Eclipse Aviation is now putting the finishing touches on its very light jet (VLJ) pilot training program. Planned in coordination with the United Services division of United Airlines, the program will bring a different philosophy and a marked change of emphasis to bear on flight training as we have known it in the past.
Very light jets
Colorado-based Excel Jet selected the 1,500-pound-thrust FJ33-4A turbofan for the single-engine Sport-Jet. Previously, Excel Jet said the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW615F would power the very light jet.
The Cessna Citation Mustang prototype made its first flight from McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita on April 23 at 10:26 a.m. CDT. Test pilots Scotty Jergenson and Dave Bonifield flew the very light jet (VLJ) on a 2.5-hour mission, climbing to 11,000 feet, where the airplane underwent various stability and control tests, including cycling of the landing gear, flaps and speed brakes. The flight concluded at 12:47 p.m.
It was a close race, but in the end Brazilian airplane builder Embraer chose the Garmin G1000 avionics system for the company’s in-development very light jet and light jet, now known officially as the Phenom 100 and 300.
Adam Aircraft’s A700 VLJ is “moving along swiftly,” company president Joe Walker said last month at the NBAA Convention. Orders for the $2.25 million A700, as of September 30, stood at 282 aircraft, including 57 individual sales, 75 for air-limo start-up Pogo and 150 for other undisclosed air-limo operators. Certification of the A700 is on track for the fourth quarter of next year, Walker said.
First flight of Diamond Aircraft’s D-Jet has apparently slipped from this past October to sometime next year, according to the company’s Web site. A Diamond spokesman did not return repeated telephone calls seeking a reason for the delay in the very light jet’s progress. One press report from the AOPA Convention last month quoted a company representative saying that the D-Jet would fly in March.
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Start-up Spectrum Aeronautical of Encinitas, Calif., joined the crowded very light jet segment last month when it unveiled a nine-seat, $3.65 million all-composite VLJ at the NBAA Convention. Managing director Linden Blue (known to many as the father of the Beech Starship) bills the 7,300-pound-mtow Spectrum 33–powered by a pair of Williams International FJ33 engines–as a “full-size airplane at half the weight.”
The prospect of marginally qualified pilots hurtling through the rarefied atmosphere of the flight levels in very light jets and promoting fear and loathing in the heavy-metal professionals–which is how some people view the imminent advent of the “Volksjet” era–has been a topic of lively debate of late, and no surprise to Eclipse Aviation founder, president and CEO Vern Raburn.