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Better business

Business improved for corporate-aircraft makers in 1994 and the upswing is expected to continue.

Howard Gethin and Jennifer Pite/LONDON

 

Last year saw the highest number of business-jet shipments by US manufacturers for 12 years and the best turbine-aircraft orders backlogs since the early 1980s. Those key indicators are clear pointers to the direction of a market which is still a tough environment. Things are unquestionably picking up.

That said, the structure of the market may be changing. Fractional ownership has mushroomed in the USA and similar enthusiasm is emerging in Europe. The punishing legislative and tax environment in Europe and much of the Far East still militates against a truly robust recovery, however. Whether the net effect will be to increase or reduce sales is unknown and perhaps unknowable. In Europe, at least, it is hard to believe that it will not help.

A parallel shift is likely to be continuing difficulty in the higher end of the traditional market as company shareholders continue to punish perceived profligacy. Corporations are clearly demanding more value from their aircraft and wanting to tailor their purchases more closely to their needs - including the growing phenomenon of the corporate shuttle. Bombardier and Gulfstream are achieving solid success with their pioneering large, long-range Global Express and Gulfstream V business-jets, and the lower-end launches are also doing well - those in the middle are struggling, and undiversified manufacturers caught there are feeling the pain.

The rolling-back of product-liability legislation in the USA is helping turboprop and piston manufacturers, but the corporate single-turboprop or -piston remains hard to sell in the face of other operating restrictions. That situation may change in some countries. Manufacturers of turboprop airliners, on the other hand, are fiercely pursuing corporate opportunities, especially shuttle needs, and with some success.

AASI (Advanced Aerodynamics and Structures) has received FAA certification for the six-seat, single-turboprop Jetcruzer 450. The company has more than 50 firm sales for the $995,000 aircraft, which is powered by the 505kW P&WC PT6A-27. A pressurised version and the Jetcruzer 500, powered by a 635kW PT6A-42, are planned. AASI is planning a stretched Jetcruzer 650, powered by a 635kW PT6A-42, and a Stratocruzer 1250-ER, powered by two 8.45kN Williams/R-R FJ44 turbofans.

Airtec The CASA/IPTN joint-venture company offers a corporate version of the CN-235 series 200 turboprop regional airliner. Production lines exist in Seville, Spain, and Bandung, Indonesia. All aircraft produced from 1988 are powered by two GE CT7-9Cs, which improve the climb and cruise performance. The aircraft is equipped with a rear-loading ramp and is available in quick-change and combi versions.

ATR (Avions de Transport Regional) offers corporate versions of both the ATR 42 and 72 turboprop regional airliners. The ATR 42 is powered by two 1,305kW P&W PW120s and has a maximum take-off weight of 16,700kg. The larger, 21,500kg, ATR 72 is powered by two 1,610kW PW124s. ATR is developing the ATR 42-500, which will have new engines and a new interior. FAR/JAR 25 certification and first deliveries are expected by the second quarter of 1995. Improved versions of the ATR 72-210 and a cargo and multi-purpose version, the ATR 52C, are also under development. ATR is to join forces with British Aerospace's Jetstream and Avro divisions in sales, marketing and customer support.

Avro International Aerospace is the regional-jet division of British Aerospace and offers corporate versions of its RJ Avroliner family under the name Statesman. The type is powered by AlliedSignal LF507-1F turbofans and has a Honeywell electronic flight-instrument system. It has Category III landing-capability. Avro and its BAe sister Jetstream are integrating their sales, marketing and customer support activities with those of ATR.

Avtek has delayed US certification of its nine-seat, twin-pusher, turboprop Model 400A. The company is now completing a $100 million bond funding programme in the state of Washington which is assisting by issuing the bonds through its Washington Economic Development Funding Authority. Avtek intends to offer superior price and performance over aluminium aircraft through its use of composites. US certification is expected to take 28-30 months, during which time the company will concurrently develop its manufacturing activity to permit deliveries immediately upon final FAA approval.

Beech. See Raytheon

British Aerospace. See Avro International Aerospace and Jetstream Aircraft.

Bombardier launched the BMW R-R BR710-powered Global Express long-range business jet in December 1993 and has orders for more than 40 aircraft. Customer deliveries of the type, which competes head-to-head with the Gulfstream V, will begin in 1998. Typical configurations would include eight seats in the long-range role, but perhaps 15 for transcontinental or transatlantic shuttle work. Bombardier subsidiary Canadair flew the latest version of its long-standing Challenger line - the 604 - in September 1994. The model has a maximum take-off weight increased over the current 601-3R by 1,134kg to 21,950kg. It has a 7,400km range and is equipped with Rockwell-Collins Pro Line 4 avionics and the new GE CF34-3B engine. First deliveries are due in January 1996 for entry into service in mid-year.

CASA offers a corporate version of the 26-seat C.212 Series 300 Aviocar. Certificated in December 1987 under US FAR Part 25, the C.212 is powered by two 670kW AlliedSignal TPE331-10Rs. The Series 300 is designed for cargo and utility use. It features a larger cabin, bigger baggage compartment, better soundproofing and improved aerodynamics.

Cessna The Citation X test programme continues with one prototype and two production aircraft. Certification is due in November, with first deliveries in April 1996. The Allison AE3007C-powered type is expected to be the fastest corporate aircraft available, with a cruise speed exceeding Mach 0.9. Cessna has also launched the Citation Bravo as a replacement for the Citation II, with higher cruise speeds, longer range and lower fuel consumption. Certification is due in April 1996. Also launched is the Citation Excel, with what is claimed to be the largest cabin in the "light-jet" sector. It is due to be certificated in mid-1997. Cessna also offers corporate configurations for its Caravan I, Caravan LS and Grand Caravan single-turboprop models. Textron-owned Cessna continues to produce the P&WC JT15D-powered Citation V Ultra business-jet and the mid-sized Citation VII, powered by AlliedSignal TFE731s and the Williams/R-R-powered CitationJet.

Chichester-Miles Consultants (CMC) plans certification and sales launch of its four-seat Leopard, "conditional upon the availability of suitable small turbofans", in 1998/9. Primary engine candidate is the 4kN Williams FJX-2, projected as the production follow-on to the FJX-1 now installed in development aircraft 002. Target price, fully equipped, is $1.16 million (at January 1995 prices).

Commander continues to produce its 114B four-seat single-engine corporate aircraft. The turbocharged Commander 114C, capable of a maximum speed of 194kt, is under test. The 114B is powered by a six-cylinder Textron Lycoming IO-540-T4B5, and is certified to US Part 23 requirements

Daimler-Benz Aerospace. See Dornier and Fokker.

Dassault Aviation's latest Falcon 2000 entered service with Flicape of South Africa in February 1995. The twin-GE/AlliedSignal CFE738-powered aircraft is designed for US coast-to-coast or non-stop transatlantic travel with up to eight passengers, and is now offered with optional Cat III head-up display. Dassault's current Falcon 900B is powered by three TFE731-5B turbofans and will continue in production, alongside the 900EX, which is due to be flown in May 1995. The new model has a range increased by 900km, to 8,300km and is due to be certificated in March 1996 with first deliveries immediately afterwards. It is the launch type for the AlliedSignal TFE731-60 engine, with higher thrust and lower fuel consumption than the TFE731-5B. Dassault claims more than 40 orders.

De Havilland, a Bombardier subsidiary, offers corporate versions of the Dash 8 twin-turboprop airliner in -100, hot-and-high -200 and stretched -300 versions. All models are powered by P&WC PW100-series engines. The proposed -400, with completely different engines, would cruise 65kt faster and is still under consideration.

Dornier, a subsidiary of Daimler-Benz Aerospace, offers its 228 utility and 328 regional twin-turboprop in corporate form. The 228-212 utility aircraft, the last non-pressurised 19-seat aircraft on the market, is powered by two 580kW AlliedSignal TPE331-5As. The high-speed 328 is powered by two 1,850kW P&WC PW119s. Dornier hopes to sell about 350 of the 30-seat aircraft over ten years. To date, the company has 76 firm orders and 75 options, including sales to three US corporate users.

Embraer, the state-owned Brazilian aircraft manufacturer, was privatised in December 1994. The company has upgraded its EMB-120 Brasilia regional turboprop to a new -120ERX specification, which will be the standard to which all Brasilias are built after 1994. Prices start at $7.2 million. Embraer hopes to launch its 50-seat EMB-145 regional jet in corporate form no later than early 1996. First flight of the twin Allison AE3007 turbofan-powered aircraft is due in mid-1995.

Fairchild Aircraft offers the Merlin 23, a corporate version of its Metro 23 twin-turboprop regional airliner. The 19-seat Metro/Merlin 23 is powered by two 820kW AlliedSignal TPE331-12s.

Fokker Aircraft, now controlled by DASA, has corporate versions of all its regional-airliner family: the Fokker 50 Executive Propjet, powered by two 1,865kW P&WC PW127Bs; the R-R Tay 650-powered Executive Jet 70 and 70ER (extended range); and the Executive Jet 100 and 100ER. Configurations are available for 25-107 passengers in corporate-shuttle layout, or 12-30 in VIP layout.

Gulfstream Aerospace is due to fly its Gulfstream V long-range business jet, a direct competitor to Bombardier's Global Express, in late 1995. Its orderbook is approaching 50 aircraft. Like the Canadian aircraft, it is powered by two BMW R-R BR710 turbofans and has a maximum range of 12,000km, with accommodation for between eight and 15 passengers. First delivery is intended for November 1996. Meanwhile, Gulfstream continues to produce the R-R Tay 611-8-powered GIV SP.

Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) is expected to certificate its four- to six-passenger Galaxy business jet in late 1996, following its first flight at the end of this year. Yakovlev of Russia will make the forward fuselage and empennage, and the former "Astra IV" will be powered by 23kN P&WC PW305-7 turbofans. It will be marketed alongside the existing Astra. Separately, certification of the Astra SPX, which was first flown in August 1994, is due in mid-1995, with deliveries beginning shortly after. The aircraft is the launch vehicle for the 20kN AlliedSignal TFE731-40 turbofan and has a revised wing which improves high- and low-speed performance. IAI is trying to boost the maximum Mach number to close the gap with the Cessna Citation X business jet.

Israviation. Cirrus Design is developing the single-turboprop ST50 for Israel's Israviation. The prototype all-composite, pusher-propeller aircraft was flown for the first time in late 1994 and will be delivered to Israviation, which is building two certification-test ST50s, by mid-1995. Certification is planned for 1996. The five-seat, $1 million ST50 is powered by a 373kW P&WC PT6-A135/7.

Jetstream Aircraft offers corporate versions of the Jetstream 31 and Jetstream 41 twin-turboprop regional airliners. The 29-seat J41 shares the cabin cross-section of the 19-seat J31 and is powered by AlliedSignal TPE-331-14 engines and incorporating a glass cockpit. Six J31s have been converted from airliner to corporate use by Stevens Aviation in the USA and are being offered through Jetstream's dealer network. The first J41 corporate interior has been completed by KC Aviation in the USA. Jetstream and BAe sister Avro are merging their sales, marketing and customer support activities with those of ATR.

Learjet mated the first built wing and fuselage for its Model 45 in November 1994. The first flight of the prototype 45 is scheduled for the second quarter of this year, with US certification planned for the end of 1996. The AlliedSignal TFE731-20-powered Learjet 45 will fill the gap between the larger Learjet 60 and the smaller Learjet 31A, which will remain in production. The company continues to produce the special-mission 35A and 36A, both of which are powered by earlier TFE731s. Deliveries of the ten-passenger P&WC PW305-powered Model 60 with its 5,000km range continue.

LET Aeronautical Works. The first flight of the 19-seat Let L-420 took place on 11 November, 1993. The earlier Motorlet M601E engines have been replaced by M601Fs, providing an increased take-off rating of 580kW. The larger 40-seat L-610G, a joint venture involving GE, is powered by two 1,300kW GE CT7-9D turboprops, in place of the earlier 1,360kW Walter/Motorlet M602s.

Mooney. Mooney's four-seat M20R Ovation, with a 224kW Teledyne Continental IO-550G flat-six engine, is claimed to be the world's highest performing normally aspirated production aircraft. It has a maximum cruise speed of more than 190kt and was first flown in May 1994. The pre-existing Mooney TLS has a turbocharged Textron Lycoming TIO-540-AF1A flat-six and remains in production.

Partenavia has licensed assembly of the P.68 range to Bangalore-based Taneja Aerospace and Aviation of India. Six Indian-built aircraft were sold in 1994, with deliveries beginning in the first quarter of 1995. Under the terms of the agreement, Taneja will construct five aircraft a year initially, increasing to 24. The 11-seat AP.68TP Viator is powered by two Allison 250B-17C turboprops. The P.68 is powered by two Textron Lycoming IO-360s.

Piaggio has been placed under bankruptcy protection by an Italian court, but is likely to receive support from the Italian Government. Talks with Northrop Grumman on possible co-operation involving the P.180 Avanti are on hold, but plans for co-operation with Duncan Aviation have ended. Piaggio has a small backlog of orders for the advanced twin-pusher turboprop and is in the course of relaunching its marketing and support activities.

Pilatus Aircraft obtained Swiss certification for the PC-12 single-turboprop nine-seater in April 1994 and now has US and European approvals. The aircraft is powered by a 1,200kW P&WC PT6A-67B, and is the first pressurised aircraft built by the Swiss manufacturer. The first of 11 deliveries in 1994 was made in May and a further 27 are expected to be handed over this year.

Pilatus Britten-Norman offers the unpressurised turboprop- and piston-powered BN-2 Islander in corporate form. The BN-2T is powered by two 315kW Allison 250-B17C turboprops, the BN-2B-20 by two 225kW Textron Lycoming O-540 piston engines and the BN-2B-26 by two 195kW O-540s.

Piper Aircraft expects to conclude its Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings this year. In July 1994, Piper and its Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors discontinued efforts to sell substantially all of the assets as part of a reorganisation plan. A joint plan of reorganisation was filed in October 1994, although, early in 1995, Kaiser and Teledyne were still pursuing the possibility of purchasing the manufacturer. Piper continues to offer the Malibu Mirage pressurised, six-seat, piston single; the Saratoga II HP piston single; and the Seneca IV piston twin.

Raytheon Aircraft. Raytheon has witnessed a rise in corporate-aircraft production since the company switched to factory-direct sales in 1993. The company introduced a reduced-price King Air in July 1994, in a bid to stimulate demand for the aircraft. Priced at $1.7 million, the C90SE (Special Edition) is essentially a reduced-specification C90B, lacking the current King Air's reduced-noise four-blade propellers and sound-absorbent cabin. The C90SE has panel-mounted avionics and four forward-facing passenger seats as standard. Beech also offers its 19-seat 1900D regional turboprop in corporate configuration and sees a market for 60 aircraft over the next decade. Raytheon also offers the Hawker 800 and 1000, following the $390 million purchase of BAe's Corporate Jets subsidiary. Production is to be transferred to the USA during 1995 and 1996. . The 800 is powered by two 19kN AlliedSignal TFE731-5R turbofans and the longer-range Hawker 1000 by two 23kN P&WC PW305B turbofans. During 1994, Raytheon cut 800 production and brought the 1000 line almost to a halt. It is known to be looking at several enhancements to both models.

Reims Aviation's F406 Caravan II twin turboprop was launched in 1982 as a joint venture between Reims and Cessna. Based on the Cessna 400-series twin, the aircraft is now manufactured and marketed exclusively by Reims, using wings supplied by Cessna. The P&WC PT6A-112-powered aircraft has a quick-change interior and is intended for passenger, freight and special-mission use.

Saab's Model 2000 50-seat high-speed regional turboprop entered service in late 1994. The aircraft, available in corporate form, is powered by two Allison AE2100s and has achieved higher-than-predicted 380kt cruise speed. The earlier Saab 340B is also offered as a corporate version, powered by two 1,395kW GE CT7-9B turboprops.

Socata, an Aerospatiale subsidiary, produces the single P&WC PT6 turboprop-powered TBM 700. The market has been difficult and, in early 1995, Socata was in talks with Germany's Burkhart Grob on a possible alliance. Like single-turboprop rivals Cessna and Pilatus, it has been campaigning for regulatory acceptance of turbine-singles for instrument-flight-rules operations, which could substantially boost business.

Swearingen Aircraft will produce its SJ30 light business-jet, following the formation of a funding consortium with the assistance, although not equity participation, of Lockheed. The group is a 50:50 venture between Swearingen and a Taiwanese investment consortium called Sino Aerospace Investment. Swearingen, which claims firm orders for 60 aircraft, intends to make first deliveries of the Williams R-R FJ44-powered aircraft in early 1997.

Yakovlev continues to work on the Yak-77 large business jet which is intended to be powered by two 44.5kN Allison AE3010 turbofans. The manufacturer also envisages larger models (dubbed the Yak-177 and Yak-277) which would take passenger capacity up to 70 people. It is now, however, heavily tied up with IAI's Galaxy programme.

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