NBAA 2010 - Day 4 highlights

Added on 22 October 2010 by Tim Robinson

Robot bizjet salesmen, the rise of airborne iPAds and a glass-cockpit biplane. TIM ROBINSON reports from the final Day 4 of the NBAA business aviation show.

The massive halls at NBAA

NBAA in the Georgia World Congress Center was contained in two huge halls with some 1,000+ exhibitors. As well as the usual aeronautical companies and manufacturers, booths were also taken by luxury brands such as Jaguar, hoping to tap into the VIP customer market. The luxury interior aspect of this show too, means that exhibitors ranged from airborne HD TV specialists, to carpeting, to bespoke leather merchants for kitting out these business jets. As a contrast to this luxury there was also a presence from aeromedicine and medavac suppliers too. Finally while the halls were looking less busy than the previous two days, a good many people were still around, including senior decision-makers and ceos - a very encouraging sign that deals were still being done.

Honda's Asimo robot performs for the NBAA crowds at HondaJet stand

Can a robot salesman sell a new entry-level jet? The answer if you are Honda, with its spin-off HondaJet, is yes. Honda, which now bills itself as a ‘mobility’ company had brought along biped robot Asimo to draw the crowds at its large stand in the halls. Judging by the reception there are now a fair few more people aware of the HondaJet than before. However, showmanship aside there is a serious point Honda are making - demonstrating its record of expertise in innovation. The HondaJet, an entry-level jet is particularly innovative as it marries a composite fuselage, (with laminar flow nose section), new Honda/GE engines and above-wing engine placement. This configuration, not seen since the German DVFW-614 promises the HondaJet reduced wing drag as well as a quieter cabin. The aircraft, to be produced in the US, is expected to be certificated in the third quarter of 2012.

Cockpit mount (with power) for iPad from Flight Display Systems

Walking around NBAA you could hardly escape from the now ubiquitous Apple iPads, frequently used as prizes to lure potential customers to a stand to drop a business card, or even used as interactive sales aids out on the static line. But the iPad too is now invading the cockpit. One of the biggest product hits of the show has been an iPad arm mount from Flight Display Systems. This provides power to the gadget, is quickly detachable and also allows the user to spin the iPad into landscape or portrait orientation. The iPad has also been embraced by chart and navigation specialists Jeppesen too, who in July this year released a chart ‘app’ for terminal chart - Mobile TC. Highly slick to use on the iPad, this is yet another example of consumer technology crossover into aviation.

Scimitar winglets from Aviation Partners

‘No spiriod winglets anytime soon’ - was the message from winglet experts Aviation Partners, who have concluded that an advanced ‘looped’ winglet that has been tested and which may give improved efficiency makes no commercial sense. Aviation Partners argue that the spiroid winglet, which would have to flex forward and back in flight, would be too expensive to produce. However the company is still making updates to its existing product range and at the show was demonstrating its scimitar winglet for Hawker bizjets. This, a “winglet on a winglet” gives a extra half and percent of fuel efficiency, with the entire winglet reducing fuel burn by 8% for the Hawker.

In summary then, this year’s NBAA sees the business aviation community more optimistic than this time last year. While the sector is not fully recovered (and may not for some time), the general consensus around the show was that things have stabilised and that steady growth is now occurring. While airframers are still looking at flat sales, increased flight activity in the past six-to-nine months bodes well for the future and interestingly the retrofit market is doing extremely well. The worst, then seems to be over. Look out for a full analysis and report of NBAA in Aerospace International magazine.

And finally…

Glass cockpit for Waco biplane (Waco Classic)

The world’s first glass-cockpit biplane? Out on the static line was a company that will, for a price, put an IFR-ready glass cockpit in a 1930s Waco Biplane. Waco Classic have already completed three Waco YMF-5Ds with glass-cockpits for customers. While some may consider this vintage aviation sacrilege, this shows that no aircraft is off-limits for an upgrade. Next stop - a Tiger Moth with a HUD?

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