Business NewsWire Complete Issue

January 6, 2004
By The AVweb Editorial Staff

This issue of AVweb's Business AVflash is brought to you by …

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BizAV’s Year In Review

Celebrating The Best (And Worst) Of 2003

The past 12 months offered our readers a host of business aviation headlines. In addition to the news, the monthly business aviation feature originally called BizAV was replaced in November by Business Avflash, the new biweekly business aviation news product. As we prepare for the future, let’s take a look at some of BizAV’s highlights from 2003.

January

On Jan. 9, Pratt and Whitney Canada announced it would build a new type of small, efficient turbofan to power Cessna's new entry-level Mustang, which was introduced at last year's NBAA Convention. Trying to beat Eclipse at its own game, Cessna heavily promoted its smallest jet ever and chose the PW615F to power the new Mustang. Rated at 1,350 pounds of takeoff thrust, the engine also offers a dual-channel Full Authority Digital Electronic Control (FADEC) system.. On Jan. 15, Diamond Aircraft announced it will have its own single-engine mini-jet in the air in 2004 and start delivering it in 2006. "This is a natural progression for us," said Peter Maurer, Diamond's North American CEO. The D-Jet, as it is currently known, will carry five people at 315 knots on 34 gph. Cabin altitude will be 8,000 feet at 25,000 feet. Diamond is projecting a price of "well under" $1 million U.S.

February

In early February, in St. Cloud, France, Dassault performed the first simulated flight of the Falcon 7X, establishing a preliminary standard for its fly-by-wire controls. And on Jan. 29, at Dassault Aviation's facility in Mérignac, France, 2000EX EASy serial number 6 took to the skies for the first time. Dassault's EASy flight deck, a fully integrated cockpit-management system, has been in development since the mid-1990s. On Feb. 10, Cleveland-based Flight Options announced the appointment of John P. Nahill, 38, as chief executive officer. Nahill replaced Kenn Ricci, who will continue to serve as an advisor to Flight Options. In January, Eclipse Aviation gathered some of its customers to update them on the complications caused by the company’s decision to abandon the Williams EJ22 engine. On Feb. 3, the company issued a news release detailing the facts and figures released during that meeting. From the failed business file, Nimbus Group Inc. announced earlier in the month that its chief technology officer and chief financial officer resigned, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based company, which planned to offer a fleet of jet charter aircraft, eventually opted to drop its proposed jet charter business.

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March

The first annual Latin American Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (LABACE) was held in mid-March amid much fanfare. The exhibition featured nearly 80 exhibitors in 185 booth spaces at the Transamérica Expo Center in São Paulo, Brazil, and 16 aircraft on static display at the Congonhas Airport. [more] On March 6, Sino Swearingen Aircraft Corporation continued its SJ30 certification program with the launch of its second new SJ30-2. The conforming twinjet lifted off at 9:10 a.m. to join serial number 0002 in the FAA flight test program. Also in March, AVweb reported that effective Jan. 1, 2004, all turbojet-powered aircraft would be required to have Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELTs). All installations of the ELTs (including turbine-powered airplanes) must comply with either TSO C126 or C91a.

April

Reacting to "uncertain worldwide economic conditions," Cessna Aircraft announced a series of measures in late March to reduce production of its turbine-powered aircraft models and cut personnel costs through furloughs and layoffs. Acting to offset the effect of lower earnings, Cessna said it was also looking at outsourcing activities not related to building airframes. Aside from the economic downturn, Cessna had to deal with a slew of cancelled orders for aircraft. At the same time, Bombardier’s new boss shifted the company's strategy to one of consolidation and cost-cutting from the rapid growth of its recent past. CEO Paul Tellier said his mandate is to "change the culture" at the conglomerate, which had previously focused on doubling revenue every five years. Tellier said Bombardier Capital, the company's financing arm, isn't a core activity and could eventually be sold. Like other Wichita-area aircraft manufacturers, Raytheon is planning to outsource some of its production work, but at the expense of drawing fire from its workers' unions. The company is planning to outsource some work to foreign suppliers while the economic downturn persists.

May

With the U.S. economy in the dumps and aircraft sales almost nil, several general aviation manufacturers hoped to turn the tide in May by showcasing their product lines overseas at the largest European business aircraft event. Held from May 7 to 9 in Geneva, Switzerland, the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition, or EBACE 2003, attracted thousands of attendees and more than 600 business aviation exhibitors. Raytheon Aircraft introduced the Hawker 400XP at the show amid much fanfare, and Eclipse Aviation Corporation announced it has applied for certification of the Eclipse 500 jet with the Joint Aviation Authority (JAA). Raytheon aircraft's mid-sized Hawker Horizon completed a 7.6-hour test flight over the central and southern region of the United States. This flight, which started and concluded at Beech Field in Wichita, exceeded the duration of any other test flight in Beechcraft and Hawker history. Safire Aircraft announced it was making substantial changes in the design and specifications for its personal jet program. The original S-26 light jet, with a composite airframe, will not be produced, the company said. The new design, called simply the Safire Jet, will have all-aluminum construction and be larger, heavier and faster.

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June

The investigation into the May crash of a Sino Swearingen test aircraft continued in June, as additional details were publicly disclosed. The manufacturer lost its chief test pilot, Carroll Beeler, when the SJ30-2 twinjet he was flying crashed in rugged terrain north of Del Rio, Texas. Beeler, 59, had taken off from San Antonio, and was alone in the airplane at the time of the accident. The preliminary NTSB report included comments from the chase-plane pilot who witnessed the event and communicated with Beeler during the accident. In other news, NBAA’s board of directors announced the selection of Shelley A. Longmuir as the next president of the organization. At the same time, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) elected James E. Schuster, an executive vice president of Raytheon Company and chairman and CEO of Raytheon Aircraft Company, as vice chairman. In addition to being GAMA vice chairman, Schuster continues to serve as chairman of GAMA's Security Issues Committee, a position he has held since November 2002. Yet another high-profile promotion was named in June, as Textron announced that Michael Redenbaugh had been named chief executive officer of Bell Helicopter. Redenbaugh now reports to Textron's Chief Operating Officer Steven Loranger. Redenbaugh succeeds John Murphy, who has been named chairman emeritus of the Ft. Worth, Texas-based producer of helicopters and tilt rotor aircraft.

July

OurPLANE Inc., a four-year-old company targeting the owner-flown fractional aircraft ownership market, announced it added two new aircraft to its North American fleet. A new Cirrus SR22 was positioned at John Wayne Airport (KSNA) in Orange County, Calif., while a new Cessna 182T was scheduled for arrival at Toronto's Brampton Airport June 16. At the same time, company President and CEO Graham Casson announced the expansion of the OurPLANE network with a September opening of an operating base at Hooks Airport in Houston, Texas. The new facility would initially offer shares in Cirrus aircraft. Flight Options LLC announced that it had completed a financial recapitalization agreement with Raytheon Company's wholly owned subsidiary, Raytheon Travel Air, and other investors. The agreement resulted in Raytheon's owning an approximately 65-percent interest in the Cleveland-based fractional operator. Under the agreement's terms, Raytheon exchanged certain Flight Options LLC debt it held for equity. Dean Borgman, president of Sikorsky Aircraft since 1998, was appointed chairman of the company on June 26. Named to succeed him as president was Stephen Finger, who previously served as president of Pratt & Whitney's Military Engines business. Both appointments began July 1.

August

August was known as a month of “firsts,” when Avocet Aircraft LLC and Israel Aircraft Industries LTD (IAI) announced their signed agreement to jointly develop and market the Avocet Professional Jet , a next-generation jet designed specifically for the requirements of the air-taxi and fractional-operator markets. The company claims the Avocet ProJet "will have an acquisition price and operating costs substantially lower than today's private aircraft." A six-seat, twin-engine jet, the ProJet will sell for approximately $2 million. Cessna announced that its first production Citation CJ3 (serial number 001) took its first flight on Aug. 8, three weeks ahead of schedule. This particular CJ3 -- to be used primarily for avionics development and certification -- departed from McConnell Air Force Base and landed at Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport after a 90-minute flight. On Aug. 27, Cessna team members rolled out their first Citation Sovereign assembled on the production line. On July 28, the Aviation Technology Group (ATG) announced that Avidyne will supply the FlightMax Entegra Integrated Flight Deck and the Flight Control System for their Javelin aircraft. In other news, with letters of intent from three major potential distributors, ATG announced it is well on its way to converting from direct sales to a national distributor network, and plans to show off its flight simulator to all customers at both the NBAA and AOPA conventions this fall.

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September

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) voiced its opposition to the European Joint Aviation Authority (JAA) proposal to require all European corporate aviation operators to register with their National Aviation Authority (NAA). The Advance Notice of Proposed Amendment (A-NPA), designated JAR OPS-2, would require corporations with a European operating base to register with their NAA as a non-commercial operator. The proposed regulation defined an operating base as any location where operational control of flights is exercised, including scheduling and flight planning. In related news, charter flights across Australia became subject to a new set of proposed aviation rules. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) issued detailed draft rules for the operation of all commercial passenger-carrying small aircraft. A key change under the proposed new rules was the introduction of comprehensive pilot training and checkout requirements for all small-aircraft charter operations. Here in the U.S., National Air Transportation Association (NATA) President James K. Coyne urged support of the Federal Aviation Administration's proposed weight-based restrictions at airports, as long as the restrictions are not used as a substitute for limiting aircraft noise. "It certainly makes sense to protect pavement from damage from aircraft that exceed the design criteria by a significant margin," said Coyne. "What we would object to is using 'weight-based restrictions' as a way to limit noise by restricting access to an airport by a certain class of aircraft."

October

The business aviation event of the year kicked into full gear, as the NBAA's 2003 and 56th Annual Meeting & Convention was held Oct. 7 to 9 at the Orlando/Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. The event featured close to 30,000 attendees, more than 1,000 exhibitors, 75 informational sessions and 135 aircraft on static display at Orlando Executive Airport. Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Eugene Cernan joined business aviation legend Harry B. Combs in presenting the first annual Combs Award to photographer Dan Patterson during the opening general session on Tuesday, Oct. 7. In other news, Bombardier Aerospace saw its airplane deliveries climb in the second quarter of 2003, according to the Canadian airplane maker's publicly released quarterly financial results. For the period, the company delivered 85 airplanes, including 66 regional jets and 19 business jets. Bombardier Aerospace's revenues for the quarter were $2.8 billion, up slightly from $2.7 billion in the same quarter a year ago. At the time, the manufacturer claimed there was no need to cut additional jobs within its numerous divisions. Since 2001, Bombardier has cut thousands of jobs, including in Wichita, where it manufactures the Learjet 60 and assembles the Challenger 300, Learjet 40 and Learjet 45.

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December

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) said deliveries of business jets were 32 percent lower than the same period a year ago. According to the organization's shipment report for the third quarter of 2003, the fall in business-jet deliveries contributed to an overall 9-percent decrease in shipments of general aviation aircraft for the quarter. For the quarter, the industry delivered 338 business jets compared to 498 in the same quarter a year ago. These numbers also indicated that some manufacturers were faring better than others, as Embraer announced the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding with Flight Options for the purchase of up to four Legacy business jets. The aircraft are slated for entry into the Cleveland-based company's operation immediately upon final contract signing. Embraer said the average price of the Legacy Executive in the company's backlog was $20.8 million U.S., but declined to put a value on the Flight Options deal. In early December, Embraer said it had delivered 20 jets in the third quarter of the year, 10 fewer than in 2002. Nevertheless, the company maintained its annual target of 110 deliveries, leaving it with 39 jets to deliver in the final three months of the year. On Dec. 8, at the Dubai Air Show, Boeing signed an agreement with Alsalam Aircraft Company, making the company the first authorized service center for the Boeing Business Jet (BBJ)in the Middle East. During the Dubai Show, Jet Aviation unveiled construction plans for a new facility to be located at the Dubai International Airport. In addition to its facilities in Riyadh and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, the Dubai location will be the third Jet Aviation facility in the Middle East and will primarily offer maintenance service and fixed-based operations. Jet Aviation Dubai, a joint venture with the Almulla Business Group of Dubai, is expected to be fully operational in the second half of 2004 and will include a large hangar capable of accommodating two BBJs or Airbus Corporate Jets in addition to 1,000 square meters of workshop space.

November

The news from NBAA 2003 spilled over into November’s BizAV cycle. Without a doubt, Bombardier Aerospace made the most noise with a slew of product and service announcements throughout the busy NBAA event week. The manufacturer made three aircraft-related announcements at the show, including its biggest headline of the year: the official launch of the Ultra-Long Range XRS Global Express XRS business jet. In addition, the new Bombardier Global 5000 arrived at Orlando Executive Airport for its first-ever appearance at NBAA, where company officials proclaimed the super-large business jet is capable of flying nonstop from continental Europe to central North America at Mach 0.85 (562 mph) with eight passengers and a crew of three. Gulfstream Aerospace made its own headlines after it unveiled its latest addition to the family, the G450, at a special pre-NBAA event on Sunday, Oct. 5. The fourth example (serial number 4004) of the GIV-X (or next-generation GIV) officially joined the first G450 (S/N 4001), which first flew on April 30 and has flown more than 100 hours since. This was the first time that Gulfstream has developed two new models concurrently, and the G450 has benefited from a number of systems originally developed for the G550. Not to be left out, Cessna Aircraft unveiled it latest variant in a growing family of jet aircraft, the Citation XLS. Hailed as a faster derivative of the Citation Excel, it carries a price tag of $9.895 million and is described as "a logical step up for customers moving up from smaller light jets."

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What Lies Ahead?

Several indicators point to a gradual stabilization and some growth in the business aviation market. AVweb’s Business AVflash will be sure to keep tabs on these developments throughout 2004.

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Business AVflash is a twice-monthly summary of the latest business aviation news, articles, products, features and events featured on AVweb, the Internet's Aviation Magazine and News Service. http://www.avweb.com

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Today's issue written by News Writer Arturo Weiss:
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Let's all be careful out there, okay?