Aviation

Wichita planemakers show their new products at EBACE

The largest business aviation show in Europe starts on Tuesday, and Wichita’s two general aviation manufacturers are there.

Bombardier Learjet and Textron Aviation are among the 22 aircraft manufacturers at the three-day-long European Business Aviation Convention & Exposition in Geneva, Switzerland.

This year’s show, produced by the European Business Aviation Association and the National Business Aviation Association, will have a total of 468 exhibitors and more than 60 business aircraft on display.

The show can be a vehicle for aircraft manufacturers to unveil plans for new airplanes and make aircraft order and other product announcements.

Textron Aviation said in news releases Monday it will begin producing King Airs later this year with cockpit and cabin upgrades, and said its new Cessna Citation Latitude business jet has slightly longer range than company officials had expected.

Brian Foley, an aviation market analyst, said on Monday this year’s show is likely to be somewhat muted, reflecting a European economy that’s still trying to recover from the 2008 financial crisis.

“Europe is the second largest market in the world, so you have to have a presence there,” Foley said. “Business conditions just aren’t great over there, though we’re seeing promising signs,” he added, such as a recovery in the European stock market, which he said typically precedes an economic recovery.

“Granted, there’s going to be some speed bumps along the way before a full recovery,” Foley said.

Textron Aviation’s early EBACE announcements focused largely on product enhancements, such as to its Beechcraft King Air turboprop line.

Beginning in the third quarter of 2015, Textron Aviation said it will deliver King Airs with upgraded Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion avionics as standard equipment on the 350i, 250 and C90GTx.

It will also offer as standard equipment on all three models electronically dimmable window shades, and on the 3501 and 250, international or domestic wireless internet. The wireless internet capability will be optional on the C90GTx.

Textron Aviation will begin delivering upgraded King Air 250s in the third quarter, followed by the 350i in the fourth quarter of 2015, and the C90GTx in the first quarter of 2016.

The company also announced that after completion of the Latitude’s flight test program, the range of the midsize business jet has been adjusted to 2,850 nautical miles, 150 nautical miles more than had been expected.

Textron Aviation also said Federal Aviation Administration certification of the Latitude, which is making its debut at EBACE, is “imminent.”

The slightly higher range for the Latitude likely won’t make a significant difference in overall sales, Foley said, but “when you’re comparing products side-by-side to a prospect, yeah, that 150 could help you surpass the competitor.”

In addition to the Latitude, Textron Aviation will have on static display a Citation M2, Citation CJ4 and Citation XLS-Plus business jets, in addition to alongside a King Air C90GTx and 250, and a Special Mission King Air 350ER.

Bombardier, the Canadian-based planemaker that operates Learjet in Wichita, said its aircraft on static display at EBACE will be a Learjet 75, Challenger 350, Challenger 650 and Global 6000 aircraft, as well as a full-scale mock-up of the Global 7000 large-cabin, long range jet that is under development.

On Sunday, Bombardier announced that longtime customer and Formula 1 race car world champion Niki Lauda planned to purchase a Global 7000.

Reach Jerry Siebenmark at 316-268-6576 or jsiebenmark@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @jsiebenmark.

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