AIN Alerts
February 10, 2020
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Pilatus PC-24 snow runway testing

Pilatus PC-24 Clinches Rough Field Certification

Pilatus Aircraft on Friday announced it obtained rough field certification for its PC-24, allowing the light twinjet to take off and land on grass, wet earth, dry sand, gravel, and snow. Approval for operations on dry sand and gravel was secured in 2018, and the addition of wet and snow-covered runways was the result of a “comprehensive” post-certification test campaign conducted last year.

The Swiss aircraft manufacturer said it developed the PC-24 for use on rough fields from the outset. This capability nearly doubles the number of runways worldwide where the business jet can land, it said.

“Our PC-24 has proven that it is capable of flying the full range of missions for which it was developed,” said Pilatus chairman Oscar Schwenk. “The Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia and operators in North America or Africa already use rough field runways on a regular basis, proving just how unique the PC-24 is.”

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) requires tests for the certification of takeoff and landing capability to be carried out on different runways. Grass-runway testing was done in Goodwood, England; Kunovice, Czech Republic; Poitiers, France; and Duxford, England. A runway in Woodbridge, England, was used to reproduce complex conditions to meet all test specifications for takeoffs and landings on wet dirt surfaces, and snow-covered gravel runway trials were performed at Kuujjuaq in Canada.


Bizav Analyst Surveys Merits of Bombardier-Textron Deal

A Textron acquisition of Bombardier’s business jet unit would “somewhat” alleviate an overcrowded new business jet market, but it’s likely Textron would be interested only in the Canadian airframer’s largest product line—the Global series. That’s according to business aviation analyst Brian Foley in a note about the implications of such a deal that was first alluded to in a February 4 Wall Street Journal report.

With a significant slowing of sales of the Learjet 70 and 75, those “models face a very uncertain future, whether under Textron or Bombardier,” Foley said. He also noted that Bombardier’s successful Challenger 350 “sits almost exactly on top of Cessna’s brand-new Citation Longitude,” but it’s been six years since the airplane was introduced. Likewise, the larger and longer-range Challenger 650 is long in the tooth “and has undergone so many upgrades over time with engines, avionics, and other improvements that there’s really nowhere left to go,” he said. 

That leaves the Globals, which would fill a hole in the Textron Aviation lineup with the largest and longest-range business jets. While Foley said Textron is the only business jet maker that makes sense as an acquirer of Bombardier’s business jets, such a deal is still tenuous. “Textron’s financial performance has been stressed lately, and the outlook going forward isn’t looking much better,” Foley said. 

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Bryant’s VFR Pilot Was Deliberately Climbing Into IMC

Mere seconds before crashing, the pilot of the VFR helicopter flight that killed basketball legend Kobe Bryant and seven other passengers on January 26 had requested a climb to 4,000 feet through IMC, according to an NTSB investigation update released on Friday.

At the time pilot Ara Zobayan requested the climb, the S-76B (registered as N72EX) had left a reported altitude of 1,500 feet msl and was already climbing to 2,300 msl—about 1,500 agl—while entering a left-hand turn to the south and east, away from its previous route westbound over Highway 101. Eight seconds after beginning the turn, the aircraft began descending, reaching a descent rate of over 4,000 fpm and a ground speed of 160 knots. The last ADS-B target indicated an altitude of 1,200 feet msl 400 feet southwest of the accident location.  

Camera images in the crash site area at the time showed cloud tops at 2,400 feet with fog and mist down to the ground. A security camera in the area showed the helicopter disappearing into clouds. An eyewitness 50 feet above the crash site reported seeing N72EX emerge out the bottom of the clouds, descending at high speed, rolling left, and banked sufficiently that he could see the bottom of the aircraft. 

The NTSB’s report on wreckage condition paints a picture of a non-survivable, high-impact crash with a post-crash fire.

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Obitts Takes the Helm at NATA

The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) announced today that Timothy Obitts, the organization’s chief operating officer (COO), has assumed the position of president. He succeeds Gary Dempsey, who held the position for more than a year and served for six years on the association’s board of directors, including a term as chairman.

“This transition follows a succession plan set up by the board to provide continuity that best supports and benefits the membership, and we are fortunate to have worked alongside someone as devoted, connected, and knowledgeable as Gary,” said NATA board chairman Curt Castagna.

Obitts joined NATA in November 2014 as senior v-p for business and general counsel, but as the former managing partner of northern Virginia-based Gammon & Grange, he had been doing work on the organization’s behalf since 2006. He was named COO in February 2018 and oversaw the day-to-day operations of the organization.

“It is a great honor to be at the helm of an association with such a rich history and bright future,” said Obitts. “I join the board, the staff, and the members in expressing gratitude to Gary Dempsey for leveraging his extensive experience, both at the board level and as president, to help elevate the association and industry. I look forward to continuing to work with the board and our talented staff to further his legacy.”


Bizcraft Get Breather as Euro Datalink Mandate Begins

A mandate requiring advanced datalink capabilities on all aircraft flying above FL285 in Europe came into force last week, but many business aircraft are not yet affected thanks to an exemption added last year. Having backed off from imposing it on all aircraft from February 5, the European Commission introduced two exemptions: one for aircraft with a certificate of airworthiness first issued before Jan. 1, 2018, but fitted before that date with FANS 1/A; and secondly for aircraft with 19 seats or less and an mtow of 100,000 pounds or less, with a first individual certificate of airworthiness issued before Feb. 5, 2020.

Ops Group pointed out that EASA, via European Commission lawmaking, also made various older airliners exempt from the requirement (on the basis they are gradually being retired and are uneconomical to upgrade) and list of larger business aircraft and a separate one of narrowbody bizliners, which now must be compliant by Feb. 5, 2022. These will in many cases require avionics retrofits.

According to RocketRoute, operators who are exempt from the mandate are required to insert the letter “Z” in Field 10 in flight plans and the indicator “DAT/CPDLCX” in Field 18 of their flight plan. After doing so, they then can be cleared to fly above FL285.


BBA Aviation Rebrands as Signature Aviation

As it continues to shed its businesses outside of its FBO operations, Signature Flight Support’s parent company has changed its name from BBA Aviation to Signature Aviation, a move that the company’s board of directors believes will create a stronger and clearer connection of the brand to shareholders and other stakeholders.

The rebranding comes after the UK-based Signature’s sale of Ontic, a manufacturer of OEM-licensed legacy aircraft parts in November, leaving just the publicly-owned company’s global engine services division consisting of Dallas Airmotive, H+S Aviation, International Turbine Service, International Governor Services and W.H. Barrett Turbine Engine Company, on the auction block. In a recent shareholder communication, the company noted “the disposal process is ongoing.”

“We continue to see many exciting opportunities for innovation, investment and growth in the FBO space and the Signature Aviation name aligns with our renewed focus on the Signature Flight Support brand as our core business,” company CEO Mark Johnstone, told AIN. “At the same time, we are actively exploring new ways to strengthen and expand our brands and platforms to uncover compelling sources of future growth.”


Aircraft Parts Provider Aviatrix Expands Headquarters

Oregon-based global aircraft parts supplier Aviatrix has expanded its headquarters to a newly-built 17,000-sq-ft facility in Sherwood that will contain its offices, 30 staffers, and more than 250,000 line items of spare parts. That’s a far cry from 2002, when the company began with just two employees in a small suite in Newberg. As it expanded, it moved to Wilsonville, and then to a location in Sherwood that it soon outgrew.

Company owners Waseel Azizi and Courtney Wahlberg expect that growth to continue. “The enthusiastic staff and on-site inventory at the new location provide a tremendous opportunity for our future expansion,” they said.

The company—which is ISO 9001 and AS 9120 certified—serves the military; commercial and private aviation; helicopter operators; and maintenance providers and distributors. It supplies services such as AOG priority, cross-reference capabilities, expedited manufacturing, expedited service capabilities for both repair and spare parts, engineering solutions for obsolete parts, online technical support, quick-quote turnaround, and same-day shipping. It also offers an FAA-designated airworthiness representative for quality questions and technical assistance.

Aviation Safety Question of the Week
Provided by

Which of the following statements is true regarding the effect of slats on the maximum lift coefficient (CLmax) and angle of attack (AoA)?

  • A. Slat extension increases CLmax and keeps the critical AoA unchanged.
  • B. Slat extension increases CLmax and increases the critical AoA.
  • C. Slat extension keeps both CLmax and the critical AOA unchanged.
  • D. Slat retraction increases CLmax and keeps the critical AOA unchanged.

Risk Strategies Acquires Aviation Insurance Broker

Transport Risk Management, a Colorado-based broker specializing in aviation-related insurance and risk management, has been acquired by national insurance brokerage Risk Strategies. “Risk Strategies’ success is built on specialty expertise and the value it delivers to clients facing complex risks,” said Risk Strategies CEO John Mina. “[Travel Risk Management] is a dead-on fit for our business, and its focus is an area in which we’re seeing an increased need.”

Terry Miller, Transport Risk's president, founded the company in 2003 and has more than 1,000 clients. Transport Risk’s offerings include unmanned aerial systems and drone coverages. It also has managing general agent authority with a major international carrier for its specialty drone program.

“We were looking for a way to broaden our capabilities without compromising the specialist knowledge and expertise that our growing client base demands,” Miller said. “Becoming part of Risk Strategies was the perfect way to achieve this goal and ensure we could continue to grow our business in a way that worked best for our clients.”


Tales from the Flight Deck: What Went So Wrong with Atlas Air Flight 3591

A routine air cargo run from Miami to Houston meets a tragic end. Information released by investigators paints the picture of a confused flight crew fighting desperately to regain control and might also highlight ongoing concerns about pilot training. Today, we examine the NTSB docket on the downing of Atlas Air 3591 and what lessons all pilots may draw from it.

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Report Type: Preliminary
Severity: Incident
Registration #: N808MA
Make/Model: Cessna 208B
City: Honolulu
State: Hawaii
Country: United States
Event Date: February 3, 2020
Report Type: Preliminary
Severity: Incident
Registration #: N767TP
Make/Model: Piper Meridian
City: Minneapolis
State: Minnesota
Country: United States
Event Date: February 4, 2020
Report Type: Preliminary
Severity: Incident
Registration #: N454SF
Make/Model: Cessna 208B
City: Hooper Bay
State: Alaska
Country: United States
Event Date: February 5, 2020
Report Type: Preliminary
Severity: Nonfatal Accident
Registration #: N24MG
Make/Model: Cessna 208B
City: Arcata
State: California
Country: United States
Event Date: February 6, 2020
Report Type: Preliminary
Severity: Nonfatal Accident
Registration #: N405PT
Make/Model: Beechcraft King Air B200
City: St. Louis
State: Missouri
Country: United States
Event Date: February 6, 2020
Report Type: Preliminary
Severity: Fatal Accident
Registration #: RA-01893
Make/Model: Bell 407
City: Kuibyshev Reservoir
Country: Russia
Event Date: February 7, 2020
Report Type: Preliminary
Severity: Nonfatal Accident
Registration #: N988FX
Make/Model: Cessna 208B Grand Caravan
City: Baltimore
State: Maryland
Country: United States
Event Date: February 7, 2020
Report Type: Preliminary
Severity: Fatal Accident
Registration #: N501RG
Make/Model: Cessna Citation I/SP
City: Fairmount
State: Georgia
Country: United States
Event Date: February 8, 2020
Report Type: Preliminary
Severity: Incident
Registration #: N312FU
Make/Model: Hawker 800XP
City: Fort Lauderdale
State: Florida
Country: United States
Event Date: February 9, 2020
Report Type: Preliminary
Severity: Incident
Registration #: N350AM
Make/Model: Airbus Helicopters EC350
City: Lubbock
State: Texas
Country: United States
Event Date: February 9, 2020
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