AVwebBiz - Volume 5, Number 5

February 14, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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GAMA: 2006 Was Very Good To General Aviation

Earlier this week, general aviation industry movers and shakers met in Washington, D.C., for the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) Annual Industry Review and Market Outlook Briefing. And everyone was smiling: 2006, it turns out, saw the all-time high for general aviation aircraft billings: $18.8 billion, a 24.1 percent increase over 2005. All that money was spent on 4,042 units shipped -- err, flown to buyers -- worldwide. That figure, too, is up by 12.9 percent over 2005’s total of 3,580 units, but is nowhere close to the record number of airframes built by U.S. manufacturers in one year. That record -- 17,811, in 1978 -- likely will stand for a very, very long time. Of those totals, piston airplanes experienced an 11.6-percent rise over 2005; from 2,465 to 2,750 in 2006. Turboprop shipments increased by a similar percentage, 11.5 percent, up from 365 units in 2005 to 407 units in 2006. New business jets shipments also climbed in 2006 to a total of 885 airplanes, up 18 percent over last year’s figure of 750 units. GAMA Chairman Dr. John J. Grisik noted, “Worldwide economic growth, a strong export market, and increased use of general aviation for both business and personal use all played a part in this outstanding year for general aviation.” He added, “As our manufacturers continue to fill their order books, GAMA anticipates another robust year for general aviation in 2007 and beyond.”

For the current year, GAMA and its airframe-manufacturing members expect the good times will continue. Factors the association cites to support its upward projections include sustained growth in national, regional and local economies, which increase demand for business transportation; the airlines' inability to satisfy that demand; and technology improvements that will continue to enhance safety and efficiency while providing greater performance. Although the good times likely will continue rolling for U.S. manufacturers, foreign manufacturers will produce an increasing number of competitive aircraft. But the major dark cloud on the horizon for 2007 and beyond, according to GAMA, is the FAA's user-fee scheme, which is part of the agency's proposal for its own reauthorization later this year. How will it all come out? Check back in early 2008 for the next edition of GAMA's Annual Industry Review and Market Outlook Briefing.

 
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Gulfstream: Meet The New Boss

In a surprise move, General Dynamics late last week announced Joseph T. Lombardo will take over as the new president of its Gulfstream Aerospace division, replacing Bryan Moss. Lombardo, 58, was chief operating officer of the luxury bizjet maker. Moss, 66, will remain active with the company as president emeritus. "Joe Lombardo is a proven manager who has a strong work ethic, and who has earned the respect of his coworkers, customers and suppliers," General Dynamics CEO Nicholas D. Chabraja said in a statement last week. "Joe has been responsible for ensuring that Gulfstream's products meet or exceed expectations in their performance and quality."

After finishing his MBA at Long Beach University, Lombardo joined Douglas Aircraft in 1975 and was in charge of twinjet production until joining Gulfstream in 1996. As COO, he's been responsible for the production of the entire Gulfstream line. In addition to heading up Gulfstream, Lombardo will become executive vice president of the General Dynamics Aerospace Group and look after General Dynamics Aviation Services. Moss, who joined Gulfstream as its vice chairman in 1995, was named president in 2003.

Flutter Investigated In Loss Of Grob SPn Utility Jet

Last November's crash of a Grob SPn Utility Jet prototype may have involved aerodynamic flutter in the aircraft's horizontal tail. Germany's Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Investigation (BFU) is looking at that scenario as a likely cause of the Nov. 29 crash of the company's second light-jet prototype. Grob chief test pilot Gerard Guillaumaud, 45, a former French air force pilot and a graduate of the National Test Pilot School in Mojave, Calif., died in the crash. He was the airplane's sole occupant. The crash occurred shortly after takeoff, as Guillaumaud reportedly brought the jet around for a high-speed pass as a demonstration to potential customers. Reports indicate the BFU's investigation located parts from the tail as much as 400 meters from the main wreckage.

The accident aircraft had first flown two months earlier, accumulating only 40 cycles and 28 flight hours before the crash. Larger control surfaces -- including ailerons -- had been fitted to the prototype before the accident flight but had not been tested throughout the SPn's flight envelope. It's not known to what role, if any, the lack of testing or the larger surfaces themselves played in the crash. As AVweb previously reported, Grob is moving ahead with plans to certify and market the SPn Utility Jet in early 2008, about six months later than originally planned.

 
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J.D. Power and Associates: Bizjet Owners Mostly Satisfied

It had to happen sooner or later: J.D. Power and Associates, the customer satisfaction and consumer ratings firm has branched out into the business aviation market, last week publishing results from its first-ever survey of aircraft owners and operators. The company's inaugural study examined owners' and operators' overall satisfaction with fixed-wing, turbine-powered and pressurized-cabin aircraft produced within the past 20 years and focused on airframes, avionics and powerplants. Overall -- and unsurprisingly -- J.D. Power said its study found that airframe and avionics are "critical in providing business aircraft owners and operators with a positive ownership experience." When considering airframes, the study found overall satisfaction is based on maintenance; flight performance; warranty; flight deck; exterior; interior; and major systems. According to the research company, "Overall satisfaction with the aircraft ownership experience is primarily driven by the airframe, which represents 52 percent of the satisfaction index."

When considering avionics, J.D. Power said its study found the onboard weather radar, electronic displays and flight management systems have the largest impact on customer satisfaction with avionics quality. "As avionics capabilities become more advanced, business aircraft owners and operators are demanding higher standards for performance, reliability and product support," said Jim Gaz, senior director of the travel practice at J.D. Power and Associates. "They need near-perfect dispatch reliability to get their passengers to business appointments safely, and on time." Meanwhile, engine quality had the most significant impact on customer satisfaction, the company said, with the length of time between engine inspections largely driving customer satisfaction. J.D. Power's 2007 Business Aviation Satisfaction Study was based on responses from more than 600 owners, operators and flight department managers collected between August and November 2006. The study was conducted in association with Aviation Week’s Business & Commercial Aviation magazine. J.D. Power and Associates and Aviation Week are business units of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

Adam Aircraft Adds To Senior Management, Board

Adam Aircraft this week announced appointing Duncan "Dunc" B. Koerbel as its new president while naming industry veteran John Wolf to its board of directors. Koerbel replaces Joe Walker, who will remain at the company in a consulting role. In his new position, Koerbel will report to company Founder, Chairman and CEO Rick Adam through Wolf, who was also named lead director and board liaison. Koerbel comes to Adam Aircraft from Bombardier Aerospace, where he led the Global Express program, and from Lockheed Martin, among others. "This is great news for Adam Aircraft as we continue to make the transition from a development to a production company. Dunc adds extensive aircraft manufacturing experience to our team and will help accelerate our A700 certification and ramp up our manufacturing operation in moving the company forward," noted Rick Adam.

As Bombardier Aerospace's vice president and general manager of Global Express & Global 5000 Business, Koerbel oversaw the Global Express XRS and Global 5000 product line, including engineering, aircraft production and completions. While at Lockheed Martin, he served as vice president and general manager of the aircraft division, where he was responsible for that company's aircraft heavy maintenance business as well as all facets of business development, operations, contracts and dealings with local and federal government customers and agencies. Meanwhile, Wolf's new position comes after gaining experience at McDonnell Douglas Corporation for more than 34 years. He began his career in various engineering and project management positions on missiles and space projects at McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Company in St. Louis. Wolf became senior vice president of Douglas Aircraft Company in 1989, and was responsible for program management of various commercial aircraft and launch of the MD-95, now the Boeing 717. Before his retirement in 2002, Wolf served as Fairchild Dornier Corporation's Chief Operating Officer in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany, and was responsible for the development, launch and manufacturing of various commercial aircraft from 30 to 100 passengers.

 
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Bombardier's Challenger 605 Enters Service

Bombardier last week announced the first example of its next-generation Challenger 605 business jet has entered service. The newest version of Bombardier's trademark widebody bizjets was delivered to Russell Aviation Leasing Inc. in late January; the company is leasing back the new jet to Bombardier during 2007 for use as demonstrator. The 605 features several upgrades from its venerable 604 predecessor, including a Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics suite driving four 10-inch-by-12-inch LCD screens and an Integrated Flight Information System (IFIS) as standard equipment. Also aboard the 605 are a real-time weather data link, electronic charts and a "state-of-the-art" Ethernet-based cabin entertainment and communication system. “The Challenger 605 jet is our fifth aircraft purchase from Bombardier and we look forward to keep strengthening our relationship with the manufacturer,” said Jim Hausch, of Russell Aviation Inc. “The aircraft looks fantastic. The cabin is very spacious and comfortable, and it flies like a dream. We’re convinced this jet is a winner.”

The Challenger 605's first flight took place on Jan. 22, 2006, and certification by Transport Canada, the FAA, and the European Aviation Safety Agency all were awarded in October 2006. Performance specs include a maximum cruise speed of Mach 0.82 and improved payload. Bombardier says a combination of new materials and technologies coupled with lighter components on the flight deck reduce the 605's overall weight by 200 pounds. The saved weight allows one additional adult to be carried the same distance when compared to the 604. The 605's typically equipped list price is $26.7 million.

JetDirect Acquires Presidential Aviation

Berwyn, Pa.-based aircraft management and aviation services firm JetDirect Aviation this week said it had acquired Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Presidential Aviation, a charter, maintenance and management company. The acquisition expands JetDirect's operating locations in New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle to include Fort Lauderdale. Nigel England, formerly director of operations for Presidential Aviation, will assume responsibility for JetDirect’s Southeast region. “The addition of Presidential increases JetDirect’s combined charter fleet to 81 aircraft, including light jets to long range heavy jets. This diversified fleet ensures our flexibility in meeting all of the travel needs of our clients,” said JetDirect Chairman and CEO Gregory Campbell.

“The outstanding management team and dedicated staff at Presidential over the last 10 years have created a premium charter company committed to safety, security, and incomparable customer service," Campbell added. JetDirect also operates three FAA Part 145 repair stations located in Philadelphia, Los Angeles and a Class IV Repair Station at JetCorp in St. Louis. With the Presidential acquisition, JetDirect now has a total of eight operating bases, in addition to three FBOs across the country. JetDirect Aviation offers standard charter services, jet membership programs and jet ownership options. Investors include Philadelphia-based CD Ventures and Argosy Capital, as well as Brantley Partners of Cleveland, New York-based HSBC and AIG.

 
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Next-Generation ATC Symposium Set

The RTCA will host a two-day symposium on the Next Generation Air Transportation System and how its evolution will be integrated into everyday flight operations next month in Washington, D.C. The symposium -- “Operational Evolution Partnership (OEP): The Bridge to NextGen,” -- is scheduled for March 13 and 14 in the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in downtown D.C. The event is designed to bring together officials from the FAA, DOD, private industry, airlines, the European Air Traffic Alliance and other members of the aviation community to examine the restructured Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO) and the OEP’s inter-relationship with the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). The symposium will focus on operational concepts, requirements, policies and procedures, not on labor and cost issues. The RTCA, formerly the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics, is a private, not-for-profit corporation functioning as a Federal Advisory Committee for the FAA.

“We’re at a critical stage in the development of the Next Generation Air Transportation System,” said RTCA President Dave Watrous. “This symposium presents a unique opportunity for everyone involved to see where we are headed and the pace at which we’ll proceed. Additionally, this is the first time we have combined an industry day with the traditional elements of our symposium.” FAA Administrator Marion Blakey is invited to keynote the symposium on March 13; FAA Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety Nicholas Sabatini will be the luncheon speaker that day. Rockwell Collins President and CEO Clay Jones will be the luncheon speaker on March 14. Also on March 14 will be a panel discussion moderated by AOPA President Phil Boyer and including Kevin Brown, vice president of the Air Traffic Management Advanced Systems with Boeing; Victoria Cox, vice president for operations planning with the FAA; AAAE Senior Executive Vice President Spencer Dickerson; JPDO Director Charles Leader; Judy Marks, president of Transportation and Security Solutions, Lockheed Martin; and ATA President and CEO James May, among others.

Nothing Succeeds Like Success: Middle East Bizav Show Will Expand In 2008

Dubai's Middle East Business Aviation trade show, a two-day event convening for the first time late last month, will expand to three days next year, its sponsors said this week. The decision by the Middle East Business Aviation Association (MEBAA) comes as the event totaled some $907 million in on-site aircraft sales. Deal struck or sealed at the show included $75 million worth of Cessna Citations, $580 million worth of Airbus aircraft, a deal for 20 Raytheon Hawker 750 jets worth $250 million and $52 million of Learjet 60XRs from Bombardier. Buyers were from countries throughout the Middle East.

The MEBAA, which sponsored the show, said some 2,401 attendees registered for the event, including top government and business officials from throughout the Persian Gulf region, as well as ruling family members. In addition to new-aircraft sales pitches, attendees generally agreed states throughout the region needed to work more closely to eliminate current restrictions on private aviation. The 2007 event featured 90 exhibitors from 20 countries; in 2008, the Middle East Business Aviation show will become biennial, alternating with the Dubai Airshow. The 2008 planned dates are Nov. 23 to 25.

 
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Correction Section

Two items from our January 30 edition of AVwebBiz deserve clarification. First, the news that engine manufacturer Williams International had released additional details of the engine it will use to power the forthcoming PiperJet misstated the powerplant's model designation.: Williams will mount its FJ44-3AP engine to the new Piper. Second, a news item discussing Transportation Security Administration Director Edmund S. "Kip" Hawley's appearance before the U.S. Senate in January may have left readers with the impression his comments about general aviation security came in the prepared text of his testimony. In fact, his comments were made in response to questions from Senators during the hearing. AVweb regrets the errors.

 
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