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ATLANTA -- It's hard to keep up with what day it is when you're at an air show. Eventually it all blurs together and you just lose count. Technically we're discussing the official day one of NBAA, though Mary and I had been there for two days already with press day on Monday. Whatever the count is, here's our rundown of Tuesday's activities at the show. Our third and final wrap up should be out on Friday with footage in transit.
ATLANTA -- Personal jet or entry level jet?
When Piper Aircraft's single engine Piperjet demonstrator (N360PJ) flew for the first time during Oshkosh in 2008, it joined a growing marketplace of personal jets alongside the likes of the Cirrus Vision SF-50, Diamond D-Jet and Epic Victory Jet. With the halving of the under-$25 million market and the near-decimation of the personal jet concept, Piper took its original proof-of-concept demonstrator and staked out a position above the personal jet market and just below the entry level jet/very light jet market dominated by the Cessna Mustang and Embraer Phenom 100.
However, Piper's approach to its new $2.5 million 2014 Piperjet Altaire takes the cabin of a very light/entry leve jet and melds it with a single Williams FJ44-3AP top rear mounted turbofan. The scaled up cabin of the original Piperjet has become a four-person cabin with two additional seats up front in the cockpit, with an optional seventh seat in place of the lavatory or entertainment cabinet.
I had a chance to sit down with Piper executive vice president Randy Groom inside the mock-up of the Altaire on display at NBAA on Tuesday and he said the aircraft's chief selling point is its 25% better operating costs than comparative twin engine entry level/very light jets. With a 35,000ft cruising altitude, 360kt cruising speed and 1,300nm range, the performance is roughly on par with, and in some cases exceeds, the aircraft it competes against.
Many people I spoke with at the show about the Altaire immediately comment on the idea of a single-engine jet and the reliability of the powerplant. Though single-engine aircraft are far from uncommon, with aircraft even larger than Phenom 100s and Mustangs with single-engine turboprops. Piper is banking on delivering that same level of reliability and safety with its Altaire. Williams aims for a 4,000h time before overhaul maintenance interval for the single powerplant and a 2,000h hot section inspection interval.
Groom said he was excited at the reception of Piper's new jet here at NBAA and had already sold several right from the company's stand on the show floor. With its touted-lean economic performance as its selling point, Piper aims to provide an operating cost advantage over its larger competitors.
After two-years of watching shaky air taxi/small private jet operators struggle to launch or die trying, the Piperjet could change the face of this model. However, Piper is banking on a return to growth on the small end of the jet market, which has shown itself to be particularly vulnerable to economic volatility. Continued weakness in the personal jet segment is expected to continue, while entry level/very light jets are forecast to make up 25% of deliveries over the next 10 years; Piper's market-straddling Altaire may find itself in the right spot when it enters service in 2014.
Piperjet marketing video available below the fold
The flight test program marks the first time in Boeing's history that a lead flight test aircraft is slated to begin its service life as VIP configured aircraft.
"It's pretty exciting for us in our little BBJ world to have the first airplane to be going through the manufacturing process," says Steve Taylor, Boeing Business Jets president.
Taylor says the four-month certification process is "not all that dramatic, it's two airplanes. One of them is a Lufthansa airplane and one of them is our VIP airplane. It's a very short flight test program because virtually all the work is done on the freighter."
Many of the troubles encountered during the development of the 747-8F are expected to be ironed out ahead of testing the 467-seat three-class 747-8I, including the limit cycle oscillation encountered on the Nabtesco-supplied inboard aileron power control unit.
"The aileron actuator that has been giving us fits," says Taylor. "That's the same actuator [on the 747-8I]."
The certification campaign will cover the end of the first quarter and the majority of the second quarter and culminate with first delivery of a refurbished RC001, in green configuration, to an interior completion center, along with four additional VIP -8Is, during a two month period at the end of 2011.
"I lay awake at night trying to figure out how I'm going to deliver five of them in the compressed period we have," says Taylor.
Three more VIP 747-8Is will be delivered in 2012, rounding out the eight aircraft backlog. Lufthansa's first -8I is slated to be handed over to the German flag carrier in early 2012.
Photo Credit Boeing
The Global 7000 (PDF factsheet) and 8000 (PDF factsheet) started life more than two years ago as a single codenamed aircraft, the M170, a 7000nm jet, roughly the same size as today's Global Express XRS.
That first concept later morphed into two aircraft with the help of 150 Bombardier Global customers, which naturally divided themselves into two distinct categories; one group prioritizing range, and the other to cabin space.
The aircraft, says Brad Nolan director of product planning for Bombardier business aircraft, is a response to the rapid economic growth of India, China and Latin America the need to connect points directly was put at the forefront.
"As wealth was spreading across the globe, we saw the need for a longer range airplane," says Nolan. "We also saw customers who were more centrally located on the globe, but a key group of operators was looking for absolutely the largest cabin in business aviation."
Bombardier aims to best the high-speed range of the Gulfstream G650, with long legs of 5,650nm and 5,100nm at Mach .90 for the Global 8000 and 7000, and 7,900nm and 7,300nm at Mach .85, respectively. Gulfstream announced Monday that its G650 has validated its 5,000nm range at a M.90 cruising speed.
The Global 7000 and 8000 will also sport price tags of $65 million in 2010 dollars, compared to around $58.5 million for the Gulfstream G650.
The two new jets will take elements from the existing Global Express XRS and Global 5000 for the 7000 and 8000. The 7000 and 8000 will be 135in and 27in longer than the Global Express XRS, respectively. Additionally, the horizontal and vertical tail will be mostly common across the Global family.
The all-new wing, one of two sources for the Global 7000 and 8000's long legs, is currently in wind tunnel testing says Steve Ridolfi, President, Bombardier Business Aircraft. The thinner high-speed wing will feature four pairs of spoilers, two pairs of flaps and three pairs of slats. Wind tunnel testing is expected to continue for at least six to eight months. Each aircraft will feature a 104ft 4in wingspan.
Bombardier has not yet decided if the new Globals will feature a fly-by-wire flight control system, and a decision is expected shortly.
The other major investment for the new Global 7000 and 8000 will be the General Electric TechX, which Bombardier says will be enable a 14% and 18% improvement in fuel efficiency over other long-range business jets.
On the flight deck, Ridolfi says the Global Vision flight test program for the Global Express XRS and Global 5000 have served as a technological "building block" for the Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion avionics that will be employed on the 7000 and 8000.
The Global 7000 and 800 will enter service in 2016 and 2017, respectively, while Ridolfi says the timing of the new jets was driven by the technological requirements of the engine and wing more than the availability of engineering resources required for the company's CS100 and CS300 CSeries jetliners which enter service in 2013 and 2014.
The both aircraft exceed the critical 100,000lb maximum takeoff weight mark, which is a critical barrier for gaining access to airports in Teterboro and Aspen. Though the 106,500lb and 105,050lb MTOWs for the 7000 and 8000 will likely be able to backed off to 100,000lbs with a flight manual supplement, sacrificing some range for access to the business jet-frequented airports.
"Given the margin we have," says Ridolfi. "You can imagine the 8000 still goes an awfully long way at 100,000lbs."
Photo Credit Bombardier
Jon Ostrower: Can you speak to what you're hearing from your customers in terms of demand for replacement in the G450/G550 market?
Joe Lombardo: All we can do is point to our history, we're not ready to make an announcement as far as what we're ready to do with the 450/550. Just from our history we're a company that continues to look ten to fifteen years in advance. When we're ready to make an announcement. we'll do so. We appreciate the question, we're just not going to talk about it."