AVwebBiz - Volume 4, Number 17

August 30, 2006

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Adam Full A500 Certification Imminent

Colorado-based Adam Aircraft yesterday told AVweb that it expects full certification of its A500 piston-powered centerline-thrust twin in the "next few days." According to a company spokesperson, "all the paperwork is complete" and filed with the FAA -- except for known icing approval -- and the company is waiting to hear back from the FAA. If Adam's understanding of its certification application is accurate, obtaining the FAA's final approval for the A500 will prove to be a major boon to the company and will help it get additional cash flow to bring the A700 jet to market. As AVweb reported last week, the company recently received a $93 million cash influx from venture capitalist DCM. Taken together, the two developments could firmly plant Adam in the market for piston twins and for VLJs.

Adam's A500 piston twin started life as a Burt Rutan design known as the M-309 and was first brought to EAA's Oshkosh extravaganza in 2000. In May 2005, Adam obtained a type certificate for the airplane, but it carried with it several limitations. Presently and until the FAA says otherwise, A500 operators must contend with several operating restrictions, including daytime VFR-only, no baggage, maximum of three occupants, avoiding icing conditions, and a 12,500-foot operational ceiling. Those restrictions -- except the one related to known icing -- will likely go away with a stroke of someone's pen in the next few days. We'll be watching.

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Final Eclipse Paperwork Imminent, Also

The FAA people involved with aircraft certification will be busy during the next few weeks. In addition to the Adam Aircraft A500 piston twin, Eclipse Aviation's Eclipse 500 VLJ, which received provision type certification during last month's EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, is likely to get its full certification, also. Back in July, Eclipse CEO and President Vern Raburn told the throngs his company expected to receive full certification -- except for known icing and some of the avionics' software -- by the end of August. But well-placed sources tell AVweb that it's likely Eclipse will miss that self-imposed deadline. Instead of coming in under that wire in the next 24 or so hours, Eclipse now believes full FAA certification -- again with the above-mentioned caveats -- will be achieved sometime in September. Regardless of whether the company makes it over the certification finish line in September, or even by close of business tomorrow, you can bet your next fuel bill that the Eclipse 500 will be certified in time for a major splash at the upcoming NBAA convention, scheduled for Oct. 17 through 19 in Orlando, Fla.

It's hard to say which feature of the Eclipse 500 is most responsible for the delays, but vendors evidently share some of the blame. Eclipse's autopilot won't have full certification when the "provisional" moniker is lifted and the composite-material tip tanks -- which failed to pass the FAA's lightning-strike tests -- caused delays, too. They'll be replaced with metal ones, something else that's holding up the paperwork.

Hawker 4000 Inches Closer To Reality

It's been a long time -- a very long time -- in the making, but Raytheon's Hawker 4000 "super mid-size" bizjet may soon get its FAA certification papers. First announced at NBAA in 1996 -- yes, 1996 -- company officials tell AVweb they expect FAA certification in advance of this year's NBAA annual meeting and convention, which is set for mid-October, as noted above. Most recently, however, Raytheon was forced to seek temporary exemptions from amended FAA certification regulations involving hydraulics and fuel tank safety. Under the two exemptions, Raytheon will be able to obtain type certification under the rules existing when the aircraft was first envisioned, and amend its paperwork and retrofit in-service aircraft after the fact. Like Adam and Eclipse, Raytheon told AVweb FAA certification of the Hawker 4000 is "imminent." According to Raytheon, it will have until June 1, 2007, to complete certification of the jet's hydraulic system at higher pressures. By Sept. 1, 2008, it must comply with revised standards to prevent fuel-tank explosions like the one attributed to the crash of TWA Flight 800.

The Hawker 4000 is Raytheon's late-to-the-party answer to large and efficient jets like the Falcon 2000 and smaller Gulfstreams. It features a composite fuselage, supercritical wing, advanced Pratt & Whitney Canada FADEC-controlled engines, and Honeywell Primus EPIC avionics. Formerly dubbed the Hawker Horizon, Raytheon's newest offering has been plagued with delays. Earlier this year, for example, Raytheon said it sought a delay on its own to install a lightning-protection system on the second of its two certification prototypes. At that time, it expected FAA certification in February. Late last year, the company and NetJets announced an agreement for the airframer to supply 50 of the aircraft to supplement the fractional operator's global fleet at a total price exceeding $1 billion, making it the largest single non-military order in Raytheon Aircraft's history. At that time, the company said deliveries would begin in 2007 and continue through 2013.

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Will Cessna Certify Its Mustang Early?

With Eclipse and Adam seeming to make it across the finish line, whither Cessna? Will we also see a certified -- full, partial or provisional -- Cessna Citation Mustang in the near future? Maybe before or during the upcoming NBAA annual meeting and convention? While AVweb was unable to get anyone at Cessna to comment on the speculation, it is pulling out all the stops it can find to secure certification of the Citation Mustang VLJ before NBAA, and we wouldn't bet against it. As we have noted in the past, Cessna has earned an enviable reputation for bringing its new aircraft types through the FAA's paperwork process and into its customers' hands in a clockwork-like fashion. Now, word has reached AVweb that the company is making a big push to complete the required testing as soon as possible.

In fact, published reports indicate Cessna is down to the final 150 hours of flying necessary to complete its certification testing. Those tests mostly involve ensuring everything on the aircraft meets reliability targets and functions as it should. Additionally, there is every indication the Citation Mustang will meet FAA requirements for flight in known icing conditions -- unlike the Adam A500 and Eclipse 500 -- when Cessna gets its first batch of paperwork. In addition to the icing certification, Cessna would really be stealing some thunder if it managed to certify and begin deliveries of the Mustang within, say, a few days of the Eclipse certification. Then again, you have to ask yourself: What if Cessna actually beat Eclipse?

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Battle Of The Bathrooms?

For years, industry players have been watching and commenting on who will be the big winner in the coming very light jet (VLJ) wars. Some say the first manufacturer to bring a VLJ to market will be the winner. This camp nominally would favor Eclipse and the Eclipse 500, since it received at least provisional certification last month. Others say the real winner will be the manufacturer with the best reputation for reliability and standing behind their VLJ product. Most in this corner would favor Cessna and its Citation Mustang. Still others, perhaps romantically, maintain the VLJ market is new enough and different enough that all the old rules don't apply. This camp, perhaps after having spent too much time at high altitude, believes the jury is still out. And, so far, it is. But a new theory on which will be the predominant VLJ has emerged: the one with the best lavatory.

A story in yesterday's New York Times detailed the start-up plans of newcomer Magnum Jet, which plans to offer on-demand service over certain routes. The whole idea is to refuse long-distance flights and, instead, focus on regional trips to get middle managers to and from their business appointments without an overnight stay. According to the Times story, Magnum is betting on the Adam A700 VLJ instead of the Eclipse in part because it has a lavatory. Could the winner of the coming VLJ aircraft wars really be decided on something as mundane as whether there's a bathroom? Or could the deciding factor work out to be direct operating costs, reliability and maintainability?

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Rockwell Collins Offers Pro Line 21 Retrofit For King Airs

Rockwell Collins last week said it is expanding its Pro Line 21 Integrated Display System (IDS) offering with a new Supplemental Type Certification (STC) on King Air 200 and King Air 300 aircraft. According to the company, the Pro Line 21 IDS King Air installation integrates with the aircraft's existing autopilot and sensors and includes three 8-inch by 10-inch liquid crystal displays, a digital weather radar and Integrated Flight Information System (IFIS) providing electronic charts, approaches, airport diagrams and NOTAMs. An option to the IFIS package, included as part of the original STC, is XM Datalink graphical weather. Superior Aircraft Maintenance in Medford, Ore., will perform the installation and STC. The completed STC will be owned by Rockwell Collins and will be available to Rockwell Collins dealers.

"Our Pro Line 21 IDS upgrade provides the latest in avionics technology that greatly increases aircraft value 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 certification marks the continued expansion of the proven Pro Line 21 IDS solution." Additionally, the company has introduced a new Web site allowing operators to configure a retrofit solution to meet their operational requirements. Through a process the company calls "Build-A-Flight-Deck," the site allows operators to select the upgrade level of interest and configure an avionics solution from a menu of Pro Line 21 capabilities. The site also identifies pending and completed supplemental type certifications available for Pro Line 21 IDS.

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Landmark Aviation Expands RDU FBO

Tempe, Ariz.-based Landmark Aviation earlier this month announced it had completed a $2 million hangar and office space project at its Raleigh, N.C., FBO facility. The expansion at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) includes 13,500 square feet of additional space for aircraft storage and maintenance, a new three-bay ground equipment support hangar, and 4,800 square feet of office space. “This expansion provides additional hangar and work areas for our based tenants,” said Tracine Anderson, Landmark Aviation general manager at Raleigh. In addition, the FBO offers normal FBO services, including fueling, a pilot lounge and weather room.

Landmark Aviation, formerly known as Garrett/Piedmont Hawthorne/Associated, offers light aircraft repair and maintenance at FBO locations throughout North America, as well as heavy aircraft maintenance and repairs at its major MRO centers. The company’s largest FBO facilities are at Dulles, Va., Toronto, and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Earlier this year, Landmark unveiled a $2.6 million interior renovation at LAX and a $300,000 renovation at Dulles. The company’s Toronto renovation will be unveiled this fall. In early 2006, Landmark announced it was acquiring two new premier FBO locations at Westchester, N.Y., and Scottsdale, Ariz. The FBO chain presently has 43 locations in North America.

Cessna Names Mark Paolucci to Head Customer Support

Cessna said earlier this month is named Mark Paolucci, currently vice president of Citation Sales, to replace retiring Senior Vice President Ron Chapman as head of the company’s customer service organization. Paolucci will also assume Chapman’s position on Cessna’s Senior Leadership Team. Paolucci will be based at the company's headquarters in Wichita, Kan. Paolucci will assume his new responsibilities beginning Aug. 21, and Chapman will retire Oct. 2. Paolucci takes over a customer service group that includes 10 service centers in the U.S. and Europe, a network of authorized service centers around the world, and a parts distribution group based in Wichita.

Paolucci joined Cessna in 1979 as a design engineer and has worked in both special missions/government sales and commercial sales. He was named vice president of international sales in 1994 and vice president of Citation sales in 2002. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in aviation technology from Central Missouri State University. “Mark is the right individual to be stepping in for Ron to guide Customer Service as it continues to meet the demands of our growing global customer base,” said Cessna Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Jack Pelton. Chapman’s 37-year career at Cessna started in 1969 as a supervisor in customer accounting. In 1974, he was tapped to head Cessna’s parts distribution organization and continued to take on more senior roles within the customer support group. He has led Customer Service since 1996 and was named senior vice president in 1999.

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Cessna Delivers the 100th Citation CJ3

Cessna Aircraft Company on Monday delivered its 100th production Citation CJ3. Jeffrey Mark, chief executive officer, principal owner and co-founder of Mark-Taylor Residential Inc., an Arizona-based real estate development corporation, purchased the milestone aircraft. “I have always loved airplanes,” Mark said. “When I was a kid, my father was a pilot, and I flew radio-controlled airplanes. I have kept that passion for flying.” Mark has owned a Cessna CitationJet, a Citation CJ2 and now the Citation CJ3. A pilot for 16 years, Mark learned how to fly in a Cessna 172 Skyhawk.

The Cessna Citation CJ3 received FAA certification in October 2004 and is currently one of Cessna’s best-selling business jet models worldwide. Among its features are a passenger cabin 24 inches longer than the Citation CJ2+ and a maximum cruise speed of 417 knots at 33,000 feet. With two pilots, full fuel, four passengers and baggage, the CJ3 offers an NBAA IFR range of more than 1,800 nautical miles. The CJ3's service ceiling is FL450 feet and its maximum gross takeoff weight is 13,870 pounds.

Saul Pacheco Joins Eclipse As Vice President of Quality

Eclipse Aviation this month announced Saul Pacheco joined its executive team as vice president of quality. Pacheco was most recently the global director of quality and reliability for medical technology leader Medtronic, where he was responsible for all products released to the medical marketplace. At Medtronic, Pacheco led the evaluation of manufacturing processes, documentation, controls and procedures. Prior to that, he spent 11 years with Motorola in a variety of manufacturing and quality management roles.

“We are excited to welcome Saul as our vice president of quality – his leadership will be critical as we transition from a company focused on aircraft development to one in full production mode,” said Vern Raburn, president and CEO of Eclipse Aviation. “We have a great team in place, and bringing someone with Saul’s specialized experience on board is another definitive step in our strategy to build and deliver the world’s highest-quality VLJ.” The company's press release noted that Pacheco brings to Eclipse extensive experience in high-rate manufacturing and product quality, and will be responsible for ensuring Eclipse 500 aircraft quality and airworthiness.

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AVwebBiz is an every-other-week 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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