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.
CAE SIMUFLITE-adds a Citation X Level D-certified full-flight simulator to its Dallas facility ... partners with Airbus to offer Jetliner customers enhanced training courses.Geneva-based PrivatAir, the former Flight Services Group, has several major announcements at Orlando. It has teamed up with Swissport to establish a ground handling company, which it looks to expand beyond the start-up Geneva location. PrivatAir has also begun running a corporate shuttle for Airbus, and is operating trans-Atlantic corporate shuttles in a contract with Lufthansa.
DALLAS AIRMOTIVE INC.-introduces its Turbine Update system, the next generation of online engine tracking; www.turbineupdate.com ... receives Honeywell's Service Targeted Authorization and Approval Ratings for its TFE731 major service centers in Minneapolis and West Palm Beach, and heavy maintenance center at Premier Turbines in Neosho, MO ... opens a new Boynton Beach, FL Regional Turbine Center.
DELTA AIRELITE BUSINESS JETS-launches Fleet Membership Select, powered by Bombardier Flexjet, allowing members 25-hour increments of occupied time in a range of select aircraft.
ECLIPSE AVIATION-and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. partner to have Fuji manufacture the wing assembly for the new Eclipse 500 aircraft.
ELLIOTT AVIATION-based in Moline, IL, launches Total Aircraft Solutions for King Air, Beechjet, Premier, Hawker, and Citation 550/ 560 owners.
EMS TECHNOLOGIES, INC.-adds a fuselage mount antenna as part of its product family of Inmarsat and Direct Broadcast Receive antennas.
FLIGHT EXPLORER-partners with Honeywell to enable aircraft operators to use Flight Explorer aircraft situational display to track business aircraft using a desktop computer ... enters an agreement with Navigance Technolo-gies Group to provide aircraft simulation display as part of Navigance's Wi Fli solutions package.
HEADS UP TECHNOLOGIES, INC.-receives FAA/PMA approval on its XMRANT-01 XM antenna and XMR800-01 Eight-Receiver Cabin-Class XM radio receiver.
L3 AVIONICS SYSTEMS-nears certification of a GPS receiver designed to capitalize on the WAAS satellite array ... is selected by Ray-theon Aircraft Company to supply its Electronic Standby Instrument System model GH-3100 to all Beechcraft King Air 200s and 350s.
METEORLOGIX-announces the release of AviationWatch™, designed to provide "smart weather" briefing and alerting capabilities to pilots on the ground, road, and in the cockpit.
MIDCOAST AVIATION-is named an Authorized Service Facility for the ultra-long range Global Express by Bombardier Aerospace.
MILLION AIR-adds FBOs at Bur-bank and Oxnard, CA, to its network.
SHELL AVIATION-which recently returned to the U.S. general aviation refueling market via an agreement with Eastern Aviation Fuels, reports it now has 248 FBOs in the U.S., including the Piedmont-Hawthorne chain.
THUNDER AVIATION-teams with Honeywell Inc. to obtain certification of RVSM capability on Falcon 10 and 20 aircraft.
UNIVERSAL WEATHER AND AVIATION, INC.-teams with FAM International Logistics, Inc. to offer security services ... introduces new and enhanced scalable weather charts.
Banyan Air Service at Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport is getting ready to break ground on its new terminal while tripling its ramp to accommodate larger bizjets, including the Boeing BBJ. Banyan also has teamed up with DeCrane Cabin Interiors to offer interior refurbishment services. Susan Howard Hancock, a well-known customer service rep for AVCARD and Jet Aviation, recently became an FBO owner with the purchase of the Bohlke Int’l Airways operation at St. Thomas, V.I. It has been renamed the St.
Thomas Jet Center.