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Soon- the light jet manufacturers of the world will no longer be able to look at a light-jet prospect and know- There’s no place to go from here but up. A few months from now the first of a plethora of new-category Very Light Jets (VLJ) will- for the first time- give new and established owners an option to move in a direction previously unavailable to them: Down – in size if not performance- in price and operating costs if not in utility and flexibility.

Dave Higdon   |   1st August 2005
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Dave Higdon Dave Higdon

Dave Higdon writes about aviation from his base in Wichita Kansas. During three decades in...
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Light jet remains a market driver.

Soon- the light jet manufacturers of the world will no longer be able to look at a light-jet prospect and know- 'There’s no place to go from here but up.' A few months from now the first of a plethora of new-category Very Light Jets (VLJ) will- for the first time- give new and established owners an option to move in a direction previously unavailable to them: Down – in size if not performance- in price and operating costs if not in utility and flexibility.

You don’t see any worried expressions on the faces of the light-jet makers though. They are secure in the knowledge that the group of jets weighing (approximately) between 10-000 and 20-000 pounds will long remain attractive to new and established operators for much the same reasons these jets have long succeeded.

They generally offer the widest variety of options of any class- with several cruising in Mach 0.8 territory across distances in excess of 1-200 nautical miles – with a balance of size- airport flexibility and costs that best fit the needs of the majority of owners. As support for this contention- you need only look at the current crop of light jets available or currently under development. As large a class as ever- the group continues to benefit from technology trickling down from the upper segments- allowing light jets to further evolve to the benefit of owners and pilots alike.

The past few weeks alone brought the certification of an improved jet from the dominant manufacturer and the launch of development of an all-new design by an established international manufacturer with no previous dedicated business jet product. In fact- that company – Embraer – views this business jet market with so much potential that the Brazilian company also launched a VLJ-category jet at the same time. Such confidence in the market; such desire to tap into the potential.

Between these milestones and others coming down the road- can there be any doubts that light jets will retain their position as a first stop for many a bizjet buyer? We’ve got a lot of airplanes for sale to address here so let’s get right to it.


Learjet 40 business jets for sale & Learjet 45 for sale

Bombardier’s smallest jets- the Learjet 40 for sale and Learjet 45- slightly breach the 20-000-pound bar- but seem better fits with the other light jets in size and price – so we’ve included them here with cause.

Both the original 45 and its shortened kin- the 40- are pure Learjets- the first all-new designs since the original Learjet 23 of 1963. All others were variations or growth versions of the original. Indeed- these two jets deliver performance worthy of their name badge- with cruise speeds just under 460 knots- 1-600-nautical-mile cruise capabilities and low direct operating costs.

Conversely- this duo also sports basic cabin dimensions beyond their smaller Learjet predecessors – the 23- 25- 31 and 35. At 4.9 feet tall and 5.1 feet wide- the original Learjet 45 for sale was among a group of late 1990s designs some wanted to dub 'Super Light' jets in recognition of their larger cabins. At 19.8 feet long- the Learjet 45 offers seating for two to three more than the Learjet 40- with its 17.7-foot cabin length.

Both the Learjet 40 aircraft for sale and 45 employ a four-screen version of Honeywell’s Primus 1000 avionics system.

The 8- by-7-inch displays provide all the navigation- air data and flight information on the two Electronic Flight Instrument Systems (EFIS) for the pilot and co-pilot- plus Engine Information and Condition Awareness System (EICAS) to facilitate power and systems management. The EICAS integrates the multitude of electromechanical instruments that previously were required to display critical engine parameters- offering significant safety and operational benefits. The system employs dual AHRS (Attitude and Heading Reference System with fiber-optic gyros)- and Primus II Integrated radios- TCAS- EGPWS and all the other trappings expected in today’s highly capable business jets. In addition- these two jets offer superb runway flexibility- needing less than 4-350 feet at gross weight under standard conditions. The entry price for the Learjet 40 comes in under $8 million- while the Learjet 45 commands $10.2 million.

More information from www.aero.bombardier.com


The light jet leader with six

Cessna continues to dominate the light jet arena with no fewer than six jets in the group: three CJ incarnations- the Citation Bravo business jets for sale- Encore and the XLS. Behind the sheer numbers are variations in cabin size- performance and price that offers something for almost everyone.

Citation CJ1+business jets for sale- CJ2+ and CJ3

In June- the FAA awarded Cessna type certification for the Model 525 Citation CJ1+- keeping the newest CJ derivation on schedule for first deliveries in the fourth quarter of this year. Also in the pipeline is an enhanced variant of the CJ2 dubbed the CJ2+. The ‘Plus’ variant of these models provide not only improved performance but a new integrated avionics suite- added cabin amenities and a longer standard equipment list.

The upgraded Williams FJ44-1AP engines- with dual-channel FADEC controls- gives the CJ1+ an additional 20 knots compared to the CJ1- for a nominal cruise speed approaching 360 knots at its maximum altitude of FL410. At maximum cruise- the CJ1+ can speed along at 387 knots. The CJ1+ also received a 100-pound increase in maximum gross takeoff weight to 10-700 pounds. Range stands at more than 1-200 nautical miles with four passengers and crew – or up to 1-330 nautical with full fuel.

The upcoming Citation CJ2 aircraft for sale USA- expected later this year- offers a top speed of 407 knots- a nominal cruise speed of 353 knots at FL450- and a four-on-board range of 1-550nm – 1-600-plus for ferry flights. It boasts a maximum take-off weight of 12-625 pounds.

The 14-070-pound CJ3- meanwhile- offers a top speed of 415 knots true – the highest of the CJ family – and a maximum range of 1-900 nautical miles- also best of the group. At best cruise- the Citation CJ3 aircraft for sale can cover nearly 1-800 nautical miles. The avionics upgrade given the CJ1+ and CJ2+ is a trickle down from the CJ3 - the Collins Pro Line 21 integrated suite made standard on the Citation CJ3 business jet for sale.

In the CJ1+/CJ2+ installation- Collins’ Pro Line 21 employs a trio of 8-inch by 10-inch displays- a pair of air data computers- and a file server management system with a cursor control panel. The system also uses enhanced map overlays- Pro Line 21 CNS radios- broadcast weather datalink- and Collins FMS-3000 Flight Management System with an integral performance database.

As you’d expect- the three CJs share a common cabin height and width: 4.8 feet tall- 4.8 feet across at the widest and 3.1 feet at floor level. They differ only in length. The CJ1’s 11-foot-long cabin seats four in a club arrangement that preserves open access to the two seats on the flight deck. The two FJ44-1AP turbofans produce 1-944 pounds of thrust each.

The CJ2’s cabin- at 13.6 feet long- sports a center-club seating arrangement with two more seats aft ahead of the luggage/lav space. Access to the two flight-deck seats is equally open. The FJ44-3A-24 fans used on this CitationJet make 2-400 pounds of thrust.

The CJ3 also seats six using the same distribution in the cabin- but at 15.7 feet long- the cabin delivers more legroom without encroaching on access to the two flight-deck chairs. The largest of the CJ family also gets the most-powerful engines- a pair of FJ44–3A making 2-780 pounds of thrust.

Prices for the CJs range from approximately $4.2 million for the CJ1+- $5.5 million for the CJ2+- and $6.4 million for the CJ3.

Citation Bravo & Encore

These seven-place jets offer more power and a boost in interior amenities compared to the CJs. Indeed- the Encore offers the second highest speed of the light Citations. Both the Bravo and Encore models feature a cabin configured in a center-club arrangement with the two aft-cabin seats facing forward plus a seventh rear-facing immediately behind the flight deck on the starboard side.

These two Citations both employ 500-series Pratt & Whitney engines- with the PW530A making 2-887 pounds of thrust on the Bravo and the PW535A making 3-400 pounds of thrust on the Encore. Both models employ Honeywell’s impressive Primus 1000 integrated avionics suite using three 8-by-7-inch screens and two flight directors.

The Bravo swings the true-airspeed needle to just above 400 knots at maximum while delivering a best-cruise range of 1-900 nautical miles. The Encore moves the top speed to nearly 430 knots while delivering a best-in-class range of nearly 2-000 nautical miles. The Citation Encore aircraft for sale tops its group in climb performance too- needing only 13 minutes to reach FL370.

And both jets provide the same great flying manners that have long made the so-called straight-wing Citations a favorite among pilots of all stripes. For the Bravo- the price of this level of performance comes in at just above $6.0 million- while the Encore fetches $8.1 million.

Citation XLS

At slightly above $10.5 million- the hot-moving XLS is the highest-priced light-class Citation – and at a maximum take-off weight of 20-200 pounds- we’re stretching to include it in the light category (usually weighing under 20-000). But then- we’ve done the same for the Lear 40 for sale and Learjet 45 business jets for sale models because after them- the weights of the next-closest jets jump into the mid-20-000 pound range. In addition- those mid-20-000 lbs range airplanes also cost more than a million dollars more.

The XLS is more than just a heavier version of a light Citation models. The 3-991 pounds of thrust from the each of the two P&WC PW545A engines push the Citation XLS business jets for sale along at more than 431 knots for trips nearing 1-800 nautical with four passengers on board. The XLS’ 3-560 ft balanced field length puts it in league more with other light jets than other above-20-000 lbs business jets. However- it’s in the cabin where the XLS truly stands out among other Citations and other light jets.

At 5.7 feet tall and 5.5 feet across- the XLS is closer to some mid-class jets than other light jets. At 18.5 feet long- the XLS is also longer than some much-heavier jets – and is the longest Citation in this category. Credit for this generous cabin size belongs partly to Cessna’s top-of-the-line Citation X- from which the XLS got its basic height- width and shape.

The XLS features the enhanced Honeywell Primus 1000 CDS Digital Flight Control System with an expanded 8-by-10-inch display in all three positions; pilot- co-pilot and center panel. Also standard is a digital autopilot/flight director- GPS- DME and vertical navigation capabilities.

Find out more about all the Citations mentioned above at www.cessna.com


Raytheon- like only one other general aviation manufacturer- offers customers a range of single engine airplanes for sale that stretch from the piston-powered Bonanza through the Hawker Horizon 'Super-Mid' cabin-class business jet. In between are two light jets as distinct in character as the company that makes them.

Beechcraft Raytheon Premier I business jets for sale/IA

This model launched a new era in manufacturing when Beechcraft pioneered its new composite/metal approach to using the best materials in the best structures. The Beechcraft Premier I employs a state-of-the-art composite fuselage mounted on a state-of-the-art metal wing to provide a cabin notably larger and lighter than the competition.

You can measure the results – a cabin cross-section of 5.4 feet high and 5.5 feet across- the largest in its class. With its 13.5-foot internal length- the Premier I boasts more space than some of its competitors- even though the length is close to the same. The designers opted for the well-established Williams-Rolls FJ44-2A engine for the 2-300 pounds of thrust needed to provide cruise speeds above 460 knots true. The sleek wing also allows the Premier I to reach altitudes up to 41-000 feet.

The club-seating configuration provides seating for four in the cabin- but the single-pilot approval opens up the second cockpit seat for another passenger. And loaded- the Premier I can fly as far as 1-300 nautical miles non-stop carrying crew and four passengers. The light weight- reliable power and sleek design combine to give the Premier I excellent airport performance- as well. Runways as short as 3-792 feet will work.

Yet the maximum gross weight of the Premier I comes in at 12-500 pounds- lighter than you’d find in an all-metal jet with the same cabin size.

Raytheon opted to fit the Premier I with Collins all-solid-state Pro Line 21 integrated avionics suite- which means Beechcraft lacks nothing a pilot needs- regardless of the use – as a personal plane or a corporate jet.

For the Premier IA variant launched earlier this year- the company focused largely on improving the interior- modeling the redesign after the Hawker 800XP with a redesigned headliner- seating and lighting- among the changes.

Raytheon also improved on the Pro Line 21 system with the addition of Rockwell Collins’ Electronic Flight Information System to the panel suite. The IA upgrade package includes a standard five-year warranty- improvements to the sound dampening and braking systems- lower landing speeds and more.

Beechcraft can deliver you a Premier for about $5.8 million a highly competitive number for its combination of size- speed and utility.

Hawker 400XP

The older of Raytheon’s two light jets- the Hawker business jet for sale continues to attract a following after nearly 20 years on the company product line. Today’s Hawker 400XP sports seating for up to seven in a cabin with a center-club configuration- newly designed seats that convert to full-size sleeping berths for the longest travel missions- and range to make them useful. The 400XP can fly as far as 1-700 nautical miles from fields of only 4-200 feet- and make the trip at speeds that top its class: 468 knots.

Raytheon also gave the Hawker 400XP jets for sale the benefits of modern sound-insulating materials plus redesigned engine mounts that reduce vibration from the jet’s two 2-965-pound-thrust Pratt & Whitney Canada JT15D-5 engines. The combination makes the 400XP cabin the quietest it’s been under any prior name or configuration.

Raytheon’s smallest Hawker jets for sale also benefited from a new Collins’ Pro Line 4 integrated avionics system with the latest to keep crew awareness and flight management at its best. The price to fly a new Hawker doesn’t get any lower than the $6.9 million tab for a 400XP.

Find out more information at www.raytheonaircraft.com

On final- finally?

Sino Swearingen’s SJ30-2 business jets for sale nears 2005 approval

With Type Authorization Inspection approval in hand for two more test beds- San Antonio-based Sino Swearingen Aircraft expects to complete certification of the SJ30-2 later this year – and begin initial deliveries to a long-patient line of customers before year’s end. This is a program that hit 15 years getting to this point.

Nevertheless- with full production in swing at both the final assembly operation in Texas and at Sino-Swearingen’s component factory in Martinsburg- West Virginia- the company has promised that 2005 will be the year. What a jet this one will be!

The SJ30-2 offers cruise speeds above Mach 0.83 – which will make it the class leader once approved.

At the opposite end of the scale- Ed Swearingen’s design promises a stall speed comfortably below 100 knots for outstanding runway flexibility at only 3-500 feet.

The SJ30-2 also promises other unmatched traits for a light jet. For example- the SJ30-2 provides a sea-level cabin as high as FL410. At its maximum service ceiling of FL490- the cabin altitude still remains an ultra-comfortable 1-200 msl.

The sleek swept wings combine with the proven- 2-300-pound-thrust FJ44-2A engines to provide both its high speed – a scorching 486 knots – and fuel efficiency for another best-in-class trait: it’s 2-500 nautical-mile range. And that’s with full seats in the cabin- as well.

Together these traits and performance figures mean that SJ30-2 owners can count on a non-stop ability to cross the continent fully loaded- with airport numbers that make available most of the country’s paved runways. Throw in its single-pilot IFR capability and its $5.5 million price and it is no wonder so many have been so patient for so long. Sino-Swearingen holds an order book covering three years of production.

More information is available at www.sj30jet.com

Embraer’s new light jet… er- jets…

In early May- Brazilian aircraft maker- Embraer regional jet for sale- announced its plans to enter both the light-jet and very light jet markets based on a decision to invest $235 million in development and expand the company’s business jet offerings beyond the Legacy developed out of the EMB135 airliner. The $6.65 million new eight- to nine-place craft – called The Light Jet on the company’s website – promises a range of 1-800 nautical miles- single-pilot IFR approval- and a service ceiling of 45-000 msl. Power will come from two P&WC PW535/4 turbofans- each making 3-200 pounds of thrust to provide a cruise speed of about Mach 0.78. First deliveries are planned for 2009.

The $2.75 million Embraer VLJ- meanwhile- (similarly dubbed The Very Light Jet) is due to fly in 2008 offering a range of almost 1-200 nautical miles and seating for six to eight in a single-pilot IFR jet.

Power for this model will be a pair of P&WC PW617F turbofans making 1-615 pounds of thrust each and a cruise speed of about Mach 0.7.

More information can be found at www.embraer.com

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