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Aviators around the globe convened at the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) to take stock of the business aviation scenario
This year’s edition of the much-awaited annual aviation event European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) kicked off in Geneva last month. The four-day long event saw representatives from European industry and government come together to discuss operational constraints limiting business aviation travel, and to explore methods to mitigate them. Sustainability was a major area of concern apart from the changes that may be brought about in European business aviation courtesy Brexit. The attendees also paid homage to Dassault Group chairman emeritus and business aviation leader, Serge Dassault. European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) Chairman Juergen Wiese also announced that EBACE2018 is dedicated to Dassault’s memory. He said, “Under Serge’s guidance and inspiration, Dassault Aviation rose to become a global leader in business aviation, military applications and technological advancements. Without question, he will long be remembered as a diplomat, statesman, innovator and leader, not just within the industry, but among all those who have been influenced by his leadership.”
TROUBLE IN THE SKIES?
The prospective withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union may cause some turbulence in the skies above Europe. Mark Bisset with Clyde & Co. says, “Aviation is simply not on the agenda in those discussions at all. And that’s worrying, because the clock is ticking and we’re trying to remain positive.” During an educative session at the EBACE 2018, concerns such as handling customs duties and VAT requirements, membership of the European Aviation Safety Association and access to Britain by outside countries, including US, were discussed. However, traffic rights between the UK and EU states remain on the top of the list of concerns for operators. EBAA had also recently unveiled a detailed analysis of the following six possible scenarios for business aviation operations in the aftermath of the United Kingdom’s pending exit from the EU:
Environment responsibility was the main focus at the convention with their host facility, the Palexpo convention center, boasting of a roof with 15,000 photovoltaic panels that form an expansive solar array capable of producing 4.2 gigawatthours per year, enough electricity for 1,350 households. From optimised show equipment and transportation alternatives to reducing the number of vehicles required on-site, as well as locally recycled show carpets in the exhibit hall and a “zerolandfill” event strategy, they were committed towards the cause.
Interestingly, the site of the aircraft static display at the EBACE, Geneva Airport (GVA), was declared “carbon neutral” in 2017 and has earned the highest level (3+) in the Airport Carbon Accreditation (ACA) campaign. The third busiest airport in the world and is also set to include 1 per cent of renewable Jet A1-certified aviation fuel produced from waste materials in the aviation fuel distributed at the airport with the objective of being cost neutral for all users.
A new initiative focused on raising awareness of available and emerging alternative jet fuel options was also expressed at the convention with the introduction of the Business Aviation Guide to the Use of Sustainable Alternative Jet Fuels (SAJF). According to them, SAJF for business aviation are safe, approved, and available today, though in limited quantities, the fuels offer myriad benefits. The fuels are produced from multiple feedstock, which are sustainable, renewable resources, and are therefore an environmental “win-win.” International Business Aviation Council Director General Kurt H. Edwards said on the EBACE website, “Sustainable alternative jet fuels are a new technology available now for use by our innovative community. Their growing use will be a critical component of business aviation’s global commitment to mitigate and reduce carbon emissions, and to meet our aspirational goal of carbon-neutral growth from 2020.”
UP TO THE MINUTE
The convention was an ideal setup for leading aviation brands to showcase their latest offerings. The Embraer Legacy 450 and 500 business jets showed off their new seats for the first time that offer their customers more personalisation options with new styles in stitching, material textures and color applications. Their other enhancements include a best-in-class cabin altitude (5,800 ft), new Internet connectivity and readiness for FANS (FAA’s Future Air Navigation System). Both Embraer jets have undergone Avance L5 installations too. Earlier this year, in March, the Legacy 450 jet set a new speed record on a flight between Portland, United States and Farnborough, United Kingdom. According to the US National Aeronautic Association (NAA), the flight lasted six hours and five minutes, covering a distance of 2,756 nautical miles at an average speed of 521.89 mph with fuel reserves in excess of those required for NBAA IFR as well as for critical operations. Talking about speed, Embraer also became the first business aircraft manufacturer to offer line-fit high-capacity high-speed Ka-Band connectivity for medium cabin business jets. The Viasat solution will become available in the second quarter of 2019 for new Legacy 450 and Legacy 500 customers as well as for current customers of these models through a retrofit solution. At the convention, the signing of a purchase agreement for a preowned Legacy 500 was also announced. The business jet will be operated by Centreline, a UK-based full-service private jet company, which already operates two Legacy 500s. The delivery of this additional order is scheduled for August this year. Embraer also announced a new purchase agreement for four more Legacy 650E business jets with Air Hamburg, world’s largest operator of the Legacy 600/650.
Meanwhile, Dassault Aviation had unleashed their avian talons with Falcon 8X, Falcon 900LX and Falcon 2000LXS on static display. On Day 1 of EBACE 2018, Dassault launched FalconConnect, providing one-stop connectivity services for owners and operators of new and in-service Falcons rather than buying airborne hardware and then arranging for service with a service provider. Customers operating Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 8X will also receive operational credit allowing bad weather approaches to 100 foot minimum decision heights on aircraft equipped with Dassault’s FalconEye combined vision system. The new capability recently completed a joint FAA/EASA certification campaign and will be introduced onto the market before the end of the year.
A day before the convention Dassault Aviation signed a cooperation agreement with Dassault Systèmes for the implementation of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. The multi-year agreement covers the replacement of Dassault Aviation’s civil and military aircraft programmes with the 3DEXPERIENCE platform for all PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) solutions. Not only that, it will also enable them to expand the Falcon business jets, evolve the Rafale fighter, MALE observation UAV among others.
New orders from Japan, France and Germany underscore Dassault Aviation’s rapidly expanding inroads into the multimission business jet market. The most recent deal involves the Japan Coast Guard, which acquired another Falcon 2000 Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA) to reinforce its maritime patrol capability. The Coast Guard had previously ordered four MSA aircraft, which are based on the 4,000 nm Falcon 2000LXS.
The Gulfstream G600 and G500 also made their European debut in Geneva. The highly customisable 19-seater G500 can fly 5,200 nm at Mach 0.85 while the G600 can fly 6,500 nm at Mach 0.85. Taking the Gulfstream experience a notch higher with virtual reality, attendees experienced Gulfstream’s Symmetry Flight Deck™ with an interactive experience that features a pilot seat, all-new active control side-sticks and a throttle quadrant. Virtually exploration of a G650ER cabin with the popular seat design in the four-living-area space, was also made possible at the convention.
Close on their heels, Bombardier also showed off two additions to its Global Business Jet Family: the new Global 5500 and Global 6500, expected to enter service by the end of 2019. Powered by new Rolls-Royce Pearl engines and a new wing design, both aircraft can reach top speeds up to Mach 0.90. The new engines also yield a 13 per cent fuel burn advantage, reducing operating costs and the aircraft’s carbon footprint.
But the ‘quieter and louder at the same time’, HondaJet Elite, was the centre of attention at EBACE 2018. Honda Aircraft unveiled the twin-engine light jet at the convention featuring an extended range, noise attenuating engine inlets, full-service galley and new color options among other features. The new aircraft, in development for the past two years and priced at $5.25 million, has achieved a 17 per cent range increase to 1,437 nm and is equipped with a newly developed attenuating inlet structure that lines each engine to reduce high-frequency noise and increase cabin quietness. The Elite also includes updated Garmin 3000 avionics, two-tone executive leather seats, a belted lavatory and Bongiovi Aviation speakerless in-cabin audio system integrated into the interior panel. Honda Aircraft Company also announced that it has expanded sales of the HondaJet to the Middle East with the appointment of Jetex Flight Support as an authorised sales representative based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.