November 2010 Archives
If you're a connoiseur of Flight International's long running cutaways you won't want to miss getting your hands on next week's issue of Flight International (30 November). It has a poster drawing of the Falcon 900LX, the latest version of Dassault's large cabin trijet which fits between the French manufacturer's two-engine 2000 and 7X trijet. We've also test flown the aircraft to see what difference blended wingtips have made, compared with its conventionally-winged 900EX predecessor.
And cutaways fans will not want to miss our last two issues of the year either, which have a brace of Bell military helicopters. The 14 December edition will contain the OH-58 Kiowa, while the festive issue the following week has the AH-1Z Viper.
This week's Flight International (23 November) has one of the best-looking, most comprehensive feature packages on the Space Shuttle you will see.
Compiled by our US team, the 13-page feature looks at the legacy of the programme as it reaches the end of its life after 30 years, and at what will replace it.
Test pilot Mike Gerzanics experiences what it's like to "fly" the Shuttle...or at least a Shuttle simulator in Houston. Artist Tim Bicheno-Brown has done detailed sideviews of each ship. We also have a 30-year timeline tracking the Shuttle's progress from its maiden flight on 12 April 1981 to the most-recent, and possibly last ever landing, Atlantis's touch down in May.
Operators such as Falcon Aviation, AJA and Prestige Jet have moved in over the past few years and the airport has a rather drab private terminal as well as a somewhat over the top "royal palace" VIP facility. But the real transformation is about to happen when the military moves out completely next year and owner Abu Dhabi Airports (ADAC) begins ripping down much of the fabric of the site and turning what still looks like a 1970s military facility into what it predicts will be the world's best business aviation airport.
Find out about the plans in our 30 November issue.
It is always quite hard to cut through the hype in that region. Until the global financial crash, which affected the Middle East's commercial nerve-centre Dubai more than most, every ultra-rich businessman seemed to be pouring millions into new business aviation ventures, often based around acquiring rapidly-appreciating jets. The period from 2006 to 2008 saw a flurry of opportunistic but fragile start-ups, many of which have now collapsed in a glut of oversupply.
The sudden growth also outpaced both the provision of infrastructure - FBOs, airport capacity, maintenance facilities, training centres and the like - and the ability of national regulators, used to supporting big flag-carrier airlines, to get their heads around business aviation.
So in a way, the downturn of 2008 provided a reality check, leaving the region with a mix of more soundly-based home-grown operators and a number of well-known European and US brands which have established their own foothold there: the likes of Gama, Air Partner, Comlux, Jet Aviation and ExecuJet.
Everyone I talked to was in confident mood. Interest from within the region is increasing and more high net worths and businesses are becoming aware of what private aviation can offer. Bookings for the MEBA show are up considerably from two years ago.
But it is still a difficult market in which to work. Operators can find it taking a year to add an aircraft to their AoC. There is a significant grey market - privately-owned aircraft being illegally used for charter - which the authorities seem reluctant to clamp down on. Busy airports, such as Dubai International, see little benefit in being business aviation friendly when it is the big airliners of Emirates and other scheduled carriers that provide the large landing and handling fees.
I'll be writing more about this in our MEBA scene-setter, which is published on 30 November.