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- Also known as a personal jet, a very light jet is a type of small jet aircraft typically seating between four and six people
- They are typically flown on short flights due to their low cost and highly economical nature
- They offer increased range compared to turboprops whilst having performance capabilities similar to larger jets like the Cessna Citation Jet
Over the last few years, the term VLJ has become something of a buzzword. Many believe they are the future of aviation, but what exactly are they?
A VLJ, or Very Light Jet, is a relatively new type of aircraft category. They encompass most private jets that seat four to six people and a range of between 1500 and 2500 nmi. At present, there are seven aircraft currently in production that are classified as VLJs by most aviators.
Based on my personal experience as a corporate pilot who has several hundred hours across many aircraft generally considered to be VLJs, I’m in a perfect position to explain everything about them and how they compare to other types of aircraft.
What Is a Very Light Jet?
Once known as a microjet, a very light jet is a personal or entry-level jet that seats four to eight people. Very light jets are approved for single-pilot operation and are considered the most lightweight business jets. They have a maximum weight of less than 10,000 pounds that they can hold.
The very light jet is a reasonably new type of jet that appeared in the early 2000s. About ten years ago, VLJs were something of a buzz word in the aviation industry. They are more lightweight and more fuel-efficient. Airplane manufacturers saw the potential for simple, efficient, and small jets.
Troubled endeavors caused some models to be canceled, and enthusiasm was dampened. Some manufacturers met with success. There are excellent VLJs on the market today. They are more convenient than commercial jets but have fewer luxuries and upgrades.
VLJs offer a simple means of travel between locations. Due to their small size, they can land nearly anywhere. Passengers can get as close as possible. Low operating costs make very light jet travel a more affordable option.
What Is the Best Very Light Jet?
The travel needs of people vary. Some look for a luxurious, large way to get from one place to another. Others seek the most efficient, easiest, and more simplistic travel method. The aviation industry noticed the need, and the very light jet was born. Some favorites are
- Cirrus Vision
- Cessna Citation Mustang
- Honda Jet Elite
- Embraer Phenom 100
- Eclipse 550
Cirrus Vision Jet
The Vision has the largest cabin in the class. Spaciousness is created with a carbon fiber fuselage. The VLJ has unexpected shoulder and headroom and panoramic windows. There is an entertainment display that connects easily with favorite devices.
A modern workspace is created in the center console. Gogo InFlight Wi-Fi provides industry-leading connectivity. For added convenience, there are USB-C ports for charging devices.
Safe Return emergency Autoland and the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System provide the ultimate assurance and safety. A Williams FJ33-5A engine is finely tuned for up to 20 percent increased takeoff performance. It also provides added reassurance at high elevations and in hot temperatures.
Cessna Citation Mustang
The Cessna Citation Mustang is the smallest private jet in the Citation family. There are six seats on the very light jet. It holds four passengers in the tight but comfortable cabin and two pilots in the cockpit.
The Mustang has a top speed of 391 miles per hour. It can reach halfway across the U.S. without refueling. Amenities include:
- Air conditioning and climate control.
- Digital audio cockpit controls.
- External baggage storage.
- Large windows provide extended visibility.
- A leather interior.
The Citation Mustang is a reliable economic contender on the VLJ market. It is excellent for flights under 2.5 hours long.
The HondaJet Elite represents the commitment of Honda Aircraft to the environment, efficiency, and performance. Its superior efficiency and performance are due to an aerodynamic breakthrough.
This aircraft features several comfort and performance enhancements. It uses the original HondaJet over-the-wing engine mount, a natural laminar flow airfoil, and a composite fuselage. There are also luxury interior features.
They include a speakerless, in-cabin sound system that creates sounds by actuators vibrating interior parts. There is a seatbelt on the toilet. The very light jet is available in color options like Monarch Orange, Ruby Red, and Ice Blue.
Embraer Phenom 100EV
The Phenom 100EV combines a turboprop's operating cost with a jet's performance. It offers intuitive avionics paired with an elegant cabin drenched in natural light, superior hot-and-high performance, and enviable thrust.
The VLJ boasts enhanced beauty and safety, turboprop-grade efficiency, and unparalleled performance. A fierce-looking jet turns heads with its immediately recognizable, eye-catching nose and high stance that makes a powerful statement.
The exclusive airstair beautifully complements the large entrance door. It has a handrail and optional LED lighting for the steps. This Phenom 100EV has the largest-in-class refreshment center. Its abundance of space and impressive cabin design makes it perfect for relaxing or working.
The Eclipse 550 is a second aircraft in the very light jet category manufactured by Eclipse Aviation (now known as One Aviation). It is certified for operation by a single pilot. Two PW610-F-A engines each produce 900 pounds of thrust. The Eclipse 550 can carry four passengers for a range of 825 nautical miles at a speed of 369 knots.
It is equipped with an Avio avionics suite. The operating cost of the One Aviation Eclipse 550 is $889 per hour. It is a very light jet that provides a combination of efficiency and performance at a cost-effective price. The Eclipse 550 has become an efficient, fast, and affordable business tool.
Light Jet Versus Very Light Jet
The most significant difference between light jets and very light jets is the ability to comfortably fly eight passengers in their luggage for a smaller price tag. VLJs are excellent options for short-distance trips with coworkers or family.
Very light jets have a larger cabin and baggage capacity. VLJs seat eight passengers compared to six in a light jet. Deciding factors in a choice are the number of people traveling together and the value of space and comfort.
Four people traveling to a close-by location may choose a light jet, while seven people with more luggage may choose the very light jet.
The speed of VLJs ranges from 300 to 422 nautical miles per hour. Light jets travel between 403 and 490 nautical miles per hour. A VLJ's maximum distance from takeoff to landing is between 1500 and 2500 miles, and for light jets, 1430 to 2874 miles.
Acquisition costs for new light jets are between 4.5 and 9.5 million dollars. They cost from $2500 to $4000 an hour to operate.
The acquisition of a very light jet has a price tag that ranges between three and 5.5 million dollars. Operating costs of VLJs vary from $2000 to $3500 per hour.
Turboprop Versus Very Light Jet
The difference between a VLJ and a turboprop is evident with one glance. Turboprops have a traditional propeller, and most very light jets do not. That is an oversimplified way to compare them.
A turboprop represents the crossover from piston to jet. The extremely light turbine engine produces tremendous power-to-weight compared to the piston engine. Increased fuel consumption is the trade-off. A turboprop uses about twice as much fuel as a piston engine.
A very light jet can propel to higher flight levels. On the flip side, VLJs could be more efficient. The very light jet is faster and spends less time in the air when traveling to the same destination. VLJs are more sensitive to unmaintained or unprepared airfields.
They require long pavement when taking off and landing. The turboprop requires approximately half the runway length, and the hourly cost to operate a single turboprop engine is $400 to $500 less than a VLJ.
Turboprops are typically considered safer than very light jets. They have an increased balanced field capability. The balance field implies how easily, safely, and quickly the plane can stop if something goes wrong after reaching its takeoff speed. Larger propellers provide more drag to help stop when necessary.
Turbo engines are more reliable, mechanically simpler, lighter, and easier to operate. While turboprops are typically cheaper to maintain and operate, the decision comes down to the flying preferences and needs.
Very Light Jet Versus Midsize Jet
VLJs and midsize jets are two popular jet charter options. Very light jets hold from three to seven passengers comfortably, ranging from 1000 to 2500 miles. They are ideal for traveling to a nearby state.
A midsize jet is an option for those traveling in groups of seven to ten between 2000 to 4000 miles. It is a choice suitable for traveling cross-country or to a nearby country. Midsize jets carry more fuel than very light jets causing more extended travel ranges at higher prices.
It costs between $6500 to $8000 per hour to operate a VLJ compared to the $8000 to $9000 cost for midsize jets.
What Are the Advantages of Very Light Jets?
The advantages of very light jets include a smaller carbon footprint, fuel economy, and speed. They are versatile and comfortable, which makes them an excellent choice for flying into and out of smaller airports and regional travel.
VLJs provide a level of convenience and luxury that is often unmatched. Passengers enjoy a sense of comfort and style, unlike other flying experiences. Going green is increasingly important in society.
Very light jets reduce the impact on the environment. The less fuel used, the fewer emissions produced. This chart compares very light jets to all charter aircraft.
What Is the Difference Between a Very Light Jet and a Super Light Jet?
Super light jets have more luggage and cabin space than VLJs. Like VLJs, they can fly for up to four hours without stopping to refuel, which makes them a favorite among private jet charters.
Super light jets are a reasonably new class in private aviation. It is known for providing cost benefits and a little more performance and comfort than larger jets. The size of a very light jet and a super light jet are similar.
Super light jets are used for various reasons. They are small enough to fly into small airfields without sacrificing comfort and are efficient business transportation. They are designed for both leisure and business travelers.
A super light jet can travel to multiple places in a single day. Drinks, refreshments, and other catering alternatives can be made available. These jets are leaders in technology, comfort, and performance. The super light jet is the most advanced with its industry-inclusive upper panel technology.
What Is the Biggest, Very Light Jet?
There has yet to be an official segmentation for LVJs. Many are classified as very light jets with a maximum takeoff weight of under 10,000 pounds. This chart lists very light jets in order of maximum takeoff weight.
What Is the Most Beautiful, Very Light Jet?
Through the years, aviation aesthetics continued to develop. Since the first power flight by the Wright brothers in 1903, designers have drawn from functional necessity and nature to create competent and beautiful engineering pieces.
Much of the development of the aesthetics was driven by the needs of the military. With the need to carry larger loads and fly longer distances, designs employed robust frames and long aerodynamic wings similar to the largest birds in nature.
Aircraft needed to be highly stealthy and maneuverable and fly fast. The aircraft set the aesthetic standards for modern aviation. Aircraft aesthetics evoke emotion. Very light jets are more than feats of engineering. VLJs are things of beauty.
The Cirrus Vision SF50 is among the most beautiful, very light jets. It provides a sense of luxury and comfort without losing its simple charm. The standard features of the Cirrus Vision include:
- Air conditioning with climate control
- Cirrus Airframe Parachute System
- Cirrus Perspective Touch
- It fits inside a standard hangar
- Flight into Known Ice System
- Four or more USB power ports
- Large windows for exceptional visibility
- Leather interior
- Maximum speed of 345 miles per hour
- Modular seating for five adults