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The theme of this European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition is that business aviation is "The Right Tool for Challenging Times." And while that sentiment is undoubtedly an easy sell on the
convention floor, it's likely hoped that other ears are listening to the presentations that bolster that notion. First, it should be noted that while last year's EBACE set records for attendance and
exhibitors, this year's is not much smaller and is being described as the third-largest event. Presentations at the opening day of the event mirror the hopeful and somewhat defiant tone of the
convention and are highlighted by the Price Waterhouse study detailing the enormous economic
impact of business aviation on Europe. Some companies picked up on the theme in their news conferences and Cessna CEO Jack Pelton, who hasn't been shy about sharing his views on the state and
perception of bizav, told attendees to count their blessings.
Pelton said the company has chosen to look on the bright side of the current situation. "It is true that we will not produce at the levels anticipated a year ago, but we are going to deliver about
300 Citations in 2009, slightly fewer than in 2010, and these are numbers that in years past would have been cause for celebration," Pelton said. The Columbus program has been suspended, but Pelton
said investment in research and development is proportionately the same and new products are being developed. He also noted that Cessna is continuing to expand its service network. "We have an 80-year
tradition, we have a loyal customer base, and, while we have lost many good employees since November, we still have some of the industry's top people making up the Cessna family," Pelton
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Embraer introduced the first-in-service ultra-large Lineage 1000 at EBACE yesterday. The Lineage is the luxury variant of the company's E-190, and it is on the static park. The Phenom 100 is also on
display for the first time at the show. To complement its new offerings Embraer named Cologne based Nayak Aircraft Services as an Embraer Authorized Service Center at EBACE Tuesday. The company became
the first maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility to serve Embraer's Phenom 100 and Phenom 300 in Germany. "We are very pleased to welcome Nayak Aircraft Services to our customer support
network," said spokesman Antonio Martini. "Embraer is constantly evaluating and improving the global network of its Executive Jet Service Centers. Their location is an important factor for serving our
customers, and Germany is one of Europe's most responsive business aviation markets for our Phenom family."
The company also announced that the midlight Legacy 450 and midsize Legacy 500 executive jet programs have completed the Joint Definition Phase (JDP), which began in July 2008 and involved over 100
engineers from key system suppliers. "The Legacy 450 and Legacy 500 programs have passed a critical milestone, and we are engaging over 500 engineers and technicians, as we begin the next phase," said
Luís Carlos Affonso, Embraer Executive Vice President, Executive Jets. Launched in 2008, the midlight Legacy 450 and midsize Legacy 500 set a new paradigm in their respective executive jet
categories. Their interiors were designed in partnership with BMW Group Designworks, and offer many amenities, including a flat-floor stand-up (six-foot) cabin, excellent pressurization, and vacuum
Lufthansa launched Swiss PrivateAviation at EBACE Tuesday, a subsidiary of Swiss International Airlines. The company was formed last year after Swiss acquired business aviation charter and management
company Servair Private Aviation. The new company is intended to strengthen Lufthansa's private jet offering and will support the airline's fleet of Cessna Citation aircraft, which will all be
operational by the end of summer. LPJ also announced that it has selected Swiss PrivateAviation to manage its fleet of Cessna business aircraft. The operator offers exclusive and flexible options on
its own fleet of different types of Cessna Citation aircraft, three light CJ1+ jets, two CJ3 jets and two Citation XLS+ aircraft. LPJ will continue to cooperate with its partners DC Aviation and Jet
Alliance in order to respond quickly to passenger requests.
Vice president of sales and services for Europe Dr. Karsten Benz said, "We constantly aim to meet customer expectations with our new product and be more flexible." He added that Lufthansa is the
only airline in the world that operates a fleet of private jets alongside its scheduled services. He said: "The key to this service is that it operates on a first class ticket. Customers get 10,000
miles and more points on their card every time they use the service." Lufthansa says that offers an IATA accredited first class ticket, so that should a flight be inoperable due to weather, for
example, it can provide a comparable substitute via other routings, even first class scheduled. Benz points out that sensitivity over the perception of operating a private jet means that some
customers have migrated back to using first class services. The LPJ ticket means that they have the best of both worlds. Lufthansa has access to a fleet of 40 private aircraft including those operated
by its partners. Benz said: "We can use these aircraft in case we have overflow that cannot be accommodated on our own jets." The service is a point to point offering across 1,000 airports in Europe.
The airline has pledged more than EUR 150 million to its premium product offering. Benz said: "Regardless of the economy and market conditions we strongly believe that there is a niche market and this
is an important offering for us. It offers value to travelers who need to be independent and flexible." Benz said that Lufthansa expects the LPJ service will outperform its 2007 revenues.
Business Aviation Will Help Companies Not Only Survive
But Prosper During the Current Financial Crisis
To be your most productive, and your most efficient, you must keep flying. Because in so doing, you will emerge from these times even stronger than before. And you will replace the uncertainty that
surrounds many, with the confidence and courage to light the way for all.
Bombardier Continues Superstar Sales in
One of Bombardier's top European executives said at EBACE Tuesday that the company remains positive despite the
current financial crisis. "We remain a strong organization and that's no mean feat in this current crisis. It is a credit to our products and our people," said Bob Horner, regional vice president
aircraft sales. He pointed out the OEM's strength was underlined by last year's solid financial results. Aerospace contributed 51% of the manufacturer's total revenues. "Today we're in a much better
position to deal with challenges thrown at us than we were a few years ago." He said that widebody aircraft deliveries increased year on year with a strong order intake for the year. He pointed to
recent GAMA figures indicating a market share increase of 37 percent.
The manufacturer also offered new program updates at the show. The Global Vision flight deck is on target for first flight in summer 2009. The OEM announced that it had completed power-on tests in
winter 2009. The new technology will be available for both the Global Express XRS and Global 5000 jets. The test is a significant milestone. The flight deck's system computers, its flight software and
aircraft systems are powered up to verify functionality and compatibility. "All systems performed as expected," said Steve Ridolfi, who added that the new technology is an important part of the
company's strategy for Global family. Horner said that the Learjet 85 is still on schedule after Grob filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. "We jumped in quickly after Grob announced it was in
trouble and brought the design and manufacturing back in house."
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Business, like nature, abhors a vacuum, so when the National Business Aviation Association cancelled this year's Asia Business
Aviation Convention and Exhibition, scheduled for Hong Kong last February, it was only a matter of time before something filled the void. Last month, the Asian Business Aviation Association (AsBAA)
announced that its annual event, Asian Aerospace 2009, will be joined by a concurrent show, Asian Business Aviation. Both will be held Sept. 8-10 in Hong Kong. Some major players in business aviation,
including Bombardier, Gulfstream and Jet Aviation, are already committed. While the economic downturn prompted NBAA to cancel their show, the global crisis will be the focus of the new event. "The
market in Asia is 180 degrees different now from how it was six months ago and we plan to focus on these challenges in this unique Asian networking opportunity," said AsBAA Vice Chairman Jason
Liao said that despite the economic problems, Asian aviation continues to grow with China at the forefront. From obscurity a decade ago, China is now the second-largest aviation market in the world
behind the U.S. The combined event is expecting at least 350 exhibitors and more than 10,000 visitors. In addition to the business aviation section, the event will also feature aircraft interiors,
training and air freight specialties.
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An interesting development in U.S. aviation became a practical exercise on Monday as Branson Airport welcomed its first commercial flight. Minneapolis-based Sun Country Airlines became
the first customer of the first entirely privately funded commercial airport in the U.S. The 737 offloaded a planeload of Minnesotans intent on sampling the entertainment and bright lights of the
entertainment capital of Missouri. As they head off to the Ozarks Spring Fiddle Convention and Bluegrass Jam Session, among other attractions, the $155 million airport is geared up to handle more of
the same in a purpose-built facility aimed at processing vacation-goers as efficiently -- and profitably -- as possible. "The arrival of this flight marks a new beginning for air travel in the
Ozarks," said Steve Peet, CEO, Branson Airport. "The vision we've had for so many years of providing low-cost air travel to and from Branson, is today a reality." AirTran also initiated its service,
landing a couple of hours after Sun Country. Before the airliner touched down, however, there was plenty of action at the airport.
Under the direction of airshow manager Bobbi Thompson, the first Branson Air Show attracted more than 50,000 people over two days on the weekend. Patty Wagstaff, Team Aeroshell, the USAF
Thunderbirds and the debut of the Canadian Forces Century Hornet F-18 demo highlighted the show. Branson offers airlines 7,140 feet of mountaintop runway and a sparkling 58,000-square-foot terminal
where all employees work for the airport, rather than the airlines.
We can practically hear the cheering in Wichita from here -- Oprah Winfrey said in a speech to the graduating
class at Duke University on Sunday that "it's great to have a private jet." With CEOs across the country shamefaced about corporate excess, and aviation workers paying the price in thousands of lost
jobs, could Oprah single-handedly make it OK again to fly? "Anyone that tells you that having your own private jet isn't great is lying to you," she told the grads. "That jet thing is really good."
Whether her enthusiasm will turn the tide and make private jets fun again is still an open question -- it could make things even worse.
While The Wall Street Journal's "Wealth Report" blog found it encouraging --"Perhaps [the
private-jet industry] should forget all the boring arguments about jobs and productivity and efficiency and run a picture of Oprah..." -- others were less impressed. According to Perez Hilton's blog, the message was not a positive one: "Lesson to learn, graduates: It's good to be
Oprah and sucks to be everyone else!" The New York
Times noted this week that private jets have lost that "feel-good factor." "In the midst of global economic crisis, "indulgence in what has been consistently branded as the ultimate luxury, feels
excessive," writes Aline Sullivan. Oprah flies a Global Express XRS built by Bombardier, which goes for about $42 million.
Put AeroExpo Europe - Prague and AeroExpo Europe - London on Your Show Schedule AeroExpo Europe - Prague (May 22-24, 2009) will showcase everything from ultralights to helicopters to business aircraft in the heart of Europe, marketing to the European and emerging Eastern
European and Russian markets. AeroExpo Europe - London (June 12-14, 2009) includes aircraft from light aircraft, pistons, and turboprops through to VLJs (very light jets) and all parts and
services for these general aviation aircraft.
Go online for
exhibitor and attendee details.
The early speculation surrounding the crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 in Buffalo in February appeared to look for anomalies, like
wing or elevator ice that would make the Dash 8 with 49 people aboard suddenly become uncontrollable, but there was always an undercurrent in the forums and chat rooms that it was just as it appeared
a stall-spin accident. The latter theory appears to be where the evidence is headed in an NTSB hearing that covered the moments leading up to the crash, which killed everyone on board and one
person on the ground. According to CBS's account of the proceedings. When the ice-laden aircraft
approached a stall, the stick pusher activated, and the reaction of Capt. Marvin Renslow was to pull back, flipping the airliner over into an unrecoverable spin. "Obviously the initial reaction to the
stall warning was incorrect. That set the course of action for what followed," Wally Warner of Bombardier, the airplane's manufacturer, told CBS. A confounding factor was the fact that neither of the
pilots, Capt. Marvin Renslow and FO Rebecca Shaw, had any demonstration or simulator training with the stick pusher because the FAA doesn't require it. The airline made a point of saying the
pilots had "all the training and experience required" by the FAA to take the flight.
The hearing also looked at the potential fatigue factor (something Colgan has rejected), noting that Renslow had spent
the previous night in a crew room (violating company policy) and that Shaw had a cold and had arrived for her flight on a red eye the night before. The hearing will continue today and
Times might be tough right now, but apparently there are still plenty of people who hope to see a supersonic business jet on the market in the near future. The Aerion order book has held steady at $4 billion -- about 50 jets at $80 million each -- Aerion Vice Chairman Brian Barents said at the European Business Aviation Convention and
Exhibition this week, and OEMs have remained committed to pressing ahead with discussions despite economic uncertainty. The company expects to develop a joint Aerion-OEM proof-of-concept design study,
which would last nine months to a year. After that, the partners would jointly decide whether to move forward with full-scale development and production. "We are confident we will reach an agreement
with an OEM," said Barents. "The challenges are many, but there is a desire on the part of all parties to make this happen." The discussions are complex, he said, involving many technical and business
issues, but "they are moving in the right direction."
Both customers and OEMs are looking beyond the current economic turmoil, said Barents. "OEMs understand that they need to think five to ten years ahead and have new products in the pipeline. And a
supersonic jet is the most exciting product you can think of." Aerion has said that a successful proof-of-concept phase would be followed by a five-year development program culminating in
certification and entry into service. That would put the certification date at 2015, a year later than the company said in October. The
company also said this week that a series of flight tests and wind tunnel tests are planned for this year, using a NASA F-15B test platform and the European Transonic Wind Tunnel.
Boy, that Sean Tucker sure screwed up when he ran out of fuel, didn't he? Um, yeah and AVweb's Paul Bertorelli has a little confession to make on that front, too. Read all about it in
the latest installment of our AVweb Insider blog and if you're not in the club with Paul and Sean, be sure to take the lesson to heart.
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Almost. In this post-Sun 'n Fun video, AVweb reports that the Mustang's control forces and basic systems are so close to those of a heavy single or light twin that any
moderately experienced pilot should be able to check out in it without breaking a sweat. And at 340 knots for 1,100 miles, we could get used to it, thanks.
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