One of the biggest shows of the year, the National Business Aviation Association convention, held in Atlanta late last month, spawned a flurry of announcements of new products and services.Here are just a few of the headlines from the 60th annual show:
Cessna reported a record backlog and orders, pointing to the “unprecedented strength of the business aircraft market, which is creating a firm foundation for the company’s rapid growth,” according to Jack Pelton, chairman, president and CEO.
Last year, Cessna delivered 307 bizjets. This year it expects to deliver 380, while deliveries for 2009 are pegged at 470, according to Pelton. “This extraordinary rate of growth is being driven by strong economies and corporate profits and a rapidly-emerging global marketplace,” he said.
Total backlog as of Aug. 31 is the highest in the company’s history — more than $11 billion, representing roughly 2,700 planes, half of which are business jets, according to Pelton. As of Aug. 31, Cessna had booked orders for 525 business jets, compared to 496 orders booked in all of 2006.
In other news, Cessna reported that its two newest bizjet models, the Citation XLS+ and the CJ4, are progressing toward certification.
The CJ4 – a larger, longer-range version of the CJ line – has finished more than 75% of the detail design stage and is on schedule for first flight in early 2008. Cessna already has taken 130 orders for $8 million jet.
The XLS+ — an upgrade to the mid-size Excel/XLS — completed its maiden flight Aug. 2. FAA certification is expected in the first quarter of 2008. First delivery will occur by the end of 2008. Order book has reached 123 for the jet, priced at $11.6 million.
Cessna also reported that the Garmin G1000 would become standard on all Caravan models.
The company also will offer optional TKS ice protection on cargo pod-equipped Caravans scheduled for delivery during the first half of 2008.
Cessna officials report that Caravan orders this year have already reached 200% of the 2007 goal, leading to production rates beginning in 2008 that are more than double recent volumes.
The University of North Dakota has become the first flight school to order a Mustang from Cessna.
The school, which has a fleet of more than 120 aircraft, will use the jet for executive travel as well as flight training for students.
Cirrus Design has chosen L-3 Communications’ SmartDeck Flight Controls and Display System as the avionics for “the-jet.”
“Cirrus has always maintained that easy-to-use, intuitive avionics are key to increased air safety and necessary to grow the market,” said Alan Klapmeier, Cirrus co-founder and CEO. “L-3 has embraced this philosophy – that is why we chose SmartDeck for this development phase of our personal jet. While it is technologically advanced, it is remarkably powerful, yet easy to use.”
FlightSafety International has been tapped to provide factory authorized training for the HondaJet.
Training will be offered initially at Honda’s facility in Greensboro, N.C.
Pilot and maintenance technician training programs will be conducted using a full motion flight simulator designed and manufactured by FlightSafety as well as other advanced flight training devices.
Mercury Computer Systems, Inc. has integrated Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) on two platforms for the VistaNav Synthetic Vision System: the CIS-2000 and CIS-2200 Cockpit Information Systems. Both qualify as Commercial Class II EFB (electronic flight bag) systems and are designed to support traditional chart viewing, Synthetic Vision, flight planning and performance data.
The FLIR image has been integrated as a display option within the 3D/2D split-view navigation screen of the VistaNav Synthetic Vision System. This provides a FLIR image superimposed with aircraft attitude information within the 3D pane and VistaNav 2D navigation information with TAWS on the 2D pane.
Adam Aircraft has partnered with SAFERjett, an aviation training and education company, for all pilot and maintenance training for the A500 and A700.
Initially created as a Crew Resource Management (CRM) company, SAFERjett made a transformation in late 2004 to focus on the VLJ market. Its training facility will be based at Fort Worth Alliance Airport. It is expected to open in late 2008.
Piper Aircraft selected Garmin to supply avionics for its PiperJet, which was unveiled at last year’s NBAA convention.
“Piper has had a long and close history with Garmin, and we are excited about what they will bring to the PiperJet,” said James Bass, Piper’s president and CEO.
Although the PiperJet is not scheduled for delivery until 2010, customers “can rest assured that Garmin’s all-glass avionics suite will include the latest, state-of-the-art technology,” Garmin officials promised.
In other news, Garmin’s G1000 has become standard equipment on EADS Socata’s TBM 850.
“Our customers asked for an integrated cockpit panel that would ease pilot workload, save weight and reduce the cost of ownership,” explained Jean-Michel Leonard, EADS Socata’s chairman and CEO. “Jacques Lordon, our vice president of general aviation, and his engineering design team evaluated and tested all the systems offered on the market during the past several years and they concluded that the Garmin G1000 with its new autopilot was the best choice.”
ARINC has added wireless mobile flight planning to its portfolio of services for business jet operators. The new service, ARINC Direct Mobile, is designed for pilots who want to create and submit flight plans using a BlackBerry or other personal wireless device.