New Aircraft Remanufacturing Firm Formed

AINalerts » January 24, 2013
January 24, 2013, 3:30 PM

Former Cessna chairman and CEO Jack Pelton is among a half-dozen veteran business and military aviation executives who have joined forces to offer remanufactured turbine-powered aircraft to the aviation and defense industries. The newly formed company, The Aviation Alliance, also announced its first business aviation offering yesterday: the Excalibur 421.

The remanufactured Cessna 421C will feature Pratt & Whitney PT6A-135A turboprop engines, Garmin G600 avionics, winglets, new tires and brakes, and new cabin, de-icing, hydraulic and electrical systems. Including airframe, the aircraft will retail for $2.5 million, complete with a new-aircraft warranty. Preliminary specifications include a 327-knot top speed and 1,420-nm range. A prototype Excalibur 421 is now flying, and FAA STC approval and deliveries are expected by year-end. In addition, a similar program is in the works for the Cessna 414.

The company also plans to announce a Gulfstream GII/IIB/III/IV remanufacturing program in April, Geoff Miller, the firm’s managing director for administration and marketing, told AIN. He said the price for such a remanufactured Gulfstream, including airframe, will be approximately $18.5 million. Expected range for a remanufactured GII/IIB/III is 4,600 nm, and 5,100 nm for an updated GIV. First flight is planned for late this year, with STC approval slated for late 2014.

Aircraft Technical Service/Ventura Aerospace, Capital Aviation, Oklahoma Jet Center and Clay Lacy Aviation are also partners in The Aviation Alliance.

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Jim Allmon
on January 25, 2013 - 3:41pm

I think this is a great program and hope it is successful. My question is; If a Cessna Conquest I with the Blackhawk 135A engine conversion can only do 290 -295 knots in a best case scenario, how can this airplane do 327 knots with the same exact fuselage and engines? More likely to get around 285 knots so there is a 40+ knot disconnect somewhere.

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Cary Friedman
on January 25, 2013 - 4:11pm

This has been tried before with the LTP 101 turboprop and there was even a Pratt tuboprop hung on the 421 airframe. Either program had very little success.

It will be interesting to see if the marketplace has the appetite for a 30 year old piston airframe that has been "hopped up" with some turbine engines and some newer systems at a price of $2.5 million dollars. There are a lot of late model jets and turboprops available at that price and below and they were certified as model specific for those powerplants and subsystems through rigorous FAA certification standards by longstanding airframers.

Conquest I's are currently selling in a range from $750,000 to $1,200,000 for a Blackhawk conversion with the -135 engine.

Conquest II's range from $800,000 to $1,500,000 based on different stages of conversion.

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Chad Trautvetter
on January 25, 2013 - 4:32pm

This is more than just a re-engining program, though. The new avionics, wiring and interior will reduce the aircraft’s weight, while winglets, strakes and other aerodynamic improvements will reduce drag. This will give the Excalibur 421 a higher thrust-to-weight/drag ratio than a plain old engine conversion. Also, don’t overlook that the fact former Cessna chief is involved in this project, so I’m sure he wouldn’t let the marketing people say it if it couldn’t be done. In fact, they said they’re already seeing these performance numbers on the flying prototype, so if what they told me is correct, they’re already proving that it can be done.

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Jeff Millard
on January 25, 2013 - 5:34pm

Certainly no surprise Pelton could go from zero to STC on a Cessna faster than anyone but these are the same questions surrounding O&N's 340 Rolls Royce Turbine conversions. At about $1.5M without airframe one has a lot of pre-existing turbines you could get for the money. (not to mention support infrastructure). IMO, I think the turbine P210 conversion they did (100 I think) was successful because it 1) Created a new beast 2) Had a unique buyer in mind that was High Dollar but low time/insurability. My client's insurance (low twin time) on a $300K Aerostar 701 was double the single-engine $800k turbine. The fuel economy on these conversions is impressive (242kts true on 36gph on the turbine 340) but I agree, buy a conquest and an apartment complex with the extra million and let the rent make up for the old-tyme fuel burn. And if the apartment complex is out of state you can visit it and avoid our insane CA use tax too!

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Paul
on January 25, 2013 - 8:19pm

The Conquest 425 was a complete structure revamp from the 421C. Different part numbers, re-enforced and designed tail. With standard engines, the airplanes give a TAS of 250 to 255. Good airplane that Cessna should have never quit building.
Of course with the SID, Cessna wants those birds gone.
Every piston bird I have ever seen converted to Turbine has never worked out.
Sooner or later, cracks appear that were never seen before, performance lacks, maintenance costs soar. Then again, your buying a older airframe with hours flown on it. Some 421C's are passing 9,000 hours or more. Why bother?

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Jim
on January 25, 2013 - 10:17pm

Why would someone pay 2.5MM when there are King Air 200's out there for less than one-quarter the price? Old airframes, lots of cracks, and who knows what else for a lot of money.

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Jon
on January 25, 2013 - 10:23pm

You should take a look at a turbine converted DC-3. They seem to have worked out very well. And I think it takes the cake for old airframes made usefull once again.

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JetDealer
on January 26, 2013 - 12:37pm

Why would anybody buy a re-engines and re-wired 1982 G-III for $18.5 million, when 2000 G-IV/SP's are available for $12 million all day (just bought one) and 2004 G-450's are $20 million? And what happens when Gulfstream disowns any airframe that's been tampered with (and they will)...who will support it? And Cessna is famous for this move (see "Branson" Citation mods) and both firms will definitely withhold proprietary engineering (a Dassault trademark.) I love the enthusiasm, but when the industry press fails to ask even these basic questions, it evolves into propaganda (see "Eclipse.)

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Chad Trautvetter
on January 28, 2013 - 9:02am

The problem with the AINalerts news stories is that they are (intentionally) short and can’t convey every aspect of something. So please don’t assume that I didn’t ask any questions, just because I didn’t–actually couldn’t–address every fine detail in 180 words or less in an AINalerts story.

First, the majority of the banks won’t underwrite any of the year 2000 GIVs that you could buy “all day” long, so you’d better bring cash. I talked to an aircraft lender in person on Thursday night and he indicated to me that he would have no problem underwriting a loan for such a remanufactured GII/III/IV for $18.5 million, since he considered it new or like-new (in fact, he told me it sounded “like a $20 million aircraft”). Also, it’s more than just new engines and rewiring–all hydraulic lines will be replaced, components zero timed, new Next-gen-capable avionics with HUD/EVS, new paint, new interior, winglets and other enhancements. It’d be a better comparison to a new G450 than an as-is year 2000 GIV or year 2004 GIV-SP, the latter two of which are now out of date from an avionics standpoint, as well as cabin electronics.

In addition, the Aviation Alliance said that Gulfstream is cooperating and providing engineering data to them. So, if true, Gulfstream won’t be disowning these aircraft at all. Besides, Gulfstream isn’t Cessna or Dassault, so again–don’t assume. And speaking of Dassault, didn’t they cooperate with the 20-5 conversion–one of the most successful to-date jet re-engining programs?

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billy rosenthal
on January 27, 2013 - 9:29am

i guess i am johnny come lately just found out in January 2013 that the skycatcher are made in china i was raven mad when i found out i called Cessna and and the rest is history i gave them a ear full and it was not nice wrote to all my Government elects i believe it was a wastes of time but i did it watch this one real close probably a China retro fit and then sold back to Americans

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flyboy
on January 28, 2013 - 8:16am

New Warranty on aircraft makes a ton of sense to a buyer. Where can the work be done. Is it only at the mother station or can work be done locally then billed by the repair shop?
I really like the idea of keeping them flying rather than just building more new and junking the others.

This is leaning toward a green concept.
all the best

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Chad Trautvetter
on January 28, 2013 - 9:08am

I was told that avionics and engine warranty work can be done at any factory-authorized shop. As for other warranty work, they basically said that customers can select any qualified maintenance shop and they’ll take care of the bill.

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