Aircraft management and charter company ProJet Aviation is planning a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new Jet Center at Leesburg (Va.) Executive Airport, near Washington, D.C., on June 2. Six corporate aircraft are already based at the facility, which features more than 25,000 sq ft of hangar and office space.
The idea for what is now known as the ProJet started four years ago during a conversation between Carey Robinson Wolchok, then a principal at private equity group Aero-Equity, and Israel Aircraft Industries founder Al Schwimmer. That conversation was obviously influenced by the then recently announced Eclipse 500 very light jet, and a relationship was born.
Business jet operators in the Washington, D.C. area now have another option, the new ProJet Aviation facility at Winchester Regional Airport in Virginia. ProJet isn’t an FBO but offers aircraft management services and consulting from a new office and hangar complex at the Winchester airport. Phase 1 of the ProJet facility is done, and Phase 2 will see completion of ProJet’s new 26,400-sq-ft jet center.
UltraJet, a membership-based charter company, has ordered 105 ProJets, the proposed very light twinjet from Westport, Conn.-based startup Avocet Aircraft, a U.S./Israeli joint venture. Announced at last month’s NBAA gathering in Orlando, the order is secured by a refundable deposit.
Israel Aircraft Industries has contracted Forecast International of Newtown, Conn., to help define the future market for its proposed six- to eight-place, twin-turbine Avocet/IAI ProJet. The 20-question survey asked NBAA members to comment on the viability of the very light jet market and to rate the performance and price goals of the ProJet.
Israel Aircraft Industries of Tel Aviv and Avocet Aircraft of Westport, Conn., have been in discussions with engine manufacturers, including the Honda/ General Electric joint venture company, for the proposed ProJet, an eight-seat very light twinjet. According to Avocet CEO David Tait, IAI and Avocet are within weeks of finalizing their definitive partnership agreement on the development, production and marketing of the $2 million ProJet.
Westport, Conn.-based Avocet Aircraft has canceled its program to develop a $2 million, six-seat very light jet known as the ProJet. “It just wasn’t the right time to be going forward with the program,” Avocet chairman and founder Carey Wolchok told AIN. Avocet and Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) publicly announced their collaboration on the ProJet in August 2003, with certification then expected by 2007.
It appears that the ProJet, an Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI)-Avocet joint venture, doesn’t have much forward momentum. Westport, Conn.-based Avocet referred AIN’s inquiries about the twinjet program to IAI. Moshe Zilberman, IAI’s commercial air group marketing director, told AIN that the program “is in stagnation.”
Avocet Aircraft last month joined the ranks of Safire Aircraft, Century Aerospace and plenty of other failed start-up aircraft manufacturers. The Westport, Conn. company has put its six-seat very light jet (VLJ), the $2 million ProJet, “on the shelf” and last month returned escrowed deposits–ranging any- where from $5,000 to $25,000 each–for some 100 aircraft.