Dassault Falcon Jet (Booth 2651) launched a new AOG (aircraft on ground) response program at NBAA 2014 in Orlando, Fla., yesterday. The customer-support program will use two company-owned Falcon 900s as rapid-response aircraft; one based at Teterboro in New Jersey and the other at Le Bourget in France.
The Falcons will be used to transport Dassault Go Teams of technicians, parts and tools, and, if necessary transport customers to their destinations, while their aircraft is being serviced. Customers would be billed direct operating costs for these flights, which will be operated for the company by an independent operator under Part 135.
The French airframer also said that both the new Falcon 5X twinjet and 8X trijet programs are making substantial progress. The first 5X was assembled over the summer, powered up in August and has entered ground and vibration testing at Merignac. Engine run-up is expected by year end and first flight in the second quarter of 2015.
Certification of the 5X remains on track for 2016 and the company reported a two-year order backlog. The jet's Snecma Silvercrest engines have accumulated 1,300 hours of bench testing without anomalies.
Meanwhile, the long-range Falcon 8X, with a maximum range of 6,450 nm, is on track for first flight early next year. Initial ground testing was completed in October. With a cabin 3.5 feet longer than that on the 7X, the 8X has space for 30 different cabin configurations. Deliveries are anticipated in the second quarter of 2016.
The company said it will continue to concentrate on the top end of the market, which represents 85 percent of new business jet transaction values, but did not have plans to pursue a supersonic design at this time, maintaining there is not enough customer demand for such an aircraft.
In addition to the rapid response aircraft, Dassault is embarking on various other service-related improvements, including: building a new 77,000-sq-ft MRO facility in Bordeaux, France; increasing the number of parts for "right-sizing" price reductions; significantly increasing its spare parts inventories; and hiring more service personnel.
Dassault noted that it currently has a 98.5-percent parts-availability rate–meaning that is the percentage of the time a customer receives parts on the day they are needed–and that in most cases parts pack and ship within 30 minutes to one hour of order placement.
Less than a week after the surprise launch of Gulfstream's new G600 and G500 large-cabin jets, the company is showing off a full-size cabin and cockpit mockup of the G600 at the NBAA static display at Orlando Executive Airport. The G600 and the slightly smaller G500 were announced October 14 following a highly secretive five-year development program. A G500 already is assembled, taxiing and preparing for its first flight early next year.
Gulfstream projects it will receive type certification from the FAA and EASA in 2017 and begin deliveries in 2018. The G600 flight-test program is expected to begin approximately 12 to 18 months after the G500's, and entry-into-service is projected to be in 2019.
The new programs last week secured the strong support of launch customers Flexjet and Qatar Executive. Flexjet placed a firm order for six G500s, plus 10 G450s and six G650s, and options for 28 more aircraft. Qatar Executive signed a memorandum of understanding covering a 20-aircraft mix of G500s and G650s.
The G500 can fly 5,000 nm at Mach 0.85 or 3,800 nm at Mach 0.90. The G600 is capable of traveling 6,200 nm at Mach 0.85 or 4,800 nm at Mach 0.90. The maximum operating speed for both aircraft is Mach 0.925, the same speed as Gulfstream's G650 and G650ER. Power for the pair will come from Pratt & Whitney Canada's new PW800 engines. The 16,000-pound-thrust class PW814GA and PW815GA powerplants have the same core technology used in the company's family of geared turbofan commercial engines. They have a 10,000-hour TBO and no midlife inspection requirement.
The aircraft's common cockpits feature the new touchscreen Symmetry flight deck driven by Honeywell Primus Epic avionics and active control sidesticks. The avionics include Gulfstream's enhanced vision, Honeywell's synthetic vision with 3-D taxi and a head-up display system. The full three-axis digital fly-by-wire system offers benefits that include flight-envelope protection, stability augmentation, increased redundancy and reduced maintenance.
The streamlined and highly styled cockpit is the most striking feature of the aircraft's interior, finished in black leather with metallic accents. Most of the visible switchology found in earlier designs has been eliminated. Inputs are made through a group of five Honeywell touchscreens with large and easy-to-view icons. Gulfstream's familiar cursor control devices (CCD) are integrated into the center console at the head of the hand grips. The console extends aft of the pilot seats, but it is lower-slung, making step-over entry and exit easier.
The CCD gives each pilot control of three of the four main display screens and allows data to be shifted between them in the event of a failure. Gulfstream is considering offering a dual head-up display for the co-pilot position. Out the window and over the nose visibility is expansive. The gaspers are large and located to provide optimum ventilation. The new design Ipeco crew seats have multiple adjustments. The elbow rests behind the sidesticks also are adjustable as are the rudder pedals. There is ample storage in the sidewalls for personal items. Two 110-volt power outlets are located aft of the pilot seats.
The finished passenger cabin of each aircraft measures 91 inches wide and 74 inches tall–about seven inches wider and two inches taller than cabins on the current production G450 and G550–and they can be configured for 19 passengers. The G500 has three living areas and the G600 has up to four as well as an optional crew rest area. Both aircraft have forward and aft lavatories and include a full-size galley that can be located either forward or aft. The baggage compartment is accessible through the aft lavatory, has 175 cu ft of usable volume and has additional floor and ceiling tracking to allow for flexible loading. The main baggage door also has been enlarged.
The G500 and G600 also will feature a new seat design with all seat controls located on the inboard armrests and pockets sculpted into the interior arms for more hip room. Some architecture from the Elite interiors developed for the new G650 and later migrated to the G550 and G450 is featured in the G500 and G600, such as the high-tech display of galley and IFE equipment. For now, a 32-inch flatscreen appears to be the largest monitor that will be able to be mounted above a mid-cabin credenza while maintaining adequate access to emergency egress. However, Gulfstream executives stressed that this is a largely all-new cabin interior design and likely not the final cut. IFE offerings in particular are expected to progress between now and 2017, and a final determination has yet to be made.
Gulfstream plans to use the mockup to elicit and record customer feedback here at NBAA. Accordingly, it is finished in neutral colors, fabrics and veneers to appeal to a variety of tastes.
The cabin in the mockup also features more built-in storage nooks in the cabin sidewalls and the seats as well as USB charging ports. Both aircraft provide a cabin altitude of 4,850 feet at FL510 and 100 percent fresh air. The aircraft use the same large oval windows that are on the G650 with dimming provided by a dual roller shade system. The cabin noise level for the G500 and G600 is expected to be extremely quiet, less than 50 dBA. The new latching mechanisms for the cabinetry are also quieter.
"We've built lots of flexibility into this cabin," said William Gay, Gulfstream director of completion sales.
Gulfstream told a press conference yesterday that the new Savannah production line to be used for the G500 and G600 models will represent a "significant" advance over the G650 production line. The G650 line already uses 80 percent fewer fasteners and 50 percent fewer parts than the G450/550.
Gulfstream Aerospace is opening a new sales and design center in Long Beach, Calif. The facility will support West Coast customers with the selection of cabin interior and paint options for their aircraft. The manufacturer's 325,000-sq-ft Long Beach center has been open since 1986 and includes a completions center for the G550 and G650 models, as well as a service center for all Gulfstream models.
At a press conference on the eve of the 2014 NBAA show in Orlando, Gulfstream also announced the appointment of Cindy Halsey as vice president for completion planning and design. Her core responsibility is to ensure that customers have a "world-class completion experience" and to achieve this she will coordinate the efforts of Gulfstream colleagues involved in new aircraft sales, contracts, marketing, engineering, initial/final-phase operations and product support. Halsey formerly held a similar role at Cessna Aircraft.
In other personnel news, Gulfstream has appointed Brian Jones as regional vice president for international sales for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Jones has been in the business aviation industry for 17 years and joins the manufacturer from aircraft broker Volare Aviation, where he was CEO.
Meanwhile, Grant Kennedy has been named as Gulfstream's new sales director for northeast U.S. and eastern Canada. The company also has appointed Matthew Sandidge as regional vice president of sales for Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Textron Aviation is showcasing its complete line of business jets and turboprops here at NBAA 2014, with all 12 models on display at Orlando Executive Airport, led by the debut appearance of the Cessna Latitude, its midsize jet currently undergoing certification.
"It's a product family that really has come together well," said president and CEO Scott Ernest, alluding to the merger of the Hawker, Beechcraft and Cessna product lines after Textron, parent company of Cessna Aircraft, purchased Hawker Beechcraft earlier this year and created Textron Aviation. "Our focus for the last six months has been on integration." (See story page 28.)
Since the last NBAA, Textron has also certified four new aircraft: the Citation CJ3+, certified in September, which has "a good backlog" of orders, Ernest said (one delivered); the M2 (43 delivered); the Sovereign + (27 delivered); and the Citation X+, the world's fastest business jet, with a top cruise speed of Mach 0.935 (five delivered).
The company has high hopes for its midsize Latitude, the widest Citation and the first midsize jet with a six-foot cabin height, according to Textron. The development program is two thirds completed and certification is expected in 2015.
In turboprop news, the company announced an updated King Air C90GTx, available in the 4th quarter of this year. Textron also announced for the King Air 250 an enhanced payload option (920 pounds) that effectively extends the range 490 nm with six passengers and two crewmembers.
Brad Thress, senior v-p of customer service, announced that the company is extending ProAdvantage, its guaranteed-cost maintenance program, to the King Air line, noting that more than 40 percent of Citation owners are members, which "speaks to the value customers see" in the program. In coming months, the program will be extended to cover the Hawker line of business jets as well, he said. In emphasizing its global customer service network and its reach, Textron also has one of its mobile service unit vehicles on static display.
Ernest said results of the first three quarters show the company is "off to a really good start this year." During Textron's third-quarter earnings call on October 17, the company revealed third-quarter revenues up $526 million to $3.4 billion, which includes $398 million contributed by the Beechcraft acquisition. During the quarter, Textron Aviation delivered 33 jets and 30 King Airs, up from 25 jets in last year's third quarter (Beechcraft delivered 26 Kings in that quarter). The Textron Aviation contribution included revenues up $497 million compared to the same quarter last year and a profit of $62 million compared to last year's loss of $23 million. Backlog at the end of the third quarter is flat compared to the second quarter at $1.4 billion.
"We've seen a pretty significant uptick in terms of the demand," said Textron chairman and CEO Scott Donnelly, "a lot of activity up here, and it's pretty much across the board. We feel probably [we] have seen one of the strongest September/October levels of activity that we've seen in quite some time."
Textron also announced that its TRU Simulation + Training unit will open a new Citation training facility in Tampa, Fla., as well as a Bell training center in Valencia, Spain.