05/22/2011

Salon EBACE: an interesting week.

Once again, the week of EBACE showed up some interesting happenings. The Cessna aircraft company even flew a jet to Annemasse airport for the week.


EBACE, the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition, was held  in Palexpo, next to Geneva airport, last week from Tuesday 17 May to Thursday 19 May. With lots of new business-type aircraft on show, and with companies, or rich individuals, perhaps looking to replace old aircraft or simply buy new ones, it was certain that the list of arrivals and departures at the airport would include some interesting cases. I will describe some which were of particular interest.

N525CJ - Annemasse.jpgOne, however, did not directly involve Geneva airport. On the Monday afternoon a Cessna Citation 525B small jet aircraft, with US registration N525CJ, arrived from a direction slightly south of east, and lined up as if to land at Geneva on runway 05 (in over Vernier). However, when flying over Chancy, about 11 km from the airport, it veered right over Confignon and Lancy, then right again just after the end of the Salève hills, then did a U-turn to land on runway 30 (approximately 300° on the compass) at Annemasse airport. It stayed there until Friday, when it took off on the same runway, at right-angles to the Geneva airport runway. Just before there, it turned left over Chambésy (a nice view of the Jet d'eau!) and flew over Geneva before turning left over Bernex and heading in a SSE direction. Nice for any sight-seeing passengers!

I have long suspected that small jets could occasionally use Annemasse airport, but this has been impossible to verify because almost all such jets do not give out transponder messages including the GPS positional information. This one, perhaps being a very modern one, did give out such information. It also gave out speed and climb rate information showing that it climbed very rapidly after takeoff, suggesting that it was empty and probably not going very far.

Annemasse airport is pretty small, with a runway of about 1200 metres approximately North-East / South-West. It is unclear whether it could be used regularly by small jets: it seems that, for any particular aircraft, there is not a single definition of runway length required. Rather, the question is what, in view of the weather conditions and take-off weight, is the runway length required. We know that the small jets taking off in Geneva regularly start midway along the runway (thus increasing the noise over the areas just beyond the ends of the runway).

To come back to the happenings at Geneva airport, one of the unwelcome aspects was the number of take-offs of private Jet aircraft after 11pm. During the week there were four such take-offs: twice as many as those of Geneva-based regular airlines (one easyJet, one Brussels Airlines). This is an aspect that ARAG has regularly criticised, on the basis that such flights benefit a very small number of passengers but may inconvenience thousands of residents.

A visitor from Monaco was the Falcon 900EX registered as 3A-MGA, which paid a quick visit here on the Tuesday evening, and again on the Wednesday afternoon. This aircraft belonged to the Principality of Monaco, but may now have changed ownership (like aircraft registered in the Isle of Man, ownership of such aircraft is often hidden from view). Earlier this year, it was reported to have taken HRH Prince Albert II of Monaco to Blackpool to see Blackpool FC play Newcastle in the English Premier football league. Interestingly (as I write this on the Sunday), Blackpool will be playing their last game of the season at Manchester United this afternoon, hoping for a result which will stop them from being relegated.

A final curiosity is an aircraft registered as N777AS and using "00000000" as callsign: a sequence of eight zeros. This aircraft, which is a large and oldish Boeing 777, is believed to be used for private VIP flights by the Saudi-Arabian company Mid East Jet, based in Jeddah. This aircraft arrived in Geneva in the early evening of Thursday 19 May (the last day of EBACE), then left again at 10h41 pm that same evening. Being not the quietest of aircraft (noise class IV), this take-off made the loudest noise of the day in Versoix.

Next year, EBACE will be 8-10 May.

 

 

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