. Unfortunately, these excellent macroeconomic conditions may have an expiration date. There is an emerging consensus among economists that dark clouds are looming on the horizon. There are concerns about tariffs and trade barriers, global debt load problems, and emerging market financial conditions (particularly in Turkey). Most of all, there is general agreement that interest rates are headed higher too, which would make capital equipment finance more expensive, and exacerbate that growing world debt problem too. Worsening political instability, due to ongoing Trump administration dysfunctions and a possible Democratic party House victory in the mid-terms in November, won’t help either. In other words, if the current great conditions don’t start translating into stronger business jet demand now, the situation next year might be conducive to continued demand flatness, or perhaps even a modest market dip.
10 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / October 2018
Position & Hold Oct 2018.indd 10
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Position & Hold Oct 2018.indd 11
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Business aircraft market by class A shift towards larger aircraft $35 $30
2018 $ Billions
$25 $20 $15 $10 $5 $0 07
Jetliners & RJs
Micro indicators: As good as it gets, except where it matters There are regrettably few signs that these good times are translating into business jet demand. The most positive industry indicator is used jet availability. This remains at record low levels, particularly for new, in-production models. In fact, availability as a percent of the total fleet is at levels that historically have indicated a boom market for new jets. But this has been the situation for several years now, with no signs of resurgent demand. Next, used pricing and aircraft utilization are both increasing, but at very low double-digit rates and with occasional setbacks in some months and certain segments. Average asking prices tend to be unpredictable indicators, but at the very least they have stabilized, and seem to have stopped falling. The only other positive indicators are orders and backlogs. Generally, these are rising, particularly at Cessna, at least on a year over year basis. Thanks to conservative production guidance, we can at least say that book-tobill ratios should be above 1.0 this year, which for most manufacturers is an improvement over the past few years. But again, we’ve seen positive indicators like all of the above come and go over the past 10 years, without any signs of additional metal being cut. And this year’s deliveries numbers show no signs of hope. According to GAMA, total airplane billings in the first half of 2018 were down 5% relative to the first half of 2017. Total airplane shipments rose 5.3%, but this reflected a strong piston market. The most important metric was deliveries of business jets, which stayed perfectly flat (296 jets in both 1h 2017 and 1h 2018).
Outlook: Flat for most, until otherwise proven The past 5 years has seen several false recovery starts. That fact, coupled with the generally underwhelming in-
dustry conditions evidenced in spite of a strong economy, leads us to a very conservative forecast. A broad and sustained return to growth is an upside departure scenario. Most of all, we forecast ongoing sluggishness in the small and mid-cabin segments (through the Super MidSized segment in our forecast chart). In fact, we do not see these segments returning to their 2008 deliveries peak during the next 10 years. We do see continued growth in the large cabin segment. But this makes life harder for the other segments. One pattern that has emerged since the Great Recession is that very high output in the new ultra high end segment (jets selling for $75 million and above) has suppressed demand for jets in the segment below. But production of these has continued, suppressing pricing and demand for new and used jets in the segment below them, and so on, all down the line. In fact, the high end growth the market enjoyed until 2015 was almost purely due to the Gulfstream G650’s arrival. Everything else was flat or down. The arrival of Bombardier’s Global 7500 later this year will only make this problem worse, particularly since Gulfstream continues to deliver G650s at a high rate. In conclusion, Teal Group no longer believes that market growth is imminent after a lost decade. Rather, this is the new normal, and while the high end will see some growth, the other segments and manufacturers will need to cope with a different outlook.
Richard Aboulafia is VP, Analysis at Teal Group Corp, an aviation and defense market intelligence and consulting company. He has tracked the business aircraft market for over 25 years.
12 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / October 2018
Position & Hold Oct 2018.indd 12
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Position & Hold Oct 2018.indd 13
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Cyber security and other stuff
A “connected” aircraft is vulnerable to cyber attacks, and business aviation is no exception. Hiring outside services from companies like Satcom Direct or establishing an in-house department has become essential for air travel service providers trying to keep their data safe at all times.
By Bob Rockwood Managing Partner, Bristol Associates
he mind is a dangerous thing when left to go wandering. Hence the following article flits from topic to topic. Your indulgence is requested. We’ll start with cyber security in aviation. It has been estimated that cyber crime is generating $1.5 trillion in annual revenue. To put this in perspective, airlines, in total, generate some $750 billion each year. But even more alarming is that hacker organizations are actually investing in R&D and operating more like companies than criminal enterprises. This seems especially true where the countries of origin either tacitly approve of, or are actively supportive of the hacker activity. Hacking is not just about scamming money from people and stealing data from organizations. It is also about disruption of processes and operations. For example, not long ago, Danish shipping conglomerate Maersk was hacked and a good deal of data wiped out. This led to serious delays at major ports such as Rotterdam, Mumbai and New York and New Jersey, and the temporary shutdown of the largest terminal at the Port of Los Angeles. I don’t know about you, but I am aware, at some level, of hacker activity, malware, wiperware and the likes. Although it doesn’t invade my daily thoughts, here’s where we need to pay attention: If you can see the internet, the internet can see you. When viewed this way, YIKES!
Aviation is vulnerable to hacking Is aviation vulnerable? You bet your Uncle Bob! Not only that, but because aviation has so many possible entrées for snatching data, it is a great target for hackers. Just think about
the fact that airlines process millions of passengers through their reservations systems each day. The connectivity now goes way beyond a simple 1-time ordering of tickets to encompass e-mail and SMS notifications, online check-in, flight status report, et cetera. Once out of the reservations systems, these same passengers are boarding flights and some are tapping into the airline’s onboard WiFi. In theory, if that WiFi has been hacked, then so too have the 100 or so devices connected to it on that flight. If those 100 laptops have been infected, they can then spread the infection to any system they connect to once off the plane. The above just scratches the surface. Think about aircraft manufacturers and their connectivity to their supply chain. The linkage between Boeing, for example, and its vendors is becoming greater each day, and as such, represents an opportunity for a hacker to breech anyone along the supply chain and potentially reach all along that chain. Now contemplate the fact that MRO is becoming ever more reliant on storing, and using computer generated data. What’s more, newer systems are connecting a plane to a computer to exchange data in real time. It doesn’t take too much imagination to conceive of the amount and importance of the data a hacker, with evil intent, could obtain from this stream of information.
Bizav can be hacked also Lest you think private air travel insulates you from these exposures, better go OOPS! You could not be more wrong. WiFi has become commonplace in corporate and private planes and again, if you can see the internet, the internet can see you. But even absent overall connectivity in the plane, there is plenty of room for exposure. A passenger bringing an infected laptop on board, or even a corrupted flash drive, provides a path for a hacker to see and steal information.
14 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / October 2018
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Volvo’s Concept 26 enables the passenger to choose from 3 different modes: Drive mode to manually drive the car; Create mode to make calls, write e-mails, etc (shown in picture above); and Relax mode with the seat reclined to take a break during the trip.
It is essential to establish protection All of this can be mitigated against, and in fact, companies like Satcom Direct are establishing services to do just that. Whether hiring such an outside service or setting up your own in-house due diligence, it has become essential to establish protection. Yet studies show that less than half of the organizations interviewed in 2017 had conducted a cyber security review. We need to do better. I for one have decided to wrap my laptop in duct tape assuring that hacker rays cannot penetrate my cache of data. I am then reverting to paper and pencil for all my data exchange needs, leaving the hackers in the dust. It’s possible there are better approaches, but my job is to warn of the dangers and let you figure out how to resolve them. Speaking of electric airplanes, I read recently where Volvo is presupposing that self driving cars might replace short haul air travel. In their words, a 2016 survey indicated that 48% feel that driving is safer than flying. Don’t yell at me, Volvo said it! Anyway, they are developing a self driving car with a coffee table, writing desk, a reclining seat not unlike those in an airliner’s ultra 1st class, and even an airbag designed to protect a sleeping passenger. The target market is the 200 mile and under air traveler. The theory is, it takes so much time to get to and from the airports and these flights that people would rather ride in a car. At the risk of making each and every one of you mad, I must say, I’d pick the car. Is this vehicle electric? You betcha! Since I brought up Volvo, another of their nifty projects is an all-electric stone quarry. Google “Volvo emission-free quarry” to see the prototypes in action. Just to see the video of their HX2 load carrier is worth the search. This is an autonomous, electric, 4-wheel steering mega dump truck. To see it moving around the quarry with no cab, no driver, no sound and no emissions is downright spooky.
Follow the money I’m going to cap off this writeup with the adage, “Follow the money.” In other words, the new aviation-related developments that have been attracting venture capital. These are presented in no particular order, so don’t go putting all your
Fast-forwarding to the future of on-demand urban air transportation, the uberAIR program was introduced with the goals of operating VTOL demo flights starting in 2020 and beginning commercial operations in 2023. Launch cities are Los Angeles, Dallas and an international urban center yet to be announced.
money into the first 3 I discuss on the theory they have attracted the most money and are therefore the most investment-worthy. In addition, do not put any stock in any comment I might make about any development as it pertains to investment potential. I know not what I am talking about. 1. Autonomous Systems. Based at least in part on Lidar (pulsed laser light measuring) technology, they provide for autonomous navigation, collision avoidance and landing-zone assessment. Kind of a no brainer when you consider the flurry of activity surrounding urban autonomous flight for such projects as Uber Elevate – let alone the driverless car frenzy. 2. Supersonic transport. I’m still a skeptic. But again, what the heck do I know. 3. Unmanned aircraft. Lots of money goes toward development, with cargo being the initial target market. Many are skeptical of pilotless flight, but like the 100 ton boulder coming down Pikes Peak, there’s no stopping it. 4. Electric aircraft. This has the attention of venture capitalists. The opportunity to apply electric propulsion to planes is almost infinite in its variations and offers the potential for improving on operational costs and emissions. Why wouldn’t this field attract money? 5. Urban air mobility. Or how to Uber your way from A to B without touching the ground in between. No doubt the emphasis on this mode of transportation by Uber brings a lot of money to it, but there are a lot of other major companies betting on some form of this business model as well. Should it not come to pass, it would be shocking. May all your investments be Amazon-like in their returns.
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.
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VIEWPOINTS an editorial opinion
Photo by José Vásquez
Bolen: Demonstrating industry strength with our response to bizav challenges. Rockwood: Electric aircraft are coming with a variety of approaches. Kioussis: The difference between cost to cure and diminution of value.
Every year, NBAA-BACE’s static display showcases the latest offerings from OEMs including Bombardier, Daher, Dassault, Embraer, Gulfstream, Pilatus and Textron Aviation. VTOL aircraft also have a strong presence with Airbus Helicopters, Bell, Leonardo, MD and Sikorsky touting their products.
Ed Bolen President & CEO, NBAA Business aviation’s response to challenges demonstrates industry’s strength s we look toward NBAA’s annual A Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE) taking place Oct 16–18 in Or-
lando FL, we have an opportunity to reflect upon a milestone year for business aviation, which has demonstrated the importance of engagement throughout our aviation community against significant challenges, including policy matters, like the ongoing debate over privatization of ATC services, and affairs outside the legislative arena such as concerns over a future shortage of professionals in our industry’s workforce. When it comes to the matter of ATC privatization, there’s certainly reason for optimism. As we know, the business aviation community was part of a large, diverse and vocal coalition that signaled to Congress its strong opposition to the idea. Legislation passed the House earlier this year to reauthorize funding for the FAA without any call for the controversial scheme, and at this writing the Senate’s version of the bill – which also sets aside ATC privatization – is under consideration. Without question, this milestone has only been reached because NBAA members and others in the business aviation community have made their voices heard on the issue. In the time since NBAA-BACE 2017, people in the industry have logged countless phone calls, emails and face-to-face meetings with their elected officials to express unified opposition to ATC privatization.
While this level of mobilization has been key to our success, this is not a moment to let our guard down. After all, as the saying goes, “the hardest thing to do in Washington is kill a bad idea.” Recent comments from congressional lawmakers, government agency leaders and even the White House give us ample reason to stay vigilant and ensure that the nation’s ATC system continues to serve the entire public’s interest – including those citizens, companies and communities served by general aviation – and is overseen by the public’s elected representatives in Congress. Of course, as we know, our challenges aren’t only those emanating from Washington DC. In recent years, as I participate in industry gatherings across the country, one consistent theme raised with increasing emphasis has been the need to attract and retain the next generation of professionals to our industry. I’m pleased to report NBAA and its members are working across several fronts on this important issue, including the promotion of mentorships as a proven method for encouraging and nurturing the development of current and future industry professionals. Further supporting this aim is the extensive series of Professional Development Program (PDP) courses offered by NBAA, and our accredited Certified Aviation Manager (CAM) program, which is open to anyone working in business aviation, in any position. NBAA also awards more than $100,000 in annual scholarships for those seeking their own entry into our industry, or to advance further in their careers. Each of these initiatives, in its own way, demonstrate how business aviation is not only a vital industry in our country, but we’re also a community prepared to respond both collectively and as individuals to the multitude of challenges confronting us. That is a theme we should carry with us as we gather in Orlando this October for NBAA-BACE.
16 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / October 2018
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Bob Rockwood Managing Partner, Bristol Associates
Electric airplanes are coming with a variety of approaches y ignorance of stuff outside my M daily circle of activity never ceases to amaze me. For some reason, the question “Are
electric airplanes a real thing?” popped into my head a short time ago. Then I got the idea that airlines could replace their jet fueled engines with electric engines, and require each passenger to bring a D cell battery with them to check in. Yes, this would be another “fee,” but we now have so many – from baggage fees to toilet access fees – that 1 more fee wouldn’t matter? A friend, who possesses a bit more common sense than do I, pointed out that this would not work. The energy output (net caloric value) of fossil fuel is 12,000 kWh/kg (kilowatt hour/kilogram) versus 120 for batteries. So my plan, while powering the plane to taxi to the end of the runway, would likely not generate enough power versus weight to allow lift off. This would disappoint many of the paying passengers. Yet there is so much being written about, and so much R&D money being poured into electrical propulsion, I deduced the need for further research. The first thing I discovered is that no one is considering, at least in the near term, pure battery-powered (or hydrogen or solar, or…), electric motor-driven planes other than very small General Aviation (GA) craft and eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) machines designed for the new urban transit concepts like Uber Elevate. I’ll cover more on this later in the article.
Electrified aircraft propulsion Today’s emphasis for Electrified Aircraft Propulsion (EAP), as it applies to airline type equipment, centers around the concept of Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP). My explanation of this concept is this: electric motors can be small and easily plumbed to a lot of locations.
So, stick a bunch on the leading edge of the wing to create lift and shorten takeoff, then stow them along with their props at cruise. By doing so you can either create a shorter takeoff plane or reduce the size of the wing necessary for equal takeoff distances and thereby reduce drag at cruise. Reducing drag is a good thing. Meanwhile, put the propulsive motors out at the wing tips where they can work in the wing tip vortex, even further reducing drag. Taking this “stick the motors anywhere” concept further, how might it be applied in the near future to an existing commercial airliner? Let’s put an electric motor at the tail of the plane driving a big fan inside a shroud. By doing so, we can ingest the slow-moving boundary layer air that the fuselage generates, speed it up, and reduce drag. It’s theorized that fuel burn could be cut by upwards of 10% on a 150-passenger plane.
Enhancing aircraft efficiency What I have described above barely scratches the surface of what is being considered for electrification to enhance aircraft efficiency. The relative simplicity and efficiencies of electric motors create so many opportunities to try new designs and configurations that NASA is building an electric propulsion test bed called NEAT (NASA Electric Aircraft Testbed), to test the concepts engineers come up with. We aren’t just dealing with where to stick electric motors here. Conceptually we could move to entirely new aircraft configurations and away from the traditional tube and wing design. Hybrid designs, where the body and wing are a blended unit, become a possibility. The variations are so infinite we don’t currently have the facilities to test and determine their viability. But lest you think these electrification concepts are so way out there that none of you reading this will be around see them in your future, consider this: NASA estimates their STARC-ABL (Single-aisle Turboelectric Aircraft with an Aft Boundary-Layer propulsor concept could be fully tested by 2025 and in service by 2035. Even I might be alive to see this, though by then I probably won’t be as pleasant to be around as I am now.
18 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / October 2018
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All-electric main propulsors Looking further into the future, it’s not out of the realm of possibility we might see all-electric or hybrid electric motors as the main propulsors on larger aircraft. Given that electric motors offer lower emissions, quieter operation, flexibility of placement for better infrastructure usage, the potential for reduced fuel usage, and even the potential to recapture spent energy (think Formula 1 race car), it is quite possible this will be so. Boeing, NASA, Rolls Royce, and United Technology are but a few of the major players to have programs under development looking at various configurations. Also consider that startups and small companies involved in electrification outnumber the majors by a huge factor. Now you understand why I say electric planes are not only possible, but probable. The commercial application of electrification in the very near term will undoubtedly be seen in 3 areas: smaller single engine GA, Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) and trainer planes; smaller short distance commuter aircraft; and eVTOL applications. Siemens has developed their SP260D 260 kW motor (nearly 350 horsepower) weighing in at just 50 kg. It’s currently powering and being demonstrated in an aerobatic Extra 330 LE in pure electric configuration and has gone nearly 340 km/h. It has also been used to tow a glider to altitude. In other words: It has power, baby! Given the easy scalability of electric engines, it’s easy to see variations of this, and other, engine technology being used in the GA/LSA/trainer fields. For larger GA planes, we are likely to see hybrid configurations with small fossil fuel engines along for the ride to generate electrical charge and extend range.
In the LSA and trainer markets, we are already seeing purely electric product on, or shortly coming to, the market. Pipistrel is producing their all electric Alpha Electro in the FAA-LSA category and promoting it as the ideal trainer. Claiming direct operating costs as low as $3.00 per hour, it could open flight to a whole new population of people. They are also producing the Taurus, a glider with an electric motor for takeoff and initial climb. Sunflyer, out of Denver, is also developing a 2-pax trainer to be certified under Part 23. This Siemens-powered plane, touting 3+ hours duration, took its 1st flight in April 2018. And a 4-pax version is on the drawing table. However, commercial viability in large numbers is what will drive product development, and the market for short distance commuters and urban transit concepts are most likely to move forward the fastest. As with the 1500-seat large plane market, most developers are looking at hybrid technologies for their commuter planes. Zunum, funded by Boeing and Jet Blue, is an example. Their 12-seat, 700-nm commuter would have a small turbine engine to supplement battery power. One exception to this comes from a start up company called Eviation out of Israel. They are developing an all electric, 9-pax commuter that might service markets like LA–San Francisco at prices below driving or taking a train. With respect to eVTOLs being developed to service the urban transit concepts, Electric VTOL News by the Vertical Flight Society is listing more than 100 projects underway. Those involved represent a who’s who of aviation, from Jet Blue to Boeing to Siemens to...
Variation of flying EV approaches What is fascinating is the variation of approaches. Recall earlier I discussed DEP and the fact that electric motors can be small and easily plumbed to a lot of locations. Well, the variety of designs to be seen will clarify this statement in the extreme. So, are electric planes a real thing? Oh, yeah. The opportunity electric provides to cut emissions and fuel burn is just too great to not see the market grow. Just don’t expect your local airport ramp to be full of them in the next couple of years – or since some of the development is in the direction of flying cars, don’t look for one in all your neighbor’s garages soon. As with drones, autonomous flight and urban transport concepts, there are developmental and – perhaps even more difficult – regulatory hurdles to overcome. But like electric cars 20 years ago, what was once an oddity will become commonplace.
20 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / October 2018
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Anthony Kioussis President, Asset Insight The difference between diminution of value and cost to cure hen an aircraft sustains any W form of damage, its effect on the asset’s value must be considered. True “value dimi-
nution” occurs when an incident happens that requires maintenance or repair, such as a tug running into an aircraft or a hangar door denting the asset. Once repaired, a stigma associated with the event may lead to value diminution that follows the aircraft going forward.
Cost to cure An area less understood by many, and often confused with value diminution, is “cost to cure.” Cost to cure results from an expense incurred after an incident that leads to maintenance or repair. The difference is that once the maintenance or repair takes place, the aircraft is as good as it once was – perhaps even better. It is important to remember that cost to cure does not necessarily equate to value and may not lead to a dollar-for-dollar value adjustment. Removing and replacing a wingtip mitigates the damage sustained and is a direct cost, but there is no increase to value, unless one can upgrade to a higher efficiency style wingtip. Should that be the case, the more efficient wingtip’s ability to improve fuel burn and speed may even mitigate “functional obsolescence” (the loss of value due to characteristics inherent within or to the aircraft) and increase value. “The challenge is determining if true value diminution has occurred and accounting for it correctly when valuing the aircraft,” explains Barb Spoor, a senior ASA (American Society of Appraisers) accredited appraiser with Asset Insight, and former chair of the ASA’s Appraisal Review & Management Discipline Committee. According to Spoor, numerous items must be considered. “We try to determine whether the damage was static or dynamic. In other words, was the aircraft standing still or was it in motion. Damage to the wing may be far
less invasive from a tug creasing a wingtip than from the aircraft creasing that same wingtip while taxiing under its own power,” she adds.
Has structural damage occurred? Another item to consider is whether structural damage has occurred. “The crease to the wingtip may be the tip of the iceberg,” according to Spoor, pointing out that there may be damage to the wing spar that required repair, an event that will likely impact the aircraft’s value, and perhaps its marketability, for the remainder of its life. Was the pressure vessel damaged? A bird strike on the nose cone that results in the critter terminating in the cockpit (an actual incident) is likely to have a far greater, and lasting impact – no pun intended – on the aircraft’s value than a bird ingested by an engine. “The cost to cure for the engine repair may be high, although that is often covered by insurance,” says Spoor. “But there is unlikely to be any value diminution, or even a marketing stigma, to the aircraft associated with an engine event, especially if the engine is overhauled.” Who performed the repair? Was it the aircraft’s manufacturer, an expert at an OEM-approved facility, or a local shop that is no longer in business? Did the OEM issue engineering drawings for a maintenance facility to conduct the repairs leading to an FAA Form 337 filing, or were the repairs conducted by the OEM, thereby negating a Form 337 filing? According to Spoor, “The more favorable perception of an OEM repair may assist in mitigating at least some of the value diminution.” Exactly how were the repairs completed? Was the damaged part removed and replaced, or was the part repaired and reinstalled? An aircraft sporting an aileron that was punctured and replaced is likely to be valued differently than one whose aileron was repaired and reinstalled, as the latter asset will continue carrying a part that was damaged. How long ago did the damage occur and when was the repair completed? “A 15-year-old aircraft that had a damaged wingtip replaced by the manufacturer during its 5th year of service is going to carry a nominal value diminution compared to an asset that received the same amount of damage during its 15th year of service while it was listed for sale,” states Spoor.
A Gulfstream G550 plowed into a Beechcraft King Air at Nashville International Airport. These 2 aircraft will fly again but the accident entry into the logbook will reduce their resale values.
22 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / October 2018
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Important factors to be considered in determining “Value Diminution” • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Was the damage static or dynamic? Has structural damaged occurred? Was the pressure vessel damaged? Who performed the repair? Did the OEM issue engineering drawings for a maintenance facility to conduct the repairs, or were the repairs conducted by the OEM? Was the damaged part removed and replaced, or was the part repaired and reinstalled? How long ago did the damage occur and when was the repair completed? Was the aircraft returned to its original production standards? Do the repairs require out-of-phase maintenance inspections to the affected area (or part)? Did the repairs actually enhance the aircraft thereby mitigating the incident’s value diminution? How desirable is the aircraft when the valuation is conducted? How much of the active fleet is listed for sale at the time of valuation? What is the model’s Days on Market figure at the time it is valued? How is the aircraft utilized? Is it an income producing asset, or is it strictly used for corporate/personal transportation?
“The issue of value diminution does not lend itself to a one size fits all answer,” according to Barb Spoor, Senior ASA Accredited Appraiser and Past Chair of the ASA’s Appraisal Review & Management Discipline Committee
Was the aircraft returned to its original production standards? No matter when a repair was completed, one question that must be answered is if the aircraft was returned to its original production standards. If the repair prevents the asset from performing according to its original performance, environmental, or other specification standard, or decreases its useful life, “the aircraft’s value will definitely suffer from some level of diminution going forward,” according to Spoor. In addition to value diminution, the repairs that were conducted may require out-of-phase maintenance inspections to the affected area (or part), as Instructions for Continued Airworthiness (“ICA”) may be applicable. In such cases, not only is the aircraft’s value negatively impacted by the stigma associated with the event, but also the aircraft’s maintenance cost will increase – further impacting its value and marketability. Lastly, a proper valuation must consider if the damage lowered the aircraft’s normal useful life. “In situations like this, the owner may face some difficult choices,” Spoor points out. “There may be a way to resolve the problem, but the cost to cure may be as much, if not more, than the aircraft’s value diminution. Fixing the problem may increase the aircraft’s marketability; it could, quite possibly, even reinstate the aircraft’s normal useful life. But, either way, the owner is going to realize a decrease in their investment value.”
Repairs may actually enhance aircraft value “One thing to keep in mind,” says Spoor, “is that repairs may actually enhance the aircraft, thereby mitigating the incident’s value diminution. Say, for example, corrosive material falls on an aircraft’s fuselage requiring it be repainted. The asset is likely to experience no value diminution as the cost to cure the 15-year-old asset’s damage resulted in a fresh coat of paint. Or suppose the aircraft’s interior is damaged while maintenance is being conduct-
ed, requiring the installation of a new interior. Again, the asset could benefit from the new interior, possibly to the extent of a value increase.” There are other factors that can have a direct effect on value diminution. For example, how desirable is the aircraft? How much of the active fleet is listed for sale at the time of valuation? What is the model’s Days on Market figure? “These points directly drive diminution,” explains Spoor. “An owner selling a much-desired model when little to no inventory exists may experience little to no value diminution. That’s not to say that the buyer will be as fortunate when they elect to sell the aircraft.”
Aircraft utilization can have an effect How the aircraft is utilized can have an effect as well. Is it an income producing asset, or is the aircraft strictly used for corporate/personal transportation? If the aircraft is in a revenue producing role and the repair reduced the number of passengers it can carry or the range it can achieve, its value could be negatively impacted. On the other hand, if the aircraft is an income producing unit (for example, passenger revenue carry or agriculture operations), diminution is less of a factor than lost opportunity. “The issue of value diminution does not lend itself to a one size fits all answer,” concludes Spoor. “The impact of damage to any aircraft’s value is always based on numerous factors, including the facts and circumstances surrounding the event, what repairs were conducted and by whom, the model’s desirability, market conditions at the time of valuation, and, last but certainly not least, the appraiser’s market knowledge and experience.” When an aircraft is damaged, consulting an appraiser with expertise in value diminution can help you learn the potential ramifications of your repair options. Should you later have need of a valuation, utilizing an appraiser with diminution expertise can help place your aircraft in market context and, should you at a later date need to defend that value, the appraiser can assist your efforts.
24 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / October 2018
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Terminal Checklist 10/18 Answers on page 28
Reproduced with permission of Jeppesen Sanderson. Reduced for illustrative purposes.
9. Select the true statement(s) regarding the landing minimums. a The lateral TSE must be within ±0.10 nm for at least 99% of the time to descend to a DA of 1119 ft MSL. b The lateral TSE must be within ±0.15 nm for at least 95% of the time to descend to a DA of 1203 ft MSL. c To descend to a DA of 1119 ft MSL, the GPS equipment must change to an RNP value of 0.10 prior to reaching WALUM.
8. Select all that apply. Which are true about the final approach glidepath? a The VGSI is a PAPI on the left side of the runway. b Both the RNAV glidepath and VGSI angle are 3.00°. c At 120 knots, a descent rate of approximately 637 ft per minute will maintain the glidepath. d The threshold crossing height when following the VGSI is 13 ft higher than that when following the RNAV glidepath. e All of the above are true.
7. When flying from HARGU to WIDOS in a category B aircraft, a maximum of 150 kts applies. a True b False
5. Which apply when flying the approach from HONUR? a Maximum airspeed: 210 KIAS at GAUSS. b Maximum airspeed: 220 KIAS at HONUR. c Mandatory altitude: 6000 ft MSL at SNAPS. d Mandatory altitude: 7000 ft MSL at HONUR. 6. To fly from JITNU to CEMAX, the FMC, FD, and autopilot must be capable of commanding a bank angle up to 30º. a True b False
4. Select all that apply. Which is required when flying the intermediate segment from any IF? a Radar. b RF legs. c RNP 0.50. d A maximum speed of 210 kts.
3. Select all that apply. A minimum altitude of 2800 ft MSL applies from_____ a CEMAX to JANSI. b HAXUT to IRONY. c WIDOS to IRONY. d BONOT to IRONY. e IRONY to WALUM.
2. What items are required to fly the approach? a GPS. b TAWS. c An autopilot or flight director. d RF capability unless flying from BONOT.
1. A letter of authorization (LOA) from the local FSDO is required for operators to conduct this approach. a True b False
Refer to the 12-20 RNAV (RNP) Y Rwy 7R for KMKE/MKE (Milwaukee WI) when necessary to answer the following questions:
Not to be used for navigational purposes
d The minimum visibility for an approach with RNP 0.10 with the ALS out is that same as that with RNP 0.15 with the RAIL out. 10. Select the true statement(s) regarding the missed approach procedure. a An RF leg is required. b 4 nm legs in the hold are specified. c An RNP capability of 0.50 is required. d A course of 074° should be flown to CULEK. e The aircraft must reach 3700 ft prior to proceeding direct to PROOT.
26 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / October 2018
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FLIGHTSAFETY INSTRUCTOR TRUST AD - PROPILOT - MARCH 2018 ISSUE - Trim: 8.375” w x 10.875” d Terminal checklist-10-18 lyt.indd 27
Bleed: 8.625” w x 11.125” d 9/25/18 11:49 AM
Answers to TC 10/18 questions 1.
b Operators may receive approval to conduct RNP AR approaches according to the guidelines in AC 90-101A, Approval Guidance for RNP Procedures with AR, through operations specifications (OpSpecs), management specifications (MSpecs), or letters of authorization (LOA) issued by the local flight standards district office (FSDO) or the certificateholding district office (CHDO).
a, b, c Procedural notes 2, and 3 in the Briefing Strip indicate equipment requirements for the approach. According to AC 90-101A, a class A terrain and warning system (TAWS) is required for all RNP AR procedures. The TAWS should use altitude that is compensated for local pressure and temperature effects and include significant terrain and obstacle data.” RNP AR procedures with RNP values less than 0.3, or with radius to fix (RF) legs, require the use of autopilot or FD driven by the RNAV system in all cases. Although, RF is not required when flying the intermediate or final approach segments from BONOT, an RF leg is required to fly the missed approach procedure.
b, c According to the plan and profile views, the flight leg immediately preceding IRONY from WIDOS, HAXUT, or JANSI specifies a minimum altitude of 2800 ft MSL. At IRONY, a descent to 1800 ft MSL should be initiated.
4. c According to ballflag 1 on the plan view, radar is required from ZUGUN and BALMS IFs and from HONUR IAF, but not from BONOT IF. RF legs are not required from BONOT. A maximum speed of 210 knots is specified for all IFs except BONOT or GAUSS. Plan view notes indicate that RNP 0.50 is required to fly the procedure from all IFs and from HONUR IAF. 5.
b, c According to the plan view, a minimum altitude of 7000 ft MSL and a maximum airspeed of 220 KIAS apply to HONUR. A mandatory altitude of 6000 ft MSL and a maximum airspeed of 210 KIAS apply to SNAPS.
6. b AC 90-101A states that for flying RF legs, “the flight management computer (FMC), the flight director (FD) system and autopilot must be
Terminal checklist-10-18 lyt.indd 28
capable of commanding a bank angle up to 25° above 400 ft AGL and up to 8° below 400 ft AGL.”
a A table in AC 90-101A provides maximum airspeeds throughout RF legs. For initial and intermediate segments, a maximum airspeed of 150 knots is required for Category A and B aircraft and 250 knots for Category C, D, and E aircraft.
e According to FAA Order 8260.19E, VGSI and IAP glidepath angles/ vertical descent angles should be coincidental (angles within 0.2 degrees and threshold crossing height (TCH) values within 3 ft). A procedural note is used whenever a published glidepath/descent angle or TCH is not coincident with the VGSI angle for a runway. In this case, the notes in the Briefing Strip indicate that the VGSI (a PAPI on the left side of the runway as shown in the lighting box) and the RNAV glidepath are not coincidental. The VGSI angle is 3.00° and the descent angle of the glidepath is also 3.00° as shown on the descent/timing conversion table and on the profile view. However, the TCH of the VGSI is 63 ft, while the TCH for the glidepath is 50 ft as shown on the profile view. The descent/timing conversion table also indicates a 637 ft/min descent rate at 120 knots to follow the 3.00° descent angle.
9. b, c, d The landing minimums section indicates a requirement of RNP 0.15 for a DA of 1203 ft MSL. According to AC 20-138D, Airworthiness Approval of Positioning and Navigation Systems, the navigation system lateral total system error (TSE) must be within the RNP value requirements (in this case ±0.15 nm) for at least 95% of the total flight time. According to AC 90-101A, changes to lower RNP values must be complete by the fix defining the leg with the lower value. A minimum visibility of 1 ¼ sm is applicable to an approach with RNP 0.10 with the ALS out and an approach with RNP 0.15 with the RAIL out. 10. a, b The missed approach instructions in the Briefing Strip indicate that the aircraft must climb to 3700 ft MSL while “on the RNAV missed approach route to PROOT.” The plan view shows a course of 074° to FAHEY and then an RF leg to CULEK followed by a course of 354° to PROOT with 4 nm legs in the hold indicated in the missed approach inset. A procedural note will indicate if an RNP capability of less than 1.0 is required for the missed approach procedure.
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s a Falcon pilot, I’m part of a WhatsApp group of Falcon pilots where we share job opportunities and other technical information. Fortunately, an app to share in a more organized way is also being developed. We need ways to get quick answers for problems we may have and methods to gain a more thorough understanding of issues with in-depth articles and also references. Christophe Delbos ATP. Falcon 7X Captain TAG Aviation UK Fillière, France
F As pilots we all join organizations – associations, clubs, groups – but some suit our needs better than others. What organizations do you value most for providing you with support and information?
ost valuable organization for me is the Citation Jet Pilot (CJP) Association, which is the owner and aircraft association for my aircraft type. There is no other group even close to being the best source for all information and advice for Citations. Next for me is AOPA because they do an outstanding job of ensuring that government agencies face and deal with issues related to our right to fly. AOPA clearly understands that the US has the most comprehensive and still the best and safest ATC system in the world. This is in no small part thanks to the advocacy efforts of AOPA, which is just 1 example of what they do for GA. Their additional work with getting pilots either into the cockpit for the 1st time or back in the cockpit following some absence is also noteworthy. And I also value NBAA, whose resources are 1st rate. When you look at all of the initiatives they undertake and support, their reach is tremendous and the opportunities to learn from them are outstanding. Marc Dulude ATP. Citation CJ3+ Chief Pilot Mild Air Bluffton SC
AA website provides e-mail subscriptions to notices, Advisory Circulars, Airworthiness Directives, etc. Just sign up for whatever your interests might be. I also read Pro Pilot magazine, Aviation International News (AIN) and keep up with Marcel Dassault news. FlightSafety International (FSI) is also a great organization. Robert Darradji ATP/CFII. Falcon 2000/900/50 Chief Pilot Sundance Aviation Charlottesville VA
rely on Professional Pilot for updates on global aviation issues and AOPA Pilot (Australia) for domestic news topics. Steve Ormerod ATP/Helo/CFII. Leonardo AW109 Av Mgr Professional Pilots PTY Buderim, Queensland, Australia
asy question for me – for the big picture in general and corporate aviation, NBAA is outstanding and extremely helpful. If you’re involved in aviation at any level, their membership is quite valuable. If you operate a Phenom or Legacy aircraft, the Embraer Jet Operators Association is outstanding for operations, detail and best practices. And these associations are properly focused on aviation safety. Keith Christensen Comm-Multi-Inst/Helo. Phenom 300 Owner & President Christensen Industries Salt Lake City UT
32 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / October 2018
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BAA and AOPA are the top associations that get my vote as the most useful and valuable for business and GA aviators. Joe Gless ATP. Citation X Contract Pilot Vicksburg MI
he Regional Airline Association (RAA) is great for us for exemptions and deviations. AeroSafety World from the Flight Safety Foundation is great for ground school curriculum improvements and human factors articles for our monthly pilot newsletter. AOPA provides great knowledge for our pilot group on general aviation threats and changes in industry and technology. Of course Pro Pilot magazine is a great resource as well. Pilots and managers alike use the Pro Pilot compensation survey information each year. Keep up the good work. Aaron Rocereta ATP. de Havilland DHC8 & Beechcraft B1900 VP Ops & DO Corvus Airlines Anchorage AK
rganizations I find most valuable include NBAA for bizav issues, Pro Pilot for information relevant to pilots, and Collins Aerospace ARINCDirect for aviation services. I also like ProPilotWorld.com for all kinds of aviation information and networking. Mark Lauritzen ATP. Falcon 900EX Captain TB Aviation Kalispell MT
everal organizations get my membership, including Virginia State Police Alumni, Virginia Air National Guard Retirees Association, American Legion and Air Force Sergeants Association. All of my aviation/pilot related information comes from my Professional Pilot magazine. It keeps me very informed with what is taking place within the field of aviation. I don’t subscribe to any other magazine. J Faulkner ATP/Helo/CFII. Boeing 737BBJ Captain & Check Airman Contract Pilot Services North VA
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feel NBAA gives me the most bang for the buck. They represent corporate flight groups in the political arena and also provide a wealth of operational information. Their website is a “go to” for me when I have operational or legal questions. Keith Cook ATP/CFII. Learjet 45 Chief Pilot Basler Electric Highland IL avorites of mine include the National Air Transportation Association (NATA), Business & Commercial Aviation (BCA), Pro Pilot and the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA). Robert Oehl ATP/CFII. Gulfstream G100 Owner Express Air Starke FL
mployer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) is the organization of my preference. ESGR is a great volunteer organization that works to support civilian employees who elect to continue their military careers as either guardsmen or reservists. John Bowdle Comm-Multi-Inst/Helo. Boeing Vertol 234 Captain US Army Reserve Simpsonville SC
eferences for me include my flying club for information on local issues and aircraft, NBAA for business purposes and AOPA for general aviation topics. Michael Staszel ATP/CFI. Piper PA46 Matrix Senior Av Surveyor McLarens Aviation Park Ridge IL
A Cabo San Lucas Airport • Tel 624-124-5500 • firstname.lastname@example.org • www.acsl.com.mx
OPA Brazil keeps me informed about issues in my region. Fernando De Almeida ATP/Helo. Airbus AS350B3 Captain CEMIG Belo Horizonte MG, Brazil
34 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / October 2018
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eneral aviation is well-served by AOPA in my opinion. And of course I enjoy gleaning useful information from 3 magazines: Pro Pilot, BCA and Flying. Tim Harold ATP/CFII/A&P. Pilatus PC-12/PC-6 Captain Yajasi Sentani, Papua, Indonesia
hen I was a chief pilot for an insurance company a few years back NBAA was awesome for their support and guidance to its members. Now retired but still flying actively as a CFI I’m always impressed by the support AOPA provides to its members, instructors and student pilots. It’s very professionally done! Stephen Sturgil ATP/CFII. Cessna 172/150 & Piper PA24 Instructor White Water Aviation Florence KY
s manager of a Part 91 flight department, our most valuable organization that we belong to is the South East Aviation Safety Round Table (SEASRT for short). SEASRT is a group of corporate flight departments that gather several times a year to discuss safety issues that are affecting us as individual flight departments or as business aviation in general. Each department is represented by their safety advisor or a representative. Everyone signs a non-disclosure agreement so they can talk freely without fear of any possible repercussion. Furthermore, in between the time that they meet we can get answers to questions or suggestions via e-mail from the other member flight departments on all sorts of topics related to aviation. These outstanding folks have made a difference in my department and I would spend my last dime remaining a member of the SEASRT. For those who don’t
live in the Southeast, there are many regional safety roundtables around the US, I highly encourage you to reach out and find one. We also belong to the Flight Safety Foundation (FSF) and NBAA, both of which do a great job of supporting business aviation. In fact, I am a member of the FSF Business Advisory Committee and we try very hard to stay in touch with the latest safety issues affecting business aviation. We also work hard to support the NBAA in any way we can in their outstanding efforts supporting aviation safety. I encourage all of our Part 91 flight departments to stay engaged in order to protect those freedoms that we enjoy as Part 91 professional aviators. It’s up to us to protect these liberties and the NBAA and FSF help us to do so. Rick Boyer ATP. Phenom 300 Aviation Manager SCANA West Columbia SC
36 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / October 2018
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s a former Coast Guard pilot, I especially value the contacts, camaraderie and preservation of USCG aviation history gained from being a member of the Coast Guard Aviation Association, aka the Ancient Order of the Pterodactyl. While I’m not a member of AOPA, from my perspective they offer the best resources for all aviators at the various stages of their careers. AOPA also provides an excellent, collective voice to Congress representing the best interests of general aviation. They’ve successfully fended off a number of unwise proposals effecting our community. Michael O’Brien ATP/Helo/CFII. Leonardo AW139 Captain PHI Cantonment FL
he organizations that have met my needs over the years – with each having its own value to offer – are AOPA, the Airborne Public Safety Association (APSA), National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI), NBAA and the Professional Helicopter Pilots Association (PHPA). Ron Shintaku ATP/Helo/CFII. King Air B200 Captain CA Dept of Justice-Av La Verne CA
BAA’s advocacy and support of business aviation has been invaluable. But overall, there’s nothing better than AOPA because light GA represents the base of the proverbial aviation food pyramid and without that, the rest of our system would crumble. Ron Rapp ATP/CFII. Gulfstream IVSP Pilot Jet Edge International North Tustin CA
razilian Association of General Aviation (Associação Brasileira de Aviação Geral) is my main source of information. Antonio Savio ATP. Hawker 800 Captain Líder Taxi Aéreo Belo Horizonte MG, Brazil
any organizations provide great value for pilots. My picks are NBAA, AOPA and EAA. I also use AVweb.com as an overall aviation news resource. James Keeton ATP/Helo/CFII. Challenger 601 Chief Pilot Fuqua Flight Atlanta GA
he Flight Service Bureau of the OPSGROUP provides a great daily summary of issues (by country and by city) for international pilots. I highly recommend signing up for their service. David Rada ATP. Gulfstream G550 Finance Mgr & Pilot DuPont New Castle DE
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PROFESSIONAL PILOT / October 2018 37
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2018 Statement of Ownership, Management and Circulation as required by US Postal Service Professional Pilot magazine No 01916238
joined AOPA for the legal services it offers. It could be very useful should a crew member make an unfortunate misstep or have medical issues. I’m also member Actual Average copies of OPSGROUP. They send daily copies per nearest e-mails providing good snapshots Circulation issue file date of worldwide airports or political Total copies (net press run) 21,732 23,100 issues affecting aviation. Finally I’m Paid and/or requested circulation (1) Outside-county mail also part of NBAA that gives excel subscriptions stated on form 3541 16,287 17,441 lent guidance for Part 91 and 135 (2) In-county subscriptions 0 0 issues as well as a useful directory (3) Other non-USPS distribution 4,330 4,612 (4) Other classes mailed USPS 0 0 of members. Total paid and/or requested circulation 20,617 22,053 Erik Swanberg ATP/CFII. Falcon 7X, Gulfstream IV, Free distribution by mail (samples, complimentary and other free) Citation II & King Air 350 (1) Outside-county as stated on form 3541 574 575 Pilot (2) In-county as stated on form 3541 0 0 White Lodging (3) Other classes mailed USPS 50 46 (4) Free distribution outside the mail Yorkville IL (carriers or other means) 225 188 General info: Filing date September 21, 2018. Professional Pilot is a monthly magazine, 12 issues per year, $50 per year when sold. Mailing address: 5290 Shawnee Road, Suite 201, Alexandria VA 22312. Publisher: Murray Q Smith. Owner: Queensmith Communications Corp at same address. Murray Q Smith is sole stockholder. There are no bondholders, mortgagees or other security holders.
Total free distribution Total distribution Copies not distributed Total Percent paid and/or requested circulation
849 809 21,466 22,862 266 238 21,732 23,100 96% 96%
Certified correct and complete September 21, 2018 by Anthony Herrera, General Manager
eaders for me are Jeppesen and ForeFlight, both of which provide great products for corporate pilots. Charlotte Alexander ATP/CFII. Citation CJ2 Line Pilot CM Aviation Santa Barbara CA
aluable organizations for me include AOPA and the Seaplane Pilots Association (SPA) for the latest news, TTPs and information. Dave Tennesen ATP/CFII/FE. de Havilland DHC2 Beaver/DHC3 Otter Captain Kenmore Air Seattle WA
astern Region Helicopter Council (ERHC) is very valuable for rotorcraft issues and advocacy here in the Northeast of the US. For law enforcement and public service aviation related issues and training Airborne Public Safety Association (APSA) is the best. Can’t be beat! I’m also very satisfied with all efforts made by AOPA. It’s of great value for general pilot issues. Glenn Daley ATP/Helo/CFII. Sikorsky S92 Captain Jet Aviation Armonk NY
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f course NBAA is our primary representative on Capitol Hill. EAA does a fine job of introducing young men and women to the aviation industry. Pilots, mechanics and numerous support professionals are needed now more than ever. I work closely with Women In Corporate Aviation (WCA) which is a non-profit 501(c)(3) scholarship association. WCA provides scholarship funds to many up and coming aviation professionals each year. WCA is now celebrating its 25th anniversary and welcomes donations to support its scholarships for our new aviation professionals. It’s not always what you get, but it is what you give back that makes you smile at the end of the day. Katha House ATP/CFII. Falcon Legacy Fleet Owner BJ Aviation Services Manchester NH
BAA and AOPA are 2 outstanding organizations that are always available to assist with great services for members. Additionally, because of their efforts our voices in the business aircraft world are heard in Washington DC. Eddie Lerer ATP. Astra 1125 Chief Pilot E Micah Aviation Morrow OH
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y company is a member of NBAA, HAI and AOPA. However, my preference goes to HAI. I think HAI does more for their size than other associations. Rod Smith ATP/Helo/CFII/A&P. Grand Caravan Dir of Transportation Kinzer Drilling Pikeville KY
OPA and EAA are the associations that I prefer. As their member I’ve been able to learn very useful information from both of them to develop my career as a professional pilot. Randy Junes ATP. Citation S/II Chief Pilot Hutton Co Pulaski TN
ithout question, AOPA gives me great returns for a modest cost. Website, ASI, legal help, Online education of these are first class. And when I call AOPA on the phone they respond quickly with great customer service. Thomas Conard ATP/CFI. Beechjet 400 Pilot Travel Management Co Verona PA PROFESSIONAL PILOT / October 2018 39
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4.25” W x 10.875” H (plus .125 bleed on top, bottom, left)
ince 1976 I have been a member of AOPA and EAA. Also I have flown for NBAA member companies since 1979. NBAA provides resources and support for the operation of our flight operation. AOPA benefits include legal and medical assistance for me as a professional airman if needed. These 2 organizations do a great job in representing my vocation and our industry. Robert Thompson ATP/CFII. Challenger 300 Captain Executive Jet Management Antioch IL
is even smarter.
elicopter Association Intl, AOPA and PPA (Professional Pilots Association) are the associations that keep me informed and I enjoy my memberships with them. Hernan Poulton Comm-Multi-Inst/Helo. Airbus AS350B Contract Pilot Columbus Ohio
ational Air Transportation Association (NATA) is my favorite one. NATA takes a balanced and effective approach to representing the interests of their members and the general aviation industry. This includes NATA’s advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill as it relates to FAA funding and regulations, collaborating with other aviation associations on important issues such as ATC and privatization, and pushing back against other aviation associations on misguided efforts that do more harm than good for the GA industry. NATA has also developed and provided valuable products and services that improve safety, efficiency and profitability for member companies and the overall aviation field—Safety 1st, worker’s compensation, loss of license, FAA medical certification program and others. Thank you NATA! Jeff Kohlman Pvt-Inst. Cirrus SR22T Managing Principal Aviation Management Consulting Group Centennial CO
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value NBAA for issues dealing with our corporate operations, EAA and AOPA are great, in my opinion, for fighting for our rights and privileges. Jack Hunt ATP. Challenger 601-3A & Hawker 800XP Captain Bluembers Ranch Cumming GA
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OPA is a strong advocate for general aviation. And their publications are top-notch. Also, they have awesome training programs. AOPA is truly an excellent organization. Tim Thorpe ATP. Citation Ultra Contract Pilot Wichita KS
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VistaJet Current fleet of 72 Bombardier bizjets flies customers worldwide.
Founder and Chairman Thomas Flohr is transforming an industry with his pioneering approach to global private aviation.
By Brent Bundy
Phoenix Police Officer-Pilot AS350, AW119, Cessna 210/182/172
The Bombardier Global 6000, with its 14-passenger capacity and 6000 nm range makes it VistaJet’s flagship for reaching all corners of the globe. They currently operate 29 of the bespoke aircraft.
hen most people encounter an inconvenience or shortcoming, they simply seek an alternative means to accomplish the activity at hand. Thomas Flohr is not most people. Fourteen years ago, Flohr recognized what he perceived as a deficiency in the private aviation industry. Instead of looking for a better way, he created one. His way, the Flohr way, became known as VistaJet. What began with a single aircraft and an idea has been systematically grown into a global aviation powerhouse with a fleet of over 70 aircraft ready and able to offer worldwide transport to those who demand the very best in life.
History Born in Switzerland and raised in Germany, Thomas Flohr began his career in the business world – specifically in asset financing – but he always aspired to be in aviation. He worked for the USA-based technology firm Comdisco, eventually becoming president of their European operations then worldwide president of Comdisco. He would later purchase the Swiss and German divisions, now Comprendium Investment SA, when they entered into bankruptcy 2 years after
Flohr had left the company. It was during this time in Flohr’s life that he was first exposed to business aviation by means of charter, although it was not a positive undertaking. The unpredictable experiences along with the variety of aircraft and crews did not suit him. Another option for Flohr was fractional ownership, which did not appeal to his fiscal sense. He exercised his 3rd option and bought his own aircraft, a Learjet 60. Not wanting to involve himself with the daily requirements of airplane ownership, Flohr handed over management responsibilities to Air Executive in Salzburg, Austria, where the directors requested he allow his plane to be used for charter flights. This arrangement worked out well. Too well, in fact. Flohr soon found himself without his own jet available and was forced to charter again. The cycle began once more after he purchased another aircraft. Before long, the second aircraft was often unavailable due to its charter schedule.
Flohr’s aircraft were popular At this point, Flohr recognized the potential of his own conundrum. He also knew that his aircraft were popular charters because of their similar
design. Being too busy to spend time on the design of the 2nd jet he purchased, he had told the sales team to “make it just like the first one.” Flohr realized that this homogeneity was appealing to frequent fliers and he could build off the idea, so he placed an order for more aircraft. Instead of obtaining his own charter certificate, he met with Air Executive and bought the company, along with their permit. Flohr wanted a new name for his on-demand flight operation, so he brainstormed with friends while on vacation to come up with a new moniker. The year was 2004 and VistaJet hit the ground running with a 2-aircraft fleet.
VistaJet ops and personnel From the onset, Flohr has been careful to select the right aircraft and the right people to align with the goals he has for VistaJet. Leading that list of talent is Chief Operating Officer Nick van der Meer. Born and raised in South Africa, van der Meer was unsure of his future after high school when he turned his eye towards the USA and a possible career in aviation. After receiving all his ratings in “The States,” he returned to South Africa and then went on to Ireland and Scotland, taking flying assignments as he went.
PROFESSIONAL PILOT / October 2018
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Chief Operating Officer Nick van der Meer has been with VistaJet for 8 years and currently oversees daily activity from the company’s world headquarters in Malta.
With an ever-present entrepreneurial mindset, at each pilot job he held, van der Meer looked for ways to operate more efficiently and productively, often transforming the companies he worked for as he moved up their managerial ladders. “Being inefficient doesn’t work for me,” he states. “There is only so much you can do, so whatever you do, do it well. That is also the approach VistaJet takes with its customers. We hire people with this same mindset, we are ‘solution-oriented’ and we have the best teams in the industry to accomplish our goals.” This philosophy, along with his business acumen and flight experience, explains why Flohr sought out van der Meer and hired him as chief pilot of VistaJet in 2010. Within a few short years, he had worked his way up to his current title. By the time van der Meer joined the team, VistaJet’s expansion was well under way. Initially headquartered in Switzerland, their goal was not to set up a traditional base of operations but to keep the aircraft on the move as much as possible. Static aircraft do not make money. As their market reach began to stretch further, by 2010 regional offices were opened in London, Dubai and Hong Kong.
VistaJet has operated in the USA since 2013 through a partnership with Jet Aviation. In charge of that undertaking is (L) President of VistaJet US Ron Silverman, seen here with Chief Commercial Officer Ian Moore.
The year 2013 brought about 2 important location additions. In order to compete as a global operator, Flohr knew that the United States must be included. “Thomas (Flohr) was initially very reluctant for the expansion to the US,” explains Chief Commercial Officer Ian Moore. “It was at a time when we still had a lot of work to do in other markets. However, some important customers who were using our aircraft overseas made it clear that we were missing an opportunity to provide the level of service we offer to a customer base ready to embrace it. Now, 1 in 4 VistaJet flights originate in North America and we’ve only just begun here. We have the right product and our growth has proven that.” Legally needing a USA-based company to handle flight operations for a foreign entity, VistaJet turned to Jet Aviation Flight Services based in Teterboro NJ. President of VistaJet US Ron Silverman states that the decision to partner with Jet Aviation was an easy one. “We sought out a company that shared our values and our focus on safety. Jet Aviation was that company. The backing of General Dynamics (parent company of Jet Aviation) and the fact that they didn’t want to en-
Jet Aviation handles all 6 of the US-based Bombardier Global 5000s for VistaJet. With a 5200 nm range and the ability to carry 13 passengers, they are the top choice for North American long-distance travelers.
croach into our same business model were also considerations. For us, it was a no-brainer.” Moore adds, “Our growth is customer driven. My job is to build our customer base around the world and Jet Aviation has made that possible in the US market.”
Malta has become VistaJet corporate headquarters The next move that year was the addition of a new office location. Seeking to reach closer to their customers south of Europe, VistaJet looked to the island-nation of Malta, off the Mediterranean coast of Africa. For years, this country has been a haven for ship registration, due to location, maritime experience and tax advantages. The Maltese government has pushed for the same draws to the aviation market. “Much of the difficulty in expanding an industry such as aviation, in a market like Malta, is the governmental red tape. We are doing everything we can to eliminate that red tape, streamline the process and maintain positive relationships with companies like VistaJet, to show them that bringing their business here is advantageous to them,” explains Malta’s Director General for
Similar in size to the Global 6000/5000, the 6 Bombardier Challenger 850s in the fleet offer the operating costs of much smaller aircraft while still providing the same VistaJet level of luxury.
44 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / October 2018
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Their 10 Bombardier Challenger 605s are a near-perfect blend of the abilities of its longer-legged siblings, capable of transporting 12 passengers up to 4000 nm in the widest cabin in its class.
Civil Aviation Captain Charles Pace. This arrangement worked so well that in 2013 VistaJet opened an operations center followed by the relocation of their worldwide corporate headquarters in 2016. Malta has become the primary location for company oversight, pilot and crew training, customer service, maintenance, and IT. Head of Operations Control Center (OCC) Tamas Hornyeki supervises the OCC and coordinates, as he describes, “the arrangements and logistics behind the scenes to make sure the flights happen, from the initial feasibility checks when a request comes in, all the way through to the completion of the flight.” He echoes van der Meer’s assertion of the “solution-driven” approach. “We have 50 people here in the OCC, all with the goal of satisfying our clients. There isn’t a ‘no button’ in our software, there is always a solution.” From the OCC, every request for VistaJet aircraft across the globe is processed and can be monitored during all phases of flight, to assure a seamless experience for their customers as well as the crew. “We average 75 flights per day with some days exceeding 100,” Hornyeki adds. “It takes having the right people in place to assure the needs of our clients are met.” A key to keeping the customers happy is keeping them in the air. Making sure this is done safely is one of the jobs of Deputy Accountable Manager
The Bombardier Challenger 350 is the workhorse of VistaJet’s US-based portion of their fleet and is operated by Jet Aviation Flight Services. They have 21 of these models currently in service.
Cliff Berrington. The tasks of overseeing the OCC, flight operations, and training fall to Berrington. With over 350 pilots flying their aircraft, he relies on his 4 fleet managers and 50 line trainers to hold them all to the high standards of VistaJet. New hires are brought on with a minimum of 4500 hrs flight time for captains, and 2000 hrs for FOs, both requiring ATP ratings. Once onboard, they are assigned 17 days on, 13 days off. Simulator training is handled by CAE, with Lufthansa and Bombardier facilities also being utilized. When asked what sets VistaJet apart, Berrington states, “The support team. In my opinion, there is none better, anywhere on the planet. The customer is always at the center of every decision.” Line Training Captain Craig Hume has been with VistaJet for 5 years and concurs with Berrington’s assessment. “The team here is phenomenal, very young in spirit. They always try to find a solution, for the customer and for us, the crew, with our schedules. The opportunities for pilots here, to experience the world while working for a great company, are amazing.”
The VistaJet experience Early on, Flohr recognized the marketability of the similitude of his aircraft. Clients made it clear they appreciated the fact that they could step off
VistaJet’s sole helicopter is this Leonardo AW109 GrandNew light-twin. Based in Switzerland, it can take clientele directly from the airport to their final destination, all in the level of comfort as the fleet of jet aircraft.
one VistaJet aircraft and on to another and not notice a difference. “The look, the feel, the touch, even the smell, of every single aircraft is identical. The uniforms of our pilots and cabin crew are recognizable anywhere you go,” says van der Meer. Much of the experience comes from the interaction with, what for most customers is, the face of VistaJet: the cabin hostesses. Like the aircraft, the goal is to offer a feeling of consistency. Assuring this objective is met falls to Cabin Operations Manager Rochelle Edmond. From the Malta headquarters, Edmond oversees hiring, training and supervision of over 170 hostesses. As with every other aspect of VistaJet, very high standards are demanded. “Of every 100 applicants, we hire 1,” Edmond exclaims. “We are looking for customer-focused team players who possess cultural awareness and can work independently. With our type of clientele, we also require creativity to meet the requests that may be asked of our hostesses.” Once accepted, hostesses undergo a 2-week training program in Malta. This specialized preparation includes certification for up to Level 2 from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust, time with a professional chef, 2 days with the British Butler Institute, and a course with the prestigious Norland College early years education and childcare institute. After initial instruction, they are assigned to an onboard trainer for a minimum of 8 flights followed by yearly evaluation and refresher courses. “We strive for uniformity in our aircraft as well as our cabin crew. Whether our customers are with us for leisure, business, or family trips, our hostesses are representing VistaJet and we want that to be the most positive, consistent experience we can provide,” remarks Edmond.
All-Bombardier branded fleet The consistency that has become a hallmark of VistaJet begins with
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Deputy Accountable Manager Cliff Berrington monitors operations at the Malta-based Ops Control Center and supervises training of the 350 VistaJet pilots posted across the globe.
the aircraft, all of which are wholly owned by the company. Interiors were designed by Flohr and his daughter, Nina, to maintain that similarity fleetwide. Onboard, passengers will find fully-equipped business suites, Italian leather upholstery, Egyptian cotton linens, cashmere socks, libraries of books and movies, custom scents, a signature selection of wines, and dinner menus prepared by renowned chefs. This philosophy of likeness is carried over to the brand of aircraft, as well. After the initial purchase of his Learjet 60, Flohr eventually turned to Bombardier and hasn’t looked back. With just 2 aircraft in 2004, by 2007 he had added 5 jets as well as placed orders with Bombardier for several more. Fleet expansion hit its stride in 2008 with 19 aircraft, increasing to 23 in 2009, and 26 in 2010. In 2012, Flohr placed the largest jet order in Bombardier’s history: up to 142 Global aircraft, including 5000s, 6000s, and future models, totaling $7.8 billion. The following year they entered the USA market where they fly exclusively Global 5000s and Challenger 350s. Currently, the 72-aircraft, all-Bombardier global fleet consists of 21 Challenger 350s, 10 Challenger 605s, 6 Challenger 850s, 6 Global 5000s, and 29 Global 6000s. VistaJets also owns 1 Leonardo AW109 GrandNew light-twin helicopter, which is based in St Moritz, Switzerland and is used for short hops to various close cities and heli-skiing. Although these numbers are impressive, for VistaJet, it’s not about quantity. “We don’t think in terms of numbers of aircraft. We think in numbers of flighthours and our global coverage,” van der Meer explains. “Even with the growth we are experiencing, we have the potential to double our hours in just a couple years, and that, of course, would include adding many more aircraft.”
(Top) VistaJet partners with renowned restaurants and chefs around the world to offer the finest dining options. (R) Every aircraft in the fleet is similarly outfitted to assure that the VistaJet experience is felt no matter which model is flown.
Ways to fly VistaJet offers 2 methods of accessing their aircraft: Program and Direct. Under the Program approach, customers purchase a set number of flight-hours through a subscription plan designed specifically for the needs of the individual or corporation. This guarantees access for the client to the worldwide fleet at any time. To maintain transparency and predictability in pricing, in 2017 VistaJet was the 1st business aviation operator to eliminate positioning fees of its aircraft across all routes for Program customers. The other model they have is referred to as Direct. This avenue allows customers to request service through the VistaJet app or by phone with the 24/7 sales team, and provides access to empty and 1-way legs. There is no set number of hours sold under the Direct method and access is based on aircraft availability.
The future for VistaJet This year has already seen record growth for VistaJet. In the 1st half of the year, new customer membership in the Program model increased 32%, yearon-year, with European operations seeing double the new signups compared to the same period in 2017. Renewal hours showed a 33% increase while flight revenue, flight hours, and the total number of flights grew by 27%. Customer retention is at 91%. While these are remarkable numbers, they show no sign of slowing down. Flohr has stated, “We are committed to becoming the number 1 player in every market in which we operate.” This will be accomplished by more aircraft, additional personnel, and further service offerings for their clientele. Recently, VistaJet partnered with Avinode Marketplace to ease booking of flights and debuted Adventures in the Sky, an interactive program for children involving entertainment,
education and specialized dining. Recognizing the ever-increasing size of their fleet, by 2019 they anticipate establishing their own Part 145 MRO station in a new facility at the Malta headquarters. Bombardier will soon be certifying their flagship Global 7500, which will be a perfect fit for the VistaJet business model of worldwide coverage. Expect to see them added to their already robust stable in the near future.
Conclusion Thomas Flohr saw an opportunity to offer a service that was lacking in the aviation industry. He believed individuals wished to enjoy the benefits of private travel without the hassles and expense of ownership. Clearly, he was right. In only 14 years, VistaJet has become the fastest growing private jet company by flying over 132,000 flights with 330,000 passengers to 1600 airports in 187 countries on their fleet of 72 identically-equipped, branded, luxury aircraft. Whether or not it was the goal at the onset, Flohr and VistaJet haven’t so much transformed an industry but have instead created a new one, the 1st and only global aviation company. With solid financial backing, over 1000 dedicated employees worldwide, and customer-driven expansion at their core, VistaJet is positioned to dominate the market they created for years to come. 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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The helicopter industry: back on track New ideas to serve new markets are bringing increased prosperity to the vertical lift market. Airbus H145
Photos courtesy Airbus Helicopters
By Brent Bundy
Phoenix Police Officer-Pilot AS350, AW119, Cessna 210/182/172
hen almost every corner of the aviation industry was hit hard by the 2008 Great Recession, the helicopter segment was spared. Orders and deliveries dipped but didn’t see the drastic downturn that other sectors experienced. However, the reprieve was short-lived. Fresh off the drop of oil prices in 2008, followed by their recovery over the following few years, the next downswing of crude pricing in 2014 was the crippling blow. Oil and gas exploration all but ceased and the ripple effects paralyzed the entire rotor wing market. New product announcements evaporated and existing development programs were delayed or canceled in droves. Those were dire times. If nothing else, the last 4 years have proven the resiliency of the vertical lift market. While at the time 2014 may have seemed to be its death knell, 2018 has shown that there is still a heartbeat and it’s getting stronger by the year. Here is a recap of the major manufacturers and the progress they’ve made along with their current offerings and upcoming products.
Airbus Helicopters Just as the downturn hit its low point in 2014, the French Eurocopter Group became Airbus Helicopter to more define the roles of the manufacturer within the Airbus Group. The corporate name-change also followed through
Airbus UH-72 Lakota
to the models they produce, with each taking on an “H” to signify them as “Helicopters” and to differentiate from “A” for “Airplane” models within the company lineup. Airbus continues to reign over the industry with a 50% share in the civilian market, providing 2 single-engine and 8 twin-engine rotorcraft, along with numerous variants of each, covering the gamut of light to heavy lift models. From the law enforcement and electronic news gathering favorite H125 and the emergency medical services preferred H135/145 to the oil and gas workhorse H225, Airbus helicopters can be found in every corner of the globe. Times may have been difficult over the past decade, but Airbus did not sit idly by. While they may not have invented the Fenestron tail rotor, its roots date well back into their history and its reputation for safety and quietness has seen it added to more models as well as being adapted to new aircraft. As the first new member of the H-generation, the H160 medium-twin was unveiled in 2015 with deliveries expected in 2019. It brings together
a host of progressive technologies including unique swept-tip Blue Edge main rotor blades, an all-composite airframe, and a canted version of the Fenestron. In the cockpit, it will arrive standard with the new Helionix nextgen multi-screen avionics suite first seen in the H145 and H175, and now available in the H135. 2018 saw the delivery of the first Airbus Corporate Helicopter (ACH) line, as they make further inroads into the luxury market. Perhaps the most ambitious Airbus project is the futuristic Racer (Rapid And Cost Efficient Rotorcraft). As part of the European Clean Sky 2 research program, this twin-engine aircraft is a hybrid of helicopter and airplane propulsion, utilizing a 5-blade main rotor for vertical lift and 2 propellers in pusher-configuration for much greater speed than conventional helicopters. Developed from the high-speed X3 demonstrator, it also takes advantage of several aerodynamic advancements, reduced fuel consumption and a quieter footprint. And with fixed forward propulsion, there is no transitional period from hover to cruise.
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Photos courtesy Bell Helicopters
Bell 525 Relentless Bell AirTaxi
Bell FCX-001 Bell 505 JetRanger X
Bell Bell is so confident on the transformation of the industry over the coming decades that earlier this year, they dropped “Helicopters” from their name. They may have big plans for the future, but they still make a wide variety of helicopters for the present. Bell currently offers 6 models, with variations on 2 of them, from light singles to medium twins. From the classic 206L4 to their newest 505 JetRanger X, Bell offers a diverse portfolio for every segment of the helicopter market. While the company makes upgraded versions of existing models such as the 407GXi, 412EPI, and 429WLG, they also continue to reveal new products like the medium-lift 525 Relentless – soon to be certified. When the 525 comes to market, it will be teeming with new technology including fly-by-wire controls, the newest Garmin G5000H Leonardo AW609
avionics suite, next-gen rotor hubs, and best in class performance. Future innovations are being developed on their test-bed FCX-001 and Urban Air Taxi. On the military front, Bell continues to produce the venerable UH-1Y Super Huey and AH-1Z Viper (newest SuperCobra). And their tiltrotor portfolio will soon increase when the existing V-22 Osprey is joined by the lighter, multi-mission capable V-280 Valor and the prototype unmanned V-247 Vigilant.
Their catalog includes popular light models in both single and twin-engine configurations, including the AW119Kx and AW109Power/Trekker/ GrandNew. These models are used in a variety of missions with EMS work leading the way. Where Leonardo hits their stride is in the favorites of rescue, firefighting, and gas and oil Leonardo AW189
Leonardo Following in the footsteps of their French counterparts, the Italian conglomerate formerly known as both AgustaWestland and Finmeccanica, reorganized and rebranded themselves as Leonardo in 2016. While the helicopter division is but 1 of their many subsections, including aerospace, defense, and security, it is arguably the face of the company. Celebrating their 70th anniversary in 2018, Leonardo too boast an impressive array of options for the vertical lift market.
Photos courtesy Leonardo
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MD Helicopters Much like the helicopter industry itself, MD Helicopters, Inc (MDHI) has experienced their ups and downs over the past several decades. Just as fellow manufacturers have changed corporate monikers, MDHI has seen their share of rebranding as the company has changed hands several times since Howard Hughes founded it in 1947. Perhaps the most significant of MD530F
Photos courtesy MD Helicopters
exploration with their “family of new generation helicopters”: the AW139, AW169 and AW189. With expansive interiors, incredible power-to-weight ratios, and state-of-the-art glass-panel avionics, it’s no wonder that those who put themselves in danger to help others often prefer to do so in a Leonardo helicopter. Even through the difficulties faced by the industry over the past several years, advancements and new technologies needed development, and Leonardo has helped lead the way. There has been no better example of this than their AW609 Tiltrotor. It is based on the same concept as the military Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey with the goal of helicopter vertical lift capabilities combined with airplane cruise speed. With such a wide performance envelope, the applications for this type of aircraft are nearly limitless, including EMS, executive and oil rig transport, rescue, and more. Dating as far back as the mid-1990s, prototypes began flying in the early 2000s with accelerated testing over the past several years. Certification and initial deliveries are expected over the next 12 months. Leonardo has also invested heavily into the rotary unmanned air vehicle (RUAV) market. They are currently testing 2 models, the AWHERO and SW-4 SOLO, the latter of which is a variant of their SW-4 light single-engine helicopter and can be flown unmanned or piloted.
those reacquisitions was in 2005 when entrepreneur Lynn Tilton purchased the company. While MDHI may not stack up to its European competitors in terms of sheer numbers, the products they offer have long been the favorites of law enforcement and the military. There can be little debate as to the flagship status of the MD500 for MDHI. It has undergone numerous upgrades and transformations enroute to its current configurations. In fact, of the 5 helicopter models that MDHI produces for the civilian market, 4 of them are based on the 500. For decades, this aircraft, now known as the MD500E, has been the go-to for police, utility, and personal use. They also offer a high-performance variant, the MD530F. Chances are if you’ve learned to fly helicopters in the past 30 years, at some point you spent time in an MD500. In the early 1990s, MDHI debuted the MD520N, followed soon by the MD600N and MD900 (now designated MD902 Explorer). These were the first, and still the only, helicopters to incorporate the NO TAil Rotor (NOMD520N
TAR) anti-torque and directional control. This system, which places a fan inside an enlarged tail assembly, has proved popular for its dramatic reduction in noise signature and increase in safety. Their other models, an armed MD530F and its newest stablemate MD530G, have been around for 60 years and still top the list for light scout helicopters utilized by militaries, particularly special forces, around the world. Most recently, MDHI procured a $1.4 billion contract for 150 aircraft for the Afghan Air Force, with deliveries having already begun and carrying through to the end of 2019. Although their basic airframes have not changed much in several decades, MDHI has not been content to rely solely on old technology. Recently, the MD530F joined the MD600N and MD902 with certification of an all-glass cockpit, and last year they announced their first new model in years with the yet-unnamed MD6XX, a stretched version of the MD530F airframe with a 6-bladed main rotor, glass cockpit, and increased power. Work also continues on the enhancement of the MD902 into its newest iteration, to be tagged the MD969.
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In 1973, Robinson Helicopters set out to make a cost-effective, safe, efficient helicopter so more people than ever would have access to vertical flight. The idea worked. The Robinson R44 is currently the best-selling helicopter in the world. Working off the same familiar design they began with, Robinson now offers 3 models: the piston-powered R22 and R44 (with additional variants), and the turbine-engine R66. Their lowcost of acquisition and operation have made them popular with flight schools, law enforcement, and personal ownership around the world. Just as Robinson added the R66 to expand their product line, they continue to improve their offerings and add new items and technologies. In the past few years, often from customer requests, they have developed an Electronic News Gathering (ENG) version, autopilot capabilities, glass cockpits, cargo hooks, and use of lithium-ion batteries. As they continue to top sales lists, expect to see more upgrades from this popular helicopter manufacturer.
Photos courtesy Robisnon
Photos courtesy Sikorsky
Sikorsky S-97 Raider
Sikorsky The company that created the first mass-produced helicopter now offers only 3 models for commercial sales. While the quantity of offerings may be limited, the impact and versatility of the 3 are significant. The S-76 has been a mainstay in Search And Rescue (SAR) and VIP transport for over 40 years. The S-70 Firehawk, a variant of the revered Black Hawk military helicopter, has become the top for aerial firefighting and utility operations. The S-92 is an industry leader in offshore oil transportation and VIP/Head of State missions. The military side offers combat, SAR, and utility versions of each model along with the heavy-lift 3-engine CH-53 Stallion line. With parent company Lockheed Martin’s vast military background and research facilities at their disposal, the vertical lift technologies on the horizon at Sikorsky are some of the most advanced. From the experimental X2, comes the S-97 Raider, a light
Sikorsky CH-53 Stallion
tactical military helicopter utilizing twin counter-rotating main rotors and a rear-mounted pusher propeller. It will carry 6 troops at speeds in excess of 220 kts and can be reconfigured to a variety of special military operational roles. Sikorsky also continues to develop their MATRIX technology which allows for autonomous or optionally-piloted applications on several models of aircraft, both rotary and fixed wing. 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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London area airports Although there are many choices for visiting business aircraft the most popular are Stansted, Luton, Biggin Hill, Farnborough, London City, Northolt, Gatwick and Heathrow. London Tower Bridge is just one of the iconic symbols of London, situated between the financial district and the popular West End of this very cosmopolitan metropolis.
ondon is one of the world’s larger and most important bizav markets. With so many available airports to choose from, operators can always find workable general aviation (GA) solutions. While there are many attractive London-area options for business aviation, each location has pros and cons. The challenge planning your trip is to take advantage of the best location, services and operating flexibility for your specific mission. “London is spread out over a very large area, and half the airports in southern England seem to consider themselves London-area airports,” says UAS Regional Ops Mgr Duke Leduc. “Airport options here are plentiful, most have GA-friendly mindsets and you’ll be well supported on the ground. But there’s a lot to factor into the decision of where to land – from parking availability to price, distance from your destination, curfews, quotas, noise restrictions, etc. Surface traffic, meanwhile, can be considerable in this region and will often impact choice of airport.”
Reproduced with permission of Jeppesen Sanderson. Reduced for illustrative purposes.
By Grant McLaren Editor-at-Large
FAB (Farnborough) is a particularly popular destination airport for GA operators headed to the West London area.
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LCY (London City) is the closest airport to London’s Canary Wharf and financial districts. Challenges with the location include very limited parking, a short runway and steep approach descent.
Reproduced with permission of Jeppesen Sanderson. Reduced for illustrative purposes.
LCY’s shorter runway is not conducive for many max range GA ops. Overnight parking here is especially difficult to obtain.
LTN, STN and LGW, about 32 miles from FAB, 18 miles from LHR and 12 When operating to the London miles from BQH. area you have STN (Stansted), LTN A little farther away is OXF (Ox(Luton), BQH (Biggin Hill), FAB ford), CBG (Cambridge) and SEN (Farnborough), LCY (City), NHT (Southend) with runway lengths of (Northolt), LGW (Gatwick) and LHR 5092 ft, 6447 ft and 5705 ft, respec(Heathrow) to consider. It’s about tively. And at a greater distance are 30 miles into central London from locations such as BRS (Bristol) and
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BHM (Birmingham), although these options could involve 3+ hours surface commutes into central London. Choice of London area airport will be influenced by where your final destination is within the region. BQH and LCY may be ideal if you’re heading to the Canary Wharf financial area, and LTN, STN and NHT work very well for those heading to the Mayfair district of London. FAB, on the other hand, is often perfectly positioned for meetings in areas to the west of central London. Be mindful that airport slots are needed for LTN, STN, LHR, LGW, and LCY. Prior Permission Required (PPR) is mandated for operations into NHT and FAB, while prior notification is applicable for BQN. International Service Providers (ISPs) recommend operators also consider aircraft size and runway requirements when selecting London-area airports. LCY has a short 4947 ft runway, steep approach and a very small parking ramp limiting operations to certain models of approved GA equipment. For those operating larger or wide-body aircraft, LTN and particularly STN with its 10,000 ft runway and generous parking, are often preferred options. “While BQH has a 5971 ft runway, access is easy and parking plentiful,” says Biggin Hill Business Development Dir Robert Walters. “We’re fortunate here in that there are no airport slots or PPRs to deal with. Recently we extended operating hours and we’re close to inaugurating a new ILS approach on runway 03. Parking ramps have been expanded and we have an 800x50 meter (2625x165 ft) crosswind runway available to additional overflow parking.”
Know before you go It’s important to be aware of any and all restrictions that could impact your planned operation to the London area. This summer, for example, GA night curfews were put in place at LTN, while STN severely restricted night ops by way of challenging-to-obtain night slots. “LTN airport authorities closed the airport to GA ops from 2230 to 0700 local through September, which caused a lot of difficulty,” says Universal Weather UK GM Jason Hayward. “Meanwhile, STN restricted
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Piccadilly Circus and other West End venues, including the Knightsbridge and Mayfair districts, are often the final destination for many passengers headed to London. This is also where some of the higher-end and most desirable hotels are located.
Reproduced with permission of Jeppesen Sanderson. Reduced for illustrative purposes.
Stansted offers the longest runway and most plentiful GA parking in the London area. This venue normally operates 24/7 but challenging night slot requirements were imposed this past summer.
GA night slot availability through When looking for maximum opOctober erational flexibility, NHT may be this summer, greatly im- pacting operational flexibility. Fortudown the list of choices. Operating nately, both LTN and STN will conhours for GA are 0800 to 2000 M–F, tinue to offer 24 hour GA availability 0800 to 1500 on Sat, and 1200 to during winter months.” 1900 in Sun. Military and Royal 62
flight movements always take precedence, you’ll need at least 24 hours lead time to set up PPR, and support services are restricted. “In addition to no permitted early morning or evening GA movements, NHT is not as user-friendly in terms of services,” says Hayward. “Operators must submit their own passport info to UK Border Services, as the local handlers will not do this for you, passengers vehicles cannot be taken out onto the ramp, and all passengers – both charter and private – must be screened by security.” LHR and LGW also offer GA operators decidedly less flexibility. And costs here can be high. LHR, one of the busiest airports in the world, operates at a reported 97% of capacity year round and it’s an expensive proposition to use the mandatory Windsor Suite where passengers are processed. Be mindful that if you miss a slot time at LHR you may wait 8 to 48 hours to get another one. Fortunately, BQH and FAB are available to the southeast and southwest of LHR, respectively, with excellent support services and good parking availability.
Extra caution and pre-planning is advised if you’re traveling with a pet. Be mindful that only a dog, cat or ferret may be brought into the UK. If your traveling companion is normally a badger, you are out of luck. Additionally, pets may only enter the UK via specific airports and only if the “carrier” is pre-certified. ISPs say that no private flights will be approved to bring in pets; only charter flights have this privilege. Currently, approved carriers may bring pets into STN, BQH and FAB. Still, issues do surface from time to time in this area of the regulatory realm. “There was an aircraft bringing a pet into STN but the flight had to divert to SEN due to weather,” recalls Hayward. “However, as pets are not approved entry into SEN, local authorities required the pet, and all passengers, to remain onboard until weather improved and they were able to continue on to STN.” “BQH was the first airport in the UK to initiate a dedicated team to facilitate temporary pet importation, adds Walters. “This has greatly eased the importation process for general aviation operators.”
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der QC1, you may get night slots for STN, LGW and LHR but if you’re between QC 1 and 2 then it’s less likely you’ll get a night slot, and it also depends on other traffic. Night ops are completely banned at these airfields for those with higher QC ratings. Note that if you have a confirmed airport slot, you will not be able to substitute an aircraft with a higher QC rating without prior approval.
Charter considerations Should you be headed to London for political meetings, or perhaps to attend a royal wedding, you’ll likely end up in the Westminister district, under the shadow of the iconic Big Ben.
Costs and options
Reproduced with permission of Jeppesen Sanderson. Reduced for illustrative purposes.
Biggin Hill is the closest GA airport to central London with adequate parking availability. This facility is currently being upgraded with a new ILS, a new GA hangar and more GA parking stands.
modern business jet models now Noise limitations
meet these requirements,” explains Jeppesen Vendor Relations Mgr Ian Humphrey. Humphrey points out that aircraft Designed to encourage the use of noise can be a limiting consideration quieter aircraft, Quota Count (QC) in terms of UK ops, particularly late classifications determine whether night movements. “FAB is restrictyou’ll able to obtain night slots at ed to Stage 4 movements but most many London-area airports. If un
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Non-EU registered aircraft must obtain charter permits to operate to and from the UK. While setting up charters with foreign-registered aircraft is easier today than it was just a few years ago, recommended permit lead time is 2–3 days. Keep in mind that permit approval depends on type of aircraft, seating capacity and country of registry. Note that UK CAA (the charter permit issuing authority) only operates Monday through Friday from 0900 to 1700 local and you may only operate to the airport location approved on your permit. “If your permit is for TEBLTN and you want to change to FAB, this must always be re-approved prior to departure,” cautions Hayward. “If not, it’s deemed an illegal charter and is subject to prosecution by UK CAA. Over the past year, a number of operators have been banned for doing this.”
The London area is a high-cost region for business aviation. This is not a part of the world to try to operate on a tight budget, say ISPs. Still, it’s important to consider the big picture in terms of operating costs. “Parking costs can be particularly high at LTN and LCY while BQH often has the lowest overnight parking charges,” notes Hayward. “However, while parking at BQH can be particularly reasonable, landing fees are typically 4 times what they are at STN. Do cost calculations based on your type and size of aircraft, fuel uplift requirements, how long you’ll be staying, and other factors particular to your operation. You may think you’re getting a great deal on parking but could, potentially, be paying $1/gal more for fuel uplift as choice in fuel providers is limited at certain locations.”
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Reproduced with permission of Jeppesen Sanderson. Reduced for illustrative purposes.
St Paul’s Cathedral sits on Ludgate Hill at the highest point of the city. It is one of the most famous and most recognizable sights in London.
post flight on an ad-hoc basis,” says Humphrey. “In this case you’ll need to register for an account and report on a monthly basis.”
Luton is the most popular airport in the London area for many regular bizav operators. Beware, however, that overnight parking here runs out from time to time.
Hotels and RONs
Air Passenger Duty collection
London has good availability of 4 Air Passenger Duty (APD) is an and 5 star crew accommodations in excise duty charged based on pas the city and, to a lesser extent, closer sengers flying from a UK airport on to the airports. To avoid high prices aircraft with MTOW over 5.7 tons and occasional availability issues in or more than 20 passenger seats. It’s central London, some flightcrews not payable by inbound internationto stay somewhere between choose al passengers staying in the UK less the airport and the central city area. than 24 hours if continuing on to anMany good options can be had, from other international destination. converted castles and manor houses ISPs say it can be tricky for flight to elaborate golf resorts. departments to administer ADP re There’s plenty of cultural activity quirements on their own. Howev and sites for crews on RON to coner, GA operators may settle ADP sider. Crews landing at BQH, for excharges online or have their support ample, may want to consider going provider do this for them. If you’re a up for a ride in a 2-place Spitfire. Beprivate operator only visiting the UK ing an airport of the Battle of Britain on occasion, you’ll qualify as a “low era, BQH has 14 Spitfires on locauser” and be able to pay charges tion, assorted historic aircraft memonline within 7 days of a qualifying orabilia in the hangars, and it’s just a flight. Regular operators, on the othshort side trip to Winston Churchill’s er hand, need to become registered former home. Meanwhile, over at ADP participants with a UK-based FAB, crews on RON can enjoy the entity managing this for you. pleasures of the English countryside “If you operate more than 12 GA as well as assorted castle and historflights per year to the UK, you’ll no ic estate tours. longer have the option to pay ADP
Summary While the London area has many airport options, high quality FBOs, good handling and a welcoming attitude toward business aviation, there are challenges to consider in choosing the best location for your stops. “Operators need to think about various restrictions, access limitations, slot requirements and parking issues, as well as costs, in coming up with the best London area airport option for their particular trip,” stresses LeDuc. “That said, this area is usually an easy and straight-forward operating environment that meets the needs of our clients.” ISPs, as well as FBOs across the London area, predict steady GA growth to the region irrespective of how the Brexit question plays out. While no new airports are on the drawing boards, investments are being made in GA infrastructure, facilities and support capabilities to ensure continued ease of access and parking for business aviation.
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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FLIGHT OPS AND SAFETY
Managing flightdeck startle and surprise Unanticipated events in aviation vary in type and frequency but most occur with inconsequential effect. Successful event handling depends on flexible defenses which are learned and practiced.
The goal of training and CRM is to improve decision making and implementation. Training in non-technical skills is required to recognize and manage situations that can occur in a sudden event.
By Don Van Dyke
ATP/Helo/CFII, F28, Bell 222. Pro Pilot Canadian Technical Editor
nexpected aviation occurrences and associated pilot reactions, often ranging to uncertainty and fear, are major contributors to loss of control (LOC) in flight. Such strong emotions can prevent pilots from using the complex reasoning, decision-making and event management strategies (often involving acronyms or mnemonics) traditionally taught, learned and put into effect. Automation and envelope protection systems in aircraft provide substantial and proven safety benefits. However, evidence indicates that, when faced with unexpected and challenging situations, pilots may have difficulty rapidly transitioning from being monitors of very reliable systems to being active, authoritative decision makers manually controlling the aircraft.
Startle and surprise compared Technical or automation malfunctions, unusual environmental changes, and other in-flight events similarly unanticipated are accompanied by startle, surprise or both. At a minimum, their effects can be distracting, disrupting normal operations and eroding safety margins. More critically, they can lead to flawed or hasty decision-making. Practiced procedures and skills may impulsively be replaced by the first solution that comes to mind. The result is destabilization of the aircraft, a consequence associated with all categories of pilot license, ratings and experience levels. While often used interchangeably, the terms startle and surprise describe very different responses to unanticipated conditions, the former being principally physiological and the latter largely emotional. Understanding their conceptual, behavioral and physiological characteristics can help pilots to overcome their adverse consequences.
Startle has 2 components: a reflex and a response. Startle reflex is a brief (1–3 sec) involuntary defense to a sudden, intense, or threatening stimulus such as the sound of a compressor stall, the flash of a lightning strike or illumination by a laser. A startle reflex elicits an acute increase in stress and may be accompanied by combinations of eye blinks, contraction of facial and neck muscles, head ducks, arrested body movement (freezing), increased blood pressure/respiration rate, and brief disorientation as well as fear or anger. Startle response involves behavioral and physiological reactions which can result in task interruption and substantial cognitive impairments (ie, deficiencies in information processing) that can last significantly longer than the startle reflex (up to 15 sec to 1 min). Pilots are more susceptible to startle when functioning at high arousal (stressed, anxious, threatened, or intensely concentrating) or very low arousal (tired, resting, drowsy or about to fall asleep) levels. Surprise is an emotional, intellectual response to unexpected events that are momentarily difficult to explain (cognitive mismatch). It forces a person to increase sense-making efforts in pursuit of understanding of one’s situation. Surprise relates specifically to an inability to comprehend a mismatch between expectations and new information. Example mismatches include automation or subtle technical failures that are baffling such as absence of an expected event, automation mode confusion, multiple system alerts or failure indications, miscommunications, etc. Surprise may be accompanied by increased arousal, heart rate and blood pressure, as well as forgotten operating standards, freezing, and/ or loss of situational awareness.
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Sources of aviation surprise
Percent of occurrences
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Encounters with other aircraft are the most common source of aviation surprise.
Consequential effects Startle and surprise may cause acute stress. The function of stress is to facilitate the recruitment of additional resources to respond effectively to demanding circumstances, but stress also impairs control of emotions as well as cognitive and motor performance. A 2014 study of pilot reports of incidents and accidents from the NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) determined that 37% were relatable with the definition of startle. However, the study concluded that startle effects on flight safety may be limited to distraction, interruption and/or surprise, and that negative flightdeck performance following startle is most likely due to concurrent distraction or surprise. It follows that startle may be less problematic to flightdeck performance than surprise. Pilots have significantly more difficulties adhering to recovery procedures in the surprise condition than in the anticipation condition. Re-framing is the process by which a person fills the gap between what is expected and what has been observed, that is, to try and make sense of what is going on following a surprise. It is an active and adaptive process guided by expectations, which are based on knowledge and experience. Re-framing is relatively resource-intensive (effortful), potentially requiring reasoning and knowledge-based
behavior – meaning that it is vulnerable to negative aspects of stress. Difficulties with reframing might express themselves as confusion, loss of grip on the situation, or the adoption of a new, inappropriate frame.
Enablers of startle and surprise Startle and surprise are likely (to some extent) in all situations involving miscommunications, system malfunctions, environmental threats, loss of situational awareness, or aerodynamic anomalies. The following factors may lead to unexpectedness in less obvious ways: Aircraft reliability. The admired reliability of aircraft and the aviation system has unwittingly conditioned an expectation of normalcy among today’s pilots. The expectation of critical events is so remote that the surprise or startle experienced by pilots during such events is more acute than perhaps decades ago when things routinely went wrong. Automation. Situations beyond the capabilities of automation are typically unforeseen, complex, and demand human intervention with quick judgement and decision-making. The increasing complexity of automated systems, including different flight modes, may mask flying processes from the crew. Active monitoring of high-reliability automation may decrease due to complacency. This is one of the major causes of flightdeck surprises. Atrophy of manual flying skills
due to overreliance on automation. A Cranfield University study of approximately 14,000 short-haul flights averaging 72 minutes revealed that the total time involving manual flying was less than 440 seconds (7 minutes 20 seconds) for 95% of the flight. Atrophy of manual flying skills is identified as partially to blame for accidents, largely due to the inability of flight crew to assess and understand an unexpected situation and respond appropriately, particularly when transitioning from automated to manual flight. Fatigue. Fatigue degrades logical reasoning, performance accuracy, attentiveness, and encourages a focus on self-preservation. False protection. Traffic Collision Avoidance Systems (TCAS) have proved to be effective in reducing collision potential between aircraft, but the system has also caused confusion in the cockpit, according to a recent ASRS Callback newsletter which reported that several false TCAS indications and invalid resolution advisories (RAs) have resulted in reduced separation and safety between aircraft. Callback noted that RA climbs have been reported that either should have been issued as RA descents or should not have been issued at all, dangerous aircraft flight paths have resulted from ghost target intruders. Near-collision incidents without any TCAS warnings have been reported as well. It suggests that safety, judgment and common sense may temper procedural obedience when evaluating and responding to TCAS advisories.
Significant safety events Startle or surprise (or both) were identified factors in several high-profile safety events. One which ended successfully involved a United Airlines 787 which lost 3 of 5 heads down display (HDD) units following a lightning strike. Contributing to the loss of displays for the remainder of the flight was the lack of guidance to the crew to perform a controlled power reset to the display.
Training and Crew Resource Management (CRM) Aviation requires rapid decision-making in high-workload environments subject to rapidly changing conditions. This involves decisions based on pattern-matching, an ac-
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tion derived from relevant cues, expectations and goals. These cues, expectations and goals normally will be a result of insights and expertise gained through specific training or routines, professional study, deliberate practice, or overall experience. In very rare cases, pilots will seek a pattern match that is close enough because the situation is unfamiliar to them, requiring some improvisation. For this reason, flight crews should brief in a manner that will serve to prime them with potential pattern matches. Once these pattern matches and the cues that should elicit them have been mentally primed, it is more likely that when an abnormal situation arises, the crew will be able to recall quickly and accurately these responses based on pattern matches. For instance, training for judgment skills can improve a pilot’s ability to recognize and adapt to unexpected events. Other methods include training and testing practices to avoid predictability/anticipation of events and memorized solutions, as well as utilizing low-cost strategies such as inflight discussions of what if scenarios, and mental simulations to improve awareness and decision-making.
Mitigating fight-or-flight effects Research shows that activation of the fight-or-flight reaction may have adverse effects on information processing for up to 30 seconds. The most realistic counter-measure is not to attempt to reduce or fight the effect. This points towards the need for the simplest assessment or solution possible to remain safe.
Photo courtesy by NTSB
Pilots may have more difficulty in managing an unexpected upset situation (aerodynamic stall, unusual attitude, extreme airspeed, etc), underlining that upset prevention and recovery training should include elements of surprise. United Airlines Boeing 787-800 flightdeck heads down display unit arrangement. Those outlined in red blanked following a lightning strike during a 2014 incident.
In a fight-or-flight state the brain likes to respond (or at least close the assessment process) as quickly as possible and does not like to engage in difficult processing or thinking about what action might be best. Well-learned, easy, rule-based tasks will be attractive and preferred in such situations. When training to avoid or at least reduce the effects of fear potentiated startle, the key must be in changing a pilot’s appraisal of what constitutes threat. For example, where a pilot has negative emotional memory for stall situations, then their performance is likely to be worse than someone with positive emotional memory. To improve the performance of the fearful pilot then, some interventions which allowed them to develop a sense of mastery for stall recoveries would be most likely to provide improvement. This can be achieved in a number of ways. For example, in a training environment the language used and the constructive manner in which training is conducted can assist greatly. By creating a perception of a challenging but fun exercise with repetitions to competence, verbally reinforced and praised, stall warning events downstream can possibly be appraised more positively. Another method for gaining confidence in unexpected critical events, is through personal reflection. Virtual experience allows pilots the opportunity to develop a set of mental schemas for managing certain events.
Having a stored plan of action for generic critical events means that, should such similar situations occur, it is far simpler to activate this schema into working memory than it is to try and generate a plan from scratch. The question “What would you do if…?” as a means of developing critical event strategies is commonly used technique in military operations. However, it seems to be rarely used outside designated civilian training operations. Developing a culture where this process is normalized would aid in the development and maintenance of schemas for managing unexpected events. Suggested training to resolve the fight-or-flight element of surprise and startle are: • Avoid taking any action unless obvious (the urge will be to act). • Act simply. Do only the simplest safe actions. • If stuck unsuccessfully trying to assess one thing, acknowledge it and actively switch attention to something else. • Consider transfer or exchange of control or of tasks (to break the vicious circle). • If someone else appears stuck, assess their task and then consider offering to take it from them in a confident manner (albeit perhaps for a short time). • If the feeling arises (and it is recognisable), vocalising the fact can help alert the other pilot so that they can help.
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THE EVALUATE RESPONSE
IDENTIFY AND DEFINE PROBLEM COLLECT FACTS
SELECT A RESPONSE
WEIGH IMPACT OF ALTERNATIVES
DECIDE MODEL FOR AERONAUTICAL DECISION-MAKING
Detect that something has changed, gather related information
Estimate the severity of the situation and the need to react, formulate possible solutions
Choose a desirable outcome based on understanding the situation and consideration of alternatives
Identify actions necessary to achieve the outcome chosen
Do the actions identified to achieve the desired outcome
Evaluate the effects of the actions taken, revise plans as necessary
While industry has advanced checklists such as the DECIDE model for aeronautical decision-making, on the whole these have not been effectively taught nor are particularly useful on the flightdeck, typically being too vague and convoluted to apply to all circumstances. As long as humans experience strong emotions such as uncertainty and fear, they are incapable of performing a complex cognitive process.
Conclusion FAA Advisory Circular 120-109A, Stall Prevention and Recovery Training, recommends implementing startling and surprising situations during pilot training for upset recovery. Ground training focused on enhancing a pilot’s strategy for coping with the unforeseen is essential to effective management of stressful in-flight events. Differences between surprise and startle raise questions regarding ground-based training to prepare flight crews for unexpected events in flight. Would a sudden, loud noise in the simulator be sufficient to mimic difficulties associated with in-flight emergencies? Should training scenarios primarily involve unexpectedness? Outcomes substantiate recommendations of using an element of surprise in the training of upset recovery and indicate the importance of focusing such training on reframing and sense-making abilities so that recovery skills can be made resilient against the effects of surprise. In this respect, the ICAO recommendation of using variations in the types of scenario, times of occurrences and types of occurrence, as an alternative to predictable training scenarios, seems sensible. Flight training should integrate mental skills and emotion management, with the requisite stick-andrudder skills necessary to successfully perceive, process and respond to any unexpected situation. Important points to recognize in training and developing strategies for startle and surprise events include the following: Expect surprise. Knowing to expect
surprise and to continually learn new things is more effective than attempting to memorize mechanical manipulation of the knobs. Emotion control. Training intended to mitigate 2 basic human reactions to surprise: flight/fight behavior and cognitive paralysis (freeze). The training goal is to teach pilots to apply a technique that lets them manage their emotions in all unexpected situations where no immediate action is required. A technique recently developed and tested by the Netherlands Aerospace Center and KLM encourages pilots to relax to put themselves at a mental or physical distance from the event, observe and declare related information while calling for verification, and confirm future actions through Threat and Error Management (TEM). Pilot monitoring. Pilot monitoring involves the comparison of environmental cues to a master mental schema which is continuously updated for local variations on the day. A framework of SOPs form expectations which are reinforced through repetition. This continuously updated expected model of what should happen (staying ahead of the airplane) is compared by both pilots to actual conditions, and disparities are either noticed and addressed, noticed and ignored, or not noticed. Situational awareness. Involves a complex and extensive set of individual social and cognitive skills, including communicating effectively, planning, learning and knowledge retrieval, vigilance, workload assignment and management, reviewing and modifying and inquiry. Further attention to situational awareness skill
sets, and to specific monitoring skills, would increase the likelihood that trends such as decreasing airspeed would be detected and rectified prior to becoming a startling event. Knowledge. Pilots armed with a greater understanding of the adverse effects of startle and surprise are more likely motivated to have plans to cope with startling events and also an expectation for impaired performance during startle. This expectation should reduce the likelihood for impulsive behaviours following startle. Experience. Longevity is logically accompanied by exposure to a variety of occurrences, the experience gained will result in there being fewer unexpected situations. Clearly, the effects of unanticipated challenges can adversely affect pilot performance in many ways. By deliberately seeking all available information and targeted training, potential startles and surprises may be discovered and remedied before they become debilitating unexpected events. 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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ZERO AOG WITH BIG DATA
The move to share real time data into pools for shared analytics is on its way to workhorse business aircraft Today’s innovations are about to set a grander tone for the direction of the aviation industry with multiple system databases, new functions, and crew and maintenance department alerting while you fly.
Aircraft health monitoring center
Discovering costly problems early
Shared data and cloud-based analytics are convenient for business aviation flight departments. A bizjet transmitting system usage information in real time can be serviced immediately upon landing if a failure is detected while enroute to the destination, saving the operator time.
By Glenn Connor ATP. Cessna 425 President, Discover Technology Intl
armin stunned the world with the introduction of its Synthetic Vision System (SVS) onto the Garmin 1000 flight displays in 2008. The big news was that Garmin’s SVS was accomplished by just adding new software to the already installed flight displays, rather than doing a complete cockpit replacement. The conversion trick was planned well in advance, and was the beginning of a new era in avionics for the average pilot. This trend now has a path into every activity, from single aircraft owners to large fleet operators, and will soon lead to subscription-based software and aircraft connectivity in real time to almost every aeronautical data source on the planet. This new
mercial aircraft fleets today, and it brings savings in maintenance and operational costs – meaning savings in time and fuel. Now expand the idea by adding aircraft systems continuous real time connectivity. This shares data from thousands of inflight aircraft with machines conducting analysis to spot potential problems. Timely information to you and the condition you may have blundered into translates to a fix or preemptive change that keeps you running. For the single aircraft operator or flight department, the service you get is information digested for a more efficient and timely game plan.
technology is commonly referred to as Big Data, and is basically the use of software and data generated from thousands of aircraft into a pool of information to identify potential high cost failures in aircraft engines, components and navigation systems. When trends are adopted in the entire industry, the scale of the savings in both money and time is on a grand scale. Consider the automotive industry, where it is now routine to hear of recall notices to fix or replace critical parts to avoid failures or accidents. The insight for this, and the reason you hear more and more recalls in the news is because of Big Data, which is the concentration of massive amounts of vehicle service life information that then translates to cost and safety. The use of this technology in aviation is now being seen in large com-
Big Data move has a holistic or large-scale approach in aviation to discover costly problems early on, and really got its start from the commercial transport world and workhorse helicopters, communities which place a premium on planning and the ability of providing actionable info to the operator. The creation of this technology has also resulted in a new field in aviation, turning the outsourced service and expense of a flight department into value for operators who are willing to pay. And now there is a competition by the OEMs seeking to provide even more service with each new technology innovation as part of the package when selling a new aircraft.
The start of database collection Reflecting on the Garmin G1000 and SVS program, all of the other competing OEMs saw the aircraft as a collection of databases, from the Flight Monitoring System (FMS), the Primary Flight Display (PFD), the ra-
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dios, the engine monitoring systems, the inflight entertainment systems, etc. These components can be periodically upgraded by means of software and data updates when the aircraft is in the hangar or parked on the ramp. Updating software means that aircraft owners do not have to pay for expensive new flightdeck avionics to get the new SVS capability. Considering that modern aircraft come equipped with components that operate with continuous monitoring capability, there is the new and imbedded potential for engines and avionics to produce real time data that is streamed from the aircraft into data centers that monitor and report on the information collected – just like a home security service. The innovations we are seeing today are about to set a grander tone for the direction of the aviation industry by enabling multiple system databases, new functions, and crew and maintenance department alerting while their aircraft are flying.
Shared analytics: What does it do for me? The idea of creating and sharing large information data pools to see trends in component failure has been around for a very long time. The obstacle has been the practicality of connecting the engine or box to instruments that could measure critical information and then transmit the information out of the airplane for analysis. The collection of any data from the aircraft has to start with a measurement of something. So, if you were
brought up writing down engine Exhaust Gas Temperature (EGT) or Turbine Inlet Temperature (TIT) on a paper log, then you have a conceptual starting point – and you may also have some familiarity with dinosaurs. Later (when the earth cooled and humans began to walk about), engine manufacturers began to use small measurement devices that read data to a small processor, and many had up to a few hundred measurements. Now engine designers incorporate thousands of sensors per engine reading critical engine parameters. Airbus, for example, has over 6000 sensors on the A350 and the aircraft generates about 2.5 Terabytes of data per day, according to DataScienceCentral.com reports. The challenge is to share the information with other users and service providers that can make something of this digital ocean of information.
Airbus created Skywise Airbus has created what they call Skywise, essentially a mega scale database with information that can be shared by all the Airbus users. Skywise is a cloud-based data operation designed to provide the airline industry real time information on entire fleets of aircraft. The catch phrase by Airbus is “the beating heart of aviation,” and Airbus claims that they have created a digital ecosystem that provides secure continuous information to enable users to connect, watch and share. When you get through the marketing of the new digital services of Airbus’ Skywise, what you see is the service objectives is for the aircraft,
engines and systems. The offer is through predictive and preventative maintenance, and you the operator will have the ability for rapid rootcause analyses, maintenance tracking and improved operational reliability. In practice, the maintenance schedules could be changed based on diagnostics and health monitoring rather than just a factor schedule. So, from this one point alone, consider the potential costs savings for a Part 91 flight department or Part 135 operator with a narrow margin. In a web-based promotional video, Airbus presents the arguments of what if the right questions were asked using all of the data available not just from your aircraft but from all same or similar aircraft, allowing the operator to make day to day decisions in real time? And what if costs were indexed on the performance gained from the improvements you were able to make based on the large data source and statistics on maintenance and usage? Airbus is so big on Big Data that they are predicting that it’s possible to have zero AOG or aircraft grounded due to a failure within the next 10 years. It is reported that Airbus and its new “beating heart of aviation” has several early airline adopters, including Delta, JetBlue, AirAsia, and Emirates. GE has developed another example of application software that compares pilots’ fuels management statistics with a fleet of aircraft. Pratt & Whitney also started serious looks at data collection years ago, and now generates over 100 Petabytes for analysis of its customers. This quantity of data is just based on engines; consider all of
Images courtesy Airbus
Airbus Skywise captures and analyzes aircraft system data to provide the actionable details for maintenance.
78 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / October 2018
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of the information from each component, comparing and sharing – in real time – analysis of an engine or system based on a large data pool available through aircraft networks via 5G connectivity is seen as the next evolution.
End-to-end data flow
Act Whole aircraft monitoring
Case study - GE aviation
Illustrations courtesy GE
Asset productivity, minimize disruptions, improved forecasting
3 Isolate root causes 3 Identify sub-optimal performance parts 3 Minimize disruptions GE Aviation and others have begun to implement aircraft engine monitoring systems that capture, track and analyze large amounts of data to identify problem areas before they occur.
the other components and the growth of aircraft in terms of bizav, helos, commercial transports and, yes, Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs) as well. The goal of the expanded data analytics is to improve fleet operational reliability through predictive and preventative maintenance, and to enable the operators to report with a single click on the computer.
The 5G effect The considerable barrier to economic sharing of maintenance data is how to get it off the aircraft directly into the database. With large amounts of new information being transmitted from aircraft on a continuous basis, the requirements to broaden the data transmission channels in the future could be the limiting factor. But this is where the cell phone business, now a global network, has gone from its early stages of just voice communications to essentially connecting and powering hand-held computers. Today our
smartphones work with mostly what we know as 3G and 4G Long-Term Evolution (LTE) networks, which provide connectivity through cell towers. The data rates and improvement between 3G and 4G LTE networks is noticeable, but still incremental. And the new 5G networks are designed for allowing transit of 1000 times more data. Just to compare, 3G smartphones can receive data and video calls at 2 Mbps while 4G runs at Gigabit speed. But the new 5G has ambitions of data transfer rates as high as 20 Gigabit – far greater than the 1 Gigabit speeds we have today. The new cell phone networks will provide ultra HD and 3-D video, as well as internet access. More importantly the 5G networks will most likely become the backbone of anything related to transportation, from autonomous cars and robots to running a city-networked machinery. Of course, the ability for data collection and dissemination fits into aviation. Connecting worldwide all
The software screw driver What makes Big Data work is the sensors that now come with engines, APUs and other systems on the aircraft. It has been shown that a typical aircraft is flying with over 24 databases, and those databases are loaded onto hardware that is interacting with the aircraft and other databases, collecting and sharing information. Now expand the universe of each of these systems to other aircraft around the world, and you have a massive treasure trove of information that can be used to predict what will most likely happen to a similar system on your aircraft. Back in an earlier day, I read stories of how B-36 bomber crews would work on the engines in flight! To me, visualizing a guy with a wrench inside a wing spar and moving parts was just crazy talk, but in reality, the crews did this to keep the aircraft flying for their missions. Today, the idea of canceling a flight or landing early to fix a problem is unthinkable in business, but in fact it happens every day. However, now there is a way to discover and fix problems – and the magic of software and real time data analysis is at the root of this new form of aviation science. What is also new is the skill sets to provide the service, and the option to the workhorse aircraft operator to buy a service rather than cover the overhead of more people within the flight department. It’s a new standard in the progress of aviation, a step similar to leaving reciprocating engines for the hot air kind. Big Data is not hot air, but just as efficient in time and fuel savings. 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.
80 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / October 2018
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Demand for WiFi continues to increase
Photo courtesy Gogo
Entertainment and social use of WiFi by pax is outpacing business tasks during flight ops.
By Shannon Forrest
President, Turbine Mentor ATP/CFII. Challenger 604/605, Gulfstream IV, MU2B
he AWE (A Wealth of Entertainment) network is a national cable channel based in San Diego CA. The company touts its programming as “having a special appeal to the highest income households.” Given show titles like Private Islands, Selling Yachts, and Travel in Style, that’s an accurate assessment of the targeted demographic. Traveling on a corporate or private jet is featured prominently in many of the shows, but one is focused entirely on acquiring a preowned aircraft. That show, entitled Selling Jets, follows the day-to-day operations of a handful of aircraft brokers as they engage buyers in face-to-face negotiations. It would be naive to believe that any reality show depicts an authentic and unscripted version of reality, and this one is no different. Nonetheless, a prominent question that always seems to come up during the theatrically tense back and forth between buyer and seller is wheth-
Gogo offers inflight internet solutions designed to meet business aviation’s ever increasing need for speed. Gogo customers can stream videos and audio, send emails and surf the web faster.
er the aircraft comes equipped with WiFi. Whether the potential buyer thought to ask it himself or was primed by the producers is irrelevant. Someone, perhaps the subject matter consultant for the show, thought the presence of WiFi – or lack thereof – was enough of a talking point to close or reject the deal, especially when it came to first time buyers with little or no knowledge of private jets. To the uninitiated, the overwhelming belief is that WiFi is a given. If a buyer’s travel history is made up of flights in the first-class section of an air carrier or on a chartered Challenger 605, this is understandable. Informing a potential owner that the Cessna Mustang or CJ he is interested in buying is not equipped with internet capability reminiscent of his home or office evokes a series of questions that can only be answered by engaging in a technical discussion about fuselage-based satellite antennas, bandwidth restrictions and latency dynamics. Since that sort of thing doesn’t
make for good television, the only option seems to be paying for the installation (tens of thousands of dollars) or upgrading to the larger aircraft with the satellite-based WiFi system, lavatory and flight attendant.
Ubiquitous constant connectivity Knowledgeable pilots that may have watched Selling Jets might chime in with the thought that, if the primary mission of an aircraft owner is short domestic flights a couple of times a month, it’s foolhardy to buy a Gulfstream IV just to be able to livestream Netflix. That statement, however, would run contrary to the ostentatious nature of the show. If nothing else, the on-screen drama reminds aviation decision-makers how ubiquitous constant connectivity has become and how important it is to the consumer when making a purchase decision. Another point is that with the air to ground network and satellite options available, it’s best to do a needs-versuscost assessment to get the best deal.
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SmartSky’s proprietary air to ground beamforming technology can deliver enough bandwidth to comfortably power multiple data hungry devices simultaneously.
The term bandwidth can mean different things. When calculating the cost of providing voice, text and internet capability to an aircraft, bandwidth is a measure of how much data is being used collectively by all enabled devices. Surveys show that nearly all passengers prefer personal devices for connectivity in lieu of those hardwired to the aircraft, so the term “enabled” has come to mean WiFi-capable. Every WiFi transaction consumes bandwidth. The exact amount is a function of what’s being transmitted and received. So bandwidth, consequently, equates to cost. All things being equal, a service provider that offers an unlimited amount of data might seem like the best bargain. To know for sure how much bandwidth your operation needs, an analysis of passenger demographics and WiFi behavior is in order. A recent study by Norton (the company that specializes in antivirus protection) asked participants to specify why staying connected to WiFi was important. Using social media (Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat) was specified as the number one reason for 44% of Gen Z (aged 18-20), 36% of Gen Y (21-37), 28% of Gen X (3852) and 20% of Baby Boomers. Gogo, a long-time provider of air to ground connectivity solutions for private and commercial aircraft, sampled data from charter flights that utilized its business aviation services on March 1, 2018, and noted the type of online activity users engaged in. General browsing or “surfing” turned out to be the most common event followed closely thereafter by social media. Based on the data set collected, it appears that not a lot of
business was getting done on business aircraft on that day.
Social use of WiFi aloft Executives are using e-mails and conducting business-related transactions while airborne. However, there’s a growing trend that shows entertainment and social use of the WiFi stream is outpacing business tasks when it comes to bandwidth. E-mails and file transfers use very little data when compared to live streaming video. A standard definition video on Netflix uses about 1GB per hour (up to 3GB per hour if in high definition). A 1-month tally of YouTube use in the New York City metro area showed an average data rate of 1.5 GB per hour per user. Consumption at the GB threshold is insignificant when connected to a home or office WiFi network, but can become quite expensive in the air – especially if data consumption reaches the threshold to incur overage charges. In 2017, SmartSky Networks, an entrant in the airborne 4G LTE marketspace, showed how quickly data use can add up by conducting a demonstration flight in a Citation. There were 5 aviation journalists (1 from Pro Pilot) onboard the aircraft. The trip departed MLB (Melbourne FL) and lasted just under an hour. During the portion of the flight above 10,000 ft, the participants were encouraged to engage in typical WiFi behavior. The data analysis revealed that during the 20.3 minutes of connectivity (representing 1/3rd of the total flight time), 9 devices consumed 881 MB of data. Extrapolating the usage metric (assuming consistent and continuous use) would equal approximately 2.2 GB per hour. The biggest data-hun-
gry applications involved video chat and movie streaming from the ground. The sample size of the passengers is representative of a typical domestic business flight: a couple of passengers each with more than 1 device, simultaneously connected to the network. Through use of operational statistics, flight departments can tailor WiFi services to meet their needs. Again, video is going to require vastly more bandwidth than text messaging and emails.
Photo courtesy SmartSky
Calculate bandwidth needs
Options for smaller aircraft When it comes to airborne WiFi, Ku and Ka band delivery methods are at the forefront of the discussion. What’s sometimes lost in the process is attention to the operator who doesn’t have enough real estate on the fuselage for a large profile Ku or Ka band satellite antenna – or the budget to install, maintain, and operate the associated equipment. The perceived or actual need for connectivity is the same whether the CEO is traveling across the North Atlantic in a Falcon 7X or flying 5 short legs in a Piper Navajo from non-towered airports in rural Iowa. The only variability here is the type of connectivity required. Sometimes just the ability to send and receive text messaging while airborne is enough to meet the needs of a flight department or charter operator. Send Solutions, located in Alpharetta GA, offers a product line under the brand name Airtext PROFESSIONAL PILOT / October 2018 83
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Photo courtesy Honeywell
Honeywell offers 2 antenna sizes to deliver Ka band content.
which fulfills this need at an affordable price. The equipment uses the Iridium satellite network to send and receive messages and has an upgraded option that permits voice calling with a prepaid Iridium sim card. Passengers use their own phones to send and receive the texts. The Airtext+ hardware (the most expensive one out of 3 choices) can be purchased for $14,950 (installation not included). On the other end of the spectrum is a portable version of the device (Airtext LT) that uses a 12 volt cigarette lighter adapter as a power source. The cost is $4950 and, since it can be carried onboard at will, there’s no installation cost. To operate the Airtext LT a user simply plugs it into the Iridium antenna and powers it up. Those operators who need a slightly more robust connectivity experience that offers talk, text and basic internet browsing should consider the BendixKing Aerowave 100 by Honeywell. It uses a low gain antenna that weighs in at 1.5 lbs and houses an integrated GPS so that it doesn’t have to be tied to another onboard position source (which simplifies installation). Service is based off the Inmarsat constellation. Excluding installation, the equipment can be purchased for under $30,000, and an umbrella usage plan offers a flat hourly rate for online activities. The optional Aerowave router sets up a wireless access point for up to 12 devices.
SmartSky 4G LTE One of the more impressive options for smaller aircraft is offered by SmartSky Networks. The company uses proprietary beamforming technology under the air to ground paradigm to deliver high speed 4G LTE connectivity.
Analysis of airborne data use shows that although some passengers are conducting business, many are using personal devices on the network for texting, entertainment and social media.
In the past, SmartSky has traditionally focused on the medium to heavy jet market that would be representative of Ku and Ka band consumers. But the company has recently introduced SmartSky LITE, which it describes as, “an office in the sky for passengers while boosting safety and flight efficiencies.” In addition to talk and text on one’s own device, the service purports to deliver “blazing-fast internet,” real-time video streaming, and large file transmission. SmartSky is currently offering a special promotional deal for aircraft with a MGTOW under 19,000 lbs. Unlimited data (with a few restrictions like a 10-hour monthly minimum) can be had right now for $75 per hour.
Honeywell and ViaSat Ka band satellite service If high speed global broadband is a requirement, Honeywell and ViaSat are strong contenders in the Ka realm. Honeywell’s Ka-band JetWave hardware operates via the Global Xpress constellation (Inmarsat) and advertises speeds in the 50 Mbps range. ViaSat launched the ViaSat-2 satellite in June of 2017 and at that time the company announced users could expect a minimum capacity of 300 Gbps (gigabytes per second) throughput. For comparison, ViaSat’s previous satellite capacity stood at 2 Gbps (Anik F2), 7 Gbps (WildBlue-1), and 140 Gbps (ViaSat-1). Unfortunately, in early 2018 engi-
neers noticed a deployment anomaly with 2 of the 4 Ka band antennas. An insurance claim is pending. Since replacing the satellite is not a viable proposition, it was reprogrammed to minimize the impact on high traffic areas (mostly aviation) but the result was a decrease in data transmission rate from 300 Gbps to 260 Gbps. But even with the downgrade in capacity, the ViaSat-2 satellite provides an enormous amount of broadband functionality to support global operations. Both Honeywell and ViaSat products can support long-term continuous streaming and video conferencing while simultaneously permitting low bandwidth tasks like talk, text and email. As the number of entities vying for connectivity continues to increase – from commercial airliners to cruise ships – bandwidth is becoming a guarded commodity. There’s no argument that connectivity is now a must have. Finding the difference between the need to have and the nice to have can bring happiness to the 2 most important people in corporate aviation: the passenger and the accountant. 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.
84 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / October 2018
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Runway incursions Navigating the confusing data on these incidents. time, something is amiss and should be investigated before they turn into a more severe category event. The point is that, focusing on the categories, A and B RIs seems like a reasonable priority. However, other categories should not be ignored.
Truth in numbers
One of the worst disasters in aviation, the infamous Tenerife accident, was a runway incursion. Anytime you are on or approaching a runway, extreme diligence is required. And always be ready for a go around, as shown here.
By David Ison, PhD
Professor, Graduate School Northcentral University
eading aviation news headlines or FAA documentation, one might think that the runway incursion (RI) beast may have finally been slayed. For example, this time last year the Flight Safety Foundation noted that “the number of serious RIs at US airports has declined dramatically over the past nearly 20 years.” In its 2017 Performance and Accountability report, the FAA states that it “has made significant progress in improving runway safety at US airports over the past 15 years.” Complete with green checkmarks to denote that the rate of incursions was below their target number, and charts that show a dramatic drop from 2016 to 2017, on the surface, everything appears to be admirable. Yet there is more to the story, and simple statements such as in the aforementioned releases do not paint the entire picture. So the question remains: Are runway incursions really decreasing?
Runway incursion categorization First, it is necessary to describe how the FAA classifies RIs. The term “serious runway incursion” refers to category A and B occurrences. A category A is “a serious incident in which a collision was narrowly avoided” while a category B is “an incident in which separation decreases and there is a significant potential for collision, which may result in a time-critical corrective/evasive response to avoid a collision.” The remaining 2 categories, C and D, are respectively characterized by “an incident [with] ample time/distance to avoid a collision” or an event that “has no immediate safety consequences.” The FAA tracks RIs diligently with all statistics readily searchable within their Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing (ASIAS) portal. While indeed the worst categories are clearly A and B, C also seems to be rather dangerous. Moreover, certain things can be gleaned from category D incursions such as if they continue to occur in the same location or
Looking solely at counts of RIs, in the year 2000 there were 67 serious RIs. In 2017 there were 8 – a pretty impressive decrease. However, 2017 seems to be an exemption, if not an anomaly. In 2013 there were 11 serious RIs, and in 2016 there were 19. Further, in the years prior to 2017 there have been year-to-year increases in the numbers of serious RIs. To really grasp the status of RIs in the US, one has to dig around within the data. Taking a look at the total number of incursions, there is more confusion. In 2016 there were 1560 RIs, of which pilots caused 943. Yet in 2017 those totals were higher, with 1746 RIs. And pilots were guilty of 1142 of them. Looking further back to 2013 data, there were 1242 total and 783 pilot-caused RIs. Thus, there has been a 40% increase in total RIs and a 46% increase in pilot induced RIs. These comparisons tend to put a little rain on the parade.
Number of RIs can be misleading As you can probably already tell, the use of counts or numbers of RIs as a measure of change can be misleading. While it is, without a doubt, a good thing when category A and B RIs go down, it does not tell us anything about if this was a result of reduced traffic or other variables. Reported data also lack critical pieces of information that may have influenced RIs such as where they occurred, weather conditions, and type of operator. It would be of interest to see reductions at problem airports, but declines could be explained away by better weather at the locale, as weather has been identified as a
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AIRPORT SIGN AND MARKING – QUICK REFERENCE GUIDE EXAMPLE
TYPE OF SIGN
Mandatory: Hold position for taxiway/ runway intersection.
Denotes entrance to runway from a taxiway.
Located L side of taxiway within 10 feet of hold position markings.
Mandatory: Holding position for runway/runway intersection.
Denotes intersecting runway.
Located L side of rwy prior to intersection, & R side if rwy more than 150’ wide, used as taxiway, or has “land & hold short” ops.
Mandatory: Holding position for runway approach area.
Denotes area to be protected for aircraft approaching or departing a runway.
Located on taxiways crossing thru runway approach areas where an aircraft would enter an RSA or apch/ departure airspace.
Mandatory: Holding position for ILS critical area/precision obstacle free zone.
Denotes entrance to area to be protected for an ILS signal or approach airspace.
Located on twys where the twys enter the NAVAID critical area or where aircraft on taxiway would violate ILS apch airspace (including POFZ).
Mandatory: No entry.
Denotes aircraft entry is prohibited.
Located on paved areas that aircraft should not enter.
Identifies taxiway on which the aircraft is located.
Located along taxiway by itself, as part of an array of taxiway direction signs, or combined with a runway/ taxiway hold sign.
Identifies the runway on which the Normally located where the proximity of two rwys to one aircraft is located. another could cause confusion.
Runway Safety Area / OFZ and Runway Approach Area Boundary.
Identifies exit boundary for an RSA / OFZ or rwy approach.
Located on taxiways on back side of certain runway/ taxiway holding position signs or runway approach area signs.
ILS Critical Area/POFZ Boundary.
Identifies ILS critical area exit boundary.
Located on taxiways on back side of ILS critical area signs.
Defines designation/direction of intersecting taxiway(s).
Located on L side, prior to intersection, with an array L to R in clockwise manner.
Defines designation/direction of exit taxiways from the rwy.
Located on same side of runway as exit, prior to exit.
Defines directions to take-off runway(s).
Located on taxi routes to runway(s). Never collocated or combined with other signs.
Defines directions to airport destinations for arriving aircraft.
Located on taxi routes to airport destinations. Never collocated or combined with other types of signs.
Provides procedural or other specialized information.
Located along taxi routes or aircraft parking/staging areas. May not be lighted.
Taxiway Ending Marker.
Indicates taxiway does not continue beyond intersection.
Installed at taxiway end or far side of intersection, if visual cues are inadequate.
Distance remaining info for take-off/landing.
Located along the sides of runways at 1000’ increments.
J L 22 FBO NOISE ABATEMENT PROCEDURES IN EFFECT 2300 - 0500
TYPE OF MARKING
Located across centerline within 10 feet of hold sign on taxiways and on certain runways.
ILS Critical Area/POFZ Boundary.
Denotes entrance to area to be protected for an ILS signal or approach airspace. Denotes location on taxiway or apron where aircraft hold short of another taxiway. Delineates movement area under control of ATCT, from non-movement area. Defines edge of usable, full strength taxiway.
Located on twys where the twys enter the NAVAID critical area or where aircraft on taxiway would violate ILS apch airspace (including POFZ). Used at ATCT airports where needed to hold traffic at a twy/twy intersection. Installed provides wing clearance. Located on boundary between movement and nonmovement area. Located to ensure wing clearance for taxiing aircraft. Located along twy edge where contiguous shoulder or other paved surface NOT intended for use by aircraft. Located along twy edge where contiguous paved surface or apron is intended for use by aircraft.
Non-Movement Area Boundary.
Dashed Taxiway Edge. Surface Painted Holding Position.
Enhanced Taxiway Centerline.
Denotes entrance to runway from a taxiway.
Taxiway/Taxiway Holding Position.
Defines taxiway edge where adjoining pavement is usable. Denotes entrance to runway from a taxiway.
Provides visual cue to help identify location of hold position. Surface Painted Taxiway Direction. Defines designation/direction of intersecting taxiway(s). Surface Painted Taxiway Location. Identifies taxiway on which the aircraft is located.
Supplements elevated holding position signs. Required where hold line exceeds 200’. Also useful at complex intersections. Taxiway centerlines are enhanced 150’ prior to a runway holding position marking. Located L side for turns to left. R side for turns to right. Installed prior to intersection. Located R side. Can be installed on L side if combined with surface painted hold sign.
Ref. AC Standards andAC AC150/5340-18D 150/5340-18D Standards for Airport Systems FAA. Ref.150/5340-1J AC 150/5340-1J Standardsfor forAirport AirportMarkings, Markings, and Standards for Airport SignsSigns Systems
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Surface painted runway marking
In-pavement runway guard lights
Elevated runway guard lights
Clearance bar lights
Stop bar/ILS hold
Vehicle lanes (zipper style)
details, there is a weak, negative correlation between the RI rate and years (starting in 2007 and ending in 2017). This means that there is a minor decrease over time detected. The results are, however, not “statistically significant.” If one takes out the data from 2017, there is a negligible increase in RI rates that is also not “statistically significant.” What does all this mean? The RI rates appear to be relatively flat. So no panic is required that the rates are going up, but no parties are warranted for reductions in rates, either.
Sometimes less is better
Hold marking for land and hold short operations
critical factor in RIs. To better direct mitigation strategies, it would also be helpful to know if airlines or general aviation numbers are changing. So to get a more accurate picture of what is really going on with RIs, one has to look at rates of RIs per million (or other number) of operations. This takes care of the potential for changes in RIs due to fluctuations in traffic. Taking a gander at the FAA’s data, in 2007, the rate of serious RIs was 0.393 per million operations while in 2017 it was 0.13 per million. It can now be seen why the media and the FAA are so elated. But back up to 2016, and the rate of RIs was 0.38, almost the same as in 2007. In fact, the best rate, 0.118 RIs per million operations, occurred back in 2010
Taxiway edge marking (Do not cross) Taxiway/Taxiway hold marking
and the rates have been uphill since then. Evaluating the numbers using a simple moving average, it can clearly be seen that the RI rates have been on the rise since 2011, even with 2017 being such a good year.
It is a commendable fact that the number of serious RIs is down. With each serious RI, there is the potential for a Tenerife-style accident. As an industry, we cannot afford even a chance of something so deadly yet preventable to happen again. With that said, the numbers of category C and D events have obviously increased, boosting the total numbers of RIs in recent years. These cannot be ignored. It could easily be imagined how frequent lower category events could one day turn into serious ones. The results of this closer look into RI data can be perceived as good and bad. The good news is we are not seeing a significant uptick in RI rates. Contrarily, there has not been a substantial decrease either. Considering that the total number of pilot-induced RIs is up, it should serve as a reminder to be diligent when operating in the airport environment, spend more time with airport diagrams, utilize all available technology, and to perhaps review recent changes to airport markings, lighting and signage. Considering that RIs are primarily a function of human error, all stakeholders should up their game to help do their part to push RI rates lower.
Statistical analysis to the rescue Unfortunately, statistical analysis of the data is scarce and seems limited to pipe smoking, tweed-wearing researchers at universities. Yet some analysis is called for as the industry needs to know if such gyrations in RIs are “real” increases or decreases. Or are we essentially staying at the same levels of RIs yet are seeing some “normal” fluctuations? Without boring the readership with
David Ison, PhD, has 32 years of experience flying aircraft ranging from light singles to widebody jets. Currently he is a graduate school professor at Northcentral University.
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LOWERING ACCIDENT LEVELS
Safety in numbers Evidence-based risk management can assess the safety of your flight operations. luck, or could there have been an underlying deeper problem?
Hard to measure actual risk factors
Base jumping is the aviation activity with the hightest statistical probability of fatal failure.
By Peter Berendsen
ATP/CFII. Boeing 747, MD11
ometimes enough is enough. After Air France had 4 total jet hull losses in a period of 10 years, the insurer of the company ended the business relationship and Air France had to find somebody else to insure their operations, probably at a higher premium. Air France lost a Boeing 747-200 freighter in MAA (Chennai Intl, India) in 1999 during a landing accident after a nose gear failure and subsequent fire; all 5 crewmembers survived. AF4590, a supersonic Concorde, crashed in CDG (Paris, France) during takeoff in 2000 when a tire blew and pieces of the wheel ruptured the fuel tank causing a catastrophic fire; all aboard perished. My fellow pilot Jens, who I flew with a few months later, told me that his own parents, planning to enjoy a vacation, were on this flight. Being so close to someone personally affected by an aviation accident certainly brings the message home.
More recently, in 2005, Air France Flight 358 overran Rwy 24 in YYZ (Toronto, Canada) during a landing in heavy thunderstorms; everybody aboard the Airbus A340 escaped, some with minor injuries, but the hull burned out and was a total loss. In 2009, Air France Flight 447 crashed over the South Atlantic, flying in the vicinity of tropical CBs; the Airbus A330 fell out of the sky after the AoA sensors iced up, the fly-bywire system failed, and the pilots weren’t able to manually control the aircraft. No passengers or crew survived this tragic night flight. To most people, all these accidents happened as a total surprise. Air France is a very respected airline with a long and proud history and great people. Money was never a problem, as the French government always contributed in various ways when necessary. The aircraft were well maintained, training was well organized, and pilots passed their simulators, linechecks and checkrides. Testing, but why so many accidents? Was it just coincidence, bad
In all levels of professional aviation, we are very proud of our safety record – and rightly so. It’s (fortunately) very hard to measure the actual risk of a total hull loss or major incident by actual accidents. Only over decades and in retrospect would we get a real number of the risk we were running in a specific time period. But safety management is about preventing accidents as best as we can and minimizing risk now, not in hindsight. So, is there a way to get a precise number on our current risk? If we’re striving for 1 jet hull loss in 1 million flights (10-6), how do we know that we are actually operating at this risk level?
Base jumping as an example The village of Murren in the Lauterbrunn valley in Switzerland is a well known mecca for base jumpers. Base jumping is a form of parachute jumping where one jumps from a cliff, bridge or building instead of an airplane. While the sport was invented in Yosemite, the steep cliffs around Murren have made this idyllic place in Switzerland a popular base jumping hotspot. It’s also where hundreds of base jumpers have died. Base jumping is the most dangerous “aviation” activity. It has a death risk of 5x10-2 (1 total loss per 500 flights). And yet the Swiss Base Association (yes, base jumpers also have a lobbying organization) website states, “While the potential dangers in BASE are obvious and very real, BASE jumping is all about minimising the risk so that it can be successfully done over and over again.” No, it can’t be done successfully over and over again. Even though the SBA writes that “experienced BASE jumpers generally have no problem
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departments will need to strive for a risk profile of 1 in a million (10-6) or even better (10-7 or 10-8). A very large corporate charter or fractional jet operator will face a similar problem as the major airlines: They simply can’t afford a fatal accident to be in the public memory.
This Gulfstream G150 overshot the runway at EYW (Key West FL) after landing with a brake malfunction. The technical status of aircraft and the judgement of pilots influences the probability of failure. The G150 came to rest in a runway safety area, about 800 ft from the runway and 3 ft from the airport fence.
overcoming the risks by implementing adequate risk management techniques” the 5x10-2 has been clearly documented over the last 20 years or so. This statistical fact will not go away. Sooner or later the base jumper will perish while base jumping. I use base jumping as an example because the numbers are strikingly bad. It also illustrates that the main concern in risk management is not if the outcome of 1 particular operation was successful, but whether the operation can be done repeatedly without casualty. The operation of airline and corporate aircraft is obviously exponentially safer than base jumping as the structure of the operation defines the risk. But what does that mean in actual numbers?
a major accident or hull loss every 2 years. However, a major accident every 2 years would be unacceptable to the public, employees, the insurers and shareholders. Realizing that it’s impossible to achieve “no risk,” the best practice goal of major airlines today is a risk level of 10-7. This is a 10-fold reduction in risk and means that a total loss is expected every 20 years for an airline with 1500 flights a day. Very large airline groups with 800-1000 aircraft even strive for a risk level of 10-8, which is a further 10-fold improvement in safety level. The same logic applies to operators of corporate jets, especially as they get quite large.
Trying to bring risk levels down
Where are you on the risk level curve?
A major airline with 350 aircraft and a mix of short, medium and long-haul operations will have about 1500 departures or flight sectors a day. That is over half a million flights a year and over 1 million flights in 2 years. The International Air Transport Association (IATA), a well established organization of the world’s airlines, pronounced a safety goal of 1 hull loss per 1 million flights many years ago. While that sounds comforting and safe to an individual, for a major airline with 1 million flights every 2 years, that would also mean
But as you try to establish the risk level of your own organization, how do you know where you are on the risk level curve between base jumping and the safety target of a huge major airline or corporate operator? The riskiest operations in civil fixed wing aircraft operations are competition glider flying, pipeline patrol and bush flying. Over the years, the risk has been shown to be in the range of 10-3 to 10-4. Corporate aviation risk varies but may start at a risk of 1 total loss per 100,000 flights (10-5) while well-funded and established flight
Now that we know what we want, how do we measure or assess our risk? Traditional risk management has a team look at the risks of a particular operation and rank them from A (extreme) to E (negligible). The rankings are derived from a risk matrix that tabulates the probability and severity of each safety-related item. An item with a high severity and a high probability of happening, such as landing on runways too short for the capabilities of the aircraft and crew, will be classified as A (extreme) and not be permitted at all. On the other hand, safety-relevant items with a low probability of happening and a low severity such as a failed navigation light will just be monitored. This assessment is purely driven by knowledge, professional experience and assumptions. While it’s easy to classify a particular operational detail at the extreme ends of the spectrum (A or E), most issues (such as a faulty generator) fall somewhere in between. B (high risk), C (acceptable with mitigation) and D (low) are classifications where a lot of issues end up in C. Acceptable with mitigation is a risk assessment all can agree on, because it allows us to operate safely with some mitigation for the risk encountered, such as wearing a lifejacket when sailing. Evidence-based risk management is a new approach to risk assessment. Here we try to put numbers into the game to find our real risk level and if we meet the level of safety that we’ve set for our organization. To do this we need good statistics, so using industrywide statistics relevant to our operation is a starting point. Airlines, for example, look at the total number of flights and the total number of accidents. From that, a precise figure of the current risk per sector can be derived. But it would be unwise to assume that the safety level of your operation is similar just because similar aircraft are being
Photo courtesy NTSB
Assessing our risk
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This Embraer 190 of Aero Republica had 54 passengers and 5 crew onboard. It overshot the runway at SMR (Santa Maria, Colombia) in severe rain and descended into the sea, injuring 5 people. The bad decision to press on with a doubtful landing may be avoided by an altitude gate for approach stabilization and good CRM.
flown. You need to adjust industrywide statistics to your operation in order to forecast your own risk. As an example, let’s use the probability that an aircraft crashes due to a runway overrun. Industrywide, and also in your own operation, the number of landings per time period and aircraft type are known. If there are 1 million landings industrywide in a type A aircraft and 1 runway overrun, you know that the probability to crashland a type A aircraft is 1 in a million (10-6). If your organization did 10,000 landings in the same time period, are you at the same, better or worse safety level?
Transition probability In order to answer this question the concept of transition probability is used. While the transition probability PT of crash landing a type A aircraft has been established as 10-6, the PT applicable to your operation isn’t known since, luckily, we didn’t have any crashes. So we need to find other factors that could indicate a risk of a runway overrun. Could it be that maybe we just had a lot of lucky escapes? Evidence-based risk management now looks for contributing factors and their PT to runway overruns. One
of them might be a late touchdown, another one might be an approach that is not stabilized, a 3rd might be a wet or icy runway, et cetera. Again, using industrywide statistics, we then look for the transition probabilities of an unstabilized approach to a landing accident, a late touchdown to a runway overrun, a wet or icy runway to an overrun. These probabilities will be lower, as many pilots have been able to land without incident after an unstabilized approach, a late touchdown or on an icy runway, maybe due to their skills and maybe because of some luck.
Flight data analysis But even though the PT is lower, leaving the impression that all is well, actually there may be quite an iceberg under the surface. If we have flight data analysis in our fleet, we can now go and look for the number of unstabilized approaches, late landings or landings on wet or icy runways in our own operation. Once we have these factored in our own numbers, we can apply the known transition probabilities from industrywide statistics, and voilà! There it is: We are now able to forecast the actual risk of a runway overrun in our own organization.
We can also now apply measures to reduce the risk of a runway overrun with rules or extra training. For example, we might require a goaround if approaches are not stabilized 1000 ft AGL, or when a touchdown cannot be achieved at the beginning of the runway, or if any pilot is not satisfied with the situation. We might also require extra runway length margins. While the principles of evidence-based risk management (the application of industrywide statistics to our own operation) sounds easy in principle, the actual acquisition of useful and valid data from our own operation is quite complex. Not all data can be found via flight data analysis (FODA), and all FODA data needs to be verified. Operational limit busts found in FODA may have been done intentionally by the crew for a valid reason, even sometimes increasing safety. Some risk factors that may be outright dangerous but can’t be easily measured directly are fatigue, operational pressure or even family and emotional issues.
Open communication with flightcrew members In order to properly calibrate your data and have a realistic view of your own organization’s safety situation, other activities are necessary. You need a suitable and well working flight report system, regular confidential pilot safety questionnaires, valid and standardized simulator evaluations, and above all a just and non-punitive organizational culture that encourages open communication with department leadership. Evidence-based risk management holds promise, but it’s a very new development still in its early stages. Meanwhile the selection, training and retaining of qualified and trustworthy pilots and technicians, good and solid maintenance and operations with a comfortable margin of safety are just as important as they have always been. Peter Berendsen flies a Boeing 747 as a captain for Lufthansa Airlines. He writes regularly for Pro Pilot on aviation-related subjects.
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Autumn weather Changing seasons bring differences in flight conditions important to pilots.
By Karsten Shein Comm-Inst Climate Scientist
he day started out sunny and humid with things looking to warm up quite a bit, but the 2 pilots knew that the sky would not stay that way. A check of the weather last night showed a cold front pressing ahead from the west with a solid squall line by mid-day. Knowing this, the chief pilot had called up the company sales director to see if they could move up their departure by a few hours. As the bizjet climbed above the haze, the pilots could already see the turkey necks of the growing cumuli out
Mid-latitude cyclone matures in the US. These systems occur in all seasons but tend to be strongest in the autumn, when the temperature difference between the cold and warm sectors is greatest.
ahead of the front. Aside from a few thermal bumps on climb out, they were headed up and away from that weather mess, giving the sales team a smooth ride that allowed them to make some last minute tweaks to their pitch. Fall, or autumn as it is known in many parts of the world, is a transition season from the heat of summer to the cold of winter. It can be an unknown concept in places like the low latitudes where the annual transit of the sun may only mark a shift from a rainy to a dry season,
or the high latitudes where perpetual daylight transitions to months of twilight. For most of us living and flying in the middle latitudes, however, fall is a distinct, thermally-driven season that is characterized by a battle between the growing pool of cold high-latitude air and the amelioration of the hot summer air of the subtropics.
Solar cycle Across the planet, seasons are driven by the annual trace of the sun
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Warm front Nimbostratus (Ns)
Source: Lutgens and Tarbuck, 2004
Cool air Moderate precipitation
Idealized cross-section of a typical warm front. The central low gradually draws warm air in over cooler air, creating widespread stratoform cloud cover and light to moderate rain.
across the sky. The tilt of the earth on its axis, coupled with its revolution around the sun, ensures that the sun appears to migrate its position throughout the year. The midpoints and extremes of the sun’s path are the equinoxes and solstices, respectively. Around December 21–22 each year, the noon sun is directly above the Tropic of Capricorn at 23.5 degrees south latitude. Correspondingly that means that while it is at 90 degrees above the horizon there, it is 66.5 degrees (90-23.5) above the horizon at the equator and only 43 degrees above the horizon at the Tropic of Cancer, at 23.5 degrees North Latitude (90-23.5-23.5). At the Arctic Circle, 43 degrees latitude further north, the noon sun is exactly zero degrees above the horizon. This situation is reversed around June 21–22 (the summer solstice) when the tilt of the earth points the northern hemisphere toward the sun, the noon sun is 90 degrees above the horizon at the Tropic of Cancer and the Antarctic Circle doesn’t see the noonday sun at all. At the vernal and autumnal equinoxes – around March 22 and September 21, respectively – the earth’s axial tilt is perpendicular to the sun, with the noon sun at 90 degrees directly above the equator, 66.5 degrees above the horizon at the 2 Tropics, and 23.5 degrees above the horizon at the Arctic and Antarctic
Circles. At the 2 poles on these dates, the sun is at the horizon the full day. Between the 2 solstices, at any point on earth except the equator and the poles, the length of the day (and length of night) is either lengthening or shortening until the next solstice, when the situation reverses.
Understanding seasons This geometric relationship between the earth and sun is crucial to understanding seasons such as fall. The atmosphere is driven almost entirely by the solar radiation it receives. The earth is tiny compared to the sun (it would take 1,300,000 earths to fill the volume of the sun), and at 93 million miles distant, the solar radiation received at the top of the atmosphere is more-or-less equal over the entire half of the earth facing the sun. However, to be more precise, the dynamics of the lower atmosphere are driven by the concentration of energy available at any given location. The amount of solar radiation received by the surface is measured in energy per area such as watts per square meter (W/m2). On any given date and time, that quantity is determined by the angle at which the sun’s rays strike the earth. If the sun is directly overhead, the radiation is most concentrated, while if the sun is just a degree or so above the horizon, that same amount of radiation
is spread over a much wider area. The top of the atmosphere receives around 1368 W/m2 of energy. If the sun is directly overhead on a clear day, a square meter of earth’s surface will receive around 1000 of those watts, and the rest is scattered away or absorbed by the atmosphere. But as the angle at which the sunlight hits the surface decreases, the same amount of light is spread over a larger area, meaning any square meter of that area gets only a fraction of the total energy. For example, if the sun is 23.5 degrees above the horizon, the amount of energy hitting a square meter is just around 40% of what it would be if the sun were completely overhead (roughly 400 W/m2). You can see this behavior by shining a flashlight directly down at the floor and then tilting the flashlight a few degrees. The light now illuminates a greater area, but the illumination of any part of the floor is not quite as bright. This difference in solar radiation relative to latitude and the position of the sun through the year drives the concentration of heat in the tropics and the concentration of cold at the poles. It is also the change in that relative solar position through the year that creates the seasons. In the northern hemisphere (the opposite is true for the southern hemisphere), the summer brings a sun that is directly overhead at 23.5 degrees north, and more
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Source: Thomson Higher Education
Warm air 39°
25° Cold air 0
42° 50 km
Cross-sectional view of a cold front. The central low advances the cold air into the region of warmer air, forcing the warm air aloft and often forming lines of thunderstorms.
energy reaching the high latitudes. This expands the tropical heat northward while reducing the strength and extent of the cold arctic air. This moves the boundary between the 2 air masses to higher latitudes and allows the middle latitudes to bake in hot summer conditions. After June 22, however, as the sun begins its trek back to the southern hemisphere, the amount of energy received in the northern hemisphere decreases, most markedly in the higher latitudes. The result is a strengthening and expansion of the cold arctic air mass and a cooling and retreat of the warmer subtropical air. As the boundary pushes southward, it does not do so evenly, but rather in a series of advances and retreats as the polar front is subjected to various troughs and ridges.
Fall weather patterns In the Tropics, the migration of the sun between the solstices is a season not of heat, but of rain. The presence of a high noon-day sun throughout the year ensures ample energy for evaporating water. Even at its lowest noon angle, the sun provides 68% of its total overhead energy concentration, and the large quantity of already warm water in the Tropical ocean ensures an ample supply to evaporate. Combined, these factors mean that
tropical seasons are divided into rainy and less rainy. The core of the rain, a band of convection surrounding the earth known as the intertropical convergence zone, follows the sun’s track between the tropics, so fall in the northern hemisphere (September–November) marks the departure of rains and the arrival of the rains in the southern hemisphere. The farther from the equator one goes, the less regular those rains will be. Pilots routinely flying in this region are undoubtedly familiar with this pattern, but those who only transit the region occasionally should closely study the rainfall and storm patterns relative to the time of year. Fall above the Arctic/Antarctic Circles is a time where the nights account for much of the 24-hr day length, with the sun not rising above the horizon on the winter solstice, and for days or weeks on either side of it as one goes farther poleward. Overall, this means that the net radiation budget of the region (the amount of radiation emitted by the surface subtracted from the amount of incoming solar radiation) is negative, producing a net heat loss and cooling of the area. While this is good news for resolidifying remote permafrost runways that may have thawed during the summer months, it also means that the air will continue to chill. Pilots should make arrangements to ensure that engine lu-
bricants and even fuel doesn’t freeze while their aircraft sits on the ramp overnight. Freezing fog and ice fog also become much more of a concern to aviation once fall begins. Importantly, the increased density of the cold air can produce strong high pressure cells over the region, occasionally exceeding an altimeter of 31.00 inches of Mercury. During these events, pilots are normally advised to set their altimeters to 29.92 and rely on pressure altitudes to avoid collisions.
Middle latitudes have the most changes It is fall in the middle latitudes that brings the most diverse weather and flying conditions. The middle latitudes (between around 35 and 55 degrees of latitude) is where the polar front is normally found. The polar front, which generally resides beneath the jet stream, is the boundary between the cold polar air and the warm subtropical air. Uneven heating of the atmosphere, mountain ranges and the spin of the earth itself all play a role in generating continental-scale troughs and ridges in the front, allowing warmer air to push poleward and cold air to move equatorward. Along the front, localized variations in heating produce a vertical motion that becomes surface lows
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near a river or in a deeper valley, you should consider the likelihood that any morning flights will be delayed, especially if the overnight sky is clear, winds are light and the air is relatively humid. In addition, the later sunrise and lower sun angle are more likely to delay evaporation of the fog until later in the morning.
Fall weather forecasts
Storm system disrupts aviation across much of North America in October 2010. Conditions associated with these systems include thunderstorms, icing, wind shear, fog and blizzards. Caution should be exercised whenever operating around a midlatitude cyclone.
which develop from time to time. The strength of these lows, and the corresponding cold and warm fronts, tend to be strongest in the fall because it’s the time of year with the greatest difference in temperature between the 2 opposing air masses. Thus, in the middle latitudes, it is the conditions associated with these cyclonic storm systems that are usually the major weather factors affecting aviation. Fronts are a part of the middle latitude weather picture in every season, but a fall frontal passage can include elements of both summer and wintertime storm systems including strong squall lines, wind shear and icing. The temperature differential, especially at top of the troposphere, is also much greater as fall matures. This means that the discontinuity that fuels the jet stream tends to be at its strongest during fall. As a result, jet speeds are fastest during the season. The implication is that when the low sits beneath a region of strong jet winds, it can deepen far more quickly and reach lower pressure than when it is coupled to a weaker jet flow as might be experienced during other seasons. These fall cyclone bombs can double normal cold front speed, which in turn are far more effective at lofting the still hot and humid air ahead
of them. This speed can also create waves that might generate thunderstorms several hundred miles ahead of the front. And while the warm sector of these systems remains hot, the cold sectors are quite cold. Rain falling through these colder regions can quickly become supercooled, freezing rain. Pilots should pay close attention to the outside air temperature when transiting beneath a fall cold front where rain or clouds are present.
Winds and fog Winds and fog can also become dangerous in these systems. In the closely spaced isobars behind the central low, wind speeds can easily reach hurricane strength, making crosswind landings difficult – if not impossible. Low-level windshear is also not uncommon in these conditions as winds become turbulent as they flow around terrain, buildings and other obstacles. Beyond the midlatitude cyclones that can bring dangerous flying conditions to half a continent, the extra few hours of night as fall progresses are frequently enough to initiate a radiation fog. In many places, fall is when airports see the greatest frequency of foggy mornings. If you are operating in and out of an area
As with any season, anticipating the weather is paramount to a safe and uneventful flight. There is no real magic to this. National hydrometeorological agencies such as NOAA often provide seasonal forecasts that provide regional guidance regarding the likelihood of things like above or below normal precipitation. These agencies, as well as a host of private weather companies to which many pilots subscribe, also produce shorter-range forecasts from a few hours to as much as 15 days ahead. Large scale features such as the development and movement of lows and fronts can be predicted with reasonable accuracy, but the details of conditions they may bring may only be forecast with any accuracy a day or 2 beforehand. Pilots can make their own forecasts ahead of a flight by examining the weather maps from the past several hours and extrapolating where the fronts and major fall weather-makers may move in the hours leading up to the flight. Of course, speaking with a trained briefer will help greatly in understanding some of the meteorological nuances regarding the current and forecast weather conditions. Naturally, when planning a flight, it is best to draw the route of flight across a weather map to see where your path might intercept adverse conditions, and determine if minor deviations might help to keep the flight smooth. As always, please report any conditions you experience that are not as forecast. 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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Wichita: surviving a recession, now back and moving forward
Walter and Olive Ann Beech oversaw massive production buildup at their company during World War II, when military training and transport aircraft were manufactured.
Former Beech and Learjet Communications Executive & Cofounder of the Sullivan Higdon & Sink Ad Agency
or nearly a century, Wichita’s international – and self – image has been rooted in making airplanes. It began in the early 1920s, when newly-rich, entrepreneurial Kansas oil prospectors provided capital for penniless ex-World War I flyers and others eager to stake a claim in the new game of aviation. Within a few years some 2 dozen aircraft manufacturing start-ups were dotting the landscape in and around the still-young community, and in 1929 The Aeronautical Chamber of Commerce dubbed Wichita the “Air Capital of the World”, a title that has stuck. However, the stock market crash and recession of that same year closed down all but the heartiest operations. And Walter Beech, Clyde Cessna (later his nephew, Dwane Wallace), and Lloyd Stearman struggled through the depression years of the 1930s. World War II brought full assembly lines, high employment and relative
prosperity to Wichita’s Big 3 of aviation: Boeing, Cessna and Beech. After the war, each struggled to find its place, as Boeing did by building B-47s and later B-52s; Cessna with models like the 172 and 310, and Beech with its Bonanza and Super 18, among others. And, for Beech
Photos courtesy Wikimedia Commons
By Al Higdon
and Cessna, joined in 1963 by Learjet, it was a business climate that fostered consecutive years of high sales activity and new model development, only to be interrupted occasionally by down economies, which led to stalled sales, employee layoffs and high local unemployment in the city. It was only a bit far-fetched that you might be able look up “employment roller coaster” in the dictionary and find the word “Wichita”. But following a major recession in 1970–71, and a less severe downturn in the early 1980s, general and business aviation enjoyed a virtually unbroken run of financial health for more than 2 decades. Could the good times go on forever? Unfortunately, the answer was “No.” The almost totally unexpected economic crash of early 2008 spelled temporary doom for expansion and new model planning going on at each company at the time, and ensuing canceled sales sent employment numbers reeling downward. That was a decade ago. How did the local industry participants and the Wichita community react to yet another crisis of confidence?
For decades Cessna Aircraft owned the training and small personal aircraft market at the company started by Clyde Cessna (top left) who first flew an aircraft he built in 1911. Clyde’s nephew, Dwane Wallace, fresh out of Wichita University, became head of the company in 1934.
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Lloyd Stearman (inset) began making airplanes in Wichita in 1927. He sold out to United Aircraft and Transportation 2 years later. In 1934, Boeing, which had been a part of United, was split off as a separate unit and took the Stearman brand under its wing.
Boeing – Wichita began building B-29 Superfortress bombers in 1944. Boeing founder William Boeing is at top right.
Spirit AeroSystems, Wichita’s largest employer in 2008 First, to be sure, there was an important buffer in all this confusion and foreboding: Spirit Aerosystems, which was created in 2005, as a spin-off company when Boeing divested its long-standing Wichita Commercial Aircraft division. As Wichita’s largest employer with more than 10,500 coming to work each day, Spirit in 2008 was outside the business aviation bubble, building the entire fuselage of all Boeing 737s, as well as other components on the model. With global commercial airlines rapidly ramping up orders for new aircraft, Spirit, the world’s largest first-tier aerostructures manufacturer, throughout the past decade has ridden the crest of accelerating order rates. In fact, with current employment at about 12,000, the company announced earlier this year it will hire 1000 workers by end of 2019. This will allow Spirit to meet Boeing’s announced plans for a 737 production rate by then of 57 units each and every month, up from a current rate of 52 per month.
Spirit AeroSystems, created in 2005, when Boeing closed out its Commercial Aircraft Division in Wichita, builds the entire fuselage for Boeing’s 737 program.
Spirit CEO Tom Gentile came to company in 2016, after an 18-year career at General Electric. Recently announced plans to increase production of Boeing 737 to 57 units per month mean increased employment at Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita.
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Scott Ernest has been CEO of first Cessna Aircraft, then Textron Aviation, since 2011. He has managed the company through nearly a decade of recession, and has ushered in several key new products.
As the curtain quickly dropped on what had been a golden age of business aviation for Wichita, Cessna, Beechcraft and Bombardier Learjet were forced to react swiftly to the industry’s new reality. At its peak in early 2008 of 22,000 workers at those facilities, the number had dropped to 13,500 less than 2 years later, and continued to fall, according to the Wichita Business Journal. A struggling Beech Aircraft was acquired by Textron in 2013, to be folded in with Cessna to form what is now Textron Aviation. Cessna canceled plans in 2009 to design and build the Columbus, which had been earmarked to become the company’s largest model ever. Beech restricted product development to upgrades of its venerable King Air series, while Learjet suspended the Learjet 60XR program in 2012 and canceled its Model 85 program in 2015.
Primary activities at Wichita subcontractor Lee Aerospace include building airframes for Viking Air (above) and installing windshields for general aviation aircraft.
Hunkering down was nothing new for these business aviation stalwarts; they had been through this many times before. Troubled times at Wichita’s original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), also brought stress throughout their area supply chain. Just over 100 aerospace subcontractors are located in the 5-county Wichita metro area. In the peak year of 2007, combined employment among these subs was just under 5000, according to the Greater Wichita Partnership economic development organization, which tracks this data. After dropping to a low point of just over 4000 workers 3 years after the fall, employment at these subcontracting firms stood at about 5300 in 2017, the most recent year with available data. This number, of course, was bolstered by increasing work from Spirit.
Jim Lee is CEO of Wichita’s Lee Aerospace, one of the area’s largest subs, currently employing 260. Historic major customers have been Textron Aviation, Bombardier Learjet and Spirit AeroSystems. Lee saw his firm go into the recession at 180 employees before hitting a bottom of 85. With his company primarily engaged in manufacturing windows for general aviation through commercial aircraft, as well as aerostructure assemblies, Lee immediately reached out for new capabilities to fill the void. He got into composite manufacturing, and is now building metallic and composite structures for Boeing 787s, through Spirit. He also took on producing windows for the Cirrus jet, added work for Piper and is building the Twin Otter fuselage for Canada’s Viking Air.
New successful aircraft by Textron Aviation As the industry slowly got its used aircraft inventory under control and new orders began to trickle onto the books, Wichita’s stalwart OEMs began to get their feet under themselves a few years ago. Textron Aviation designed and built both the Latitude and Longitude models as top of its distinguished lineup of Citations.
Photos courtesy Textron Aviation
With an all-new design, the Cessna Denali was announced in 2015. It will soon begin flight testing, with deliveries scheduled to begin in 2019.
Subcontracting at Lee Aerospace
Photos courtesy Lee Aerospace
Beech, Cessna and Learjet
Featuring a 3500 nm range, the Cessna Citation Longitude first flew in 2016. Deliveries are expected to begin later this year.
More than 100 Cessna Citation Latitude aircraft have been delivered since its market introduction in 2015.
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Photos courtesy Bombardier
Tonya Sudduth is vice president and general manager of Bombardier’s Wichita site. She first joined the company in 2001 as a senior financial analyst.
The Latitude was certificated in 2015, and has since led its category in unit deliveries. The Longitude is expecting certification before this year is out. Meanwhile, Textron Aviation has aggressively marketed its AT-6 Wolverine and the first Textron Aviation Defense-branded aircraft, the Scorpion jet. Bombardier Learjet introduced the Learjet 75 in 2012. The company will focus its near future activities on marketing its models 70 and 75, flight testing in Wichita all models produced by parent Bombardier, as well as providing support for approximately 4800 units of its Bombardier family aircraft globally.
WSU’s National Center for Aviation Training To assure a qualified workforce into the future, as its aging employees retire, Sedgwick County and Wichita in 2010 opened the doors to the city’s all-new National Center for Aviation Training, now aligned with Wichita State University as WSUTech, which has capability to train 4000 students at a time, not only in aviation trades, but health care and many others as well. Reflecting on the past decade, Dave Franson, a long-time public relations executive at Garrett AiResearch, Cessna and Learjet, and currently president of the Wichita Aero Club, described it as “Unlike any
Bill Lear, at right, no doubt would barely recognize his Wichita facility, now producing the Learjet 75 (above) and its sister ship, the Learjet 70, while performing flight testing on all Canadian-built Bombardier models. Textron AirLand Scorpion began as a secret joint venture between Textron and Air Land Enterprises. The Scorpion is a twin-engine combat aircraft now being performance evaluated by a number of global military agencies.
other in my 40+ years in this industry. It ushered in a ‘new normal’ for the Air Capital of the World. With the downturn of 2007–2008, production rates, orders and jobs dropped dramatically. But Wichita’s aircraft business adapted – with resilience and resolve.” The “new normal” appears to include lower overall employment at Textron Aviation and Bombardier Learjet, which is now approximating a total of 11,000 workers, half of what was employed just a decade earlier, but no doubt with more efficiency. Of interest is the fact that all Wichita aviation manufacturers, and most of their subcontractors, have open requisitions totaling hundreds of workers.
New ideas taking root in Wichita As the industry rebounds, Wichita leaders are committed to a game
Beechcraft T-6 Wolverine is a single engine turboprop military trainer, which has replaced the USAF’s Cessna T-37 and the USN’s T-34 Turbo Mentor for basic and primary flight training.
plan that will, hopefully, assist in protecting its economy from the inevitable ebbs and flows of general aviation manufacturing. The city that a century ago spawned the Coleman Outdoor Products company, and more recently Pizza Hut and RentA-Center, is going all-in on a resurgence of its entrepreneurial lineage. Led by an expansive Innovation Campus at Wichita State University, and spurred on by new volunteer organizations such as the “e2e” accelerator facility, which ferrets out promising new business ideas with increasing amounts of available investment capital, the community has plans for its sterling aviation heritage to be joined by successful high tech and other innovative companies. Stay tuned. A more balanced Wichita economy, still led by aviation, is primed to increase its role in the global marketplace. Al Higdon spent 12 years as a public relations executive with Beech and Learjet before co-founding an advertising/pr firm that represented more than a dozen clients in aviation, including Learjet and Cessna, over a 25 year period before his retirement at 60 in 1996.
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OUTER MARKER INBOUND
Thomas Watson Jr – president of IBM and early pioneer of business aircraft use
Thomas Watson Jr (L) below the IBM motto “Think.” Above is an early Beech D18 used by IBM executives. Watson later bought a Beech 18 with a nosewheel, called the Volpar conversion. Watson asked Olive Ann Beech to choose a special “N” number for his new aircraft, and Olive Ann chose N6789 which Watson put on all his subsequent personal aircraft.
By David Bjellos
ATP/Helo. Gulfstream IV, Sikorsky S76, Bell 407 Pro Pilot Senior Contributor
ong after the John Astor, JP Morgan and Vanderbilt dynasties, and 2 generations before Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, there was Tom Watson Jr. He has been praised by presidents, world leaders and business titans, and as quoted by Fortune magazine “…the most successful capitalist who ever lived…” He was the richest man in the world for a time, and he left a legacy at his company, IBM. He was a man who may never be equaled for his insight, competitive spirit and compassion for people. It was his contributions to business aviation, however, that makes his story so compelling for our industry. North American (Rockwell) Sabre 40
Watson followed in his father’s footsteps at IBM after serving as an airman in WWII, where he became the personal pilot and aide-de-camp for Major General Follett Bradley. Watson enlisted as a private and departed as a Lt Colonel. Bradley was the military instrument by which the US implemented the Lend-Lease program for aircraft and equipment supplied to the then-Soviet Union, and the 2 men formed a bond. Nearing the conflict’s end, Bradley asked Watson what he intended to do after the war. Watson replied that he would like to become an airline pilot, as he enjoyed the challenge and satisfaction of flight. Bradley gently suggested that he return to run IBM, and the young Watson wisely followed the general’s advice. It would prove to be fruitful. Tom Watson Sr took control of the Computing-Tabulating-Recording (C-T-R) Company in 1914, the year Tom Jr was born. He changed the name to International Business Machines shortly thereafter, a move then widely regarded as pompous as the term was not particularly applicable to a local company making timecards and tabulation devices (hand-cranked calculators). Tom Sr grew the business steadily, and Tom Jr joined the corporate ranks right after WWII ended, eventually assuming the chairGulfstream I
Watson instructed his then-Chief Pilot Udo Gayer to “buy 2 Sabreliners for the company, and 1 for me.” He flew his own Sabre 40A and it was the 1st aircraft he went to school on for the type rating.
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IBMs 1st Chief Pilot Charles McKinnon circa 1958 with Aero Commander 520. Chuck came from United Airlines and was the last living member of the “Tracy Aces,” a group of airmen who trained in Tracy CA during 1940 and 1941. When Chuck passed away in 2017, he was 101 years old. He was married to Janice Barden who founded Aviation Personnel International (API). Photo at right shows of Chuck in 2003.
Watson Jr with Pres Jimmy Carter, January 20, 1978. He was United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union.
manship early in 1956. Tom Sr passed away June 19, 1956, only months after his son took the helm of a young but vibrant IBM. Watson bought the company’s 1st corporate airplane in 1958, an Aero Commander. More capable aircraft followed, including the first GII in 1967 as well as Learjets, Falcons and Sabreliners. The fleet grew in size and complexity and his passion for aviation ensured the flight department was at the cutting edge. Watson recognized from his travels to the Soviet Union with General Bradley that only a purpose-built aircraft could support a global organization. His foresight helped solidify the early efforts by (then) AMD Falcons, Gulfstreams and other business aircraft to provide these new “tools” that shaped and defined what we know now as the corporate aircraft industry. Watson suffered a heart attack in 1971 and turned over the reins of IBM to his successor, but his personal life and philanthropic efforts did not slow down whatsoever. In 1975 he established an aircraft museum of fully operational aircraft, including WWII fighters, in upstate Maine and he flew them all himself. Annually, he would invite celebrities and fellow airmen for a summer “fly-in” and everyone had a chance to fly everything. His chief pilot flew the aircraft for non-pilots, and others, like famous aviation author Ernie Gann, who came every year and happily flew everything he could during the 3-day event. The museum operated until 1995. Watson was invited to serve as Ambassador to the Soviet Union by President Jimmy Carter, and he held the post from 1979 until 1981. During his posting, Mikhail Gorbachev granted the unusual permission for Watson to
pilot his own jet aircraft across the entirety of the USSR, at a time when no non-commercial aircraft were allowed to transit the Soviet airspace. Watson’s philanthropic activities were generous to his alma mater Brown University, and he also gave to Columbia and there established the Watson House. Columbia supports and finances an annual trip for members of the Watson House to visit the Watson Estate in Maine. We may well take for granted today the business of flying brilliant and imaginative men and women in our corporate aircraft. But much of our success in business aviation – and that of our corporate parents – can be traced to the foresight and fundamental understanding of aviation by Tom Watson Jr and a rare few others like him. Resembling his abilities to foresee the use of computers and the importance of technology at IBM, he was able to see how the dedicated corporate aircraft could benefit the fiduciary function of shareholder growth and long-term prosperity for company and employee alike. When he passed away in 1993 he had accumulated 17,300 flight hours. This figure is remarkable for any full-time airman flying a long career but nearly unthinkable for a businessman who simultaneously ran one of the world’s most respected and profitable companies. Men like Tom Watson Jr remain few and far between, and we are fortunate as fellow airmen to see a life so magnificently well-lived by a passionate and dedicated brother pilot. David Bjellos is the Aviation Manager for Florida Crystals, flying a GIV-SP, S-76C+ and Bell 407. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Helicopter Association International (HAI).
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Vahana, the all electric, self-piloted aircraft from A³ by Airbus.
Photo courtesy Airbus
Enabling electric aircraft With changes in propulsion will also come changes in design. By Dennis Bushnell Chief Scientist, NASA Langley Research Center & Robert Moses Research Engineer, NASA Langley Research Center
limate concerns have instigated serious research for weight-critical batteries to enable electric vehicles (EVs), initially intended for ground transportation. Research has advanced to where, in less than 10 years, EVs could reach parity with gas turbine engines (GTE) via weight and drag reduction to minimize battery requirements. Renewable electric generation could allow essentially emission-less aircraft. This tech now produces 25% of current electrical generation and 62% of new generation capability. Continued rapid cost reductions is driving faster adoption of renewable electric generation. Technologies suggested here could reduce battery size and weight via airframe performance improvements, allowing OEMs to employ electric propulsion. This enables a massive new aeronautics market for affordable, safe personal air vehicles. Battery propulsion could solve most emissions issues – NOX, CO2 and water.
All types of aircraft could go electric Electric aircraft propulsion can be envisaged for all classes of aircraft, from small drones and personal air vehicles to long haul and supersonic transports. The long-standing issue for electric aircraft has been what to do about the long extension cord (size, weight and functionality of the electricity source). The extensive battery research and development instigated by ground EVs has direct application to – and created a renaissance in – electric aircraft.
The nominal goal for widespread electrification of aircraft using batteries resides in matching the energy density of current transportation fuels. We’re now approaching system parity via the extensive research on lithium-air batteries coupled with highly efficient electric motors, along with vehicle weight and drag reductions. Research has resulted in Li-Air batteries achieving 15 times the energy density of lithium-ion batteries, and other research has achieved 750 recharge cycles. Also, a lithium-metal battery at 500 kWh/Kg is entering the market. This will open the entire speed range for electric aircraft up to supersonic speeds. What follows is a synopsis of technology approaches which could improve electric aircraft performance and reduce required battery capacity to approach system level parity.
Electric propulsion technologies Distributed, scalable propulsion technologies that could reduce electrical power requirements via lighter weight and/or lower drag include: Flow control, or designer fluid mechanics. Designer fluid mechanics subsumes a large number of flow control approaches and applications, including Laminar Flow Control (LFC), separated flow control for high lift; vortex control; turbulence control; and favorable wave interference for drag reduction. Battery weight issues for electric vehicles puts LFC again under consideration to reduce requisite battery capacity. For turbulent drag reduction, options include relaminarization and riblets. Electric propulsion proffers the possibility of straight-forward distributed energy for flow separation control. Aeropropulsion Synergies. Conventional design practice in civilian
aeronautics is to essentially separate the aerodynamics and the propulsion systems. Examples of aeropropulsive synergies include circulation control wings, for up to a factor of 4 increase in CL (coefficient of lift); boundary layer inlet, ingesting lower momentum air for up to 10% to 15% propulsion efficiency increase; wingtip engines to reduce drag-due-to-lift (wing strut and truss bracing are conducive to wing tip engine placement); and thrust vectoring, that places the engines at the rear of the fuselage to use them for aero controls in lieu of the weight and drag of the empennage, hybrid laminar flow with leading edge suction utilized for high lift separation control. Wave Drag Reduction. Approaches include wing sweep, area ruling and reduced thickness, as well as wing twist, camber and warp. Other techniques include nose spikes, either physical or forward projection of energy, gases, liquids, or particulates to extend effective body length. Favorable shock interference is an approach that uses shockwaves via reflection or interaction to create a favorable interference either for body thrust or lift, or both. Parasol wings can provide a 20% improvement in overall lift-to-drag ratio at cruise. Reduction of drag due to lift. Elliptical loading, increased aspect ratio and span, lower CL and reduced weight are the primary approaches. This has been addressed in many cases via creative overall aircraft configuration designs like truss braced wings. The use of non-planar lifting surfaces such as distributing the lift vertically through up-swept tips and multiple vertically spaced wings can provide sizable reductions. In addition, devices can be inserted into the tip flow to produce or recover thrust and/or energy from local flow
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ECO-150 concept developed by Empirical Systems Aerospace. This example of a turbo-electric architecture uses electric generators on the wing-mounted turbofan engines to power electrically-driven fans.
Advantages of electric propulsion • No motor gear boxes • Regenerative energy recovery during descent and landing • Battery heat used for cabin heating, deicing, or regeneration • Higher altitude operation feasible • Reduced cooling drag • Quieter • Reduced vibration • Fewer inspections • No engine flameouts or restarts • No fuel explosions during crashes • Power train efficiency > 90%, twice or greater than IC/GTE propulsion • Much lower energy costs • No power loss w/altitude at high temps • Continuously variable transmission • High reliability • High efficiency in most of power envelope • Up to 6 times motor power to weight compared to combustion engines • Reduced maintenance • Far fewer parts • Less expensive • Higher torque • No vehicle emissions
angularity. These include tip turbines for energy extraction, winglets, vortex diffuser vanes, tip sails, wing grids, spheroid, c-tips, and many other tip devices. Eliminating the physical wing tips can be done by use of ring wings or joined wings and tails. The trussbraced wing reduces Drag Due to Lift (DDL) 75% by simply doubling the span. This is enabled structurally with an external truss, creating a wholly new set of optimization parameters and approaches. Landing gear weight reduction. Generally, landing gear accounts for 33% of the total weight of long haul transport fuselages and 63% the weight of supersonic transport (SST) fuselages making them a target to reduce weight. Typically, landing gear features large, heavy brakes for aborted takeoffs. This could be substituted with parachutes for sizable weight reductions. And the gear itself is typically sized for high impact landings. Such loadings might be minimized in frequency and impact strength via autonomous operations, slaving the lift system to the ground proximity and descent rate. Revolutionary materials and structures. There are several not quite ready (low Technology Readiness Level [TRL]) approaches to significantly reduce aircraft weight via materials and structures. For example, nanoscale
printing technology is developing to produce superb material microstructure with far fewer dislocations and grain boundary problems, greatly improving material performance. Thus far a factor of order 5 has been achieved in some metal alloy systems. Another approach for ultra-performance materials is to merge nanotubes into a contiguous structural material. Estimates of performance improvements are in the 3X to 8X range. Continuing efforts with composites claim 10X the performance of aluminum.
Electric aircraft applications Unmanned Aerial Systems. Development of IT capabilities – navigation, computing, automatics-to-autonomy, ubiquitous sensors, and now electric propulsion and additive manufacturing – has spawned a quickly growing market in electric Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) for a multitude of functions. This, in turn, has prompted very rapidly developing efforts for On Demand Mobility (ODM), including Urban Air Mobility (UAM). ODM is initially piloted but will eventually be an autonomous UAS carrying passengers. The ultimate market – worth approx $1 trillion per year – will be electric autonomous Personal Air Vehicles (PAVs), which operate in the street in front of an individual’s holding. Current ODM and UAM efforts are also investigating Vertical Takeoff and landing (VTOL) machines with electric propulsion, distributed propulsion and flow control as enablers. The literature is rife with large numbers of non-helo VTOL devices and approaches with several lift fans. Benefits include lower noise, drag, vibration, cost, maintenance, and better safety. As the costs of renewables for electricity continue to drop and batteries continue to improve, it is increasingly feasible to unload the lift fans for improved acoustics. For super Short Takeoff and Landing (STOL) operation there is the channel
wing with circulation control, and for lower cruise speed STOL there’s various types of autogyros. For PAV, electric propulsion eliminates engine exhaust noise, enables distributed propulsion and flow control, and requires lighter engines. To all this, add all of the many benefits of electrics stated earlier.
Electric long haul transports A truss-braced wing design is an example of what may be possible for an electric long haul aircraft design. Use of an external wing truss provides major structural benefits and allows reduced wing weight, thickness and sweep. This results in a tremendously enhanced and easily maintained natural-to-easily forced low drag laminar flow, along with increased span. With a reduced wing chord, laminar flow is enhanced and vortex hazards are reduced. Plenninger’s designs for such aircraft yielded L/D values in the 40s, over twice current levels. However, the concept wasn’t adopted as the extensive wingspan did not fit the FAA 80 meter box requirement for airport gate compatibility. A truss-braced span could be doubled and still conform to the 80 meter requirement by using an existing hinge. Doubling the span would halve the wing’s Reynolds number and reduce drag due to lift up to 75%. With engines moved to the base of the fuselage the propulsion exhaust flow could be thrust-vectored, obviating the weight and drag of the empennage. The propulsion system ingests
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sion cycles, boundary layer control, shock-boundary interactions to increase compressor stage loading, minimization of shock losses in the inlet, and compressor stages, along with further work on supersonic through flow fans and possibly morphing blades. A combination of greatly improved materials and aero performance coupled with electric propulsion could conceivably address major SST issues.
Wright Electric’s goal is to develop an airliner in the 120–186 seat range capable of flying distances of up to 335 miles, enough to cover short-haul routes like Paris to London or NY to Boston.
the fuselage boundary layer accruing a sizable propulsion improvement. All of these benefits reduce overall weight and wake vortex hazard. The computed L/D for these configurations is 40 or higher, versus the current values in the order of 20 or less.
Electric supersonic transports SSTs have serious wave drag, higher fuel fractions, higher temperatures, greater weights, higher incident radiation, sonic booms, anti-SST legislation and higher costs. So electrics for SSTs is a major enabler. They fly above the tropopause where, even using bio or hydrogen fuels, the water in the exhaust is a major climate problem more serious than CO2. A realistic solution is to go fully electric. And a strut-braced extreme arrow configuration gives an L/D of 16 compared to existing SST designs with an L/D around 10. Metrics for electric aircraft markets • Acquisition and operation costs • Safety • Ease of use • Acoustics • Close proximity operations • Reliability • Ride quality • Emissions • Range and efficiency • Certification • Crashproof • All weather operation as feasible
Advanced SST designs come in 5 major categories: (1) unswept, thin natural laminar flow wings, (2) parasol wing with favorable interference, (3) multi stage aircraft (4) yawed wings and (5) the Pfenninger extreme arrow strut-braced wing. The yawed wing approach uniquely provides a low supersonic Mach number that is extremely efficient and nearly boom-less. Of these, the Pfenninger extreme arrow strut-braced wing appears to have the greatest potential, essentially doubling the Concord L/D of about 7.3. The extreme arrow wing minimizes wave drag due to lift and wing wetted area. The short wing chord aids suction laminar flow control. Mid-wing fuel canisters offer favorable wave interaction and load alleviation with natural laminar flow on the forward regions of the fuel cannisters and the fuselage. Experiments suggest the injection of liquid water jets suitably tailored for effectiveness and minimal water mass flow can place water droplets in the mixing region of the external jet which reduces turbulence and takeoff noise. Electric propulsion for SSTs would involve efficient electric motors which should be more efficient than GTEs. The initial stages of compression could involve supersonic through-flows. For further efficiency, the heat produced by the compression, the stagnation of the supersonic free stream and the motors could be regenerated to produce additional electricity for propulsion. Electric propulsion for SSTs is in an early research stage, with more R&D required. This includes propul-
Current acceleration of renewable energy development and cost reductions coupled with serious climate impacts is an enabler for electric transportation, including aircraft. There could be sizable cost and operational benefits to electric aircraft propulsion. With the rapid development of renewable energy to recharge batteries, electric aircraft could be increasingly emission-less. And research is closing in on energy densities reaching parity with GTEs over the next decade. Part of this solution is to reduce energy (and battery) requirements by lowering weight and drag. A synergistic mix of revolutionary aircraft concepts, configurations and advanced aero and material technologies could accelerate electrics development by enabling battery performance less than that equivalent to heavy transportation fuels.
Dennis Bushnell is chief scientist at the NASA Langley Research Center, where he is responsible for technical oversight and advanced program formulation. His major technical expertise includes flow physics and control, drag reduction and advanced configuration aeronautics. Bushnell is a fellow of AIAA, ASME and the Royal Aeronautical Society and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. Robert Moses, PhD is a NASA Langley aerospace research engineer specializing in frontier mission concepts for space exploration. He is an associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
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Professional Pilot Magazine October 2018