July 28, 2009 - Oshkosh, Wisconsin - The
dream of jets for the owner-flown market is coming closer to reality by
the day and EAA Oshkosh AirVenture 2009 is the place to see this
jet-propelled future on display. The cavalcade of jet news started on
Sunday with the unveiling of a kit jet prototype from Sonex, and includes
updates on development programs from several companies with Personal Jets
(PJs), as the single-engine jet category is known, in development. Here
are the models making news at AirVenture:
Sub-Sonex, Sonex Aircraft
“We call it Sub-Sonex,” said John Monnett, founder, owner and
president of Oshkosh-based kit aircraft manufacturer Sonex Aircraft, as he
unveiled the company’s proof-of-concept singleplace jet.
“The genre is entirely different from
anything we’ve done so far. The idea is to have a kit jet that’s well
The single-place jet weighs 330 pounds and has
a 750 pound gross weight. The projected performance numbers, Monnett said,
are for a cruise speed of about 250 mph and a VNE (never exceed speed) of
The engine, a modified version of a turbine
used to power RC (radio controlled) aircraft, will generate 170 to 200
pounds of thrust. The aircraft has the boxy look of the rest of the Sonex
line, the small engine positioned atop the fuselage just forward of the
V-tail empennage. The aircraft has not flown nor the engine yet been
The Sub-Sonex features simple construction and
with a 32 gallon tank has about one hour of endurance—“enough fuel to
have some fun,” Monnett said.
The aircraft is on display at the Sonex booth,
PiperJet – Piper Aircraft
year Piper Aircraft announced the maiden flight of the PiperJet during
AirVenture, and this year the PiperJet is making its debut appearance at
Florida-based Piper provided updates on the
PiperJet program at its press conference yesterday afternoon.
Piper CEO Kevin Gould said that Piper’s new
owner, Singapore-based investment company Imprimis, is committed to the
PiperJet, and that Piper will hire 50 new engineers to work on the
Bob Kromer, vice president, sales at the
company’s Vero Beach headquarters, said the passive
thrust-nozzle-vectoring system for the tail-mounted Williams FJ44-3AP
engine successfully eliminated pitch changes associated with power changes
often found in over-centerline thrust engines.
“There is nothing else like it,” Kromer
said of the PiperJet. “Our guaranteed goal is 360 knots (top speed).
“I believe we can safely say we’ve got it
Piper reports it holds some 200 orders for the
aircraft. It is, however, revising its delivery schedule and the company
will make the new time-table public in October at the annual convention of
the National Business Aviation Association.
See the PiperJet at the Piper Aircraft
display, booth 158. www.newpiper.com
SJ 50 Vision—Cirrus Design
“We’re not trying to build a business jet; we’re not trying to
build a VLJ,” said then Cirrus CEO Alan Klapmeier in introducing the SJ
50 at AeroShell Square at AirVenture 2008.
“We’re trying to build a [turbo]fanpowered
aircraft that has a higher performance than our piston airplanes, and at
this point I think we’re getting close.”
This year The Jet, as Cirrus Design of Duluth,
Minnesota, calls it, is the subject of intense interest because Klapmeier
is now trying to buy the Vision program from Cirrus. Company President
Brent Wouters and company co-founder Dale Klapmeier addressed the issue at
a Cirrus press conference yesterday morning.
“(Alan) is the only person we would consider
letting peel the jet away, because it would still be part of the (Cirrus)
family,” Dale Klapmeier said.
The company is considering Alan’s proposal
because development dollars are in short supply; despite the financially
tight times, though, development continues, Wouters said. Additionally, a
few of the nearly 400 customers holding orders have requested a return of
Certification and deliveries were originally
scheduled for 2012. But Wouters admitted meeting the target will be
difficult without additional financing.
At an event at the Cirrus display area the
previous evening, in conversations with well-wishers, Alan Klapmeier
expressed guarded optimism that financing could be found and a deal with
The SJ 50 Vision is on display at the Cirrus
D-Jet – Diamond Aircraft
Diamond Aircraft’s D-Jet, the first of the current generation of PJs,
made its world debut at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2005.
The D-Jet is designed to be a step up in
performance, but not complexity, from Diamond’s piston line. The service
ceiling is 25,000 feet, but that may be raised in future iterations.
“The aircraft can be tweaked or modified to
be able to go to the low 30s (30,000s),” said Ken Harness, Diamond COO.
“From a structural perspective we have reserved that capability in the
Diamond upgraded the engine during development
to the Williams FJ33-4A-19 producing 1,900 pounds of thrust. Top speed is
projected to be 315 knots and long range cruise is 240 knots. Takeoff and
landing distance are both just over 2,000 feet, allowing a D-Jet to access
most airports most piston Diamonds already use.
The price is approximately $1.5 million in
2008 dollars, plus the cost differential between the original and the
newer engine. The flight test program continues and London, Ontario,
Canada-based Diamond says deliveries will begin in the middle of 2010.
The D-Jet is on display at the Diamond
Aircraft booth, 241. www.diamondaircraft.com
Stratos 714 – Stratos Aircraft
Stratos Aircraft of Bend, Oregon, calls its PJ, the Stratos 714 a VLPJ,
or Very Light Personal Jet.
The aircraft is still in the design phase, but
performance specifications outline a payload capable of carrying four
adults with baggage at 400 knots on legs of 1,500 nm with NBAA IFR
The company has brought a full-scale cabin
mock-up to debut at AirVenture.
“The full-size mock-up clearly demonstrates
the level of roominess and comfort we are aiming to achieve,’ CEO
Michael Lemaire said. “No amount of blueprints or renderings can replace
actually sitting in the cabin.”
Stratos plans to use the same model engine as
the D-Jet—the 1,900-pounds thrust FJ33-4A-19. The company says it’s
here to listen as well as show, and welcomes feedback about the design
from potential customers.
The cabin mock-up is on display at the company’s
booth, 320. www.stratosaircraft.com
Also… It’s worth noting the absence of
Eclipse Aviation aircraft from this list. The now-bankrupt VLJ pioneer is
certainly missed, but as the activity above underscores, the movement
Eclipse pioneered is moving onward and upward.