With AIN Media Group's Aviation International News and its predecessor Aviation Convention News celebrating the company's 50th year of continuous publication this year, AIN’s editorial staff is going back through the archives each month to bring readers some interesting events that were covered over the past half century.
Chrysler flight dept. disbanded; new FBO created in its place
THEN: A new corporate FBO, Pentastar Aviation, has been formed in Detroit. Located at Detroit’s Willow Run Airport, Pentastar embodies the personnel and facilities of the former air transportation department of Chrysler Corp.
The new company holds an FAA-certified repair station license with ratings in airframe, powerplant, accessory, instrument, and specialized services. On airframes it is licensed to work on the Gulfstream I and II, Sabreliner 40 and 60, Cessna Citation I and II, and all models of Learjets. Its powerplant ratings extend to Rolls-Royce Darts and Speys; Garrett 731s and 331s; P&W JTD12s and 15s; and General Electric CJ610s.
The firm has a FAR 135 certificate under which it is offering charters with a Gulfstream II, two Learjet 35s, and a Citation II.
Chrysler was forced to sell the airplanes in its flight department—a Gulfstream II and Learjet 35—last year as a condition for obtaining a large loan from the federal government. However, it retains a Citation II on lease.
NOW: Pentastar opened a second FBO at Oakland County International Airport in 1989 and by 1994 had fully moved its headquarters there, selling off its Willow Run location in 1997. Nearly four decades since its debut, the company remains a perennial top finisher in AIN’s annual FBO survey.
Super King Air 300 bows in at $2.34 million
THEN: With surprisingly little fanfare Beech Aircraft has certified the airplane destined to become the new flagship of the company’s corporate turboprop product line and is gearing up for its first deliveries in April.
The Super King Air 300—a higher performing, heavier, more powerful, and more expensive follow-on to the company’s highly successful Model 200 Super King Air—received its type certificate quietly on January 24 in Wichita. The TC was an amendment to the certificates awarded to the Model 200 in 1973 and 1980.
Because of its 14,000-pound max gross weight, the Super 300 was required to meet the airworthiness regulations of SFAR 41C.
NOW: Despite the airframer’s ownership undergoing several changes over the years, the King Air 300-series has remained in production to this day as the top of the Beechcraft line. The latest version, the 360/360ER, received FAA certification in October 2020.
Aviation Convention News Rebrands to Aviation International News.
THEN: Prior to Aviation International News, the publication founded to provide industry coverage of events such as HeliExpo, NBAA’s annual convention, and the Reading Air Show was known as Aviation Convention News. In addition to publishing show daily issues, preview and post-event issues for each event were mailed to subscribers, six in total. “In those six issues we started covering news and information in addition to just the show-only news,” said AIN co-founder and managing director Wilson Leach. “We outgrew the name.”
At the start of 1986, Aviation Convention News was rebranded to the current Aviation International News. While AIN still would publish its show issues under the Convention News title, its bimonthly mailed subscription publication would now be known as Aviation International News.
NOW: Nine years later AIN would move from a bimonthly publication to monthly, with its readers receiving a new issue packed with the current industry news at the beginning of each month.
Kit built Supersonic jet single next on Jim Bede’s hit list
THEN: A pre-production version of Jim Bede’s newest kit-built aircraft, a supersonic derivative of his BD-10, is expected to be completed by mid-summer, the Cleveland-based kit builder said. With the exception of some minor work, engineering on the aircraft to be known as the BD-10J, is complete and fabrication of the composite materials will begin shortly.
Bede told Aviation International News that he expects to build only about 20 to 30 or the two-place, single-engine supersonic aircraft through his company Advanced Aircraft. No final price has been set for the BD-10J but Bede said it will probably cost about $160,000 sans engine and avionics.
NOW: A completed jet flew in July 1992, and by the following year, the price had grown to nearly $700,000 per kit. In 1994, former US Air Force pilot Mike Van Wagenen acquired all production and marketing rights to the design, which he called the Peregrine Falcon, and declared his intent to gain FAR Part 23 certification. After two successive prototype crashes that killed Van Wagenen and his successor, the design was purchased by a Canadian company that was unsuccessful in a plan to convert it into an unmanned military drone (AIN 1/1/97 p.8). The lone owner-flown example broke up in flight in 2003, killing its pilot.
Diamond Joins the Small-Jet Fray
THEN: Diamond Aircraft, which manufactures composite single- and twin-engine piston aircraft, has announced it will build a single-engine jet. The five-place all-composite D-jet is projected to sell for “well under $1 million,” and have an mtow of 4,700 pounds. The jet single is expected to be able to operate from 2,000-foot runways and reach its max cruising altitude in eight minutes (an average of 3,125 fpm).
NOW: Diamond was one of the airframers that sought to fulfill the prophecy of “skies darkened by clouds of light jets.” While it successfully produced and flew a prototype, the cash-starved program was repeatedly interrupted by funding difficulties. In 2016, the manufacturer was acquired by China’s Wanfeng Aviation, which considered restarting the D-jet but the aircraft has since faded away.
MNG Jet: employee acted alone in arranging escape flights for fugitive Ghosn
THEN: As part of the probe into indicted auto executive Carlos Ghosn’s daring escape from Japan in December 2019, Turkish police apparently continue to hold four pilots named as Turkish nationals. Also being held is an employee of Turkish charter provider MNG Jet as part of their investigation into how two of the Istanbul-based operator’s aircraft were used by the automotive executive to escape from Japan to Lebanon.
NOW: As he was awaiting trial and under house arrest in Japan on charges of financial misconduct, former Nissan CEO Ghosn conducted a Hollywood-style escape, being smuggled aboard a Global 6000 hidden in a music equipment box. In Istanbul, he was transferred to a Challenger 300 for the flight to extradition immunity in Beirut. While others were prosecuted for their role in helping plan and conduct the scheme, Ghosn has thus far escaped justice.
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