Preparing for Global 6000 Delivery, NetJets Europe Bets on Long-range Ops

 - November 2, 2012, 3:50 AM

NetJets Europe is betting on large-cabin, long-range operations as demand for light to midsize jets remains flat and is preparing to receive its first Bombardier Global 6000. Delivery is scheduled to take place by year-end, with commercial operations starting February 1.

Marine Eugène, NetJets Europe’s sales director, expects Global 6000 shareowners will take advantage of the aircraft’s 13-hour endurance and 6,180-nm range. The company is offering free positioning in China, India, South Africa, Angola and Brazil. “We anticipate only a small percentage of empty legs to or from these countries,” Eugène explained. NetJets had already extended the meaning of “Europe” to North Africa, the Middle East, Turkey, the CIS and Iceland.

The smallest share offered on the Global 6000 is one sixteenth, for $3.1 million. This allows 50 flight hours per year. “We are not offering 25-hour cards on this type,” Eugène added. The company has sold the equivalent of 1.5 aircraft, mostly with shares of one-eighth and more.

Global 6000 customers are said to be mainly large corporations, with wealthy individuals accounting for a small portion of shareholders. They are based in “South Europe, London and Geneva,” according to Eugène. “They are existing customers who have upgraded to a larger airplane,” she said.

The first aircraft is scheduled to be delivered in December, with the second following in January. Another two are scheduled to be handed over next year, bringing the fleet to four by the end of 2013. As NetJets can’t guarantee early customers will always fly on a Global 6000, it is offering them a discount. The total firm order, announced in 2011, was for 50 Globals to be spread over NetJets’’Europe and U.S. fleets. NetJets Europe may thus receive Global 6000s but also Global 7000s and Global 8000s after they are certified in 2016.

Pilot Training

When it joins the fleet, an aircraft is not immediately made available to customers, however. Paperwork and pilot training take time. NetJets Europe’s first Global 6000 is thus slated to begin commercial operations in February. Subsequent aircraft will be put into service more quickly.

“The standard operating procedures we have written for our Global 6000s have just been approved by the Portuguese civil aviation authority,” Harm Imming, NetJets’ fleet operational implementation manager, told AIN. A Bombardier test pilot will train NetJets’ first two instructors. The operator wants a total of four pilots to be trained before commercial operations start.

In the flight deck, the pilots will find Rockwell Collins’ Pro Line Fusion avionics suite. Controller-pilot datalink communication (CPDLC) is available. “CPDLC will be required in Europe in 2015, but we are already using it,” Imming said, noting that receiving messages in writing improves the clarity of communications.

An enhanced vision system (EVS), based on an infrared camera and a head-up display, enables lower weather minimums, reducing the decision height from 200 feet to 100 feet. “Training the pilots for using EVS is costly but a worthy investment; our customers don’t like to divert,” Imming said.

He is also looking forward to using the Class III electronic flight bag (EFB). “This will save us about 180 pounds of Jeppesen maps and documents,” he said. A months-long approval process is needed, however, before NetJets Global 6000 pilots can fully benefit from their EFBs.

The Global 6000’s 400-sq-ft cabin, the largest in the NetJets fleet, will have 13 seats installed. Eugène expects the additional crew rest area (one seat) to be used by some passengers as a private office, when the area is not needed for crew use. “The Global 6000 has an aft lounge that can morph into a true bedroom with a double bed and a real dividing wall,” a feature the company’s Gulfstreams and Falcons do not have, Eugène told AIN during a tour of Bombardier’s demonstration Global 6000 at Geneva airport. In the layout NetJets has chosen, the aircraft can sleep six to seven people.

A shower option is available for the Global 6000, but the company had not elected to add it, citing the additional weight of the water.

According to Eugène, “We don’t think differentiation comes from having a cabin interior created by some famous luxury brand designer; rather, we want to offer the latest technologies to our customers.” As examples she pointed to the low cabin altitude, air conditioning and in-flight entertainment as well as the $250,000 invested on each aircraft in extra sound-proofing.

Unfortunately, on-board WiFi is still unavailable in the company’s aircraft because of the complication of employing “several service providers in fragmented airspace,” said Eugène.

NetJets Europe has sold all of its Falcon 7Xs and Gulfstream G550s, as demand increases for long-range aircraft. Short-range operations, on the other hand, are not faring as well, Eugène said. Therefore, there are fewer light aircraft in the fleet now than in 2009. “But our customer base has not decreased,” she asserted. The firm now claims to have 1,500 customers.

It employs 500 at its Lisbon, Portugal operational base. AOC holder NetJets Transportes Aéreos operates “more than 130” business jets crewed by 865 pilots and 97 flight attendants.