1. Very Light Jet Airplanes Coming To Air Charter

    November 10, 2010 by admin

    Very Light Jets (VLJ’s) are micro jets, and there are a few new designs coming to the jet charter market. They promise to bring most of the speed and luxury of large corporate jets at a fraction of the operating cost, and size.

     

    Chartering a cabin class corporate jet such as the Gulfstream comes with a price. Flying this flagship business jet will run you around $5,000 per hour. The Eclipse 500 and Diamond D-Jet are currently chartering in the neighborhood of $1,300 per hour. You miss out on the big jet appeal when fly a VLJ, but you can comfortably move four people in these small jets without the big price tag.

     

    The Eclipse 500 joined the charter ranks a few years ago. It promised to have a big production run and even bigger impact on the air taxi and charter business. Over 200 aircraft were made before the company ran into financial difficulty. These airplanes are still flying strong in the jet charter ranks and fill an important niche.

     

    The Diamond D-Jet is similar is size and scope to the Eclipse. Both jet aircraft with cruise almost 1,500 miles at speeds close to 400 mph. Diamond has not experienced the financial difficulties suffered by Eclipse and continues its production run. Both of these charter jets have price tags in the two million dollar range. This makes the $1,300 per hour charter rate a bargain. By comparison a turboprop charter is more expensive and moves slower.

     

    Eclipse 500

     

    Diamond D-Jet

     

    Piper Aircraft, best known for its single engine propeller airplanes, is ramping up facilities to produce the Piper Jet. This single engine jet will carry four passengers just as the current VLJ aircraft, but will have the full marketing and production might of Piper Aircraft behind it. The Piper Jet is scheduled to hit the jet charter market in 2012 or 2013. This will be the only single engine jet available for charter. It will be interesting to see how this airplane is received by the air charter population. Modern single engine airplanes are extremely safe and reliable, but the paying charter crowd will decide if they are comfortable with only one engine. In my experience, many charter flyers specifically request twin engine charter airplanes for their peace of mind.

     

    Piper Jet

     

    Piper Jet Interior

     

    The Honda HA-420 HondaJet should be arriving with the PiperJet in late 2012 or early 2013. It may be the fastest VLJ at close to 500 mph. Seating will accommodate four to six based on the configuration. The most interesting feature of the HondaJet so far is the mounting of the engines. They are carried on wing pods above the wings. VLJ’s do not have the ground clearance to carry engines below the wings as a conventional airlines does; most are mounted near the tail.

     

    These two additions to the jet charter fleet should stir things up a bit. They should have a larger footprint than the Eclipse 500 and Diamond D-Jet as Honda and Piper have more marketing and production dollars at their disposal. This should also keep the VLJ charter cost competitive considering the increased number of VLJ aircraft available for jet charter.

     

    HondaJet

     

    HondaJet Interior