PAMA Headquarters - June 2007


From the President - Brian Finnegan, A&P

Update on SAE Institute/PAMA Technician Certification Program
As we have been reporting, PAMA, through its affiliation with SAE International, has developed the necessary industry support to proceed with development of an industry consensus-based technician certification program. Now, with our initial certification planned to be ready for launch by the end of the year, we can give you more information on this exciting new evolution in an aviation maintenance career.

Our first certification is a baseline examination called Aviation Maintenance Specialist (AMS). It focuses on the knowledge all aviation technical workers need to work productively and safely as a team in and around aircraft. While it is geared toward identifying the essential knowledge of a non-FAA certificated maintenance and production technicians, industry leader also want this baseline knowledge validation for their FAA-certificated Mechanics. FAA certificated Airframe and Powerplant Mechanics who pass the SAE/PAMA AMS certification exam will earn our Aviation Maintenance Engineer (AME) certification.

Clear Career Paths for Aviation Maintenance Professionals
The SAE/PAMA Certification Program highlights opportunities for all maintenance professionals to pursue, regardless of whether they are FAA-certificated or not. For A&Ps, we envision advanced certifications in Transport and Business segment aircraft, Rotorcraft, and Vintage aircraft. For non-FAA certificated, SAE/PAMA Specialists, advanced certifications for Composite Repair Technicians, Inspectors, and Engineers, as well as in Parts and Supply, and Avionics are envisioned. The specialist certifications will be encouraged for SAE/PAMA certified AMEs, as well, with commensurate recognition for highly the skilled AME who achieves specialty status. The cost of the initial AMS certification, as well as follow on certifications, is under development and will be announced later this summer.

The Certification Development Process
With respect, to launching our first certification, the Aviation Maintenance Specialist (AMS), we have completed much of the necessary planning. In March, we gathered Subject Matter Experts from throughout industry to develop the Job Task Analysis (JTA) to define the knowledge necessary for a baseline certification. That baseline targets a maintenance or production worker with about 6 months experience and works with others in the vicinity of aircraft. The topics cover subjects taught by most internal or external company training curricula and should dovetail well, while adding little or no additional expense to the training budget.

Following the JTA workshop, we distributed a survey to our members and other in the aviation maintenance industry. In that survey, we asked participants to evaluate the JTA topics and assign relative values of importance. With the survey complete, we generated the Test Blueprint, by which our SMEs again gathered and wrote more than 200 test questions for possible inclusion in the exam.

Now we are in the editing process whereby we will develop our Beta Certification Exam. With more than 200 test items written, we need to determine the 100 which will be used in our exam, 50 in a practice test, and additional questions that can be used as examples on the website an in other locations. With the beginning of Beta testing in mid-summer, we will need industry professionals willing to participate in this important process.

Beta Testing will actually provide about 135 test questions to the candidate and each candidate will receive a slightly different mix of questions. The exam will be administered in a proctored environment at an official testing center. Companies that want to participate in the Beta testing or in the actual certification testing process itself, may temporarily designate a room and computer resources and have a testing center established at the workplace. The process will permit us to identify the 100 best questions for us to use in our certification exam. The cut score (passing grade) will be determined by our psychometric professionals and we will then be ready for launch of the exam to the public. Beta test candidates that pass will be granted certification. Those who may be interested in being Beta Test candidates, either for themselves individually or for a block of 25-50 technicians within their company, are invited to contact me at to sign up. The will be a minimal cost associated with Beta Testing.

SAE International/PAMA Certification:

  • Establishes the state of our art for advanced knowledge, skill and ability.
  • Provides a method of continuous qualification and monitoring.
  • Addresses the looming shortage of technicians by focusing on youth.
  • Documents minimum regulatory compliance.
  • Identifies or creates a consensus-driven baseline.
  • Validates the growing use of "specialists" to accomplish specific tasks.
  • Recognizes the shifting role of the certificated technician to one of technical oversight.
  • Is synonymous with quality workmanship, reliability, customer care, reduced rework, lower insurance premiums, and increased employee loyalty and career stability.

Now that we are formalizing our program offerings, I will continue to provide regular updates. If you have any questions, please write me at

Aviation Maintenance Safety "News of Note"

NTSB Blames 2005 Chalk's Accident On Undiscovered Structural Fatigue
Board Says FAA Failed To Fix Problems With Airline's Maintenance Program The National Transportation Safety Board issued its Probable Cause report Wednesday on the December 2005 loss of a seaplane in Miami, FL. The Board ruled the fatal crash was caused by "the failure and separation of the right wing, which resulted from (1) the failure of Chalk's Ocean Airways' maintenance program to identify and properly repair fatigue cracks in the wing, and (2) the failure of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to detect and correct deficiencies in the company's maintenance program."

As ANN reported, on December 19, 2005, a Grumman Turbo Mallard (G-73T) amphibious airplane, on a regularly scheduled passenger flight to Bimini, Bahamas, experienced an in-flight separation of its right wing from the fuselage and crashed into the shipping channel adjacent to the Port of Miami shortly after takeoff. Two flight crewmembers and 18 passengers on board were killed; the airplane was destroyed by impact forces.

"This accident tragically illustrates a gap in the safety net with regard to older airplanes," said NTSB Chairman Mark V. Rosenker. "The signs of structural problems were there -- but not addressed. And to ignore continuing problems is to court disaster."

The Board found neither the performance nor the appearance of the airplane would have provided a warning to the flight crew of the right wing's imminent failure. The accident airplane, manufactured in 1947, was operating within its certificated design envelope and carrying normal aerodynamic loads when the wing separated. Preexisting damage to wing structural components would not have been visible to the flight crew prior to departure. There was nothing the crew could have done to regain control of the airplane after the in-flight separation of the wing, the Board said.

The Board noted that the accident airplane had a history of recurring fuel leaks near the area where the right wing separated, that were indicators of internal structural damage. Although some repairs were attempted, many were ineffective in that they did not properly restore the load-carrying capability of the wing structure. The failure of Chalk's to identify and properly repair fatigue cracks in the wing, and the numerous maintenance-related problems found on the accident airplane and another company airplane, demonstrated that Chalk's maintenance program was inadequate to maintain the structural integrity of the company's fleet, the Board said.

The Board also noted that because of the limited availability of engineering services and manufacturer support for the G-73T Mallards, effective FAA oversight was important to maintain the airworthiness of these older airplanes. Although FAA oversight was performed in accordance with existing federal regulations, the Board said, it did not result in the detection and correction of the systemic deficiencies in Chalk's maintenance program and, therefore, was insufficient to ensure the safety of the airline's operations.

As a result of the investigation, the Board issued two new safety recommendations calling on the FAA to: verify that airline maintenance programs include stringent criteria to address recurring or systemic problems, if necessary through comprehensive engineering evaluations; and, to modify procedures for oversight of maintenance programs of carriers like Chalk's to ensure the continued airworthiness of the operator's fleet.

Since the FAA has indicated that it intends to address the identification of age-related problems for older airplanes through current operational safety programs -- instead of a dedicated effort -- the Board has classified this recommendation as "Open-Unacceptable Response."

"Does it make sense," said Chairman Rosenker, "that rules designed to deal with the problems of airplanes as they age would exclude the oldest ones in the inventory?"

A synopsis of the Board's report, including the probable cause and safety recommendations, is available on the NTSB website.


NTSB Chairman Says Lack Of Oversight Is The Issue With Aging Planes - Rosenker Says Recent Accidents Share Common Themes
In a speech before the Aging Aircraft Conference in Palm Springs, CA, National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Mark V. Rosenker reiterated the agency's concern with aging aircraft.

"We have investigated several accidents and incidents that have highlighted the safety implications resulting from aircraft aging and these accidents repeatedly demonstrate the importance of effective airworthiness programs throughout the service life of aircraft," Rosenker said. "With the proper maintenance program, these accidents involving aging aircraft could have been prevented."

Rosenker stressed there is no single criterion that defines an aircraft as 'old'. The age of an aircraft depends on a number of factors that include, but are not limited to the chronological age, number of flight cycles, number of flight hours and the environment in which the aircraft operates.

Furthermore, determining the overall health of an aircraft is complicated by the fact that individual aircraft components can age differently in different portions of the same aircraft and by the nature of certain aging mechanisms, such as fatigue.

Some common themes identified in each of these accidents involving aging aircraft have been:

Unknown service histories as is the case with military surplus aircraft Poor fatigue design details... The regulations did not require fatigue analysis for these airplanes Most older airplanes have no inspection program The continued operation of airplanes beyond their useful lifespan.

"The Safety Board feels that the continued commercial operation of these 50 to 60 year old airplanes that were not certified to the standards of today's modern airplanes is not safe -- all passengers should have the same level of safety," Rosenker said.

"The FAA should require records reviews, aging airplane inspections, and supplemental inspections for all airplanes operated under Part's 121, 129 and 135 regardless of the year they were type certificated, the number of passengers they carry or their maximum payload, and has issued related safety recommendations to that effect."

NTSB Chairman Says all Passengers Should Have the Same Level of Safety Regardless of the Age of the Aircraft
National Transportation Safety Board - Washington, DC -- National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Mark V. Rosenker reecently addressed an aviation conference in California reiterating the agency's concern with aging aircraft. "We have investigated several accidents and incidents that have highlighted the safety implications resulting from aircraft aging and these accidents repeatedly demonstrate the importance of effective airworthiness programs throughout the service life of aircraft," Rosenker said. "With the proper maintenance program, these accidents involving aging aircraft could have been prevented."

During his speech in Palm Springs, California before the Aging Aircraft Conference, he noted that there is no single criterion that defines an aircraft as 'old'. The age of an aircraft depends on a number of factors that include, but are not limited to the chronological age, number of flight cycles, number of flight hours and the environment in which the aircraft operates. Furthermore, determining the overall health of an aircraft is complicated by the fact that individual aircraft components can age differently in different portions of the same aircraft and by the nature of certain aging mechanisms, such as fatigue.

Some common themes identified in each of these accidents involving aging aircraft have been: Unknown service histories as is the case with military, surplus aircraft, and poor fatigue design details. The regulations did not require fatigue analysis for these airplanes. Most older airplanes have no inspection program, and the continued operation of airplanes beyond their useful lifespan.

On April 28, 1988, one person was killed when the top of the fuselage of Aloha Airlines Flight 243 separated from the rest of the hull due to fatigue and corrosion. As a result of the NTSB's investigation, the FAA's Aging Airplane Program was developed in 1991 to focus on regulatory initiatives related to structural fatigue and corrosion.

In 1996, when the center fuel tank of TWA flight 800 exploded, the Board's investigation found that wiring found in the wreckage had numerous cracks in the insulation that were attributed to age, bringing to light the problem of aging systems.

The Safety Board began documenting numerous systems problems in fleet aircraft starting in May of 1997, with the TWA-800 investigation, and continued that documentation when SwissAir flight 111 crashed in September 1998.

In October of 1998, the FAA released the Aging Transport Non-Structural Systems Program a concept based on the 1991 aging structures program that followed the Aloha 737 accident.

However, aging aircraft continue to be a problem. The in-flight separation of a wing from three Forest Service firefighting aircraft occurred within a short timeframe several years ago. Most recently, during the ongoing investigation of a Chalk's Ocean Airways accident in Miami, Florida in December 2005, it was discovered that the wing of a Grumman Mallard seaplane, manufactured in 1947, separated from the aircraft in flight and the resulting accident killed the 20 passengers and crew on board.

"The Safety Board feels that the continued commercial operation of these 50 to 60 year old airplanes that were not certified to the standards of today's modern airplanes is not safe -all passengers should have the same level of safety," Rosenker said. "The FAA should require records reviews, aging airplane inspections, and supplemental inspections for all airplanes operated under Part's 121, 129 and 135 regardless of the year they were type certificated, the number of passengers they carry or their maximum payload, and has issued related safety recommendations to that effect." For more information visit

Tailoring SMS Guidance for MRO
Seeking guidance on FAA's planned implementation of safety management systems (SMS) for repair stations? The wait for something official -- in draft form, at least -- shouldn't be long. As this issue of Overhaul & Maintenance went to press, FAA's Flight Standards service was putting the finishing touches on a draft version of a Part 145-series advisory circular (AC) entitled "Introduction to Safety Management Systems for Maintenance Organizations."

Sound familiar? It should -- and the document itself will look familiar to anyone closely following FAA's march toward compliance with ICAO's SMS standards. Last June, FAA released AC 120-92, "Introduction to Safety Management Systems for Air Operators." Don Arendt, FAA manger of Flight Standards Safety Analysis Information Center, explained that the Part 145 AC by the similar name will be very close to the Air Operator version. The main difference is in each document's "Policy" sections that detail which certificate-holder systems the SMS mandates will cover. The Part 145 version (at least the one viewed by O&M in early April) said this:

"Safety management shall be included in the complete scope of the operator's systems including: (1) Parts/Materials; (2) Resource Management (Tools & Equipment, Personnel, and Facilities); (3) Technical Data; (4) Maintenance and Inspection; (5) Quality Control; (6) Records Management; (7) Contract Maintenance; (8) Training."

Aside from that notable difference, the Part 145 guidance is identical to the air operator AC, save for using the term "maintenance organization" in place of "air operator," where applicable. The close resemblance between the two documents is "by design," Arendt told O&M, to ensure that FAA's multiple SMS efforts remain "aligned" as much as possible.

Arendt is quick to note that, despite the focus on cross-segment alignment, the repair station SMS effort will take the uniqueness of the maintenance regulatory environment into account. Unlike FAA rules for operators or airports, the U.S. regulations for maintenance organizations don't create de facto subsets that divide larger (and often more complicated) organizations from smaller ones. Operators can fall under Part 91, 121 and 135, while airports are either Part 139 facilities or are not. Under the Federal Aviation Regulations, however, repair stations large and small: they hold Part 145 certificates. Put another way, if FAA wants to create a rule applicable to repair stations, that rule is generally applicable to all repair stations, regardless of size, scope or complexity.

How much diversity does the FAA Part 145 universe contain? Arendt shared some interesting numerical nuggets: Out of the 5,000-odd Part 145 certificate holders, about 28 percent employ fewer than five people, and 63 percent have fewer than 20 on the payroll. At the other end of the spectrum, about five percent had more than 250 employees. From a complexity-of-operations standpoint, nearly half the Part 145s have two or fewer ratings on their certificates, and 10 percent are working directly for Part 121 operators.

Then there's the potential difference in risk perception among employees that work for each type of certificate holder. Air operators and airports tend to have the majority of their staff members close to the action. Many maintenance organizations, however, are located far from airports and concentrate on servicing much less than entire aircraft or engines, meaning employees may not get much exposure to the end product: in-service aircraft.

As such, conveying the risk-mitigation value of an SMS system to a repair station staff may be more challenging than, say, to an airline's ramp workers. "The farther away you get from the airplane, the more abstract the concept of risk gets," Arendt said.

Arendt explained that FAA plans to test its SMS concepts before releasing them on industry in final-rule form. Pilot programs for Part 121s, 135, 139s and 145s are in the works for this year. From there, the agency will determine the most prudent way to implement final regulations, he said. The agency is shooting to have SMS regulations for air operators and maintenance organizations on the books by Jan. 1, 2009, which would align the agency's deadline with that of ICAO.

While the air operators will "most likely" get three years from the final rule's effective date to phase in SMS, maintenance organizations could get more time, Arendt said. The reason? "The repair station world is behind the air operator world on this," he explained. "There's not a lot published on repair station SMS, so we're going to take our time. With some good input, we can be ahead of the world."

Virgin America partners Lufthansa Technik on aircraft maintenance
U.S. new start-up airline, Virgin America and Lufthansa Technik, the world-wide leading provider of maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services for the air transport industry, have announced a new 10-year total material operations (TMO) and line maintenance support contract, valued at more than $250 million.

The new low-cost airline, based in San Francisco, expects to commence operations in summer this year.

Lufthansa Technik will provide support services for the overall network of the airline which. will operate 31 new Airbus A320 family aircraft, for which the airline has options for a further 71 aircraft.

Virgin America has become the first passenger airline to contract with Lufthansa Technik for its newest spares and consumables service package, known as total material operations (TMO). Under the contract, the widest-ranging of its type to date, Lufthansa Technik will establish central component and supplies depots at Virgin America main bases at San Francisco International Airport, John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, and subsequently, at all the airline's stations throughout the country.

Lufthansa Technik employees at San Francisco and New York will supply all maintenance stations throughout the network with line-replaceable units, consumables and expendables, including cabin interior furnishings and fittings. The agreement with Lufthansa Technik makes it possible for Virgin America to call upon more than 4,000 different types of components. According to the document, the service portfolio embraces both the routine provision of components and unplanned replacements such as thrust reversers and other large items.

To support the total material operations contract, Lufthansa Technik will also take over the supervision of Virgin America's line maintenance operation in the United States. In the first phase, this will include San Francisco (SFO), New York (JFK), Los Angeles (LAX), Las Vegas (LAS), Washington D.C. (IAD) and San Diego (SAN). Also, the airline is expected to take advantage of the new technical operations websuite, which allows Virgin America to manage all core functions of their fleet's technical operations as an entirely web-based system.

Guy Borowski, Virgin America's Senior Vice-President, Technical Operations, said: "To be an airline people love, we will provide high quality, innovative, creative travel experiences to guests who will appreciate our value-driven approach. Likewise, when choosing service partner organizations, we look for a combination of experience, professionalism and commitment. That is why we chose Lufthansa Technik as our supplier for spares and consumables; together, we will be ready for take-off this summer."

"Virgin America's ambitious business plan places high demands on an aircraft technical support organization, especially when it comes to passengers and fleet technical availability. At the same time, the conclusion of this important contract in the USA - the world's biggest market for aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul - shows the considerable savings that can be achieved by an airline if it contracts with a specialist MRO organization that already serves a large core fleet of aircraft and with a wide range of services," said August W. Henningsen, chairman of Executive Board of Lufthansa Technik AG, during the traditional MRO USA press breakfast.

Dr. Johannes Bussmann, Senior Vice-President, Component Services, for Lufthansa Technik AG added: "This contract represents the first full implementation of our forward-looking integrated Total Material Operations TMO� product. It will establish a coast-to-coast supply network throughout the United States, covering everything from the smallest part to a complete landing gear. We will have up to 20 employees on duty around the clock, seven days a week, to ensure that flight operations proceed without a hitch - and with the successful growth of Virgin America, there will be more jobs at our US facilities on the horizon."

Virgin America and Lufthansa Technik will link their IT systems to ensure full interchange of all relevant data. In addition, Lufthansa Technik will be fully integrated in flight operations with a full-time presence in the airline's operations control center. Experience shows that such arrangements guarantee rapid provision of spares and consumables at all line maintenance stations, even if the aircraft affected is still in flight.

Components are dispatched and distributed with maximum efficiency, raising the efficiency and reliability of flight operations.

Lufthansa Technik is now setting up a distribution network for the routine supply of line maintenance bases with components from the central pools in San Francisco and New York. The Lufthansa Technik Logisitik business division of Hamburg, Germany, will transport all components requiring overhaul or repair to the Lufthansa Technik workshops in Germany. Lufthansa Technik subsidiaries in the USA will also provide support services in order to make best use of the rapid logistics chain. For example, Hawker Pacific of Sun Valley, California, specialises in the maintenance and overhaul of landing gear and hydro-mechanical components.

The first wide-ranging total component support (TCS) contract in the USA was established in 2004.

Lufthansa Technik already maintains a spares pool in Florida from which it also serves customers in Central and South Americas.

This service, according to the German company, has also been developed and expanded as the total material operations (TMO) and provides an all-embracing vertical and horizontal integration, enabling an airline to concentrate fully on its core business - flying aircraft. Lufthansa Technik said the full service rollout in the USA increases the availability of this product worldwide for low-fare, charter and network carriers.

General: Military Air fleet wearing down
USA TODAY - LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. — The Air Force's fleet of warplanes is older than ever and wearing out faster because of heavy use in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the service's top combat commander. Gen. Ronald Keys, who leads the Air Combat Command, points to cracked wings on A-10 attack planes and frayed electrical cables on U-2 spy planes.

Compared to 1996, the Air Force now spends 87% more on maintenance for a warplane fleet that is less ready to fly, Air Force records show. They also show that as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue, Air Force and other military aircraft are flying more missions in harsh environments. Keys said he's concerned that policymakers will only pay attention when a plane either crashes on takeoff or over a city "because a wing falls off."

"I don't want to write a letter, or have my successor write a letter, 'Dear Mr. and Mrs. Smith, your son or daughter are dead because the wing fell off on takeoff. We knew it was going to fall off, we just didn't know when.' That's kind of what we're getting down to," Keys said.

Arcing wires near fuel tanks recently forced the Air Force to ground its fleet of 33 U-2 spy planes in March for at least a day, Keys said. The average Air Force warplane is 23.5 years old compared with 8.5 years in 1967. In 2001, the average plane was 22 years old. The Air Force says it wants to buy new planes to lower the average age of its fleet to 15 years over the next two decades. That will cost an estimated $400 billion.

There are 356 A-10s in service. The plane is often used to support ground forces in close combat. The A-10 carries missiles and bombs, but its cannon is particularly effective in strafing. The Air Force recently bought replacement wings for 132 of its workhorse A-10s at $7 million per plane. The Air Force wants another $34 million for more replacement wings this year.

In the past week, A-10s have attacked enemy forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. The planes shot at and bombed Taliban rebels in Afghanistan; in Iraq, A-10s performed a variety of reconnaissance missions to find and stop insurgents from burying roadside bombs. Aircraft age is misleading, said Christopher Bolkcom, a national security analyst at the Congressional Research Service. Some aircraft may have been lightly used for years and have safe flying hours left. Maintaining old planes may be expensive but often cheaper than buying a new aircraft, he said.

"Chronological age is only one measure of aircraft health," Bolkcom said. "Age is not a safety issue." While refurbished planes often fly as well as new ones, they may also require more crewmembers to fly and maintain them, said James Jay Carafano, a military analyst at the Heritage Foundation. "These life-cycle costs really matter," he said.

Eclipse Aviation Names New Training Program Partners
FSC, Higher Power Aviation To Handle Flight Training Less than two months after Eclipse Aviation announced the termination of its original training partnership with United Airlines, the very-light-jet manufacturer says it has finalized its team of partners who will train Eclipse 500 pilots.

The company tells ANN it has entered new partnerships with Flight Simulation Company (FSC) of The Netherlands, and Higher Power Aviation, Inc. of Dallas-Fort Worth, TX. These organizations will join simulator manufacturer OPINICUS Corporation of Lutz, FL in working with Eclipse to deliver the training curriculum that was approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) earlier this year.

FSC, recognized for its pilot training and simulator center management expertise in Europe, will provide Eclipse's FAA-approved course content and oversee Eclipse Aviation's overall Eclipse 500 pilot training program. While FSC will begin training Eclipse pilots with a focus on North America and Western Europe, the company's agreement with Eclipse supports the potential expansion of Eclipse training to other geographic regions.

Under its FAR Part 142 certificate, HPA's flight instructors and training personnel will conduct FAA approved flight training and administer the Eclipse 500 type rating curriculum in the United States. HPA -- which provides jet crew training for the Boeing 737 Legacy, Classic, and New Generation (B737NG), plus the Boeing 727, 757, 767, DC-9 and MD-80 -- is an approved FAA Part 142 training center for airlines, corporate flight departments, government and military agencies, and individuals.

"We take our responsibility to train our customer pilots very seriously," said Eclipse president and CEO Vern Raburn. "We have assembled an outstanding team of experienced instructors and administrators to deliver our FAA-approved, scenario-based training curriculum to our customers. We look forward to joining forces with these respected organizations to create an entirely new generation of safe and highly-proficient jet pilots."

The Eclipse 500 training program is comprised of a multi-phase curriculum, codeveloped with United Airlines, including an initial flight skills assessment and supplemental training if required, self-paced computer-based study, emergency situation training, a type rating transition course, post-certification mentoring as well as recurrent training. The training curriculum was developed using Line Oriented Flight Training (LOFT) and Flight Operations Quality Assurance (FOQA) principles, which are considered airline standards.

In addition, Eclipse 500 training is accepted by the FAA/Industry Training Standards (FITS), which emphasizes scenario-based training that focuses on real-life situations.


Eclipse Aviation Earns FAA Production Certificate - Allows Company To Ramp Up Production
It's a huge step towards Eclipse Aviation's goal of delivering over 2,000 aircraft in the coming years... and may just be the only time Eclipse CEO Vern Raburn could be accused of being "PC" (and he likely wouldn't mind a bit -- Ed.)

The Albuquerque, NM-based very-light-jet (VLJ) manufacturer told ANN Thursday the planemaker has received its production certificate (PC) from the Federal Aviation Administration. Representatives from the FAA presented the production certificate to Eclipse COO Peg Billson earlier today at a ceremony held at Eclipse headquarters.

A production certificate allows a company to manufacture aircraft with an FAA-approved type design, and is only granted when the FAA has determined that the organization's manufacturing processes and inspection systems comply with all federal regulations.

Eclipse Aviation is now authorized to issue standard airworthiness certificates for its production aircraft. Until now, Eclipse could manufacture aircraft for sale... but was required to submit each plane to the FAA for approval before delivery.

"Earning our FAA production certificate means we have successfully built a reliable, high-quality manufacturing process, and are well positioned to expedite aircraft deliveries," said Billson. "Our employees, customers and investors can have confidence that we are gaining momentum in production as more and more Eclipse 500s go out the door and into the hands of our customers. This is a critical milestone in our journey to become a high-production aircraft manufacturer."

Eclipse notes the FAA production certificate approval process is very rigorous, and includes the exhaustive evaluation of an organization's manufacturing processes, quality control and production inspection system.

A team of FAA inspectors fully audits the organization and production facilities, and examines approved design data for compliance. If the FAA finds inconsistencies, there are follow-up audits to ensure corrective actions were taken and integrated into ongoing systems and processes.

"We appreciate the professionalism and dedication the FAA has demonstrated throughout this initiative, and look forward to advancing Eclipse 500 aircraft production under our now FAA-approved system," commented Billson.


JetBlue Flight Grounded Twice By Mechanical Problems
TAMPA - What should have been a three-hour trip to Boston from Tampa turned into an all-afternoon and evening saga for passengers of a JetBlue flight. Flight 1242, with about 100 passengers, returned to Tampa International Airport twice because of mechanical problems, a JetBlue spokeswoman said. The problems could have been with a seal on a door, she said.

The first flight left Tampa at 2:55 p.m. and returned to the gate at 4:30 p.m., spokeswoman Alison Eshelman said. The flight was supposed to arrive in Boston at 5:50 p.m. The passengers waited in the airport for the plane to be fixed and were given food by the crew. "To get the same people back on the same plane, that's just unforgivable," said one of the passengers, Seamus Palmer.

The jet took off on a second flight at 7 p.m. It returned to the gate at 8:30 p.m., Eshelman said. Passengers had the option of taking another flight late Tuesday, this time on a different plane. Eshelman said 86 passengers took the offer.

"Hopefully, this third time will be a charm," said Gary Steiner, 28, who was supposed to be in New England for his grandfather's wake today. Other passengers had the choice of rebooking the flight or getting a refund.

All passengers received vouchers for a round trip.

The plane that caused the mess isn't being put back into JetBlue's fleet right away, Eshelman said. It's going to be looked at by the maintenance staff.

ATA may idle up to 20 Mechanics, relocate 38 pilots
ATA Airlines may lay off up to 20 mechanics and plans to reassign 38 pilots to bases outside the city as part of a larger move to become more profitable. The Indianapolis-based carrier is relocating some 757 commercial aircraft to Phoenix for use on so-called "longer-haul flights" - such as Hawaii, so it won't need the workers at its maintenance facility here.

Of the mechanics, all have been employed with the company for more than 10 years, records show. ATA Airlines is in its 34th year of operations and serves customers in more than 60 markets. It operates a fleet of 29 aircraft and has about 2,500 employees. It was Indianapolis' dominant passenger airline as recently as 2004 until economic woes forced dramatic cutbacks.

Study Shows Majority Of FAA Employees Distrust Management Less Than One In Four Say Agency Execs Are Dishonest Focus groups now underway by the Federal Aviation Administration, seeking comments on employees' views of management, have yielded disturbing -- but not entirely surprising -- results: only 17 percent of respondents said they "trust FAA management."

That's not all, reports The Washington Post. Only 16 percent agreed with the following statement: "FAA executives are honest when communicating with employees." And that's not even the worst of it. If morale is bleak throughout the FAA as a whole, it's even more dismal in the Air Traffic Organization. Only 9.3 percent of air traffic employees say they trust management in the agency; just eight percent say they believe managers are honest.

Not surprisingly, air traffic controllers -- working under a contract imposed by the FAA last year, after talks between the agency and the union broke down -- make up the largest group of dissenters. A full 11,513 -- of a total of 18,762 participants -- were controllers.

Still... coups have been launched against leaders with more favorable approval ratings. A cross-section of all FAA employees shows a majority distrust their bosses... to the tune of 61 percent who disagreed with the statement the FAA "is committed to employee concerns." Sixty-eight percent disagree the FAA "takes into account the impact of organizational changes on employees," The Post adds.

Ventris C. Gibson, the FAA assistant administrator in charge of personnel management, admits the numbers put morale at the agency in stark relief. "We do have some more work to do," she said. "It takes a lot to change and turn an organization and improve it significantly."

Gibson points to improvements the FAA has already implemented... including employee rewards programs, and plans to start a student loan repayment program and offer child-care subsidies for workers at terminal control centers. "We are actually seeing a lot more improvement in the working environment," Gibson said. The employee focus groups will be completed in the next few weeks.


Flight Options' Maintenance Joins ASAP for Another First in Aviation Safety
CLEVELAND -- Flight Options, LLC, a leading provider of fractional shares in business aircraft and a Raytheon Company (NYSE:RTN), announced today that the company has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to extend its existing Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) to its maintenance personnel.

The company now extends this key safety reporting program to nearly two-thirds of its employee population. Flight Options employs more than 400 maintenance professionals, the largest dedicated maintenance network in the private jet travel industry.

"The maintenance group is pleased to join with our flight department in this comprehensive approach to improving the already wide margin of safety our owners count on today," said Jerry Bemis, vice president of maintenance, Flight Options.

In March 2006, Flight Options became the first fractional provider to establish ASAP for its pilots. ASAP is a voluntary reporting program that provides a systematic means for company personnel to identify potential safety hazards. Under this program, Flight Options and the FAA cooperate to improve aviation safety through self-reporting, joint follow-up and prompt corrective action.

Flight Options, LLC offers the complete spectrum of programs from Fractional First™ ownership to leasing to JetPASS Ultimate Travel membership to Aircraft Management. As the first fractional provider selected by the FAA to participate in the Aviation Safety Action Program and to partner in the development of the Safety Management System prototype, Flight Options' industry leading safety status is evident. The Flight Options fleet of over 140 aircraft includes the world's largest fleets of Beechjet 400As and Legacy Executive aircraft. Flight Options' fleet consists of the Beechjet 400A, Hawker 400XP, Hawker 800XP, Citation X and Legacy. More information is available at

US downgrades Indonesian airline safety, urges citizens not to fly
Jakarta - The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has lowered Indonesia's airline-oversight rating after two deadly crashes this year, saying it did not meet minimum international standards, a statement released Tuesday said.

The downgrade to Category 2 followed the New Year's Day crash of a jetliner operated by local budget carrier Adam Air in central Indonesia, which killed all 102 people aboard; the crash landing of a Garuda Airlines plane in Yogyakarta on March 7, which killed 21 people; and a hard landing by another Adam Air plane in February that cracked its fuselage and injured several passengers.

'Category 2 indicates that the FAA has assessed the government of Indonesia's Civil Aviation Authority as not being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization aviation-safety standards for the oversight of Indonesia's air-carrier operations,' the statement, released by the US embassy in Jakarta, said.

The embassy urged Americans traveling to and from Indonesia to use only international carriers. The FAA stated that it did not support the conclusions of a safety audit conducted by Indonesian aviation authorities last month that concluded its 48 commercial, charter and cargo airlines all met minimum international safety requirements although they did not meet all regulations.

The ruling was the latest blow to Indonesia's crisis-wracked transport industry, which has also seen the sinking of two passenger ferries and two train accidents since December 29, which killed more than 350 people. Transportation Minister Hatta Radjasa, who has refused calls to resign, told a luncheon with journalists on Tuesday that implementing a new safety programme for the aviation industry was a more pressing issue than whether he should quit.

'The last three months has been the hardest of my life,' he said during an address to the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club, adding that he had discussed the possibility of resigning with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Radjasa said the ministry had prepared a road map to improve safety in all sectors of the aviation industry, including ensuring ageing radar equipment would be replaced, runway safety areas would be long enough and airline pilots and companies would be properly certified.

Investigators in the Garuda crash last month concluded that the runway safety area at the airport in Yogyakarta in Central Java was less than half the internationally recommended length and rescue crews were unprepared to deal with the disaster.

Investigators also concluded the plane was traveling nearly double the normal speed when it attempted to land.

Mishaps also occurred with the January 1 crash of the Adam Air flight, which disappeared off antiquated radar screens over Sulawesi Island. It took search teams 10 days to find the wreckage of the plane, which apparently plunged into the Makassar Strait off the coast of West Sulawesi province.

Adam Air is still negotiating with two US wreckage recovery firms to retrieve the plane's black box, which remains on the seabed about 2,000 metres underwater more than three months after the crash.

Dozens of budget airlines sprung up in Indonesia in 1999 after the government liberalized the country's aviation industry, but the boom was followed by worries about safety practices by operators and lax government oversight. Regulators were widely believed to take bribes in exchange for processing aviation certificates and clearing aircraft to fly.

Radjasa acknowledged at much on Tuesday, saying enforcement of long-established safety regulations was now his top priority. 'We have to be strict to follow the regulations,' he said. 'No hanky-panky.' Radjasa said he would propose that all commercial jetliners currently operating in Indonesia - most of them are more than 20 years old - be no more than 10 years old by later this year.

He also proposed removing the National Transportation Safety Committee, which investigates airline crashes, from within the Transportation Ministry and making it an independent agency that reports directly to the president. 'We believe that this will be accepted by the public,' he said.

Indonesia asks U.S. to help improve aviation safety
Indonesia will establish cooperation with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to improve the aviation safety standards and regain international confidence in the country's air transport recently marred by major disasters, an official said.

If approved by both countries, the cooperation will include the sending of U.S. experts on the main factors of aviation safety including regulations, infrastructure, safety equipment and airworthiness, said director general of civil aviation Budhi Suyitno. "They (the U.S. experts) will evaluate, audit and make assessment for our improvement," he told reporters here.

The move came after the FAA on Monday revised Indonesia's safety oversight category from Category 1 to Category 2, which indicates that the FAA has assessed the Indonesia's civil aviation authority as not being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards.

"Indonesia has suffered a series of serious aviation incidents and accidents in recent months that raise questions about the safety practices of Indonesian air carriers and their oversight by the Indonesian Directorate General of Civil Aviation," the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta said in a statement when announcing the FAA decision Wednesday. Three U.S. citizens were among the 102 passengers aboard the Jakarta-based Adam Air's plane that crashed into the Sulawesi waters on New Year's Day, believed to have killed all people onboard.

Last month, 21 passengers including five Australians were killed after a jet owned by flag carrier Garuda Indonesia made a hard landing and burst into flames in Yogyakarta province.

Source: Xinhua

SAS lambasted for late safety checks
Swedish aviation authorities on Sunday harshly criticized Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) for not carrying out safety checks on its planes on time. "We are critical," Gunnar Billinger, the head of the Swedish Civil Aviation Authority, told AFP, adding that SAS' late safety checks were considered "serious". "All airlines... must carry out controls at set times," he insisted.

Five SAS planes last year and three in 2005 did not undergo the required safety inspections on time, Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter reported. The aircraft in question were Airbus A330 and A340, which are used for longhaul flights to the United States and to Asia, according to the paper. In one case last year, a plane flew 225 hours, the equivalent of 30 longhaul flights, without first being found airworthy, Dagens Nyheter reported.

For a plane to be considered airworthy, safety checks must be carried out at specific dates and the aircraft must be found to conform with guidelines set by the country where it was made, which in the case of the Airbus planes is France. Aircraft that are not certified airworthy are banned from flying. Any flights they carry out are considered illegal, another aviation authority official told Dagens Nyheter. Billinger meanwhile said SAS "remains a safe company", pointing out that the Scandinavian airline had itself notified the authorities to the safety lapses. AFP

Researchers fault US small airplane flight safety
WASHINGTON, April 10 (Reuters) - Private U.S. flights, usually involving small airplanes, are 82 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than major airlines, researchers said. Writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore said these non-commercial flights account for most U.S. aviation crashes, injuries and deaths.

They called these so-called general aviation flights a public safety problem and urged the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board to do more to improve safety of small airplanes.

The general aviation rate of 1.31 fatal crashes per 100,000 flight hours is 82 times greater than for major airlines, said the researchers, who analyzed government statistics. From 2002 through 2005, general aviation accounted for an annual average of 1,685 crashes and 583 deaths, making up 91 percent of all U.S. aviation crashes and 94 percent of all aviation deaths, the researchers said.

"I would like people to realize that the huge majority of aviation deaths occur in general aviation," said epidemiologist Susan Baker, who wrote the analysis with Dr. Guohua Li, a professor of emergency medicine.

Li said the fatal crash risk per mile of travel for general aviation flights is comparable to the risk from motorcycle riding. General aviation refers primarily to small private airplanes and business jets. These business and personal flights may involve recreation, emergency medical services, sightseeing, flight training, traffic reporting, search and rescue, firefighting, crop dusting, logging or other purposes.


About 20 percent of general aviation crashes result in at least one death, a rate that has remained steady for 20 years, the researchers said. At the same time, the overall airline crash fatality rate fell from 16 percent to 6 percent.

"The higher fatality rate for general aviation crashes may be because such aircraft are not as able to withstand impact forces and protect occupants from death and severe injury as commercial aircraft are," the researchers wrote.

"In recent decades, while major airlines have improved seat strength, revised exit row configurations and used more fire retardant materials, few improvements have been made in general aviation aircraft in part because federal regulations only require safety improvements for entirely new aircraft models," they added.

Baker, a licensed private pilot, said using such logic, Volkswagen Beetles could have been sold without seat belts for decades after the government required them in all new cars.

FAA spokesman Les Dorr said the agency will review the research, but added, "We have had a vigorous general aviation safety program in place since 1970. We hold seminars all across the country. And last October, we even revamped this effort." Low-flying small aircraft are particularly at risk in poor weather conditions, the researchers said. Not wearing safety restraints, including lap belts and shoulder restraints, is another risk factor for pilot death, they said.

The researchers said there are 228,000 active U.S. private pilots and 220,000 registered general aviation aircraft. Planes make up 93 percent of the aircraft and helicopters 4 percent.

Indian Carriers Face Aging Aircraft Woes Incidents May Highlight Mx Issues In Older Planes
Air India admits its A310s are anywhere from 13 to 20 years old. Its entire fleet of 48 planes comprises aircraft that are mostly over a decade old. Indian Airlines, with a fleet of 74 aircraft, is no different. Its fleet of 48 A320s, 11 Boeing 737s and three A300s average nearly 20 years of age. Not surprisingly, technical problems are more common in older planes.

The aging fleet of both Indian carriers concerns Indian government officials -- and passengers. After two close calls AI faced at New Delhi's airport earlier this week, an Aviation Ministry spokesperson admitted the airlines were facing problems because of the aging fleet.

"But all the planes in use are airworthy. We are getting a brand new fleet over the next four years and things will change," said the spokesperson.

Indeed, Indian Airlines and Air India are due to receive 43 and 68 new generation planes, respectively, over the next four years. Some new planes have already started joining the fleets. (A graphic of Air India's new Boeing fleet additions is shown below.)

While new aircraft are on order, the ones currently flying are facing increased difficulties. Dinesh Trivedi, an MP and a trained pilot, is a member of the standing committee and raised issue with hydraulic problems on older Airbus planes -- the alleged cause of one of those incidents earlier this week.

"Some planes have become flying coffins," Trivedi said. "The government needs to act."

ANA warned for allowing unlicensed mechanics to make aircraft checks
The Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport issued a warning against All Nippon Airways for allowing 11 unlicensed mechanics to make final aircraft checks between January 2006 and March 2007. The ministry requested ANA to conduct an investigation and file a report of its measures.

A total of 63 aircraft were checked by unlicensed staff. Sixty of the total involve checks of cargo planes done by mechanics who have in-house licenses only for passenger planes of the same type. There were three other cases involving checks by personnel who received training to do so but have yet to receive the formal in-house license. (Kyodo)

FCC Says 'No' to Cell Phones on Planes
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Federal Communications Commission has officially grounded the idea of allowing airline passengers to use cellular telephones while in flight. Existing rules require cellular phones to be turned off once an aircraft leaves the ground in order to avoid interfering with cellular network systems on the ground. The agency began examining the issue in December 2004. Federal Aviation Administration regulations also restrict the use of cellular phones and other portable electronic devices onboard aircraft to ensure against interference with the aircraft's navigation and communication systems. The FCC noted that there was "insufficient technical information" available on whether airborne cell phone calls would jam networks on the ground.

PAMA Communications

Another major benefit to our PAMA members resulting from our affiliation with SAE:
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