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Fri, Jan 04, 2013

ANN 2012 Year In Review: Business Aviation

New Airplanes Come Online, More Introduced, But Fights Over Helicopter Noise And User Fees Continue Through The Year

Business aviation led the fight against user fees and an administration that characterized it as being the exclusive realm of corporate VIPs and other very wealthy individuals. The sector saw its share of new airplane introductions, as well as the certification of Gulfstream's long-awaited G650 with deliveries getting underway at year's end, and a production certificate issued for the Eclipse 550. Meanwhile, certain members of Congress continued their crusade against "helicopter noise" on both coasts. Read on for some of the top stories from business aviation in 2012.


January

Bombardier Aerospace announced that it closed the year with a firm order for five Challenger 850 jets from an undisclosed customer. The total value of the order is approximately $156 million US, based on the 2011 list price for typically equipped aircraft.

The NTSB's preliminary findings from a December 26th helicopter accident which occurred near Green Cove Springs, FL, offered few clues as to what may have happened to the aircraft.

In its fourth-best year for deliveries since 1990, Daher-Socata announced that 38 TBM 850s were delivered in 2011, bringing to 260 the total number of its latest very fast turboprop aircraft received by customers since being introduced in 2006.

Transport Canada approved a 500 lbs. weight increase for the Bell 429 ... increasing the aircraft's maximum gross weight to 7,500 lbs.

A little more than a year after its public introduction at NBAA 2010, the Citation Ten prototype made its first flight. The flight lasted more than two hours and included tests of stability and control, handling qualities, functional operations including the autopilot and autothrottle system, engine operability and avionics before landing.

Bell Helicopter was reportedly getting very close to unveiling its new civilian helicopter, which it is developing for use primarily in the offshore oil market.

As the business aviation community grapples with a new European tax on aircraft emissions, the NBAA is asking its members to call on their U.S. Senators to take action on the issue.

 
February

Bell Helicopter and Eurocopter had very different interpretations of a Canadian Federal Court's ruling over a patent infringement case brought by Eurocopter. The two companies issued news releases, and both claim the court ruled in their favor.

The FAA issued an emergency airworthiness directive (EAD) (2012-02-51) for Bell Helicopter Textron Canada Limited (Bell) Model 206L, 206L-1, 206L-3, and 206L-4 helicopters with certain main rotor blades installed.

A Gulfstream G2 owned by actor John Travolta was donated to the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame, and was on display for the museum's air show in April.

The FAA issued a Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin (SAIB) following reports of pitch trim freezing on four Citation Mustang airplanes, and offers recommendations to prevent the issue from occurring.

Two ATPs aboard a G150 for a re-positioning flight ran into trouble with the thrust reversers on the airplane, according to a preliminary report from the NTSB. The airplane overran the end of the runway at BWI after landing.

On 23 December 2011, R66 serial number 0100 rolled off Robinson's production line, one year and two months after the R66 Turbine received FAA certification.

Bell Helicopter unveiled the first public view of what they call the world’s first “super-medium” helicopter, the Bell 525 Relentless, early on the opening day of the 2012 Heli-Expo in Dallas, Texas.

Eurocopter showed off their latest variant in the distinguished EC130 program, dubbed the EC130-T2. Enhancements to comfort, operational performance and versatility provided the foundation for this upgrade program.

AgustaWestland said it was moving forward with the development of the AW609 tiltrotor program following the completion of its acquisition in November 2011. The company will continue the certification process with the FAA targeting AW609 certification in the first half of 2016.


March

Having failed to get helicopter noise legislation into the compromise FAA authorization bill, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) broadened the scope of his proposal and tried to attach it to the highway trust fund authorization bill currently being debated on Capitol Hill.

The Gulfstream G280 received a provisional type certificate (PTC) from the FAA. It obtained a PTC from the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel (CAAI) on Dec. 29, 2011.

The 400th manufactured Learjet 60 business jet, a Learjet 60 XR model, was delivered to Cinépolis, a corporation based in Morelia, Mexico, during a special ceremony in Morelia on February 28, 2012.

The European Commission gave the go-ahead to the governments of France and Italy to provide state aid to EADS and Finmeccanica for the development of new civilian aircraft.

The prototype of Cessna's new Citation M2, announced less than six months earlier, made its first flight. The flight lasted a little more than an hour and a half and included tests of the avionics system, autopilot, engine system, aircraft systems and instrument approaches.

The FAA approved type certification for GE Aviation's H80 turboprop engine. The move follows similar certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) that the engine received in December.

An amendment offered by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) to the federal highway bill was included in the final version of the legislation passed by the Senate Tuesday. The amendment eased restrictions on air tour operators flying over the Grand Canyon.

A 'prearranged' bankruptcy may be imminent for Hawker Beechcraft, Inc. Owned by Goldman Sachs's private equity arm and Canada's Onex, media reports were disseminated suggesting that the aircraft builder was preparing to file for bankruptcy protection in consultation with its major lenders.

 
April

MD Helicopters released details of its new scout helicopter—the MD 540-F, the newest addition to MD’s fleet of single engine turbine helicopters.

Hawker Beechcraft announced that it had extended the filing date of its Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended Dec. 31, 2011. The Company filed a Form 12b-25 Notification of Late Filing with the U.S.

Dassault’s newest aircraft, the twin-engine Falcon 2000S, completed its first year of flight testing. The test aircraft accumulated nearly 300 flight hours in more than 100 flights.

A tornado swept through south Wichita, causing significant damage but apparently no major injuries. Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems took a direct hit, officials said, as did the Oaklawn neighborhood and a mobile home park.

EASA certified the Beechcraft King Air 250, the latest derivative of the turboprop Beechcraft King Air line. The Beechcraft King Air 250 received FAA certification in June 2011, followed by type certification from the National Civil Aviation Agency of Brazil (ANAC) in November.

The FAA awarded a production certificate ... #550 ... to Eclipse Aerospace, paving the way for production of the new Eclipse 550 twin-engine jet.

Pratt & Whitney Canada's (P&WC) PW210 engine was been selected by Eurocopter to power the next-generation X4 helicopter. The PW210-powered X4 is expected to enter into service by 2017.


May

Hawker Beechcraft filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy code.

Embraer Executive Jets made its first international delivery of a US-made Phenom 100 when Canadian Businessman Tasso Kostelidis took delivery on March 31.

NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen and GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce had pretty glowing reviews for a new report issued by the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC), confirming the critical importance of business aircraft manufacturing to America’s industrial base.

The FAA revised its Order 8900.1 field approval policy for aviation safety inspectors, correcting the challenges raised by the AEA late in 2011.

Representatives from four levels of government joined Bombardier Learjet executives and other stakeholders to highlight the official ground breaking ceremony marking the expansion of Wichita’s Learjet site.

The successful first flight of the Hawker 400XPR engine test article was announced by Hawker Beechcraft Global Customer Support (GCS). This was the first flight of an upgraded aircraft with new Williams International FJ44-4A-32 engines.

The first prototype of AgustaWestland's new generation AW169 flew for the first time. The AW169 program is on schedule to achieve basic civil certification in 2014.

Another trade show, another new airplane announcement for Cessna. The Wichita planemaker rolled out its new Citation Longitude at the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE).

Bombardier Aerospace says it has redefined the light jet landscape by launching the Learjet 70 and Learjet 75 aircraft at the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) in Geneva.

Hawker Beechcraft’s bankruptcy reorganization could be seen as a chance for the company’s competitors to buy up parts of the struggling airframer, but the company said it will emerge as a stronger, debt-free industry player.


June

A Gulfstream G280 recently set an unconfirmed city-pair speed record from Paris to White Plains, N.Y., making the flight in 7 hours, 40 minutes.

The N.C. Department of Transportation, North Carolina State University and other partners are working collaboratively to establish a remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) field at Hyde County Airport.

At the first International Eclipse Dealer and Sales Conference in Albuquerque, Eclipse Aerospace announced the official launch of initial production of the new model Eclipse 550 twin-engine jet.

A lawyer representing Hawker Beechcraft in bankruptcy proceedings told a court that the company was open to the idea of its being sold, and the Dow Jones Daily Bankruptcy Review indicates that interested parties had until June 7th to submit documentation of their bids for HBC.

NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen testified before a Senate committee that the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU-ETS) "singles out a great American industry for discriminatory treatment."

In the largest aircraft purchase in private aviation history, NetJets Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway company, announced it will add up to 425 new aircraft to its worldwide fleet under purchase agreements with Cessna and Bombardier.

Former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson visited the new Kestrel plant in Superior, and the airplane factory was the first stop on his tour of the city.

Kestrel aircraft officially made the move from Duluth, MN to Superior, WI, opening their new offices with about 31 people, including CEO Alan Klapmeier. Some believe Kestrel will one day be the largest company in Superior.

A firm order for five Learjet 75 aircraft was placed by London Air Services (LAS), according to a news release from Bombardier. The order is valued at approximately $65 million based on the 2012 list price for typically equipped aircraft.

Among the documents contained in the NTSB's public docket of information which will be used to determine the probable cause of the April 2nd, 2011 accident involving a flight-test version of the G650 are letters exchanged between NTSB Chair Deborah A.P. Hersman and Gulfstream president Larry Flynn about the company's role in the accident investigation.

Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA) granted a type certificate to Embraer for its Phenom 300 light jet.


July

The Highway Transportation Bill conference report cleared both chambers of Congress by wide margins late Friday went to President Obama’s desk for signature. What was not included in the final version of the highway bill was the so-called "Alexander Amendment", which had been offered by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), which would have allowed the National Parks Service to exercise control of some airspace over the Grand Canyon.

The dispute over a helicopter tour operation which opened over the Memorial Day weekend in Myrtle Beach, SC, was headed to court, as resident's living near the helipad say their home values have suffered as a result of the operation.

The FAA agreed to a request from California Congressman Howard Berman (D-CA) and others to hold a town-hall style meeting in Los Angeles on the subject of noise generated by helicopter traffic.

Hawker Beechcraft filed paperwork in bankruptcy court that establishes a framework for resolving the company's debts with its creditors, and also how it plans to transfer ownership of the company to those creditors.

The second prototype of the AW169, a new generation light intermediate helicopter, successfully completed its maiden flight at Cascina Costa in Italy.

Viking Air Limited of Victoria, BC, Canada received FAA Type Certification for the DHC-6 Series 400 Twin Otter, adding to the list of nine countries already recognizing the type since program launch in 2007.

The FAA approved the S-92 helicopter manufactured by Sikorsky for Sea State 6 (SS6) conditions, completing the S-92A emergency flotation system sea state expansion and bringing further mission capability to operators.

The new generation of AguestaWestland helicopters made its first ever public appearance at the Farnborough International Airshow.

The CEO of Bell Helicopter thinks three large U.S. military aircraft programs along with strong commercial demand for rotary-wing aircraft will sustain the Textron subsidiary even if sequestration forces major cuts in the defense department.

The Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Management, chaired by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), held a hearing entitled “Using Unmanned Aerial Systems Within the Homeland: Security Game Changer?” on Capitol Hill.

Hawker Beechcraft celebrated its 80th anniversary this year, and planned a celebration at their display at AirVenture.

Piper Aircraft, Inc. reached a 10-year agreement with Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC) for the continuing purchase of PT6A-42A turboprop engines to power Piper's flagship aircraft, the single-engine M-Class Meridian.

Hawker Beechcraft presented a plan to U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Stuart Bernstein that would pay $5.3 million in bonuses to eight top executives, saying they are a "talented and capable group" who have a lot of work to do in helping the company emerge from its current state.

 
August

Some 170 workers at Hawker Beechcraft's Little Rock factory received layoff notices, as the company negotiates the sale of its GA and business jet divisions to a Chinese concern.

About 150 people turned out for a meeting held by FAA representatives in Sherman Oaks, CA, to let the agency know their views about helicopter operations in the area.

With the European general aviation markets essentially stagnant and the Asian markets evidently running out of steam, hopeful eyes in the business jet industry are turning toward Latin America.

The first Bell 407GX to be operated in Africa was delivered by National Airways Corporation, a Bell Helicopter independent representative.

The Department of Civil Aviation in Thailand became the thirteenth country to approve the increased maximum gross weight for the Bell 429 based on Transport Canada's certification.

The chairs of the House Transportation Committee and the Aviation Subcommittee wrote a letter to the FAA expressing concerns about the establishment of the Long Island North Shore Route rule, and urging the agency to give the matter additional thought.

Embraer Executive Jets passed a major milestone in the mid-light Legacy 450 program when the first part was milled for the business jet, ushering in the beginning of fabrication.

Cessna announced at the Latin American Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition (LBACE) that it had increased the projected range capability of its planned new midsize jet, the Citation Latitude, once again.

Multiple-plane orders are often a sign that a company has gotten their business model right, and if that's the case here, Nextant Aerospace said it was hitting its stride with an order from Asia Pacific Jets for 10 of its re-manufactured 400XT aircraft.

The FAA denied a petition from Bell Helicopter to increase the maximum gross weight of the Model 429 helicopter from 7,000 to 7,500 pounds. The company had sought the exemption to allow the aircraft to carry additional equipment and/or fuel.

Cessna's Citation Ten regained prominence as the fastest civil aircraft in the world with an increase of its maximum speed to Mach .935. Cessna announced this speed record with partner, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams (CGRT) and their owner Chip Ganassi at the GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma in Sonoma, CA.


September

The FAA and the civil Aviation Authority of Israel (CAAI) certified Gulfstream's G280 aircraft. The certificates verify the airworthiness of the aircraft’s design and are among the final steps required before Gulfstream delivers the first fully outfitted G280 to a customer.

It’s been tough going for the general aviation industry, with worldwide business jet deliveries plunging to half their 2008 peak. “It could have been worse if it weren't for a few pockets of strength in some developing parts of the world”, noted industry analyst and advisor Brian Foley.

Embraer’s entry-level Phenom 100 executive jet received the Validation of Type Certificate issued by Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

Bombardier Aerospace’s Learjet 75 jet continued to achieve its development milestones with the first powering up of the aircraft’s electrical systems on the Wichita production line.

Following on the heels of the certification of the G280, Gulfstream's ultra-large-cabin, ultra-long-range Gulfstream G650 business-jet aircraft received a type certificate from the FAA.

Eurocopter says the U.S. helicopter market is poised for a strong recovery, and that could push the company's sales to a new record.

In a report titled "Civil Aircraft: The Market for Business Jet Aircraft," MarketResearch.com said that the market for business jet aircraft is showing signs of recovery from the global economic downturn. Recent corporate profitability signals the potential for future market improvement.

With the arrival of the first wing and fuselage in late August, Embraer Executive Jets’ assembly facility in Melbourne, FL, added production of the Phenom 300 light aircraft to the two-shift assembly operation. Full development of the assembly line, including the addition of the Phenom 300, will be completed in the first quarter 2013.

The helicopter tour operator that generated so much controversy in Myrtle Beach, SC, faced being grounded after a vote by the Horry County Zoning Board of Appeals. He later won a round in court that allowed the company to keep flying while the issue was being resolved.

Honda Aircraft Company broke ground on a new Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul facility (MRO) located at the company’s world headquarters at the Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro, NC.

U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), a senior member on Senate Armed Services Committee, and U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), also a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, announced the formation of the Senate Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Caucus.

 
October

Cessna, in conjunction with Innotech-Execaire, Cessna’s authorized sales representative in Canada, announced an agreement with AirSprint Private Aviation, based in Calgary, Alberta, for a minimum of nine Citation CJ2+ aircraft.

In its August and year-to-date business aircraft market information released, JetNet reported that while the pre-owned market continues to show improvement, all market metrics have been slow to recover.

The former CEO of Cessna, Jack Pelton, one of GA's most outspoken advocates, has let the Mayor of Wichita, Carl Brewer, know that he is not happy with the anti-aviation message the Obama administration keeps repeating... In a Facebook posting, he sent a message expressing just that.

Leaders of the machinists union at Bombardier in Wichita rejected the company's latest contract offer and recommended that their members vote to decline management's contract offer and go on strike.

American Eurocopter has delivered the company’s first EC130 T2 to Maverick Aviation Group. The EC130 T2 is Eurocopter’s newest model, introduced to the industry at this year’s Heli-Expo.

Bombardier Learjet said that following an official vote, Wichita employees belonging to the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) union had rejected a proposed labor agreement and voted in favor of a strike.

The FAA published an NPRM in the Federal Register that would amend the regulations for repair stations by revising the system of ratings, the repair station certification requirements, and the regulations on repair stations providing maintenance for air carriers.

The pilots of a business jet which was involved in a mid-air collision with a Brazilian airliner in 2006 will be re-tried in absentia for their role in the accident.

The FAA has approved the type certificate for the S-76D helicopter, moving the aircraft forward to its highly anticipated delivery into the medium-sized marketplace.

A group of local, state, and federal elected officials representing the eastern portion of Long Island, NY, renewed a petition with the FAA to mandate an over-water route for helicopters flying to East Hampton Airport (KHTO).

Hawker Beechcraft executives kicked off the NBAA convention on something of a somber note in one of the first news conferences on the schedule for the show. Hawker Beechcraft Chairman Bill Boisture said that while the company is "doing business in the normal course," a lot of decisions remain to be made as the company progresses through and emerges from bankruptcy.


November

Caroline Daniels, chairman of GAMA, said the state of the industry remains a “mixed picture.” Daniels, along with GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce and NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen, shared their perspectives during NBAA2012’s Media Breakfast.

Hawker Beechcraft Corporation (HBC) announced during the 2012 NBAA Convention in Orlando, FL, that it has signed orders for nine new Beechcraft products with a total value of more than $34 million.

GE Honda Aero Engines said it expected to complete FAA certification testing on its HF120 engine by the end of 2012.

Dassault Falcon's 500th Falcon 900, a Falcon 900LX, is in final assembly in Bordeaux-Merignac (France), marking yet another significant milestone for one of the world's most popular families of business jets.

Hawker Beechcraft Corporation (HBC) said it had delivered the 7,000th Beechcraft King Air since the legendary line of twin-engine turboprops began production in 1964.

Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Director George H. Cohen issued a statement regarding the work stoppage involving Bombardier Learjet and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) Local 639 in Wichita, Kansas.

The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) achieved a major milestone for the aviation industry as it flew the first civil jet powered by 100 percent unblended biofuel.

Members of the International Association of Machinist ... on strike against Bombardier Learjet in Wichita since October 8 ... voted to end their walkout and accept a tentative contract worked out between the union and the company.

Cessna entered into a joint venture contract with China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Company Ltd. (CAIGA), in accordance with their previously announced strategic agreement, for the formation of a joint venture company to conduct final assembly of Cessna Citation XLS+ aircraft in China for the Chinese market.

The first wing shipment for Bombardier's Learjet 85 jet arrived at the Wichita assembly line and was in the process of being readied for mating to the fuselage of Flight Test Vehicle one (FTV1).


December

Dassault Falcon sees demand for business jets recovering throughout the Middle East, spurred on by large regional operators and the increased globalization of commerce.

Embraer Executive Jets’ first made-in-the-USA Phenom 300 was rolled out and made its first flight. The aircraft joined the production line in September.

A congressman in southern California said he would take up the fight against what he says are "persistent fly-overs" by helicopters in the areas around Los Angeles.

Eurocopter conducted the first flight of its no. 1 series-production EC175, and confirmed the performance of this next-generation multi-role helicopter.

The recently passed FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 included a provision requiring air tour operators conducting tours over national parks and abutting tribal lands to submit reports to the FAA and the National Park Service (NPS).

The first fully outfitted ultra-large-cabin, ultra-long-range Gulfstream G650 aircraft was delivered to its new owner... an unnamed U.S. customer.

Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. recently received two important certifications for its new flagship aircraft, the G650.  The company received the Production Certificate (PC) from the FAA Atlanta Manufacturing Inspection District Office, and also earned a Type Certificate for the airplane from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

FMI: www.aero-news.net

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