Before digging into the details of each of the light jet markets, it’s worth noting some global factors affecting the market. In 2012, the big story in the light jet market was Europe and the devaluing euro. As the light jet market typically trades in U.S. dollars, with the euro dropping nearly 20 percent in value compared to last year, European sellers saw an opportunity to take advantage of the strong dollar and liquidate at relatively lower dollar values for their assets, yielding a higher amount of euros.
Very light jets
Three grassroots general aviation business owners told Congress last month that user fees in any form would be “devastating” to the general aviation community. At a hearing called by the House Small Business Committee, the trio blasted President Obama’s call for a $100 per-flight fee for turbine-powered fixed-wing aircraft.
“The costs associated with user fees far outweigh any benefit to deficit reduction,” said National Air Transportation Association (NATA) treasurer Marian Epps, whose family operates Epps Aviation in Atlanta.
GE Honda Aero Engines completed water-ingestion testing last week on the HF120 engine that powers Honda Aircraft’s HondaJet. The tests were done in one of GE’s Peebles, Ohio test cells.
“2012 has been an extremely productive year,” said GE Honda Aero president Terry Sharp. The HF120 passed the ice slab test in August 2011 after failing it in February 2011, due to fan blade tip deformation causing a reduction in required thrust, according to executive v-p Masahiko Izumi. “We decided to make a small design change” to the fan blade tips, he said.
Eclipse Aerospace announced last week that an anti-skid braking system will become an available option on new production Eclipse 550 jets as a retrofit item to all existing aircraft. The new anti-skid system adds 17 pounds to the aircraft’s empty weight; the company says it will offer a weight-reduction package to help offset the new feature.
Eclipse Aerospace has added an anti-skid braking system as an option for its new-production Eclipse 550s, and it plans to offer it as a retrofit for in-service Eclipse 500s early next year. Eclipse says that in-aircraft testing of the anti-skid braking system is complete and that it expects to begin delivering certified systems by late March. Performance demonstrated during testing has prompted Eclipse to seek to adjust the aircraft flight manual performance numbers for Eclipse 500s and 550s with the improved braking system.
Executive AirShare introduced two new programs today – Launch and Launch Premium–for business jet users “seeking cost-effective alternatives to full ownership.” Both programs are based on a lease structure, according to the company.
UK-based ConnectJets has launched Jet Card Europe as an occupied-hours, all-inclusive block charter program that incorporates a loyalty plan through which members can earn free flight hours and other benefits. Clients can join by signing up for 25 hours or more per year and earn one free flight hour for every 50 hours flown.
The AeroNimbus NMX is another entry in the very light jet market, from a Malaysian company that hopes to begin delivering a new jet in the first quarter of 2016. What makes the NMX different from established VLJs such as the Cessna Mustang or Embraer Phenom 100 is its multirole cabin, which can be switched from six-occupant seating in the business version to seven occupants for air-taxi or five plus patient in medevac configuration.
Sales professionals from more than 30 countries who attended the first International Eclipse Dealer and Sales Conference on May 31 may have noticed a not-so-subtle change to the buildings that house Eclipse Aerospace at the Albuquerque, N.M. International Sunport. Before the meeting, Eclipse CEO Mason Holland arranged for bucket loads of blue paint to be delivered to the company’s facilities, and painters quickly erased the bright orange that had been the hallmark of the old Eclipse Aviation and dabbed on the blue that is the color of Eclipse Aerospace.
Embraer’s Phenom 300 received Transport Canada type certification earlier this week. The Phenom 300, which received its initial certification by U.S. and Brazilian aviation authorities in late 2009, is now approved in more than 40 countries.