As lawmakers consider a major change to the current structure of the FAA as both a safety regulator and Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP), representatives of commercial airlines and business aviation operators are divided on how to move forward. In a hearing before the Senate commerce committee on Tuesday, May 19, Ed Bolen, president of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) strongly opposed the creation of a private entity responsible for Air Traffic Control (ATC) while Airlines for America (A4A) Chairman and United Airlines President and CEO Jeff Smisek expressed support for the change.
Smisek believes the FAA should retain its current role as a safety regulator, providing certification of airplanes and ensuring safety of air transportation operations. However, A4A — with the exception of member carrier Delta Airlines, which does not support a private ANSP — is asking lawmakers to consider separating the ATC operations and safety regulation functions of the FAA and to create a new user-fee funded non-profit corporation with an independent, multi-stakeholder board of governance free from political influence over decision-making.
Business jet buyers are a fickle lot. Most airlines expect a new commercial aircraft to provide reliable service for at least 12 years before a replacement is even considered. But the average owner of a corporate aircraft starts looking for an upgrade in about half that time.
It is no coincidence that business jet manufacturers seem in unison to be entering a new phase in the product development cycle. A five-year wave of launches appears to have crested, with the industry now focused on programme execution.
The EBACE convention in Geneva highlights the shift. For the first time in five years, no veils were lifted on new aircraft projects (discounting Airbus’s launch of the ACJ320neo). More glaringly, a normally reliable stream of rumoured imminent launches ran dry.
Instead, the manufacturers seem to be focused entirely on, well, manufacturing, as they attempt to make good on the promises of the last five years.
The static display outside the Palexpo centre emphasised the change in focus. There were three types – the Cessna Citation Latitude, Embraer Legacy 450 and the HondaJet – making show debuts ahead of scheduled certification milestones later this year. They should be followed in 2016 by another wave of pre-certification arrivals, and again the following year.
FlightAware is continuing to expand the capabilities of its global flight tracking and flight data technology, launching a new network for tracking non-ADS-B-equipped aircraft at the 2015 European Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition (EBACE) in Geneva. Beyond the new product launch though, the Texas-based flight tracking company is also looking to expand its flight tracking service to more remote areas of the world to provide airlines and operators with all of the possible surveillance data available that can help prevent the loss of an aircraft position.
The Embraer Legacy 500 was getting high marks in the business aviation trade press even before the jet was delivered to the first customer late last year. Nearly all of the attention seemed to be on passenger accommodations, such as the six-foot flat-floor cabin and the aircraft’s 12 oversize windows—so much so that the Legacy 500, with its $20 million base price, routinely was compared to super-midsize models costing much more.
Going forward, look for the spotlight to shine more on performance. The Embraer also makes the Legacy 650 500, which is powered by two Honeywell HTF7500E engines—the greenest in their class—recently set four new world speed records for midsize jets.
The first two were set for speed over a recognized course on a round-trip flight from Oakland, Ca., to Lihue, Hawaii, a distance of 2,135 nm, with six passengers on board. The flight lasted 5 hours and 49 minutes, achieving an average ground speed of 420 mph. The return flight took 4 hours and 11 minutes at an average ground seed of 586 mph.
Gulfstream Aerospace ’s new G500 business jet—a clean-sheet design that’s been in development since 2008—has taken to the skies for the first time.
During the 2-hour, 16-minute flight on May 18, the crew exercised all primary flight control systems, evaluating handling qualities in takeoff and landing configurations, performed a simulated approach and go-around, and checked all systems using the Symmetry flight deck touchscreen controllers.
After taking off from Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport, adjacent to Gulfstream headquarters and its sprawling production and test facilities, the aircraft reached a maximum altitude of 15,000 ft. and achieved a top air speed of 194 kts. It is the first of two jets to begin flight tests, and is part of Gulfstream’s new family of large-cabin, long-range aircraft that also includes the clean-sheet G600.