Latest News – Business Aviation News Sat, 22 Jan 2022 04:37:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Latest News – Business Aviation News 32 32 142066361 Bolen, Baker Express Urgency in Replacing 100LL Fri, 21 Jan 2022 16:46:56 +0000 General aviation is at a “watershed moment” as airports begin to ban 100 low-lead aviation gasoline and the Environmental Protection Agency places a 2023 timeline for an endangerment finding on leaded fuel, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association president and CEO Mark Baker warned. Facing a need to remain in front of the efforts, industry leaders hope to nail down a new timeframe for finding a drop-in replacement in the upcoming weeks, he added.

Speaking on Thursday during an NBAA webinar entitled “Big Year, Big Issues for Operators—CEOs’ Perspectives,” Baker and NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen agreed that the recent efforts to ban leaded fuel have ratcheted up the urgency for finding a drop-in replacement. At the same time, those efforts underscore the importance of the FAA remaining engaged to ensure the safety of the fleet, they added.

“We all agree we need to move away from low-lead,” Baker said, but banning access, such as what Santa Clara County in California has done at Reid-Hillview and San Martin Airports, is a safety issue. Baker is encouraged that the FAA has opened an investigation into the move but said there is “a long way to go.”

Bolen added that an effort to ban avgas “falls under multiple titles: this is an airport issue, it’s an economic issue, it’s a sustainability issue, but first and foremost it’s a safety issue.”

Bolen stressed that while there has been progress, “there is not a clear path for the fleet nationwide. What we are working on is to make sure that we have an opportunity to make a thoughtful, smooth transition so we have an alternative that is a drop-in, that is available, [and] that we have the distribution.”

Baker noted that a cross-section of the industry has been working to address this on multiple fronts and “hopefully in the next month here, we’ll have some concrete dates and a definitive timeline.” He added that this will help reassure that the industry has a path to achieve its goal.

“We hope to get the whole industry to agree that the change will come in a timeline that makes sense so we can protect our airports,” Baker said.

Safety is the key priority since many piston aircraft must still operate on 100LL, but a secondary concern is that communities, particularly in California, will use the issue “as an excuse to close an airport or really restrict an airport.”

Also urgent is the looming endangerment finding, he said. “The EPA endangerment finding will scare a lot of people and it will be released sometime very soon. It will scare a lot of airport managers, and communities that say we need to make [100LL] go away sooner,” Baker said.

Bolen agreed and said the finding is not a surprise but underscores the need for expedience. “We’re working with everybody all the way up through the Department of Transportation Secretary to make sure we get the involvement, and if we need to involve Congress in this…to make sure we all agree we’re going change away from low-lead fuel as soon as practical, as soon as safe, as soon as economically possible, [we’ll] do that,” Baker said.

Bolen added that this is a “front-burner” issue, saying, “We’ve been working hard at it.”

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ACA Declares January 21 'Fly Legal Day' Fri, 21 Jan 2022 16:42:29 +0000 In another effort to raise awareness about illegal charters, the Air Charter Association (ACA) has declared today to be Fly Legal Day. The date was chosen to honor Argentinian professional soccer player Emiliano Sala, who on Jan. 21, 2019, was killed in the crash of an illegally chartered aircraft.

“Illegal charter, although not common, remains an ongoing issue in our industry, and Sala’s anniversary highlights the tragic consequences of this illicit activity, which we are determined to minimize,” said ACA chief executive Glenn Hogben. “In memory of Sala, we are launching our Fly Legal Day and ask all our members and industry colleagues around the world to unite in spreading the word and to shine a light on this illegal practice, with the hope of preventing any future tragedy.”

Illegal charters involve operators that don’t have an air operator certificate or air carrier certificate and are not legally allowed to accept payment for a flight. “Ensuring that travelers always fly legally is a crucial part of our mission,” Hogben added. “Using one of our trusted member companies ensures those involved in organizing air charter will avoid illegal charter flights and avoid putting anyone at significant risk.”

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Mojave Airport Honors Rutan Name Fri, 21 Jan 2022 16:29:58 +0000 In honor of the contributions to aerospace by Burt and Dick Rutan, the directors of California’s Mojave Air and Space Port (KMHV) have agreed to rename the facility Mojave Air and Space Port at Rutan Field. Burt Rutan established Rutan Aircraft factory at KMHV in the mid-1970s, when it was just a small general aviation airport. They started Scaled Composites there almost a decade later, helping propel it into a noted center of aerospace innovation.

A prolific designer with no fewer than 46 aircraft to his credit, Burt Rutan has received the Collier and National Air and Space Museum trophies for his work on historic aircraft such as Voyager, which his former Air Force pilot brother Dick copiloted in the first nonstop flight around the world, and SpaceShipOne, which became the first privately funded spacecraft to enter space.

Five of his designs—the above two plus the VariEze, the Quickie, and the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer, which was flown by the late adventurer Steve Fossett in the first solo nonstop circumnavigation of the Earth—are enshrined in the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

According to the KMHV board, the Rutans’ “aviation achievements have played a key role in the evolution of the aerospace industry and the success of the Mojave Air & Space Port organization.”

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Nav Canada Restricting LAHSO to Dry Runways Fri, 21 Jan 2022 16:29:52 +0000 Nav Canada, the country’s private ATC operating company, will restrict land and hold-short operations (LAHSO) to dry runways. LAHSO is an ATC procedure that allows for simultaneous operations on intersecting runways. The intent is to increase airport traffic capacity by using two runways simultaneously and instructing one aircraft to land and hold short of a runway where a departure or arrival is occurring.

This procedure has historically been conducted on both wet and dry runways in Canada. Transport Canada requested that Nav Canada align its LAHSO procedures with those of the U.S. Under FAA regulations, the procedure can be used only on dry runways. The revised requirement takes effect later this month.

In addition to the requirement that the entire runway surface be dry, Nav Canada noted these other parameters associated with the new LAHSO procedures: the use of LAHSO procedures when moisture or contaminants are present is not authorized; a weather minima of 1,000-foot ceiling or more and visibility of at least three statute miles continue to be required; crosswind component cannot exceed 25 knots, including gusts; and the PAPI serving the runway used for LAHSO must be operating.

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Skyports Buys London's Falcon Heliport for eVTOL Ops Fri, 21 Jan 2022 16:14:35 +0000 Advanced air mobility infrastructure group Skyports has acquired Falcon Heliport, one of only two public heliports in London, and will develop it as a potential vertiport for eVTOL aircraft. The facility, Now operating under the name Skyports London Heliport, the facility sits close to the UK capital’s Canary Wharf financial district and will continue to be available to helicopter operators.

Skyports said it will start using the facility to evaluate vertiport operations and equipment as part of its plans to provide infrastructure for eVTOL air taxi services in the UK and other countries. Last year, the UK-based company announced plans to develop a vertiport in the north London suburb of Brent Cross. It is also working on prospective sites in the U.S., France, South Korea, and Singapore.

“The acquisition demonstrates our ambition to deliver a network of operational landing sites for eVTOLs and our commitment to making the UK a leader in the decarbonization of domestic aviation,” said Skyports head of Europe and the Middle East Damian Kysely. “The heliport will also provide us with a live operating environment in which we can safely develop and test our vertiport systems, collect operational data, and mature our vertiport technologies.”

The city’s other heliport is in Battersea on the west side of central London. It is owned by David and Simon Reuben, who also own London Oxford Airport.

Want more? You can find a longer version of this article at, a news and information resource developed by AIN to provide objective coverage and analysis of cutting-edge aviation technology.

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LunaJets Reaches $100M Revenue Milestone in 2021 Fri, 21 Jan 2022 15:27:22 +0000 LunaJets topped $100 million in annual revenue in 2021, marking the first time in private jet charter broker’s 15-year history to have reached this milestone. The Geneva-based company said it saw a 65 percent increase in flight volume compared with 2020 and a 40 percent gain from 2019.

“We beat our record of new clients, with over 1,100 in 2021, with an unprecedented level of clients switching suppliers and newcomers into the industry,” said LunaJets director of sales Guillaume Launay. “Most of these are leisure clients, which this year represent nearly 70 percent of our activity, compared to around 50 percent in 2019, whereas our business clients have dramatically reduced their flight hours.”

In addition, the company last year opened an office in Monaco, adding to its locations in Paris and London; doubled its information technology and digital investments; started accepting crypto payments; and offered carbon offset programs. Looking ahead, LunaJets plans to expand its offices this year to Moscow, Dubai, and Riga, Latvia. It also is projecting 20 to 30 percent growth this year.

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Airbus Revokes Qatar Order for 50 A321neos Fri, 21 Jan 2022 14:21:03 +0000 Airbus confirmed Friday that it has canceled an order for 50 A321neos from Qatar Airways amid an escalating dispute over surface degradation on some of Qatar’s A350s. The contract, which called for first deliveries in 2023, originally specified 40 smaller A320neos and was renegotiated in 2017 to increase the number and size of airplanes to 50 A321neos.

Meanwhile, the High Court in London has scheduled a court case to start in April over Qatar’s A350 claims. The airline seeks $600 million in damages it claims to have incurred during the continued grounding of some 20 of the widebodies.

“We confirm we did terminate the contract for 50 A321s with Qatar Airways in accordance with our rights,” said the company in a written statement. It would offer no further comment on the court case.

Following comments from Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker suggesting that the problem with the A350 affects other operators as well and that Airbus did not understand the underlying cause, the manufacturer in early December said it would seek “an independent legal assessment” to address what it characterized as an ongoing mischaracterization of surface degradation among the Qatari flag carrier’s A350 fleet. Qatar grounded the Airbus A350s ostensibly due to what it called an “accelerated” condition affecting the surface of the composite aircraft below the paint, as mandated by the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA). As a result, the national airline reintroduced to temporary service five of its 10 grounded Airbus A380s due to what it called a capacity shortage caused by its grounding of A350s.

Airbus, however, insisted that it thoroughly assessed the surface paint-related findings and that the European Aviation Safety Agency confirmed it presented no airworthiness issue for the A350 fleet.

“The attempt by this customer to misrepresent this specific topic as an airworthiness issue represents a threat to the international protocols on safety matters,” said Airbus in a December 9 statement, without naming Qatar Airways directly.

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Airbus Helicopters Delivers Last Dauphin Fri, 21 Jan 2022 13:32:16 +0000

Airbus has delivered its last medium twin-turbine Dauphin helicopter. The Spanish Customs Service will use the AS365N3 to combat drug trafficking in the Strait of Gibraltar, the Alboran Sea, and in Galicia. Airbus Helicopters manufactured the helicopter in Marignane, France, and completed it at its Albacete, Spain facility with an electro-optical system, radar, tactical communications system, searchlight, and long-range fuel tanks that enable an endurance of up to three hours and 30 minutes. Its fast cruising speed is 145 knots.

In 2021, Spanish Customs’ three Dauphins, working with 45 vessels and land units, contributed to the seizure of more than 200 tons of illegal drugs in Spain. The helicopters fly up to 1,000 hours per year each. “The Spanish Customs has been a long-standing partner since 1985 and we are very proud of how, since the first Dauphin was handed over to them in 2002, these helicopters have carried out essential tasks,” said Fernando Lombo, managing director of Airbus Helicopters in Spain. 

Over the past 40 years, Airbus has produced more than 1,100 Dauphin-series helicopters. The fleet, including the U.S. Coast Guard’s MH-65s, has flown seven million hours in 70 countries. In November 1991, a Dauphin achieved a world helicopter speed record, reaching 201 knots on a three-kilometer route.

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AINsight: Who Should Succeed the Aviation Director? Fri, 21 Jan 2022 13:26:12 +0000 The role of a Part 91 aviation director has changed significantly over the last 10 to 15 years. Due to a variety of factors, including much more oversight by human resources and the C-suite, successors to the role require an even more diverse set of skills.

Yet one skill that isn’t required to successfully lead the aviation department is the ability to fly. Despite this fact, I often hear from hiring managers who insist that they must hire a pilot to run the flight department.

As an aviation HR professional, I don’t believe this is the case. That’s why I reached out to a handful of successful leaders who’ve been tapped to lead their aviation organization. And they’ve come from non-traditional departments, including scheduling and maintenance.

Deb Prosinski is one the directors I spoke with who’s seen success despite not being a pilot. Three years ago, when she was head of scheduling and dispatch, she was asked to take on the interim aviation director position for her Fortune 100 firm. At the time, she agreed, but wasn’t sure she had the requisite experience.

An Unconventional Path

Luckily, Prosinski was wrong. During her interim position, she realized that she didn’t need to be an expert in everything aviation. “That’s what my chief pilots, safety manager, dispatch director, and maintenance director are for,” she said.

Being inquisitive by nature has served her well. “People tell me that I’m really good at asking questions,” Prosinski said. “I’m always looking for another rock to turn over.” She also likened her role to that of an orchestra conductor: “I just have to make it all fit together and put the right players together.”

As the head of scheduling, she knew quite a bit about what was going on within the department. As it turns out, Prosinski already had a “big picture” view, especially since she reported to the director. Plus, she regularly interacted with executive assistants and senior leaders to plan trips. These skills have served her well in her role as an aviation director.

One of the most important aspects of the aviation director role, Prosinski said, is having the right industry connections. “I cannot tell you how many times I call my industry peers about issues that I’ve never personally been through,” she said. “I think having that peer network—knowing where to go and how to keep it growing—is super important.

As I always say, this industry is about the people you know. And if the person I reach out to doesn’t know, they’ll probably know five people that can help me. I’m a huge believer in not recreating the wheel,” she added. “I’m always reaching out for that sort of help.”

Broad Aviation Experience

Clayton Wilson, the director of aviation for the Altria Group in Richmond, Virginia, came to his position after serving as a director of maintenance (DOM).

Wilson said his broad experience prepared him well for the challenges of aviation directorship. “Before I came to Altria, I had positions that taught me time management, crisis management, patience, scheduling skills, budgets… just about everything you need when leading a corporate flight department.”

He also said that, as a maintenance professional, he became skilled at problem-solving and multi-tasking, which prepared him for his job now. “Most times, I look at solving problems in two or three different ways and trying to figure out that if one thing doesn’t work, then we need to be doing this next thing,” Wilson explained. “And if that doesn’t work then we need to try something else. Working in maintenance, we learn to look further down the road than just one step at a time. And the same skills are needed as an aviation director.”

When I asked Wilson what he thinks are the basic requirements for his position he reiterated what Prosinski said: it requires “big picture” thinking. “You need insight, a gut feel for things, and the ability to see things from a broader perspective,” he said. “And, of course, you have to be a good leader of people.” Both Prosinski and Wilson stressed that managing people was the biggest aspect of the job, time-wise.

So, for those hiring managers who are recruiting for their next aviation director, I’ve come up with a list of skills one must have to effectively lead a flight department. They should:

  • have a desire to lead people
  • be a solutions-based creative thinker
  • know how to delegate to others without being the “doer”
  • fully understand the vision and mission of the aviation department
  • be a good communicator
  • work well with others, including those with egos
  • have a good handle on the “big picture” and know how to be strategic
  • know how to work with corporate/family office
  • make everyone feel included, especially diverse hires
  • be able to provide the necessary resources and then get out of the way
  • have industry connections and be able to grow your network
  • be capable of leaving your own ego at the door
  • possess broad aviation knowledge

Flight Skills Aren’t Required

While the aviation team is tasked with operating and managing aircraft, the main role of an aviation director is to lead people, communicate, and provide resources. That’s why I feel safe in saying that there’s no single protocol or prerequisite for hiring a director—especially one in a multi-aircraft operation.

We’re all aware how “evolving” our industry is, especially in these times. Doing what we’ve always done may no longer be the most prudent approach to effective leadership hiring.

Sheryl Barden, CAM, is the president and CEO of Aviation Personnel International, the longest-running recruiting and HR consulting firm exclusively serving business aviation. A thought leader on all things related to business aviation professionals, Barden is a former member of NBAA’s board of directors and currently serves on the NBAA advisory council.

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First Upgraded Top Aces F-16 Aggressor Fighter Flies Fri, 21 Jan 2022 11:19:19 +0000

Top Aces Corp. has flown the first Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter outfitted with its Advanced Aggressor Mission System (AAMS). Known as the F-16 Advanced Aggressor Fighter (AAF), the aircraft undertook its maiden flight in modified form on January 19 at the company’s F-16 Center of Excellence at Mesa-Gateway Airport in Arizona, which is the former Williams U.S. Air Force Base.

After several years of negotiation Top Aces acquired 29 Israeli F-16A/B Netz fighters in late 2020, with the first four arriving by An-124 airlifter at Mesa in January 2021. A second batch of four was delivered in July. One of the first batch—former Israeli “129” and now registered N854TA—made a first flight under a civilian certification on May 18 following refurbishment. It was then fitted with the AAMS package.

Working with technology partner Coherent Technical Services, Inc. (CTSi) of Lexington Park, Maryland, Top Aces has developed the AAMS as an open-architecture system that allows the rapid integration of various sensors and functions to meet customer requirements. Currently, the system includes active electronically-scanned array radar, helmet-mounted cueing system, infrared search and track, tactical datalink, advanced electronic attack pod, and passive radio frequency detection. The AAMS coordinates the functions of the systems to create a range of realistic adversary effects to maximize the benefit of “Red Air” aggressor training.

Development of AAMS by Top Aces and CTSi took four years, and its first application was the Douglas A-4N Skyhawks flown by Top Aces in support of air combat training for the Luftwaffe’s Typhoon fighters and other European air arms. The AAMS-outfitted A-4Ns were certified in 2021. Over the next year Top Aces intends to modify most of the F-16s it has acquired in order to fulfil its “Red Air” contracts with the U.S. Air Force. The AAMS is installed in the F-16s by Elbit Systems of America’s experienced MRO subsidiary M7 Aerospace of San Antonio, Texas.

“When you combine the power and avionics of the F-16 with the AAMS, it provides the most realistic and cost-effective training solution available to pilots flying fifth-generation fighters, such as the F-22 or F-35”, says Russ Quinn, President, Top Aces Corp., a former USAF Aggressor pilot with more than 3,300 F-16 flight hours. “Due to the plug-and-play nature of our AAMS, it also allows for the addition of new and emerging sensors well into the future, which provides the flexibility to upgrade our F-16s and meet the needs of the Air Force for years to come.”

Top Aces is one of a number of companies adding supersonic, fourth-generation fighters to their inventories to satisfy the considerable demands of the U.S. Air Force’s Combat Air Force/Contracted Air Support (CAF/CAS) program, which was announced in October 2019.

Draken International also intends to operate F-16s on contracted aggressor missions, having concluded deals with the Netherlands and Norway to take 12 F-16A/B MLU aircraft from each nation. Norway retired its aircraft in early January this year, while the Netherlands is due to begin the process this year.

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