10 Communiques from Geneva
Ten short notes on what might be the coolest if not the biggest jet convention on the planet that never made the prime time news.
By Robert Goyer / Published: May 29, 2013
10. EBACE (European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition), LABACE (Latin America), ABACE (Asian) and for our North American edition, it'll soon be just... BACE? Why not USBASE? NABACE? Regardless, the rebranding of NBAA, a known commodity for more than 50 editions (not all of which I’ve had the pleasure of attending) as BACE is coming this year. It took me about 5 years to start calling Jeffco by its new name — Rocky Mountain something — and about that same length of time to start calling Oshkosh “AirVenture,” something I still regularly slip up on. I will never call Washington National “Reagan” or the Boston Garden “Fleet Center,” “Banknorth anything,” or “TD Garden.” Calling NBAA “BACE” will take a lot of time, and if MLB park branding is any indication, by the time I get the hang of it, it will have changed again.
9. The launch of the PC-24 was well done. The mockup was superbly crafted, and the one big reaction from everybody who saw it was, “My lord, it’s big!” And it is, a light-midsize jet at home in the dirt. There is nothing like it in the world, so Pilatus has the niche sewn up. The question is, will anybody want something in that niche? Pilatus has a track record of knowing its customers, so I’m optimistic the airplane will sell.
8. I spent almost an hour on the Embraer Legacy 500 jet sitting in the left seat with Embraer’s Bob Stangarone, communications VP and a jet-rated pilot himself (I love aviation) in the right seat. It is the coolest cockpit in all of aviation. Fly-by-wire, very limited physical button and switches, and world leading viz from up front. It felt all the world like a concept jet. Truth is, it flew there from Brazil! Wish I could have hitched a ride as far as Florida. See #3.
7. Coffee: The show is held in Geneva, Switzerland, surrounded on three sides by France. Everywhere you go, even gas stations, there’s good coffee being made in $10,000 automatic espresso machines. For pilots, this is heaven.
6. The HondaJet is too cool for me not to be flying it tomorrow. So my takeaway from the announcement that the program was being delayed by an exceedingly minor engine problem that had exceedingly large schedule implications was sad... because it means it’ll be longer until I get to fly it! It’s sexy, unusual, fast, and looks to be super fun to fly.
5. I chanced by the booth for Rocket Route, the Euro version of ForeFlight with a twist, and spent the next hour getting a download on their biz from the developers. In Europe ATC’s job seems to be to prevent little airplanes from being able to plan a flight. Rocket Route solves these problems by staying one step ahead of Eurocontrol and has, consequently, proven hugely successful. Look for a review on how they do it and why pilots are eating it up.
4. I got a bit of blowback from my blog last week in which I stated that the G650 was the best pure bizjet in the world. Steve Taylor, who heads up the Boeing Business Jet sales business, said he enjoyed my piece but disagreed with my conclusions. Which is a polite way of saying he thought I was full of it. I love the BBJ. It is cavernous, and you might think you’d died and gone to heaven if you got the chance to travel in the back of one, as I have had the opportunity to do. Then again, let’s face it, you’d be spending a lot more time in it than you would in the back of the G650, which “moseys” along at nine-tenths the speed of sound, long range.
3. I flew back from Geneva via United Airlines Failure Division, which has an impressive customer care culture, impressive in the fact that there’s no notion of customer or care. It took me two days, 13 hours at the airport on day one, five hours on the ramp in a perfectly still 777, and no offer of any kind of reimbursement, save the offer of an hour-and-a-half bus trip out of town for a cheap hotel (to return for my 6 a.m. flight the next morning). One of my Facebook friends said that the only thing United execs hate more than pilots are customers. The G650, unfortunately, was unavailable for my return flight.
2. I got in the mail a $200 speeding ticket from EBACE last year for going three mph over the limit in my rental car caught by a camera who knows where. I paid it, kept my receipt, made it through immigration this year and took the train this year instead of driving, figuring the conductor was responsible for any moving violations.
1. Flying will be back at EBACE next year. It might not be the biggest aviation show in the world — NBA . . . er . . . BACE is (see no. 10) — but EBACE is a great show for seeing new hardware, talking to the movers and shakers and experiencing the very real effect of globalization on business aviation. That, my friends, is a very good thing for all of us, no matter what growing pains we might encounter along the way. And did I mention the coffee?
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