If emerging trends in the aviation industry are anything to go by, then the private flying sector will witness a growth in the next twenty years that is 10 times any the industry has observed in the last 50 years. Very light jets (VLJs) are raring to go and will have an impact on all aspects of private flying from full ownership, to fractional jets, charter, jet cards and the nascent air-taxi business. The rollout is already underway with the delivery of the first very light jet into a fractional program at Jet-Alliance.
An Introduction to VLJs
VLJs weigh less than 10,000 pounds and can be certified for single pilot operation. You may know them as micro jets, personal jets and mini jets. Manufacturers of VLJs have already started delivery of the aircraft and by some forecasts expect deliveries of over 15,000 such jets by the year 2015 - an impressive number considering only 750 private jets were sold worldwide in 2005. The forecasts are largely driven by the (comparably) affordable upfront and operational costs of VLJs. These costs are lower due to advanced manufacturing using light weight composite materials, cutting edge digital avionics and smaller, yet eminently efficient, jet engines, producing about 1,700 pounds of thrust and weighing just 100-200 pounds.
Very Light Jets typically have a flight range of a thousand miles, a top speed of 340 to 420 knots and can seat from 4 to 7 passengers. They cost between $1m and $3.6m, whereas a typical light jet can cost between $4m and $8m.The Planes
As at this writing two planes have received FAA Certification the 6-seat, $2.6m Citation Mustang and the $1.5m Eclipse 500. The latter already has orders for over 2,500 aircraft. Some other planes that are undergoing flight testing or development include:
Embraer Phenom 100 (pictured above) from Embraer of Brazil, seats 4 - 6 passengers, will cost in the region of $3 million and expects its first delivery around the early part of 2008. This will be one of the larger VLJ's. Epic Aircrafts plans to launch its Epic Jet towards the end of 2007. Offering 5 passenger seating, and a slightly lower price tag of $2.1 million. The $2.3m Adam A700 (pictured below), derived from the A500, has orders for about 300 planes and expects to start deliveries in 2007. Honda is developing it's own engine for it's foray into the VLJ market, with the HondaJet expected in 2009.
A fuller list of VLJ's that are expected to start delivery in the next two years is included in the table below.What does a VLJ mean to you?.
Using a VLJ or any other private plane can save save you the hassle of long security checks, flight delays, cancellations and you get to avoid the hours spent in airport lounges before boarding.
A private jet whether it's chartered, fully owned or through a jet card membership, allows you to bypass these delays and enjoy the luxury of having a sleek, speedy and exclusive air travel option at any time. Read about the full benefits of private air travel in our earlier report.Predictions
With the rollout of VLJs and their significant cost advantages across all forms of private flying we expect to see them have a large impact. 2007 is just the start of this movement. We'll continue to monitor and report on the trends and developments in this whole new sector.
|Aircraft||Seats||Range (nm)||Cruise Speed (ktas)||Cost|
|EV-20 Vantage Jet||8-10||1,300||424||$3.0m|
|Epic Elite Jet||6-8||1,400||410||$2.1m|
|Excel Sport Jet||5||1,000||340||$1.0m|