Category Archives: Aviation

Two area companies named Exporter of Year finalists

Bunting Magnetics of Newton and Global Parts in Augusta are among five finalists for the 2012 Governor’s Exporter of the Year Award, the Kansas Department of Commerce announced.

The three other finalists are Bergkamp of Salina, Pitsco of Pittsburg and Tank Connections of Parsons.

Winners will be announced June 12 at the annual Kansas Calvary Encampment.

Fifteen Kansas companies were evaluated in the selection of award finalists.

They were evaluated on a number of measures, including number or percentage increase in jobs because of international activities, use of international distributors and joint ventures established.

Flexjet to provide fractional services for new Learjets

Flexjet announced Wednesday that it will be the first provider of fractional jet management services to offer access to Bombardier’s new Learjet 70 and Learjet 75 aircraft.

Bombardier announced its plans to build the Learjet 70 and Learjet 75 earlier this week at the 2012 European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition in Geneva, Switzerland.

“On the eve of its 50-year anniversary, Learjet has created fresh business aircraft that live up to its legendary lineage and are truly best in class,” said Fred Reid, President, Flexjet. “We are beyond proud to provide customers a chance to purchase new aircraft from this program and experience for themselves the next generation of private jet travel.”


Flexjet, based in Richardson, Texas, is a division of Bombardier.


Designed to fly farther than any other light aircraft ever built, the new Learjet 70 and Learjet 75 aircraft offer travelers higher cruise speeds, direct routing, additional city pairs and even more airport options, according to a news release from Flexjet.

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Cessna in China

Today’s announcement that Cessna Aircraft will team with state-owned Aviation Industry Corp. of China (AVIC) to build business jets in the western China city Chengdu should not be a surprise. Cessna, and all the city’s general aviation companies, have long eyed the potential of the burgeoning China market.

Aviation reporter Molly McMillin reported last July that Cessna was in talks with AVIC about collaborating on a business jet. And Cessna, of course, already manufactures its light sport aircraft, the two-seat Skycatcher, in Shenyang.

I just started reading a book about General Motors’ entry into China in the 1990s, “American Wheels, Chinese Roads: The Story of General Motors in China.” The book, by Michael J. Dunne, offers some insights into what American manufacturers can expect when they set up operations in China.

For the sake of transparency, I will mention that Dunne grew up in the Detroit area and went to the University of Michigan, as I did. I also was his youth baseball coach way back in the day.

Not so friendly skies

That vacation getaway is not going to get cheaper anytime soon.

The FAA said today airfares are likely to remain high for the rest of the decade as airline capacity shrinks. Officials said travelers won’t get much relief until airlines start getting more competition, which is years away.

Want some more good news? The FAA predicts that more airline mergers and consolidation will shrink the number of cities served and the number of flights available in the nation’s air travel network.

How long will aviation be a Wichita mainstay?

The August edition of Money magazine contains a fairly significant plug for Wichita: The city ranks 14th on the magazine’s list of most affordable housing markets.

There’s a lot of truth to that. Home-buyers will always get more for their money in Wichita than on the coasts

But … the reason why sounds a lot more like yesterday than today, sadly:

“Today, aircraft manufacturing is an economic mainstay, with Learjet, Cessna and Hawker Beechcraft all based in town, while Boeing and Airbus maintain facilities … Those industries offer well-paying jobs, which is reflected in Wichita’s high median income.”

At least for the time being, eh?

Read more on this story in Tuesday’s Business Today.

Brewer on Fox Business Network

Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer appeared on Fox Business Network today to talk about aviation and the Wichita economy. He was this week’s guest on the network’s Mayor Monday segment.

Just how do you plan to get to Washington, Mr. Lewis?

From the Utterly Ridiculous department comes this news story about Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis and an upcoming appearance in front of Congress.

Here’s the really silly part:

Lewis will attend the hearing, taking a train to D.C., a bank spokesman said. He declined to elaborate for security reasons. John Stumpf, the CEO of San Francisco-based Wells Fargo & Co., will fly commercial, a spokeswoman said. The CEOs of Detroit’s Big Three automakers were ridiculed for taking private jets to their recent appearances on Capitol Hill, where they asked the government for money.

As reporters, we’re taught to include a number of elements in any story.

But I must have been asleep in Journalism 101 when the professor told us that the mode of transport used by CEOs traveling to Washington to testify in front of Congress is one of those highly key elements.

In this instance, how Mr. Lewis is getting to Washington really isn’t critical to the overall story.

But thanks to the posturing and grandstanding of a few politicians in Congress, travel plans and modes of transport have become a key element to any story reporting on any business receiving loans or other financial assistance from the government.

Is it any wonder why Wichita’s own Big 3 are struggling to sell business jets?

Nothing’s sacred in the airline industry

From the What’s Next? file:

US Airways says it is going to start charging coach passengers $7 if they want a pillow and a blanket.

Of course the Tempe, Ariz.-based airline is packaging this nifty little move as part of its “pay-for-what-you-choose-and-use model.”

First, airlines nixed snacks. Next, they started charging for checked baggage. Now this?

At this rate, pretty soon it’ll cost you 50 cents, maybe $1, to use the toilet on the airplane.

This is all being done in the name of squeezing the most revenue at a time when the recession is slowing air travel and airlines are taking it in the shorts for hedging on their future fuel costs.

Thing is, we’ve been through recessions before. So have the airlines. But how smart is it for them to be charging for the most basic of amenities as a short term revenue fix?

Seems that such moves are short-sighted, and will lead more folks to choose other modes of travel in the future.

Telling on myself

So this morning I was working on a blog item that I never did post about how frustrating it is to work with certain PR people, especially when a lot of them are probably making a lot more than I am but working at about a first-grade level. It came off rather shrill so I decided to rework it before posting later.

In the meantime, I had a question related to Boeing. So who did I call? The Spirit PR person. Doh!

What got me thinking about PR is the apparent lack of PR help the big three auto executives got on their recent trip to Washington. True public relations experts step in with guidance before there’s a PR nightmare on their hands.

Perhaps someone should have thought ahead of time that maybe flying in on private jets to ask for financial assistance wasn’t the smartest move. Or perhaps if someone had prepared the execs with an intelligent justification for why they need the planes, the ensuing PR disaster could have been averted.

I was having this discussion with my husband last night, and he said, “What’s their justification? They have to run their companies into the ground? They can’t spend another minute in the air because they’ve got more money to lose?”

He’s probably right. In some cases, no amount of PR helps. Especially when reporters don’t call the right company in the first place.

Inside the Air Capital

In case you’ve missed it, we have a new blog in the family.

Air Capital Insider made its debut yesterday. That’s where you’ll find everything you need to know about the aviation biz inside and outside Wichita, thanks to aviation reporter Molly McMillin. In addition to industry news, Molly will provide lots of tids and bits about aviation that don’t always find their way in the paper.

Molly has been on the aviation beat for nearly a decade. “That makes me sound very old,” she said. But she’s not just a reporter, she’s an aviation enthusiast. Her dad got his private pilots license when she was growing up, and she’s now learning to fly in his 1956 Piper Tri-Pacer. In fact, she made her first solo flight on Nov. 1.

So check out Air Capital Insider and let us know what you think

Math lesson: Boeing raise isn’t 15 percent

Nobody will ever confuse journalists for mathematicians, but I would like to share a lesson I learned long ago. Possibly eighth grade. Maybe ninth.

You can’t add percentages.

I bring this up because I’ve read numerous times — like here and here and here — about the 15 percent raise in Boeing’s contract offer to the Machinists union. Only one problem: That’s wrong. The raise is closer to 16 percent.

Here’s how the math works. If a Machinist is making $50,000 a year, he’ll get a 5 percent raise in the first year of the contract to increase his annual pay to $52,500. The Machinist will get 3 percent raises in the second and third years to increase his pay to $54,075 and then $55,697.25. A 4 percent raise in the fourth year will boost it to $57,925.14. That’s a raise of 15.85 percent (57,925.14/50,000=1.1585028).

If it were a 15 percent raise, that same Machinist would be making $57,500. Not a big difference, but I think I’d rather have the extra $425.14 (before taxes, of course) at the end of the year.

Just sayin’.

Compare Boeing’s contract offers to the Machinists

The Seattle Times has compared how Boeing’s latest offer to the Machinists union to the one workers rejected August 28.

The union made gains on outsourcing, health care and pension. Missing from the latest offer is a company incentive pay plan.

The chart compares general wages, wages for recent and new hires, pensions, bonuses, incentive pay plans, medical plans and outsourcing  language.