AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 12, Number 42
NBAA Issue 2 of 2

October 18, 2006

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Plenty to See as the NBAA Convention Hits Its Stride back to top 

NBAA, Day Two: Show’s Open; Watch Out for User Fees

Yesterday’s opening general session officially kicked off the 59th annual NBAA convention in Orlando, Fla. NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen moderated the session, which highlighted the contribution of business aviation to the U.S. economy and the future of the national airspace system. After Bolen spoke briefly, Caterpillar president and U.S. Chamber of Commerce chairman Gerald Shaheen stressed the importance of business aviation to the general economy. "Business aviation allows business to get done," he said, and then went on to lambast the airline industry’s push for aviation user-fees, which he said would adversely effect business aviation. Shaheen suggested that the user-fee battle is not so much over how the FAA will be funded, but who will control airspace usage.

Next up was FAA Administrator Marion Blakey, who said that no matter how the FAA is funded the agency must press ahead with its air traffic system modernization to meet future demand. Immediately after the session, the red ribbon was cut to the exhibit hall’s entrance, allowing the large crowd of attendees to hit the show floor like kids in a candy store.

Will You Meet the Nicest Pilots in a HondaJet?

After 20 years of research, engineering and test flights, Honda yesterday announced it had submitted its FAA type certificate application for its innovative HondaJet. In addition, the Japanese manufacturer said it had formed a new subsidiary -- the Honda Aircraft Company -- to produce and sell the airplane, set its initial price at $3.65 million, finalized specifications and scheduled 2010 as the date by which it intends to achieve both type and production certification. (Nothing like getting it all out of the way at once...) The announcements came during a well-attended press event at the HondaJet exhibit on the floor of this year's NBAA annual meeting and convention, which is only the aircraft's third public display.

Among the specifications Honda announced yesterday is a cruise speed of 420 knots, IFR range of 1,180 nm and a service ceiling of FL430. Twin GE-Honda HF120 turbofan engines, each rated at 1,880 pounds takeoff thrust will power the new offering, which will be available in two interior configurations of five and six passengers each. According to the company, the HondaJet prototype has logged more than 260 hours of airborne testing since flight testing first began in December 2003. Honda Aircraft Company said it projects a production volume of 70 jets per year when manufacturing starts in 2010. In July, Honda forged an alliance with Piper to market and support the HondaJet.

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More Debuts and Forward Momentum on Existing Jets back to top 

PiperJet: Not Quite a Honda but More than a Piper

The PiperJet might have been Piper Aircraft’s worst-kept secret, but the company did manage to keep what the single-engine jet looked like under tight wraps. The perimeter of Piper’s NBAA booth was draped from floor to ceiling until yesterday morning’s unveiling, with very dedicated employees posted guard to prevent any sneak peaks. When the curtain finally fell, a small, six-passenger jet with winglets and a tail-mounted turbofan engine emerged into view. Piper president and CEO James Bass touted the virtues of the $2.199 million PiperJet: 360-knot cruise speed, 35,000-foot ceiling, 1,300-nm NBAA IFR range and 2,500-foot takeoff distance. The VLJ has a wide 36-inch door, but with its 800-pound payload don’t expect to carry four passengers and everything but the kitchen sink, unless the sink is made of carbon fiber that is.

Bass said the all-aluminum jet will have a glass cockpit, though Piper won’t decide on an avionics system until it gets closer to the projected 2010 certification date. No engine has yet been selected for the PiperJet, though Bass said powerplants from Williams, Pratt & Whitney Canada and GE-Honda are in the running. Piper expects to have the PiperJet flying in early 2008.

Gallic Refinement: Dassault Readies 7X

With some 1,020 hours spread among 335 test flights, Dassault Aviation's Falcon 7X is edging closer to EASA and FAA type certification, according to a briefing the company conducted Monday here at NBAA. So far, the fly-by-wire, 69,000-lb.-MGTOW 7X has been through hot- and cold-weather trials, as well as low-altitude, high-speed test flights. Its Pratt & Whitney Canada PW307 turbofan engines have accumulated some 7,200 hours of testing, including 3,100 hours on the 7X and another 820 on a Boeing 720 engine-test aircraft. Before Dassault achieves full type certification -- expected in early 2007, with initial deliveries to follow in the second quarter -- it expects to fly the 7X as many as 1,500 hours, all of which it plans to conclude by the end of 2006.

Next month, s/n 005 will be delivered to the company's completion center in Little Rock, Ark., where all 7X aircraft will get their finishing touches. Forty of the new Falcons are now in some stage of production, with s/n 014 in final assembly; at least 125 examples have been ordered or optioned and three-per-month full production is sold out until the latter half of 2011. Of those airframes, NetJets Europe has spoken for 24 copies, worth U.S. $1.1 billion, to be delivered beginning in 2008 and continuing through 2014.

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Big Things to See — On the Outside and on the Inside back to top 

Boeing BBJ3: Now Super-Sized

In the business aviation world represented here at Orlando this week, there are aircraft of almost every type, color and purpose. There are small ones, fast ones, slow ones, pretty ones and ugly ones, but there are no purpose-built business jets bigger than the Boeing Business Jet, or BBJ. And, now, there are three different versions. First announced at the Dubai Air Show in Nov. 2005 and based on the commercial 737-900ER, Boeing this week said it had two orders from undisclosed customers -- Boeing never sells and tells -- for its newest offering, the BBJ3. If size matters, the BBJ3 will probably win: it offers 1,120 sq. ft. of cabin space, 35 percent more than the original BBJ (derived from the 737-700's fuselage and the 737-800's wing and landing gear) and is 11 percent larger than the BBJ2, the big parts of which are all based on the -800.

All versions of the BBJ are still available from Boeing -- some 114 copies have been sold to date -- with the original featuring the longest range, some 6,200 nm, and the BBJ2 and BBJ3 going for the greatest cabin volume.

That's the good news. In our if-you-have-to-ask category comes the bad news: even the lowly but long-legged BBJ will set you back $48 million, and that's for a green, uncompleted airplane. The BBJ2 rings the register at $58 million while the BBJ3 will put a $64.5 million hole in your wallet. Figure another $10 million for a rather pedestrian interior -- $20 million for a cabin with all the bells and whistles. At those prices, we may have to wait.

Pilatus Goes Apex for PC-12

Pilatus’s newly unveiled Next Generation PC-12 will include several major enhancements such as integrated avionics, a new cockpit design, higher performance and advanced systems. Of note, the upgraded PC-12 is the first platform for the Honeywell Primus Apex avionics system, which was designed for the general aviation market. The new PC-12 cockpit layout features four large displays (two primary flight displays and two multifunction displays) that integrate flight information, engine monitoring, aircraft configuration, pressurization and environmental controls. Additionally, flight and weather data, charts, aircraft system information and trip planning functions can be displayed on the MFDs.

Complementing the glass cockpit is a new interior designed by BMW Group DesignworksUSA, digital dual-zone environmental control system, automatic digital cabin pressurization control and a fully redundant power generation system. Topping off the PC-12NG is a higher-performance Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67P, which delivers 15 percent more power for faster climbs and higher cruise speeds. The aircraft is scheduled to be certified by the end of next year.

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Bombardier Delivers Challenger 605/Lear 60 XR Certification

Bombardier Aerospace's presence here at NBAA in Orlando has its roots, in part, firmly planted in last year's show: two new types announced here last year were approved by respective certifying authorities in recent days. The most recent was Transport Canada's grant of approval for the Challenger 605's Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics suite and aircraft window modifications -- when compared to its predecessor Challenger 604 -- to be added to the company's type certificate. Transport Canada awarded the type certificate for the latest in the Bombardier line of widebody bizjets on Oct. 5, a month ahead of schedule. A freshly completed 605 is on static display this week at the Orlando Executive Airport, underscoring the aircraft's entry into service later this year.

Elsewhere, the company also announced it had secured FAA approval on Sept. 28 -- in the form of a supplemental type certificate -- for the Learjet 60 XR's Collins Pro Line 21 avionics suite, paving the way for production.

This newest Learjet and Challenger joined a Challenger 300 -- which the company bills as a "super-midsize" jet -- a Learjet 40 XR, Learjet 45 XR, Challenger 850, Bombardier Global 5000 and Global Express XRS at the company's static display space at the Orlando Executive Airport.

Snecma Bizjet Engine Gets a Name (Silvercrest), but Still No Takers

Snecma introduced the name Silvercrest for its new 8,000- to 12,000-pound-thrust engine family. The intended application for the Silvercrest is a large cabin, long-range aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight between 45,000 and 60,000 pounds, Snecma said. It can also be scaled up to power a new generation of 40- to 60-seat regional jets. Core engine technology demonstration tests began last January, but no certification date has yet been announced.

Silvercrest will incorporate "innovative" technologies that Snecma said will provide operators with measurable performance enhancements over current-generation engines: up to 15 percent lower fuel burn, at least a 20-percent improvement in climb thrust, low NOx emission and at least 25 dB less than current Stage 3 noise standards.

Names Behind the News back to top 

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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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