FlightSafety Chief Bruce Whitman Flies West - FlightSafety International chairman, president, and CEO Bruce Whitman, 84, passed away at his home yesterday morning. NBAA called him “an industry ambassador who leaves a lasting legacy of tireless advocacy” for business aviation safety and several other important causes.
October 11, 2018
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FlightSafety Chief Bruce Whitman Flies West

FlightSafety International chairman, president, and CEO Bruce Whitman, 84, passed away at his home yesterday morning. NBAA called him “an industry ambassador who leaves a lasting legacy of tireless advocacy” for business aviation safety and several other important causes.

“The aviation community has lost a leading light,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen. “[Whitman] was a leader who saw the big picture, but nevertheless delighted in quietly rolling up his sleeves to help countless organizations tackle their everyday needs…His handwritten notes often wished recipients ‘blue skies and tailwinds’–now, we wish him the same.”

After graduating from Trinity College in 1955, Whitman was commissioned as a lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force and earned the triple ratings of pilot, navigator, and bombardier serving in the Strategic Air Command. In 1957, he was appointed assistant to the commander at Homestead Air Force Base. After active duty, he attended George Washington University Law School while flying as a captain for East Coast Flying Service and serving as an Air Force Reserve pilot.

Whitman joined FlightSafety International in 1961 and ascended to chairman, president, and CEO in 2003. He held advisory roles on committees and boards at a long list of companies and organizations, including NBAA; Flight Safety Foundation; Civil Air Patrol; Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation; Orbis International; and Corporate Angel Network.

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Gulfstream Brings Showroom, Sales Center to Manhattan

Gulfstream Aerospace has opened a showroom in Midtown Manhattan, bringing its design experts and sales specialists closer to customers in one of the world’s busiest business-aviation regions, the company announced this week. The nearly 8,500-sq-ft sales and design center is equipped with digital tools and thousands of materials samples to enable Gulfstream specialists to help customers customize their aircraft.

Fitted with a nearly 20-foot “power wall,” the center provides digital design and cabin layout selection capabilities. Customers will be able view seat configurations, as well as have access to a physical seating display to see and feel the architecture and comfort of the options. In addition, the center enables viewing of external paint configurations, wireless streaming of Gulfstream-developed mobile applications, and videoconferencing technology.

The center joins a growing number of showrooms and sales offices that Gulfstream is adding to provide customers with more centralized access to “white glove” sales and design service, Gulfstream said. Other facilities are located in London, Savannah, Dallas, and Long Beach, California.

“We continuously strive to elevate the customer experience,” said Gulfstream president Mark Burns. “Establishing a customer-focused space in New York City, an international business hub, complements our significant worldwide footprint and better positions us to support our customers in Manhattan, whether they are based in the region or visiting from around the world.”

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Europe Flights Reach High Mark in September

The number of business aviation departures accelerated in Europe in September, growing 4 percent year-over-year, slightly ahead of the year-to-date trend, according to WingX Advance’s latest Business Aviation Monitor. Business jets accounted for 63 percent of the 83,848 business aviation departures, marking a 3 percent increase year over year.

The strongest growth in the major markets occurred in Italy and Spain, up 7 percent and 9 percent, respectively. France and Germany, meanwhile, also experienced solid growth, up around 5 percent. However, departures declined slightly in the UK and Switzerland, WingX reported.

In smaller markets, business activity jumped 22 percent in Croatia, and 10 percent in the Netherlands and Ireland. Prop and piston activity out of Finland, meanwhile, drove a 60 percent spike.

Large jets and charter activity, which in the recent past have led business aviation flight operations growth, were both relatively flat in the month. Large jet activity was up only 1 percent overall and down 5 percent in the UK. Charter/AOC activity increased 2 percent year-over-year, but that was weaker than recent trends.

“There was a distinctive pattern to the activity, with relatively strong growth in private flights, while charter flights are tailing off after the summer,” said Richard Koe, managing director of WingX Advance, who added that last month overall was “the busiest-ever September.”

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U.S. DOJ: Chinese Spy Targeted GE Aviation

The U.S. Justice Department has arrested and indicted an alleged Chinese spy for attempting to steal trade secrets from GE Aviation and at least two other U.S. aviation companies in activities dating to 2013. Yanjun Xu, an operative for China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS) faces charges of theft of trade secrets, conspiracy, and attempting to commit economic espionage. If convicted on all counts, he faces up to 25 years in federal prison.

The indictment charges Xu with concealing his identity in the course of recruiting targeted engineers at U.S. aviation companies, initially with all-expense-paid “academic” seminars to the Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronomics (NUAA), an institution operated by the state Ministry of Industry and Information Technology with close ties to the Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (Comac) and Aviation Industries of China (AVIC). Through these associations, Xu then allegedly attempted to more overtly obtain specific technical information from targeted engineers. He was arrested in Belgium on April 1 and was subsequently indicted and extradited to the U.S. 

Justice Department documents indicated that Xu was attempting to obtain information related to GE’s proprietary aircraft engine composite fan blades and blade encasement structures. The DOJ also noted that at least two other unidentified aviation companies were targeted by Xu and his compatriots. 

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New Australian FBO Raises the Bar

The Melbourne Jet Base, Australia's newest FBO, made its debut last week at the city's Tullamarine Airport. The $71 million facility established by businessman Paul Little is open 24/7 and features in-house customs and quarantine processing, with the option to be cleared onboard the aircraft; a grand foyer and private luxury passenger retreat lounges; business suites; spa services; an underground car park; two conference rooms; dining lounge with VIP catering; a crew rest area and lounge; prayer room; flight planning room; crew car; concierge; office space; porte-cochere; and planeside car access. Limousine and helicopter transfers are available as well.

The location also offers aircraft maintenance and cleaning, with a five-bay narrowbody hangar and a two-bay widebody hangar large enough to accommodate an Airbus A380. A separate dedicated hangar displays Little’s fully restored DC-3 Kanana, one of the first of the type to be operated in the country. The facility has room to store approximately 18 business jets and has 619,000 sq ft (57,500 sq m) of ramp space.

Through an agreement with a local fuel provider, the location also operates its own 7,900-gallon (30,000-liter) jet-A refueler.

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Hurricane, Slow Labor Day Drag Down U.S. Bizav Flying

Business aircraft flying in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean slumped 5.2 percent year-over-year last month, largely due to the impact of Hurricane Florence and a slow Labor Day, according to TraqPak data released yesterday by business aviation research firm Argus International. The company had predicted a 1 percent increase last month; it foresees sunnier skies this month, forecasting a 2.2 percent jump.

Despite the dismal results, fractional flying actually managed to stay in positive territory last month, climbing 1.1 percent from a year ago. That’s where the good news ends, however. Part 91 operations fell 3.1 percent, while Part 135 charter, which has largely buoyed U.S. business aircraft flying over the past several years, plummeted by 10 percent.

Activity was also down in every aircraft category last month. Light jet flying fared the worst, falling 8.1 percent year-over-year, followed by large-cabin jets, -6.8 percent; turboprops, -4.7 percent; and midsize jets, -2.5 percent.

The only gains in individual categories last month were in fractional light and midsize jet activity, which climbed 4.7 percent and 7.9 percent, respectively, from a year ago. Meanwhile, large-cabin fractional flying suffered the most, slumping 24.6 percent. The only other double-digit loss was in light jet charter activity, which fell 16 percent year-over-year.

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AviationManuals Adds Risk Assessment Module

AviationManuals has released a metrics module for its ARC SMS safety management software. The module gives operators the ability to identify, analyze, and ultimately reduce risks found within various levels of acquired data. It provides users with real-time information, customizable formatting, interactive ability, risk assessments, and various forms to help automate processes.

The module is accessible online and expected to be accessible via the company's iPad app in the future. Operators can view both high-level and detailed data via the various metrics dashboards, providing them with information about overall trends.

“This module provides ARC subscribers with live data, so they can quickly assess their activity and potentially make changes to future operations,” said Mark Baier, CEO of AviationManuals. “Maintenance directors, schedulers and dispatchers, and department managers can all benefit from this tool.”

Besides its SMS software, the company's products also include flight/company operations manuals, international procedures manuals, minimum equipment lists, emergency response plans, and internal audit programs, as well as letter of authorization support for RVSM, PBN, CPDLC/ADS-C, EFBs, and ADS-B operations.

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Florida Panhandle FBOs Rebound after Michael's Wrath

In the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, which came ashore yesterday near Florida’s Panama City, Sheltair, the lone services provider at Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP), is reporting that the airport is open for first responders and hurricane-relief efforts during daylight hours only. Before the hurricane, the company released all non-essential personnel from the FBO, while working with the airport authorities to ensure that aircraft, support equipment, and buildings were prepared for what was described as the strongest hurricane to hit the region.

As of this morning, the company had activated its Hurricane Recovery Plan. The ECP location was operating on limited power with a skeleton staff. With no telephone service, calls are being diverted to a remote location, which will provide updated information until the facility is available to non-emergency aviation.

“Sheltair has long recognized the potential threat to our airport facilities from severe weather, as well as the need to resume operations quickly to support recovery efforts within hours of a storm’s departure,” explained company founder, chairman, and CEO Jerry Holland.

At nearby Destin Executive Airport, Tyson Goetz, president and partner with Lynx FBO, the lone service provider there, reported the facility was up and running this morning with no damage, full power, and all its team members safe.

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