Business NewsWire Complete Issue

May 10, 2006
By The AVweb Editorial Staff

ATG - A New Dawn of Business Jets

Embraer Announces New Bizjet

Brazilian airframer Embraer last week said it would develop a new business jet based on its EMB-190 short-range airliner platform. The announcement came in conjunction with the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE), held in Geneva, Switzerland, May 3 through 5. The new jet, dubbed the Lineage 1000, is slated for certification and first deliveries in mid-2008 and would be the company's fourth bizjet in service or under development. That fleet includes the in-service long-range (for a business jet) Legacy and the under-development Phenom 100 and 300 light jets. "When we unveiled the Phenom jets only 12 months ago, we asserted to the business aviation community our firm commitment to stay in this industry and grow our presence,” said Maurício Botelho, Embraer president and CEO. “We are now taking advantage of the Embraer 190 platform to launch the Lineage 1000, a premium product with superior comfort and performance characteristics." Embraer says the Lineage 1000 -- who thinks up these names? -- is an "ultra-large" business jet with a total cabin volume of more than 4,000 cubic feet, featuring five distinct areas capable of accommodating up to 19 passengers.

Up front in the cockpit, pilots of the new jet will fly behind a highly integrated Primus Epic avionics suite from Honeywell. The installation envisioned by Embraer will include five LCD multi-function displays and a cursor control device (CCD). Other automation and avionics destined for the Lineage 1000 include auto-throttle, weather radar with turbulence detection and a fly-by-wire flight control system. Two GE CF34-10E7 engines with 18,500 pounds of thrust each will power the airplane to its maximum operating speed of Mach 0.82 and to a maximum altitude of FL410. Range with eight passengers will be 4,200 nm with NBAA IFR reserves. Embraer says those numbers mean nonstop hops from London to New York, from Moscow to Tokyo or from Jeddah to Beijing. As always, AVweb will keep you posted on this new jet's development.

Cessna’s Encore+ Program Passes 100 Flight Hours

Also at EBACE, Cessna said its Citation Encore+ development program passed the 100-flight-hour milestone in late April and is on track for entry into service in the first quarter of 2007. The company's program includes two aircraft: One is being used to develop the full authority digital engine control (FADEC) software while the other is dedicated to fully testing and integrating the Collins Pro Line 21 avionics suite upgrade, which includes a Collins autopilot. According to Cessna, other improvements covered under the Encore+ upgrade program include new interior lighting, new seat designs and a maximum takeoff weight increase of 200 pounds. The company says it has delivered to FlightSafety International more than 90 percent of the parts required to build the full-motion simulator (FAA Level D/JAR STD 1A) for the Encore+ at the company’s Tulsa, Okla., facility.

The Encore+'s thrust from the twin Pratt & Whitney Canada PW545B engines (3,400 pounds apiece) will remain the same, but adding the FADEC will increase engine efficiency and responsiveness. The type was first announced last November at the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) convention in Orlando. Cessna said at the time that deliveries would start in February 2007 and, with the March 23 first flight and the latest announcement, it appears the company is right on schedule. The Encore+ succeeds the Citation Encore and, when compared to the Encore, the "plus" version enables the typical operator to have a full-fuel payload (in addition to two pilots) in excess of 1,100 pounds. Cessna expects to certify the Citation Encore+ for single-pilot operation.

AdamJet Achieves FL410 And 340 KTAS Milestones

Adam Aircraft announced late last month that a prototype of its A700 AdamJet flew to FL410 and achieved a true airspeed of 340 knots during flight testing on April 20. The aircraft's test flight was crewed by Senior Turbine Test Pilot Ken Sasine and co-pilot Dan Brand. According to the company, the aircraft departed Centennial Airport and climbed directly to FL410. The climb rate was still in excess of 1,000 fpm out of FL390, according to Adam. After leveling off, the crew accelerated, reaching a maximum speed of 340 KTAS. "This flight signifies the continuing progress of the A700 program," said Bill Watters, Adam Aircraft vice president of flight operations. "Serial Number 001 has demonstrated the aircraft’s flight capabilities, Serial Number 002 remains on track for FAA Certification, and collectively the two aircraft have flown more than 500 hours. A700 Serial Number 003 is currently in production."

Adam says A700 Serial Number 002 includes a recently installed digital acquisition unit to provide full engine performance and fuel system instrumentation, and has begun performance testing, of which the April 20 flight was clearly an example. Additional testing for 002 includes airspeed calibration plus takeoff and landing tests. The aircraft also includes fully functioning software supporting the three-tube primary and multi-function flight displays. The company said it has accelerated its ongoing static tests of the airframe and has completed pressurization testing to 26.7 psi, which exceeded the 24.7 psi pressure differential test requirement. The static tests for engine mounts, tailbooms, nosewheel tunnel, wing, spars, elevator, rudder and landing gear are all well underway and scheduled for completion by June 30. Adam tells AVweb the company still plans for year-end certification of the A700, depending on FAA scheduling. Meanwhile, limitations on the piston-powered A500's certification are being signed off on daily. Adam tells us the company expects to have its type inspection authority any day now.

Eclipse Also Announces Milestones

Meanwhile, back at EBACE, Eclipse Aviation last week announced that its Eclipse 500 test fleet has amassed 1,700 total flight hours on its way to FAA certification. Moreover, some 700 of those flight hours were accumulated in the last three months alone. All of which the company says is keeping it on track to achieve FAA certification by June 30, with EASA certification by the end of the year. “Certification testing is progressing exceptionally well, and the Eclipse 500 is proving out the robust design, reliability and performance that it was built to deliver,” said Vern Raburn, president and CEO of Eclipse Aviation.

The company has five examples of the very light jets in its flight testing program, and says recent accomplishments include:

Eclipse also says it has completed a series of ground tests including ground vibration testing, aircraft High Intensity Radiated Fields (HIRF) tests, aircraft lightning tests, fuel flow and pressure tests, landing gear ground operations and engine firewall tests. Eclipse says its highest utilization jet, N506EA, has a demonstrated dispatch rate of over 99.50 percent.

Dassault Confirms Falcon 7X Range And Performance Increases

Also at EBACE, Dassault last week confirmed an increase in range to 5950 nm as well as an increase in payload with full fuel for the new Falcon 7X. In February, Dassault said it hopes improvements in the aircraft's design would boost its range from 5,700 nm to 6,000; apparently, they came up only 50 nm short. Regardless, the new range figures will enable the forthcoming 7X to fly nonstop between cities such as New York and Riyadh, Paris and Singapore and Los Angeles and Rome. "Our goal from the first day of the Falcon 7X program was to exceed the expectations of our customers and to build an aircraft Dassault would be proud of," said Charles Edelstenne, chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation. "We've succeeded in both areas. Our customers are getting more airplane than they were promised and the 7X is performing in the best tradition of our visionary founder, Marcel Dassault."

In addition to extended range, the 7X's MGTOW has been increased to 69,000 pounds. Payload capacity with full fuel has been increased by more than 1,000 pounds and the basic operating weight is now set at 34,272 pounds. The Falcon 7X's improved numbers come about, in part, from the addition of winglets, additional fuel tanks in the forward section and a redesign of the secondary rudder and lower fin. Additionally, thrust for the Pratt & Whitney Canada 307A engines was also increased to 6400 pounds. Dassault expects to certify the first purpose-built fly-by-wire business jet sometime in the fourth quarter of 2006.

Gulfstream's Product Support Racks Up The Miles

Gulfstream last week said it recently completed its 1,000th product support flight since introducing its on-demand maintenance service in May 2002. According to the company, dispatch reliability rates among its in-service large-cabin fleet are in excess of 99.5 percent, but incidents such as a blown tire or a cracked windshield can still ground a plane. Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, Gulfstream’s Airborne Product Support uses a dedicated G100 aircraft to transport technicians and/or essential parts to aircraft under warranty at airports within North America, Central America and the Caribbean. Gulfstream says an Airborne Product Support assistance flight can save two or more days of waiting for a replacement windshield or tire. In cases where an operator’s aircraft is located outside the G100’s range of service, Gulfstream will fly the needed parts and technicians to a major hub where they can connect to commercial airline flights to reach the customer’s aircraft.

Most of the company's flights have been wholly within the U.S., but some 78 have been to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean. “We were the first business-jet manufacturer to offer this value-added customer service and are still the only one to dedicate a plane solely for this purpose,” said Larry Flynn, president of Gulfstream's product support. The company's airborne product support operation employs eight dedicated pilots and a full-time manager who oversees the operation. “Every time we have the opportunity to dispatch the G100, we’re glad to do so because we know we’ve made all the difference to that operator,” Flynn added.

Dassault Jumps On EFB Bandwagon

Want a Falcon but just gotta have an electronic flight bag (EFB)? Worry no more: Falcon manufacturer Dassault said this month it is now offering a hard-mounted EFB on all of its new Falcon 2000DX, 2000EX, 900DX and 900EX aircraft. The new system is based on the CMC Electronics PilotView product and will offer airport, departure and approach charts, along with graphical real-time weather information. The Class II unit is on either the pilot's or co-pilot's side of the cockpit and is certified for all phases of flight. "We believe the PilotView EFB gives our operators the most advanced Electronic Flight Bag in corporate aviation," said Eric Monsel, vice president of programs for Dassault Falcon. "With its solid-state design, PilotView makes a terrific supplement to our EASy flight deck and provides to our cockpit a paperless capability."

Dassault made no mention of retrofitting EFBs to Falcons already in service, but it can't be that hard. According to the company, the PilotView EFB is fully customizable and enables access to Jeppesen charts, aircraft documentation, and weight and balance data. The PilotView EFB features an 8.4-inch display with a "film-on-glass" touch-sensitive screen and an aircraft-quality, slide-out keyboard.

Jet Aviation Announces European Charter Alliances

Jet Aviation made a splash at EBACE, also, by announcing Skylliance, a new European charter program consisting of selected high-quality air charter operators and aircraft that operate under the same stringent safety and service standards defined by Jet Aviation. “We wanted to set another industry benchmark,” said Jet Aviation’s Martin Bernegger, senior vice president and general manager of the company’s EMEA charter division. “The worldwide charter industry is highly fragmented, consisting of hundreds of providers with vastly different standards and procedures. Skylliance is an alliance of high quality air charter operators and aircraft working to stringent safety and service standards as defined by us.”

Before joining Skylliance, Jet Aviation will audit each operator, which must have its own procedures in place in accordance with the respective Civil Aviation Authorities. To ensure that the program delivers its promises and maintains the highest levels of quality, Jet Aviation said it will carry out annual audits on each member. Air charter operators wanting to enter the program will pay a one-time entrance fee and annual membership fees depending on size and number of aircraft while Jet Aviation provides the marketing and sales support.

Cessna Increases Field Support Headcount

Cessna last week said it had added six additional Citation field service engineers to its support team. According to the company, the latest move is part of its plans to have a total of 26 field service engineers around the world, along with 48 customer service engineers based at its Wichita, Kan., headquarters by the end of 2006. Cessna made the additions to further strengthen customer support for its in-service fleet. “Our people must be available to go to our customers when there is an urgent need,” said Art Warren, director of Citation customer support. “Our customers have emphasized this, and in our efforts to meet or exceed their expectations, we’ve invested in six highly qualified and talented people from corporate flight departments and service centers.” The new field service engineers and their locations are: Craig Duncan, Portland, Ore.; Jeff Saubers, Nashville, Tenn.; Joel Noronha, St. Louis, Mo.; Randy Davis, Pittsburgh, Penn.; Paul Faunce, Houston, Texas; and Kevin Flood, Minneapolis, Minn.

“The field service engineers address technical, general and business issues, while the customer service engineers are team specialists focused on technical issues for specific jet models,” said Chet Shippy, manager of Citation field service. “It’s a very dynamic team that continues to strive to meet our customers’ needs wherever and whenever they may arise. With the largest fleet of business jets in the world, we plan to increase our field service staff as the fleet expands. In addition to these six new engineers, we also plan to add one field service engineer in Europe, one in the Middle East, and two in North America, before the end of the year.”

Embraer Receives First Fleet Order For 50 Phenom 100s

Embraer had a good EBACE. In addition to announcing its Lineage 1000 large bizjet, the Brazilian manufacturer last week said a start-up European executive jet service has placed an order for 50 Phenom 100 jets, with options for an additional 50 aircraft. The service, Swiss-based JetBird, is poised to launch a new pan-European low-cost executive jet service, although its timing was clear. Embraer said the Phenom 100 is expected to enter service in mid-2008 and JetBird is scheduled to take delivery of its first aircraft in April 2009. The $140 million contract allows JetBird to convert its positions into either the Phenom 100 or the Phenom 300. “One year ago today we launched the Phenom 100 and the Phenom 300 at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. There is a significant potential for very light and light jet products in Europe, and we are glad to offer JetBird the Phenom as the right airplane at the right time,” said Maurício Botelho, Embraer president and CEO.

Mr. Dómhnal Slattery, founder and chairman of JetBird, commented, “JetBird has a clear and compelling vision that will revolutionize the executive travel market in a manner similar to the low-cost airline transformation of the commercial air travel market. We will provide an attractive alternative for existing executive jet users, but also bring the executive jet travel experience to a market for whom it has been too expensive. We are delighted to have Embraer as a key stakeholder in our business given its exemplary track record of innovation in aircraft design and production.” With this order, JetBird becomes the European launch fleet customer for the Phenom 100.

Gulfstream G150 Establishes Speed Record

Gulfstream on May 3 said one of its G150 flight-test aircraft established the first G150 city-pair speed record, flying 1,575 nm between Tel Aviv, Israel, to Geneva, Switzerland, in 3 hours and 40 minutes. The G150 took off from the Ben Gurion International Airport at 11:00 a.m. local time on May 1. It flew at an average cruise speed of .82 Mach into an average headwind of 25 knots, then landed at 2:40 p.m. local time at the Geneva International Airport. The aircraft then went on static display at EBACE. The G150's flight crew included Scott Evans, Gulfstream chief pilot, and Yoram Geva, Israel Aircraft Industries senior test pilot.

The G150 was certified by both the FAA and the Civil Aviation Administration of Israel on Nov. 8, 2005, and remains on schedule for first customer delivery in the third quarter of 2006. It's powered by two Honeywell TFE731-40AR engines and can fly four passengers nonstop up to 2,950 nm and at altitudes as high as FL450. Gulfstream said it has submitted an application to the National Aeronautic Association to confirm the new city-pair record.

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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.

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