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By Volker K. Thomalla

According to Jörn Deistler, Administrator of the German Business Aviation Association (GBAA), its verdict on last year is positive: “As far as we are concerned 2004 was a good year. As reported at EBACE in Geneva, Germany leads in Europe as regards the number of business jets registered. The GBAA is at an all-time high as regards both the number and quality of its members.

“We are pleased with our member Bizair of Berlin and the success that it had, in alliance with other petitioners, in getting the ad hoc closure of Tempelhof airport reversed. It remains to be seen whether reason has returned to the Berlin Senate or whether the Governing Mayor will stick to his plan to close this unique airport that is important for Business Aviation, despite all the advice to the contrary. If need be, we will provide active and financial support for the pending lawsuit with our members.

“The change of European regulatory body from the JAA to EASA makes us hopeful that rapid and practical progress on harmonisation in Europe can be achieved. We are optimistic that EASA's move to Cologne will promote close and understanding collaboration.”

But despite this positive summary, there are still some areas which in the view of the Business Aviation community are in need of improvement. Deistler: “The implementation of the law by official bodies in the European countries is still very individual in some cases. For example, only aircraft equipped with a TCAS are allowed by the Italian authorities to fly [from Germany] to Italy, whereas in all the other countries transition periods have been granted. Again, the Polish aviation authority, for example, likes to check whether the LBA [the German Civil Aviation Authority] has correctly checked German aircraft with regard to the air security plan.”

Above all, bureaucratic hurdles and the lack of guaranteed access everywhere in Europe to important airports are preventing the development of the sector in Germany. Hence not all companies in the sector are optimistic. “Our members have mixed views about the market for commercial business flights. The present US dollar exchange rate makes it a good time to purchase aircraft, which is basically a positive thing. On the other hand there is a fear that bargain purchases with lower debt servicing could put pressure on market rates which, bearing in mind the prevailing economic situation here, are still too low, especially in comparison with the other west European countries. Nevertheless, we are observing cautious optimism for 2005 amongst our members.”

After several years of decline, Business Aviation has stabilised at a high level. It is not possible to say exactly how many business jets are stationed in Germany, as not all the jets based in Germany have a German registration. Many companies operate their aircraft through foreign subsidiaries. Hence, German-owned jets with the registrations VP-C (Cayman Islands), VP-B (Bahamas), F (France) or N (USA) are all to be seen at the airfields.

The German Civil Aviation Authority (LBA) in Braunschweig lists in its annual report for 2003, published in November 2004, 452 Category I aircraft (2 to 5.7 tonnes maximum takeoff weight) and 179 in category C (5.7 up to 14 tonnes MTOW). However, these are not all jets, but the first category includes a number of twin-engined turboprops. This suggests that over 250 business jets are based in Germany.

The Cessna Aircraft Company of Wichita has the biggest market share (of German registered jets). Its Citation family, with 120 aircraft, accounts for about half of all business jets whose registration codes begin with a D. Especially popular among the operators are the light CitationJets, which are used both in commercial airlines and also for company transport. Germany is “CJ-land”, as no other countries outside the USA has more Citation CJ1's and CJ2's based in it.

All the other Cessna Citations through to the Citation X, the fastest business jet in the world, figure in German Business Aviation, helping business people to get to their appointments quickly, safely and punctually. At the NBAA Convention in October 2004, Cessna announced new members of the CitationJet family and Atlas Air Service of Ganderkesee was the first company to order three CJ2+'s, which are to be delivered at the end of 2006 and beginning of 2007.

Bombardier's share of the German market is around 30 percent. Among the big business jets, the Challengers produced by the Canadian conglomerate are especially popular. The latest operator of a Challenger 604, as of 4 December, is Cirrus Aviation of Saarbrücken. It also operates several Learjets, which come from the Bombardier stable as well. Thus, Cirrus was also the first European customer for the Learjet 40. This plane has been so well received by Cirrus's customers since it first entered into service on 12 February 2004, that only a few months later the company ordered a second aeroplane.

The French manufacturer, Dassault Aviation, has over eight percent of the German market, with every member of the Falcon family represented: the Falcon 50EX, Falcon 900 and Falcon 2000. They are primarily to be found in the fleets of the large corporations.

Raytheon Aircraft and Beechcraft each have only 6.6 percent of the German market, which no doubt is related to the fact that the light Beechcraft Premier I jet, which is aiming for the same market segment as the CitationJet, was a relative latecomer to the market and thus found the segment already occupied. At the same time the number of Hawkers sold in Germany has fallen, so that Raytheon's product portfolio was not sufficient to interest all the operators. Here we should not forget the Beechjet 400A. One of its most prestigious operators is the LBA.

Gulfstream is the latest entrant into the German market. At present its market share is still only 2.3 percent, but this is likely to change soon since, following certification of the biggest Gulfstream jet, the G550, which was ordered by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) in an untypical role as an altitude research aircraft, additional market opportunities should open up here. Windrose Air of Berlin was the first operator of a Germany-registered Gulfstream.

There is also a need for business jets of commercial aircraft size in Germany. No less than three car manufacturers, Ford, DaimlerChrysler and Volkswagen, operate airliners as business jet or plant shuttle aircraft. DaimlerChrysler and Volkswagen have each chosen an A319 ACJ, whereas Ford uses a Boeing 737-700 to ferry its staff between plants.

Germany's business jets are among the most modern in the world. Over 60 percent of the fleet are younger than ten years old. This means that their operators are in a good competitive position, as the new jets are quieter, climb faster, fly higher and consume less fuel. Moreover, the new aircraft are more comfortable – a critical factor for the passengers who are paying for the flight.

The annual forecast from Honeywell is another sign that the market for business jets in Europe is slowly recovering. Lynn Brubaker, General Manager and Vice President of Honeywell's Commercial Aerospace division, said, “We established in our survey of business jet operators that about half of all jet operators in Europe plan to purchase new aircraft over the next five years, in some cases to expand their existing fleets and in others to replace old aircraft.”

From FLUG REVUE 2/2005



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