January 23

Bliss Jet slips transatlantic service launch to second quarter

US start-up business jet operator Bliss Jet has pushed back the launch of scheduled transatlantic service from January to the second quarter of 2017 to give it more time to “tie up loose ends”.

Bliss Jet had planned to kick-start services on 8 January, flying Gulfsteam G450s and G550s between New York LaGuardia and London Stansted.

“We set ourselves an overly ambitious deadline, which wasn’t necessary,” says Bliss Jet founder and chief executive David Rimmer. “Nearly everything is in place, including the aircraft and the service delivery. However, following market feedback we have decided to introduce some changes to the service, so we get it absolutely right before we begin.”

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Bliss Jet

A key revision is to the scheduled departure times. “We are moving the [New York] outbound flight from Sunday evening to Sunday morning, to eliminate the overnight element on this sector,” says Rimmer. “Nobody wants to arrive for work on a Monday, having flown the ‘red-eye’.” The return flight will depart London on Thursday evening rather than Friday morning. “From the feedback we received, most people want to arrive in the USA early on Friday,” he says.

Bliss Jet is targeting business- and first-class airline passengers who are looking for a convenient and upmarket alternative to the transatlantic carriers. The service is also aimed at business aircraft users who are looking at a lower-cost alternative to whole-aircraft charter.

“The market response has been positive,” Rimmer says. “We hope this early enthusiasm translates into ticket sales.”

Flights will be sold on a per-seat basis, at a cost of $12,000 each way. “This is equivalent to a British Airways full first-class fare,” he says. “But the experience is exponentially different.”

Bliss Jet will offer 10-seat G450 and G550 large-cabin, long-range business jets – operated by US charter company White Cloud – between Sheltair Aviation’s fixed-base operation at LaGuardia and Inflight Jet Centre’s VIP terminal at Stansted.

“Passengers completely by-pass the busy commercial airports,” Rimmer says. “Not since the days of Concorde has a door-to-door journey between New York and London been this fast or this refined.”

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Bliss Jet

Given the high frequency of commercial airliner services between New York and London, Bliss Jet is confident its offering will be a success.

“There are 30 scheduled [commercial] return flights a day – many of which are sold out on a Sunday – and over 800,000 seats sold in business and first class every year,” Rimmer says. “We are looking for a market of around 1,000 seats a year – a tiny fraction of the current demand.”

Bliss Jet plans to add two more third-party operators to its line-up within months, to bolster the fleet. “These companies operate G550s, [Dassault] Falcon 7Xs and [Bombardier] Global-series aircraft, all of which have transatlantic range,” he says.

Within three years, however, the company plans to operate its own fleet. “We would like to buy or lease our own aircraft eventually, as this will give us total control of the service,” Rimmer says.

Article source: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/bliss-jet-slips-transatlantic-service-launch-to-seco-433416/

January 21

Nextant poised to secure approval for G90XT’s single-lever controls

Nextant Aerospace hopes to secure validation in the first half of 2017 for the digitally controlled, single-lever power control system in its G90XT twin-engined turboprop. The approval is the final hurdle in the remanufactured Beechcraft King Air C90’s certification campaign, and will allow Nextant to begin deliveries of the six-seat type.

The G90XT was awarded US type certification in November 2015 but the single-lever controls required additional testing. “The system is not retrofittable, so there have been no deliveries to date,” says Nextant’s executive vice-president of global sales and marketing, Jay Heublein.

“The aircraft has flown several hundred hours and the system has been operating flawlessly,” he continues. “We hope to get an amendment to the type certificate shortly and begin delivering aircraft in the [third quarter].”

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Nextant Aerospace

Heublein describes the G90XTs single-lever controls as “the first radically new technology to hit the turboprop market in years”.

“It’s the first electronic engine control system designed for a business turboprop, and provides an entirely new level of safety for operators,” he says.

“Think of it as the equivalent of a FADEC with complete exceedance protection. The pilots cannot over-temp or over-torque the engines,” Heublein says.

The G90XT was launched by Cleveland, Ohio-based Nextant in 2013, in partnership with engine manufacturer GE Aviation. The upgraded aircraft features GE H75-100 turboprops, a Regent flightdeck based on the Garmin G1000 avionics suite, a digital pressurisation system, and a redesigned interior and cockpit.

The aircraft is priced at $2.5 million, although Nextant is offering an engine and avionics retrofit programme to C90 owners for $1.95 million.

The G90XT is the second aircraft in Nextant’s line-up after the 400XT/XTi light business jet. The remanufactured Hawker 400/Beechjet 400A entered service in 2011 and nearly 70 of the type have been delivered to date.

The airframer is now lining up its third project, which Heublein says with be announced later in this year

Article source: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/nextant-poised-to-secure-approval-for-g90xts-single-433252/

January 21

Bombardier passes Challenger maintenance milestone

Bombardier says its nearly 50-strong service centre network has conducted more than 200 heavy maintenance inspections on Challenger business jet family aircraft, which have to be carried out every eight years.

The Canadian airframer boasts a global in-service fleet of 1,600 Challenger-series aircraft, which includes the large-cabin 600 – introduced in the late 1970s – and the 601, 604, 605 and 650, along with the super-midsize 300 and 350 and the CRJ200 regional jet-derived 850/890.

Together the fleet has logged more than 7.3 million flight hours and made more than 4.3 million landings, Bombardier says.

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The 96-month inspection – described by Bombardier as “one of the most in-depth maintenance events in the aircraft’s lifecycle” – involves a thorough examination of the airframe, structure and landing gear.

Bombardier is steadily growing its global customer support network, with new maintenance centres at London Biggin Hill airport in the UK and Tianjin, China added in 2016.

Article source: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/bombardier-passes-challenger-maintenance-milestone-433288/

January 20

ANALYSIS: Gulfstream G550 could bow out in 2019

Gulfstream kicked off the certification campaign for its large-cabin, long-range G600 on 17 December 2016. With the clean-sheet business jet destined for service entry in less than two years, it is only a matter of months before the company calls time on its sector rival and much older sibling, the G550, say analysts.

Article source: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/analysis-gulfstream-g550-could-bow-out-in-2019-432888/

January 20

GlobeAir posts record turnover for 2016

GlobeAir, the world’s oldest and largest operator of Cessna Citation Mustangs, has posted record turnover and profit for 2016 on the back of strong demand from the charter market for small business jets.

The Austrian company reported a 20% increase in revenue flights in 2016 – to nearly 4,400 – producing record highs in both turnover and profit of €21.3 million ($22.8 million) and €780,000, respectively. This compares with a turnover of €17.8 million and profit of €540,000 in 2015.

GlobeAir plans to grow its fleet by a fifth in 2017 to cater for the rising number of European passengers. “We are flying each of our 15 Mustangs around 660h a year. They can’t do much more,” says Bernhard Fragner, founder and chief executive of the company.

More than half of GlobeAir’s reservations in 2016 came from online charter booking platforms such as JetSmarter, FlyVictor and PrivateFly. “More and more people are choosing to book their flights on these smartphone and web-based platforms rather than through traditional brokers,” says Fragner.

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To alleviate the pressure on the existing fleet, GlobeAir will add three used, low-time Mustangs in May and June “just ahead of our busiest period”, says Fragner.

He attributes GlobeAir’s success to what he terms “smart scheduling”. “Our fleet is optimised for maximum efficiency, which means limiting the number of empty legs,” he says.

Fragner adds that demand for the entry-level Mustangs is coming from travellers downsizing from more expensive midsize and large-cabin business aircraft. “For short hops in particular, small jets like the Mustang are so much more cost efficient,” he says.

Article source: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/globeair-posts-record-turnover-for-2016-433285/

January 18

Embraer Executive Jets reports mixed fortunes for 2016

Embraer saw business jet deliveries fall slightly in 2016, to 117 aircraft from 120 the previous year, as a result of prolonged and persistent weakness across the sector.

The Brazilian airframer had shipped 74 executive aircraft – 48 light jets and 26 large jets – during the first three quarters of the year, but a backloaded delivery profile saw a further 43 units (25 light and 18 large) handed over in the final three months of 2016.

Analysis of the manufacturer’s quarterly delivery figures shows that its outstanding performer last year was the Phenom 300, with a total of 63 shipments, followed by the Legacy 500 (21) and Legacy 450 (12), the latter including the first units built at Embraer’s US facility in Melbourne, Florida.

More worrying, however, were the figures for the Phenom 100E – the lightest business jet in the portfolio: just 10 examples were shipped over course of the year, with none delivered in the final three months.

That marks the first quarter in the programme’s 12-year history in which Embraer has failed to deliver a single aircraft. This is largely due to the sickly owner-flyer market, which makes up a large share of the entry-level type’s customer base.

Embraer hopes that it can rekindle the jet’s appeal with a further update, called the Phenom 100EV, which features a Garmin G3000 touch-screen flightdeck and higher-thrust Pratt Whitney Canada PW617F1-E turbofans.

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While the delivery total for 2016 lags the previous year’s figure by three units, Embraer stresses that the total is in line with its annual forecast of “70 to 80 light and 35 to 45 large executive jets”.

It calls 2016 “a year of major challenges in the aviation industry”, citing global economic and political uncertainties as the major obstacles to growth.

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“In response to this scenario,” Embraer chief executive Paulo Cesar de Souza e Silva says, the company “is implementing important actions and making adjustments to be well positioned in all business segments it operates.”

He cites as an example its “stronger presence” in the midsize and large-cabin business jet sectors with the Legacy 450, 500 and 650, “which indicates a more balanced [product line] mix”.

The second-generation Legacy 650 is scheduled for delivery this year. The $26 million twinjet, called the 650E, will feature a synthetic vision system and auto throttle as standard, a restyled, three-zone interior with full HD in-flight entertainment, and an “unprecedented” 10-year or 10,000-flight-hour warranty.

Article source: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/embraer-executive-jets-reports-mixed-fortunes-for-20-433241/

January 18

Kaman inducts first K-Max into re-opened assembly plant

Kaman Aerospace announced on 17 January inducting the first airframe into a re-opened assembly line in Bloomfield, Connecticut, for the K-Max heavy-lift helicopter, ending a 14-year hiatus.

The first K-Max off the re-opened assembly line should be delivered to a customer in the second quarter, with “multiple deliveries” following in 2017, Kaman says.

“Producing the initial airframe is an important milestone for the programme,” says Drake Klotzman, general manager for Kaman’s Air Vehicles and MRO Division.

Kaman built 38 K-Max helicopters over a 10-year production run that began in 1994. Using an inter-meshing main rotor system, the aircraft found application mainly in the forestry sector, supporting loggers and firefighting agencies.

In the last decade, the US Marine Corps used an unmanned version of the K-Max helicopter to deliver supplies to remote operating bases in Afghanistan.

By 2015, Kaman had announced plans to restart commercial production of the manned version due to strong demand.

Kaman also is developing and testing new roles for unmanned K-Max helicopters, including firefighting and humanitarian applications, the company says.

Article source: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/kaman-inducts-first-k-max-into-re-opened-assembly-pl-433263/

January 16

Canada’s AirSprint adds first Legacy 450s

Canadian fractional ownership company AirSprint took delivery in December of the country’s first Embraer Legacy 450 business jets. Two examples of the superlight type were handed over to the Calgary, Alberta-based operator from a July 2016 order for 12. Another aircraft is scheduled for delivery this month.

“We plan to have five Legacy 450s in the line-up by the end of year, with the remainder of the aircraft joining us over the next few years to meet expected demand,” says AirSprint president and chief operating officer James Elian.

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“The aircraft will replace our five Cessna Citation XLS as the top-end offering. This model simply doesn’t have the range to satisfy many of our customers’ mission requirements, particularly those who want to travel across the country from say Montreal to Vancouver.”

The XLS has a range of 2,100nm (3,890km) – 800nm less than the Legacy 450, which underwent a minor modification last year to boost its range by 325nm.

“The introduction of the Legacy 450 also allows us to expand our service offering to include Hawaii for the first time,” Elian says. The company completed its inaugural service to the archipelgago in December.

“AirSprint also operates eight CJ3+ and 2+ light business jets as its entry-level offering. We plan to expand these numbers too,” Elian says.

Article source: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/canadas-airsprint-adds-first-legacy-450s-432977/

January 16

INTERVIEW: Capt Kate McWilliams, airline captain at 26 years old

Have you always been interested in aviation?

When I was very young I wanted to be a veterinarian but after having lots of pets I discovered I wasn’t very good at looking after them. I did always have an interest in flying though after going to air shows with my godparents and when I was 13 I joined the air cadets where I got my first experience of flying an aircraft for myself. My school encouraged university but I didn’t feel like it was the right option for me – I wanted to travel and see a bit of the world but at the same time make the first steps towards my dream career. So I applied to a flight training school called CTC Aviation which trains cadets to become commercial pilots. It is a UK-based company but the flying training takes place in either New Zealand or Arizona, USA. I spent a year with them flying in New Zealand, and when I wasn’t flying, I was sight-seeing. Some would say my experience sounds like a pretty great ‘gap year’.

Why did you decide to become an airline rather than a military aircraft pilot?

From my experiences of visiting RAF bases with the Air Cadets I originally considered nothing other than a military career. Whilst looking at all of the options for flying in the military I was lucky enough to gain some very valuable work experience with the Royal Navy too. However, when I finished school in 2008 I was advised by a military pilot to look into commercial aviation opportunities. He pointed me in the direction of CTC and after doing some research of my own, I never looked back.

You received a lot of publicity earlier this year when you became the youngest airline captain. How has this changed your life?

The last few months have been something of a whirlwind since my story hit the press. I’m really not used to being in the spotlight but the whole idea of the publicity was to encourage other young men and women to achieve their dreams. As a result, I have been invited to many schools and careers events to share my achievement in the hope of inspiring those youngsters to achieve their potential which is something I am very passionate about!

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Does being such a youthful airline captain have its downsides?

I’ve never experienced a passenger or a crew member who was nervous because of my age. I am relatively young to be an airline Captain, but age is just a number. It’s all about experience, I’ve been flying for over seven years now and have accumulated thousands of flying hours which brings with it experience. I have passed the same exams and courses as every other captain, I just happen to have achieved it at a slightly younger age.

What is the best part of your job?

The thing I love most about my job is the unknown that comes with every day. Each day I work with a new crew and fly to a different destination which brings with it varying challenges such as weather, different approach procedures or air traffic restrictions. No two days are ever the same which keeps the job really interesting.

What is your next career move?

I’ve only been a captain for six months so at the moment I am currently enjoying the challenges that every new commander faces as they settle in to the left hand seat. But I previously worked in risk management and I would really like to bring that together with flying and work in a flight safety role in the future.

Where do see yourself in 10 years?

In 10 years’ time I’ll be 36 and I hope the future is still orange. I see many opportunities for a long career at EasyJet with the potential to branch into other departments such as the flight safety team to help maintain our industry-leading safety record.

What do you do in your spare time?

My friends who aren’t in the world of aviation would argue that I have a lot of spare time with the shift pattern that I work. I honestly don’t know how they cope with just a two-day weekend as I always get either three or four days off at a time. So I like to make the most of staff travel and travel as much as I can. I’ve just got back from a long weekend in Vienna which was fabulous! But when I’m at home I’m a keen cyclist and a regular Parkrunner.

Article source: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/interview-capt-kate-mcwilliams-airline-captain-at-432338/

January 14

SyberJet readies SJ30i for third-quarter maiden flight

SyberJet Aircraft says engineering work on the new cockpit of its SJ30i business jet is “95% complete” and the revamped light twin should make its maiden sortie in the third quarter.

The main feature of the redesigned cockpit is the airframer’s bespoke SyberVision flightdeck. Based on Honeywell’s Primus Epic 2.0 system, it comprises four 30.5cm (12in) displays and a host of features including SmartView synthetic vision, a moving map display system, electronic charts, TCAS II, dual flight management systems, graphical flight planning and onboard weather radar.

SyberJet, headquartered in Cedar City, Utah, has also upgraded the layout of the cockpit to boost its functionality and ergonomics. The sidewalls and ledges have been redesigned to provide maximum room for the flightcrew, while the engine control panel has been repositioned to the overhead panel to maximise visibility.

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SyberJet Aircraft

“The engineering work on the cockpit is almost complete and we are now installing wire harnesses [for SyberVision] in the first test aircraft,” says SyberJet general manager and director of sales, Mark Fairchild.

“Functional testing will begin as soon as the installations are complete. We are aiming for engine power-on in May, with first flight in the summer timeframe.”

The $8.3 million, Williams International FJ44-2A-powered SJ30i is an upgraded version of the SJ30-2, which was certificated in 2005 by its former owner Emivest Aerospace.

The SJ30 programme was acquired in 2011 by SyberJet’s parent company MTI, whose subsidiary Metalcraft Technologies was the aft fuselage supplier for the programme. Four SJ30-2s are in service today including an example – serial number 010 owned by US actor and SJ30 brand ambassador Morgan Freeman.

The sale to MTI included five unsold and incomplete units, three of which will be assembled and sold as SJ30is, says Fairchild. “Serial numbers 009, 011 and 012 are in various stages of build, from about 50% to 80% [complete],” he says.

“Serial numbers 013 and 014 are between 15% to 20% complete,” Fairchild adds. They will become the first examples of SyberJet’s new baseline model – the SJ30x. This version was created, he says, as Williams has stopped producing the -2A variant of the engine.

The $8.8 million SJ30x is scheduled to enter service in 2019, featuring remodelled seating and more fuel-efficient, higher-thrust FJ44-3AP-25 turbofans.

Article source: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/syberjet-readies-sj30i-for-third-quarter-maiden-flig-433069/