Aircraft News Items
The Government Shutdown and Business Aviation
On October 1, 2013, a government-wide shutdown went into effect, leading to work furloughs for hundreds of thousands of federal employees, and impacting services provided by nearly all government agencies. While the shutdown has not impacted basic aviation safety services, it has had a particularly intense impact on many aspects of business aviation, because it is an industry that is more regulated than other industries. As the shutdown unfolds, its effects are rippling across an essential American industry, which benefits citizens, companies and communities across the U.S. This content details what is known about the shutdown’s impact on business aviation, what actions NBAA is taking to bring the situation to the attention of Washington policymakers, and what steps NBAA Members and others in the business aviation community can take to support NBAA’s efforts in this regard.
Additional Shutdown Resources
For more information, or to report the impact of the government shutdown on your company, contact NBAA’s Operation Services Group at email@example.com.
Posted on Fri, Oct. 04, 2013
Shutdown brings aviation sales to a halt
By Molly McMillin The Wichita Eagle
While Congress debates how to end the government shutdown, Wichita general aviation planemakers, brokers and owners of airplanes can’t complete sales of aircraft because of the closure of a key federal office.
The shutdown is also affecting maintenance and repair facilities and other aviation-related businesses. And those in the aviation industry say the effects will get more painful with each passing day.
“If this drags on … we’re going to be in a very difficult position,” Pete Bunce said Thursday. Bunce is president and CEO of the General Aircraft Manufacturers Association, or GAMA, a Washington trade group representing planemakers.
Hundreds of thousands of federal workers were furloughed and offices closed Tuesday when Congress failed to pass legislation to authorize spending after Sept. 30.
Sales of aircraft can’t close because aircraft registrations can no longer be obtained through the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aircraft Registry Branch in Oklahoma City. With the partial shutdown of the FAA, the registry office is closed.
The closure is unprecedented, according to GAMA officials. In previous shutdowns, the registry office was considered an essential function and remained open.
The shutdown is especially troubling because it comes at the start of the busiest time for aircraft deliveries. Traditionally, the last three months of the year account for 35 percent of all annual deliveries, Bunce said.
In a poll of its manufacturing members – which includes Wichita’s three general aviation planemakers – 12 new airplane deliveries scheduled to take place in the first two days of the shutdown were delayed and did not occur, according to GAMA. Over the next couple of weeks, 123 more are scheduled, according to the poll. Those will also be delayed if the registry office is not reopened.
The value of those 135 deliveries is $1.38billion.
Production and delivery of Beechcraft’s business, general aviation and trainer aircraft are being affected by the furloughs at key federal offices and agencies, company spokeswoman Nicole Alexander said in an e-mail Thursday.
Required government inspections on Beechcraft’s T-6 military trainers also can’t occur because inspectors from the Defense Contract Management Agency have been furloughed, Alexander said.
“The company is closely monitoring the situation to determine what actions may be necessary,” Alexander said.
Bombardier is monitoring the situation closely, said spokeswoman Sylvie Gauthier. So far, the company has not been affected, “but it’s not to say it won’t,” she said.
That probably will depend on how long the shutdown lasts.
“We’re preparing and we’re reviewing potential contingency plans (and) trying to keep normal operations as much as possible,” Gauthier said. “We are concerned.”
A Cessna Aircraft spokesman declined comment.
‘Show is stopped’
AIC Title Service in Oklahoma City, which works with airplane buyers and sellers, is seeing the effects first-hand.
“It means we can’t access the aircraft registry records, which means you can’t do a title search; you can’t file documents,” said Chad Stanford, executive vice president and general counsel of AIC Title Service. “… The show is stopped.”
Federal regulations require immediate notification to the FAA each time an airplane changes hands.
“Well, who’s at the FAA to accept that notice? Nobody,” Stanford said.
Aircraft financial lenders also must file simultaneous notice of their security interest in an aircraft, he said.
“If they don’t file, they’re unprotected,” Stanford said. “They are exposed to lose their security interest in that aircraft.
“In my 17 years of doing this, I can’t recall a time when the law imposes steps upon a lender to finalize their security interest in an airplane when the system imposed by law is unavailable to a lender.”
Stanford said his office is fielding a lot of calls.
“It’s like Chicken Little these days,” Stanford said. “With the FAA, no one knows up from down, and everybody thinks the sky is falling.”
Executive Airshare, a regional fractional ownership company founded in Wichita and headquartered in Kansas City, also has felt the impact of the shutdown. It was supposed to close on a share of an airplane with a customer on Tuesday.
“But the lights are off at the FAA,” said Executive Airshare president Keith Plumb.
Executive Airshare took delivery of a new Phenom 300 business jet on Friday and has owners lined up to close on fractional shares of the plane. Without the ability to complete a deal, Executive Airshare is holding the documents and any customer funds in an escrow account.
If the shutdown drags on for another week or two, it will impact the business and its customers, Plumb said.
“They will have concerns,” he said. “… They can’t send money for something they can’t get in return.
“We want some progress on this. It’s already impacted our business, and we don’t have a solution for our sales operation.”
Another concern is the backlog the FAA’s office will have once it reopens. The Oklahoma City office registers aircraft and files the forms for international aircraft registry, helps with the bill of sale, transfers titles, conducts title searches required by lenders, helps with aircraft records, de-registers U.S.-registered aircraft that are being exported and issues temporary authority to operate an aircraft outside the U.S. for the purpose of an aircraft export, according to GAMA.
“We create backlog with each passing hour,” said Bunce, the GAMA president. “Think about how you’re backing up the system with each passing day, not only in the aircraft registry, but out in the field as well.
“It’s having a huge economic effect on businesses small and large. It’s not just isolated to government workers whatsoever.”
He said GAMA is working with the FAA to see whether there is any flexibility.
“The (FAA) administrator is aware of the situation and is doing everything within his power to try to figure out ways to live with this, but living within the direction that he’s getting from his higher ups,” Bunce said. “He’s doing everything he can.”
GAMA also is working on the problem, Bunce said.
“We’ve got the entire staff devoted to try to find solutions,” he said.
So far, the shutdown hasn’t affected Bevan-Rabell, a Wichita avionics and aircraft repair shop.
“But it will pretty quickly,” said company president Kent McIntyre. “We work back and forth (with the FAA) for field approvals and other approvals. We’re working on a couple of airplanes that we’re planning on getting field approvals on. It’s going to affect us before very long.”
For example, ferrying an airplane where the annual inspection has expired requires a ferry permit from the FAA’s Flight Standards office, he said. So does operating an airplane over its approved gross weight, such as when extra fuel tanks are installed so it can be exported.
With the closure, those permits aren’t available.
It also will impact some maintenance and repairs. In some cases, repairs or data in GPS installations that need approval by an FAA inspector can’t be approved, McIntyre said.
FAA testing sites received an e-mail this week stating that aviation knowledge testing can’t be given after Friday, said Dave Tiday, who owns Aviation Testing, which conducts tests for mechanics, pilots, instructors and others.
Student pilots must pass an FAA written test before they can earn a private pilot’s license. Pilots must also pass written tests to earn an instrument, commercial or other types of rating.
Tiday’s company also conducts other kinds of testing.
“We still will be doing a lot of other testing; we just won’t be doing FAA testing,” Tiday said.
© 2013 Wichita Eagle and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved. http://www.kansas.com
Read more here: http://www.kansas.com/2013/10/04/v-print/3037576/shutdown-brings-aviation-sales.html#storylink=cpy
White House: ‘Why we need aviation user fees’
By Sarah Brown
After almost 9,000 people urged the president to take damaging aviation user fees off the table, the administration on Jan. 13 offered its response: No way.
In a response to a petition on the White House’s “We the People” website, Office of Management and Budget Associate Director for General Government Programs Dana Hyde reaffirmed the Obama administration’s commitment to a proposed $100-per-flight fee for use of air traffic services, claiming that the fee would both “ensure that everyone is paying their fair share” and help reduce the deficit.
“We are disappointed but not surprised that the administration continues to seek a $100 user fee on general aviation flights,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller. “Congress has repeatedly said that a GA user fee is an unacceptable method of funding the air traffic system. Pay at the pump has worked since the dawn of powered flight and it still works. The last thing we need right now is to create an expensive new bureaucracy to fix what isn’t broken.”
AOPA member Kevin Mossey of Marion, Iowa, started the petition Sept. 23 in response to a White House deficit-reduction proposal that would impose a $100-per-flight fee for flights in controlled airspace. The petition pointed out that the existing system of revenue generation, collected through excise taxes, allows more of the revenue collected to go toward the operation of the air traffic control system. It also explained that fuel taxes more accurately reflect the amount of ATC services, “as a flight from NYC to LA will require more controller time than a flight from NYC to Boston.” The petition gained 8,904 signatures—well more than the threshold at the time for earning a response from the White House.
In the response, Hyde said the administration wanted to make sure that those who benefit from the airspace system share the costs equitably.
“For example, under current law, a large commercial aircraft flying from Los Angeles to San Francisco pays between twenty-one and thirty-three times the fuel taxes paid by a corporate jet flying the same route and using the same FAA air traffic services,” according to the response.
Really? Paying the 21.9-cents-per-gallon tax on noncommercial jet fuel, operators of a Gulfstream IV business jet would pay about $87 in fuel taxes. The commercial jet fuel tax is 4.4 cents per gallon; even with a much higher fuel burn, operators of an Airbus A320 would pay about $68 in fuel taxes. AOPA maintains that GA is willing to pay its fair share into the system—but payment shouldn’t be based on faulty calculations.
A loose grasp on the workings of the aviation system also revealed itself in the ambiguous language of the proposal: It would exempt flights outside of “controlled airspace,” but doesn’t define the term. (Is Class E “controlled”?) The original proposal also would exempt “recreational piston aircraft,” a nebulous distinction. The response to the petition refers instead to exempting “all piston aircraft,” among other categories—but no segment of aviation can count itself immune once the bureaucratic structure for user fees is introduced. User fees bypass congressional budgeting processes and can be raised or expanded at will. AOPA holds that GA should pay its share using the time-tested funding system that has supported the National Airspace System for years.
Posted on Sun, Jul. 10, 2011
Stop the jet bashing
Any president has limited power to create jobs. The market is in charge, as it should be. But there is one sure thing President Obama could do to help a key American industry recover: Stop picking on corporate jets.
Among the products that Wichita’s aviation workforce specializes in building for a global marketplace, corporate jets make an easy target for a president who campaigned on raising taxes on the wealthy. Obama did some jet bashing in his very first address to Congress in 2009.
But he’s had plenty of time and opportunity to be schooled on the truth about general aviation, including its $1.2 billion payroll and $150 billion economic impact. His transportation secretary, Ray LaHood, visited Wichita in March, making the connection between the Air Capital of the World and Obama’s goal of doubling U.S. exports within five years.
Yet in a recent news conference Obama mentioned corporate jets and their owners six times, calling for an end to special tax breaks. The insult against the industry was so petty and potentially damaging that it brought the General Aviation Manufacturers Association and Machinists union together on a protest letter.
As Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, wrote in a letter to House leaders last week, “business jets allow individuals to accomplish their work more efficiently and effectively.” Increasing the tax burden for business expenses would not only harm the general aviation industry “but the broader U.S. economy as well,” Pompeo wrote.
Real people would be hurt, rather than the jet-setters Obama criticizes. Obama’s rhetoric also ignores the facts. Eliminating the bonus depreciation of corporate jets, which had been part of Obama’s stimulus package, would raise perhaps $3 billion in tax revenue over a decade — less than a drop in the bucket of a $14.34 trillion national debt.
New York University law professor Richard A. Epstein is among those who’ve tried to make such points in recent days, criticizing the “cheap political populism” and “primitive economics” of the president’s rhetoric.
Hawker Beechcraft CEO Bill Boisture and others also are concerned about the administration’s plan to curtail businesses’ right to privacy regarding where and how they use their aircraft.
On Friday the nation learned that a pitiful 18,000 jobs were created in June, nudging the unemployment rate up to 9.2 percent and putting more pressure on congressional debt-limit negotiations.
In response, Obama spoke of “getting back to a place where businesses consistently grow and are hiring, where new jobs and new opportunity are within reach, where middle-class families once again know the security and peace of mind they’ve felt slipping away for years now.”
Wichita long has been such a place, in large part because it’s also a place that excels in building airplanes. It would like to get back to building more. If Obama doesn’t care to accept the multiple invitations to visit Wichita, the least he can do is get out of its way.
— For the editorial board, Rhonda Holman
© 2011 Wichita Eagle and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved. http://www.kansas.com
Re-Registration and Renewal of Aircraft Registration
This Final Rule was published in the Federal Register on July 20, 2010, Page 41968. All changes established by this rule are effective October 1, 2010. This rule establishes specific registration expiration dates over a three-year period for all aircraft registered before October 1, 2010, and requires re-registration of those aircraft according to a specific schedule. All aircraft registrations issued on or after October 1, 2010, will be good for three years with the expiration date clearly shown.
Of Airplanes, Fences, and National Security
By James Fallows
By Lane WallaceAlthough I’ve written about aviation for over 20 years now, I rarely write about it on The Atlantic‘s site because Jim Fallows already does such an excellent job of covering the topic here. But I do want to add a few words to what Jim’s already said (all of which I wholeheartedly agree with) in response to Jeffrey Goldberg’s “Private Plane, Public Menace” dispatch piece that ran in this month’s Atlantic.
After getting a ride in a friend’s corporate jet, Goldberg concludes that privileged “general aviation” airplanes threaten national security because their passengers aren’t subject to the same TSA security that airline passengers are, and he argues that we need to impose that kind of security at general aviation facilities and airports.
I disagree with Goldberg’s position on a couple of different levels. First, his description of what constitutes “general aviation” is skewed. And second, attempts to impose TSA-type security at small airports are not only, as Jim said, “wrongheaded” — akin to attacking a fly with a clumsy and ineffective sledgehammer — but they are also destroying one of the most valuable resources that airports offer America.
To understand why I agree with Jim that TSA-style security measures are neither required in the world of general aviation, nor the best approach to what security risk does exist in that world, it helps to understand, first, what “general aviation” really is. From there, it’s easier to understand why the risk is not what many people imagine, as well as what’s wrong with taking a TSA approach to security for every airplane and every airport across America.
So, what is “general aviation”? The way Goldberg describes the world of non-airline flying: “‘general’ being a euphemism for ‘private,’” and private, in Goldberg’s eyes, being a euphemism for “toys of the spoiled rich” — is not uncommon among non-pilots. It describes a segment of aviation that is very visible, and which surely does exist. But that segment is also a very small piece of the picture.
Corporate or individually-owned jets constitute only 4 percent of privately owned aircraft. (Another 3 percent are jet engine-powered propeller planes, akin to the smallest of commuter planes.) The overwhelming majority of private aircraft are less-expensive and less-powerful piston-engine airplanes, and a whopping 68 percent of all private airplanes are single-engine piston aircraft.
In addition, most of those piston-powered, single-engine airplanes are not the shiny new models pictured in the magazines. Almost 90 percent of general aviation aircraft are more than 20 years old. Every airplane has to go through a thorough mechanical inspection every year, and essential parts (like engines) are replaced at set times. So the age of most planes isn’t a safety issue. But it is reflected in their cost and value.
A brand-new Cirrus might carry a price tag of a half a million dollars, but my first airplane — a 1946 two-seat Cessna that I bought in 1986 for only $5,000, could still be bought today for under $15,000. And my current airplane, 1977 Grumman Cheetah, which has a larger piston engine and four seats, has a current market value of around $30,000. Or about the price of a new Saab sedan.
What’s more, many of those piston-powered single engines aren’t the performance machines people imagine them to be. To fly coast to coast in my own single-engine airplane, for example, takes — west to east, when the winds are predominantly at my back — 30 flight hours. Which generally equates to six days, given that I don’t fly in bad weather and limit my “pilot-in-command” time to about six hours a day, because I don’t have an autopilot. In other words, you could drive the distance in less time.
There are also pilots like Jim, who have faster airplanes and “instrument” pilot ratings that permit them to fly in bad weather, allowing them to get a lot more utility out of their airplanes. But only 15 percent of licensed pilots have a current instrument rating. For the rest of us, flying isn’t something we do for utility’s sake.
So why do pilots sacrifice and scrape together the money to fly, if not for a useful purpose? The reasons vary, of course. But for many, many pilots, it has to do with remembering something we all used to know, back when we were still young enough to believe that anything was possible and dreams could come true. “Three year olds,” I once wrote in an essay on the subject, “may not know much about physics, investment banking, literature, or even the meaning of life, but they understand something very important about living…. [They understand] that life is in the ever-changing moment of the present, that joy is more important than possessions, and that dreams are the lifeblood of a heart and soul.”
Unfortunately, as we grow older many of us find, or are told so many times that we start to believe it, that anything is not possible and dreams are for dreamers; irresponsible luxuries not related to putting food on the table. We live long enough to know the demons of disappointment and the restrictions of life’s boundaries. Little by little, we lose that three-year-old belief in magic, dreams, and possibilities. And little by little, an important piece of our hearts dies.
And that is why many pilots fly. The exact incidents that draw future pilots to airports differ widely. But for many of them, the reason they stay is that in some way they can’t even quite articulate, airplanes and flight bring that piece of their heart back to life. After all, flight itself a metaphor for freedom and possibility. A couple thousand feet up in the air, all the limits and disappointments of daily life fade away beneath an endless horizon and the thought, remembered again, of how unbelievably beautiful and vast the world is; how full of possibilities and roads still untraveled.
It’s why airports are — or can be — such magical places. On a practical level, they’re all a valuable part of our national transportation system. But they are also community resources; places where anyone can go, watch, sense, and perhaps recapture a little of that childhood belief in dreams, freedom, and possibilities.
Why does that matter in a discussion of national security? Because when we fence small airports off behind 14-foot barbed-wire barriers and rigid TSA procedures, we separate them from the communities they were built to serve, and separate communities from a resource that might offer them something even more valuable than transportation. We also kill the magic itself. It’s hard to imagine someone wandering out to the airport pictured below and seeing it as a place full of dreams and possibilities. And yet, post-9/11 Homeland Security funding is leading to far more fences like this one:
Now maybe, if those fences and measures were really necessary, and actually worked, and worked better than other approaches, their collateral cost might be acceptable, even if unfortunate. But they are none of those things, for several reasons:
1. It’s a rare airport fence that can’t be gotten around, if you know your way around. The high fences and intimidating signs make airports seem unapproachable by community people, but they tend to fall more into the realm of “security theater” (which Jim has talked about many times) than a real deterrent for someone intent on getting access to an airport or airplane for nefarious reasons.
2. Despite the public’s fears of a rogue pilot with terrorist intentions, most general aviation airplanes are extremely limited in the damage they can inflict. There’s a reason the 9/11 attackers chose 767 airliners filled to the brim with fuel for transcontinental flights for their weapons. Something smaller wouldn’t have been effective. Recall that in the same week as a van driven by an elderly man went out of control in Herald Square, New York, killing half a dozen people, a small airplane flown by a suicidal teenager crashed into an office building in Tampa, Florida, doing serious damage to a desk.
3. The power of human connections. Aviation is a small community, and individual airports are like very small towns. Strangers stand out. And pilots look after each other. A private plane is also a different environment than an airliner. Airliners carry a large number of people who don’t know each other. So the risk of a lone terrorist making their way on board is real. That’s not the case on a private plane. You know your fellow passengers. What’s more, if you blow up an airliner, you kill a lot of innocent people who are on board with you. That’s not the case with a private plane–which is another reason they’re less attractive as a target.
But what about Goldberg’s fear that a group of terrorists could charter an aircraft large enough to do some amount of damage on the ground, if they incapacitated the pilots? It could happen, of course — with or without TSA procedures. But here I think Jim Fallows is correct in arguing for the power of internal HUMINT (HUMan INTelligence) over TSA robo-screeners. Charter operators I’ve talked to say they take a number of measures to make sure their customers aren’t going to turn out to be nightmares: they don’t take cash, they do background credit checks, and they also pay a lot of attention to their gut when it comes to accepting potential customers. After all, the operators have a multi-million dollar asset to protect. If something about a potential customer, or their behavior, doesn’t smell right, they don’t take the job.
The bottom line is that there’s some level of risk in a lot of places (see my earlier post on this subject). But by overreacting with a sledgehammer to the relatively small risk that general aviation airplanes pose, we lose something that is perhaps even more important to preserve, in this post-9/11 world: a connection and access to places that have the ability to remind us that fears and limits can be overcome, and dreams and possibilities are still worth believing in.
This article available online at:
Copyright © 2011 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. All Rights Reserved.
Crowded airliners and enhanced airport security cause shift to charter jets and rental cars
Also: Airline fees cost Thanksgiving weekend travelers an estimated $167 million, and two airlines offer deals on alcoholic beverages in December.
By Hugo Martín, Los Angeles Times
November 29, 2010
With commercial airliners more crowded and heightened security measures threatening long delays at airports, private charter jet companies and rental car agencies may be beneficiaries of the growing airport headaches.
A Zogby International poll released last week found that 42% of likely voters said that enhanced pat-down search techniques and the increased use of full-body scanners by the Transportation Security Administration would cause them to use a different mode of transportation.
The trade groups that represent private charter jets and rental car businesses say the switch has already begun.
Demand for charter jets is up 52% so far in November over the same period last year, said Joe Leader, president of the Air Taxi-Air Charter Assn., a trade group for charter jet companies.
“The majority of that can be credited to an increase in business travel and economic recovery, but the TSA security hassle factor has absolutely had an additive effect on air taxi and air charter demand,” he said.
Meanwhile, the American Car Rental Assn. reported an increase of 6% to 11% in rental business so far in November over the same period last year, an improvement that association Executive Director Sharon Faulkner attributes partly to the growing hassles of air travel.
You can blame the airport headaches on a rebounding economy and new security threats.
As the economy has begun to pick up steam, business travelers and vacationers who stayed close to home during the depths of the recession have begun to fly again, but airlines have resisted adding planes to accommodate the growth.
As a result, airlines are packing their cabins as close to capacity as possible. In August, the nation’s airlines flew at 85.3% of capacity, the highest percentage for any August ever, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
A passenger’s attempt to detonate hidden explosives aboard a Dec. 25 flight also prompted the TSA to toughen security measures at the nation’s airports.
Why does Faulkner, the rental car spokeswoman, suspect the new security measures are a factor in the increased rental car rates?
“The last I heard, none of the rental agencies are searching customers before they rent a car,” she said. “No one is getting patted down at rental agencies.”
• Airlines’ extra fees gobble up big bucks
Next to crowded airplane cabins and long security lines, airline fees are no doubt on the list of greatest frustrations for airline passengers.
Last week, the Consumer Travel Alliance, a nonprofit consumer interest group, calculated that American travelers would spend about $167 million over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend paying extra airline fees.
The group estimated that all those fees paid over the holiday could buy 12 million turkeys — at retail prices. “It’s time to talk turkey and show consumers what their tickets will cost with all the fixings included,” said Charlie Leocha, director of the alliance.
Another critic of airline fees, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) made a plea last week for passage of his legislation that would require airlines to spell out on their websites the exact prices to check luggage, to switch flights and to fly standby, among other charges.
“At a time when families are watching every last penny, they should have a full understanding of what they will be expected to pay not just to get to the airport, but to get to their destination,” Menendez said at a news conference at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.
• Ding! You are now free to have a drink.
In perhaps an effort to lighten the mood for the holidays, American Airlines last week announced plans to launch in-flight happy hours throughout December. On every flight in the U.S., Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean that departs between 5 and 5:59 p.m., the airline will sell alcoholic drinks for $5 each.
On American flights departing at other times, liquor and wine sells in the coach section for $7, and beer goes for $6.
Not to be outdone, Southwest announced via Twitter that each passenger who flew Thanksgiving Day would get a free alcoholic drink. After the freebie, drinks were $5 each.
Copyright © 2010, Los Angeles Times
Allowing Other People to Use Your Aircraft
Posted by Jeremy R.C. Cox
The scenario is this: An important client of your company calls and says “We have ridden on your jet before, and now we urgently have to get to a team out to a site where there has been an accident, and we would like to use your aircraft to get us there tonight instead of waiting for the airlines; we shall pay for the flight, can we use your jet and go?”
|Posted: August 23
Updated: Today at 11:31 PMNORRIDGEWOCK: Airport low on fuelSupply of nonethanol product drying up, putting Central Maine airport in a tight spotBy Erin Rhodaerhoda@mainetoday.com
Staff WriterNORRIDGEWOCK — Business for the Central Maine Airport could drop once nonethanol fuel disappears from the state.FUEL CONCERNS: Pilot Judy Mosher flies this 150 Cessna aircraft and fills it with gas that has an octane rating of 87. That fuel will no longer be available in about a month.Staff photo by Erin RhodaSelect images available for purchase in the
Maine Today Photo StoreIn about a month, nonethanol fuel — which is widely used in small engine planes, as well as lawn mowers, boats, snowmobiles, snow-blowers and antique cars — will not be available in Maine.There will be two main alternatives. For aircraft it will be a more expensive, low-lead gasoline. For other engines, it will be fuel that contains a percentage of ethanol.The options have either monetary or performance drawbacks, according to people who rely on the less-expensive, nonethanol fuel, and could spell trouble for businesses selling the fuel, such as the Central Maine Airport.“My phone’s ringing off the hook: ‘What are we going to do? What are we going to do?’ I don’t have an answer for anybody,” airport operator Kristina Wallace said.She is certain of one thing, however: “Our airport runs on our fuel sales.”Judy Mosher of Fairfield is a guide who flies a 150 Cessna out of the airport. She fills the 1968 plane with gas that has an octane rating of 87.
However, due to a combination of federal regulatory requirements, tax incentives and market forces, fuel refiners and distributors are discovering it is no longer economical to supply that fuel.
Mosher said that with no 87 gasoline, she will be forced to purchase 100 low-lead aviation fuel, which is about $1 more per gallon. She will “definitely” not fly as often, she said.
Mike Willey of Oakland, a pilot and member of the airport advisory committee, added that the 100 low-lead fuel can be detrimental to planes that are not designed for it. The lead “fouls spark plugs and causes stuffed valves,” he said, requiring more maintenance.
The fuel distributor for the airport, Winston Judd, general manager of D & C Transportation in Vermont, estimates he can provide the nonethanol fuel for about a month and a half longer.
“I’m going to supply them as long as I possibly can, and when it’s done, it’s done,” he said.
Judd gets the nonethanol fuel from Ultramar, a subsidiary of Valero Energy Corporation, which owns and operates a refinery near Quebec City.
Louis Forget, vice president of public and government affairs for Ultramar, said the company replaced conventional nonethanol gasoline with a fuel that contains 10 percent ethanol, called E10, effective July 1. Ethanol is largely derived from corn.
The company was one of the last to make the change, he said, “in order to respond to U.S. demand.”
“The U.S. industry has made the change to ethanol gas for a number of reasons: cleaner burning, less dependence on foreign supply, and it’s more economical,” he said.
E10, however, is not approved for any aircraft, said Parker Tyler, a member of the airport’s advisory committee. Why? Because it causes engine failure.
But it’s still used in other engines, such as those for lawn equipment, boats, chainsaws and snowmobiles, and it’s causing problems.
E10 is a “powerful solvent that can damage engines and fuel systems, break down fiberglass fuel tanks and rapidly absorb water from the atmosphere, causing engine failure,” according to the office of U.S. Sen. Susan Collins.
It has been a particular problem for boaters, causing some boats to stall. Repairs are expensive, according to the office. Converting to aluminum fuel lines is also expensive.
But what can be done to introduce the nonethanol fuel back into Maine’s market?, asked Rep. Meredith Strang Burgess, R-Cumberland.
Judd, the distributor, had an answer: “The only thing they can do is scream and holler at their congressman. If anyone’s going to do anything about it, it’s going to be the federal government.”
Strang Burgess and Sen. Lisa Marraché, D-Waterville, discovered exactly that when they proposed a bill during the last legislative session to require retail dealers and distributors to offer nonethanol fuel. The bill stalled because “it wasn’t something we could fix at the state level,” Strang Burgess said.
It’s a federal issue, she said, driven by fuel standards.
In 2007, the federal renewable fuel standard was updated to require that a minimum of 9 billion gallons of ethanol be blended into the gasoline supply in 2008. By 2022, that number is supposed to reach 36 billion gallons.
People have access to nonethanol fuel in other areas, such as the Midwest and Sweden, but getting it to Maine is not cost-effective, Willey said.
Ironically, he said, when fuel arrives in Maine, at terminals in Searsport or Portland, it is ethanol-free. Known as blend stock, it cannot be sold by retail outlets, however, because it only becomes approved as road fuel after it is mixed with ethanol.
To get nonethanol fuel to retailers, including Norridgewock’s airport, the blend stock would have to meet physical and chemical standards, Willey said.
There would also need to be a distribution system. Currently, trucks and storage tanks have been converted to hold just fuel that contains ethanol. Converting back to nonethanol fuel tanks would be expensive.
“(Irving) could create a tank of nonethanol gas. They could do that. But there’s not enough demand from the consumers to pull it through. And I think, in fact, there would be, but you have to tell the consumers about it,” Strang Burgess said. “Recreational pilot people, a few people paid attention, but not many. Wait till it stops coming. Then they’ll get it.”
Erin Rhoda — 474-9534
|Find this article at:http://www.onlinesentinel.com/news/airportlow-on-fuel_2010-08-22.html|
Aviation Tax Update (Aviation Tax Consultants)
Click on Link Above for current law on Aviation Tax Matters.
Aircraft re-registration requirement on horizon
A rule requiring aircraft re-registration is awaiting FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt’s signature and could go into effect this fall. Currently, there is a one-time aircraft registration with a $5 fee; the new rule would require that aircraft be re-registered every three years, and the fee for that is yet unknown. Exact details of the requirement and process won’t be known until the rule is published in The Federal Register. AOPA Online.
Special Report: Business Aviation
Making The Case For Business Aviation
Carl Lavin, 06.01.10, 6:00 PM ET
Business aviation veterans who have handled every type of weather became ill from one scene in Washington in November 2008. Three top auto industry executives flew private jets from Detroit to plead for a federal bailout. Couldn’t you have jet-pooled, one congressman asked?
For an aviation industry already hit hard by the global recession, the scene cast a harmful stereotype in sharp relief. Here was more evidence that private aviation was expensive, wasteful and elite.
Within months, pilots, aircraft owners and plane manufacturers were striking back. Newly energized advocates organized around a new leader at a top trade group with an extensive government background and a new congressional caucus. Two other trade groups published a new business aviation survey, showing that most business flights ferried technical, sales or service staff or middle managers.
“Only 22% of passengers on business aircraft are top management,” according to the October 2009 survey prepared for The National Business Aviation Association and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.
Their survey also found that most companies operating business aircraft are small, with fewer than 500 employees, and that 80% of flights are made to airports with infrequent or no airline service.
Industry advocates knew they had work to do to make a positive impression on Capitol Hill, but they also knew they had plenty of allies in both parties. Organizing a General Aviation Caucus in both the House and the Senate brought together the strongest elected voices supporting business aviation.
Rep. Allen Boyd, D-Fla., helped found the House caucus last year and wants to be sure the government keeps private flying safe and accessible. “As a pilot myself, I know that I appreciate easy access to general aviation airports,” he said.
Craig Fuller, who became president of the largest aviation group in the world, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, in January 2009, brings decades of public policy experience to the task of advocating for general aviation. Fuller was chief of staff to then Vice President George H.W. Bush and has been flying since he was 16.
“We want the government to continue to allow us the freedom to fly,” Fuller said in an interview with Forbes, adding that such freedom “is in many ways uniquely enjoyed” in the United States. “That means,” Fuller added, “not over regulating or over taxing to the point when people can’t afford to do it.”
- EPA Issues Proposed Rulemaking for Leaded Avgas
On April 28, 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM), the first step in a process that may lead to standards mandating GA’s transition to unleaded avgas. This action allows the public to comment on the current data being considered to develop standards to control lead emissions from piston-powered aircraft.Avgas is the only remaining transportation fuel in the United States that contains lead. FAA is committed to continue working with the GA community to test, adopt, and certify a new aviation gasoline fuel standard. In addition, FAA established a GA alternative fuels program at the FAA Technical Center to continue research of unleaded aviation fuels and has issued many supplemental type certificates (STCs) to allow aircraft with lower-performance engines to operate with unleaded automobile gasoline.Despite ongoing research, currently there is no definitive replacement for unleaded avgas available that will meet the needs of all GA aircraft. EPA will use data gathered through this comment-seeking process, as well as work with FAA and industry, to decide whether to enact restrictions on the use of leaded avgas. EPA estimates that lead emissions from aircraft using leaded avgas accounts for approximately half of the national inventory of lead emitted to air.EPA will accept public comment on the ANPRM until June 28, 2010. To view the ANPRM and to provide comments, go to www.regulations.gov and search Docket ID: EPA-HQ-OAR-2007-0294.
Mitsubishi MU2 Newsletters:
Other News Items:
- Letter to the President
- Aviation Security Plans Make Waves in Kansas
- Bonus Depreciation and Enhanced Expensing
- I’ll stop flying,’ pilots tell TSA by Alyssa J. Miller
- FAA—Recently Published Rulemaking Documents
- Bob Watkins—Lear and MU2
- MU-2B Myth Perceptions
- Selected Reading from Aviation Insurance Winter 2007
- MU2 Accident Report Comparison History
- Special Federal Aviation Regulation No. XX—Mitsubishi MU–2B Series Airplane Special Training, Experience, and Operating Experience