The 2008 Singapore Airshow was staged at an impressive new purpose-built site from February 19 to 24, and business aviation had a strong presence both on the static display and on the Singapore news agenda. Some 35,000 trade visitors were expected to stream through the gates to visit more than 800 exhibitors located in an impressive 430,000-sq-ft hall. Crowds benefited from fantastic views from waterfront chalets overlooking the static display on one side and the flight line on the other.
New business jet operator BJets launched its charter, fractional and aircraft management services at Singapore, with a $600 million order for 20 Cessna Citation CJ2+s and 20 Hawker 850XPs and 900XPs, to be delivered over the next five years. Another 10 Hawkers are on option. BJets will operate in India and Southeast Asia.
The new company plans to start operations in the second quarter. It will be based in Singapore and Mumbai, with its operational headquarters in Hyderabad, India.
According to CEO Mark Baier–a former NetJets executive in Europe–60 to 70 percent of the fleet will be based in India. The remainder will be in Southeast Asia, including a small hub in Singapore.
The rationale for launching BJets is the fact that the region is underserved, officials said. So does the company have plans for China? “No such plan; we have plenty to do here,” Baier said. He expects the new company to generate $500 to $600 million in revenues within five years.
There are currently 45 employees, most of them pilots, but this figure is expected to reach 200 by year-end. Simultaneously, 15 aircraft–evenly split between Citations and Hawkers–are scheduled for delivery by year-end. The value of the CJ2+s on firm order by BJets is $150 million. The 11 Hawker 900XPs and nine 850XPs are valued at $450 million.
The General Administration of the Civil Aviation of China (CAAC) has awarded type certification to Gulfstream for the GV, G350, G450, G500 and G550. The TC allows the registration and operation of the aircraft within China. Gulfstream sold its first large-cabin business jets in China with the recent contract for three mid-range G350s and one ultra-long-range G550 to Hainan Airlines Group. Wholly owned subsidiary Deer Jet will offer the airplanes for charter. This is the first fleet purchase for Beijing-based Deer Jet.
The five newly certified models join the Gulfstream IV and GIV-SP, which received CAAC certification on Sept. 15, 2003. In 2005, the CAAC also granted approval to Gulfstream’s Long Beach, Calif. service center to provide support for Chinese-registered GIVs as well as GIIs and GIIIs.
Deer Jet is the biggest business jet charter operator in China. The company’s current eight-aircraft fleet, which includes a Gulfstream IV and two Gulfstream G200s, reaches more than 125 airports within China and 136 international airports. With nearly 4,000 charter flight hours logged every year, Deer Jet currently serves more than 70 percent of the China business jet charter market.
“With the addition of the three G350s and the G550, we will be able to optimize our fleet and capacity to meet the demands of our growing customer base,” said Liu Zhiqiang, chairman of Deer Jet. “These aircraft will primarily serve our high-end customers, including central government officials, local Chinese and international business leaders, representatives from foreign governments and celebrities.”
Gulfstream plans to deliver the three G350s consecutively in the second, third and fourth quarters of 2010 and the G550 in the first quarter of 2011. Gulfstream president Joe Lombardo noted that Gulfstream’s “world-class backlogs” are “sound” and “more diverse” than at any other time in history. Gulfstream had increased its footprint in the Asia-Pacific area from 27 aircraft in 2001 to 74 by last December.
Demand for aircraft in the Asia-Pacific region is increasingly diverse, Cessna senior vice president of sales and marketing Roger Whyte told attendees at the show.
Cessna delivered 160 new aircraft into the region last year, an increase of more than 35 percent from the previous year’s deliveries. The company recently made its first commercial business jet sales in South Korea and Vietnam and delivered the first personally owned Citation to an individual in China.
Cessna announced orders for 26 single-engine aircraft at the show, consisting of six 208B Grand Caravans for Susi Air of Indonesia and 20 Skyhawks (nine of them diesels) for India’s Chimes Aviation.
The company is gearing up for the first flight of its Model 162 SkyCatcher prototype in the coming months. The two-seat aluminum aircraft, to be built in China, will meet the American Society for Testing and Materials standard for F2245 light sport aircraft and is intended for the training and sport flying markets. The 162 will cruise at speeds up to 118 knots and will have a maximum range of 470 nm.
Dassault Falcon will open two new parts distribution centers, in Shanghai and Mumbai, to support its business jets in Asia. The total additional inventory will bring the value of Falcon spare parts to $8 million in the Asia Pacific region, nearly doubling it in one year.
Aerospace Products International will manage the Shanghai facility, where the expected inventory is valued at $2.2 million. It is scheduled to start operations this month. In Mumbai, Dassault has signed an agreement with DHL for a $1.5 million inventory and a May opening. The French manufacturer also has distribution centers in Sydney and Singapore.
In Macau, Dassault has a new field technical representative. Lam Hung Fai will assist operators in Southeast China, Macau and Hong Kong. There are now three Falcon field reps in the region.
Indian charter operator Club One Air of New Delhi has placed an order for 10 Eclipse 500s, marking the VLJ maker’s entry into the Indian business aviation market. Said Mike McConnell, Eclipse’s vice president of sales and marketing, “Establishing a presence for the Eclipse 500 in India through Club One Air will introduce more people to the benefits of owning and flying on private jet aircraft, which continues to be the goal of Eclipse Aviation.”
Manav Singh, promoter and managing director of Club One Air, India’s largest nonscheduled air operator and first fractional aircraft ownership company, said Club One Air will operate its Eclipse 500s under another company owned by Singh. The company will use the 500s to expand its offerings and provide more business travelers a quick, affordable and convenient way to travel across India.
“The Eclipse 500’s low acquisition and operating costs, along with its comfortable cabin, make it the ideal aircraft for enhancing business travel in India,” said Singh.
“We’re confident that with the plans we have for the Eclipse 500 in India, we will provide our clients with a fantastic experience and the convenience of reaching their travel destinations at affordable prices.”Singh, whose Club One operates a number of Cessna types as well as several large-cabin jets, already has been talking with Eclipse about a substantially larger order for EA-500s. He also said an operation such as U.S.-based DayJet’s per-seat charter model is not out of the question.
McConnell said that more than 40 percent of the 2,700 Eclipse 500s on order are destined for customers outside the U.S. He expects that number to reach 50 percent eventually. Earlier this year, Eclipse revealed that it would expand its partnership with European Technology and Investment Research Center (Etirc) Aviation.
Epic Aircraft has selected the Honeywell TPE331-10A turboprop engine for its newest
aircraft, the Epic Escape, Honeywell announced. In its Escape configuration, the engine produces 940 shp, giving the aircraft 1,800-nm range and a max cruise speed of 360 knots and making it, says Honeywell, the fastest pressurized single-engine turboprop in the world. In addition to the Escape, Bend, Ore.-based Epic is developing the LT and Dynasty turboprops and the Elite and Victory jets.
Honeywell also announced that it has received technical standard order (TSO) approval from the FAA for its Primus Apex integrated avionics system on the Pilatus PC-12E. Honeywell said the Primus Apex is the first FAR Part 23 avionics system to offer flight management functions meeting TSO C153.
Hawker Beechcraft is finding a ready market for its airplanes in the region. Jet Asia has ordered six of the company’s newest jets (two Hawker 900XPs and four Hawker 750s); and Hainan Airlines subsidiary Deer Jet ordered a Hawker 900XP and a Hawker 850XP–delivered in December–to join four Hawker 800XPs and one Hawker 850XP. Deer Jet also manages a Hawker 850XP for Hangzhou Daoyuan Chemical Fibre Company. The Wichita-based manufacturer has named Dan Keady to lead the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa sales team as divisional vice president. In addition to the sales office in Singapore, four outlying sales offices–located in Beijing, Dubai, Johannesburg and Australia–will report to him.
With that in mind, the company has named Hong Kong-based Avion Logistics an authorized parts distributor for Asia. Avion Logistics, which is scheduled to begin operations on March 15, becomes a part of Hawker Beechcraft’s Rapid Aircraft Parts Inventory and Distribution (Rapid) network. The new company is a joint venture between Avion Pacific and Seacor. The former is also an authorized sales representative for Hawker Beechcraft business, special-mission and trainer aircraft in China, Hong Kong and Macau.
Bell Helicopter told attendees that the Indian government, having canceled an earlier deal with Eurocopter, is expected to issue a new request for proposal for 197 light single-engine helicopters. Bell is once again pitching the 407. According to CEO Richard Millman, last year was a record year for the company in terms of orders and deliveries. In that period, it took orders for 365 helicopters, bringing the backlog to $3.8 billion, a 28-percent increase over the previous year. Last year the company delivered 181 helicopters, a 14-percent improvement over the previous year.
Malaysia’s YTL Corporation Berhad signed an order at the show for an AgustaWestland AW139 twin-turbine helicopter for executive transport. The purchase marks the first sale of the AW139 to the Malaysian executive market.
Universal Weather & Aviation has expanded its reach in the Asia Pacific region, announcing the official launch of its new scheduling center in Manila in the Philippines. With 11 employees manning the new facility, customers can count on round-the-clock assistance in flight planning, weather information, fueling and ground support. “We are fully operational,” said Jim Reed, operations manager.