AVwebBiz - Volume 5, Number 37a

September 25, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Top News back to top 

Cessna-Columbia Deal Confirmed; Cirrus Says That's a Good Thing

Cirrus Design co-founder Dale Klapmeier told AVweb Monday that Cessna's planned acquisition of Columbia Aircraft "is going to help our industry." In an exclusive interview with AVweb, Klapmeier said the move by Cessna not only validates the effort of Cirrus and Columbia in modernizing general aviation aircraft, it adds significant clout to get that message to potential aircraft owners. "It opens up the market to more people," Klapmeier said. "It validates what we've been saying for a decade, now."

Cessna CEO Jack Pelton declined to confirm the rampant rumors of the deal in front of the world aviation media at the National Business Aviation Association convention in Atlanta earlier on Monday. "We try not to confirm or speculate on rumors that might be out in the press regarding [the] potential acquisitions," he said. Columbia issued news releases in the evening that confirmed the deal and also announced that the company was seeking bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11. "We have explored many options over the past months," said Columbia Chief Restructuring Officer Carl Young. "This path enables the Company to manage its present cash flow and liabilities while pursuing a plan that enables us to continue operating until a final sale can be completed."

The Columbia news release says the sale to Cessna is contingent on the bankruptcy court's approval and a final agreement with Cessna. According to the news release, Cessna has signed a letter of intent to buy certain assets and assume some of Columbia's debt. Carl Young said that the deal ensures that existing owners and position holders will be looked after. "The sale of Columbia Aircraft Manufacturing assets to Cessna offers the best avenue to maximize value for all of Columbia’s stakeholders and existing and future customers. Cessna is excited about the prospect of adding the Columbia products to its product line and will provide additional capabilities, world-class processes and financial strength to effectively serve existing Columbia customers and grow the business. Under the agreement reached with Cessna all product warranty and service issues will continue to be honored post-acquisition and customers should expect an enhanced customer experience once the deal closes," Young said.

Next-Gen Glass Cockpit from Rockwell Collins

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In case you haven’t noticed, the glass cockpit concept is now into its third decade and although progress has been steady, it’s also been slow. The basic displays haven’t changed much and the human interface—the buttonology—is long overdue for an overhaul. And that’s exactly what Rockwell Collins is doing with its latest EFIS product, which it’s calling Pro Line Fusion, a clean sheet design that’s the next generation from the industry standard Pro Line 21.

Says Denny Helgeson, Rockwell Collin’s VP for business and regional aviation systems, Fusion’s architecture will concentrate on flexibility to easily integrate with external sensors and products of all kinds. Rather than the usual soft keys and knobs, it will have a graphic user interface more in tune with desktop computing logic than traditional avionics. Voice recognition and context sensitive logic are also planned as prominent features. The system will display on high-resolution LCDs and will integrate both GPS-derived synthetic and real-time enhanced vision capability, a first for the industry. The system will also have heads-up display capability.

If all that sounds neat, it is. But don’t expect it next year. Or even the year after. Bombardier’s Global Express XRS/5000 series is the launch customer and Fusion isn’t expected to enter service on those airplanes until 2011, although elements of it may appear sooner than that. Meanwhile, Helgeson says the company’s popular Pro Line 21 will continue as a discrete product and will likely integrate some features developed for Fusion.

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» Visit Pilot Insurance Center (PIC) in booth 1018 at NBAA!
Good News for BizAv Opens NBAA back to top 

Business Jet Sales Continue to Soar

Cessna will deliver almost as many business jets next year as the entire industry did a few years ago, and CEO Jack Pelton says there's no end in sight to the jet boom. "Last year, we delivered 307 business jets. This year we expect to deliver 380. Next year, we plan to deliver 470," said Pelton, "This extraordinary rate of growth is being driven by strong economies and corporate profits and a rapidly-emerging global marketplace." In 2003, the total number of business jets shipped was 518. Cessna's backlog is at $11 billion, a record high, and it has more than 2,700 aircraft on order, half of them jets.

Nearly half of those jet orders have come in the first eight months of this year. The company builds eight jets and is developing two more, the XLS+ and the CJ4. The XLS+ flew for the first time on Aug. 2 and first flight of the single-pilot CJ4 is expected in the first half of 2008. Certification of the XLS+ is expected in 2008 and the CJ4 should be certified in 2010. A large-cabin aircraft in the same league as Gulfstreams and Bombardiers is also under review.

Honeywell Predicts 14,000 Bizjet Deliveries in Next 10 Years

Honeywell has significantly increased the number of business jets it predicts will be sold in the next 10 years to 14,000 and Embraer says it, too, is revising its projections upward. The Brazilian planemaker last year predicted that about 11,600 business aircraft would be sold between 2006 and 2016 but says that's too low. The new Embraer report will be prepared soon but the Honeywell report, which came out on the eve of the National Business Aviation Association convention in Atlanta, has already caused a buzz on the convention floor. The 14,000 deliveries add up to $233 billion in sales and represent a 16 percent increase in the number of aircraft sold and a 20 percent increase in revenue for manufacturers.

Honeywell said the U.S. market will remain solid but most of the growth will come from offshore. Traditionally, 30 percent of the business jet market is from overseas but in coming years it could reach 50 percent. More than 1,000 business jets will be sold this year and as many as 1,400 will be sold in 2010, before sales start to drop. Oil rich areas of Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe will provide the most offshore customers.

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» Visit Trade-A-Plane in booth 2925 at NBAA!
Aviation Concerns in the 21st Century back to top 

Honeywell, Jeppeson Develop RNP for Business Aircraft

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Honeywell and Jeppesen recently completed a Required Navigation Performance (RNP) approach for Morristown, N.J. to show how such procedures can be developed for the use of business arircraft. RNP uses GPS and ground stations to provide precision guidance for aircraft flying into airports with congested airspace, difficult terrain and bad weather. Some airlines use the approaches, but Honeywell and Jeppesen believe business aircraft operators represent a major market for the technology. "RNP allows pilots flying the approach to use a more controlled continuous descent technique versus the traditional "dive and drive" method and offers lower minimums than the current GPS procedure," said a joint press release. Jeppesen is also part of an FAA experiment that could lead to more rapid RNP deployment.

Jeppesen spokesman Andy McDowell said the company is one of two chosen to develop RNP approaches for the FAA as a contractor so that the systems can be put into airports that want it faster. McDowell said the actual design and deployment of the approaches is straightforward but there are some legal and business issues to be dealt with. For instance, the RNP approaches will be public domain so the companies paying for their development will not be compensated, other than in the cost savings they'll realize by having more reliable access to the airport. There's also the question of whether liability will be assumed by the FAA after it has signed off on the new approaches.

Eclipse 'Greenest' Airplane?

Eclipse Aviation says it's setting the standard for environmental impact with its Eclipse 500. CEO Vern Raburn told a news conference at the National Business Aviation Association convention that on (his) scale of 30, his company's jet is a perfect 30 in environmental impact. He said he invites comparisons on key indicators of environmental responsibility and he's confident the 500 will prevail. Raburn said that in terms of fuel consumption, emissions, hazardous materials and recyclability, the 500 is "already green." Raburn's also defended his product against critics.

Raburn said the process of creating the company and getting the airplane certified was more difficult than he planned and he accepted responsibility for the various setbacks. But he said the company continues to be the target of unfair criticism. He was particularly upset by the suggestion of a well-known writer in an influential magazine that Eclipse's single-engine concept jet might be safer at lower altitudes than its projected ceiling of 41,000 feet in case the engine fails and isn't able to supply air for pressurization.

"I'm tired of this kind of crap being thrown around by people who ought to know better," he said. In response to a question from a reporter, Raburn said that he no longer makes predictions about production schedules and timelines. "I'm always wrong," he said.

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» Visit Lightspeed Aviation in booth 1117 at NBAA!
Caravan Joins the Glass Cockpit Era back to top 

Cessna Caravan Gets Garmin Glass

While light aircraft makers Cirrus and Columbia can be credited with launching the glass cockpit revolution for piston singles, Cessna took its time dropping steam gauges. As of this week, with the announcement that the turboprop Caravan will now have the G1000, everything in the Cessna line now features state-of-the-art EFIS. The G1000, along with Garmin digital GFC 700 flight control system, will be standard equipment in all three variants of the Caravan, the 675, the Grand Caravan and Super Cargomaster.

The Caravan version of the G1000 will feature engine instrumentation and monitoring for the Pratt & Whitney PT6 turboprop, terrain, traffic, weather and crew alerting. It will also be Class Gama 3 WAAS compliant and thus capable of the LPV approaches that are becoming more numerous by the month. G1000-equipped Caravans will be available during the first half of 2008, according to Garmin and Cessna.

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» Visit Aircraft Shopper Online (ASO) in booth 1101 at NBAA!
Move Over, VLJs — Make Way for the MLJs and MSJs back to top 

Embraer Proposing Two New Jets

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Embraer announced two new jets (and possibly a new jet category) in its pre-NBAA news conference Monday. The Brazilian company said it is considering building a mid-sized jet (MSJ) and a "mid-light jet" (MLJ). It's unveiling a mockup of the MSJ today on the convention floor. Embraer has launched aggressively into the business jet market recently and the two new offerings will give it representation across all market sectors.

The MSJ will take eight passengers 2,800 nm, while the MLJ will go 2,300 nm with four passengers on board. Both will have state-of-the-art paperless cockpits with advanced graphics capability. Both will have six-foot standup cabins with interiors designed by BMW Group DesignworksUSA. The company is also developing the very light Phenom 100 and larger Phenom 300, which it has decided to lengthen by 14 inches to give more cabin flexibility (it now fits a couch).

Diamond DA40 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 Diamond DA40. For value, efficiency, and safety, the Diamond Aircraft DA40 is the fleet favorite. Go online for information on all Diamond Aircraft.

» Visit Diamond Aircraft in booth 4039 at NBAA!
Original Video Coverage from NBAA back to top 

NBAA 2007 Exclusive Video: Spectrum Freedom Jet GE/Honda HF-120 Update with Linden Blue

Original, Exclusive Videos from AVweb | Reader-Submitted & Viral Videos

In the first of our original videos from the NBAA Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, Spectrum Aeronautical's Linden Blue details the progress that's been made on the Freedom Jet GE/Honda HF-120 design.

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» Visit Avidyne in booth 1039 at NBAA!
Be Part of the AVweb Team back to top 


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Names Behind the News back to top 

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.

The AVwebBiz team is:

Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

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