New Wave in VLJs

SP's Aviation - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - By RO­HIT SRI­VAS­TAVA

Not so long ago, very light jets ( VLJs) were a buzz­word in the avi­a­tion world as plane man­u­fac­tur­ers saw the huge po­ten­tial for small, ef­fi­cient, and sim­ple jets. With an im­pres­sive com­bi­na­tion of range, econ­omy, load-car­ry­ing ca­pa­bil­ity, com­fort and price, VLJ of­fer a lot of bang for the buck. Here are some of the ex­cel­lent very light jets avail­able in the mar­ket to­day.

As the world is be­com­ing more and more con­nected, there is an in­creas­ing need for pri­vate jets for high net worth in­di­vid­u­als to travel dis­tances. There is a grow­ing de­mand for busi­ness jets and more and more peo­ple want smaller jet which can land at smaller places. This need has cre­ated a new seg­ment of jets air­craft, the very light jet – jet pow­ered air­craft with max­i­mum take-off weight be­low 10,000 lb. With time this was ex­panded to in­clude air­craft like Ci­ta­tion Mus­tang, with around 13,000 lb take-off weight.

Air­craft in this seg­ment is just above the light per­sonal turbo-prop and pis­ton en­gine air­craft. But they pro­vide sig­nif­i­cant ad­van­tage in terms of range, flight ceil­ing and speed. Fol­low­ing are some of the best air­craft in this seg­ment.

PHENOM 100

The en­try level ex­ec­u­tive jet from Brazil­ian Em­braer Phenom 100, with an up­dated en­gine full author­ity dig­i­tal en­gine (or electronics) con­trol (FADEC) giv­ing it a 400-knot cruise-speed, is one of the lead­ers in the cat­e­gory. The seven-time win­ner of Robb Re­port’s Best of the Best award in its seg­ment, it can fly up to seven pas­sen­gers in its spa­cious cabin with a pri­vate lava­tory and 70 cu ft of lug­gage space.

The Phenom 100EV leads the way for per­for­mance. It flies just un­der 1,200 nm and takes off from run­ways as short as 3,199 ft (975 m). With max­i­mum mach op­er­a­tion at Mach 0.7, it is con­sid­ered as one of the fastest jets in its cat­e­gory, yet still has sim­i­lar op­er­at­ing costs to a tur­bo­prop. The air­craft can fly

at a max­i­mum alti­tude of 41,000 ft (12,497 m).

In June last year, the air­craft cel­e­brated tenth an­niver­sary of its first flight. It was cer­ti­fied in De­cem­ber 2008, when the first air­craft was de­liv­ered to a cus­tomer. Over 350 air­craft are fly­ing in 37 coun­tries. In July 2016, the Phenom 100 EV was in­tro­duced; de­liv­er­ing greater per­for­mance, es­pe­cially in hotand-high op­er­a­tions, and the first air­craft was de­liv­ered to a cus­tomer in March 2017. It costs over $4.5 mil­lion.

HON­DAJET

Since, its type cer­ti­fi­ca­tion from the Federal Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion (FAA) in 2015, Hon­daJet fin­ished 2017, with 43 de­liv­er­ies across the globe, as the most de­liv­ered jet in its cat­e­gory. Com­pany made its first de­liv­ery in De­cem­ber 2015. To match the in­creas­ing de­mand, Honda has ramped up its pro­duc­tion at its Greens­boro, North Carolina plant to four air­craft per month. In just two years time, Hon­daJet is fly­ing across the globe in Eu­rope, Mid­dle East, South Amer­ica to China.

De­signed and de­vel­oped by Honda Air­craft Com­pany, founded in 2006, is a wholly owned sub­sidiary of Amer­i­can Honda Mo­tor Com­pany.

In the very light busi­ness jet cat­e­gory, the HA-420 is emerg­ing as a front run­ner. On Fe­bru­ary 8, Hon­daJet signed a Mem­o­ran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing (MoU) with Wi­jet, French air taxi com­pany, for mul­ti­ple Hon­daJets to up­grade its fleet. The MoU was signed dur­ing the Singapore Air­show. Wi­jet is ex­pected to take de­liv­ery of its first Hon­daJet dur­ing the first quar­ter of 2018.

The Hon­daJet boasts of many in­no­va­tions that max­imises the per­for­mance of the air­craft and takes a step ahead of its peers. Di­gress­ing from the nor­mal alu­minum fuse­lage, the air­craft has a light but strong com­pos­ite fuse­lage made from the com­bi­na­tion of co-cured in­te­gral struc­ture and hon­ey­comb sand­wich struc­tures which in­creases the cabin space and fuel ef­fi­ciency.

The air­craft flies at a max­i­mum cruise speed of 422 knots (486 mph) and has a max­i­mum alti­tude of 43,000 feet. The air­craft is cer­ti­fied for sin­gle pi­lot op­er­a­tion and can seat up to six pas­sen­gers. It is priced at $4.85 mil­lion and has an NBAA IFR range of 1,223 nau­ti­cal miles (1,408 miles). One of the main rea­sons be­hind its catch­ing the fas­ci­na­tion of the cus­tomers could be the num­ber of in­no­va­tive de­sign fea­tures of the air­craft giv­ing it edge over its ri­vals.

CIRRUS VI­SION JET

The seven seater, five adult and two kids, jet is prod­uct of an out­come of a vi­sion to reimag­ine and rein­vent the jet air­plane. The Cirrus Vi­sion Jet, in April, was awarded the 2017 Robert J. Col­lier Tro­phy for de­vel­op­ing the world’s first sin­gle en­gine Per­sonal Jet™ and im­ple­ment­ing the Cirrus Air­frame Parachute Sys­tem® (CAPS®) on the air­craft.

The air­craft comes with two high-res­o­lu­tion flight dis­plays and is de­signed with three land­scape touch screen con­trollers, in a clean and er­gonom­i­cally de­signed cock­pit, which pro­vides de­tailed in­for­ma­tion to the pi­lot.

One of the unique fea­tures of the air­craft is its Cirrus Air­frame Parachute Sys­tem®-whole-air­plane parachute. Ac­cord­ing to com­pany, “The parachute sys­tem is de­signed to pro­tect oc­cu­pants in the event of an emer­gency by low­er­ing the air­craft to the ground af­ter de­ploy­ment. CAPS rev­o­lu­tionised gen­eral avi­a­tion safety by pro­vid­ing an ad­di­tional mea­sure of safety to oc­cu­pants, sim­i­lar in the­ory to the role of seat­belts in au­to­mo­biles. No other cer­ti­fied gen­eral avi­a­tion air­craft man­u­fac­turer in the world pro­vides this safety fea­ture as stan­dard equip­ment.”

Con­sid­ered as in­no­va­tion in the area of per­sonal avi­a­tion, the air­craft, with 300 KTAS cruis­ing speed and range of 1,200 nm, can reach up to 28,000 ft. The air­craft is priced around $2 mil­lion. Cirrus has de­liv­ered 25 of these jets to cus­tomers since its cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in late 2016.

CESSNA CITATIONJET M2

En­try level jet from the Tex­tron fam­ily, the CitationJet M2, suit­able for cor­po­rate, char­ter or pri­vate use, comes with ad­vanced avion­ics with touch-con­trolled suit­able for a sin­gle pi­lot. With a strik­ing ex­te­rior, the alu­minum air­frame of the air­craft holds two FJ44 en­gines which give it a cruis­ing speed of up to 400 knots with more than 1,500 nau­ti­cal miles of range and a 24-minute direct climb to FL410.

The air­craft has a flex­i­ble cabin con­fig­u­ra­tion which pro­vides seats for up to seven pas­sen­gers to travel in com­fort with op­tional cabin man­age­ment sys­tem. The air­craft cost over $4 mil­lion. Cessna, one of the lead­ers in the light jet seg­ment, with 5,000 light jets around the world. It of­fers from the pop­u­lar en­try level Ci­ta­tion Mus­tang and Ci­ta­tion M2 jets, to the up­graded ef­fi­ciency and com­fort of the CJ3+ and the top per­form­ing CJ4. The M2 was in­tro­duced in 2013 and by 2017 nearly 150 air­craft de­liv­ered to cus­tomers around the world.

ECLIPSE 550

The only twin en­gine jet in be­low $3 mil­lion, Eclipse 550, with a max cruise of 430 mph, can fly up to six pas­sen­gers to a max­i­mum alti­tude of 41,000 feet. It is con­sid­ered as one of the most ef­fi­cient twin-en­gine jet on the planet. The In­te­grated Flight Man­age­ment Sys­tem (IFMS) in the air­craft acts as a vir­tual copi­lot. It fea­tures Class 3 E-charts, XM Satel­lite Weather and pro­vides dig­i­tal avion­ics with demon­strated air­line reli­a­bil­ity and sys­tems ca­pa­bil­ity. The com­pany claims that “ev­ery as­pect of the air­plane has been op­ti­mised for cost re­duc­tion.”

The air­craft comes with Lim­ited Air­craft War­ranty which cov­ers all de­fects in ma­te­rial and work­man­ship for a pe­riod of 5 years or 1,000 hours. With the direct op­er­at­ing costs and fixed an­nual costs comes as lit­tle as $2.02 per nau­ti­cal mile.

VLJS AT FARN­BOR­OUGH AIR­SHOW 2018

Hon­daJet isn’t the only cool kid on the avi­a­tion bloc as a bevy of mi­cro jets gear to swarm over to the Farn­bor­ough Air­show. New to the Farn­bor­ough In­ter­na­tional Air­show, the Light Air­craft As­so­ci­a­tion (LAA) will demon­strate how you can make the dream of fly­ing a re­al­ity. See the LAA mem­bers in ac­tion and take part in their in­ter­ac­tive ac­tiv­i­ties where you can put a rivet in an air­craft or help put the fab­ric cov­er­ing on a vin­tage air­craft wing.

The LAA are bring­ing down their own static-dis­play of home-built air­craft. Be in­spired to build your own plane or hear how you can de­sign one from scratch. If you don’t fancy build­ing a plane but want to fly, then the Light Air­craft As­so­ci­a­tion will be shar­ing their knowl­edge and ideas to make fly­ing your new hobby. New to the Farn­bor­ough In­ter­na­tional Air­show, the Light Air­craft As­so­ci­a­tion (LAA) will demon­strate how you can make the dream of fly­ing a re­al­ity.

Rolls Royce will also be rep­ping the mini band­wagon with an in­ter­ac­tive ses­sion that will let at­ten­dees build their own mini jet en­gine us­ing alu­minum en­gine kits com­pris­ing 9 com­po­nents each. In­ter­ested groups will be taken through how the jet en­gine works, learn about the key com­po­nents and how they per­form. They will be shown how to take the en­gine apart into its 9 com­po­nent pieces, and taken through how to build the jet en­gine them­selves fol­lowed by an ex­cit­ing com­pet­i­tive build-off ses­sion.

The Farn­bor­ough In­ter­na­tional Air­show 2018 is one of the big­gest avi­a­tion events in the world and light jet seek to gain back their pop­u­lar­ity with a bang and how!

CHOICE UN­LIM­ITED: (TOP) EM­BRAER PHENOM 100 EV, CIRRUS VI­SION JET, HON­DAJET; (ABOVE) CESSNA CI­TA­TION M2 AND ECLIPSE 550.

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