Business aviation’s Orlando showcase

Textron Aviation's display starred the prototype Citation Longitude, still in its green and blue primer and sporting a large nose probe.

Textron Aviation's display starred the prototype Citation Longitude, still in its green and blue primer and sporting a large nose probe.

The 2016 edition of NBAA’s Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (BACE), this year held at Orlando, FL, was hailed as a major success by the Show’s organizers. Large crowds visited the static aircraft exhibition – and there were some significant news announcements.

NBAA’s annual event is ranked as the sixth largest trade show in North America and is now so large that only two venues, Orlando and Las Vegas, have the capacity to house the 1,100 exhibitors. There was a fair degree of optimism from exhibitors and attendees, but the forecasters were not quite so sure.

Honeywell’s influential Global Business Aviation Outlook shows the industry still struggles to increase the momentum of new aircraft orders. They see deliveries of 8,600 new business jets in the next decade worth $255 billion – but this is around 7% less than their assessment a year ago. 2017 deliveries are expected to be a little lower than 2016 but, downstream, there should be a pick-up to annual growth of 3 to 4% as a number of important new models start delivery. The main demand will come from North America and Asia-Pacific, but the Latin American market will remain soggy. 57% of sales will be big cabin aircraft with the balance evenly shared by midsize and small cabin types.

Headline spot among the aircraft manufacturers went to Cirrus with award of the approved Type Certificate for the Vision SF50 personal jet. Visitors were able to sample a fully equipped Vision at the static display and in December Cirrus will deliver the first of 600 aircraft which are on order. The Vision is priced at $1.9 million and Cirrus says it will have an operating cost of $600 per hour.

Textron Aviation’s display starred the prototype Citation Longitude, still in its green and blue primer and sporting a large nose probe. It was announced that the Longitude will have 100 nm more range than predicted (at 3,500 nm) and the full fuel payload will rise to 1,600 lbs. For the future the Citation Hemisphere, which will top the Cessna range, will be a 4,500 nm aircraft and a cabin mock-up showed its elegant three-zones and Honeywell Primus Epic cockpit. In a surprise announcement, it was disclosed that the Hemisphere will be powered by Safran’s Silvercrest engines whose slowed development has delayed the first flight of Dassault’s Falcon 5X. However, Safran say they are in sight of resolving the problems and Dassault is targeting 2020 for the ‘5X entering service. Dassault also let slip that it has another bizjet in the works!

Bombardier, who showed a full line of jets, are in the middle of taxi tests for the Global 7000 with first flight imminent as the show closed. Making its debut was Nextant’s G90XT enhanced King Air and another model making its first NBAA appearance was the Pilatus PC-24, taking a brief break from its US test program. According to Pilatus CEO, Markus Bucher, launch customer, Plane Sense will receive its first unit at the end of 2017.

To round off the news, Gulfstream reported that G500 testing is ahead of schedule and first deliveries will be made by the end of 2017 and the first G600 is expected to fly before the end of this year. And, finally, Embraer fielded its full range and showed the extended ranged Legacy 650E, the enhanced Phenom 100 EV, which features the new Prodigy Touch flight deck, and the Legacy 450 and 500, now with head up display and the E2VS enhanced vision system.

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