Mood cheerier at this year's NBAA

Traffic steady at static display; 93 planes on exhibit


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Oct. 21--ATLANTA -- Nearly everywhere you go at the National Business Aviation Association's annual convention, exhibitors, executives, pilots, sales personnel and others say the same thing: this year's show seems more upbeat than last year's.

Traffic was steady at the static display of aircraft at the DeKalb Peachtree airport, where 93 planes are on exhibit through today.

"We're happy with the traffic," said General Aviation Manufacturers Association president Pete Bunce.

Time will tell whether that traffic sprouts orders. "It's still the economy."

Many of the potential customers at the show came from outside the U.S., Bunce said.

Hawker Beechcraft's Ron Gunnarson said the company has sold five King Air C90GTX, valued at $18.5 million, to a representative in Germany. Deliveries are scheduled for 2011.

Customers are "spending a good quality of time," inside the company's huge tent housing its lineup of jets, Gunnarson said.

Bombardier Learjet has received letters of intent for Learjet 60s at the show. A spokeswoman declined to say how many were sold.

"It's good news," said Bombardier spokeswoman Danielle Boudreau.

And Cessna Aircraft has taken orders at the show, spokesman Bob Stangarone said, although the company did not come to the show expecting them. Late Wednesday, he did not have details of the orders.

Scott Donnelly, CEO of Cessna parent company Textron, was spotted walking outside Cessna's exhibit Wednesday afternoon. He said he was encouraged by the traffic at the show. Cessna has had a lot of activity. He said there's pent-up demand for business jets, and that eventually will pay off.

Forecasters predict that deliveries won't begin to increase until 2012.

In other show news

--Bombardier unveiled twins this week with its Global 7000 and Global 8000 business jets. Each will be priced at $65 million. They will enter service in 2016 and 2017 respectively. The planes will have lower fuel consumption and larger cabins than others in a similar class and high-speed wings, the company said. Officials declined to release the company's backlog.

--The National Center for Aviation Training was in the spotlight Wednesday with a briefing highlighting the Wichita center.

The center has partnered with Wichita State University's National Institute for Aviation Research. That combination of research and training is unlike other training centers, said NIAR executive director John Tomblin.

"For Wichita to compete in the global environment is to place the latest and greatest technology onto the latest and greatest products and get it onto the production floor as fast as we can," Tomblin said.

--Sherwin-Williams in Andover has a new aircraft paint in vibrant, trendy and traditional colors that combines a base coat and clear coat system. Its exhibit is colorful as a result, reflecting the variety of shades.

Cutting down the steps in painting aircraft saves customers time in how long their planes are out of service, officials said.

And it allows for more complicated paint jobs.

--Bombardier's Learjet 60 set a speed record when it flew 4,777 nautical miles from Wichita to Sao Paulo, Brazil, with one stop in 11 hours and 58 minutes, the company said.

--Sikorsky Aircraft has agreed in principle to take a minority stake in Eclipse Aviation. Investors bought the company's assets in 2009 after Eclipse filed for bankruptcy in 2008.

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com.

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