Aircraft management and charter company ProJet Aviation is planning a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new Jet Center at Leesburg (Va.) Executive Airport, near Washington, D.C., on June 2. Six corporate aircraft are already based at the facility, which features more than 25,000 sq ft of hangar and office space.
There are reasons for smiles among the staff at Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer, most notably the traction the company’s Embraer Executive Jets division has achieved.
The idea for what is now known as the ProJet started four years ago during a conversation between Carey Robinson Wolchok, then a principal at private equity group Aero-Equity, and Israel Aircraft Industries founder Al Schwimmer. That conversation was obviously influenced by the then recently announced Eclipse 500 very light jet, and a relationship was born.
The very light jet segment got a bit more crowded early last month when Westport, Conn.-based startup Avocet Aircraft and Israel Aircraft Industries publicly announced a partnership to develop a six- to eight-seat (including pilot) twinjet.
With certification of the first of the very light jets (VLJs) somewhere on the horizon, manufacturers and interior designers are giving considerable attention to the challenge of creating a big-jet environment in a small-jet cabin.
Currently, about half a dozen companies are working on VLJs, all of them borrowing to some extent from the field of automotive design and fabrication.
UltraJet, a membership-based charter company, has ordered 105 ProJets, the proposed very light twinjet from Westport, Conn.-based startup Avocet Aircraft, a U.S./Israeli joint venture. Announced at last month’s NBAA gathering in Orlando, the order is secured by a refundable deposit.
Personal jets, mini-jets, ultra-light jets, very light jets. The category has many names and now many contenders. But no company has yet brought a very light business jet to certification and production. Several programs that have been displayed over the years at past NBAA conventions, such as the Alberta Phoenix FanJet and Century Aerospace Century Jet, are now “on the shelf” and may stay there forever.
Flight testing of the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW615F–the engine Cessna selected for the Citation Mustang–got under way in Wichita on April 27. In an unusual move, initial flight testing is being conducted by Cessna on its own CitationJet testbed instead of aboard the engine manufacturer’s test aircraft.
Israel Aircraft Industries has contracted Forecast International of Newtown, Conn., to help define the future market for its proposed six- to eight-place, twin-turbine Avocet/IAI ProJet. The 20-question survey asked NBAA members to comment on the viability of the very light jet market and to rate the performance and price goals of the ProJet.
Israel Aircraft Industries of Tel Aviv and Avocet Aircraft of Westport, Conn., are within weeks of finalizing their definitive partnership agreement on the development, certification and production of the proposed very light ProJet, according to Avocet CEO David Tait. Since announcing the $2 million business jet last August, the companies have said little about the project.
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