Excel-Jet -- A Sport-Jet's First Flight

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Excel-Jet, of Colorado Springs, Colo., flew its single-engine Sport-Jet for the first time last weekend, logging almost four hours in the air. "The Sport-Jet is proving to be very stable, quiet, and with excellent control harmony and feel," according to test pilot Ron McElroy. Takeoff rolls were less than 1,800 feet from the 6,000-foot-elevation airfield, designer Bob Bornhofen said. "Rotations are smooth at 65 knots, and Sport-Jet literally flies off the runway around 70 knots. Climb rates are almost 2,000 fpm," Bornhofen said. The tests were flown at less than full power, "so the real performance is still to come," he added. The company took delivery on the FJ-33 Williams engine less than two weeks before the first flight. "We expect to move through flight testing and into certification with the same speed as initial development," Bornhofen said, adding that working with a small team will help to keep the cost of certification dramatically less than for other VLJs. The Sport-Jet is a four-seat, all-glass aircraft aimed at the general aviation owner-pilot moving up from piston flying. It will cruise at 340 knots at 25,000 feet. Market price is expected to be about $1 million.