EBACE 2003 In Review

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Numbers Up, Great Expectations ...

With the U.S. economy in the dumps and aircraft sales almost nil, several general aviation manufacturers hoped to turn the tide by showcasing their product lines overseas at the largest European business aircraft event. Held from May 7 to 9 in Geneva, Switzerland, the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition, or EBACE 2003, attracted thousands of attendees and more than 600 business aviation exhibitors, including Wichita's Raytheon Aircraft Co., Cessna Aircraft Co. and Bombardier Aerospace. EBACE Management announced this year's exhibitors were at record levels, up nearly 9 percent over last year's final EBACE 2002 numbers. EBACE 2003 featured 614 exhibits at Geneva Palexpo, 36 aircraft on static display at Geneva International Airport, 11 informational sessions and eight maintenance and operations (M&O) sessions hosted by original equipment manufacturers. The show is sponsored by the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) and the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA).

... Raytheon Introduces The Newest Hawker ...

Raytheon Aircraft introduced the Hawker 400XP at the show amid much fanfare. "This new Hawker is a critical step in our overall strategy to create distinct branding references for our customers," said Brad Hatt, President - Hawker Division. "Hawker aircraft are known among corporate and fractional customers for their elegance, large cabins and dispatch reliability. That's a perfect description of the Hawker 400XP."

The Hawker 400XP (eXtra Payload) features a 200-lb. gross weight increase that was recently introduced to the production line on its predecessor, the Beechjet 400A.

A commemorative-painted Hawker 400XP appeared on static display at Geneva International Airport. A large Hawk Head logo graced the vertical stabilizer, and Hawker 400XP is scripted on the fuselage. Inside, Hawker logos were emblazoned into the carpet and headrests.

"The most significant overall benefit to customers is increased flexibility," said Hatt. "Customers have the additional operational capability to add another passenger, or operate with the same number of passengers and increase the fuel onboard by 200 pounds for increased range."

In conjunction with the 400XP's debut, Raytheon officials also announced a new European-based Hawker service facility. Chester, U.K., Aircraft Services facility was recently renamed Hawker Aircraft Services to emphasize its new commitment to servicing Hawker aircraft. Chester joins Hawker Aircraft Services in Little Rock as the main service destinations for Hawker owners.

... Eclipse Announces JAA Application, New Equipment ...

At the show, Eclipse Aviation Corporation announced it has applied for certification of the Eclipse 500 jet with the Joint Aviation Authority (JAA). The certification, under JAR-23, is anticipated in 2006. Eclipse also revealed that Reduced Vertical Separation Minimums (RVSM) capability and autothrottle have been added to its guaranteed standard equipment list, formalizing its long-standing plan to include these high-end features as standard on the Eclipse 500.

"We have a great aircraft for the European market. RVSM capability and 8.33 kHz radios, both required in Europe, come as standard features in the Eclipse 500," said Vern Raburn, president and CEO of Eclipse Aviation.

To initiate the formal process, representatives from Eclipse had their first meeting with the JAA in October 2002 and the company formally applied for JAR-23 certification in February of this year.

RVSM certification is required for all high-altitude operations in Europe from 29,000 feet to 41,000 feet. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will mandate RVSM compliance for U.S. operators in the same altitude band by the end of January 2005, thus the company's announcement on this new standard equipment on the E500.

European customers will also benefit from the inclusion of communication radios that have 8.33 kHz channel spacing, which is mandated in most European countries for altitudes above 24,500 feet.

... Other Manufacturers Show Their Stuff ...

Cessna held a briefing on its newest business jet, the Mustang, and also had its CJ1, CJ2, Bravo, Encore, Excel, Citation X and Caravan on static display.

Raytheon announced a new system for tracking parts inventory worldwide. It also had four aircraft -- the Hawker 800XP, Premier I, Beechjet 400A and King Air B200 -- on display. Of course, the company reveled in showing off the aforementioned Hawker 400XP.

Bombardier Aerospace was also on hand to exhibit some of its aircraft on static display, including the Challenger 300, which made its European debut at the show. Federal certification of the plane is imminent.

In addition, Airbus exhibited its ACJ, Boeing had a BBJ for resale, Dassault Aviation showed off its F2000 and F900, EADS Socata its TBM700B and Trinidad GT, and Embraer displayed the new Legacy.

... Blakey Addresses The Convention ...

FAA Marion Blakey attended EBACE and was the keynote speaker on May 7. Stressing the need to inspire international cooperation, Blakey said, "I believe we all recognize how crucial international cooperation is to the future of this industry. One of the natural byproducts of increasing global cooperation is change. The business aviation industry is certainly no exception." Talking about the changing face of aviation, she remarked, "We are seeing significant changes in the operational environment, major changes in the regulatory environment, and major changes in business practices. In short, itís no longer business aviation as usual." However, the most significant part of her speech was the announcement of a new initiative to conduct fractional ownership programs under Part 91 of our FAA regulations, yet with additional safety and oversight recommendations that are more consistent with air carrier programs. Blakey advised this was a three-year effort, which stems from the 1999 creation of the Fractional Ownership Aviation Rulemaking Committee tasked with exploring new regulations and alternatives for fractional operators. "Fractional ownership is a trend that evolved naturally, not because it was easy, but because it made economic sense. Fractional ownership is helping this industry grow ... We have an obligation to adapt to this new business culture," Blakey said.

... And The Envelope Please

Blakey was also on hand to attend the EBACE Awards Reception and Banquet at the Hotel President Wilson on May 8. There, the 2003 European Business Aviation Awards were presented to Ahid Quntar, managing director of Royal Wings/Arab Wings, and Andrew Walters, chairman of Regional Airports Ltd. Both were recognized for their work in the European business aviation community.