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FOCUS ON SAFETY - September 28, 2015
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$115 Million Capital Injection Boosts Wheels Up

This morning a group of financial institutions led by T. Rowe Price announced a $115 million capital injection for private flight membership program Wheels Up. The investment is backed by Fidelity Management and Research Company and NEA, and, according to Wheels Up, values the two-year old company at $500 million.

Wheels Up founder and CEO Kenny Dichter said that the fresh funds will support further expansion of the company’s U.S. operations, as well as its plan to begin operations in Europe and the development of new technology platforms, such as its Wheels App member-to-member flight sharing feature.

With flights operated for it by Gama Aviation, the Wheels Up fleet now numbers 45 Beechcraft King Air 350i twin turboprops and 10 Cessna Citation Excel/XLS jets. As of late September, Wheels Up had 1,600 members.

“We believe Wheels Up has the rare combination of experienced entrepreneurs, business model innovation and a strong financial model,” said Henry Ellenbogen, portfolio manager at T. Rowe Price. “Wheels Up has developed network density and provides real customer value. It has the potential to be a much larger company,” Ellenbogen noted.

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Textron Rolls Out 2,500th Caravan

Textron Aviation held a rollout celebration last week for the 2,500th Caravan utility turboprop single at its Wichita headquarters. Alaska charter operator Bering Air was on hand for the celebration, and this milestone Grand Caravan EX is the seventh of a firm order for eight for the operator, not including options.

At the rollout ceremony, Bering Air president Jim Rowe announced that the company is turning one of the options into a firm order for a ninth aircraft. Bering Air is headquartered in Nome, Alaska, and is the sole means of transportation for some 9,000 people who live in 32 villages in a roadless area the size of New England. Bering Air operates 30 aircraft and employs 120 people.

After this 2,500th Caravan is finished at the Cessna factory, it will be flown to Anchorage, Alaska, for upgrades such as special flooring, stainless-steel doorposts, mud flaps, a satellite tracking system, passenger briefing system and FM radio. Bering Air used to have a single-point refueling system installed in Anchorage, but with the latest order for the EX model, the manufacturer agreed to include this system. Bering Air’s original eight Caravans have flown north of 120,000 hours. The first one, bought in 1994, is still flying and has more than 22,000 hours in its logbooks. “You’ve made a great product,” Rowe told the Textron Aviation employees gathered to celebrate the rollout.

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Congress To Consider Six-month FAA Extension

With just two days left before the FAA’s current authorization expires, congressional leaders are considering approving a six-month extension to hash out an agreement on a more comprehensive multi-year bill. House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) introduced the six-month measure, H.R.3614, on Friday; it would extend the FAA’s authority, the excise taxes and the treatment of fractional operations as non-commercial entities through March 31.

The bill could be passed as early as today and then move to the Senate for passage under unanimous consent, meaning it would be considered by voice vote. Senate leaders are amenable to the six-month extension, attempting last week to include such a measure in an omnibus government-wide stopgap funding bill. However, the senators were forced to drop that effort for procedural reasons.

Lawmakers were forced to turn to a temporary extension after other issues, such as highway reauthorization, moved to the forefront, providing little time for T&I leaders to forge consensus on controversial proposals in the longer-term bill, such as separating out the FAA’s ATC functions into an independent organization funded by user fees. General aviation groups support the six-month extension. NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen noted it would mean “that the FAA can continue its essential work uninterrupted” while debate continues on a longer-term bill.

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ACSF’s Safety Program Now Covers All of Contiguous U.S.

The FAA's Central and Northwest Mountain Regions have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) allowing charter operators, corporate flight departments and fractional program managers to participate in the Air Charter Safety Foundation's Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP). The signing of this MOU means the ACSF-managed ASAP program is now approved in the contiguous U.S.

ASAP, an FAA/industry partnership, provides a near consequence-free environment in which participants can identify and report safety issues that could be critical in identifying potential precursors to accidents. By enrolling in ASAP, companies can view de-identified safety event reports from other participating companies. The real value of the program, however, is the collective volume of data that can be reviewed for specific safety trends that offer companies a chance to implement corrective actions before an accident happens.

According to ACSF president Bryan Burns, “Companies that have implemented an ASAP have learned a wealth of information regarding safety-related events that otherwise would have gone undetected until a major event occurred.”

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APS Joins USAIG’s Performance Vector Safety Initiative

USAIG added Aviation Performance Solutions (APS) as a member of the Performance Vector safety initiative, which delivers safety support to policyholders who insure turbine-powered aircraft or place multiple policies with USAIG. Eligible policyholders can choose from a range of safety-enhancing programs and services, such as APS’s upset prevention and recovery training (UPRT), a program created using the latest ICAO and FAA guidance, best practices and standards. APS combines multiple flight sorties of practical UPRT instruction with focused academics to develop pilots’ ability to recognize, prevent and recover from virtually any recoverable airplane upset, unusual attitude or escalating stall/spin condition.

USAIG will cover the tuition for one pilot to attend the course at APS’s Phoenix or Dallas locations. The course includes approximately eight hours of ground school on stall and airplane upset aerodynamics; precursors; recognition, prevention and recovery techniques; spin awareness and recovery techniques; and instrument upset recognition and recovery techniques. Ground training is followed by three flights in an Extra 300L with an APS UPRT instructor pilot.

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Tamarack Aerospace’s Active Winglets Nearing Approval

First announced in 2013, Tamarack Aerospace Group's active winglet system is nearing European approval for use on straight-wing Cessna CJs, with FAA certification expected to follow. “We are currently on track to certify our active winglets on all CJ 525 models by the end of the year,” Tamarack COO Brian Cox told AIN. “Sometime in October, the EASA will submit the official validation package to the FAA, and we believe this process will culminate in STC issuance from the FAA early in the second quarter of 2016." 

Unlike other aftermarket winglet installations that often require substantial reinforcements to the wing structure, Tamarack uses an active-technology load alleviation system (dubbed Atlas) to move a small control surface mounted near each winglet, which counters the aerodynamic stresses from wing loading and unloading. 

The company exhibited its CJ testbed at the Citation Jet Pilots Association convention held earlier this month in Colorado Springs.

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New Cold-temperature Restricted Airport List Takes Effect

An updated list of U.S. airports where operations could be limited by the effect of extremely cold temperatures on aircraft altimetry is now available from the FAA. A number of airports have also been dropped from this new version, InFO 15002. The agency reminds pilots that they, not ATC, are responsible for including temperature-based altitude corrections into their approach planning. However, advising ATC of planned altitude corrections in the final segment is not required.

The new document follows an extensive agency risk analysis of precisely which instrument approach procedures (IAP) can be affected during winter weather. The agency also reminds pilots that temperatures for cold temperature-restricted airports are separate from the temperatures published on area navigation (Rnav) approaches. Temperature restrictions on Rnav approaches for lateral navigation (Lnav)/vertical navigation (Vnav) minimums must be followed, even if they are warmer than the temperature associated with the “snowflake” icon on the associated IAP.

The study was guided by using the coldest recorded temperature for an airport in the last five years and specifically investigated if there was a probability that expected barometric altimetry system errors could exceed the required obstacle clearance used on procedure segment altitudes.

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CAC, OFPSI Team on Aircraft Interiors Protection

Custom Aircraft Cabinets (CAC) of Arkansas and Texas-based Onsite Fire Protection Services International (OFPSI) have teamed to protect aircraft cabin interior components for the completions and refurbishment market. AeroProtect, their first offering, is a line of patented “cover and protect” products designed to shield interior components from damage during production, shipping and installation.

It’s available as a spray-on or roll-on liquid application that protects components such as cabinets, tables, paneling and plating from damage, and as a film coating that protects carpets and fabrics from foot traffic, spills, abrasions, dirt and even ink. CAC manufactures cabinetry and upholstered products for aircraft interiors, while OFPSI develops techniques and methodologies for improving the quality, efficiency and profitability of aircraft interior work.

“AeroProtect gives us the opportunity to make our customers’ difficult and demanding task easier,” said CAC co-owner Mike Gueringer. “Costly rework during the installation of interior products is a huge burden on the success of each completion project.”

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Recent Accident Reports
Link to Report
Report Type: Preliminary (fatal)
Registration #: B-7445
Make/Model: Eurocopter AS350B3
City: near Baiyun Mountain
State:
Country: China
Event Date: September 21, 2015
Link to Report
Report Type: Preliminary (fatal)
Registration #: OB-1941P
Make/Model: Airbus Helicopters AS350B3
City: Padre Chayoc
State:
Country: Peru
Event Date: September 23, 2015
Link to Report
Report Type: Preliminary (non-fatal)
Registration #: N648CA
Make/Model: Bell 206
City: west of Woodville
State: Texas
Country: USA
Event Date: September 24, 2015
Link to Report
Report Type: Preliminary (non-fatal)
Registration #: VH-FGK
Make/Model: Cessna Citation Bravo
City: Lismore
State:
Country: Australia
Event Date: September 25, 2015
Link to Report
Report Type: Preliminary (non-fatal)
Registration #: SP-SOO
Make/Model: MD Helicopters 500E
City: Burkatów
State:
Country: Poland
Event Date: September 27, 2015
Link to Report
Report Type: Preliminary (incident)
Registration #: N57SK
Make/Model: Bombardier Challenger 300
City: Van Nuys
State: California
Country: USA
Event Date: September 21, 2015
Link to Report
Report Type: Preliminary (incident)
Registration #: N165BH
Make/Model: Bell 206
City: Thomaston
State: Georgia
Country: USA
Event Date: September 20, 2015
Link to Report
Report Type: Preliminary (non-fatal)
Registration #: N837CS
Make/Model: Airbus Helicopters EC135
City: Livermore
State: California
Country: USA
Event Date: September 23, 2015
Link to Report
Report Type: Preliminary (incident)
Registration #: N622PG
Make/Model: Cessna Citation II
City: Sarasota
State: Florida
Country: USA
Event Date: September 27, 2015
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