Interviews, press conference reports, and news briefs from NBAA 2002
After settling for an abbreviated show in 2001, the National Business
Aviation Association was determined to recapture the position of its annual
convention as the premier aviation show in North America. Toward that
end, NBAA 2002 was a success, with some 27,785 attendees and a record
1,011 exhibitors. Yet, the ongoing recession, the threat of a widening
war, and a slowing of business aviation activity in recent months left
this event short of the vibrancy of the 2000 show.
The introduction of new aircraft (see sidebar) and associated purchase orders again were center stage, with Cessna perhaps stealing the show with the unveiling of its new Mustang business jet.
Fixed base operators and other aviation service companies and a handful of airports were on hand, exhibiting their products and services to the business aviation community. Various discussions reveal that most operators remain optimistic about bizav activity, yet the economy and changing security requirements at the nation’s airports leave them guarded.
Honeywell Aerospace shared the results of its 11th annual Business Aviation Outlook at the show, projecting a strong business aviation market for the next ten years, with some 7,600 new units at a value of $121 billion being delivered. Due to the economic climate, Honeywell sees a modest decline in new aircraft orders this year, followed by a renewed upswing in 2003-04. However, the caveat is growth in the U.S. economy, according to the report.
Central to future bizav growth, says Honeywell, will be the fractional ownership segment, which the report says accounts for some 45 percent of the business jet order backlog. Honeywell figures that fractionals represent some 7 percent of the global business aircraft fleet, which will grow to an estimated 10-12 percent by 2012. Honeywell says that despite the dramatic growth of fractionals in the past five years, only a small portion of the potential has been developed.
Fractionals Don’t Skip a Beat
In Orlando, the two largest fractional providers, NetJets Inc. and Flight Options, continued to make news. NetJets placed orders for 100 new Cessna CitationJet 3 and 12 Citation X aircraft, with a total value of over $300 million including maintenance services. NetJets also placed an order worth some $1.5 billion with Gulfstream Aerospace for 100 new wide-body G150 business jets. The G150 is currently under development by Gulfstream and the Israel Aircraft Industry and is scheduled to enter service in 2005.
Flight Options, which in March merged with Raytheon’s Travel Air fractional program, announced that it is adding the Cessna Citation X to its fleet, which is made up of predominantly pre-owned aircraft.
At an NBAA press conference, Flight Options CEO Kenn Ricci said he expects the company to report 2002 revenues of $800 million, and remains bullish about the marketplace, foreseeing the company growing to $2.2 billion in revenues by 2006. Ricci says the potentially greatest impediments to growth for his company will be airport infrastructure – a "lack of concrete" – and new security requirements that could lead to metal detectors becoming a lead factor in where business jets land, not runway length.
BBA/Signature Flight Support
Beth Haskins, president of the industry’s largest chain of FBOs, Signature Flight Support, echoed the guarded optimism of other FBOs, while playing up the role her company has taken in heightening security efforts at its operations.