How Do VLJs Figure In?
As they say, timing is everything and the heightened interest in personal air travel that will likely result from the latest developments coupled with recent and very public announcements -- particularly from Eclipse (with its provisional certification) and Honda (with its plans to certify the HondaJet) -- could have an impact on the burgeoning very light jet sector. Critics of the phenomenon have said the air taxi industry, on which so many of the predicted 3,000-plus sales of VLJs will depend, just won't offer enough in terms of convenience and frequency to lure the type of traffic needed to make it fly. Whether being able to take your toothpaste along in the cabin (or waiting while security agents fill garbage cans with your shaving cream, makeup, contact lens solution, denture cream, suntan lotion, etc.) will make the unfamiliar and more expensive air taxi process more appealing remains to be seen. There are at least six major players in the VLJ market but only Eclipse, which can legitimately lay claim to starting it, has a saleable aircraft (with provisional certification granted in July). Cessna's Mustang will likely follow by later this year and, because it's based on proven designs from a company well-experienced in the process, may yet give Eclipse a run for its money on full certification status. Diamond's D-Jet was originally conceived as a "personal" jet but has attracted interest from air taxi operators. Adam's A700's certification depends largely on full certification of its A500 piston twin (with which it shares about 65 percent of its components), both Embraer and upstart Honda are closer to the beginning end of their programs, and Cirrus is still holding its cards very close to the vest.