Cessna Aircraft, in a relatively quiet ceremony on Monday, rolled out the first production unit of the new Citation X upgrade at its Wichita, Kansas manufacturing facility. A crowd of some 200 Cessna employees hailed the rollout and CEO Scott Ernest claimed that the 8- to 12-passenger twinjet, with a top speed of Mach 0.935, is the fastest (though not yet certified) civilian aircraft in the world. (The certified Gulfstream G650 has a maximum speed of Mach 0.925.)
The number of Gulfstream jets in the Asia Pacific region has more than tripled in the last six years, according to the Savannah, Georgia-based airframer. At its press conference here at ABACE on Monday, Larry Flynn, president of Gulfstream, noted that the number of the company’s large-cabin twinjets in the region has risen from 50 to 169 since 2007. Overall, the manufacturer, which claims 63 percent of the large-cabin market and 65 percent of the super-midsize market, has 208 aircraft based in the area, including 61 in mainland China and 45 in Hong Kong.
Gulfstream’s newest jets–the super-midsize G280 and wide-cabin G650–are making their China debut at ABACE, which officially opens tomorrow at Shanghai Hongqiao Airport. “We’re excited to bring the G650 and G280, as well as the G150, G450 and G550 to China for our customers to see in person,” said Gulfstream senior vice president of sales and marketing Scott Neal. “Bringing these five aircraft here demonstrates the commitment we’ve made to China and reflects our belief in the strength of this market.”
Zurich-based Jet Aviation’s Hong Kong facility recently received approval from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to provide maintenance for Gulfstream’s new flagship, the ultra-long-range G650, the aviation service provider (Booth P1216) announced here at ABACE.
Gulfstream Aerospace has been making major investments of its own to boost customer support in China. In November 2012 the U.S. manufacturer opened the country’s first factory-owned business jet service center at Beijing Capital International Airport.
The second-annual Asian Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (ABACE) kicks off next week at the Hawker Pacific Business Aviation Centre FBO at Shanghai Hongqiao Airport in China, and it promises to play a vital role in stimulating and facilitating growth in the adoption of business aircraft as productivity tools in the region.
Ross Aviation has bolstered its West Coast holdings with the purchase of Tradition Aviation, one of the three service providers at Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport in Thermal, Calif. The Palm Springs-area airport has an 8,500-foot main runway and a 4,995-foot secondary runway.
“New business jet demand remains weak, especially at the small end, but there have been intermittent signs of recovery,” says J.P.Morgan in its latest business jet market report. However, the higher end of the market remains strong while the lower end is still weaker.
Backlog for new business jets remains stable, ending 2012 at about $40 billion, which J.P.Morgan says is consistent with each of the last two years but still down more than 50 percent from the peak in 2008. “We estimate that half of this backlog is attributable to the G650 and the Global [series],” it noted.
The wide-cabin Gulfstream G650 racked up yet another city-pair speed record, flying the 6,329-nm trip between Melbourne, Fla., and Abu Dhabi, UAE, in 13 hours and 5 minutes nonstop. It cruised at an average speed of Mach 0.87, carrying five crew and two passengers. Once verified by the U.S. National Aeronautic Association, the record will be the flagship aircraft’s sixth city-pair milestone this year.
Gulfstream Aerospace is working to step up the pace of deliveries of the new G650, taking account of time lost due to the need for retrofit work on early models. By the end of last year, the airframer had delivered six completed G650s to customers. The tally since then is unknown because Gulfstream has yet to release G650 delivery numbers for this year.