Preparing for the Very Light Jet Industry
By Elliot Borin, Air TaxiFlights.com
Have you ever heard the term VLJ? If you haven't, you should. It stands for Very Light Jet (VLJ), and this technology is an up and coming phenomenon in the business aviation community. In fact, dozens of these aircraft types are currently in design production and flight testing by manufacturers such as Cessna, Honda, Diamond Aircraft, Embraer, Eclipse Aviation, and more. So what is this hype all about? The focus of the Very Light Jet concept is to allow the traveling public a method of travel that will allow them more opportunities in reaching their specific destinations. Traditionally, the airline industry has been running on the old "hub and spoke system", because according to them, it is cheaper and more efficient to fly you from say Charlotte, NC to Atlanta, and then back to Washington, D.C. But if you could drive to the airport, and be taxiing out for departure in 20 minutes and fly directly to your destination, wouldn't you consider that more efficient?
One of the factors driving the business jet market is the growing frustrations that travelers have with commercial airlines. The inconvenience and frequent delays of airline travel may cause individuals and companies to turn to a different method of travel. In fact, even individuals or companies who at one time could not afford to spend millions for on demand jet travel, may now have that opportunity with even less investment than ever before.
The on demand business jet category has historically been the exclusive domain of upscale travelers. But companies building these very light jets report that these aircraft have list prices between $1 and $4 million dollars, which is significantly cheaper than say a 5 year old Cessna Citation X, which can cost $10 million. Even though the VLJs are less expensive than traditional business jets, that doesn't mean that safety or convenience has been compromised. In fact, manufacturers are outfitting new VLJs with new technology such as the Garmin G1000 avionics package, which not only sports such functions as LCD multi-function displays, and Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS), but also XM radio entertainment. In addition, Adams Aircraft, who is building the A700 jet has nearly 24 cubic feet of room per passenger, and the EA-500 from Eclipse Aviation has nearly 50 cubic feet of room, which provides even more room than you will ever get while seated in first class on most air carriers.
Even though companies like Rolls Royce, who has predicted that 8,000 of these VLJs will be flying by 2013, none of this will matter if these aircraft cannot pass certification from the FAA, which is scheduled for March of 2006. However, nearly 2500 customers have made deposits for the Eclipse EA500. The FAA has been involved for the majority of the design process, which indicates that there shouldn't be any problems for certification. Keep your eyes towards the sky in 2006 for the latest in aviation technology.
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