The regional NBAA forum at West Palm Beach International (PBI), Fla., on March 10 served a slice of business aviation with complex ingredients. Fractional ownership has added occupants to the back of the cabin without always expanding the industry pie.
Williams International of Walled Lake, Mich., expects to receive FAA certification soon for two of its new turbofan engines. U.S. approval is anticipated this quarter for the FJ33, a 1,200-pound-thrust engine that has been selected to power several very light jets still under development, including the Adam A700, Safire Jet, Diamond D-Jet and Aerostar FJ-100.
The latest Honeywell Aerospace business aviation outlook, released yesterday at the NBAA Convention in Orlando, predicts deliveries of new business jets this year will reach 745, up from 589 last year. Next year, deliveries might exceed 800 bizjets. Looking at the 10-year period through 2015, the forecast predicts deliveries of about 9,900 new business jets, equating to $156 billion in sales.
The stock market is on the upswing, initial public offerings were up this year for the first time since 2000 and the business aviation industry is recovering, but finding investment capital continues to be the biggest obstacle for companies hoping to bring new turbine business airplanes to the market. And for good reason–the last start-up company to build, certify and deliver a business jet was Learjet in 1964.
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.
For this year’s look in the crystal ball, AIN added a number of aircraft to the list to reflect ongoing programs more accurately. While many of these aircraft are derivative and not original certifications, they are still new and deserve to be counted.
The Diamond D-Jet (S/N 001) single-engine very light jet flew for the first time on Tuesday afternoon from London International Airport, Ontario, home of Diamond’s North American division.
The good news is that the single-engine Diamond D-Jet is getting a parachute recovery system from St. Paul, Minn.-based Ballistic Recovery Systems. But the bad news is that Diamond has raised the aircraft’s price from less than $1 million to $1.36 million, nudging the $1.5 million tag for the Eclipse 500 very light twinjet. The increase is due to the manufacturer including previously optional items as standard equipment.
Airline Transport Professionals (ATP), a Jacksonville, Fla.-based organization that provides advanced pilot training at 23 flight schools nationwide, reported at AOPA Expo yesterday that it purchased 20 Diamond D-Jets and five Diamond flight training devices. In addition, Diamond Aircraft and ATP formed a partnership in which ATP will provide factory-approved initial type ratings and recurrent training on the single-engine very light jet.
Peter Mauer, president of Diamond Aircraft’s North American division, last month said components of the single-engine Diamond D-Jet were taking shape in anticipation of an October first flight. At press time, the fuselage, wing spars and skins, and vertical fin and horizontal tail for the first nonconforming prototype were complete at Diamond’s Wiener Neustadt, Austria headquarters.