In the Works: Excel-Jet Sport-Jet

 - April 30, 2007, 6:39 AM

Twelve people, including company president Bob Bornhofen, continue to work on the Sport-Jet single-engine jet program based in Colorado Springs, Colo. The first Sport-Jet prototype logged nearly 25 hours before crashing on takeoff on June 22 last year. “We’re working on our next aircraft,” said Bornhofen, “and we’re about 10 months away from flight.” Test pilot James Stewart and a passenger in the right seat emerged from the crash unscathed, and the company has thus deemed the design robust enough not to require any structural changes. “We’re doing a few things on
a cosmetic level, nothing major,” said Bornhofen. One change that will show up on the next prototype is a slightly larger cabin interior.

Excel-Jet has not yet applied for a type certificate for the Sport-Jet. Bornhofen said that the jet should take about two years to certify. “We’re looking at all the data and reviewing that so we can start the [certification] process.”

The next prototype, he added, will not be a production-conforming model but will match the final version’s structure and aerodynamic design. Excel-Jet will then build three to four conforming prototypes for the certification program.

The four- to five-seat Sport-Jet is powered by a 1,500-pound-thrust Williams International FJ33- 4A-15. Cruise speed at the 25,000- foot maximum altitude is 350 knots; top speed is 375 knots. IFR range is 1,000 miles.

The NTSB has released a factual report on the prototype crash, which includes information that indicates that the Board does not agree with Bornhofen’s conclusion that wake turbulence from a departing de Havilland Dash 8-200 caused the Sport-Jet’s loss of control. Investigators found no mechanical problems with the Sport-Jet’s controls after the accident. Bornhofen questions the NTSB’s conclusions about wake turbulence not affecting the prototype.