AVwebFlash - Volume 12, Number 42
Special NBAA Coverage Issue 1 of 2

October 17, 2006

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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An Introduction to the NBAA Convention ... back to top 

NBAA: What's It All About?

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AVweb sponsors at the show

The annual National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) convention is many things to many people. Depending on your interests and industry involvement, it can be the best venue at which to renew old acquaintances and start fresh ones. It can be a place for writing large checks or engaging in "one of these days" tire kicking. It can also be the place to learn more about what makes business aviation tick, for peering over the next product-development horizon or learning from the experts on how to get into and thrive (or at least not drown) in this industry. Regardless of your reason for being at NBAA -- or your excuse for missing it -- year after year, the show delivers and demonstrates why it has no substitute.

What's it all about, you may ask? Why did Honeywell announce there is a potential market of up to 12,000 new jets worth $195 billion over the next 10 years? Why have some 1,150 exhibitors packed Orlando's Orange County Convention Center and more than 115 aircraft been parked for display at the Orlando Executive Airport? Why, before it even starts, have more than 26,000 attendees from all over the world registered to attend the three-day show? The answers vary from person to person and company to company, but that's the challenge and attraction of the NBAA show. And where better to find the answers? That's why AVweb has a team in Orlando this week covering the show. Read on for the details.

Honeywell Forecast Paints Rosy Picture

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The 20th annual forecast from avionics and engine manufacturer Honeywell points toward upbeat purchase expectations for business jets over the next 10 years, especially from international customers. While demand from North America will continue to be robust, demand is growing fastest in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. According to the forecast, record deliveries are projected for 2006 and 2007, and the crystal ball shows a strong long-term outlook with an expected 12,000 bizjets worth $195 billion to be delivered by 2016.

The bizjet delivery forecast does show a growth plateau between 2008 and 2012, though shipments are still expected to stay above 1,000 aircraft each year during this cooling-off period. Honeywell said growth in the business aviation market is fueled by the introduction of new aircraft models, engines and avionics. If the forecast is a painting of the future, then life is imitating art this week at the NBAA show as manufacturers have begun to announce an avalanche of new products.

Adam Aircraft Designs & Manufactures the A700 AdamJet & A500 Centerline Piston Twin
Adam Aircraft's A700 features twin Williams FJ-33 engines, state-of-the-art avionics, and comfortable seating for eight (or seven with an aft lavatory). The A700 is currently undergoing flight test and development. Adam Aircraft's A500 centerline piston twin has been Type Certified by the FAA and offers superior safety, range, and performance, along with the pressurized comfort of a roomy six-seat interior. For complete details on both aircraft, go online.
VLJ News the Top Order of Business This Year back to top 

Cessna: The Big Get Bigger

Cessna once again brought its machine-like product development to NBAA. The company is announcing two completely new jets, detailing significant upgrades to an existing one and tantalizing attendees with talk -- and a mockup -- of a to-be-determined large cabin concept aircraft. All of which, of course, follows last week's first (official) flight of the company's light sport offering and this summer's Oshkosh flyby of its next-generation piston single. Building on its wildly successful CJ series, Cessna this week said it would field the CJ4, an eight-passenger, Williams International FJ44-4A-powered bizjet supported by a moderately swept wing. First flight is expected in the first half of 2008, with service entry two years later.

Meanwhile, Cessna also debuted the Citation XLS+, further refining the original Citation Excel and its successor, the Citation XLS. This latest version includes a Collins Pro Line 21 panel with satellite-based XM weather, FADEC-controlled Pratt & Whitney Canada PW545C engines and a host of interior and exterior refinements.

As if all that was not enough, Cessna also presented a mockup of what it "calls a large cabin concept Citation," shopping it around to potential customers to gauge the market for such a plane and to get their assistance in deciding some of its features. Said Cessna chairman, president and CEO Jack Pelton of the large-cabin mockup, "We are here to get additional feedback from NBAA attendees, including what range and speed characteristics potential customers would prefer...if we were to move forward." They came to the right place.

Eclipse Gears Up for Mass Production

If any one word could sum up where Eclipse Aviation finds itself at this year's show, it might be "reinvention." In a few years, the company transformed itself from a start-up investing heavily in research into a product-development firm, achieving its goal of an FAA-certified very light jet (VLJ) on Sept. 30. Even before that milestone, however, Eclipse was working to shift its focus into mass production. Now, even though some certification hurdles of the fine-tuning kind remain, the challenge is to actually make the things. And, since president and CEO Vern Raburn expects his company to have built a whopping 525 copies of the Eclipse 500 by the end of 2007, the company is hard at work not only cutting metal but ensuring its customers are well cared-for. Evidence includes the addition of Kenneth McNamara to Eclipse's executive team as the new vice president of customer and products support, naming a service center location in Southern California and breaking ground in Albany, N.Y., for its Northeast customer outreach facility.

But teething problems remain, most visibly with the Eclipse 500's highly automated systems and its avionics. In fact, the company will be forced to deliver a portable Garmin GPSMAP496 along with each new airframe, since vendor Avidyne hasn't been able to certify the cockpit's moving map. Frustrating times, to be sure -- Raburn went so far as to tell reporters on Monday that "Garmin could figure it out; Avidyne couldn't." But along with that reinvention effort comes confidence: The company leaves no doubt it is here to make its mark. And a week in Orlando at this year's NBAA may be just what the company needs to help make its latest transition a smooth one.

Spectrum's Independence Leads to Freedom

Despite the crash of its Spectrum 33 prototype in late July, Spectrum Aeronautical has not only vowed to continue the aircraft program but yesterday revealed it also is developing a new midsize business twinjet called the Freedom S-40. The 2,050-pound-thrust GE Honda HF120, a derivative of the HondaJet’s HF118 engine, will power the all-composite midsize jet. The Freedom is Spectrum’s second model and is considerably larger than the $3.65 million Spectrum 33, which has been rebranded as the Independence S-33.

According to the Cardiff By The Sea, Calif.-based company, the $6.2 million Freedom will be able to fly at FL450, cruise at 435 knots and fly 2,200 nm, while only modestly sipping fuel. Other specifications include a 10,000-pound max takeoff weight, 4,500-pound empty weight and 5,000-pound useful load. The 10-seat Spectrum Freedom is scheduled to begin flight trials in mid-2009, with certification and deliveries planned for 2010. Meanwhile, Spectrum said its Independence S-33 is on track for FAA approval in mid-2008. A conforming example of the S-33 is expected to fly in August next year.

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What's New in the Cabin back to top 

King Air 200 Panel Upgrade Fit for a King

Avidyne yesterday introduced the Envision integrated flight deck series for retrofit installation in most general aviation aircraft. Envision, which integrates an Avidyne EXP5000 primary flight display (PFD) and an Avidyne EX5000 multifunction display (MFD), interfaces to many existing autopilot, GPS, traffic, terrain, lightning, radar and other systems. Owners can opt for one or two PFDs or MFDs, depending on the aircraft, budget and/or mission. The first installation of the Envision integrated flight deck is the Alliant system for King Air 200s. Produced in cooperation with S-TEC, the Alliant system features dual PFDs, an EX500 MFD and the S-TEC IntelliFlight 2100 digital autopilot. The King Air Alliant system costs about $170,000 (not including installation), with the S-TEC flight control system accounting for about $70,000 of that total.

Avidyne and S-TEC are conducting customer flight demonstrations of a King Air with the Alliant system this week at the NBAA Convention. Envision systems for additional light GA aircraft are in development and in flight test. Avidyne is also working on an advanced, next-generation Entegra system for new aircraft and plans on making announcements today at the NBAA show that this system has been selected for the Spectrum Independence and Freedom business jets.

Raytheon's Hawker 800 Series Now Has a Split Personality

Raytheon Aircraft yesterday announced that it is broadening its Hawker product line by launching two derivatives of the Hawker 850XP: the Hawker 750 and Hawker 900XP. Both models retain their predecessor’s Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics system and will supercede the Hawker 850XP when they enter service in the fourth quarter next year. The Wichita aircraft manufacturer said the light-midsize, $11.95 million Hawker 750 will compete with the $11 to $12 million Citation XLS+ and Learjet 45XR. The 750 is a Hawker 850XP minus winglets and the ventral fuel tank, reducing range to 2,100 nm but adding more aft-fuselage baggage space. To make the under-$12 million price point, Raytheon said the 750’s cabin will have Hawker 400XP interior styling and come with limited customer options. The manufacturer expects the airplane to appeal most to European operators.

The $13.967 million 900XP retains the 850XP’s winglets and ventral fuel tank, but the model will have a pair of more efficient Honeywell TFE731-50R turbofans that yield a 2,800-nm range, 200 nm more than its $13.8 million predecessor. Digital pressurization has been added to both Hawker models to reduce pilot workload, Raytheon said. FAA certification of both the Hawker 750 and 900XP is planned for mid-2007.

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More Jet News back to top 

Adam Aircraft at NBAA

Like Eclipse, Adam Aircraft comes to Orlando with a mostly certified aircraft and big plans for the future. The company's A500 push-me/pull-you piston twin earned its full certification on Sept. 29, but with an asterisk involving operational altitudes. Soon that remaining hurdle will have been leapt and it, too, can concentrate fully on manufacturing. Unlike Eclipse -- at least for the time being -- Adam is also throttles-to-the-stops on developing its A700 AdamJet, a twin-boom VLJ. With two examples of the AdamJet pulling duty in certification test flying and a third undergoing final assembly, the company is clearly hard at work. As a reward for all its efforts, Adam's order backlog now stands at $855 million and this week formally signed a sales agreement with Magnum Jet for up to 101 airframes.

Also like Eclipse, it is putting the final touches on necessary details like fully staffing its training department and announcing a very attractive "power-by-the-hour" program. This week, though, is a time for Adam to look even farther down the road at making additional airframes, closing additional sales, finding additional customers and entering additional markets.

Aerion's Supersonic Bizjet Programs Moving at Subsonic Speeds

Aerion Corp. is continuing work on its supersonic business jet (SSBJ), but the pace is not quite as fast as the Mach 1.6 its twinjet is expected to achieve. The company spent the earlier part of this year validating its performance projections for its SSBJ and refining its business case. Brian Barents, Aerion’s vice chairman, said he is “very encouraged” by the progress made over the past year and still expects to sign up consortium partners by the middle of next year. This year Aerion has optimized the SSBJ design, begun to validate the natural laminar-flow wing via rocket sled tests, defined the aircraft’s systems and engaged the FAA about certification issues.

“The U.S. is still the only country in the world that bans supersonic flight over land,” Barents lamented. “The rest of the world bans only perceived sonic booms over land.” The company is exploring the potential of boomless flight at Mach 1.2 without any aircraft design changes, which would allow supersonic flight over land, except in the U.S. unless the FAA can be convinced to rewrite the ban on overland supersonic flight.

However, Aerion’s business case isn’t predicated on this regulatory change. Barents said the Aerion SSBJ program remains on track, with an official program launch expected by the end of 2007 and aircraft service entry in 2012.

Names Behind the News back to top 

AVwebFlash is a twice-weekly summary of the latest news, articles, products, features, and events featured on AVweb, the internet's aviation magazine and news service.

Today's issue was written by AVwebBiz and AVwebFlash editors Joseph E. (Jeb) Burnside (bio) and Chad Trautvetter.

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