BUSINESS AVIATION EXPECTS A POSITIVE CLIMB
Although NBAA-BACE in Orlando attracted less exhibitors than last year’s show, this did not affect the overall mood. Higher aircraft utilization, less used aircraft on the market and positive economic indicators were a welcomed cocktail for another great NBAA-BACE. By Volker K. Thomalla, Marc Grangier, LeRoy Cook and Nick Klenske
Honeywell Aerospace traditionally sets the mood for NBAA-BACE with the release of its annual Global Business Aviation Outlook on the eve of the show. This year was no exception. While Honeywell expects deliveries of new business aircraft to be flat in 2018 compared to 2017, the company sees an increase in deliveries in the coming years, starting as early as 2019. “A better used-aircraft market environment, coupled with the entry into service of many new business jet platforms, will lead to higher deliveries in 2019,” says Honeywell Aerospace Vice President, Global Marketing Bill Kircos. “We are excited about the used market and about new and innovative aircraft models that will not only drive solid growth in 2019 and 2020, but also have a significant impact on new business jet purchases in the mid- and long-term.”
Honeywell’s researchers forecast up to 7,700 new business jet deliveries from 2019 to 2028, worth $251 billion. This represents an increase of about 1 to 2% from last year’s Outlook. While North America will continue to lead the market with a share of about 61% of projected global demand, Europe’s purchase expectations have increased to nearly 33%. The forecast also notes that the used aircraft market is beginning to dry out. The total number of recent model jets – which are defined as being less than 10 years old – listed for resale is down 30% year-over-year and is now just slightly higher than 5% of the installed base. This is well below the historical average of about 8%. However, the share of recent model jets for sale is still more than 20% of total listings in comparison with pre-recession levels of 15 to 20%.
Introducing the Praetor
Some of the biggest news out of Orlando came from Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer, who introduced two new jet models the day before NBAA-BACE. The new midsize jet Praetor 500, along with its larger super midsize sibling Praetor 600, will be, according to the company, “the most disruptive and technologically advanced aircraft to enter the midsize and super-midsize categories”.
The new jets are based on the Legacy 450 and the Legacy 500, which Embraer will continue to produce. Both are powered by two more powerful Honeywell HTF7500E turbofans and feature new winglets, as well as additional fuel capacity. The $20.995 million Praetor 600 offers its operators a range of 3,900 nautical miles, which is an increase of 775 nm compared to the Legacy 500. The Praetor 500 features a range of 3,250 nm, an increase over the Legacy 450 range of 350 nm. The Praetor 500’s price tag is $16.995 million.
Embraer has integrated new technologies in the cabin to make the aircraft more productive than ever. An Upper Tech Panel that displays flight information and offers cabin management features also available on personal devices through Honeywell Ovation Select is standard equipment, as well as high-speed connectivity through Viasat’s Ka-band with speeds of up to 16Mbps and IPTV. This has never been put in any midsize or super-midsize business jet before.
Two Praetor 600 prototypes and one production-conforming aircraft are already in flight test, as well as one production-conforming Praetor 500. Embraer is targeting certification and entry-into-service of the Praetor 600 for the second quarter of 2019, with the Praetor 500 set to follow in the third quarter of 2019.
Textron Nets New Orders
There were a few new aircraft orders at the show, with Textron Aviation and NetJets signing the largest agreement. The fractional-ownership company is already the largest operator of Cessna Citations, having taken delivery of nearly 500 Citations since 1984. The new agreement sees NetJets purchasing up to 175 Citation Longitude super midsize jets and up to 150 Citation Hemisphere jets. The agreement was signed by Scott Donnelly, Chairman, President and CEO of Textron Inc. and Adam Johnson, NetJets Chairman and CEO. The first Citation Longitude delivery to NetJets is scheduled for the second half of 2019.
“We spent the last months working very quietly,” says Johnson. “We brought in customers to let them experience the Longitude for themselves. They were very impressed by the spaciousness and the quietness of the aircraft. The Longitude will be the quietest aircraft in our worldwide fleet.”
The agreement for the Longitude stretches out for the next 10 to 15 years.
However, neither Textron nor NetJets wanted to comment on a possible delivery schedule for the Citation Hemisphere. NetJets will be the launch customer of the largest business jet ever built by Cessna. “We have been co-designing the aircraft,” adds Johnson. Designers and engineers from NetJets have worked cooperatively with Textron to define the aircraft.
But there’s still a question mark regarding the Hemisphere, with development currently being suspended. This is the result of the fact that engine provider Safran Aircraft Engines of France still needs to prove that it can deliver on its promises for the Silvercrest turbofan, which should power the Hemisphere. “We have worked steadfastly with Safran to understand the development stages of the Silvercrest engine,” says Textron Aviation Senior Vice President, Engineering Brad Thress. “Throughout our review, we have remained confident that Silvercrest is the best engine choice for the Hemisphere and are pleased to see Safran’s enduring commitment to delivering it on time and on target.” NetJets has sent its own engineers to France to review the engine program.
“The Hemisphere program will be out of suspension effective the engine milestone mid next year,” says Textron’s Donnelly. “We’ve been working for the last year with the Safran team in great detail and we’re confident with where they are in the design process. We’re confident that we’re going to have a world-class powerplant.”
Gulfstream Increases Range
Just days before NBAA-BACE, Gulfstream Aerospace delivered the very first G500 to a North American customer. The manufacturer had its whole fleet on display, including the G600, which is scheduled to be certified later this year. At the show, Gulfstream announced that the G600 will have an increased range of 5,500 nautical miles at its high-speed cruise of Mach 0.90. It’s the second range increase in the course of the program, with this range representing a 700-nm increase over the original projections. At Mach 0.85, the G600 can cover distances of 6,500 nm, enabling it to fly city pairs like Hong Kong to Vienna or London to Los Angeles.
In the spring of this year, Gulfstream delivered the 300th G650. The G650 family has now achieved more than 75 city-pair records, demonstrating the outstanding performance of Gulfstream’s largest type. The airplane manufacturer is now demonstrating the steep approach capabilities of the G650 family to achieve certification for London City Airport (LCY). In September, a G650 flew several takeoffs and landings as part of the LCY Operations and Control Department’s evaluation of the aircraft family’s steep-approach capabilities. Aircraft that operate at London City require steep-approach certification and operational validation due to the airport’s short runway and Central London’s stringent noise abatement requirements. The airplane must demonstrate capability to perform the 5.5-degree approach and be able to operate on the short runway — 4,327 feet for landing. To achieve steep approach certification, the engineers did not need to change any hardware on the aircraft, they just had to modify the software. Gulfstream expects steep approach certification for the G650 before the end of this year.
Bombardier on Schedule
Bombardier announced that the flight test program for its Global 5500 and 6500 were progressing on schedule, with 70% of flight testing complete. Aerodynamic validation of the aircraft’s newly optimized wing, which was re-profiled to further refine Bombardier’s signature smooth ride, is now complete. Interior completions of the first customer aircraft are set to begin before the end of this year, and entry into service is planned for the end of 2019.
Concerning its flagship Global 7500 aircraft, which was awarded Transport Canada Type Certification last September, its entry-into-service will take place this year. The Global 7500 boasts a range of 7,700 nautical miles, a full 300 nautical miles further than initial commitments. It also exceeded its original takeoff and landing performance commitments, leading to a new published takeoff distance of 5,800 feet.
During NBAA-BACE, NetJets exercised options for five Challenger 350 aircraft and a Global 6000 to join the fleet of more than 120 Challenger and Global jets in service. Based on 2018 list prices, the new transactions are valued at approximately $195 million US.
Pilatus Continues to Deliver
Since the start of the year, Pilatus has delivered 12 PC-24s to the United States, Switzerland, Luxembourg and South Africa. By the end of this year, the Swiss manufacturer expects that 23 aircraft will be in customer operation. The global fleet of in-service PC-24s has accumulated 1,200 flight hours, with the fleet leader already clocking up over 620 flight hours. This aircraft, the first serialized production PC-24, is owned and operated by the US fractional ownership company PlaneSense.
Ignaz Gretener, VP General Aviation for Pilatus, told BART International that his company continues to conduct post-certification testing on several items to expand the PC-24’s operational capabilities, including steep approach, air ambulance interiors and operation on unpaved runways. To date, more than 150 take-offs and landings have been conducted on dirt, grass and gravel surfaces in Switzerland, Canada, Italy and the United Kingdom. Pilatus expects to receive certification for operation from these surfaces before end of this year.
Most PC-24 customers are also subscribing to CrystalCare, Pilatus’ maintenance support program. For a fixed hourly and monthly fee, customers are covered for all scheduled and unscheduled maintenance events, parts, avionics, engines, inspection, troubleshooting and repair work, shipping, AOG recovery and even consumables.
Dassault’s Falcon 6X Completes Preliminary Design
Dassault Aviation announced that its new 5,500 nm/10,186 km Falcon 6X ultra widebody twinjet has completed preliminary design and entered the detail design phase. “Everything is on track for the Falcon 6X to begin deliveries in 2022,” says Dassault Aviation Chairman and CEO Eric Trappier.
Production of initial long-cycle structural parts has begun and development tests of Pratt & Whitney Canada’s PW812D power plant are progressing well. Aircraft architecture has been frozen and contracts with all major Falcon 6X program partners have been signed.
The Falcon 6X will integrate the most advanced design features on the market, drawn from Dassault Aviation’s world-leading business jet and fighter aircraft expertise. It will offer the longest range in its class and unmatched airport performance while providing more interior space than any other aircraft in its category. The 6X’s cabin will feature the highest (6 ft 6 in) and widest (8 ft 6 in) cross-section of any purpose-built business jet.
Manufacture of the aft fuselage began during the summer and production of the mid fuselage section will soon follow. Design activities for the nacelles (inlet, fan cowls, thrust reverser and engine build-up system), supplied by UTC Aerospace Systems, a new Dassault partner, are also underway.
The PW812D engines are performing bench and flight tests with more engines in preparation as the program evolves. To date, the PW800 engine family, from which it is derived, has an unmatched track record of evaluation and testing with 23,700+ hours of evaluation, including over 1,935 flights and over 12,200 flight test hours.
Dassault also announced that the Falcon 8X has been certified by EASA and the FAA for an enhanced flight vision system capability that gives operational credit for poor visibility approaches down to 100 ft, greatly improving access to airports in bad weather and significantly enhancing fleet efficiency. The new EFVS capability, provided through the 8X’s revolutionary FalconEye combined vision system (CVS), was certified for operational use following the completion of a joint EASA/FAA certification campaign earlier this year. EFVS to 100 ft is expected to be approved for the Falcon 2000LX and Falcon 900LX by the end of the year.
New Performance Package for HondaJet
The Honda Aircraft Company used NBAA-BACE to announce the addition of a performance package for the HondaJet HA-420. The company’s new Advanced Performance Modification Group (APMG) engineered the upgrade, enabling existing HondaJet owners to enhance their current aircraft with several new performance and software features. The APMG Performance Package offers current HondaJet owners the opportunity to implement Honda Aircraft Company’s latest performance upgrades on their aircraft, including: a shorter takeoff field length, an increased maximum takeoff weight and more mission capabilities. The package also features such Garmin G3000 avionics software updates as advanced integrated Take Off & Landing (TOLD) calculations, increased connectivity with Flight Stream 510 compatibility and an enhanced electronic checklist.
“As Honda Aircraft Company continues to pioneer new technologies in aviation, the APMG was created to ensure that all HondaJet owners, current and future, would have the opportunity to experience newly-created state-of-the-art technologies, regardless of when they purchased their aircraft,” says Honda Aircraft Company CEO and President Michimasa Fujino “The purpose of the APMG is to implement new features on original aircraft for the benefit of customers around the world.”
According to Fujino, the typical HondaJet owner is an individual who has built his or her own company and needs the capability of a light jet for business and private use. It is also popular with air taxi operators, especially in Europe, where leg lengths are fairly short. Fleet orders for as many as 16 HondaJets have been received, he pointed out.
Blackhawk Modifications, Inc. announced the sale of the Phoenix-edition King Air C90, which is the 800th XP engine upgrade the company has sold since it was founded in 1999. The anniversary twin turboprop is equipped with Blackhawk’s XP135A engine upgrade, offering the King Air a higher speed and a better hot and high performance. The upgrade delivers a 36% increase in available horsepower and a 59% increase in climb rate.
Gregg and Jan Goodall of Breckenridge, Texas, the new owners of the 800th modified aircraft, said: “Because our favorite destinations are out west, hot and high operations became a concern. Stock PT6A-21 engines on the older models just didn’t work very well in hot and high situations, even when carrying a modest payload. When I started researching options and talking to other King Air owners, I found that the Blackhawk XP135A Engine modification was the industry standard to improve overall performance – especially hot, high and single-engine performance in the C90. The decision was a no brainer.”
“Reaching 800 XP Engine+ Upgrades is a monumental accomplishment for Blackhawk,” says Blackhawk President and CEO Jim Allmon. “Our engine upgrades have pioneered positive change on many production turboprop models while re-energizing legacy aircraft to like-new performance, safety and value standards. There is a lot of life remaining in these venerable turboprops.”
Meanwhile, engine-manufacturer Rolls-Royce presented an enhanced version of its CorporateCare maintenance program. For the first time ever, CorporateCare Enhanced will be standard for all new customers and is an option for existing customers. It also covers the nacelle, including cowling, thrust reverser and engine build-up. The company celebrates its 60th anniversary in Business Aviation this year, having powered the Gulfstream I with two Dart turboprops.
GE Aviation and Aerion held a joint press conference to announce the completion of the initial design of the first supersonic engine purpose-built for business jets. This new engine class, the GE Affinity turbofan, is optimized with proven GE technology for supersonic flight and timed to meet the Aerion AS2 launch.
The Affinity is a new class of medium bypass ratio engines that provide exceptional and balanced performance across supersonic and subsonic flights. The engine integrates a unique blend of proven military supersonic experience, commercial reliability and the most advanced business jet engine technologies. GE’s Affinity is a twin-shaft, twin-fan turbofan controlled by a next generation Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) for enhanced dispatch reliability and onboard diagnostics. It is purposefully designed to enable efficient supersonic flight over water and efficient subsonic flight over land, without requiring modifications to existing compliance regulations. The engine is designed to meet stringent Stage 5 subsonic noise requirements and beat current emissions standards.
“In the last 50 years, business aircraft speeds have increased by less than 10%,” says GE Vice President and General Manager for Business and General Aviation & Integrated Services Brad Mottier. “Instead of going faster, cabins have increased in size and become more comfortable – and range has become longer. With large, comfortable cabin, long range aircraft in the marketplace, the next step is speed . . . made possible with GE’s Affinity.”
“Our mission is to enhance global mobility with supersonic speed, starting with Business Aviation, and following with successively faster and larger designs for business and commercial aviation,” adds Aerion CEO Tom Vice. “GE Aviation is making this new efficient, sustainable supersonic era possible through its pioneering work on the Affinity engine.”
A New Look for Universal Avionics
Universal Avionics, which was taken over last April by Elbit Systems, exhibited with its mother company at Orlando. There they unveiled a new ‘Head-Up, Head-Down’ flight deck system with the integration of UA’s InSight Display System and Elbit System’s SkyLens wearable Head-Up Display (HUD). “The integration of these two systems enables us to bring the Augmented Reality (AR) trend into the aviation world, so operators can receive full flight management information generated by the FMS, superimposed on the real world,” says UA CEO Paul DeHerrera. “Many flight decks cannot accommodate a ‘traditional HUD’ system due to space restrictions and cost, and therefore InSight/SkyLens provides a retrofit path to thousands of operators.”
“The wearable HUD technology of SkyLens integrated with the latest generation flight display system of InSight brings two of the most advanced technologies together, operating in harmony across the various phases of flight,” he adds.
That’s a Wrap!
It was a busy week in the Sunshine State – one highlighted by new jets, new orders and lots of good news for Business Aviation. Be sure to read all the news coming out of NBAA-BACE on our website – www.bartIntl.com.