Paris Jet, the first VLJ, is revived

 - November 24, 2009, 10:21 AM

The world’s first production and certified very light jet, the Morane Saulnier MS760 Paris Jet, has a new lease on life. In October, JetSet Aviation Holdings, a subsidiary of JetSet International, announced that it had purchased the MS760 type certificate and intellectual property from France’s Socata, successor to Morane Saulnier, and that 32 MS760s are available for upgrade and purchase.

“We’re breathing new life into the design,” said JetSet president Edward Furtak. During the past five years, he said, the “reintroduction” of the personal light jet created high expectations in the marketplace, but high prices for new jets, bankrupt projects and program delays have dampened some of that enthusiasm.

An MS760 with relatively low-time engines and modern avionics for $450,000 to $750,000 is much more in line with expectations of low-cost personal jets, he said.
The MS760 is a pressurized four-place jet powered by two 880-pound-thrust Turbomeca Marboré IIC turbojets. The follow-on MS760B Paris Jet II featured 1,058-pound-thrust Marboré IVs and more fuel capacity. FAA certification of the MS760 was earned in 1958, and for a brief period Beech Aircraft tried to market the Paris Jet in the U.S. The MS760 is certified in the utility category.

The Marboré engine is a simple design with a one-stage centrifugal compressor and single-stage turbine. On a standard day, the total fuel flow is about 160 gph at 23,000 feet, pushing the MS760 along at 350 ktas, according to Furtak. The Paris II version, which Furtak owns and flies, carries 486 gallons of fuel; he said that a comfortable maximum-range trip is 750 to 900 nm.

Furtak has been a pilot since 1987 and logged most of his time in a Mooney TLS. “The TLS is a great airplane, but,” he said, “like any pilot, I want to go faster and farther.” He bought his MS760 more than two years ago and started buying more Paris Jets from the French air force, including tools and parts. “The logical thing to do was acquire the type certificate so we could directly support the fleet,” he said, “and have the option to manufacture new aircraft at some point.”

Transitioning to the MS760 was easy, Furtak said, because the two engines are mounted closely together and there is no asymmetric thrust with one engine inoperative. He spent 12 hours flying a Piper Seneca then trained for and passed the MS760 type rating checkride. He now has 200 hours in his MS760 and has upgraded it with a Chelton glass cockpit.

The MS760s awaiting refurbishment are stored at a JetSet facility in Calhoun, Ga., and the company’s training courses for the MS760 are conducted at Orlando International Airport. A type rating in the MS760 takes from seven to 10 days and includes 40 hours of ground school and five hours of flight instruction.
The plan is to offer complete support for the MS760 fleet, including training, avionics upgrades, parts and engine support. JetSet has 62 Marboré engines preserved in nitrogen-filled canisters. The engine’s hot-section interval is 1,800 hours and overhauls are due at 3,600 hours.

JetSet has already done engineering studies on upgrading the MS760 with a more modern powerplant, possibly a single-engine version using a Williams FJ44 or Pratt & Whitney Canada JT15D or dual Williams FJ33s or Pratt PW615s. This could boost speed to more than 400 knots and range to 1,400 or 1,600 nm, Furtak said.
One of the drawbacks of the MS760, besides its noisy and thirsty engines, is the awkward sliding canopy. Morane Saulnier built one Paris III, which has six seats and a more conventional entry door instead of the canopy. If JetSet were ever to bring the Paris Jet back into production, said light jet designer Luc Van Bavel, the six-seat version would make the most sense.“[The III] corrected all the shortcomings. Using the III as a baseline would be the best way.” But when it comes to re-engining the existing MS760s, he added, “That’s going to be a complex venture.”

Furtak said that buyers are already asking to place deposits on turbofan versions of the MS760 and a new six-seater. “The airplane was years ahead of its time. Only now is the technology there from a situational awareness standpoint to make people more at ease in a high-performance aircraft. Eclipse did a fantastic job of educating the market as to the possibilities of personal jets. That resulted in a number of vertical markets getting ready to use such an aircraft in different business models. The big disappointment is that the designs ultimately didn’t meet their promise, but nonetheless the demand is still there.”