Cessna's new Citation Sovereign completed its 1st production flight in April. The flight lasted a little more than 2 hr 30 min and included tests of the Garmin G5000 avionics suite with autothrottles, autopilot, engine system, aircraft systems and instrument approaches. The aircraft took off and landed at the company's main manufacturing facility in ICT (Mid-Continent, Wichita KS). The new Sovereign will have a range of 3000 nm and will feature improved cabin cooling, a new cabin management system, and winglets allowing it to reach a top speed of 458 kts.

Congress has passed a bill allowing the use of Airport Improvement Program (AIP) monies to fund FAA operations and alleviate mounting traffic delays at airports. While industry groups such as NBAA and AOPA praised Congress for giving FAA the flexibility to use AIP funds to keep 149 control towers open, several industry experts, as well as city and state officials, have expressed concern over the long-term effects of the move.

The bill, passed in late April, allows FAA to take $253 million out of the AIP fund and move it over to FAA's operating budget to stop furloughs of air traffic controllers. In late May, US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the budget deal would allow the towers to remain open, at least until the end of the fiscal year ending on Sep 30, 2013.

However, critics have likened the bill to "kicking the can down the road," claiming the nation's airports and infrastructure could be adversely affected for years to come because the funds are earmarked for airport improvements, not FAA operations.

Variations of the AIP have existed since the creation of the Federal Aid Airport Program, which was established through the Federal Airport Act of 1946 signed by President Harry Truman.

The act was a result of a postwar airport plan submitted to Congress by the Civil Aeronautics Assn (now FAA) and designed to provide grants to airports throughout the US. In its current form, the AIP is supposed to be used for airport improvement projects related to runways, taxiways, ramps, lighting, signage, weather stations, navaids, land acquisition and some areas of planning.

The program is funded by user fees, fuel taxes and similar revenue sources.

Industry

Daher-Socata announced orders for the TBM850 Elite at both Sun 'n' Fun and AERO Friedrichshafen in Germany. A 2013 model TBM850 Elite was purchased at Sun 'n' Fun by a Canadian private customer through Columbia Aircraft Sales, a TBM distributor for the northeastern US and Canada. At AERO Friedrichshafen, a 2013 TBM850 Elite was delivered to Rheinland Air, a TBM distributor and service center operator for Austria and Ger­many.

Embraer has announced the certification of the Prodigy Touch flightdeck for the Phenom 300. The announcement came the same day the company revealed it had delivered the 1st of up to 125 "Signature Series" Phenom 300s ordered by NetJets. The order, signed at the 2010 NBAA convention, was for 50 Phenom 300s with an option for 75 more. The NetJets Signature Series Phenom 300 includes the Prodigy Touch avionics suite as well as cabin features developed exclusively for NetJets. Prodigy Touch features touchscreen technology based on the Garmin G3000 platform and will be an option for all Phenom 300s beginning in 4Q2013.

Daher-Socata has named Bartolini Air Maintenance in Poland as a TBM service center, expanding its support network to central and eastern Europe. Under the terms of the agreement, Bartolini Air Maintenance is approved to perform TBM700/850 maintenance, as well as to provide warranty support and facilitate access to parts and technical support in the region.

Greenpoint Technologies has received Boeing's "silver level" performance excellence award. The Boeing Company issues the award annually to recognize suppliers who achieve superior performance. Green­point maintained a silver composite performance rating for each month of the 12-month performance period, from Oct 1, 2011 to Sep 30, 2012. Green­point is in the top 11% of Boeing's rated suppliers to receive the gold or silver level performance excellence award.

Manifest

Tyson Goetz has joined Landmark Aviation as vice president. He will focus on service operations, finance and business development. Goetz has over 10 years of industry experience.

 

MRO services

Nextant Aerospace has appointed Jet Aviation Singapore as its exclusive authorized service center for the Nextant 400XT in Asia. The contract was signed at ABACE. Photo shows (L–R) Jet Aviation VP of MRO & FBO Services EMEA and Asia Stefan Benz, Jet Aviation Singapore VP & General Mgr Gary Dolski, and Jet Aviation Group Pres Dan Clare, with Nextant Aerospace Pres Sean McGeough, Exec VP Global Sales and Marketing Jay Heublein, and Exec VP Operations Marc O'Donnell.

Ontario, Canada-based Flying Colours Corp has been appointed as a Beechcraft authorized service center. The company is now authorized to work on the entire King Air, Baron and Bonanza product lines and can provide maintenance, modifications, refurbishment and paint work services.

Powerplants

GE Aviation continues R&D on next-generation turbofan engines. In early May, the company announced it is making strides in developing its NG34 turbofan—a next-generation derivative of the CF34. The development program for the NG34 is focused on advances to lower specific fuel consumption (SFC) by at least 15% compared to current engines in this segment, up to 15% lower cost of ownership, 35% margin to CAEP/6 NOx emissions, and 15 EPNdB margin to Stage 4 noise requirements while continuing the CF34's 99.95% dispatch reliability. Testing has begun on the 3rd eCore demonstrator which is the cornerstone for next-generation turbofan engines and features a higher pressure ratio compressor and other advanced technologies and material.

Avionics

Aircell has completed its acquisition of the Airfone business unit of LiveTV, a wholly owned subsidiary of JetBlue Airways Corp. The agreement includes LiveTV's 1-MHz air-to-ground spectrum license as well as the Airfone inflight communications service, network infrastructure and back-office operations assets. The Airfone service will be permanently decommissioned on Dec 31 this year to support Aircell's expansion of its Gogo Biz inflight Internet service. Aircell is offering Airfone subscribers special replacement incentives on a number of its voice and Internet systems.

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