More than 100 people gathered inside an Atlantic City International Airport hangar Monday afternoon to celebrate the groundbreaking for a new aviation research and technology park down the road.
Gordon Dahl, one of the project organizers and president of the South Jersey Economic Development District, called the research park "a mammoth undertaking" that will lead to the "next generation" of building up southern New Jersey's economy for decades to come.
The Next Generation Aviation Research and Technology Park calls for creating seven buildings totalling 408,000 square feet of offices, laboratories and research facilities. The park will focus on developing new computer equipment that will transform the country's air-traffic control program into a satellite-based system.
If completed, the complex will likely create 2,000 engineering and other high-paying technology jobs, and their research will help improve air safety and travel.
Several other politicians, government and business officials spoke for an hour and a half extolling the benefits of the project. They then used bronze shovels to overturn a pile of mulch. The event symbolically launched the start of road building, electricity and sewer work for the proposed aviation research complex, which will be built on a 55-acre lot by Amelia Earhart Boulevard and Delilah Road. The ceremony also featured tours of a Bombardier Global 5000 business jet and a U.S. Coast Guard rescue helicopter.
The research facility is a collaborative project between the Federal Aviation Administration's William J. Hughes Technical Center, the South Jersey Economic Development District and The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, with support from several state and county officials and agencies.
To fully develop the new research complex, the project will require aviation-related businesses to become tenants at the complex and about $300 million in private investments to develop all of the buildings, Dahl said in a prior interview with The Press of Atlantic City. The park currently has about $13.3 million in public funds and bank financing for support infrastructure and development of part of the first building.
Jerry Zaro, chief of the state Office of Economic Growth, said building the new research complex by the FAA's Technical Center and the Atlantic City International Airport represents an amazing economic and technological opportunity.
"We believe this three-corner piece can be to aviation what Houston is to NASA," Zaro said. "So, folks, the message here today is, 'New Jersey is alive and well and open for business.'"
Wilson Felder, director of the Technical Center, said building the research park will expand the FAA's mission to ensure the country's " air-transportation system remains second to none."
Felder noted that Atlantic County has been the site of many aviation accomplishments, from the world's first air show, which took place in Atlantic City back in 1910, and to the testing and development of the first radar and digital data-communication systems at the technical center.
The aviation research park would be a new partner in the evolution of aviation technology, Felder said, and it "will continue to serve as a powerful engine for U.S. economic growth, and of course, the park will also stimulate growth in Atlantic County and the greater South Jersey region."
Other guest speakers included Stockton College President Herman Saatkamp Jr.; U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.; U.S. Rep Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd; William J. Hughes, a former U.S. representative and ambassador to Panama; Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson; and Tom Carver, executive director of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority.
The groundbreaking also drew folks like William Cheatham, an Atlantic City toll collector.
Cheatham skipped an Atlantic City library board meeting because he wanted to find out more about Next Generation technology and the research park. He was impressed with how many jobs the project might create and he hopes the library, which just opened a new teen center, could collaborate with the organizers.
"Oh my goodness, this is wonderful," Cheatham said while wandering around the hangar. "This is what the young people need. The technology is our future."
- Michelle Lee
by Jennifer Anderson
The pilots of Northwest Airlines Flight 188 overshot their destination airport, Minneapolis, by 150 miles on October 21. They blamed a distraction, but there is speculation they had nodded off. The near miss prompted transportation authorities to recommend screening operators for sleep apnea, a respiratory condition that can leave a person fatigued even after a full night’s sleep. The recommendation sidesteps a more common factor in accidents and near misses: pilots, drivers and workers in general are often sleep deprived because of over-long work hours and poor shift design.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) advised screening commercial truck and bus drivers and merchant ship pilots for sleep apnea, after making similar recommendations for airline pilots and train operators earlier in 2009.
USA Today notes that NASA's Aviation Safety Reporting System, which collects anonymous safety reports from pilots, outlines several dozen cases of pilots falling asleep. In August 2006 one captain reported falling asleep along with the co-pilot while preparing to land at Dulles International Airport near Washington DC.
The crash in February 2009 of a Continental Connection flight near Buffalo in New York state, which killed all 49 onboard and one person on the ground, is linked to sleep-deprived operators. One of the two pilots is believed to have been awake all night before the flight, and the other was known to sleep occasionally in the crew lounge at Newark Liberty Airport.
KCAU-TV, an ABC affiliate in Iowa, listed other factors responsible for sleepy pilots in its report about the Flight 188 overshoot. These included little rest and low quality sleep in cheap, noisy motels, poor diets, and dehydration because of a stream of coffee refills and the dry atmosphere of the cockpit. KCAU-TV noted that with the poor economy, more airlines are trying to squeeze in more flights with fewer pilots.
Certain shift patterns increase the odds that an employee will be dozy on the job. Reshaping these patterns to enhance sleep quality represents an ergonomic way to reduce the safety risks from fatigue-impaired operators.
The FAA is expected to release new regulations on pilot work limits in 2010. "I don't think many regular company employees would be able to work 16 hours a day, five days in a row," David Zwegers, director of aviation safety at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida told Time Magazine. "The more [airlines] cut on personnel, the more of a burden they put on crew members." However, Zwegers is reluctant to speculate on whether sleepiness accounts for the Northwest pilots’ overshoot. "They have the cockpit recorders, so everything will come to light soon."
Experts quoted in Time say that even without a sleep disorder there are many reasons why one or both of the Northwest pilots might have nodded off. Bill Voss, president of the Flight Safety Foundation, a nonprofit group working to lower aviation accidents, explained that modern aircraft give flight crews very little to do during the straight-and-level portions of flight. According to Voss, US airlines should consider allowing a technique common in some parts of Europe called "controlled cockpit rest," during which one pilot can take a brief nap to stay alert after notifying the rest of the crew.
The "controlled cockpit rest" represents another ergonomic measure to improve the alertness of pilots, and could be modified to fit in many workplaces where dangers lurk when operators become drowsy.
by Brendan Sobie
Panasonic Avionics has entered the business aviation sector by offering its new Global Communications Suite (GCS) on over a dozen types of VIP aircraft.
The company is now offering GCS, which provides a combination of in-flight broadband, mobile telephone and live television solutions, on business aircraft. Panasonic vice-president global communication services David Bruner says it has already secured contracts from three business aircraft customers covering 14 VIP aircraft types.
The first installation is planned for next month on a Boeing BBJ with most of the other aircraft 13 types to follow over the next 18-24 months.
All 14 types of business aircraft due to be outfitted with Panasonic GCS are VIP derivatives of commercial aircraft including the Airbus A320, Boeing 747 and Boeing 777. Bruner says business aviation is essentially piggybacking on certification work Panasonic already was planning to pursue for its airline customers. Lufthansa earlier this month was announced as the launch customer for GCS and Bruner says several additional airline customer announcements are planned.
Bruner says Panasonic also plans to eventually offer GCS on purpose-built business jets.
He says Panasonic will have to go down in bandwidth to accommodate smaller aircraft, but "best in class" services can still be provided. Panasonic is now talking to Bombardier, Gulfstream and Dassault Falcon about offering GCS on their higher-end business jets. Bruner says there are no technical challenges as the antennas can be easily modified to fit on large business jets but the manufacturers will need to decide whether to locate the antenna on the fuselage or tail. Bruner expects GCS will be available as a retrofit on some large business jets from next year and eventually the suite will also be offered on new aircraft.
Until now Panasonic has not made any moves into business aviation. Bruner says there is some demand for Panasonic to offer in-flight entertainment to business jet operators but for now there are no such plans.
Embraer has announced development of a long-range version of the Legacy 600 super midsize business jet. The Legacy 650 is already flying and is based on the 600 model. A beefed-up airframe and landing gear allow more fuel, and new Rolls Royce AE 3007A2 engines are both more powerful and more efficient. It adds up to a 3,900 nm range with four passengers and a 3,800 nm range with eight passengers. The cabin can hold up to 14 passengers.
A new Primus Elite avionics suite graces the panel, and some creature comfort refinements have been included in the makeover. More sound insulation is being added, and an Inmarsat SwiftBroadband System will keep pax connected. There are two test airplanes already flying, and certification and first deliveries are expected by the middle of 2010.
By Russ Niles
And now for some good news: The Cincinnati-based consultancy Aviation Research Group/US (ARGUS) reports that business aircraft activity in September 2009 was at its highest level since a year ago. ARGUS tracks serial-number-specific IFR arrivals and departures in the contiguous United States, breaking them down to activity within the FAR Part 91, Part 135, and fractional categories.
The September 2009 rise in activity isn’t much—0.4 percent compared to September 2008—but it’s up 2.7 percent from August 2009. Total flight activity for the last 12 months (October 2008 to September 2009) as compared to the previous 12 months (October 2007 to September 2008) is down 20.28 percent.
Comparing September 2008 with September 2009, ARGUS says the biggest gains were among turboprops, with a rise of 18.8 percent in Part 91 applications, and 24.4 percent in the fractional market.
The biggest drop was among small-cabin jets engaged in fractional ownership operations, with a 28.4 percent decline. ARGUS defines small-cabin jets as very light jets and light jets with maximum gross takeoff weights less than 20,000 pounds. Large-cabin jets (large jets with MGTOWs more than 41,000 pounds) experienced declines of 12.3 percent in Part 91 use, 14.2 percent in Part 135 use, and 12 percent in fractional use.
Mirroring the difficulties facing all fractional ownership firms in the recession, fractional activity was in the basement for all aircraft groups save turboprops. In all, the fractional category was down 7.7 percent compared to September 2008
The global aviation industry and countries around the world are finding more common ground to set goals to battle long-term climate change, the head of the International Air Transport Association said Saturday.
Late Friday, the International Civil Aviation Organization, a body representing nearly 200 countries on aviation issues, for the first time issued a declaration with targets for cutting the amount of harmful emissions that the aviation industry puts into the air.
In a conference call from Montreal, IATA Chief Executive Giovanni Bisignani said the results were better than he had expected when the diverse group began its meeting Thursday, although there is still a gap in the goals of industry and governments.
The civil-aviation organization said Friday that it wants the aviation industry to achieve annual average aircraft fuel efficiency of 2% per year to 2020, with an "aspirational goal" of an additional 2% annual improvement through 2050.
In 2007, IATA had announced its current goal for 1.5% fuel-efficiency improvement to 2020, with carbon-neutral growth after that, leading to a 50% net reduction in carbon emissions by 2050, as compared to 2005 emissions.
There is nothing aspirational about the plan by IATA, Mr. Bisignani said. All industry players -- including the airline members of IATA, aircraft manufacturers, airports and navigation organizations -- have agreed that the technology exists now to meet the stated targets.
Mr. Bisignani said the aviation industry is unique among businesses because it has set tough global climate-change standards for itself ahead of government decisions. He plans to meet Monday with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to press the IATA agenda. "Our industry can be a role model for other industries to follow," he said.
Mr. Bisignani said the declaration by the civil-aviation group will help form a framework for discussions at the U.N.'s meeting on climate control in Copenhagen in December.
Governments world-wide can help make greater cuts in emissions by encouraging development of biofuels and updating air traffic systems, he said. There is proven technology for biofuels that produce less harmful emissions and save energy resources. So far, however, there haven't been any government incentives to spur production.
Global standards for emissions reduction are difficult for countries to agree on. Mr. Bisignani said it is important to give countries enough time to meet their goals.
By Ann Keeton
For the second week in a row, a new Gulfstream model has rolled out.
Gulfstream Aerospace and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) yesterday rolled out the Gulfstream G250 at Ben Gurion International Airport in Israel. Like its G650 big brother did last week, the G250 rolled out under power from its new, more powerful Honeywell engines. First announced in October 2008, the large-cabin, mid-range G250 remains on schedule for customer deliveries in 2011.
The G250 is a follow on to the G200. The new model features a new, larger wing, a new T-tail, longer cabin, new three-screen PlaneView cockpit based on Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion system, and new Honeywell engines; the changes are so significant the aircraft will get a new type certificate. The aircraft is built by IAI in Tel Aviv and then completed by Gulfstream in Dallas, Tex.
"Our customers played a significant role in the design of this aircraft," said Pres Henne, senior vice president, Programs, Engineering and Test, Gulfstream told thousands of IAI workers, vendors and customers gathered in an IAI hangar for the ceremony. He said the changes resulted in a "best-in-class aircraft and one its owners can appreciate and fly with pride."
The G250 is capable of traveling 3,400 nautical miles at 0.80 Mach and has a maximum operating speed of 0.85 Mach. With an initial cruise altitude of 41,000 feet, it can climb to a maximum altitude of 45,000 feet, the company said. Although Gulfstream has refrained from disclosing the number of orders for the $24 million jet, IAI Chairman Yair Shamir announced at a press conference preceeding the rollout that nine aircraft had been sold to date. Plans call for the aircraft to fly before year end, and for deliveries of certificated airplanes to commence in 2011.
by- James E. Swickard and William Garvey
Late last month, the FAA signed a three-year deal with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association valued at $669 million. A new contract for Natca had been a top priority of the Obama administration after years of impasse in negotiations with the union that represents about 20,000 employees.
The deal will elevate the union's influence on aviation policy and signals a growing role for public-employee unions at other federal agencies.
John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, called it "a good sign" for labor, given that it is the first major deal reached between a large employee union and a federal agency since Mr. Obama took office.
More talks between labor and government agencies are coming, Mr. Gage said, including at the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Social Security Administration and the Department of Justice. Union advocates also hope to secure collective-bargaining rights for more than 40,000 employees at the Transportation Security Administration, part of the Department of Homeland Security.
"We're hoping to influence these agencies more and more," Mr. Gage said.
But critics said it is an overly generous pact that is giving the union too big a role in shaping federal policy. Rep. John Mica of Florida, the ranking Republican on the House Transportation Committee, characterized the controllers' pact as a "huge boost" and said he has "several concerns" related to the controllers' union's role -- suggesting, for instance, that controllers might resist technological upgrades that would threaten jobs.
A Natca spokesman said that Mr. Mica's concerns are misplaced and that controllers have been among the biggest proponents of modernizing air-traffic technology.
Natca's ability to negotiate with the FAA over pay rates is unique. Most federal employee unions have their pay rates set by Congress and can bargain only over work rules.
But Natca, under the new contract, got a pay increase. The FAA says the average annual cash compensation for fully certified controllers will rise to $157,990 in 2012 from $142,101 now. The FAA estimates the average pay for fully certified controllers will rise by at least $14,906 over three years and less-experienced controllers could see an average pay boost of at least $27,358 during the three-year period.
The union says average cash compensation for fully certified controllers will decline over the next three years as higher-paid controllers retire and are replaced by lower-paid ones. The union also says the FAA has saved more than $1 billion in labor costs since it imposed pay cuts on controllers in 2006.
The new contract also contains articles that ensure greater union participation in technical and procedural changes as well as implementation of the new satellite-based air-traffic-control system, Natca says.
The head of the FAA, former Air Line Pilots Association leader Randy Babbitt, said the FAA will benefit by involving the traffic controllers more closely in shaping policies, such as redesigning the congested airspace above New York City and transitioning to the new air-traffic-control system, which could reduce delays and accommodate increased air travel in the decades ahead.
"The agreement is about a lot more than the money," said Mr. Babbitt, who has worked with both Republican and Democratic administrations. He served on an FAA advisory panel throughout George W. Bush's administration, and last year, in the wake of scandals involving Southwest Airlines Co. and AMR Corp.'s American Airlines, then-Transportation Secretary Mary Peters appointed him to an internal review team that examined the FAA's safety-oversight programs.
In recent years, Natca officials said, tension with FAA managers led many veteran controllers to retire, increasing the proportion of the less experienced in control towers. FAA's most recent data show that the number of serious errors made by controllers declined to 328 in the year ended Sept. 30 from 346 during the previous year. The number of serious runway incursions -- events where planes or other vehicles on tarmacs get too close together or nearly collide -- declined to 12 in the year ended Sept. 30 from 25 the prior year.
The National Transportation Safety Board and FAA are still investigating an August midair collision between a small plane and a tourist helicopter over the Hudson River that killed nine people.
The NTSB, a separate agency not covered by the labor pact, has criticized the "complacency" of air-traffic controllers at New Jersey's Teterboro Airport at the time of the crash. The FAA has suspended two employees there, but the agency has said their actions didn't contribute to the accident.
Air-traffic controllers and the FAA have had rocky relations for nearly 30 years. President Ronald Reagan's decision in 1981 to fire striking air-traffic controllers jolted labor relations in the public and private sectors for years.
Relations between the union and the FAA were strained again during the latter years of President George W. Bush's administration. In 2006, the FAA imposed some pay cuts and more stringent work rules after negotiations on a new contract hit an impasse.
By Christopher Conkey
Emivest Aerospace Corporation, current owner of what had been the Sino-Swearingen SJ30 business jet, reports that it has delivered its first airplane. The first Emivest SJ30—serial number 008—went to Harry Mahoney, of Déjà vu Consulting. Déjà vu is an international entertainment business. The airplane was completed at the Jet Works Air Center and fitted with an HF radio, dual Mode S transponders, a Garmin 500 GPS receiver, and veneer cabinets.
“I have waited for over four years for my SJ30,” Mahoney said. “We have persevered through it all, but I have always known that the SJ30’s performance was going to be worth it.”
Anthony Powers, Emivest CEO, was on hand for the delivery. “We welcome Mr. Mahoney to the SJ30 family,” he said. “We share, with the entire team at Emivest Aerospace, the pride and satisfaction of moving the company forward over the last one year and dedicate ourselves to providing ongoing support to Mr. Mahoney and our future customers, including Mr. Morgan Freeman, who is looking forward to taking delivery of his cherished SJ30 next month.”
Mahoney’s airplane is the third SJ30 to have been delivered.
The SJ30 has a high-speed cruise speed of Mach 0.83 (486 knots), a range of 2,500 nautical miles, and can operate at altitudes up to 49,000 feet.
By Thomas A. Horne