May 24, 2006
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
German airframer GROB is still in the testing and pre-certification phases of developing its planned SPn Utility Jet, but the company recently announced a series of upgrades -- to the light jet's interior, equipment and avionics -- designed to increase the type's flexibility and capability. GROB says its customers can now choose a new six-seat "executive" interior configuration including a full lavatory and galley, an auxiliary power unit (APU) and an enhanced vision system (EVS). Separately, both GROB and Honeywell announced enhancements to the jet's APEX Integrated Avionics suite for the GROB SPn cockpit, which Honeywell says offers "pilots the most user-friendly, intuitive displays available in business aviation." GROB's new interior configuration comprises four 18-inch single club seats plus two front-facing seats located in the aft cabin. All seats feature adjustable armrests and headrests, and can be reclined and rotated plus moved forward and aft. Other cabin appointments include four fold-out tables, six 110-volt outlets and LED lighting. The toilet or the galley can be located either front or aft in the cabin.
Meanwhile, the new APU -- something not normally available aboard aircraft of this size -- will provide power for engine start, avionics, and entertainment equipment, among others, as well as bleed air for environmental control. It will be certified for in-flight operation. The new EVS option is manufactured by Kollsman Inc., and will be fully integrated with the APEX avionics and display screens. The enhanced APEX includes TCAS II, weather radar and other functions fully integrated into the user-friendly controls, as well as greater software processing power to allow for future optional equipment, such as auto-throttle (AT) and emergency decent mode (EDM), among others. Other features possible with the Honeywell APEX suite include an optional electronic flight bag, a paperless-cockpit option, dual flight management systems to meet certain European requirements, an integrated Class A enhanced ground proximity warning system and the EVS. Recognizing the added choice now offered, Niall Olver, CEO of ExecuJet Aviation Group, which will market and support the SPn Utility Jet, said, "Today's new options now give customers more flexibility to configure and confidently operate their GROB SPn in a variety of applications including that of passenger service, air ambulance, cargo or multi mission transport."
Cessna said this month it is developing a proprietary, interactive, 3-D aircraft specification software system combining engineering data with customer configuration options to provide real-time visualization of proposed changes to the customer, as well as cost and weight changes to the aircraft. Working in cooperation with Anark Corporation, a leading 3-D application solution provider, Cessna plans to launch the new system by the end of the year. It will be available first at Cessnas customer spec centers in Wichita and in its new Farnborough office, and then have portable applications soon after. Digital, 3-D systems for basic product specification applications are not new, but most of the current systems on the Internet -- particularly the auto spec tools are really just digital brochures that are fairly static in what they can do for the customer, said Cynthia Halsey, vice president of interior design, engineering and development. The Cessna system will be 100 percent real time and will provide all the information a customer needs to make an informed decision about outfitting an aircraft.
According to Cessna, digital brochures offer a relatively small number of configurations or options. Aircraft configurations can take hours to complete due to the complexity of the system choices and options available. The company says that its new aircraft specification system, while taking digital configuration to a new level, will greatly simplify the configuration process, allowing the customer to see in real time how choices will look and interact with each other in the cabin. Avionics can be changed instantly and running totals on both option prices with associated weights are presented in real time. That's probably the most important feature.
Lufthansa Bombardier Aviation Services (LBAS) last week announced it has opened a temporary maintenance station at the historic Berlin-Tempelhof Airport and is now offering line maintenance services for all Bombardier Learjet, Challenger and Global business jet operators, including base maintenance for Learjet aircraft, at the citys downtown airport. The new maintenance and service station -- located in one of the airports impressive hangars -- began operation in early May, in anticipation of the upcoming FIFA World Cup Germany 2006 tournament. Originally founded in 1923, Berlin-Tempelhof is recognized internationally for its strategic role in the Berlin Airlift, which operated in 1948 and 1949.
Due to its central location, Berlin-Tempelhof is still one of the citys busiest airports for corporate aviation, said Andreas Kaden, managing director, LBAS. The new maintenance station means more choice and increased flexibility for Bombardier business jet operators flying into Berlin-Brandenburg region. Bombardier said Germany is becoming the nucleus of its business aircraft units rapidly expanding service and support presence in Europe. In the past nine months, milestones reached include beginning operations at its new parts super-warehouse in Frankfurt and opening its new Learjet hangar in Berlin, almost doubling the available maintenance area for Learjet aircraft at that location. Lufthansa Bombardier Aviation Services is a joint venture between Lufthansa Technik AG, Bombardier Aerospace and ExecuJet Aviation Group dedicated to supporting Bombardier Learjet Challenger and Global business jets.
Gulfstream Aerospace last week officially opened its new Research and Development Center near its Savannah, Ga., headquarters. The new facility is part of the seven-year, $300 million, long-range expansion plan the company announced March 6, and is expected to generate 1,100 additional jobs. To meet an immediate need for office space, Gulfstream is leasing the Research and Development Center. Gulfstream departments assigned to the new R&D center include Flight Sciences; Preliminary Design; New Program Development; and G100, G150 and G200 Program Offices. When the building was completed in March, Gulfstream personnel from Engineering, Manufacturing, Planning, Product Support and Material, many of whom were housed in temporary trailers, began moving into the office space. Gulfstream President Bryan Moss said, What I think March 6th and today represent more than anything else are the following two facts. First, Gulfstream intends to remain a major force in the local and state economies and second, Gulfstream intends to retain and protect its leadership position in the business aviation industry."
The 100,300-square-foot building is less than five miles from Gulfstreams company headquarters in Savannah. The building provides modern, technologically advanced office and working space for up to 750 employees and parking space for 700 vehicles. The building includes 14 meeting rooms, six of which are equipped for video conferencing; a Computer Aided Three-dimensional Interactive Application (CATIA) training center; and an acoustics laboratory.
Bombardier announced last week it has completed relocating two of its strategic business jet operations to London Farnborough Airport. According to the announcement, the company's regional sales headquarters for Europe, as well as its Skyjet International headquarters, began operations within TAG Aviations new Farnborough facilities in mid-March 2006. In addition, the company has also moved its Middle East and African sales operation and Skyjet International Middle East office to Dubai International Airport. It is located within ExecuJets new facility, which also houses a Bombardier authorized service facility and parts depot.
London Farnborough Airport is quickly becoming the focal point for business aircraft activity in the United Kingdom and is now one of the most modern airports dedicated to business aviation in Europe, said Bob Horner, vice-president, sales, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Bombardier Business Aircraft. In addition, we are ideally situated in Dubai, right in the business aviation centre, and look forward to establishing new roots at such an impressive facility. Bombardier said it delivered 186 business jets in its fiscal year ended January 31, 2006, compared to 128 for the same period one year earlier, an increase of 45 percent. Bombardier delivered 102 business jets in Europe from 2001 to 2005 on a calendar-year basis, representing a 20 percent share of the market.
Raytheon last week said it has appointed Banyan Air Service as an Authorized Service Center for its Bonanza, Baron and King Air series airplanes. Banyan, located at the Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport (FXE), is a full-service FBO specializing in airframe maintenance, engine repair and avionics upgrades for many corporate and general aviation aircraft. Banyan Air Service, with more than 130 employees, is the largest FBO at FXE with approximately 400 based aircraft. The facility currently occupies 210,000 square feet of hangar and office space. This addition to our network of Authorized Service Centers emphasizes our commitment to our growing number of Beechcraft customers, said Randy Groom, president, Global Customer Service and Support. The establishment of an authorized service center at the Banyan Air Service facility ensures that we can achieve this requirement and meet our customers expectations.
Banyan is an approved FAA and EASA repair station and has also earned certification from the Argentinean, Brazilian and Venezuelan governments. Banyan has experience on most King Air and Beechcraft models, performed such major and minor work as structural repairs, engine overhaul management, hot-section inspections and repairs, plus comprehensive avionics engineering, repairs, installation and integration. Located at Ft. Lauderdale Executive ... we are thrilled with our new alliance with Raytheon Aircraft Company, said Don Campion, president of Banyan Air Service.
Eurocopter, which says its order book for the EC 135 has reached more than 550 units, said it has executed agreements in Switzerland and Spain for new helicopters, agreeing to set up assembly lines in the two countries. The agreement with Switzerland calls for 18 EC635s plus two EC135s for the Armed Forces while Spain wants 48 EC135 law-enforcement helicopters. Beginning in 2007, Swiss company RUAG will assemble 16 of the 18 EC635s while final assembly of Spain's EC135 order will take place at Eurocopters newly established Albacete facility. Eurocopter says its new facility in Spain recognizes the large Spanish law-enforcement requirement and further sales potential in that country. Meanwhile, the company added that substantial upgrades to the EC135, including an increase in takeoff weight to 6,415 lbs. -- up from 5,694 lbs. -- were granted EASA certification on Feb. 21, 2006. Deliveries of the upgraded version, designated the EC 135 T2i or P2i, will start in late September 2006.
The takeoff weight increase is complemented by a reduction of empty weight, resulting in a useful load increase of 176 lbs. The useful load for IFR-equipped aircraft is up by even more: 198 lbs. In addition, Eurocopter has further reduced direct maintenance costs of the EC135, which the company says now offers the lowest maintenance cost of all twins presently in production. The 50-hours and 100-hours checks were eliminated. The inspection interval for the Fenestron® tail rotor has been raised from 1,200 hours/3 years to 1,600 hours/3 years. The interval for the 800-hours inspection has been raised from every two to every three years. Today, an EC 135 is required to have its first inspection at 400 flight hours unrivalled in its class. The company said it also achieved the record of 100 percent on-time and on-quality deliveries for the EC 135.
Pilatus Aircraft Ltd. and CAMP Systems International recently announced an agreement making CAMP the exclusive factory-recommended maintenance-tracking service for all PC-12 aircraft. As one result, all new PC-12 aircraft deliveries will include a year of CAMP services at no cost to the new owner. CAMP Systems International is the largest independent provider of aircraft maintenance tracking services to the business aviation market, with over 4,000 aircraft on its Web-based system spread among 130 makes and models. Commenting on the agreement, Piotr Wolak, vice president of Customer Services for Pilatus Business Aircraft Ltd., said, Through CAMP, Pilatus customers will now receive the best maintenance tracking tool available. Subscribers will have 24/7 access to their maintenance tracking information and an electronic logbook via the Internet.
We are committed to providing Pilatus customers with a complete maintenance tracking solution for their PC-12 aircraft. We look forward to a long and successful relationship," stated Ken Gray, chief executive officer of CAMP Systems. Pilatus Aircraft Ltd., of Stans, Switzerland, provides aircraft and aviation services worldwide. Based in Broomfield, Colorado, Pilatus Business Aircraft Ltd. provides completions, marketing, sales and service for Pilatus aircraft in North and South America.
NetJets announced earlier this month that Bill Noe, who has served as a pilot, director of operations and vice president of operations since joining the company in 1993, was appointed president of NetJets International Inc. (NJI). Noe will assume all day-to-day responsibility for the operations and administrative functions of NJI. We are pleased that Bill has agreed to take on this new responsibility, said Richard T. Santulli, chairman and chief executive officer of NetJets. Bill has been intimately involved in NJI since its inception and is uniquely qualified to help guide the company in the years ahead.
In addition to his "day job" service with NetJets, Noe has also served on various industry advisory boards. He is a graduate of Marshall University. NetJets International Inc., a subsidiary of NetJets Inc., was created in 1995 to operate NetJets long-range, transcontinental flights. The company also operates NetJets U.S.-based fleet of Gulfstream and is the single largest operator of Gulfstream aircraft in the world.
Signature Flight Support last week named Mike Bennett as general manager of its operation at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD). An industry veteran of more than twenty (20) years, Mr. Bennett has served a variety of operational, safety and training roles within Signature and other FBO organizations. Most recently, he was assistant general manager of the IAD facility. Commenting on Mr. Bennett's appointment, Signature Regional Vice President Doug Crowther said, "Signature's FBO at Washington Dulles International Airport is a key location within our global network and a frequent destination for business and government leaders from around the world. Mike has the experience and skill necessary to ensure our unique customer base in Washington receives the top-notch service that is Signature's hallmark."
Signature Flight Support is the world's largest FBO chain and distribution network for business aviation services. Signature services include fueling, hangar and office rentals, ground handling and a wide range of crew and passenger amenities at strategic domestic and international locations. Headquartered in Orlando, Fla., Signature currently operates at more than 75 locations around the world.
Raytheon Aircraft Company earlier this month announced appointing Doug Brantner as vice president, Raytheon Aircraft Services. Reporting to Randy Groom, president, Global Service and Support, Brantner assumed his new position immediately and will be responsible for all ten Raytheon Aircraft Services fixed-base operations in the U.S. and Mexico. Brantner is tasked with transforming Raytheon Aircraft Services to deliver world-class solutions to existing and new customers as the company focuses on growing its position in the intensely competitive aircraft servicing markets. The Hawker Aircraft Services facilities in Little Rock, Ark., and Chester, U.K., will continue to report to Brad Hatt, president, Commercial Aircraft.
Doug Brantners 14 years with the company, 11 of those as vice president of Finance for Raytheon Aircraft Services, makes him the ideal leader for this important area of our business. He is intimately familiar with the business, its operations and the type of service our customers expect to receive, says Groom. In addition, Skip Madsen will move to the position of general manager at Raytheon Aircraft Services, Wichita.
Former senior vice president of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) Bob Blouin last week officially announced forming Sky Group Associates Inc., an aviation management services company based at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (KDCA). According to the company, SkyGroup specializes in a wide variety of aviation management services, including Part 135 and 121 certifications, personnel searches, safety and security audits, flight operations and maintenance manuals, litigation support and commercial and government contracting SkyGroup says its mandate is to explore and develop products and services for the aviation community and government operations.
In addition to his service at NBAA, Blouin is an aerospace executive with more than thirty years of domestic and international experience in corporate, commercial and military aviation operations. He also serves as president of the Greater Washington Business Aviation Association (GWBAA). Prior to NBAA, he served as vice president of technical operations for Short Brothers USA, a subsidiary of Bombardier. He is an Airline Transport Pilot and Certified Flight Instructor, with over 7000 hours of international and domestic flight experience.
...the next issue of AVweb's BizAVflash will be e-mailed to you on June 7.
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