Building Airplanes in Mexico

The Hawker Beechcraft Corporation (HBC) announced plans to build a sheet metal assembly plant in Chihuahua, Mexico today. This isn't HBC's first interest in Mexico, and they aren't alone there either. HBC has a facility that makes some parts in Labinal, Hawker Beechcraft represents 22% of the turbine business aircraft in Mexico, and Aerolíneas Ejecutivas is HBC's Mexican dealer. Other aviation companies such as Cessna, Bombardier and Gulfstream also have manufacturing activities in Mexico.

A380 Makes First Passenger Carrying Flight, $1.3M for Charity

The Singapore Airlines A380 that was only recently delivered made its first passenger carrying flight from Singapore to Sidney today. The tickets for the flight were all sold on eBay with the proceeds donated to charity. The most expensive one went for $100,000 and the flight generated a total of $1.3M. The flight appeared to go off without a hitch and passenger reviews seem to be very enthusiastic. Hopefully, the publicity will help boost sales for Airbus.

Wunderengine

The High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) aircraft being research by Boeing seems to have gotten it's engine. The Hydrogen fueled wunderengine developed by Ford Motor Company, will power the high flying machine at an altitude of 65,000 ft for seven days. This UAV has applications not only in the military realm but as a commercial platform as well, providing a much cheaper alternative to orbiting a satellite.

The Race Is On

The National Aeronautic Association has created a record category for aircraft with a max gross takeoff weight of 10,000 pounds or less capable of carrying four passengers. The aircraft must also compete for the record in the stock configuration, in order to more accurately represent their performance. Cessna's Citation Mustang and the Eclipse 500 are former and current record holders respectively. With Eclipse beating Cessna by over 70 miles per hour burning 25% less fuel. The Eclipse record was set on 7 October 2007 on a course between New York and Atlanta.

NASA Report Coverage Snowballing

The big aviation story over the last couple of days has been the so called NASA "cover-up" of an aviation safety report it had been compiling over the last 5 or so years. Spurring the media blitz was a refusal by NASA to release information in the reports because it threatened to undermine public confidence in the airlines. Whether or not that claim is true has yet to be determined, but of course writing that speculation down just gives it legs. Both Congress and the Airline Pilot's Association have issued statements disagreeing with the FAA's approach calling for the release of the information in order to make the skies safer.

Fly SUX

This comes from the funny but not terribly useful department. It appears that city officials from Sioux City, Iowa have given up their fight to change their airport identifier. They have embraced the SUX three letter identifier and are even making T-shirts. The new slogan "FLY SUX" seems to be the way to make the best of the situation, and I applaud them for doing so. If nothing else it's good for a laugh.

Controllers getting out of the business

Looks like our sometimes good humored friends on the other end of the radio waves are retiring faster than anticipated. The AP reports that controller retirements are out pacing the expected numbers. This raised concern from the controllers union, stating that the system is on the brink of breakdown. The FAA is countering with a pretty standard "everything is fine..." response but it stands to reason that if we're losing veteran controllers faster than expected, even if we replace them with new controllers, we're losing their experience.

Personal Experience: NextGen is Not a Catch-All

Before I begin, I should say that the upgrades to the Air Traffic Control system (aka. "NextGen") that the FAA wants to implement are a good thing. This will increase safety and, in some ways, efficiency. My only problem with the system is that the airlines are trying to push legislation through congress that would require general aviation aircraft to foot the bill for a system that will get minimal use from 95% of general aviation aircraft. The airlines have convinced the FAA that this is both necessary and ethical, even though the FAA itself has stated that we can fund NextGen using our current tax system. The AOPA website has a great deal of information on the subject.

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