June 30 was a critical date for Nimbus Jets, the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., startup that last December agreed to buy 1,000 Eclipse 500 jets (a sale valued at nearly $8.4 billion) for a proposed nationwide air-taxi service. That date was the deadline by which Nimbus owed Eclipse Aviation deposits in the amount of $11.7 million, or 20 percent of the estimated price for the first two-year delivery commitment of 70 aircraft.
Late last week, Diamond Aircraft selected a more powerful version of the Williams FJ33 turbofan–the FJ33-4A-19–for its single-engine D-Jet. With 1,900 pounds of thrust versus 1,564 pounds for the originally planned FJ33-4A-15, the more powerful engine offers “a potential future performance upgrade path” for the very light jet.
Clifford Development appointed Little Rock, Ark.-based Central Flying Service as a service center for the Company’s Citation II and Citation S/II re-engining programs. Both programs use Williams International FJ44-3A engines. Two parallel supplemental type certificate programs are under way at Clifford Development to re-engine the Citation II and the Citation S/II.
The Wrights knew it. So does every aeronautical engineer, aircraft manufacturer and pilot. More than anything else, the engine defines the performance of the airplane.
Cessna has selected the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW615F turbofan engine instead of the FJ33 turbofan proposed by Williams International as the powerplant for the new Citation Mustang very light twinjet. Each PW615F provides 1,350 pounds of thrust flat-rated to ISA+10 and incorporates dual-channel Fadecs.
The termination of the agreement between Eclipse Aviation and Williams International, announced the day before Thanksgiving, is seen as a major setback for the Eclipse 500 very light jet program by many observers– particularly (and predictably) by the battalions of skeptics who have questioned the viability of the program since it was revealed in March 2000.
Williams International launched the 3,500-pound-thrust FJ44-4, a FADEC-equipped turbofan engine that uses essentially the same core as the 3,000-pound-thrust FJ44-3. Detailed performance parameters are being kept under tight wraps until an application for the new engine is announced. A spokesman for Williams International, based in Walled Lake, Mich., said at the show the company is just now beginning to market the engine to potential OEMs.
Flight testing of the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW615F–the engine Cessna selected for the Citation Mustang–got under way in Wichita on April 27. In an unusual move, initial flight testing is being conducted by Cessna on its own CitationJet testbed instead of aboard the engine manufacturer’s test aircraft.
“Its time has come,” predicted Eclipse Aviation CEO Vern Raburn. “It” refers to the entry-level twinjet known as the Eclipse 500, currently priced at $837,500 (2000 $). And if all goes as planned, Raburn will see his bold vision take flight before next month ends.
At EAA AirVenture, Epic Aircraft’s single-engine Victory jet made its first public appearance. The Williams International FJ33-4 that powers the prototype might not power the production Victory. According to Epic, the company has not yet made the final engine selection for the Victory, but it is considering the FJ33-4 and the P&WC PW615 or 617.