TOP 10 BUSINESS AVIATION EVENTS OF 2021
Manufacturers Introduced Flurry of New Aircraft
Business aircraft manufacturers collectively introduced more than a half a dozen new aircraft in 2021. Demonstrating the flexibility of business aviation, the new aircraft will span in price, size, and range, meeting the needs of a wide array of customers. The largest aircraft announced in 2021 were the Dassault Falcon 10X and Gulfstream G800, which will compete in the ultra-long-range segment of the market, offering the largest cabins and longest ranges available. Following the two ultra-long-range aircraft in size is the Bombardier Challenger 3500, a major upgrade to the Challenger 350, featuring an upgraded cabin and increased sustainability. HondaJet’s 2600 is a new entry into the market for Honda, complementing its smaller HA-420. Finally, Cessna announced major updates to its Citation CJ4, Citation XLS, and Citation M2. Called the Gen 2, the new aircraft will feature improved cabins, cockpits, and entryways. The flurry of new aircraft, set to enter service over the next few years, will continue to drive interest from new customers to the business aircraft market.
Business Aviation Industry Continued to Take Lead in Mitigating Environmental Issues
Many major companies in the business aviation market made strides to reduce and mitigate carbon emissions in 2021. For example, Signature Flight Support pumped more one million gallons of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) at San Francisco International airport and expanded SAF service to nine locations in the U.S. Rolls-Royce tested a Pearl 700 jet engine using 100% SAF with the plan to reduce the need for traditional jet fuel for all aircraft using its power plants. Other companies have focused on reducing the impact of carbon emissions through offsets. In 2021, Flexjet’s operations in the U.S. achieved carbon neutrality while its operations in Europe were carbon negative. Global Jet Capital introduced its CleanFlight Carbon Offset Program – in partnership with Carbonfund.org – in 2021, providing clients with preferred pricing and a simplified process when they choose to offset the greenhouse gas emissions related to their business aircraft.
Through efforts such as those listed above that improve aircraft fuel efficiency, increase usage of SAF, and offset carbon emissions, business aviation groups announced a plan at the annual NBAA-BACE conference in October 2021 to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
GJC Maintains Momentum in ABS Market
Global Jet Capital achieved multiple milestones in the Asset Backed Securities (ABS) market in 2021. First, the company was awarded ABS Deal of the Year in Global Capital’s US Securitization Awards. Global Capital is a leading financial markets publication and part of the Euromoney Institutional Investor Group, a global business-to-business information services firm. The publication polls thousands of market participants annually to determine the winners of its prestigious industry awards and complimented Global Jet Capital’s resilience – especially during the pandemic – and their risk management.
Global Jet Capital also closed another ABS round, valued at $663 million, in March 2021. The deal is Global Jet Capital’s fifth ABS offering, bringing total assets securitized to over $3.6 billion and bonds issued to over $2.9 billion.
Industry Comes Together as Shows Return
For the first time in nearly two years, industry trade events began being held in person again in 2021. The first show with significance to the business aviation industry was the 2021 NBAA-BACE event held in Las Vegas in October. During the event, which was marked by a full agenda, business aviation professionals networked on the show floor as well as the static display.
The second major trade event was the Dubai Airshow, held in November. While the Dubai show is a showcase for the entire aerospace industry, business aviation had a strong showing there as well, with aircraft like the Airbus ACJ TwoTwenty and Bombardier Global 7500 playing an important role at the event.
Business Jet Industry Has a Virtual Gathering
In September, Asian Sky Media, part of the Asian Sky Group, held a virtual exhibition and conference, a first for the business aviation industry. According to Asian Sky Media, every attendee appeared as an individualized avatar, able to move around a 3D environment that included exhibit halls, booths, and even an aircraft static display. Attendees were also able to interact and engage in conversations with each other “face-to-face” in real time. Even as travel resumes following COVID-19 restrictions, Asian Sky Media and partner GathR expect the new virtual venue will enable more people to attend business aviation events to supplement in-person venues. The conference was put on in partnership with GathR, a company specializing in virtual conferences.
Leading Aircraft Operator Wheels Up Goes Public
Business aircraft operator Wheels Up went public in July 2021 following a merger with special purpose acquisition vehicle (SPAC), Aspirational Consumer Lifestyle. Wheels Up raised $650 million during the initial transaction, which it will use to invest in growth. Driven by an ambitious growth plan and overall demand for business aviation services, Wheels Up has continued to grow during 2021. The company plans to continue growth by investing in its aircraft, pilots, new technology, and adding electric-powered vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft to its fleet.
Value of Business Aviation on Display as Demand Strong Throughout 2021
Driven by robust demand from new and established users, the business aviation industry demonstrated strength throughout 2021. Flight operations were up compared to both 2020 and 2019 and set record highs around year-end holiday travel. In fact, demand has been so high that some jet card operators have halted sales of new memberships so that they can maintain enough supply for current customers. Demand has also been strong for the purchase of aircraft. Due to high demand for pre-owned aircraft, JetNet data indicates that inventories are down 52 percent year-over-year and 42 percent from the start of 2021. Finally, manufacturers have reported that new orders were up 50 percent in the most recent financial reports, indicating that demand has been strong for new aircraft as well as pre-owned.
As New Models Debut, Others Retire
In 2021, manufacturers ended production of some aircraft and announced impending production ends in the near future for others. A sign of a dynamic market, the end of production for older models paves the way for newer aircraft. Bombardier announced plans in early 2021 to end Learjet production to focus on its Challenger and Global aircraft families. Textron ended production of its Beechcraft King Air C90 and Cessna Citation Sovereign+ to make room for newer aircraft, such as the King Air 260 and Citation Longitude. After announcing the impending retirement of its G550 last year, Gulfstream completed the final commercial delivery of a G550 in mid-2021.
New Aircraft Take to the Skies for the First Time
An important part of developing any new aircraft is a rigorous flight test program. Two new aircraft flew for the first time in 2021: the Dassault Falcon 6X and the Beechcraft Denali. The wide-body business jet Falcon 6X made its first flight in March. During the 2.5-hour flight, pilots tested the aircraft handling, engine response, and other key systems. The single-engine turboprop Denali took to the skies for the first time in November 2021, beginning the flight test phase of the clean sheet design program. Pilots tested the aircraft’s performance, stability and control, propulsion, and other systems during the nearly three-hour flight.
New Certifications Extend Aircraft Global Reach
Even as manufacturers introduced new models in 2021, aircraft that had been introduced in the recent past received type certification from global aviation authorities, enabling them to enter service in those regions. In February, Transport Canada awarded type certification to Embraer’s Praetor 600. Beechcraft’s King Air 260 and 360 were awarded type certification in the U.S., Brazil, and Europe throughout 2021, enabling deliveries to begin to those regions. Finally, the Cessna Citation Longitude received certification in Europe. The aircraft had received certification from the U.S. in 2019, but certification in Europe was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.