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YOUR SIX: 2004 IN REVIEW
For business aviation, 2004 likely will be known as a year in which
the industry withstood a number of challenges internal and
external to emerge in at least as good a condition as when the
year started. At the same time, other segments of the aviation
industry did not fare as well; whether those failings will affect
business aviation and if so, how probably will not be
known in 2005. Yet, numerous signs indicate that the continuing
decline in airline service is driving more companies and professionals
to at least consider some form of business aviation, from setting up a
formal flight department, to fractional ownership, and to charter.
While its good for business aviation to have these kinds of
problems, the industry has not weathered them without change and, in
some cases, upheaval. More...
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Perhaps the most visible and significant change to occur in the
industry during 2004 was the spring cleaning at the NBAA, in which
new President and CEO Shelley Longmuir abruptly departed amid internal
staff turmoil and dissatisfaction among board members, taking with her
Bob Warren, the associations executive vice president and COO,
who was hired by Longmuir. That episode left the NBAA with several
challenges finding new leadership and reassuring its membership
perhaps chief among them but also opened the doors to what
seems to have been both significant and beneficial changes. Once the
association decided to bring in Ed Bolen, the former
General Aviation Manufacturers Association president, to run
things and get the NBAA back into level flight, additional and
inevitable staff changes followed. In the fall, the organization had
one of its largest and most well-attended annual meetings ever, which
seemed to drive the final nails into the coffin of the NBAAs
year of living dangerously. More...
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With all that upheaval in one segment of business aviation, what would
a year be without a set of new players promising new airframes and
powerplants? In late 2003, Hondas long-rumored development of a
light-light jet finally became public.
This year, the company announced an engine, possibly designed to power it.
Still, the company has made no announced decision to produce the
airframe and no manufacturers have chosen the engine to power their
creations. But Hondas long-standing interest in business
aviation if it results in new products being brought to market
could both fundamentally alter the landscape other companies
are used to while bringing potential new customers to the table,
especially from overseas. Given the Japanese companys keen
ability to compete in various markets with innovative design and
cutting-edge technology, this will be a story to watch in 2005.
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Meanwhile, long-standing participants in the bizav marketplace have
kept up the pace of developing new aircraft and new technologies. On
one level, Gulfstream Aerospace leads the pack with the widest
selection of large-cabin, long-range bizjets, especially now that its
top-end products the G350, G450 and G550 have been
certificated and will enter service in 2005. Gulfstreams
Enhanced Vision System (EVS) was well-positioned to take advantage of
the FAAs rule allowing certified enhanced flight vision systems
(EFVS) to be used to determine "enhanced flight visibility" for Part
91 operators. Cessna, too, added several new models to its lineup,
including the Citation XLS, Citation Sovereign, the CJ3, and upgraded
versions of the CJ1 and CJ2. And 2005 likely will see the Citation
Mustangs first flight, followed by certification in 2006.
ONGOING CHALLENGES INCLUDE REGULATIONS
Regulatory changes were also in the business aviation news during
2004. Perhaps the biggest change was in how the FAA views fractional ownership
operations. While the new frax rules were published in
September 2003, they didnt become effective until Dec. 17, 2004.
By most accounts, they have been implemented without too many
challenges, perhaps because industry had a lengthy time frame in which
to read, understand and make them effective. Another widespread change
is the coming Jan. 20, 2005, deadline for RVSM to be
implemented in domestic airspace. More...
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Despite 2003's being one of the industrys safest on record, 2004
ended on several sour notes. Although the NBAA noted in January there
were no fatal accidents among corporate operators its core
constituency in 2003, by the end of the year one notable
corporate fatal accident had occurred, the Oct. 24 crash of a King Air 200 operated by
Hendrick Motorsports into a Virginia mountaintop while attempting
a missed approach. Though not corporate operations in the
technical sense, the same-day crash of a Learjet 35A operated
as an air ambulance near San Diego along with other highly
visible crashes and fatalities late in the year will leave a
black mark on 2004. More...
Last, but not least, aviation security continued to play a huge role
during 2004, not only in how business aviation operations were
conducted and in how much visibility they received but also in
considering the industrys growth opportunities. On one hand, the
industry should consider itself fortunate that it was not subject to
more restrictions and security regulations imposed at the local, state
or federal levels during the year. On another hand, 2004 came and went
without any kind of major security scare or fear-mongering
among the mainstream media. More...
...the next issue of AVweb's BizAVflash will be e-mailed to you
on Jan. 12. More...
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