Release of a new air-taxi operations specification (OpSpec A008) to replace interim Notice 8400.83, published last June, has been delayed again–from the end of November to the end of last month. It’s expected that operators will have 60 days from its release to comply. One of the purposes of the OpSpec is to clarify operational control criteria for multi-layered charter arrangements.
In recent letters to FAA Administrator Marion Blakey, NBAA and the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) asked the agency to form an aviation rulemaking committee (ARC) to address industry concerns regarding its impending rule to require commercial and fractional jet pilots to perform landing distance assessments at the time of arrival including a more restrictive safety margin.
German charter operator Cirrus Aviation is to operate Eclipse 500s on behalf of UK-based group JetSet Air, which ordered up to 50 of the new very light jets last November. JetSet Air managing director David Bond also announced yesterday that he has begun negotiations with Embraer for the purchase of up to 10 Phenom 100 VLJs for delivery by 2009. The first two Eclipse 500s will arrive in spring 2007.
Eclipse founder, president and CEO Vern Raburn likens the potential for the mass air-taxi market that he envisions to the network effect that took hold as e-mail gained its burgeoning following.
CharterX, one of the largest online charter facilitators, disclosed today that it has acquired air charter audit firm Wyvern Consulting of Palmyra, N.J. Together the companies will offer a new service called Safety Intelligence, “an information system intended for charter buyers,” to include accident/incident data and operational standards of charter providers compared with those of other operators, as well as Wyvern’s recommended standards.
Eclipse and its Swiss customer Aviace have entered litigation over the delivery of 112 VLJs. Aviace sued the manufacturer early this month for breach of contract for allegedly refusing to deliver the aircraft ordered in 2002. The Swiss company was one of the earliest large customers for the Eclipse 500 very light jet and was established to launch a low-cost air taxi business. Both parties declined to comment while in litigation.
Golfing legend Arnold Palmer took a shot at the airlines’ proposal to institute a user fee system to fund the nation’s air traffic system during the convention’s opening general session Tuesday morning, calling any such scheme potentially “devastating” to the industry. “I just flew back from Ireland and flew over a corner of Canada, and in about a month I’ll get a bill for it,” said Palmer.
Demand for aircraft charter is rising worldwide, with more businesses and private individuals willing and able to start taking this increasingly attractive alternative to scheduled airline services.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Transportation Department Inspector General are questioning whether the FAA’s safety inspectors and air traffic controllers will be able to cope with the introduction of very light jets (VLJ) and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).
As demand for commercial air travel increases in India, business aviation entrepreneurs are clamoring for position in a classic chicken-and-egg scenario. Those who will be successful must make an early entry into the market, but they are severely limited in their ability to operate because the infrastructure to support general aviation is still being developed.