The recession was the elephant in the room at the Atlanta convention of the National Business Aviation Association in October, where manufacturers talked mostly about life after the recession and products they will deliver. Some of the news stories were about predicting the start of the recovery, with three companies agreeing on the year 2012.
Little discussed were the thousands of jobs lost to current economic conditions, including layoff announcements made just prior to the NBAA convention by Cessna Aircraft and Hawker Beechcraft.
Usually there is at least one news story that dominates the rest, and this year it was the confirmation of a rumor to AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Tom Horne by Cessna Chairman, President, and CEO Jack Pelton that the company is preparing a single-engine turboprop aircraft for the market. There were no details, other than the airplane’s maximum cruise speed target of 300-plus knots, and its price tag of between $1 million and $2.2 million
The next level of attention down from that concerned progress reports on turbine offerings now in development or nearing completion. There is apparently no recession for the largest models of business jets available—referring not to private air transport aircraft offered by BBJ (Boeing Business Jets), or Airbus, or the interiors done by Lufthansa Technik—but in particular to the ultra-large-cabin, ultra-long-range Gulfstream and Bombardier jets. Orders for top models are strong and production capability is ramping up.
Gulfstream was able to point to actual test flight results from its 99,600-pound G650 showing a top speed of Mach 0.925, and a 5,000-nm closed course one of four test aircraft flew above the Atlantic Ocean in fewer than 10 hours.
Not so fast, said Bombardier officials, who have the Global 7000 and Global 8000 on paper, if not yet in the air. The new Global 7000, Bombardier says, will have 20 percent more cabin “living space” than the cabin of the current industry leader, with a cabin volume of 2,637 cubic feet. Presumably, that’s a reference to Gulfstream’s G650 (now in certification trials), which should have a cabin volume of some 2,150 cubic feet. The Global 7000 will also be capable of a high-cruise speed of Mach 0.90, and a range of 7,300 nm when cruising at Mach 0.85. This would best the G650’s target range of 7,000 nm.
The Global 8000 has an even more ambitious goal: a 7,900-nm range at Mach 0.85. Ideally, the company says, this sort of range should enable such city pairs as Sydney-Los Angeles, Hong Kong-New York, and Mumbai-New York—all nonstop and with 10 passengers aboard. Like the Global 7000, the Global 8000’s maximum cruise speed is targeted at 0.90 Mach. Its cabin volume, however, at 2,235 cubic feet, is less than the Global 7000’s.
Works in progress made up a large portion of the news at the convention, where many of the openings on the press conference schedule offered by NBAA went unused. Hawker Beechcraft Corporation launched its newest business jet, the Hawker 200. An evolution of the company’s Premier II program, HBC suggested that the 200 will be bigger and faster than the Premier II. Maximum cruise speed and altitude for the Hawker 200 is projected at 450 knots and 43,000 feet.
Owners and operators of HBC’s B200GT were polled on what improvements they’d like to see, and the result is the new King Air 250. The King Air 250’s new features include Boundary Layer Research Aerospace’s composite winglets, composite propellers, and engine induction modifications. Deliveries are set for 2011.
Cessna is calling its significantly upgraded variant of its Citation X the “Citation Ten.” It has a redesigned cockpit, systems, and interior. The Ten performs better than the X as well, thanks to redesigned and uprated Rolls-Royce engines. The Ten’s max cruise speed at FL350 will be just two knots faster (527 KTAS) than the X’s 525 KTAS; it will be 479 KTAS at FL490—which is 19 knots faster than the X’s speed at that flight level. But perhaps the biggest news is the brand-new Garmin G5000 three-panel glass cockpit with four additional touch-screen control panels. While the G5000 resembles the G1000 at first glance, this is Garmin’s first FAR Part 25-certified avionics suite. The two primary flight displays (PFDs) and split-screen multifunction display (MFD) measure 14 inches diagonally.
Embraer Aircraft expects certification soon of the Legacy 650, its sixth new jet in the last five years. The super mid-size 650 carries a maximum gross weight about 4,000 pounds higher to accommodate more fuel for an additional 500-nautical-mile range, giving it 3,900 nm compared to the 3,400 nm for the 600. The 650 also provides the latest features from the Honeywell Primus Elite avionics suite and more sound suppression, both of which will be integrated into new 600s beginning in 2011. NetJets has signed an agreement to purchase as many as 125 Phenom 300 business jets from Embraer Aircraft. The deal, which may be worth as much as $1 billion, includes a firm order for 50 Phenom 300 Platinum Editions and options for up to 75 more.
HondaJet is well along on ground and static testing—all necessary steps toward certification. A third aircraft to be used for certification is in production. A number of systems tests, including avionics systems, are complete on the first flight test aircraft. A factory to build the aircraft is scheduled to be completed in May 2011.
Finally, the eight-passenger, $19 million, Mach 0.82 (high-speed cruise) Learjet 85 is on its way through the design phase for delivery in 2013 and will have the first all-composite airframe ever approved by the FAA. There are 60 firm orders. The aircraft will fly four people 3,000 nm at Mach 0.78.
E-mail the author at [email protected]. Photography courtesy of NBAA