A quick scan through the EBAN subscriber data for the past year reveals well over 30 companies and individuals on the receiving end of new aircraft, and in this feature we talk to a representative half dozen of those.
We asked them how they made their decision on which type to purchase, and about the whole process of ordering, delivery and entry into service.
Hawker 4000 – 9H-BOA
Often the humble charter company has only a modest input into the aircraft type selection of its management owners. but in Orion Malta’s case it made its own decision to acquire a Hawker 4000, fully backed by the owner company. “Value for money versus range, cabin size and technical data were the key factors,” says Boris Ioffe.
Orion has had direct previous experience of Hawker aircraft and so was able to base its decision on in-house knowledge. The company specified the optional features required before manufacture and followed the production process up to delivery.
“The ferry flight was planned by ourselves and went without a glitch,” says Ioffe. “It is a rare type and all required certifications were provided by the airframer. Crew were partly trained for the type from our existing team, and partly hired specifically for the type with the airframer’s recommendation.”
The Hawker entered service in January, and Hawker Beechcraft Corporation provided as much support as it could, given that it was in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at the time.
Buying a new aircraft is certainly easier than pre-owned, Ioffe thinks, but is usually too expensive – except in this case.
Citation CJ4 – D-CCJS
Starwings Dortmund recently took delivery of a brand new Citation CJ4. “This aircraft is an exchange, because the former C680 Sovereign of the same registration had a problem and the owner (himself the pilot) wanted the change as he no longer needed the range of the C680,” says Frank Achner. In this case the owner made the deal with Cessna directly, specified the features and equipment himself, collected it from the factory and transferred it with two company pilots to Germany.
Achner reports that the certification was no problem, with the LBA very cooperative, and it entered service with Starwings in October last year.
“The CJ4 is an outstanding aircraft with excellent take-off and landing performance and range,” adds Achner. “The inside and outside completion is well above average.”
Besides a King Air 200, Starwings now operates almost the whole CJ fleet, starting with a normal CJ followed by a CJ1, CJ2, CJ2+, CJ3 and CJ4. Only the CJ1+ is missing from the list, and Starwings think theirs might be the most complete line-up in Europe. “We are just accepting a CJ3 in our fleet; pending negotiations are for a second King Air and a Mustang. As of March this year we are now certified as a TRTO for the Beechcraft 90 to 200 and Cessna CJ series and we are still working on our project for a CJ3 Level-D simulator,” he adds.
“We have the possibility to choose between two manufacturers, and it will be a CJ2+ or a CJ3 simulator.”
AS350 B3E – HB-ZVS
The selection of the Eurocopter AS350 B3E was an easy one for Air Zermatt, as the company already had four examples of the B3 model in its fleet when it placed the order.
“It was a company decision due to the current needs,” says postholder for flight operations and pilot Daniel Aufdenblatten. “We have had AS350 experience since 1988, and 40 years of experience with this manufacturer.”
The purchase was handled by the Swiss sales agent Europavia, and Air Zermatt was able to define the full specification when ordering.
“Our technical director and the base maintenance manager, as well as one pilot, were in Marignane for the acceptance flight,” he says. “And two additional technicians of Air Zermatt have completed an AS350 B3 maintenance course over five weeks.”
No further support was needed due to the operator’s long experience on this helicopter type, and it entered operation in March this year.
Buying pre-owned was not an option on this occasion. “Due to the short delivery required this time and due to the required specific equipment, as well as the new engine Arriel 2D on this helicopter, we preferred to buy new,” concludes Aufdenblatten.
Proair Charter Transport
Citation XLS+ – D-CCLA
For Proair Charter Transport, the arrival of a new Citation XLS+ under management followed the decision of an owner who had taken full account of the investment value, running costs and reliability of the model.
Elmar Monreal, managing director of Proair, picks up the story: “We have lots of experience with the types Citation III, Citation CJ1 and Citation CJ2, but not with an Citation XLS+.
“We dealt with a sales agent and with the factory. We followed the final assembly and did a test and delivery flight on acceptance.”
The company collected the aircraft itself with its own pilots and technicians, and the ferry flight was pleasingly uneventful. “Cessna assisted partly with the certifications. We had four XLS-rated pilots, and they had simulator upgrades to the type XLS+,” adds Monreal.
The aircraft entered service in January this year, and Cessna assisted partly with the training and with finance for the owner. Monreal concedes that new aircraft are definitely easier to buy, but points out that their value drops in the beginning quicker than with pre-owned aircraft.
Citation XLS – YU-SPC
EBAN was delighted to hear from Vladimir Jovanovic, executive director of Prince Aviation. “This message is written as we are overflying the Atlantic cruising at 39,000ft on the delivery flight of Citation XLS YU-SPC,” he told us.
The formal delivery took place on March 30th, and the aircraft remained for four weeks with the manufacturer for the installation of some additional equipment. “As I write this we are flying the aircraft to its home base in Belgrade, Serbia. We departed Wichita on April 28th and will be completing the ferry the next day after an overnight at Keflavik.”
The decision to buy the new aircraft was a combined decision of the owner and operator. It was made after a review of the aircraft on the used market and an offer provided by the manufacturer. There were several reasons to choose the new aircraft including, but not limited to, price to value ratio, delivery time, additional equipment and cabin features. This aircraft is equipped with in-flight internet, iPad docking/charging at every passenger seat, microwave and other features.
Prince Aviation has been operating Citations since the late 1990s, and this is the fifth 560XL joining the fleet, although it is the first XLS+. The company’s previous experience with this type includes operations, maintenance, pilot and technician training.
“We were negotiating directly with the factory through its sales representative. The whole process was efficient as the time from the contract signature to delivery was very short (everything happened in one calendar quarter). The test/acceptance flight is a part of the delivery process of the new aircraft,” says Jovanovic.
“We specified the equipment during the manufacturing process. Prince Aviation's team performed all the necessary checks and inspections and took the delivery. The ferry flight is now in progress and is going smoothly.”
As Prince is a fleet operator of the type it did not need any additional or special training or recruitment. The aircraft is entering operational service as this issue of EBAN goes to press.
“Buying a new aircraft is definitely easier and more straightforward than the purchase of a pre-owned, especially on the technical aspects. Depending on the price of the aircraft the value might be very, very good,” adds Jovanovic.
London Executive Aviation
Embraer Phenom 300 – G-JAGA
London Executive Aviation has long experience in assisting aircraft owners evaluating the suitability of different types. In one recent case the buyer had decided to move into jet ownership after many years of sharing and fractional and had done his own research. But he also liaised with LEA over a period of a year or so to get its advice on which aircraft would best suit his needs. The key features were range, performance and the configuration of the aircraft, and in the end it was a choice between a Phenom 300 and a Cessna Citation CJ4. He would have been willing to buy a used aircraft, but as he wanted a seven-seat, EASA-approved aircraft, and as a brand new Phenom 300 matching his criteria was available, he opted to buy that.
In February this year Patrick Margetson-Rushmore, chief executive, flew over to Brazil along with two LEA pilots and a senior engineer to take delivery of the factory-new aircraft and to complete the technical acceptance on behalf of the owner.
LEA has 17 years of experience in this area and has taken delivery of aircraft from Cessna, Embraer, Dassault and Bombardier. With specific regard to the Phenom 300, it had previously completed an acceptance delivery on this type, but up until this year had never operated the aircraft type on its AOC. However, the company has over seven years of experience operating Embraer aircraft, as it has nine Legacy 600/650s in its fleet. It has also taken delivery of and operated a Phenom 100, which is similar to the Phenom 300, and has one of the industry’s most experienced Phenom 100/300 engineers.
LEA dealt directly with the factory and the delivery co-ordinators that it knew well from previous deliveries. It reports that Embraer’s delivery process is probably the best it has experienced in the industry. “There is ample manpower allocated to the delivery and information is delivered to us on request and without delays,” says md George Galanopoulos. “Discrepancies are dealt with and rectified overnight, making the delivery possible in three to four days. A test flight of 2.5 hours duration was performed, putting the aircraft in various flight profiles and simulating emergency situations, including stalling and emergency descents.”
Chief executive Patrick Margetson-Rushmore takes up the story: “We dealt directly with the factory, as well as an Embraer agent in Europe. We always find Embraer to be very efficient and cooperative and this was again the case when we were taking delivery of the Phenom 300. Having completed a number of technical acceptances and deliveries in the past, I’m very aware that there will always be issues to address, but thankfully we’ve always found Embraer to be very accommodating and proactive.
“A test flight is always carried out. On this occasion, two of our own pilots undertook the test flight to check the avionics, engines and aircraft profile and we also carried out detailed external and internal inspections of the aircraft. There is always a lot of paperwork involved when you’re completing a deal like this, but as we had a highly experienced team in Brazil, we managed to work effectively and the whole process, including the ferry flight, took just a week.”
This particular Phenom 300 had been specified by a previous buyer who had then dropped out of the process, but matched the needs of the current owner. Some options were still available but there was a relatively short time between contract signing and delivery, and so there was very limited time to follow the production process.
The UK certificate of airworth-iness was issued remotely in Brazil, with the help of an authorised UK CAA representative. The ferry flight lasted three days, as recalled by Margetson-Rushmore: “I flew to Brazil along with three other members of the LEA team to complete the technical acceptance of the aircraft, before it was flown back to its base at London Luton airport. We flew from San Jose to Belem, refuelled, and then flew past Barbados, St Lucia, Martinique, Antigua and St Kitts and on to St Maarten.
“We left St Maarten at 0800 on the second day to fly to Fort Lauderdale and then on to Bangor. As you would expect, the conditions were very different here compared to the Caribbean and all of the Phenom 300’s anti-ice systems were on right up until landing. After a quick refuelling, we carried on towards more freezing conditions and strong winds in Goose Bay, but the aircraft handled the conditions extremely well.
“On the third day, we left Goose Bay and after a smooth flight across the Atlantic, arrived in Keflavik. Just 35 minutes later, we were on our way again and after a total of 20 hours and 45 minutes in the air, landed safely at Luton.” LEA took advantage of type rating courses included in the purchase package for two existing pilots, in Dallas, while a third was type rated already. It also carried out an extensive risk assessment to establish exactly how the aircraft would fit into its operations.
The aircraft entered service within three days after delivery and it was added to the AOC just four weeks later. “We got the usual teething problems with the aircraft, but Embraer has been very pro-active in assisting with these, using its good European service centre support and its UK-based technical support representative,” adds Galanopoulos.
Post-delivery, LEA is looking at installing data capability for email and the internet, but this is not an option Embraer currently offers.
Galanopoulos is clear that buying a new aircraft makes sense, if you are prepared to pay the higher price for the peace of mind and low operating costs while the aircraft is under warranty (three years generally).
Margetson-Rushmore agrees: “The great thing about buying new aircraft is that they come with a good warranty, which can be a significant advantage over buying a second-hand aircraft. Plus new aircraft tend to have a higher level of reliability and you buy the aircraft knowing that it won’t need to be refurbished. Given the current climate, we’ve found it’s easier now than it has been in the past to buy a factory-new aircraft, because the lead times are shorter.
“Another thing you have to take into account when buying an aircraft is the running costs. If you buy a factory-new aircraft, the running costs are generally lower, whereas older aircraft tend to cost more to run and maintain. Having said that, due to the current economic climate there are some great bargains to be had in the used aircraft market.”