BizAv Complete Issue

AVweb's expanded coverage of business/corporate aviation continues with extensive coverage of NBAA's annual convention in Orlando.


Special NBAA 2003 Wrap-up

AVweb’s BizAv was on hand to cover the largest business aviation event of the year, as The National Business Aviation Association’s (NBAA) 56th Annual Meeting & Convention opened its doors in Orlando on October 7. So, we’re happy to provide you with some of the major newsmaking events of the show.

NBAA Doors Open With Much Fanfare …

NBAA 2003 kicked off with lots of news and hoopla. While last year’s exhibitors and attendees displayed residual uneasiness a year after 9/11 in the midst of a struggling market, the mood at this year’s show was much more optimistic. Several major announcements were made at the show, which opened to a record number of exhibitor and static aircraft displays. NBAA officials announced the final stats with 28,574 attendees viewing the products and services of a record 1,068 exhibiting companies occupying nearly a million square feet of exhibit space. In addition, over 100 aircraft on static display at Orlando Executive Airport added to the impressive display of corporate aviation’s marketing muscle.

… Big Names Get This Started …

To get things off to the right start, a handful of dignitaries helped launch the convention in a celebratory fashion. This year’s Opening General Session read like a Who’s Who of aviation, with FAA Administrator Marion C. Blakey, astronauts Gene Cernan and Neil Armstrong, and U.S. Congressman John L. Mica, chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee on hand to offer their insights on the fastest-growing segment of the aviation industry. Blakey and Mica both expressed frustration with NATCA’s ongoing battle with the contract towers issue, which Blakey characterized as a “non-issue.” Mica indicated the debate is holding up the pending FAA Reauthorization Bill, which — among other things — provides $100 million for the general-aviation post-9/11 recovery. Armstrong and Cernan — respectively the first and last astronauts to walk on the Moon — were on hand to present the First Annual Harry B. Combs Award to famed aviation photographer Dan Patterson. Cernan described his “romance” with aviation and how it helped shape his very successful career, while Armstrong reflected on the many innovations Harry Combs developed for the business aviation community. The frail Combs was on hand to personally present the award to Patterson.

Bombardier Steals The Show

Global Express XRS Is Launched …

Without a doubt, Bombardier Aerospace made the most noise with a slew of product and service announcements throughout the week. The manufacturer made three aircraft-related announcements at the show, including its biggest headline this year: the official launch of the Ultra-Long Range Global Express XRS Global Express XRS business jet. Claiming the jet “takes the outstanding performance of the Bombardier Global Express even further,” Bombardier says will eventually replace the current Global Express design with the XRS. The $45.3 million jet will feature improved performance over its predecessor and offer a far-reaching 6,500 nm range at .82 Mach. The XRS will also sport new cabin features including, increased pressurization (4,500-foot cabin altitude at flight level 450), two added windows and the latest LED lighting system. Bombardier also announced a new zero flaps takeoff capability will allow Bombardier Global Express XRS operators to depart from “hot and high” airports at higher temperatures and with a greater fuel load.

… Global 5000 Makes NBAA Debut …

On October 5, the new Bombardier Global 5000 arrived at Orlando Executive Airport for its first-ever appearance at NBAA. In addition to the aircraft display, a full-size mockup of the forward cabin section was unveiled on the convention floor. Bombardier claims the super-large business jet is capable of flying non-stop from Continental Europe to central North America at Mach 0.85 (562 mph) with eight passengers and a crew of three. The aircraft achieved its first flight on March 7, 2003 at Bombardier’s Toronto facility. Since arriving at Bombardier’s flight test center in Wichita, it “has been meeting or exceeding all expectations and has covered all corners of the flight envelope,” Bombardier officials told AVweb. As of mid-September, the aircraft had crossed the halfway mark in its flight test program, accumulating over 160 hours during 58 flights. Transport Canada has recently completed their initial evaluation of the aircraft to include all systems testing and CAT II certification. The second and final aircraft in the flight test program is scheduled to take place this December. It will then be equipped with a full production interior at Bombardier’s Montreal completion center before entering flight-testing for interior function and reliability testing.Officials told AVweb type certification by Transport Canada, FAA and JAA is on target for the first quarter of 2004 with entry into service as a corporate demonstrator in the fourth quarter of 2004.

… Celebrates Learjet’s 40th Anniversary …

On October 7, Bombardier celebrated the 40th anniversary of the first flight of a Learjet business jet. The company marked the aviation milestone during a 4 p.m. ceremony at its display area inside the Orange County Convention Center. The ceremony’s timing was right on target, as it marked the exact moment that a Learjet 23, s/n 001, took off from Wichita’s Mid-Continent Airport at 4 p.m., October 7, 1963. Bob Hagen and Hank Beaird, the test pilots who made the historic first flight, were on hand to participate in the commemorative event. Shanda Lear, daughter of Learjet founder Bill Lear, was also present. More than 2,300 Bombardier Learjet aircraft have been delivered worldwide since the first flight with more joining the fleet monthly as Bombardier — which acquired Learjet on June 29, 1990 — continues to develop the Learjet family with its newest models, the Bombardier Learjet 40 and Bombardier Learjet 45 XR. These are scheduled to enter service within the next few months.

… And The 600th Challenger Delivery …

On October 8, Bombardier Aerospace celebrated the delivery of the 600th Bombardier Challenger widebody business jet. During a special ceremony at the Orlando Executive airport, the Bombardier Challenger 604, s/n 5557, was formally delivered to Clearwater Fine Foods of Bedford, Nova Scotia. At the ceremony, officials announced that as of July 31, 2003, the Challenger fleet had accumulated more than 2.45 million flight hours while posting a reported dispatch reliability exceeding 99.7 per cent.

Gulfstream 450 Joins The Family

The Newborn Bizjet …

Gulfstream Aerospace unveiled its latest addition the family, the G450, at a special pre-NBAA event on Sunday, October 5th. The fourth example (S/N 4004) of the GIV-X (or next-generation GIV) joins the first G450 (S/N 4001), which first flew on April 30 and has flown more than 100 hours since. S/N 4002 flew on June 12, S/N 4003 on July 22 and S/N 4004 on September 18. Together the fleet has accumulated more than 200 hours of flight-testing. FAA certification is expected in the third quarter of 2004, followed by JAA approval in the fourth quarter and entry into service in the second quarter of 2005.

… Stretching The 400 Design …

This was the first time that Gulfstream has developed two new models concurrently, and the G450 has benefited from a number of systems originally developed for the G550. Following the creation of a G550 prototype in 2001, Gulfstream immediately began work on the G450, dubbed the GIV-X at the time. The G450’s fuselage is actually 12 inches longer than the G400 and all of this is in the nose, which the G450 inherited from the G550. The cabin door has been moved aft three feet and new single-pivot fixed-nozzle Nordam thrust reversers replace the target-type reversers on the G400/GIV.

… Adding Power …

Gulfstream officials also pointed out the less visible changes, which improve the performance of the G450. The 13,850-pound-thrust Tay 611-8C turbofans — although rated at the same takeoff thrust as the G400’s Tay 611-8s — provide 6 percent more thrust at 5,000 feet (ISA +15C) and 2 percent better fuel burn, giving the airplane 250 nm more range than the G400. As one company representative explained, “On a 3,000 nm mission, the G450 will burn 1,300 pounds less fuel than the G400.” The -8C also incorporates FADEC, a larger-diameter fan, modified high-pressure turbine and new bypass/core mixer. Maintenance intervals have been extended to 6,000 hours for midlife and 12,000 hours for full overhaul.

…With The Best Of Its Smaller Sibling

Other systems that the G450 shares with the G550 include the nose landing gear, nosewheel steering, oxygen and fire-extinguishing systems. The G450’s wing and tail are the same as those used on the GIV/GIV-SP/G400. Gulfstream expects the commonality in flying qualities and operation of the G450 and G550/500 will convince the FAA to issue the same type rating for the G450 as the G550/500. The company hopes a minimal amount of “differences” training, primarily on the engines, will be the only requirement imposed on flight crews.

Cessna Announces Aircraft Upgrades

Excel Upgraded to XLS Status …

Cessna Aircraft unveiled it latest variant of a growing family of jet aircraft, the Citation XLS. Hailed as a faster derivative of the Citation Excel — with a price tag of $9.895 million and described as “a logical step up for customers moving up from smaller light jets” — the Excel’s successor will feature many standard items that were only options before. Valued at about $600,000, these include a nine-place interior with a six-place center-club seating configuration, a two-place belted couch and an aft left-hand belted seat. New passenger seats will add two to four inches of cushion seat width, and on the flight deck crew seats from Goodrich Aerospace will be standard.Cessna also announced the traditional cabin lighting in the XLS has been replaced with light-emitting diode (LED) lighting; veneer cabinetry is now standard; and other new standard equipment includes an auxiliary power unit, a traffic alert and collision avoidance system (TCAS) and enhanced ground proximity warning system (EGPWS). The cockpit is also equipped with Honeywell’s emergency descent mode system.The new jet will come with Pratt & Whitney Canada PW545B engines with 4.5-percent more takeoff thrust, providing the XLS with a max. cruise speed of 428 knots and a range of 2,110 nm (33 knots faster than the Excel and 30-nm better range. The MTOW has increased from 20,000 pounds to 20,200 pounds, the useful load from 7,510 pounds to 7,700 pounds, payload with max fuel from 720 pounds to 920 pounds, and climb to 45,000 feet has been reduced from 73 minutes to 25 minutes. Cessna expects certification of the Citation XLS in 1Q 2004, with first deliveries in the middle of the year.

… The X Also Gets A Facelift

Cessna also revealed upgrades planned for the Cessna Citation X, starting next year as standard equipment. Most notable will be the new passenger seats that are four inches wider, with armrests that fold back to allow easier access. Furniture will feature a new pin-in/pin-out attachment system to improve fit and finish. LED lighting is standard in the cabin, along with new cabin controls for lighting, cabin temperature, window shades and audio/video equipment. Other new options — including the Max-Viz enhanced vision system (EVS) and Aircell satellite phones — are also available for Citation X buyers.The Citation X 2004 upgrades will begin with S/N 225, and Cessna anticipates deliveries will begin next year.

Cessna Provides Progress Reports On Several New Models

Mustang Trotting Along On Track …

Cessna’s NBAA press conferences also provided progress reports for three of company’s most prominent new aircraft programs.Like any proud parent, Cessna officials hyped their baby, the Citation Mustang entry-level six-seat bizjet, as much as possible. According to Cessna officials, the jet should be ready for type certification in the third quarter of 2006, with first customer deliveries in the fourth quarter of 2006.High-speed and low-speed wind tunnel tests were completed that verified the airframe design, Cessna added. The Mustang will be certified as a FAR Part 23 aircraft, with a cruise speed of 340 knots at 35,000 feet, and a maximum operating altitude of 41,000 feet. According to Mustang Program Manager Russ Meyer III, “We have completed the major critical design reviews and are confident that we have the right design for the airframe and for systems architecture. There have been very few changes from our original expectations.” The Mustang is 40 feet long and 13 feet tall. The wingspan is more than 42 feet, and will incorporate an 11-degree leading-edge sweep. Each PW615F engine is flat-rated to 1,350 pounds of thrust at ISA+10C and incorporates a dual-channel Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC). The Mustang project was unveiled at last year’s NBAA conference, where 200 orders were reportedly taken within the first 48 hours. This year, a mock-up of the cabin was on display at the show.Work has begun on the first prototype airplane and first flight is expected in mid-2005. Flight tests of the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW615F engine will begin next year using a Citation CJ1 platform.

… A More Powerful Sovereign …

Cessna announced “significant” increases in the Citation Sovereign’s performance, including range, speed and climb. The published projected range has increased from 2,820 nm to 3,040 nm and the Mmo from Mach 0.78 to Mach 0.80. In addition, times to climb are one to three minutes better than expected, and takeoffs at MTOWs from runways less than 3,800 feet in length are now possible thanks to the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW306C engines.

… And CJ3 Begins Certification Testing …

The Citation CJ3, which was announced at last year’s convention, began its certification test program this month. Cessna says two jets are already involved in flight-testing with more than 200 test flight hours to date. The production line began in late July this year and work has begun on S/N 003 and 004. The company claims more than 160 orders and anticipates deliveries will begin late next year.

Raytheon Promotes New Designs

Hawker Horizon’s Improved Specs …

Raytheon Aircraft used NBAA as an opportunity to provide updates on its Hawker Horizon program. The Horizon super-mid-size business jet is beating preliminary performance estimates in range, takeoff field length and time-to-climb. The program has completed 50 percent of flight tests, accruing more than 700 hours among three test aircraft. All developmental testing throughout the normal airspeed/altitude flight envelope has been completed, and structures, avionics, software and electrical systems are frozen for production.Company officials claim the Hawker Horizon is exceeding previous estimates in the following areas:

  • Range: 3,147 nautical miles
  • Takeoff field length: Less than 4,900 feet.
  • Climb performance. Climb from sea level to 37,000 feet in just over 13 minutes, as opposed to 15 minutes originally estimated.

Raytheon officials say the fourth Hawker Horizon in Raytheon Aircraft’s test fleet will have a role unlike any other aircraft in the company’s history. Prior to FAA certification, the aircraft will fly to Little Rock, Ark. — worldwide headquarters for the Hawker Division — where it will be operated as if it were in normal operation. During function and reliability testing, the Horizon will fly typical customer missions and similar schedules expected of a super-mid-size aircraft. Technicians will monitor structures and systems, and maintenance personnel will perform normal maintenance and conduct mock inspections.

… And The Beech 1900D Corporate Shuttle Debuts at NBAA

Apart from its bizjet programs, Raytheon officials displayed a new turboprop business aviation model at NBAA. A Beechcraft 1900D configured by Raytheon Airline Aviation Services as a corporate shuttle made its debut in the static display area at Orlando Executive Airport. The 1900D underwent a modification program that installed a 14-passenger interior featuring two club four-seat groups separated from six forward-facing seats by a mid-cabin divider. The overall cabin is divided into four sections: forward cabin with higher density seating, the aft club area, separate aft toilet compartment and a large cargo bay with separate cargo door access. Raytheon officials told AVweb the seats and tables outfitted in the new corporate shuttle aircraft are nearly identical to those found in the company’s Hawker 400XPs.Officials also told AVweb Raytheon Airline Aviation Services foresees a steady niche market for corporate shuttles in the future, both with corporations as well as for special-purpose charters.

Safire’s First Press Conference

One of several news-making events this year was the very first press conference held by Safire Aircraft Company. Until now, the company has purposely kept a low profile, as it transitioned from the S-26 program to the Safire Jet design and set up shop in Opa Locka, Fla. Now company officials say the manufacturer intends on being much more visible in the personal jet market. Several facts were offered at the press conference, which provided some insight into the jet’s ability to battle against the likes of Eclipse Aviation and Adam Aircraft. The Williams F-J33 engine — currently undergoing certification — will provide 1,530 lbs of thrust to move the $1.395 million jet along at an undisclosed clip. Officials made clear this is not the same Williams engine (the EJ22), which caused major delays in Eclipse Aviation’s program schedule. The first Safire Jet flight test aircraft is planned to fly in Q1 2004 with FAA certification planned for December 2005. Customer deliveries — of the current 300 orders — are scheduled to begin in Q1 2006.

Eclipse Inks Deal On Wing Assembly

On October 6, Eclipse Aviation signed a contract with Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) of Japan for the manufacture of complete wing assemblies for the Eclipse 500 light jet. As part of the long-term agreement, Eclipse also licensed its friction-stir welding process to FHI for use in the wing assemblies as well as other potential applications within FHI’s manufacturing operations. FHI is a global manufacturer of transportation and aerospace-related products and of Subaru automobiles. It manufactures the center wing section of the Boeing 777 and was recently contracted to build components for the Airbus A380 super-large airliner that will carry approximately 600 passengers. The wingsets will be manufactured in Japan and shipped to the Eclipse plant in Albuquerque, N.M., for final assembly. Eclipse officials claim fabricating the wings in Japan will free up more usable space at the Eclipse plant in Albuquerque.

New Extra Joins The Party

While many exhibitors attempt to make the grand entrance into the static display area, Extra Aircraft took things a step further. Walter Extra himself flew the brand-new EA-500 to the convention’s static display area at Orlando Executive airport. This marks the first public viewing of the new high-wing executive aircraft and a first for Extra since its reorganization. The EA-500 utilizes the EA-400 airframe, and is powered by the Rolls Royce 450 hp model 250-B17F/2 engine with a MT Propeller five-bladed, reversible, composite prop. Company officials recently announced the resumption of work at its Frankfurt facility and jumpstart of stalled work when new ownership came into Extra aircraft’s picture. Aside from the EA500, the company will continue to produce the EA400 and EA300 aerobatic aircraft.

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