Like the overall U.S. economy, the business aviation industry is still exceptionally strong, as reflected by the healthy number of new business aircraft in the works. There are now 31 business jets in development, in flight-test or certified within the last 12 months.
Many of the new aircraft are clean-sheet designs, which typically consume more money and time than derivatives, further illustrating the faith manufacturers (and would-be manufacturers) have in the market. Although these all-new designs tend to delay schedules at established and start-up manufacturers alike, start-ups are more vulnerable to these delays because funding can run out. Fortunately, funding for aviation start-ups is becoming easier to find, though this turnaround came too late for Avocet Aircraft, which folded earlier this year.
Further broadening the business aviation market are the very light jets (VLJs). Last month the Cessna Citation Mustang took the checkered flag in the certification race by earning a full type certificate lacking only approval for flight into known icing, while Eclipse is still working feverishly to advance beyond the “provisional certification” it trumpeted at AirVenture Oshkosh earlier in the summer. No doubt, the service entry of VLJs will be an important event for business aviation, given their low entry prices and proposed innovative applications such as air-limo service.
Not included in this report are aircraft programs put on hold or those
that have made no measurable progress in the past year. In this report, AIN presents an overview of the latest business jet designs, including those
certified in the last year, in flight-test or in development.
A700–Adam Aircraft is optimistic that its A700 very light jet will receive FAA certification early next year. The A700 shares 65-percent commonality with Adam’s A500 centerline-thrust piston twin, which obtained FAA approval last May. Of the 250 FAA certification reports required for A700 approval, 75 are exact copies of those already submitted and approved for the A500; 100 are modified A500 reports; and 75 are all-new reports.
Three A700s are now flying, with a fourth–the first one destined to be delivered to a customer–expected to come online late this year or early next year. This fourth aircraft will be used to conduct function and reliability testing.
The next delivery slot for one of the $2.25 million cabin-class VLJs is the second quarter of 2008. Adam has firm orders for 276 A700s, of which 65 are for individual customers and 212 are for fleet operators (including the order for 75 aircraft from air-limo hopeful Pogo).
In late August, Adam Aircraft announced that it completed a $93 million funding round led by new investor DCM, a venture capital firm. The start-up manufacturer plans to use the new capital to accelerate certification of its A700.
Aerion SSBJ–Aerion continues on track with development efforts for its supersonic business jet. High-speed testing on the Aerion supersonic natural-laminar-flow wing was expected last month by using a rocket sled to achieve the necessary Mach 1.5 test speed.
The company also continues to make minor refinements to the SSBJ design, with likely updates on this front expected this month at the NBAA Convention. Aerion expects to announce more consortium partners next year.
Certification of the Aerion SSBJ is slated for early next decade, with the 4,000+-nm, Mach 1.6 airplane expected to enter service in 2011. An official program launch could also be announced at the NBAA show later this month.
A318 Elite–Airbus last fall introduced the A318 Elite as the “entry level” aircraft in its executive/VIP line. It has said the bizliner will compete with the Gulfstream G450, Bombardier Global 5000 and Dassault Falcon 900EX, though the A318 Elite’s 5,300 cu ft of interior cabin volume is more than twice that of its intended competition.
Built on a truncated A319 platform (the Airbus Corporate Jetliner is based on the A319), the Elite is aimed at the medium-range market for flights up to 4,000 nm, such as from New York to London or from Europe to some Asian and Middle East destinations. The twinjet will be certified for Category IIIb operations and will feature the Thales head-up display (HUD) with an enhanced-vision system (EVS).
Customers will have a choice of two engines–the CFM56-5B9 or the Pratt & Whitney PW6124. According to Airbus, the $45 million Elite will have operating costs of between $2,500 and $3,000 per hour. Airbus and Lufthansa Technik are working to develop “total care packages” for A318 Elite customers.
In July, Airbus announced that the A318 Elite would be certified for steep approaches. Certification and deliveries are scheduled by year-end.
Aviation Technology Group
Javelin–Aviation Technology Group earlier this year announced several design changes to its two-place Javelin twinjet, including an increase in wing size, enhancement of wing high-lift devices and improvement of the canopy opening mechanism. Englewood, Colo.-based ATG anticipates that these will be the last major changes to the Javelin design, as the company is freezing its configuration to enable suppliers to start building production airframe parts.
To reduce the stall speed, ATG increased the Williams FJ33-powered twinjet’s wingspan by 1.85 feet and the wing area by 29 sq ft. The wings were further enhanced with Fowler flaps and leading-edge flaps. The company expects these wing improvements to yield a five- to seven-knot reduction in stall speed, to 90 knots.
ATG engineers also selected an aft-hinged canopy mechanism to replace the less conventional side-opening arrangement. According to the company, removal of the side hinges gives the new canopy a more aerodynamic profile, enables open-canopy ground operations in wind speeds of up to 40 knots and allows Javelin pilots to taxi with improved visibility and cockpit ventilation. The new canopy also features a gas spring and electric motor combination, which will allow pilots to open and close the canopy with the push of a button.
ATG said changes to the wing and canopy have raised the mtow to 6,900 pounds (from 6,200 pounds, an increase of more than 10 percent) and decreased cruise speed from 520 knots to 500 knots. Certification of the $2.795 million Javelin is pegged for late 2008.
Boeing Business Jets
BBJ3–Boeing launched the largest Boeing Business Jet in the line last year at the Dubai airshow. Based on the 737-900ER, the $64 million BBJ3 will have a max range, with five auxiliary fuel tanks, of 5,365 nm. Its 1,120-sq-ft cabin area is 35 percent more than that of the BBJ and 11 percent larger than the BBJ2’s.
The next-generation 737-900ER first flew early last month, and certification is expected early next year. BBJ3 versions will be slotted into the production line as orders dictate.
The formal announcement of the BBJ3 at the Dubai airshow was no accident–more than a quarter of the worldwide BBJ fleet is based in the Middle East, and the majority of BBJ2s sold are going to Middle Eastern customers.
Challenger 605–From the outside, the Challenger 605 is virtually identical to the Challenger 604, which the newer model is replacing. But on the inside there are major changes–from the avionics upgrade to an aft lavatory redesign.
In the flight deck, the Rockwell Collins Pro Line 4 gives way to a state-of-the-art Pro Line 21 avionics suite with four 10- by 12-inch LCD screens. Another new cockpit feature is a side console touchscreen that can display Jeppesen e-charts and Airshow information, as well as provide a backup for cabin lighting, telecommunication and water systems control and cabin entertainment.
The 605’s cabin offers passengers a much cleaner look, in addition to larger windows with a wider viewing angle. Adding to the cabin environment is LED upwash/downwash lighting and a cabin entertainment system based on Collins’s Airshow 21.
Despite the interior changes, there is little movement in the aircraft’s weight or performance. However, Bombardier expects that the upgrades will improve dispatch reliability, which the company claims is already 99.8 percent.
Learjet 60XR–The Learjet 60XR represents a considerable improvement in avionics over the Learjet 60, with a four-screen Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 system replacing the Pro Line 4. The avionics upgrade resulted in a weight saving of about 60 pounds, though changes in the cabin might negate that gain.
The 60XR’s upgraded cabin comes in four basic configurations, from a six-passenger executive layout to an eight-passenger high-density floorplan. Other improvements include LED upwash/downwash cabin lighting and moving the galley from its location across from the cabin door to one that is adjacent to the door. The new cabin design also includes a window in the lav, and the larger vanity cabinet offers storage and a convenient location for audio/video equipment.
CJ2+–Unveiled at the 2004 NBAA show, the CJ2+ improves upon the CJ2. The $5.745 million twinjet comes with the newer version of the Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 integrated avionics system, in addition to other improvements. The CJ2+ received FAA certification last fall, and deliveries began earlier this year.
Its upgraded Williams-Rolls FJ44-3A-24 turbofans offer better hot-and-high performance and improved efficiency over the original CJ2’s 2,400-pound-thrust FJ44-2C turbofans. The -24 variant is a derated, 2,400-pound-thrust version of the engine found on the CJ3. Other improvements include beefier brakes on the CJ2+.
Citation Encore+–The Encore+, the latest edition of Cessna’s venerable Citation V, was announced at last year’s NBAA Convention. According to the Wichita-based manufacturer, the derivative includes improvements based on customer input to make the aircraft more efficient and reliable.
A pair of FADEC-equipped Pratt & Whitney Canada PW535Bs power the Encore+, which has been in flight-test since March 22. While the engines don’t offer any additional thrust over the Encore’s PW535As, the FADEC powerplants are gentler on the engine’s internal components, especially the igniter, thereby increasing aircraft reliability.
The most dramatic change on the $8.086 million Encore+ is the switch from its predecessor’s Honeywell Primus 1000 avionics to the Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 system. Program manager Joe Hepburn said the avionics setup is nearly identical to that found in the CJ1+, CJ2+ and CJ3, easing pilot transition from the smaller jets to the Encore+. However, the Encore+ will come standard with several avionics functions that are options on the CJ series.
FAA approval of the Encore+ is expected by year-end.
Citation Mustang–Cessna took the checkered flag in the race to be first to certify a very light jet when it obtained FAA certification of its $2.6 million Mustang twinjet on September 8. The approval is a full type certificate minus only flight into known icing, which at press time Cessna expected to achieve “in a few weeks.” It is not unusual for OEMs to certify an aircraft without the icing approval and then later conduct the required tests to allow such operations as the icing season arrives. EASA approval is expected in the second quarter of next year.
Cessna said the TC includes approval for single-pilot operation, day/night and VFR/IFR operations and reduced vertical separation minimums (RVSM). The Mustang approval also covers GPS WAAS on the Garmin G1000 avionics suite, as well as a new feature called SafeTaxi, which provides on the multifunction display a graphical representation of the aircraft’s ground position in the airport environment. According to Cessna, the G1000-equipped Citation Mustang is one of the first aircraft certified to take advantage of WAAS navigation features, including lateral performance with vertical guidance approach and WAAS vertical navigation.
Cessna said the Mustang airframe, designed for an unlimited lifetime, was subjected to more than 300 test conditions during 14 months of static testing, including 23 major airframe conditions. It was also successfully tested to five airframe lifetimes, well past the two lifetimes the FAA requires.
Cessna and FlightSafety International (FSI) at press time were completing the training syllabus and flight manuals, in addition to finishing work on the first Mustang full-motion simulator at FSI’s Wichita learning center. A second full-motion simulator is on track to be installed at FSI’s facility in Farnborough, UK, next year.
Falcon 7X–The Falcon 7X flight-test program is progressing on schedule, with four of the trijets logging nearly 1,000 flight hours to date. Certification flights with the EASA have begun and will be completed by year-end, to be followed by final certification and first deliveries early next year. As a further mark of progress, Falcon 7X S/N 04 joined the test fleet in late July.
Dassault’s engineers have validated several Falcon 7X improvements announced last year–such as increased mtow, engine thrust, fuel capacity and winglets–that increase range to 5,950 nm from 5,700 nm. The French manufacturer also increased the trijet’s mtow by 10 percent, to 69,000 pounds, and the payload capacity with full fuel has been increased to 2,988 pounds. Additionally, the basic operating weight has been increased to 34,469 pounds.
Earlier this year, Dassault expanded the 7X’s flight envelope fully to Mach 0.93 and FL510. Dassault said the tests validated aircraft performance through the entire c.g. envelope and 69,000-pound mtow. Additionally, the airplane’s flight-control handling has been tested in normal, alternate and direct fly-by-wire using the system’s flight-control laws.
Falcon 7X S/N 02 in May completed 35 hours of testing in natural icing conditions. This testing, which validated the wing, engine and windshield anti-icing systems, subjected the aircraft to severe icing conditions during which it accumulated three inches of ice, as measured on a test probe. Flight testing with artificial ice shapes on S/N 01 proved that aircraft handling is satisfactory with icing on unprotected portions of the airframe and during a simulated failure of the wing anti-ice system.
In April, S/N 02 successfully completed five days of cold-soak trials in Northern Canada. Temperatures reached as low as -33 degrees C during the campaign, which ran from April 6 to April 10. Meanwhile, S/N 03 completed contaminated-runway testing in early July.
In late July, the design successfully completed static and fatigue testing after the test article had undergone 40,000 cycles (two lifetimes) and tolerated the 150-percent wing limit load.
More than 40 Falcon 7Xs are in various stages of production at Dassault’s Merignac production facility. Dassault said it has firm orders for more than 80 copies of the $39.2 million trijet.
Falcon 900DX–This $31.95 million trijet, launched in May 2004 at the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition and certified last November, supersedes the Falcon 900C.
According to Dassault, the 900DX can fly more than 4,100 nm (200 nm more than the -C) with the larger cabin of the 4,500-nm 900EX. This range enables the 900DX to fly nonstop between such city pairs as Geneva and Detroit, New York and Athens or Chicago and Rome.
Like the 7X, the 900DX sports the Honeywell/Dassault EASy flight deck. Other features of the 900DX include a more efficient version of the Honeywell TFE731-60 engine, lightened structures and several system modifications. In addition, the new -DX will have better short-field performance than the 900EX.
Falcon 2000DX–The 2000DX, which will replace the 2000, is essentially a shorter-range version of the 3,800-nm 2000EX. The $25.55 million Falcon 2000DX, with its 3,250-nm range (250 nm more than the Falcon 2000), is targeted at customers who operate shorter-range trips but want the comfort and performance of a large-cabin airplane.
Among its capabilities, the 2000DX will be able to climb directly to 41,000 feet in 17 minutes. It will also feature an EASy cockpit. First flight is planned for the second half of next year, with certification and first deliveries expected by 2008.
D-Jet–The Diamond D-Jet (S/N 001) single-engine very light jet flew for the first time on April 18 from London International Airport in Ontario, Canada, home of Diamond’s North American division. After initial flight-testing in late April, the D-Jet underwent installation of its data acquisition system and minor modifications to the engine inlet fairings before flight-testing resumed. In a series of flight-tests conducted in late June, the speed and altitude envelopes were progressively expanded from 170 knots and 12,000 feet to more than 280 knots and 25,000 feet.
The five-seat Williams FJ33-4-powered jet’s preliminary specifications include a 5,071-pound mtow, 315-knot max cruise speed, 25,000-foot ceiling and a 1,351-nm range. The D-Jet will come standard with a three-screen Garmin G1000 avionics system.
In late July, Diamond announced that the single-engine Diamond D-Jet is getting a parachute recovery system from St. Paul, Minn.-based Ballistic Recovery Systems. BRS officials said the initial system is expected to operate at airspeeds and altitudes that would allow a safe recovery of the D-Jet and its occupants after engine failure or a low-altitude emergency.
The safety system will eventually be expanded to accommodate secondary features that would allow high-speed and high-altitude recoveries, which occur infrequently and also are difficult to execute, BRS said.
Certification of the D-Jet has slipped from late next year to the second quarter of 2008. Additionally, the jet’s price has climbed to $1.36 million due to the manufacturer’s including previously optional items as standard equipment. Diamond claims orders for some 125 D-Jets.
Eclipse 500–While Albuquerque, N.M.-based Eclipse announced FAA provisional certification of its Eclipse 500 on July 27 at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis., at press time it had yet to receive “initial” FAA type certification. The FAA defines provisional certification as an “intent to certify soon,” meaning it is not actual certification under which aircraft could be delivered to customers. Eclipse had hoped to receive type certification for the Eclipse 500 by August 30, but that deadline came and went.
According to the start-up company, the initial TC will include day/night, VFR/IFR, single-pilot and RVSM operations, though the Eclipse’s initial avionics functionality will be limited. Eclipse said the FMS, moving map, weather radar and GPS WAAS functions for its Avio avionics system are expected to be available this month, while autothrottle, e-checklists, TCAS, TAWS and satellite weather software won’t be ready for another five to 11 months. The company named Avidyne, as well as Meggitt, as the cause of the avionics functionality setbacks.
Additionally, Eclipse is changing its VLJ’s tip tanks from composite construction to aluminum, increasing their fuel capacity from seven gallons to 19.5 gallons per side. The composite tanks had failed lightning-strike tests, prompting the switch.
The NBAA IFR range at high-speed cruise with the original tip tanks is 1,055 nm but increases to 1,125 nm with the new tanks. This increased range still falls short of the guaranteed 1,280 nm, though the small jet’s high-speed cruise has been increased to 370 knots. Eclipse says it holds orders and options for more than 2,500 of the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW610F-powered twinjets.
Phenom 100–This summer Embraer cut the first metal for its Phenom 100 very light jet, and now the jet is well under construction. First flight is scheduled for the first quarter of next year, with certification of the $2.85 million twinjet planned for mid-2008.
According to Embraer, the main structure of the Phenom 100, and the larger Phenom 300 derivative, will be built from aluminum alloy and the secondary surfaces from composite materials, contributing significantly to the light weight of the aircraft. Final assembly, interior completion, painting and flight-testing of the Phenom jets will take place at Embraer’s Gavião Peixoto facility.
As of June 1, the price of the eight-seat, 1,160-nm (four occupants) very light twinjet increased to $2.85 million from $2.75 million. Embraer said it has orders for 325 Phenoms, which includes both the Phenom 100 and 300.
Phenom 300–Announced in May last year, Embraer’s light jet–slated to fly in the first half of 2008 and enter service in mid-2009–will compete directly with the Cessna CJ3 and Encore+, Raytheon Premier I and Hawker 400XP, and Learjet 40. The nine-seat, swept-wing light jet will be powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW535Es flat-rated at 3,200 pounds of thrust.
Carrying six people, the $6.65 million airplane will have an 1,800-nm NBAA IFR range at Mach 0.78. The light jet will have a high-speed cruise of 450 knots, 45,000-foot ceiling and 3,700-foot balanced field length. Embraer’s light jet will share the same cabin width and height as the Phenom 100, its VLJ sibling, though the overall cabin will be smaller than the Premier I’s and the same size as the Learjet 40’s.
Lineage 1000–Embraer this spring expanded its line of business jets with the introduction of the Lineage 1000 derived from its fly-by-wire E190 airliner. The $40.95 million large-cabin business aircraft is expected to enter service in mid-2008.
The 4,200-nm Lineage 1000– which Embraer dubs an “ultra-large” business jet–will seat 13 to 19 passengers in a cabin that can be split into five zones. Cabin options include a full-size bed and a stand-up shower.
With a mtow of 121,252 pounds, the Lineage will be slightly heavier than the Embraer E190–closer, in fact, to the weight of the 118-seat E195 airliner. The Lineage’s 615-cu-ft baggage compartment will be positioned above the floor level to make space for additional fuel tanks below.
Demand for the Lineage 1000 is expected to come from a customer base that includes wealthy individuals, government officials, scheduled/branded executive charter operators and corporate shuttle operations.
The Lineage 1000 will be powered by two 18,500-pound-thrust GE CF34-10E7 engines and feature a five-screen Honeywell Primus Epic integrated avionics suite. It will have a maximum operating speed of Mach 0.82 and a ceiling of 41,000 feet. According to Embraer, the Lineage 1000 platform is designed for quick turnaround, top performance, high utilization and low maintenance.
EV-20–The twinjet derivative of the former VisionAire Vantage is progressing, though not quite as quickly as the company previously expected. First flight has been delayed from this past February to late this year, though the critical design review was completed earlier this year. Construction of a conforming airplane at Eviation’s São José dos Campos, Brazil, facility is currently under way. Brazilian certification is now estimated to occur late next year, with reciprocal FAA approval to follow shortly thereafter.
Wind-tunnel tests prompted Eviation to alter the tail to a T-tail configuration. The price of the EV-20 has jumped from about $2.25 million to $2.95 million. According to Eviation officials, the company is partially funded through certification and is still seeking investors.
Sport-Jet–The sole Sport-Jet prototype crashed while taking off from Colorado Springs Airport late last year. According to the NTSB, the single-engine VLJ
was substantially damaged–“both landing-gear assemblies separated, the left wing was crushed and bent aft at midspan and the horizontal stabilizer was crushed.” Fortunately, pilot James Stewart and mechanic John Welty received only minor injuries.
Tower controllers told the NTSB that “the airplane departed [11,022-foot-long] Runway 17R, became airborne only momentarily, and then impacted the runway and surrounding terrain.” Several witnesses reported that at approximately 15 feet above the ground, “the airplane rolled hard to the left and began to cartwheel down the runway.” The airplane came to rest 3,000 feet down the runway.
Bob Bornhofen, president of Excel-Jet (developer of the Sport-Jet), hasn’t yet said how this accident would affect the Sport-Jet program or its planned mid-2008 certification, but the company “has suspended work” until further notice. The VLJ had logged 25 hours since first flying in mid-May.
G180 SPn Utility Jet–Tussenhausen, Germany-based Grob unveiled its very first jet at the Paris Air Show last year. The $7.1 million (?$5.8 million), 10-seat jet is the company’s first foray into turbofan-powered aircraft. The light jet, which is powered by a pair of 2,800-pound-thrust Williams FJ44-3A turbofans, flew just one month after the airplane was publicly announced.
Grob says its all-composite twinjet “combines the performance and passenger comfort of a light business jet with the operational versatility of a turboprop.” The 13,889-pound-mtow SPn will have a range of 1,800 nm with six passengers and a maximum payload of 2,491 pounds. Its normal cruise speed will be 375 knots, rising to a max cruise of 407 knots.
The aircraft’s flight deck will include a Honeywell Apex integrated avionics suite complete with two 15-inch LCD primary flight displays, two 10-inch multifunction displays, TAWS and EGPWS.
EASA certification–under Part 23 commuter rules–is expected in the first quarter of next year, with FAA certification and first deliveries slated for next summer.
G150–Gulfstream unveiled this $15.5 million derivative of the G100 (formerly the Astra SPX) at the 2002 NBAA Convention to replace its light jet sibling. The Gulfstream twinjet was certified in November last year, though the first completed G150 didn’t enter service until this past August.
Surprisingly, the G150 has longer legs and lower weight than the company had originally projected. In addition, the aircraft’s required balanced field length has been reduced by 830 feet from the initial estimate.
When the G150 was rolled out in Tel Aviv on January 18 last year, the maximum range with four passengers and two crew was pegged at 2,700 nm at Mach 0.75. Drag-reduction efforts by builder Israel Aircraft Industries stretched that range to 2,950 nm.
Gulfstream won’t reveal its backlog for the twinjet, though fractional operator NetJets has placed a firm order for 50 G150s and has options on 50 more.
HondaJet–Two weeks after Honda revealed its long-gestating commercial plans for the HondaJet on July 25, the Japanese company established a wholly owned subsidiary–Honda Aircraft–that will develop, market and produce the engine-over-the-wing very light twinjet. The new company will be based at Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro, N.C., where the HondaJet prototype was assembled and has been flying since Dec. 3, 2003.
Honda Aircraft will begin taking orders for the composite-fuselage, aluminum-wing airplane at the NBAA Convention this month. Honda officials said the HondaJet will cost less than $4 million, though it has declined thus far to provide an exact price. The company is expected to reveal more details about the HondaJet, including its price, at the NBAA Convention.
Honda Aircraft plans soon to develop a production version of the HondaJet so it can pursue both type and production certification in 2009 or 2010. The jet will be certified under FAR Part 23.
The Greensboro-based subsidiary will also manage Honda’s new alliance with Piper Aircraft, under which the two companies will collaborate on sales and service. Honda said the goal of this alliance is “to provide a new level of sales and service to meet the needs of jet customers, with the goal of setting a higher standard for the quality of the ownership experience.”
The seven-seat HondaJet prototype has logged nearly 300 hours during flight-testing and has been flown to FL430 and 412 knots. According to Honda, the airplane is “on course” to meet or exceed all of its design specifications.
Foxjet–Tony Fox, the 84-year-old entrepreneur some credit with being the father of the very light jet, in May sold the 1970s-era Foxjet design to start-up Millennium Aerospace of California. The six-seat, 1,400-nm Foxjet was announced in 1977, but it was shelved in the early 1980s when the U.S. Air Force selected its Williams WR44-800 fanjet (the predecessor to the now-certified FJ44) for an air-launched cruise missile and the government denied any nonmilitary use of the engine. When a suitable high-bypass fanjet became available again, Fox did not have the time or financial resources to supervise the airplane project.
Now, Fox is “convinced” that Millennium Aerospace has what it takes to get the very light jet airborne. He has agreed to serve as a consultant as the Foxjet moves toward certification.
“The Foxjet practically defines the very light jet category, and we expect it to appeal to a large part of that new market,” noted Millennium Aerospace president Robert Swanson. “One thing we won’t change is the name. Foxjet is a catchy name, and more important, we consider it a fitting, permanent tribute to Tony Fox, whose vision was years ahead of the industry.”
Millennium is refining some systems and evaluating the current engine and avionics offerings for the revived aircraft. Engines under consideration are the Williams FJ33/FJ44, Pratt & Whitney Canada PW600 series and the GE-Honda HF118.
“We have teams working in parallel on some minor refinements of the airframe, incorporation of a new powerplant, a new instrument panel, a new interior by an internationally renowned design house and a new paint scheme,” Swanson told AIN last month.
“At the same time, we have narrowed our search for a home for the manufacturing plant and expect to make a commitment on that in three to four months. We’ll break ground a few months thereafter, though the certification prototypes will be flying before then. The manufacturing facility should be completed at the same time we achieve certification.”
Swanson said his company has taken a few Foxjet orders, though Millennium will begin marketing and “serious” order-taking after the NBAA show. Millennium has not yet released any price estimates for the Foxjet.
Hawker 4000–On May 31, Raytheon Aircraft reached the FAA’s five-year time limit for certification of the Hawker 4000 (née Horizon) under Part 25 amendments that existed at the time of the type certification application. In anticipation of not receiving type certification before the deadline, Raytheon applied for an extension on May 11, and early last month the FAA granted an extension of seven months, to December 31.
After busting the five-year limit, the company faced the possibility of having to comply with all Part 25 amendments adopted between the May 31, 2001, certification application date and the application date for the deadline extension. Although Raytheon Aircraft has dodged that bullet, the extension does not relieve the company of ensuring that the Hawker 4000 complies with Part 25 amendments adopted between May 31, 2001, and Dec. 31, 2001, a period that introduced stricter fuel-tank and hydraulic regulations.
Raytheon Aircraft said the super-midsize Hawker 4000 completed function and reliability testing on May 26, though the manufacturer is still working with the FAA “to finalize the required documentation that will allow the FAA to issue the type certification.” The agency granted provisional certification for the Hawker 4000 on Dec. 23, 2004. Raytheon says certification will be achieved by year-end.
Performance specifications for the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW308A-powered twinjet include a 470-knot high cruise speed, 3,341-nm NBAA IFR range (two crew and six passengers) and a 4,509-foot balanced field length (at its 37,500-pound mtow and ISA sea level conditions).
Raytheon holds firm orders for 74 Hawker 4000s, 50 of which are going to fractional provider NetJets. Raytheon plans to begin delivering Hawker 4000s this year.
SJ30–While the SJ30 light jet received FAA certification in late October last year, the production certificate has still eluded San Antonio-based Sino Swearingen. According to v-p of sales and marketing Bob Kromer, the first customer SJ30–S/N 006–is being painted and having an interior installed so it can be delivered to launch customer Doug Jaffe (the “J” in the SJ30 moniker), “hopefully before the NBAA Convention.” Kromer also expects S/N 006 to be on the business aviation show’s static display.
Sino Swearingen still hopes to secure the production certificate by year-end, which would allow it to mass produce the aircraft. “We have a production plan in place and intend to expand our manufacturing facilities in San Antonio,” he added.
Sino Swearingen says it has firm orders for 302 SJ30s from customers and distributors, for a backlog worth some $1.8 billion, he noted. A fully loaded SJ30 now costs $6.195 million.
In August, the company received a repair station certificate from the FAA to allow it to conduct a full range of service and support functions on future customer SJ30s. The first FAA-authorized SJ30 repair station and customer service center is located near Sino Swearingen’s headquarters at the San Antonio International Airport.
Sino Swearingen will be rapidly expanding its service and support presence in the U.S., as well as in Europe, where sales have been especially strong. According to Kromer, Sino Swearingen plans to open U.S. service facilities in the Northeast, Southeast and West Coast, either as company-owned shops or factory-authorized centers. The company is in talks with Jet Aviation to provide authorized support outside the U.S., he said.
Spectrum 33–Cardiff by the Sea, Calif.-based Spectrum Aeronautical is vowing to press ahead with the Spectrum 33 program, despite the fatal crash of its sole prototype on July 25. The airplane crashed on the side of the runway while taking off from Spanish Fork Airport, Utah, killing the two test pilots–Spectrum director of flight operations Glenn Maben and vice director Nathan Forrest.
“The crash deeply saddened us all,” Spectrum president Austin Blue told AIN, though the loss of the prototype “is not going to set us back, since we already gained relevant data from the prototype before the accident.” FAA certification is planned for early 2009.
One week after the crash, the NTSB released a detailed preliminary report that stopped just short of issuing a probable cause. According to the Safety Board, witnesses said the airplane entered a right roll almost immediately after takeoff. The roll continued to about 90 degrees right-wing-down and the right wingtip hit the ground.
The NTSB found no evidence of any pre-existing failures of the airplane’s structure. However, “examination of the translation linkage on the aft side of the aft pressure bulkhead revealed that it was connected in a manner that reversed the roll control…the linkage was connected such that left roll input from the sidesticks would have deflected the ailerons to produce right roll of the airplane, and right roll input from the sidesticks would have deflected the ailerons to produce left roll of the airplane.”
Between June 30 and the July accident flight, the Spectrum 33 prototype underwent maintenance to stiffen its main landing-gear legs. Due to insufficient clearance, the aileron upper torque-tube V-bracket had to be redesigned, which entailed the removal of a portion of the translation linkage.
“The nature of the accident didn’t call the Spectrum 33’s design characteristics into question,” Blue said. The next test aircraft will be closer to a “production configuration” and will be designed to ensure that the controls can never be misrigged, he noted. This aircraft is expected to fly next year.
Spectrum plans to release more details at the NBAA Convention this month, where it will begin taking orders for the $3.65 million twinjet.
S-21 SSBJ–Italian manufacturer Alenia and Russian manufacturer Sukhoi recently signed a cooperative agreement for aviation research, which includes development of the S-21 SSBJ. Sukhoi has been working on a supersonic business jet project for many years. At the end of the 1980s the company was involved with Gulfstream and Rolls-Royce on a supersonic project codenamed S-21, which was shelved for lack of market enthusiasm.
Both Alenia and Sukhoi are also involved in the high-speed aircraft project in which Dassault Aviation also plays a key role. The main objective of this project is to establish the technical feasibility of “an environmentally compliant supersonic small-size transport aircraft,” taking into account the need to reduce the sonic boom to a level that would allow the aircraft to fly over land at supersonic speeds.
Three teams are studying three different configurations to compare methods and results. The aircraft configurations are a “low noise” concept (under Dassault leadership); a “high range” concept (under Alenia leadership); and a “low boom” concept (under Sukhoi leadership).
The three SSBJ designs are based upon a common set of requirements that include a supersonic cruise speed of between Mach 1.4 and 1.8, range between 3,000 and 5,000 nm with eight passengers, floor area at least equaling that of a Falcon 50, maximum landing weight between 70 percent and 95 percent of mtow, approach speed of between 120 and 140 knots and maximum balanced field length between 5,500 and 6,500 feet. In addition, it must be able to achieve desirable environmental constraints related to noise, emissions and sonic boom signature.
A source close to Dassault says an SSBJ launch is possible in 2015.
Supersonic Aerospace International
Quiet Supersonic Transport (QSST)–Supersonic Aerospace International of Las Vegas continues to work with Lockheed Martin on the Quiet Small Supersonic Transport (QSST), the 4,000-nm, 12-passenger, Mach 1.8, no-boom supersonic business jet (SSBJ) announced at the 2004 NBAA Convention.
Company president Michael Paulson said the project is now in Phase 2, which mainly involves refining and optimizing the SSBJ’s design.
Paulson said his company will choose one of three competing engine designs from General Electric, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce for the supersonic twinjet when Phase 2 concludes by year-end. First flight of the $80 million QSST is set for mid-2011, with U.S. FAR Part 25 certification planned for 2013.
Epic Elite Jet–Epic Aircraft parent Aircraft Investor Resources and Republic of Georgia-based Tbilisi Aviation Machine (TAM) are joining forces to build this $2.1 million very light jet. Under the partnership, Epic Aircraft and TAM will coproduce the twinjet.
TAM will market the all-composite, six-seat VLJ as the Tam-Air Elite Jet in Eastern Europe and Asia, while the U.S.-based start-up will sell it as the Epic Elite Jet in the Americas and Western Europe. The Williams FJ33-4-powered twinjet shares about 80-percent commonality with the Epic LT turboprop single, including the Garmin G1000 avionics system.
First flight of the Elite Jet is expected by next month. Certification is now planned for early 2008, a slight delay from previous estimates.
Last year, Epic Aircraft president Rick Schrameck said that, due to the backlog at the FAA certification branch, he would first get the Elite Jet certified in Brazil, with FAA approval to follow. But Schrameck earlier this year said those plans have changed; the aircraft will now be certified first by Transport Canada, with follow-on approval from the FAA and EASA. He cited the Canadian authority’s “very can-do attitude” as the reason for the switch.
Further, a duplicate of Epic’s 100,000-sq-ft production plant in Bend, Ore., will be constructed in Alberta, Canada, which will effectively double the manufacturing capacity for the Las Vegas-based start-up company.