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.
News and issues concerning aerospace companies, including formations, acquisitions, mergers and financials; and announcements of significant aircraft sales, delivery statistics and personnel appointments.
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.
Elling Halvorson, chairman of Papillon Airways, and a team of investors composed of helicopter industry executives have acquired Soloy Corp., an engine mod company. Soloy will operate as a stand-alone company and will remain located in Olympia, Wash., according to Halvorson. Soloy was founded in 1970 by Joe Soloy, who died in February at age 78.
The FAA last month awarded type certification to Cessna for its Citation CJ3 light jet and to Bombardier for its long-range Global 5000. The CJ3 features a cabin that is two feet longer than that of the CJ2, new Williams International FJ44-3A engines and advanced fully integrated Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics.
Some markets that have refused to pick up thus far, despite attractive pricing, might finally spark buyer interest this year. The Gulfstream II and GIII as well as the Challenger 600 may have felt all the pain they are going to. Some buyers have described the GII as a throwaway aircraft, meaning simply that if they buy one, they will do so with the intent of parking it once the engines have no more useful life.