By Liz Moscrop
Two of general aviation’s major players have flown into the show. Out in the static area, Cirrus Aviation is strutting its stuff for the first time, while Diamond Aircraft Industries is showing a full complement of its products, including a mock up of its new personal light jet (PLJ).
Both companies have grown exponentially over the last year, with strong interest in their product line-ups, which range from state of the art entry-level trainers to their in-development private jets.
Single-engined PLJs are riding the wake of the VLJ buzz and are looking to make a big impact within the next four years. Generally they have cabin space up to 300ft3, maximum speeds of up to 414mph, and a flight range up to 1,300nm, They can carry between four and six people and cost $1m to $2.2m. They are expected to hit the market by 2008.
Diamond’s D-jet is powered by a Williams FJ33 fanjet, costs $1.38m and flies at 25,000ft for 1,350nm. CEO Christian Dries says: “Our aircraft is expected to be in service very soon, it is already airborne and is performing very well.” Cirrus will unveil its PLJ mock-up at its headquarters in Duluth on June 28, especially for customers who have booked slots. “We are laying the ground for the jet while we’re here. Our aircraft will compete on price - others have launched above the $1m mark, but we’re anticipating $850,000-$900,000 as a starting price.”
Dries anticipates producing 220 D-Jets per year and says he is sceptical about other manufacturers’ claims of churning out thousands of VLJs. He says that the jet is aimed at individuals and customers have included former owners of Bonanzas, Barons and Cirrus aircraft.
The Cirrus stand was swarming with customers when FDN visited yesterday, including a Chinese delegation. Says executive vice president of sales, John Bingham: “We have had a lot of interest in China, especially from flight training organisations. The fact that both companies are exhibiting strongly here is an indication that Paris is once again becoming a useful venue for business aviation.
Doug Oliver, Cessna’s director of corporate communications, added: “We have had a very good Paris. It’s been a very busy show with our business jets.”