9:46 AM

So many jets, so little time

It seems that with each passing day, yet another light jet or VLJ is announced. Here is today’s entry into that exploding market (from the company press release):

The Spectrum 33 Twinjet took flight on January 7, 2006 in Spanish Fork, Utah. The Spectrum 33 is a new light carbon-graphite business jet designed to carry eight to nine passengers, cruise at up to 415 knots [477 mph] and fly as far as 2,000 nautical miles. Spectrum 33 soared off Spanish Fork’s relatively short, 4,500 ft elevation runway in about 750 ft on its first flight, even though it was using greatly reduced takeoff thrust.
Spectrum claims the –33 will consume half as much fuel as current-production aircraft having the same cabin, range and speed, and that FAA Type Certification is slated for late 2007 or in 2008.

Short field ops in an LJ? Now THAT is interesting. Compared to the published 2,155 ft (to 50’) for the Eclipse, the 750’ claimed for the Spectrum may – or may not – be news. I could horse a Skyhawk off the ground early and cheat gravity for a second in ground effect, and the takeoff distance would be dazzling, but unrealistic. So this mark of 750’ for the Spectrum must still be confirmed and then duplicated over and over in real world applications.

Not long ago at the AOPA Expo in Palm Springs, I went out to a small rural airport to watch a demonstration of the Visionaire Vantage. The plane jumped off the runway like a Maule, did a slow flight fly-by 50' off the deck at Cessna 150 stall speeds, and landed on a dime and gave you eight cents change. But I believe the Vantage is now history, so none of its awesome short field performance numbers matter now.

Like all entries into the VLJ and LJ race, time will tell whether Spectrum delivers actual jets in the coming years.

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