AVwebBiz Complete Issue: Volume 5, Number 24

June 27, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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Sino Swearingen In Need Of Investors

SSAC VP Marketing & Sales, Mark Fairchild told AVweb yesterday that "Taiwan continues to support our program and at the same time is looking for additional investors ... to help increase our production rate and move the company to where we need to go to become the company we want to be." He added that SSAC is "in continued talks with potential qualified investors and with Sen. Rockefeller who has been an ardent supporter of the program from the beginning." Fairchild's comments came the same day that The China Post reported that the Sino Swearingen Aircraft Corporation (SSAC) has "lost" $610 million since its founding in 1995 and Taiwan may shut down the San Antonio based company if a new bid to find investors falls short. The report says prior attempts to acquire new investors (in October 2006 and May 2007) failed, and that Taiwan's parliament has now barred the Taiwan government from financing the company. Fairchild says the reported "loss" of $610 million was rather an investment in "the first new aircraft company since Learjet to design, build, certify, and deliver a brand new jet design in 40 years." SSAC earned certification of its $5.5 million 7-seat, twin-engine SJ30-2 in October, 2005.

The company was created with the backing of the Taiwan government and U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller, SSAC originally intended to begin mass-production in October of 2006, with a goal to "break even" in 2007, according to the report. The company's first aircraft has been flying with its operator since February and is "averaging nearly 50 hours per month." That aircraft has so far logged nearly 250 flight hours, including four Atlantic crossings, according to Fairchild. A second aircraft "is in final completion," says Fairchild, and the company plans to deliver that aircraft "soon." Beyond that, SSAC currently has "4 other aircraft in final completion in our San Antonio facility and fuselage/wings assemblies in work in our manufacturing site in Martinsburg, WV." Headquartered in San Antonio, with manufacturing facilities in West Virginia, SSAC is a joint venture between Swearingen Aircraft Corporation and Taiwan's Sino Aerospace Investment Corporation, which holds close to a 90 percent stake.

 
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Airbus A380 Personal Aircraft, Fit For A King

The order has been placed, and excess will reach new heights when an Airbus A380 is delivered to a yet unidentified buyer for use as a private jet. Airbus The aircraft, offering 10,000 sq ft of cabin space is capable of carrying up to 840 fare-paying passengers. The buyer will likely shell out anywhere from $50 million to $150 million to have the aircraft customized. That follows on top of the roughly $300 million purchase price and the cost of operating the aircraft without ticket-buying passengers. "I can't tell you who it is, but he's not from Europe or the United Sates," Airbus sales director John Leahy told reporters last week at the Paris Air Show. "It will be for personal use for him and his entourage." Regardless of the buyer, the aircraft's girth still limits the number of airports it can use.

Launch Of The Air Taxi Association

The Air Taxi Association (ATXA) formally announced its formation with the combined backing of European and American air-taxi providers and hopefuls. "The Air Taxi Association represents the next evolution in air travel, one that is complementary to our incredible worldwide aviation infrastructure," said ATXA President Joe Leader. Dayjet, Earthjet, ImagineAir, JetBird, JumpJet, Linear Air, TaxiJet Spain and SATSair have joined their ranks with other air-taxi providers as principal companies on ATXA's policy-setting board. "This is about getting people off crowded roadways and into our open skies on direct flights," noted Leader. "Together, ATXA members will work to set industry standards that benefit all of aviation and air taxi service worldwide," said AXTA Chairman of the Board Dr. Bruce Holmes, who is also Dayjet's Director of Aeronautical Research. ATXA will set industry standards, but also "as a group to bridge the industry oand focus on driving market demand," according to SATSair President and CEO Steve Hanvey. ATXA will be working with consulting services to help local communities attract air-taxi services.

 

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IRS Targets Entertainment Use Of Business Aircraft

The Department of Treasury earlier this month published a notice of proposed rulemaking relating to the use of business aircraft for entertainment, affecting "taxpayers that deduct expenses for entertainment, amusement or recreation provided to specified individuals." The notice will help clarify the definition of entertainment and would apply to any taxable year beginning on or after the date of publication of a Treasury decision adopting these rules as final regulations in the Federal Register. Written comments must be received by Sept. 13 and requests to speak at a public hearing scheduled for Oct. 25 must be received by Oct. 4.

Iridium Set To Take On SwiftBroadband

Iridium plans to launch an onboard boradband service within the next 18 months to compete directly with SwiftBroadband's 432kbit/sec. service. Iridium will wade in, starting with a product for the maritime market (a 56-150kbit/sec service) that the company would follow with a similar product for land and aeronautical applications in 2008. Iridium's subscriber base in the aviation market grew 60 percent in the past year, mostly due to commercial carriers attracted by the company's automated flight-following and voice/data communications products. Gulfstream Aerospace offers Iridium's dual-channel voice, fax and data communications terminals as standard equipment on its G150 aircraft and similar offerings are expected from Bombardier for its Challenger 605. Eclipse Aviation is also offering Iridium products as standard options on its Eclipse 500.

 
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NetJets Spends $1 Billion More On Cessnas

Cessna last week announced at the Paris Air Show that NetJets has ordered $1 billion worth of its aircraft in the form of 96 Citations (50 Encore+ aircraft, 9 Citation X and 37 XLS+ jets). NetJets currently has 304 Citation business jets under management here and in Europe. NetJets Chairman and CEO, Richard Santulli praised the range of options and reliability he says is provided to his customers through the Cessna Citation line. "The combination of exceptional cabin comfort and low operating cost has made the XLS our most popular aircraft. And the Citation X has a loyal following for those customers for whom speed is of utmost importance," Santulli said. Cessna chairman, president and CEO, Jack Pelton, pointed to the company's "vast support network" as something that "ensures the high level of service that NetJets has become known to provide." Cessna delivered 307 Citation business jets in 2006 and that year reported a total order backlog of $8.5 billion.

 
XM WX Satellite Weather Uses a Continuous Satellite Broadcast to Deliver Graphical Weather Data to the Cockpit
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Hawker Beechcraft Expands Presence In India

Hawker Beechcraft Corporation to expand its roughly 60 percent market share of turbine business in India has appointed (effective July 1) InterGlobe General Aviation Private Limited as its exclusive representative for Hawker products in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives and Myanmar, the company announced last week. Speaking for InterGlobe, Rahul Bhatia, the company's managing director said, "Our aim is to not only grow the general aviation market in this region, but also deliver a best-in-class service center for our valued customers." InterGlobe has 52 offices spread across 23 cities in India. Vice president of New Business Development for Hawker Beechcraft Corporation, Ted Farid, added, "Their experience with several major international airlines and the fact that InterGlobe owns India's fastest growing low fares carrier IndiGo, makes them uniquely qualified to support our efforts to further expand our presence in the Indian subcontinent." The Hawker line of products represented by InterGlobe includes the Hawker 400XP; the Hawker 125-series including the Hawker 750, Hawker 850XP and Hawker 900XP; and Hawker 4000 model aircraft.

Adam Secures Funding, Sells 50 A700s In China

With its first fully conforming aircraft in flight testing since April 9, and a firm order for 50 A700 light jets place by Hainan Zhong Hang Tai general Aviation Airlines (a China-based operating entity of Ameritech Aerospace), Adam Aircraft has also recently finalized a $105 million round of financing. The company plans to use the new capital, including a senior secured credit facility with Morgan Stanley Senior funding acting as lead arranger, to "aggressively pursue our product development and production growth plans," according to Adam founder and CEO, Rick Adam. The company holds an order backlog valued near $800 million, says Adam, and currently plans to add three more aircraft to its test fleet with the first to join the test program this summer and the final aircraft to perform functionality and reliability tests. First deliveries of the seven-seat A700 twin-jet are currently projected to take place in 2008.

 
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Dassault Falcon 2000DX First Flight

The new Falcon 2000DX flew for the first time on June 19 at Dassault Aviation's facility in Bordeaux, France. The 2 hour 15 minute maiden flight took the jet to 41,000 feet and a maximum speed of Mach 0.89. Dassault Falcon President and CEO John Rosanvallon said the aircraft offers an "atttractive price point and superior fuel advantage" over its competition. The aircraft has the same cabin as the 2000EX (which sells for roughly $29 million) but will offer a shorter 3,250-nm range that allows it to land with near-full tanks, making multi-leg flights with short first legs followed by long-haul trips that much more practical. The Pratt & Whitney Canada PW308C-powered aircraft, which combines a 17-minute time to climb to FL410 with a 112-knot approach speed, comes standard with the EASy flight deck and is expected to offer an operational cost advantage that betters the Falcon 2000 by 5 percent.

$500M Order For Dassault Falcon 2000LXs

One month after the official launch of the Falcon 2000LX program, National Air Services of Saudi Arabia has entered into a pre-purchase agreement for a half billion dollars worth (20 aircraft) of the winglet-equipped twinjets. The order is currently firm for four aircraft with an option for 16 more. Dassault says finalization of the deal announced last week is expected later this summer, with first deliveries to follow in the third quarter of 2008 and continue for six years. Dassault said the winglet-equipped 2000LX will eventually supersede the current 2000EX. The 2000LX is a six-seat (plus two crew) 4,000-nm/41,000-foot aircraft powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW308C turbofans.

 
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Meet the AVwebBiz Team

AVwebBiz is a weekly 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 Business Aviation Editor Joseph E. (Jeb) Burnside (bio).

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