HondaJet was signed-off by the FAA a few weeks after the last NBAA Convention and is now in customers’ hands. Pilatus and SyberJet continue to progress, while the long-lost VisionAire Vantage returns to the limelight in search of funding.

Pilatus PC-24

A pair of prototypes, flown in May and November of last year, are slightly overdue for augmentation by a third to share the 2,300 hours of trials which will lead to certification and first deliveries in the third (make that fourth?) quarter of 2017. The Williams FJ44-powered twin can lift up to 12 (including a single pilot) from unpaved runways of 2,690 ft. Offering PC-12-type versatility, there’s a large-volume cabin with freight door and rapidly removable seats, permitting easy reconfiguration for transport, medevac and other utility roles.

Cruising at 425 kt. the $8.9 million PC-24 will cover 1,800 nm. with six passengers or 1,950 nm. with four. Pilatus ACE avionics, developed with Honeywell, include a synthetic vision system, autothrottle, graphical flight planning, TCAS II and localizer performance with vertical (LPV) guidance capability. 

SyberJet SJ30

At the last NBAA Convention in Vegas, SyberJet showed its NWORX Cabin Demonstrator and announced its first European service center. The unhurried return of Ed Swearingen’s SJ30 to production (two previous owners of the company built only four production examples between them) has been under way since SyberJet took control in April 2011, and built a new facility at Cedar City, Utah. A converted SJ30 test bed will fly soon with the Honeywell SyberVision avionics suite comprising four 12-in. LCDs, paving the path to certification and deliveries late in 2017.

Two Williams FJ44-2A turbofans power the baseline SJ30i, while the more powerful FJ44-3AP-25 comes in the SJ30x. Despite its age – it flew in 1991 and was certified in 2005 – the $8.3 million SJ30i delivers high performance, including Mach 0.83 maximum cruising, FL 490 operating ceiling and a NBAA IFR range of 2,130 nm. with three passengers.

VisionAire Vantage

Only one Vantage has been built and flown – way back in 1996 – but the project has had an eventful life, including two false starts, transfer to a new company in Brazil, conversion to twin engines, and a return to the U.S., back under the same CEO (James Rice) who started it all in 1988. The six-seater is now foreseen with a single Williams FJ44-3AP turbofan in place of the prototype’s Pratt JT15D, and with the forward-swept wing lowered and the main landing gear stowage moved from fuselage to mainplanes. One minor detail it does not have yet is the $115 million investment needed to bring it to market.

Vantage offers 375 kt. high-speed cruise, or 250 kt. for long-range flight. Six-up range is 1,500 nm. plus 45 minutes, extending out to 2,400 nm. with two aboard. A Garmin G3000 cockpit, three-axis autopilot, and other modern avionics are the up side of the program’s delayed departure, all included in the $2.25 million price ticket. Production, by VisionAire Jets LLC, is planned at Hickory, North Carolina.