Airbus Corporate Jet Centre (ACJC)—the company's VIP cabin completion and customization subsidiary at TLS (Toulouse, France)—delivered its 9th cabin in Dec 2011. Boasting "a lavish French Empire design," the ACJ319 was delivered to an unidentified customer in eastern Europe. At the front is a 6-seat dining area, at the rear a bedroom with ensuite bathroom and full-height shower. But Airbus seems proudest of the "cinema lounge" with its 2 club armchairs, 2 sofas and a 54-in HD screen. ACJC has been turning out custom interiors for 3 years, and Airbus reports that the facility is "essentially fully booked" through the end of 2013.

Embraer's Legacy 650 received certification from the Civil Aviation Administration of China on Dec 14. Orders for the type received in 2011 include 13 from Minsheng Financial Leasing and 1 for movie star Jackie Chan, who will serve as Embraer's brand ambassador.

Flying Colours has delivered a Bombardier Challenger 850s to Lily Jet, an aircraft charter company based in Shenyang, China. The aircraft left the company's YPQ (Peterborough ON, Canada) completion facility on Nov 29, 2011. Three more China-bound 850s are undergoing completion at Flying Colours YPQ and subsidiary JetCorp Technical Services SUS (Spirit of St Louis MO) for delivery in 2012. The 17-seat VIP aircraft for Lily Jet includes a modern cabin management system, broadband Wi-Fi, HD camera system and midcabin custom desk.

With $182 million in loans coming due, Hawker Beechcraft wants a break from its creditors. The terms of its revolving credit line require the company to make $112.5 million adjusted earnings in 2011 and to maintain $162.5 million of liquidity, or cash plus available credit. In mid-December, with little demand for light jets in the current market, Hawker Beechcraft hired financial services firm Perella Weinberg to negotiate with lenders for new terms.

Piper too is trying to renegotiate a financial deal. As an inducement to locate at VRB (Vero Beach FL), Piper received a $10.7-million incentive package from the State of Florida and Indian River County. In 2008, it agreed to pay back $1.5 million unless it managed to employ at least 1100 people by the end of 2009. That summer, its job rolls fell below 600. With the ending of the PiperJet Altaire program in October, Piper expected to have about 700 workers at the end of 2011. The company now argues that it should not have to make the $1.5-million repayment, as the region has received at least 9 times that much in benefits from Piper's activities and investments.

General

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt has resigned after being charged with driving while intoxicated on the night of Dec 3 in Fairfax VA. County police pulled Babbitt over at about 10:30 pm after seeing him driving on the wrong side of the road. He was taken to the local jail, then released on a personal recognizance bond. Babbitt was sworn in as administrator on Jun 1, 2009, following 25 years as a pilot for Eastern Airlines. He leaves about halfway through a 5-year term. Deputy Administrator Michael Huerta has taken over as acting administrator until a permanent replacement can be found.

It turns out that Burt Rutan has not quite retired after all. The famed airplane designer has joined the board of Stratolaunch Systems in Huntsville AL. The company, founded by billionaire Paul Allen, who funded Rutan's Space­ShipOne project, aims to create a private launch system capable of delivering 10,000-lb payloads to low Earth orbit (LEO). According to plan, Rutan's Scaled Composites will build a 1.2-million-lb carrier aircraft resembling the company's White Knight. With a wingspan of 385 ft, it will be the largest airplane ever built. SpaceX, of Hawthorne CA, will provide a 120-ft multistage rocket to boost payloads from FL300 into space. Dynetics, in Huntsville, will integrate the 2 components. First launch is tentatively set for 2016.

Federal officials have confirmed earlier predictions that Light­Squared's proposed nationwide broadband system would disrupt GPS navigation and ground proximity warning systems. In tests that had been widely leaked before the official release, "LightSquared signals caused harmful interference to the majority of general purpose GPS receivers," according to Anthony Russo, director of the Natl Coordination Office for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing, who announced the results on Dec 14. The Dept of Transportation and Dept of Defense released similar statements.
Light­Squared rejected the findings but offered to give up part of the frequency spectrum it owns in exchange for unconditional use of another part of the L band.

Aircraft operators no longer need to file a certified security concern to keep their registration number out of flight tracking programs under the blocked aircraft registration request (BARR) program. Effective Dec 2, 2011, a simple request is all that is required. The policy reversal was mandated by the Federal Transportation Appropriations Bill signed into law on Nov 18.

In NextGen's GPS-based airspace, who needs VOR? Not most pilots. So FAA proposed in December to eliminate as many VOR facilities as possible. The goal is to leave only a "minimum operable network" that would allow aircraft to proceed safely to an airport with a non-GPS approach within 100 nm. DME stations are also on the chopping block, but enough will be retained "to ensure safety and continuous operations for high and low altitude enroute airspace over the coterminous US and terminal operations at the core 30 airports." The agency will convene a working group to work out the details. Target date to complete the transition is 2020. The comment period for the proposal ends on Mar 7.

FAA may eliminate funding for contract control towers serving GA airports, according to AOPA. The proposal reportedly originates with the federal Office of Management and Budget. It would close about half of the 248 contract towers now in operation, sparing only those at airports with scheduled airline service or more than 10,000 military operations each year. If the scheme survives ongoing debates at the White House, it will become one of the cuts to be included in President Obama's FY2013 budget request.

Get ready to pay more for digital charting. On Dec 13, FAA's AeroNav charting division told vendors that it plans to charge end users about $150 per year. The new fee is expected to double the cost of iPad and Droid applications such as WingX and ForeFlight. The move is intended to close a $5-million budget gap caused by plummeting sales of paper charts. AeroNav is forbidden by law to charge for its data but is allowed to recover overhead costs for its services.

Training

Montreal QC-based CAE now provides pilot training for the Dassault Falcon 900EX EASy II. The course, delivered at the company's MMU (Morristown NJ) training center, is the world's first to use a Falcon 900EX full-flight simulator equipped with EASy II and Honeywell Primus Epic avionics suite.

EASA has approved FlightSafety Intl's Falcon 7X theory maintenance initial course. The 20-day course is intended for technicians with limited experience maintaining the Falcon 7X.

Avionics

Esterline CMC Electronics of Montreal QC, Canada, has received certification for its CMA 2700 SureSight EVS sensor. The third-generation sensor is said to offer 4 times the resolution of sensor systems previously available. Designed for use with Rockwell Collins head-up guidance systems, the end-to-end digital system is the first enhanced vision system to be fully compliant with ARINC 818 avionics digital video bus standards.
Montreal QC-based CAE now provides pilot training for the Dassault Falcon 900EX EASy II. The course, delivered at the company's MMU (Morristown NJ) training center, is the world's first to use a Falcon 900EX full-flight simulator equipped with EASy II and Honeywell Primus Epic avionics suite.


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