NBAA Preview: 56th bizav show will be bellwether event

 - August 8, 2008, 9:48 AM

In those first 100 years, the human race soared from Kill Devil Hills, N.C., to the moon and back, and the corporate aircraft eventually became the boardroom and the office. But as NBAA gathers in central Florida for the second year in a row–and just two years removed from 9/11– security and access to airports and airspace have taken on new urgency and meaning.

Meanwhile, the light at the end of the economic tunnel continues to be elusive, with the General Aviation Manufacturers Association reporting that total industry billings fell 14.4 percent last year from an all-time high of $13.9 billion to $11.9 billion. Shipments of GA airplanes dropped from 2,994 in 2001 to 2,539 last year. “This may not be the deepest trough in modern times,” said then-GAMA chairman Bill Boisture in February, “but it is certainly one of the longest.”

Despite that, NBAA trumpeted last year’s convention as a record breaker because of the 1,011 exhibitors that occupied approximately 900,000 sq ft of exhibit space in the Orange County Convention Center. In addition, there were 152 aircraft on static display at Orlando Executive Airport (ORL), including a record six never-before-displayed aircraft.

NBAA had expected 25,000 attendees following the delayed and truncated 2001 gathering in New Orleans just three months after 9/11, and instead drew 27,785 attendees at last year’s show. And, according to the association, exhibitors reported brisk activity both on the show floor and at the static display.

At its annual review and outlook earlier this year, GAMA reported that the one “real bright spot” in the GA industry was an increase in the amount of flying activity by business jets in the U.S., as well as an increase in the total number of corporate operators worldwide. The number of IFR flights completed by business jets was approximately 13 percent higher last year than in 2001, while the number of corporate operators increased by about 5 percent.

No doubt contributing to this was a 20-percent increase in fractional share ownership by individuals and companies, and fractional-share programs accounted for about 15 percent of the total turbine deliveries.

Manufacturers are trying to weather the economic trough by cutting costs, stimulating sales through customer support and positioning for the future by increasing the utility of their products. Almost all of GAMA’s airframer members have been forced to lay off workers since the economy softened, and employment at GAMA-member companies is down 12.4 percent from 2001.

However, to provide a better perspective to this picture, it should be remembered that today’s GA manufacturing industry is three times the size it was just six years ago. What better way to relight the fires than a visit to sunny Florida to take in the latest and greatest that the manufacturers have to offer at what NBAA bills as the world’s largest display of civil aviation products and services?

Centennial of Flight Among Activities

NBAA is expecting close to 30,000 attendees, 1,000 exhibitors and 135 aircraft on static display at ORL. There will be no fewer than 75 informational sessions beginning on Sunday, October 5, two days before the October 7 official opening of this year’s convention. Included will be the always well attended maintenance and operations (M&O) sessions hosted by the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs); safety, security and regulatory issues; OEM new-product briefings; flight department audit standards; and international issues.

To help commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first powered, manned flight, the most authentic replica of the 1903 Flyer–which will actually fly this December 17 over the sand dunes at Kitty Hawk– will be on display in Hall C of the convention center. The exhibit is sponsored by the Experimental Aircraft Association, Eclipse Aviation, Ford Motor, Microsoft Flight Simulator and NBAA. Also on display will be vintage aircraft simulators and authentic artifacts provided by the Franklin Institute.

During the opening general session, Darrell Collins, the chief historian and interpreter at the Wright Brothers National Memorial, will give a special presentation. With a career spanning more than 25 years, he is widely acknowledged as one of the top five authorities on the Wright brothers and early aviation history. In addition to his work at the National Park Service, Collins engages audiences nationwide with his lectures on the Wright brothers and has authored numerous articles on the topic.

This year, with aviation security and access on everyone’s mind, NBAA has two heavy hitters to keynote the opening general session–FAA Administrator Marion Blakey and Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the House aviation subcommittee, whose district includes Daytona Beach, home of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, as well as Orlando.

Blakey was sworn in last September as the 15th Administrator of the FAA, where she is responsible for regulating and advancing the safety of the U.S. airways system, as well as operating the world’s largest ATC system. Before being named FAA Administrator, she served as chairman of the NTSB. This will be her first visit to an NBAA Convention, although she spoke at EBACE in Geneva in May.

Mica was first elected to Congress in 1992 to represent the 7th Congressional District of Florida. Now serving his sixth term, he is a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the Government Reform Committee and the House Administration Committee. As a recognized national transportation leader, Mica was named chairman of the subcommittee on aviation in 2001, which has oversight on the FAA and the NTSB, as well as matters relating to civil aviation.

Attendees also will be able to meet new NBAA president Shelley Longmuir, who took over from Jack Olcott in early July. Previously with United Airlines as senior vice president of international, regulatory and governmental affairs, she has spent much of her time getting acquainted with NBAA member companies.

As a novice to business aviation, this obviously is her first NBAA Convention. But she brings impressive credentials to the table, having led a team of more than 50 attorneys, economists and lobbyists responsible for implementing United’s regulatory and governmental affairs agenda. She has also held posts in the Executive Branch of the federal government.

While it is unlikely that last year’s record of six never-before-seen aircraft will be matched this year, Dassault Falcon Jet said the Falcon 2000EX will be making its first appearance in the U.S. The aircraft that will be at ORL is to be outfitted with a high-speed data system from the Danish firm Thrane & Thrane.

Falcon 2000EX To Debut

The twin-engine 2000EX received its FAA type certificate and JAA type approval earlier this year. In a year-and-a-half, test aircraft made 242 flights totaling 568 hours.

The 2000EX is a follow-on to the original Falcon 2000, which last year became the best-selling large-cabin business jet, according to Dassault. The company added that the Falcon 2000 is the most popular large-cabin business jet in use at fractional programs. NetJets has an order for 120 falcon 2000/2000EXs, and more than half have been delivered.

The new, longer-range 2000EX has a nonstop range of 3,800 nm (six passengers, NBAA IFR reserves at Mach 0.80). After final flight tests, the -EX actually beat the original projected field performance by 5 percent, and the test aircraft weighed 600 pounds more than the baseline used in the original computations.

Dassault also expects to bring a simulation flight deck to NBAA to demonstrate some aspects of its new Falcon 7X, including integrated sidestick controllers. The trijet is said to be on target for a first flight in 2005. It will be the first production business jet with fly-by-wire flight controls.

Cessna, which last year announced the Citation CJ3 and the Citation Mustang, said it will have another new-product announcement– but would not even disclose whether it would be a turbine- or piston-powered aircraft.

The first production CJ3 (S/N 001) made its first flight on August 8, three weeks ahead of schedule. Departing from McConnell Air Force Base, the 1.5-hour flight was performed using a standard first-flight profile–the full range of airspeed from stalls to Mmo, and coupled approaches.

S/N 001 will be used primarily for avionics development and certification. Cessna has dedicated three Citation CJ3s to certification flight testing: a production-conformed prototype, S/N 001 and S/N 002. The prototype made its maiden flight on April 17 and has already logged more than 83 hours. Flight tests under way include climb performance and roll-control tests.

Cessna has received orders for more than 160 CJ3s, priced at $5.895 million in 2003 dollars. Type certification is anticipated in the second quarter of next year, followed by first customer deliveries in the third quarter.

The Mustang is Cessna’s newest business jet and will be certified as an FAR Part 23 aircraft. It will have a cruise speed of 340 knots and maximum operating altitude of 41,000 feet. The very light entry will be powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW615F engines providing 1,350 pounds of thrust flat-rated to ISA+10. The engine incorporates a dual-channel FADEC.

In March, Cessna named Garmin as the Mustang’s avionics supplier. The G1000, Garmin’s all-new, integrated glass cockpit, will include three glass displays–two 10-inch PFDs with a 15-inch MFD at the heart of the panel.

Cessna has just begun to transfer the approximately 330 sales contracts to standard purchase agreements. Cessna anticipates type certification in mid-2006, with first deliveries in the fourth quarter of that year.

Meanwhile, the Wichita company expects to complete FAA certification on its midsize Citation Sovereign by the fourth quarter of this year. First announced at the 1998 NBAA Convention, the Sovereign made its first flight on Feb. 27, 2002. The company will have mockups of the Sovereign, CJ3 and Mustang at the convention.

Gulfstream received both the type certificate and production certificate for its new G550 on August 14 in what is believed to be a first for the more than 40-year-old company. Usually the time lapse between the two certificates is four to six months, according to Gulfstream.

Gulfstream has now completed the last steps required before a new aircraft model can enter service. It will begin G550 customer deliveries in the third quarter of this year. Powered by two Rolls-Royce BR710 engines, each producing more than 15,000 pounds of thrust, the G550 can fly eight passengers and four crewmembers 6,750 nm–the longest range available in a business jet. This range is a 250-nm increase over the GV and was accomplished with advanced aerodynamics improvements, Gulfstream said.

The FAA certification includes– for the first time in the history of aviation–an enhanced vision system (EVS) as standard equipment on an aircraft. Available as an option on the G500, the Gulfstream EVS has been available for retrofit on the GV since September 2001, when the FAA issued an STC for the EVS, the first of its kind for such a system. Last December the FAA issued an STC that allows the EVS to be installed on the GIV.

At NBAA, Gulfstream will also give an update on the BAE Systems AN/ALQ-204 Matador Infrared Countermeasure (IRCM) system for protecting the G550 and G500 against missile attack. The STC also allows it to be retrofitted on the GV.

The IRCM has been available for both the G400 and G300 since they were introduced at last year’s NBAA show. First certified for use on the GIV in 2000, the IRCM continues to be available as a retrofit for the GIV-series aircraft. To date, the Matador has been installed on one GIV, one G400 and six GIV-SPs. Another has been ordered for a G400 that will be delivered during the third quarter of this year.

Raytheon Aircraft will have a yet-to-be-certified Hawker Horizon on static display along with a King Air, Premier I, Hawker 400XP and Hawker 800XP, and will conduct an overview of the Horizon program. It will also announce a “significant” product upgrade.

The super-midsize Horizon is still expected to be certified late this year, and the company said it is on track for deliveries next year. Raytheon reports holding orders for more than 30 Horizons, which it said has demonstrated better-than-expected climb performance and a shorter takeoff run.

Convention To Exceed Three Days

Although the 56th NBAA Annual Meeting & Convention officially runs from October 7 to 9, it will literally tee off at 8 a.m. on October 5 with the 7th Annual Chairman’s Charity Classic Golf Tournament and figuratively tee off with a NBAA Professional Development Program (PDP) and three workshops at the same time.

Golf legend Arnold Palmer will be the featured guest at the 2003 golf classic, which will raise funds for Orlando’s Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children & Women. The facility is dedicated exclusively to serving the special needs of children and women through a family-centered philosophy to create a unique child-based environment. Last year’s classic raised $47,000 for Challenge Air for Kids & Friends, a Dallas-based organization that offers children with disabilities throughout the U.S. the opportunity to experience the wonder and thrill of flight in a small airplane. Approximately 288 golfers and 37 sponsors participated in the sold-out event. This year’s event will be hosted by NBAA chairman George Saling of Altria Corporate Services and will be played at Champions Gate Golf Resort near Orlando.

By the time the golfers tee up for a shotgun start at 8 a.m., a PDP course on “Developing a High Performance Flight Department Team” and two-day workshops on “Human Factors-Fatigue Management,” “Emergency Response” and “Management Fundamentals for Flight Departments” will be under way at the Peabody Hotel across the street (International Drive) from the Orange County Convention Center.

In the PDP course, participants will look at individual and organizational behavior and leadership techniques used to develop a high- performance team. In the one-day intensive program, participants will be provided with tools and information to improve overall performance of their flight department.

The workshop on fatigue in corporate flight operations provides participants knowledge and information that they can apply directly to improving the safety of their flight department. It will include an overall understanding of fatigue; its consequences for safety, performance, productivity and mood; and countermeasures for managing related issues.

The sessions on emergency response will highlight critical elements in the response process, and participants and their organizations will learn to ensure the best possible outcome. A simulated accident scenario illustrates the flow of events and identifies the key issues in a business aircraft accident.

The management fundamentals sessions helps flight department managers by sharing key information about safe operations; regulatory compliance; basic management practices; budgeting and accounting issues; cost controls; vendor selection and tracking; records and reports; planning for the future; and other issues.

On October 8, another PDP course on “Legal Issues in Aviation Management” will identify insurance and legal requirements for operating a corporate flight department. Also on that day, an inspection authorization (IA) renewal course will be held.

The convention will officially end on October 9 with the annual safety awards reception and banquet at the Peabody Orlando, the official convention hotel. The featured entertainer will be Marvin Hamlisch, who as a composer has won three Oscars, four Grammys, four Emmys and three Golden Globe awards. His groundbreaking show, A Chorus Line, received a Pulitzer Prize.

The dinner will honor Dr. Sam Williams, chairman and CEO of Williams International, as the 2003 NBAA Award for Meritorious Service to Aviation recipient; Byron “Skip” Reed II, chairman of Steer Safe, as the John P. “Jack” Doswell Award winner; the NBAA Safety Award honorees and Fred McIntosh as the NBAA Staff Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.

Also, NBAA will present First Century of Flight Awards to Serge Dassault, honorary chairman of Dassault Aviation; David Ewald, who spent nearly 50 years serving the business aviation community as a magazine publisher and industry spokesman; John Tucker, chairman and founder of Midcoast Aviation; Ray Siegfried, chairman of The Nordam Group; Jerome Lederer, founder of the Flight Safety Foundation and known internationally as “Mr. Aviation Safety;” and Edward King Jr., who founded King Radio.

The Award for Meritorious Service to Aviation is presented annually to an individual who, by virtue of a lifetime of personal dedication, has made significant, identifiable contributions that have materially advanced aviation interests. The Doswell Award is granted for lifelong individual achievement on behalf of and in support of the aims, goals and objectives of business aviation.

Williams, an innovator and pioneer in small gas-turbine and fanjet technology, has made major contributions to aeronautical and automobile propulsion and helped make small business jets possible.

In 1954 Williams founded Williams Research in Birmingham, Mich., and in 1968 he patented a small fanjet engine, the predecessor of today’s cruise missile engines. In 1981 Williams Research became Williams International, which today is a leading producer of small gas-turbine engines.

Williams gas-turbine engines have been used in numerous military and civil applications. Williams also led the design and development of the FJ44 and FJ33 turbofans for the new class of light business jets. Williams turbofans today power the in-service Raytheon Premier I and Cessna Citation CJ1/2, as well as a growing number of very light jet aircraft currently under development.

Reed has been an active member of the business aviation association since the 1970s and has contributed significantly to the viability and growth of the association for more than 25 years. He was the first member-company volunteer to serve as a participant in the FAA’s comprehensive national airspace system plan, and from that time onward he was actively involved in the work of several NBAA committees, including the airspace/air traffic committee and industry affairs committee.

From 1985 to 1998 he served as a member of the board of directors and was elected to all three officer positions. He served as chairman from 1991 to 1993, retiring from the board in 1998. For much of his career, Reed worked as chief pilot for the Zachry Construction Corp. (previously known as H.B. Zachry Co.) in San Antonio, and he still flies for Zachry today.

McIntosh is the second recipient of the NBAA Staff Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes the nearly 20 years of service he gave to NBAA members before retiring in 1983. His most significant and enduring achievement in the early 1970s was as the architect of Subpart D of FAR Part 91 (now known as Subpart F). It became the first recognition of the status of business aviation in the FARs. The result was that Subpart D kept business aviation under Part 91.

In addition, McIntosh was a pioneer in developing NBAA’s noise- abatement techniques and recommendations. He tracked the establishment of noise criteria through development of better engines. He also worked on the Santa Monica Municipal Airport, Calif. noise issue, which attempted to place a ban on business aviation. He was also involved in the Westchester County Airport, White Plains, N.Y., legal battle, which also proposed a night ban of jet operations. Both were solved in NBAA’s favor.

But even after the banquet’s festivities have ended, to quote Yogi Berra, “It ain’t over til it’s over.” On October 10, an “FAA/NBAA Fractional Ownership Presentation” will provide an in-depth review of the new fractional-ownership rules. Topics will cover a review of the new Part 91 Subpart K, certification, management specifications, the role of the FAA inspector and the responsibilities of fractional-ownership companies.

Also scheduled for that Friday is the first day of the “NBAA Flight Operations Manual Workshop: Utilizing the International Standards for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO),” which will finish up on October 11, and the second day of the ever-popular “NBAA 12th Annual Tax Conference,” which begins October 9.