Demand for corporate, private and charter jets in the Middle East and Russia is spurring the sales and development of new aircraft and the conversion of pre-owned as buyers seek to circumvent long waiting lists for deliveries.
Hawker Beechcraft Corporation confirms that there is Middle East interest in the new Beechcraft Premier II. Brad Hatt, Hawker Beechcraft president, commercial aircraft, says: "There are more than 70 positions, including more than 40 firm orders." He says selling points are the higher cruise speeds, 20 per cent longer range with four passengers and increased payload. EASA certification is planned for the last quarter of 2010.
There is also Middle East interest in the Learjet 60XR although the latest announcement involves an undisclosed European customer which has placed an order for 110 Learjet 60XRs. Bombardier says 25 of the orders are firm and 85 are conditional. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2009.
And Cessna says one of the markets foremost in its mind when designing the Columbus was the Arab Gulf. "The aircraft's range capability does cater to the desire of Middle Eastern customers to fly non-stop from Dubai to London," the company says.
A full-scale walk through mock-up of the Citation Columbus cabin and cockpit is being shown to prospective customers at key European venues before being showcased at the Farnborough International Airshow.
Trevor Esling, Cessna's vp for international sales, says: "The typical Cessna customer is very loyal to the brand but some of those at the upper end of the Citation range wanted something larger and truly long range - for example, an aeroplane able to fly the Atlantic in either direction regardless of conditions. In the first quarter of 2008, Cessna took 36 firm orders for the Columbus. A significant number of these are from Europe and the Middle East. There has therefore been a lot of interest in the Columbus since we announced that deliveries would begin in 2014."
But those who want to put aircraft into service earlier are fuelling a growing trend to give pre-owned aircraft a new look. The makeover trend is confirmed by Pascal Jallier, head of completions Europe, ExecuJet. The division has this year handled some 26 design and completion projects so far. "In the past few months we have been approached about new cabin interiors for the Fokker 100 regional turbofan, the Bombardier CRJ200, the Dornier 328JET and even about a vip interior for the C-130 military transport aircraft," says Jallier. "Right now we have a customer who wishes to create the ambience and look in his new Bombardier business jet that is akin to his Bentley GT Flying Spur."
The Middle East is one of the leading growth markets, Jallier says. "We think ahead and plan how in-flight installations can be accommodated within the cabin design. The bigger the aircraft, the more complex the job and we hope to soon be adding some experience on the Airbus A318 and Boeing Business Jet series at ExecuJet, types I have worked with in the past."
He points out: "You can't get a BBJ until 2018 or a Global Express XRS or some of the latest Learjet models until 2013 - so a newly refurbished second-hand aircraft, for a lower capital outlay, is appealing to many."
Late this autumn ExecuJet will open its own showroom where it will showcase its completions work. This will complement its FBO facilities and be the first such facility in Zurich, Jallier says.