mebaa 2018: mebaa goes global

January 8, 2019

Marc Grangier provides overview of the must attend event for the Business Aviation industry

Business Aviation in the Middle East continues to grow. With oil prices starting to rise, business aircraft manufacturers are once again optimistic. According to Honeywell’s latest sales forecast, the share of projected five-year global demand attributed to the Middle East and Africa, currently at 4%, could soon grow to its historical range of between 4 and 7%. In line with the global average, about 19% of operators responding to the Honeywell survey plan to schedule their new purchase within the first two years of the five-year horizon. Likewise, Embraer’s Market Outlook 2018 predicts that the Middle East and Asia-Pacific will be the fastest growing markets by 2037.

At the heart of this growth is Dubai, an important hub for both east-west and north-south routes. Last year, there were over 30,000 private jet flights out of the emirate. With the opening of Al Maktoum Airport and expansion plans for the Dubai World Central Aerotropolis, this number will only continue to grow. As it does, companies working both in and alongside the Business Aviation industry are exploring and exploiting the many commercial opportunities this region offers.

“Since we first created the Middle East and North Africa Business Aviation Association (MEBAA), the MEBAA Show has played a significant role in the region’s growth as it provides a valuable platform to address the issues affecting the Business Aviation community across the Middle East,” says Ali Alnaqbi, Founder and Executive Chairman, MEBAA.

This year’s show is shaping up to continue this trend. Up to 500 exhibitors, including OEMS, FBOs and service providers, are expected to come to Dubai this year, with companies coming from as far afield as Europe, the US and Asia, in addition to a number of local and regional companies. Around 70% of the exhibitors will have travelled from outside the region, with nearly one third coming from the US, including industry behemoths Gulfstream and Boeing Business Jets. The Middle East of course still represents the largest number of exhibitors, with companies such as Saudi Private Aviation and Lebanon’s Cedar Jet Centre, along with Success Aviation and ENOC Aviation from the UAE.

An OEM Expo

As the emirate approaches Expo 2020, it is expecting a significant increase in private flights, which will increase FBO, MRO and other ancillary services at Al Maktoum International Airport. This is a reason why many key Business Aviation names will attend this year’s show. For example, Dassault will feature a virtual representation of its newest aircraft, the Falcon 6X, which will make its first flight in early 2021 and begin deliveries in 2022.

Claimed to be the most spacious, advanced and versatile ultra-wide-body twinjet in Business Aviation, the Falcon 6X will feature a cabin six feet, six inches (1.98 m) high and eight feet, six inches (2.58 m) wide. Nearly 40 feet, eight inches (12.3 m) long, it will offer more cabin volume than any other Falcon ever designed. Virtual reality demonstrations will enable viewers to experience the 6X’s entirely new passenger-centric cabin, three lounge configurations and multiple large entry and crew rest options. Visitors will also get a glimpse of the aircraft’s all-new cockpit, centered around a third generation of the EASy III all digital flight deck.

The company will also be bringing its 4,000 nm/7,700 km Falcon 2000LXS short field twinjet to the static display.

Gulfstream will display its new G500, which received FAA certification last July. The aircraft will join the G280 and the G650ER. The latter shares more than 70 speed records with its sister ship, the G650. The super-mid-size G280 offers the technology of a large-cabin aircraft and the ability to operate in and out of challenging airports.

The Savannah manufacturer will also use the show as an opportunity to provide details on its G600, the second aircraft in the company’s family of all-new ultra-long-range, large-cabin jets, which has begun FAA certification field performance testing. “We continue to make steady progress toward certifying the all-new G600 later this year and beginning customer deliveries in 2019,” says Gulfstream President Mark Burns. The G600 can fly 6,500 nautical miles/12,038 kilometers at Mach 0.85 and 5,100 nm/9,445 km at Mach 0.90. Its maximum operating speed is Mach 0.925.

For Bombardier, the Middle East remains a promising market, with 350 new aircraft deliveries worth $12bn predicted over the next 10 years. The business aircraft fleet in the region is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6%, to 730 planes by 2025, with 95% of new deliveries expected in the medium and large jet category. “These numbers show why we have great expectations concerning the new Global 7500, the largest and longest-range business jet ever built,” says Michel Ouellette, Senior Vice President of the Global 7500 and Global 8000 Program, Bombardier Business Aircraft.

The Global 7500 has exceeded its original takeoff and landing performance commitments, leading to a new published takeoff distance of 5,800 feet. “This improved takeoff performance distance is almost 500 feet shorter than the closest – and smaller – competitor aircraft and enables the Global 7500 to operate out of airports with shorter runways,” adds Ouellette.

Cessna will be in Dubai to promote its new Citation Longitude. With a range of 3,500 nautical miles (6,482 kilometers) and full fuel payload of 1,600 pounds (726 kilograms), this super-midsize aircraft has a seating capacity up to 12 passengers, including an optional crew jump seat. It features a stand-up, 6-foot tall flat-floor cabin, in a standard double-club configuration, with fully berthable seats and a walk-in baggage compartment accessible throughout the entire flight. The aircraft, which is designed to feature the longest maintenance intervals in its class – 800 hours or 18 months – also features the next evolution of the Garmin G5000 flight deck. The Citation Longitude is powered by FADEC-equipped Honeywell HTF7700L turbofan engines with fully integrated auto-throttles with envelope protection.

As the MEBAA Show tends to attract a clientele looking for top-of-the-range business aircraft, Embraer will certainly be on hand to display its Legacy 650E, which carries up to 14 passengers in three distinct cabin zones and boast up to two lavatories. The aircraft has a range of 3,900 nautical miles (7,223 kilometers) with four passengers, with NBAA IFR fuel reserves. It is the first aircraft to offer a 10-year or 10,000-flight hour warranty for systems and components (OEM and supplier), matching the warranty period to that of the airframe.

Both Ends of the Spectrum…

Concerning larger jets, the Middle East is already a key market for Airbus Corporate Jets (ACJ) and Boeing Business Jets (BBJ), and the future looks even brighter as a number of owners of “traditional” business jets look to step up into the VVIP aircraft market and its promise of the widest and tallest cabins and extra carrying space. No doubt that Boeing will push its new BBJ MAX, for which the manufacturer already has a backlog of 20 aircraft.

That being said, there’s still plenty of room for smaller jets in the Middle East, and light business jets manufacturers want their share of the market. “It’s a very important market because there are potential opportunities in the region,” says Hondajet President and CEO Michimasa Fujino. “Last year we had many positive responses here in Dubai and interest in our technology.”

With PC-24 deliveries in full swing, Pilatus will be on hand in Dubai via AMAC Aerospace Turkey, its Mid-East sales representative. Falcon Aviation will also use the occasion to promote the new Pilatus twinjet, as it will be the first Middle East operator to take this aircraft, with deliveries slated for the second quarter of 2019.

…and Everything In-Between

The MEBAA Show is more than just a showcase for OEMs, the entire Business Aviation industry supply chain will also be well represented, including such maintenance providers as Jet Aviation, fuel providers like AvFuel, airports like Biggin Hill, such catering providers as Executive Gourmet and FBOs like Execujet.

Helicopter manufacturers are also set to descend on Dubai. Airbus is further increasing its Middle Eastern footprint with a customer-oriented strategy based on teaming with local partners for helicopter fleet modernization, overhaul and maintenance. This includes working with the Falcon Aviation Services maintenance center in the UAE and cooperating with AMMROC for helicopter overhauls. The company is developing a regional industrial base relying on Eurocopter Kingdom Saudi Arabia, its largest subsidiary located in Saudi Arabia with more than 120 engineers and technicians.

Bell will also attend the MEBAA Show. The company, which has a regional branch office in Abu Dhabi, sees “incredible potential in the Middle East”. According to John Garrison, president and CEO of Bell Helicopter, the Bell 412EP in particular is a popular choice for customers in the Middle East. Its dual digital automatic flight control system with available IFR option and Category A/JAR OPS 3 capability provides greater control and improved situational awareness, in some of the most extreme climates. For VIP transportation, the Bell 429WLG, with retractable nose and main landing gear and advanced integrated avionics, could also be of great interest.