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GE Honda announced at the NBAA convention in Orlando this week that its HF120 engine will soon have a retrofit for the CitationJet, the CJ1 and the CJ1+. The retrofit STC will be carried out by Sierra Industries, a well-known Texas-based mod house with wide experience in the Citation line.

GE Honda claims the HF120 will provide the Citations with improved performance and productivity. The project is called the Saphire mod and will include a FADEC system and other modifications to modernize these older aircraft, which can be found a bargain prices on the used market.

Meanwhile, production of the HF120 continues apace at GE's facility in Lynn, Massachusetts. The first completed ship set for the HondaJet was delivered in May and GE Honda says it has shipped 10 engines to Honda Aero's new production plant in Burlington, North Carolina. The HF120 is rated at 2095 pounds of thrust and uses advanced materials in its high-pressure turbine section.

Ed Bolen, the CEO of the National Business Aviation Association, says the organization's 2014 show in Orlando is a little bigger than last year's show in Las Vegas.  AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with Bolen at the static display at Orlando Executive Airport.

image: Cessna

Textron Aviation launched NBAA's annual Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition in Orlando on Monday morning, with a news conference marking their first appearance at the show since uniting the Cessna and Beechcraft lines under one corporate umbrella. The company brought 12 aircraft to the static display at Orlando Executive Airport, with turboprops and jets from both lines, including the newly certified Citation CJ3+ and the Citation X+, which regained for the company the claim to the world's fastest civil aircraft when it was certified in June. The Citation Latitude, Cessna's newest midsize business jet, is making its public debut at the show, with one of the four flight-test articles on display. The company also announced upgrades to the latest King Air model.

A suite of performance enhancements by Raisbeck Engineering, including swept-blade Hartzell props and dual aft body strakes, shorten the takeoff distance for the King Air C900BTx by nearly 600 feet, the company announced on Monday. The changes also boost climb and landing performance. The new model will start deliveries later this year. So far, the corporation is maintaining the mix of Beechcraft and Cessna aircraft as separate brands in its Textron stable, and no plans have been announced to trim or change any of the lines now in production. The NBAA event will continue through the week, and AVweb staff are on site to bring you daily video, podcasts, and news.

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Embraer says it has no near-term plans to develop new ultra long-range or supersonic business aircraft. At the National Business Aviation Association convention in Orlando on Monday, Marco Tulio Pellegrini, the CEO of Embraer Executive Jets, said the company, which didn't enter the business jet market until 2000, has plenty on its plate. "We need to consolidate our position," he told a news conference at the Orange County Convention Center. The company, which is debuting its mid-sized Legacy 450 at the show, has had a steady stream of product development in the past decade and is gaining market share in all the sectors it is in.

Pellegrini let it slip that FAA certification of the new fly-by-wire Legacy 500 will take place in a signing ceremony at the company's static display on Tuesday. Embraer got started in the bizjet industry with a makeover of its ERJ 145 into a super midsize. Since then it has added five clean-sheet designs.

A dozen years ago, Embraer was just an upstart in the business aviation world.  But at NBAA, it showed off another new model, its fifth.  The Legacy 450 is just entering flight testing.  AVweb's Russ Niles interviewed Embraer's Marco Tulio Pellegrini to learn more about the new jet.

With major orders from Flexjet and Quatar Airways, Gulfstream said at the NBAA convention in Orlando this week that it sees strong continued growth for aircraft sales and it reports that both revenues and earnings are up substantially over the previous year, increasingly 7.5 and 12 percent respectively.

In 2010, the company embarked on a $500 million expansion program that includes new production facilities for the recently announced G500 and G600 wide-cabin models. Last week, Gulfstream announced a large order from Flexjet, totaling 50 aircraft in a mix of G450, G500 and G650 aircraft, marking the first deployment of Gulfstream aircraft by Flexjet. The fractional will be a launch customer for the G500, which is due for first deliveries in 2018. Both the G500 and G600 are capable of Mach 0.90 because, says Gulfstream's Scott Neal, buyers have said they want speed. But evidently, they want long legs, too. The G500 has a 5000-mile range at Mach 0.85 and 3800 miles at Mach 0.90, according to Gulfstream. The G600 can range to 6200 miles at 0.85 and 3800 miles at 0.90.

As did every other aircraft manufacturer, Gulfstream took a hit in the 2008 recession but it has performed strongly in the past five years, claiming a 37 percent gain in fleet size. Neal said Gulfstream's international sales have doubled during the same period.

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AT NBAA in Orlando, there are some large airplanes on the show floor.  How did they get them there?  A midnight parade of planes from Orlando International, that's how.

NBAA Photo Gallery

AVweb is on site in Orlando, Florida for NBAA's national convention. We managed to snap a few picks of the exhibits going up and attendees preparing for the big show.

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F-16 file photo

Two F-16 jets operated by the Oklahoma Air National Guard collided in midair during a training exercise on Monday afternoon, officials said, but neither pilot was seriously hurt. One pilot ejected from the aircraft, which then crashed and burned in a field near Moline, Kansas, about 100 miles north of Tulsa, according to the local NewsOn6. The second pilot was able to land safely at Tulsa International Airport, where the fighter wing is based. 

KOTV SkyNews 6

The jets were part of a four-ship training mission, according to the NewsOn6. The other two jets also returned to Tulsa and landed after the accident. The pilot who ejected was taken to a hospital to be checked out but officials said he was not believed to be seriously hurt.

A French industrialist and three crew members were reportedly killed early Tuesday when their Falcon 50 business jet reportedly hit a snowplow on a runway at Moscow's Vnukovo Airport. Early reports were not clear on the phase of flight the aircraft was in but did say the crew managed to keep it airborne for a landing attempt after reporting an engine fire and fuselage damage. The aircraft landed hard, the gear collapsed and it rolled over before erupting in flame, according to a report in eTurboNews.

The dead were identified as Christophe de Margerie, president of the French energy firm Total, and three crew members: flight attendant Rassi Peraforya Maxim and pilots Jean Marie Falyuk Ruslan and Nikon Yann Jacques Joseph. The temperature in Moscow was 32 degrees and snow had been reported according to Weather Underground.

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Bored as I sometimes am with Aviation Hall of Fame nominees and Lifetime Achievement Awards, to amuse myself, I'm inventing a new category: Best filming of a gear-up landing. I'm calling it the Oh-S&^t Award and hope to announce it every year about this time.

I won't lack for examples because there are (a) a lot of gear-up landings and (b) many news helicopters flying around with nothing better to do than film distressed airplanes with fabulous gyro-stabilized HD cameras capable of stunning imagery. The envelope please: This year's award goes to KNXV-TV in Scottsdale, Arizona, which aired this skillfully shot Comanche gear-up.

Even the talking head newscaster does a nice job of introducing the clip without undue drama or hyperbole and the pilot nails the landing, which is typical of how these things end. The whole thing would have been flawless except right there at the end…one of the pilots on the frequency says the gear-up pilot asked to tower to tell his wife he loved her if it didn't work out. Oh no! Seriously? Holy defeatism! Gear-up landings are way low risk. For a lot of pilots, they're safer than landings with wheels; the rollout is shorter and there's less time to screw something up.

I've researched hundreds of gear-up landings, and never found one with injuries or fatalities that didn't involve some weird circumstances, a stall, an overrun or undershoot or a fire before the landing, even in cases where the landing is hobbled by one wheel extended and the others not. Or, and I'm not making this up, a go around attempt after a gear-down touchdown. That's happened more than once.

If you touchdown on the centerline with sufficient runway remaining, the entire thing will be a non-event. (Even for your insurer, who will likely just write the check. The FAA might not even show.) Some worry about skidding into an edge light, ripping open the tanks and causing an explosion. I've seen the edge light part, but not the tank skewering and explosion part.

Runner up for the Oh-S&^t is this one that appeared on CNN, narrated, I believe, by Miles O'Brien. It occurred seven years ago but whether due to lower camera resolution or just YouTube quality, it appears of lower res. It's still good camera work. But you can see and hear what transpires. The airplane is a King Air 90.

The narrator lauds the pilot for shutting down and perhaps feathering the engines just as airplane crosses the numbers. I don't know if that's SOP for King Airs, but either way, it's a blade that cuts both ways. Stopping the engine and pulling the fuel shutoff may save the prop and engine and it reduces the risk of fire, which is vanishingly low anyway. But it also reconfigures the drag so the airplane will scoot along in ground effect much longer than it would otherwise. That introduces the prospect of completely overshooting the runway and ending up in a ball at the end, snatching a catastrophe from the jaws of a lead-pipe cinch. If you're trying to save the engine or otherwise reduce damage to the airplane, you're just saving your insurer money at the expense of your own hide. Does that make sense? It doesn't to me. But you get points for clever.

Then there's this stunt, which you've probably seen. It's the one where a guy in a car speeding down the runway pulls a stuck gear lose from the belly of a T-tail Arrow. According to the YouTube description, it occurred in St. Augustine, Florida in 1985. There are two ways to look at this one, too. It's either quite resourceful and shows good flying and driving or it's just jackass stupid. I can't decide which. 

I think if I were doing it as a challenging stunt for a bunch of bucks, I might try it. (I always wondered if it was done as a set-up stunt for the camera, by the way. I suspect it was.) But as a means of saving the aforementioned insurer a few bucks at the risk of getting my head wacked off by a prop or wrecking a car and an airplane, I guess not. There are lots of gear-up landings in which one wheel comes down and the others don't. Or two lock and one doesn't. 

They almost always end the same way: one wingtip touches, the airplane pirouettes (maybe) on the runway and comes to a stop. A little more drama; same outcome. No particular elevated risk to the occupants worthy of risking someone getting squashed by the belly of the airplane or beheaded by a prop. And at this juncture, since I'm tanking your day with video links, I'd be remiss not to include the classic 405 movie. Even if you've seen it, it's worth viewing again. That was done almost 15 years ago with technology considered crude by today's standards. Yet it still shines.   

Given the frequency of gear-up landings, I wonder how many of us have direct experience. I've seen three gear-ups, two first hand as a witness and a second indirectly, of my own airplane. (Nope, I wasn't flying.)

One occurred while I was waiting at the hold-short line with a student. I looked up from the radios just in time to see a 210 flash by 50 feet away with the gear tucked in the wells. It was such a shock that my brain couldn't process what my eyes saw and before I could get to the PTT, the airplane touched down. The rollout—slide—was just breathtakingly short. It looked like about 100 feet, but was probably more like 200. It took the stunned occupants of the airplane quite some time to exit, but at least the step down to the runway was short. If you've ever seen the aftermath of a gear-up, it's always a goat rope. It seems to take hours for the recovery crew to decide what to do, more hours figuring out how to do it and a few more to find the equipment.

One of the most common gear-ups happens to Cessna twins, which seem to have gear reliability issues. I saw a 310 gear-up in Maryland which could have been a mess but, thankfully, wasn't. The nosegear wouldn't extend so the pilot informed the tower, which informed the crash crew which promptly foamed the runway, something the pilot said he didn't want. So he landed on the grass adjacent to the runway, figuring it would be less slippery than the foamed runway and would do less damage. This is a bad idea and it was borne out by the results. The grass slide is problematical because the aircraft can dig into the soft surface and instead of causing less damage, it can cause more. Sure enough, the nose gear doors scooped up dirt and got mangled and bent, which probably wouldn't have happened on the hard runway surface, foam or no foam.

Gear-ups result in mostly cosmetic damage, but are expensive nonetheless. That was the case for the third gear-up I witnessed, vicariously. Back in the salad days of the Atlantic City casino business, I had a charter job flying high rollers from northeastern airports to ACY.  One nice winter evening we were returning to Hartford when the approach controller mentioned to another aircraft there was an emergency in progress at Bridgeport, with a closed runway. We were just about over the airport at 7000 feet and sure enough, we could see the flashing lights of the emergency vehicles. From the tower frequency, we learned that there had been a gear-up landing. Poor sod, I thought. Poor indeed.

The airplane turned out to be our company Mooney, bellyed in by one of our editors doing some night proficiency work. Poof! Another $30,000 insurance claim that directly led to selling the airplane a month later. Sadly, we didn't even get a video out of the deal. A definite oh-s&^t, but no award.

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