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VLJ Interiors: Interiors and Concepts of VLJs in the completions industry.

With the increasing popularity of the VLJ market one begs to ask what will the manufacturers do to separate themselves from the competition? With so many aircraft being manufactured/developed at prices ranging from less than $1 million to over $5 million this will be one busy market once in full bloom.

Over the next few articles we will talk with these manufactures and discuss the differences with particular attention to the cabin and interior areas. With weight being critical in these light aircraft it will be interesting to see how the manufactures will design- build and present interiors on the light jet market.

Eclipse Aviation: Eclipse 500
Widely considered the pioneer of the VLJ world- we begin with a look at the Eclipse 500 being offered by Eclipse Aviation. Essentially- the Eclipse is a $1.636 million (July 2007 dollars)- six-seater aircraft- that travels at 370kts at FL 410- offering a range of 1-300nm.

Add to the mix two 900Ibs thrust P&WC PW610F engines- and an AVIO NG panel which provides a total aircraft integration system utilizing two PFDs- one MFD and dual Garmin GPS 400W. Also part of the comprehensive system is an FMS- color weather radar- dual comms and navs- 3-axis autopilot and anti-ice.

Requiring around 2-500 feet of runway for both take-off and landing will permit the aircraft access to over 10-000 airports within the USA; try that with a larger jet or airline and one quickly begins to see the advantage of this new and exciting market. The Eclipse can best be described as an aircraft offered to businesses and individuals who utilize air transportation but without the major costs normally associated with jet aircraft usage. According to Vern Raburn- CEO and Founder of Eclipse Aviation- “We wanted to reject traditional beliefs and provide the newest in jet aircraft performance and technology”.

What was developed from Mr. Raburn’s vision was a jet powered aircraft capable of comfortably transporting two individuals with a pilot on a 300 to 800 mile trip in one to two hours. “The model used for developing the VLJ was compared to using a luxury automobile for a business trip. The seating was ample but comfortable for four- reflecting the same idea for the interior. The seating arrangement is straightforward since there is no club seating in a car-” Raburn explains.

The Eclipse 500 is currently being offered with two interior options being the standard interior or the LX Edition interior. “By working with BMW Designworks we are utilizing the latest in materials- optimizing spacing and providing the most comfortable cabin along the lines of a luxury automobile-” Raburn points out. “We wanted to redefine the interior space for comfort.”

When discussing other options and interior items with Mr. Raburn it became clear he had a clear understanding of what he could and could not offer in the aircraft - and the design was paramount in the final product.

“For an aircraft of this size the sound levels are at a very comfortable level of around 65 db- the engines are six feet back from the airframe to provide additional spacing for a quieter interior. Airflow over the aircraft is also very aerodynamic and went through extensive wind tunnel testing”.

“In the end-” Raburn stated- “we wanted to provide a better value- make it do more.” By not reinventing the wheel- Raburn has transformed the personal jet dream into a reality. Technology today allows Eclipse to do this- but it still took a man with a vision to make it happen. Only history will tell the true outcome of this project.

Find out more from www.eclipseaviation.com

Cirrus Design:

Cirrus’ philosophy is a little different to Eclipse’s- since it is producing a jet with a single engine. The-Jet as it is called- falls into a smaller category than the VLJs - the Personal Jets. There is not as much information available on The-Jet at this time but we do know that Cirrus is aiming at a price of around $1m for an aircraft seating around five- and reaching speeds of as much as 300 kts- flying at FL 250. The range of the aircraft should be 1-000nm.

There is no news yet on the avionics or other electronics - but we do know the engine of choice is the Williams FJ33-4A-19 Turbofan pushing 1-900 Ibs of thrust. This begged the question - why develop a single engine jet? In search of an answer- I contacted Mike Van Staagen- vice president- Advance Development of Cirrus Design Corporation- and he explained- “Technology today in turbine engines permits consistent- dependable and reliable usage of the engine through many phases with no failures. The engines of today are much more robust than engines of just a few years ago.”

Also with 1-900 Ibs of thrust this engine has more power than the two engines being utilized on some of the VLJs. Van Staagen went on to say; “This aircraft is evolving out of the SR20/22 to keep it in the family for the current Cirrus operators.” When talking about the interior Van Staagen mentioned “We designed the aircraft around the interior to ensure comfort and expansive leg room. Various configurations are being looked at including 5+2 (children)- all the way to a roomy 4 seater.” As is becoming commonplace with Personal Jets and VLJs- most seats are forward facing. Another area of importance for Cirrus according to Van Staagen is “Expanded Service Centers and MRP capabilities to ensure optimum utilization”. Information is unavailable as to the certification status of The-Jet- but market entry into service is projected to occur around 2010-2011. It would appear that Cirrus is silently- but diligently working to ensure a superior aircraft is delivered- operated and fully utilized by its owner/operator customer base.

Find out more from www.cirrusdesign.com

John Brodeur specializes in Completion Management and Interior Design of business aircraft. á Mr. Brodeur can be contacted at Tel: +1 647 448 4748 (Cell) or by email at john@avbro.com

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