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Joining the Jet Set

by Ed Stephens Jr.

Private Pilot magazine,  February, 2005

(page 2)


"In inflation adjusted dollars," said Raburn, "the Eclipse costs less than the Cessna 414 did when it was new." Now that’s food for thought. In fact, the Eclipse is priced less than today’s fully-equipped Beech Baron.

With a pilot and three passengers, Eclipse projects an NBAA IFR range of 1,280 nautical miles. (NBAA sets very specific and stringent requirements for calculating IFR range). Eclipse lists a 375 knot maximum cruise speed and a Maximum Mach Number (Mmo) of .64 Mach, and the stall speed is listed at just 67 knots. Talk about a wide envelope.

More numbers: The Eclipse will top out at 41,000 feet, has a max takeoff weight of 5,640 pounds, and a useful load of 2,250 pounds. It offers up to six seats, though five will probably be more typical, and lists takeoff and landing distances of under 2,200 feet under ISA conditions. Huh, just 2,200 feet? Neat...but required runway distances have a lot of technical nuance in the jet world, and there is more to these numbers than meets the casual eye.

The petite PW610F turbofan engines push out 900 pounds of thrust each, and will be massaged by high-tech auto-throttles.


The Adams A700

As for Adam Aircraft, they’ve taken an interesting approach to matters with composite offerings. Their pressurized A500 piston twin is a push-me pull-you arrangement that looks like a slicked-up Skymaster on steroids. By removing the recips and hanging two Williams FJ-33 turbofans on the back, presto-chango, they’ve got the A700 jet with 1,200 pounds of thrust per engine, hefting about 7,600 pounds of max takeoff weight, though this weight hasn’t yet been officially finalized.

Company founder and CEO Rick Adam is also an experienced pilot, and, incidentally, a West Point graduate. He’s expecting the FAA to certify the A700 in mid-to-late 2005. The A700 will set you back $2.1 million, and gives you six seats (plus an aft potty). With that twin-boom style tail, this is one aircraft that won’t be mistaken for anything else on the ramp.

In May, 2004, Adam announced a $150 million order for its jets from a new charter company, called POGO, formed by two well-known aviation names, Donald Burr, founder of the legendary People Express discount carrier, and Robert Crandall, former CEO of American Airlines. That’s quite a vote of confidence in the A700.


Cessna Citation Mustang

Meanwhile, Cessna’s Jessica Myers (Manager, Media Relations), reports that they’ve muscled in over 230 firm orders for their VLJ, the $2.395 million Citation Mustang. Citations comprise the largest share of the business jet market, so they need no introduction to readers...or to customers, which means that the Mustang’s success is already assured, or at least as assured as anything can be in aviation.

Of those currently owning positions in Mustang deliveries, "The large majority of the buyers are owner/pilots," said Myers.

Myers expects FAA certification in mid-2006 and the first delivery to customers by the end of 2006. The Mustang is a six-seater, and is a Pratt-powered by PW615 turbofans that crank out about 1,350 pounds of thrust, though the final rated number may be a bit different. Cessna doesn’t yet disclose a max takeoff weight, saying only that it will be "less than the CJ1's" of 10,700 pounds. Whatever it is, it will probably wind up defining the upper weight limit of VLJs in the common parlance.


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© 2005 Ed Stephens Jr.