Business NewsWire Complete Issue

May 24, 2005
By The AVweb Editorial Staff

This issue of AVweb's Business AVflash is brought to you by …
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Falcon 900DX Takes Flight...

Dassault Aviation's facility in Bordeaux Merignac, France, was once again the site -- on May 13, 2005 -- of a first flight, this time of the company's new Falcon 900DX trijet. Test pilots Etienne Faurdessus and Philippe Narbey were at the controls for the flight, which lasted more than three hours. The -DX, the latest derivative of Dassault's venerable flagship bizjet, climbed to FL410 and reached a maximum speed of 370 knots. Low-speed handling qualities down to 130 knots in the clean configuration were checked as well as performance down to 100 knots with the landing gear lowered. "All systems performed flawlessly," explained Faurdessus. "We verified aircraft and navigation systems. The new fuel system was tested with several fuel transfers to check correct pump operation and to make sure the newly designed fuel tanks properly fed the engines." The Falcon 900DX fills an important niche between the 3,800-nm Falcon 2000EX and 4,500-nm Falcon 900EX. The 4,100 nm range of the new 900DX enables nonstop flights across the globe, matching city pairs like Geneva and Detroit or New York and Athens. "The Falcon 900DX offers tremendous value to our customers," said John Rosanvallon, president and CEO of Dassault Falcon Jet Corp. "New production processes allow us to offer a new airplane with many new features including the award winning EASy flight deck without significantly increasing the price over its predecessor." With the exception of the fuel tanks' structure and the forward section, the Falcon 900DX shares the same basic design as the 900EX, including engines (Honeywell TFE31-60), avionics and other cockpit and cabin equipment. Also, all 900DX copies will come with the EASy flight deck as standard equipment. More than ten 900DXs are in various stages of production. Certification is and first deliveries are planned for late 2005.


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...While Falcon 7X Flight-Test Program Progresses

Meanwhile, Dassault's Falcon 7X, which first flew on May 5, 2005, has been airborne almost daily, accumulating almost 15 hours of flight time as of mid-May. The design, which features what the company calls the first "fly-by-wire" bizjet, is yet another refinement of the Dassault's three-engine philosophy and incorporates levels of technology similar to other Falcon offerings. According to the company, testing for all of the modes of the fly-by-wire controls including reversionary modes has been accomplished. The airplane was also landed using fly-by-wire backup modes. "Real time flight data analysis and excellent reliability have allowed us to move forward faster than expected," said Yves "Bill" Kerherve, senior chief test pilot for Dassault Aviation. The first five flights have been dedicated to progressive flight-envelope expansion. "So far, we have opened up the flight envelope to 41,000 feet, Mach 0.82 and 280 knots Indicated Air Speed," said Philippe Deleume, Falcon chief test pilot. "We have completed turns with bank angles of 80 degrees to test buffet and handling qualities. Also, we tested the aircraft's slow speed performance down to 105 knots and pulled 2 G's during various maneuvers." During the fifth flight, the pilots voluntarily shut down engine number three in flight to check test relighting. The Pratt & Whitney Canada PW307A turbofan performed as expected. The PW307A received its Type Certificate from Transport Canada on April 15, just 28 months after the first engine run. "Engine response from idle to maximum power is just amazing and is much faster than on all previous Falcons," said Deleume. The aircraft is typically flown with 15,000 pounds of fuel, giving it a takeoff weight of 54,000 pounds with flight-test equipment. At that weight, takeoff distance has been typically around 2,450 feet. Climb rates of up to 5,000 fpm have been demonstrated and descent rates of 7,000 fpm have been performed to check the pressurization system. A static- and fatigue-test example of the Falcon 7X airframe has been undergoing tests since March 2005.

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Adam Aircraft Receives A500 Type Certificate

It's been a long time in coming -- more than seven years, to be exact -- but May 11, 2005, saw the FAA issue a Type Certificate (TC) to Adam Aircraft for its A500 Centerline Twin. “We are very pleased for our team who worked so hard for this TC,” said Adam Aircraft Chairman and CEO Rick Adam. “I am also very happy for our customers who will be able to pilot their A500s soon. Working with the FAA, we have produced a next-generation twin that meets or exceeds the highest safety and regulatory standards.” The A500 is constructed of high-performance Toray carbon fiber material and powered by two Teledyne Continental TSIO-550 turbocharged piston engines in a centerline configuration. Inside the cabin are 26-G seats, side-stick controls, airbags at the crew stations and a glass flight deck with displays from Avidyne with Garmin radios. An air-stair door, club seating and, according to the company, "the largest cabin in its class" round out the A500's top features. Final performance numbers will include a 230-knot cruise speed, more than a 1,000-nm NBAA IFR range at 75% power, and a cabin altitude of 8,000 feet at the aircraft's maximum operating altitude of FL250. The first major production milestone for the A500 was announced in October 2004, with the rollout of S/N 004, the first customer aircraft. Since that time, five other customer aircraft have been added to the production process. Facilities in Englewood and Pueblo, Colo., and in Ogden, Utah, will help the company ramp up to its goal of producing six aircraft each month. Additionally, Adam expects to obtain an FAA production certificate. “Placing customers into their planes for the very first time is always the most rewarding part of any aircraft development process,” said Joe Walker, president and COO of Adam Aircraft. “We are looking forward to delivering this great aircraft to our backlog of more than 65 customers.” The A500 support structure includes nine factory-authorized service centers, and AOG field service assistance will be provided to maintain the highest degree of dispatch reliability for customer aircraft. Training for pilots will be provided at the factory under an FAA-approved FAA Industry Training Standards (FITS) training syllabus.

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Honeywell Engine Development Continues

With all the new airframes being developed, certificated and delivered, one might wonder about powerplant development. Almost on cue, Honeywell this month updated the industry on its development of two new engines, the HTS900 turboshaft designed for helicopters and the TFE731-50 turbofan, for jets. Both updates occurred in conjunction with the EBACE bizjet show in Geneva, Switzerland. According to the company, the HTS900 is a dual-channel, full authority digital engine control (FADEC) powerplant of 925 shp, achieving all designed power specifications. The engine is expected to deliver specific fuel consumption levels of .54 lb per shaft horsepower or a 5-percent decrease from earlier Honeywell helicopter engines. Customers will have their choice of two engine output shaft speeds, a 6,317 rpm version or a 9,598 rpm version, for either single- or twin-engine applications. Official certification is expected by mid-2006. The company said a second copy of the model has joined the certification-testing program. Meanwhile, the new TFE 731-50 turbofan engine has begun flight tests on Honeywell’s Falcon 20 test-bed aircraft. The engine has accumulated 26 flight hours and nearly 100 hours of cumulative run time as of mid-May; the company says its program is on schedule to meet a 2006 certification and that engine testing will continue through a series of flight tests to verify and validate altitude performance and operability. The engine is designed to deliver up to 5,000 pounds of takeoff thrust and will be offered with integrated nacelle and thrust reverser systems. The TFE731-50 is a "low-risk derivative of the current –60 production engine," according to Honeywell. The TFE731-50 utilizes an N1 Digital Electronic Engine Control with hydromechanical backup as well as improved designs of the compressor vanes and blades for better cooling effectiveness. With respect to the HTS900, “Honeywell is expanding its commitment in rotor-powered aircraft with an engine we believe will deliver the reliability and low cost of ownership our customers have come to expect,” said Barry Eccleston, vice president and general manager, Propulsion Systems Enterprise, Honeywell Engines Systems & Service. “Based upon proven capabilities, the HTS900 is expected to deliver superior reliability with unscheduled engine mean-time between removal of more than 4,000 flight hours,” he added.

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Raytheon Introduces The Hawker 800XPi...

Also in Geneva, the Raytheon Aircraft Company announced an upgraded version of the company's well-known Hawker 800 bizjet, dubbed the Hawker 800XPi. Raytheon says the new Hawker 800XPi will feature the latest Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics suite, and a new interior and cabin management system. Raytheon said the Hawker 800XPi will include the Rockwell Collins Integrated Flight Information Systems (IFIS) and Pro Line 21 Communication, Navigation, and Surveillance (CNS) suite as a standard feature from mid-2005. The company added that the avionics suite's upgrades will provide operators with more reliable communication and navigation capabilities with less weight and volume, while also supplying the necessary architecture for future digital ATC communications. The Hawker 800XPi will also include electronic charts and enhanced map overlays as a standard feature of the IFIS system. "These upgrades to the Hawker 800XPi make it the most capable, dependable, and reliable midsize jet in the market," said Brad Hatt, president and general manager of Hawker Business at Raytheon Aircraft Company. Options available for the Hawker 800XPi include 3D flight management system mapping, paperless cockpit and real-time graphical cockpit weather. The graphical cockpit weather upgrade comes in two flavors: World Wide Weather with Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS), which is provided by Universal Weather and Aviation Inc., as well as United States Weather (both graphical and textual), which is provided by XM Weather. The Hawker 800XPi interior and cabin management upgrade addresses customer-requested amenities by increasing the aft baggage volume and usability. Also, a Rockwell Collins Airshow 21 Cabin Management System includes user-friendly LCD touch screens at each seat plus one on each divan armrest. The company also plans to offer the IFIS and the advanced options to all fielded Hawker 800XPs that are equipped with the Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics suite.

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...And The Beechcraft Premier IA

In addition to the Hawker 800Xpi, Raytheon announced last week another set of upgrades to one of its bizjets; this time it's the Premier I getting the makeover treatment to become the Premier IA. The company says the Premier IA will feature a totally redesigned interior, avionics enhancements and several systems improvements, all of which are part of the Premier I's planned evolution. “We continually listen to our customers’ needs, and their feedback is critical to our product improvement strategy for all Beechcraft products,” said President and General Manager of Beechcraft Randy Groom. “With more than 100 Premier I’s now flying around the world, the new Beechcraft Premier IA is a perfect example of the evolution of a tremendous aircraft, based on customer input,” he added. The company said the Premier I is the largest and fastest single-pilot jet in the world. Available later this summer, the 2006-model Beechcraft Premier IA offers a more contemporary interior with more options. Features include a new contoured cabin headliner that increases passenger headroom, adjustable LED downwash lighting and repositioned passenger reading lights. Cabin chairs should be more comfortable, Raytheon said, and new seat base contouring was added for more foot room for fifth- and sixth-seat occupants. Four restyled cabinetry choices allow integration of the Collins cabin entertainment system with CD/DVD and Airshow capability. Up front, the Beechcraft Premier IA’s flight deck incorporates Rockwell Collins Integrated Flight Information Systems (IFIS) into the existing Pro Line 21 (PL21) avionics suite. Additional avionics and cockpit upgrades now standard in the Premier IA include a three-display PL21 arrangement versus two-display in the Beechcraft Premier I, digital radio and audio systems and IFIS cursor control panel. The cockpit also includes improved rail-mounted sun visors and a 110-VAC laptop computer outlet.

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Bombardier Launches Corporate Shuttles

The so-called "corporate shuttle" concept -- aircraft dedicated solely to moving employees between a firm's various facilities -- has been around for decades, but no airframer has ever marketed an airplane specifically for that market. Until now. Bombardier last week said the growing market for corporate shuttles has led it to introduce what it calls Bombardier Corporate Shuttle Solutions, which it bills as a "complete family of Bombardier Challenger corporate shuttle jets, backed by a full engineering, program, sales and customer support team." The three new Bombardier Challenger corporate shuttle models -- the Bombardier Challenger 850, 870 and 890, derived from the Bombardier CRJ200, CRJ700 and CRJ900 regional jet platforms, respectively -- are being launched as the company's research shows that a sizeable portion of corporate shuttle aircraft are due for replacement in the near future. "There has never been a better time to offer our Bombardier Corporate Shuttle Solutions to the market," stated James Hoblyn, vice-president of Bombardier Business Aircraft. According to Bombardier, each aircraft model in the Corporate Shuttle Solutions program offers a choice of three floorplan configurations that optimize passenger seating, galley and lavatory options. All models feature stand-up cabins, a flat floor and a minimum of 31 inches between seats. Under the three basic interior options, the Standard Cabin has CRJ economy-class seating throughout, with four seats per row. The Split Cabin offers executive-type seats and cabin furnishings in the forward cabin and CRJ economy class seating placed four abreast in the aft cabin, while the Deluxe Cabin configuration has business-class seating throughout with three seats per row. Passenger capacities and aircraft range differ with each cabin option depending on the aircraft model. All Bombardier Challenger corporate shuttle aircraft feature a maximum operating altitude of FL410. The Challenger 850 features a high-speed cruise of Mach 0.80 (850 km/h) while the Challenger 870 and 890 shuttles can both fly at Mach 0.82 (872 km/h).

Boeing Soon To Reach 100 BBJ Orders

Boeing's Business Jets operation last week said the company is advancing toward a major program milestone -- selling 100 business jets. According to the company, no other ultra-large-cabin, long-range business jet manufacturer has accomplished that feat and the BBJ and BBJ2 continue to lead that market by outselling its nearest competitor by a factor of 4 to 1. Boeing says that, since its inception in 1996, Boeing Business Jets has won orders and commitments for 97 airplanes, winning six within the past six months. The BBJ and BBJ2 are high-performance derivatives of the commercially popular Next-Generation 737-700 and 737-800, respectively. "The interest and orders for the BBJ continues to grow. We're confident that the record sales pace will continue and that we will achieve 100 orders before the end of this year," BBJ President Steven Hill said during a media briefing at the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition in Geneva, Switzerland. The latest orders and commitments for four BBJs and two BBJ 2s came from customers in the Middle East region, the United States and the Commonwealth of Independent States. Fifty-seven customers have ordered 83 BBJs and 14 BBJ2s. About 40 percent of BBJ customers are private individuals, 38 percent are government heads of state, and the remaining customer segment is divided between corporate and charter operators. According to Boeing, the BBJ cabin offers 807 square feet of space; the BBJ2 offers 25 percent more cabin space and twice as much cargo capacity as the BBJ. The company says there are currently 81 BBJs in service around the world. The fleet has generated more than 140,000 flight hours to date and 56,256 flights, with an industry-leading 99.9 percent dispatch reliability.

Cessna Citation Mustang Update

Since Cessna's Citation Mustang prototype took its first flight on April 23, 2005, the new very light jet (VLJ) has logged more than 36 hours in 19 flights and thorough testing of all systems is well underway, the company said earlier this month. In addition to the systems testing -- including the Garmin G1000 avionics suite and the Pratt & Whitney PW615F engines and FADECs -- the Mustang's initial flight-envelope expansion was completed on May 2, 2005, with the Mustang demonstrating its interim flight envelope limits of 200 KIAS (0.63 Mach) and FL410. Cessna anticipates further expansion to Vmo and Mmo over the summer. Meanwhile, ground testing on the Citation Mustang cyclic fatigue test article begins in July at Cessna’s 74,000-square-foot structural test facility in Wichita. The test article will fly over five lifetimes (75,000 hours) prior to Citation Mustang certification, Cessna said. In addition, 20 other ground test articles will be used for development and certification. Ground tests completed to date include safety of flight proof load conditions on the static article airframe, development drop testing for both the main and nose landing gear, and proof testing of all flight control systems. “The Citation Mustang is getting off to a great start,” said Jack J. Pelton, Cessna’s chairman, president and CEO. “We were able to complete first flight ahead of schedule, and during the first two weeks of flight testing we have not lost any flights due to mechanical or system failures.” The Citation Mustang prototype will primarily be used for aerodynamic and system tests. The first production Citation Mustang (serial number 001) will be used for avionics development and certification. The second production Citation Mustang (serial number 002) will primarily be used for function and reliability tests and post-certification service tests, Cessna said.

Honeywell Offers Web-Based Flight-Planning Services

Honeywell announced last week it will be offering a new Web-based flight planning service tailored to business aircraft operators that allows them to create and file flight plans using any personal computer connected to the Internet without special software. Pilots can choose to have the system automatically create a flight plan optimized for best fuel efficiency or the shortest flight, based on the most current wind information. Other options include using historical winds, user-defined step climbs and random routing. Honeywell says the system includes performance data for some 240 business aircraft and has a wide variety of international routes from which to choose. For oceanic contingency planning, Honeywell's Web Flight Planning uses the most current wind information to automatically calculate Equal Time Points between diversionary airports, simplifying the choice of a landing site in the event of a loss of cabin pressurization or an engine-out emergency. According to the company, the system also calculates optimum performance recommendations for abnormal in-flight events, based on aircraft manufacturers’ performance data. “This new system is incredibly intuitive. It leads you step by step through the process,” said Scott Hamilton, director of Honeywell Flight Support Services. “To reduce workload while permitting personalization, we configured the system so pilots can directly enter information that is unique to their particular aircraft and preferences,” Hamilton said. “From then on, the system automatically bases flight plans on operator preferences and performance data provided by the aircraft’s manufacturer.” Web Flight Planning service is included in many Honeywell Global Data Center service plans. While Honeywell’s legacy flight planning system will remain available for a period of time, the new system eventually will replace it.

Jet Aviation Adds To Fleet

Since 2005 began, Jet Aviation's U.S. and European aircraft management and flight support divisions have signed 17 new long-term agreements that added a variety of business jets to its worldwide fleet of now more than 160 aircraft, the company said this month. Jet Aviation's European division added 10 aircraft to its management fleet, including a Learjet 31A and Learjet 60, an Embraer Legacy, a Challenger 604, one Gulfstream V, two Gulfstream 550s, two BBJ2s and, for the first time, an Airbus 319 Corporate Jetliner. In the U.S., contracts were signed for three Beechjet 400s, a Hawker 800XP, a Dassault Falcon 50, a Challenger 601 and a Gulfstream IVSP. "Currently there is a great demand for aircraft management and flight support services and we are pleased that customers choose Jet Aviation to support their operation," say J rg Reuthinger and John Thomas, heads of the European respective U.S. aircraft management and flight support divisions. Jet Aviation operates three 24-hour international planning and reservation coordination centers strategically located in Zurich, Switzerland, Hong Kong, China and Teterboro, N.J.

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