Look, up in the sky.
It’s a bird.
It’s a plane.
It’s…getting hard to tell.
The first in a series of Very Light Jets (VLJ’s) was given provisional certification by the FAA. The Eclipse Aviation E500, as reported by CNN, will be a double engine, single pilot airplane weighing less than 10,000 pounds. It will be capable of transporting about a half dozen passengers and may become a common sight over the course of the next decade of all goes well.
Honda is also entering the fray with its own mini jet called the HondaJet. The ultra light will be able to reach speeds of 420 knots carrying about seven people.
These jets are creating a large buzz in the aviation industry, but one question still remains: are they safe? One Very Light Jet, the Spectrum 33 by Spectrum Aeronautical crashed Tuesday killing both crewmen aboard. That crash is still under investigation, and a cause has not been determined.
As Flying Magazine’s J. Mac McClellan points out, the question is not about structure or mechanics but possibly pilot error. The new jets are fast and extremely light, much different than predecessors. He points out that a new generation of livery service may come out of the mini jet generation, which also poses questions as the pilots will be “entry-level” and less experienced:
“In other words, a bunch of rich guys with no experience and less sense will team up with thousands of newly minted commercial pilots to terrorize the flight levels, threatening all of us ‘qualified’ people who are now allowed up there”
Excitement remains, however, and air traffic controllers may find additional job security as the expected thousands of VLJ’s take to the air in the coming years.