While no manufacturers actually launched new aircraft at the NBAA Convention last month, several did commit to major improvements for their existing products. Notably, Cessna, Piaggio and Bombardier announced extensive upgrades–involving newer or more powerful engines, avionics and/or interior makeovers–for their CJ1 and CJ2, Avanti and Learjet 40 business airplanes, respectively.
News and issues concerning aerospace companies, including formations, acquisitions, mergers and financials; and announcements of significant aircraft sales, delivery statistics and personnel appointments.
Quest Aircraft’s new Kodiak high-wing, 10-passenger turboprop single made a brief first flight October 16, exactly two years after the startup dedicated its 27,000-sq-ft research and development facility in Sandpoint, Idaho. The flight of the 750-shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-powered STOL, fixed-gear airplane lasted just six minutes as the pilot made one circuit of the airport.
Elling Halvorson, chairman of Papillon Airways, and a team of investors composed of helicopter industry executives have acquired Soloy Corp., an engine mod company. Soloy will operate as a stand-alone company and will remain located in Olympia, Wash., according to Halvorson. Soloy was founded in 1970 by Joe Soloy, who died in February at age 78.
The FAA last month awarded type certification to Cessna for its Citation CJ3 light jet and to Bombardier for its long-range Global 5000. The CJ3 features a cabin that is two feet longer than that of the CJ2, new Williams International FJ44-3A engines and advanced fully integrated Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics.
Some markets that have refused to pick up thus far, despite attractive pricing, might finally spark buyer interest this year. The Gulfstream II and GIII as well as the Challenger 600 may have felt all the pain they are going to. Some buyers have described the GII as a throwaway aircraft, meaning simply that if they buy one, they will do so with the intent of parking it once the engines have no more useful life.
Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta told a group of space-travel enthusiasts last month that the DOT/ FAA will be ready to issue permits for commercial space travel next year, and trips paid for by passengers could begin in 2008.
ATR senior vice president commercial John Moore has seen his share of ups and downs in this business, but never since he joined the company a decade ago had he experienced a year like last year, when ATR logged firm orders for 90 airplanes and reported a 15-percent increase in revenues, to $542 million. Last year’s haul equaled 1998 sales, and order figures ranked second only to ATR’s all-time record of 107 aircraft in 1989.
It took a while for the message to register, but Bombardier finally heeded the airline market’s counsel in late January and shelved its languishing C Series program. Although it will retain a staff of about 50 for studies on a small mainline jet, the company has begun shifting most of the financial and human resources once dedicated to the C Series to other programs, most notably studies on a new 90- to 100-seat regional jet.
Last month’s Regco order for 10 Q400s accompanied a flurry of minor transactions for Bombardier since AIN’s February issue went to press, starting with a contract for a pair of 74-seat Q400s from South African Airways.
With a commendable bow toward candor, Honeywell released its civil helicopter market outlook at Heli-Expo by qualifying the results of its survey: “The 2003 market outlook presents a snapshot of the market at a point in time and does not reflect unforeseen events such as an unexpected economic contraction, sharp increases in fuel costs, a fuel crisis, imposition of heavy user fees or other unfavorable regulations/taxes that could affect result