Aeronautical engineer and entrepreneur Robert Bornhofen, designer of the five-place Maverick TwinJet homebuilt, has refocused his efforts on a single-engine aircraft known as the Sport-Jet. Designed for the Williams FJ33 engine, the very-light jet (VLJ) is aimed at the owner-pilot market and incorporates features that Bornhofen believes will address issues such as insurability for aviators without previous experience either with turbine aircraft or high-altitude operations.
Anticipating a maximum certified ceiling of 25,000 feet, the four- to five-place Sport-Jet is expected to have a maximum speed of 375 knots, cruise at 340 kt, approach at 80 kt, and stall at 68 kt. With a wing loading of 30 pounds per square foot based upon a design maximum takeoff weight of 4,900 pounds, coupled with a powerplant capable of producing 1,500 pounds of thrust, the single-engine aircraft will require 2,300 feet for takeoff and 1,800 for landing. Wing area for the Sport-Jet is 153 square feet, which is somewhat less than a Beech B55 Baron, and cabin dimensions are 95 inches long, 59 inches wide, and 47 inches high. Bornhofen expects his VLJ to have a useful load of 2,100 pounds.
The Sport-Jet, which will be offered for a price of about $1.2 million (in 2006 dollars), will feature a glass cockpit. Excel-Jet will not accept orders until the aircraft achieves first flight, which should occur within two to three weeks from its rollout. Initial flight tests will be conducted with a non-certifiable GE T-58 powerplant capable of producing 950 to 1,000 pounds of thrust. Installation of the Williams FJ33 should be made within six months; certification is expected to be completed within two years. - John W. Olcott