September 27, 2007 By Alan Staats
When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the surrounding area,
one structure in particular was damaged both by the storm itself and by
the survivors who took refuge in and around it: The Ernest N. Morial
Convention Center, erstwhile site of the 2005 NBAA Annual Meeting and
Convention. From cooking fires built on the carpeting in the foyer and
fueled by everything from furniture to wood paneling, to the utter lack
of sanitary facilities for the 20,000+ ‘living’ there for at least two
weeks following the hurricane, my initial impression gathered during a
post- Katrina photographic assignment in New Orleans was that the
building would need to be rebuilt from the ground up before it would
see its next convention.
the Morial Center’s eventual fate is still in doubt, it was immediately
apparent to the NBAA planners that they had only two choices with
regard to the 2005 show: Cancel it or move it. Having outgrown the
convention facilities in all but three U.S. cities (New Orleans,
Atlanta and Orlando) NBAA president Ed Bolen and his staff began a
concentrated effort to move the site of the show. With the help of the
Greater Orlando Convention and Visitors Bureau, Congressman John Mica
(R-Florida) and Bob Showalter (owner of Showalter’s Flying Service at
Orlando Executive Airport, where the static display aircraft were
eventually based) Orlando was chosen to host the show.
the risk of sounding trite, what a show it was. The Orange County
Convention Center’s new North-South exhibit halls are magnificent, and
despite the last-minute change of venue NBAA reports that only a
handful of exhibitors scheduled to be at the New Orleans show bowed out
and that, in fact, a record number of exhibitors (1,142) displayed
their wares. Registered attendance at the show was 28,574 and some 110
aircraft were on static display.
In terms of
pure showmanship, Bombardier was the star of the show. The unveiling
ceremonies of two new aircraft, the Challenger 605 and the Learjet
Model 60XR (the former at the company’s static display chalet and the
latter in the convention hall itself) were multi-media extravaganzas
scripted and created by Bombardier’s media relations manager, Leo
Knaapen, and his talented team. The Challenger 605 features a Collins
ProLine 21 avionics suite, larger windows and a roomier cabin, with an
up to 200-pound increase in useful load. First flight is expected in
early 2006 with certification granted and deliveries commencing in
early 2007. The Learjet 60XR is an upgraded version of the
now-venerable Model 60 (which was introduced in 1990) and marks the
ninth new Learjet model introduced by Bombardier since it acquired the
line 15 years ago. The 60XR features a standup cabin, 51,000-foot
service ceiling and a Collins ProLine avionics suite driving four
eight-by-ten-inch LCD displays. Launch customer for the aircraft is
FlexJet (Bombardier’s fractional provider), which ordered 15 examples.
Light Jet aircraft continued to make news, with the Cessna Mustang and
the Eclipse 500 leading a pack that ranged from the sublime, in the
form of Embraer’s newly announced Phenom VLJ and the Spectrum
Aeronautical Model 33 VLJ, to the ridiculous, in the form of an
updated, flat panelequipped Moraine-Saulnier MS-760 Paris Jet. While
prices for the nearly 50-yearold design range from US$479,000 to
US$679,000, depending on how complex a Chelton FlightLogic EFIS panel
the buyer chooses, there is still the small matter of noise … or, in
the case of the MS-760 (powered by straight-pipe Turbomeca Marbore
turbojets) the large matter of noise. Stage III, it’s not.
other airframe news, Dassault’s new Falcon 7X made its North American
debut on static display and company officials claimed that the
aircraft’s guaranteed 5,700-nm range may increase to 6,000 nm. Falcon
has booked more than 70 of the new airframes. The company also
announced a longerrange derivative of the popular Falcon 2000, to be
known as the Falcon 2000DX.
Cessna announced the 26th new or
derivative Citation model it has created within the last ten years,
this to be known as the Citation Encore+. Featuring FADECequipped
P&WC PW535B engines, a 200-pound payload increase, LED cabin
lighting and a Rockwell Collins ProLine 21 avionics suite, the Encore+
is scheduled to begin flight tests during the first quarter of 2006
with certification and deliveries beginning in early 2007.
Aero signed its biggest sale ever at the show, booking an order for 36
Avanti IIs (an improved version of the venerable P- 180) with
fractional provider Avantair.
Finally. After a 20-yearlong
certification effort, the Sino Swearingen SJ30-2 light jet was awarded
its FAA type certificate shortly before the show, and the company had
the first production prototype model on static display. Sino Swearingen
claims 295 orders for the aircraft, backed by nonrefundable deposits.
big avionics buzz at this year’s NBAA was (as it has been for the past
several years) Enhanced and Synthetic Vision Systems and displays.
Universal Avionics of Tucson, Arizona had its Vison-1 Synthetic Vision
System on display, for which it had received the first STC for
installation onboard a King Air 350. The systems have also been
installed (and are waiting the granting of STCs for) a Dassault Falcon
10 and Falcon 20, a Cessna Citation 650, a King Air 300 and a Canadair
Challenger CL-600. These installations mark the first time a synthetic
vision system has been granted operational STCs and TSO certification.
had its latest system, the Vision-Based Cockpit, on display as well,
consisting of cooled IR Enhanced Vision System (EVS) imagery augmenting
a synthetic vision terrainX display as well as a multifunction display
including NAV, COMM and EICAS functions.
Thales Canada was also
promoting Enhanced Flight Vision Display at the show. Utilizing a CMC
cooled SureSight IR sensor, the Thales HUD display is based on a LCD
capable of displaying terrain and symbology similar to conventional
head-down EFIS displays, as well as flight director and flight
instrumentation cues. An interesting feature is that the HUD displays a
40-by-26-degree field of view, which is approximately 28% larger than
competing displays. The Thales system is currently certified for use on
the Bombardier Global family of corporate aircraft.
At the CMC
booth, president and CEO Jean-Pierre Mortreux was on hand to announce
that Pilatus Business Aircraft Ltd. had selected the CMC Electronics
PilotView Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) as a factory option on the PC-12
aircraft. CMC Electronics recently signed a contract with Pilatus for
the supply of its ultra-compact SureSight M-Series Enhanced Vision
System (EVS) sensor as a factory option on the PC-12. The CMC EVS
sensor and EFB are both available for retrofit to existing PC-12
aircraft. Certification of both systems is on track for January 2006.