Tuesday, 4 October 2011

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Pipstrel-USA wins NASA/Google Green Flight Challenge with All-Electric Airplane

1. Tiger Airways faces complaints in Australia, Philippines

ow-cost carrier Tiger Airways is facing complaints in both Australia and the Philippines after the grounding of the domestic services of Tiger Airways Australia, local media reported on Tuesday.

The Australian unit of Tiger Airways was ordered to suspend its domestic flights there in July for weeks after the civil aviation authority found a safety breach by the company.

Tiger Airways was talking with Australia's advertising regulator after sending out a marketing e-mail with "alleged inaccuracies," the company said on Monday, without specifying the details of the e-mail.

The airline said it plans to issue a correction after consulting with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

In the Philippines, Tiger said it was facing a complaint raising questions about operations in the country after the suspension of its services earlier this year in Australia.

Tiger said it has asked the Civil Aeronautics Board of the Philippines to dismiss the complaint as its Australia and Southeast Asian operations are run by different units with separate operating licenses.

Tiger Airways was 32.8 percent owned by Singapore Airlines. Both Tiger Airways Singapore and Tiger Airways Australia are its units.

Tiger said on Friday that it expected a net loss for the second quarter ended Sept. 30 "markedly larger" than the 20.6 million Singapore dollars (15.7 million U.S. dollars) loss in the first quarter.

2.  AMR Resumes Pilot Talks as Rout Shows Bankruptcy Concern

American Airlines is set to resume contract negotiations with pilots, a bellwether work group in industry labor talks, after parent AMR Corp.'s shares fell the most since 2003 on concern the company may file for bankruptcy.

Today's discussions mark the latest effort to reach an agreement in bargaining that began in 2006. Fort Worth, Texas- based AMR reiterated yesterday that Chapter 11 protection “is certainly not our goal or our preference” as the third-largest U.S. airline seeks more productivity in union agreements.

“More and more of our pilots are worried about the viability of our company and the bankruptcy potential to affect pensions,” Sam Mayer, an Allied Pilots Association spokesman, said in an interview. American hasn't broached the idea of restructuring in court, he said, adding, “They don't even speak the B-word.”

AMR tumbled 33 percent yesterday following a second straight month of higher-than-normal retirements among pilots locking in pension values. Ray Neidl, a Maxim Group LLC analyst in New York, said investors reacted in part to the prospect of a recession damping air travel, hurting an already weakened AMR.

The shares plummeted so quickly that so-called circuit breakers to temporarily halt trading took effect seven times in less than an hour. About 76.8 million AMR shares changed hands, more than five times the three-month daily average.

‘People Get Nervous'

“These things start to kind of set themselves on fire, and then everyone is alerted to the breaker, and the Twitter-sphere lights up and it's on TV and there are more eyes seeing it,” Joseph Saluzzi, co-head of equity trading at Themis Trading LLC in Chatham, New Jersey, said in an interview. “People get nervous, and they shoot first and ask the question later.”

The shares recovered slightly today in pre-market trading in New York, gaining 26 cents, or 13 percent, to $2.24 at 7:41 a.m.

AMR led stock-price declines this year through yesterday among the largest U.S. airlines, falling 75 percent, and is headed toward a fourth consecutive annual loss. The shares closed yesterday at $1.98 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.

That gave AMR a market value of about $663.7 million, ranking ninth in the U.S. industry by that measure. That's less than the list price of three new Boeing Co. 777-300ER jets, the largest planes American flies.

“While we generally don't comment on AMR's share price performance, there is no company-driven news that has caused the volatility in AMR shares,” Andy Backover, a company spokesman, said yesterday in an e-mail. “Regarding rumors and speculation about a court-supervised restructuring, that is certainly not our goal or our preference.”

No Filing Planned

AMR isn't planning a bankruptcy filing, said a person familiar with the issue who wasn't authorized to speak publicly. The company expected to end last quarter with cash and short- term investments of about $4.7 billion, including $475 million in restricted cash, according to a Sept. 21 regulatory filing.

“We still think they need to do something drastic, however AMR management is intent on not filing for bankruptcy,” Helane Becker, an analyst at Dahlman Rose & Co. in New York, wrote today in a note to clients. She recommends selling the stock, and said she remains concerned about AMR's liquidity.

Pilot retirements from American have totaled at least 10 times the monthly average in September and October as they sought to shelter their pensions from stock market declines.

That motive, not inside knowledge about a pending bankruptcy, is driving the heightened rate of pilots' departures, the APA said in a statement late yesterday. The stepped-up pace probably also reflects more pilots nearing the mandatory-retirement age of 65, up from 60, the union said.

Pilots are usually the focus for airline-industry labor agreements, helping set the stage for other accords. Negotiations with American's three major work groups are so bogged down that federal mediators are no longer participating.

Unions for the pilots, flight attendants and ground workers want to recoup at least part of the $1.6 billion in annual concessions made to avert bankruptcy in 2003, while American has said it has an $800 million-a-year labor-cost disadvantage to rivals that reorganized in court over the past last decade.

AMR isn't stoking any Chapter 11 concerns, according to a report yesterday from Daniel McKenzie, a Rodman & Renshaw analyst in Chicago. He raised his rating on the stock to “market outperform” from “market perform,” citing the plunge in the shares and no sign of a bid for court protection.

3.  Private Jet Charter Service Jet Partners Joins Wyvern

Private jet charter and jet rental service Jet Partners Worldwide, Inc. has recently become one of the few and elite private jet brokers to join the ranks of Wyvern, the leader in safety auditing and reporting in the private aviation and the international air charter business. With their new membership, Jet Partners Worldwide representatives are now able to provide reports to their clients that validate the crew and aircraft’s compliance with Wyvern regulations.

All charter flights are subject to the same FAR part 135 regulations however; the standards set forth by Wyvern exceed these governmental regulations and demonstrate the operator’s commitment to safety, aircraft maintenance and pilot training. Wyvern audits the operations, both on and off site continuously to be sure they maintain and carry out the practices demanded of Wyvern approved operators.

Jet Partners’ participation in the Wyvern Broker program shows their devotion and commitment to safety and providing their client base with the safest possible aircraft with the most properly trained crew. Jet Partners Worldwide, Inc. is now able to provide their private jet charter clients with PASS reports which verify the operator, aircraft and crew chosen to meet the rigorous safety requirements of the Wyvern Standard.

Managing partner, Erik Hocoluk says, “The safety of our clients is, hands down, the most important thing to us here at Jet Partners Worldwide. When I place a client in an aircraft that I know is safe with a highly experienced crew and I am able to keep it within the passenger’s target budget, than I consider that a job well done. The great thing about our business model is that we are able to provide our clients with an array of private jet options for their charter flights. Having access to so many different aircraft, we can pretty much guarantee that our clients will always have a choice of aircraft and crew conforming to the Wyvern standard as well as other third party auditing services.”

As a new comer in the industry, Jet Partners Worldwide, Inc. has quickly grown into a private jet charter company whose popularity far exceeds its age. The mission statement on their website declares that Jet Partners Worldwide was created with one main goal; to provide private travel solutions at the most cost effective rates, without sacrificing safety, service or flexibility. Jet Partners’ new status as a Proud Wyvern Broker is just one more tool the company can use to continue fulfilling their goal and distinguish Jet Partners Worldwide, Inc. as a top tier provider of private jet charters and charter flight services around the globe.

4.  Electric Airplane Wins $1.35 Million Google/NASA Green Flight Award

When two tech powerhouses like Google and NASA offer a Google-sized cash prize for the most fuel efficient electric aircraft, you know the results are going to be pretty stunning, and they were. Pipistrel-USA.com won the first place prize of $1.35 million yesterday with a decidedly futuristic all-electric design featuring cockpits on each wing instead of on the nose of the plane. NASA’s CAFE Green Flight Challenge was sponsored by Google and administered by the CAFE Foundation, a nonprofit organizaton dedicated to exploring the science of personal aircraft.
The CAFE Foundation and Electric Aircraft
Before we get to Pipistrel, CAFE has an interesting story to tell. The organization (CAFE stands for Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency) had its genesis back in the 1970′s and pioneered its own high-efficiency flight competition in the 1980′s, helped along by the Experimental Aircraft Association. It takes a village, right? One of CAFE’s originators had already built an electric car, so the foundation’s roots in electric flight go deep. Back then, the competition had a prize of only $2,000 but the response was fantastic and since then CAFE has developed a raft of analytical tools to keep the tech advancing.
Pipistrel-USA’s Prizewinning Green Aircraft
The Green Flight Challenge allowed for a winning aircraft to fly 200 miles in less than two hours while using less than one gallon of fuel per occupant, or its equivalent in electricity. Both Pipistrel and the second place winner were all-electric aircraft, and both of them beat the challenge by a wide margin with a little more than half a gallon fuel equivalency in 200 miles.
An Electric Flight Challenge for Google and NASA
Pipistrel’s team leader, Jack W. Langelaan, stated in a NASA press release that “two years ago the thought of flying 200 miles at 100 mph in an electric aircraft was pure science fiction” but Pipistrel-USA.com is not planning to rest there. Langelaan, who is an assistant professor in aerospace engineering at Penn State University, blogged that Pipistrel would contribute $100,000 to a prize for the first electric airplane that can fly faster than the speed of sound, and he expects someone to take that prize within the next five years.
Why Does NASA Care About Electric Airplanes?
NASA’s interest in electric flight dovetails with President Obama’s recent call for the space agency to let go of some of its more routine operations such as the space shuttle, and focus its resources on transformative technologies that leap beyond the moon. NASA pioneered the use of solar technology, and it’s a good bet that its promotion of electric flight technology will end up with applications here on earth as well as in space.

Australian Aviation NEWS

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Aviation NEWS By
Neha Jain
Aviation NEWS Reporter



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