Tag Archives: Embraer

Best Of Aviation Queen: Top 10 Reasons Why I Loved Attending EAA AirVenture/Oshkosh

Editor’s note: kids, I’m attending a journalism convention in Orlando this week, so you get Best Ofs. I’ll be back on Monday, Aug. 5, I promise! This one ran back in July 2011, after I attended my first AirVenture show. Enjoy!

Kids, let’s be real – we all know that Aviation Week actually pays me to cover my hobby, my lifelong passion. This past week, I was smack in the center of the aviation geek universe, covering the annual Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture Air Show in Oshkosh, Wis. For the uninitiated, more than 500,000 people and more than 10,000 aircraft converge on the headquarters of EAA, based at Wittman Regional Airport and go into an aviation bacchanal. Folks fly and drive in from across the globe to meet, learn and have fun with like-minded people. You can check out AvWeek’s Oshkosh coverage here.

Thanks to my friend and Airplane Geeks host Rob Mark (@Jetwhine), I stayed in the Fairfield Inn Oshkosh, a stone’s throw away from the show. But the VAST majority of folks actually camp, on the airport grounds and surrounding areas. You see everything from a tarp slung over an aircraft wing to tents, to RVs to tricked-out, rock-star-looking tour buses.

But I digress. I’m giving myself the nearly impossible task of ranking my top 10 events from Oshkosh, God help my soul. Airplane Geek David Vanderhoof (@dmvanderhoof) said I’d have to expand to 20, but I love a good challenge. So here goes.

10. The Wittman Regional Airport Tower. For one week, this average-looking air traffic control tower becomes the busiest in the world – busier that Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta, busier than London Heathrow and busier than Singapore’s Changi — handling the in-and-out flights and daily air show demonstrations.

Beechcraft Starship

9. Fifi, the only B-29 bomber still flying AND The Beechcraft Starship. The Commemorative Air Force has lovingly restored this titan of World War II, and Oshkosh attendees, for a donation, could take a tour of this piece of history. The Starship, a 6- to 8-seat business aviation turboprop, was designed to be the successor to the popular King Air. According toWikipedia, FAA has nine active registrations on the Starship.

8. MyTransponder.com. The aviation podcasting/video/blogging universe is lovingly overseen by Rod Rakic and Mike Miley. And they were out in full force at Oshkosh, in a tricked-out RV that doubled as a mobile studio, coffee/food dispensary and hangout for those documenting the events at Oshkosh. I was honored to hang out with a great group of folks the night before I departed.

7. Embraer Executive Jets. Wednesday it rained cats and dogs at the show, and it was a touch chilly. We were all scheduled to attend a breakfast press conference being held at their tent. Not only did they have hot coffee and hot chocolate, we got rain ponchos that protected us for the rest of the day.

Ford’s Fly-In Theater

6. Fly-In Theater. Across the street from Camp Scholler (probably the most popular campground), was this outdoor movie theater, sponsored by Ford. You bring a blanket or chair and sit out among the stars to see a different movie every night. And did I mention the popcorn is free? Monday night’s feature was “Top Gun,” a film, amazingly enough, I had never seen. And the bonus was we had an actual Top Gun instructor introduce the film. My fellow Airplane Geek Dan Webb (@danwebbage) is now the only person on earth not to see this movie.

5. JetBlue Airways. The New York-based carrier flew in its “I Heart NY” Airbus A320 into the show on Wednesday and did free tours all day, complete with a bag of Blue Chips. I was thrilled to see some friends that work there who came on the flight, including COO Rob Maruster, who I worked with at Delta Air Lines. And a BIG bonus for me? I got a Twitter shout-out from CEO David Barger for all my #OSH11 JetBlue Tweets and photos!

4. What Just Flew By?I felt like I was actually living Airplane Geeks Historian David Vanderhoof’s blog. There were planes on the ground and planes in the air, making it really hard to decide where to focus!

3. The photos/videos of Jo Hunter (@futureshox). A group of us went to have dinner at Red Robin Oshkosh (if you go, get Robin to be your waitress), and I met Jo, who happens to be one of my Twitter followers. She showed me herubercool time-lapse video of Oshkosh preparations. And check out all her aviation films, on YouTube, here.

Grant McHerron and Steve Visscher

2. The Australians. Regular listeners of the Airplane Geeks podcast know that Steve Visscher and Grant McHerron (who literally sees the world through rose-colored glasses) offer up an informative, but funny take on all things Australian aviation with their Plane Crazy Down Underpodcast. They also do the Australia desk for the Airplane Geeks podcast. I’m a BIG fan and we’ve corresponded by Twitter and Skype, but we had never met – until Oshkosh. If you think they’re funny on the air, they’re even better live. And check out the July 25 edition of Airplane Geeks, which has them all together.

1. And speaking of Steve and Grant, the number one entry is the people attending Oshkosh. I met literally hundreds of folks, many who shouted “Aunt Benet” when we met. I met so many of my Twitter fans that I’ve admired for years, and it was very humbling to me when people came up and said they were fans of my work. I want to list every one of them, but I’m afraid I’d miss someone and offend them. But I WILL give a big shout out to the 2 guys who pushed my Chevy Aveo out of the mud at Camp Scholler around midnight Wednesday.

 

Best of Aviation Queen: Random Aviation Photo

Editor’s note: While I’m in Palm Springs this week, I decided to keep our usual Thursday random aviation photo. This was originally posted on Oct. 17, 2011. Cheers!

Back in June 2008, I was attending the marketing and communications conference for Airports Council International-North America, in Pittsburgh.  I had some time to kill, so I wandered around the gates.

I thought I was hallucinating when I saw these Frontier Airlines Embraer 170s parked at some of the outer gates that were closed when US Airways dehubbed.  I never did find out  why they were in PIT.  Enjoy!

 

Random Aviation Photo

After Tuesday’s post, I still have a bad case of regional jets on my brain.  So today’s photo? Surprise! It’s a regional jet!  Back in May 2010, I was on my way home from a speaking engagement at the Regional Airline Association’s annual convention in Milwaukee.  I stopped off at Chicago O’Hare, where American Eagle was introducing its new first class seat in its 70-seat CRJs. The carrier also unveiled a tasting of the new meal service in said seats. As I was going home, I took this shot of the Bombardier CRJ700 that was taking me home. Enjoy!

Pssst-Wanna Buy A Regional Jet Cheap?

American Eagle Embraer ERJ-145s at DFW Airport. Photo by Benet J. Wilson

I covered the regional aviation industry from 1993 to 2001.  During that time, I watched as regional carriers grew up and became almost mirror images of their larger airline partners.

I had a front row seat to the rise of the 50-seat regional jet.  The big players were Canada’s Bombardier, with its CRJ and Brazil’s Embraer ERJ-145.  The major airlines wanted them for several reasons.  One, they were constrained by pilot scope clauses that didn’t allow regional pilots to fly larger jets. Two, they saw the jets as a way bring service to cities that weren’t quite big enough for larger jet or even do some point-to-point hub bypass service.

During the RJ frenzy heyday, regional carriers couldn’t sign contracts fast enough.  Cincinnati-based Comair led the pack, becoming the U.S. launch customer for the CRJ, while Continental Express was the same for the ERJ-145.  Mesa Air Group (my former employer) became the first regional to operate both types in its fleet.

But now, regionals can’t get rid of them fast enough as fuel costs made them more expensive to operate and major airlines began cutting traditional RJ routes.  You can read my May 1 interview in Aviation International News with my former boss, Jonathan Ornstein, on how this affected Mesa.

So where are all those RJs going? An April 30 story in AIN sister publication Business Jet Traveler reports that the current RJ glut “presents a rare opportunity to acquire a relatively new large-cabin jet at near-turboprop prices.”  I wrote a blog post in Aviation Week’s Business Aviation Now on Sept. 11, 2009 on Dubai-based Project Phoenix, a company that turns CRJ-200s into VIP business jets.

According to BJT, by the end of 2011, nearly 400 RJs were grounded in the U.S., many of them less than 10 years old, including BAE 146/Avros; Bombardier CRJ100s, 200s and 900s; Dornier/Fairchild 328Jets; Fokker 100s; and Embraer ERJ-135/145s. And, the publication notes, the Chapter 11 filing of American Airlines could see hundreds more ERJs in the American Eagle fleet be put into storage.

If you’re looking for a pretty nice aircraft that is a little slower but tougher than the average business jet at a bargain basement price, a converted CRJ might be for you.  For a mere $10 million, according to BJT, you can have one with “all the bells and whistles,” with a range of 3000nm carrying eight passengers and bags.  A similarly sized super mid-sized jet, like the Bombardier Challenger 605 (a loose cousin of the CRJ) could cost  more than double.

The bigger question is what will happen to all those smaller regional jets?  Is there enough of a market for them to be a strong alternative to a new business jet? Is there a market for these aircraft in other parts of the world, including China, Africa and South America? Only time will tell.