Read very carefully, and evidence will be found below that something is happening in the personal jets world – but with agonizing slowness. Last year’s trio are still there, but nobody is rushing to join them.
Cirrus Vision SF50
May 5 was a red-letter day for Cirrus: the first flight of the first production Vision Jet. By then four prototypes had accumulated some 1,700 hr. during a drawn-out test program that had begun in July 2008 and was only saved by an injection of Chinese funding – which is why the SF50 is promoted on the website of the Aviation Industry Corp.of China.
Cirrus broke ground last November for the customer center at McGhee Tyson Airport, Knoxville, Tennessee. When the company does begin tackling its 600 orders, it expects to deliver around 50 in the first full year, and 75-125 per year thereafter.
Cirrus quotes a cruising speed of 300 kt. on the 1,800-lb.-thrust of the spine-mounted Williams FJ33. Ceiling is FL 280 and disposable load 2,428 lb., of which up to 2,000 lb. can be fuel. Like its piston-engined SR stablemate, it is equipped with a recovery parachute as standard for its maximum five-plus-two occupants. Price is equivalent to $1.96 million in 2011 dollars.
Theofficially awarded Cirrus with an FAR Part 23 Type Certificate for the Vision Jet here at NBAA on Monday.
This is a most promising aircraft. It has been regularly promising an “imminent” first flight since its June 2013 Paris Air Show debut, yet still remains unlevitated at the time of writing. That has been partly the result of it abandoning the original, spine-mounted and low-powered 1,460-pounds-thrust PW615F turbofan in favor of a 1,910-pounds-thrust Williams FJ33-5A and, partly by a move to new company premises at Podgórzyn, Poland. The FJ33 was installed and tested in August, so the absence of an aviating situation might be soon rectified.
With its new engine, the LAR1 will have a range of 1,200 nm. when all five seats are occupied. Cruise is 380 kt. and certified ceiling FL 280. Optimized for the private pilot, the $1.5 million LAR1 features ease of handling; operation from grass airfields of moderate length; automobile-like cabin; wings detachable for economical storage; and a parachute rescue system. First aircraft built are to be in the Experimental category. Subsequent European CS23 certification will lead to FAA approval.
As the NBAA Convention approached, the long-awaited Stratos prototype was conducting taxying trials in anticipation of its maiden flight. Designation 714 indicates 0.7 Mach (415 kt.), 1 engine and 4 people, the last-mentioned and their baggage carried over a 1,500 nm NBAA range at up to 41,000 ft. However, the ‘one engine’ is changed, now that Stratos has jumped the Williams ship in favor of P&WC with a 2,900-pounds-thrust JT15D-5 in the prototype, and a PW535 of 3,400-pounds -thrust in certified aircraft.
Landing speeds and distance requirements for the 714 are considerably below twin-jets, making many more airports accessible to Stratos owner/pilots, while sidestick control, Garmin G3X Touch EFIS cockpit, docile handling and fully integrated autopilot lighten the workload.