EBACE Convention News

Airbus Corporate Jet makes a JetAlliance

 - November 28, 2006, 9:54 AM

Austrian charter operator Jet-Alliance (Booth No. 132) yesterday signed a firm order here for a CFM56-5-powered Airbus Corporate Jet (ACJ). It will augment the almost 40 aircraft available from the Viennese company by providing long-range, large-cabin capacity, chief executive Lukas Lichtner-Hoyer told EBACE Convention News. No completion center has been announced for the aircraft, which is to be delivered in the third quarter of 2007.

Currently, JetAlliance owns six of the aircraft in its mixed fleet of executive jets and corporate aircraft, which comprises five Dassault Falcons, a Bombardier CL 604 Challenger and two Learjets, 14 various Cessna Citations, a Raytheon Beech 400A, four Gulfstreams, and a pair of Embraer Legacys, as well as a 40-passenger Boeing 737-300 and MD-83. In addition, at last year’s U.S. National Business Aviation Association Convention it announced orders for 20 more Citations: four XLSes, two Xs, seven Sovereigns, five CJ2+s and a pair of CJ3s, together valued at some $230 million.

To support marketing of the A318 Elite, Airbus yesterday brought its flight-test A318 here from Toulouse. On arrival, the Pratt & Whitney PW6000-powered aircraft demonstrated the steep approach developed for A320-family operations at airports with restricted access.

The ACJ is “climbing,” said Airbus corporate fleet and VIP aircraft vice president Richard Gaona, reporting a total of 70 orders. The European manufacturer has orders covering 13 A318 Elites, which was launched at last year’s U.S. NBAA Convention in Orlando, Florida; all will be powered by CFM56 engines.

Airbus has received orders for six ACJs (including that for JetAlliance and two for the Czech Republic) so far this year and also has booked a corporate A330-200. Remaining new customers are unidentified. In addition, Airbus reports “commitments” this year from a total of four buyers for two ACJs destined for Asia and three A318 Elites.

Airbus has this year delivered four ACJs, including one to India’s UB Group that is being completed at Associated Air Center, another to the Italian Air Force (the military operator’s fourth such aircraft) and one to Azerbaijan last month.

Currently, ACJs in completion include a second aircraft for Al Kharafi at Lufthansa Technik, which also this year will finish one Czech ACJ and the first A318 Elite for Comlux. A Comlux ACJ is among three aircraft (two unidentified) being completed by Associated Air Center.

Jet Aviation is also finishing an unidentified ACJ. The fourth approved ACJ completion center–EADS Sogerma Services– will not accept further ACJs until it completes its existing widebody work.

By the end of next year, Airbus expects to deliver the first A319 at the new optional mtow of 76.5 tons, an increase of one ton. Since early April, the manufacturer has logged some 35 hours of testing in 14 flights with an A320 fitted with winglets in place of the standard wingtip fences. This is part of a study involving an in-house design and an alternative system developed by Winglet Technology of Wichita, Kansas.

Airbus also is upgrading communications on the A320 family of aircraft. In the first half of 2007, it expects to receive airworthiness approval for the installation of Satcom SRT-2100 equipment offering two cabin and one cockpit channels. Swift 64 will be offered initially for e-mail and Internet services. Alongside this development, it hopes to certify GSM mobile services offering 14 channels.