The National Business Aviation Association has announced the cancellation of its 2020 Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE), which was scheduled to take place in Orlando, FL, October 6th-8th.
The cancellation is based on clear guidance from public health officials at all levels of government addressing the unique, complex COVID-19 related challenges associated with large indoor venues. For example, the Florida Department of Health has recently issued an advisory recommending that individuals avoid participation in gatherings of more than 50 people.
In addition, numerous states, including Florida, have onerous travel restrictions in place, and flights to and from many international countries are banned. These restrictions make it not only difficult, but in many cases impossible, for individuals and companies to participate in the world’s largest business aviation event.
By Michael Walsh, CEO, Pacific Basin Economic Council (PBEC).
Let’s start with China – the largest aviation market for commercial and business aviation activity in East Asia.
Here, domestic demand has been a dominant factor as we move into the recovery phase - with the loosening of social distancing and lock-down measures within their own borders.
China’s largest charter brokerages, Global Wings and Air Charter Service’s (ACS) Beijing branch offices have been experiencing an 85% recovery in charter activity, compared with YoY 2019 figures for May and June. International trip requests also increased with the announcement of new travel bubbles. Many of these still can’t be fulfilled however, as border and quarantine restrictions remain in place.
Popular destinations for charter are between the major Tier 1 cities domestically in China such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen and also to Hainan Island - Sanya and Haikou for leisure and business. There is also demand for Chengdu and Qingdao. Passengers must adhere to a strict colour coded QR system which permits travel (or not) under the national track and trace system.
Charter demand is coming from traditional, larger brokerages and local brokers who control certain client accounts.
Talon Air President David Rimmer speaks with Kelly Murphy.
David Rimmer, CAM, FRAeS, is president of Talon Air, a full-service private jet charter company specializing in aircraft charter, maintenance, and management.
Serving the greater New York City area from its base at Republic Airport in Farmingdale, New York, Talon Air operates heavy jets, super-mid-size and mid-size models including Gulfstream, Challenger, Falcon and Hawker aircraft.
They are all so different. 9/11 in 2001 was obviously very sudden and devastating; the fuel crisis was more gradual and about pricing and the ripple affect it had on demand; and the recession of 2008 hurt virtually everyone in the aviation community - but COVID-19 has been unique.
We saw it coming from a distance, but nobody anticipated just how far reaching its impact would be and how quickly the world would change. Even if someone wanted to travel, there were so few places to go. And now that demand is returning, the pandemic has re-defined everything we do.
ACASS Ireland, formerly known as SONAS Aviation, is looking forward to accepting its second Bombardier Challenger 605 from mid July (EJ-ROXY).
The Shannon and Farnborough, UK based business has completed 200 charter hours since getting its AOC on 10th April, said ACASS Ireland President Graham Williamson, highlighting the business is going against the trend and actually recruiting staff. We haven’t laid off any of the team, he added.
“We recognize this is a challenging time for our industry and most of the world, but now more than ever, private aviation users need options and support they can depend on.”
ACASS Ireland can deliver the comprehensive bespoke solutions and the same highly experienced team SONAS was known for with the peace of mind and resources of a global leader like ACASS, he said. ACASS is headquartered in Montreal. The addition of SONAS, via a significant stake holding, adds Europe to its established bases in South East Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
By Paul Eden
On 18 June, Dassault Systèmes announced that Vertical Aerospace was using its cloud-based 3DEXPERIENCE platform to manage the complex development of its third-generation prototype.
For the Bristol, UK-based company it marked another important step on its eVTOL journey.
Just four years ago, OVO Energy founder Stephen Fitzpatrick established Vertical Aerospace. A year later, its POC eVTOL demonstrator achieved tethered flight. Initially developed by a team of six engineers, the POC flew free, under CAA permission, in 2018.
Seraph’s 250kg payload proved the practical lifting capability of eVTOL aircraft.
With the Vertical Aerospace engineering cadre expanding to more than 70 personnel, valuable insight gained from the POC was applied to the 250kg-payload Seraph. The latter flew for the first time last year.
Seraph has paved the way for the company’s third aircraft, a machine for which it aims to achieve EASA certification. Dassault’s 3DEXPERIENCE is playing an important part in the aircraft’s realisation, a company spokesperson explaining: “We’re using Dassault’s cloud-based 3DEXPERIENCE platform for the aircraft’s CAD [computer aided design] and PLM [product lifecycle management].”
Embraer Services & Support has completed the first conversion of a Legacy 450 to a Praetor 500 for an undisclosed customer.
The conversion was performed at the Embraer Executive Jets Service Center at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut.
The full process to convert a Legacy 450 (2,900 nautical miles range) into a Praetor 500 (3,340 nautical miles range) can be performed at the Bradley Service Center, as well as at Embraer-owned Service Centers in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Sorocaba, Brazil, and Le Bourget in Paris, France.
“Embraer-owned Service Centers are well prepared with parts kits and skilled labor and are ready to bring the most disruptive and technologically advanced midsize business jet ever made, the Praetor 500, to our existing Legacy 450 customers, with the company’s primary vision of delivering the ultimate customer experience,” said Johann Bordais, President & CEO, Embraer Service & Support. “This conversion makes a great airplane even more industry leading.”
By Keith Mwanalushi
Zambian regional airline Mahogany Air has resumed operations following the closure of flights in April after Zambia reported its first case of COVID-19 in March.
Dr Jim Belemu, Chief Executive, says the pandemic caused significant challenges for the airline. “We quickly saw a drop in passengers and cancellation of forward bookings, simultaneously.”
Figures released to Resilient Aviation show that in March alone, Mahogany Air reported over 80% of cancellations and by the end of that month passenger numbers dropped to 30% load factors. “We took the decision to suspend all flights on April 30, but had to continue paying costs such as aircraft insurance, and some maintenance.”
There are a handful of local air operators in Zambia offering domestic, regional and charter operations.
Mahogany Air operates EMB 120 Brasilia and Beechcraft 1900 aircraft on key domestic routes linking the capital Lusaka and Livingstone (Victoria Falls) and Ndola (Copperbelt), but it is also opening air transport to outlying provinces and cross-border services that have previously not been served.
The Australian Government has awarded 60 regional airports in the country A$41.2m (US$28.6m) for essential work in the first round of its A$100m Regional Airports Programme (RAP) which was announced in the 2019/20 budget.
The four-year RAP, which runs through to 2023, is designed to help regional airports undertake essential work, promote aviation safety and provide access for the regions. The first round of funding will see work conducted at airports across the country.
The grant includes a $5m runway upgrade at Ballarat Airport in Victoria; $4.5m for runway works at Merimbula Airport in New South Wales; $2.5m for runway and taxiway work at Whyalla Airport in South Australia; $1.73m for work at Queensland’s Gladstone Airport; and $1.66m for resurfacing work at Western Australia’s Albany Airport.
“For our regional communities, the local airport is an essential link to the rest of Australia,” says Michael McCormack, deputy prime minister and minister for infrastructure, transport and regional development.
WINGX Global Market Tracker:
Through June 2020, global business activity is trailing the comparable 2019 period by some 30%, more resilient than global scheduled flight activity which is down by almost 50% so far this year.
WINGX`s weekly Global Market Tracker, published today, reveals that during June, business aviation activity has continued to recover, ending the month with 28% fewer flights than in June 2019. The North American market has had the largest rebound since the global slump in April, but recovery trends in the US have slowed this month as lockdown-lifts have slowed across a number of US States.
In Europe the recovery rate in the second half of June has been stronger than in any other region, although full month activity trend still looks to be 40% behind last year. Flight activity in the UK and Spain is still way behind the norm, 60% under par for June. Business aviation flights in Italy are back to half-normal, and France is back at the top of the ranking as the busiest European market, flights down by 40%. Switzerland is back to 70% of usual activity, and Scandinavian countries are only down a quarter. Best performer is Germany, flight activity down by only 18% year on year this month.
By Alison Chambers.
Steve Varsano, founding owner of the Jet Business is sitting a bit more anxiously in his beautiful Mayfair business aviation showroom.
He welcomed his team back to work last week after three months in lockdown, coinciding with the beginning of an upturn in pre-owned aircraft sales, from a low point in April.
Steve is confident of a slow increase to a more robust fourth quarter. The forthcoming election in America will likely have an impact and the EU restrictions currently in place for US travellers will hurt London-bound travellers further, he suggests. “Say what you like about Trump, he is a well-publicised business jet user. Prior to Covid-19 the US economy was strong, which kept the corporate jet trading activity very active,” he ventures.
When we spoke, Steve was pushing through three aircraft transactions, for a US and Latin American buyer – solid deals right through to Letter of Intent status and pre-inspection stage. “We are seeing less transactions, and notably all are to entrepreneurial-run companies and HNW individuals, versus the usual big corporates,” he said.
By Ian Sheppard
The aviation industry has been going through the worst crisis in its almost 120-year history since March, when COVID-19 spilled out of China and started affecting the rest of the world.
At the lower end, general aviation was all but shut down but continued to play a vital role in essential missions such as air ambulance flights and transporting medical supplies.
While some smaller UK airfields and “aerodromes” closed completely, most closed partially but remained open only to emergency flights. Even the likes of London City Airport and the London Heliport closed, while airports such as Gatwick became “ghostports” as airlines grounded all or much of their fleets. This swiftly followed the lockdown on 23rd March and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s speech.
By Paul Eden
On 16 June, the Royal Air Force revealed that in just two months it had prepared an operational aeromedical (aeromed) capability for its two BAe 146 C.Mk 3 aircraft.
Home-based with 32 (The Royal) Squadron at RAF Northolt in West London, the C3s are based on the 146-200 Quick Change variant, configured for rapid conversion between freight and passenger transport; they serve alongside a pair of 146 CC.Mk 2 VIP transports.
TMW personnel work with the new 146 C3 aeromed modification | Sgt ‘Matty’ Matthews/© UK MoD Crown Copyright 2020
Personnel from 32(TR) Sqn, the Tactical Medical Wing (TMW) and Joint Airborne Delivery Trials and Evaluation Unit (JADTEU) worked side-by-side, in the spirit of the RAF’s Astra Programme, to bring the aeromed project to fruition. Paving the way to the Next Generation Air Force vision for the RAF of 2035, Astra is about empowering ideas from across the Service and beyond.
By Alison Chambers
Instigating this title and editing Resilient Aviation has been a really enjoyable and busy few months. It wouldn’t have been possible without our brilliant contributors. They have generously given their time to seek out and write up diverse stories from companies who are often too busy to shout about their achievements. Thank you for your brilliant support.
From the outset we set out to deliver original content that championed innovation and resilience and I hope we have succeeded.
Looking at BlueSky’s readership figures it’s our 'people' stories that have attracted the most interest. It’s been great to turn the tables on our aviation journalists and influencers, to chat with associations and companies about how they have adjusted and put the spotlight on our young aviators, our future. It was a pleasure to interview James Oates this week, who is is set on a career as a commercial pilot.
Resilient Aviation will continue through to the autumn at least, but as we start getting back to normal with the lifting of lockdowns we will reduce the frequency to monthly. Our next issue will be Thursday 20th August.
Meanwhile, our Emerald Media team is pleased to start welcoming a few PR clients back after a temporary stop. We are pleased to have been signed by Blue Islands, the Channel Islands airline that is bucking the trend and expanding its network in the UK, hard on the heels of Flybe’s sad demise. The majority of news headlines coming from the aviation sector - severely impacted by the pandemic, is job losses and closures, so it is rewarding to embrace some true green shoots, just as we have been communicating through this title.
Bombardier has celebrated the entry-into-service of its flagship long-range Global 5550 which was recently delivered to an undisclosed customer.
“This spacious and efficient aircraft is the ultimate business tool, with the range and access to safely take our customers where they need to be,” said David Coleal, President, Bombardier Aviation. “The first Global 5500 aircraft delivery is of particular significance for our employees in Wichita, who recently took on the meticulous work of interior completions for the Global 5000 and Global 5500 aircraft.”
Bombardier’s Wichita site has a rich history as the manufacturing center of the iconic Learjet. Over the years, Bombardier expanded the site’s operations to include a world-class service center, as well as its Flight Test Center and Specialized Aircraft operations. Completion work for the stunning Global 5000 and Global 5500 aircraft cabins is the latest diversification for this skilled workforce.
Last year, Bombardier announced that the Global 5500 aircraft can fly 200 nautical miles more than planned, increasing its range to 5,900 nm - 700 nm more than the nearest competitor at the same speed.
RVL Group works through lockdown
By Paul Eden
A diverse fleet and wide variety of contracted and ad hoc work across freight and passenger charter; maritime surveillance, environmental survey, and aerial photography and special missions, are helping the UK’s RVL Group weather the COVID-19 storm.
Based at East Midlands Airport, the company operates four Beechcraft B200 King Air turboprops; three Cessna 404 Titans, one 402b, two 310s and six Reims-Cessna F406 piston twins. The Cessna 310s are for sale, while two of the F406s are assigned for Environment Agency work. One King Air is dedicated to Blue Sky for aerial photography and another of the turboprops is managed and operated under RVL’s AOC on behalf of Isle-Fly.
While the King Air is the mainstay of RVL’s passenger operation, the Cessna F406 is also available as an eight-seater, while larger aircraft may be sourced, according to customer requirement.
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Nineteen year-old James Oates developed his interest in aviation through watching air crash investigation videos on YouTube. A long-haul flight to Tokyo with the Scouts in 2015, plus numerous holiday trips by airline, sealed his passion to be a pilot.
A-Levels completed, he is now six months into ground school training, along with seven other ab initio students at Leading Edge Aviation at London Oxford Airport. “I’m looking forward to getting airborne again,” he told Resilient Aviation. GA flying is opening up on 4th July (see related story), but he doesn’t have a date yet for when the flying phase of the course starts.
Next week James is moving back to his digs at the Harcourt Court campus at Oxford Brookes University, as he readies to start exams in a week’s time in Coventry. Home, for his parents and grandparents, is a stone’s throw from Shoreham, Brighton City Airport. “They’ve all come out to the garden to wave as I’ve flown past.”
Bombardier Aviation and the International EPD System, an environmental declaration program based in Sweden, have announced a first in business aviation with the publication of the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) for Bombardier’s Global 7500 jet.
The Global 7500 aircraft EPD is third-party verified to the highest international ISO standards1. It discloses fully transparent environmental information about the product’s life cycle, such as CO2 emissions, noise, water consumption and other key environmental impact indicators. Bombardier has committed to communicating the environmental performance of all new aircraft programs through EPDs.
The publication of the Global 7500 aircraft EPD is an important milestone in the advancement of Bombardier Aviation’s overarching environmental sustainability strategy, which encompasses increasing the adoption of Sustainable Alternative Fuels (SAF), reducing CO2 footprint, enhancing aircraft recyclability, and sustainably sourcing, all as a part of its Eco-Design approach and in support of industry-wide carbon reduction goals.
EBAA urges European governments to collaborate closely.
As Europe reopened yesterday (July 1st), the European Business Aviation Association urged governments in the EU and the EFTA Member States, and the United Kingdom, to lift travel restrictions in a carefully coordinated manner.
EBAA Secretary-General, Athar Husain Khan, said: "A coordinated approach to lifting travel restrictions is vital to avoid the confusion experienced by some Business Aviation operators when Europe reopened its internal borders earlier this month, and effectively restart air travel."
Alan Peaford, MBE, is founding, managing director of Aerocomm and has had roles as consultant editor and editor in chief for organisations like Times Aerospace, FlightGlobal and the digital media aerospace platform wearefinn.com.
How have you fared during the lockdown - personally and professionally?
Bizarrely, I have quite enjoyed lockdown. Like most people in aviation, and many in journalism, I spend a lot of time in aeroplanes and travelling - more than six months in every year. Now, at 15 weeks, it is the longest I have gone for many years without being away from home. I loved the extra time for cooking, quizzes, playing cards with my wife and digitalising tea chests full of family photos - but also having clear thinking times for planning new ways to do things.
By Jane Stanbury
Valcora, the Switzerland-based fuel reseller and supplier has shown its resilience in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Like many fuel companies we lost the bulk of our business, although we continued to support some of our existing customers that were still operating” says CEO Daniel Coetzer, “Being well-structured helped us ride the crisis out. In fact, we even gained a few new customers flying medevac, cargo or repatriation missions.”
Coetzer recognised early on that restrictions would be implemented and before the lockdowns became official, he asked his team to work from home. “This meant there was no break in service at any time, and when the shutdown came we were settled in our homes, ready to provide business as usual.”
Valcora already used communication technology to stay in touch with its international offices in Ireland, South Africa, Canada and Singapore and has used the last few months to improve its business efficiency.
By Chloe Wilson.
With airports and airlines across Europe gradually reopening and resuming operations, industry associations are calling for support for a green recovery post COVID-19, writes Chloe Wilson.
“The current crisis gives us an opportunity to ‘build back better’ by reducing carbon emissions from flying in the most efficient way,” declared Tanja Grobotek, Director Europe Affairs for the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO).
The temporary suspension of commercial air traffic during lockdown has certainly meant less pollution in the skies above us and cleaner air. And with experts predicting that aviation activity won’t return to pre-pandemic levels much before 2023, the opportunity to move forward with a giant ‘green’ footstep is now.
Industry associations underline that ensuring an accelerated deployment of existing decarbonisation solutions and adequate investments to bring new technologies forward will be key. In the meantime, existing financial tools, such as loans, could also be made available to provide urgent relief.
London Biggin Hill Airport is introducing a ‘Contactless Travel’ initiative, highlighting the health benefits of private aviation to new and existing users.
Contactless Travel ensures personal interactions and touch points are kept to a minimum and made at a safe distance during all stages of a passenger’s journey, providing reassurance during this uncertain time.
Sally Powell, Head of Customer Service and Terminal Operations, London Biggin Hill Airport, says: “The safety, security and wellbeing of our customers are our top priorities. Passengers typically arrive at the airport’s terminal 10-15 minutes before departure, so flying privately means they can better avoid any risk of infection from commercial airport queues and more easily adhere to social distancing measures.
“When you fly via London Biggin Hill you can be safe in the knowledge that all aircraft moving through the airport are fully-sanitised, with specialist teams providing fumigation and disinfection treatments.”
Through our ‘Contactless Travel’ and ‘Return to the Skies’ initiatives, we demonstrate the value of business aviation.”
Find out more about ‘Contactless Travel’ at contactlesstravel.co.uk
FAI backs McLaren Racing
The Formula 1 racing season resumes this weekend with its first ‘ghost races’ - taking place without spectators.
Germany’s FAI Aviation Group, a new exclusive supplier since January 2020 of the McLaren Racing Team, based near Woking in Surrey, outsourced an Embraer ERJ190 from the charter market to transport support crew from Farnborough Airport to Spielberg in Austria.
Rather than return to the UK they will continue by VIP bus to the next race in Budapest. FAI’s Georg Gruber, who is exclusively co-ordinating FAI’s travel support for McLaren, confirmed the company will sub-charter capacity up to B737 sized aircraft, depending on race destination. It is important throughout to adhere to the social distancing and once abroad the teams will stay strictly in their bubbles, he noted.
Mika Hakkinen, Brand Ambassador, FAI Aviation Group.
FAI is providing business jet flights from their own fleet for the drivers and management. Its sponsorship is reflected in FAI branding on the inside of the rear wing endplate and the foot step of the McLaren MCL35 cars.
“We are delighted to have this opportunity to promote our services within the Formula 1 community. This is very much a long-term partnership for us,” said Siegfried Axtmann, FAI Group Chairman. Finnish Former F1 Champion Mika Hakkinen (1998 and 1999) is a celebrity brand ambassador for FAI since 2019.
Air bp has announced that Martin Thomsen will assume the role of chief executive officer, Air bp, on 1 July 2020. Martin will succeed Jon Platt, who has successfully led the business since 2016.
Martin has been with bp for 15 years and has held several positions across the downstream business. He joins Air bp from his previous position as retail director and fuels country integrator for Austria, Switzerland and Turkey.
“I am proud to have been appointed to lead this great business. This is a time of significant challenge for the aviation industry, but it is also a time of great opportunity,” said Martin. “Air bp has been providing safe and reliable fuelling operations for over 90 years and remains committed to supporting the needs of our customers. We have an exciting future ahead of us as we continue to support both bp and our industry’s low carbon ambitions.”
Martin’s previous roles include fuels general manager Turkey, retail operations manager Spain, commercial optimization fuels Iberia and retail Europe strategy and business development.
Martin, who is Brazilian, is married with three children. He holds a Master of Engineering Science from the Instituto Tecnológico, Buenos Aires and is an alumnus of the Harvard Business School Program for Leadership Development.
Jon Platt will retire from bp later this year after a distinguished career spanning over 30 years.
The subject of considerable media attention, Royal Air Force Voyager KC.Mk 3 ZZ336 has returned to its RAF Brize Norton home base from Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group at Cambridge, where it received its new colour scheme, on 25 June.
Known as Vespina after Operation Vespina, under which those entitled to use the aircraft are carried, but variously dubbed by the popular press, the aircraft is colloquially referred to as the ‘VIP Voyager’.
A Ministry of Defence press release explained: “The smart new paint scheme will promote the UK around the world while transporting Ministers, senior members of the Royal Family and their delegations on trade, diplomatic and other missions.”
|The newly painted Voyager refuelling 617 Sqn ‘Dambusters’ F-35 Lightings during Exercise Crimson Ocean, on 26 June|
|Photo: Cpl Alex Scott/© UK MoD Crown Copyright 2020|
Internally, the aircraft’s cabin has been modified with a meeting area forward, a section of fold-flat seating, in the style of typical airline business class accommodation moving aft, and standard, albeit comfortable Voyager seating at the rear.
The jet retains its three-point air-to-air refuelling capability, evidenced by the refuelling pods installed underwing, and may also be tasked with regular personnel transport if required