Deliveries of light business jets in the first quarter climbed by almost 60 percent to 30 shipments, compared with 19 a year ago, according to data from Utica, N.Y-based business aviation information provider JetNet. The very light jet segment–in which JetNet includes the Citation Mustang and Embraer Phenom 100–didn’t fare as well, with deliveries dropping from 11 VLJs in first-quarter 2011 to eight this year thanks to three fewer Mustang shipments.
Very light jets
Cirrus Aircraft announced yesterday that it has secured funding to complete the composite single-engine Vision SF50 jet from company owner China Aviation Industry General Aircraft (Caiga). Development of the single-engine Vision jet slowed during the recession. When Caiga purchased Cirrus for an estimated $210 million last June, the company said that development of the Vision jet would continue.
Other than seeing a ramp full of stored ex-DayJet Eclipse aircraft in 2008 after the collapse of the Florida-based air-taxi firm, it’s rare now to sight more than a couple of the type together at an airport–unless you happen to pass through Henderson Executive Airport near Las Vegas, Nev.
Embraer delivered the first medevac version of the Phenom 300 jet yesterday, to Amil Resgate Saúde. The aircraft–tail number PP-UTI–is also the 100th Embraer executive jet to be delivered in Brazil. The aircraft OEM installed and certified all of the equipment on the aircraft, including a new interior design and assembly specifically for medical missions. The cabin configuration provides horizontal space for a stretcher and four rotating seats for the medical team and companion, as well as a private aft lavatory.
Eclipse Aerospace released a flight-planning and in-flight reference iPad app called Eclipse Quick Reference Application (QRA) yesterday. The app for the Eclipse 500 very light jet includes a weight-and-balance flight-planning tool, interactive flight checklists and performance planning tools. Eclipse QRA can also pull up digital copies of the aircraft flight manual and the aircraft maintenance manual, complete with updated downloads of temporary revisions and other customer communications.
Flight Options, the second-largest fractional jet provider in the U.S., said 2011 was one of its best years and expects the momentum to continue to build this year. In fact, the Cleveland-based company reported a healthy jump in new fractional owners last year versus 2010.
“One of the statistics from 2011 of which we are most proud is that more than one-third of all new owners came from referrals–a strong and appreciated endorsement from our current owners,” noted Flight Options CEO Michael Silvestro.
Embraer recently delivered its 300th Phenom jet, some three years after the first Phenom 100 was handed over. Appropriately enough, the milestone aircraft was a Phenom 300. To date, half of the Phenoms delivered have been taken by North American customers, with Latin American operators accounting for another 30 percent; Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), 17 percent; and Asia, 3 percent. The Brazilian aircraft manufacturer delivered 98 Phenoms in 2009, 126 in 2010 and 83 last year.
Cirrus has restructured more than $13 million worth of loan and lease obligations related to its Grand Forks, N.D. production facility with that city’s Growth Fund. Cirrus employs approximately 90 people in Grand Forks who make composite component parts for its SR-series piston aircraft, which are then shipped to the company’s assembly line in Duluth, Minn.
Spurred by sluggish demand for light and midsize jets and the threat from Brazil’s Embraer, Cessna has enlarged its midsize cabin cross-section and refreshed one of the lightest jets it builds. The new contenders were revealed last fall in the form of the 680A Latitude midsize and the M2 update of the CJ1+. They compete with, respectively, the Embraer Legacy 450 (slated for certification in late 2014 and service entry in early 2015) and the Phenom 100 (in service since 2009).
GE Aviation, while it may still be associated largely with commercial and military powerplants, has been focusing its gaze on the business aviation market over the past several years.
Shawn O’Day, head of the company’s business and general aviation marketing, told AIN that although business aviation has historically been a segment of opportunity for GE, it is an area where the engine and systems maker sees potential. In fact, the company signaled its intention to expand its business and general aviation footprint at last year’s Paris Air Show.