Saturday, 13 February 2010

SkyCatcher delays

As Piper announced the PiperSport, Cessna whispered news of delivery delays for the the SkyCatcher. It seems there are some tooling changes required in China in order to incorporate the design changes made following the spin accidents. These changes will delay any significant deliveries by six to twelve months.

In the meantime a small number will be delivered and the modifications will be made in the US by Yingling Aviation.

Some are asking why these changes aren't being done in China - after all, labour is cheap and it would get deliveries (and a bit of cash) flowing. There are of course rumours. Is Cessna having quality issues in China? Are the aircraft coming off the line a little heavy? Is the local training taking longer than originally thought?

The official line remains that the delay is due to changed tooling requirements…
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Friday, 12 February 2010

Clearing the snow...

Whichever way you look at it, Clermont County airfield is smaller than Cranfield. There's no ILS, no ATC and there are fewer movements. The area only gets occasional snow, but when it does snow, Sporty's, who run this small, friendly airfield, roll out the snowploughs and keep the runway open. It's not a cheap operation, but surely an airfield like Cranfield that has many rent-paying businesses who rely on the runway could invest in a snowplough or two?
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Wednesday, 10 February 2010


Had a drink in a bar in Wichita today. The waitress was talking about her two jobs. During the day, she sells print advertising in a business-to-business magazine aimed at new and used car dealers. Three nights a week she pours beer and serves burgers. In her words, she's "…sucking up this recession twice".

When things were good, about thirty shift workers from Cessna called in for a drink. Now only two turn up. Depending on your source for the numbers, Cessna has reduced its workforce by either 50% or 57%. Either number is frightening. Hawker Beechcraft, also based in Wichita, has been hit even harder.

The waitress says that she's down $600 a month in tips; Cessna, Hawker Beechcraft, Learjet and many other aviation companies in the area are down a lot more.

Next week, the GAMA figures for 2009 are out, it's a sort of end of year health report for aviation, and no-one is expecting it to be pretty.

Stuck in Wichita

Wichita Mid-Continent is a small airport. With a flight at 17.00 there was no real need to arrive any earlier than 16.00, and to be honest 16.30 would have probably been fine. I'd just pulled over to snap this sign when I heard that hundreds of flights in and out of Chicago (my planned destination for tonight) have been cancelled.

My other hire car is in the long-term parking at Midway and I need to retrieve it. I tried to check in, but found as expected that the flight had been cancelled. I'm now booked on the 05.42 flight tomorrow, and can look forward to another night in a cheap motel without a hire car. Oh the sheer luxury of transatlantic business travel.
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