New Jets, New Piston Engines

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Neat Jets, Too Bad You Can't Fly One...

As of this moment, some seven manufacturers promising a new generation of light jets sit on a collective order roster tallying well more than 2,000 aircraft. The light jets promise certification for single-pilot operations from nearly all GA airports. Some offer acquisition costs below that of a brand-new light twin, operating costs similar to light twins and performance well beyond that, but speakers at AOPA Expo 2003 made clear you won't find any light-twin pilots flying them, not without a lot of work, anyway. The problems include placating insurance brokers, finding time for recurrent training, and magically convincing airline pilot groups that squalls of "non-professionals" sharing airspace traditionally occupied by their own well-defined (and well-regulated) group is a good thing. The hurdles are so huge that companies are now coming to the front with plans to resolve the problems. Guardian Jet announced at AOPA Expo consulting and management solutions designed to take the owner/operator from light-jet hopeful to light-jet PIC. The soon-to-boom light-jet market is still led by only one example flying with the same engines it expects to receive certification with, Adam's A700. With the A500, a piston twin, and the A700, a twin-jet, the naming convention leaves room (at least numerically) for a third intermediate aircraft. The right A600 could allow Adam's customers to transition smoothly (without jumping from piston to jet), keeping insurance brokers happy, while keeping customers within the Adam product line. While the jets have the potential to facilitate aviation and air travel, for the masses it may be quite some time before it does much for the pilot/owner/operator.