Steven F. O’Neill, the CEO and founder of CitationAir, is leaving the Cessna-owned fractional aircraft operation, the company confirmed Friday. He will be succeeded by William J. Schultz, now executive vice president and COO, who co-founded the company. Schultz takes over the top position on Sept. 30; O’Neill’s official departure date is Nov. 1, but he will continue in an advisory role.
Piper Aircraft is planning to lock down the design on its new single-jet Altaire in the fourth quarter, a final step before the first conforming test article flies next year. Executive Vice President Randy Groom says the project’s critical design review is “imminent,” and that no real surprises have cropped up and no significant changes have been necessary since the company revamped the design a year ago.
The first production Gulfstream G280 is getting its interior installed at the company’s Dallas center and is to be delivered later this year, shortly after the new twinjet receives its certification.
G280 s/n 2004 was flown to Dallas late last month, says Gulfstream spokesman Jeff Miller. The mid-sized aircraft is manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries in Tel Aviv. The first three aircraft are involved in certification flight testing and have accumulated 1,500 flight hours to date.
In a surprise move, Larry Flynn has been named to succeed Joe Lombardo as president of Gulfstream Aerospace. The appointment, announced Aug. 5, takes effect in Sept. 1. Meanwhile, Lombardo will continue in his role as executive vice president of General Dynamics’ Aerospace Group, which includes Jet Aviation, as well as Gulfstream. Lombardo has held that corporate position since 2007.
As the so-called “Gang of Six” U.S. senators continued to hammer out a compromise agreement on the debt ceiling last week in Washington, general aviation groups escalated their fight against the possibility that aviation user fees would become part of that agreement. Aviation user fees surfaced this month as possible revenue raisers to help reduce the nation’s debt, but details of what fees are under consideration remain sketchy (BA, July 18/1).
The fractional business is rebounding, Flight Options CEO Michael Silvestro said last week at the National Business Aviation Association’s Regional Forum at New York’s Westchester County Airport, and he expects to add another half dozen or more jets to his 101 aircraft fleet by year’s end.
The trial of two American pilots charged with involuntary manslaughter resulting from the inflight collision of an Embraer Legacy and a Brazilian airliner is expected to conclude in the next few weeks.
“We’re hopeful about the outcome,” David Rimmer says, “but personally, I’m not very optimistic.”
Jordan Hansell last week took over the reins at NetJets as chairman after David Sokol abruptly resigned from Berkshire Hathaway March 30 amid a suspicion of insider trading over the $9.7 billion acquisition of specialty chemical company Lubrizol Corp.
Sokol had named Hansell president of the fractional aircraft ownership company in November as part of the beginning of a succession plan. But Sokol had expected to transfer the CEO’s title to Hansell while he retained the chairman position.
The Chinese could soon be owners of another U.S. aviation entity — the SJ30 business jet program. Serious negotiations are under way to acquire the light business jet program, now stalled by Emivest’s bankruptcy, and the deal could close this year, sources say.
Even though Ed Swearingen started development in the mid-1980s, and the aircraft received its FAA certification in 2005, the program has been bedeviled throughout by development, funding and production delays. Only four SJ30s have been delivered to date.
The Chinese are continuing to increase their reach into the aviation industry, most recently with the acquisition of Duluth, Minn.-based single-engine plane-maker Cirrus Industries. The acquisition, announced last week, is expected to close by midyear. Terms of the transaction were not released.
Although it once castigated the airplanes built there as symbols of excess, the Obama administration seems to be adjusting its view of Wichita, and is sending its transportation chief there to help rally hard-hit general aviation manufacturers and their current and furloughed employees.
Hawker Beechcraft is continuing to make adjustments to keep production at a low rate to help combat soft pricing that is resulting in loss-making aircraft, Hawker Beechcraft Chairman and CEO Bill Boisture told analysts Friday. Soft pricing contributed to an operating loss of $363 million for the company’s business and general aviation segment, and $173.9 million for the company overall in 2010.
While the marketplace has shown little appetite for light and medium-sized business jets in the past two years, its hunger for really big birds remains hearty. The percentage of new airliners outfitted for VIP travel is small, but it is profitable enough that Airbus and Boeing have established sales units devoted entirely to serving governments, potentates, the super rich and, to a lesser degree, corporations.