Judging by the mood at last month’s NBAA Convention in Las Vegas, the good old days are most assuredly back for the business aviation industry. A record number of companies were shoehorned into more than a million square feet of exhibition space at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and there was a seemingly endless line of aircraft at nearby Henderson Executive Airport.
News and issues concerning aerospace companies, including formations, acquisitions, mergers and financials; and announcements of significant aircraft sales, delivery statistics and personnel appointments.
The National Air Transportation Association provides an annual salary survey for business aviation professionals including pilots, line-service personnel, maintenance technicians, inspectors, dispatchers, customer service representatives and stock clerks.
The forecasts released last month at the NBAA Convention from turbine-engine manufacturers Honeywell and Rolls-Royce and market research firm Inflight Management Development Centre (IMDC) agree: the business jet market has turned the corner. Honeywell and Rolls-Royce project delivery of between 500 and 550 business jets this year, on par with, or slightly above, last year’s deliveries.
Eclipse Aviation has accelerated its production schedule for the Eclipse 500 very light jet by seven months and announced plans for its customer-support network, an in-house program that would ultimately include seven centers. That would place a shop within one-and-a-half hours’ flying time from any U.S. Eclipse operator’s home base, the company said.
Utica, N.Y.-based JetNet has purchased Aviation Data Service in Wichita, bonding two companies that track business aviation aircraft ownership, fleet status and sales transactions. Both companies will continue to operate independently. Established in 1988, JetNet provides market research tools to dealers, brokers and the financial industry.
Reporting on its third-quarter results, Textron said its Cessna Aircraft unit received orders for 71 Citations, including 22 for the new CJ2+, and 13 more for CitationShares. With these orders, Textron said Cessna is totally sold out for this year. In addition, “We added 25 new orders for delivery next year, bringing the total orders at this time to 185 for next year,” or about 82 percent of next year’s delivery plan of 225 jets.
Third-quarter results show that Gulfstream is on its way to ending this year with significantly improved numbers in deliveries, earnings and sales. According to figures released by parent company General Dynamics, Gulfstream delivered a total of 57 green aircraft in the first nine months of this year, compared with 53 in the same period last year. Earnings and margin rates more than doubled.
It might be considered an honor for an established business jet manufacturer to get a visit from either President Bush or Senator John Kerry during this election year, but it was high praise indeed for start-up Eclipse Aviation to get visits from both presidential candidates.
While no manufacturers actually launched new aircraft at the NBAA Convention last month, several did commit to major improvements for their existing products. Notably, Cessna, Piaggio and Bombardier announced extensive upgrades–involving newer or more powerful engines, avionics and/or interior makeovers–for their CJ1 and CJ2, Avanti and Learjet 40 business airplanes, respectively.
Quest Aircraft’s new Kodiak high-wing, 10-passenger turboprop single made a brief first flight October 16, exactly two years after the startup dedicated its 27,000-sq-ft research and development facility in Sandpoint, Idaho. The flight of the 750-shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-powered STOL, fixed-gear airplane lasted just six minutes as the pilot made one circuit of the airport.