USA Today Spotlight's VLJ's

Stephanie Reitz of the AP has an article in USA Today calling the Very Light Jet crowd the "SUV's of the sky". She goes on to mention some of the Air Taxi startup's including POGO and Day Jet, along with how the new business has helped Pratt and Whitney, one of the engine manufacturers for the VLJ's. While I tend to disagree with the SUV of the sky analogy, I tend to reserve that for the more rugged in the field such as the Husky's, Super Cub's and the Cessna Caravan, the press coverage is impressive and is certainly increasing the buzz around these machines. I can only suggest that they perhaps change the title to minivan's of the sky... although not as sexy, probably more descriptive.

Rocket Racing from a Catalog

So if you've got a spare 2 million lying around, take a look at Neiman Marcus's Christmas Book where you could purchase your very own Rocket Racing League Team. While 2 million may very well be a bargain, c'mon now... from a catalog? Really?

The League currently boasts 3 teams with the first races targeted for late fall 2007. So far it has been attracting everyone from former test pilot's and military aviators to former Congressman Robert Walker. All in all this promises to be a fun thing to watch!!

Air Taxi to Take Up Operation in Northeast

As DayJet begins its operations in Florida, another company is poised to begin offering air taxi service in the Northeast. This company, POGO, plans to start hiring in 2008 and begin operations in 2009 as their fleet of Eclipse 500 VLJs arrives.

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.

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