This year’s EBACE event in Geneva was subdued on the opening day with the news of the death of Serge Dassault, the entrepreneur, politician and of course the man behind the family of business jets that bears his family name. The show was dedicated to his memory.
And the spirit of innovation and quality that so epitomised Serge was carried on throughout the week to a market that is celebrating a third year of recovery with 4.5% growth in a trend that continued through the first quarter of 2018.
Much impetus comes from the introduction of new models, Canadian manufacturer Bombardier stunned the whole industry with its latest move, introducing the Global 5500 and Global 6500.
What was even more astonishing is that the super large and long-range jets are powered by a brand new Rolls-Royce Pearl engine that has been developed over the past five years and certificated in total secret by Rolls-Royce.
Bombardier wasn’t the only show in town. Honda Aerospace revealed the first major upgrade of its HA-420 HondaJet, dubbed the HondaJet Elite.
The Elite delivers a 17% range increase, shorter take-offs, a belted lavatory to take a fifth passenger if needed and the most spacious cabin in the light jet class and with a full service galley.
Gulfstream’s latest model the G500 is on finals for its certification this year and its big sister, the G600, made a debut at EBACE, having flown from Savannah on renewable-fuel blend creating a new city pair speed record of 7 hours 49 minutes.
The home-grown talent, Pilatus, had the red carpet out for its newly certificated PC-24. The first five of the manufacturer’s first jet have been delivered and Pilatus is predicting 23 deliveries this year with an ongoing delivery rate of around one a week through 2019.
From across the Alps, Italian manufacturer Piaggio Aerospace had its latest upgraded Avanti Evo on show, and chief test pilot Lorenzo Villi was keen to show off the improvements of the world’s fastest turboprop that looks and flies like a jet but at half the cost.
Throughout the show, partnerships, cost reduction and disruptive technologies were all the rage.
AVIAA was outlining how its new group purchasing organisation is saving money for operators with a fleet or a lone aircraft. Several of the flight services and trip support companies were demonstrating new concepts and platforms.
The Middle East dominates this sector and Dubai’s Click was promoting its new Omega platform, which uses artificial intelligence to work more closely with its customers.
And another UAE-headquartered business, UAS is putting the whole mysterious art of international trip planning directly in the hands of the operators.
Satcom Direct invested in bringing out an experienced hacker to the show, who gave live demonstrations of hacking into an account to demonstrate the reality of the cyber threat and why we need a push for greater security in the industry.