NBAA President and CEO, Ed Bolen, speaks to Resilient Aviation about how the industry has shone and the Association’s plans for a Virtual NBAA early December.
Were it not for the Coronavirus pandemic, we would be gathering in Orlando, FL, this week for the annual NBAA-BACE Convention.
How do you feel the industry is fairing through this prolonged crisis?
It's certainly a mixed picture. Tens of thousands of workers have been laid off and flights at many airports dipped by half or more. As you've seen, sales reports from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) have been rather grim for the year, as companies and operators hold off on new aircraft purchases.
That said, we’re also seeing the potential for business aviation to attract new clientele and flight activity, particularly in the charter market. Much of that has come from passengers left with few alternatives for business travel as commercial airlines have reduced or even eliminated services to smaller communities.
Mobility will certainly play an essential role in restoring our economy, and business aviation will be an important part in helping the nation emerge from a moment unseen in recent history.
What are your thoughts on how business aviation has responded to COVID-19?
Airbus Corporate Jets:
As we go to press, news comes in from Airbus Corporate Jets (ACJ) it is launching the ACJ TwoTwenty business jet.
In doing so it has created a whole new market segment “The Xtra Large Bizjet” for those who fly by the mantra that bigger is better.
Described by ACJ as a ‘clean-sheet design,’ the TwoTwenty business jet is based on Airbus’ A220-100 (the former C Series) and features advanced materials and state-of-the-art technologies.
It offers three times more cabin space, but impressively a third less operating costs, benefitting from the high performance of Airbus’ latest A220 family.
The quietest, cleanest and most eco-friendly aircraft in its category, the A220 Family features a 50% reduced noise footprint compared to previous generation aircraft, and up to 25% lower fuel burn.
Bombardier has announced the newest addition to its diverse business jet portfolio - the Learjet 75 Liberty light jet - now in service with the first delivery to long-time Learjet operator Alex Lyon & Son, an auctioneering firm that operates throughout the United States and beyond.
“The Learjet 75 Liberty is a value-added business tool for those seeking a safer and more efficient travel option,” said Peter Likoray, Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing, New Aircraft, Bombardier Business Aircraft. “This achievement would not have been possible without our highly skilled team members in Wichita, who are incredibly proud to be delivering the best Learjet yet.”
Bombardier is announcing this entry-into-service as its first-ever virtual customer event unfolds. This week, Bombardier will guide customers through personalized visits of its business jets, and showcase the innovative digital tools it has developed to help customers interact with the industry’s leading aircraft portfolio.
Aviation Action widens its support net
Since its creation in May in the teeth of the pandemic, the charity Aviation Aviation is lending support to individuals in a growing number of sectors.
Airport workers, dispatchers and ground handlers to security personnel and passenger service agents make up a significant sector, says founder Chris Wild, but no one group makes up more than 10% of total candidates. We also have a significant number of engineers, cabin crew and fight crew we are helping, as well as travel agents, aviation consultants, graduates and others.
“Worryingly, organisations are typically shedding 25 to 30% of their workforce. This is significant and more so because only the larger organisations (and biggest airlines) make press headlines. The fact is there are hundreds of companies in the supply chain shedding jobs. We are talking 85,000 and 102,000 lost jobs and this is just colleagues directly employed in aviation. The furlough scheme finishing at the end of October and alas this is only going to deliver us more people in need, he warned.
Business aviation is likely saviour
Business aviation has undoubtedly performed stronger during the pandemic as discerning individuals have switched to private aviation, often owing to the lack of alternatives. This is a sector we are watching closely as it will most likely recover more quickly than the airlines. As such, the opportunities presenting themselves are weighted in bizav, as well as cargo.
Bombardier aviation chief departs
The head of Bombardier’s aviation division, David Coleal, is leaving the company as it streamlines its senior leadership team and transitions to a pure-play business jet company.
As part of this process, the Company has eliminated the Bombardier Aviation president role and announced that David Coleal will depart the Company.
“With the sale of Bombardier Transportation nearing completion, we are preparing for our future as a business aviation company,” said President and CEO, Éric Martel. “Our goal is to create a leaner, more agile and customer-centric company to better capture growth opportunities with our industry-leading business jet portfolio. This includes simplifying our corporate leadership structure.”
Coleal rejoined Bombardier in 2015 having held senior positions at Spirit Aerosystems, Bombardier Learjet and Cirrus Aircraft. He was appointed president of Bombardier Aviation in May 2019.
CAE announced that it has become carbon neutral as of September 28, 2020, proudly becoming the first Canadian aerospace company to reach this goal.
The company has achieved carbon neutrality by continuing to reduce its own emissions and by making investments in projects that offset its remaining annual carbon emissions.
"This is a bold achievement and we hope that CAE’s commitment in the fight against climate change will inspire other companies to take tangible actions today,” said Marc Parent, President and Chief Executive Officer at CAE.
“We wanted to honor our pre-pandemic commitment and up our contribution now - a testament to CAE’s environmental leadership and engagement towards future generations. We are also working with the industry towards the development of electric aircraft and undertaking other measures to reduce our overall emissions.”
From the outset, CAE contributes to preventing hundreds of thousands of tons of CO2 from being emitted each year by training pilots in simulators. Carbon offsetting and renewable energy certificates are additional interim measures that CAE takes while new technologies and solutions are being developed to reduce emissions.
London Oxford Airport based MyHeli is the UK’s newest helicopter charter operator offering a fleet of six stylishly refurbished Leonardo AW109s.
Founded by renowned aviation entrepreneur Dustin Dryden, the company will form part of Dryden’s Volare Aviation Group. MyHeli’s AOC was awarded by the Civil Aviation Authority at the end of September and the team is now finalising technology to allow users to book its helicopters by app.
Bucking many 2020 trends, Volare Aviation was able to expand its workforce during the pandemic and in March appointed former Flybe Director of Operations, Warren Gravell to the position of CEO and AOC Accountable Manager for both Volare and MyHeli.
The recovery in business jet traffic at this point in Autumn 2020 appears to be hitting a ceiling of around 85% of comparable 2019 activity, according to WINGX`s weekly Global Market Tracker published today.
That equates to a deficit of about 50,000 fewer business jet sectors since the start of September. Including turboprops, just over 550,000 hours have been operated in that period, 18% fewer YOY. Around 80% of the active fleet has been operational.
Business aviation continues to be more resilient than scheduled airlines, for which activity is dropping below 50% of normal, with more slowdown to come as various carriers announce cutbacks in activity. Cargo operations are trending globally at around 95% of comparable 2019 activity.
British Business and General Aviation Association:
It’s time to accentuate the positives in Brexit, delegates listening to the British Business and General Aviation Association’s (BBGA) dedicated webinar heard on 22nd September.
“It’s not all doom and gloom,” insisted Aoife O’Sullivan, The Air Law Firm partner, and chair of BBGA. “We need to appreciate the UK has left the EU now. That’s not going to change. So now we have to step up and take those opportunities.” If there is a ‘no deal’ scenario, there has always been contingency legislation in the UK and Europe that can be brought back in to allow for continuity in aviation safety,” she noted.
“There isn’t going to be a drop-dead moment on January 1st (when the UK leaves),” echoed David Kendrick, the UK CAA’s head of licensing, noting flights will still be going backward and forward, in the absence of a deal.
The global pandemic has, like everywhere else, disrupted business aviation in Africa. According to data from WINGX, 2020 began well showing significant increases in weekly departures and flights, movements were up by around 51% in the first quarter.
Then the world locked down and from March to September jet flights reduced by 24% year-on-year across the continent. Significantly these figures don’t include turboprop activity. If added in the continental fleet, performance is well under par.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Nigeria experienced the highest number of departures on the continent with positive growth of 47.2% compared with March to September of last year.
For thousands of enthusiasts, a trip to the Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden Aerodrome in Bedfordshire is more than a visit; it’s a pilgrimage. Set in a natural amphitheatre, the airfield provides a magical setting for the collection’s unique air displays.
With more than 30 airworthy machines among its collection of vintage and veteran aircraft, plus an impressive array of historic vehicles, Shuttleworth is always a special place to visit and remains open - under strict adherence to COVID guidelines.
There really is nowhere like Old Warden, where wonders like this Bristol Boxkite replica round out displays, but only on the calmest of evenings | Photo: Nick Blacow.
But Rebecca Dalley, Executive Director of The Shuttleworth Trust, says the collection essentially makes its money for the year during the summer display season and with takings predictably down; the industry has identified a ‘three winters’ effect’.
Commercial airline pilots who have suddenly found themselves on furlough or made redundant owing to COVID-19 cutbacks have turned to Flight Deck Wingman for peer support and career advice.
Set up over four years ago by former Navy Sea Harrier pilot Andrew Neofytou to help military pilots transition to commercial flying, the business runs training sessions at Lasham Airfield, the home of British gliding, where he is also an avid competition glider pilot.
His Surrey-based business has been pro-active these past eight months helping pilots on a practical and emotional level find new work.
Women in Aviation International’s 6th Annual Girls in Aviation Day (GIAD) was celebrated virtually on September 26, 2020, with the launch of the exciting new Aviation for Girls App, sponsored by the US Air Force.
Within the first week, this free, year-round experience for girls ages 8-17 connected thousands of participants in 55 countries.
Girls in Aviation Day participants using the new Aviation for Girls App available year-round for all
“Our goal in delivering a virtual experience for this year’s Girls in Aviation Day was to extend our reach and inspire girls-no matter where they live or learn,” says WAI CEO Allison McKay.
On a recent Town Hall webinar run by Revolution.Aero, the topic of alternative-powered aircraft was discussed from a number of different angles. Here are three viewpoints:
Charles Armitage, an equity analyst with Citi Research, had the advantage of an observer’s view as the other speakers were all getting their hands dirty on projects - whether that be electric engines, hydrogen power, battery technology or aircraft.
Aerotec-Magnix Cessna 208B
He sees electric power having a “reasonable chance” in the aviation world. With an initial focus on urban air mobility projects and a flight range of five to 30 miles (e.g downtown to airport links) to prove the technology.
By Jane Stanbury
With the Covid-19 pandemic changing current and future aircraft owners’ priorities, clean and pure air has moved to the top of the list when considering aircraft interiors and the cabin environment.
Flying Colours Corp., specialising in maintenance, repair, overhaul and completions, quickly responded to the paradigm shift by signing an agreement with Aviation Clean Air (ACA) and is now installing the ACA Needle Point Bi-Polar Ionization (NPBI) Components on in-service aircraft at its Canadian and American locations.
London Biggin Hill Airport-based Oriens Aviation, the exclusive Pilatus distributor for the UK & Ireland brought the third generation PC-12, the PC-12NGX, to Newcastle Aerodrome in Northern Ireland late September for viewing by a number of interested parties.
Ireland has seen considerable interest in the versatile turboprop both from civil operators and the military.
The Irish Air Corps followed up their three recently delivered PC-12 Spectra versions with the purchase of a PC-12NG. The aircraft is being extensively used in the COVID-19 fight by No 104 Squadron, transporting test samples to labs in Germany, as well as in support of Ireland's UN overseas missions.
Global Business Aviation Outlook:
80% of operators say purchase plans have not been affected by COVID-19.
Honeywell’s 29th annual Global Business Aviation Outlook forecasts up to 7,300 new business jet deliveries worth $235bn from 2021 to 2030, down 4% in deliveries from the same 10-year forecast a year ago.
Despite the dip, 4 of 5 business jet operators in the survey indicate that purchase plans have not been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Short-term reductions in both deliveries and expenditures due to the pandemic aren’t expected to have a lasting impact on the business jet industry.
“Business jet usage is expected to rebound to 80% to 85% of 2019 levels in the 4th quarter of 2020 and fully rebound by the middle of 2021, indicating demand for business jet travel is returning after the global pandemic caused a slowdown in the industry earlier this year,” said Heath Patrick, president, Americas Aftermarket, Honeywell Aerospace.
“The information we gleaned from operators shows a less than 1% decline in five-year purchase plans, so despite the short-term effects of the pandemic, we don’t expect long-term changes to purchase plans or to the overall health of the business jet market.”
Alison Chambers speaks with the doyenne of business aviation Sylvie Peron about the big shift to digital, how much she misses valuable networking parties and her fears for business in aviation in France.
How have you been managing during the pandemic professionally and personally?
I live on the French Riviera - up in the hills in Fayence between Cannes and St Tropez, a very scenic area, well known for its gliding. I’ve been working from home for over 10 years so on that side no real change.
Positively, I have found industry leaders much more accessible. Many are working from home too and we chat on Zoom or Teams. Various webinars and town halls keep me up to date with news and developments.
The Ultimate Jet team is especially busy with an emphasis on digital right now. Editor Fred Vergneres has significantly upped our social presence too.
It was disappointing that EBACE and NBAA were cancelled. And I do fear deeply for the magazine industry if these shows don’t return early into 2021. Business aviation will survive for sure, but publications rely on advertising and sponsorships.
Alas, as of two weeks ago, France is now in the dark red zone so we have to be super careful. I have asthma so that’s an added concern. I go to the shops and the market, but that’s about it. I really miss going out with friends or friends visiting us, as they used to regularly.
Covering aviation stories these past few months, who has stood out for you?
By Charles Alcock, Senior Editor of Aviation International News and FutureFlight.
Even before the unwelcome intrusion of Covid, aviation was on the cusp of accelerated change, with pressure to be more environmentally sustainable and wider demand for more efficient modes of transport converging as a catalyst for progress.
This has sparked a gold-rush of investment and innovation largely concentrated on the development of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. At last count, there were more than 200 new projects vying for attention and money, rising to almost 300 if you count all the hoverbikes, flying cars and an assortment of far-fetched contraptions seeking to defy gravity.
The potential for genuinely new aviation technologies, such as carbon-free propulsion and autonomous flight, to become viable is exciting, but also more than a little baffling and steeped in more than a little over-blown hype.
The same can be said for some of the new aviation business models this technology is spawning, such as so-called urban air mobility taxi services.
By Keith Mwanalushi
As IATA highlighted recently, training organisations have faced major difficulties with their training operations being significantly disturbed owing to COVID-19.
Despite the challenges, some pilot training specialists are flying above the turbulence.
In September, London Oxford Airport, UK-based Leading Edge Aviation announced another significant phase of growth with the purchase of a brand new MPS Airbus A320 FTD-1 Simulator, bringing the delivery of Airline Pilot Standards Multi-Crew Cooperation (APS MCC) in house.
This is significant as both the Modular and Ab Initio LEAP Integrated courses will now be delivered fully at the facility. Students are taken through ground school, through their foundation flying, advanced flying, advanced UPRT and then onto the final phases including the APS MCC and graduate airline preparation course.
Dave Alexander, Chief Operations Officer at Leading Edge Aviation, says the APS MCC is a significant part of the ATPL as it is the only phase where students train in a jet environment and are introduced to airline operations in preparation for their future careers.
By Victoria Hamilton-Bell
This year has seen a stream of postponements and in many cases cancellation as a result of the global pandemic, which runs on and on unabated.
Next week however, Goodwood’s famous Motor Circuit will come alive with the sound of multiple engines from both historic and modern cars in an event combining elements from its Members’ Meeting, Festival of Speed and the Goodwood Revival.
Running behind closed doors from 16th - 18th October, Goodwood SpeedWeek, presented by Mastercard, will feature some of the world’s greatest drivers and latest cars shown around a live television studio and beamed live via a dedicated streaming site and across Goodwood’s social media feeds.
Goodwood Estate owner The Duke of Richmond said: “It’s wonderful that we can welcome our global automotive partners to SpeedWeek and help them showcase their latest and greatest to an incredibly passionate global audience.
SpeedWeek will be the first time many of these vehicles have been seen in action and we’re thrilled that they’re debuting here at Goodwood.”
Make Tech Fly have formally launched their signature product AvioNexus, a 'Software as a Service' (SaaS) web application for private flight management.
The web application is designed to manage private flights by allowing all parties to communicate within the platform, aiming to simplify the process by using real-time updates and data exchange within the secure system. It is optimised for both desktop and mobile devices and employs bank-level cybersecurity.
Aimed not only at brokers but also corporate flight departments, FBOs and operators, the system provides a range of services. These include the ability for clients to add other passengers to the flight, select meal choices, upload advance passenger information and request parking at FBOs - aiming to simplify managing every aspect of the trip from one secure platform.
By Chloe Wilson
Last month saw Finnish operator, Finavia, welcome some canine companions as part of state-funded efforts to detect travellers with coronavirus at Helsinki Airport.
Studies conducted by the University of Helsinki show that sniffer dogs are able to smell the virus with almost 100% certainty. They are also capable of detecting the virus within 10 seconds.
“As far as we know no other airport has attempted to use canine scent detection on such a large scale against COVID-19,” said Finavia Airport Director Ulla Lettijeff. “This might be an additional step forward on the way to beating COVID-19.”
Trained by Wise Nose, the Helsinki Airport ‘Covid-19 sniffer dogs’ don’t have direct contact with a person. Passengers simply undergo a sample swipe on their skin, which is then dropped into a cup and given to a dog in a separate booth. This also protects the dog’s handler from the risk of infection.
According to Wise Nose, dogs can identify the virus days before the symptoms have even started, something that laboratory tests fail to do. In addition, they can also identify COVID-19 from much smaller samples than the PCR tests used by healthcare professionals. The difference is massive. A dog requires just 10-100 molecules to identify the virus, while lab equipment requires 18,000,000 molecules.