Very light jet

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The Eclipse 500 was heavily marketed as a very light jet

A very light jet (VLJ), entry-level jet or personal jet,[1] 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),[2][3][4] 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 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.[5][6]

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 Cessna Citation I, 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).[6]

Other attempts to create small jet aircraft in this class in the 1970s and 1980s were the Gulfstream Aerospace FanJet 1500[6] and the CMC Leopard.

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."[1]

Single-engine designs were popular in the mid-2000s, before the global financial crisis diminished the market appeal of the category. Most of those programs, which included the Piper Altaire, Diamond D-Jet, Eclipse 400 and VisionAire Vantage, were all shelved and the only maintained aircraft are the Cirrus Vision SF50, which is now type certified and in production, and the Stratos 714, which expects certification in 2019. They are expected to compete with single turboprop aircraft.[7]

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 (in 2018).[8]

Target market[edit]

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.[9][10] 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,[11] 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.[3] DayJet ceased operations on September 19, 2008.[11]


The Cirrus Vision SF50 is the only single-engine VLJ currently certified with the FAA

Many models are under development or awaiting certification, while others have failed.[12] Six have so far made deliveries to customers:

The Cessna Citation Mustang was the first production VLJ, first delivered in November 2006,[14][15][16] and the Cirrus Vision SF50 is the first single-engine production VLJ, beginning deliveries in December 2016.[17][18]

Business jet sales were suffering due to the ongoing 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,[19] with light jets suffering the most.[20] Industry analysts PMi suggest that 1,700 VLJs will be delivered between 2013 and 2020, compared to 1,000 delivered up to 2013.[21]

Year 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 Total
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
Eclipse 500 1 98 161 - - - - - - - - - - - 260
Cessna CitationJet/M2 - - - - - - - 12 46 41 38 39 34 34 244
Cirrus Vision SF50 - - - - - - - - - - 3 22 63 81 169
Honda HA-420 HondaJet - - - - - - - - - 2 23 43 37 36 141
Eclipse 550 - - - - - - - - 12 7 8 6 - - 33
Total 2 143 264 222 173 84 67 62 85 70 92 135 145 162 1706

Interior amenities[edit]

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[23] and items on NBC Nightly News.[24] 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[23] and air taxi service companies said that it was not a concern for most of their passengers.[24] 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.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Paul Bertorelli (December 2010). "Can Eclipse Make It?". AvWeb.
  2. ^ "What is a Very light Jet?" (PDF). BenchMark (3). Burns & McDonnell. 2005. p. 18. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-12-22.
  3. ^ a b David Noland (20 May 2007). "Mini-Jet Revolution, or Dot-Com with Wings?". Popular Mechanics.
  4. ^ "Very Light Jet - VLJ".
  5. ^ Jerram, Mike (October 2010). "Morane-Saulnier Paris: the very first Very Light Jet" (PDF). General Aviation. International Council of Aircraft Owners and Pilots Associations. Retrieved 17 April 2020. Think the VLJ is a modern phenomenon? They’ve been around for almost 60 years, says Mike Jerram
  6. ^ a b c Olcott, John W. (5 May 2006). "Turbine Pilot: VLJ Deja Vu". Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. Retrieved 17 April 2020. 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.
  7. ^ "Getting personal with single-engined jets". Flight Global. 21 July 2016.
  8. ^ "Collier Trophy". National Aeronautic Association. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
  9. ^ Croft, John (May 2006). "Very Light Jets: Boom or Blip" (PDF). Aerospace America. American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-12-02. Retrieved 2007-02-27.
  10. ^ Aboulafia, Richard (2006-03-13). "March 2006 Newsletter". Retrieved 2007-02-27.
  11. ^ a b "Very Light Jets Enter Fractional Market". Halogen Guides Jets. 2007-11-02. Retrieved 2007-11-13.
  12. ^ Cox, Bill. "The Day Of The Personal Jet" Plane & Pilot Magazine, 1 May 2008. Retrieved March 2015.
  13. ^ Stephen Trimble (11 May 2017). "Cessna rolls out last Mustang after genre-defining run". Flight Global.
  14. ^ Trautvetter, Chad (2006-11-23). "Cessna Beats Out Eclipse In First VLJ Delivery". AVweb. Retrieved 2006-11-29.
  15. ^ "Smaller, faster, cheaper new jets may transform flying". USA Today. Associated Press. 2006-01-19. Retrieved 2006-09-26.
  16. ^ "Cessna Citation Mustang Cleared for Flight Into Known Icing Conditions" (Press release). Cessna Aircraft Company. 2006-11-09. Retrieved 2006-11-29.[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ "Cirrus Earns Vision Jet Certification". AOPA. 2016-10-31. Retrieved 2016-12-20.
  18. ^ "Cirrus delivers first Vision jet, unveils new facility". Retrieved 20 December 2016.
  19. ^ Grady, Mary (November 2010). "Report: GA Sales Continue To Drop". Retrieved 9 January 2011.
  20. ^ Garvey, William. HondaJet flight testing is underway Aviation Week, 30 December 2010. Accessed: 9 January 2011.
  21. ^ "ANN Daily Aero-Briefing 27 November 2013" Aero News / PMi, November 2013. Accessed: 1 December 2013. Original report Archived December 3, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ General Aviation Manufacturers Association (2020). "2019 Databook" (PDF). Retrieved 20 February 2020. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  23. ^ a b Sharkey, Joe (2006-08-29). "Big Battle in Small-Jet Skies". The New York Times. Retrieved 2006-12-12.
  24. ^ a b Di Piazza, Karen. "No Throne Room on Eclipse VLJ: Real Issue or Media Hype?". CharterX. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved 2006-11-29.
  25. ^ "HondaJet Lavatory - Toilet". Retrieved April 25, 2015.


External links[edit]