A new class of aircraft known as Very Light Jets (VLJs) is close to takeoff and could result in a giant leap forward in private aviation. The sub-10,000 lb planes carry 2 to 6 passengers (plus 2 pilots) up to 450 mph and as high as airliner altitudes of 41,000 feet. The price range: only $1.5 to $4 million, which is about half that of a current entry-level biz-jet.
Popular Mechanics examines the advances in engine technology that make these low-cost fliers possible — the Diamond D-Jet, for example, uses a derivative of the ultra-high thrust-to-weight ratio engine found in Tomahawk cruise missiles. Also, a break down of the offerings from giants Cessna and Embraer, the notable HondaJet, and others from smaller concerns such as Eclipse Aviation.
The theoretical next step: the Extremely Light Jet, which could carry 2 passengers 250 mph for the price of a Bentley.