A very light jet (VLJ), previously known as a microjet, is, by convention, a small jet aircraft approved for single-pilot operation with a maximum take-off weight of under 10,000 lb (4,540 kg). They are lighter than what is commonly termed business jets and typically seat between three and seven passengers plus one crew member.
A number of designs are currently in development, and will feature advanced avionics with glass cockpit technology. VLJs are intended to have lower operating costs than conventional jets, and will be able to operate from runways as short as 3,000 feet (900 m). In the United States, where the majority of these jets are being designed, NASA and the FAA have encouraged their development and foresee their widespread use in point-to-point air taxi service. The Small Aircraft Transportation System would provide air service to areas ignored by airlines.
These "on-demand" air taxi services depend on low cost projections and high demand to become a reality. The viability of these services is the subject of much debate among industry experts. Richard Aboulafia, an aviation industry expert and a self-described "VLJ agnostic", believes that the VLJ phenomenon may turn out to be one of the greatest disappointments in the aviation industry, due to the hype and economic infeasibility of large-scale air-taxi operations.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane…no, its a VLJ. Well, technically VLJs are planes, but they are in a class all their own. VLJ's - aka: very light jets, microjets, personal jets, minijets - are a hot topic these days. Looking like something out of "The Jetsons", these super-sleek, super-economical jets have created a new category in the private aircraft industry and are eagerly anticipated in the charter world. So what's all the fuss about? Well, VLJ's cost much less than small cabin jets, which will open the world of private aviation to a larger segment of the market. Also, since they can easily takeoff and land at small local airports, they allow travelers to avoid high-volume airports and arrive closer to their destinations.
"So what's the catch?" the savvy jet traveler may ask. Well, despite their efficiency and flexibility, their nickname ‘minijet' aptly describes most VLJ cabin interiors. Snug is the word, although cabin interior can vary based on the specific jet sub-category (ie: single-engine, small-cabin, large-cabin). Also, with its limited in-flight services and performance, VLJ flights are best kept to a couple of hours at most, with no more than 4 passengers. However, for short, direct flights to and from smaller airports, VLJ's may be the jet for you. And with the ease of flying privately, business travelers in particular may find VLJS an attractive option over first-class.
In total, over 3,000 VLJs have been ordered from three manufacturers. Cessna Aircraft Company, based in Wichita, Kansas, delivered the first ever production VLJ, the six-seater Citation Mustang, to Mustang Management Group of Fresno, California on November 23, 2006. Cessna has over 300 orders for the Mustang, mainly from owner-operators. Cessna received full certification for the Mustang on September 8, 2006. Cessna received FAA certification to fly into "known icing conditions" on November 9, 2006. Cessna received its FAA Production Certificate for the Mustang on November 23, 2006.