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Brexit the big talking point for EBACE

Posted 16 May 2018 · Add Comment

Dave Calderwood looks forward to this year’s European Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (EBACE), at Geneva Palexpo from 29-31 May and predicts that Brexit will be on everyone’s mind this year.

There’s less than a year until the UK withdraws from the European Union and, with no deal yet in place, there’s a great deal of uncertainty.
It’s not just how it affects the UK – the whole of European business aviation wants to know how Brexit will have an impact on air traffic rights, aircraft ownership, customs duties and myriad other issues.
The European Business Aviation Association (EBAA), which stages the event, published Brexit scenarios for business aviation last year in a bid to influence negotiators on both sides. EBAA is pushing for recognition of business aviation’s global nature and minimum disruption.
Given the uncertainty, you might think European business aviation would be suffering, but that’s not the case. Last year, traffic was up by 6%, with Eurocontrol reporting more than 700,000 movements.
“The reality is seeping in that business aviation is an integral part of the overall mobility mix,” explained Brandon Mitchener, outgoing EBAA CEO. He added that new forms of service, which increase access to business aviation and interest from the younger generation, have led to a steady increase in traffic since November 2016.
It’s not just the western Europe countries that are growing. Central Europe saw a 12.2% growth in average daily flights, bolstered by Slovakia (30.9% increase), Bosnia-Herzegovina (25.7) and the Czech Republic (13.8).
European Union business aviation traffic is now on a par with 2006 levels, but has not yet returned to the historic peak of 2007 and 2008.
In preparation for EBACE, the EBAA has prepared its economic value and business benefits report, analysing the value of business aviation within Europe. It says:
• 374,000 European jobs are either directly or indirectly dependent on the business aviation industry;
• The industry represents €87 billion ($108bn) in output and €32 billion ($39.7bn) in gross value added (GVA);
• France, Switzerland, Germany and the UK are the main players in the sector, producing 76% of the total GVA of the industry;
• 192,000 of the sector’s jobs stem from the operation of business aircraft – with aircraft operators, maintenance firms (MROs) and ground-handlers/fixed-base operators (FBOs);
• Across all European point-to-point flight routes, business aviation flights save an average of 127 minutes;
• Business aviation in Europe serves 25,280 city or area pairs not connected by non-stop commercial flights;
• More than 12,000 air ambulance and medical evacuation flights were flown in 2017 to and from remote regions – more than 50 a day.
We can expect news updates from the aircraft manufacturers but, perhaps the most dramatic news came from Dassault at the end of February. It is to replace its cancelled Falcon 5X long-range, large cabin twin-jet with... the 6X.
Instead of the innovative but troublesome Safran engines, which forced Dassault into this position, the French manufacturer has turned to Pratt & Whitney Canada, whose engines already power the existing range of Falcon jets.
Eric Trappier, boss of Dassault Aviation, admitted the company had been forced into ‘plan B’ because it still needed a new product to fit that gap in the market – and it needed it quickly. The 5X was supposed to have entered into service in 2017 and now Dassault is looking at the 6X’s first flight in 2021 and entry-into-service the following year.
One upside of the delay is that Dassault is able to fit the updated EASy III cockpit to the $47 million 6X, which will include the latest version of the FalconEye head-up display.
Over at Bombardier, the big news will be whether its long-awaited Global 7000 is on schedule for its type certification and entry-into-service in the second half of 2018. A mock-up of the big Global’s cabin has been touring the world – most recently in the Asia-Pacific region – featuring four living spaces including a dining area, entertainment lounge, en-suite master bedroom and private washroom.
The 7000’s fully equipped kitchen includes high-end appliances, with ample room for dinnerware and glassware. The aircraft is said to have an astonishing range of 7,400nm and a top speed of Mach 0.925.
Bombardier is also celebrating the success of its Challenger 350 super midsize jet. Last year, it delivered 56 of the aircraft, more than half the total for that market segment.
“Thanks to their exceptional cabin comfort, connectivity, reliable performance and ultra-smooth ride, our Challenger 350 business jets continue to lead the market in unit sales and have earned their place as the leading choice among experienced flight departments and charter operators,” said Peter Likoray, senior vice president, sales and marketing, Bombardier Business Aircraft.
Cessna is riding high on the success of its Citation Latitude and looking forward to the entry-into-service of the Longitude.
Newshounds will be asking for progress of Cessna’s biggest ever business jet, the Hemisphere, wondering if that programme has also been affected by the Safran engine delays. The Hemisphere is also due to be powered by the same Safran Silvercrest turbofans as the Falcon 5X.
Expect also details of progress on Cessna’s GE-powered Denali single-engine turboprop that’s due to go head-to-head with the successful Pilatus PC-12.
However, with the worldwide market for turboprop singles and twins in the doldrums, Cessna’s bosses at Textron Aviation might be more concerned about the Beechcraft King Air models.
There might be some relief for turboprop makers if Europe’s business aviation market follows what’s happening in the US, where charter operator Wheels Up is building success operating King Airs.
The great thing about the King Air is lower operating costs than an equivalent size jet, and its ability to get in and out of awkward and short runways.
Something similar is being offered by newer operators such as Wijet, which has just announced a $78 million deal for 16 HondaJets, with deliveries continuing over the next 18 months. Wijet plans to fly a taxi-jet airline operation to 1,300 locations across Europe and north Africa.
Discussing EBACE analyst WingX Advance said: “We think there’s more growth to come in 2018, thanks to lots of capacity, smarter platforms, scaled-up ops, smarter and wealthier customers. But beware sustainability of the charter model; return on investment (RoI) is difficult to discern.”

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