For the very elite, a BBJ could be considered a personal jet. But for most owner-pilots, the term “personal jet” conjures up visions of something considerably smaller, perhaps even fighter-like. Interestingly, George Bye’s vision of a personal jet grew out of a course in advanced aerodynamics he taught to budding fighter pilots at Sheppard AFB in the 1980s. “The Javelin is the fighter we used in the course,” he told AIN. “It has elements of the T-38, F/A-18 and Advanced Tactical Fighter, which became the F-22. However, it included elements that are too complex for a commercial design, such as fly-by-wire controls and a small canard. It was also 50 percent larger than the design we’re developing now.” But while teaching the course, he had no thought of a commercial airplane.
Bye left the Air Force after Desert Storm. “I soon noticed two things,” he said, “emerging technologies, such as wide-sweep fan turbine engines and digital avionics; and the dearth of anything in the commercial market with the performance of the Javelin.” In 1996 he began talking with other aeronautical engineers and financial people about developing an executive sport jet, and in March 1997 the privately funded Aviation Technology Group, based in Englewood, Colo., was founded. Of financing, Bye, now ATG president, would say only that the company is “more than adequately funded for the current engineering work” and that an announcement of additional financing may be forthcoming soon. The company was incorporated in Delaware in June last year.
Computational fluid dynamics analyses over the last three or four months indicate that the two-seat, twin-engine Javelin in its present design could achieve a top speed of Mach 0.96, a Mach 0.92 normal cruise and a Mach 0.89 economy cruise, said Bye. Other performance estimates include a 51,000-ft ceiling, a maximum range of 1,500 nm, a rate of climb of 13,800 fpm steady state (23,000 fpm unrestricted) and a landing-configured stall speed of 95 kt. Specifications include max fuel, 220 gal; cargo, 200 lb (in a 2- by 6-ft unpressurized baggage compartment between the engine intakes); wing loading, 46 lb per sq ft; leading-edge sweep, 40 deg; height, 10 ft 6 in.; length, 33 ft 5 in.; and wingspan, 20 ft.
Engine selection is pending, but with 3,000 lb of total thrust required, the only available engine at this time is the Williams FJ33 turbofan, rated at 1,500 lb of thrust. Avionics selection is also farther down the road. “With the tremendous advancements in avionics over the last few years, what appears to be the front runner now could be at the back of the pack in a few months. We have about one-and-a-half years before we have to make a decision on the avionics, so it makes sense to wait,” said Bye. All major components will be manufactured by other companies, with ATG doing the final assembly. First flight is anticipated in November next year, certification to Part 23 in late 2003 and first deliveries in early 2004. The flight-test program will involve three aircraft and take 1,000 to 1,400 flight hours, Bye estimated.
The company is taking refundable $25,000 deposits for production aircraft, but Bye would not give numbers of orders other than to say that the company has received about 95 requests for agreements. In addition to owner-flown operations, he envisions the airplane being used for air courier service, fractional-ownership operations, charter, fast freight, military advance training and other military applications. ATG’s Web site is www.avtechgroup.com.