That’s the first possible delivery date available to pick up your brand new Eclipse 500 Very Light Jet. Think it’s crazy to wait that long to drop just over a million on a VLJ? Apparently, the people who just secured those coveted May, ’08 E-500 positions don’t think so – they are literally throwing money at Eclipse Aviation.
The flood of VLJ deliveries set to begin in 2006 will redefine general aviation as we know it. Set to begin arriving at an airport near you along with the Eclipse is the Cessna Mustang, Raytheon’s Premier, the Adam Jet, the D-Jet, maybe even a Honda Jet, a few ATG Javelins, and a handful of others.
To contemplate what all these new VLJs will do to the airspace we fly in, we also have to factor in another new crop that is sprouting as we speak…Light Sport Aircraft. With their small size and slower cruise speeds, they are in marked contrast to the VLJs, with the two classes living at opposite ends of the flight envelope.
High and fast, low and slow. VLJs, LSAs, and ATC, how will it all fit together?
Hopefully, all the VLJ drivers will be on IFR flights, and with the high-end training required to keep their insurance guys happy, they will simply flow through the system without causing much of a ruckus. But throw a bunch of modern day Piper J3s dinking along well below the speed of sound into the mix, and it is safe to assume that busy GA airports will get much busier.
FAA and ATC has their assignment – keep the composite, the aluminum, the tin and the fabric from becoming a messy NTSB statistic. The next two years also brings a new assignment for every licensed pilot, SEE AND AVOID! We should all begin today to practice extra vigilance in the pattern, to prepare for that day we all know is coming, when Mr. Big in his phat new ATG Javelin and Poe-dunk Bob in his LSA puddle jumper both want to occupy the very space where your airplane currently resides.
Head on a swivel, guys…sterile cockpit time…don’t bother me, I’m landing.