An undisclosed Saudi Arabian company has ordered a VIP-configured Airbus A340-200. The aircraft, renowned as the world’s longest commercial airliner, is to be delivered green by the end of 2006 and sent for outfitting to an s-yet-unannounced completions center. Jeddah-based National Air Services will operate the A340 on behalf of he client. NAS already flies a fleet of VIP A320 jetliners, including one for the same customer.
The number of business jets registered in Middle Eastern countries has grown by about one-fifth over the past 10 years. By the standards of other still emerging markets like Europe (45 percent growth over the same period), the Middle East’s 18-percent fleet growth doesn’t inspire awe. It does, however, dwarf the 8-percent hike seen in Asia–a market over which most business aircraft makers salivate.
With local airline Emirates set to receive more than 40 Airbus A380s, not to mention those examples destined for neighboring competitors Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways, this area will figure prominently in the operations of future very large airliners (VLAs), according to industry predictions.
Airbus is competing with Russia’s Ilyushin-Finance Co. (IFC) and Tupolev for a Syrian government tender to supply seven airliners to Syrian Air. When Syria issued the tender in February this year, the stated requirement called for four 185- to 225-seat narrowbodies as replacements for six Boeing 727s and three Tupolev Tu-154s, and three 280- to 320-seat widebodies to replace a pair of Boeing 747SPs.
Although very light jets (VLJ) will be operating at the same altitudes (including RVSM airspace) as and mingling with airliners and larger business jets, there is no requirement that the small jets be equipped with TCAS or TAWS because they do not meet the minimum seat configuration as spelled out in Parts 91 and 135.
On one thing Boeing and Airbus agree: the Asia/Pacific region will generate enough demand for their products to keep them busy building lots of airplanes over the next two decades. Both companies say they expect to see the vast area spanning from northeast Asia to New Zealand and across to India account for nearly as many aircraft deliveries as North America or Europe, and both expect China to lead the way.
High-end, Geneva-based cabin refurbishing specialist Burnet Interiors is boosting its skilled workforce from 18 to 25 to meet rising customer demand. Simultaneously, its 7,500-sq-ft facility on the northwest side of Geneva International Airport is growing by 15 percent, although the company would like to expand that as well.
Pieced together from many companies in an evolution that commenced in 1999, the Swiss Ruag group is progressing at its cruising speed. The goal of the company’s founders was to move the defense supplier away from the exclusive dependence on the Swiss armed forces and to create an independent enterprise with a diversified customer base. Business aviation is a key part of this strategy.
Airbus has found a ready market for its latest corporate jet, and exclusive cabin outfitter Lufthansa Technik (Booth No. 744) is happily reaping the benefit of what appears to be a particularly promising new market niche for fast-turnaround completions using standardized components and cabin layouts.
Airbus has made Lufthansa Technik’s Mobile Access Router (MAR) a standard option on the A380. The equipment is described as a fully integrated flying office solution that supports telephone, fax, video conferencing, Web browsing, e-mail, wireless local area network and moving-map functions.