David Esler

David Esler
The Avantair Failure: A Cautionary Tale, Part 2



In a Nov. 13, 2012, email, Avantair President and founder Steve Santo
attempted to reassure the troubled fractional ownership program’s 600-plus shareholders that the company was being proactive when it voluntarily grounded its fleet of 56 Piaggio P180 Avanti turboprops the previous month.

Offsetting for Survival: The Strategic Lateral Offset Procedure 

Implicit in human achievement from the moment our ancestors climbed down from the trees to stand upright in the tall grass of the savannah has been the Law of Unintended Consequences. It works like this: Leave the arboreal sanctuary for the foraging temptations of the plains, and you increase your vulnerability to predation, perhaps winding up as some larger creature's lunch — and possibly leading to extinction of your species.

Three Solutions to Complying With the North Atlantic FANS Mandate 

It took a data link mandate in the North Atlantic and, finally, pressure from airframe OEMs and operators, but avionics manufacturers are stepping forward with Future Air Navigation System 1/A options and upgrades to allow customers continuous unimpeded access to prime aerial real estate in the North Atlantic region, especially on the Organized Track System.

(See “CPDLC: Texting for Pilots,” October 2013 B&CA, page 80.)

SLOP References 

Here are prominent references addressing the necessity for the Strategic Lateral Offset Procedure and how and where it can be flown:

International Civil Aviation Organization, Document 4444, Air Traffic Management (PANS-ATM), Chapter 16 (“Miscellaneous Procedures”), Paragraph 5. This is the source document for the justification, implementation, definition, and execution of the Strategic Lateral Offset Procedure in oceanic and “remote continental” airspace. The section is short and to the point, including:

American SLOP 

Is there a chance that the Standard Lateral Offset Procedure, or some variation on it, will be authorized for use in non-oceanic U.S. airspace? The answer is a qualified, “Yes.”

How Can Fractional Ownership Shareholders Protect Themselves From This? 

How can you protect yourself or your employer from the fate of Avantair's program participants?

Begin with due diligence. “The structure of Avantair was very unusual in terms of their customer contracts and their capacity to deal with the situation they ultimately wound up in,” said Mike Riegel, president of Aviation IQ, a California-based consultancy. “Their contracts do not guarantee liquidity. All the major providers do. So this is obviously something to look at when considering a provider, especially one that is also operating a charter card program.”

An Avantair Timeline 

2002—Steven F. Santo, an attorney, pilot and former prosecutor, conceives Avantair, a fractional aircraft ownership program based solely on the Piaggio P180 Avanti turboprop. Service launches following year.

2005 – Having moved from New Jersey to Clearwater, Fla., Avantair operates 16 Avantis for 100 shareowners and announces plans to add another 20 aircraft within a year. The publicly traded firm adds charter card program.

2008 — Employs some 400 people; takes delivery of its 50th P180; announces 58 more Avanti IIs on order.

Arrivederci Avantair: A Cautionary Tale

You could almost hear a collective gulp within the business aviation community last August when a U.S. Bankruptcy Court ordered Chapter 7 liquidation of Avantair, the Clearwater, Fla.-based fractional aircraft ownership program.

Ask the Pilot Who's Been There 

“A lot of the places you go, you might have to talk people through the process, but these guys knew what they were doing, very competent and impressive.” This was the appraisal of a long-range business jet captain employed by a major U.S. technology company about the quality of ground support he'd received at Gimpo International Airport during a recent trip to the Republic of South Korea.

Operating in South Korea 

South Korea is an economic dynamo of East Asia, engaged in head-to-head competition with Japan and nipping at the heels of gargantuan China.

CPDLC: Texting for Pilots 

Standing before hundreds of business aviation operators clustered into hotel ballrooms at annual NBAA International Operators Conferences over the past decade, Bill Stine has urged attendees to begin mapping out plans for equipping their transcontinental business jets with FANS 1/A avionics.

The Elusive ICAO Paris Website 

If you're willing to dig for it, one of the great troves of information regarding operations in Europe and the North Atlantic region is ICAO's Paris website, or more formally, “The European and North Atlantic Office [EUR/NAT] of ICAO.” It can be found at www.paris.icao.int/welcome/welcome.htm

More Than Just Safety (Plus Cool New ACronyMS to Memorize!) 

While the objective of the North Atlantic Data Link Mandate is safety, data link equipage is also the enabling technology for reduced lateral and longitudinal separation (RLongSM) programs that will be introduced in the immediate future in the North Atlantic Track System. As such, it is expected to facilitate increased capacity and offer operators more options for preferential flight levels and tracks. Here is a description of the separation reduction programs and phased introduction schedules:

A European 'Roadmap' to UAV/UAS Integration 

To “unleash the potential for development of innovative civil applications” for unmanned aircraft in Europe, a 2012 European Commission white paper stated, “the first priority is to achieve a safe integration of RPAS [Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems] into the European air system as soon as possible.”

FAA Responds 

While the FAA refused to provide an executive-level employee for BCA to interview on unmanned aircraft integration, its Public Affairs office invited us to submit questions. Here are the FAA's responses to some of those queries:

BCA: Does the FAA have any idea how many UASes, both civil and military, are being operated right now in the NAS? How many COAs has the FAA awarded to operators?

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