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By George C. Larson

By George C. Larson
Flight Tracking Outside the Fence 

Leave the boundaries of the United States and you lose the locally available feed from FAA radar (known as ASDI, for Aircraft Situation Display to Industry) because, as everyone knows, radar stops at the horizon's edge. Once you head out over the water, you can continue to rely on air traffic management to provide position information via the traditional transoceanic longitudinal reporting points. But if you want more frequent near-real-time position and tracking info, you'll need to sign up for satellite tracking services.

Avantair: A Unique Fractional Model 

As the last decade came to a close, a new bit of conventional wisdom appeared: The fractional-ownership model cannot be sustained.

Helicopters in the Big Apple 

Everybody knows things cost more and go faster in New York because it’s . . . well, New York. And those characteristics most assuredly apply to helicopters, which are very much a part of the Big Apple’s beat.

While a light, single-engine helicopter in the upper Midwest might charter for about $900 an hour, its counterpart in New York goes for triple that. Landing fees for a twin at the West 30th Street Heliport can total $650. And yet that facility, along with Manhattan’s two other public heliports, are so busy, loitering is not allowed.

Ready, Set, Monitor! 

Yes, it’s a tax. Yes, it’s confusing. Yes, it’s been poorly managed. But in the European Union, it’s the law. And if you operate an aircraft into, out of or within European airspace, you must comply. Europe’s Emissions Trading Scheme, or ETS, is one result of a European environmental policy that attributes climate change to the by-products of human activity, with special focus on so-called “greenhouse” gases such as methane and carbon dioxide.

Food for Flight 

Interest in diet and nutrition seems to run in cycles, and because airmen are acutely sensitive to health issues — their livelihood depends on good health — they tend to be more aware of current trends than the average person.

Glass Class 

In this, the 15th anniversary of the General Aviation Revitalization Act (GARA) of 1994, the traditional aluminum airframe is still outlasting anything we can stuff into it. But before President Clinton signed that law, durability was considered a problem: It created an interminable liability tail for manufacturers. GARA capped that period at 18 years.

The Art of Background Checks 

Expert investigators and screeners are experienced students of human behavior, and they’ve learned the area where job candidates will fudge the most when they write their resumes: education. Whether applicants think nobody will bother to check or that the information is hard to find is anybody’s guess, but falsely claiming an educational degree is quite popular out there. And employers often assume that if an applicant is lying about one thing, there may be other areas worth looking into. (Curious about which area is second highest? Employment record.)

Just Say ‘No’ to Storage 

Here’s the nightmare scenario: With earning reports due soon, the quarter looks awful. Wall Street will flay the CEO, and board members are wearing facial expressions of a group charged with high crimes. Somewhere down around item 13 on the meeting’s agenda is this brief item: “Terminate aircraft activity.”

Tires: The Pressure’s On 

Aircraft tires carry more weight at higher speeds than the tires made for any other type of vehicle. Nothing on the highway or even in competitive motor sports comes close. The most extreme examples, such as the tires that equipped the SR-71 Blackbird and those currently aboard the Space Shuttle, perform in environments that defy the imagination.

Expansion by Contracting 

With more than half of sales headed overseas, business aviation OEMs are rightfully adjusting their sights on customer support to better match service facilities to the locations of their customers. In a down market, it seems to make more business sense to ally with a proven performer than to build your own service center from the ground up, and that’s just what’s happening.

Servicing Smalltown, USA 

In its explanation of business aviation’s significance to the United States, the NBAA, GAMA and others are focusing on the 1.2 million jobs it comprises, the $150 billion in economic activity it generates, its positive trade balance and its humanitarian work, by rushing human organs for transplant, transporting cancer victims to treatment centers and reuniting wounded veterans with their families and friends, among other things. Everyone can appreciate those attributes.

Full Court Press: GA Image-Building Initiatives Take Hold 

The first signs of a positive response to efforts by the general and business aviation community to recapture a favorable opinion among U.S. lawmakers are now being felt, say general aviation association leaders.

Home Stand 

Over the past several months, business aviation has been beset by negative media reports and congressional criticism, which was even furthered by the president himself, all of it prompted by thoughtless behavior and furthered by misinformation and generally tough financial times. Some companies closed the hangar doors and quit flying, leaving hundreds of flight department employees out in the cold. Since that time, progress has been made by aviation’s alphabet groups and others to turn back the tide of negative public opinion.

The New Onboard Systems Tell-All Know-It-Alls 

Devices that record and analyze aircraft system performance for maintainers are proliferating as their costs decrease and harvesting the data gets easier. From high-end health and usage monitoring systems (HUMS) found in military and heavy civilian helicopter fleets to simple, inexpensive boxes that fit under the seat of a light single-engine airplane, the newest generation of these so called “tattletale” boxes exploits cheap digital memory and the latest wireless communications modes to collect and disseminate an aircraft’s vital signs.

How To Get an Instrument Approach for Your Helipad 

If a flight department acquires a helicopter, it will try to find as many ways as it can to make the aircraft pay for itself. If the company is sited so that an access helipad is practical and the helipad is acceptable to the surrounding community, an instrument approach to the pad means the pad — and the helicopter — will be more useful. Fortunately, the FAA has provided guidance on how to apply for approval of such an approach. For the average operator, though, the resources and experience base required to secure approval may prove daunting.

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