Turbine Pilot Special Section: Up and coming

Look into the single-pilot turbine telescope

October 1, 2009

In spite of the doom and gloom tumbling off the newspapers, television, and the Internet, the fact is that new general aviation airplanes are in the works. Sure, some have fallen by the wayside. But the next two years promise an interesting mix of new entrants in the single-pilot turbine marketplace. What follows is a quick summary of designs expected to emerge.

‘AOPA Pilot’, Turbine Edition, OCTOBER 2009

Table of Contents

D-JET Dawn
Moving to turbine power
Up and coming
The next airplane
Brazilian breakaway
Before you buy, prebuy

Hawker Beechcraft Corporation says that its King Air 350i will be certified in the third quarter of 2009. The 350i adds Rockwell Collins’ Venue “infotainment” system to the heavy hauler’s long list of superlatives. The Venue lets passengers run iPods; listen to XM Satellite Radio; or play CDs, Blu-Ray DVDs, Xboxes, or PlayStations. The $6.57 million, top-of-the-line King Air will cruise at 312 knots with a maximum range of 1,765 nm.

The all-composite, 10-seat, $2.95 million Comp Air CA-12 is set for certification in late 2011. Powered by a single 1,650-shp Honeywell TPE-331-14GR engine, Comp Air Aviation says the airplane will do 310 knots and have ranges up to 2,535 nm.

The $3 million Antilles Seaplanes G-21 Super Goose is an updated, improved variant of the original Grumman Goose. It uses two 680-shp Pratt & Whitney PT6 engines that give the Super Goose a 200-knot cruise speed and a maximum range of 1,200 nm. The Super Goose should be in production by summer 2010.

Dornier Seaplane Company, founded by Conrado Dornier, grandson of Dornier Aircraft founder Claude Dornier, plans to reintroduce the Seastar, a large, in-line twin-engine turboprop amphib that was certified in the early 1990s but never put into production. The Seastar, which can seat as many as 12 passengers plus two crewmembers, features a high wing with the two Pratt & Whitney PT6A-135A engines mounted tandem in a push-pull arrangement and all-composite construction. The company plans to produce one airplane by the end of 2010 and then five more in 2011 to establish the production certificate processes. Ultimately, company officials believe there is a market for about 30 to 50 aircraft per year. The first airplanes will be priced at $5.5 million; later models with glass cockpits, air conditioning, and autopilots will sell for $6 million. The two 650-shp engines will propel the 10,000-pound airplane at 180 knots for up to 200 nm with nine passengers on board. With just two passengers, the range jumps to 700 nm.

Cessna’s $8 million Citation CJ4 is the latest in the CJ series, and it features a seven- to eight-seat cabin, 435-knot cruise speeds, and a maximum range of 1,825 nm. Deliveries should begin in the first half of 2010.

Cirrus’ SJ50 Vision single-engine jet uses a 1,900-lb-thrust Williams FJ-33-4A engine that promises to give the airplane a 300-knot cruise speed and a 1,100-nm range. The cabin has five seats with the aft seating area capable of accommodating three seats in a staggered arrangement. The SJ50 will come equipped with a ballistic recovery parachute and a Garmin G1000 avionics display. Funding issues may well delay the $1.4 million airplane’s target for first deliveries in 2012.

Diamond Aircraft Industries’ D-JET is on track for a 2010 certification. This $1.89 million, 315-knot, 1,150-nm single-engine jet is powered by a Williams FJ-33-5A engine of 1,900 lb thrust (see “Dawn of the D-JET,” page 52).

Honda’s HondaJet has two GE-Honda engines of 2,050 lb thrust each, mounted on pylons above the wings. Honda is advertising max cruise speeds of 420 knots and a max range of 1,180 nm. The cabin can be set up in five- or six-passenger configurations. The $3.65 million airplane should have its first deliveries in the fourth quarter of 2011.

The PiperJet should be certified in early 2011. The 360-knot, 1,300-nm six-seater has a single Williams FJ44-3AP engine of 2,400 lb thrust mounted at the base of the vertical stabilizer. It’s priced at $2.19 million, in 2006 dollars.

Spectrum Aeronautical’s all-composite Freedom S.40 is scheduled for certification and first deliveries in late 2011. The S.40 is a 440-knot, six- to seven-seater with two GE-Honda HF120 engines rated at 2,095 lbs thrust each. Max range is targeted as 2,250 nm. Spectrum calls the S.40 a mid-sized jet with a stand-up cabin. Its price in 2008 dollars is $6.795 million.

The Stratos 714 uses a single Williams FJ44-3AP engine, rated at 3,030 lbs thrust. The first prototype should be built in the last quarter of 2010. The $2 million, all-composite Stratos promises a 415-knot max cruise speed and a 1,500-nm max range.

Embraer’s Phenom 300 is the swept-wing, seven- to 10-seat bigger brother of the Phenom 100. Powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW535E engines of 3,200 lbs thrust apiece, the Phenom 300 can do 450 knots/0.78 Mach at max cruise power, and has a range of 1,800 nm with six passengers. The avionics suite is the Garmin G1000-based Prodigy system—similar to the one in the Phenom 100. Certification and first deliveries of the $6.85 million airplane are planned for the fourth quarter of 2009.

Hawker Beechcraft Corporation’s Premier II is a larger, follow-on model to the company’s Premier I and IA light jets. A swept-wing six- to seven-seater with Williams FJ44-3AP engines of 3,000 lb thrust apiece, the Premier II has an advertised max cruise speed of 465 knots, and a range of 1,500 nm with an 800-lb payload (the pilot and four passengers). It features the Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics suite, a composite fuselage and empennage, and winglets. Hawker Beechcraft says the first delivery date has slipped from the originally anticipated second quarter of 2010. Now the company says first deliveries of the $7.365 million jet are expected to occur in late 2012 or early 2013.

Economists are saying that it will be a long time—2012, at least; 10 more years, at most—until new general aviation airplane deliveries return to the levels of the good old days from before 2009. But whether our economic indicators follow a W-shaped pattern or the more dreaded “bathtub” trace of a drawn-out down period, there is proof that the market is stirring. Who knows? By 2011 all those designs now in their formative stages may find themselves perfectly poised to take advantage of an economic rebound.

E-mail the author at tom.horne@aopa.org.

Thomas A. Horne

Thomas A. Horne | AOPA Pilot Editor at Large, AOPA

AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Tom Horne has worked at AOPA since the early 1980s. He began flying in 1975 and has an airline transport pilot and flight instructor certificates. He’s flown everything from ultralights to Gulfstreams and ferried numerous piston airplanes across the Atlantic.