AIN Alerts
September 7, 2020
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USAF Issues Contracts for Supersonic Air Force One

Exosonic and Hermeus—relatively unknown developers of faster-than-the-speed-of-sound passenger aircraft—recently were awarded separate contracts by the U.S. Air Force’s Presidential and Executive Airlift Directorate to develop executive transports that could be used as Air Force One. The former company is working on a 70-passenger supersonic airplane, while the latter is developing a 20-seat hypersonic airplane.

The contract awarded to Exosonic, which was announced last week, is for the company’s low-boom, Mach 1.8 twinjet that would fly U.S. leaders up to 5,000-nm nonstop, allowing them to more quickly meet with world leaders or react to developing situations.

Meanwhile, Hermeus’s USAF award granted in August for its Mach 5 airplane comes under an “other transaction for prototype agreement direct to Phase II contract” after the company successfully tested a hypersonic engine prototype in February. The company said it has taken an “off-the-shelf gas turbine engine and operated it at flight speed conditions faster than the famed SR-71.” Though performance and specification data for its Mach 5 jet are scant, Hermeus claimed the aircraft will be able to fly from New York to London in about 90 minutes.

Neither company has yet provided development timelines for these airplanes.


European Bizav Traffic Saw Uptick in August

European business aviation activity saw a strong rebound last month, with traffic levels up by 3 percent over the same period in 2019, according to the latest statistics from industry data provider WingX Advance. The company noted, however, that total flight hours were down, evidence of the trend of shorter flights seen throughout the recovery. 

Corresponding to several unexpected travel quarantines that arose during mid-August, usage dipped, but by the end of the month the average seven-day daily activity was up to 2,344 flights, nearly six times the low point of the trough in April. From April to August, European business aviation was still down by 34 percent compared with the same period last year.

In the North American market, while overall flights lagged the previous August by 21 percent, domestic activity is back up to 81 percent of normal activity for the month, with weekend traffic reaching more than 90 percent.

“August saw the overall market edge further towards recovery, with marked variation between Europe and the U.S.,” said WingX managing director Richard Koe. “Further ahead in the pandemic curve, European countries have substantially opened their economies, and belatedly, tourism has been rebooted. The U.S market is still some way behind, but as the public health crisis recedes, there may now be a quicker upturn.”

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NBAA To Host Virtual Safety Week

While NBAA has set aside this year’s NBAA-BACE, the organization is moving forward with its popular safety programs traditionally held in tandem with the annual convention but in a repackaged, virtual format. To be held October 5 to 9, the same week that the NBAA-BACE was originally scheduled, Virtual Safety Week will feature an online single-pilot safety standdown and a national safety forum.

Each program will offer sessions in short time blocks through the week, NBAA said, providing insight into best practices, critical thinking skills during a crisis, and personal performance and fitness for duty optimization.

The single-pilot safety standdown will encompass four sessions, including a keynote, on October 5 and 6—“The Quest for Mastery,” “Ambiguous Cockpit Indications,” “Excellence on Approach,” and “Options for Success & Keynote: Lessons Learned from a Single-Pilot Accident.”

The national safety forum, meanwhile, will involve sessions on October 8 and 9 covering “Optimizing Your Personal Performance” in the areas of sleep, body, mind, and a supportive organizational and SMS structure.

The programs will cover insight from a range of experts from across the industry. Linking the programs on October 7 will be the 2020 Dr. Tony Kern Professionalism in Aviation Awards. Now open, registration for the programs is free.


Victor Names Edwards, Farley Co-CEOs

Following a management buyout in March, London-based air charter provider Victor has promoted two of its longstanding employees, Toby Edwards and James Farley, to co-CEOs. Clive Jackson, who had been CEO and led the buyout with a small group of new investors, is taking the role of executive chairman.

Edwards and Farley joined the global charter service provider during its infancy in 2012 and helped expand Victor into an established charter brokerage brand, leading it to earn a place in the Sunday Times Top 100 Fastest-Growing UK Tech Companies rankings for five consecutive years.

Edwards initially served as a member services executive when he joined Victor in July 2012. Victor credited him with building and training the sales, operations, and flight management teams, as well as recruiting a U.S. team when the company launched in North America in 2015. In 2018 he became managing director for the Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Middle East and North Africa regions.

James Farley, who joined in 2012 as head of product, has been responsible for Victor's global profit and loss oversight, ensuring that consumer and commercial objectives were met across the organization. He also has steered the brand and marketing team. Before joining Victor, he helped secure early-stage financing for the company in his corporate finance advisory role with TMT Ventures.

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Hyundai’s Urban Air Mobility Division Joins GAMA

Hyundai Motor Group’s Urban Air Mobility Division has become the latest entity involved in the electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) space to join the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) as an “associate member full.”

GAMA created the associate member full category in 2018 as a growing number of companies jumped into eVTOL, hybrid/electric, autonomous, and other emerging technology fields. Hyundai has become the ninth member currently in that category, but another two dozen companies involved in such technologies have joined the association as an associate member EPIC (Electric Propulsion and Innovation Committee) category. The associate member full enables a deeper commitment to and participation in the association.

Earlier this year, Hyundai announced a partnership with Uber Elevate to develop air taxis and released its concept for an eVTOL, the all-electric S-A1 that will cruise at 180 mph at 1,000 to 2,000 feet with a range of up to 60 miles. The S-A1 is to have distributed electric propulsion, powering multiple rotors and propellers around the airframe.

“It is exciting to see automotive manufacturers enter the advanced air mobility sector of the aviation industry. The innovative technologies that are coming out of this rapidly growing sector are propelling general and business aviation into the future,” said GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce.


Virginia Airport Issues Hangar RFPs

Seeking to bolster the hangar space at Manassas Regional Airport in Virginia, the city of Manassas has issued a pair of RFPs.

The first calls for the development of a new hangar complex on two plots of land totaling 10 acres on the southeast side of the field, near the site where aviation services provider Chantilly Air will soon open the airport’s second FBO. In addition to storage hangars, it is expected to include new ramps, vehicle parking areas, and all other necessary infrastructure.

The second RFP is for the long-term lease of an existing hangar complex, also on the southeast side, which is currently occupied by Chantilly Air’s maintenance department. It consists of two connected hangars with a combined 24,000 sq ft of aircraft storage area and an additional 2,000 sq ft of office space.

The winning bidder is required to perform infrastructure improvements such as repaving and restriping the existing parking lot spaces and driveways, repaving the existing ramp/apron, professionally painting the exterior and exteriors of both hangars, replacing and/or repairing insulation in both hangars, replacing existing gas heaters in both hangars, refinishing both hangar floors, replacing existing office HVAC units with new energy-efficient units, and obtaining professional analysis for the repair of the roof for each hangar and office space.

Both proposals are due September 28.

Aviation Safety Question of the Week
Provided by

What is the purpose of a horn balance in the flight controls?

  • A. Provide a surface on the flight controls to attach the navigation lights.
  • B. Provide a better aerodynamic finishing to the flight controls to improve aesthetics.
  • C. Improve handling qualities by making the required deflection forces more tolerable to the pilot.
  • D. All of the above.

API Updates Outplacement Services

Aviation Personnel International (API) has updated its “Your Best Foot Forward” aviation outplacement program to support virtual platforms and incorporate the latest technology. The program helps companies provide support to employees who are facing layoffs. These updates were designed to enhance the platform to meet the challenges associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, API said.

Along with enabling career coaches and participants to meet virtually in small group workshops, the updates let coaches work with each outplacement participant in developing a job-seeking strategy. The new virtual delivery platform includes online video capabilities and provides access to workshop training materials through a secured website. At the same time, API said, it has “honed its focus” on emotional support to ensure coaches understand the unique factors in each situation.

Recognizing that many outplacement participants haven’t been in the job market for a decade or possibly longer, the API coach will help review and update the job-seekers’ social media footprint and the company offers resume templates that will help “make it past an electronic scanner.” Video interview and cover letter support also are available.

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Duncan Completes Battle Creek Design Center Renovation

Duncan Aviation has completed a months-long renovation of its Battle Creek, Michigan design center that has increased its space by 30 percent and created a more efficient work area. The MRO provider uses the facility to interact with customers on the paint design and cabin modifications of their aircraft.

The facility features large glass doors, a new conference room, and a sample library with cabinets and countertops for displaying material samples, as well as separate workstations for individual designers. “The new configuration also makes better use of space and storage. In the past, all of the functions of our space were put together; there was no separation among the library, conference table, storage areas, or designers’ desks,” said Duncan Battle Creek lead designer Emily Krawczak.

Capable of enabling multiple, simultaneous client presentations, the renovation also includes a conference room with a large-screen TV for the display of 3D renderings and seating for 10 people. That allows designers, sales, paint, and interiors staff to meet with customers. The 3D-enabled technology also allows the Duncan team to meet remotely with clients. “This new space is organized and efficient, and it better captures the professionalism of the design team,” said Duncan Battle Creek executive v-p and chief operating officer Andy Richards.

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AIN Webinar: New Trends in Aircraft Interiors

Please join us on September 23 as AIN editor-in-chief Matt Thurber moderates an in-depth discussion on the latest trends in business aircraft interiors and lighting design. Featuring Aircraft Lighting International general manager Shervin Rezaie and West Star Aviation paint and interior designer Veta C. Traxler, this webinar will help business aircraft owners and operators planning interior refurbishments to make aesthetic choices for upcoming upgrades. Register now for this free webinar.

Report Type: Preliminary
Severity: Incident
Registration #: ARLF1
Make/Model: Airbus Helicopters EC135
City: Roanoke
State: Virginia
Country: United States
Event Date: August 28, 2020
Report Type: Preliminary
Severity: Nonfatal Accident
Registration #: HC-CVB
Make/Model: Robinson R66
City: Manta
Country: Ecuador
Event Date: August 29, 2020
Report Type: Preliminary
Severity: Nonfatal Accident
Registration #: XB-OAP
Make/Model: Dassault Falcon 200
City: Palenque
Country: Mexico
Event Date: August 29, 2020
Report Type: Preliminary
Severity: Incident
Registration #: N982SB
Make/Model: Beechcraft King Air C90
City: Fortuna
State: California
Country: United States
Event Date: August 31, 2020
Report Type: Preliminary
Severity: Incident
Registration #: N139HN
Make/Model: Airbus Helicopters EC130
City: Winchester
State: Kentucky
Country: United States
Event Date: September 2, 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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