As the holidays approached, the likelihood of any action on the FAA budget dimmed considerably when lawmakers carved a provision to increase the mandatory retirement age for commercial pilots out of both FAA reauthorization bills and overwhelmingly approved raising the limit from 60 to 65. President Bush signed the measure into law within hours.
If your destination lies within the shadow of the Golden Gate bridge, don’t think that San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is your only option. Oakland International Airport (OAK), which for decades was served by only one FBO, now sports two FBOs, with a third trying to wriggle its way in.
Congress last month once again extended the FAA’s current authorization and aviation taxes until December 14, making it increasingly unlikely that the question of how to pay for operating the FAA and simultaneously modernizing the entire air traffic system will be settled anytime soon.
Of the many companies that have attempted to tackle world markets with a new-technology piston engine for light singles and twins, only Thielert in Germany has demonstrated some success. For that it can thank in some measure Diamond Aircraft, an Austrian company that has established a firm niche as a supplier of all-composite light aircraft, including the DA 42 twin-engine aircraft on display here in the static park.
A small percentage–about 20 percent–of the piston-powered fleet requires 100-octane fuel. Yet these aircraft burn about 70 percent of the total avgas volume, according to Allen Bretz, director of general aviation market at ConocoPhillips.
Although avgas is expensive, there is no shortage in the U.S., and oil companies continue to support its production and distribution. Nonetheless, Cessna Aircraft has decided to outfit its best-selling 172 Skyhawk with a diesel engine. Starting in the middle of next year, Cessna dealers will sell the Skyhawk TD powered by a 155-hp Thielert turbocharged diesel engine installed under an FAA supplemental type certificate (STC).
GA activity at Westchester County Airport in New York is declining, according to airport manager Peter Scherrer. He said the decline is “worrying.” Avgas fuel sales dropped from 397,247 gallons last year to a projected total of 372,000 gallons this year.
Tyler Jet founder and owner Tim Beverley believes that it’s smart business for pilots to back-load fuel rather than tanker with full loads from home base. The extra wear on engines, tires and brakes is only part of the reason for buying inexpensive fuel on the way home from a round-robin trip, rather than on the way out.
Just over a year after its merger, ChevronTexaco (the entity that resulted when the two oil giants came together after a landmark $45 billion deal) has released some of the details of its newly realigned general aviation fuel business. Representing only a tiny percentage of even its airline-centered fuels trade, the general aviation sliver of the pie is, nevertheless, an important one to the merged companies, or so they say.
Emily and Arve Henriksen initially expected to open their Million Air franchise at Mobile (Ala.) Regional Airport (MOB) last year. “We anticipated a six-month wait negotiating the terms of the lease and up to a year for construction,” said CFO Emily. “It was a lot more difficult than we realized.”