Key Developments and Announcements at the Business Aviation Industry’s Big Show
This week, the business aviation industry is meeting up at the 2023 NBAA-BACE. Among many other announcements during the event, Cirrus Aircraft celebrated their milestone 500th SF50 Vision Jet delivery. Photo Source: Cirrus Aircraft.
NBAA-BACE 2023 is well underway in Las Vegas and many key developments have been announced by industry participants. In this article, we will provide a recap of these announcements and other key takeaways from the show.
Press conferences were held Monday this week and Honda Aircraft revealed the name of their new HA-420 Series light jet called HondaJet Echelon. A mockup of the new jet stands alongside the HondaJet Elite II during the show. The HondaJet Echelon was previously introduced as the HondaJet 2600 Concept at NBAA-BACE 2021 and, according to its manufacturer, it sets a new paradigm by offering a mid-sized jet experience in the light jet category. The original HondaJet concept was originally announced already in the late 1990s and the first flight was made in 2003. In 2015, production deliveries commenced and as of June 30, 2023, 236 units have been delivered. The bulk of these deliveries were in the 2017-21 period, while 2022 was a disappointing year with only 17 shipments. In the first half of 2023, Honda delivered 10 HA-420 Series jets.
On Monday, Daher celebrated the 500th delivery of a TBM 900 Series aircraft. According to the French aircraft manufacturer, the milestone underscores the continued global market demand for their TBM turboprop product line. Daher is one of a handful of relatively smaller manufacturers that have performed very well in recent years and experienced significant growth. The milestone aircraft was a TBM 960 model, the company’s flagship aircraft, and Daher currently has more than 100 TBM 960s on order, which exceeds two years of production. Daher has delivered 76 TBM 960s as of June 30, 2023 – since shipments commenced in early 2022. In 2019, Daher made a big strategic push with the acquisition of Idaho-based Quest Aircraft Company, adding the Kodiak product line to its portfolio. During NBAA-BACE, Daher is showcasing the TBM 960 on the company’s exhibit stand in the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Airbus Corporate Jets (ACJ) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Eutelsat OneWeb in order to offer advanced inflight connectivity to ACJ customers. This will be accomplished using OneWeb’s Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite constellation and a dedicated electronic flat antenna. Airbus is debuting its ACJ TwoTwenty corporate jet version of the A220-100 at NBAA-BACE and is also showcasing the ACH160 helicopter (U.S. debut). Airbus’ corporate jet product line also includes ACJneo variants based on the A319neo and A320neo, the ACJ350 variants (A350-900 and A350-1000), and the ACJ330neo (A330-800 and A330-900).
At NBAA-BACE, Boeing Business Jets (BBJ) have unveiled new premium cabin selections for their BBJ corporate jet product line. According to the company, the new BBJ Select cabin options streamline the design process, accelerate interiors installation, and jet delivery. Developed exclusively for the BBJ 737-7, with BBJ Select, Boeing is offering a wide range of pre-designed cabin layouts and configurations to expedite installation, while lowering the total purchase price of the airplane. Boeing has a 737 MAX-based BBJ on display during the week. Boeing’s BBJ product line features the BBJ 737 MAX (737-7/-8/-9), the BBJ 787 (787-8/-9/-10), and BBJ 777X (777-8/-9).
Sustainability is a key focus at this year’s NBAA-BACE and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is available at all three Las Vegas airports during the week. According to NBAA, SAF volumes are four times the amount from the last time the event was in Las Vegas, two years ago. Held in conjunction with the show, the three-day 2023 Business Aviation Sustainability Summit also allows attendees to hear from experts about sustainability progress and collaborative initiatives within the aviation industry. On Monday, Bombardier announced that it now ramps up the second test phase of their EcoJet Research Project. As part of the second test phase, Bombardier is flying a blended wing body (BWB) aircraft test vehicle with a width of 18 feet. The company’s engineering team explores the BWB aircraft configuration and new technologies to reduce business jet emissions by up to 50%. The EcoJet research project aims to reduce aircraft emissions by up to 50% through a combination of enhancements in aerodynamics, propulsion and other key areas. The project, which started 15 years ago, is a sustainability-focused research and technology initiative. At this year’s NBAA-BACE, Bombardier has five aircraft on display, including the Challenger 3500, Challenger 650, a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Challenger 300, and the Global 6500 and 7500.
Textron Aviation has unveiled a new Cessna Citation business jet, the Cessna Citation CJ3 Gen2. According to the company, the Citation CJ3 Gen2 raises the bar in the light jet market. “The Cessna Citation CJ3 Gen2 is our most comprehensive Gen2 product announcement yet, offering customers proven performance, leading-edge technology and an unmatched cabin experience,” said Ron Draper, President and CEO of Textron Aviation. Attendees have access to a Citation CJ3 Gen2 mock-up at the company’s static display at Henderson Executive Airport. The aircraft is expected to enter into service in 2025. Textron has nine other aircraft on display at NBAA-BACE, including four Cessna Citation-series business jets (Longitude, Latitude, CJ4 and M2), three turboprops (Beechcraft King Air 360 and Denali and the Cessna Caravan), a Bell 429 helicopter, and a mock-up of the new Cessna Citation Ascend.
Monday this week, Embraer and CAE announced plans to double the Phenom 300 pilot training capacity in Las Vegas and London Burgess Hill. Through their joint venture, Embraer-CAE Training Services (ECTS), the two companies will add training capacity with the deployment of two new Phenom 300 full-flight simulators (FFS) to meet the growing demand for pilot training in Europe and the U.S. Embraer has four of their business jets on display this week, the Praetor 500 and 600 and the Phenom 100EV and 300E. Also, Embraer is debuting its new Phenom 100EX, which was unveiled just last week. During the weekend, Embraer announced that the Phenom 300E and Praetor 600 have completed 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) flight tests.
At the show, Dassault is demonstrating their new flight app called FalconWays, which is part of the company’s commitment to sustainable flying. FalconWays uses global wind data to help pilots quickly plan and utilize routings that save fuel and time while lowering emissions. Also, for the first time, Dassault Aviation has consolidated its NBAA-BACE activities at the show’s static display at Henderson Executive Airport. At Henderson, Dassault has the Falcon 8X on display as well as the Falcon 2000LXS and a Falcon 10X mock up
Cirrus Aircraft have revealed a Special Edition Vision Jet (SF50) to commemorate the milestone 500th SF50 delivery. According to the company, the Vision Jet has been the best-selling jet in the market over the past five years. “With the delivery of the 500th Vision Jet, Cirrus Aircraft celebrates the marketplace success of a category-defining aircraft,” said Zean Nielsen, Chief Executive Officer of Cirrus Aircraft. Cirrus has seven locations in the United States and is owned by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC). In 2022, the company delivered 90 SF50 Vision Jets, with another 44 delivered in the first half of 2023. At the event, Cirrus is showcasing the SF50 and the piston-powered SR22. As a side note, the SR22 is one of the most iconic aircraft in the business aviation industry. While small, in 2022, with 439 units sold (280 SR22Ts and 159 SR22s), more SR22s were sold than any other business aviation aircraft.
Swiss turboprop and jet manufacturer, Pilatus, announced just prior to NBAA-BACE that they have improved their PC-24 Super Versatile Jet by adding more range and payload. Beginning with new aircraft deliveries in 2024, the PC-24 will now be able to achieve a maximum range with six passengers of 2,000 nautical miles (3,704 kilometers) equal to a 10% range increase. Pilatus has also incorporated new interior amenities. “The payload increase was achieved by refining both wing and fuselage structural elements to reduce the airframe empty weight while simultaneously increasing the maximum gross take-off weight limit,” said Bruno Cervia, Vice President of Engineering. In 2022, Pilatus delivered 40 PC-24s followed by another 18 in the first half of 2023. Pilatus has their PC-12 turboprop and the PC-24 on display at NBAA-BACE.
The global leader in aircraft propeller design and manufacturing, Hartzell Propeller is featuring its latest carbon fiber propeller systems at the show. Hartzell’s carbon fiber propeller blades are certified for unlimited life and offer the advantages of stainless-steel wedge retention and electroformed nickel-cobalt leading edges. “Hartzell’s presence at NBAA-BACE showcases the company’s deep investments in developing advanced carbon fiber propellers, which all deliver cutting-edge improvements in performance, efficiency and value,” said Hartzell President JJ Frigge.
Other Things Happening at NBAA-BACE
Given the current workforce shortage across the aerospace industry, NBAA is debuting a career fair where 16 exhibitors will interview for a variety of aviation jobs. The career fair takes place on October 18 and 19. Another new arrival at NBAA-BACE is a maintenance competition taking place this afternoon, where teams of students from the Aviation Institute of Maintenance in Chicago and Las Vegas participate in timed tasks.
NBAA-BACE also features panels, forums, conferences, keynote speeches, special events and dozens of educational sessions and Professional Development Program (PDP) courses during the week. Yesterday’s keynote address was delivered by tennis legends Andre Agassi and Stefanie Graf. Today’s keynote address was delivered by entrepreneur, investor and Shark Tank TV personality, Daymond John, and Colonel Nicole Malachowski, the first female Thunderbird pilot, combat veteran, fighter squadron commander, White House fellow and advisor.
At Forecast International, we are covering the event throughout the week and will return with an updated recap and wrap-up article on Friday.