Very Light Jets: While watching the last game at Yankee Stadium last night -- and seeing Thurmond Munson's son run across the field -- I was inspired to write this article so that perhaps some good can come from Thurmond's death. The owner-flown single pilot jet is not a new concept. Cessna tried it many years ago and in 1979 after Munson's unfortunate accident it all but faded away.
The VLJ are promising to be a revolution is less expensive Business Jet travel. They have been equipped the state of the art in avionics and autopilot systems to make it easier for the pilot fly solo. Having flown an automated flight deck since the original green eyed monster, as airline pilots called the B737-300 FMS system. I can tell you that automation brings its own set of challenges to the flight deck. I can site many accidents attributed to the inappropriate use of automation including the fatal AA flight in Cali, Columbia. Flying around in a high speed small jet with your head down programming with closure rate of about 500 miles per hour on other traffic is yet another challenge. Yes they do have TCAS installed but not all the other aircraft do.
Training programs developed by the manufactures are excellent. The mentoring program is a wonderful idea. I fully endorse it however I feel it would be wise to hang on to your mentor for at least a year. Hours are a poor way of judging aeronautical experience. Hours can be very deceiving when you really look at them closely. For example in the course of one pilot's career he has flown 10000 hours in a seaplane in the Caribbean. How comfortable would you be flying with him in a snow storm in the Northeast. In a year you would be able to visit most of your regular designations as well as see how the aircraft performs in all seasons.
I would also recommend that you hire an aviation consultant prior to purchase if possible to help you negotiate with the manufacturer and start up your operation. They can help you perform: pre delivery aircraft inspection, interview your mentor pilot and set up the facilities to operate the aircraft. With the help of a savvy consultant you can not only enhance the safety of your operation but also achieve a cost savings.
Capt. Ivan Klugman
President of Integral Aviation Solutions