JetNet Survey Sees High Optimism in Bizav Market - Seventy percent of the 450 business aircraft operators surveyed by JetNet iQ to date this quarter believe the current market cycle is now past the low point, managing director Rollie Vincent said yesterday at the annual JetNet IQ Summit yesterday in White Plains, New York. “In seven
June 21, 2018
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JetNet Survey Sees High Optimism in Bizav Market

Seventy percent of the 450 business aircraft operators surveyed by JetNet iQ to date this quarter believe the current market cycle is now past the low point, managing director Rollie Vincent said yesterday at the annual JetNet IQ Summit yesterday in White Plains, New York. “In seven and a half years of doing this work, we’ve never seen stronger numbers,” he told the audience. “We’ve been in the doldrums the past several years, but we’re very optimistic about what we are seeing.”

Paul Cardarelli, JetNet’s v-p of sales, noted that the percentage of jets on the preowned market has declined from a high of nearly 18 percent in 2009 to just over 9 percent in the most recent data, indicating a switch from a buyers' to a sellers' market. Cardarelli estimates that 45 percent of the approximately 2,000 available preowned jets are antiquated aircraft and unlikely to sell, indicating that the young pre-owned inventory is evaporating.

Yet, the company noted, not all was positive. The approximately 4.5 million cycles by the U.S. business jet fleet last year were accomplished by more than 14,000 aircraft; in 2003, fewer than 9,000 business jets achieved that number of cycles. “This is something that gives us a bit of concern about business aviation,” said Cardarelli. “We’d like to see this [per-aircraft] utilization back where it once was.”

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Bolen: Airspace, Airport Access Top Challenge for Bizav

With airline efforts to privatize air traffic control vanquished for now, NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen identified access to airspace and airports “at the top of the list” of challenges now facing business aviation in his remarks this morning at the NBAA regional forum at New York's Westchester County Airport.

“We have an active, engaged passionate membership and showed…we can galvanize our community,” Bolen said of the grassroots opposition that rallied to defeat privatization. “Now the question is: what more can we do?"

Bolen singled out Santa Monica and East Hampton Airports for their ongoing efforts to restrict business aviation access, and in a later conversation with AIN added Love Field in Dallas, where plans call for assessing landing fees on all aircraft.

“The other great challenge we have right here and now,” Bolen continued, “is how do we make sure that we have a growing workforce, the pilots we need, the technicians we need, the new generation we need?” NBAA is “putting enormous focus these days” educating young people on opportunities in business aviation, he said. Part of the effort will include special student editions of NBAA Insider, a mentorship program currently being tested, and internships. “We need to find people and give them the inspiration, pathways, and tools they need to make the decision to be part of our community,” he said.

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Encompass Aviation Sues Surf Air for $3.1M in Damages

Encompass Aviation filed a lawsuit against all-you-can-fly membership program Surf Air on Tuesday, seeking $3.1 million in delinquent payments and damages from breach of contract after the latter severed ties with the former on Friday. Part 135 operator Encompass had been flying 15 of Surf Air’s PC-12s on its California routes since last April. On Friday, Surf Air awarded this flying to Advanced Air.

In the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Southern New York, Encompass alleged that Surf Air is “financially distressed” and, virtually from the outset of the contract, failed to pay for flights two weeks in advance, as required by the agreements, and “consistently was delinquent in paying following the provision of flight operations and maintenance.” The breach-of-contract claims arise from “Surf’s failure to provide Encompass with its bargained-for rights of first refusal and last offer within the…agreement and the purported termination of the relevant contracts.”

According to a statement from Surf Air, “The Encompass claims are not accurate, the lawsuit is without merit, and Surf Air intends to defend itself vigorously. Surf Air is also considering counterclaims.” Surf Air has not yet confirmed to AIN that it is subject to $2.33 million in IRS liens for unpaid excise taxes, as per documents filed with the California Secretary of State’s office.

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With Union Battle Over, Flexjet Plans for Expansion

Flexjet chairman Kenn Ricci called the recent union decertification vote at OneSky, the combined pilot groups at Flight Options and Flexjet, “an epic opportunity” for the company and its employees. “We now remove the barrier of the union and can directly interact with employees,” he said. “It also makes acquisitions easier going forward since we won't need to get union approval.”

In fact, Ricci told AIN that the company has already addressed longevity for transfer pilots; increased first officer compensation; upped Phenom pilot pay to be on parity with that for its Learjet pilots; increased voluntary overtime compensation; and reinstated individual employment agreements. It also gave employees a $1,000 bonus to “celebrate” the vote. He said the savings—“millions of dollars”—from no longer having to handle union grievances and contract negotiations will more than pay for these increases.

Meanwhile, the company has already formed a pilot committee to “fairly integrate” the seniority lists of Flexjet and Flight Options pilots, Ricci said. In addition, he plans to expand its Red Label program, which pairs dedicated crews to its premium jet models, to include 200 more pilots. To gear up for further expansion, Flexjet is also hiring more pilots; it has already added 57 year-to-date and expects to hire another 100 by year-end.

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GPS Interference Concerns Arise over Cellular Network

A group of 11 aviation organizations, including NBAA, HAI, and AOPA, have expressed concern about potential GPS navigation signal interference from a proposed broadband cellular communications network operating within frequency bands currently used by GPS. A prior attempt to implement a high-speed nationwide cellular network by Ligado Networks, formerly known as LightSquared, revealed signals from its cellular towers significantly disrupted aircraft navigation systems.

Thus, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission denied LightSquared's plans in February 2012, following strong opposition from the aviation industry, including NBAA and the industry-wide Coalition to Save Our GPS.

Ligado now claims it has limited GPS signal disruptions to within a 500-foot diameter around transmission towers, which the company claims should mitigate interference concerns. However, the aviation groups said, this has not been validated through evaluation of various operational scenarios by the FCC and FAA, nor have significant safety concerns yet been addressed.

“We fully recognize the value that robust connectivity systems offer during aviation operations,” the coalition said a letter to FAA Acting Administrator Dan Elwell. “However, we cannot ignore the risk potential that the Ligado Networks proposal presents to aviation operations.”

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NBAA Chief Looks Ahead to FAA Reauthorization

“I think we’ve come a long way in the last year,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen yesterday during the opening session of the eighth annual JetNet iQ Summit. He described how the organization, with support from the other aviation alphabet groups, was able to fend off two attempts in the past year to give control of the nation’s air traffic control system to the airlines, as part of the FAA reauthorization bill.

“Of course we’re still not done with that bill yet,” he told the audience, adding that the Senate is expected to bring its bill to the floor next month. “I do think if we can get the legislative bills behind us and get some stability over the next four or five years that there are a lot of other great and important challenges for our industry to face,” among them attracting and retaining skilled talent, the implementation of NextGen, and reduction of the industry's environmental footprint.

Pete Bunce, president of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, warned against complacency, noting that the airlines are already strategizing for their next move on advancing ATC privatization. “This will never go away, but this is job security for us,” he quipped.

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Next-gen Kodiak Makes Northeast Debut

Clay Lacy Aviation, the authorized Quest Aircraft dealer for the Northeast and Western U.S., brought the new Kodiak 100 Series II today to the NBAA regional forum in White Plains, New York, marking the aircraft's introduction to the area. The turboprop single, which entered service late last month, builds on the success of the previous Kodiak, with several new features including the Garmin G1000NXi, angle-of-attack indicator, digital four-in-one standby unit, and Flight Stream 510 wireless Bluetooth gateway.

“We are proud to be part of an exciting new chapter for this aircraft,” said Chris Hand, Clay Lacy’s v-p for the Northeast region. “Many of our private jet owners have discovered the Kodiak to be a perfect complement to their business and personal travel needs, whether for short shuttle trips or to remote, hard-to-access destinations.”

The aircraft on the static display at New York’s Westchester County Airport is equipped with Aerocet floats. “We have a long history of designing and building advanced composite floats for Kodiak Aircraft,” explained Matt Sigfrinius, Aerocet’s v-p of sales. “Our 6650 amphibious floats or 6750 straight floats are the perfect complements to the new Kodiak 100 Series II.”

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Jet Linx Halts Operations for Safety Day

Last Tuesday, Jet Linx Aviation intentionally grounded its entire fleet so that all of its employees could participate in its annual safety summit. According to the company, the third-largest aircraft management provider in the U.S., the day-long event was the culmination of a weeklong series of assessment exercises, preparedness drills, roundtables, and training programs, developed by its national operations center in Omaha, Nebraska, and its 14 local bases, and involving all of its executives, staff, pilots, client services employees, and partners.

“One can either adhere to and comply with established standards or continually strive to create new principles and tenets that transcend the norm, and that is both our credo and our mandate,” said president and CEO Jamie Walker, describing the motivation behind the event. “While there are only a couple of private aviation operators the size of Jet Linx, we all have a singular goal, which is to provide the safest flight experience for all concerned.”

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