BJT Covers Bizav for Barron's

Embraer Jets Conquer Midsize Market

I tighten my three-point seatbelt aboard the new Embraer Legacy 500 on the ramp in Melbourne, Fla. Alvadi Serpa, Embraer’s manager of product strategy for executive jets, had just walked me around the $20 million business jet. He pointed out every detail that makes this eight-passenger, transcontinental midsize business jet a category killer, from the thoughtful placement of the hydraulic pumps to the single-point refueling port.

The Best-Selling Wings

Pilots, passengers, and critics all have their personal favorites among the latest private-aircraft offerings. But what is the market’s verdict? To find out, we analyzed aircraft reported sold for the trailing 12 months ended in March this year. While the top sellers all basically embrace the same winning formula—class-leading (or near it) speed, range, payload, and cabin size—the final results still managed to floor us. 

The $2 Million Personal Jet

By the end of this year, Cirrus Aircraft should have Federal Aviation Administration certification approval for its $2 million, single-engine SF50 Vision—a five-to-seven-seat personal jet—and will commence deliveries to some 600 eager, albeit long-suffering, deposit holders.

Flexjet Takes on NetJets

Flexjet, the second-largest fractional jet program, is taking on industry leader NetJets, nearly four times its size. It’s doing so by aggressively expanding its fleet with newer aircraft—180 aircraft by year’s end, up from 154 in April—and by adding more large-cabin aircraft with swank interiors capable of flying long international hauls. Red Label, a new premium service, guarantees customers aircraft that are five years old or newer, as well as dedicated crews.

Swiss Luxury Jets

Privately held Pilatus aircraft, in Stans, Switzerland, has carved out a niche for itself by ignoring mass-market allure and instead building aircraft with unique engineering and design features that keep customers coming back for more.

NetJets' Latest Wings

Bill Johnson is the first person to own the long-range bombardier Challenger 650, a private jet that critics are praising for its 4,000-nautical-mile range, good operating economics, and comfortable 7-foot-11-inch-wide cabin. The Challenger 650 is exceptionally plush, and how Johnson bagged the first model off the production line is a story worth telling.

Flight Apps

A series of smartphone apps from aviation companies are bringing luxury transport to a whole new market of passengers, who possibly number in the millions. The service apps are designed for the economically aspirational and the socially spontaneous. Let’s say it’s 2 p.m. on a Friday in February near the end of a grueling week on Wall Street. A friend texts temptation from the glistening slopes of Vail, Colo.: The powder is great, the sky is blue, and there’s plenty of room in the rustic manse that his party is renting. Several of your buddies are getting together that night at the Ritz Bachelor Gulch for dinner. “Get out here,” your friend taunts. The logistics of such an invite once would have seemed impossible or economically irrational for all but the wealthiest. No longer. Today, all you need are the right apps on your smartphone.

Finest Five Choppers

As goes the price of oil, so goes the civilian helicopter market. That's because a good portion of new-chopper production goes to satisfy demand from the offshore oil-and-gas industry, and the continued depressed price of crude has put a damper on things—and created the best buyer's market for new rotorcraft in nearly a decade. But which helicopter is right for you and your commute? Here are our finest-five picks.

NetJets Trounces Rivals

Netjets spent the recession quietly consolidating its position as the world’s leading provider of private-jet services. If it were an airline measured by its 710-airplane fleet, NetJets would be the fourth-largest in the world. Bigger than Southwest, bigger than China Southern, bigger than Lufthansa.

Falcons Fly Higher

France's Dassault Aviation - maker of the Falcon Jet line of corporate airplanes - is part of an $11 billion-in-revenue, family-controlled group of businesses that take the long view of their company and industry. It leans heavily on seven decades of designing and manufacturing renowned military jet fighters such as the Mirage and Rafale. For this reason, Dassault's approach to the market is very different from its peers', resulting in brilliantly engineered planes that deliver superior fuel efficiency and sport the latest technology - and are seriously fun to fly.

 

Quote/Unquote

“What we need to do is always lean into the future. When the world changes around you and when it changes against you—what used to be a tail wind is now a head wind—you have to lean into that and figure out what to do because complaining isn’t a strategy. ”

-Amazon CEO and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos at a press conference for the third-generation Kindle Fire tablet.