General

LightSquared has come up with what it seems to feel is a reasonable explanation for recent test results showing that its proposed 4G data network will interfere with GPS navigation. They say the tests were "rigged." According to the company, GPS devices tested by the Air Force Space Command for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration were "cherry picked ... in secret" to include only models most likely to be susceptible to interference. Many of them, it adds, have already been discontinued. "In fact," a company communiqué adds, "the only mass market device alleged to 'fail' during this round of testing performed flawlessly during the Technical Working Group testing, which used best practice protocols agreed to by all parties, thus raising doubts about the integrity of [the] process."

The European Business Aviation Assn (EBAA) has come out against the European Union's new Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). While supporting the use of market-based measures to slow carbon emissions, EBAA CEO Fabio Gamba suggests, "Business aviation is treated unfairly compared with other modes of air transport. On average, business aircraft operators must acquire up to 96% of their historical emissions in permits compared with only 15% for airlines." EBAA Pres Brian Humphries adds, "It is deeply unfortunate that member states have so far decided against coupling the small emitters' reporting tool with single point verification. In many cases, for smaller emitters the costs for monitoring and reporting, and particularly verification, far outweigh the costs linked to acquiring CO2 permits."

Italy has introduced a new luxury tax on private aircraft. Levies will be on a sliding scale, from 1.50 euros per kilogram for aircraft under 1000 kg to 7.55 euros per kg for aircraft over 10,000 kg, with helicopters paying double that. The tax applies not only to aircraft owned in Italy, but to private aircraft of any nationality that remain in the country longer than 48 hrs. Airlines and charter aircraft are exempt from the tax. "It looks like they really want to put an end to general aviation in this country," says Massimo Levy of AOPA Italy. "Can you imagine an English tourist with a private plane being obliged to pay 3500 euros 'luxury tax' at the end of his long weekend in Italy? Or the American businessman arriving with his Citation remaining for more than 2 days? What will happen now to Italian GA? I have no idea. It looks like we really might have reached the end of the road."

Industry

Bombardier has delivered a new Challenger 605 to Munich, Germany-based ImperialJet. ImperialJet reports strong demand for its Challenger fleet throughout 2011, particularly in Russia and Saudi Arabia. In Dec 2010, through its affiliates, ImperialJet ordered 2 new Challenger 605s and 5 new Learjet 85s. The Learjets are not scheduled to enter service until 2014.

 

Embraer reported its 4Q2011 figures for commercial and executive jet deliveries in January. Overall deliveries for the quarter were down 11% over the same quarter in 2010, but while Em­braer's commercial segment delivered 105 aircraft throughout the year—up slightly from 100 in 2010—delivery totals for 2011 show a decline in the executive segment from 144 to 99.
Embraer delivered 41 Phenom 100s and 42 Phenom 300s in 2011, in addition to 13 Legacy 600/650s and 3 Lineage 1000s. These figures show a marked contrast to 2010, when Embraer delivered 100 Phenom 100s and 26 Phenom 300s, 10 Legacy 600/650s (plus 1 military) and 8 Lineage 1000s.
At the end of Dec 2011, the world­wide fleet of Phenom 100s and 300s stood at more than 300. Of these, 69 were Phenom 300s and 238 were Phenom 100s (including 4 military and the first US-assembled example). A total of 14 Lineage 1000s have been delivered. —Phil Rose

Bombardier has announced plans to expand Learjet operations at ICT (Mid-Continent, Wichita KS). First to come will be new paint, production flight test and delivery facilities worth $52.7 million. Also in the works is what Bombardier calls a new "center of excellence of engineering and information technology." The expansion is expected to create 450 new jobs over 7–10 years as the company ramps up for production of the Learjet 85, scheduled for deliveries starting in 2013.

Cessna's Citation Ten prototype took to the air for the first time on Jan 16. Superficially identical to the Citation X, the updated model is actually about 15 in longer. With Rolls-Royce AE 3007C2 engines, it has a certified ceiling at FL510. Cessna claims a max cruise of 527 kts for the model, with a max range of 3242 nm. The Citation Ten is equipped with the Garmin G5000 panel, combining nav, com, systems and synthetic vision. Certification is expected in early 2013, with first deliveries in the second half of that year.

Deliveries of the Daher-Socata TBM850 remained steady in 2011, with 38 aircraft shipped to customers. US customers took 32 of the planes, with 4 going to Latin America and 2 each to Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. The company's 600th TBM850 left the factory in Oct 2011. As of Jan 1, 2012, TBM850s had racked up nearly 910,000 hrs of flight time, the company reports.

Cessna's parent company has quashed rumors that the troubled aircraft manufacturer might soon revive a $775-million project to develop the supermidsize Citation Columbus. Textron Pres & CEO Scott Donnelly says the company's first priority is to protect its leadership in small and medium jets. Since 2008, Cessna's backlog has shrunk from $16.0 billion to just $2.2 billion, thanks in part to its customers' recession woes and in part to growing competition from Embraer. In a recent interview, Donnelly predicted that the shrunken market for smaller jets will soon rebound. "I believe there is no fundamental change in why people buy light to midsize jets," he said.

The Jet Business has opened what it calls "the world's first corporate aviation showroom for business jet aircraft" in London's Belgravia district. The Jet Business Pres Steve Varsano's latest venture is designed to help ultra-high-net-worth individuals, government officials and other potential customers plan the purchase or sale of corporate jets. Centerpiece of the showroom is the full-size fuselage of a corporate jet, surrounded by electronic floor-to-ceiling screens showing comparative images of bizjets and full-size cabin cross sections. A customized iPad app compares and contrasts aircraft models according to the customer's service needs and budget.

Aviation analysts Conklin & de Decker, of Orleans MA, are predicting a mixed, but modestly positive, year for business aircraft sales in 2012. The only really bright spot, according to company VP David Wyndham, is large-cabin jets. Midsize and smaller jets will see relatively little sales growth, with turboprops remaining flat. All this is tied to weak overall growth amid rising corporate profits expected for the US economy in 2012. The helicopter market remains murky, owing to the combination of strong need in Asia with a shortage of infrastructure and trained pilots.


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