Briefing: November 2019


Redbird Closes FBO

Redbird closed its Skyport FBO at San Marcos Regional Airport in Texas citing poor financial performance. “In its eight years of operation, the Skyport has never made a dime. Not even a profitable quarter,” Redbird founder Jerry Gregoire wrote in a blog post. “Had it not been for Redbird Flight Simulator’s explosive growth and profitability over those years, the Skyport might have found itself in deep trouble very early on.” Gregoire said the company miscalculated some fundamentals in building the FBO in 2011, including its location. It was, however, well received by users. It won ACE and STAR awards for best FBO at an airport with less than 4000 annual arrivals in 2018. Employees were offered jobs with the simulator company.

Aviation Growth Continues

A report from Airbus says more than 550,000 pilots and 640,000 technicians will be needed to populate a rapidly expanding worldwide aviation industry that is expected to top 4.3 percent in annual growth over the next 20 years. To keep the industry flying, a total of almost 40,000 new aircraft will be needed in that period, 25,000 to cover the growth and 15,000 to replace aging and outdated airframes. “The 4 percent annual growth reflects the resilient nature of aviation, weathering short-term economic shocks and geopolitical disturbances,” said Airbus Chief Commercial Officer and Head of Airbus International Christian Scherer. “Economies thrive on air transportation. People and goods want to connect.”

Citation Marks 50 Years

One of the most successful and recognizable aircraft in modern history, the Cessna Citation 500 business jet, flew for the first time on Sept. 15, 1969 and fundamentally changed business aviation. Since then, the original model, launched as the Fanjet 500 in 1971, and its variants have sold 7500 airframes and covered every niche of the small- and medium-sized market. There are now seven models, ranging from the entry-level M2 up to the 12-passenger Longitude.

AOPA Members Oppose Piper Fuel Selector AD

AOPA says members who responded to polling overwhelmingly oppose the FAA mandating replacement of the fuel selector on early model Cherokees and Archers. Piper requested the AD to compel owners to switch their existing fuel selectors to newer designs that make it harder to inadvertently shut off the fuel. Earlier this year, the FAA issued a notice calling for feedback on whether the AD was necessary and AOPA said most of its members don’t think so. “These aircraft have been in operation for more than five decades now with hundreds of thousands of safe operating hours,” AOPA quoted one member saying. “Mandating a mechanical solution to a perceived concern that I, nor anyone I have encountered, have NOT experienced would most likely force the grounding of hundreds if not thousands of sound, economical GA aircraft unnecessarily.” The FAA has not said whether it will proceed with the AD.

uAvionix Shipping tailBeacons

Avionics manufacturer uAvionix has begun shipping its tailBeacon ADS-B transmitter after getting STC approval for the device. Like the earlier model skyBeacon, the tailBeacon replaces a position light with an integrated ADS-B solution that meets the 2020 mandate without major modifications to the aircraft. The company says the units can be installed in less than an hour, including paperwork, using existing wiring. They cost about $2000. They are available directly from uAvionix or through a network of resellers and installers. The company got the four TSOs on the basic elements of the tailBeacon just before AirVenture in July and began manufacturing them to build up a stockpile to fill the orders taken in the interim.


Embraer delivered the first of its new E195-E2 airliners to leasing company AerCap and airline Azul Linhas Areas Brasileiras … Lufthansa has stopped selling the last row of seats in its A320neo airliners after an EASA AD tightened the center-of-gravity envelope … Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg remains optimistic that the 737 MAX will be returned to service before the end of 2020 … for breaking news in general aviation.


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