AVwebBiz - Volume 5, Number 29

August 1, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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BizAv At OSH

how was held in a small Wisconsin town last week. Yes, EAA's AirVenture Oshkosh 2007 concluded only last Sunday and, if you didn't make it, you'll have to try again next year. In addition to the light sport aircraft, ultralights, warbirds, homebuilts, and store-bought piston singles and twins, you also missed a substantial presence among some brand-name players in the business aviation market. For example, Cessna was out in force, displaying a wide variety of its products and announcing new capabilities for the Citation Mustang VLJ, including completed tests enabling runway certification at field elevations as high as 14,000 feet. The company added that 16 Citation Mustangs have been delivered from its Independence, Kan., production facility and it expects to put 40 of the aircraft in new customers' hands this year. Additionally, the first EASA-certified Mustang will be delivered in August, with Brazilian certification imminent. Meanwhile, Hawker Beechcraft also made a large splash in Oshkosh, with many of the models it has made over the 75 years since its predecessor began producing aircraft occupying a large portion of the main aircraft display area. Also, the company celebrated the 60th year of its venerable Bonanza, one of early business aviation's most important aircraft.

In addition to Embraer's progress report on its Phenom 100 (see below), Eclipse Aviation literally rolled in its new ECJ (Eclipse Concept Jet), a single-turbofan-powered, elongated V-tail four-seater the company says is not now a new product in its lineup. Which is probably a good thing, given those suggesting the company should first finish its Eclipse 500 VLJ before introducing new models. The company says its ECJ prototype is slated for FL410 and 345 KTAS if and when it goes to certification and/or production. Other jet-powered news was made by Epic when it introduced the twin-engine Epic Elite, another VLJ, along with its single-engine Epic Victory, which the company bills as a PJ, or personal jet. Epic, which makes the single-turboprop Epic LT, says its two newest offerings will be available as certificated production aircraft or as kits. Also among those announcing Jet A-burning aircraft was Lancair, with its Evolution, a four-place experimental pulled by a single Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-135A turboprop. And, not to be outdone, FAA Administrator Blakey sought to deflect growing unrest throughout the general and business aviation communities over her agency's user fee proposals by announcing a shrinking of the Washington ADIZ plus dates by which ADS-B will be required equipment for aircraft accessing certain airspace. In all, anything related to aviation was abundantly present last week in Oshkosh, including business aircraft of all shapes and sizes. If you didn't make it, you may not have missed major business aviation news, but you did miss out.

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Embraer Phenom 100 VLJ Makes Maiden Flight

Not all the aviation news over the past few days took place in Wisconsin: Last week, Embraer's entry into the very light jet (VLJ) sweepstakes took to the air for the first time from the company's facility in São José dos Campos, Brazil. The test flight, crewed by Capt. Antonio Bragança Silva and Capt. Eduardo Alves Menini, plus flight test engineer Marcelo Toledo Basile, lasted 01:36 and characteristically included several maneuvers required to verify the airplane's behavior and systems operation. According to Embraer, members of all the engineering teams involved in its Phenom 100 program were present, analyzing flight data telemetry. The first Phenom 100's flight, powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW617F engines of 1,615 pounds thrust each, was preceded by several weeks of ground tests, confirming vibration, flight control, low- and high-speed taxiing, and systems functionality. A full test program, including static and fatigue tests, will follow. Embraer said it expects Brazil's National Civil Aviation Agency type certification first, followed by FAA certification. The company plans for the Phenom 100 to enter service in mid-2008 with EASA certification following in early 2009.

“This is a key milestone for Embraer and a very special and rewarding moment for the entire Embraer team," remarked Frederico Fleury Curado, Embraer president and CEO. "To see our new baby bird taking off is highly satisfying and I congratulate every Embraer employee for making this possible.” The Phenom 100 was launched in May 2005, with the first metal being cut a year later. In mid-June, the new jet was first rolled out of the hangar. The Phenom 100's cockpit will be built around Garmin’s Prodigy all-glass, fully integrated avionics suite, featuring three interchangeable 12-inch displays – two Primary Flight Displays (PFDs) and one Multi-Function Display (MFD). The system integrates all primary flight, navigation, communication, terrain, traffic, weather, engine instrumentation and crew-alerting system data. Embraer says the Phenom 100 will comfortably accommodate four passengers in a typical club configuration. Its range with four occupants will be 1,160 nautical miles with NBAA IFR reserves. The company plans to certify it to FL410; the Phenom 100 will have a maximum operating speed (Mmo) of Mach 0.70. It's priced at $2.98 million, based on January 2005 economic conditions.


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User Fee Battle Coming To A Head?

The available time for Congress to complete its consideration of legislation reauthorizing the FAA and its programs is starting to grow short. With its planned recess only days away and a Sept. 30 deadline looming, several issues with the House and Senate versions of FAA reauthorization remain unresolved, not least of which is the matter of user fees. As AVweb has reported, the full plate of user fees the FAA pushed earlier in the year has mostly fallen by the wayside, with only the Senate tilting at that windmill by coming up with a $25-per-turbine-flight fee. No such provision exists in the House version of FAA reauthorization. But the issue likely to be the most contentious has little to do with how the FAA and its programs are funded and everything to do with how much the agency spends on personnel. That issue is the existing contract between air traffic controllers and the agency. To no one's great surprise, the FAA last summer decided its negotiations with the union weren't working out and imposed its own work and pay rules. Now, the House bill would undo that move and send both sides back to the bargaining table. The White House has threatened to veto the bill over that issue.

Predictably, those who think the FAA can do no wrong and who support the user fee proposal are backing the Senate bill. The controllers, not so much. “This bill is an important step toward putting fairness back into the collective bargaining process," said Patrick Forrey, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), which represents the controllers. The ongoing spat between the FAA and its controllers, helped along by the House of Representatives, could mean the end of dedicated legislation to reauthorize the agency. For one, it's not at all likely a separate, free-standing FAA reauthorization bill will be presented to the White House by October 1; there just isn't much time left. That put the legislation squarely into the so-called "continuing resolution," the end-of-session bill Congress passes to tie up the loose ends it never seems able to finish. Mainly, White House opposition to the controllers provision -- if retained in the final continuing resolution sent there for enactment -- could endanger FAA reauthorization and mean we all will have to go through this again next year.

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BizAv Posts Strong Half-Year Numbers

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) last week at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh announced airplane shipments and billings among its member companies for the first half of 2007 and the numbers for business aircraft again look good. According to GAMA, shipments of general aviation airplanes totaled 1,883 units in the first half of 2007, a 1.7 percent increase over the same period last year. Billings rose more sharply, to $9.8 billion, an increase of 11.7 percent over the first half of 2006. Turboprop shipments rose 15.2 percent from 158 units in 2006 to 182 units in 2007. The business jet market segment grew by 14.7 percent with an increase in shipments from 414 units in the first half of 2006 to 475 units in the first half of 2007.

"The innovative technologies that our manufacturers are showcasing at premier events like AirVenture have a direct correlation with making flying easier and safer," said Pete Bunce, GAMA's president and CEO. "General aviation manufacturers are committed to creating a renewed interest in flying through the introduction of products that will spur more people worldwide to experience the exhilaration of flight." GAMA is the international trade association representing more than 50 of the world’s leading manufacturers of general aviation aircraft, engines, avionics and related equipment.

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Bombardier Learjet 60 XR Enters Service

Bombardier this week marked the entry into service of its midsize Learjet 60 XR business jet with an employee delivery ceremony at the Learjet manufacturing facility in Wichita, Kan. Cloud Nine Aviation, of Los Angeles, Calif., operates the newest addition to Bombardier's stable. The 60 XR features a Collins Pro Line 21 avionics suite with four 8-inch by 10-inch high-resolution liquid crystal display adaptive flight screens plus an integrated flight information system providing electronic approach plates and airport diagrams as standard equipment. "We are delighted to celebrate this first entry into service and look forward to giving our customers the opportunity to fully experience this fantastic new jet," said Mike Fahey, vice-president, Learjet sales, Bombardier Business Aircraft. "The Learjet 60 XR jet combines unparalleled performance and low operating costs with new technology and enhanced comfort. Our customers are sure to love this new aircraft as much as it popular predecessor."

The Learjet 60 XR retains the 60-series' stand-up cabin but redesigns the interior with five available floor plans, a larger galley and lavatory, and a new cabin-management system with ports for laptops, MP3 players and other audio/video equipment. Also, LED lighting is featured throughout the cabin. The Learjet 60 XR is certified to FL510 and is capable of high-speed cruise at Mach 0.81. A typically equipped Learjet 60 XR will set back its owner approximately $13.3 million.

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Gulfstream G150 Gets EASA Type, FAA Stage 4 Papers

Gulfstream last week announced the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued a type certificate for the company’s newest business jet, the G150. With this certification, the wide-cabin, high-speed aircraft is now eligible for registration in the European Union member nations. Introduced in 2002, the G150 can accommodate six to eight passengers comfortably. It completed its first flight on May 3, 2005, received type certification from the Civil Aviation Administration of Israel and the FAA on Nov. 7, 2005, and was delivered to the first customer on Aug. 14, 2006. The FAA has also certified the G150 for Stage 4, the International Civil Aviation Organization’s most stringent noise standard.

“This EASA certification is an extremely important accomplishment,” said Joseph T. Lombardo, president of Gulfstream. “We’ve always believed the G150 is the ideal corporate jet for European businesses. With a 2,950-nm range, the G150 can fly nonstop from major European cities to Middle East, India and North America." By the end of June 2007, Gulfstream had completed and delivered 21 G150s since August 2006.

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New Gulfstream 450/550 Level D Sim For Middle East

Emirates-CAE Flight Training (ECFT), a joint operation of the Emirates Group and CAE, last week said they had received international accreditation for its Gulfstream 450/550 business jet training programs, achieving Level D status for its full-flight simulator. The organization's Gulfstream G550 sim met requirements established by the European Joint Airworthiness Authority (JAA) and the FAA, in addition to the United Arab Emirates' General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA). The G450/550 training includes the same simulation software as in CAE's full-flight simulators while replicating the aircraft avionics suite, including Gulfstream's Plane View graphical display and Flight Management System software.

"Our new G550/450 training program has been extremely well received," said Jeff Roberts, CAE's group president, Innovation and Civil Training & Services. "We are proud to offer one of the most advanced G550/450 training programs to address the current boom in production of business aircraft and to provide training in locations most convenient to our customers." Emirates-CAE Flight Training is located near the Dubai International Airport and serves operators in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. In addition to the new Gulfstream 450/550 Level D device, the JAA and FAA have already approved the organization's training programs for the Gulfstream IV and V, Hawker 800/800XP, Boeing Business Jet and Airbus Corporate Jet.

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Eclipse Aviation Names John Ricciardelli To Roster

Eclipse Aviation yesterday announced that John Ricciardelli is joining its senior management team as vice president, Customer Experience and Support Services, replacing Ken McNamara. According to the company, Ricciardelli joins Eclipse Aviation following 23 years of customer support and program management experience at Honeywell and Bell Helicopter-Textron. His new duties include responsibility for enhancing the Eclipse 500 ownership experience, examples of which involve aircraft delivery, pilot and maintenance training, Eclipse Service Center operation, and delivering JetComplete, Eclipse's customer ownership program. At Bell Helicopter, Ricciardelli helped that company win the Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter Program, delivering a developmental aircraft in less than nine months. At Honeywell, he established a support network for business-jet turbofan engines, including launch of the TF7000 in 2003.

"We are very pleased that John is joining our team to lead the advancement of the Eclipse 500 ownership experience," said Peg Billson, COO of Eclipse Aviation. "John has a proven track record of delivering results while satisfying customers, and is well positioned to help us realize our vision of setting a new experience standard for aircraft ownership." Ricciardelli earned a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from Pennsylvania State University in 1983, and an Executive MBA in general management from Texas Christian University in 2006.

DA40 Diamond Star a Fleet Favorite
Airline Transport Professionals, Beijing PanAm, Empire Aviation, European-American Aviation, Middle Tennessee State University, Sabena Airline Training Academy, Utah Valley State College, and Utah State University have all selected the G1000-equipped DA40 Diamond Star. For value, efficiency, and safety, the Diamond Aircraft DA40 is the fleet favorite. Go online for information on all Diamond Aircraft.

Adam Aircraft Adds Steve Crowley To Team

Adam Aircraft yesterday announced that Steve Crowley will join the company as its new vice president of Sales, Marketing, and Customer Support. Prior to joining Adam, Crowley served as a senior executive at Bombardier Aerospace and as business director and deputy to the executive vice president of Commercial Airplane Sales for Boeing. He has more than 25 years of experience in the commercial aircraft industry and has held executive positions in sales, marketing, finance, and airplane program management. "I am pleased to be part of a company whose innovative designs bring leading-edge technology to the marketplace" said Crowley. "The A500 and A700 provide our customers with the latest high-tech materials and design, as well as a compelling economic value, and both airplanes are a lot of fun to fly. This is an exciting family of airplanes and the Adam Aircraft team is world-class."

"Steve's years of experience in sales and building customer relationships and loyalty are very important to Adam Aircraft's development and growth," said Adam Aircraft President Duncan Koerbel. "We are pleased to have Steve on board not only to help expand our market penetration, but also to make sure the proper customer support network is in place to take care of our customers after aircraft are delivered." Crowley earned his Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and Finance at Pacific Lutheran University and his MBA at the University of Puget Sound.

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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 Joseph E. (Jeb) Burnside (bio).

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