For a pilot worried about whether the next bump in operating costs will be one more incentive for the boss to sell the airplane, recent volatility of oil prices and rising jet-A prices must be disturbing.
The spike in global oil prices brought about in no small measure by the unrest in the Middle East has driven the price of jet-A above $3 a gallon, prompting airlines throughout the world to adjust their air fares in an effort to compensate. According to the Air Transport Association, $3 jet fuel would raise U.S. airlines’ 2011 fuel bill by some $15 billion. Last year’s fuel bill for U.S. airlines totaled $38.8 billion.
Shell fuels distributor Eastern Aviation Fuels has added two new FBOs to its network. Co-Mar Aviation at Warren County Regional Airport in Bowling Green, Ky., offers aircraft service, corporate jet hangarage and a general aviation terminal with a flight planning room, meeting room, pilot lounge and complementary Wi-Fi access.
Airbus, Brazilian carrier TAM Linhas Aéreas and others interested in the feasibility of biofuels for aviation use are working to establish a “bio-kerosene jet-fuel” processing plant in Brazil, aiming to “gradually substitute fossil fuel with biofuel.” Other companies participating include Brazilian renewable energy Curcas and biofuel producer Brasil Ecodiesel, along with AirBP.
Cirrus Aircraft said it is continuing to refine the design of the SF50 Vision single-engine jet but further development “is paced by funding,” according to chairman Dale Klapmeier. It has selected 91 percent of the suppliers for the jet and has begun development work on the jet’s parachute system, including nine test drops using weights.
Jet Aviation has launched its Jet Response mobile maintenance service program, which dedicates two maintenance truck teams in the Northeast U.S. that can be dispatched from locations in the Boston/Bedford and Teterboro areas when a client calls 1-877-Jet Help. “The trucks are outfitted with work benches, general tools and consumable supplies such as oil, hydraulic fluid, oxygen and nitrogen.
Eclipse Aerospace announced that two campaigns to fix problems with the EA500 very light jet are bearing fruit. To meet FAA certification requirements, the EA500 requires a special chemical that has to be applied to the windshield to dissipate precipitation static. A modification replaces that cumbersome process, which has to be done every eight to 12 months, with a thin carbon strip bonded to the windshield and the airframe.
Eurocopter and parent company EADS have teamed with Argentina-based BioCombustibles del Chubut (BC) to study the feasibility of building an aviation biofuel factory in Brazil. The three companies signed an agreement in June. The biofuel, made from algae, could be used in Eurocopter’s diesel engines for light helicopters, which are now in the research stage (see AIN, February, page 44).
The alternative aviation fuel industry continues to conduct flight tests to validate the use of new jet-fuel blends. At the end of April, United Airlines became the first U.S. commercial carrier to fly using a certified synthetic-fuel blend that received ASTM approval last year.
Diamond Aircraft founder and CEO Christian Dries yesterday revealed plans to develop a fully aerobatic, tandem two-seat military trainer version of the D-Jet that he said will have ejection seats and sell for less than $3 million.