Tough business conditions in Europe have gone on much longer than anyone here at this year’s EBACE show would have liked, but the continent’s business aviation community is putting those concerns to one side this week as it seeks to convince policy-makers of the value the sector delivers. The value of the show itself is in no doubt, with the amount of exhibit space occupied at Geneva’s PalExpo center matching last year’s record numbers and the static display having to be increased in size to accommodate 52 aircraft.
News and issues relating to business, corporate and private aviation, primarily regarding turbine-engine powered airplanes and helicopters. Subjects include aircraft, engines, personnel, acquisitions, accidents, safety, security and training.
Boeing Business Jets (BBJ, Booth 7010) is displaying its first production BBJ3 this week at EBACE 2013 and says the aircraft is for a Middle Eastern customer. Seven BBJ3s have been ordered so far, with three in completion, four in service and another scheduled to enter into service in June, according to Boeing.
Dassault is still waiting for a recovery of the U.S. business aircraft market–a market that has “no reason not to be back,” company officials said at EBACE on Monday. As are most industry executives, the Dassault officials appeared perplexed by worldwide sales trends.
“In 2013, we had a good early start in January and February but then things went disappointing,” said John Rosanvallon, president and CEO of Dassault Falcon Jet (Booth 7090). Net sales in the first quarter reached 14, a better performance than the 10 sales during last year’s first quarter.
Gulfstream Aerospace announced yesterday at EBACE that it is bolstering its sales, marketing and aircraft support presence in Europe as the Gulfstream fleet continues to expand, apparently unabated by any lingering economic uncertainty. In fact, there are now 246 Gulfstreams based in Europe–182 in Western Europe and 64 in Eastern Europe–more than double the number as recently as 2006, the U.S. aircraft manufacturer said.
One of the largest aircraft on display here at EBACE is a McDonnell Douglas MD-83 operated by Athens-based Amjet Executive (Booth 819), which has its charter business located here in Geneva. The aircraft is fresh out of the workshop having undergone a major overhaul that has turned an airliner workhorse into a VVIP transport that is fit for a head of state.
Since it exited a 10-month restructuring process and Chapter 11 protection in February, the rebranded Beechcraft (formerly Hawker Beechcraft) has performed well and is even looking at possible new models to bolster its turboprop line-up.
Michimasa Fujino, president and CEO of Honda Aircraft, said here at EBACE yesterday that, “The [HondaJet] program is steadily progressing toward certification and first delivery.” He now expects FAA type certification of the light jet in the fourth quarter of 2014, with EASA certification to follow within six months.
Nextant Aerospace has chosen EBACE to launch the 400XTi (the ‘i’ stands for innovation), the latest evolution of the remanufactured light business jet. Compared to the 400XT, the new version introduces a number of improvements, including an all-new cabin that offers more space and reduced noise.
The new Embraer Legacy 500 made its first appearance outside Brazil as it flew here from Brazil to EBACE, where it is on display in the static park. Yesterday, Embraer Executive Jets president Ernie Edwards reported that the airplane successfully underwent cold-soak tests in a freezing hangar at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida following its first leg from São Jose dos Campos, Brazil. The next leg was a short hop to Embraer’s U.S. manufacturing facilities in Melbourne, Florida, where guests viewed the airplane and order-holders defined their preferred interior configurations.
Bombardier Aerospace took the wraps off the Challenger 350–an upgraded Challenger 300 with a new wing, more powerful engines, larger windows and redesigned interior–yesterday on the EBACE show floor. NetJets was also announced as the launch customer for the new $25.8 million twinjet, which is $1 million more than its fraternal twin, which Bombardier will continue to offer. First deliveries of the new Challenger are scheduled to begin in May 2014.