When Airbus tentatively entered the corporate jet market a decade ago with the ACJ, its expectations for the airplane were modest. Success would be measured in single-digit sales primarily to wealthy individuals in the Middle East who dreamed of creating miniature flying palaces.
Paris Air Show
The Bell/Agusta BA609 civil tiltrotor program is moving forward, according to a Bell spokesman, with two more flight-test ships scheduled to join the two already flying over the next 18 months. However, there are some indications that the program, now into its 10th year, is beginning to falter.
In May, the second prototype of the Bell/Agusta BA609 tiltrotor flew for the first time in public. The aircraft participated in the flying display at the Giornata Azzurra 2007 airshow in Pratica di Mare, near Rome, on May 27. The first prototype had in the past been displayed in a flight to the media in Fort Worth, Texas. The BA609 also performed at the Paris Air Show last month.
“Why don’t my Bell colleagues take this question?” AgustaWestland CEO Giuseppe Orsi suggested when asked why Bell would not accept his company’s additional money into the protracted BA609 Tiltrotor program, during a press conference on Wednesday here at the Paris Air Show.
The Paris Air Show, being held this week at Le Bourget Airport, is turning out to be a major event for both business jet and jetliner manufacturers. Cessna said this morning that it landed a major order from NetJets and NetJets Europe valued at more than $1 billion. The deal is for 96 Citations (50 Encore+s, 37 XLS+s and nine Citation Xs). Bombardier is in on the action with a firm order for six Learjets from UK-based Skytime.
EADS expects to sign a firm contract with Aeroflot for 22 of the new Airbus A350XWB airliners here at the Paris Air Show this week, or perhaps at Moscow’s MAKS’2007 event in August. This follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding on the deal in March this year.
This year poses a stiff test for the debate about whether business aircraft manufacturers need to be at both the annual European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) and the biennial Paris Air Show. The gates will open at the French capital’s Le Bourget Airport on June 18, just 16 working days after EBACE closed in Geneva on May 24.
Two of Signature Flight Support’s top managers in Europe will be making it to this year’s Paris Air Show on just two wheels to raise money for children’s charity Starlight Foundation. David Best (left), the FBO group’s managing director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, will be cycling from London to Paris Le Bourget Airport, along with Steve Gulvin, Signature’s regional director for Europe and the Middle East.
The times, they are a changing. Years ago, during the heyday of new product introductions within a few years of each other and a plethora of international aerospace manufacturers, airshow exhibitors tripped over each other trying to outdo the competition.
The French military has run Le Bourget’s air and space museum since it opened in 1919. In recent decades, a French air force general at the end of his career has traditionally held the top post.