AVwebBiz - Volume 6, Number 21a

May 20, 2008

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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Top News: Cirrus Provides New 'Perspective' on EFIS back to top 
 

Cirrus Surprise: Garmin EFIS Option

Although EBACE isn't the usual venue for major light aircraft announcements, Cirrus rolled one out here in Geneva nonetheless in the form of a new model called the Cirrus Perspective, which sports some airframe upgrades but—the real stunner—a new, upgraded version of Garmin's popular G1000 EFIS system. We went to Duluth last week for an advance look at the Perspective. (Watch the video below.)

It's more accurate to call the Perspective an options package rather than a new model, since Cirrus will continue to sell the mainstay Avidyne Entegra-equipped SR20s and SR22s.The Perspective is an SR22-only upgrade—at about a $48,000 premium—that has what might best be described as a gen-and-half Garmin G1000. The new EFIS has been, in the words of Alan Klapmeier, "Cirrusized" with 12-inch rather than 10-inch screens and is thus the ideal platform for Garmin's recently announced SVT synthetic vision upgrade, which the Perspective has. Terrain depiction is detailed almost down to rubber skids on runways and the new display also has highway-in-the-sky (HITs) boxes and an airdata-driven flight path indicator. To simplify operation of the EFIS, the Perspective has an alphanumeric keyboard which resides on the pedestal between the pilot seats, where a pair of GNS430s are found in the conventional Avidyne-equipped airplane. Besides the keys, some of G1000's knobs and joystick have also been relocated to center section control. Cirrus has also directed Garmin to simplify the GFC700 autopilot control panel and it has one neat new feature: a dedicated blue button labeled LVL. By pushing that, the pilot commands the autopilot to level the wings and nose on the current heading and altitude. Although it's not billed as a recovery-from-unusual attitudes button, our sneak preview of the system at Duluth last week suggests it has that potential. Other Perspective upgrades include a yaw damper, brake temperature systems and spiffy new paint schemes.


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Quotes reprinted with permission: Professional Pilot, 2007 Headset Preference Survey, 12/07; Aviation Consumer, 8/07.
 
Thielert's Troubles Trickle Down back to top 
 

Diamond Says Thielert Parts Prices Are "Abusive"

The news went from bad to worse for owners of Thielert-diesel-powered Diamond aircraft Monday, many of whom are stuck with grounded airplanes following the German engine manfucturer's bankruptcy two weeks ago. In a lengthy bulletin to owners Monday, Diamond reported that a contentious negotiation with a German bankruptcy administrator has yielded no promise of relief for owners stranded with broken airplanes and without warranty support from Thielert. Moreover, said Diamond, the German bankruptcy firm overseeing Thielert seems more concerned with short term cash flow than long-term survival of the company and support of customers. Diamond described prices that the administrator has set for replacement parts as "abusive." A new gearbox-which each engine requires every 300 hours-sells for $10,113 Euros or $15,700. Clutches and high pressure pumps, also scheduled replacement items, are similarly high priced.

To further raise the ire of owners, they have to pay for these parts up front and arrange their own shipping. One U.S. owner awaiting a clutch and gearbox contacted us Monday said he wasn't about to wire money to Germany with no guarantee of every seeing the parts. He also complained about not having heard from Diamond on how-or even if-it intends to support owners. Worldwide, there are about 600 singles and twins powered by the Thielert Centurion 1.7.

Diamond had proposed to the bankruptcy administrator a deal that would allow it to buy a large supply of parts and engines with upfront payments in order to get AOG airplanes flying. "Unfortunately, the insolvency administration has not accepted any part of our proposal," Diamond told owners Monday. Instead, said Diamond, "we have gained the impression, based on several actions taken, that the goal of the administration is to maximize near-term cash flow from what they seem to view a 'captive' audience--operators of Diamond aircraft with TAE engines, whose only choice is to park an AOG aircraft or pay whatever price TAE may ask for parts."

Thielert did offer to provide Diamond with a batch of new engines, however even these new power plants have no warranty or support of any kind. Diamond says it "cannot responsibly pay funds into an insolvent entity, without guarantees of getting valuable parts in return, within reasonable times and at reasonable prices." Further, it's advising Diamond customers dealing directly with Thielert to get confirmation in writing on parts orders before wiring money.

We contacted Diamond on Monday to ask if it intends to offer any kind of support to owners, given Thielert's obvious dire straits. Diamond says its priority is to offer the best possible support of owners in the field, but the bulletin gave no specifics. Diamond's Heike Larson told us that a new diesel engine being developed by Austro Engines in conjunction with Diamond will be retrofittable to DA40 and DA42 aircraft, but the European certification of that engine won't be completed until at least this summer. She said production of these engine for the European market is planned for later this year.

The U.S. certification of the Austro engine may take another year beyond that, at best. Diamond says it will "make every effort to offer special price and schedule considerations" to AOG owners, but given the certification hurdles ahead, it's likely to be many months before such retrofits are available, at least in the U.S. Would Diamond consider buying Thielert's assets if the company goes to liquidation? Larson told us no decision has been made on such a proposal.

 
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Eclipse Investor Roel Pieper Still Banking on Air Taxis back to top 
 

Pieper Bullish On Air Taxi Future

The largest investor in Eclipse Aviation says the European market for VLJs is huge and a plant in Russia is likely to fill that void. In his first public appearance on behalf of ETIRC, which poured more than $100 million into Eclipse, Dutch business magnate Roel Pieper told AVweb in a video interview at EBACE 2008 that a perfect storm of crowded airports in Western Europe and primitive transportation in burgeoning Eastern Europe is creating major opportunities for the charter/air taxi business. "We believe the demand for fleet and air taxi operations in Europe is huge," Pieper told AVweb. He said the company could be building aircraft in Russia by the end of 2009 and that it will be busy. "We believe very much that the VLJ market is real and that the Eclipse 500 will set the standard. He noted U.S. and Canadian authorities have granted export permits for the airframe and engine (Pratt and Whitney Canada) However, European certification of the aircraft still eludes the company and CEO Vern Raburn isn't saying when he thinks that might occur. "We are optimistic that we'll get (EASA) European Aviation Safety Agency certification," he said. "I'm just not prepared to say when." also said that he expects the company to "be cash-flow-positive next year."

Raburn said recent events like the scaling back of expansion plans by Florida-based air taxi operator DayJet have had "no effect on Eclipse whatsoever" and there have been plenty of customers anxious to take the aircraft that DayJet has deferred. DayJet is selling off 16 of its 28 aircraft and concentrating its efforts on serving 11 hubs in the U.S. southeast after failing to find the financing needed to expand the operation to a profitable size. DayJet is Eclipse's largest potential customer, with 1,400 aircraft on order but Raburn said he's unconcerned by the issues there and said he believes the scale back is a "bump in the road." Eclipse owners who had hoped to fly the aircraft have also had a bumpy ride. "We have flunked a significant number of people (in the mandatory type rating course.)" he said. "Some of those people have come back but a lot of people have chosen to hire their own pilots, which is the way we think it should be."


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Cessna Aircraft Company, the World's Largest General Aviation Manufacturer
Based on unit sales, Cessna Aircraft Company is the world's largest manufacturer of general aviation airplanes. In 2007, Cessna delivered 1,272 aircraft, including 387 Citation business jets, and reported revenues of about $5 billion. Cessna has a current backlog of $12.6 billion. The global fleet of more than 5,100 Citations is the largest fleet of business jets in the world. More information about Cessna Aircraft Company is available at Cessna.com.
 
Hawker Beechcraft's EBACE Unveiling back to top 
 

Hawker Unveils Premier II

The next generation of Hawker Beechcraft's composite Premier is faster, goes farther and gets to a new maximum altitude of FL450 faster than its already-revolutionary predecessor and it only costs 10 cents per nautical mile more to operate. The rejuvenated Wichita planemaker unveiled a mockup of the aircraft in a pre-show press conference at EBACE 2008 in Geneva on Monday. The new plane adds winglets, Williams FJ44-3AP turbofans that produce 3,000 lbs. of thrust and goes 1,500 nm on the same size tank of gas, compared to 1,150 nm on he earlier model. "This is truly a revolutionary aircraft," said CEO Jim Schuster, who appeared at the news conference with Gerry Schwartz, chairman of Onex Corp., which took over Hawker Beechcraft more than a year ago. (Both are featured in this podcast interview.)

The more powerful engines improve performance across the board, including high/hot operations that give the aircraft much improved range in challenging circumstances. The company is also stressing that the Premier IA is the only composite certified jet and the fastest single-pilot certified aircraft outside of the military and its new stablemate will build on that success. Schuster said the Premier II will "redefine the light jet market."


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Diamond DA40 XL Demonstrator Sale
For a limited time only, while quantities last, Diamond DA40 XL Demonstrator models are available at a special price of $299,950. The aircraft also qualify for special 2008 tax incentives. You can enjoy owning a Diamond DA40 and write off up to 93% of the purchase price. Visit Diamond Aircraft now for more information.
 
Brazilian Jet-Maker's Environmental Vision back to top 
 

Embraer Embraces Green

Embraer has is offering customers a carbon offset program that will help reforest Brazil at a cost of a few dollars an hour in operating costs. The company announced its new program at EBACE 2008 on Monday and says it will take care of mitigating the already-small carbon impact of its aircraft on behalf of customers who sign up to pay the additional three-to-five percent premium on the direct operating costs of their aircraft. Embraer spokesman Graciliano Campoz told AVweb in a podcast interview that none of the carbon offset money will come to Embraer but the company will monitor and audit the recipients to ensure the money truly does offset the carbon footprint of the aircraft operations.

Campoz said reforestation projects in Brazil are an obvious target for the funds because of the homegrown interest and the relative ease of monitoring them but other worthy projects will also be considered. The company has also adopted programs in its plants and practices to minimize their environmental impact. Campoz also noted that there's only so much a manufacturer can do and real mitigation of aviation's already-small impact on the environment will come from operational changes (more direct routing and more efficient flight profiles) that only airspace modernization can bring. He also said the virtually emission-free fuels of the future will come from the distillation of biomass and coal into turbine-compatible fuels.

 
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Avidyne Brings Datalink Weather to Europe back to top 
 

Avidyne Rolls Out Iridium-Based Datalink

Datalink weather to the cockpit has revolutionized weather avoidance but, unfortunately, because XM Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio don't serve Europe, the Continent has missed out on the benefits of weatherlink. Avidyne announced a new product this week at EBACE that will fix that. The MLX770 from Avidyne used the Iridium satellite network as its data pipe and in addition to weatherlink, the system also provides two-way messaging. Is an inflight phone service component also in the works? Avidyne wouldn't comment, but we think it's likely, given Iridium's market position as a sat phone system.

The MKX770's architecture is similar to that Avidyne used with the ORBCOMM datalink system it introduced about five years ago. However, Iridium is said to be a more robust system with better coverage in most parts of the world. Weather products will include graphical and textual METARS, TAFs, winds and temperatures aloft, and in-flight weather advisories. Radar and lightning data will be available as premium offerings and Avidyne says it will add satellite imagery in the near future.

The MLX770 datalink transceiver weighs 1.64 kgs (3.6 pounds) and is contained in a 152mm x 203mm x 76mm (6.0 x 8.0 x 3.0 inch) box. It requires a patch-type antenna on the roof of the aircraft. The MLX770 is designed specifically to display on the Avidyne Entegra system, of which there are some 600 active in Europe.

The European introductory price for the MLX770 is €7,995 ($12,400) plus antenna and installation. Avidyne and DAC International are accepting orders for the MLX770 with deliveries promised for the last quarter of 2008.

 
Cessna's Columbus Growing in Popularity back to top 
 

Cessna 850 Columbus Orders Climbing

Cessna VP Roger Whyte says the company has "taken orders" in addition to the 36 it reported for the $27 million Columbus 850 large-cabin business at the end of the first quarter of this year and it's hit the road in Europe with an elaborate display on the aircraft. At a news conference at EBACE 2008 in Geneva on Monday, Whyte also announced that Vought will build the wings on the 70-foot-long aircraft, adding to a long list of outsourced assemblies that Cessna has traditionally (although not exclusively) built itself. Spirit Aerosystems is building the fuselage and tail section. Meanwhile, the company continues to ride the wave of interest in private aviation and is reporting a record $14.5 billion order backlog.

There are now 930 Cessna jets flying in Europe and more than half the company's business is now outside the U.S. The big market in Europe is Germany with more than 200 Cessna jets in the air. Russia, the MidEast, Brazil and Canada are also growing markets.

 
AVweb Audio: Are You Listening? back to top 
 

Hawker Beechcraft and Onex Corporation at EBACE 2008

File Size 3.9 MB / Running Time 4:16

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

As one of the world's proudest and most innovative aircraft companies, Beechcraft suffered an identity crisis as an orphaned sibling of Raytheon's empire of mostly defense-related enterprises. The company was cut loose from the corporate backwater more than a year ago, and Hawker Beechcraft is thriving under new owners Onex Corporation. AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with Hawker Beechcraft CEO Jim Schuster and Onex Chairman Gerry Schwartz about the dramatic renaissance and the bright future of the storied company.

Click here to listen. (3.9 MB, 4:16)

Embraer Announces Environmental Vision at EBACE 2008

File Size 5.9 MB / Running Time 6:24

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

Although business aviation is, by all standards, a bit player in environmental impact, the high profile of private aviation and public perception demands perhaps more action to mitigate its carbon footprint than in other types of transportation. Embraer has embraced a factory-to-finished-product approach to environmental responsibility, and AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with Embraer's Graciliano Campos about how business aviation can lessen its impact.

Click here to listen. (5.9 MB, 6:24)

 
Also on AVweb back to top 
 

AVweb Insider Blog: EBACE Notes, Gripes and Accolades

Today on the AVweb Insider, our staff copes with jetlag, European electrical outlets, and the dawning realization that everyone (from big companies to small dealers) have actually made good on their ambitions to go global.

Read more.

 
Names Behind the News back to top 
 

Meet the AVwebBiz Team

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

The AVwebBiz team is:

Publisher
Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Editor-in-Chief
Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

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