EBACE: Jet Aviation Target

Jet Aviation (stand 1163) has opened a new facility in Brazil as it looks to grow its business aircraft management services business in the region. The Swiss-based company has leased a hangar at Sorocaba airport, 87km (54 miles) west of São Paulo. The new facility can house up to five aircraft, including Embraer Legacy, Gulfstream 550, or super-midsize corporate jets. It will serve as a parts storage and distribution facility for aircraft operators, with hangar space available to Jet Aviation clients.

The facility’s passenger and pilot lounge offers wi-fi internet service, catering and entertainment systems, as well as office and storage space for tenants. A General Dynamics subsidiary, Jet Aviation gained a foothold in Brazil in 2006, when it opened a sales office near São Paulo, from which it provides aircraft management, charter, and aircraft sales services.


EBACE: Boeing unveils a new berth for 747

By Jon Ostrower

Boeing has partnered with Greenpoint Technologies to offer sleeper berths and lounges for 747-8 VIP operators, announcing orders to outfit four aircraft.

The two companies announced orders on Monday for the feature for two head-of-state aircraft and two more kits for an additional Middle Eastern client.

The announcement of the partnership and subsequent contracts mark a new birth of life for the novel feature.

The Overhead Space Utilisation (OSU) kit provides up to 75m2(807ft2), with room for as many as 16 sleeper berths or two lounge modules, set above the main cabin in the crown of the aircraft between doors three and five.

The kit, which was originally marketed by Boeing as the SkyLoft, found little interest from airline customers for additional revenue opportunities such aspremium and economy sleeper berths.

Each of the private 747-8 VIP berths will offer a lie-flat 90 x 200cm (36x78in) mattress, equivalent to a standard twin bed, as well as a privacy curtain, removable decorative panels and a passenger service unit for calling a flight attendant.

Passengers will be able to access to the OSU area will enter by way of a forward entry staircase at door three, which also accommodates 67kg (150lb) worth of additional stowage on the main deck.

The OSU, which will be installed post-production, will be separated from the main deck by removing the main cabin centreline overhead bins. The lower surface of the OSU will be separated from the cabin using a closeout fairing, but provides an attachment point for the modified ceiling and a revised interface for the centreline passenger service units.

When installed, Greenpoint will obtain an addition US Federal Aviation Administration supplemental type certificate for zero passenger configuration for the aircraft, and later as an “in-flight” only feature once the OSU is provided a passenger occupancy certificate following final completion.

Each lounge unit and berth will be directly connected to the aircraft environmental control systems providing 0.56m3 (20ft3)per minute of conditioned air per module.

First deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2011 and run to2013.

Boeing holds a cumulative total of 10 747 VIP aircraft (3 -400, 7 -8I), the first of which will be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2011, following a two-aircraft flight-test programme to certificate the world’s longest business jet.


EBACE: Embraer moves Lineage completions to Brazil

Embraer has decided to move the completion work for its flagship VIP Lineage 1000 twinjet from DeCrane subsidiary Pats Aircraft in the USA to the airframer’s São José dos Campos headquarters in Brazil, starting with aircraft number five.

According to Luis Carlos Affonso, Embraer vice-president for executive aircraft, the company will continue to purchase the interior fixtures from DeCrane and its various subsidiaries, but will install the items in Brazil, saving the manufacturer from the step of having to fly the green aircraft to the USA for interiors and then back to Brazil for auxiliary fuel tanks before delivery.

Affonso says the change will allow Embraer to “optimise the entire cycle time and process and capital expenditures. It was in the best interest of the two companies at the end. I believe we are concentrating on the areas we do best.”

Embraer
© Embraer


EBACE: Cabins are key for Embraer

By John Croft

Embraer (stand7030) is highlighting the executive quarters of its corporateaircraft this week at EBACE, with its first delivered VIP Lineage 1000 on static display and an announcement that Honeywell will provide a digital cabin management system for the new super-light Legacy 450 and midsize Legacy 500 business jets.

The Lineage here has an interior designed in conjunction with UK-based Priestman Goode and installed at DeCrane Aerospace subsidiary Pats Aircraft in Georgetown, Delaware. Two auxiliary fuel tanks in the twinjet, which is based on the GE CF34-powered Embraer 190, boost range to 8,150km (4,400nm) with eight passengers and NBAA IFR reserves. Embraer on Friday delivered the aircraft to HE Aamer Abdul Jalil Al Fahim, of Abu Dhabi. Options selected include wi-fi internet access and an electronic flight bag, says Embraer.

Embraer
© Embraer

For the Legacy 450 and 500, set to enter service in 2013 and 2012, respectively, Embraer has chosen Honeywell’s all-digital Ovation Select cabin management system. Features include surround-sound audio, high-definition 1080p video and a digital communications backbone that allow passengers to use iPods, MP3 players and high-definition gaming systems.

The system also features a new icon-based touchscreen passenger interface with lighting, seats, temperature, galley and window shade controls. The companies have not divulged the value of the contract.

Also on static display for the first time in Europe are Embraer’s Phenom 100 and Phenom 300 jets, along with a Legacy 600 and the Lineage.


EBACE: Boeing BBJ convertible is available

By Jon Ostrower

Boeing announced this afternoon the availability of the newest member of its business jet portfolio. The airframer is providing a multi-role convertible BBJ aircraft and is touting a transition time from an all-passenger to all-cargo configuration of less than 8h.

The BBJ C, for convertible, provides VIP operators such as governments, corporations and private individuals the ability to transition the aircraft from passenger usage to carrying a range of cargo, including disaster-relief supplies or patients requiring medical evacuation.

Boeing
© Boeing

The aircraft, built on the 737-700C platform, which was launched in 1997 for the US Navy, builds on a 737-700 fuselage, -800 wing and strengthened landing gear. The BBJ C, which becomes the 10th member of Boeing’s BBJ family, was introduced at EBACE in 2006.

Its key feature is its large cargo door onto the left-hand side of the forward fuselage, enabling the loading of 86.9m3(3,086ft3) of cargo onto the aircraft’s main deck.

Boeing

© Boeing

With 50 passengers and baggage, the BBJ C can fly up to 10,770km (5,815nm) and as far as 9,170km with a cargo load of up to eight main deck pallets weighing 9,070kg (20,000lb).


EBACE: Bombardier challenged over quality and cost of Learjet 85

By Niall O’Keeffe

Barbedos Group is demanding that its Learjet 85 deposit be returned immediately, citing concerns over “the questionable value and quality of the Learjet 85 upon final completion”.

Specifically, the Nigerian group is concerned that the quality of the jet might be affected by the demise of Grob Aerospace, which had been due to manufacture the jet’s all-composite fuselage. Grob filed for insolvency in August 2008 and Bombardier moved structural manufacturing for the all-composite Learjet 85 to its factory in Queretaro, Mexico.

“Manufacturing it in Mexico may be just as good as anywhere else, but we know that the prices are cheaper, the cost to manufacture is cheaper,” Stephen Coonan, Barbedos Group’s agent in the US, told Flight Evening News. “The implication is that the quality is not going to be as good as [from] the high-priced technician from Europe.” He adds: “It is a perception. It may be the same jet. But who wants to take an 18 million dollar risk?”

Bombardier Business Aircraft’s senior vice-presidentsales Bob Horner says there is “no procedure in place to refund any deposits” as it is “not a necessary procedure”. The Learjet 85 is “on track” for delivery in 2013, saysHorner. “The company is fully behind this product,” he says.

Horner has offered Coonan the opportunity to meet with him and the Learjet programme’s general manager and deputy. Coonan says he intends to take up the opportunity during EBACE, along with his client.

Bombardier Aerospace (stand7011) has meanwhile introduced extended range options for its Learjet 40XR and Global 5000 business jets, and upgraded its AOG support system in Europe, the company said.

A 496km (268nm) range extension is available on all new Learjet 40XR orders and on aircraft previously ordered and scheduled for delivery in the third quarter of the current fiscal year. The range extension is the result of a312kg (687lb) increase in fuel tank capacity.

Flying at its long-range cruise speed of Mach 0.75, the Learjet 40XR now offers a non-stop range of 3,685km, 15% longer than previously and bringing into range such city pairs as London-Cairo, Singapore-Taipei and Hong Kong-Jakarta.

Capable of seating up to seven passengers, the Learjet 40XR can reach 43,000ft (13,105m) in 23min.

Meanwhile, the first installation of a service bulletin extending the Global 5000’s range by 740km (or 8%) has been completed at Bombardier’s Fort Lauderdale Service Center in Florida. The service bulletin was issued on 21 April. At a typical cruise speed of Mach 0.85, the Global 5000 now has a range of 9,620km, enough to travel from São Paulo to Paris or from Dubai to Perth.

Development work continues on the new Global Vision flightdeck, which will be available for the Global 5000 and Global Express XRS. The cockpit, which incorporates Rockwell Collins‘ Pro Line Fusion avionics suite, completed its power-ontest in winter 2009 andis “on target” for its first flight, on a Global Express XRS, in summer 2009, says Bombardier.

The manufacturer has meanwhile launched an airborne parts delivery service, PartsExpress, and a new mobile response team (MRT) in a bid to provide “faster, more efficient” resolution of aircraft on groundsituations to Learjet, Challenger, and Global Jet operators in Europe.

PartsExpress, launched for US operators in 2007, seeks to minimise downtime by deploying a broad network of aircraft operators, eliminating delays because of thelack of aircraft availability.


US carriers see some cause for optimism

By Lori Ranson

US network airlines had scant opportunity to enjoy fuel prices falling from record highs before the global economic downturn triggered a collapse in demand and wiped out their profits in the first quarter.

Capacity discipline by those carriers that began when fuel hit $140 per barrel during the second half of last year did little to shield those airlines from plummeting traffic during the quarter. Yields were also pressured by deeper-than-normal discounting as airlines attempted numerous fare sales to stimulate demand.

All the major network carriers and Southwest Airlines posted losses for the quarter as losses on fuel hedges from deals brokered during the height of fuel spikes carried over into the first quarter.

Delta Airways

But while no single executive at those airlines is bold enough to officially declare a bottoming out of demand or near-term improving fortunes, carriers appear to have tempered optimism over the fact that “things aren’t getting worse”, says Delta President Ed Bastian.

Signs that the speed at which demand is dropping are somewhat encouraging as Bastian highlights that corporate travel trends continue to soften, “but the pace of decline in business yields and bookings has definitely slowed”. However, he says “I think I would echo the comments of our peers that we’re not ready to call a bottom yet.”

Still, aside from making any attempts to declare a halting of falling demand Delta is predicting profitability in 2009 as “merger synergies and capacity reductions offset the deterioration in revenue” declares Delta chief financial officer Hank Halter. Delta and Northwest Airlines merged in October 2008.

Attempts by some carriers to raise fares during the last few weeks are promising, as US Airways President Scott Kirby believes those efforts are “attitudinally important”.

Kirby expects load factors for US Airways in the second quarter to meet or slightly exceed last year’s levels. “That tends to be a precursor to a stronger fare environment,” he explains, but also cautions that “we really haven’t seen that yet. The fare environment is still pretty ugly at the moment.”

Asked for his view of pricing chief executive of American Airlines parent AMR Gerard Arpey says: “One of the seminal problems in this industry, and has been for many years, is we don’t charge enough for our product”.

Continued Low-cost Carrier Strength

While the US majors grappled with losses in the traditionally weak first quarter, both AirTran Airways and JetBlue Airlines reported milestone profits for the first three months of 2009. For AirTran, its $29 million profit represented an all-time first quarter record net income for the company. JetBlue’s $12 million net income was the first time the carrier posted a first quarter profit since 2005.

Despite the marked shift by low cost carriers into more hybrid models through codesharing pacts and aggressively pursuing more lucrative business travelers, their fundamentals provide a shield not easily accessible by their network counterparts.

Morgan Stanley analyst William Greene believes the domestic focus of low cost carriers “should drive [their] outperformance versus the more internationally exposed [airlines], as the worst may be yet to come for international trends, and Swine Flu adds additional international travel demand risk”.

Even before it posted a first quarter net loss of $794 million, Delta Air Lines said it planns a further 10% cut in its international capacity beginning in September. A weak performance in transatlantic markets forced Continental to revise its capacity reductions for that region by a single percentage point, resulting in an overall decline of 7%-8% for the September time period.

US Airways, who has less international exposure than its network peers, also sees some traction in domestic demand. “The domestic entity is performing so much better than the international entity”, says carrier chief executive Doug Parker.

Bob Fornaro - AirTran Terri Hanson
©Terri Hanson

A significant smaller exposure to international traffic and a “clear advantage” from low cost operations in a soft demand climate has led Morgan Stanley’s Greene to recommend “for the past few weeks that investors begin rotating out of legacy airlines into shares of domestically leveraged low-cost leisure carriers”.

AirTran CEO Bob Fornaro (left) does not argue the carrier’s strict cost discipline supplies a significant benefit in the current environment. Its average 6.73 cent unit costs are one of the best in the US airline industry. Fornaro expects AirTran to achieve profitability in every quarter this year as he says “AirTran will do very well over the next two years if there is no revenue improvementthis is by now a cost-based environment, ideally suited for us right now”.

JetBlue’s first quarter results beat Morgan Stanley’s estimates as Green says “lighter than expected revenues” were offset by improved unit costs excluding fuel. JetBlue chief executive Dave Barger echoes the predictions of his counterpart at AirTran boasting “that we expect to earn a profit in every quarter of 2009”.

Pulling The Ancillary Lever

Both network and low cost carriers say they expect to strengthen their ancillary revenues to buoy lacklustre passenger revenues as any revival in fares or overall demand remains difficult to predict.

US Airways expects to net $400-$500 million annually from ancillary revenues, and recently tacked on a $5 charge for passengers opting to pay checked luggage fees at the airport versus making the payment while checking in online. In 2009 the carrier plans to focus heavily on preferred seats, Kirby explains, as late last year it expanded the number of seats allotted to that category in its total seat pool from 8% to 16%.

Total ancillary revenue per passenger at United Airlines during the first quarter reached $14, a 60% rise year-over-year. Carrier chief executive Glenn Tilton believes United’s transition to a cashless cabin on domestic flights that began during the first quarter will bolster its ancillary revenue strategy as flight attendants now have the ability to upgrade passengers to the carrier’s Economy Plus seating onboard.

JetBlue finds that even though customers are generally paying lower ticket prices, many of its ancillary revenue initiatives “have shown less sensitivity to the weakening economic environment”, says chief executive Barger. He highlights customers “have continued to purchase products to enhance their experiences” such as JetBlue’s extra legroom offering.

JetBlue expects its ancillary revenues to rise 20% in 2009 as product unbundling should help offset an estimated decline of passenger unit revenues of 1%-4%. The carrier’s total estimated unit revenue fort this year is expected to fall within a range of 1% growth to a decrease of 2%.

Yet JetBlue and all other carriers remain cognizant of the fact that any of the initiatives they’re undertaking either on the cost or revenue side will not wipe out the challenges airlines face this year. “We have seen some signs of stabiliSation as the revenue environment appears to have bottomed out,” notes Delta chief executive Richard Anderson. “But it is still a bit early to call, and we expect to face significant headwinds throughout 2009.”


EBACE: Bombardier boosts business jet operating ranges and maintenance services

By Niall O’Keeffe

Bombardier Aerospace (stand7011) has introduced extended range options for its Learjet 40XR and Global 5000 business jets, and upgraded its AOG support system in Europe, the company saidthis morning.

A 496km (268nm) range extension is available on all new Learjet 40XR orders and on aircraft previously ordered and scheduled for delivery in the third quarter of the current fiscal year. The range extension is the result of a312kg (687lb) increase in fuel tank capacity.

Flying at its long-range cruise speed of Mach 0.75, the Learjet 40XR now offers a non-stop range of 3,685km, 15% longer than previously and bringing into range such city pairs as London-Cairo (3,590km), Singapore-Taipei (3,395km) and Hong Kong-Jakarta (3,450km).

Capable of seating up to seven passengers, the Learjet 40XR can reach 43,000ft (13,105m) in 23min.

Billypix
© Billypix

Meanwhile, the first installation of a service bulletin extending the Global 5000’s range by 740km (or 8%) has been completed at Bombardier‘s Fort Lauderdale Service Center in Florida. The service bulletin was issued on 21 April. At a typical cruise speed of Mach 0.85, the Global 5000 now has a range of 9,620km, enough to travel from São Paulo to Paris or from Dubai to Perth.

Development work continues on the new Global Vision flightdeck, which will be available for the Global 5000 and Global Express XRS. The cockpit, which incorporates Rockwell Collins‘ Pro Line Fusion avionics suite, completed its power-ontest in winter 2009 andis “on target” for its first flight, on a Global Express XRS, in summer 2009, says Bombardier.

The manufacturer has meanwhile launched an airborne parts delivery service, branded PartsExpress, and a new mobile response team (MRT) in a bid to provide “faster, more efficient” resolution of aircraft on groundsituations to Learjet, Challenger, and Global Jet operators in Europe.

PartsExpress, launched for US operators in 2007, seeks to minimise downtime by deploying a broad network of aircraft operators, eliminating delays due to lack of aircraft availability. The new MRT comprises six European Aviation Safety Agency-licensed technical and maintenance experts operating under Bombardier Belfast maintenance approval, available round-the-clock to perform AOG maintenance on Global and Challenger jets. An MRT team for Learjet 60swill come into operation near the end of 2009.

As part of the upgrade of its European support network, Bombardier has increased its inventory of the top 25 high-demand parts in its Frankfurt warehouse and claims a 95% stocking level. The facility became non-bonded in 2008.


EBACE: Airbus increases MTOW on its ACJ fleet

By Alan Peaford

Airbus announced this morning that its Airbus Corporate Jetliner (ACJ) has improved performance with a new maximum take-off weight of 76.5t now certificated by the European Aviation Safety Agency.

Vice-president, executive and private aviation Francois Chazelle said today that the MTOW increase of 1t could increase payload or improve range by 300km (170nm) to achieve the 11,100km target.

The gain was made possible by a new load alleviation function that will now be offered as an option on all new-build aircraft and will be available for retrofit on existing models.

© Airbus

Chazelle says the Airbus range of corporate jets from the A318 Elite right through to the A380 Flying Palace are still in demand. “Of course we have seen a slowdown, like everyone else, and we have seen people take opportunities like buying a smaller jet such as a Gulfstream 550 or a Global Express because of discounts while they wait for delivery of the ACJ.”

Corporate jets will take up their full quota of 12 aircraft slots for 2009 and Chazelle says there could be even more. “If an airline order is deferred we could take that slot. We are confident.”

In this morning’s press conference Chazelle confirmed that the European manufacturer received 25 orders last year, with 15 for single-aisle aircraft and 10 for widebodies.

EBACE visitors can see exactly how impressive the ACJ is as VVIP operator Comlux has its ACJ on the static park.