4:17 PM

Some clarity in
the confusion.

One of the most common topics that prospective VLJ buyers talk about is – you guessed it – the cost of insuring these new aircraft. It is definitely not news that premiums for fast, expensive iron can be the No. 1 hurdle most buyers face when upgrading to a high performance single, a piston twin, and now the many VLJs set to descend down upon the market.

In researching this topic, I came across this tidbit on flightglobal.com:

Single-pilot commercial operations with very light jets are unlikely to be considered an acceptable risk by insurers despite technological advances to make the latest generation of aircraft easier and safer to fly. This is the consensus of an NBAA aviation insurance and risk management seminar.
Reading that, you’re told that “commercial” ops are possibly going to be tough to insure single-pilot. That might be of concern to the growing number of air taxi startups that will fly Part 135, but what about the guy who just wants to blast through the clouds in his personal airliner chasing down a very high-dollar tee time? Well, this page on Eclipse Aviation’s web site has some answers:
Insurance will be available for any Eclipse 500 customer who successfully completes the Eclipse 500 Pilot Training Program. Willis Global Aviation, a premier global insurance broker, has published premium and coverage estimates for the Eclipse 500—the first available for any very light jet (VLJ). Rates are competitive with similar aircraft and high liability limits (up to $10M) will be available.
O.K., let’s take a look at the "estimates" they came up with:
Minimal Experience: Annual premium - $46,000 (hull and $1M liability); 500 hours total time (Private pilot with instrument and multi-engine ratings, very limited instrument and multi-engine time)

Medium Experience: Annual Premium - $40,000 (hull and $1M liability) or $47,000 (full hull and $5M liability); 1,000 hours total time (Private pilot with instrument and multi-engine ratings, 100 instrument hours; 200 multi-engine hours)

Very Experienced: Annual Premium - $29,000 (full hull and $1M liability), $38,000 (full hull and $10M liability); 2,500 hours total time (Commercial pilot with instrument, multi-engine and jet type ratings, 100 instrument hours; 500 multi-engine hours; 100 turbine hours)
So if you win the lotto and are moving up from your Cirrus to a new E-500 and have 500 hours, your IFR ticket and a multi rating, expect to cough up forty grand for minimum coverage, or about $109 a day whether you fly the thing or not.

As with anything that flies, time will tell what the accident rate will be. A prediction, you ask...with pleasure: After a spell of mishaps that will be more pilot error than aircraft malfunction, training will intensify to fill the gaps in pilot transitional knowledge, satisfying the insurance industry who will have raised their rates through 2007 and 2008. In 2009 – when the VLJ fleets have amassed a fair amount of safe, trouble-free cycles – look for insurers to bring premiums down to rates at or below what Eclipse is now forecasting.

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