The stock market is on the upswing, initial public offerings were up this year for the first time since 2000 and the business aviation industry is recovering, but finding investment capital continues to be the biggest obstacle for companies hoping to bring new turbine business airplanes to the market. And for good reason–the last start-up company to build, certify and deliver a business jet was Learjet in 1964.
Call them what you want–very light jets (VLJs), compact jets, minijets, microjets, personal jets or even Barbie jets–they’re no longer “paper” airplanes. First deliveries of certified VLJs are less than a year away, if Eclipse Aviation adheres to its plan to begin deliveries of its Model 500 next March.
For this year’s look in the crystal ball, AIN added a number of aircraft to the list to reflect ongoing programs more accurately. While many of these aircraft are derivative and not original certifications, they are still new and deserve to be counted.
The Diamond D-Jet (S/N 001) single-engine very light jet flew for the first time on Tuesday afternoon from London International Airport, Ontario, home of Diamond’s North American division.
The good news is that the single-engine Diamond D-Jet is getting a parachute recovery system from St. Paul, Minn.-based Ballistic Recovery Systems. But the bad news is that Diamond has raised the aircraft’s price from less than $1 million to $1.36 million, nudging the $1.5 million tag for the Eclipse 500 very light twinjet. The increase is due to the manufacturer including previously optional items as standard equipment.
Airline Transport Professionals (ATP), a Jacksonville, Fla.-based organization that provides advanced pilot training at 23 flight schools nationwide, reported at AOPA Expo yesterday that it purchased 20 Diamond D-Jets and five Diamond flight training devices. In addition, Diamond Aircraft and ATP formed a partnership in which ATP will provide factory-approved initial type ratings and recurrent training on the single-engine very light jet.
Peter Mauer, president of Diamond Aircraft’s North American division, last month said components of the single-engine Diamond D-Jet were taking shape in anticipation of an October first flight. At press time, the fuselage, wing spars and skins, and vertical fin and horizontal tail for the first nonconforming prototype were complete at Diamond’s Wiener Neustadt, Austria headquarters.
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.
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.