The current state of the very-light jet segment -- as well as
its uncertain future -- were the subjects of a well-attended forum
at last month's NBAA 2008 Convention. Four industry leaders hoping
to see their companies profit from the sale of small jets offered
their thoughts on the matter, while sweating out an economic
forecast that was looking more dour with the hour.
Among the topics discussed were the difficulties in certifying
any new aircraft, and in particular VLJs... as well as the overall
health of the segment, especially as the global economy appears
headed for a pronounced downturn.
The panel was dominated by comments from four players in the
controversial VLJ market: Cláudio Galdo Camelier, Vice
President of Market Intelligence, Embraer Executive Jets; Jack
Braly, CEO of AAI Acquisition; Mike McConnell, newly-named
President and GM of the Customer Division of Eclipse Aviation; and
Epic Air CEO Rick Schrameck.
Michael McConnell noted that, "The uncertainty that's created
with the financial atmosphere in the globe today causes inaction.
What's interesting is that over the last two-to-three years, we've
seen a phenomenal increase in the demand for air travel, and that
is certainly global. It's tied to high-net-worth individuals, it's
tied to GDP growth, it's tied to stock market growth."
Jack Braly opined that, "...we are in the very unique position
of not selling airplanes yet. So, we're here to basically let
everybody know that we got the A700 back into production and we're
on a certification path that should have it certified in another
year-and-a-half, simply because we were able to pick up where the
Adam Aircraft company had left off. But until we get the bill of
material fixed... we haven't priced the airplane and we're not
really looking to sell airplanes."
Cláudio Galdo Camelier explained, "In particular for
Embraer, on the Phenom family, we have over 800 airplanes sold with
firm orders. We had no cancellations at all, no defaults on
payments. Out of these airplanes, about two-thirds are Phenom 100s,
which we'll be starting delivering this year. Probably next month,
we'll be delivering the first airplanes. We expect to deliver
between 10 and 15 airplanes this year, and between 120 and 150
airplanes from the Phenom 100 and 300 next year."