This year and last were not kind to the startup airplane manufacturers, those OEM wannabes that are–or in some cases were–attempting to grab the brass ring of success by riding on the wings of their first turbine-powered airplanes. It takes hundreds of millions of dollars to run the new-aircraft triathlon of development, certification and production.
Fractional operator Avantair, launched at the NBAA Convention in September as Skyline Aviation Services, has two sold-out Piaggio Avantis in service. The company, based at Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, N.Y., expects to put two more Avantis into service this month, with a fifth to arrive next month.
Less than a month after Carl Chen, former chairman, president and CEO of AASI, suddenly replaced Jack Braly as president and CEO of Sino Swearingen, the company hired Gene Comfort as v-p of sales and marketing. Comfort worked for Chen as executive v-p and general manager at AASI. Sino Swearingen’s SJ30-2 business jet development program has suffered many delays since its inception more than a decade ago.
PC-12 flight planning seems to work out best at 260 kt, which means a 1,200-nm trip with IFR reserves will keep you in the cabin for 4.5 hr. But passengers who have flown the airlines will find that spending a long trip time in the Pilatus is a treat because of all the extra space and the working toilet. Since the potty is up front, the crew can use the facility without disturbing passengers.
The final day of the NBAA convention in Orlando, Fla., last month opened to gray clouds and gathering rain. But for the Piaggio Aero team, there was nothing but sunshine and broad smiles.
For the Italian aviation company, the three-day show was highlighted by a record-setting flight, orders for 11 new airplanes, entry into the fractional-ownership market and a 600-hr engine TBO extension.
Dr. Carl Chen, former chairman, president and CEO of AASI, suddenly replaced Jack Braly less than a week after the NBAA Convention last month as president and CEO of Sino Swearingen, developer of the long-delayed SJ30-2 business jet.
The defense facet of Farnborough 2002 was focused on new technology to be deployed in the war on terror. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)–once an obscure sideshow–moved to center stage. Though confined to the static display line, Northrop Grumman’s Global Hawk surveillance platform–as proven in the recent Afghanistan conflict drew a lot of attention.
Within the span of a month, Saab is rolling out two new developments with export potential. On March 27, the first Saab 2000 twin-turboprop airliner to be modified with the Erieye Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) system made its public debut. Later this month, Saab’s upgraded Gripen fighter will emerge.
Advanced Aerodynamics and Structures Inc. (AASI) of Long Beach, Calif., last month took the first step in changing itself from a struggling startup airplane manufacturer toward becoming, in the words of Roy Norris, AASI’s new chairman, CEO and president, “the biggest lower-end general aviation company in the world.”
Piaggio Aero, the Italian maker of the sleek P.180 Avanti, is engaged in “some very positive” discussions that would create a fractional-ownership fleet of P.180s.
Steve Hanvey, president and CEO of Piaggio America and a board member of parent company Piaggio Aero, told AIN the Genoa-based aircraft manufacturer has been approached by a number of fractional operators, “including some in Europe.”