After returning to the business aviation industry in 2003, OceanAir Taxi Aeréo has expanded rapidly and now aspires to become one of the industry’s most important players in Brazil, with help in part from its partnership with Bombardier. “We spent much of last year getting organized, but we are now looking to this year as a year of consolidating our operations,” company director José Eduardo Brandão told AIN.
The European business aviation community is mourning the death of one of its pioneers following the November 29 passing of Abelag Aviation founder Andre Ganshof van der Meersch. Born in 1927, the Belgian entrepreneur established the FBO in 1964 and remained chairman of its board until his retirement just a few years ago.
Values among many pre-owned aircraft began to stabilize this year, with some even appreciating while others sought traction amid slipping prices. This year will close having sustained a trend toward lowering inventory, and the impetus for continued tightening remains in place. Though interest rates are rising, they are low by historical standards, enabling buyers to secure attractive financing rates.
Bolstered by the introduction of the Challenger 300 and Learjet 40, Dallas-based fractional aircraft ownership operator Flexjet said it saw a 32-percent increase in the sale of shares last year compared with the year before.
Barry Eccleston wants to take Honeywell back into the commercial helicopter business in a big way, while at the same time finding another airframe on which to hang the company’s newly renamed HTF7000 turbofan, which now powers only the Bombardier Challenger 300.
Harry Combs, former head of Learjet and founder of AMR Combs, died in Wickenburg, Ariz., on December 23 at the age of 90. Long fascinated by the achievements and legacy of the Wright Brothers, Combs had participated in the December 17 centennial-of-flight activities at Kitty Hawk, N.C., less than a week before his death.
Raisbeck Engineering has started Phase 3 FAA certification flight tests of enhanced performance modifications for the Learjet 35. The Seattle-based company expects to receive an STC for the modifications this summer, and modified aircraft will be called the Learjet 35ZR. The ZR mod was announced at last year’s NBAA show with an introductory price of $200,000 installed.
With the notable exception of professionally flown corporate jet operations, which had no accidents, business turboprops and jets posted more accidents and fatalities last year than in 2002 (71 versus 64 total accidents and 60 versus 51 fatalities), according to statistics compiled by Robert E. Breiling Associates of Boca Raton, Fla.
West Star Aviation in Grand Junction, Colo., is working with the FAA to amend its Learjet 35/36 RVSM STC to include models with the FC-530 autopilot, FC-200 autopilot and Mark IV wings, FC-200 autopilot and non-Softflite Century III wings or FC-531 autopilot and Century III Softflite wings. The amended STC will allow about 70 to 80 additional 30-series Learjets to meet RVSM equipment requirements.
In the January issue of AIN (page 39), we recounted the origins of the Learjet, complete with references to the well worn tale of the Swiss fighter connection. We then heard from Bill Lear’s eldest son, who suggested that “since you can’t get it straight from the horse’s mouth, here it is from the horse’s offspring, who followed closely in the horse’s hoofsteps!”