By John F. Infanger, Editorial Director & Jodi Richards, Associate Editor
The Bizav Beat
ORLANDO - Since the mid-90s, the National Business Aviation Association's annual convention has been marked by major aircraft purchase announcements by NetJets and other fractional providers, along with a host of new aircraft unveilings by the manufacturers. Not so 2003. The 28,574 attendees here still found themselves amid a hub of activity, but not from the major players, who noticably had downsized their exhibits - a reflection of the economic times of business aviation. Still, NBAA as always was marked by new product introductions, and there are indications in the FBO marketplace that another round of acquisitions and mergers may be just around the corner.
The mood of the OEMs
was reflected at the Cessna press conference, site of major new aircraft
introductions in recent years. The major news for Cessna revolved more
around two new Citation Service Centers in Wichita and Orlando and a warning
that aircraft owners are being slow to respond to upcoming mandated RVSM
changes. Cessna is optimistic about future new unit sales, says senior
VP Ron Chapman, noting that aircraft purchase activity historically lags
an economic recovery by eight quarters.
was conspicuously silent regarding new aircraft purchases, an area it
has dominated in recent years. Major NetJets news at Orlando: the introduction
of new president Bill Boisture, former head of Gulfstream; and, the fact
that Marquis Jets, which sells business aircraft hours to executives,
is now its No. 1 customer.
An undercurrent running
through this year's NBAA was the movement of players into the fixed base
operation acquisition market. Two of note: Trajen, which has been quietly
buying up FBO locations in the past year; and Ross Aviation, a Denver-based
investment group that seeks to create a "portfolio" of FBOs.
Trajen currently operates 14 FBOs in the U.S., along with eight military contracts, according to CEO John Clanton, a CPA based in Bryan, TX. Says Clanton, "We're identifying FBO targets where the current ownership is ready to retire or move on, and apply our management approach to each." One example: the former Qualitron Aero, the primary FBO at Houston Bush Intercontinental, acquired earlier this year. Clanton says the company will remain aggressive in the FBO acquisition market.
3M-introduces its Paint Preparation System to eliminate the need for separate mixing cups and filters.
ACSS-announces Dassault selects its next generation TCAS as the standard traffic alert and collision avoidance system for the Falcon 7X bizjet.
ARINC DIRECT-opens a new regional aircraft service center at Scottsdale, AZ ... reports SKY-Link, a satellite broadband data system for business aircraft, is in production.
AIR SECURITY INT'L-reaches agreement with World Trade Press whereby WTP's Digital Mapping System will be part of ASI's World Watch® Online travel security and intelligence service ... announces agreement with Nationwide Intelligence designed to enhance information available about U.S. cities and airports in ASI's Travel Security Manager.
AUTOMOTIVE AIR CHARTER-will now use the name of its parent company, Pentastar Aviation.
AVFUEL-launches AvStore, an online retail source for FBOs, offering windsocks, uniforms, and other FBO necessities ... announces it is developing a centralized flight planning service for domestic and international travelers ... begins funding a college grant program to assist students in Michigan interested in aviation careers; www.avfuel.com.
BIZJET INT'L-is granted an FAA STC for the Lear 20 Series RVSM solution ... will offer Spey and Tay engine maintenance/overhauls in 2004.
BOMBARDIER AEROSPACE-unveils a full-size mockup of its forward cabin section for the new Global 5000 super-large business jet.
Bombardier Aerospace offers 24/7 technical support for operators of Bombardier Learjet, Challenger, and Global aircraft. For Learjet technical support: (316) 946-6100 or email@example.com...