Cessna VP Roger Whyte says the company has "taken orders" in addition to the 36 it reported for the $27 million Columbus 850 large-cabin business at the end of the first quarter of this year and it's hit the road in Europe with an elaborate display on the aircraft. At a news conference at EBACE 2008 in Geneva on Monday, Whyte also announced that Vought will build the wings on the 70-foot-long aircraft, adding to a long list of outsourced assemblies that Cessna has traditionally (although not exclusively) built itself. Spirit Aerosystems is building the fuselage and tail section. Meanwhile, the company continues to ride the wave of interest in private aviation and is reporting a record $14.5 billion order backlog. More
Datalink weather to the cockpit has revolutionized weather avoidance but, unfortunately, because XM Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio don't serve Europe, the Continent has missed out on the benefits of weatherlink. Avidyne announced a new product this week at EBACE that will fix that. The MLX770 from Avidyne used the Iridium satellite network as its data pipe and in addition to weatherlink, the system also provides two-way messaging. Is an inflight phone service component also in the works? Avidyne wouldn't comment, but we think it's likely, given Iridium's market position as a sat phone system. More
Embraer is offering customers a carbon offset program that will help reforest Brazil at a cost of a few dollars an hour in operating costs. The company announced its new program at EBACE 2008 on Monday and says it will take care of mitigating the already-small carbon impact of its aircraft on behalf of customers who sign up to pay the additional three-to-five percent premium on the direct operating costs of their aircraft. Embraer spokesman Graciliano Campoz told AVweb in a podcast interview that none of the carbon offset money will come to Embraer but the company will monitor and audit the recipients to ensure the money truly does offset the carbon footprint of the aircraft operations. More
The next generation of Hawker Beechcraft's composite Premier is faster, goes farther and gets to a new maximum altitude of FL450 faster than its already-revolutionary predecessor and it only costs 10 cents per nautical mile more to operate. The rejuvenated Wichita planemaker unveiled a mockup of the aircraft in a pre-show press conference at EBACE 2008 in Geneva on Monday. The new plane adds winglets, Williams FJ44-3AP turbofans that produce 3,000 lbs. of thrust and goes 1,500 nm on the same size tank of gas, compared to 1,150 nm on he earlier model. "This is truly a revolutionary aircraft," said CEO Jim Schuster, who appeared at the news conference with Gerry Schwartz, chairman of Onex Corp., which took over Hawker Beechcraft more than a year ago. (Both are featured in this podcast interview .) More
The largest investor in Eclipse Aviation says the European market for VLJs is huge and a plant in Russia is likely to fill that void. In his first public appearance on behalf of ETIRC, which poured more than $100 million into Eclipse, Dutch business magnate Roel Pieper told AVweb in a video interview at EBACE 2008 that a perfect storm of crowded airports in Western Europe and primitive transportation in burgeoning Eastern Europe is creating major opportunities for the charter/air taxi business. "We believe the demand for fleet and air taxi operations in Europe is huge," Pieper told AVweb. He said the company could be building aircraft in Russia by the end of 2009 and that it will be busy. "We believe very much that the VLJ market is real and that the Eclipse 500 will set the standard. He noted U.S. and Canadian authorities have granted export permits for the airframe and engine (Pratt and Whitney Canada) However, European certification of the aircraft still eludes the company and CEO Vern Raburn isn't saying when he thinks that might occur. "We are optimistic that we'll get (EASA) European Aviation Safety Agency certification," he said. "I'm just not prepared to say when." He also said that he expects the company to "be cash-flow-positive next year." More
EBACE 2008 begins Tuesday at PalExpo convention center in Geneva, and coverage in AVwebBiz will include original videos, podcasts and details on the latest announcements daily through Friday. AVweb 's Russ Niles ran into our European correspondent, Liz Moscrop, who's reporting for the Flight Evening News daily show publication, and she set the scene for what has become one of Europe's premiere aviation events. Look for daily coverage in our business aviation newsletter, AVwebBiz . If you don't already receive Biz (or you're uncertain whether you do or not), you can add it (or check) by logging into your AVweb profile here . (Click through for a video.) More
Do airplane companies need to build brand awareness like Apple and Starbucks? Maybe, but I think if they just build good airplanes, they'll be fine. More
Larry Uzelac of Auburn, CA delivers the goods in our latest installment of "PotW" which, incidentally, features a great batch of other photos from AVweb readers. Click through to enjoy their work.