The VLJ era started with a bang on March 6, 2000, when Eclipse Aviation announced the formal launch of the Eclipse 500, a program “designed to apply technological breakthroughs in creating a series of safe, reliable, low-cost jet aircraft that will enable transformation of the U.S. air transportation system.”
Embraer Phenom 100
Two joint ventures of simulator manufacturer CAE (Stand No. 530) made key announcements in the run-up to this week’s MEBA show. First, initial customers for Embraer’s Phenom 100 very light jet have passed the FAA practical test at the Embraer CAE Training Services (ECTS) facility at Alliance Airport in Fort Worth, Texas. Second, Emirates-CAE Flight Training (ECFT) of Dubai announced two offshore helicopter contracts.
Fractional provider Executive AirShare (EAS) has acquired Fort Worth, Texas-based FSJet, which has an order for 14 Embraer Phenom 100s. Some of these very light jets have been pre-sold and will be managed by Executive Flight Services, which also was recently bought by EAS. The unsold aircraft will be placed in EAS’s fractional ownership program or sold outright and managed by Executive Flight Services.
Blink is stepping up its low-cost European air-taxi network with the introduction of three more Cessna Citation Mustangs due to have entered the fleet around press time.
Embraer CAE Training Services, a joint venture of Brazilian OEM Embraer and Canadian simulator training services provider CAE, launched its first pilot and technical training programs for the Phenom 100 entry-level jet, to be based at the CAE training facility in Dallas. While the announcement at NBAA’08 marked the official launch, technical training actually began in August and pilot training in September.
The FAA and Transport Canada have granted type certification to the latest version of Pratt & Whitney Canada’s PW600 family, the PW617F that powers Embraer’s Phenom 100 very light jet. The fadec-controlled PW617F delivers 1,615 pounds of thrust. The Phenom 100 is expected to receive FAA certification shortly, in time for deliveries to begin before the end of the year.
Embraer CAE Training Services, a joint venture of Brazilian OEM Embraer (Booth No. 5073) and Canadian simulator training services provider CAE (Booth No. 5146), has launched its first pilot and technical training programs for the Phenom 100 entry-level jet at the CAE training facility in Dallas.While the announcement at NBAA marked the official launch, technical training actually began in August and pilot training in September.
When Embraer announced the formation of Embraer Executive Jets and the launch of its Phenom 100 very light jet and Phenom 300 light jet programs, there were at least a half-dozen competing programs already in various stages of development. Today, only two very light jets from that group–Cessna’s Citation Mustang and the Eclipse 500 from Eclipse Aviation–are in service. The Phenom 100 is expected to join them in the coming weeks.
This year has seen some significant changes in the very light jet (VLJ) category, with two manufacturers going bankrupt and another facing serious financial challenges.
Aviation Technology Group was the first of the modern crop of very light jet manufacturers to fold, having filed for liquidation (Chapter 7 bankruptcy) in May.
British air-taxi operator start-up FlairJet last month announced plans to start operations next May with a pair of Embraer Phenom 100s. It will lease the very light jets from an undisclosed Embraer customer in Europe that has 10 Phenom 100s on order. FlairJet has placed an order for one Phenom 100, which is scheduled for delivery in 2012. The company also has an option for another.