Barely three weeks after its maiden flight, Cirrus Design's SJ50 Vision showed why it's a contender in the new Personal Jet category during its first appearance at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2008.
Photo by Dave Higdon
The Cirrus Vision SJ50 single-engine
personal jet arrived at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2008 Wednesday for its
world debut. The red and white V-tail single-engine jet made a low pass
along the flightline before landing and taxiing up to a hero's welcome
at AeroShell Square.
EAA President and AirVenture Chairman Tom
Poberezny welcomed the SJ50 to the fly-in and congratulated Cirrus
Design co-founders Alan and Dale Klapmeier, who've been coming to the
fly-in for 32 years, on their achievement.
"Oshkosh is the home of innovation,
the place where Alan and Dale cultivated their passion for
aviation," Poberezny said. "Now this beautiful aircraft is
entering the marketplace, a growing and exciting marketplace."
"I almost can't describe how excited
it is to show this airplane to you here at this place," Alan
Klapmeier said. "This is the
greatest place in the world to be this week of the year, and for us this
is a very long time coming, because it takes Cirrus to the next
"This is the place to introduce
anything new in aviation," Dale Klapmeier added. "As far as
we're concerned, the EAA has saved aviation. It kept innovation alive,
it kept the dream alive."
"We're not trying to build a
business jet; we're not trying to build a VLJ; we're trying to build a
[turbo] fan-powered aircraft that is higher performance than our piston
airplanes, and at this point I think we're getting close," Alan
Duluth, Minnesota-based Cirrus is not the
only company seeking to provide more performance and capability for
general aviation pilots. The Vision SJ50 is one example of the expanding
Personal Jet (PJ) market, and several other examples are on display and
making news at AirVenture. The same morning the SJ50 arrived, Piper
Aircraft's single-engine PiperJet made its maiden flight at the
company's Vero Beach, Florida, factory, as announced by Piper President
Bob Kromer at a press conference at the fly-in.
"It's a big day for Piper
Aircraft," said Kromer in announcing the flight. "The PiperJet
represents 71 years of a lot of hard work by a lot of people, and a lot
of loyal customers that have seen us to this point."
The day before, Eclipse Aviation of
Albuquerque, New Mexico, which pioneered the VLJ market with the
twin-engine Eclipse 500, reiterated its commitment to producing its
single-engine Eclipse 400, which was introduced as a "concept"
aircraft at AirVenture 2007. The Eclipse 400 also performed for air show
attendees during the day's showcase fly-bys.
"Our full intent is to bring the
Eclipse 400 to market," Matt Brown, Eclipse director, sales and
marketing for the Eclipse 400, said at the forum.
And London, Ontario-based Diamond
Aircraft is set to become the first manufacturer to deliver a personal
jet when its D-Jet comes to market next year.
"Right now we're on track to deliver
and certify in the second quarter of 2009," said Mark Lee,
director, sales and marketing for the D-JET, at the company's display
With the arrival of Cirrus's SJ50,
AirVenture visitors can see the state-of-the-art of the PJ up close and
personal. Here's a profile of the four major PJ products attendees can
see at the fly-in.
Powered by a Williams FJ33-4A-19 turbofan (upgraded from the initially
selected -15 variant of the Williams turbofan), the five-place D-JET
will have a maximum cruise speed of 315 knots and a service ceiling of
25,000 feet. Its maximum range, at its Long-range cruise speed of 240
knots, is 1,350 nautical miles. The company has not yet repriced the
D-JET to reflect the upgraded engine, but the cost of the original
configuration is about $1.5 million in current dollars.
"This broadens the number of people
who can benefit from jet travel," Lee said. "It's very
attainable, safe, roomy on the inside, and very affordable."
See the D-JET at the Diamond Aircraft
exhibit at Combo L in the Main Aircraft Display Area outside of Exhibit
The Eclipse 400, like the SJ50, has its engine mounted atop the
fuselage just forward of a V-tail empennage. Powered by a Pratt &
Whitney Canada PW615F turbofan, its 41,000 foot service ceiling is the
highest of this generation of PJs. Maximum cruise speed is 330 knots,
and maximum range at its long range cruise speed of 290 knots is 1,250
nautical miles. Projected price for the Eclipse 400 is $1.35 million.
"Even at 25,000 feet, we outperform
competitive jets," Brown said. "The performance capabilities
are significantly better in all categories."
See the Eclipse 400 at the Eclipse
Aviation exhibit in the Main Aircraft Display area, 253-259, 262-268.
Cirrus Vision SJ50
The Williams International FJ33-4A-19 fanjet is expected to deliver a
maximum cruise speed of about 300 knots and will have a service ceiling
of 25,000 feet. The aircraft features a flexible 5+2 seating
configuration, and is designed for an easy transition for pilots of the
company's SR22 and SR22 Turbo, or from other high performance singles.
Thus far the company has orders for more than 500 aircraft, and at the
AirVenture welcoming ceremony, SATS Air, the air taxi company, announced
it will add the SJ50 to its fleet. Cirrus projects certification and
first deliveries will take place in 2011, at a price of around $1
million to $1.3 million.
"Our goal is to have an airplane
that we can fly, that you can fly, that gives you more performance, but
is closer to the personal aircraft you're used to," Alan Klapmeier
See the Vision SJ50 at the Cirrus Design
exhibit in the Main Aircraft Display area, 15-22. S-43.
With a projected maximum cruise speed of 360 knots, the PiperJet is the
fastest of the PJs. Seating six (or seven without the standard
lavatory), the Williams International FJ4-3AP turbofan engine will lift
the jet to a service ceiling of 35,000 feet, and the aircraft's maximum
range is projected to be 1,300 nautical miles. Certification and the
first delivery are expected in Q4 of 2011. The PiperJet is priced at
$2.199 million in 2006 dollars.
"It's a very big airplane with a big
ramp presence," Kromer said at the Piper press conference, while
also drawing attention to its all-metal construction. "We make most
of the airframe without rivets. The wing is a thing of sheet metal
beauty. Aluminum airplanes are not dead; we can make a smooth,
aerodynamically clean airframe out of metal."
See the PiperJet mockup at the Piper
Aircraft exhibit in the Main Aircraft Display Area, 72-75, 79-82.