Volume 3, Number 19 November 16, 2005

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The Top Headlines From AVweb's Expanded Business News Coverage At AVweb's Business NewsWire.

NBAA 2005: YOU SAY YOU WANT AN EVOLUTION?
Later today, the doors will close on the 2005 edition of the National Business Aviation Association's Annual Meeting and Convention, held this year in Orlando, Fla. At this writing, the final numbers on attendance and the like aren't yet tallied up, but we can go out on two limbs. One, this year's edition of what is North America's largest indoor aviation exhibit was a success. This is despite the diversion from New Orleans only two months ago and the slight shift in the schedule; this year's show ran from Wednesday to Friday instead of the traditional Tuesday-through-Thursday event. That meant Friday was a lighter day on the exhibit floor than normal. And, while it's unlikely attendance set any records, the number of exhibitors -- more than 1100 -- and aircraft on static display -- 110 -- did. Two, with one possible exception we'll get to in a moment, there wasn't anything astoundingly earthshaking to be seen, heard or flown. So, the 2005 edition probably will be remembered more as an evolutionary show, rather than revolutionary. After all, even Hank Aaron couldn't hit a home run every time he stepped to the plate. More...

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THE NEXT BIG THING? USER FEES
With that said, the big news at this year's show was that the industry seems more mature than it has in recent years. For its part, NBAA used Wednesday's opening general session to fire an opening salvo against what many are convinced will be the industry's next big battle: user fees. "There is a growing inevitability of a user fee fight on Capitol Hill," declared NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. "The airlines, and their Air Transportation Association, are growing increasingly vocal in their claim that we're not paying our fair share into the Airport and Airway Trust Fund," Bolen said. He punctuated his warning by reminding attendees that commercial air carriers are advocating a system in which all aircraft pay the same fee regardless of size, whether it is a single-engine turboprop or a 555-passenger Airbus A380. Unfortunately, he noted, "that idea is gaining some traction [in Washington, DC]." And the fight could start in earnest as early as next year, since the current federal legislation structuring the FAA and its programs expires in 2007. But NBAA acknowledged it may be difficult to get industry participants interested in fighting that fight. "Some people have told me that user fees have been debated before, and everything turned out fine. [But] this time, things are different, and the situation is far more serious," Bolen warned. The current proposal for user fees has more widespread backing by airlines, he said, and they "view us as their competition, claiming that their first-class passengers have abandoned them for business aviation," he noted. More...

MEANWHILE, HOW HEALTHY ARE WE?
But what about the industry's "visibility and success?" Where does it really stand, how does its current status stack up to earlier years? And, most important, where is it going? Those questions are always in the air at each NBAA convention and this year was not an exception. Enter Rolls-Royce, which this week released a formal prediction for continued growth in business jet deliveries through the remainder of the decade. The company, which not coincidentally sells a very popular line of jet engines, said it forecasts an engine market worth $61 billion over the next 20 years, with the value of medium- and long-range jets dominating. Not all of those new aircraft will be in North America, however. More...

NEW GARMIN GPSMAP 396 WITH TERRAIN,
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SPECTRUM 33: SOMETHING NEW, SOMETHING BLUE...
Earlier, we hinted at an exception to our theme that this year's NBAA extravaganza was an evolutionary one. Enter long-time industry veteran Linden Blue. Blue, you may know, was in Beechcraft's left seat in 1983 when the aforementioned Starship was born. He also served as general manager at Learjet and was CEO of Learfan. While much has changed among the three Starship players -- Rutan now is very focused on space while Beech is now deeply immersed in the Raytheon empire and all but a handful of the 53 Starships ever made have been grounded -- Blue's heart clearly is still in business aviation. This year, he and his son Austin brought to Orlando news of their latest innovation: a soon-to-be-flying full-scale prototype of an extremely lightweight, all-composite Williams FJ33-powered jet called the Spectrum 33. Like the Starship, Blue and his team at Spectrum Aeronautical developed their jet completely under the radar, this time at a facility in the Utah desert. Seemingly well-financed and obviously determined to bring their project to certification, they have built production tooling and used it to assemble the first example of the '33. What's more, they strongly believe they have solved the bugaboo of just about every all-composite airplane since (and including) the Starship: weight. At NBAA, AVweb sat down with Linden and Austin for an exclusive interview. More...

...TO FLY BY THE END OF 2005?
The thing that was so exciting about the Starship was not just its all-composite construction. Instead, the whole deal was radical departure: a canard, twin pusher turboprops, tipsails instead of a conventional vertical stabilizer. By contrast, the Spectrum 33 is not at all radical from a distance. It more resembles an unnatural pairing of a baby Learjet with a straight-wing-and-wingletted Citation than a Starship. And that relative simplicity is one reason Blue says he "will be upset if it doesn't fly by the end of 2005." What Spectrum believes it has achieved is "the right combination of proprietary processes and designs to build significantly better and more economical advanced composites aircraft." Allied with Rocky Mountain Composites, Spectrum says it has developed new techniques -- "disruptive technologies" -- enabling lighter and more fuel-efficient airplanes out of advanced composites. Blue and his crew have offered up some exciting numbers for the eight-passenger jet. More...

THE SJ30-2 IS THE WORLD'S FASTEST LIGHT BUSINESS JET
Not only is it fast; it has intercontinental range — 560 mph and over 2800 sm range. The SJ30-2 is the most advanced light business jet in the sky today — the perfect package of speed, range, and good looks. For details, go online to http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/sino/biz.

MORE AIRFRAMER NEWS: GULFSTREAM G150 CERTIFIED AHEAD OF SCHEDULE...
Gulfstream may soon be giving Cessna lessons in how to schedule designing and certifying business jets. In recent years, Cessna's new-product development has produced little angst but lots of "mission accomplished" back-slapping as the company seemingly meets each and every one of its rollout, first-flight and certification goals. Now, Gulfstream has upped the ante by achieving both FAA and Israeli certification of its newest offering, the G150 mid-size jet. Receipt of the G150's paperwork came at least 10 weeks ahead of the previously announced "first quarter 2006" timetable and produced an added bonus: The newest Gulfstream is faster than forecast, with an MMO of 0.85 Mach. “The G150’s flawless flight test program allowed us to both satisfy certification requirements ahead of schedule and accurately measure and evaluate its performance capabilities,” said Pres Henne, senior vice president, programs, engineering and test, Gulfstream. “The success of this flight test program can be attributed to the outstanding collaboration between Gulfstream and Israel Aircraft Industries; the availability of two test aircraft to conduct the various performance and systems tests; and the actual G150, which performed significantly better than we had imagined during original development.” More...

...SWEARINGEN SCHEDULES DELIVERIES, BOOKS MORE ORDERS
Sino Swearingen Aircraft Corporation (SSAC) announced its order book for the just-certified SJ30-2 light jet is approaching 300 and will probably exceed that mark by the time you read this. As AVweb previously reported, SSAC got most of its FAA paperwork last month. During a ceremony Wednesday, FAA Deputy Administrator Bobby Sturgell formally presented the SJ30-2's type certificate to SSAC. The company was well-represented this week at NBAA, with two aircraft on static display and one, along with a cabin mockup, on the exhibit floor. Now, with at least 295 orders for its creation, totaling a $1.5 billion backlog, SSAC is concentrating on making and delivering its creation. The company says it has more than 600 employees in four facilities throughout the U.S. working to fill its orders. More...

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...ECLIPSE SCORES MORE ORDERS...
Meanwhile, the fine folks at Eclipse Aviation might be slitting their wrists if they had only 295 orders. In fact, the company announced this week at NBAA that its order book for the Eclipse 500 VLJ now tops 2,350 aircraft. This includes 1,592 firm orders with 765 options; all 2,357 aircraft are secured with non-refundable deposits and the latest sales number was sharply boosted by two recent fleet orders. Massachusetts air-taxi operator Linear Air signed up for 30 aircraft and U.K.-based JetSet Air Ltd. wants 50 copies. "The Eclipse 500 order book is the largest in the VLJ segment, and we attribute this to our ability to deliver the industry's highest-performance jet at a breakthrough price," said Vern Raburn, president and CEO of Eclipse Aviation. More...

...AERION COMPLETES PHASE I...
The SSBJ -- supersonic business jet -- is alive and well, says Aerion Corporation Brian Barents. "We are keeping to an aggressive timeline moving toward routine supersonic business jet travel," he said in a statement at NBAA. Announced at last year's show, the company says its ongoing work has confirmed the aircraft's configuration through "extensive" wind-tunnel testing and computer analysis. Additionally, Aerion says the business and engineering objectives it announced last year -- which include 4,000-nm range, a "boomless" cruise of up to Mach 1.1 and top speed of Mach 1.6 -- have been validated by the testing. More...

ISN'T IT ABOUT TIME YOU CHOSE SOMETHING EXTRA?
Pilot-inspired, German-engineered, and internationally renowned — that's the difference in Extra Aircraft's EA-500. Extra's certified, Rolls Royce-powered, 6-seat turboprop EA-500 is in a class all by itself. The only new-technology cabin-class airplane, the EA-500 averages 220 kts, gets 11 mpg, and costs less than $200/hr to operate. Find out more about Extra's EA-500 at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/extra/biz.

...AND ADAM DELIVERS A500, ROLLS OUT SECOND A700
Adam Aircraft this week announced its first customer delivery of an A500 centerline piston twin aircraft, serial number 005, which was delivered to a Colorado Springs business executive on Monday. The delivery comes on the heels of the company’s receiving FAA approval for its production inspection system, a precursor to a full-blown production certificate. Operating limitations on the aircraft -- like a 50-gallon unusable fuel requirement, maximum ceiling of 12,500 feet and a 250-hour airframe life limit -- remain in place. "Our first customer delivery and the APIS certification represent major steps toward our goal of delivering six A500s every month," said Rick Adam, chairman and CEO of Adam Aircraft. "Following Type Certification, the FAA allows six months to achieve APIS designation, and we achieved that goal in under 90 days." Adam added that the company remains on track to obtain a production certificate in the first quarter of 2006. More...

TELEDYNE-CONTINENTAL MOTORS IS BUSY BECOMING
THE WORLD'S LARGEST OVERHAULER OF LYCOMING ENGINES

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THE WRAPPER
As we noted at the top, this year's NBAA convention was most certainly a success. Among other kudos, the association's event management crew definitely deserves a few weeks in a sunny clime and serial rum drinks with little umbrellas for pulling off the change of venue in a scant two months. Just as with any major event, though, AVweb saw and heard some concerns among both attendees and exhibitors about the show's value -- especially after the first day -– listened in on spirited arguments about whether "regular folks" in the industry found it worthwhile and even participated in a shuttle-bus discussion of why we came. For us, the answer was easy -- to file this report. For some, it was to network, even if that same networking goes on 24/7/365. For others, the exhibit floor and its carpeted aisles, booth babes and bling were much less interesting than the detailed type-specific seminars, for example, or the presentations on everything from security and excise taxes to the ATC system. For the high rollers -- people able and willing to stroke a check for a Gulfstream, and with whom we're not familiar -- the annual NBAA show is their opportunity to do quality window shopping while wheeling, dealing and getting stroked. So, there's a little something for everyone interested in the industry. More...

THE COLUMBIA 350 & COLUMBIA 400 HAVE A NEW CORPORATE NAME
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 schedule for the Fly Columbia Tour, an interactive Columbia experience, is posted online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/columbia/biz.

WATCH YOUR INBOX...
...the next issue of AVweb's BizAVflash will be e-mailed to you on Nov. 30. More...

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