From light pis­ton sin­gles to ul­tra­long-range busi­ness jets, these are the air­planes buy­ers can’t wait to fly. By Stephen Pope

The mar­ket for new Part 23 and Part 25 gen­eral avi­a­tion air­planes has yet to see a re­turn to the brisk sales lev­els recorded be­fore the 2008 fi­nan­cial cri­sis, but slow de­liv­er­ies can be blamed at least in part on the en­cour­ag­ing fact that many buy­ers say they are merely wait­ing for cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of new air­craft mod­els that of­fer im­proved per­for­mance and fea­tures.

A hand­ful of man­u­fac­tur­ers have proved this in­deed is the case. For ex­am­ple, Honda Air­craft ob­tained cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for the Hon­daJet, which be­came the most de­liv­ered light jet in the world in 2017. Cirrus has in­creased pro­duc­tion rates for the SR20 and SR22 with the in­tro­duc­tion of the hot-sell­ing Gen­er­a­tion 6 mod­els, and of course, buy­ers can’t wait to get their hands on the new SF50 Vi­sion Jet, an air­plane that is rapidly ramp­ing up to­ward full-rate pro­duc­tion in Du­luth, Min­nesota.

Here are sev­eral in-de­vel­op­ment gen­eral avi­a­tion air­planes due to hit the mar­ket in the com­ing years (or, in some cases, months) that should have a big im­pact on the mar­ket.


The Pilatus PC-24 gives long­time fans of the re­mark­able PC-12 NG tur­bo­prop sin­gle rea­son to cheer the ar­rival of its tur­bo­fan-pow­ered coun­ter­part, which stands out among the light-jet com­pe­ti­tion mainly be­cause of its huge rear cargo door and the abil­ity to alight on unim­proved airstrips. Re­ally, the PC-24 doesn’t fit neatly into any of the es­tab­lished busi­ness jet cat­e­gories. It has the per­for­mance of a light jet, but a cabin more on par with a mid­size jet. Its abil­ity to op­er­ate from short run­ways also gives it the flex­i­bil­ity of a tur­bo­prop. For this rea­son, Pilatus bills the PC-24 as the Su­per Ver­sa­tile Jet.

It won’t be long now be­fore peo­ple start see­ing the PC-24 on air­port ramps as first de­liv­er­ies are poised to ramp up. In an­tic­i­pa­tion of the air­plane’s mar­ket in­tro­duc­tion, Pilatus has launched a 24/7 cus­tomer-ser­vice fa­cil­ity ahead of cer­ti­fi­ca­tion to guar­an­tee the flow of spare parts and tech­ni­cal sup­port world­wide, 365 days a year, an en­hance­ment that’s also ex­pected to ben­e­fit PC-12 cus­tomers. The num­ber of au­tho­rized PC-24 ser­vice cen­ters, mean­while, is grow­ing as main­te­nance tech­ni­cians com­plete ini­tial PC-24 train­ing. FlightSafety In­ter­na­tional is han­dling all pi­lot and main­te­nance-tech­ni­cian train­ing, and a full-mo­tion PC-24 sim­u­la­tor is planned to be op­er­a­tional very soon.

With PC-24 de­liv­er­ies just start­ing, Pilatus has in­vested heav­ily in in­fras­truc­ture, in­creas­ing its foot­print and in­stalling new equip­ment at its head­quar­ters in Stans, Switzer­land, as well as in­vest­ing $30 mil­lion in a 120,000-square-foot de­liv­ery fa­cil­ity in Broom­field, Colorado, which is ex­pected to open by the mid­dle of this year.


The Gulfstream G500 is an­other highly an­tic­i­pated busi­ness jet that is poised to make its mar­ket de­but very soon. The G500 will en­ter ser­vice shortly as Gulfstream de­liv­ers the last G450 model this month and be­gins to phase out G550 de­liv­er­ies as well. The long-range G600, mean­while, is on track to en­ter ser­vice a year from now.

Gulfstream an­nounced that the G500 will be in­tro­duced with greater range than ex­pected, al­low­ing the air­craft to fly up to 4,400 nm at Mach 0.90, and 5,200 nm at Mach 0.85. The G500 and G600 fea­ture a Honey­well cock­pit with ac­tive side­sticks and a large num­ber of touch­screens, as well as Pratt & Whit­ney Canada PW800 tur­bo­fan en­gines.

The G500 and G600 both fea­ture supremely com­fort­able and quiet cab­ins, ul­tra long range and top cruise speeds that push up against the speed of sound. Along with the top-of-the-line G650 model, the Gulfstream fam­ily will now truly stand apart in the biz­jet world as all of the new flag­ship mod­els be­gin reach­ing buy­ers.


Although Gulfstream has es­tab­lished a rep­u­ta­tion for it­self as the top pur­veyor of large-cabin busi­ness jets in the world, air­craft mak­ers Bom­bardier, of Canada, and Das­sault, of France, aren’t con­tent to let their Amer­i­can com­peti­tor take all the lime­light. Un­for­tu­nately for both com­pa­nies, how­ever, they have faced dif­fi­cul­ties of late, Bom­bardier due to a fis­cal cri­sis re­lated to its C Se­ries air­liner and Das­sault to an un­for­tu­nate engine de­lay of its new Fal­con 5X model that is push­ing the an­tic­i­pated cer­ti­fi­ca­tion date fur­ther into the fu­ture.

Bom­bardier was forced to can­cel the de­vel­op­ment of the Lear­jet 85 for fi­nan­cial rea­sons, but the com­pany is mov­ing at a brisk pace on the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­gram for its flag­ship jets, the Global 7000 and 8000, af­ter an ear­lier slow­down. The long-de­layed Global 7000 was orig­i­nally due to be cer­ti­fied this year, but that timetable has now been pushed back two years. De­vel­op­ment of the Global 8000 will re­sume once the 7000 is fur­ther into its flight-test regime.

Das­sault, mean­while, is a vic­tim of tech­ni­cal is­sues with the Safran Sil­ver­crest en­gines that will power the 5X. Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion had al­ready been pushed back to 2020 be­fore Das­sault was in­formed of new prob­lems with the engine.


Tex­tron Avi­a­tion, the par­ent com­pany of Cessna, doesn’t build large-cabin jets to com­pete with Gulfstream, Bom­bardier, Das­sault or Em­braer at the top ech­e­lon of the mar­ket, but the com­pany aims to change that with the in­tro­duc­tion of the Ci­ta­tion Hemi­sphere model. The Hemi­sphere is planned to be pow­ered by the same Sil­ver­crest en­gines now plagu­ing Das­sault, but Tex­tron Avi­a­tion is con­fi­dent the is­sues will be reme­died well be­fore it en­ters flight test­ing next year.

And any­way, Cessna has more press­ing initiatives im­me­di­ately ahead, mainly to do with the flight-test pro­gram for the Ci­ta­tion

Lon­gi­tude su­per-mid­size jet as well as de­vel­op­ment of the De­nali tur­bo­prop, the first air­plane to use GE’s new fadec-con­trolled Ad­vanced Tur­bo­prop engine, a di­rect com­peti­tor to the Pratt & Whit­ney Canada PT6A that cur­rently dom­i­nates the mar­ket.

The first pro­duc­tion Lon­gi­tude en­tered flight test­ing last sum­mer, and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion and first de­liv­er­ies are ex­pected shortly. The De­nali, mean­while, which some have likened to a clone of the Pilatus PC-12 be­cause of its gen­eral di­men­sions and the fact it too has a rear cargo door, is sched­uled to en­ter ser­vice in late 2019 or early 2020.

The De­nali has a flat-floor cabin that is the widest in its class. In the ex­ec­u­tive lay­out, it can be con­fig­ured with six seats, in­clud­ing four fac­ing each other in club ar­range­ment, with a re­fresh­ment sta­tion at the front of the cabin. +EPIC E1000 An­other busi­ness tur­bo­prop that is turn­ing heads is the sleek and fast Epic E1000, the first pro­duc­tion model from Epic Air­craft in Bend, Ore­gon. Fea­tur­ing G1000 NXi avionics in a gor­geous cock­pit that leads to a mod­ern and stylish pas­sen­ger com­part­ment, the E1000 is sure to at­tract buy­ers en masse once de­liv­er­ies start later this year. The com­pany cur­rently holds de­posits for 70-plus air­planes, but many buy­ers in­di­cate they are wait­ing for the E1000’s cer­ti­fi­ca­tion and fi­nal per­for­mance fig­ures to be con­firmed be­fore they write a check. If the air­plane is as good as it ap­pears on pa­per, there’s lit­tle ques­tion Epic will have a win­ner on its hands.


The Di­a­mond DA50 is an in­ter­est­ing air­plane, from an in­ter­est­ing com­pany, that is part diesel sin­gle, part con­ven­tional gaso­linepow­ered sin­gle and part sin­gle-engine tur­bo­prop, since the model will be of­fered with a choice of en­gines. Di­a­mond Air­craft in Aus­tria ac­tu­ally launched the DA50 last spring in sev­eral con­fig­u­ra­tions, giv­ing buy­ers a choice of four, five or seven seats; 230, 260 and 320 hp Safran SMA diesel en­gines; a 375 hp Ly­coming engine; or a tur­bo­prop ver­sion with a Ukrainian-built tur­bine engine. We told you it was in­ter­est­ing.


Alas, Pipistrel has slowed de­vel­op­ment of its sleek Panthera model as it grap­ples with de­sign choices and tries to un­der­stand how re­laxed Part 23 air­craft cer­ti­fi­ca­tion rules will ben­e­fit the air­plane. The com­pany is plan­ning an all-elec­tric ver­sion, a hy­brid model and a more con­ven­tional air­plane pow­ered by a Ly­coming pis­ton engine.

The big­gest change to the pro­duc­tion ver­sion of the Panthera is a Ly­coming IO-540 engine, which re­places the IO-390 used in an ear­lier pro­to­type. The cabin has also been ex­panded to pro­vide more headand legroom. In all, Pipistrel has made more than 200 changes to the pro­to­type de­sign based on flight-test ex­pe­ri­ence.

The engine change means Pipistrel will come very close to meet­ing its de­sign tar­get of pro­duc­ing an air­plane ca­pa­ble of cruis­ing at 200 knots, fly­ing 1,000 nm legs at re­duced power set­tings and car­ry­ing four adults with the fuel tanks full. The Panthera’s nor­mal cruise speed is pro­jected to be 198 ktas; range at 55 per­cent power is 1,000 nm; and full-fuel pay­load tips the scales at 770 pounds. Base price is tar­geted at un­der $500,000.


The Flight De­sign C4 is an­other model that has been set for “re­launch” now that the Part 23 re­write has gone into ef­fect and a new owner has taken con­trol of the com­pany. Lift Avi­a­tion, the new owner, is “seek­ing part­ners” to help fi­nance and man­u­fac­ture the four-seat de­sign, with a hope to achieve cer­ti­fi­ca­tion next year.

Pro­duc­tion of the Flight De­sign CTLS and CTSL has con­tin­ued at a low level at Flight De­sign’s man­u­fac­tur­ing and en­gi­neer­ing base in Kher­son, Ukraine, but it’s un­known what progress has been made on the C4. When it was first an­nounced, the air­plane was set to sell for around $250,000 with the per­for­mance and room of light gen­eral avi­a­tion air­planes sell­ing for al­most twice as much.


An­other project with an un­cer­tain fu­ture is the Eclipse 700, a larger and more ca­pa­ble ver­sion of the Eclipse 500 and 550 mod­els orig­i­nally de­vel­oped by Vern Raburn’s abortive com­pany but now out of pro­duc­tion as the par­ent com­pany, One Avi­a­tion, faces fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties. Much of the trou­ble ap­pears re­lated to One Avi­a­tion’s other man­u­fac­tur­ing arm, Kestrel, a sin­gle-en­gine­tur­bo­prop project be­ing led by Cirrus co-founder Alan Klap­meier. One Avi­a­tion laid off most of its pro­duc­tion work­ers last fall as it phased out pro­duc­tion of the Eclipse 550 very light jet to tran­si­tion to the Eclipse 700. The Al­bu­querque, New Mex­ico-based com­pany says it con­tin­ues to work to raise fund­ing for the larger Eclipse 700, known as Project Canada, an air­plane that was ex­pected to be the first jet cer­ti­fied un­der the new Part 23 rules. The timetable for the Eclipse 700’s de­vel­op­ment is less cer­tain now.

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