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.
The market for very light jets (VLJs) will be worth $2.52 billion over the next five years, according to a new study by UK-based consultants PMI Media. The report’s author, Philip Butterworth-Hayes, expects six VLJs will make it into service: the Adam Aircraft A700, Cessna Citation Mustang (the first of the breed to receive FAA certification), Diamond D-Jet, Eclipse 500, Embraer Phenom 100 and HondaJet.
At press time, FAA type certification continued to elude Eclipse Aviation for its very light jet, while Cessna confirmed speculation that it would be first to certify a VLJ when its Citation Mustang received Part 23 type certification for everything but known icing on September 8 (see page 1).
While business aircraft are one of the most important tools of investment bankers and venture capitalists, investing in new aircraft designs doesn’t appear to be on their radar this year. According to a report issued last month by the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), investors plan to increase their funding pools by about 10 percent over last year.
An ongoing “supplier problem” is casting a shadow over Eclipse Aviation’s receipt of its first FAA type inspection authorization earlier last month for the Eclipse 500 very light twinjet. The supplier problem–which outside sources say is related to the avionics system–could delay the March certification target for Eclipse’s very light jet. Eclipse at press time was meeting with the unidentified vendor in hopes of quickly resolving the issue.
In late December Eclipse Aviation confirmed that a supplier problem has delayed certification of its VLJ from next month to late in the second quarter. Despite the setback, at press time Eclipse said its five flying test aircraft have amassed more than 1,000 flight hours in just over 750 flights.
Every time it seems that the business aviation industry has nearly exhausted all the market possibilities, something new appears. The latest twist is per-seat scheduled service using business aircraft in executive or shuttle configuration.
London Executive Aviation (LEA) is preparing to pioneer the use of very light jets (VLJs) in the European charter market. The UK firm has been tracking the VLJ phenomenon since the late 1990s and is convinced that the promised low operating costs of the VLJs will attract a significant number of customers who hadn’t previously imagined that private aircraft charter could be affordable.
The dawn of the very light jet (VLJ) is nearly upon us, with the first, the Eclipse 500, set to receive FAA certification in June. Hot on the heels of the Eclipse VLJ is Cessna’s Citation Mustang and 10 other potential competitors.
Eclipse Aviation won the National Aeronautic Association’s 2005 Robert J. Collier Trophy for achievement in aeronautics. The 95-year-old trophy, one of aviation’s most prestigious awards, will be presented to the company “for leadership, innovation and the advancement of general aviation” in the production of very light jets, specifically, the Eclipse 500.