- Oshkosh 2006 Airplane News

July 26, 2006

Oshkosh 2006 Airplane News

Today's Feature
The jet-set goes center stage at AirVenture 2006
VLJs As we noted in a feature in the February issue of AOPA Pilot, 2006 may well be the year of the very light jet. Two VLJ models are within sight of the FAA certification finish line and others are making good progress toward that goal. AirVenture is a great place to wallow in the excitement surrounding this segment of GA.

Adam, ATG, Cessna, Diamond, Eclipse, Embraer, Epic, and Honda are among the companies showing their stuff at the show. Listing them alphabetically makes you wonder why the company names seem to favor the front of the alphabet.

The Eclipse 500 VLJ Thursday received provisional type certification from the FAA. The company expects to receive the full type certification for the Eclipse 500 by August 30 that will allow day/night, visual flight rules (VFR)/instrument flight rules (IFR), single-pilot and reduced vertical separation minimums (RVSM) operations throughout the complete operating envelope, and enable the company to start delivering Eclipse 500s to customers.

Perhaps the biggest news of the show came from Honda when it announced on Tuesday morning that it is entering the fray with its handsome HondaJet - partnered with Piper Aircraft for sales and service. Ever since last AirVenture, when the HondaJet was here for just a day, the company has been flirting with the GA market like a high school cheerleader batting her eyes at the captain of the football team. The stunning white, blue, and silver HondaJet is here on display inside the large Honda tent under a thatch of theatrical lights, suggesting that this car manufacturer plans to bring some automotive-like marketing drama to the aviation arena.

"We want to create new value within the aviation market through the unique new design of the HondaJet," said Michimasa Fujino, HondaJet project leader and vice president of Honda R&D Americas Inc. "Our goal is to deliver three key attributes - performance, quality and comfort - beyond what people currently expect from light business jets."

While it is still unclear exactly how the two companies will collaborate, Piper officials are anxious to work with Honda. "Piper is very excited about this alliance and the way it complements our vision for the future," said James K. Bass, president and CEO of Piper.

For more details on the HondaJet, see our story from the August 2005 issue of AOPA Pilot.

While the Honda drama unfolded, Diamond polished the facets of its developmental D-Jet, giving visitors the first public look at the roomy single-engine VLJ in mockup form. As we reported in AOPA ePilot last week, the airplane will be certificated to 25,000 feet and cruise at 315 knots. The flight test airplane was scheduled to make a series of fly-bys at the show Wednesday morning before landing to go on display.

Certification of the D-Jet is set for 2007, but the Cessna Mustang, making its first AirVenture appearance, could be certificated by the end of August, although company officials say later in the third quarter may be a more realistic timeframe. Three Mustangs have accumulated 1,400 flight hours over 850 flights. Fifteen of the six-seat VLJs are already in various stages of production. Cessna officials at Monday's technical briefing went to great length to point out that many parts of the certification process are already completed, including the autopilot, flight envelope expansion to maximum speed, and climb certification. The biggest task to complete is function and reliability testing. For the first time, Cessna announced weight specifications. As can be seen in the spec box below, the Mustang with full fuel will carry 600 pounds of passengers, not including the pilot. Cessna says the airplane will be certified out of the box for single-pilot operations.

Embraer has longer to wait for planned certification of its Phenom 100 and 300, larger VLJs with certification in 2008.The four-passenger 100 and six- to nine-seat 300 hail from Brazil. The 100 is expected to cruise at a maximum of 380 knots; the 300 at 450 knots. The company, making its first appearance at AirVenture, has more than 230 orders for the airplanes.

If a traditional business-jet-like cockpit and cabin is just too pin-stripe for you, be sure to stop by the AvTech Group's booth to see the Javelin. With the raked good looks of a mini-fighter, the airplane is shown at AirVenture in mockup form while the flying prototype continues its flight test duties back in Denver. ATG officials say they plan to open their first hangar, which will house offices and flight test facilities, at Denver's Front Range Airport by the end of the year. The second hangar, for manufacturing, will open in early 2007. The headquarters will remain at Centennial Airport. The Javelin flew twice last month after undergoing a series of modifications to improve the secondary flight control systems, including a change to a Fowler flap system. The sporty tandem-seat airplane is expected to have a stunning cruise speed of 500 knots at 35,000 feet. Certification is slated for 2008. The second flight test airplane should be flying by late 2007; three more should come online in early 2008.

Also based out of Colorado, Excel-Jet is expected to show the crashed cabin of its Sport-Jet proof-of-concept airplane. The airplane crashed earlier this year after an encounter with wake turbulence near Colorado Springs, according to company officials. NTSB has not yet issued an official ruling on the cause of the accident. Both pilots survived and will be at AirVenture to talk about the accident. The single-engine, four-place Excel-Jet is set for certification in 2008.

There's something in those Colorado Rocky Mountain streams that seems to spawn VLJ companies. Adam Aircraft, based at Centennial Airport, continues to fly its Adam A700 VLJ. Company officials say the airplane will be certificated in 2007. The airplane is on site at the Adam tent.

The Adam Aircraft staff was saddened to learn that former chief test pilot Glenn Maben was reportedly killed Tuesday afternoon when the Spectrum 33 VLJ he was flying in crashed in Utah. See the story from The Salt Lake Tribune. Maben was Spectrum's director of flight operations. Also killed was Spectrum's vice director of flight operations Nathan Forrest. The 33 was scheduled to arrive at AirVenture later in the week. A cause of the accident had not been determined.

A week's delay in first flight last month meant that Aircraft Investor Resources, LLC was not able to display its Epic Elite jet at AirVenture. The five- to seven-seat VLJ was scheduled to fly in June, but a series of small mechanical issues caused the company to delay the first flight until right after AirVenture, according to Rick Schrameck, chairman and CEO. The airplane will have a pressurization system and complete interior by the time it arrives at AOPA Expo this fall, according to Schrameck. The composite airplane will be certificated in Calgary, Canada, and then undergo through reciprocal U.S. certification. The task should be complete in about three years. The airplane is expected to sell for $2.2 million.

For more information on VLJs, see " The Year of the Very Light Jet" from AOPA Pilot and our AOPA Online collection of VLJ stories. - Thomas B. Haines


Citation Mustang specifications

Weight Limitations (lb)
Maximum Ramp Weight 8,730
Maximum Takeoff Weight 8,645
Maximum Landing Weight 8,000
Maximum Zero Fuel Weight 6,750
Usable Fuel Capacity 2,580
Usable Fuel Capacity (gal) 385
Weight Build-up (lb)
Typically Equipped Empty Weight 1 5,350
Crew and Furnishings (200 lb each) 200
Basic Operating Weight (BOW) 5,550
Loading Capabilities (at Ramp Weight) (lb)
Useful Load 2 3,180
Payload with Full Fuel 3 600
Fuel with Maximum Payload 4 1,980
Performance
Maximum Cruise Speed (KTAS at FL350) 340
NBAA IFR Range (nm) 1,150

1 Typically equipped, empty weight includes aircraft avionics, typical options, interior, engine oil, trapped fluids, and unusable fuel.
2 Amount of fuel and payload available, over and above the crew.
3 Passengers and/or cargo capacity with full fuel on board.
4 Fuel capacity with the maximum amount of passengers and/or cargo on board.

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