Bombardier Global 7000 and 8000

Bombardier reports steady progress on both its Global 7000 and 8000 business jets with them on target for service entry in 2016 and 2017, respectively. Wind tunnel testing has been completed and the joint definition phase for the two top-of-the-line models is beginning now. A major expansion of the Global completions and customer interface facility in Montreal should be completed later this year and the top tier suppliers have all been selected.

Backlogs for the $68.9 million Global 7000 and the $66.3 million Global 8000 are “very healthy,” according to the company, and extend out 36 months for the entire Global family, “which is beyond our target range.”

The Global 7000 is the larger of the two models under development, with a 110.6 ft. length overall, and a cabin stretching nearly 60 ft. from cockpit divider to the rear pressure bulkhead, and providing a four-zone living area. It is designed to cruise 7,300 nm at Mach 0.85 with ten passengers. By contrast, the 101.6 ft.-long 8000 has a cabin measuring 50.6 ft. long and can carry eight passengers 7,900 nm at the same cruise speed.

Both models will be powered by two GE Passport turbofan engines, now under development; the powerplant is rated at 16,500 lb. thrust. The aircraft will also feature Bombardier's new Vision Flight Deck, which will include an LCD head-up display, enhanced and synthetic vision systems, electronic flight bags, and RNP 0.1 capability, and any other advances that become available.

Bombardier Learjet 85

Meanwhile, Bombardier's Learjet 85 — the largest aircraft to bear that famous marque, and the first constructed of composites rather than aluminum — should begin flight testing this year.

Fabrication of the first aircraft is well underway with the company's Belfast division having shipped wing spars and skins to Bombardier's new manufacturing plant in Querétaro, Mexico, dedicated to the model. Final assembly, flight testing and customer delivery of the aircraft will take place at the company's Wichita, Kan., facility, which has undergone a major expansion to accommodate the new model.

The Learjet 85's cabin will be a hair shy of 6 ft. tall, a hair wider than that and stretch for nearly 25 ft. from the cockpit divider to the rear pressure bulkhead. Its target, four-passenger range is 3,000 nm and long-range cruise is Mach 0.78. The aircraft will feature a Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion avionics suite, with three 15.1 in Active Matrix Liquid Crystal Displays and will be powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada PW 307B turbofans, each rated at 6,100 lb. thrust.

The $19.6 million aircraft is on schedule for service entry in 2013.

AgustaWestland AW609

Now in sole control of the civil tiltrotor program it had begun with Bell Helicopter Textron, AgustaWestland plans to begin certification flights of its renamed AW609 next year with the goal of obtaining FAA certification and begin deliveries by mid-2016. The company reports cash-backed orders in hand for some 70 units from 40 costumers in 15 countries. Two prototypes have been involved in initial flight tests. A third aircraft is being assembled in AgustaWestland Italian plants and will fly next year and it is to be followed by a fourth one in 2014.

The first AW609 prototype is in Arlington, Tex., and the second is in Italy. The two aircraft have already logged over 650 flying hours and have opened up 85% of the flight envelope.

The pace of the program began accelerating once AgustaWestland acquired Bell's stake last year. This has allowed a streamlining of the program, processes and financial aspects, reducing costs. AgustaWestland has established AgustaWestland Tiltrotor Co. in Arlington and is expanding its facilities and adding personnel, and expects the payroll to reach 150. Another 250 work on the program in Cascina Costa, Italy.

The original aircraft is being improved, starting with a new glass cockpit and a new satellite based navigation system. The company has not yet announced if production will occur in Texas as well as in Italy.

Bruno Spagnolini, AgustaWestland CEO, says the company's market forecast for the AW609 is set at 450-500 aircraft in 20 years. The aircraft's book price has not yet been announced but is expected to be no more than 50% higher than an unpressurized helicopter of the same weight class.

Cessna Citation Latitude

The Latitude will be the first business jet from Cessna in three decades to have a larger fuselage cross-section than the Citation III. Development of Cessna's first super-midsize jet now is well underway. Projected range has been increased from 2,000-2,300 nm to make it more competitive with archrival Embraer Legacy 450. Top speed will be 442 KTAS. To verify the Latitude's range and cruise speed performance, two rounds of high-speed wind tunnel tests have been completed. Based upon Sovereign wing performance, average cruise speed should be close to Mach 0.72 , BCA estimates.

Retaining the wing aerodynamics of the Citation Sovereign, though, assures a 3,900 ft. TOFL, the best runway performance of any aircraft in its class. It also should be able to climb directly to FL 430 in 23 min. Most systems will be similar to the Sovereign's and the new model will be added as a derivative model on the Sovereign's type certificate. However, it will be updated with Garmin G5000 avionics with touch-screen control panels.

With full fuel, the aircraft should be able to carry five passengers. The standard interior will have a two-place side-facing divan on the right side of the forward cabin, four club seats in the center cabin and two forward-facing chairs in the aft cabin. An additional seat, opposite the toilet in the lavatory, will be optional.

The aircraft will have a flat floor, large cabin windows, Cessna's new high reliability Clairity cabin management system and the lowest price tag of any super- midsize jet. A light empty weight should also give it the lowest operating costs in its class.

The first metal for the aircraft will be cut in 2014. First flight is scheduled for mid-2014. Certification and entry into service are slated for 2015.

Cirrus Vision SF50

In mid April, Cirrus Aircraft announced that its new owner, China Aviation Industry General Aircraft, had committed an additional $100 million-plus to fund full development of the single-turbofan Vision SF50 personal jet. First flight of a production-conforming version now is planned for mid-2013 with certification and initial customer deliveries slated for second half 2015, according to Todd Simmons, executive vice president of Cirrus sales and marketing. The aircraft is designed to serve an easy step up from the manufacturer's SR20/22 piston-engine models to the entry-level turbofan aircraft.

Vision's commodious cabin will provide seating for five adults and two children. Top speed is expected to be around 300 KTAS and max range is targeted at close to 1,000 nm. However, the aircraft will be limited to a 500 lb. payload with max fuel, and thus there will be significant range versus payload tradeoffs. Slow speed performance should be a strong suit, providing easy handling in the landing configuration and short runway requirements.

Cirrus already has spent $40-50 million on development and flight testing of a non-conforming proof-of-concept single-engine turbofan aircraft. Simmons claims that a “substantial majority” of the basic engineering work for a production aircraft has been accomplished, including expansion of the low- and high-speed boundaries of the flight envelope, stall characteristics, taming thrust/pitch coupling of the top-mounted engine on the tail cone and performance in icing conditions. Notably, production versions of the Vision will use a TKS deice system on the nose to protect the engine from airframe ice ingestion. The engine inlet will use bleed air for anti-icing and conventional deice boots will be fitted to the wings and empennage.

Company critics have asserted that the Duluth, Minn., OEM now has the funding for the Vision, but not the engineering talent to push through a production aircraft to certification. Simmons countered that the firm still has a strong core and depth on its engineering team, including Chief Engineer Paul Johnston, Aero Structures Lead Paul Brey, Executive Vice President and COO Pat Waddick and Chief Vision Engineer Dave Rathbun.

Embraer Legacy 500

Serial number 500-00001, the first Legacy 500, rolled out of final assembly in December 2011 at Embraer's Sao Jose dos Campos headquarters plant. The first Honeywell HTF7500E engine runs were completed in January 2012 and taxi tests began in March. The Legacy 500 will be the first super-midsize business aircraft to feature digital fly-by-wire (FBW) flight controls. The Brazilian manufacturer is embracing FBW to ease pilot workload, improve passenger comfort, reduce airframe structural weight and streamline the certification process.

Virtually all required high-speed taxi tests have been completed, but the Legacy 500 won't become airborne until airworthiness approvals for its FBW remote electronic units (REU) are obtained. The REUs are devices that send control signals to the FBW electrohydraulic flight control actuators and they are supplied by Parker Aerospace's Irvine, Calif., facility.

Last year, an on-site audit by Embraer unveiled what it determined were anomalies in Parker's software validation and verification documentation processes that were show stoppers. The Brazilian OEM subsequently stationed its own supervisors at the Parker plant to assure that future software releases for the REUs would meet all Brazilian, FAA and EASA airworthiness requirements.

First flight of s.n. 00001 now is slated for third quarter 2012. The aircraft will be used primarily for flight envelope expansion and performance testing during the development program.

The wing and fuselage of the second flight test aircraft was completed in March 2012 and that aircraft now has undergone electrical power checks. Serial number 00002 will be used for avionics testing, among other tasks. Mating of the fuselage sections of the third flight test aircraft also began in March. Serial number 00003 will be used to evaluate the interior furnishings and to complete function and reliability testing.

Type certification and initial customer deliveries of the 3,000-nm range Legacy 500 are slated for fourth quarter 2014 or first quarter 2015.

Embraer Legacy 450

The joint definition phase for the Legacy 450, a shorter fuselage and shorter range variant of the Legacy 500, continues apace. The 2,300-nm midsize aircraft will have 95% commonality with Legacy 500, sharing its engines, wings, avionics and most systems.

The Legacy 450 has the largest cross-section, most cabin volume and lowest cabin altitude in the midsize class, plus it's the only aircraft in the segment to have FBW flight controls and standard auto-throttles, plus an optional head-up display, optional auto-brakes and a vacuum lav system. It also has the largest windows and a completely flat floor.

The cabin has one less row of seats than the Legacy 500, but there's plenty of room for a center four-seat club section with two forward-facing chairs in the rear of the cabin. The forward section of the cabin has a single aft-facing chair on the right side. A forward, right-side wet galley or two-place divan are available. Options for the galley include microwave and convection ovens, a refrigerator, coffee maker and Nespresso machine.

The aircraft also may be fitted with an optional forward left side fold-down flight attendant's seat. A belted potty seat, certified for full time occupancy, also is available, thus allowing the aircraft to accommodate as many as nine passengers, if necessary.

Both the Legacy 450 and 500 have 40 cu. ft. aft internal luggage compartments plus 110 cu. ft. aft external baggage compartments, the most of any aircraft in their segments.

First flight is scheduled for second half 2013 with type certification and entry into service expected in second half 2014.

Kestrel

Alan Klapmeier, company founder, chairman and CEO of Kestrel Aircraft Co., is “quite confident” that his eight-place Kestrel single-engine turboprop will raise the bar for cabin comfort, payload, range, speed and docile handling characteristics in this class of business aircraft. The Kestrel is a major rework of the 2002 Farnborough Aircraft F1 design, incorporating a 1,000 shp Honeywell TPE331-14GR turboprop in place of the F1's PWC PT6A-67A, along with a wider and longer cabin, larger windows, redesigned flight controls to reduce effort and straight leading edges for the wings.

Production conforming aircraft definition is proceeding on track, he said, with external aerodynamic loft contours now well defined, initial composite materials qualifications underway and freezing nearly half of the systems designs. Klapmeier has been talking with all major avionics suppliers and that includes Honeywell regarding its latest version of Apex. Kestrel is evaluating an electro-expulsive ice production system that would replace deice boots on wing and empennage leading edges.

The aircraft cabin will have a flat floor, except for a 2-in. drop in the cockpit floor. The wing spar carry-through structure will not intrude into the cabin. A variety of cabin configurations will be offered, including high-density seating, an executive interior and a combination passenger/freight version.

Klapmeier has assembled an impressive engineering team, attracting many colleagues with whom he worked at Cirrus Design, the firm he cofounded with his brother. He declined to disclose a certification schedule for the aircraft or specific performance numbers. But the Kestrel will be positioned in a niche between the $3.4 million TBM850 and $4.6 million Pilatus PC12NG, but priced significantly lower. It's likely that Kestrel will be able to cruise faster than 300 KTAS, fly at least 1,500 nm and routinely operate out of 3,000-ft. runways.

Diamond Jet

Progress on the Diamond Jet continues at a deliberate pace, even though funding is lean for the research and development, says Peter Maurer, president and CEO of Diamond Aircraft. However, using the third proof-of-concept aircraft, along with static test articles and iron bird mock-ups, several critical challenges have been overcome.

“The program now is well defined and it is proceeding well. There are no technical risks,” Maurer says. Elevator horn size has been adjusted to fine-tune control forces. The effectiveness of the anti-ice system for both the engine air inlets and bifurcated ducts has been proven. Upswept tips have been added to the wings to reduce stall speed. About 95% of the structural design has been completed. The fuselage pressure vessel and all transparencies have been tested to 20,000 pressurization cycles. The static test article now is starting 40,000 and 60,000 pressurization cycle fatigue life tests.

“We've nailed the flight control de–sign, structure, engine inlet, bleed air and anti-ice system, along with the aero contours.” Final design of the chined-nose tire, development of the environmental control system and calibration of the stall prevention stick pusher are in progress.

Powered by a single Williams Inter–national FJ33-5A turbofan, the D-Jet should have a 500-lb. tanks-full payload, cruise as fast as 315 KTAS at FL 250 and fly at least 1,100 nm at its 240 KTAS long-range cruise speed and land with NBAA IFR reserves. It will have two seats in the cockpit and three seats in the main cabin.

Diamond now is building tooling for the fourth D-Jet, a fully production conforming aircraft that will be used for the certification program. New molds are being constructed to accommodate leading-edge recesses for flush-mounted deice boots that will be used instead of the TKS deice system that was part of the original proof-of-concept design.

Maurer admits that the aircraft has grown in weight, but an aggressive weight management program will enable Diamond to maintain a 5,690-lb. max ramp weight and 5,650-lb. MTOW in production aircraft. That provides a 350-lb. margin up to the 6,000-lb. weight limit for this class of EASA/FAR Part 23 aircraft. The production conforming D-Jet's first flight could be as soon as second quarter 2013. Three production conforming aircraft will be used in the development program with the goal of achieving type certification and customer deliveries in the second half of 2014.

But, all this is contingent upon Diamond Aircraft's obtaining full funding for the development program. That could be a $50-100 million challenge. BCA