Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Piper Arrow gets a Garmin G500 system

In December last year NAC Avionics successfully installed a Garmin G500 system into a Piper Arrow. The system fits neatly into the panel space vacated by the standard six-pack flight instruments.

The original Altitude, altimeter and airspeed indicators were retained as stand-by instruments. The G500 talks to the Garmin GNS530W, GNS430W, ADF and Autopilot.

A new instrument panel was manufactured, painted and laser engraved to complement a full makeover that included refurbishment of all radios, instruments and sub-panels, giving a brand-new feel to the cockpit.

The G500 consolidates all primary flight, navigation and sensor data in a ‘big picture’ suite of multi-tasking, colour LCDs.

Dual 10” LCD screens, mounted side-by-side in a single bezel, put Primary Flight Display (PFD) and Multifunction Flight Display (MFD) capabilities right in front of the pilot – bringing a whole new level of capability and situational awareness. SVT (Synthetic Vision Technology) was installed as an option to create a 3-D ‘virtual reality’ perspective of flight and en route terrain features.

The G500 is a low-cost alternative derived from Garmin’s highly successful G1000 integrated avionics system, designed specifically for most Class 1/Class 2 aircraft (singles or twins under 6 000lb) packaged as an FAA approved STC.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The return of Embraer Legacy 600 N965LL

Aircraft Sales and Acquisition sometimes isn’t what it seems. This was the case with Legacy 600 N965LL (formerly N600LL) and this is its story.

On 29 September 2006, a brand new $28 million Embraer Legacy 600 jet was on its maiden flight to the USA. Due to various errors by both the pilots and the air traffic controllers, the Legacy had a mid air incident with a commercial airliner (a Boeing 737). Amazingly, the Legacy jet sustained only minor wing tip damage and landed safely at an air force base in the Amazon. This is the story of getting N965LL to its home in the USA.

After the incident, the aircraft was impounded and held at the Cachimbo Air Force Base, which is in the Southern Amazon, in the state known as Para, just south of the Equator. The authorities had a lot of investigation to be done and the aircraft sat in a hangar at the air force base while they sorted out what really happened and went through the legal procedures that are typical of an incident such as this.

In mid 2009 our company, General Aviation Services, was contacted and asked if we wanted to buy the aircraft, as is, where is. The aircraft was still sitting in a hangar at Cachimbo Air Force Base. We reviewed the information on the aircraft provided in reports by various groups, including Embraer themselves, and said that providing we found the aircraft to be in satisfactory condition mechanically and that there were no other paperwork issues, that we would buy the aircraft. We decided to partner with Gantt Aviation, which is based in Georgetown Texas, and nine months later, in early March 2010, myself, Jay Gantt, and three engineers from Constant Aviation (which is the premier Embraer maintenance facility in the US) left the USA for Manaus, Brazil.

When we arrived in Manaus, which is called the gateway to the Amazon, we still had to get to Cachimbo Air Force Base which is completely isolated in the Amazon. To digress for a moment, the Amazon (both in terms of the rainforest and the river) is something that defies comprehension. ‘Vast ‘ doesn’t do justice to the rainforests’ true size. The fact that the Amazon river discharges 20 percent of the world’s fresh water, carries more water than the world’s next six biggest rivers combined, and that 1 300km upstream in Manaus, the river is still several kilometres wide, it is difficult to imagine until you see these things in person. To this day, no bridge at any point has ever been built across the Amazon River.

We had chartered an aircraft to take us from Manaus to the air force base. Driving was not a realistic option, since it was two days in a 4x4 from Manaus through the Amazon, in 35°C (95°F) heat with 90 percent humidity. If this was the Camel Trophy, we would have done it, but our purpose was to get to the aircraft, inspect it and get back home. The red-tape and clearances to land at the air force base had taken an inordinate amount of time to obtain and we had only a limited time to inspect the aircraft, so we were ready and motivated to get things moving forward.

We had chartered a 1995 King Air B200 and arrived at the charter company to find we had been given a 1968 C99. No amount of complaining was going to change that, besides which we had other issues to deal with. The engine oil required for the Legacy, that we had ordered (and overpaid for), was nowhere to be found. Luckily we had a Brazilian Aviation guy with us and, miraculously, with a show of around $200, the oil was promptly located and given to us.

The flight to the air force base was three hours. A testament to the remoteness of the place is that we did not see a road during the flight. Upon arrival at the air force base our Brazilian translator told us that we would be asked to have lunch at the base with the Colonel. I said that we were late as it is, and he replied that we would be having lunch with the Colonel. It was apparent to me that I had forgotten that the Chief of a land likes to know who his guests (or intruders) are, and that nothing happens on a Chief’s land without his consent. After a wholesome lunch, somewhere in the middle of the Amazon, we were taken to the aircraft which was stored in a massive canvas hangar that was actually built around the aircraft.

It was something to see. Here was a brand new aircraft (total time 22 hours, eight landings), that had been sitting in the hangar for three years. The exterior was a little dusty, but with a swipe of my hand, the bright white paint shone through. The only evidence of any incident on the aircraft was the sheared-off left winglet. The interior, having been sealed for three years, was like the day it was delivered. I told the Constant engineers to get going on the aircraft and they diligently got working on checking the aircraft out. They boroscoped the engines, checked the avionics, drained and boroscoped the fuel tanks, checked the windows and windshields, and in short, checked every place on the aircraft that you could without pulling the aircraft apart.

We had intended to run up the engines, but time was running out. The Constant engineers assured us the engines were in perfect condition and some Chief-of-theland constraints made it more difficult than it was worth. On top of that, we were introduced first hand to an Amazonian storm that left us struggling in the howling downpour, with many of the military base personnel helping to get the canvas hangar closed and buttoned up. By the time the hangar and the aircraft were back to the condition that we had found them, it was 22:30 and too late to leave and we were kindly given some barracks to stay in at the base. The Brazilian military were exceptional and very accommodating. Not only did they feed us and give us accommodation, but they were very helpful with the aircraft and hangar and did everything they could to make things happen.

The next morning, after our thanks and goodbyes to the Chief, we departed in our C99 back to Manaus. One day later we were back in the USA. It didn’t take long to review our findings and make the decision to buy the aircraft. That was the easy part. It did take a long time to work through the paperwork issues, which included making sure of free and clear title and getting the export issued on the aircraft. Seven-and-a-half months after we got back from Cachimbo Air Force Base (and 18 months after we had started looking at the project), we were ready to go and get N965LL. We hired Constant Aviation to make the aircraft ready for flight. They put a team of 10 people together, and we flew them down in a Merlin IVC with all the equipment needed to get the aircraft ferryable to the USA. Flying to the airport base in a private aircraft was really the only way to do this project. They had spares, equipment, parts, tooling and so on that would have been a logistical nightmare for an airline to handle.

The Constant Aviation team spent 21 days in Cachimbo Air Force Base. If you had any weight to lose, it was the perfect boot camp, with temperatures consistently at 35°C (95°F) and high humidity. Constant made some repairs to the left wing, fuelled the aircraft, started up the engines and did power performance runs, replaced all the wheels and tyres and did the work and inspections that were required by the US FAA DAR (Designated Airworthiness Representative) to give the aircraft a ferry permit from Brazil to the USA. Once the aircraft was ready to fly, it was flown to Manaus to clear customs and be exported, while the Merlin IVC made its way back to the USA. It took several days to clear customs and get the export issued and on 21 November 2010, five years after the incident and two years after we started work on the aircraft, N965LL landed safely at Cleveland International Airport in Ohio. It had been an exercise in patience and frustration, but it was an invaluable learning experience, and getting the aircraft back was a gratifying experience.

Since the engines were sitting for three years, they were sent out to Rolls-Royce for inspection. The aircraft is going through a 48-month inspection and bringing all Airworthiness Directives and Service Bulletins up-to-date, and the left wing is being replaced with a serviceable wing. The new owner will receive an aircraft with 36 hours total time!

If you want to discuss this or any other aircraft give me a call at General Aviation Services, Brett Forrester:

Tel +1 847 726 5000

Mobile: +1 847 910 6846

E-mail: brettf@genav.com

Monday, September 26, 2011

Global confidence in Bell Helicopter

Bell Helicopter announced that it received 41 signed contracts at Heli-expo 2011 in Orlando, Florida.

“This was an exceptional show for Bell Helicopter,” said John L Garrison, President and CEO, Bell Helicopter. “Spending time with our customers and listening to their needs and direct feedback is invaluable.”

“Generating a record number of orders at Heli-Expo this year – selling over 40 aircraft – is an indication of customer trust in Bell Helicopter and that we are meeting their mission needs. The mix of aircraft and the geographic diversity are positive indications for our entire industry – and more importantly global confidence in Bell Helicopter,” said John Garrison.

The product mix included several 412EPs, 429s, 11 new 407GXs as well as 206L4s representing North America, Asia, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East. “We can definitely start to feel a change in the climate,” said Larry Roberts, Senior Vice President, Commercial Business for Bell Helicopter. “I was especially delighted that we enjoyed sales across the product range, in particular with the Bell 412EP, the 407GX and the 429. This demonstrates that, whether mature technology or new innovation, our aircraft remain in demand, confirming to a large measure that Bell Helicopter solutions are relevant in the market place. The industry wants Bell Helicopter solutions and we aim to keep providing them.”

At this year’s Heli-Expo, Bell Helicopter announced the 407GX, a new version of the Bell 407 equipped with the innovative Garmin G1000HTM Integrated Flight Deck and the 407AH, the first Bell-qualified armed commercial aircraft across the market.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Newsflash from 43 Air School

The Air Traffic Services (ATS) system comprises a vast network of people and equipment that ensures the safe operation of commercial and private aircraft all over the world. The primary purpose of ATS systems worldwide is to separate aircraft to prevent collisions, to organise and expedite the flow of traffic, and to provide information and other support for pilots as required. Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) coordinate the movement of air traffic to make certain that planes stay a safe distance apart from each other and, although their immediate concern is safety, controllers must also direct planes efficiently to minimise delays.

The need for ATCs has never been greater, with many ATS facilities operating with staff levels below the accepted norm. In the US alone, in order to meet the predicted shortages, the FAA will be training in excess of 17 000 new controllers by 2018. To assist in meeting the increasing demand for ATCs worldwide, 43 Air School has established an Air Traffic Services College at our Port Alfred campus to provide students with the highest level of training to SACAA regulations and in accordance with ICAO standards.

With the approval of its Air Traffic Services Aviation Training Organisation (ATS ATO) licence earlier this year, 43 Air School became the first privately owned ATS ATO in South Africa. The Air Traffic Service Assistant (ATSA) and Aerodrome Flight Information Service (AFIS) courses offered by 43 Air School will be complemented by the introduction of the Aerodrome Control course, Approach and Area Procedural and Radar courses in 2011.

Simulator training on the Aerodrome Control course will be provided utilising a state-of-the-art Barlog 360° Aerodrome Simulator, which was certified on 31 March 2011 by the South African Civil Aviation Authority. SACAA Air Traffic Services Inspector, Mr Robert Purkiss commented, “I have seen a number of 360° simulators worldwide and the WX360 is by far better than anything else I have seen.”

ATC Courses

A comprehensive curriculum that integrates classroom instruction and simulator training will prepare students to be certified by their respective regulators as Air Traffic Controllers. Standard courses for the training of ATC personnel have been designed in order to offer a training programme that conforms to SACAA and ICAO course guidelines.

The ATSA course is the introduction course, consisting of theoretical training, and is the foundation for all future ATC training courses. A rating is received on the successful completion of this course and this rating can be validated at the student’s ATSU.

Having successfully completed the ATSA course the student can continue with the Aerodrome Control course, which has both theoretical and practical content. The successful completion of the theoretical training is a necessary prerequisite to be able to continue on to the simulator training course.

Practical training will be conducted in the FABR artificial airspace created for 43 Air School’s simulator environment. However, with our advanced simulator it is possible to provide training for our clients in their individual national airspace.

The modern capabilities of our simulator afford us the unique opportunity of offering our clients the option of completing 50 percent of their validation training, recurrence training or proficiency assessments at our facility.


Only South African students will be eligible for ATS licensing by the SACAA. Foreign nationals will be issued with a certificate confirming the successful completion of the course/s in order for them to be licensed by their individual DCA/CAAs. 43 Air School is in discussions with interested national aviation authorities globally for approval of its courses and the aerodrome simulator.

Course Information and Contact

For further course information please contact 43 Air School on

Tel: +27 (46) 604 3600 or

E-mail: fly@43airschool.com

Monday, September 12, 2011

NAC Value Added Products overview

NAC’s Value Added Products division is in partnership with various companies who maximise the performance of aircraft. They are:


BLR’s Winglet System for the Beech King Air 90, 200 or 300 are winglets that reduce induced drag so you can fly faste and improve your fuel economy, or some of both.

Aviation Partners, Inc

API Winglets enhance performance for the Hawker 800 and 800XP, including increased range, reduced drag, faster climb to altitude, reduced emissions, improved second segment climb, more speed for the same fuel, improved stall characteristics and 2 000 feet higher initial cruise altitude.


Raisbeck has developed systems which measurably improve all King Air models, including dual aft body strakes, high flotation gear doors, Crown wing lockers, power props and increased gross weight.


Blackhawk Aircraft Performance Enhancements provide new Pratt & Whitney -52, -61, -42, -135A and -28 engines with Blackhawk gauges to aircraft owners whos aircraft are due for engine overhaul.

With all of these value added products available for your King Air or Hawker, you can positively invest in any product to ensure that your aircraft utilisation is more cost effective.

CONTACT GEORGE CORY AT NAC Tel: + 27 (11) 267 5013 for more information.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Heroes of Diamond Aircraft - all hail the aero-heroes of 2010!

by ANN Editor-in-Chief, Jim Campbell

The beginning of the second decade of this millennium will not go down as a favourite among devotees of all things aeronautical.  For companies already struggling to stay alive, 2009-2010 was a bad time and often signalled their end. For the healthier companies, it was a time when everyone went into survival mode, no matter how well they had done previously.

The last few years would have been bad enough for Diamond Aircraft, or any other company for that matter, without the monumental obstacles placed before it by the puzzling and nearly catastrophic situation that developed around the Thielert diesel engine programme and its eventual bankruptcy. No company wants to lose a valuable supplier, especially when that supplier builds the pivotal powerplant for your vehicle and most especially when it involves vehicles uniquely designed for a novel type of propulsion. That’s when you know you have a real problem.

The Diamond DA20

For most companies, that would have been it... toast, dead, buh-bye! But not Diamond. They not only developed their own diesel engine system to replace the disgraced Thielert, but recertified their twin-engine DA42 for the Lycoming 360-series engines in the interim, while also completing the design of the Austro diesel and the eventual re-certification of the DA42 with their own diesel powerplant.

For most companies, such circumstances would have killed them off. But Diamond survived and brought forth two new airplanes despite it all. Best of all, they were two of the nicest flying twins we’ve flown in the last decade and that’s saying a lot.

The Diamond DA40

In the meantime, they work toward the arduous completion of what is now the only single-engine jet programme in actual, real-life, no-fooling, development, and fully expect to have a very costeffective small jet platform available for the market about the time the pundits expect the economy to thaw. The D-Jet programme is a difficult one and it’s been kicking their butts for a few years. But like all things Diamond, they will finish it, they will make it right, and when it finally starts to show up in hangars all over the world, it will have a unique market niche all to itself. Amazing.

The Diamond DA42

Let’s not forget that Diamond continues to build DA20 and DA40s with a fair degree of regularity for this down market, that both these airplanes have compiled one of the most enviable safety records for any GA single, and that service and support for these aircraft has kept up a good rep while a few of their competitors seem to have forgotten the meaning of the words.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bell 206 gets newly developed RR500 engine

Bell Helicopter and Rolls-Royce announced the selection of Uniflight LLC to develop, manufacture and market an upgrade kit that will enable retrofit of the Bell 206B/L fielded fleet with the Rolls- Royce newly developed RR500 engine.

“Bell Helicopter remains focused on supporting our legacy fleet of helicopters,” said R Danny Maldonado, Senior Vice President Customer Support and Chief Services Officer. “We have invested significant resources and funding into developing a comprehensive product strategy for our legacy aircraft.” Bell Helicopter’s legacy support strategy includes initiatives designed to enhance mission capabilities and increase overall productivity, including product development, retrofits, modifications, upgrades and obsolescence management.

This engine upgrade is just one of many steps that Bell Helicopter will be undertaking to accomplish this objective with respect to its legacy 206 fleet. “For many years the Bell 206 was the industry standard in the light helicopter class. It has a loyal following and continues to bring superior value to civil and paramilitary missions across the globe,” said Joe Hawke, President and Chief Executive Officer, Uniflight.

“We are pleased to team with Bell Helicopter and Rolls-Royce to develop a cost effective, performance-enhancing upgrade kit for the 206 community.” The RR500 engine provides 206 operators with higher performance capabilities and lower direct operating costs.

“At Rolls-Royce we are committed to investing in core technologies that can be used multiple times across a family of engines and create new market opportunities. Installing the RR500 turboshaft engine on the 206 is an important step forward for our business, offering operators more power and takeoff capabilities in hot-high conditions,” said Chris Fultz, Rolls-Royce Programme Director for the RR500.

The upgrade kit will be certified by Uniflight through the Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) process. Formal agreements are currently under negotiation and further announcements will be forthcoming.

“Industry alliances, such as the one with Uniflight and Rolls-Royce, will play a large role in Bell Helicopter’s legacy support strategy,” said Maldonado. “We look forward to working with both Rolls-Royce and Uniflight as the STC approval process develops over the next 12 to 24 months.

”Uniflight is a long-time platinum-level Bell Helicopter authorized customer service facility based in North Texas, servicing Bell models 205, 206A, B and L series, 212, 222, 230, 407, 412, 430, UH-1H, UH-1H II and OH-58. More than four thousand 206-series helicopters have been produced since its inception in 1965. The last 206B JetRanger was delivered in December 2010. The Bell 206L LongRanger remains in production.