Will UPS Contribute to Drone Traffic?

As hobby and public safety unmanned aircraft systems continue to fill the sky, commercial operators like Amazon and UPS are considering their application as well.

As hobby and public safety unmanned aircraft systems continue to fill the sky, commercial operators like Amazon and UPS are considering their application as well.

With unmanned aircraft traffic in the National Airspace already increasing, UPS has become the latest company to consider the commercial use of drones. The company announced earlier this month it is following in Amazon’s footsteps and has begun testing drones to make package deliveries to remote or difficult-to-access locations.

Working with drone-maker CyPhy Works, UPS staged a mock medicine delivery from Beverly, Mass., to Children’s Island, about three miles off the Atlantic coast.

“Our focus is on real-world applications that benefit our customers,” said Mark Wallace, UPS senior vice president of global engineering and sustainability. “We think drones offer a great solution to deliver to hard-to-reach locations in urgent situations where other modes of transportation are not readily available.”

Last month, the Federal Aviation Administration issued new rules that expanded the uses of drones in multiple applications. Operators must adhere to important safety regulations, and UPS believes the new rules are just what are needed to eventually get its own unmanned aircraft in the sky.

Elite Air Website Gets Facelift, Reorganization

If you find yourself here, you've likely already noticed a few changes to www.eliteair.com. The homepage now features a carousel of images that will be updated as new aircraft are added to the Elite Air charter certificate.

The site also features a newly organized news section, an updated “about” page and a password-protected page for Elite Air’s dispatchers. The dispatcher page will make Elite Air’s on-call dispatch team more capable than ever.

“We want our website to be an information engine for both our customers and our internal staff,” Elite Air Communications Coordinator Shea Gibbs said. “Not only should people be able to go to www.eliteair.com to do business with us, they should come away having learned something.”

Several more changes are on the horizon, Gibbs said. The news section is being organized into categories and will be searchable to make it more useful for those looking to learn more about Elite Air. And the company’s growing charter fleet soon will be organized by aircraft type to make it easier than ever to find a preferred jet or turboprop.

“As our company grows, it’s important that existing and prospective charter customers can quickly find the aircraft they’re looking for and book it immediately,” Gibbs said.

Changes Coming to Required Equipment Lists

As FAA prepares for changes in the National Airspace via its NextGen long-term plan, general aviation aircraft operators will be forced to implement new equipment and avionics technology before the Jan. 1, 2020, deadline.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta has promised the administration will incentivize early adopters of new tech, starting with the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) rebate, which went into effect on Sept. 19. ADS-B is a foundational NextGen technology that transforms aircraft surveillance using satellite-based positioning.

Via a website, general aviation aircraft owners are now able to apply for a $500 rebate to help offset ADS-B costs if they equip eligible aircraft in a timely manner rather than waiting to meet the mandatory deadline.

“NextGen has played an important role in ensuring our airspace is safe...and we are focused on achieving its full potential,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said. “This incentive program is an innovative solution that addresses stakeholder concerns about meeting the 2020 deadline and will make a huge difference.”

Lear 40 Owner Upgrades to Lear 75

Bombardier’s Learjet 75 offers nearly as much range as a midsize jet at light jet pricing.

Bombardier’s Learjet 75 offers nearly as much range as a midsize jet at light jet pricing.

One of Elite Air’s longest running owners has upgraded from a Learjet 40 to a Learjet 75, a revolutionary small midsize jet that can travel farther nonstop than any competitor.

“I might be biased since Lears were the first jets I flew back in the 90s, but this aircraft is truly remarkable,” Elite Air CEO Gray Gibbs said. “Its range, speed and overall performance are in a class we never thought we’d see in a light jet.”

The eight passenger jet, with a range of nearly 2,500 miles, is available for charter immediately out of Tampa International Airport.

“This is the type of aircraft I see customers looking for all the time,” Sales Director AJ Becker said. “People always want to fly nonstop, and this allows them to do so to more locations without jumping up to full midsize jet pricing.”

The Lear 75, which Bombardier launched in late 2013, is certified for operation at up to 51,000 feet and cruises at nearly 550 miles per hour. The aircraft broke a speed record in its class traveling round trip from New York to Los Angeles last year. By almost any measure, it is faster and has more range than any aircraft currently produced in its category.

The Lear 75’s Vision flight deck advanced navigation and communications capabilities have also made it one of the safest jets ever produced in the category, as the system decreases pilot workload and increases situational awareness. The jet offers best-in-class fuel efficiency and the first and only forward pocket door in the category. Finally, the Learjet 75’s carbon brakes allow access to shorter runways than ever before.

“We’re very excited to make this aircraft available to our charter customers,” Gibbs said. “Where the comfort and luxury of a heavy jet offers what a luxury sedan might, this is a high performance sports car.”

Elite Air Adds Five More Aicraft to Fleet


Two Challengers, a 350 and a 300, a Citation X and a Learjet 45 highlight the latest additions to Elite Air Inc.’s growing 135 charter fleet. The industry leading aircraft management and charter company has also added a Piper Malibu propeller plane to its portfolio, giving it another ideal option for short hops around its St. Petersburg-Clearwater base of operations.

“Elite Air has always prided itself on providing that personal touch when it comes to each and every one of its aircraft,” company CEO Gray Gibbs said. “And while that commitment to customer service will never change, we are delighted our reputation as a fair, 100% above-board operator has continued to allow us to bring on new clients.”

The Challenger 350, Bombardier’s new game changing super midsize business jet, is the second Elite Air has had the opportunity to manage. The new aircraft is based at Orlando Executive Airport (ORL). The original C350 on the certificate, the first in the world made available for charter, is based at Orlando International Airport (MCO).

The Bombardier Challenger 350 offers unparalleled performance in a super midsize aircraft, as well as unmatched comfort and amenities, including free wireless internet access, large TV monitors forward and aft capable of playing different media on each screen from multiple sources (iPad, DVD, Blu-ray, storage devices, internet streaming), satellite radio, and noise cancelling Bose headsets at each seat.

One of the most charter friendly aircraft in the world, the 350 can be configured to hold as many as 10 passengers and travel at nearly 600 mph.

The addition of a Boca Raton based Challenger 300, the immediate predecessor to the 350, gives Elite Air a super midsize option in the greater Miami area for the first time.

The newest Citation X to the Elite Air fleet is also based at ORL and is under charter friendly ownership. The aircraft is known for its speed and is often called the world’s fastest business jet. The super-midsize cruises at up to 700 mph (Mach 0.92) and offers a nonstop range of 3,750 miles at 51,000 feet max cruising altitude, a 30 x 5.5 x 6-foot cabin and 82 cubic feet of pressurized baggage space.

The Learjet 45, based at Elite Air’s St. Petersburg-Clearwater headquarters, offers all the speed and luxury of the smaller Lears on the certificate while seating eight and traveling nearly 2,500 miles nonstop.

“All of these aircraft fit perfectly into Elite Air’s expertise and mission,” Gibbs said. “Even the Malibu, an aircraft I owned as a private pilot, is a best-in-class option. We look forward to sharing these planes with our customers.”

New Location Pages Added to Website

Elite Air has added several new pages to its website intended to highlight its headquarters locations and common destinations. The pages provide information about popular cities, airports and FBOs in those locations and will help potential charter customers more easily find Elite Air aircraft.

“The charter business is all about location,” Elite Air Communications Director Shea Gibbs said. “People need to know where we are and when we’re there. These pages are informative and will help folks find us when they search for aircraft at a particular airport.”

Elite Air has grown quickly in the last several quarters, adding aircraft in a variety of locations and establishing a new headquarters in Houston, Texas. The new location pages are critical for keeping up with the growing fleet.

Elite Air redesigned its website several years ago to make it more responsive to customer needs, and customers have increasingly demanded more information about the charter and management company’s whereabouts.

“As our management fleet grows, we’re working harder and harder to improve our charter responsiveness,” Elite Air Sales Director AJ Becker said. “These pages are the first step in a long-term plan to increase our visibility, and we’re very excited about the future.”

Visit the new pages by clicking here.

Lear 31 Has Interior and Exterior Refurb

The Lear 31A that started it all for Elite Air is now nearly unrecognizable, according to company CEO Gray Gibbs. “It’s hard to believe it’s the same airplane,” he said. “It looks like it’s brand new.”

Elite Air’s first Lear 31, a reliable, affordable light jet charter workhorse, was manufactured in 1996. The aircraft now has a new paint job, recovered seats, a new carpet, and new upholstery and wood throughout. The blue and gold color scheme on the airframe really makes it stand out on the ramp at its St. Pete-Clearwater homebase, Gibbs said.

“I think they did a fabulous job with this one,” he said. “This aircraft has been cared for by our maintenance department immaculately over the years. It’s just as safe now as the day it rolled off the line. It was high time we made it just as beautiful on the outside as it is on the inside.”

Rissmiller, Selkregg Join Dispatch Team

Elite Air has hired Karla Rissmiller as its newest full-time dispatcher. Rissmiller will assist with sales and scheduling during regular business hours, as well as on nights and weekends. Rachel Selkregg has joined the team as a part-time dispatcher.

Rissmiller, who was born in Caracas, Venezuela, earned her associate degree in arts at Saint Petersburg College in 2001, after having started her career in aviation as a flight attendant for American Eagle in 1995. In ‘97, Rissmiller joined the fixed-base operation Bay Air Flying Service at Albert Whitted Airport and was soon promoted to charter manager, responsible for quoting, booking and dispatching flights. A year later, she married Tom Rissmiller, now an Elite Air captain, and the couple purchased the Bay Air charter department. Rissmiller said the experience was vital to her development.

“I learned a lot about aviation in general, about running a business and about myself,” she said.

The couple sold their charter service in 2015, but not before Karla Rissmiller had earned her private pilot’s license.

“I am happy to have found a position with Elite Air, where I hope to be an asset by sharing my experience acquired over the last 21 years,” Rissmiller said. “My passion for aviation continues to grow and I hope to continue to do the same at Elite Air.”

Selkregg is a financial coach based in Palm Harbor, Fla., who got her start in aviation with a Million Air fixed-base operation in New York. Selkregg has nearly a decade of aviation experience, having also spent time with Avantair and Sky King Inc.

New Crew for Beechjet Makes Aircraft Again Available for Charter

Elite Air’s Beechjet 400A, down for several months for maintenance and crew training, is again available for charter. The aircraft is now being piloted by Captain Erik Devlin and First Officer Josh Moore, who’s also typed in the Lear 31.

“We couldn’t be happier to have Erik onboard as our newest captain, and giving Josh the flexibility to fly two of our light jet options was a no brainer,” Elite Air Owner and CEO Gray Gibbs said. “These are two great pilots and all around nice guys who truly care about our passengers.”

Elite Air’s Beechjet 400 is a reliable light jet option that complements the company’s fleet of three Lear 31s. All four of the light jets are based at St. Petersburg-Clearwater Airport.

The Beechjet offers a cruising speed of more than 400 knots, seats eight and is ideal for trips 500-1,200 miles. Its range is slightly longer than the Lear 31’s. Other amenities include a full galley, phone and fully enclosed lavatory.

Elite Air Grows Fleet in St. Pete, Houston, Indiana

A St. Petersburg-based Falcon 50 is one of five aircraft to have joined the Elite Air fleet this month. Shown at bottom right is a Citation Excel that’s also new to the portfolio. More aircraft are coming soon.

A St. Petersburg-based Falcon 50 is one of five aircraft to have joined the Elite Air fleet this month. Shown at bottom right is a Citation Excel that’s also new to the portfolio. More aircraft are coming soon.

Elite Air has added five more aircraft, four jets and one turboprop, to its charter certificate. Each of the aircraft is available for charter trips now.

A Dassault Falcon 50 super-midsize (pictured above) will join the ranks at St. Petersburg-Clearwater Airport. The long-range corporate jet, featuring a three engine layout and advanced wing design, can carry up to nine passengers at nearly 600 miles per hour.

Elite Air has added three new Citations to its portfolio, an Excel based in Indiana, an XLS in Houston, Texas (David Wayne Hooks Airport), and a Citation V also based at Hooks. The Citation V is a light jet comparable to a Lear 31, while the Excel is a mid-size aircraft and a predescessor to the XLS. “The XLS is very roomy and comfortable,” the aircraft’s captain, Steve Duke, said. Duke said the Houston-based V is also roomy for its class and was recently refurbished.

Elite Air has also added a second King Air, this one a 350, to its certificate. The high-performance turbo-prop will be based in Houston alongside the Citation V and Excel.

Be on the lookout for individual profiles of each new charter aircraft here on the Elite Air website and on the company’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Elite-Air-139090768823.