Pilot Briefing

December 1, 2003

It pays to share: small 'fracs' see growth

Companies that offer shares of owner-flown aircraft are proceeding in a cautiously optimistic fashion, but since we last reported on this segment of the industry (see " A Piece of the Action," November 2002 Pilot), each company we spoke with has grown, and others have entered the market.

Owner-flown shared partnerships, like their fractional bizjet cousins, offer a number of shares for sale in an airplane and professional management of the airplane's maintenance, scheduling, insurance, and partnership concerns. Terms of the contract vary by company, but most last for four to six years, after which the share can be sold (often for a guaranteed minimum price), or perhaps transferred to another airplane (see " Pilot Counsel: Fractional Ownership, Part 3," page 116).

OurPlane, which incorporated in 1998, added locations in Houston (with a Cessna 182T on order for Sugar Land Regional Airport), Los Angeles (at Van Nuys and John Wayne airports, with a Cirrus SR22 each), and Westchester County, New York — in addition to its other New York-area base, in Oxford, Connecticut (Westchester will land an SR22 in January). The company also offers aircraft at airports in Toronto, Calgary, San Diego, San Francisco, and Vancouver, British Columbia. The OurPlane fleet numbered 14 aircraft at press time, with three more on order. "We have only a 5-percent turnover rate on our general aviation fractional shares," said OurPlane CEO Graham Casson, with pilots typically only opting out for reasons such as loss of a medical certificate or relocation. Casson notes that the company's promise of 95-percent aircraft availability is panning out, with the average aircraft in the program flying one to two hours a day and 30 to 45 hours a month.

AirShares Elite has positioned 19 of the 25 Cirrus SR22s it has on order at its five metro-area locations in New York, Chicago, Birmingham, the company's home base at Atlanta's DeKalb-Peachtree Airport, and its newest base at the Boston-area Lawrence G. Hanscom Field. Recently it started a test program at Peachtree with two Piper Seneca Vs (with a one-eighth share price beginning at $82,083). AirShares also plans to offer step-up programs for clients who wish to convert their shares in the SR22 to shares in an Adam A500 when that aircraft begins delivery next year. AirShares is working with other industry groups and the FAA to develop FITS (FAA/Industry Training Systems), which will integrate systems training for advanced GA aircraft. "The curriculum and mentality there is something that we would want for our clients," said AirShares Chairman David Lee. (See " Safety Pilot: Standard of Training," July Pilot, and "License to Learn: TAAs, TAPs, FITS, and NAPS," page 54.)

AirShares worked closely with Cirrus as the manufacturer began phasing out analog panels earlier this year. To this end, AirShares has split its fleet at the Peachtree location, with one cluster of owners flying SR22s with the original panel and one flying with the Entegra primary flight display. The company also offers a leasing option on SR22s, called an "exclusive use license," as well as shares on used SR22s.

On the West Coast, SharePlus, a subsidiary of Trade Winds Aviation, has expanded its fleet of two Cessna 172SPs and a 182 to include a Cirrus SR22 for pilots who are ready to move up into higher-performance aircraft. SharePlus maintains one base, at San Jose, California's Reid-Hillview Airport, and is keeping expansion plans on hold right now. "The majority of the share members in the Cessna Skyhawks are student pilots interested in the exclusivity of our program and the fineness of the equipment," said Erin Hay, marketing director for Trade Winds.

A different take on the fractional biz is promoted by Time Pieces, an Indiana-based company that offers shares in Piper J-3 Cubs at Mount Comfort Airport in Indianapolis. The company plans to franchise its concept to providers in other locations. — Julie K. Boatman

Flying without fuel

A NASA research team has proven that fuel doesn't necessarily have to be carried on board an aircraft. The team from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, and the University of Alabama in Hunstville has developed a small-scale airplane that is powered by an invisible ground-based laser. The laser tracks the airplane in flight and directs its energy beam at specially designed photovoltaic cells that convert it into electricity. An electric motor then turns a propeller. With its 5-foot wingspan, the airplane weighs 11 ounces and can remain aloft as long as the laser is uninterrupted. "A telecommunications company could put transponders on an airplane and fly it over a city," said David Bushman, project manager for beamed power at Dryden. "The aircraft could be used for everything from relaying cell phone calls to cable television or Internet connections."

Can a biplane fly formation with the Blue Angels?

You bet. This is not a doctored photo. Airshow pilot Sean D. Tucker is flying formation on two Navy Blue Angels at 120 knots, requiring the jets to fly nose high to achieve the high angle of attack needed at such a slow airspeed. The Blue Angels and Tucker were practicing separately in preparation for the Fleet Week Air Show over San Francisco Bay but took time out to fly this carefully briefed photo formation. Karl Koeppen, who does publicity for Tucker, took these pictures from a Piper Seneca chase plane. Tucker positioned himself on the outside, flying formation on the two jets, and Brian Norris then carefully maneuvered the chase plane into various positions around their formation to get the shots. Tucker is in a forward slip to show off his highly modified Pitts biplane. — Alton K. Marsh

HondaJet to fly late this year

Honda R&D Americas is scheduled to fly its six- to eight-passenger HondaJet design late this year. The unusual design features Honda-built engines mounted high above each wing and outboard from the composite-built cabin. The 9,200-pound aircraft is claimed to achieve a maximum speed of 420 knots at 30,000 feet, but cruise at 389 knots at 41,000 feet to achieve an NBAA IFR range of 1,100 nm.

It can maintain an 8,000 foot altitude cabin up to 44,000 feet. Honda considered the size of the cabin to be of critical importance to the success of the aircraft, should it enter production. All Honda officials will say for now is that design, fabrication, and major structural testing already are completed and ground-function tests in progress have provided "promising" results.

By mounting the engines above the wing instead of attaching them to the rear fuselage, Honda was able to achieve a larger cabin size of 15 feet by 4.89 feet. The Honda engines are HF-118 twin-spool engines rated at 1,670 pounds of thrust at takeoff that use full authority digital engine control (FADEC). The aircraft's four fuel tanks — right and left tanks, a carry-through tank, and a rear-fuselage bladder — are refueled from a single point on the right side of the rear fuselage.

The aircraft will use an all-Garmin glass cockpit consisting of three large displays — pilot and copilot primary flight displays and a multifunction display center-mounted on the panel. An attitude heading reference system is mounted in the nose.

The aircraft is 41 feet long and has a 39.8-foot wingspan. It features not only a laminar flow wing, but a laminar flow nose as well. A top engineering problem was to protect airflow over the wings despite having engines mounted above them. The placement of the engines actually improves the aerodynamic efficiency of the aircraft, Honda engineers claim. The engine pylons go upward and rearward so that the engine inlets are above the rear portion of each wing. Pictures contained in a research paper presented to a meeting of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in Dayton last July show full-scale fuselage and tail sections in testing. Development of the jet is being conducted in a leased hangar in Greensboro, North Carolina. — AKM

ePILOT Headliners

Recent news from AOPA's weekly e-mail newsletter.

Diamond, Cessna offer glass

The future of general aviation instrument panels appears to be glass. Two manufacturers, Diamond and Cessna, will offer the Garmin G1000 primary flight displays and integrated multifunction displays in their aircraft next year.

Toyota turns down heat

The project at Toyota Advanced Aircraft in California to develop a general aviation piston-engine aircraft is barely simmering. The fervor to build an airplane for future sale has died and a third of the project's 30 workers have left, but research continues on composite materials and manufacturing.

LanShe makes a splash

LanShe Aerospace, previously certified to manufacture the Micco SP-26 aerobatic aircraft, has received a production certificate from the FAA to manufacture all models of the Lake family of aircraft.

Liberty pushes for certification

After meeting demands for additional and different tests than those originally specified by the FAA, Liberty Aerospace has now been cleared to begin a final series of flight testing that could soon lead to the receipt of a type certificate for its Liberty XL2.

National Air Tour complete

The National Air Tour completed its journey in September. The tour ended its 4,000-mile odyssey after visiting 26 cities.

Museum pieces go panoramic

Display aircraft now being moved into the new Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum facility at Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia are first being photographed to provide 360-degree panoramic virtual reality views for use on the Internet and at the museum.

Now you can receive a customized version of the free AOPA ePilot e-mail newsletter tailored to your interests. To customize your weekly newsletter, see AOPA Online ( https://www.aopa.org/apps/epilot/).

NBAA Notebook

Forecast shows stronger sales for jet market

Honeywell's twelfth annual business aviation forecast predicted the delivery of 450 to 500 new business jets in 2003 and projected some bright spots in the near future for corporate aviation sales and manufacturing.

Citing signs of economic recovery based on government economic indicators and private economic forecasters, a 1,400- to 1,500-aircraft backlog, new aircraft designs, and pent-up demand, Honeywell Senior Vice President Lynn Brubaker predicted the delivery of 7,700 new business jets in the 2003 to 2013 timeframe. While 2004 looks to be a flat year, the Honeywell report said, a recovery should begin in 2005. The results were released at the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) convention in October.

In other NBAA news, Eclipse Aviation said it signed an agreement with Fuji Heavy Industries of Japan to build turnkey wings that will arrive at the Eclipse plant in Albuquerque fully wired and ready to install. In return for the wing agreement, Fuji won the rights to use the Eclipse stir-welding process. The agreement continues a trend toward outsourcing most of the parts for the Eclipse 500 aircraft, with only final assembly to be performed at the company's Albuquerque headquarters. Engines are in development at Pratt & Whitney Canada and weigh slightly more than the Williams International engines originally planned for the aircraft. They are thirstier, so the wing has been redesigned to carry more fuel. Overall the aircraft has gained more than 900 pounds, but most performance figures remain the same and it is now proposed to be 20 knots faster than the original design.

Cessna Aircraft debuted the latest in its growing stable of business jets with the XLS, an upgraded version of the Excel. With Pratt & Whitney PW545B engines — an update from the -A engines on the Excel — the new jet is in flight testing and has already posted speed gains in excess of 33 knots at 40,000 feet, resulting in an additional 225 nm of range. The price is set at $9.9 million.

Bombardier Aerospace announced a new long-range business jet, the Global Express XRS. With a range of 6,150 nm and a $45.5 million price tag, the first XRSs will be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2004 and will eventually replace the currently produced Global Express. The extra range comes from additional fuel carried in a new forward fuel tank with a 1,486-pound capacity. An improved version of the basic Global Express design, the XRS will have more cabin windows and a higher-performance pressurization system. Cabin altitude at 51,000 feet msl will be equivalent to 5,680 feet, Bombardier said.

Dassault Falcon Jet is building a $37 million (in 2002 dollars), eight-passenger Falcon 7X jet that will use a sidestick controller. Company officials said they believe fly-by-wire gives greater control than mechanical flight controls. The first flight is expected in 2005, with first deliveries the following year. There are 34 orders for the jet. It is promised to have a 5,700-nm range and fly at Mach 0.9 using two Pratt & Whitney 307A engines.

And, designed for air taxi and charter applications, Avocet Aircraft's newly announced ProJet has racked up 100 orders from Cleveland-based Jet Partners' UltraJet Division. Jet Partners will use the new ProJet as part of its growing network of charter operations. The ProJet will sell for $2 million, come in a six- or eight-seat configuration (with lavatory), cruise at 365 knots, fly 1,200 nm, and have a 41,000-foot ceiling, according to Avocet officials. Direct operating costs are estimated at $1 per mile. First flight is expected in the fourth quarter of 2005. The ProJet is being developed and built with substantial help from Israel Aircraft Industries. For more NBAA news, see AOPA Online ( www.aopa.org/members/nbaa03.html).

Squawk Sheet

First reported by the FAA in 2000, cracks in vertical fin attachments on Cessna 150 and 152 aircraft have become the subject of an additional warning from the agency. An airworthiness concern sheet issued in late September says cracks have been seen with increasing frequency in the past two years and the FAA expects to order mandatory inspections of all models made from 1966 through 1980. The original problem was most prevalent in 1978 Cessna 152s. The problem could result in the vertical and horizontal tail surfaces falling off. Only four cracks were reported in the 1970s, then six in the 1980s, and 12 in the 1990s. Just in the past three years another 12 cases of fin attachment cracks have been reported. Under the present proposal, owners would have to get the tail inspected in the next 100 hours and then every 1,000 hours thereafter.

Pressed by AOPA and the Cessna Pilots Association (CPA), the FAA has reopened the comment period for two contentious and potentially costly proposed airworthiness directives. The ADs, affecting more than 1,000 Cessna 401, 402, and 411 model aircraft, would mandate inspection of wingspar caps for fatigue cracks and installation of a Cessna-manufactured spar strap modification kit. Estimates of the cost to comply with the ADs run as high as $70,000 per aircraft. AOPA and the CPA oppose the proposed ADs because they are not based on "real world" reports. See AOPA Online for the association's regulatory brief on this issue ( www.aopa.org/whatsnew/regulatory/regtwincessna2.html).

Members in the news

Barry Schiff, AOPA 110803, who has been a longtime contributor and columnist for AOPA Pilot and has flown everything from Piper Cubs to the space shuttle simulator has been honored as an inductee into the Flight Instructor Hall of Fame. The National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI) cited Schiff's lifelong commitment to the art of flight instruction. A special ceremony took place in October at the EAA AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh.

Raymond C. Speciale, AOPA 988766, an attorney and pilot, has published a handy book for anyone interested in aircraft ownership that covers all the paperwork details that go along with it. In Aircraft Ownership: A Legal and Tax Guide, Speciale discusses IRS and FAA rules, legal tips for leasing your aircraft, hangar and tiedown agreements, insurance policies, the various levels of ownership, and much more. The book also includes a CD-ROM that contains downloadable forms, agreements, and checklists. Published by McGraw-Hill, the book sells for $39.95 and is available in bookstores or via the Web site ( www.books.mcgraw-hill.com).

Michael McKendry, AOPA 527914, has been named Aviation Safety Counselor of the Year for 2003 by the Portland, Maine, FAA flight standards district office. McKendry serves as manager of flight safety for Alpha Flying, a Pilatus PC-12 fractional ownership company. He has developed seminars for pilots throughout New England, written articles about safety, and created a nonpunitive safety reporting program at Alpha. McKendry holds an ATP certificate and has more than 16,500 hours of flight time.

Mary S. Feik, AOPA 592503, and Ann Wood-Kelly, AOPA 1017757, have both received the 2003 Katherine and Marjorie Stinson Award for Achievement. The award is presented annually by the National Aeronautic Association (NAA) to women who have made important contributions to aviation. Feik has been fixing, flying, and restoring airplanes for 60 years. She is a former military pilot and aviation maintenance instructor who accumulated more than 5,000 hours as a pilot, flight engineer, and engineering observer during World War II and the Korean War. In 1996, she was the first woman to receive the FAA's Charles Taylor "Master Mechanic" Award. She flies and maintains a Piper Pacer and Comanche. Wood-Kelly, while working as a flight instructor in 1942, was recruited by Jacqueline Cochran as one of the 24 female U.S. pilots to join the British Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) whose mission was to ferry military aircraft from factories to air bases. She later spent some 30 years in airline management, first for Northeast Airlines then Pan Am. Wood-Kelly is currently preserving history for ATA pilots through a Web site ( www.airtransportaux.org) and flies her Piper Arrow for fun.

Louis S. Rehr, AOPA 45810, and Carleton Rehr, AOPA 774744, have published Marauder: Memoir of a B-26 Pilot in Europe in World War II. The story begins with Louis Rehr's arrival in pre-invasion England in May 1944 and ends with the completion of Rehr's aircraft disarmament duties in postwar Germany in July 1945. Rehr, a squadron commander with the 323rd Bombardment Group, earned 12 air medals, five battle stars, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, and the Croix de Guerre with Silver Star. The memoir is the result of 40 years of research on the combat history of the B-26, contributions from comrades, an extensive collection of rare photographs, artifacts, and all military records and documents relating to Rehr's part in World War II. The book is available in bookstores for $35 or can be ordered from the publisher, McFarland & Company Inc. See the Web site ( www.mcfarlandpub.com).

This month in GA

With a short dash down the runway, the machine lifted into the air and was flying. It was only a flight of twelve seconds, and it was uncertain, wavy, creeping sort of flight at best; but it was a real flight at last. — Orville Wright

December 8, 1903. On its second and final trial, the Langley airplane, designed by Dr. Samuel Langley and piloted by Charles Manly, crashes as it launches from a houseboat on the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. Manly dies from injuries received in the crash.

December 17, 1903. Orville Wright flies for 12 seconds more than 120 feet in the first human-controlled powered flight, at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. (Wilbur Wright had tried three days earlier and failed to get airborne. He makes a second flight that day, covering a distance of 852 feet in 59 seconds.)

December 28, 1908. Matthew Sellers flies a quadraplane powered by an eight-horsepower Dutheil-Chalmers motor. The aircraft is the country's first civil airplane designed and advertised for personal use.

December 16, 1912. The first postage stamp depicting an airplane is issued. It is a 20-cent parcel post stamp.

December 31, 1938. A Boeing 307 Stratoliner is the first pressurized airliner to go into service.

December 1, 1941. The Civil Air Patrol is established, one week before the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

December 22, 1945. The Beechcraft Model 35 Bonanza takes its first flight.

December 4, 1958. John Cook and Robert Timm take off from McCarran Airfield in Las Vegas in a Cessna 172 and, with in-flight refueling, remain aloft for 64 days, 22 hours, 19 minutes, and 5 seconds — more than two months in continual flight. They land at McCarran on February 7, 1959.

December 6, 1959. U.S. Navy Cmdr. Lawrence E. Flint attains an altitude record of 98,556 feet in a McDonnell XF4H-1.

December 10, 1963. Charles "Chuck" Yeager makes the first emergency ejection in a full-pressure suit, parachuting 8,500 feet while testing an NF-104 rocket-augmented aerospace trainer.

December 23, 1987. Voyager completes the first nonstop, non-refueled flight around the world. Constructed almost entirely of lightweight graphite-honeycomb composite materials and laden with fuel, Voyager lifts off from Edwards Air Force Base, California, at 8:01 a.m. on December 14, 1987. It returns nine days later at 8:05 a.m.

Centennial of Flight calendar of events

Through December 2. Legoland, Carlsbad, California. Exhibit of the AIAA 1903 Wright Flyer. 703/264-7530; www.flight100.org

December 3. Hampton, Virginia. "Katharine Wright: A Living Biography," by Betty Geiger-Darst. 757/727-0900; www.vasc.org

Through December 5. First Flight Centennial Pavilion, Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. "From Kitty Hawk to the Moon in 66 Years." 252/441-6291

December 7. Caledonia, Michigan. "Bishop Milton Wright: Man of Faith, Man of Flight." 616/534-6016

December 8-19. Centennial Airport, Englewood, Colorado. "Exhibit of Wright Brothers Memorabilia." 303/790-0598; www.centennialairport.com

December 12-17. Wright Brothers National Memorial, Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. First Flight Celebration. 800/446-6262; www.outerbanks.org

December 13. Network TV Special, Nationwide. Born of Dreams, Inspired by Freedom. 703/790-1949; see program listings.

December 13. The Flight Park, Los Angeles, California. Hang glider Meet. www.windsports.com

December 15. Chantilly, Virginia. Opening of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. 202/357-2700; www.nasm.si.edu

December 15-17. Hampton, Virginia. Aerospace Technology Symposium. 402/554-3772; http://nasa.unomaha.edu/aeronautics/

December 17. Museum of Flight, Seattle, Washington. Centennial of Flight Celebration. 206/764-5720; www.museumofflight.org

December 17. War Eagles Air Museum, Santa Teresa, New Mexico. Centennial of Flight Celebration. 505/589-2000; www.war-eagles-air-museum.com

December 17. Sacramento International Airport, Sacramento, California. 100 th Anniversary of Powered Flight Celebration. 916/874-0791; www.sacairports.org

Through December 20. Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum, Columbus, Indiana. "Century of Flight Timeline." 812/372-1382

Through December 31. World Kite Museum, Long Beach, Washington. "How the Kite Invented the Airplane." 360/642-4020; www.worldkitemuseum.com

Through December 31. College Park Aviation Museum, College Park, Maryland. "Thirty Years and Still Flying: College Park Airport." 301/864-6029; www.collegeparkaviationmuseum.com

Through December 31. Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Aviation Art Exhibit; www.wpafb.af.mil/museum/

Through December 31. Various locations, Chicago, Illinois. "12 Seconds That Changed the World." 773/686-7496; www.chicagocentennialofflight.org

Through December 31. Outer Banks History Center, Manteo, North Carolina. "Pushing the Limits: Aviation Flight Research." 252/473-2655; www.firstflightcentennial.org

Through February 8, 2004. The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois. "Aerospace Design: An Exhibition on Wind Tunnels." 312/443-3949; www.artic.edu

Through February 20, 2004. Museum of Flight, Seattle, Washington. "The Birth of Aviation." 206/764-5720; www.museumofflight.org

Through March 4, 2004. Virginia Air & Space Center, Hampton, Virginia. 1903 Wright Flyer replica on display. 757/727-0900; www.vasc.org

Through May 30, 2004. Orlando Science Center, Orlando, Florida. "Touch the Sky" Celebration. 407/514-2024; www.osc.org

Through December 31, 2005. Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C. "The Wright Brothers and the Invention of the Aerial Age." 202/633-2374; www.nasm.si.edu

Visit AOPA Online ( www.aopa.org/pilot/100/) for more events and information on the Centennial of Flight.