Will Amenities Determine VLJ Sales?

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Adam's A700 very light jet has a lavatory on board, and Eclipse's VLJ doesn't. Is that going to be what drives sales for one, and not the other? As the first wave of VLJs prepares to debut on the market, a story in Monday's New York Times explores the "battle of the bathrooms." Adam Aircraft CEO Rick Adam told the Times, "People are not going to get on a plane without a bathroom, or at least they're not going to do it more than once." Naturally, Eclipse CEO Vern Raburn differs. "How often do you have to go?" he asked. Most air-taxi flights will only be 40 to 80 minutes long, he said. "Lots of people commute by car that long and don't have to stop." Eclipse is expected to start deliveries later this year, while Adam expects certification early in 2007. Lots of people also fly single-engine airplanes that have no lavatories on board. But once the general public discovers VLJs, their response will likely have little in common with what pilots consider important -- performance, economy, safety, reliability. They will probably be much more interested in their own creature comforts. Are the seats roomy and luxurious? Can they get a cold drink? Can they take their skis and golf clubs along? They might not notice the lavatory, or lack of .... until they need one. Then again, they might look at the price per mile, and decide to skip the whole thing. We'll find out soon.