EBACE 2014

Geneva May 20-22

The show was blessed with fine weather and opened with a perfectly clear day that made everything sparkle, the snow-capped mountains and  the stars of the tarmac. Most attendants found the show “quiet”  after the initial buzz of the first morning had passed.

The vibrations were good at the Pilatus booth. They staged the opening of their order book  for the PC-24 at the show. The drama was enhanced with the use of a giant screen suspended over their booth where sales were listed “live”. The PC-24 mock-up was first unveiled at EBACE 2013,  as highlighted in a last year’s post.  Over 80 customers ordered the “Super Versatile Jet” in the 3 days of the show closing with a giant” SOLD OUT THROUGH 2019″ message on the the giant screen.

The roll out of the first prototype is planned for August 1 of this year, which by no coincidence is the Swiss National Day.  We will be there.

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The X series continues: Dassault Falcon surprised everyone by announcing a new ultra-long range Falcon 8X,  so soon after it announced the 5X at the last NBAA in Las Vegas (see previous post).  It is over three feet longer than the 7X and has a longer range.   Of course as is the tradition, Mr. Serge Dassault will receive the first 8X to add to his growing collection. Dassault reported that a Falcon 7X set a speed record earlier this month between Teterboro airport and London City Airport: 5 hours 54 minutes. It will become an official world record once it is recognized by the FAI.

Gulfstream has decided not to participate in the Super Sonic Jet program with Aerion. It was known to have an interest in the concept. It did announce its extended-range upgrade for the G650 which is already in the category  “ultra-long range”. It is known as G650ER.

Aerion featured its Super Sonic Jet which is now a larger trijet and confirmed that there is a demand for this type of aircraft, and backing for the project. It is called the AS2.  Is it time to resurrect the Concorde? The issues that made operating it over land must still be there…

Bombardier’s Global 7000 mock up was prominent at the show. Particularly impressive was the forward galley.

PRODUCTS:

Windows

Fokker introduced a new product developed for the BBJ: The SkyView Panoramic Window. The new window is 1.385m long and 0.495m tall. Whereas a standard window fits between 2 fuselage frames, the new panoramic window occupies the equivalent of 3 inter-frame spaces. This product is very exciting to designers as it “opens new perspectives”. No doubt it will be equally appreciated by the clients wishing to enhance their flying experience. The SkyView can be installed in specific areas only. Fokker owns the STC with Boeing doing the validation. FAA and EASA certification is expected in 2015.

Seats

Lufthansa introduced “The Chair”.  This 16g seat concept consists of a basic structure from which you can build a family of seats based on their function: Lounging, dining, etc. in a variety of styles. With a slim profile and a cylindrical base that replaces the basic box base, the seat takes up less space and responds to a more modern aesthetic.

BUSINESS TRENDS:

Modularity

There is a trend among OEMs and completion centers to look at modularity of the VIP cabin interiors, to use a euphemism: “pre-customization”. The concept is common for business jets but is now becoming popular for narrow-body airliners. Typically the aircraft would be offered with certain compartments in predetermined areas, forward galley and aft master suite for instance. What is left in the middle can be customized.

It is a cost-cutting solution for the completion centers in the tightening narrow-body market.  It is presented to the client as an attractive way to achieve a completions in a shorter turnaround time.  This might be interesting for customers who are in a hurry and otherwise would have to consider pre-owned.  It also makes the project less costly. Some boast that it saves on the headache of decision making for the client at the beginning of the completions process, making it less painful for him. Others that it is a model for a younger, different kind of clientele.

Refurbishments

The trend is in gearing up for refurbishments.  Completions centers are more and more looking at this segment to fill the gaps in their slot reservations. Maintenance centers are expanding their services into this segment, taking into account that the early BBJs are now due for major heavy checks that are the ideal opportunity for modifications and refurbishments.

The Chinese market might be warming to the idea of pre-owned refurbished aircraft, contrary to the belief that it prefers new.  Either the customers have changed or the belief has.