Kate Sarsfield/LONDON

Confidence among the business aircraft community is at its highest for years as sales of new aircraft scale record levels and order backlogs remain solid well into the new decade.

Aviation analysts confirm this. AlliedSignal Aerospace suggests "deliveries of business jets will peak this year, but will remain at, or near, record levels before climbing again towards the end of the next decade". The company projects the delivery of 6,800 aircraft, worth nearly $89 billion, in the next decade - 2,900-3,000 of them between 1999 and 2003. Jack Olcott, president of the US National Business Aviation Association, says: "The industry is riding high as more people view business aircraft as a travel tool. Consequently, the [US] market is more robust and won't suffer the same peaks and troughs that have occurred in the past when an economic downturn arrived."

The popularity of fractional ownership has been a major factor in driving the demand for business aircraft. Without exception, the major programme owners predict a continued surge in orders from their growing customer bases and expect within the next two years to establish new programmes outside their respective US nucleus. Executive Jet, for example, which operates NetJets, the largest fractional programme, plans to add the Far East and Latin America to its growing inventory of schemes in Europe, the Middle East and the USA. Flight Options, the fourth-largest programme, plans to set up a base in Europe this year.

According to US research firm Aviation Data, the fractional fleet and customer base has swelled by more than 4,500% since 1986, rocketing from seven aircraft and four customers to 329 aircraft and 1,567 customers. The fleet has accumulated more than 776,000 flight hours and travelled more than 485 million kilometres.

The growth in demand for small, efficient, low-cost aircraft has given rise to a host of independent start-up companies, all scrambling for the much needed millions to fund their programmes. Recent players include Safire Aircraft with its S-26 six-seat twin-turbofan, Farnborough Aircraft's F-1 single-engined turboprop and Lake Aerospace's Nautic Air 450 turbofan amphibian twin.

Meanwhile, the established manufacturers are working to bring their new products to the market, while at the same time satisfying demand for existing product lines. In the next 12 months, Cessna's revamped Citation will enter service, starting with the CitationJet replacement, the CJ1, in April. The larger CJ2 and Ultra revamp, the Encore, are expected to follow towards the end of the year. Raytheon's Premier 1 entry-level business jet, meanwhile is expected to gain US approval in June - six months late - as is Piper's Malibu Meridian single-engined turboprop.

This single-engine sector of the general aviation industry has struggled for years to find commercial acceptance. Its gradual recognition by increasing numbers of international aviation authorities as a safe and efficient form of passenger transport has brought an escalation in sales of seven- to nine-seat singles, notably the Pilatus PC-12 and Socata TBM700 turbines. The industry is appealing to the European regulators to follow suit and permit commercial instrument flight rule operations for single-engined aircraft across the region.


Advanced Aerodynamics & Structures, 3205 North Lakewood Boulevard, Long Beach, California 90808, USA

Tel +1 (562) 938 8618; Fax +1 (562) 938 8620

If Advanced Aerodynamics & Structures' (AASI) $1.4 million Jetcruzer 500 is finally certificated at the end of the year as planned, the single-turboprop aircraft will enter the market more than two years late. Nonetheless, the company, with an orderbook exceeding 180 aircraft, hopes to begin full-scale production at the end of the first quarter. AASI recently announced plans to boost sales of the turboprop by establishing a network of aircraft operators offering fractional ownership of the six-seat pusher. The programme is to begin following certification.

Future projects, such as the 12-seat Jetcruzer 650 and the turbofan-powered Stratocruzer 1250, are on hold.


10555 Airport Drive, Couer d'Alene Airport, Hayden Lake, Idaho 83835, USA

Aerostar plans to fly its FJ-100 light twinjet, a Williams FJ33-1-powered derivative of the Piper Aerostar piston twin, in March 2001, while certification and first deliveries of the $1.9 million aircraft are planned for early 2002. Williams has signed an agreement with the company to provide a maintenance programme for its new FJ33-1 turbofan. Aerostar has clinched "several" orders for the six/eight-seat FJ-100, based guaranteed performance and projected delivery dates.


(See Ibis Aerospace)


Airbus Industrie, 1 Rond Point Maurice Bellonte, Maurice Bellonte, Blagnac Cedex, F-31707, France

Tel +33 (5) 61 93 33 33; Fax +33 (5) 61 93 37 92

The ultra-long-range A319CJ Airbus Corporate Jet (ACJ), the European consortium's only dedicated business aircraft, has been slow to find market acceptance. The European consortium's self-confessed reluctance to market the aircraft aggressively in the early days, fearing a lack of available A319 production slots, can be blamed for its light orderbook, which continues to lag behind that for the rival Boeing Business Jet. Airbus has now dedicated up to 12 A319 delivery positions a year to the ACJ, for which it has received "more than 18 commitments".

Although the company declines to reveal details of its delivery schedule, it claims to have sold production slots into 2001. Two customer deliveries have been made, to DaimlerChrysler Aviation and to Kuwaiti businessman Mohamed Abdulmohsin Kharafi. The latter's aircraft became the first A319CJ to enter commercial service, when UK-based sales and leasing company Twinjet began operating the aircraft last November. Three deliveries are due this year. Unlike its rivals, Airbus has yet to enter the fractional ownership market, although it is believed to be eying possible ventures.


PO Box 3090, One Ayres Way, Albany, Georgia 31707, USA.

US agricultural and cargo aircraft builder Ayres acquired Let Kunovice of the Czech Republic in 1998 and has injected a considerable sum in the debt-laden company, formerly owned by Aero Holdings. Let, now an Ayres sister company, continues to produce the Walter M601F-powered L-420 twin-turboprop and the L-610G - an L-610 twin-turboprop re-engined with GE CT7-9Ds and fitted with Rockwell Collins avionics.

Ayres, meanwhile, is continuing development of the LM200 Loadmaster, a twin-turboshaft/single-propeller utility aircraft which it plans to offer in cargo, 19-seat and passenger/freighter combi versions, with wheeled and float landing gear.


Bell Helicopter Textron, PO Box 482, Fort Worth, Texas 76101, USA

Tel +1 (450) 437 2720; Fax +1 (450) 437 6010

Bell Helicopter Textron and Agusta signed the launch customer for their co-produced BA609 civil tiltrotor last year. Agusta will produce the empennage, gearbox and ailerons for the six/nine-seat tiltrotor, as well as establishing a second assembly line in Italy, to serve Europe. The first of four BA609 prototypes is to fly in the fourth quarter of this year, leading to certification in mid-2002. Bell-Agusta plans to build up to 60 tiltrotors a year.

To date, the joint venture has received 72 commitments for the BA609, which is targeted at individuals and corporations, as well as offshore and emergency medical service operators. The companies are discussing derivatives and Bell is studying larger tiltrotor developments, including a 27-seat BA627 and 26- and 32- quad-tiltrotors based around uprated versions of the BA609's Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C-67As.


Boeing Commercial Airplane Group, PO Box 3707, Seattle, Washington 98124-2207, USA

Tel +1 (206) 655 1131; Fax +1 (206) 655 7004


Boeing Business Jets (BBJ) has cornered the widebody corporate jet market with its 737-700/800 hybrid, the BBJ, with more than 60 orders and deliveries chalked up so far. Boeing has also approached Formula One motor racing teams with the idea of using 737-700 Combis with large freight doors to transport cars, mechanics and associated equipment to test sessions, which could boost the orderbook further.

Boeing continues to refine the BBJ, offering winglets, which it claims increases performance by 5%, and the higher-thrust CFM International CFM56-7B27 engine. These improvements, however, add around $1.5 million to the BBJ's $34 million "green" price tag.

Boeing is also offering the BBJ2, based on the stretched 737-800. The aircraft, lined up for delivery in 2001, will have 25% more floor space and 50% more cargo volume than the BBJ. With its long-range fuel tank system, the BBJ2 will have a range of around 11,470km, or roughly 740km less than its stablemate. The BBJ's success has prompted Boeing to study a range of variants from the BBJ 3 to the BBJ10.


400 Chemin de la Cote Vertu, Dorval, Quebec H4S 1YP, Canada

Tel +1 (514) 855 5000; Fax +1 (514) 855 7401


Canadian manufacturer Bombardier Aerospace markets Canadair and Learjet business aircraft through Bombardier Business Aircraft, a Montreal-based subsidiary.

Bombardier delivered 173 aircraft last year - almost 80% more than in 1998. Demand for its Flexjet fractional-ownership programme, with an increased fleet and customer base, has accounted for some of this growth.

The manufacturer launched its super mid-size Continental business jet last year, and has chalked up more than 40 orders. Development of the $14.25 million twinjet involves Bombardier's Shorts Aircraft (centre fuselage) and Canadair (cockpit) subsidiaries and risk-sharing partners: Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (wing), Taiwan's Aerospace Industry Development (aft fuselage and empennage), Honeywell (AS907 engine) and Rockwell Collins (Pro Line 21avionics). The aircraft, which fills the gap between the $11.4 million Learjet 60 and the $21.8 million Challenger 604, is designed for US coast-to-coast travel, with the ability to operate from 1,520m (5,000ft)-long or smaller runways. The first of five test aircraft is due to fly in June 2001, leading to certification in September 2002 and the first green delivery three months later.


Bombardier also offers the Global Express ultra-long-range business jet, of which more than 40 have been delivered to completion centres since the aircraft entered service in 1998. Demand for the Global Express caused Bombardier to increase production and subcontract interior completion to overcome delays in its delivery schedule.

The transcontinental Challenger 604, successor to the 601-3R, is Bombardier's fastest-selling Challenger, having sold 42 aircraft last year alone. From early 2001, the 604 avionics suite will feature upgraded Rockwell Collins Pro Line 4 avionics as standard, including an enhanced flight management system. Bombardier also offers the $26 million Canadair SE, the special edition corporate version of the successful Canadair Regional Jet.

The Learjet line-up, which includes the 31A, 45, and 60, accounted for 99 deliveries last year. Bombardier has introduced improvements on the entry-level Learjet 31A, based on experience gained with the aircraft in the FlexJet fractional-ownership programme. Production of the Learjet 45 and 60 was increased last year to satisfy the growing demand for the "super light" and mid-size aircraft.


3 Allee Pierre Nadot, BP16 31701, Blagnac, Cedex, France

Tel +33 (53) 460 7000; Fax +33 (53) 460 7050

BAE Systems, formerly British Aerospace, offers a variant of its Avro RJ regional jet dubbed the Avro Corporate Jet and hopes to clinch its first sale in the second quarter. The Avro Corporate Jet was introduced in 1998, following BAE's decision to redefine its image to reflect the increasing popularity of corporate aircraft as business tools. According to BAE, the Avro Corporate Jet "offers the interior of a BBJ, the range of a Challenger, the quietness and power of a Gulfstream IV, the direct operating costs of a GII and the airfield performance of a Falcon 50, for around $30 million". BAe forecasts sales of up to three aircraft a year, and plans to launch a re-engined RJ, the RJX, in corporate form next year.


3250 University Blvd, SE Access Road, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87106, USA

Tel + 1 (505) 246 8200; Fax + 1 (505) 246 8300

Century is seeking $60 million through private investment to fund its twin-engined CA-100 light business jet, on top of the $6 million already spent, to fund the programme through development and certification, slated for 2003, two years later than originally anticipated. The company also plans to relocate to Alliance Airport in Fort Worth, Texas.

The CA-100 was introduced in 1998, following Century's decision to transform its Century Jet design from a single to a twin, replacing the Williams-Rolls FJ44-1 powerplant with two smaller Williams FJ33-1s. Changes include a lengthened fuselage; roomier cabin; increased wing area to provide added fuel and range; repositioned wing to improve handling characteristics; resizing and redesigned T-tail; and a price hike from $1.85 million to $2.4 million.

The company has signed the first of four risk-sharing partners, SGL Carbon/Hitco, which will supply the fuselage. The remaining partners are expected to be in place by year-end to coincide with the CA-100's first flight.


PO Box 7706, One Cessna Boulevard, Wichita, Kansas 67277-7706, USA

Tel +1 (316) 517 6000; Fax +1 (316) 517 6640

Cessna delivered its 3,000th Citation late last year and reported record sales of 224 business jets in 1999. Notable deals include the sale of seven Citation Excels to UK fractional ownership company ChauffAir - the largest-ever single order for Cessna business jets in Europe.

Cessna's line-up includes eight Citation models in various stages of planning, flight testing or production.

The first updated Citation CJ1 entry-level business jet is lined up for delivery in April. The CJ1 is essentially an improved and renamed CiationJet, offering Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics, a 90kg (200lb) increase in gross weight and a moderate increase in range.

Its bigger brother, the CJ2, is lined up for certification in May. Cessna has chalked up nearly 100 orders for the six-seat aircraft, which will be pitched against the Raytheon Premier 1 and Sino Swearingen SJ30-2. The CJ1 and CJ2 fit below the Bravo light jet, an updated Citation II, in Cessna's business jet line-up.

Cessna is on target to certificate and deliver the Encore, a revamped Ultra light jet, in the latter half of the year. Conceived as an improved Citation V in 1993, the $6.9 million Encore incorporates a range of enhancements, including new P&WC PW535A turbofans and a slightly longer range of 3,700km.

The critical design review for the Sovereign, a $12 million mid-size jet which will compete with the Learjet 60 and Hawker 800XP, was completed late last year, allowing detailed design to start. Production of the fatigue test article will begin in the third quarter, while work on the first prototype is to begin in mid-2001, leading to certification in 2002.

Cessna continues to produce the Citation VII and Mach 0.92 Citation X, both mid-size aircraft, as well as the Caravan I and Grand Caravan single-turboprop utility aircraft.


West House, Ayot St Lawrence, Welwyn, Hertfordshire, AL6 9BT, UK

Tel +44 (1438) 820341; Fax +44 (1438) 820030


Chichester Miles continues to develop its Leopard four-seat light business jet. The Leopard 002 is flying with Williams FJX-1 engines, but the company plans to retrofit the aircraft with FJX-2s. First flight of the production aircraft is planned after 2001. The programme was conceived in 1981 and the aircraft completed more than 50 flights before its powerplant supplier, Noel Penny, went out of business. The second prototype incorporates improvements, including a strengthened structure, new landing gear and pressurised cabin.


9 Rond-Point des Champs-Elysees, Marcel Dassault, Paris F75008, France

Tel +33 (1) 53 76 93 00; Fax +33 (1) 53 76 93 20

Dassault is collaborating with Embraer on a possible joint development of an all-new light business jet, and a long-range corporate version of the Brazilian manufacturer's ERJ-170 regional airliner. Dassault, part of a French consortium which owns a 20% stake in Embraer, is keen to pursue the ideas in a bid to extend its product line. Detailed discussions on the potential projects are expected to get under way in the next few months.

Dassault received French certification for its Falcon 900C business jet last year. The new aircraft replaces the 900B, offering the same cabin features as its predecessor, but with the Honeywell Primus 2000 avionics of the 900EX. Dassault continues to study the feasibility of a supersonic business jet - the 7,400km-range Falcon SST - to add to a line-up which includes the Falcon 50EX and 900EX tri-jets and the twin-engined Falcon 2000.

The major obstacle to development of a supersonic transport is the lack of a suitable engine, the French manufacturer says. The supersonic Falcon concept features a cranked delta wing and canard. The aircraft is powered by three rear-mounted engines. Length is 32.3m, wingspan 17m, MTOW 39,000kg, speed Mach 1.8 and range 7,400km. Cabin size will be similar to that of the Falcon 50EX.


(See Fairchild Aerospace)


Avenue Brigadeiro, Faria Lima, 2170, Sao Jos dos Campos, Sao Paulo, 12227-901, Brazil

Tel +55 (12) 345 1000; Fax +55 (12) 321 8238

Embraer is studying the market for corporate jet versions of its regional jet line to compete with the Fairchild Envoy 3 and Envoy 7. Like its US/German competitor, the Brazilian manufacturer will target the aircraft, based on the37-seat ERJ-135 and 70-seat ERJ-170, at the growing corporate shuttle and fractional-ownership markets. Questions over the availability of production slots for the corporate aircraft, following its recent large orders for the airliner variants, is causing concern, however.

Initial focus will be on the ECJ-135 (Embraer Corporate Jet), which is being offered to the Brazilian air force as its new presidential and government VIP aircraft, followed by the larger and longer range ECJ-170. Embraer is also believed to be studying development of an all-new light business jet as part of a possible joint venture with Dassault (see Dassault entry).


Fairchild Aerospace, 10823 NE Entrance Road, San Antonio, Texas 78216, USA

Tel +1 (210) 824 9421; Fax +1 (210) 824 7785

Fairchild Aerospace has secured 29 orders for its Envoy 7, a derivative of the 728JET regional airliner, since the programme was launched about a year ago. The largest deal came from Cleveland, Ohio-based Flight Options, which ordered 24 aircraft, estimated to be worth $750 million, for its fractional-ownership programme. The first aircraft are due for delivery in the fourth quarter of 2002, about six months after the 728JET is due for certification.

Fairchild's success with the Envoy 7 has not been emulated with its business aircraft variant of the smaller 328JET, the Envoy 3, for which it has received no orders. The company claims to be on the brink of signing its first customer and hopes to receive certification for the $13 million aircraft in the fourth quarter. The $11.9 million corporate-shuttle variant of the 328JET is enjoying some popularity, with three sales and deliveries to date.


One Galaxy Way, Alliance Airport, Fort Worth, Texas 76177, USA

Tel +1 (817) 837 3700; Fax +1 (817) 837 3862


Galaxy Aerospace, a joint venture between Israel Aircraft Industries and the Pritzker family, delivered its first super mid-size Galaxy business jet in January 1999, 12 months after Israeli and US certification was granted.

IAI plans to double production, from one to two aircraft a month, in April and expects to deliver 22 "green" aircraft to Galaxy for completion this year, rising to 24 in 2001. Demand for the aircraft is likely to increase if Galaxy enters the fractional-ownership market this year, as planned, either independently or selling to an established programme. Galaxy's Astra SPX mid-size stablemate is produced at a rate of about 12 aircraft a year.

The joint venture is examining derivatives of the Galaxy and plans a customer survey to evaluate likely demand for a variant in the large and medium-sized markets. The focus appears to be on a potential stretch, with the same cabin cross-section, a new wing, propulsion system and avionics, and a 4,000nm (7,400km) range.


PO Box 2206, 500 Gulfstream Road, Savannah, Georgia 31402-2206, USA

Tel +1 (912) 965 5555; Fax +1 (912) 965 3084


Gulfstream was snapped up by US defence giant General Dynamics last year and sales of its GIV-SP and GV continue unabated. The 400th GIV/IV-SP large business jet rolled off the Savannah, Georgia-based production line this month, and the 100th GV is expected to follow "within 60 days".

Gulfstream and partner Lockheed Martin Skunk Works are studying supersonic business jet configurations under the five-year Quiet Supersonic Aircraft Technology (QSAT) programme, designed to minimise the sonic boom to allow supersonic flight over land. While the Skunk Works is using stealth design techniques to shape the aircraft to suppress the sonic boom, Gulfstream says that the proposed aircraft need to have a GIV-sized cabin, a range of at least 7,000km and a cruise speed of below Mach 1.8.

The QSAT project, which foresees military as well as business aircraft applications, received a financial injection from US Government last year, to help kick start the programme.


Aero Vodochody, Odolena Voda 25070, Czech Republic

Tel +420 (2) 6880041; Fax +420 (2) 6872505

Ibis Aerospace, a 50:50 joint venture between Aero Vodochody of the Czech Republic and Aerospace Industrial Development (AIDC) of Taiwan, rolled out the Ae270 single turboprop late last year. First flight of the seven-seat aircraft is imminent.

The aircraft will be available in two versions. Ibis anticipates the $1.9 million pressurised P&WC PT6A-42-powered Ae270P will be well received by private owners - notably in Australia, Canada and the USA, where recent regulatory changes permit single-engined aircraft to operate under commercial instrument flight rules. Czech and US certification are due in the first quarter of 2001, while first deliveries are planned for the fourth quarter.

The $1.4 million unpressurised, fixed-gear Walter-M601E-powered Ae270W, designed for customers demanding a rugged, low-cost aircraft, will be rolled out in the fourth quarter.

Under the terms of the joint venture, the bulk of the design work is being carried out by Aero, although AIDC is performing some wing work. Final assembly will be at Aero's Prague site, although a Taiwanese line may follow.


2926 Piper Drive, Vero Beach, Florida 32960, USA

Tel +1 (561) 567 4361; Fax +1 (561) 778 2144

New Piper plans to deliver its first Malibu Meridian single-engine turboprop in July, five years after it emerged from bankruptcy. The company has chalked up more than 140 orders for the $1.4 million aircraft and plans to deliver 40 machines this year and around 60 in 2001. The Meridian is being built on the same Vero Beach, Florida, assembly line as the Malibu Mirage high-performance piston single from which it is derived.

Mirage production will drop from 60 to 45 aircraft this year as the Meridian comes on line, while 2001 production will depend on demand. Wing design changes made for the Meridian are being introduced on the Mirage and further improvements are planned for 2001, which may include installing the Meridian's flat-panel electronic flight instrument system.

New Piper is also exploring a light jet, estimating the cost of the project at $150-200 million. The manufacturer admits that the move will be contingent on a public stock offering.


Piaggio Aero Industries, Via Cibrario 4, Genova I-16154, Italy

Tel +39 (010) 64811; Fax +39 (010) 6520160

Piaggio delivered its first P.180 business aircraft last month, marking the first handover of the twin turboprop by the Italian manufacturer since 1998, when the former Rinaldo Piaggio was sold to an Italian/Turkish consortium. The new aircraft is built with an aluminium-alloy vertical fin instead of the original carbonfibre structure, increasing the maximum speed from Mach 0.67 to 0.7.

To establish its position in the USA, Piaggio plans to set up a network of marketing and support centres either through an existing product support network or an independent venture.

Around 16 aircraft are set for delivery this year by Genoa Sestri-based Piaggio, jointly owned by Italian families Buitoni, Di Mase and Ferrari with a combined 75% stake; Turkey's Tshav holds a 17% share and a group of unnamed private investors hold the remainder.


Flugzeugwerke, Stans CH6371, Switzerland

Tel +41 (41) 619 6296; Fax +41 (41) 619 6224

A buyer for Pilatus, manufacturer of the successful PC-12 single-engined turboprop, continues to be sought by its parent company, industrial group Oerlikon Burhle, as part of its wider restructuring plans.

Swiss company Pilatus has sold more than 200 PC-12s and, like other single-engined aircraft manufacturers, has witnessed a boost in orders since a succession of international aviation authorities has approved commercial single engine operations in instrument flight rules conditions.


10511 E Central, PO Box 85, Wichita, Kansas 67201-0085, USA

Tel +1 (316) 676 8674; Fax +1 (316) 676 5687


Raytheon, which brings together the Beech and Hawker brand names, offers a growing line-up of business aircraft, including the piston-powered Bonanza A36/B36 and Baron B58, and the Beech King Air and 1900DExecutuve range of twin turboprops.

The Hawker product line was transferred from British Aerospace to Raytheon in 1993. The current model is the Hawker 800XP, while the super midsize Hawker Horizon is under development and due to fly this year. Certification and first deliveries are planned for 2001. Raytheon received a $2 billion order for up to 100 Horizons (50 orders,50 options) last year from fractional ownership operator Executive Jet. The first is scheduled for delivery in 2002.

Raytheon has postponed certification of its Premier I entry-level business jet to late in the second quarter of this year. Flight-test delays prevented the company meeting its target of certificating the aircraft by the end of the year.

The first eight production aircraft are in final assembly and Raytheon plans to begin deliveries as soon as US certification is received. The company has 200 orders for the type and plans to launch a derivative "at some stage", which may be positioned to compete against the Bombardier Learjet 45 and Cessna Citation Excel "super light" business jets, and will probably replace Raytheon's Beechjet 400A.


Aerodrome de Reims-Prunay, BP 2745, Reims F-51062, France

Tel +33 3 26 48 46 46; Fax +33 (3)26 49 13 60

French manufacturer Reims Aviation offers the F406 Caravan II twin turboprop, which was introduced in 1982, under a joint venture agreement with Cessna to produce the aircraft, based on the US company's 400 series. Reims manufactures and markets the aircraft, using wings supplied by Cessna.


70 Sky Place Boulevard, San Antonio, Texas 78216, USA

Tel +1 (210) 258 3900; Fax +1 (210) 258 3973


Sino Swearingen plans to certificate the SJ30-2 in late 2001, more than two years later than planned. The San Antonio-based manufacturer, which plans to fly the first of five conforming prototypes in September, had hoped to certificate the Williams-Rolls FJ44-2C-powered aircraft at the end of last year, but fabrication and assembly of the aircraft's wing and fuselage at the Gamesa Aerospace production site in Spain has encountered delays.

The programme is funded by Swearingen Aircraft and Taiwanese investment consortium Sino Aerospace. To date, more than 160 orders have been received for the $4.2 million twinjet, and the company plans to deliver nine aircraft in 2001, increasing to 44 in 2002 and 72 in 2003.


Socata Groupe Aerospatiale, Le Terminal Bat 413, Aeroport du Bourget, Zone d'Aviation d'Affaires, F-93352 France

Tel +33 (1) 49 34 69 69; Fax +33 (1) 49 34 69 71

Aerospatiale Matra subsidiary Socata is increasing production of its seven-seat TBM700 single-engined turboprop from three to four a month to keep pace with the growing demand for the aircraft, which received US Part 135 certification last year, allowing single-pilot instrument flight rules operations with paying passengers. Around 28 TBM700s are due for delivery this year, compared with 21 in 1999.


Tupolev Joint Stock Company, 17 Akademika Tupoleva, Moscow 111250, Russia

Tel +7 (095) 261 2436; Fax +7 (095) 261 0868

The Russian manufacturer is continuing with plans to develop a corporate versions of its Tu-324 regional jet, which is powered by Soyuz R-126-300 turbofans, although details of the programme are kept under wraps. A long-range business jet, dubbed the Tu-414 and powered by Rolls-Royce BR710 turbofans, is planned.


595 Bell Avenue, Chesterfield, Missouri 63005-3602, USA

Tel +1 (314) 530 1007; Fax +1 (314) 530 0005


VisionAire completed a nine-month comprehensive design review of its Vantage single-engined business jet last year, to address concerns over the aircraft's handling and weight that arose during flight tests. This led to the loss of 12 out of 125 orders in hand.

Major changes to the aircraft include use of the more powerful -5D version of the Pratt & Whitney Canada JT15D engine; moving the engine aft and up to reduce inlet duct curvature, to avoid ice build-up and increase baggage space; switching to a monocoque fuselage to reduce weight; lowering the wing to improve ground handling and reducing forward sweep to improve control and stall behaviour. The price has also been hiked from $1.8 million to $2.175 million.

VisionAire is seeking around $140 million, on top of $60 million already invested, to fund the Vantage through certification and first deliveries, slated for the fourth quarter of 2002.

Source: Flight International