February 1

JetEight offers all-you-can-fly membership programme

German start-up JetEight is preparing to launch a business aircraft membership club in the third quarter of 2017, offering an all-you-can-fly scheduled service for a fixed monthly fee. The venture is targeting travellers in Germany and Switzerland initially, but will expand across Europe as demand grows.

“We are currently talking to a number of small and medium-sized companies, whose executives regularly use commercial airlines for short hops,” says JetEight founder Ruben Portz. “There has been a lot of interest so far, and we are confident we can sign up around 100 members by the time we launch.”

Portz says JetEight will fill a gap in the market for affordable, efficient and reliable business transportation.European airlines, he argues, have not treated their business-class passengers well.

“These carriers are losing focus on value and underserving their business-class passengers,” he says. “While trying to compete with low-cost carriers, they have forgotten what short-haul business class stands for. Whereas the business traveller would like to travel quickly from A to B, he or she ends up in dreadful security checks, slow boarding procedures and waiting for transfer passengers.”

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Beechcraft

JetEight will operate from VIP terminals at commercial airports, which Portz says will cut travel time significantly.

The service will launch with three routes – Berlin to Zurich, Frankfurt to Zurich and Frankfurt to Berlin. For a monthly subscription fee of €2,500 ($2,680), members will be able to make an unlimited number of flights on the network. “Our plan is to expand to all European business centres when demand is strong enough,” says Portz.

JetEight will offer a range of light business jets and turboprops, including the Cessna Citation CJ-series and Beechcraft King Air family. Services will be operated on its behalf by a handful of local charter companies.

Article source: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/jeteight-offers-all-you-can-fly-membership-programme-433664/

January 31

TBM 930 outperformed Daher stablemate in 2016

French aircraft manufacturer and aerostructures company Daher saw deliveries of its TBM single-engined turboprop pair fall marginally in 2016, to 54 units, compared with 55 the previous year.

Shipments of its TBM 930 model outstripped its older TBM 900 stablemate by two to one, according to the Tarbes-headquartered airframer. This equates to 18 TBM 900s deliveries in the 12 months ending 31 December 2016, and 36 TBM 930s.

The $4.1 million 930 model – the fourth iteration of the 26-year-old TBM series – was launched in April 2016 as an enhanced version of the $3.9 million TBM 900. It features Garmin’s G3000 touchscreen glass flightdeck and a reconfigured cockpit, plus redesigned seating and upgraded interior trimmings and finishes.

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Daher

Daher’s report on its business activities in 2016 ranks North America as the top delivery destination, with 41 units shipped to customers in the USA and Canada. Europe was second, with 10 deliveries: customers in the UK and France received four and two aircraft, respectively, while buyers in Germany, Italy, Poland and Switzerland received one each. Latin American deliveries totalled a pair of aircraft for Mexico, and one unit was shipped to the Asia Pacific region, for a user in Thailand.

“The 2016 results confirm that customers worldwide continue to appreciate the value proposition of our TBM product line, which we extended last year with the TBM 930 version,” says Nicolas Chabbert, senior vice-president of Daher’s airplane business.

To help bolster the TBM 900’s appeal, Daher is replacing the aircraft’s 12-year-old G1000 flightdeck with a next-generation version; the G1000NXi.

Unveiled by Garmin in early January, the NXi features wireless cockpit connectivity, enhanced situational awareness, visual approaches and map overlay on the horizontal situation indicator. “This upgrade includes a modernised flight display with significant performance enhancements,” says Chabbert.

Certification of the G1000NXi-equipped TBM 900 is expected “in a few months” according to Daher.

Article source: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/tbm-930-outperformed-daher-stablemate-in-2016-433428/

January 31

Quest Aircraft appoints Robert Wells as chief executive

Quest Aircraft – manufacturer of the Kodiak 100 single-engined turboprop – has appointed Robert Wells as its chief executive. He replaces Sam Hill, who is retiring in February.

Wells has held a number of roles during his 40-year career in the aviation industry, which included a stint with Beech Aircraft, now Textron Aviation, and over 20 years with business aircraft services company Piedmont Hawthorne, which became Landmark Aviation.

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Quest Aircraft

He spent the latter part of his career with Swiss business aviation firm TAG Aviation. Wells rose to become chief executive of parent company TAG Aviation Holding before retiring in 2015. He has remained as an adviser to the company’s board of directors.

“I am very pleased that an individual of Rob’s calibre and talent will be leading Quest moving forward,” says Hill. “Rob’s tenure with TAG Aviation’s family of companies and his broad aviation management experience will be a true asset as Quest continues its worldwide growth.”

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Quest Aircraft

Quest – owned by Japanese companies Setouchi Holdings and Mitsui–is seeking to increase its global fleet of around 200 Kodiaks though its network of international dealerships. In preparation for the expected rise in sales, the company has expanded its Sandpoint, Idaho headquarters to include a larger manufacturing plant and a research and development hangar. The latter will house development of Quest’s next – and as yet undisclosed – aircraft programme.

Article source: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/quest-aircraft-appoints-robert-wells-as-chief-execut-433516/

January 29

Pricing pressure to hold Cessna jet deliveries flat in 2017

Stung by relentless pricing pressure lowering profit margins for its latest business jet, Textron Aviation plans to keep overall Cessna Citation business jet deliveries flat this year to constrict supply and bolster prices.

Cessna delivered 178 jets to customers last year, a 7.2% increase over 2015, parent company Textron announced on 25 January. The deliveries included 42 mid-size Citation Latitude jets, the company’s new flagship.

With a list price of $16.8 million, the Latitude’s customers still seem unwilling to buy the aircraft at a rate that Textron Aviation considers fair, says Textron chief executive Scott Donnelly, speaking to analysts on a fourth quarter earnings call.

Textron Aviation now faces a 2017 ramp-up of deliveries of the Latitude by 30%, yet at prices negotiated last year at rates the parent company no longer considers acceptable. As a result, Textron Aviation will cut back deliveries of more profitable Citation jets and Cessna and Beechcraft products, Donnelly says.

“I am not willing to take the prices down further to try to drive that demand and end up in a situation where we have today with the Latitude, where you have a great aircraft that delivers very, very well for customers but is priced at a point that doesn’t make sense for us,” Donnelly says.

Textron has complained about pricing pressure on the Latitude before. In a second quarter earnings call with analysts, Donnelly pointed the finger at an unnamed competitor, who he blamed for engaging in a damaging price war in the Latitude’s segment. Though not specifically named, Embraer, which markets the newly-certificated Legacy 450 and Legacy 500, denied Donnelly’s accusations.

In his latest remarks to analysts, however, Donnelly turned the blame away from competitors. Instead, he says, many potential buyers are long-time Cessna customers, who are not yet ready to upgrade to the company’s latest model.

“If they’re not ready, if they’re happy with their current aircraft and they’re willing to wait and run that aircraft for another year or two, then that’s fine,” Donnelly says.

The pricing pressure on the Latitude has taught Textron Aviation a valuable lesson. The even larger Longitude is scheduled to achieve certification by the end of this year, with a small number of deliveries planned before 2018. For new Longitude sales, Textron Aviation will not bow to demands by customers for rock-bottom prices.

“We’re going to start holding the price line from day one that has to make that an attractive aircraft for us, as well as for our customers,” Donnelly says.

Article source: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/pricing-pressure-to-hold-cessna-jet-deliveries-flat-433538/

January 29

Gulfstream sees flat business jet deliveries in 2017

After a disappointing 2016, Gulfstream expects deliveries of outfitted business jets to increase slightly in 2017 as the entry-into-service of the G500 replaces the venerable G450 in the market, executives of the parent company General Dynamics said on 27 January.

Gulfstream’s one-year outlook forecasts deliveries of 90-95 outfitted large cabin business jets and 25-30 small cabin aircraft. By comparison, Gulfstream delivered 88 large cabin and 27 small cabin aircraft in 2016, a significant decline from 120 large cabin and 34 small cabin jets in 2015.

The anticipated rebound in the large cabin space comes as Gulfstream is scheduled to deliver the first outfitted G500 by the end of the year. Unveiled to the public in 2014, the G500 is being prepared to receive an airworthiness certificate from the US Federal Aviation Administration later this year. The same milestone for the larger G600 is scheduled a year later, with entry into service following in 2018.

The arrival of the first G500 will likely follow the final delivery of the G450 by several months. As of 26 January, Gulfstream had only one order for the large cabin business jet, which was expected to be delivered in the first quarter, says Jason Aitken, senior vice-president and chief financial officer at General Dynamics.

Gulfstream also has been encouraged by signals suggesting a sales rebound began to gather momentum in the second half of 2016, Aitken says, addressing analysts on a fourth quarter earnings call. Although the backlog for the G450 is nearly exhausted, the G650 boasts a 24-month backlog at current production rates. The G550 has a roughly 12-month backlog, Aitken adds.

For the first time, General Dynamics released long-range revenue and earnings guidance for Gulfstream, projecting a compounded annual growth rate of 5.3% for sales and 5.9% for operating earnings, with growth accelerating with the ramp-up of the G500 and G600 in full-swing by 2020.

Article source: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/gulfstream-sees-flat-business-jet-deliveries-in-2017-433612/

January 27

INTERVIEW: Philip Brunger vice president of sales, Dahlgren Duck

What prompted you to join Dahlgren Duck?

Fifteen years ago I was lucky enough to be an intern at Dahlgren Duck. I was immediately intrigued by the niche nature of a business that over decades had developed unique relationships with a mix of exclusive customers, creative vendors and leading luxury brands. When I was recently offered the opportunity to join Dahlgren Duck I jumped at the chance to be part of a fantastic team focused on modernising the business, developing contemporary luxury and raising the best in service concept to another level, across a variety of luxury lifestyle sectors.

What is your working week like?

Along with colleagues I spend the majority of my time with customers and vendor partners. The business thrives on successful relationship building and customers sit at the core of our business. Understanding customer needs is crucial, but making their vision a reality, and enhancing it is what we really want to do. To do this we work closely with our luxury brand partners to communicate customer expectations so they can provide, or custom design, luxury amenities. We create one-of-a-kind solutions, some of which will one day be museum pieces, and that takes real teamwork across the board. We also dedicate time to keep up with the ever-changing aviation landscape; as well as trends in design and functionality.

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Dahlgren Duck

What are your challenges?

Satisfying the world’s elite – royal families, heads of state, celebrities and affluent clients – is a pretty huge challenge. No matter how demanding the request, we won’t say no. Our Bespoke Design division has received countless unusual requests. Designing flatware inspired by a conch shell found on a beach, creating dinnerware made from mother-of-pearl, or inventing a system to light up the bubbles in champagne flutes exemplify an average week! We bring specific visions to life, no matter how elaborate or distinct, by tapping our project consultants, artisans and craftsmen. It’s certainly a challenge, but one I relish.

What do you enjoy most?

Building relationships with our niche customer base and luxury brand partners to provide the finest amenities is so gratifying. Developing the team and the unique skills each possesses that enable them to create customised solutions in a timely manner for our customers is really enjoyable. Their dedication is a testament to the services we provide and the relationships we’ve built with our customers and partners.

What trends are you noticing at the moment and what does the future hold for Dahlgren Duck?

We have seen a rise in demand for traditional pieces but with a contemporary twist – there’s a trend for blending styles right now. We’re also seeing many of our heritage brand partners, which were historically more traditional, evolve and offer 21st-century styling. Cultures around the world are also affecting trends, for instance we’ve seen an Asian influence in dinnerware and amenities offerings so designer chopsticks or modern tea services are becoming popular.

Looking to the future, we will continue to build upon the legacy of providing exceptionally high customer service. Our client base is growing, the private aviation landscape is increasingly diverse, yet global at the same time, and new channels are opening up around the world. We are committed to responding to the demand for modern luxury.

Article source: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/interview-philip-brunger-vice-president-of-sales-d-431547/

January 27

FAA clears Hondajet for icing, RVSM flights

One year after awarding Honda Aircraft an airworthiness certification, the US Federal Aviation Administration has cleared the Hondajet to fly into known icing (FIKI) conditions and use reduced vertical separation minima (RVSM).

The approval, dated 22 December, removes the only two operating restrictions imposed by the FAA on Hondajets delivered to customers.

The second revision to the Hondajet’s type certificate data sheet lifts means the five-seat business jet is allowed to fly in cloudy or rainy airspace, as well as take advantage of airspace controlled using RVSM procedures.

The FAA approval covers all Hondajets after the first 10 serial numbers, which were assigned to flight test duties.

Honda Aircraft designed the Hondajet to with an electromechanical decing expulsion system on the horizontal stabilisers and a bleed-air anti-icing system on the leading edges of the aircraft’s laminar flow wings.

Article source: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/faa-clears-hondajet-for-icing-rvsm-flights-433567/

January 25

Gama partners with China’s CASL on maintenance venture

Gama Aviation Hutchison – a joint venture between UK business aviation services provider Gama and Hong Kong-based CK Hutchison – has launched a new partnership with local aircraft maintenance provider China Aircraft Services (CASL).

The move is designed to boost the companies’ business aircraft support offering within the lucrative Greater China market.

From its base at Hong Kong International airport, CASL is largely focused on maintaining and supporting Boeing and Airbus types for local and international airlines and operators. The company has approvals from both the local aviation authority and those in Bermuda, Europe, Mongolia, South Korea, Taiwan and the USA.

Gama says it will seek to expand CASL’s capabilities to include base and line maintenance and aircraft on-ground support for a range of traditional business jets. “These services will be progressively introduced during the course of 2017 to support resident and transitory aircraft at the airport,” the company says. “At a minimum, we plan to add Bombardier Global 5000, 6000, Gulfstream G450, G550 and G650 aircraft approvals this year.”

Flight Fleets Analyzer shows 179 business aircraft based in Hong Kong out of a total fleet for Greater China of 489.

Gama Aviation’s group chief executive, Marwan Khalek, says the collaboration with CASL “delivers a strong and long-term maintenance proposition at [a] strategically important aviation hub”.

He describes the venture as “another tangible example of our ability to create sustainable platforms for organic growth worldwide”. This includes the 1 January merger of Gama’s US management and charter business with the Landmark Aviation arm of fellow UK business aviation services company BBA Aviation. The partnership, known as Gama Aviation Signature Aircraft Management, has a fleet of more than 200 aircraft.

Article source: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/gama-partners-with-chinas-casl-on-maintenance-ventu-433465/

January 25

Two supersonic prototypes move towards first flights in 2017

Two subsonic prototypes of planned supersonic commercial aircraft launched by separate start-ups are on track to enter flight test later this year.

Colorado-based Boom Technology has completed wind tunnel tests of a one-third-scale, subsonic prototype, the company announced on January. The start-up now has the data to begin building large structures for the scaled prototype aircraft by year-end.

Last year, Boom announced plans to develop a 45-seat airliner capable of speeds up to Mach 2.2. The design makes no attempt to muffle the sound of the “boom” produced by the supersonic shockwave, so the airliner will be limited to subsonic speed over land. Despite that limitation, Boom’s veteran staff of aerospace engineers believe there is a strong market for an all-business class airliner that can fly above the speed of sound over water.

Separately, Boston-based Spike Aerospace says it is on track to complete first flight of a subsonic, scaled prototype for the Spike S-512 business jet by late summer. A series of larger prototypes will follow, leading to flights by a supersonic demonstrator by the end of 2018, the company said on 23 January. Spike plans to deliver the first aircraft in 2023.

The S-512 is being designed to mask the noise produced by breaking the sound barrier, potentially allowing operators to fly the aircraft over populated areas if the US and European governments lift bans on supersonic flight by non-military aircraft.

Both start-ups are the latest to chase the dream of commercial supersonic travel, since the retirement of the Aerospatial/BAc Concorde fleet in 2003. Billionaire Robert Bass founded Aerion in 2002 and it continues to work towards fielding the AS2 supersonic business jet in 2023. Engine selection for the AS2 is expected in the first half of this year.

Article source: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/two-supersonic-prototypes-move-towards-first-flights-433482/

January 23

PlaneSense launches PC-24 fractional ownership programme

US operator PlaneSense has launched its Pilatus PC-24 fractional ownership programme, as it prepares to take delivery of the first aircraft – serial number 101 – later this year.

The Portsmouth, New Hampshire-based company is the launch customer for the superlight business jet, which is on track to receive European and US certification in the fourth quarter.

PlaneSense is also the world’s largest commercial operator of the PC-12NG single-engined turboprop, with a fleet of 35 aircraft.

“We could only have six PC-24s from the first order round,” says PlaneSense president and chief executive George Antoniadis, a reference to the popularity of the PC-24, which is dubbed a “super-versatile jet” by Pilatus because of its short-runway performance and ability to land on unpaved strips.

When the orderbook for the clean-sheet aircraft was opened in 2014, Pilatus sold the first tranche of 84 units – three years’ worth of production – within hours.

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PlaneSense

With demand for the Williams International FJ44-4A-powered aircraft so high, the Swiss airframer is likely to reopen the orderbook following certification.

“As soon as they do, we will gobble up more aircraft to the tune of around four a year,” Antoniadis says. “We are sure this programme will be a success, as there is nothing like the PC-24 on the market.”

PlaneSense will take delivery of one aircraft in 2017, two in 2018 and three in 2019. Shares in the PC-24 are available in a range of fractions starting at $685,000 for a one-sixteenth stake. This entitles the owner to 50 flying hours a year. On top of the acquisition price, shareholders pay a monthly management fee – $8,900 for a one-sixteenth share – and an occupied hourly fee of $2,320.

In July 2015 the company introduced the Nextant 400XTi into its fleet as its interim business jet product. It now has three units and plans to add a fourth this year. The remanufactured light twins are not split into fractions, but used by owners who need to travel longer distances than the PC-12 will allow, says Antoniadis. “Our current plan is to keep the XTis until we have built up a core fleet of PC-24s,” he adds.

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PlaneSense

Now in its 21st year, PlaneSense is one of the oldest fractional ownership programmes in the world. It plans to add up to five PC-12NGs in 2017 to satisfy the growing demand for the product.

Antoniadis attributes the company’s popularity and longevity to its “consistent approach to selling fractional shares and a focus on providing high levels of service and safety at sensible overhead costs”.

Article source: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/planesense-launches-pc-24-fractional-ownership-progr-433243/