Promise And Peril Await Mini-Jet Makers

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The very light jet (VLJ) market is fueled largely by the salesmanship of its optimistic originators and the potential of a boom in air taxi operations, but a study by a European media consultant company still predicts that 4,154 aircraft will be delivered over the next 10 years by at least five manufacturers. "Some industry observers critical of the manufacturer-supplied growth rate contend that only two, or at best three, manufacturers will make it to market but the authors of this report are slightly more optimistic than this," wrote Phillip Butterworth-Hayes in the study he compiled for England-based PMI Media Group. "We believe, in addition to the five key programs featured in this report there will be other new entrants who succeed in producing aircraft for the personal jet market." The study also strongly suggests that the air taxi business, which makes up the bulk of initial orders for several companies, won't materialize as predicted. PMI shared a copy of the 155-page study with AVweb but is selling online and print versions, so we won't go into fine detail.

The study predicts that Eclipse will sell almost as many planes as all the other manufacturers combined but it will substantially miss its own sales predictions. And while it acknowledges entries by Cirrus and Piper, it lumps them with jets from start-up companies like Avocet, Safire and Epic in a sort of "other" category of manufacturers not considered to be guaranteed players in the new market.