One of the more publicized events leading up to a prize fight is
the much-celebrated "weigh-in." The significance of such an
event is not lost on one of the latest entrants in the hotly
contested Very Light Jet market.
"Airplanes, like their pilots, tend to gain weight over time,"
says an oft-repeated statement of aircraft owners. In the same
vein, aircraft in development always seem to end up with many more
pounds than originally conceived.
The Excel-Jet Ltd., skunkworks operated by jet designer, Bob
Bornhofen (the same guy who developed the Maverick Twin Jet before
it was taken over by folks who doomed the project due to
mismanagement and false marketing), note that they're not creating
their single engine Sport-Jet in the same way that other very light
jets are being developed.
The Sport-Jet is being developed by a small team working
efficiently and quickly. Claiming similarities to Rutan's
SpaceShipOne development, Bornhofen also believes in a small
efficient and focused team. As noted, it was Bob Bornhofen who
designed the Maverick TwinJet and flew it to Oshkosh in 2000. This
aircraft was test flown to 250 KTIAS and won praise from Bob Hoover
for its flight handling qualities. Three of these jet kits were
completed and flown to speeds above 340 knots.
As proof of their intent, the Excel-Jet team put the prototype
Sport-Jet on scales to find the aircraft may come in under the
design empty weight of 2,800 pounds. Yet the single engine bird has
a wider cabin than most in the VLJ race. The Sport-Jet features a
composite fuselage that mates to an aluminum tail and wings; a
weight efficient choice that Excel-Jet believes will also aid
certification. Wings are being completed by an overseas supplier
(in much the same way Boeing and Airbus sublet component parts to
Bornhofen expects to fly the Sport-Jet this spring.
Excel-Jet's new model is a single-engine, all-glass aircraft
aimed at the general aviation pilot. Sport-Jet has been designed
for single-person operation by a pilot trained in piston-powered
airplanes. Many advanced features and a simplified design eases
pilot workload. "This will contribute significantly to the
insurability of the aircraft when operated by nonprofessionals,"
said Bornhofen. The new model will sell for around $1 million, will
cruise at 340 knots at 25,000 feet (above 95% of typical weather),
and can carry four persons over 1,000 nautical miles.
Excel-Jet Ltd. is the Colorado corporation formed to bring a new
generation of light jet to the market.