NBAA 2009 – press day
Embraer steals the show at NBAA 2009
The 62nd annual shindig for the great and the good in the business aviation sector officially starts tomorrow in Orlando. While news was mostly about how the players are coping in a depressed market, one manufacturer stole the show – again – with a new aircraft announcement.
Embraer launches Legacy 650…
Embraer livened up a somewhat gloomy NBAA Convention press day today by announcing its new large-cabin Legacy 650, bringing its executive jet product range to seven. The latest $29.5 million addition to the Embraer Executive Jets family shares the same EMB-135 platform as the Legacy 600 and certification will be based on the 600’s type certificate. The 650 is a combination of the EMB-135 fuselage and the EMB-145 wings. The new aircraft also has additional fuel capacity provided by the EMB-145 wings and 10-percent more efficient Rolls-Royce AE3007A2 engines. Projected range is NBAA IFR range of 3,900 nm, an extra 500 nm on that of the Legacy 600. Embraer’s newest family member comes with Honeywell Primus Elite avionics. The Legacy 650 first flew in September, and certification flight-testing is already underway with two aircraft flying. Luis Carlos Affonso Embraer’s executive vice president of executive jets was in buoyant mood at today’s conference. He said: “We announced that we would not be introducing any new platforms last year,” he said. “We said nothing about no new aircraft.” He added: “We expect to see the airplane certified in mid-2010. Deliveries are to begin in the second half of the year.” Although he denied that Embraer has any more new aircraft up its sleeve saying that the company “had enough to do” at the moment, the Brazilian airframer has said for years that it intends to create a complete family. Anyone want to place odds on a long range Legacy 750 next year?
…while Cessna hints Columbus may rise again one day
Cessna’s press conference was a much more sombre affair with chairman Jack Pelton explaining the company’s decision to exhibit only at the static park rather than taking a booth at the show. The Wichita Kansas based airframer has shed 50% of its workforce this year from 16,000 to 8,000 and will deliver 275 jets this year, with even fewer predicted in 2010.
Despite the glum news, Pelton said that the company’s recently cancelled large cabin program was not necessarily dead in the water. He said: “I like to say the Columbus is suspended – although it is officially cancelled. It is on the planning horizon for market entry at some time.”
Cessna has also made significant improvements to the Encore + replacement the Citation CJ4, which is in certification. Flight test results reveal a faster time to climb and range increases. The model has a maximum cruise of 452 ktas, up from 435 ktas on the original specifications and a maximum range of 1, 963 nm with NBAAA IFR reserves, rather than 1,825 nm. The aircraft can also climb directly to 45,000ft as opposed to the 43,000 ft originally planned.
Dornier Seaplane also announced that it would restart production of the halted Seastar amphibian, having passed the 10 orders it said it required to revive the programme.
Other manufacturers also suggested new products are on the horizon. Piaggio Aero’s chief Alberto Galassi said today that the next member of the Avanti II family would be a jet. However, Galassi remained tight lipped as to details of the new type. Meanwhile Hawker Beechcraft chairman Bill Boisture said that the company would introduce a new Hawker 450. Boisture said, “We are going to introduce another version of that fine, light jet.”
Green shoots of recovery for industry
Various market forecasts indicated that business jet market is making steady albeit slow improvements. UBS Investment Research’s latest monthly business jet report, for September market showed a 16 percent improvement than that of July with movement in the pre-owned business jet inventories. However, available inventories are still 26 percent higher than last year.
Most companies talked up their cost cutting measures, while saying that the outlook was showing signs of improvement. Cessna’s Jack Pelton pointed to several key issues affecting the market at the moment – the economy, high unemployment and a slow recovery predicted. In the US and Europe in particular he said, “perception issues are still influencing buying decisions.” The supply chain is damaged leading to a loss of talent in the industry. He added: “I do worry about the recovery of supply chain and support in the industry.” On the plus side, Pelton said average daily utilization has stabilized and the used aircraft inventory is declining, meaning new jet sales are not competing with the used market.
Dassault Aviation chief Charles Edestenne was reasonably bullish this morning, despite the fact the industry is in the doldrums. He said: “We have delivered 80 jets this year, which is 10% more than last year. Although we have more cancellations than new sales to date this year our total backlog is twice as big as five years ago.”
He too pointed to international sales as the likely saviour of the industry. He said: “The recession hit at time of great growth, when most were blinded by the flow of new orders and no attention was paid to the inventory of pre ordered aircraft.” he also said this inventory was not growing any more. He added: “It will take time before the market recovers and we anticipate no significant change before the second half of next year.”
Mark Paolucci Cessna’s svp customer service announced the company’s new ServiceDirect initiative, which he said was the “most important show announcement.” The new service initiative means that Cessna promises to l go directly to its customers to support AOG situations and work on aircraft at its customers’ own hangars if necessary. Paolucci said: “Cessna…will continue to invest in support initiatives that customers need. We are changing not only the types of service we provide, but how we provide it.”
Cessna also announced its new GreenTrak flight planning system for current production Citations that optimizes flight profiles for time, cost and lowest carbon footprint. Paolucci said: “the system can result in reduction of emissions and can lower fuel costs anywhere from 8-16%.” For European operators the system could be useful for the soon to be mandatory ETS reporting.
Dassault meanwhile announced a new Falcon e maintenance programme, which allows the Falcon Technical Centre in Paris or a Falcon service centre to access an aircraft’s central maintenance computer remotely. Entry into service is planned for 2011.
Airbus is introducing the A318 Elite to NBAA convention goers for the first time. The Comlux A318 Elite features a cabin produced in co-operation with Lufthansa Technik with a domed ceiling. Comlux took delivery of its first A318 Elite at EBACE in Geneva in 2007.
Garmin introduced the G3000, an integrated avionics system for light turbine-powered aircraft. The new system uses touchscreens to access almost all cockpit functions. The screens use icons to access flight management tasks and other functions.
In other technology news Elbit Systems of America announced that the installation of the first head-up display (HUD) and Kollsman enhanced-vision system (EVS) combination for the Challenger 604 is on track for certification early next year, which is priced at about $1 million including installation
Bombardier unveiled a new cockpit mock-up of its Learjet 85 midsize jet that includes a hand tiller for steering, along with several other new features, resulting in reduced pilot workload, improved situational awareness and better ergonomics. According to Learjet 85 program director Larry Thimmesch, the tiller will complement rudder steering at lower speeds. Bombardier is displaying the Learjet 85 mock-up at the static display.
Other smaller exhibitors were at the show for the first time, such as Hong Kong’s ASA Group, which announced it has opened a new office in Hollywood, complementing its New York presence. “We now have presences on both the East and West Coast of the US,” said Simon Wagstaff, chief executive officer.
Sanjay Rampal – guest blogger adds:
Manufacturers and suppliers used NBAA’s press day to convey their cautious optimism with regards to the business aviation segment. The flurry of conferences yielded a common pattern of downturn post mortem results followed by the expected upswing to ensue during 2010.
Highlights from some of the manufacturers;
Lufthansa Technik VIP & Executive Jets;
According to the executive aircraft completions and interior specialist the current crisis has impacted all fields under the Maintenance Repair Overhaul (MRO) banner. However despite the fall in demand from government, VIP and business customers, the outlook remains positive with the expected recovery to begin in 2011.
“Business jet deliveries have fallen by 30% in 2009 but the larger narrow body segment is showing the first signs of recovery,” said August Henningsen, chairman of the executive board at Lufthansa Technik.
According to Henningsen the numbers of BBJs and ACJs flying are increasing with the markets in both the Middle East and Asia showing most promise. The wider bodied segment is exhibiting a greater degree of stability with no existing orders being cancelled.
The secondary market for burgeoning numbers of in service executive aircraft of various sizes has given Lufthansa Technik greater opportunities for retrofit, conversion and modification programs. The upgrades allow cost conscious customers to breath new life into existing airframes that Henningsen describes as “Second life business.”
However newer planes such as the enhanced Boeing 747 family, 787 and Airbus A350 will dominate the completions market with the only challenges being in the form of unpredictable entry into service dates (EIS).
Henningsen also revealed the company’s commitment towards innovation through its dedicated think tank and experimental laboratories. New products on the horizon include the Aero Kid seating system for children, the NICE IFE system for integrated network communications and the Nice View 3D moving map.
The order backlog looks healthy with eight Airbus A318 Elite aircraft awaiting treatment at the company’s new completion centre in Tulsa USA. Bizjet International Lufthansa’s wholly owned subsidiary has completed its first Elite this year with the second due in 2010. The Tulsa move has freed up capacity for the existing Hamburg centre for widebody VIP completions.
Other projects include 11 widebody and 4 narrow body planes under contract for potential completion. In production are interior kits for 2 Airbus A330 planes and upgrades to one A320 and an A340.
BizJet International features a diverse portfolio of aircraft in addition to Airbus expertise such as Boeing BBJ’s and Gulfstream aircraft.
Air Routing International.
“Expert Service meets technology” said Air Routing International (ARI) through its video presentation when referring to its new Online Flight Planning and Datalink services. The established international trip planner and corporate flight handling company debuted its technical suite of full service, one-stop solutions that both modernize and reduce the complexities of international flight planning.
Supported by ARI’s Flight Manager engine platform the single interface software includes the following modules;
- Online Flight Planning; analysis, GPS RAIM Predictions, fuel releases
- Datalink: In flight communications, billing and trip support.
- Fuel Stop Analyzer: Cost effective fuel stop options.
- Online International Trip Quotes; Instantaneous arrangement fee visibility, estimated fuel costs and international third party charges.
- Runway Analysis: Aircraft performance and runway data combined to determine take off and performance statistics.
APIS support is also provided with entire package encouraging customers to use self-service planning protocols.
‘Our new flight planning program provides customers the benefits of both online and individual support,’ said Tim Maystrik, vice president of ARI. ‘The combination delivers a comprehensive online flight planning, content and connectivity solution for flight departments,’ he said.
Further developments straddling 2009 and 2010 include an emissions calculator add-on in preparation for the European ETS scheme, a fuel tankering calculator module and trip and weather alert options.
Air Routing has also teamed up with China eastern Airlines Executive Air to provide VIP ground handling services to clients attending the World Expo.
The fuel supplier debuted its new rewards program under the moniker of Bravo. Available exclusively to US and Canadian Air BP FBO’s, members are awarded points that can be redeemed against 45 million merchandising options such as travel, savings bonds and electrical products. The program is offered via the Bravo website where members can track points accumulated through fuel purchase and receive alerts for discounted items of interest. Breaking down to a dollar value each gallon purchased will reward each member an average of two points.
‘We didn’t want to offer just any rewards program to our customers,’ said Steve McCullough, Vice President Sales and Marketing, Air BP. ‘Bravo was developed to be different and better with more options, value and flexibility,’ he said.
Membership is free and will be open to the 400 FBO’s in both Canada and the US with 80 sites already signed up to participate. One such FBO Flight craft Inc lent its weight behind the new initiative.
‘This is what customers are looking for and the program has benefits that will work for both us and our customers,’ said John Frevola vice president & general manager of Flightcraft.
Members can also opt to donate some or all of their points to specified charities if so desired. On the question of increasing the carbon footprint as a consequence of offering a program that rewards additional fuel buying through tankering for instance, Air BP believes that emission increases would be negligible.
‘There is a potential of some rise in emissions, however customers would be buying the volumes of fuel anyway as part of their normal operations,’ said McCullough.
GE Honda Aero Engines
The collaboration between General Electric and Honda has borne fruit in the form of the successful start up of its jointly developed GE Honda HF120 engine. ‘This is a significant milestone and represents the transition from the design definition to the test and certification phase of the HF120,’ said Bill Dwyer, president of GE Honda Aero Engines.
‘The joint GE and Honda teams in Tokyo, Lynn, Massachusetts and Evendale, Ohio have worked for more than two years towards this milestone,’ said Masahiko Izumi, executive vice president of GE Honda Aero Engines.
Undergoing a rigorous testing regime, 8 HF120 engines cores have been built and tested along with 11 full engine demonstrators. The certification process will involve 13 engines and two core builds in a testing program at six locations in the US and Japan.
The new engine is destined to power the HondaJet and the Spectrum Aeronautical ‘Freedom’ Jet. Production units will initially roll off from GE’s line at Lynn, Massachusetts before moving to Honda Aero Engines’ dedicated manufacturing and overhaul facility in Burlington, N.C
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