The Business Aviation Community Gathers in Geneva for EBACE.

Position:European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition

The Business Aviation Community Gathers in Geneva for EBACE

Amid the exotic flower displays, copious amounts of champagne and the general camaraderie that distinguishes EBACE from other industry events, competition is raging at both top and bottom ends of this fast growing sector.

Airbus and Boeing enjoyed a strong presence at Europe's premier business aviation event last week, highlighting offensives to increase market-share of their ACJ and BBJ products. Bombardier announced a new family of corporate shuttles based on the long range versions of its 50, 70 and 90-seat CRJ regional jets - dubbed the Challenger 850, 890 and 890 and Embraer heralded its entry in the light jet air taxi market, detailing two new products in the six to nine-seat category. In so doing, the Brazilian manufacturer becomes a challenging competitor - behind US offerings Eclipse, which has already amassed over 2,000 orders and options and Cessna's Mustang, which made its first flight last month and was on show in mock up form at EBACE. Another candidate is US Adam Aviation with its A500 and A700 VLJ.

Embraer identifies a market of 3,000 VLJs over the next decade, for which it is angling for a third. Regional aviation veteran Luis Carlos Alfonso, former chief engineer on the Embraer 145 and latterly senior vice president engineering and product development of the Embraer 170 and 190, is leading Embraer's foray into this market, a move which was approved by the Embraer Board just one month ago. Its VLJ should be available in mid-2008, followed by the Light Jet one year later.

Embraer launched the Legacy, a derivative of the Embraer 135 in 2000, but now the company wants to prove it is serious about business aviation. Its new six-seat VLJ aircraft, which will feature PW600 series engines, will carry a $2.75m price tag. The LJ will be $6.65m, offering between eight and nine seats.

Alfonso is just one of a number of senior regional airline executives that have now switched their expertise to business aviation. Tom Appleton, who has spent most of his professional life with regional aircraft - at de Havilland and Bombardier - is now playing a major role in steering the Piaggio Avanti II program as Director of the Aircraft Division of Piaggio Aero Industries. James Hoblyn, formerly with Bombardier Regional Aircraft, is now vice president business aviation for the group. To his delight, he took an unexpected order for two Challenger 870s - list price $25.2m - as details of the...

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