Monthly Archives: October 2012

Machinists union strikers at Learjet to help coat drive

Striking Machinists at Bombardier Learjet are using some of their off time volunteering with the Salvation Army’s coat drive.

About 25 strikers are working Tuesday sorting and processing more than 5,000 coats for distribution.

The Machinists at Learjet walked off the job on Oct. 8 after rejecting the company’s proposal of a new labor contract.

“The IAM members give millions of dollars to the United Way,” said Machinists spokesman Bob Wood. “We just saw this as an opportunity. We had some time so we can give back and help out some more.”




Former Cessna chairman Jack Pelton named EAA chairman

Jack Pelton, former CEO and chairman of Cessna Aircraft Co., is the new chairman of the board of the Oshkosh, Wisc.-based Experimental Aircraft Association.

He was named to the board on Monday. In his role, Pelton will guide the organization through a leadership change.

On Monday, the board accepted the resignation of EAA president and CEO Rod Hightower, who resigned to return to St. Louis to reunite with his family there.

When he accepted the position two years ago, Hightower wanted to move his wife and five children to Oshkosh, he said.

“But our family and school involvement have increased as our children advance in the schools they, and we as their parents, love,” Hightower said in a statement. “It would simply be too great a hardship on my family to move them to the Oshkosh area.”

Pelton said he will work with the board of directors to make sure there is a seamless transition to a new EAA leader.

“The directors of EAA and I thank Rod for his service. We understand how difficult it is to relocate a family of school-age children,” Pelton said in a statement.


Local aviation, public relations exec Dave Franson co-launches “Conventional Wisdom”

Veteran Wichita aviation executive Dave Franson has co-founded Conventional Wisdom, a business providing expertise to convention exhibitors so they get the “most from their convention experience.”

Franson, who managed the National Business Aviation Association’s annual convention for two years, joins Cassandra Bosco, former head of media relations for NBAA; Bob Searles, former editor of BCA Show Daily; and Steve Lowe, who managed displays and exhibits for Honeywell Aerospace.

They have expertise in media relations, public relations, exhibits and conventions.

They will give advice and counsel on which trade shows or conventions to attend, how much to budget, choosing the message, interacting with customers and the media, creating advertising and press materials, deciding whether to hold a press conference or a customer event and how to do it, where to go for help in designing, building and manning an exhibit and evaluating current exhibits and communication.

Typical customers would be small or mid-size businesses without staff with expertise on conventions, Franson said.

“We’ve all got all of this experience,” Franson said. “What we know from years at NBAA and other trade shows, the first couple of shows … can be a real challenge. It’s always beneficial to have someone who can walk you through that.”

Many companies utilize the NBAA annual convention, the Farnborough Air Show or other shows as their sole effort to market products or services.

Often they ignore or are unaware of the things they can do to multiply their message, Franson said.

“We’ll be available to help them each year or with each show,” he said. “We get with you first and get you up to speed. After the fact, we’ll do a critique and get you ready for the next one, if you desire.”

Franson will retain his position as president of the Wichita Aero Club.


Mayor’s China meeting with Hawker Beechcraft potential buyer canceled

Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer’s meeting with the head of Superior Aviation Beijing in Beijing has been called off because of the sensitivity of the ongoing negotiations between the company and Hawker Beechcraft.

The mayor is leading a Wichita delegation on a five-city, 12-day business development trip to China, where one of the first stops was to have been a meeting with Superior Aviation Beijing Cheng Shenzong, the potential buyer of Hawker Beechcraft.

“Of course we are disappointed not to have met with Chairman Chen,” Brewer said in an e-mailed statement from Beijing. “We were looking forward to the opportunity to begin a positive relationship. As always we want to be supportive of Wichita companies and their interests.”

The mayor wanted to ask Shenzong about the potential acquisition and whether he will keep the work and the employees in Wichita should the deal go through. And he wanted to accentuate the reasons why the work should stay in Wichita.

Still, the delegation had a productive meeting at the U.S. Embassy, reports Karyn Page, president and CEO of Kansas Global Trade Services, who is part of the group. They gained information to help Wichita companies trade with China and received an overview of the current state of affairs in China.

Brewer also hosted an aviation luncheon with the American Chamber of Commerce, with about 40 people from U.S. and China aviation companies in attendance. Many of them expressed interest in aviation training opportunities in Wichita, Page said in an e-mail.

They also met with vice mayor Gou Zhongwen of Beijing. The mayor expressed an interest in exploring city-to-city cooperation focused on general aviation and aviation training, Page said.

“Beijing wants to be lead GA (general aviation) center in China and has resources to pull it off,” she wrote. “What they lack is knowlege in management and training. A partnership with the Air Capital can accelerate development of their GA industry, providing Wichita with manufacturing and service export opportunities as well as direct investment opportunities.”

The first day of meetings has been productive, Brewer said in a statement. “We are pleased to learn of possible export and investment opportunities for the Wichita and Kansas economy in the aviation and agriculture sectors.”


Augusta Airport fly-in postponed due to weather

A fly-in and car show scheduled for Saturday at Augusta Municipal Airport has been postponed for two weeks due to a severe weather forecast.

The fly-in will now be held from 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. at the airport on Saturday, Oct. 27. It will feature a sausage biscuit breakfast, lunch, skydiving, static displays, live music and more.

For more information go to


Governor appoints Spirit vice president to WSU Board of Trustees

Gov. Sam Brownback has appointed David Coleal, Spirit AeroSystems vice president and general manager of its fuselage business, to the Wichita State University Board of Trustees.

The board manages the university’s endowment and the mill levy.

Before joining Spirit, Coleal served as vice president and general manager of Bombardier Learjet in Wichita.



Augusta Airport to host fly-in

The Augusta Municipal Airport will be an active place Saturday as the airport hosts a fly-in and car show.

The event will be held from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and offer breakfast, lunch, static displays, music, skydiving, raffle prizes and more, information from the airport said.

The airport will also sell aviation fuel at a 50 cent discount.

For more information, call 316-733-1326.


Spirit AeroSystems aftermarket business signs agreement with Ethiopian Airlines

Spirit AeroSystems has signed a multi-year supply agreement with Ethiopian Airlines for aftermarket customer support.

Spirit will provide thrust reverser, fuselage and wing component spare parts for the airline’s fleet of Boeing aircraft, which will give the airline “predictable and competitive pricing for all parts in the Spirit catalog while ensuring availability for key parts and components,” the company said.

Ethoipian Airlines is Spirit’s first contract customer in Africa.

“This is a significant milestone for our company as we continue to expand our global support footprint,” Mike Williams, vice president and general manager of Spirit Aftermarket customer support, said in a statement.


Hawker Beechcraft appoints new senior vice president of special missions

Dan Keady, former Hawker Beechraft vice president of international sales for China, Asia Pacific and India, is the new senior vice president of special missions for Hawker.

In his role, Keady is responsible for the continued development and expansion of the company’s special mission business.

He joined the company in 1996 as sales director of international jet special missions and has taken on inreasingly more responsibility since, the company said.



Wichita mayor responds to remarks about Obama’s corporate jet statement in presidential debate

Minutes after President Obama said that corporate jet owners should pay more taxes, former Cessna CEO Jack Pelton e-mailed Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer asking for his help in getting the truth out about the positive impact of the business jet market — one that employs thousands of people in Wichita and around the country.

Brewer, who attended the Democratic convention, responded to Pelton in an e-mail on Saturday, saying that he shares Pelton’s concerns.

In 2009 and 2010, he sent letters to Obama, urging him to pay attention to the “economic value of this critical industry,” Brewer told him.

“Since the issuance of those letters, my position has remained the same,” he said.

Pelton’s e-mail noted that it took Obama not more than 30 minutes to comment on business jets.

“Why wouldn’t we eliminate tax breaks for corporate jets?” Obama asked before 58 million viewers watching the debate. “My attitude is, if you got a corporate jet, you can probably afford to pay full freight, not get a special break for it.”

Obama was referring to the ability to depreciate a new jet faster when purchased for business purposes. That ability expires at the end of 2012 unless it’s extended.

“Within 30 minutes into the debate tonight, the President made the comment that people who own business jets should pay more taxes,” Pelton said in the e-mail.

“This statement is simply ill informed as to who operate business jets and more important, damning to the great people who work on the production lines here in Wichita.”

The business climate for the industry continues to be at an “all-time low,” Pelton said. And the lack of recovery continues to plague Wichita manufacturers. Obama’s remarks are infuriating, because it ignores the positive impact the industry brings to the economy, he said.

Last year, Brewer noted that he joined other state and community leaders in welcoming U.S. Transportation secretary Ray LaHood to Wichita, where he spoke at Cessna.

“Our message was clear: Aviation is vital to the nation’s economy and to the President’s goal of doubling exports,” he said.

“Going forward, I will continue to defend the aviation industry, and will make every effort to take our message to our President,” Brewer wrote.