Call them what you want–very light jets (VLJs), compact jets, minijets, microjets, personal jets or even Barbie jets–they’re no longer “paper” airplanes. First deliveries of certified VLJs are less than a year away, if Eclipse Aviation adheres to its plan to begin deliveries of its Model 500 next March.
Very light jets
Englewood, Colo.-based Adam Aircraft expects FAA certification of its centerline-thrust A500 piston twin in the first quarter of this year and first deliveries by March, according to a company spokesman. Last year at this time the company was estimating certification in the second quarter of 2003; this was subsequently revised to the fall of 2003. “There’s no one thing in particular that caused the delay,” a spokesman said.
Englewood, Colo.-based Adam Aircraft plans to build its A500 piston twin and A700 very light twinjet in Ogden, Utah. The company reported that it leased 22,000 sq ft of Kemp Jet Services’ property at Kemp Ogden Airport. Certification and customer deliveries of the A700 are scheduled to begin next year.
Westlake Village, Calif.-based Jet Alliance claims to be the first company to offer fractional shares in the Eclipse 500 very light jet. “The technology used to build this aircraft allows us to offer shares at an incredible value,” said v-p Craig Arnold. A one-sixteenth share costs $75,500, with $1,250 per month maintenance charge and $650 per occupied hour fee.
Keeping its promise, Albuquerque, N.M.-based Eclipse Aviation flew the first Pratt & Whitney Canada PW610F-powered Eclipse 500 certification flight-test aircraft at 10:16 a.m. MST on December 31. The milestone marked the beginning of a 15-month testing program that will involve seven test airframes and culminate with planned FAA certification in March next year.
Pratt & Whitney Canada recently reached the rated takeoff thrust of 1,350 pounds in sustained ground runs of its new PW615 turbofan engine, which will power the Cessna Citation Mustang. Cessna expects to receive the first engine shipsets early this year. Certification of the engine is planned by the end of 2005, and Cessna expects to certify the Mustang in the third quarter of 2006.
According to Aviation Technology Group, the assembly of its Javelin demonstrator prototype is progressing rapidly at Soloy’s facilities in Olympia, Wash. The test aircraft is currently being fitted with systems, in preparation for first flight early this year (a delay of one quarter from original estimates). Before Thanksgiving, the company completed structural testing on the prototype’s wings.
Embraer has named Elliott Aviation an authorized service center for the Phenom 100 and 300. The agreement includes routine inspections, scheduled and unscheduled airframe, engine, avionics and other systems maintenance and repairs. The company has facilities in Moline, Ill.; Des Moines, Iowa; Minneapolis; and Omaha, Neb.
Delivery of the first Eclipse 500 very light jet happened on either Dec. 31, 2006, or Jan. 4, 2007, depending on how you count. Eclipse Aviation received its first certificate of airworthiness from the FAA on the last day of 2006 and announced that it had delivered its first airplane by the end of the year to co-owners David Crowe and fractional share/management firm Jet-Alliance. But it held a formal delivery ceremony on January 4.
After an extended gestation period and months of uncertainty about first delivery, Eclipse Aviation delivered its first production very light jet (VLJ). When the FAA awarded an airworthiness certificate for the first production Eclipse 500 in the closing hours of last year the Albuquerque, N.M.-based tyro airframe manufacturer immediately initiated a virtual “delivery” in which the co-owners completed the documents via fax.