How concerned are you, in light of the turmoil on Wall Street, that what started with a housing bubble could snowball and become a business jet bubble?Obviously we’re concerned, and we’re carefully monitoring the situation. Historically, when the aircraft industry has gone into a downturn there has always been something in the world that caused it. Before this it was 9/11 and the tech bubble.
Between mid-June and mid-September, Hawker Beechcraft delivered three super-midsize Model 4000 twinjets, and more are on the way. Last month the company had more than 30 airplanes in the production pipeline, and throughout the last three years fleet orders for the $20.8 million composite-fuselage/metal wing airplane have accelerated as full certification neared.
To see where business jet maintenance is headed, just look at mechanics’ toolboxes. Those who turn wrenches on the most modern airplanes still need the standard-issue screwdrivers, wrenches, sockets and ratchets, but they also need a powerful computer to analyze what ails their charges.
Calling it one of the most complex design efforts ever undertaken in the field of avionics, Honeywell engineering executives were popping champagne corks last month in celebration of the freshly issued FAA papers certifying the Primus Epic integrated avionics system.
In those first 100 years, the human race soared from Kill Devil Hills, N.C., to the moon and back, and the corporate aircraft eventually became the boardroom and the office. But as NBAA gathers in central Florida for the second year in a row–and just two years removed from 9/11– security and access to airports and airspace have taken on new urgency and meaning.
With the exception of Raytheon Aircraft and Embraer, jet manufacturers suffered significant delivery losses in this period. Shipments of new business jets in the first half of this year tumbled nearly 37 percent compared with the first half of last year, according to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.
Raytheon Aircraft’s financials for the second quarter showed a healthy increase with net sales of $627 million, up from $562 million for that period last year. Also on the positive side of the ledger, the Wichita-based company delivered 49 aircraft, 14 more than were delivered in the second quarter a year ago.
Ongoing software integration problems are forcing at least two airframe manufacturers into the unenviable position of having to stretch aircraft certification schedules to give Honeywell engineers time to troubleshoot a variety of technical issues that are manifesting themselves in the Primus Epic avionics system.
Raytheon Aircraft Corp. (RAC), which lost millions of dollars last year, has placed on hold further development of the Hawker 450, a twin- engine light midsize business jet that had been tentatively scheduled to enter service in 2006. Development of the jet was announced at the NBAA Convention in 2000.
One week after gaining full FAA type approval and production certification for the Hawker 4000, Hawker Beechcraft delivered the first copy of the super-midsize jet to customers Gary and Donna Hall during a ceremony on June 18 at the company’s headquarters in Wichita. Gary Hall currently operates a Hawker 800XP. The 4000 is the fourth Hawker Beechcraft airplane that he has owned and the first of two Hawker 4000s he ordered.