ATLANTA — Companies that use business aircraft are outperforming similar-sized companies that don't, according to a study released this week at the National Business Aviation Association convention.
As a group, small to midsize businesses that used business aircraft to conduct business achieved better financial results, were less affected by the recession and had better access to customers and markets not readily accessible otherwise, according to the report done by NEXA Advisors.
That helped them retain customers and secure new sources of revenue, it said.
The study examined how S&P SmallCap 600 companies performed in enterprise value, revenue and profit growth and asset efficiency in the past five years. As part of the study, researchers identified those that operated business aircraft and conducted interviews with companies. The companies were classified as "users" or "nonusers." A "user" was any company or its officers authorizing use of aircraft through aircraft ownership, fractional ownership, charter or any other form of operation as an aid in conducting business.
Individual performance varied, but when taken as a group, the study found business aviation users were more successful at returning value to shareholders, with total return — stock price appreciation and dividends —245 percent higher than nonusers.
It also found that:
* Users generated more income based on productivity and efficiency, outperforming in earnings.
* Users had 70 percent higher return on assets, 40 percent higher return on equity and 21 percent higher asset turnover.
* Users had 22 percent higher average revenue growth because they could tap into more growth opportunities.
Winglet Technology's Bob Kiser has been smiling a lot at the convention. Cessna Aircraft selected the company's elliptical winglets for its revamped, larger version of its Citation X business jet, called the Citation Ten.
The elliptical winglet shape will increase the aerodynamic performance across a range of speeds and operating conditions, the company said.
Winglet Technology, located at 8200 E. 34th St. North, was founded in 2001. The company received a patent for the winglet in 2002.
The Citation Ten will feature touch screens for use in cabin management. Passengers can touch the screen to watch movies, listen to music or access moving maps, among other things.
You know how frustrating it is to look out an aircraft window and wonder what that river is you're seeing or where you are? The moving map will give that information, Cessna spokesman Doug Oliver said while sitting inside the Cessna Ten mockup at the DeKalb Peachtree Airport.
The cabin is 15 inches longer than the Citation X, and that extra room is in the passenger seating. And there are changes in cabin lighting. For one, it will be able to change colors. In the mock-up, blue lighting led the way along the cabin floor. But the colors can change to match moods or company and sports team colors.
Learjet 85 plants
Bombardier Aerospace celebrated its 185,000-square-foot Learjet 85 aircraft component manufacturing facility in Queretaro, Mexico on Thursday.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon attended the event, as did Bombardier CEO Pierre Beaudoin and Bombardier Aerospace president Guy Hachey.
A 180,000-square-foot expansion of the final assembly site in Wichita is under way. The Wichita facility needed expansion to handle the larger plane, Bombardier Learjet's David Coleal said. The Learjet 85 is 40 percent larger than the Learjet 60 built in Wichita.
Production of Learjet 85 aircraft components is under way, the company said. The program is on track for first deliveries in 2013. The program was launched in 2007.
The company has 760 firm orders for the $18 million plane.
"We're very excited about the program," Coleal said. "The plane is going to be fantastic."
Aerion goes supersonic
Although the business jet market is in a slump, work continues at Aerion Corp. on a supersonic business jet.
The company worked with NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center on a round of flight testing, the latest milestone in preliminary engineering activities on the $80 million jet.
Data from five data flights on board a NASA F-15B aircraft are being analyzed.
The next round of testing will evaluate supersonic boundary layer transition properties as they relate to manufacturing standards for surface quality and assembly tolerances, officials say. Both are crucial to the jet's production.
The company continues to have about 50 letters of intent for the jet with $250,000 refundable deposits for each plane.
The $4 billion order book has remained relatively steady, despite the downturn, officials say.
In the meantime, Aerion is continuing discussions with manufacturers about a partnership to build the jet, said Aerion chief financial officer Doug Nichols. "We are engaged," Nichols said. "We're energized by the substance and pace of those discussions."
The downturn has slowed progress somewhat.
"We're in it for the long haul," Nichols said.
Wichita's Brian Barents is Aerion's vice chairman. Barents is former head of Bombardier's Learjet plant in Wichita and former CEO of Galaxy Aerospace.