NetJets’ new chairman and acting CEO, David Sokol, has barely been at the helm of the fractional provider a week, but he isn’t wasting any time in restructuring the company that lost nearly $350 million in the first half of this year.
In a seismic event for the business aviation industry, NetJets founder, chairman and CEO Richard Santulli yesterday resigned his position at the company, effective immediately. Santulli, credited as the “father of the fractional aircraft industry,” said he will remain with NetJets–a Berkshire Hathaway company–as a consultant for at least a year.
When Cessna chairman, CEO and president Jack Pelton said on Monday that the company’s large-cabin Citation Columbus program was being slowed, few could have imagined that two days later the Wichita-based aircraft manufacturer would announce the suspension of the project.
Columbus, Ohio-based fractional provider NetJets Aviation last month forged an agreement with the FAA to become the agency’s latest NextGen partner. Under the agreement, NetJets will focus on NextGen initiatives such as area navigation (Rnav) and required navigation performance (RNP) approaches on routes into Teterboro (N.J.) Airport; WAAS, which allows for precision instrument approaches; and data communications.
Cessna Aircraft recently broke ground on a Wichita Citation Columbus design and assembly facility. The standalone, 600,000-sq-ft facility will start producing the new large-cabin twinjet in late 2013. The Citation program will create up to 1,000 new jobs with an estimated annual payroll of $74 million. Deliveries of the Columbus are expected to begin in 2014.
Cessna came to the Middle East Business Aviation show bullish about the regional prospects for its new large-cabin business jet, the $27 million Citation Columbus. Approximately 10 percent of the 71 Columbus orders taken to date are from Middle East customers. Wallan Aviation, Cessna’s authorized sales representative in the region, has already resold its initial order of three Columbus twinjets and has placed a follow-on order for three more.
The start of construction for American Eurocopter’s new parts manufacturing facility in Columbus, Miss., was marked by an August 7 groundbreaking ceremony. Grand Prairie, Texas-based American Eurocopter revealed last October that it planned to build a major production and finishing facility at Golden Triangle Regional Airport near Columbus. The facility will focus on constructing helicopter components for the AS 350, EC 130 and AS 355.
Engineers at Cessna are finishing architecture and layout planning for the Wichita OEM’s largest jet, the fly-by-wire Columbus, and the company revealed new details about vendors and facilities. The Columbus will be assembled at new facilities in Wichita, and Cessna plans to break ground on the factory later this year.
After an extensive period of market consultation over its Large Cabin Concept, Cessna launched its new Citation Columbus program just over three months ago on February 6. In recent years, the manufacturer has made a big impression on the market with its Citation Mustang very light jet.
NetJets will remain in Columbus, Ohio, despite fierce competition from cities such as Raleigh, N.C.; Orlando, Fla.; and Fort Worth, Texas. CEO Richard Santulli said the fractional provider will create a $200 million campus that will include a new FlightSafety training facility and will more than double the size of NetJets’ current facility. Santulli expects at least another 800 jobs will be created.