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August 30, 2005

Business NewsWire Complete Issue

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

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NBAA: Evaluating Hurricane Katrina's Impact On New Orleans

News reports coming from New Orleans, La., yesterday describing the damage wreaked by Hurricane Katrina are painting a grim, bleak picture for one of America's most dynamic cities and -- most importantly -- for her residents. Sadly, those same reports indicate the worst of the storm's horrific damage is not yet known; it may be months before an accurate assessment of Katrina's impact on the region is fully understood. And Katrina could affect the business aviation industry as well: The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) plans to hold its 2005 Annual Meeting and Convention in New Orleans, Nov. 15 through 17. In a statement released yesterday, the association said it "intends to make every effort to try to move forward and assist in the economic recovery of the region" while it assesses the storm's impact. "In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the National Business Aviation Association's thoughts and concerns are for the people of New Orleans and the greater Gulf Coast region, who have witnessed a devastating tragedy and suffered terrible losses as a result of the storm," the statement said. "To ensure that the Convention will be able to proceed, NBAA will closely monitor developments over the coming weeks and will dispatch a team as soon as possible to conduct an on-the-ground self-assessment of the Morial Convention Center, Lakefront Airport, the surrounding hotels and restaurants, the transportation infrastructure, and other facilities and infrastructure required for this special event." In 2001, NBAA was forced to postpone its annual meeting -- scheduled for mid-September -- in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks and widespread grounding of aircraft throughout the U.S. That convention, which was also scheduled for New Orleans, was eventually held there Dec. 12 through 14, 2001.

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GROB Update: SPn Jet Completes First Flight...

Germany-based GROB Aerospace continues to develop its SPn Utility Jet after its public unveiling at this summer's Paris Air Show and recently announced the prototype's first flight, a 66-minute affair in which initial handling tests and system checks were performed. Capt. Gerard Guillaumaud and co-test pilot Tore Reimers commanded the aircraft, which now enters into the flight-test stage of its development program after a test airframe successfully passed a program of full strength testing on the fuselage and wing required for certification. According to Guillaumaud, the aircraft performed satisfactorily and he added, “During the flight, all systems and controls performed as expected. The aircraft was easy to handle and was a pleasure to fly.” The flight was the first of many; the company’s flight-test program is planned so that the aircraft's operating envelope is fully expanded by the fourth quarter of 2005. GROB's plans for the SPn Utility Jet, which it bills as the "largest private jet to be certified for single-pilot operation," are fairly ambitious. They include an integrated all-glass cockpit from Honeywell and two rear-mounted, FADEC-controlled Williams FJ44-3A engines with 2,800 pounds of thrust. The new aircraft is planned to have a maximum gross takeoff weight of 13,889 pounds, of which 2,491 pounds will be payload; meanwhile, maximum fuel capacity is listed as 660 gallons, giving the jet an 1,800-nm range with six passengers and a single pilot. Maximum seating capacity will be one pilot plus nine pax, or two pilots and eight passengers. GROB says the SPn Utility Jet's balanced field length requirement is only 3,000 feet and its design will facilitate operation from gravel or turf runways. A modular interior of 405 cubic feet and standard eight-seat double-club seating rounds out the cabin configuration. Swiss-based ExecuJet Aviation Group is the exclusive worldwide sales distributor and maintenance support partner for the GROB SPn Utility Jet.

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...While Long-Range, High-Altitude Version Considered...

Even before GROB's SPn Utility Jet is certified, the company says it is considering a high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) version, for government and military surveillance applications. GROB, which has significant experience designing and building aerodynamically efficient sailplanes and motorgliders, has dubbed the proposed variant of the SPn as the "G 600." The company considers the G 600 a "next logical step," combining GROB´s experience with building high-altitude surveillance aircraft with the new SPn Utility Jet. According to GROB, the jet's design features, including a composite fuselage and existing titanium wing attachments, make adapting the aircraft for high-altitude missions "both feasible and practical." The company's initial design specifications for a possible HALE variant of the SPn Utility Jet include a 61.20-foot-long fuselage, a wingspan of 116.8 feet and payload capacity of 2,650 pounds. Preliminary performance estimates include a range of 5,540 nm, a maximum altitude of FL650 and endurance of 17 hours and 20 minutes. Indicating it has at least considered a remotely piloted version, GROB noted that a "manned configuration would consist of one or two pilots plus two additional mission specialists." GROB also said it is considering an ultra-long-range version, the G 600 HALE ER, which would feature an extended range of 11,340 nm and an endurance of 33 hours. No word from the company was available on whether equipment for such a version would include a potty.

The Lancair Company has re-branded itself as Columbia Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation. The manufacturers of the Columbia 350 and Columbia 400, the world's fastest certified piston aircraft, made the change as part of an ongoing campaign to develop a unique identity for these premium aircraft. The Fly Columbia Tour, an interactive Columbia experience, will be at the Reno Air Races. If you miss them in Reno, check the web site for a complete schedule at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/columbia/biz.

...And Ranger G 160 Development Continues

GROB is also putting the finishing touches on a new single-engine turboprop, the G 160. First announced at 2003's Paris Air Show, the all-composite, seven-seat G 160 made is first flight on March 29, 2004, and has progressed through flight testing -- including a series of more than 180 spins in 13 different configurations. As of April 2005, the GROB Ranger G 160 had logged some 60 flight hours in 105 test missions and accumulated 165 takeoffs and landings. A lone Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-42A engine, flat-rated to 850 shp, powers this growth version of the company's G 120 and four-seat G 140TP singles. Designed to reach a top cruise speed of 270 knots, the G 160's goals include a 2,200-nm range, or 1,800 nm when carrying a full complement of six passengers. Its maximum useful load will be 1,590 pounds. Other technical data on the Ranger G 160 include a revisable Hartzell propeller and maximum gross takeoff weight of 7,275 pounds. Honeywell will provide its Apex avionics suite, including digital radios, a flight management system, a digital autopilot, three flat-panel displays measuring 10.4 inches diagonal (6 by 8), a Mode S transponder, engine indicating and caution alert system (EICAS) and Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS). Available options will include weather radar, TCAS, a radio altimeter, DME and Honeywell's Flight Information System (FIS). No word was available on an updated certification or first-delivery timetable.

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All Eclipse Test Aircraft Flying Now...

Eclipse Aviation last week announced the first flight of its fifth and final flight-test aircraft, N506EA. The aircraft is the company's fifth conforming flight-test aircraft and the second of its two beta test jets under the Eclipse 500 very light jet (VLJ) development program, which the company says is still on track for certification next March, followed closely by customer deliveries. Eclipse says N506EA will be used extensively for function and reliability testing under accelerated usage conditions. “We now have all five of our FAA-conforming flight test aircraft in various stages of flight testing and will be building flight hours at an unprecedented rate over the coming months,” said Eclipse Aviation President and CEO Vern Raburn. “This fleet of test aircraft will allow us to meet our goal of achieving FAA certification for the Eclipse 500 early next year and delivering jets to customers shortly thereafter.” The company says its flight-test fleet has accumulated nearly 300 flight hours as of late August, reached a maximum speed of 285 knots, a stall speed of 67 knots and a service ceiling of FL410. Additionally, static airframe testing will be completed in the coming weeks. N506EA will be showcased on static display at upcoming trade shows including the Aircraft Owners and Pilot’s Association Expo in Tampa, Fla., Nov. 3-5, and the National Business Aviation Association Convention, presently still scheduled for New Orleans, La., Nov. 15-17.

...While Eclipse Ramps Up Manufacturing Capacity

With all signs pointing to the company achieving its goal of obtaining FAA certification by March 2006, Eclipse Aviation is also starting to put the finishing touches on its manufacturing logistics. Earlier this month, the company announced a training partnership with Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell (ENMU-Roswell) and Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute (TVI) designed to prepare a potential workforce for entry-level aviation manufacturing positions. Classes at the two facilities include assembly and installation techniques, tool usage, blueprint reading and theory of flight and safety. “We are on track to start delivering Eclipse 500s to customers early in 2006 and will need to increase our team with many qualified manufacturing employees over the coming years,” said Eclipse Aviation President and CEO Vern Raburn. “Eclipse is bringing modern manufacturing processes to aviation, and we are working closely with ENMU-Roswell and TVI to help students develop the progressive skill sets needed for these positions.” Eclipse says the "manufacturability" of its Eclipse 500 has been integral to its business strategy "from the beginning." Design and engineering considerations geared to minimize the cost of production include Eclipse's leveraging advanced manufacturing techniques like friction stir welding, advanced outsourcing, a "just-in-time" supply chain and modular sub-assemblies.

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Eclipse, OurPLANE Announce Fractional Order

All of which is a good thing, if the anticipated demand for Eclipse 500s materializes. Already, Eclipse boasts more than 2,200 orders, secured with non-refundable deposits. Most recently, OurPLANE Inc., a leading player in fractional ownership of general aviation aircraft -- as opposed to business jets and turboprops -- announced an order for as many as 20 Eclipse 500s. The agreement, which is the operator's largest since OurPLANE launched service in 1999, marks the only fractional fleet customer for Eclipse Aviation, according to the company. OurPLANE says it will offer the Eclipse 500 to both qualified individual pilots and to small/medium-sized businesses. OurPLANE, which operates 22 aircraft from 15 locations in both Canada and the United States, says its customers can buy a fractional share on a brand-new, fully loaded Eclipse 500 for a fraction of the whole aircraft ownership costs. “This is unprecedented and marks an entire new era,” says Graham Casson, OurPLANE founder and CEO. “Now virtually every person who travels -- pilot, business owner or otherwise -- can afford their own private, personal jet." Shares are projected to start selling at $349,900, with fixed costs of $3,500 each month and hourly operating costs of $369. Additionally, OurPLANE recently announced the purchase of 10 new Cirrus SR22 G2 piston singles. In addition to Cirrus SR22 and SR20 models, the frax operator's piston fleet offers the Cessna 182 Skylane and the Raytheon/Beech Bonanza A36. Turbine aircraft offered by OurPLANE include the Raytheon/Beech King Air C90B, Pilatus PC-12 and, of course, the Eclipse 500.

Bill Watters Joins Adam Aircraft

Bill Watters, a veteran chief pilot and senior international captain at Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation, this month joined Adam Aircraft as the airframer's vice president, flight operations. In his new position, Watters will handle all engineering flight test, all production flight test, customer flight training, demonstration flight department, and corporate air transportation. Colorado-based Adam Aircraft continues to develop two aircraft, the piston twin-engined A500 -- which received a limited type certificate in May -- and the jet A700, which continues in flight-testing. The two twin-boom aircraft share numerous components. “Bill Watters brings both intellect and experience to Adam Aircraft, and he will create superior flight operations programs for us and our customers,” stated Joe Walker, Adam Aircraft president and COO. “Under his tutelage, Adam Aircraft will complete certification and delivery in a timely and orderly fashion, with efficient and effective test and production cards. The firm is currently enlisting top-notch jet DERs and production test pilots for both aircraft, as well as creating a mentor pilot program, ensuring an Adam Aircraft pilot will accompany each aircraft delivered to new operators.” Presently, the single A700 example has accrued almost 300 flight hours; four A500 piston twins are presently registered with the FAA, all of them in the Experimental category. Four additional A500 airframes are in various stages of assembly.

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Raytheon Aircraft Services Offers Cabin Entertainment Upgrades

Raytheon Aircraft Services (RAS) last week announced its "MAX Entertainment System" program, a factory-approved and pre-engineered package of solutions designed to make it easier for customers to upgrade their aircraft’s entertainment system. According to RAS, the program covers Beechcraft King Air, Beechcraft Premier I, Beechjet, Diamond and all legacy and current Hawker series aircraft and involves tiered options that can be installed alongside routine maintenance and inspection work at a RAS facility. Operators can choose from among components such as XM Satellite Radio, JetMap II, Honeywell DVD player(s), flat-panel color monitor(s), Sennheiser wireless headset(s), wireless remote control and an optional speaker package. According to the company, installation takes substantially less time and is certified as a field-approved modification via FAA Form 337. Package pricing includes all components and any required engineering. “Customers who have been putting off an upgrade because of time constraints can now have an entire entertainment system installed during their aircraft’s scheduled downtime,” explained Skip Madsen, vice president, Raytheon Aircraft Services. “For example, in as little as 9 days, a King Air can be equipped so that passengers can enjoy XM Radio broadcasts, watch DVDs, listen to CDs, receive real-time weather data, view moving maps, and get updates on the aircraft’s flight status."

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Trickle-Down: Gulfstream's G150 Cockpit Goes Higher-Tech

Gulfstream Aerospace announced yesterday it will add to the cockpit of its forthcoming G150 mid-size bizjet as standard equipment a cursor control device (CCD) for both pilots taken from its larger aircraft. Gulfstream says it designed and developed the CCD while developing its PlaneView flight deck aboard the ultra-long-range G550. Now, the CCD is standard equipment on all of Gulfstream’s large-cabin aircraft, including the G550, G500, G450 and G350. Gulfstream and Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) are developing the wide-cabin, high-speed G150. It is being built through its Certificate of Airworthiness at IAI’s facility in Tel Aviv, and then flown to Gulfstream’s Dallas completions facility for its final phase of manufacturing. The Gulfstream G150 is scheduled to enter service in the third quarter of 2006. "Due to overwhelmingly positive pilot response to the CCDs in our large-cabin business jets, it was only logical to add this feature in our newest airplane,” said Pres Henne, senior vice president, program, engineering and test, Gulfstream. According to Gulfstream, the G150's CCDs are nearly identical to those found in Gulfstream’s large-cabin aircraft and are mounted on the cockpit sidewall, at natural locations for ease of use. The G150’s CCDs are fully integrated with the Rockwell Collins Proline 21 advanced avionics suite and facilitate accessing the two Primary Flight Displays (PFDs) and two Multi-functional Displays (MFDs) with point-and-click, scrolling and push-button operations. On May 3, the first G150 successfully completed its first flight. The G150 remains on schedule for type certification in the first quarter of next year.

In a joint promotion, Avidyne and Ryan International will give customers rebates from $500 to $2,000 when they purchase an Avidyne FlightMax EX500 Multi-Function Display (MFD) with Ryan's 9900BX Traffic Alerting System (TAS). There are four combinations of these fantastic avionics savings. This promotion ends October 31, 2005. For more information (and to order), go to http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/avidyne/ryan/biz.

Gulfstream G550 Sets Newark-To-Tel Aviv Record

Meanwhile, Gulfstream this week continued its "mine-is-bigger" sparring with other manufacturers, including Bombardier, by announcing that a Gulfstream G550 set another city-pair speed record: between Newark, N.J., and Tel Aviv, Israel. According to Gulfstream, the G550 flew the 5,031-nm route in 9 hours and 52 minutes, for an average cruise speed of Mach 0.86. Gulfstream says it is awaiting official recognition of this city-pair speed record by the National Aeronautic Association (NAA). If recognized, it would be the 15th city-pair speed record for the G550 since it first entered service nearly two years ago. The G550 took off from Newark International Airport at 8:16 p.m. local time on Aug. 28. It landed 09:52 later at 1:08 p.m. local time on Aug. 29 at Ben Gurion Airport. “This new speed record demonstrates the G550’s exceptional range and performance, which have become the hallmark of this outstanding business jet,” said Bryan Moss, president, Gulfstream. Gulfstream Senior International Captain Hank Gibson served as pilot-in-command and International Captain Tony Briotta served as second-in-command. Also onboard were Carl Schomberg, production test pilot, who served as first officer, Gulfstream Chief Flight Attendant Sally Greer and five passengers. There are 59 aircraft comprising the G550 fleet. They have flown more than 25,000 flight hours and completed some 10,000 takeoffs and landings.

Correction Section

In our Aug. 17 issue of AVweb's BizAVflash, in an article about Bombardier's plans to open a service center in Moscow, Russia, we wrote, "NetJets operates a number of Bombardier's Global, Challenger and Learjet aircraft in its fleet." In fact, NetJets does not operate any Bombardier aircraft; its fleet consists of offerings from Cessna, Raytheon, Gulfstream, Dassault and Boeing. AVweb regrets the error.

Watch Your Inbox...

...the next issue of AVweb's BizAVflash will be e-mailed to you on Sept. 14. See you then...

Sponsor News and Special Offers

Access to AVweb and AVflash is provided by the support of our fine sponsors. We appreciate your patronage.

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Business AVflash is a twice-monthly summary of the latest business aviation
news, articles, products, features and events featured on AVweb, the
Internet's Aviation Magazine and News Service. http://www.avweb.com

Have a comment or question? Send it to mailto:newsteam@avweb.com.

Today's issue written by Joseph E. (Jeb) Burnside:
AVweb's editorial team: http://avweb.com/contact/authors.html.

Have a product or service to advertise on AVweb? A question on marketing?
Send it to AVweb's sales team: mailto:sales@avweb.com.

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