This formation of 27 Eclipse light jets was part of a larger group that descended on Branson Airport in Missouri for the Eclipse Owners Club Fall Fly-In last month. Forty-three of the twinjets met up in what was one of the largest gatherings of the same model private jet ever to land on a field at one time. Eclipse Aviation built 261 of the EA500s before it went bankrupt in 2008. Eclipse Aerospace, which acquired the company’s assets, announced it has restarted production with deliveries of the updated Eclipse 550 expected next year.
The U.S. Army gave the go-ahead for full-rate production of the Block III version of the Boeing Apache attack helicopter, which has been redesignated AH-64E. Potential export orders could add as many as 100 new airframes in the next few years. The AH-64E offers several improvements, including greater power, composite main rotor blades, net-centric communications, defensive system enhancements, modernized target acquisition designation sight (M-TADS), automated target detection and classification, and the ability to control UAVs.
The U.S. Air Force issued a request for proposals (RFP) for its “high priority” combat rescue helicopter (CRH) acquisition on October 19. The RFP begins a second campaign to replace the service’s HH-60G Pave Hawk search-and-rescue helicopters. In 2009 the Pentagon cancelled the original replacement program, which had been awarded three years earlier to Boeing for the HH-47 Chinook, after successive contractor protests and delays.
Though the light and midsize jet markets yet await their resurgence from the depths of the past business cycle downturn, at Learjet there is a near palpable sense of anticipation that such a turnaround is looming. The Bombardier division currently has three new models preparing for entry into service next year—the Learjets 70, 75 and 85–and has embarked on a major expansion at its Wichita headquarters.
Sion, Switzerland-based operator Air-Glaciers is updating its fleet of light singles and twins in anticipation of eventually phasing out its Aerospatiale SA316 Alouette IIIs.
Between now and 2030, Bombardier estimates that China will need 2,300 business jets, or roughly 20 percent of the current U.S. market. Boeing estimates that Chinese airlines will need an additional 5,000 aircraft during the same period.
Sierra Industries and Clifford Development have formed a joint venture called NewJETz to develop a Williams International FJ44-4 engine retrofit program. The 3,600-pound-thrust engine retrofit will power legacy Cessna Citation 550 and 560 series jets, including the Citation V, Bravo, Ultra and Encore. The new modification is called eVolution, and NewJETz will also offer owners of these aircraft avionics and other upgrades.
Aerobridge is initiating a limited activation in response to Hurricane Sandy. The organization is coordinating donated aircraft to bring first-response donations to Farmingdale, N.Y., where they will be picked up and transported via truck to Staten Island and Lower Manhattan to assist 5,000 children and disadvantaged families. Aerobridge is looking for pilots with aircraft who can acquire food, water, winter jackets, batteries and flashlights and fly them to Farmingdale.
Calgary, Alberta-based FlyHT Aerospace Solutions has received STC approval for its automated flight information reporting system (Afirs) 228 on several business aircraft types, including the Bombardier Challenger 870/890 and Hawker 750/800XP/850XP/900XP. STC approvals are in progress for the Boeing Business Jets BBJ1 and BBJ2, as well as the Airbus ACJ319/320/321.
Bombardier has appointed Flying Colours of Peterborough, Ontario and its subsidiary JetCorp Technical Services of St. Louis as authorized service facilities (ASF) for the Canadian OEM’s Learjet and Challenger business jet lines.
Flying Colours is known for its new Challenger 850 green completion work for which it works directly with Bombardier as an authorized completion center.