Turbine Pilot

Battle of the Bizjets

December 1, 1997

Airliners join global-jet fray

The National Business Aviation Association's annual convention is a traditional venue for business-aircraft announcements, program updates, and other industry news. Following is a summary of news items from this year's NBAA convention that we thought would be of particular interest to "Turbine Pilot" readers. Look for coverage of Galaxy Aerospace's Galaxy beginning on page T-4, and Alberta Aerospace's Phoenix Fanjet, Century Aerospace's Century Jets, Raytheon's Premier I and Hawker Horizon, Sino Swearingen's SJ30-2, and VisionAire's Vantage beginning on page T-8 — Ed.

Gulfstream's total aircraft deliveries passed the 1,000-airplane mark with the delivery of a Gulfstream V, the company's latest offering. The first G-V was delivered in July to Walter H. Annenberg, the United States' former ambassador to Great Britain. Other Gulfstream milestones include approval of the Gulfstream IV to operate under the new Reduced Vertical Separation Minimums (RVSM) established for flights across the North Atlantic between 33,000 and 37,000 feet. One of 24 record-setting Gulfstream flights was a G-V that flew from New York to Tokyo in 13 hours, 22 minutes, averaging 457 knots on the 6,113-nm journey.

Gulfstream ServiceCare, a nose-to-tail maintenance plan with coverage of up to 10 years, was launched at the convention. Administered by Jet Support Services, Inc. of Chicago, the program is designed for the G-IV-SP and involves an hourly fee paid on a monthly basis.

Bombardier Business Aircraft said that a fourth Global Express joined the flight test and certification program following a successful first flight on September 11. Although there are other aircraft in the test program, this is considered the first fully completed aircraft; it was outfitted with an interior at Bombardier's de Havilland final assembly line. Certification of the Global Express is expected in May.

Bombardier Aerospace has received FAA certification of its Learjet 45. Deliveries of the clean-sheet design, powered by two 3,500-lbst AlliedSignal TFE731-20 engines, were scheduled to begin last month. Some 135 orders for the $7.925 million, eight- to nine-passenger, 0.81 Mach business jet were on hand by mid-October, according to Bombardier.

Dassault Aviation announced that by late September, sales had already surpassed 1996 levels, making this the best sales year in Falcon history. Dassault Falcon Jet reported that Falcon 50EX and Falcon 900 production is sold out until mid-1999.

Dassault and Jet Support Services, Inc., unveiled Falcon First, a comprehensive maintenance program for Falcon 2000s. Each month subscribers pay an hourly fee that covers all maintenance costs, including parts and labor. The companies are developing similar programs for other Falcon models. Dassault plans to enter the fractional ownership business with an as-yet-unnamed partner.

Dassault also announced that it was studying a supersonic business jet. "What counts is to reduce the time spent traveling, such as flying from New York to Tokyo in seven hours," said Jean-Francois Georges, Dassault's senior vice president of civil aircraft, somewhat snubbing the new "global" jets such as the G-V and the Global Express. At NBAA Georges stressed that the company was only conducting a study, not launching the project. An American partner would be sought for the Mach 1.8 airplane, which could become reality within 10 years.

Unfazed by the Global Express and G-V, both Boeing and Airbus have also entered the global business jet market. At least 25 firm orders have been placed for the $32 million, 6,200-nm Boeing Business Jet. The BBJ is a corporate version of the just-certified Boeing 737-700. Certification of the 0.82 Mach BBJ is set for October 1998. Boeing has teamed up with Executive Jet International to launch a BBJ fractional ownership program.

Airbus Industrie touted its bizjet version of the A319 twin-engine airliner at NBAA. Like the BBJ, the A319CJ will be outfitted with an executive interior with seating for up to 40 passengers, and long-range fuel tanks to attain the more than 6,000-nm range needed to compete. Airbus is offering its A319CJ for $35 million, green — paint and interior are extra — and expects to sell 12 airplanes per year.

Germany's Fairchild/Dornier expects to offer a corporatized version of its planned 328JET regional airliner, outfitted with Pratt & Whitney PW-306B turbofans instead of turboprops used on 328s currently flying. The company unveiled its full-scale interior mockup at NBAA. Unlike the other airliners-turned-corporate jets, the 328 Business Jet will not have blistering speed or globe-circling range. Instead, the 328 BJ is designed to compete with mid-size jets in price and large corporate jets in size; it has a proposed introductory price of $11.9 million and will cruise around 400 knots. First flight for the 328JET is scheduled for January.

First flight of the new Bell Boeing 609 civil tiltrotor — for which the FAA has created a new Powered Lift aircraft category — is scheduled for late 1999, with deliveries to follow in 2001. The company said that it has 41 agreements and/or $100,000 deposits for the new aircraft — from companies and individuals in Norway, Turkey, Australia, and the United States. The 609 is expected to cruise at 275 knots, with a maximum range of 750 nm. Its pressurized cabin will seat nine passengers and a crew of two. Bell Boeing sees a market of 1,000 tiltrotors over the life of the program.

Some of these new aircraft — including the Gulfstream V and Raytheon's new models — will have fiber optic interior lighting systems from Avtec Fiber Optic Lighting Systems. (Avtec has changed its name and is selling its completion center and FBO at St. Louis Downtown-Parks Airport, in order to focus on the new lighting technology.) Xenon metal halide bulbs lasting 4,000 hours, in boxes weighing less than three pounds, illuminate fiberoptic tubes that provide brighter and more even lighting than traditional flourescent systems. Both the cost and installation weight will compare favorably with flourescent systems, the company said, but cooling requirements, operating costs, and maintenance expenses will be reduced, and the installation time is only one-fourth that of flourescent lighting. Avtec has named 10 service centers that will sell and install retrofits.

For the cockpit, Ryan International has received FAA certification for its latest upgrade to the ATS-9000 traffic alert and collision avoidance device (TCAD). The ATS-9000 now features bearing information that indicates the approximate location of the intruder aircraft via an arrow pointer on the unit's display. The bearing information is provided by dual-channel receivers that allow continuous coverage above and below the aircraft and a new high-speed computer that doubles the data-acquisition rate for better performance. The $12,850 unit features voice- or tone-alerting capabilities and automatically sequences through ground, departure, en route, and approach modes. Ryan's Dynamic Shield senses a high rate of climb or descent and searches for traffic where the aircraft will be, not where it has been.

BFGoodrich Aerospace Avionics Systems has received FAA Parts Manufacturer Approval for its Skywatch Traffic Advisory System; the system, introduced in April, can share a display with the company's Stormscope WX-1000 Weather Mapping System.