3 MAY 2010

YOUR WORDS


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Biggin Hill starts work on new hangar

London Biggin Hill Airport on Monday 26 April started work on a new hangar and apron complex close to the executive passenger terminal and control tower. The hangar will be 120 by 40m with 30 by 10m office space adjoining and be capable of housing Airbus Corporate Jet or Boeing BBJ aircraft. In front of the hangar will be 5,000 sq m of apron with parking for up to six Gulfstream 5s.  The hangar should be completed by spring 2011.

London Biggin Hill is another airport on the outskirts of London, inside the M25 motorway that can accommodate business jets.  The airport has used about half of the available movements and is looking to increase the number of executive jets it handles in a year.  It is the only non slot co-ordinated airport in London and has the added advantage of being a Port of Entry.

The airport regularly handles the larger business jets such as Airbus Corporate Jets, Boeing 727 and Bombardier Challenger 850 aircraft. www.bigginhillairport.com

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Cape Town opens new domestic terminal area

Cape Town International Airport owned by Airport Company South Africa has opened on 23 April its new domestic arrivals terminal area.  The new area includes a link that will direct passengers between domestic arrivals and the central terminal building.

The link routes passengers to the ground floor of the central terminal building, enabling them access to more retail and restaurant options and directing them to the Transport Plaza and the recently opened car rental facility.

A waiting area has been created for people who are meeting passengers.  This new area will allow for more retail outlets to be opened in the terminal.  The baggage hall has also been extended with an additional two baggage belts. www.acsa.co.za

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Europe responds to ash crisis

The European Union Vice President Siim Kallas, who is responsible for transport presented a preliminary report on the 27 April on the economic consequences for air transport over the volcanic ash crisis.  The Vice President presented a number of possible short term actions and structural measures to help the industry to overcome this the volcanic ash crisis and difficulty.

However the Vice President did not recommend any change to EU261/2004 the regulations regarding passenger rights, which many of the airlines are calling for. www.europa.eu

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Hertz to acquire Dollar Thrifty

Hertz, the car rental company, is to acquire the Dollar Thrifty company.  The deal was agreed on 25 April after initial talks started late last year.

Acquiring the Dollar Thrifty brand allows Hertz into the mid-tier leisure car rental market with the Hertz brand remaining in the business sector of the industry.  Hertz is planning to retain both companies as individual brands. www.hertz.com

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Kempinski opens in Doha

Kempinski Hotels has opened its first hotel in Qatar, the Kempinski Residences and Suites.  The 62-floor residence tower has 370 fully serviced furnished suites and is currently the tallest building on the West Bay skyline.

The hotel has two indoor swimming pools, sauna, fitness gym, hydrotherapy bath and treatment rooms.  It also has a modern business centre and boardroom. www.kempinski.com

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New hangar at Glasgow Airport

Work will begin on a new hangar and fixed base operation (FBO) at Glasgow Airport later this month.  Gama Aviation will break the ground on the new fully heated 2,000 sq m hangar, with associated office space and aircraft handling facility.  This will be Gama Aviation’s first FBO in Europe and is expected to be completed by May 2011. www.gamagroup.com

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VIP conversion of Dornier 328 Turboprop

328 Support Services of Germany has been awarded a contract to convert a Dornier 328 Turboprop to VIP configuration for a private Italian customer.

This will be the first Dornier 328 Turboprop VIP conversion the company has undertaken, it has over the past five years completed eight Dornier 328 Jet VIP conversions and has three more to complete on order.  The company will be exhibiting at EBACE on Stand 780. www.328support.de

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ON THE SOAPBOX Andrew Haines, Chief Executive of the CAA

The Secretary of State for Transport, Andrew Adonis, in July 2009 appointed Andrew Haines as the Chief Executive of the Civil Aviation Authority after an open competition.  Mr Haines is the first holder of this newly created post, following the recommendations put forward by Sir Joseph Pilling in 2008. He officially took up the position in August 2009.

Events of the last few weeks have been particularly significant for the Civil Aviation Authority and as CEO I think it only fitting that I focus this column on what really happened and the truth behind the opening of UK controlled airspace.

Iceland's volcanic eruption brought an unprecedented challenge for UK aviation. The volume of ash in the air combined with stagnant weather, resulted in a blanket of volcanic cloud covering some of the world's most congested airspace.  As a result, National Air Traffic Services (NATS) suspended services on safety grounds, as did all its counterparts similarly affected, beginning the biggest ever airspace closure.

Safety always comes first in aviation and the UK has one of the world's best safety records.  This relies on guidelines, which ensure that airlines and pilots operate consistently and safely.  In the case of aircraft encountering volcanic ash the international guidance, drafted by those who've had to deal with it in the past, is 'AVOID, AVOID, AVOID', regardless of the level of contamination.  In this instance, the only way to avoid was to stop flying, as, unlike other parts of the world, there wasn't enough space to go round the ash cloud without first flying through it.

At the CAA, we knew that ash was a serious hazard.  It can damage airframes, sandblast windshields, clog filters and cause engines to cut out completely mid air, in more than one case all four of them.  What we didn't know, because no one in the world had ever established it, was the level of contamination that posed real risk.  So we faced a stark choice: allow flights to resume knowing it could jeopardise lives, or stop all flights whilst we established what level of ash aircraft could safely tolerate, causing massive disruption and heartache to passengers and businesses.

In truth we had no option and so we literally worked around the clock, bringing together scientific experts, manufacturers, airlines and other regulators from across Europe and the world.  We gathered scientific evidence by organising test flights and using specialist instruments both on the ground and in the air.  We learnt from the American experience and examined historic evidence.  The results were reviewed by the manufacturers who alone could set a safe level of ash tolerance for their engines.  This was not an instant process.  But the understanding and evidence had to be there if we were not to put lives at risk.  Establishing a new guideline in aviation often takes years.  Between us, with massive effort, we achieved this in six days.

The skies were open again within three hours of receiving confirmation that the manufacturers were satisfied with newly defined limits and increased maintenance procedures, having first briefed government and industry.  Europe has adopted this new standard and work is now underway with ICAO and EASA to see that international guidance is changed to reflect this.

In difficult and unprecedented circumstances such as these, huge pressures soon develop to find solutions.  Passengers want to get home; or make new journeys; airlines want to resume services; businesses and other organisations depend on air cargo.  Our role, as the independent safety regulator, is to keep the public safe and ensure that our decisions are not unduly influenced by these pressures.

Regulators are often criticised for what they do or fail to do; it comes with the territory.  We know that it is the British public to whom we are accountable; their safety at the heart of all we do. The CAA uses its specialist knowledge and independence to take the decisions, sometimes tough, to protect UK air travellers, and will continue to do so.

Ensuring the consumer is safe was the main priority for us during the ash cloud but it is at the heart of our day-to-day work too.  As such, a part of our own internal business review work, is a study of our safety regulation, looking at what, why and how we go about our safety duties.  Some people have said to me ‘Don’t break what doesn’t need fixing’ but we need to be prepared for what might be coming over the horizon as proved by the recent volcanic ash crisis.

It is vital that as the CAA moves on we incorporate the views of those people that we work with and regulate. I want the CAA’s relationship with those we regulate to be much more interactive.  We need to be speaking and listening much more.

In terms of our future, the Department for Transport is working on new domestic legislation to renew the CAA’s overarching remit, unchanged since 1983 giving us more responsibility towards the consumer and the environment.

We have an exciting and challenging plan for the CAA’s future, and the vision of where we would like to be is for all to understand the value that we add to both stakeholders and government.  Importantly, showing the public that aviation, and their legitimate interests as passengers and general consumers, are safe in our hands.

We aim to be recognised as being a source of expertise on environmental issues, and providing international partners with our expertise, experience and good sense.

Andrew Haines

www.caa.co.uk

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Bombardier delivers business jets to China

Bombardier has delivered in March the first Learjet 60XR and Challenger 850 business jets to Chinese customers.  The company has identified China as an emerging business jet market and is pleased that Benshan Zhao, a well known Chinese entertainer, is the owner and took delivery of the first Challenger 850 in the country on the 26 March.

The Challenger 850 will be managed by Lily Jet and will available for charter when not in use by the Benshan Media Group. www.bombardier.com

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Coventry City Airport

COVENTRY AIRPORT is to re-open as a licensed operation after Sir Peter Rigby’s Patriot Aviation Group agreed a takeover with the ultimate landowner Coventry City Council.  The deal was welcomed by the airport tenants including Air Atlantique and West Atlantic, the cargo airline.   

Alan Durham, Director of Policy at the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “The airport had an uncertain future and we are pleased that any doubts about its existence appear to have been eliminated thanks to this deal.  The Chamber has been keen to see the site retained for use as an airport and we are delighted that it now seems to have a more certain future.  It is good news for businesses in the region in general and for those who directly deal with the airport and depend on its existence.”  

After announcing that he was the new owner of Coventry Airport, Sir Peter said he would be focusing on making the airport fully operational again, with plans in the future to return to commercial flights. www.coventryairport.co.uk

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Gama Aviation at EBACE

Gama Aviation was awarded an UAE AOC in February 2010 and has reported strong growth, the UAE-based company operates from Sharjah International airport and currently has a Challenger 604 and 605 available for charter, later this month a Challenger 850 will join the fleet.

Gama Support Services has moved into a newly refurbished hangar at Farnborough and expanded the company’s EASA 145 capabilities.  Gama Aviation will be at EBACE in Geneva from 4 to 6 May exhibiting on Stand 383. www.gamagroup.com

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Hotel Inn Rosebank ready to open

Hotel Inn Rosebank in Johnnesburg is set to open to guests on 7 May.  The 158-room property is located next to The Zone shopping precinct in the Rosebank business district of Johannesburg.  The hotel is just 30 minutes from the international airport. www.ihg.com

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London Overground rail opens

The new London Overground railway was opened by the Mayor of London on 27 April.  The line will operate every seven or eight minutes weekdays and half will run from Dalston Junction to New Cross and the other half from Dalston Junction to New Cross Gate stations.

The full line will be open on 23 May with trains running every five minutes between Dalston Junction and Surrey Quays and every seven or eight minutes between Dalston Junction to Sydenham.  By May 2011 the line will be extended to run to Clapham Juncton, West Croydon, Highbury and Islington. www.tfl.gov.uk

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Shanghai World Expo 2010

SHANGHAI WORLD EXPO 2010 opened on 1 May and continues until 31 October 2010, the event organisers expecting 70m visitors. 

The main theme of the Expo is ‘Better City, Better Life’ and shows the initiatives aimed at better living conditions and more sustainable urban environments.  The Expo has five zones covering an area of five sq kilometres in which there are pavilions showcasing over 200 countries. 

Coinciding with the show Shanghai inaugurated its new International Cruise Terminal, the 115,000 ton 2,600-passenger Diamond Princess, the first ship to make use of the facility. http://en.expo2010.cn 

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ON TOUR Rizon Jet

Rizon Jet are a Qatari executive jet company that are currently building a new executive jet complex at Biggin Hill Airport.

Rizon Jet was created in 2006 and has its headquarters in Doha in Qatar.  The company has additional bases in the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in the Middle East with soon to be opened London Biggin Hill.  Rizon Jet is part of the Rizon Group Holdings, the Rizon Group Holdings chairman is Ghanim Bin Saad Al Saad.

The company is currently completing two VIP terminal projects, one in Doha and the other in the United Kingdom.  Both hangar complexes are of similar size and are on track to be completed in the summer 2010.  Currently the Rizon Jet fleet of aircraft that is available for charters consist of two Hawker 900XP, two Challenger 605 and a single Beechcraft Premier 1.  The Hawkers and Challengers are based in Doha and Dubai and the Premier will be based in the United Kingdom.

Patrick Enz, Group Chief Executive Officer of Rizon Group Holdings, spoke about how Rizon Jet could add value to the airport with the building of the new hangar.  Patrick talked about the exciting development of a new company Oryx Jet, a British company signing an agreement with Rizon Jet. Oryx Jet will be launching at the EBACE event in Geneva that starts on 4 May.

Finally, Patrick confirmed that Rizon Jet is looking to expand more into Europe and currently has four Bombardier Learjet 85s on order for delivery in 2014.

The General Manager of Rizon Jet’s London Biggin Hill facility is Jackie Nikolajsen, who gave a guided tour of the work in progress at the hangar and FBO complex.  After putting on yellow high-viz tabards and safety helmets we were allowed on site.

First we were shown the main 120,000 sq m hangar, the roof structure fitted with two hoists for moving larger components across the facility, the various other workrooms where certain kinds of maintenance will be performed, then to the first floor where it is planned to have offices and an employee restaurant.

One feature of the hangar is the large windows that will allow more natural light into the facility.  On very sunny days, the company will be able to illuminate the hangar without the need of electric light.  To save space and improve working conditions, all services that are needed for maintenance are provided through eight conduits in the floor, with a further two service conduits in the apron outside, therefore there is no need for less environmentally friendly diesel ground power units.

The hangar when completed will be able to house four or five Global Expresses or up to eight Challenger 605s.

We were then taken to the FBO at the other end of the hangar, again a great deal is left to be done but both Jackie and Patrick are confident that they will be able to open on time by the summer.

The clients' waiting area upstairs is a little more complete but in another area of the complex there is a great deal of finishing work to be done.  This clients' area will be fitted out in a modern arabic style that will make passengers feel at ease, safe and comfortable.

Large windows allow natural light into the lounges which can be made more private by dropping blinds if the clients so wish.

Rizon Jet will be at the EBACE show in Geneva that starts on 4 May.


Terry Spruce

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BAE Systems and Cello Aviation at show

BAE Systems Regional Aircraft and Cello Aviation are jointly displaying a recently converted Avro Business Jet (ABJ) at the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition, being held in Geneva.  Cello Aviation is part of the Gill Group.

The aircraft will be displayed in the static park after a flight from Inflite Engineering Services at Southend Airport to Geneva.  The aircraft has 46 first class seats but can be easily re-configured to seat 44 passengers in a 4 abreast arrangement.  Cello Aviation intends to offer the aircraft to the UK and European charter markets. www.flycello.com www.baesystems.com

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British Airways talks fail again

British Airways and the Unite union are still in dispute with no agreement in sight after the negotiations broke down last Tuesday.

The union will ballot its members on British Airways latest offer but recommend that it is rejected.  Unite are not announcing any strike dates because many of the airline's passengers are still stranded abroad due to the volcanic eruption. www.ba.com

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Embraer Executive Jets at EBACE

Embraer are showcasing the range of their executive jets including the recently launched Legacy 650.  The Brazilian aircraft manufacturer is exhibiting at EBACE in Geneva the Phenom 100, Phenom 300, Legacy 450, Legacy 500, Legacy 600, the new Legacy 650 and Linear 1000.

Four aircraft will be displayed in the static park, Phenom 100, Phenom 300, Legacy 600 and Linear 1000 aircraft.  The company is on Stand 7040 in Hall 7. www.embraerexecutivejets.com

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Hawker Beechcraft at EBACE

Hawker Beechcraft are displaying their full range of aircraft products at EBACE, including two new variants of the popular King Air range, the King Air 350i and King Air C90GTx.

In the line up on display will be the Hawker 4000, 900XP, 750, 400XP, Premier1A, King Air B200GT, Baron and Bonanza aircraft.  Hawker Beechcraft has over the last six months been awarded new aircraft certificates in a number of countries for Hawker 900XP, King Air 350i and King Air C90GTx.  The company is exhibiting in Hall 7 Stand 7080 during the show. www.hawkerbeechcraft.com

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Jet Aviation Dubai receives more approvals

Jet Aviation Dubai has received the Jordan CARC approvals to perform maintenance on Jordanian registered Hawker Beechcraft and Gulfstream G450 aircraft types.

The Jet Aviation Dubai FBO was established in 2005 and is an authorised service centre for Boeing for BBJ, Gulfstream for GIV and GV, Hawker Beechcraft for the 800 series, Dassault for the Falcon 900 and 2000 and for Embraer Legacy aircraft. www.jetaviation.ch

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Network Rail to use river barges

Network Rail will use river barges to move material for the re-development and rebuild of Blackfriars Station.  The company plans to deliver over 14,000 tonnes of material by barge to build the station’s bridge deck, to construct longer platforms and a roof spanning the river.  The barges will also remove some 8,000 tonnes from the site.

Using the river will remove some 2,000 lorry journeys from the city roads over the next two years and reducing the carbon footprint of the project. www.networkrail.co.uk

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Terminal Two at Heathrow demolition begins

The demolition of Terminal Two at Heathrow has begun. The Terminal was originally known as the Europa Building when opened in 1955 and at its peak handled some eight million passengers.

In its place the BAA will build a new terminal capable of handling 20 million passengers when opened in 2013.

By 2019 the terminal will extend into Terminal One with both terminals being able to handle a total capacity of 30 million passengers. The airline members of the Star Alliance will be housed in the new terminal. www.baa.com

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HAPPY TALK Guests complaints

Just a few of the kind of complaints some of our tour operators get.

"I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local store does not sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts."

"It's lazy of the local shopkeepers to close in the afternoons. I often needed to buy things during 'siesta' time - this should be banned."

"We booked an excursion to a water park but no-one told us we had to bring our swimming costumes and towels."

"The beach was too sandy."

"The brochure stated: 'No hairdressers at the accommodation'. We're trainee hairdressers - will we be OK staying here?"

"My fiancé and I booked a twin-bedded room but we were placed in a double-bedded room. We now hold you responsible for the fact that I find myself pregnant. This would not have happened if you had put us in the room that we booked."

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