Taking advantage of the big stage at the NBAA Convention last month, Piper Aircraft introduced its evolved and renamed PiperJet Altaire, showing a mockup of the redesigned fuselage and cabin interior and describing the aircraft as “the next step” in the evolution of its single-engine very light jet program.
Very light jets
Whether it’s entirely the fault of the economic crisis we may never know, but we can be sure the anticipated very-light-jet (VLJ) revolution never happened and there is little sign it will happen any time soon.
In a surprise announcement at the NBAA convention, Stratford, Conn.-based Sikorsky Aircraft revealed that it reached an agreement “in principle” to make a substantial minority investment in Eclipse Aerospace. Executives from both companies provided few specifics about the deal, including its value.
The 63rd edition of the National Business Aviation Association Convention & Exhibition exceeded the expectations of attendees and exhibitors alike, registering 24,206 attendees for the three-day event–an increase of more than 5 percent over attendance last year.
Piper Aircraft today is introducing its evolved and renamed PiperJet Altaire, showing a mockup of the redesigned fuselage and cabin interior and describing the aircraft as "the next step" in the evolution of its single-engine very light jet program.
Later this month, the 63rd annual NBAA meeting and convention opens at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. The NBAA Convention won't reappear in Atlanta for some time, as the next four shows are scheduled for Las Vegas (2011), Orlando (2012), Las Vegas (2013) and then again in Orlando (2014).
Despite an active first quarter in the light jet market, the remainder of the year has proven to be a sobering reminder that the world continues to recover from the financial meltdown of 2008 and 2009. This is not surprising, considering that the light jet market tends to react directly to the general economy as measured by stock market indices.
Eclipse Aerospace (Booth No. 6667) has risen like a Phoenix from the ashes of the bankruptcy of the original Eclipse Aviation, with a focus on helping the owners of the 260 Eclipse 500s keep their airplanes flying safely and efficiently and a goal of eventually restarting the EA500 production line.
The good news for Cessna Aircraft is that analysts expect the Wichita-based aircraft manufacturer to maintain its position as the business aircraft market leader in terms of volume over the next decade. But the bad news is that it will have to fight an ever-increasing amount of competition, most notably from Embraer, meaning the company must continue to be relentless in refreshing its business jet product lines and launching new ones.
The trajectory for single-engine very light jets is up and to the right. List prices for what were initially envisioned as $1 million pocket rockets are now bumping up against, and in some cases through, $2 million–and likely to go higher.