Dassault's Falcon 7X has gained approval for operations at LCY (London City, London, England). To be permitted to land at LCY, aircraft have to demonstrate the ability to land in 4327 ft and take off in 3934 ft. Aircraft are also subjected to a 5.5 degrees approach instead of the standard 3 degrees. Even with the restrictions, the 8-pax 7X will still be capable of transatlantic flights.

Gulfstream has completed the fuselage of its 1st G250 at TLV (Ben Gurion, Tel Aviv, Israel). Production of the midsize jet is being carried out by IAI with guidance from Gulfstream's Israel headquarters, but final assembly will take place at DAL (Love, Dallas TX). The first 2 Honeywell HTF7250G engines for the G250-capable of producing 7445 lbs of thrust each-have been delivered to DAL and are ready for installation. First flight is planned for the 2nd half of this year. Gulfstream says G250 certification and first customer deliveries are on track for 2011.

Daher-Socata has launched a TBM850 co-ownership program to help customers cover the cost of operating their aircraft. "Fly and Share Your TBM" (FAST) is designed to help TBM850 operators with establishing fractional ownership of their aircraft. Unlike normal fraction ops under FAA Part 91K, FAST allows the operator to retain full ownership and sell usage of the aircraft. The owner maintains a minimum 100 days exclusive use of the aircraft. (Traditional fractionals are based on a per-hour agreement between multiple owners of a single aircraft.) Daher-Socata will help manage maintenance and scheduling. In addition, the FAST program will help owners with flight training, car rental services, and insurance.


VH71 Presidential helo weathers storm

AgustaWestland's VH71 Presidential helicopter-based on the company's EH101-continues to make progress. The first 5 production aircraft for US Marine Corps squadron HMX1-which form part of the 9-aircraft Increment 1-are now being completed at Lockheed Martin's Owego NY facility.

Work includes missions systems installation, interior completion and painting. Delivery to HMX1 is slated for next year. Aircraft PP1 (Pilot Production 1) completed airframe ground vibration testing at NHK (NAS Patuxent River MD) on Feb 26.

It was then delivered to Owego for completion work and a further ground vibration test regime designed to evaluate how the aircraft handles vibrations with mission equipment installed. According to AW, the VH71 program is 75% complete.

The design and development phase has ended, and all 3 systems integration labs-at NHK, Owego and Cascina Costa, Italy-are functioning fully. Increment 2 of the US military's planned acquisition will consist of 23 command and control aircraft.

Pres Obama's recent public blasting of the program provoked an outcry from Congressmen and NATA Pres Jim Coyne. In letters to Obama, they explained the need to update the 30-year-old fleet of Presidential helos.

ARG/US announced in its latest report that business aircraft activity was down by about 26.6% compared with the previous year. Part 91 operations remain the least affected-down 15.5% from the same time last year and 28.5% from last month. Medium size jet operations were down only 9.2%, while turboprop flights were down 10%. Small jet ops were down 11.6% from this time last year.

NBAA says that while the comment period for TSA's LASP has come to a close, the association still urges the business aviation community to fight the program. NBAA reminds the industry that contacting members of Congress can still make a difference. It argues that informing Congressmen how and why member companies use business aircraft-and LASP's likely negative effects on their operations-will help them understand why the program should not be enacted.

USCG Aviation celebrates 93 years of service

US Coast Guard Aviation marked its 93rd anniversary on Apr 1. To mark the occasion the service staged an open house at DCA-otherwise CGAS Washington-on Mar 25.

(L-R) Office of Avn Forces Chief Capt Michael Emerson, USCG Vice Commandant Vice Adm Vivien Crea (speaking), USCG Academy Cadet Co Chief Peter MacDougall and Asst Commandant for Acquisition Rear Adm Gary Blore. Behind is the 3rd EADS/CASA HC144A Ocean Sentry maritime patrol aircraft for USCG. The HC144A has attained initial operational capability at the Coast Guard Aviation Training Center at CGAS Mobile, which accepted its 7th aircraft in late Mar 2009. -Phil Rose

Eclipse has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, as it has been unable to secure enough funding from parent company ETIRC. But, while all company assets, including machinery and intellectual property, are to be auctioned, there are several plans to keep the aircraft flying. One likely bidder is Phil Friedman, CEO of Harlow Aerostructures. He says he intends to keep the existing 259 Eclipse 500s flying, help owners recertify their aircraft, update avionics and reduce manufacturing costs. He also has plans for a possible production restart in 2011.


Saab has completed the 1st successful test of its remotely operated tower (ROT) air traffic management system in Sweden. ROT allows 1 person to control air and ground traffic around as many as 3 airports at the same time. It is meant to enhance safety and security at airports by recording video and allowing the operator to zoom in on details with the cameras. This could provide a safety solution to non-towered airports during peak operations without the airport having to hire a controller.



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