Fractional VLJs?

 - July 25, 2007, 6:46 AM

Most of the fractional executives interviewed for this article were not optimistic that very light jets (VLJs) will enter the fractional fleet. Walter Kraujalis, an associate at aircraft broker Bloomer de Vere and president of JetRe, said, “If you can drive somewhere in two hours, then you’re going to drive there no matter how rich you are.” He further pointed out that a big question mark for VLJs is their wing loading and resulting handling in turbulence, as well as the overall market acceptability of the small jets.

NetJets president Bill Boisture and Flight Options chairman and CEO John Nahill were equally skeptical of VLJs in fractional programs. Boisture simply said that “the fractional business model would have to be changed for VLJs.” Nahill said he would consider selling shares in VLJs if “substantial demand exists to support their small cabin and limited range, which has not yet been answered.” He also noted that those hoping to build VLJs have aggressive operating assumptions, and that any successful frax program using VLJs would have to be regional due to the expected 1,000-nm NBAA IFR range of these small aircraft.

Shaircraft CEO James Butler is more bullish on VLJs in fractional service. “Very light jets are destined for regional fractional providers. These aircraft
will bring the costs down,” he said, “which will widen the reach of private air travel to more people, though it will still be available only for a small percentage of Americans.”