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July 28, 2013
By Jill W. Tallman
For the price of a new light sport aircraft, you could build your own single-seat jet—and Sonex Aircraft is ready to take your deposit on a kit.
The company announced on July 28 that it is accepting kit reservation deposits for its SubSonex personal jet. A $10,000 refundable deposit gets you a position number for first kit deliveries, which Sonex estimates will happen in mid-2014.
The first 10 people to put down a deposit will pay a guaranteed introductory price of $125,000. That price includes the SubSonex Ultra-Quick Build kit and a PBS TJ-100 turbojet engine with installation accessories.
“It’s time to put your money where your bucket list is,” Sonex Aircraft General Manager Mark Schaible said during an announcement at the Sonex facility at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wis.
Intended to be operated under the Experimental Exhibition category, the aircraft will be shipped with a pre-assembled fuselage, wings, tail, and control surfaces. The canopy and windshield will be installed. The builder would install the outboard wing panels, engine, and fuel system; bolt in the retractible landing gear; install avionics, electrical systems, and controls; install pre-molded fiberglass components and upholstery; and add paint. A BRS full-aircraft recovery parachute system is included with the kit, and the builder would have to install that as well. However, the Experimental Exhibition category does not carry the 51-percent rule restrictions of Experimental/Amateur-Build airworthiness certification, so a buyer could choose a builder assist center or aircraft finishing center to do the work.
Optional cabin heating and oxygen systems will be available. The jet will be autopilot compatible, and its instrument panel will accommodate an iPad or tablet.
The airplane flies behind a 247-pound-thrust engine manufactured by PBS Velká Biteš of the Czech Republic. It carries 44 gallons of fuel. Useful load is 484 pounds.
Sonex Aircraft Founder and President John Monnett said the jet flies like a sailplane. It can be operated from a runway as short as 1,500 feet, takes off at about 80 mph, and lands at just above 60 mph. On the ground, “it feels like you’re driving a go-kart because your seat is down so low,” he said. At 92 percent power, the jet flies at 180 mph on 18 gph. At altitude, it flies much faster, he said. The Czech-built engine burns 32 gph at full throttle, “but you never do that,” he said.
Because of the SubSonex’s glider-like characteristics, Monnett said pilots with glider ratings would have very little difficulty transitioning to the jet. To operate it, a buyer would need at least a private pilot certificate and a letter of authorization from the FAA. A pilot who does not have prior jet or turboprop experience would need appropriate training in addition to the LOA.
The SubSonex JSX-1 proof-of-concept prototype tentatively will fly July 30 and Aug. 2 during EAA AirVenture. Test pilot Bob Carlton will fly it. In-progress JSX-2 prototypes and a JSX-2 cockpit mockup were on display at the Sonex briefing.
AOPA Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman is an instrument-rated private pilot who owns a Piper Cherokee 140.
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