With recent announcements concerning the Eclipse 550 and the sale of Diamond to Dubai-based Medrar Financial Group, it seems that “personal jets” are, once again, poised for a comeback… if somewhat delayed. Yes, the Altaire has been put on hold indefinitely and the entry into service of the Cirrus SF50 has been postponed until 2015. Yet, some activity is still better than no activity and I can’t help but hope that one day these more affordable entries into the jet world will become a reality.
Now, to be clear, I am fully aware of the whole financial debate pitting personal jets vs. turboprops and I’ll be the first one to admit that purely from an operating cost standpoint turboprops appear to make a more compelling proposition. However, the experience of flying a bizjet is quite unique and I have to believe that the decisions of individuals who can afford one of those aircraft will transcend pure economics.
My first experience sitting in the cockpit of one of those aircraft was at Oshkosh ’06, where Diamond had brought a mockup of their D-Jet. My first reaction was one of surprise: the cabin was substantially more spacious than I had anticipated. The apparent size of the aircraft’s exterior truly does not do justice to the amount of legroom available for passengers and pilots alike. A few years later Cirrus brought a mockup of the SF50 also at Oshkosh, further reinforcing my thoughts that these aircraft are not merely intended to bring you from point A to point B, but also provide an enjoyable experience in the process.
Perhaps this is not the time for “personal jets” to shine, but hopefully we won’t have to wait too long to see some of those incredible machines take off. In the meantime, I encourage you to check out the following websites and share your thoughts: