Business NewsWire Complete Issue

June 14, 2005
By The AVweb Editorial Staff

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


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Grob Announces New Jet

German airframer Grob, well-known throughout general aviation for its sailplanes and light aircraft, this week at the Paris Air Show announced plans to market a new light business jet, the Grob SPn Utility Jet. Billed as "combining the performance and passenger comfort of a light business jet with the operational versatility of a turboprop," Grob's new offering will be derived from an all-composite airframe powered by two rear-mounted, FADEC-controlled Williams FJ44-3A turbofan engines. According to the company, it will be designed specifically to regularly operate from unimproved runways, including gravel, soil and turf. Among the features making unimproved runways a viable option for the planned jet are large wheels with low-pressure tires and carbon brakes. Grob says, "No competing aircraft is as capable of operating on a regular basis in such harsh environments," and they're probably right. The Grob SPn Utility Jet is reminiscent of Raytheon's Premier I, also an all-composite fuselage light jet. It will be a low-wing, conventional-tail design certified for single-pilot operation and seating up to nine passengers, or two pilots and eight pax. It will have a maximum gross takeoff weight of 13,889 lbs., a maximum payload of 2,491 lbs. and a maximum ceiling of FL410. Avionics slated for the new offering will include the Honeywell APEX system, which features one 15-inch PFD apiece for the pilot and co-pilot, plus two shared 10-inch MFDs. The configuration will include TCAS II with change 7, and EGPWS. GROB says the SPn Utility Jet will be type-certified in the "commuter category" for single-pilot operation under EASA CS 23 and FAA Part 23 regulations and will allow single-pilot operation under both VFR day/night, IFR and in known icing conditions. It also will meet RVSM, MNPS and P-RNAV requirements. Planned maximum range will be 1,850 nm; 1,800 nm with six passengers and one pilot. With all passenger seats filled and one pilot, range will be reduced to 1,670 nm. The company says its design stage for the SPn Utility Jet is complete and that assembly of the first test aircraft was completed earlier this month. That airframe -- including a full interior mock-up -- is on display in Paris. The company intends to move quickly, estimating EASA certification in the first quarter of 2007, with FAA certification and first deliveries in the second quarter of 2007.


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Aerion SSBJ Update

Also at Paris, Aerion -- the people working to bring a supersonic business jet (SSBJ) to market -- updated the industry on its efforts, which were first announced in October 2004. According to the company, Aerion's SSBJ could enter service as early as 2011, if its "detailed design and flight-test effort" continues without delay. "There are no impediments to the development of this aircraft from a technical standpoint," remarked Aerion Chief Operating Officer Mike Henderson. "From the business case standpoint, new research has validated a market of sufficient size to proceed." The company says it is in the process of "briefing original equipment manufacturers and first-tier suppliers" it would like to help share the develop risk leading to certification and production of the aircraft. Said Aerion in a press release, "The timing of alliances and the launch of development would determine the potential service entry date." According to the company, "proprietary market research conducted over the past nine months confirms sufficient demand to proceed with the development of the proposed Aerion supersonic business jet." Aerion says the study it commissioned demonstrates there is a market for 220 to 260 of Aerion's SSBJs over a 10-year period. Of that market, approximately 20 percent of projected sales would come from the fractional aircraft market. A 20-year program life could lead to production of more than 500 airframes, said Aerion. "This extensive research makes it very clear that there is sufficient demand to justify investment going forward," said Robert Bass, Aerion's chairman. "Leading corporations have told us conclusively that they attach a high value to speed. This should come as no surprise given the premium being paid today for the fastest subsonic jets, and given the increasing travel by executives in a globalized economy."

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Record, Record, Who's Got The Record?

With Aerion seemingly taking its time bringing an SSBJ to market, traditional bizjet makers aren't standing still, even though they're still mired in the subsonic world. Within the last month, both Gulfstream and Bombardier announced new speed records for their larger, longer-range aircraft while being flown across the Atlantic Ocean en route to one air show or another. In Savannah, Ga.-based Gulfstream's case, it was a G450 on May 17, 2005 -- just a week after entering service -- that established a new city-pair speed record between the DuPage, Ill., airport in the Chicago area and London. The G450 covered the 3,550 nm in 0719, for an average speed of Mach .85. The company said en route winds were nil and the aircraft landed with 3,500 lb of fuel remaining. Meanwhile, Bombardier's Global 5000, which the company bills as the fastest transcontinental civil aircraft since the Concorde, on June 11 set a new speed record, flying slightly further than the G450 (3,510 nm) in slightly less time (0715). The Global's flight, also from the Chicago area -- Palwaukee, Ill., this time -- to Le Bourget Airport in Paris carried a production interior, a four-person crew, and a payload of 1,600 lbs. Bombardier says its Global 5000 cruised at Mach 0.88 or higher throughout the flight, experienced some moderate tailwinds, and landed with fuel reserves in excess of NBAA IFR requirements. Both flights were submitted to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), which certifies aviation records. Predictably, both companies used the occasions to tout their products' capabilities. Said Roger Noble, assistant chief pilot for Bombardier Business Aircraft and pilot-in-command on the Global 5000, "This flight clearly demonstrates the Global 5000's superior speed, range and handling capabilities ... first announced at its February 2002 launch." Gulfstream rolled out Pres Henne, senior vice president, programs, engineering and test, who said, "This record-setting flight further demonstrates that the G450 is perfect for international travel. The G450 can take you faster and farther than any other business jet in its class." Now, if we can just get them to fly somewhere in formation...

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Dassault Celebrates LIT Completion Center's 30th Anniversary

June 1 saw Dassault Falcon Jet celebrating the 30th anniversary of its Little Rock, Ark., completion center, which has seen projects as varied as configuring Falcon 200s for a then-fledgling all-cargo carrier known as Federal Express and will soon see brand-new Falcon 7Xs rolling out. According to Dassault, the facility is the main completion center for Falcon business jets worldwide, employing 1,500 personnel. All of the company's Falcon business jets are built in Bordeaux, France, and flown to the U.S. "green" for installation of interiors, options and paint. "For 30 years, Little Rock has been giving each Falcon its individual personality with care, precision and passion," said John Rosanvallon, president and CEO of Dassault Falcon. In 1975, Dassault purchased Little Rock Airmotive, consisting of a 61,500-sq. ft. hangar and office space, original plans for which had the facility "completing" Falcons for the Western Hemisphere and the Pacific Rim. Since then, the facility has continuously expanded and is now the main completion center for all Falcon aircraft and the largest Dassault facility worldwide. In the past 30 years, nearly 900 Falcons have been completed at LIT. Less than a year ago, a new state-of-the-art paint facility was opened and another round of expansion is now underway. A dedicated hangar for the Falcon 7X program should break ground in July 2005 with the final phase of construction concluding in 2006.

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Bombardier Not Negligent in Payne Stewart Crash

On June 8, a Florida jury decided that Bombardier's Learjet unit was not liable for the Oct. 25, 1999, crash of a Learjet 35 that killed professional golfer Payne Stewart, three other passengers and both crewmembers. The golfer's family had brought suit against the manufacturer in an Orlando, Fla. court -- the jet's departure point -- asking $200 million in damages. The six-woman jury deliberated for more than six hours before returning the verdict. According to the NTSB's probable-cause determination, the jet crashed because of "incapacitation of the flight crewmembers as a result of their failure to receive supplemental oxygen following a loss of cabin pressurization, for undetermined reasons." Stewart's family maintained that Learjet was negligent in the airplane's design and manufacture and that a faulty pressurization system resulted in a decompression event. Once the flight departed Orlando, radio contact was lost after ATC cleared it to FL390, and the Learjet continued on a heading eventually taking it to South Dakota. The airplane was intercepted by several military aircraft, the pilots of which could not see any structural anomaly. On exhausting its fuel, the Learjet impacted an open field near Aberdeen, S.D. All on board died.

Honeywell Develops Secure Aircraft Communication System

The Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) has been around for some time, becoming almost ubiquitous in airline cockpits and aboard high-end business jets, especially those with intercontinental range. But, "Currently, individuals with inexpensive radio scanners and freeware available through the Internet are able to monitor unsecure ACARS message transmissions," said Frank Daly, president of Honeywell Commercial Electronic Systems. Honeywell, recognizing there's a market for a more secure ACARS, recently conducted successful tests of just that system. The company's solution uses a communications management unit with built-in industry-standard cryptography to secure datalink messages sent to and from aircraft via ACARS. Honeywell's Global Data Center in Redmond, Wash., processed the secure messages on the ground. Honeywell plans to make the Secure ACARS system available for commercial air transport operators, regional airlines, business aircraft operators, and the U.S. military. The first systems will be configured for air transport and regional operators and will be available during 2006.

The Columbia 400's twin turbochargers can now be put to full effect with the aircraft's recent certification to 25,000 feet. With the added altitude to play with, the Columbia 400 gives pilots even more flexibility than before. Set the throttle to 80% power and cruise at 235 knots — that's faster than any other piston-powered aircraft in production today. Or ease the power back and increase range to standard-setting levels. A company official recently flew an unmodified Columbia 400 non-stop from Bend, Oregon to Fort Worth, Texas (a distance of more than 1,300 nm) while averaging 200 kts. Find out what a Columbia 400 can do for you at

Honeywell's RAAS Gains European Approvals

Also at Paris this week, Honeywell announced the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and France's Direction Générale de l'Aviation Civile (DGAC) have given initial approvals to the company's Runway Awareness and Advisory System (RAAS) in Europe. EASA issued a Supplemental Type Certificate covering RAAS installation on Learjet 31, 35, 36, 55 and 60 series aircraft while the French regulatory authorities approved it for the Boeing 777. The FAA certified RAAS last year and it has since been approved aboard a diverse set of business jet and air transport aircraft. "This is a major stride in safety improvement for Europe, since runway incursions and other related ground accidents are increasing at an unacceptable rate," said Frank Daly, president of Honeywell Commercial Electronic Systems. Honeywell's RAAS is a software add-on for the company's EGPWS that gives pilots an aural warning when they are entering a runway and at other crucial points on the airport surface. It also advises pilots of the identification of the runway they are using, whether the runway is too short, and whether they are attempting to take off from a taxiway.

New "Per-Seat" Charter To Serve Aspen

With the idea of using business jets for loosely scheduled, per-seat charter transportation heating up, passengers wanting to travel to and from Aspen, Colo., will soon have even more options when Dallas, Texas-based Perfect Jet begins operations on June 30. Presently set to operate on Thursdays and Sundays, Perfect Jet will offer $1,750 (one-way) seats on Gulfstreams, Challenger 604s and Falcon 200s between Aspen and either Dallas, Houston or Burbank, Calif. Perfect Jet's flights will be flown by Jet Solutions, L.L.C., which also operates jets for Bombardier FlexJet and Delta AirElite, among others. Perfect Jet is managed by Dennis Keith, former director of aviation for Frito-Lay and co-founder of Bombardier's FlexJet frax program.

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