The VLJ Race Begins

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It's been years in the making, but the race between very light jet (VLJ) manufacturers will soon be at high speed. That's if Eclipse and Cessna have anything to say about it. Cessna last week said it began function and reliability (F&R) flight testing on its forthcoming Citation Mustang VLJ, which the company maintains is "the last step before gaining type certification from the FAA." “We have essentially completed the majority of our certification issues and expect to wrap things up with the F&R program, keeping us on schedule for TC as predicted four years ago when we launched the program. Not only will we meet FAR Part 23 requirements, we’ll also meet a number of the Part 25 commuter aircraft requirements regarding takeoff and landing performance,” said Jon Carr, Citation Mustang project engineer.

Although Cessna is uniformly thought to have the type certification process down to a fine science, Eclipse is finding that final certification details to be more time consuming than it may have originally thought. Eclipse said on July 27 that it "expects to receive the full type certification for the Eclipse 500 by August 30th that will allow day/night, Visual Flight Rules (VFR)/Instrument Flight Rules (IFR), single-pilot and Reduced Vertical Separation Minimums (RVSM) operations throughout the complete operating envelope." Not included in Eclipse's new paperwork will be known-icing certification, however. The vast majority of the FAA-imposed restrictions on the Eclipse 500 involve software, and not the airframe or its equipment.