With the exception of Bombardier Flexjet, 13 major and minor players in the fractional industry continued their growth cycle last year, according to Wichita-based AvData. Total net shares last year surged past 6,200, up 6.7 percent from 2002. During the same period, the fractional turbine fleet grew 6.1 percent–to more than 800 aircraft.
CESSNA 560 CITATION, SAVANNAH, GA., NOV. 25, 2003–A Cessna Citation 560 (N632QS) registered to Convergys Corp c/o NetJets Sales, Oklahoma City, Okla. received minor damage when it landed with the nosewheel retracted on Runway 9 at Savannah (SAV), Ga. There were no injuries in the November 25 incident, which occurred at approximately 10 p.m. in VMC. The aircraft had departed Hilton Head (HXD), S.C.
The general aviation industry continued a strong recovery through third-quarter deliveries and billings, according to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. New aircraft billings were up 19.7 percent, to $8.1 billion, in the first nine months of this year, while total deliveries of new GA airplanes increased 7.7 percent, to 1,928.
In his annual letter to shareholders published early last month, investment mogul Warren Buffett said earnings improved last year at Berkshire Hathaway’s flight services division, which includes FlightSafety International (FSI) and NetJets. Last year the unit saw its pre-tax profits rise to $191 million on revenues of $3.24 billion, up substantially from the previous year’s $72 million profit on revenues of $2.43 billion.
On December 23 NetJets pilots overwhelmingly elected the five-member master executive council (MEC) slate known as Strong Union. Eighty-nine percent of the more than 1,900-strong unionized fractional pilot workforce supported the candidates and delivered a vote of no confidence to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 284.
Lufthansa passengers can now book NetJets Europe aircraft to fly them to and from the German flag carrier’s main long-haul hub at Munich. The new Lufthansa Private Jets service, which was set to begin at the start of the summer airline schedule on March 29, will offer passengers fast and direct connections between the Lufthansa airliners and their chartered business jet.
The stereotypical business aircraft in the Middle East is a widebody airliner converted to money-no-object specifications for an omnipotent sheikh. While there are still plenty of lavish VIP and head-of-state transports fitting this description, business aviation in this region appears to be evolving to become more business-like, pragmatic and functional.
Raytheon Aircraft last month reached a “tentative agreement” for NetJets to purchase up to 50 Hawker Horizons for its fractional aircraft fleet. The deal is expected to be finalized before the end of this month. In mid-2003, NetJets canceled a 1999 order for 50 Horizons due to “developmental and certification delays.” Full certification of the Hawker Horizon is still not expected until around midyear.
A hydraulic leak that, along with inclement weather, forced a NetJets Citation on a ferry flight from Appleton, Wis., to Rochester, Minn., to divert to Minneapolis on January 12 was caused by a break in a hydraulic line, not by a bullet strike. During the post-flight inspection in Minneapolis a broken hydraulic line was found inside the left engine compartment, as well as a bullet hole on top of the right wing with the bullet still embedded.
While the fractional providers said publicly that switching to the more stringent rules of Part 91 Subpart K on February 17 was a nonevent, a look behind the scenes at NetJets reveals a somewhat more chaotic transition. It appears that the duty-time and crew-rest limitations of the new rule threw a proverbial monkey wrench into operations.