Cessna's new Citation M2, announced less than 6 months ago, made its first prototype flight on Mar 9. The flight lasted a little more than 1 hr 30 min and included tests of the avionics system, autopilot, engine system, aircraft systems and instrument approaches. The prototype took off from and landed at ICT (Mid-Continent, Wichita KS) where Cessna's main manufacturing facility is located.
Hawker Beechcraft and its local distributor, Hawker Pacific, announced on Feb 14 the recent delivery of 5 King Airs to Australia's Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) Eastern Division. The 2 King Air 350Cs (cargo door variant) and 3 B200Cs join a fleet of air ambulance aircraft operated on contract for New South Wales Dept of Health–Air Ambulance. Delivery of the King Air 350C marks the first of this type into service for the RFDS.
FlightSafety Intl (FSI) and Gulfstream celebrated the grand opening of FSI's new Hong Kong learning center on Feb 14. The center will initially offer training programs for Gulfstream G450s and G550s using a new Level-D qualified full flight simulator and other advanced training devices. (Photo L–R) Gulfstream Pres Larry Flynn and FSI Exec VP Eric Hinson in the new G450/G550 simulator at the Hong Kong learning center.
NBAA IOC sets the stage for managing expanding international ops
This year's 39th annual NBAA Intl Operators Conference (IOC), held from Mar 12–15 in San Diego CA, attracted a strong turnout of 448 attendees. For more than one quarter of them it was their first time. The sense among both speakers and attendees was that business aviation is on a stronger footing than last year with international ops being one of the more significant growth areas.
Regulatory issues took top-of-mind awareness again this year. Issues of operator concern included European Union Emissions Trading System (EU-ETS) cost and paperwork hassles, large aircraft security program (LASP) regs and a new Italian luxury tax (put in place earlier this year) promising huge financial burdens to any operator staying in Italy more than 48 hrs.
Compliance issues and increased enforcement were also hot button issues. The UK Bribery Act of 2010 (effective since Jul 1, 2011) and US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) can bring down prison sentences of up to 10 years, plus unlimited corporate fines, if any payment is made that's deemed the improper influence of a foreign official.
One of the dangers here is that regs cover failure of commercial operators to prevent bribery. Your only defense may be having an adequate control system in place designed to prevent company associates undertaking such conduct.
Overseas flying is up
Premier Gate—a new business aviation terminal at NRT (Narita, Tokyo, Japan)—opened on Mar 31. Operating hours are 0600– 2300 local.
Today, with more business aircraft deliveries outside North America than within, and the strongest sector of the market being larger cabin business transports, the trend is toward more international corporate movements. Stepping out into the international operating arena involves new challenges and can add significant complexity to day-to-day flight department workloads.
International support providers (ISPs), who have become indispensable in offloading routine paperwork, research and regulatory compliance burdens associated with international ops, were well represented again this year. While the trend among ISPs continues to be to provide more online and automated options for flight planning and international services coordination, the human element remains as critical as ever.
(L–R) Colt Intl Training & Devt Mgr Keith Dixon, Narita Airport Corp Corporate Strategies Mgr Masato Kitagawa and Investment Planning Mgr Masao Fujita provided a regional review of Pacific ops.
IOC sessions included comprehensive operational reviews of Southeast Asia and China, Middle East and Africa, South America, Europe and Russia.
A session on threat and risk assessment, moderated by Frontier/ MEDEX Pres Security Services Charlie LeBlanc, focused on what can go wrong for the unprepared. Know the risks and threats at your destinations, consider ordering tailored security briefs and do what you can to reduce your "victim value," suggested LeBlanc.
Rockwell Collins Flight Services Mgr Compliance Rick Snider provided a comprehensive update on EU-ETS. While political pressure from around the world is mounting against EU-ETS, the European Commission has shown no sign of backing off. Verified emissions reports must be submitted by Mar 31, 2013 and first surrender of carbon allowances is due by Apr 30, 2013.
CBAA Pres Sam Barone provided an update on business aviation growth in Canada. Travel safety management, moderated by MedAire Sales Dir Debbi Laux, detailed real-life cases of medical, fatigue and catering calamities that occurred over the past year.
EVO Jet Services Founder Chris Cartwright (L) and Dupont Aviation Mgr Standards & Training Craig Hanlon discuss Russia ops during a break between sessions.
Safety assessment of foreign aircraft (SAFA) checks are occurring more frequently in Europe and elsewhere, enforcement of FCPA is up significantly over the past 18 months and the world, in some ways, is becoming a more dangerous place. Current security threat level of Libya, Nigeria and Syria is at 5 while Mexico comes in at level 4 and Egypt still remains a level 3 threat.
Delegates from Narita Airport Corp were at IOC to provide updates on a new business aviation terminal opening on Mar 31, 2012 at NRT (Narita, Tokyo, Japan). The facility, with on-site customs, operates 0600–2300L (fee for use 250,000 yen, or about $3000, for arrival or departure) and promises to expedite NRT arrival process for corporate operators. Meanwhile, slot situation in the Tokyo area has eased significantly since HND (Haneda, Tokyo, Japan) began allowing 24-hr operations.
Despite an informative line-up of seminars, and no end of subject matter experts, the real benefit of IOC for many attendees is the chance to network among fellow pilots, ISPs, third-party suppliers and customs officials from US and Canada. IOC may be the best venue at which to talk with, and learn from, other pilots and suppliers "who've been there." Next year's IOC is scheduled for Mar 4–7 in San Diego CA. —Grant McLaren