Pilatus, long known for its over sized single engine turboprop, is entering the VLJ (Very Light Jet) market at a time when a lot of people are asking are very light jets (VLJs) a thing of the past. Given the state of the worldwide economy and the number of used very light jets on the market, it is no wonder that the future of very light jets is in question. Definition Of Very Light Jets Back in the mid-2000s aircraft manufacturers sensed a need for personal, owner flown business jets as an upgrade to the popular turbo-prop aircraft many owner pilots were acquiring and flying. At first these jets were known as microjets, but soon the name Very Light Jets (VLJs) became how they were known. Typically flown by a single pilot, sometimes an owner pilot, these aircraft were designed to carry 4 to 8 passengers and to have lower operating costs than the typical business owned bizjet. The first VLJ delivered was by Cessna Aircraft Company on November 23rd, 2006, a Cessna Mustang. Since that time they have delivered over 400 of this series of jets. AvWeb Video Of Mustang Demo Flight Cessna Slows Very Light Jet Production In an interesting article in Aviation Week President and CEO Scott Ernest described the slowdown in jet production as follows: Scott Ernest noted this week at the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition in Geneva. “You don’t stop a production line,” says the executive, who spent nearly three decades overseeing supply chain matters with GE Aviation before taking the reins at the Wichita plane maker in 2011. While the recent decision to slow production of all CJ models was prompted by the continuing down market for light jets, Ernest says the rate will be reviewed regularly and can by adjusted upward in any given quarter. He said that providing the market with “a few less CJs” will hopefully help firm their pricing and stabilize the pre-owned inventory as well. Enter The Pilatus PC-24 Powered by a pair of William FJ44-4A turbofans, the PC-24 will be able to climb straight to FL450, has the largest windows in its class, a 512 cubic foot cabin which is 5.1 feet tall, 5.6 feet wide and a 23 foot long passenger cabin. On May21st Oskar Schwenk, chairman of Pilatus Aircraft stated: "Over ten years ago, we started asking our PC-12 customers what they would like to see in the next Pilatus aircraft," said Schwenk. "The answers were always the same: Further and faster -- whilst retaining the much appreciated strengths of the PC-12, such as the ability to use very short runways. It was a huge challenge for our development team!" Are VLJs A Thing Of The Past? While the economy is in the doldrums today the U.S. economy is still the strongest economy in the world and in time will recover. The question is not if, but when, and the answer to that may lie well into the future. With the present administration critical of companies who invest in and use business jets, very light jet sales will be slow to recover until the economy recovers and the government takes a more friendly view of the use of business aircraft by small companies. What Is Your Opinion? In order for businesses to grow business owners need to be innovators and at the leading edge of the market they serve. Employees are expensive, and the use of very light jets to transport them can make them more effective, productive and help minimize the need for more employees. Given the onset of Obamacare many companies are looking for ways to limit the growth of their employee base. A very light jet aircraft could be the answer for some companies. In the meantime keep your wings straight and level Hersch! Please share "Are Very Light Jets A Thing Of The Past?" with your friends using the buttons below. Thanks! Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! JetAviator7+ ps: Don't forget to sign up for updates via email for "All Things Aviation" here!
by John White •