Business NewsWire Complete Issue
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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It is the best of times for most in the business aviation industry. Despite slow economic indicators in many sectors, business travel is trending up, most aircraft manufacturers and support
organizations are doing well and crowded ramps are the norm at most FBOs, not the exception. And the near future looks good, especially if you believe Rolls-Royce, which Monday released its latest
market projection for the business aviation industry, showing "virtually all of the key market driver indicators have turned positive and are trending up." To demonstrate their optimism, more than
30,000 industry participants, wanna-bes and hangers-on are expected to attend the 57th NBAA Annual Meeting and Convention, which kicked off yesterday in Las Vegas, Nev. Once there, they'll network
with almost 1,100 exhibitors -- a record for an NBAA convention -- as they tire-kick new and used aircraft, including some that haven't yet made it off the factory floor. As if to demonstrate that
things are looking up, NBAA's new President and CEO, Ed Bolen, opened the festivities sharing the stage with luminaries who included Transportation Security Administration head David M. Stone,
journalist and political commentator Fred Barnes, astronaut Neil Armstrong and test pilot Scott A. Crossfield. The association also lauded Monday's Senate passage of a tax relief bill extending bonus
depreciation for business-use aircraft, sending the bill to the White House for enactment, and planned to welcome Commerce Secretary Donald Evans today. Evans is scheduled to meet with Bolen and
business aviation leaders regarding growth of the industry, access to foreign markets and trade promotion before touring the convention floor.
Yet, some rocky weather may loom on the industry's horizon. On the convention's opening day, NBAA saw fit to release the results of a study it funded that concluded the business aviation community
pays more than 100 percent of its share of the costs it imposes on the federal air traffic system. The study,
by consulting firm HLB Decision Economics Inc. [PDF], shows that the business aviation community paid $188 million in federal excise taxes as its share of federal aviation costs in fiscal year
2001. That amount is 102 percent, or $4 million, more than the cost identified by the FAA in fiscal year 2001, the last for which data is available. While the study's results are good news, NBAA's own
press release notes "the debate about cost responsibility [in the U.S.] has dragged on for decades." What the press release did not note is that the concept that general and business aviation pay
their "fair share" is under greater assault than ever, with cash-strapped airlines pointing fingers and government agencies looking for new revenue sources. Still, Bolen concluded that the "study
refutes recent suggestions that the general and business aviation community does not pay its fair share of the costs of operating the nation's air traffic control system. Not only does business
aviation pay what it owes, it actually pays more." According to NBAA, the study's results also reject the FAA's calculations assigning cost responsibility, which the association says have varied
widely for years. The association noted that "a sizeable amount" of "common costs" are incurred on behalf of all users, including commercial airlines and the military.
Meanwhile, many other challenges still confront the business aviation industry. Perhaps foremost among them is that over-the-top security concerns designed to win the last battle with terrorism will return and further restrict non-scheduled flight operations at certain places or times. While the
appearance this week of the TSA's Stone at Las Vegas is, at least in part, designed to help "educate" him and his agency on what the industry is doing to ensure its security, neither the general media
nor elected officials seem willing to focus on other potential security issues. Meanwhile, oil prices hit
all-time highs just hours before this year's NBAA convention got underway, highlighting the rising costs of operating a personal or business aircraft. As if that were not enough, unrestricted access
to airspace and airports remains a concern, as evidenced by the FAA's decision last month to reinstate arrival and
departure slots at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. And, don't forget that operators without a government-approved security plan are banned from flying in certain airspace. Still, where
there's a will to get to out-of -the-way locations not served by the airlines or do an out-and-back trip from one coast to mid-America and back the same day, nothing beats a business aircraft. And, as
the turbines wind down, that's what it's all about this week in Las Vegas.
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Each year at NBAA, much of the buzz focuses on the new airframes being announced and which company looks like it has the upper hand in the market's various tiers. A perennial contender in each
convention's sweepstakes for the most sweeping new-aircraft announcement, Cessna this year announced it will be plus-sizing two of its best-selling jets. Instead of the Citation CJ1 and CJ2, look for
the CJ1+ and CJ2+. According to the company, the Citation CJ1+ will offer greater performance, a new integrated avionics suite, enhanced cabin features and expanded standard equipment when compared to
its predecessor. Meanwhile, Cessna says the Citation CJ2+ will provide "the most advanced avionics suite ever seen on this class of aircraft" and be powered by the Williams FJ44-3A-24 dual-channel
FADEC engine, which is similar to the Citation CJ3s FJ44-3A engine but derated to 2,400 pounds of thrust. Separately, Cessna announced it will be hiring some 600 new workers to help it meet the
coming demand. The standard Citation CJ1+ Collins Pro Line 21 avionics package is nearly identical to that offered on the new Citation CJ2+ and Citation CJ3. Optional CJ1+ avionics include electronic
charts showing "geo-referenced aircraft position on airport diagrams, interactive graphical weather, and Honeywell Mark VIII EGPWS," said Cessna. The CJ2+ will be designated as a model 525A, allow
single-pilot operation and come with 17 of the Citation CJ2s most popular options, plus 10 new features that were unavailable on the Citation CJ2. The CJ2+ will have standard broadcast graphical
weather showing NEXRAD information, text METARs and text TAFs. Optional CJ2+ avionics equipment includes electronic charts showing geo-referenced position on airports, interactive graphical weather,
and Honeywell Mark VIII EGPWS. In the cabin, new standard items include 110-volt electrical outlets (two outlets in the cabin and one in the cockpit), left-hand belted flushing toilet, left-hand
storage and indirect LED lighting.
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As AVweb reported last month, a new group this week announced its plans for a supersonic business jet, or
SSBJ. Aerion Corporation, a Reno, Nev.,-based company styling itself as an "advanced engineering group formed to reintroduce commercial supersonic flight," this week made good on its promise to bring
it high-speed plans to NBAA with a business jet design it says could enter service as soon as 2011. The company was formed in 2002 to acquire, advance and commercialize the supersonic technology of
ASSET Group. Aerion's Chief Technology Officer, Richard R. Tracy, headed that company. In addition to Tracy, Aerions board includes Brian E. Barents, former president of Galaxy Aerospace and
Learjet. "The Concorde may have been relegated to museums, but the world has not slowed down. Indeed the reverse is true," said Barents. "The worlds major businesses and governments have a clear
need for faster travel. Aerions engineers have been at work for many years developing the fundamental technologies to make this possible." According to Aerion's press release, its planned SSBJ
will incorporate patented technology designed to use laminar-flow principles to substantially reduce drag at high subsonic and supersonic speeds, allowing it to use existing powerplant technology: two
Pratt and Whitney JT8D-219 turbofans, early versions of which date back to the Boeing 727 and DC-9. Aerion says the aircraft's range will be roughly the same at both subsonic and supersonic speeds: in
excess of 4,000 nm. Most important, however, for its viability in the marketplace, the aircraft has a low sonic-boom signature and will be designed to cruise at up to Mach 1.1 without a boom. Its
maximum cruise speed will be Mach 1.6. Presently, the company says it is in "advanced development" and has completed in-flight testing of a supersonic natural laminar flow wing section,
engine/airframe integration studies and initial systems design. Aerion says it projects a five-year development program with two ground-test articles and three flight-test aircraft. The company
expects the price of the aircraft to be competitive on a price/performance basis with todays largest business jets. We'll see.
Ending years of speculation and increasing signs it will enter the business aviation market, Honda Motor Co. Ltd. yesterday formally announced a joint venture with the General Electric Co. to bring
the Japan-based manufacturer's turbofan engine to market. Dubbed GE Honda Aero Engines LLC, the company was formed to pursue "the launch of Honda's HF118 turbofan engine in the light business jet
market," according to a press release. The agreement creating the company was signed yesterday at the NBAA convention in Las Vegas after announcing a "strategic alliance" last February. According to
the press release, GE Honda Aero Engines is "fully engaged" in discussions with airframe manufacturers as potential launch customers, in engine certification, and in establishing a manufacturing
infrastructure. The company's first product, the HF118, is designed in the 1,600-pound-thrust class but plans include extending the new company's market to engines with thrust ratings from 1,000 to
3,500 pounds. The new company is clearly targeting the light-light jet -- or "very light jet," VLJ -- segment popularized by Eclipse and Adam Aircraft, noting the "considerable opportunity for a
highly reliable and durable jet engine" to power such aircraft. The company envisions a market of at least 200 business VLJs annually operated by businesses, fractional owners and air taxis. To date,
the HF118 has run more than 2,400 hours in ground tests and more than 450 hours in flight tests. No airframe manufacturer has decided to install the engine, however.
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Also yesterday at NBAA, Boeing said it will make its Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) available for retrofit to in-service Boeing Business Jets. A neat tool, the EFB includes the documentation and forms
necessary for legal operation as well as current Jeppesen charts, manuals for fault reporting and operations, minimum equipment lists and logbooks, all in a digital format. Additionally, the EFB
includes an on-board performance tool that allows the pilot to instantly calculate the ideal speed and engine setting for an aircraft, in any weather, on any runway or any runway section with any
payload. At the same time, Boeing announced five new commitments for BBJ orders, effectively selling out the program through 2005. "The interest in the BBJ during what has been a very challenging
business environment underscores the value customers place on the airplane's comfort and flexibility, and its reliability, payload, range, and customer support," BBJ President Steven Hill said in Las
Adam Aircraft reached a long-awaited milestone this week as it rolled out its first production aircraft -- an A500 piston-powered tandem twin -- from the its assembly facility at Centennial Airport in
Englewood, Colo. With its Type Inspection Authorization (TIA) received from the FAA Sept. 30 firmly in hand, the company said it is beginning full-scale production of the A500 aircraft and expects to
deliver two aircraft by the end of 2004 and ramp up production to 40 aircraft in 2005. "The rollout of the first customer A500 confirms the effectiveness of our manufacturing process and its ability
to produce an aircraft of the highest standards," said Kevin Gould, senior vice president of operations for Adam Aircraft. "Our successful completion of this aircraft gives us confidence that we will
meet or exceed our production ramp-up plan of 40 aircraft in 2005." Adam says it has an A500 sales backlog of 65 aircraft and that the infrastructure necessary to fill those orders is in place.
Gulfstream Aerospace announced that the FAA has issued a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) for installing the company's Broad Band Multi-Link (BBML) telecommunications system on a GIV bizjet
enabling an "ultra-high-speed Internet connection" during flight. The system uses an ARINC-developed "backbone" with data speeds of up to 3.5 megabytes per second. Gulfstream said the dedicated
satellite-based system can also tie directly into an existing Voice-Over Internet Protocol telephone network. Gulfstream said it expected FAA approval to install the system on G550, G500 and GV
aircraft in the fourth quarter of 2004, while G450 and G350 operators will have to wait until the first quarter of next year; it will be approved for non-Gulfstream airframes in the second quarter of
2005, pending FCC approval. The system uses a dish antenna mounted in the tail, an antenna control unit, a transceiver router and Gulfstreams exclusive server.
This just in: Is the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) getting ready to delay implementing its controversial rule requiring pilots to prove their U.S. citizenship? That's exactly what
sources tell AVweb, although we were unable to confirm any details by our deadline Tuesday night. For those of you just joining us, the TSA's new rule on flight training created a mini-storm of protest when it was released last month. [More]Sources tell AVweb that some larger fleet
operators have been told by the TSA to continue training foreign nationals already employed by them under previous rules developed by the Department of Justice. In the meantime, the TSA will be
sorting out what needs to be done to implement the rule it released last month, even though the agency has had a solid nine months to figure it all out. How long any implementation delay will last is
unknown, as are the details. As always, AVweb will continue to monitor and report on developments associated with this controversial rule.
...the next issue of AVweb's BizAVflash will be e-mailed to you on October 27. Until then!
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