Great Article on New Orleans’ “New” Business Climate

New Orleans is booming! The business climate has significantly changed for the better, start-ups are at a nation-leading level, regional unemployment is among the lowest in the nation, and that critical piece, access to start-up and growth capital has also finally started to change for the better.  The following article by Forbes summarizes very well just some of the positive changes and developments since Katrina:

The following quote from the article gives some idea of the fantastic progress that has been made by New Orleans and Louisiana as a business environment:

Besides recently topping the list of America’s fastest growing cities by the U.S. Census Bureau, New Orleans has earned high rankings across several other areas, further confirming the prominent opportunities available in the city. In fact, Forbes named the Greater New Orleans Area No.1 Metro for IT Job Growth and No. 2 Best Big City for Jobs in the United States.  Other accolades have included rankings as the No. 2 Employment Market in the Country, America’s Best City for School Reform, top city for entrepreneurs on two separate lists, and No.1 on the list of America’s Biggest Brain Magnets for drawing people under the age of twenty-five with college degrees.

The state’s progressing business climate has been the biggest factor in luring new industries and people, putting Louisiana on several accredited lists, as well.   The state is currently leading the nation as the No. 1 state for exports and No. 2 for imports, No. 3 in film production, and No. 1 state for economic development growth potential by Business Facilities 2012 State Ranking.

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Aircraft Categories and General Characteristics

Brian Hennessy, Blue Hawk Aviation, LLC

Business aircraft fall into one of several categories, based generally on related capabilities such as size and range.  The preliminary result of any effort to determine if private or corporate aircraft should be used by a company or individual, should be a determination of which category (if any) best fits the majority of true requirements.  Focusing on specific airplane models too early in the process or on a category/type of aircraft that meets 100% of requirements can lead to purchasing an aircraft that doesn’t meet performance or cost requirements.

The basic categories of jet powered business aircraft are as follows:

Turboprop Aircraft are very efficient at flying relatively short distances, although these aircraft fly more slowly and have less range than all but the smallest business jet aircraft.  Acquisition cost of these aircraft vary greatly, but in general are significantly less than jet aircraft while operating costs are roughly 35% less than the smaller classes of business jets.

General turboprop aircraft characteristics are:

  • Jet engines drive one or more propellers
  • Very efficient at shorter ranges
  • 25,000 to 30,000 foot typical operating altitudes
  • Very short takeoff and landing distances
  • Some are certified for short/unimproved runway operations
  • 600 to 1000 mile range
  • 4 to 6 miles per minute cruise airspeed
  • 6 to 8 passenger typical seating

By general convention jet aircraft are categorized by size, and with size comes range.  Jets operate most efficiently at higher altitudes and airspeeds than propeller driven aircraft, yet as with most things, speed comes at price.  However, for some owners that are considering a turboprop purchase for longer range flights (approximately 500+ mile trips), a smaller jet may actually be more efficient due to the fact that they will arrive at their destination faster and therefore accrue lower operating costs for that specific “trip”.  Of course, the higher acquisition cost of the jet must be considered as well.

General jet categories and characteristics are:

  • Very light jets
    • 5.5 to 7 miles per minute cruise speed
    • 4 to 6 passenger typical seating
    • 30,000 to 43,000 foot typical operating altitudes
    • 1000 to 1200 mile range (overlaps with some turboprop aircraft)
    • Shorter takeoff and landing distances allow for more usable airports
    • Operating costs approximately 35% greater than turboprop aircraft
  • Light jets
    • 5.5 to 8.5 miles per minute cruise speed
    • 6 to 9 passenger typical seating
    • 30,000 to 45,000 foot typical operating altitudes
    • 1000 to 2000 mile range (overlap with some turboprop aircraft)
    • Shorter takeoff and landing distances allow for more usable airports
    • Operating costs approximately 15% greater than very light jets
  • Midsize jets
    • 5.5 to 8.5 miles per minute cruise speed
    • 6 to 10 passenger typical seating
    • 30,000 to 45,000 foot typical operating altitudes
    • 2000 to 3000 mile range
    • Operating costs approximately 25% greater than light jets
  • Super midsize jets
    • 5.5 to 8.5 miles per minute cruise speed
    • 6 to 15 passenger typical seating
    • 30,000 to 50,000 foot operating altitudes
    • 3000 to 5,000 mile range
    • Operating costs approximately 35% greater than midsized jets
  • Heavy and large jets (includes derivatives of commercial airliners)
    • 5.5 to 8.5 miles per minute cruise speed
    • 10 up to 50 or greater passenger  configurations
    • 30,000 to 45,000 foot typical operating altitudes
    • 4000 to 7000 mile range
    • Operating costs approximately 35% greater than super midsized jets

A Blue Hawk Needs Analysis can objectively determine true requirements and help determine if private or corporate aviation (including ownership, jet cards, fractional, charter and partnerships) is right for you or your company.

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Top Ten Medical Mistakes

Interesting piece by CNN.  It’s  no secret that human error accounts for over 80% of adverse outcomes, across virtually all industries.  A system safety approach coupled with a successful safety culture has been proven to drive dramatic reductions in adverse outcomes.

Blue Hawk offers Safety Cultural Surveys for hospitals and other medical organizations.

Our survey will help define an organization’s shared values and behaviors with respect to safety. Research indicates that, compared to employees who work for hospitals with a weak safety culture, employees who work for hospitals with a strong safety culture are more motivated to follow safety procedures, and are consequently less likely to commit patient safety violations.

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Automation and Aviation Safety

Brian Hennessy

May 4, 2012

(This letter is a slightly edited version of a letter to the editor of the New Orleans Times Picayune Newspaper submitted by Blue Hawk Aviation)

The current safety record in commercial and military aviation is the envy of all other industries, and represents years of relentless cultural, technological and training progress.   At the center of this success is a complex and incredibly effective system which recognizes the fact that human error drives over 80% of all mishaps, (this is true across virtually all industries).  The system has evolved through the development of a “culture of safety” and includes tools and concepts like management commitment to safety, automation and pilot training programs; and standardization of pilot, maintenance and dispatch practices.  Together, these serve to identify and “trap” the errors that humans will inevitably make, before they can lead to a mishap (James Reasons’ “Swiss Cheese model of system safety makes for a great introduction to this subject).

Despite the current levels of safety in commercial and military aviation, there are few experienced pilots that wouldn’t agree with the FAA’s recent assertion that “hand flying” aviation skills are suffering due to automation in modern aircraft (  While automation has saved untold numbers of lives over the past 70 years in aviation, the bar is correctly set at zero fatalities in aviation.  The interface between the airplane’s automation and the pilot is simply another area where errors can develop, and for which the system must compensate for.

Thankfully, we have the tools to identify and trap these errors before they lead to mishaps.  Airline training programs that have been reduced from seven weeks to four due to relentless financial pressure must be expanded again, and should place more emphasis on hand flying skills and recognizing the errors that can develop when automation fails or is misunderstood.  Further, both pilots flying in the cockpits of commercial aircraft should also be required to earn an FAA Airline Transport Pilot license, with its requirement of 1500 hours of flight time.  Current FAA regulations allow First Officers (Second in Command) to control a commercial airliner with only a Commercial Pilot Certificate.  This “ticket” can be awarded to a pilot with only 250 flight hours.  At the controls of a commercial airliner with 90 or more passengers is not the time for “on the job training”.  Simulator training companies may claim differently, but there is simply no substitute for flight time in an actual airplane as a young pilot.

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Proposed FAA Rule is Long Overdue

By Brian Hennessy

27 April 2012, Blue Hawk Aviation, LLC

On February 29th of this year, the FAA quietly released a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM 4910-13) to solicit comments and feedback on the FAA’s desire to require a higher level of training, experience and certification for first officers to be employed in a scheduled air carrier operation.  Despite the predictable pushback from several industry groups, in practice, this new rule requiring all pilots working for “Part 121” carriers (major and regional scheduled airlines) to earn an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) license would very positively impact the safety of the entire airline industry.

Currently only captains of commercial aircraft are required to hold an ATP with its stringent training qualifications and minimum requirement of 1500 hours of flight time.  Pilots serving as first officers (or “Second in Command”) of a commercial aircraft need only to qualify for a Commercial Pilot License which has a much lower minimum flight time requirement of 250 hours.  To put this in perspective, the FAA Commercial “ticket” can be considered an undergraduate level diploma while the ATP is a graduate level degree requiring several additional years of flight training and experience.  What the flying public probably did not realize until February 12, 2009 was that the money they were spending on airline tickets was in part, funding the on-the-job training of that often inexperienced first officer at the controls of the very airplanes they were sitting in!  What happens then, when the captain and airline company is not up to the challenge of providing that training?

On February 12, 2009 at 10:17 pm, a Colgan Air regional aircraft being operated for Continental Airlines departed controlled flight and impacted the ground, killing 49 passengers and crew and one person on the ground where it crashed outside of Buffalo New York.  While a build-up of ice on the airframe contributed to the loss of control, the National Transportation Safety Board found the causal and contributing factors to be poor decision making and airmanship by both the captain and first officer, poor training by Colgan, and poor cockpit leadership by the captain.  You can view the NTSB report here:

Aviation safety is built around putting in place enough systemic barriers around humans so that errors are identified and “trapped” before they cause an airplane to turn into a smoking hole in the ground.  The Colgan Air mishap of February 2009 clearly demonstrates what happens when system safety breaks down.  Had the weather been nice in Buffalo that evening, 50 people would still be alive.  However, as ice began to build up on the aircraft, neither the first officer nor the captain had the training and piloting skills to 1) recognize the situation 2) apply the appropriate control inputs to recover the aircraft.  Clearly, the cockpit of that Bombardier regional aircraft was not the place for on-the-job training that evening.

The FAA’s NPRM 4910-13 address a critical and long overdue aspect of the Colgan Air mishap chain of events: training and experience.  Neither the captain nor the first officer of flight 3407 had the training or experience to fly the airplane in the conditions they found themselves that evening.   Requiring all first officers of commercial airline flights to earn an ATP with its significantly higher flight time and experience minimums would help to ensure that when flight crews find themselves in extreme situations, they have the capability and experience to recognize and react appropriately.  Some regional carriers and simulator training companies may claim differently, but there simply is no substitute for training in an actual airplane for an inexperienced pilot.

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