Business NewsWire Complete Issue

May 10, 2005
By The AVweb Editorial Staff

This issue of AVweb's Business AVflash is brought to you by …
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New Study Tweaks NASA Research Plans

Stating the U.S. industry is "under attack from a variety of directions, both internal and external," a lengthy study on aerospace research released earlier this month highlights what its authors think the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) should be doing in basic aviation research. The $5 million study -- dubbed “Responding to the Call: Aviation Plan for American Leadership” and conducted by the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA), along with the Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee -- is the result of a 2003 mandate from Congress to develop an "integrated approach to regain world leadership in the aviation industry." According to the NIA, the study's authors focused on six key national needs: U.S. economic competitiveness, freedom of air travel, flight safety, securing and defending the nation, protecting the environment, and educating the future workforce. The full 1000-plus page report provides detailed investment plans, budgets and needs assessments for seven aeronautics-industry sectors, including airspace systems, aviation safety and security, subsonic aircraft, supersonic aircraft, hypersonic technologies, rotorcraft, and workforce and education. The study's release comes as NASA's fiscal year 2006 budget for aeronautics research is undergoing congressional scrutiny -- and many on Capitol Hill do not like what they are finding. "We're going to take the 'A' out of it and it's just going to be the National Space Administration," U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) said of the budget two months ago, according to The Associated Press. But that's really nothing new, since the portion of NASA's budget devoted to aviation and aircraft -- instead of space -- has dwindled for several years. The current budget proposal continues that trend, increasing the agency's total spending plan by some 2.5 percent -- to more than $16 billion in 2006 -- while reducing aeronautics research. The IA study is, perhaps, the opening salvo in an uphill battle to reverse that trend, one that has resulted in numerous advancements in aircraft operational safety and efficiency, including synthetic vision, highway-in-the-sky and ways to apply many of the technologies being incorporated into the forthcoming flock of very light jets. As the study noted, the non-commercial aviation sector "must have affordable access to the equipment required for operating in the aviation system of the future. ... Creating affordable avionics and other aircraft systems is key to this transformation."


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Eclipse, DayJet Combine On Latest Per-Seat Charter Scheme

When is a scheduled airline not a scheduled airline? When it's operating as an on-demand carrier along pre-determined routes and selling its transportation services on a per-seat basis, that's when. That basic idea, known as a "public charter" at the Department of Transportation, is what's behind DayJet, a per-seat charter operation announced last month in conjunction with airframe supplier Eclipse. DayJet president and CEO Edward Iacobucci, a prominent high-tech entrepreneur, teamed up with Vern Raburn, president and CEO of Eclipse Aviation, to make the April 25 announcement. Under a long-term agreement with Eclipse Aviation, DayJet will acquire a fleet of 239 Eclipse 500 very light jets (VLJs), with options for 70 additional aircraft. Deliveries will begin shortly after the Eclipse 500 receives FAA certification, which is on track to occur in March 2006. Profitable per-seat charter operations are the dream of many, but the reality has yet to prove itself. One carrier, Chicago-based Indigo, suspended operations along its route between O'Hare International Airport and Teterboro, N.J., in May 2003. DayJet's proposed service, including what the company calls its "innovative real-time operations system," will be, in part, designed to offer on-demand jet services on a “per-seat” basis. Despite Iaobucci's optimism -- at the joint announcement, he said, “Market and technology forces have combined to make this the right time for ‘Per-Seat, On-Demand’ air travel, and our relationship with Eclipse is a cornerstone to our strategy” -- this is still an unproven market. How many -- or how few -- businessmen and women will be willing to shell out the equivalent of a first-class fare for a single seat in the back of a rather smallish (compared to the front end of a 737) Eclipse 500 simply isn't known. Indigo, which started with Falcon 20s and tried to relaunch service with Embraer regional jets, didn't prove or disprove the business model, in part because it was only operating over a fixed route. Eclipse's collaboration with DayJet dates to 2002, when the two companies first began developing thee concept.

Eclipse Marks Successful Maiden Flight Of Third Eclipse 500 Jet

Meanwhile, Eclipse is not letting any grass grow under its feet. The company last month announced the first flight of its third Eclipse 500 VLJ. The aircraft, N504EA, is the second to join the company's flight-test fleet in the same month. With three VLJs now in active flight testing, Eclipse says it "continues to demonstrate rapid progress toward FAA certification," presently scheduled for the first calendar quarter of 2006. During its first flight, N504EA reached an altitude of 16,800 feet and 170 knots. The airframe is being used for testing of the Eclipse 5000's electrical system, displays, communication and navigation system, autopilot system, the radar and the datalink systems. Like Eclipse’s first two flight-test aircraft, N504EA is a fully equipped production prototype. According to Eclipse, N504EA took off from the Albuquerque International Sunport at 2:10 p.m. local time and flew a one-hour test card. The aircraft, powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC) PW610F turbofan engines, was piloted by test pilots Brian Mathy and Ed Grabman and successfully completed all tests, including handling qualities at various flap settings, flap and trim operations, cabin pressurization, avionics, and electrical system testing. Eclipse says its flight-test fleet has accumulated more than 40 flight test hours since April 1, as the pace of testing continues to accelerate.

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Dassault's Falcon 7X Takes Flight

Another first flight in recent weeks took place in France. No, not the Airbus A380. Instead, Dassault Aviation's facility in Bordeaux Mérignac, France, was the site when Falcon 7X s/n 01 took off for the first time. Test pilots Yves "Bill" Kerherve and Philippe Deleume were aboard for the 01:36 flight. "The first flight of the Falcon 7X was a success," said Kerherve, who is the senior test pilot for Dassault Aviation. "The aircraft performed beautifully and we're on track to start the rigorous 15 months of flight testing that lay ahead." After takeoff, the first Falcon 7X climbed to 10,000 feet, where its crew performed various systems checks. Subsequent tests of the airplane's acceleration/deceleration characteristics, as well as basic autopilot and auto-throttle operations, were conducted at FL260. The Falcon 7X carried the registration numbers of F-WFBW as a reminder that it is also the first bizjet with a fly-by-wire flight control system. The plane is to be relocated to the Dassault Test Center in Istres, France, and will be joined by two more examples of the 7X by the summer. The company expects approximately 1200 flight-test hours will be needed before final certification by the FAA and EASA, presently scheduled for late 2006.

New Gulfstream G150 Takes Flight

It's that time of year: Gulfstream Aerospace earlier this month announced the first flight of its G150, a mid-sized, wide-cabin offering designed and built in collaboration with Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) in Tel Aviv, Israel. Flown by IAI chief test pilot Ronen Shapira and G150 project test pilot Yoram Geva, the G150 took off from Ben Gurion International Airport for a 04:13 flight. Initial checks included all aircraft systems and handling characteristics as well as the landing gear and flap/slat system. The airplane was flown to FL200 and achieved a maximum speed of 250 knots. Chief Test Pilot Shapira commented that the flight went “very smoothly with no issues noted.” “The G150 has exceeded our expectations. Based on the pilots’ initial reports, the G150’s flying qualities were outstanding and all systems were fully operational,” said Pres Henne, senior vice president, programs, engineering and test, Gulfstream. The G150 was rolled out of the Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) manufacturing facility in Tel Aviv in January. It remains on schedule for type certification by the Israel Civil Aviation Authority in the first quarter of next year, followed shortly thereafter by validation from the FAA, and entry into service in the third quarter of 2006. The G150 is powered by two Honeywell TFE731-40AR engines and can accommodate six to eight passengers in a choice of several cabin configurations.

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Gulfstream G450 Enters Service

Gulfstream Aerospace this month also announced delivery of the first G450. The G450 is an updated version of the GIV-SP, sharing many of the features of the company's top-of-the-line G550. Both aircraft feature the exclusive PlaneView cockpit, which includes four large flight displays and Honeywell’s Primus Epic avionics and Visual Guidance System (VGS). The G450 and G550 also feature as standard equipment the award-winning Gulfstream Enhanced Vision System (EVS), which was developed to improve safety of flight by enhancing pilot situational awareness while reducing pilot workload. The Gulfstream EVS is the first system of its type certified by the FAA. “Just over two years ago the G450 took its first flight and today we’ve delivered the first of the series to its owner. We’ve met the development schedule that we committed to early on and have accomplished each program milestone on time, including today’s entry-into-service,” said Pres Henne, senior vice president, programs, engineering and test, Gulfstream. Powered by two Rolls-Royce Tay 611-8C engines, the G450 can fly eight passengers nonstop from Madrid to Caracas or Dallas to Paris and cruise at altitudes up to FL450 feet and at speeds up to Mach .88.

Embraer Commits To Smaller, Lighter BizJet Market

Embraer earlier this month announced it plans to enter the market for jets both lighter and smaller than its large-cabin Legacy offering with models designed for the "very light" and "light" categories. “Embraer is committed to making long-term investments in this business to offer revolutionary products and completely integrated solutions to a sophisticated customer base. Our goal is to build a robust business aviation unit and a global infrastructure to support it,” said Luís Carlos Affonso, senior vice-president for the corporate aviation market. Few details were made available in the company's announcement but Embraer, which also markets the highly successful EMB-135/145/170 regional jets and small airliner, said both aircraft will be designed for "single-pilot operation and an easy transition for less experienced pilots." Embraer’s very light jet is planned to carry up to eight people and be powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada’s PW617F engine, with 1615 pounds of thrust. Its range will be 1160 nm with four people aboard and it will have a maximum operating speed of Mach 0.7. The very light jet is expected to enter service in mid-2008 and will be priced at $2.75 million in 2005 dollars. The light jet will be powered by P&WC’s PW535E engine, with 3200 pounds of thrust. The Embraer LJ will accommodate up to nine people; its range with six aboard will be 1800 nm and it will have a maximum operating speed of Mach 0.78. The light jet is expected to enter service in mid-2009 and be priced at 6.65 million in 2005 dollars.

The owners of the Lake Aircraft line of amphibious airplanes have chosen the auction method of marketing to select a new owner for their Lake Amphibian production line. This comprehensive sale will include the FAA Type Certificate and associated STCs, engineering data, all documentation, historical information, fleet support inventory, and manufacturing capacity. The inventory (in its entirety) will be sold as a comprehensive package to one able buyer for the purpose of resuming full production capacity. The auction will be held at 4:30pm July 27 at the EAA Aviation Center's Vette Theater in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. For additional information and a complete list of assets to be conveyed, call Higgenbotham Auctioneers at (800) 257-4161, or visit their web site ( at

Citation Mustang’s First Flight Is A Success

Not too be left out of the foregoing list of initial test flights and customer deliveries, Cessna last month celebrated its own first: the first flight of the Citation Mustang, the company's entry in the upcoming very light jet (VLJ) sweepstakes. Piloted by Scotty Jergenson and Dave Bonifield, the Citation Mustang prototype made a 141-minute flight during which various stability and control tests were performed, including cycling of the landing gear, flaps and speed brakes. The flight departed from McConnell AFB and concluded at Wichita’s Mid-Continent Airport. The Citation Mustang was announced in 2002 and will be certified as an FAR Part 23 aircraft, with an anticipated cruise speed of 340 knots and a maximum altitude of FL410. It is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW615F dual-channel FADEC engines, each providing 1350 pounds of thrust, and features a fully integrated, all-glass Garmin International G1000 avionics suite. “When we initially entered the business jet market, we expanded the market by providing customers with an entry level jet that was quieter, simpler, safer and less expensive than any other business jet on the market at that time,” said Jack J. Pelton, Cessna’s chairman, president and CEO. “The Citation Mustang builds upon this legacy and opens the base of the business jet market further than before.” The Citation Mustang prototype is one of three airframes dedicated to certification efforts and will be used primarily for aerodynamic and system tests. The first production Citation Mustang (serial number 001) will be used for avionics development and certification.

Sentient Expands International Reach

Sentient Jet, a leading membership-based charter broker, last month announced forming a strategic alliance with UK-based Air Partner, one of the largest private-jet services companies in the world. According to U.S.-based Sentient, Air Partner and Sentient will now cooperate to provide all of their customers a range of private-jet membership and charter options, depending on their global and regional travel needs. The companies will also provide private-jet solutions for resorts and destination clubs requiring an increasingly global solution to meet the needs of their customers. The alliance gives customers of both companies "enhanced access to the flexibility, convenience and value of a globally integrated private jet network," Sentient said. Air Partner, in turn, will introduce additional features to its existing Jet Membership Program that will make the product nearly identical to the current Sentient model in North America. "Air Partner's extensive capabilities in global private jet travel and commercial services are unparalleled," said Steven Hankin, chief executive officer of Sentient Jet. "By combining forces with Air Partner we now offer a better global jet network for our members and corporate clients with a broader range of aircraft solutions than any of our U.S.-based competitors."

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First Bombardier Global 5000 Enters Service

Bombardier Aerospace last month announced the entry into service of the first completed Bombardier Global 5000 business jet. The aircraft departed Montreal on Monday, April 18, 2005, and is now in service with a corporate operator based in the Middle East. Launched in February 2002, the Bombardier Global 5000 can, under certain conditions, feature a top cruise speed of Mach 0.89 and a 4,800-nautical-mile (8,889-km) range at Mach 0.85. "The Bombardier Global 5000 business jet has arrived - and it will elevate intercontinental, high-speed travel to a new level," stated Duncan Koerbel, vice-president and general manager, Global Product Line. As of March 2005, Bombardier had delivered a total of nine green, or unfinished, Global 5000 aircraft into completion.

China's First Piston Single Completes Flight Testing

Chinese media last month reported that the country's first homegrown private aircraft has completed its final test flights and will soon go into mass production. According to published reports, the Xiaoying, or "Eaglet," 500 made some 339 flights over the past nine months as part of its flight-test program, which was conducted in Xi’an. Some 24 examples of the new type are expected too be manufactured by the end of 2005. The general-purpose piston single is comparable in performance to similar western aircraft. Already, plans exist for a growth version, the -800, specifications for which were not available. According to published reports, the airplane was jointly developed and manufactured by Shijiazhuang Aircraft Industry Co., Ltd., under China Aviation Industry Corporation II (AVIC II), the First Aircraft Institute of China Aviation Industry Corporation I (AVIC I) and China Civil Aviation Flight University.

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