Very light jet
A very light jet (VLJ), entry-level jet or personal jet, previously known as a microjet, is a category of small business jets seating four to eight people and often with a maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of or under 10,000 pounds (4,540 kg), although the Embraer Phenom 100, HondaJet and Cessna Citation M2 are all slightly over. VLJs are considered the lightest business jets and are approved for single-pilot operation.
The first small jet-powered civil aircraft, the 1950s Morane-Saulnier MS.760 Paris, has been retroactively suggested as being the first VLJ, as it seats four with a single pilot and is smaller than modern VLJs. The production of MS.760 differs from modern business jets in having a sliding canopy for cabin access rather than a door; a six-seat version with an enclosed cabin and a conventional door was canceled after a single prototype was built.
Two unbuilt Cessna aircraft of the 1950s and 1960s would have met the definition of a VLJ. The first was the 407, a four-seat civil version of the T-37 jet trainer proposed in 1959; however, the 407 never progressed past the mock-up stage due to insufficient customer interest. The second was the Fanjet 500, which had an MTOW of 9,500 pounds (4,310 kg) and a single pilot as originally envisioned in 1968; however, as the aircraft evolved into the Citation, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration demanded a second pilot and various design changes, resulting in an MTOW of 10,350 pounds (4,690 kg).
After a flurry of interest in the Small Aircraft Transportation System (SATS) and air taxi markets in the early 2000s, the VLJ sector underwent significant expansion. Several new designs were produced, such as the Embraer Phenom 100, the Cessna Citation Mustang, and the Eclipse 500. However, following the late 2000s recession the air taxi market underperformed expectations, and both Eclipse Aviation and air taxi firm DayJet collapsed. In December 2010, AvWeb's Paul Bertorelli explained that the term very light jet has lost favor in the aviation industry: "Personal jet is the description du jour. You don't hear the term VLJ—very light jet—much anymore and some people in the industry tell me they think it's because that term was too tightly coupled to Eclipse, a failure that the remaining players want to, understandably, distance themselves from."
Single-engine designs were popular in the mid-2000s, before the global financial crisis diminished the market appeal of the category. Most of those projects, which included the Piper Altaire, Diamond D-Jet, Eclipse 400 and VisionAire Vantage, were all shelved. As of 2016, the only maintained aircraft are the Cirrus Vision SF50, which was type certified that year and put into production, and the Stratos 714, which at the time expected certification in 2019. Single-engine VLJs are expected to compete with single turboprop aircraft.
Two VLJs in history have won the Collier Trophy, known as the most prestigious aerospace engineering award in the United States — the Eclipse 500 (in 2006) and the Cirrus Vision Jet (SF50, in 2018).
VLJs are intended to have lower operating costs than conventional jets, and to be able to operate from runways as short as 3,000 feet (910 m), either for personal use or in point-to-point air taxi service. In the United States, the Small Aircraft Transportation System is aimed at providing air service to areas ignored by airlines.
Florida-based air taxi provider DayJet, which on October 3, 2007 began its Eclipse 500 service, planned to operate more than 1,000 of the VLJs within five years, and had stated in mid-2007 that it planned to operate 300 Eclipse 500s serving 40 regional airports in the Southeastern United States by the end of 2008. DayJet ceased operations on September 19, 2008.
Many models are under development or awaiting certification, while others have failed. Six have so far made deliveries to customers:
- 2006-2017 : Cessna Citation Mustang
- 2006-2008 : Eclipse 500 / 2014-2017 : 550
- 2008- : Embraer Phenom 100
- 2013- : Cessna CitationJet/M2
- 2015- : Honda HA-420 HondaJet
- 2016- : Cirrus Vision SF50
The Cessna Citation Mustang was the first production VLJ, first delivered in November 2006, and the Cirrus Vision SF50 is the first single-engine production VLJ, beginning deliveries in December 2016.
Business jet sales were suffering due to the late 2000s recession. The General Aviation Manufacturers Association reported in November 2010 that third quarter business jet sales were down 20.3% over the same period in 2009, with light jets suffering the most. Industry analysis from PMi suggested that 1,700 VLJs would be delivered between 2013 and 2020, compared to 1,000 delivered up to 2013.
|Cessna Citation Mustang||1||45||101||125||73||43||38||20||8||8||10||7||-||-||479|
|Embraer Phenom 100||-||-||2||97||100||41||29||30||19||12||10||18||11||11||380|
|Cirrus Vision SF50||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||3||22||63||81||169|
|Honda HA-420 HondaJet||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||2||23||43||37||36||141|
When these smaller jets were first mooted, there was much interest in the fact that they would not have a lavatory on board, with articles discussing the matter in The New York Times and items on NBC Nightly News. Some manufacturers argued that for short flights of 300 to 500 miles (480 to 800 km) and 40 to 80 minutes' duration, the lavatory issue was not a problem and air taxi service companies said that it was not a concern for most of their passengers. Despite this, the Eclipse 500 had the option of an electric flush, remove-to-service lavatory with a privacy curtain - at the expense of one passenger seat, and the proposed Adam A700 design had a seven-seat configuration with rear lavatory with a privacy curtain. The Cessna Mustang also has an emergency toilet, but it is located between the cockpit and cabin. The Embraer Phenom 100 offers a fully enclosed lavatory with a solid door. The 2015 Honda HA-420 HondaJet has a full lavatory at the rear of the aircraft with flushing toilet, full sink and closing door.
@ LR TAS
|Cirrus SF50||5-7||6,000 lb||4.1 ft||1× FJ33||305 kn||1,275 nmi||0.863 nmi/lb @ 259 kn||$2.38m||169||3 Jul 2008||delivered since 2016|
|Honda HA-420||6-8||10,700 lb||4.8 ft||2× HF120||422 kn||1,437 nmi||0.663 nmi/lb @ 360 kn||$5.25m||150||3 Dec 2003||delivered since 2015|
|Citation M2||6-8||10,700 lb||4.8 ft||2× FJ44||404 kn||1,550 nmi||0.626 nmi/lb @ 323 kn||$4.7m||244||29 Apr 1991||delivered since 1993|
|Phenom 100||6-8||10,703 lb||4.9 ft||2× PW617F||406 kn||1,178 nmi||0.626 nmi/lb @ 340 kn||$4.495m||380||26 Jul 2007||delivered since 2008|
|Flaris LAR01||5||3,300 lb||4.0 ft||1× FJ33||380 kn||1,730 nmi||$2 m||5 Apr 2019||in development|
|Stratos 714||4||8,421 lb||4.8 ft||1× PW535||415 kn||1,500 nmi||$3-3.5m||21 Nov 2016||in development[a]|
|FLS Microjet||1||659 lb||1× PBS TJ-100||278 kn||200 nmi||$0.1895m||Jan 2011|
|SubSonex||1||1,000 lb||1× PBS TJ-100||220 kn||300+ nmi||$0.135m||10 Aug 2011|
|Viper Jet||2||5,100 lb||1× J85||430 kn||800 nmi||$0.48-0.65m||Oct 1999||kits not produced|
|Citation Mustang||6||8,645 lb||4.5 ft||2× PW615F||340 kn||1,167 nmi||0.641 nmi/lb @ 319 kn||$3.35m||479||23 Apr 2005||2006-2017 deliveries|
|Eclipse 500||6||6,000 lb||4.2 ft||2× PW610F||370 kn||1,125 nmi||$2.15m||260||26 Aug 2002||2006-2008 deliveries|
|Eclipse 550||6||6,000 lb||4.2 ft||2× PW610F||375 kn||1,125 nmi||1.040 nmi/lb @ 334 kn||$2.9m||33||2013||2013-2018 deliveries[b]|
|Adam A700||5-7||9,350 lb||2× FJ33||340 kn||1,200 nmi||$1.9 m||28 Jul 2003||2008 bankruptcy|
|Comp Air Jet||8||8,900 lb||1× AI-25||320 kn||1,250 nmi||$1.2 m||10 Jul 2004||2006 last update|
|ATG Javelin||2||6,900 lb||2× FJ33||530 kn||1,200 nmi||$2.995m||30 Sep 2005||2008 halt|
|Diamond D-Jet||5||5,115 lb||1× FJ33||315 kn||1,350 nmi||$1.89m||18 Apr 2006||2013 suspension|
|Eclipse 400||4||4,480 lb||1x PW615F||345 kn||1,250 nmi||$1.35m||2 Jul 2007||2009 bankruptcy|
|Epic Victory||3-5||5,500 lb||1× FJ33||320 kn||1,200 nmi||$1m||6 Jul 2007||2009 bankruptcy[c]|
|Epic Elite||7||7,701 lb||2× FJ33||390 kn||1,600 nmi||$2.35 m||7 Jun 2007||2009 bankruptcy[c]|
|AVCEN Jetpod||7-8||6,750 lb||16 Aug 2009||2009 crash[d]|
|PiperJet||7||7,000 lb||1× FJ44||360 kn||1,300 nmi||$2.20m||30 Jul 2008||2011 suspension[e]|
|S-33 Independence||9||7,500 lb||5.0 ft||2× FJ33||415 kn||2,000 nmi||$3.945m ||7 Jan 2006||2006 crash[f]|
|Sport Jet II||4-5||5,250 lb||1× JT15D||380 kn||1,000 nmi||$1.20m||12 May 2006||2006 crash[g]|
|Vantage||6||8,200 lb||1× JT15D||350 kn||999 nmi||$1.65 m||16 Nov 1996||2003 bankruptcy[h]|
|Honda MH02||6||7,937 lb||2× JT15D||353 kn||5 Mar 1993||1998 deregistration|
|Williams V-Jet II||3,800 lb||2× FJX-2||300 kn||13 Apr 1997||2001 donation|
@ LR TAS
- Slightly stretched into the Stratos 716X, first flight July 2, 2020, sold in kit before type certification which would need at least $100-150 million
- Company announced in March 2017 that production would phase out as it prepared development of the Eclipse 700
- Epic Aircraft went into bankruptcy in 2009 and its assets were bought in April, 2010 by Aviation Industry Corporation of China who are restarting Victory production and certification as of July 2010[update].
- owner and founder died during first flight crash
- Development suspended indefinitely on October 26, 2011
- No update on certification date from company. In 2009 Spectrum announced that new S-40 Freedom project will be first for certification and production
- Second Pre-Production Aircraft was being built in production 2011, accepting orders.
- VisionAir bankrupt and liquidated 2003, design developed into EV-20 Vantage Jet project
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Think the VLJ is a modern phenomenon? They’ve been around for almost 60 years, says Mike Jerram
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More than 50 years ago, before Eclipse Aviation President and Chief Executive Officer Vern Raburn was born — and obviously decades before he envisioned the Eclipse 500... — the concept of relatively light aircraft powered by jet engines and flown by a single pilot emerged.
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- The VLJ (Very Light Jet) Market 2006-2017
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- Transportation Systems Analysis Model - TSAM is a nationwide transportation planning model to forecast air taxi demand in the United States.