London Executive Aviation (LEA) is preparing to pioneer the use of very light jets (VLJs) in the European charter market. The UK firm has been tracking the VLJ phenomenon since the late 1990s and is convinced that the promised low operating costs of the VLJs will attract a significant number of customers who hadn’t previously imagined that private aircraft charter could be affordable.
Very light jets
Just two months after being unveiled at the NBAA Convention in November, the Spectrum 33 twinjet made a 10-minute first flight on January 7.
Cessna’s Citation Mustang on September 8 became the first very light jet to be fully FAA type certified. Its P&WC PW615F engine was FAA certified on the same day. See page 20 for a program update and page 58 for the first pilot report since the Mustang got its papers.
The dawn of the very light jet (VLJ) is nearly upon us, with the first, the Eclipse 500, set to receive FAA certification in June. Hot on the heels of the Eclipse VLJ is Cessna’s Citation Mustang and 10 other potential competitors.
Eclipse Aviation won the National Aeronautic Association’s 2005 Robert J. Collier Trophy for achievement in aeronautics. The 95-year-old trophy, one of aviation’s most prestigious awards, will be presented to the company “for leadership, innovation and the advancement of general aviation” in the production of very light jets, specifically, the Eclipse 500.
London Executive Aviation is pushing Cessna to get early delivery of the first of seven Citation Mustangs it has ordered. The UK operator is set to receive the first two examples of the new very light jet in December next year but is now negotiating with the OEM to advance at least one of these deliveries into this year. The six-seat Mustang is due to complete certification in the fourth quarter of this year.
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.
Eclipse Aviation, of Albuquer-que, New Mexico, said it has overcome the supplier problem, revealed in December, that was blamed for delaying FAA certification by three months from late March to late June. A spokesman told AIN last month that the revised June approval estimate is “looking good.” Icing certification is planned for September.
As of early last month, the Citation Mustang prototype and two production examples (S/Ns 0001 and 0002) had logged more than 850 flight hours. Cessna chairman, president and CEO Jack Pelton told AIN that the Mustang is “on pace” to obtain FAA certification this fall, though he hinted the approval could even come a little earlier.
Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer left no doubt that it plans to become a major player in the business aviation market over the next decade.