It’s an unusual fact that, unlike just about any other marketable items, very light jets (VLJs), alcohol and tobacco share one unique characteristic. Even if you have the money, the seller can refuse to sell them to you if you’re not qualified. What’s more, those qualifications are all based on time, measured in years for would-be drinkers and smokers, and in left-seat hours for would-be VLJ pilots. Of course, this is as it should be.
It was 25 years ago last month that New York Yankees team captain Thurman Munson was killed in the crash of his Cessna Citation I. The accident remains one of the most significant in general aviation, especially among those who fly their own turbine-powered aircraft for business, pleasure or both.
According to the National Business Travel Association, U.S. businesses spend $29 billion a year for approximately 65 million trips on the airlines. But with airlines reducing flights from non-hub airports by 19 percent last year, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for some employees to get from Point A to B using the airlines.
With very light jets (VLJs) expected to enter service by this time next year, turboprop singles are now meeting the contender face-to-face in the marketplace. It was bound to happen, given that the two different classes of airplane have similar range capabilities, cabin volume and acquisition costs.
Eclipse Aviation of Albuquerque, N.M., increased the price of its Eclipse 500 very light twinjet to $1.295 million (in 2000 dollars), a jump of $120,000 over the previous tag. The new price is still less than that of any of the other very light twinjets under development.
The first public flight exhibition for the Eclipse 500 very light jet is planned on July 27 during the annual EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis., from July 25 to 31. “We think Oshkosh is the perfect showcase, because of its huge audience and reputation for fostering innovations,” said Eclipse Aviation president and CEO Vern Raburn.
Embraer, which has sustained a presence in the business aviation market with the Legacy, a corporate version of its ERJ 135 regional jet, last month announced two clean-sheet additions to its business jet portfolio–a light jet and a very light jet (VLJ).
Former Raytheon Aircraft v-p of operations Paul Schumacher has joined Eclipse Aviation in Albuquerque, N.M., as v-p of manufacturing. He will lead the primary assembly team for the Eclipse 500 very light twinjet, which Eclipse said at press time would receive full type certification “shortly.” Meanwhile, its powerplant, the P&WC PW610F, received FAA certification on August 23.
Eclipse Aviation selected Opinicus of Clearwater, Fla., to be the exclusive supplier of flight-training devices and simulators for the Eclipse 500 very light jet (VLJ). The first Eclipse 500 simulator is scheduled to be delivered to Eclipse training partner United Airlines Flight Training Center in Denver early next year, coinciding with the expected FAA certification of the VLJ.
Eclipse Aviation’s fourth conforming Eclipse 500–and the first of its two beta-test jets–joined the flight-test fleet last month. As the company’s certification program advances, the two beta-test aircraft will be tested under accelerated usage conditions to ensure reliability and functionality before first customer deliveries next spring.