By Jack Elliott
Airport Journals established a new milestone with its Saab Business Aircraft & Jet Preview held at Waterbury-Oxford Airport (OXC) in Connecticut on June 6. Many shows have been staged with great success during the past six years, mostly in the west. The Connecticut show was the first in the northeast. Now, the publication’s aviation shows, like its chain of 10 editions, stretch coast-to-coast.
More than two dozen aircraft were on display at this all-day event that attracted some 700 visitors. Sixty aircraft flew in for the show, which was held on one of Key Air’s ramps and in a large hangar.
A wide variety of aircraft was on display ranging from the popular Eclipse 500 to a mockup of Embraer’s Phenom 100, a four-passenger twin jet now under development. The Eclipse 500, which has booked 2,500 orders, attracted large groups of interested viewers throughout the show. It’s expected that the aircraft will receive its FAA certification shortly. Six customer aircraft are now on the production line.
Embraer expects the Phenom 100, designed for single-pilot operation, to be certificated in June 2008. A larger version, the Phenom 300, will carry seven passengers. Embraer also had a Legacy 600, a business version of one of their commuter aircraft, on the flight line. Ninety of these aircraft have been delivered, according to Henry Yandle, regional sales manager. He also said that 14 Lineage 1000s have been sold. The Lineage is a very large business jet introduced in May at EBACE in Zurich, Switzerland.
One of the large hangars of Key Air Inc., an executive charter and aircraft management company based at Waterbury-Oxford Airport, was set up for exhibits as well as with tables for a complimentary lunch for all visitors. Key Air operates 16 jets, a number of which were on display, including a Gulfstream G-450, several Gulfstream G-Vs and a Learjet 45. The company’s fleet includes eight Gulfstreams, six Hawkers, one Learjet and a King Air 200.
The event wasn’t all airplanes. Some snazzy automobiles were on display as well. Saab had a number of models on display and available for test drives, including several sexy-looking convertibles that caught the fancy of many members of the flying fraternity.
Among the flying machines on exhibit that were a bit out of the ordinary was the Piaggio P.180, a sleek, Italian-built twin turboprop with pusher props. The aircraft on exhibit was part of the fleet of Avantair, a fractional operator. Headquartered in Clearwater, Fla., with offices around the country, Avantair has 26 Piaggios in their fleet, with 56 more on order.
Some single-engine turboprops were on the flight line also. Columbia Aircraft Sales of Groton, Conn., had an EADS Socata TBM 700C2 and a Piper Meridian on display. Columbia is a sales representative for Socata, Piper and Adam Aircraft. One of the most popular single-engine piston aircraft to come on line in years, the Cirrus, was also on display and attracted a lot of interest from visitors.
Cessna had a number of models on display including two Caravans operated by Tradewinds LLC, an executive air charter and aircraft maintenance firm based at OXC. The highly successful single-engine Caravan is widely used as a cargo plane (FedEx is a major user), but it can also be used as a passenger aircraft. Jennifer Manna, one of Tradewinds’ Caravan pilots, said the aircraft flies charters from Teterboro Airport to Nantucket on a busy charter schedule during the summer season. As a passenger aircraft, it’s outfitted with eight seats. Tradewinds operates four Caravans, three Pilatus turboprops, a King Air 200 and two Citation Bravos.
Justin Lips, Airport Journals’ advertising manager and organizer of the show, expressed great satisfaction with the show.
“A number of our advertisers had said they thought we should have a show on the East Coast,” he said, “Many of them told me they were pleased with the show. A number of the exhibitors I talked to reported that they picked up a lot of good leads to future business. I think this show has great potential.
“The East Coast is an area where many companies, large and small, are based and they’re coming to recognize the advantages of business aviation, especially with the time-consuming security checks at major airports that hamper efficient use of time, one of an executive’s most valuable resources. I think that now that this show has demonstrated to people in the industry that it can bring a good turnout and produce results, they’ll be back next year in much greater numbers.”