CJP 2017 Marked a Convention to Remember
By Rob Finfrock
Even if you couldn’t attend the 2017 CJP Convention in Phoenix, AZ by now you’ve heard that it was truly an event for the ages featuring unparalleled entertainment, important safety discussions and information, and the very latest in product offerings and new technologies on the horizon for Citation jet pilots.
More than 90 Citations graced the ramp at host FBO Cutter Aviation Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX) where CJP Members were greeted with plenty of smiles, hugs and cold bottled water upon their arrivals on Oct. 2-3. From there, it was a short shuttle ride to the “jewel of the desert,” the sprawling Arizona Biltmore luxury resort, featuring lavish accommodations, relaxing spas and championship-quality golf courses.
On Wednesday evening, attendees gathered at one of the Biltmore’s legendary pools to witness an actual life raft deployment by Winslow Life Raft Company (below.) That was followed by a welcome reception sponsored by Tamarack Aerospace, where CJP Members caught up with their peers to discuss the days to come.
Exciting News for Mustang Owners Starts Off Day One
The opening day of CJP 2017 got right down to business, as CJP Chief Executive Officer Andrew Broom provided attendees with updates on the CJP Safety and Education Foundation, a new 501(c)(3) organization devoted to improving the safety of Citation operations, as well as an update on pending congressional legislation to privatize air traffic control services. “Most importantly, I have to give a shout-out to all our board members for all their efforts to making this a great organization, and a great convention,” he added.
Next came an update on new services from Garmin, including the recently-announced G1000 NXi upgrade package for the Citation Mustang (above.) “CJP was instrumental in making the upgrade a reality,” said Phil Straub, Garmin vice president and managing director of aviation. “We’re responding to a high level of interest from owners seeking the latest avionics capabilities for their aircraft.”
Tamarack Aerospace president Nick Guida then built on that news, joining with jetAVIVA co-founder and CJP Industry Director Cyrus Sigari to announce a new development program to install the Tamarack’s active technology load-alleviation system (ATLAS) on the Mustang. Guida projected a 15 percent range increase and 400-pound improvement to maximum zero-fuel weight with the winglets installed, as well as reduced time to climb to the very light jet’s 41,000-foot service ceiling.
“This [upgrade] is going to be a big deal,” emphasized Sigari, who also provided CJP members with his annual Citation market forecast. Newly-named jetAVIVA company COO Robin Eissler described relief efforts from the aviation community throughout a particularly active, and destructive, 2017 hurricane season.
Also that morning, Textron Aviation president and CEO Scott Ernest provided a detailed review of Textron Aviation’s extensive product offerings and its market position. Rob Scholl, senior VP of sales and marketing, then engaged CJP members on the company’s sales programs – including its expanding position in the preowned market – and senior VP of customer service Kriya Shortt reviewed Textron Aviation’s products and services to bolster the Citation ownership experience, including the one-stop Customer Portal for all Citation service needs, and an upcoming maintenance program tailored to Part 91 operators.
Engaging Speakers and Fantastic Entertainment
Of course, CJP events always feature an impressive array of entertainment options. Not only did CJP 2017 follow this precedent; it raised the bar high into the flight levels.
The Textron Aviation Hangar Party at Scottsdale’s Hangar One capped off the first day of CJP 2017. CJP Platinum Plus partner Textron Aviation pulled out all the stops to show how much the manufacturer values and appreciates Citation Jet Pilots. With a diverse selection of excellent meal options, live entertainment and open bar(s), to say the mood was festive would be a profound understatement! Attendees could also explore examples of the complete current line of Citation jets.
On Friday, “Sled Driver” Maj. Brian Shul (below) regaled a packed house with his experiences flying the SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance plane at Mach 3+, an assignment he’d never dreamed possible after being shot down over Vietnam and incurring severe burns that would have kept most people out of flying forever, let alone at the controls of one of the most advanced aircraft in existence. Most CJP Members are probably familiar with Shul’s “L.A. Speed Story” (if not, check it out on YouTube) but they may not have been aware of the personal meaning to Shul to be at the Blackbird’s controls.
“There were days when I’d be flying, and I’d pull down the rearview mirror – don’t ask me why we had rearview mirrors on the world’s fastest jet – so I could see all the scar tissue on my face,” Shul recalled. “I did that so I could remind myself, ’12 years ago you were lying on a hospital bed screaming like a baby… and now you’re here.'”
Day Two of CJP 2017 ended just as CJP Chairman Russell Boyd had promised it would: with a dinner and auction celebration for the ages. Following a fantastic dinner provided by the expert chefs here at the Arizona Biltmore, CJPers opened their wallets to bid on such once-in-a-lifetime experiences as all-inclusive VIP travel to a NASCAR race, flying aerobatics with Sean D. Tucker, and to the Academy of Country Music Awards, and packages including complete ADS-B and Citation Mustang G1000 NXi installations, and placement of your company logo on the hood of stock car during a 2018 NASCAR event.
Following the auction, country music superstar Jake Owen appeared courtesy of Textron Aviation to play an exclusive concert for attendees. CJPers danced the night away as Owen and his band performed hits including “Beachin'” and “American Country Love Song,” as well as a rockin’ version of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.”
CJP Companions also benefitted from a full roster of activities throughout CJP 2017, including the CJP Companion Ground School and Companion Flying Training Course, conducted by instructors with jetAVIVA to enable Companions to be more comfortable in the flying environment.
On a lighter note, Companions also participated in such fun activities as “Guy’s Grocery Games” (above), a cooking competition hosted by chef and personality Guy Fieri who appeared courtesy of Textron Aviation. Teams answered trivia questions to determine which bag of ingredients they’d be using, and they then had just 45 minutes to plan, prepare and plate their entries.
Inaugural Standdown Headlines Sharpened Focus on Safety
The hallmark event of CJP 2017 was the inaugural CJP Safety Standdown, conducted the afternoon of Oct. 4. The event began with an insightful review by Textron Aviation senior air safety investigator Peter Basile of several recent Citation accidents and incidents, including two unfortunate events involving CJP members.
That was followed by a discussion with representatives from training providers TRU Simulation + Training, FlightSafety International, upset recovery training provider Flight Research, and Master CFI and jet mentor Neil Singer. Moderated by CJP Safety Committee Chairman Charlie Precourt and built around the theme, “What Does Good Look Like?” the discussion addressed several aspects of initial and recurrent training, including the benefits of simulator versus in-aircraft training for specific scenarios.
“Everyone is here because we love airplanes,” said Brian Moore, executive director for operations at FlightSafety Wichita. “They’re really fantastic machines, but we don’t always understand their capabilities. We spend most of our time in a very small sliver in the center of the envelope. The airplane can exist in a significantly larger portion of that envelope, but we must know where the limits are.”
Precourt (left, file photo) also unveiled the CJP Gold Standard Safety Award, to recognize CJP owners and pilots who seek out training experience above and beyond the rote regulatory and insurance requirements, and updated members on the CJP Safety and Education Foundation that is currently undergoing approval for 501(c)(3) tax exemption status.
Discussions about operational safety continued throughout the convention. On Friday, CJP co-founder and former Chairman David Miller offered his perspective on the importance of flying with safety and mentor pilots. “I know it’s the belief of some CJP Members that flying with a mentor is somehow a negative reflection on your flying skills,” he stated. “Instead, it should be viewed as an example of your excellent decision-making skills.”
On the third and final day of CJP 2017, Master CFI and jet mentor Neil Singer presented “Runway Analysis Explained” while MedAire’s Dr. David Streitweiser led an informative seminar on handling inflight medical emergencies. Former NTSB investigator Greg Feith drilled down to causes behind several recent Citation accidents, while Precourt shared lessons he learned from his time in the U.S. Air Force and NASA, and as a general aviation pilot.
“Everyone in general aviation should look to this group for guidance and learning about how we can do better in safety,” Precourt said.
(Photos by Peter Stratton, Stratton DV Imaging unless otherwise noted)