AIN Alerts
October 19, 2020
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District Court Dismisses NBAA Case To Preserve SMO

Business and general aviation leaders faced another setback in their efforts to preserve Santa Monica Municipal Airport (SMO) with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissal of a case seeking to overturn an FAA agreement that paved the way for the closure of the airport after Dec. 31, 2028.

The FAA struck a settlement agreement with the city of Santa Monica in 2017 essentially freeing the city from any legal obligations that it must run the airport in perpetuity after 2028 and, in the meantime, enabling the city to shorten the runway to 3,500 feet.

NBAA joined local airport advocates in challenging the surprise agreement but was rebuffed on procedural grounds. The groups then in 2018 turned to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to continue its battle against the agreement, but that court also dismissed the case on jurisdictional and procedural grounds.

Alex Gertsen, NBAA director of airports and ground infrastructure, expressed disappointment with the ruling, saying it shields the FAA agreement from judicial review. “Despite not successfully overturning the settlement agreement, NBAA remains committed to supporting the Santa Monica Airport Association (SMAA) and engaging with city officials and community representatives to ensure a viable future for their local airport,” he said.

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Bombardier Biggin Hill Facility on Track; GM Appointed

Expansion of Bombardier Aviation’s service center at London Biggin Hill is on track as the Canadian airframer names a couple of key appointments to lead the operation. Greg Hoggett has been named general manager of the service center while Corey Trudgen moves over to support the Biggin Hill expansion and future expansion across the services network.

Hoggett, who has more than 30 years of aviation experience, was most recently group operations director for AJW Group and, before that, managing director and COO for TAG Aviation Europe/TAG Aviation UK. “His extensive knowledge and experience will be influential in leading the evolution of our Biggin Hill facility as we continue to enhance our customer service offerings in the region,” said Jean-Christophe Gallagher, Bombardier executive v-p of services and support and corporate strategy.

Announced in February, the Biggin Hill project involves the construction of a new and larger facility encompassing nearly 250,000 sq ft and accommodating up to 14 Global 7500s. It will replace the existing facilities Bombardier has occupied since opening the Biggin Hill operation in 2017. The new facility is expected to be complete by 2022.


Argus: U.S. Bizav Flying Continues Incremental Recovery

Business aircraft flying in the U.S., Canada, and Caribbean last month ticked up 1.2 percent from August, but is down 16.6 percent year-over-year as the Covid pandemic continues to stymie activity, according to the latest TraqPak data from Argus International. The company’s analysts predict that there will be a 14.8 percent year-over-year decrease in flight activity this month.

Results by operational category were down across the board, with Part 91 activity posting the largest yearly decrease—down 22.3 percent from September 2019. Meanwhile, fractional and Part 135 activity slid 12.1 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

Looking at aircraft categories and following the post-Covid trends, light jets once again fared the best, falling 10.4 percent year-over-year last month, while large-cabin jet activity suffered the steepest decline, plunging 29.1 percent from a year ago. Midsize jet flying decreased by 17.7 percent year-over-year, and turboprop activity descended 14.7 percent over the same period.

According to Argus, weekday traffic was down 20.4 percent in September, while weekend flying fell by a more modest 14.1 percent. The U.S. Southeast continued to dominate with 46,699 departures last month, nearly 20,000 more than the next-closest regions on the West Coast, Argus said.


JSfirm Calls Boeing Pilot Outlook Encouraging

JSfirm called the latest Boeing Pilot and Technician Outlook encouraging, saying it underscores that strong demand for hiring will return as the industry recovers from the pandemic. Boeing, which this month released the latest edition of its 20-year outlook, predictably scaled back its projections from past years’ reports, taking into account the ramifications of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

JSfirm noted the market went from a pre-pandemic position of shortages of qualified pilots, technicians, and cabin crew to an environment of furloughs, early retirements, and layoffs throughout the aviation industry. “However, there are reasons to be hopeful that the aviation industry is going to bounce back,” the online aviation job board said. “Boeing is reporting that the long-term need remains robust and aviation professionals will still be in demand by the hundreds of thousands for years to come.”

The outlook, looking at hiring needs through 2039, sees a need for 763,000 new pilots, which is down 5 percent from the prior report; 739,000 technicians, down 3.9 percent; and 903,000 cabin crewmembers, down 1.22 percent.

“Boeing’s predictions will produce confidence across the aviation industry,” said JSfirm executive director Abbey Hutter. “JSfirm memberships are increasing exponentially, and we have hundreds of companies that are actively hiring. As the industry continues to recover, we will see the demand for aviation professionals return to their pre-Covid levels.”


Airbus Helicopters Signs Air Methods to HCare Support

Air ambulance provider Air Methods has signed a $24 million, five-year HCare Smart support contract with Airbus Helicopters to cover its fleet of 31 EC145 helicopters. This is Air Methods’ first HCare contract with Airbus and discussions are underway to extend similar support coverage to other aircraft models in the Air Methods fleet, which also includes the H125, H130, H135, and H145.

HCare spans five domains: material management, helicopter maintenance, technical support, training and flight operations, and connected services. HCare material management offers three service levels: Easy (on-request catalog services), Smart (four by-the-hour options), and Infinite (full availability commitments). Air Methods is the nation’s largest civil helicopter operator with more than 450 aircraft transporting more than 70,000 patients annually.

“With nose-to-tail airframe coverage for their EC145 fleet, we will collaborate with Air Methods to support efficient management, streamline costs, and eliminate surprises, with the intent of increasing operational availability and allowing Air Methods to focus its resources on its core business of fully supporting its customer base,” said Airbus Helicopters v-p of customer support Anthony Baker.


New Runway Surface Assessment Format Delayed

In response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the associated challenges facing the aviation industry, ICAO has delayed the applicability date of a new global reporting format (GRF) for assessing runway conditions and runway condition reports (RCRs) to pilots.

Under an EASA notice of proposed rulemaking in 2018, the GRF was scheduled to go into effect on Nov. 5, 2020. The agencies, in partnership with key international organizations, will continue to provide support to member states and stakeholders as they emerge from the current crisis and revise their implementation plans. In particular, training resources will be enhanced and awareness-raising activities will be relaunched.

The new RCRs would correlate standardized data assessed on the ground with aircraft performance data provided by the manufacturer to enable the flight crew to more accurately calculate their takeoff or landing performance. This matching of standardized observation and reporting with standardized aircraft data is the key advantage of the new global reporting format.


FreeFlight Datalink Offers Dual-band ADS-B

FreeFlight Systems has received Technical Standard Order (TSO) approval for its new line of dual-band ADS-B datalink receivers. These new receivers begin shipping next month with approved model list certification for Part 23 aircraft. STC options for Part 25 aircraft will be available early next year.

The company's datalink receivers weigh less than two pounds and include Ethernet connectivity. Its dual-band RXD comes without a WAAS GPS sensor and the RXD/G with GPS. Two new FreeFlight ADS-B Out/In transceivers will also be certified soon, and these will also be available with or without GPS. All the new units are capable of diversity functionality, allowing for top- and bottom-mounted antennas that facilitate better reception, including Aireon space-based ADS-B in areas without ADS-B ground stations.

The new models also have built-in Wi-Fi for sharing ADS-B In information with panel displays and portable devices. ADS-B In capabilities include receiving free Flight Information Services-Broadcast (FIS-B) weather and Traffic Information Services-Broadcast (TIS-B), as well as information for surveillance applications and interfacing with TCAS. 

“Now that ADS-B Out is fully deployed, operators can start to take advantage of many NextGen applications,” said FreeFlight Systems president and CEO Tim Taylor. “ADS-B In is the first of those to be fully available today. We are proud to contribute to the industry with a unique product that ultimately increases airborne safety."

Aviation Safety Question of the Week
Provided by

Which of the following are recognized contributory factors to runway incursions?

  • A. Weather and airport design.
  • B. Approaching traffic.
  • C. Pilot and controller workload.
  • D. Both A and C above.

Max-Viz EVS STC’d for Airbus AS350 Helicopters

Astronics’ Max-Viz 1200 and 1400 enhanced vision systems (EVS) have received STC approval from the FAA and Transport Canada for installation in the Airbus Helicopters AS350B/B1/B2/B3/BA/BD. The avionics manufacturer worked with Calgary, Alberta-based Avio on the STCs.

The Max-Viz 1200 and 1400 systems, which are lightweight and feature an uncooled thermal camera, can output sensor images on any avionics displays that can accept NTSC or PAL/analog RS-170 video signals. They provide improved safety by enabling pilots to see terrain, obstacles, and airport environments more precisely in adverse weather conditions such as haze, smoke, smog, and light fog.

“Our EVS is perfectly suited for aerial firefighting, heli-skiing, search and rescue, and utility operations,” said Max-Viz business unit director Tom Geiger. “The Astronics Max-Viz technology provides pilots with an unprecedented level of situational awareness and safety.”

According to Astronics, more than 3,500 Max-Viz systems are installed on aircraft to date. Of those, approximately 60 percent are on general aviation airplanes and 40 percent are operating on rotorcraft.


AIN Announces 2020 Top Flight Awards Nominees

The nominees for the 2020 AIN Top Flight Awards are now available on the Top Flight Awards landing page on AINonline. The awards aim to honor creativity and innovation in design and technology in business aviation, as well as quality and passion in business aviation services and people. AIN’s editorial team has selected the nominees and will choose award winners.


Webinar: Autothrottle Safety and Performance Benefits

Autothrottles greatly simplify the operation of turboprop engines, helping the pilot not only manage power changes automatically during busy flying periods in terminal airspace but also add major safety benefits. For the first time, the Innovative Solutions & Support autothrottle system is now available for PT6-powered airplanes, and webinar attendees can learn about how the system works and all of the benefits it offers. Please join us on November 4 as AIN editor-in-chief Matt Thurber moderates an in-depth discussion with Tom Grunbeck, director of autothrottle products at Innovative Solutions & Support, and Aaron Tobias, FAA consultant DER flight test pilot.

Report Type: Preliminary
Severity: Incident
Registration #: N423AK
Make/Model: Bombardier Challenger 601-3R
City: Scottsdale
State: Arizona
Country: United States
Event Date: October 9, 2020
Report Type: Preliminary
Severity: Incident
Registration #: N930TD
Make/Model: Daher TBM 930
City: Brownsville
State: Texas
Country: United States
Event Date: October 9, 2020
Report Type: Preliminary
Severity: Incident
Registration #: N835TX
Make/Model: Airbus Helicopters EC135
City: Longview
State: Texas
Country: United States
Event Date: October 14, 2020
Report Type: Preliminary
Severity: Incident
Registration #: N295PJ
Make/Model: Cessna Citation Mustang
City: St. Louis
State: Missouri
Country: United States
Event Date: October 15, 2020
Report Type: Preliminary
Severity: Incident
Registration #: N777CP
Make/Model: Bell 206
City: Lakeland
State: Florida
Country: United States
Event Date: October 16, 2020
Report Type: Preliminary
Severity: Incident
Registration #: N333QS
Make/Model: Embraer Phenom 300
City: Asheville
State: North Carolina
Country: United States
Event Date: October 17, 2020
AINalerts News Tips/Feedback: News tips may be sent anonymously, but feedback must include name and contact info (we will withhold name on request). We reserve the right to edit correspondence for length, clarity and grammar. Send feedback or news tips to AINalerts editor Chad Trautvetter.
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