January 25, 2006
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
Bombardier took its next-generation Challenger 605 wide-body bizjet for is first test flight last Sunday. The 03:23 flight took place as the company scheduled when launching the type in November 2005, allowing the company to mark a significant milestone toward certifying the next member of its Challenger business jet family. Clear skies prevailed when the aircraft, serial number 5701, departed the Montreal-Trudeau International Airport facility at 12:40 p.m. During the flight, the 605 climbed as high as FL410 and reached a maximum airspeed of 420 knots true. Takeoff weight was 38,734 pounds; the jet performed a step-climb to FL410. Additionally, the initial flight was used to test basic systems and assess the aircraft's handling, flight control checks and avionics. Other test-card items included engine, pressurization and environmental control systems, including performing those checks at maximum altitude.
"It was a great flight. We spent over three hours in the air and the aircraft performed superbly," commented captain Frank Magnusson, a 20-year career pilot who was joined by co-pilot Jacques Thibaudeau and project flight test engineer Mick Mansfield. "The new flight deck is fantastic. Pilots will truly appreciate the large LCD screens, their multi-function flexibility and the immediate access to critical flight information," said Magnusson. The Challenger 605 is an evolution of the company's existing Challenger series, including the 604, and features the Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics suite, which includes four 10-by-12-inch LCD screens. Following several more test flights in Montreal, the aircraft will relocate to Bombardier's Flight Test Center in Wichita, Kan., for a 200-hour flight test and certification program. Transport Canada certification is expected in the fourth quarter of 2006; the aircraft is scheduled to enter service in the third quarter of 2007.
Milestones and Transitions
While Bombardier was preparing to fly its Challenger 605 for the first time, Gulfstream Aerospace was engaged in obtaining certification from the former Soviet Union of its existing fleet of large-cabin business jets, including the G350, G450, G500 and G550. The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) issued its own certificates to Gulfstream, enabling the four models to be registered and operated within the 11 former Soviet Republics that constitute the CIS. The action came after the CIS's Aviation Register of the Interstate Aviation Committee first validated existing FAA type certificates, then issued its own.
The CIS's action was made easier by the fact that the G550, G500, G450 and G350 feature virtually all of the same onboard systems and share the same pilot type rating. Although many Gulfstreams already ply the CIS airspace, "These type certificates enable us to further expand the Russian market for Gulfstream business jets -- a market that has already expressed substantial interest in our products," said Bryan Moss, president, Gulfstream. "We are optimistic that CIS business-jet customers will continue to appreciate our products' safety, quality and reliability. It's these characteristics that have made Gulfstream the best-selling large-cabin business jet among multinational corporations for the past 40 years."
Eclipse Aviation continues its march toward certification of the first very light jet (VLJ), and on Jan. 19 noted its test fleet has surpassed the 1,000-flight-hour mark, spread over some 750 flights. The company noted achieving its latest milestone without updating its scheduled certification date, which last month was postponed from the first calendar quarter of 2006 to the second and was blamed on component supplier delays. "Six years ago we pioneered the VLJ category with a vision to change air travel, and it's incredibly rewarding to move even closer to our goal of bringing the world's first VLJ to market this summer," said Vern Raburn, president and CEO of Eclipse Aviation. "We designed the Eclipse 500 to provide our customers with an unprecedented dispatch rate, and we're experiencing the benefits of this commitment firsthand as our test fleet achieves critical test points and builds hours at an astonishing rate."
Earlier, on Jan. 16, Eclipse broke ground in Albuquerque, N.M., for a new primary assembly building. The new 52,000-square-foot space will house a state-of-the-art assembly and manufacturing center, and serve as a central hub for Eclipse 500 production, which the company hopes will reach four aircraft per day. Eclipse is slated to begin production within the next two months in preparation for FAA certification and first customer deliveries late in the second quarter. Eclipse has five flying prototypes, plus two non-flying versions used for static and fatigue testing, respectively. The flying test beds include:
- N502EA, the aerodynamic and structures certification test aircraft, used for flutter, stall characteristics, longitudinal and lateral handling qualities, and performance development testing.
- N503EA is used to test mechanical systems and powerplant certification requirements, including the powerplant installation and operating characteristics, fuel system, pressurization system, environmental control system, landing gear, flaps, foreign object damage (FOD) and water ingestion.
- N504EA is the avionics and electronics certification test aircraft and has completed requirements for avionics development. It is also being used to test powerplant drainage, smoke clearing, and the interior and exterior lighting systems. This airframe also will be used to certify the communications/navigation system, the Flight Management System (FMS) and the autopilot.
- N505EA is a "beta test" aircraft; it has completed lightning testing, attitude heading reference system (AHRS) developmental testing and night flying evaluation. The aircraft is currently undergoing high intensity radio field (HIRF) testing in Patuxent River, Md., and will soon undergo function and reliability testing.
- N506EA is another beta aircraft, and has been touring the southern U.S. since last November, allowing potential customers to get up close and personal with the market-leading VLJ. This aircraft has visited cities in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and California, and over the next month is scheduled to go back to Florida and California, and then on to Arizona and Nevada.
Even as it celebrated CIS certification of is large-cabin bizjets, Gulfstream this month announced it would cease producing one of its "low-end" offerings, the G100 business jet, which began its life as the Israel Aircraft Industries Astra and evolved into the Astra SPX before adopting the Gulfstream model labeling system. The company on Jan. 13 said it is ending the mid-size cabin type's 22-year production run. In is place will be the company's newest offering, the G150, a modernized, wide-cabin version of the G100. The last G100 was manufactured by Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) in Tel Aviv and was then flown to Gulfstream's Appleton, Wis., facility for interior outfitting and paint. The last aircraft is scheduled for customer delivery later this year. There are some 147 G100 or Astra derivative aircraft in service.
The new G150, which was certified by the Civil Aviation Administration of Israel and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration on Nov. 7, 2005 -- 10 weeks ahead of schedule -- also will be manufactured in Tel Aviv. It will then be flown to Gulfstream's Dallas completion center for interior outfitting and paint. "In developing the G150, we've improved both the jet's comfort and performance," said Bryan Moss, president, Gulfstream Aerospace. "We increased the width of the fuselage, allowing for a wider center aisle and space for larger seats. As for performance, we set out to match the G100's speed and maximum range of 2,700 nm. By making external modifications that reduced drag, we were able to increase the range to 2,950 nautical miles at Mach 0.75." Instead of the panels in larger Gulfstreams, the G150 flight deck features Rockwell Collins Pro-Line 21 avionics, four large displays screens and pilot and co-pilot side-wall-mounted cursor control devices as standard equipment.
Adam Aircraft continued its efforts to fully certify and bring to market its push-pull piston twin, the A500, even as it continues developing its A700 twinjet. Most recently, the company delivered the second A500 to a customer on Dec. 29, allowing the Pennsylvania-based physician to take advantage of the now-expired bonus depreciation allowance. The second Adam A500 delivered to a customer is serial number 006, and features a cockpit equipped with a two-screen glass layout -- one multi-function display and one primary function display -- including weather radar and a terrain database. However, Adam's piston twins are still laboring under a series of restrictions imposed by the FAA when it granted type certification; the company says that, within the next 90 days, the aircraft will be outfitted with air conditioning, pressurization and an expanded CG envelope. Also, Adam Aircraft will expand the altitude envelope to support flights above 12,500 feet to 25,000 feet. These modifications will remove many of the FAA-imposed certification restrictions.
Meanwhile, the second jet-powered Adam A700 -- the company's entry in the coming very light jet (VLJ) sweepstakes -- is scheduled for its first flight before mid-February. According to the company, A700 s/n 002 saw its flap and aileron systems installed in December, while its belly pod was fabricated and nacelles, pylons, and tail cones were fitted. Additionally, the engine fire suppression system and the engines themselves were installed. As of Jan. 16, the company said its A700 prototype, s/n 001, had amassed some 370 flight hours.
Amid all the talk of manufacturers meeting or beating their announced new-aircraft certification dates comes Raytheon, which has delayed its plans for the Hawker 4000, formerly the Hawker Horizon. So far, however, launch customer NetJets doesn't seem too worried, especially since the delay is a minor one sought by the manufacturer. The delay's source? Raytheon wants to install a lightning protection system on the second of its two certification prototypes before beginning the final phase of testing. The protection system is already installed on the first prototype of the $18.9 million bizjet. According to published reports, Raytheon does not believe the delay will affect delivery schedules. The airframer expects FAA certification in February.
In December, fractional operator NetJets ordered 50 of the new aircraft for its fleet, a deal valued at more than $1 billion, which included a 10-year guaranteed maintenance program. Deliveries to NetJets are set to begin in 2007 and continue through 2013. Some 80 Hawker 4000s have been ordered so far, with 11 scheduled for delivery in 2006. The wait -- if there is one -- may be worth it: The Hawker 4000's performance is projected to be remarkable, including a sea level-to-FL370 climb in just over 13 minutes. Once at altitude, the Hawker 4000's maximum cruise speed is Mach 0.84. It should have nonstop, coast-to-coast range in most wind conditions.
Rockwell Collins last week said it had received Technical Standard Order (TSO) approval from the FAA for its Pro Line 21 Integrated Display System (IDS), clearing the way for the systems to be installed on aircraft equipped with Rockwell Collins AP-105 and APS-65 autopilot systems. In addition to the AP-105 and APS-65 autopilots, Pro Line 21 IDS also interfaces with the APS-85, APS-80, and SPZ-500 autopilots. According to the company, the Pro Line 21 IDS offers operators an avionics upgrade path without the full expense normally associated with major retrofits.
"Operators of select King Air, Falcon 20 and 50, and Piaggio 180 aircraft can now utilize the Pro Line 21 IDS to upgrade to a more modern flight deck, with less expense and downtime than a major retrofit," said Denny Helgeson, vice president and general manager, Business and Regional Systems for Rockwell Collins. "This approval marks the continued growth and commitment to our upgrade program as we expand the family of autopilots that interface with our Pro Line 21 IDS."
CharterAuction.com Inc., one of the country's fastest-growing charter brokers, on Monday announced it was changing its name to "Jets International" and filed a "doing business as" (DBA) form to begin marketing under the new name. The company also said its Web site would change to www.jets.com. CharterAuction, err, Jets International -- which does not own or operate aircraft -- will continue to provide what it calls luxury private jet charter services, its exclusive Titanium Membership program and its proprietary online auction. The company's name change highlights the growing charter brokerage services category, in which local aircraft operators increasingly use the national and international marketing ability of brokers to reach new customers and fill empty legs.
"Though we've built awareness for the CharterAuction brand, there is a stronger, more immediate and more universal understanding for the name Jets International," said Nathan McKelvey, CharterAuction president and CEO. "Therefore, while we will still be incorporated under the CharterAuction.com, Inc. name, from here on, we will be doing business as Jets International."
Meanwhile, if one needs more proof that the charter broker industry is growing faster than SpaceShipOne can climb, CharterX will announce today that 25 new operators have joined its Internet-based service. "Its an exciting time in the air charter industry. As new aircraft enter the fray, new buyers and sellers join the market, and the overall business is maturing such that being connected is vitally important," said Jim Betlyon, CharterX president. CharterX, which says it processes more than 2,000 flight requests each day, is designed to deliver current availability data on more than 1,500 business jets across the country and stores information on more than 1,500 empty legs on any given day. Since the launch, the system has handled more than one million air charter requests.
The company's basic business model is to provide online marketing and distribution tools for air charter operators. Charter operators use CharterXs online trip inquiry to provide passengers instant access to aircraft and charter trip information. The inquiry module, dubbed Xquote, is available to both charter operators and charter brokers in six languages and over 140 currencies. Kevin Godlewski, president of Executive Charter Services, one of the 25 new CharterX participants, noted, As Executive Charter Services expands its private jet charter offerings, we wanted to better attract retail clientele and deliver a professional buying experience. The Industry XChange continues to be where savvy buyers go to locate aircraft anywhere in the world."
Golf and business jets go hand in hand. If you have any doubts, hang around the GA airports serving any major golf tournament -- the facilities serving Augusta, Ga., in early April each year come to mind. Realizing this, and hoping to market its services to businesspeople who may never have thought of using a private aircraft for their transportation, charter broker Sentient Jet this month announced its has become the Official Private Aviation/Jet Provider of the PGA Tour through a four-year marketing partnership. As part of the relationship, Sentient Jet will provide PGA Tour members with a variety of benefits tailored to fit the unique demands of a professional golfers travel schedule. These include a special offer to join the program, flexible billing options and guaranteed jet availability on short notice for tournament cut days.
Sentient offers its customers traditional charter broker services as well as a unique pay-as-you-go membership program, including guaranteed availability with as little as ten hours notice and a choice of jet to meet specific needs. It is important for us to forge partnerships with quality companies that help our members by addressing the various demands they face as they play across the country and around the world, said Tom Wade, chief marketing officer for the PGA Tour. In recent years, private aviation has become more popular among the players because of the flexibility and security it provides. We are extremely pleased to partner with Sentient Jet and to offer our members the opportunity to utilize the services of the leader in private jet membership.
Flight Options, a Raytheon subsidiary and one of the nation's top fractional operators, this week announced it has named Ray Bennett as its vice president of sales. Bennett has served as the regional sales director for the company's southeast territory since June 2003. Prior to joining Flight Options, he held sales leadership roles with both NetJets and Raytheon Travel Air. A licensed pilot, Bennett has more than 1,500 hours of flight time. He is a graduate of Nebraska Wesleyan University with a degree in business administration and communication. He and his family will be relocating to Cleveland, where he will report to Jim Dauterman, head of sales, marketing and contracts.
"Ray has been and continues to be a consistent performer as a member of our sales force maintaining a strong presence in the Southeast section of the country, said Dauterman. Flight Options offers the complete spectrum of programs from fractional ownership to leasing to JetPASS membership and has received the prestigious ARG/US Platinum Safety Rating twice. The Flight Options fleet of approximately 200 aircraft includes the worlds largest fleets of Beechjet 400As and Legacy Executive aircraft, plus the Hawker 800XP and Cessna Citation X.
...the next issue of AVweb's BizAVflash will be e-mailed to you on Feb. 8.
See you then...
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