Manufacturers delivered 518 new business jets last year, some 23 percent fewer than the 676 shipped in 2002, according to the annual year-end report released last month by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. Last year’s figure is the lowest level since 1998, when 520 business jets were delivered.
Beginning next January, Raytheon is scheduled to start delivering the winglet-equipped Hawker 850XP, successor to the Hawker 800XPi. Besides what Raytheon Aircraft calls "ramp appeal" the three-foot high winglets will, according to the company, improve airspeed and climb, as well as increase range by 4 percent, or 100 nm.
Taking a quasi-Southwest Airlines approach, Cleveland-based fractional provider Flight Options last month announced a “go-forward” plan to rationalize its fleet over the next three to five years with the goal of simplifying operations, increasing fleet reliability and reducing overall costs. The move is a big gamble, however, since roughly half of the company’s shareowners are up for renewal in the next 18 months.
Mention Wichita, and most people in the business aviation industry immediately think of Cessna, Raytheon/ Beech, Learjet or Boeing. Aviation history buffs and old-timers are likely to add Laird Airplane, Culver Aircraft, Travel Air or Stearman
to the list. But it’s a good bet that very few, if any, would even mention the National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR).
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.
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.
While the Raytheon Hawker Horizon was one of the first to blaze the super-midsize business jet trail when it was launched at the 1996 NBAA Convention in Orlando, Fla., it became the last of the new breed to be certified. The airplane gained provisional FAA approval just two days before Christmas, almost four years after the originally expected spring 2001 approval.
The Brazilian Departamento de Aviacao Civil has approved Raytheon Aircraft Services Tampa as a Brazilian Repair Station. The facility is in the process of completing its first Brazilian Beechjet repair and inspection. Brazil has a large number of Raytheon Aircraft products that require heavy maintenance support.
One month after the Hawker 4000 won FAA certification on November 21, Raytheon announced that it agreed to sell Raytheon Aircraft to Onex Partners and GS Capital Partners for $3.3 billion (see story on page 1). The buyers plan to change the name of their new company to Hawker Beechcraft Corp., and the sale should be completed within six months of the announcement.
NetJets has doubled its order for new Hawkers. The fractional operator, which announced at last year’s NBAA Convention an order for 30 Hawker 750s and 18 Hawker 900XPs, disclosed last month that it ordered another 30 Hawker 750s and 18 Hawker 900XPs. Both aircraft are derivatives of the Hawker 850XP and will replace that model on the production line.