Karen Walker

The Galaxy Aerospace production Galaxy inter-continental business jet is making its debut appearance at Farnborough 2000. The aircraft flew here from Fort Worth, Texas, after a refuelling stop in Stephenville, Canada.

Heavily loaded with seven passengers and 600lb of baggage, the aircraft easily maintained a cruise speed of 0.81 mach, and pilot Jerry Blessing, director of Galaxy's flight operations, reported an "excellent performance".

The aircraft's continued success story brings sweet satisfaction to the man who has led this programme from its outset. Brian Barents, president and chief executive officer at Galaxy Aerospace says the sceptics get quieter every day. "We have four aircraft in service now and we will be producing two a month from now," he says.


"The acid test was getting the airplanes in service and a lot of people were asking whether we could support the product. We have proved that we can and will. "It really says something for the airplane that it has had such a marvellous introduction. It's certainly the smoothest programme I have ever known."

One interesting and potentially important development is the Galaxy's introduction to the booming fractional ownership market. The company is believed to be continuing discussions with NetJets about possible sales of the Galaxy to the fractional ownership operator. In the meantime, however, a Galaxy customer has contracted with NetJets' backup fleet to make the aircraft available for 1,000h per year.

Aircraft no.9 will be delivered in August and will provide the Galaxy with valuable exposure to the fractional ownership market.

Barents says the company is looking at how it might develop a family of business jets around the Galaxy. "We are looking at everything spanning the entry-level jet way up to the supersonic jet," he says. "We need to understand the changing dynamics in the market place, so three months ago we launched a market research programme to understand the customers' perceived needs for the next couple of decades. "The reality is that we will probably build on the production line we have today, so we are looking at products either side of the current product. But it's too early to draw that conclusion yet. "We expect to finish analysing the data this fall and by the end of January we should be able to articulate our priorities.


"We are not trying to be all things to all people, but my philosophy is that we should be the number one in whatever market we serve. The bottom line will be value."

More than 100 Galaxies have been sold to date. Barents says the four aircraft in service are averaging more than 800h each twice the typical use of a business jet. Recent improvements to the aircraft, including a noise reduction system, are being "extremely well received", says Barents. And he adds that there have been no support issues. "We are very competitive with Bombardier and Gulfstream on this front," he says. "Like them, we rely on outside partners to maintain the aircraft outside the USA and we are on a par with the other manufacturers. "In the USA we have complemented our own centre with excellent third parties such as Garrard, Signature and Duncan."


In the USA, Galaxy has established a service centre at Alliance, Texas. Other facilities are likely to be built as the company grows, says Barents.

A new simulator operated by FlightSafety will also be completed by August, ready for training to begin in October.

While all eyes will inevitably be on the new Galaxy at Farnborough, Barents is also pleased with progress on what he describes as the 'workhorse' the Astra SPX business jet. The company has sold 64 Astras since its introduction 12 years ago and now has its largest-ever backlog. "It will always be a niche market, but we have seen a steady base of orders and I don't see anything to change that," he says.

Source: Flight Daily News