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Very Light Jets
Here comes government to help us! The GAO (Government Accountability Office - an oxymoron if I ever knew of one!) has been
trying to figure out what's up with very light jets (VLJs). They wonder if the National Airspace System will be overwhelmed
with swarms of these very light jets - will they fill the sky piloted by inept untrained pilots? How is the FAA planning to
deal with them? How many will be produced? Estimates range from 3,000 to 7,600 over the next ten (10) years. Is there really
a demand for a VLJ air taxi market?
Of course, the truth is no one knows for sure. If history is any indicator, however, aviation will figure it out and vljs will
turn out to be different than many of us think. For example, as airline travel takes longer and longer (consider the on-time
record of the majors last year), alternative means of fast travel will be sought out. And, vljs could be a great and viable
alternative. If businesses are to succeed they will still need to meet face to face with vendors, suppliers and customers, and
time becomes more important to increase productivity. My view is that very light jets (VLJs) will become part and parcel of the
fabric of aviation, that pilots will get the best training available, safety will not be an issue but the time savings will
attract more and more businesses to using very light jets.
For a long time owner pilots have transitioned from aircraft to aircraft, moving ever further up the performance food chain. From single engine piston powered aircraft, multi-engine piston powered
aircraft to turboprop aircraft, owner pilots advanced all along dreaming of flying jets. The Very Light Jets are going to change aviation a lot, particullarly the brand new aircraft like the
all new Eclipse 500, Cessna Mustang, Adam A700, Phenom 100, or the HondaJet.
Years ago I flew my first jet, the venerable Jet Commander, complete with the landing drag chute and no thrust reversers.
Most of us were flying piston aircraft like the Cessna 310 and Piper Navajo, some in turboprops like the Turbo Commander,
and a lucky few in jets like the Jet Commander, Sabreliner and the original Hawkers. We used to say that the "smell of jet
fuel sure makes you heady", and professional pilots looked forward to flying jet aircraft.
Today the world of jets is available to almost anyone, and with the advancement in technology and computers personal and very
light jets are becoming a reality for many pilots, including owner pilots! It is with these pilots in mind that this website
has been constructed, to provide comprehensive, timely and interestng information about this new generation of aircraft.
Here you will find details about these new aircraft, including video clips, mp3 interviews with the makers and shakers in this
new business, information about how to get licensed (under VLJ TRAINING), and the VLJ STORE designed specifically with pilots
Take the time to look through this site and return often - I promise to keep updating and adding to it on a regular basis.
Early on the L-29 and L-39 trainer jets came onto the scene, were great fun to fly but not very
practical for business purposes. And that was important. Most owner pilots who could afford
aircraft used them in their business, and were able to take advantage of the tax benefits of
aircraft ownership. It was for these customers that the original concept of vljs evolved.
But, as usual, creative businessmen all at once saw even more opportunity for these vljs in fractional programs,
charter operations and point to point air taxi services. And now the dream is within the reach of many of these
businessmen pilots, and soon the skies will be filled with brand new jet jockeys flying their very own jet powered
Since the early days business jet aircraft have been built bigger, faster and now even include airliners like Boeing's BBJ. Recently Boeing announced that it will
also manufacture an executive version of the 787 Dreamliner as well. At the same time the some in the aviation business are going the other way. Shades of the single pilot Lear 23 (yes, Hersch, the original Lear 23 was to be a single pilot airplane
until the FAA decided it was too hot to handle with just one pilot).
But what exactly are VLJs? Well, very light jets are designed as small jet aircraft approved for single pilot operation,
weighing less than 10,000 pounds maximum gross takeoff weight, carry four to six passengers and capable of operating
off of runways as short as 3,000 feet. VLJs are expected to have lower operating costs than conventional business
jets, and will be able to operate from many airports which can not be served by conventional airliners.
It is estimated that over 3,000 of these very light jet aircraft have been ordered, and first deliveries have already taken place
with the Cessna Citation Mustang first closely followed by the Eclipse Aviation's E500.
The interesting thing, though, is that the very first business jet, the Lear Jet 23 Continental which was certified
on July 31, 1964, became the first small jet to enter mass production. It had a maximum gross takeoff weight of
12,750 pounds, cruised at 564 mph and flew at 41,000 feet. Originally conceived of as a single pilot aircraft, it
was finally certified as a two pilot aircraft because of its high performance capabilities and the piloting skills
required. It is interesting to see that the original Lear Jet 23 from 1964 was not much different than the new VLJ
The Lear Jet 23 made its mark by setting a world speed record on May 21, 1965 when pilots John Conroy and Clay Lacy
flew a Lear 23 with five passengers from Los Angeles to New York and back in 11 hours 36 minutes. Today Clay Lacy is
well known in aviation circles, based in Van Nuys, CA and the owner of Lacy Aviation.