Chris Strand, lead pilot for Amway Corporation’s BBJ and a member of the NBAA International Operations Committee, learned a few things about fuel reserves when flying the Pacific as a navigator in Navy EP3s (the electronic warfare version of the venerable Lockheed P3, the navalized variant of the four-engine Electra turboprop).
Whoa. Wait a minute. Stop the presses! Wasn’t unleaded automobile gasoline (so-called “pump gas”) approved for use in some engine/airframe combinations years ago, at least for the smaller piston engines, e.g., the Lycoming O-360 installed in thousands of Cessna 172s and other light planes?
A small population of large (“heavy”) transport and vintage aircraft powered by commensurately large air-cooled radial and liquid-cooled inline piston engines remains active in the U.S. and abroad that cannot be operated on any fuel other than 100/115-octane leaded aviation gasoline.
While the National Business Aviation Association is almost always identified with issues affecting the operation of turbine-powered business aircraft, more than 1,000 of its member companies operate piston-engine light planes to support their business travel.
As 2014 drew to an end, a lawsuit against a group of California FBOs and fuel distributors filed three years earlier by the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) over sale of leaded avgas was settled through an agreement preventing what could have resulted in grounding almost all piston-powered aviation in the state.
It's one of your worst nightmares. You’ve captained a trip to a remote area of an African country, and your first officer and one of the executive passengers have contracted a local disease — maybe dengue fever, but you’re not sure. The trip came up fast, and researching disease hazards and health care infrastructure was definitely not on your mind. But it sure is now, as you scramble to cope with a situation you never had time to envision.
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.
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.
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.)
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:
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.”
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.
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.