THE V-JET II experimental light aircraft designed by Williams International and Scaled Composites will have its debut at the 1997 Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) meeting in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, on 31 July.

Not intended for production, the all-composite turbofan-powered aircraft was built to serve as the testbed for the low-cost small turbofan engine being developed by Williams for NASA.

Flight testing began earlier this year with the one-off aircraft reaching an altitude of 30,000ft (9,000m) and demonstrating docile stall characteristics, Williams says. Initially, the V-JET II is being powered by two 2.4kN (550lb)-thrust Williams FJX-1 interim engines. Evaluation of the 3kN FJX-2 engine is to begin around the year 2000. Engine-component design is continuing.

The V-JET II was initially designed by company founder Dr Sam Williams, but Burt Rutan and his design team made major improvements. The V-JET II, which weighs 1,725kg, has a forward-swept wing and a V-tail.

Several V-JET designs have been produced by Williams. Three full-scale mock-ups and at least a dozen small models were built before the present V-JET II configuration, the company says.

In 1996, NASA's Lewis Research Center picked Williams to develop a low-cost turbine engine as part of its General Aviation Propulsion (GAP) programme. The project will cost $100 million, with NASA contributing 40% and Williams the remainder.

The GAP engine is intended to power single-engined, four-seat, and twin-engined, six-seat, aircraft capable of speeds of more than 200kt (370km/h). Williams hopes that the project will lead to production of FJX-2-powered general-aviation aircraft. "I believe every light-aircraft pilot dreams of being a jet pilot. This low-cost turbofan technology can make this a reality," says Williams.

Source: Flight International