Business NewsWire Complete Issue

February 8, 2006
By The AVweb Editorial Staff

Adam Flies Production A700

Adam Aircraft this week took its first production version of its planned A700 twin-engine candidate in the coming very light jet (VLJ) sweepstakes for a spin. The airframe's first fight was conducted from the company's facility at Centennial Airport in Englewood, Colo., and was crewed by Bill Watters, vice president of flight operations, and Ken Sasine, senior turbine test pilot. The new A700, formally dubbed the "AdamJet," is serial number 002 and constitutes the first of three aircraft the company is building for tests leading to FAA certification. The jet's first flight lasted a planned 34 minutes. The new airframe joins the original A700 prototype, which has racked up some 400 flight hours since it first flew in July 2003. That aircraft, s/n 001, was used for aerodynamic and systems test data, creating a baseline for upcoming certification flight testing. According to Adam, s/n 001 will be used as a marketing and flight-test aircraft, visiting cities, airports, and aviation events across the United States. "The aircraft handled very well, stability was excellent, and the flight controls were very responsive and predictable," commented Sasine. "The throttle response was smooth and strong, and the climb performance was strong and steady. The airplane handled just as we expected."

"We're exceptionally pleased with the progress of the A700 jet program, and this first flight accelerates our A700 certification effort," said CEO Rick Adam. "The A700 Williams FJ-33 engines are already FAA-certified, and the 65% commonality from our FAA-Certified twin-engine piston will significantly reduce the A700 time-to-certification." The company said A700 s/n 002 is painted and striped in its full air taxi livery and features a production instrument panel with three-tube Avidyne Entegra avionics. The aircraft is constructed from production tooling, featuring a production fuselage with improved cabin window and emergency exit placement, with the balance of the aircraft manufactured from A500 production parts common to the A700. Adam says it has orders for more than 250 A700s.

TBM 850 Gets FAA Papers

Jan. 23 saw EADS Socata become the recipient of FAA paperwork granting the agency's type certification to its newest aircraft -- the single-engine turboprop TBM 850 -- only six weeks following its European approval. That same day saw the TBM 850's first production example take to the skies on its maiden flight, an 02:50 affair flown by Christian Briand, chief pilot of EADS Socata, and Alain Arnaud, flight test engineer. Built on the success of the company's TBM 700, the TBM 850 features a maximum cruising speed of 320 KTAS at FL260, edging ever closer to light-jet speeds and blowing the doors off many twin turboprops. The 850 is powered by a single Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-66D, delivering 1,825 eshp, and which is flat-rated to 850 shp for the airframe. One of the -66's innovations, according to Socata, is its single-crystal compressor blades, which enable higher turbine temperatures. The Jan. 23 flight of the first production 850 was used to verify production conformity and included tests across the type’s flight envelope, including climbs to its maximum certified altitude of FL310, operation at its maximum cruise speed and descents at its maximum operating speed.

“The launch of the TBM 850 has been extremely well received by both existing and new customers and our growing order book bears this out,” said Stéphane Mayer, chairman and CEO of EADS Socata. “To receive FAA certification and also to see the first production aircraft fly on the same day is more great news for Socata and I applaud the determination and energy of our engineering and certification teams in reaching these two milestones within what was a very tight schedule.” First deliveries of the TBM 850 are planned for February 2006. The new aircraft will be available via EADS Socata’s existing direct sales and distribution network, and will be supported by its extensive worldwide network of service centers.

Spectrum 33 Twinjet: More Test Flights

Spectrum Aeronautical’s new Spectrum 33 light twinjet made two more test hops last week, following its early-January maiden flight. The two most recent flights together totaled less than an hour but the weather wasn't cooperating: The day began with steady rain, 500-foot ceilings and a dropping barometer. Still, Bill Davies, Spectrum’s veteran chief test pilot, and Ian Hollingsworth, serving as second-in-command, waited it out long enough to accomplish their mission. The two test flights were used, in part, to verify "improvements and adjustments" to the Sepectrum 33's systems made after its first flight on Jan. 7, according to the company. The Spectrum 33 is a new light business jet built using a new carbon-graphite construction technique. That technique, in part, helps the new jet fly with the same size cabin as popular eight-to-nine-seat light bizjets, but with less than two-thirds the weight.

The airplane is designed to cruise as high as FL450 and as fast as 415 knots. Its maximum range is slated to be as much as 2,000 nm. “We were able to conduct shallow coordinated turns with rudder input alone,” Davies said, “and saw excellent control in all axes.” He noted that the Spectrum 33’s takeoff acceleration and climb performance “is well beyond anything I’ve seen in this class of aircraft. Takeoff distances for the flights were less than 800 feet,” Davies commented, “and touch-down speeds were 85 knots with 15 degrees of flaps. Control during flap deployment required only minor changes in trim, and the ability to hold nose-up attitude during landing was excellent.” He added that, “the tests are confirming that the 33 is highly stable, docile and easy to fly for single-pilot operations.” FAA certification of the Spectrum 33 is slated for 2007 or 2008.

Jet Aviation Buys Midcoast Aviation

No one is saying the purchase price -- both sides have agreed to keep those details confidential -- but sometime this spring, Zurich-based Jet Aviation Group will complete its just-announced acquisition of Midcoast Aviation. Midcoast, presently owned by the Sabreliner Corporation, is one of the largest FBO, maintenance and refurbishment organizations in the Midwest. Jet Aviation, which itself was acquired late last year by the Permira Funds, believes the acquisition will complement its growing worldwide operations. “Midcoast Aviation has a similar business philosophy as Jet Aviation. The addition of one of the leading completions and maintenance service companies into Jet Aviation’s U.S. organization will not only increase our U.S. presence but strengthen our position as a full business aviation service provider in North America,” said Theo Staub, president and COO of Jet Aviation North America. To no one's surprise, that thought was echoed by one of Jet Aviation's newest employees: Kurt F. Sutterer, president of Midcoast Aviation added, “We consider Jet Aviation a perfect fit. Like Jet Aviation, we make substantial investments in resources and people to provide exceptional service to the benefit of our customers. We are happy to become part of the Jet Aviation Group.”

Once the sale is complete, Midcoast will retain its name, with the addition of "a Jet Aviation Company," and will continue to operate with Sutterer reporting directly to Staub. After the deal closes, Jet Aviation Group forecasts net annual sales in excess of $800 million. Midcoast employs 850 and has facilities at St. Louis Downtown Airport and Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. It specializes in service and support for high-end bizjets and is an authorized service provider for Dassault's Falcons, Raytheon and Bombardier Aerospace -- it is the only factory-authorized service facility for Global Express aircraft in the U.S. Jet Aviation employs some 3,700 workers in more than 60 facilities and stations around the world. The company provides maintenance, completions and engineering services, fixed-base operations and airline handling, along with aircraft sales, charter, and management services.

Bombardier's New Challenger 605 Arrives In Wichita

Bombardier late last month flew the sole example of its Challenger 605 bizjet to the company's flight-test facility at Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport, where it will begin a 200-hour flight test and certification program. The ferry fight from Montreal-Trudeau International Airport, where it made its first flight just a few days earlier, required only 03:08. Among major changes from the Challenger 604, which the 605 will eventually replace, is the flight deck. The 605 features the Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics system, which features four 10" x 12" LCD displays.

Additional components of the Pro Line 21 system include integrated communication, navigation and surveillance avionics as well as electronic charts and optional graphical weather and enhanced map overlays enabled by the integrated flight information systems (IFIS). A second version of the Challenger 605 is scheduled to join the company's flight-test program later this year, with certified aircraft set to enter service in the second half of 2007. Among Bombardier's goals for the 605 are a "paperless" cockpit employing the electronic flight bag concept, plus increased commonality and compatibility among other models in the company's lineup. This includes the mid-size Challenger 300 and a Learjet to be named formally later.

Cessna Citation Mustang Engine Receives Canadian Type Certification

Cessna's machine-like ability to design, announce, fly, certify and deliver a new version of its wildly popular Citation series will likely remain on track with Pratt & Whitney Canada's announcement last month that it received Transport Canada type certification for its new PW615F engine. Cessna will use two of the engines to power its forthcoming Citation Mustang very light jet (VLJ). Canadian type certification of the PW615F comes less than a month after Cessna received Type Inspection Authorization (TIA) from the FAA for the Mustang. With the recently announced delay in Eclipse Aviation's efforts to certify its Eclipse 500 VLJ, will a race-to-market between these two market-leader wannabes brighten up our summer?

"We are very pleased to have achieved certification of the PW615F engine, the first in the new generation PW600 family of high bypass turbofans," said Andrew Tanner, vice president, Business Aviation, P&WC. The company said it expects similar approvals from the FAA and from European airworthiness authorities to be forthcoming. The PW615F is rated at 1,350 lbs. of thrust and features a dual-channel Full Authority Digital Electronic Control (FADEC). The engine was selected to power the Citation Mustang in January 2003.

Sikorsky Delivers 600th S-76 Helicopter

Sikorsky Aircraft last month reached a major milestone when it delivered the 600th example of its venerable S-76 helicopter. Now available as model C++ -- with a new version, the D, slated to enter service in 2008 -- more than 220 operators in 59 countries are currently flying S-76 helicopters. According to the company, the fleet has accumulated more than four million flight hours since the first S-76 was placed in service in 1979. "The success of the S-76 has been built by meeting the needs of our customers throughout the product's long and distinguished tenure. Delivering our 600th helicopter attests to the S-76's status as the preferred choice for hundreds of commercial operators around the world," said Jeff Pino, Sikorsky's senior vice president for strategy, marketing and commercial programs.

Sikorsky in February 2005 announced a series of upgrades available immediately on the S-76C++ and a set of additional product improvements that will result in the new S-76D model. The S-76D will build upon the C++ upgrades by offering improvements including a new composite main rotor blade, a new quiet tail rotor, a rotorcraft icing protection system, a new cockpit with integrated avionics and a new Pratt & Whitney Canada PW210 engine. The helicopter is used extensively in corporate VIP, offshore oil, airline, EMS/search-and-rescue and law enforcement operations.

Japan's Military Marks 500,000 Accident-Free King Air C90 Hours

Raytheon this month announced its fleet of TC90 twin turboprops based on its King Air C90 platform has reached a major milestone: 500,000 accident-free flight hours. The TC90 aircraft, operated by Japan's Maritime Self Defense Force’s (JMSDF) Tokushima Air Training Group (ATG), have been used for multiengine and instrument training since 1973; some 34 aircraft have been used or are on order in the training program since it began. Raytheon Aircraft Company’s authorized dealer in Japan, Itochu Aviation, sells and delivers the aircraft to JMSDF; JAMCO Corporation, Raytheon Aircraft Company’s authorized service center in Japan, supports the aircraft. “Raytheon Aircraft Company is proud that the extremely proficient pilots/instructors of the Tokushima Air Training Group have continued to select the TC90 for their very important training mission,” said Beechcraft President and General Manager Randy Groom.

Needed modifications to the basic King Air C90 are made by Raytheon in Wichita, Kan. Delivered airplanes include a four-tube EFIS avionics system, other mission-specific avionics and provisions for additional equipment to be installed in Japan. The standard interior is swapped for training configuration with lightweight cabin chairs, cabinets and racks, and the aircraft is delivered in its primer coating for painting in Japan. The Tokushima ATG currently flies 25 aircraft in the program and has trained over 3,740 pilots.

NBAA Names Scholarship Recipients

The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) late last month named the six individuals selected by the association's Corporate Aviation Management Committee (CAMC) to receive its 2006 Corporate Aviation Management Scholarship. Each scholarship includes up to $875 to cover expenses associated with recipients' attendance at NBAA's Annual Leadership Conference, scheduled for Feb. 22 and 23, in Dallas, Texas. The Corporate Aviation Management Scholarship, now in its second year, is sponsored by Eastern Aviation Fuels, Pentastar Aviation, SIG Aviation LLC and The VanAllen Group. Representatives from each of these entities will be present at the Leadership Conference.

The 2006 recipients include:

Pratt & Whitney Canada Celebrates 60,000th Engine

Even as it obtained Canadian certification of its offering to power the Cessna Citation Mustang, Pratt & Whitney Canada Corp. (P&WC) marked a major milestone last month with the production of its 60,000th engine. The achievement was worthy of a special ceremony held in the company's Mississauga, Ontario, plant. And, since the company offers one of the broadest product lines in the industry, the next 60,000 might not take as long. In fact, the last 10 years has seen the company certify more than 50 engines, including variants of its PT6, PW100, PW200, PW300, PW500, JT15D and PW900 series of turbine powerplants. The company says its offerings will once again expand in the first quarter of 2006 when it hopes to win certification for its PW610F.

According to P&WC, of the 60,000 engines P&WC has produced over the years, more than 40,000 are still in operation with close to 9,000 operators worldwide. The company says it expects some 20 more new engines should be off its drawing boards within three years. "Pratt & Whitney Canada is continuing to set the pace in aerospace with innovative engine programs," said Alain M. Bellemare, president of P&WC. "That's what puts us in such a strong position today, at a time when new products like very light jets (VLJs) are bursting onto the market," he added.

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AVwebBiz 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.

Today's issue was written by Joseph E. (Jeb) Burnside (bio).

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