Very light jets are not going to “blacken the sky,” said GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce, who takes issue with those in the airlines and the administration who are using that claim to support a “misguided imposition” of user fees on GA. They argue that by 2010, ATC will have to handle an additional 20,000 flights per day just for VLJs.
Very light jet
General aviation manufacturers last year posted an all-time record for billings and
a four-year high in new turbine airplane deliveries. According to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), billings of $15.1 billion on the shipment of 3,580 piston and turbine airplanes last year were a 27.2-percent increase from the $11.9 billion and 2,963 airplanes in 2004.
Hours flown by turbine aircraft (including rotorcraft) are forecast to increase 6.4 percent yearly over the forecast period, compared with 1.8 percent for piston-powered aircraft. Jet aircraft are forecast to account for most of the increase, expanding at an average annual rate of 10.2 percent over the next 12 years.
While the FAA drastically reduced its estimate about the number of very light jets (VLJs) to take to the air in the next decade, comments and speeches at the agency’s 31st annual forecast conference in Washington early last month indicate there will be changes in the way the aviation industry pays for operating the nation’s airspace system.
A day after Teal Group lead analyst Richard Aboulafia was quoted in the International Herald Tribune as saying the nascent very light jet (VLJ) market has the potential for a spectacular flameout, Eclipse Aviation founder and CEO Vern Raburn fired back by calling the oft-quoted (some might say over-exposed) market forecaster’s comments “ignorant and stupid.”
Adam Aircraft president Joe Walker is optimistic that his company will receive FAA certification late this year for its very light jet. According to Walker, the A700 shares 65-percent commonality with Adam’s A500 centerline-thrust piston twin, which obtained “baseline” FAA approval last May.
User fees, career-building strategies and striking a balance between professional success and personal achievements topped the agenda at the 17th annual Women in Aviation International (WAI) conference, held from March 23 to 25 in Nashville, Tenn. The three-day conference set attendance records for the association, as more than 3,100 people from all segments of the industry attended.
More than a few business aviation technicians have expressed frustration that NBAA doesn’t represent them and their interests, maintaining, instead, that the organization is primarily flight-crew oriented. The association’s maintenance committee is aggressively trying to change that perception, and the Maintenance Management Conference, held this year in Dallas, is one part of that effort.
Manufacturers of very light jets had until early last month to respond to a U.S. Air Force VLJ-capability request for information. While the military branch hasn’t yet opened its wallet to buy any of the small jets, it is interested in learning about what roles they might be able to fill and wants to perform qualification evaluations of the various offerings by year-end. All of the VLJ manufacturers are believed to have responded.
Air-limo startup DayJet of Delray Beach, Fla., late last month revealed its launch region–the Southeast–and said it would start on-demand, per-seat operations with Eclipse 500 VLJs in November. DayJet president and CEO Ed Iacobucci said the service will initially be among five airports in Florida–which will be announced next month–and then spread to 20 airports throughout the region by the end of next year.