A very light jet (VLJ), entry-level jet or personal jet, previously known as a microjet, is a category of small business jets seating four to eight people and often with a maximum takeoff weight of or under 10,000 pounds (4,540 kg), although the Embraer Phenom 100, Honda-jet and Cessna Citation M2 are all slightly over. VLJs are considered the lightest business jets and are approved for single-pilot operation.
Embraer Phenom 100
Cessna Citation M2
After a flurry of interest in the Small Aircraft Transportation System (SATS) and air taxi markets in the early 2000s, the VLJ sector underwent significant expansion. Several new designs were produced, such as the Embraer Phenom 100, the Cessna Citation Mustang, and the Eclipse 500. However, following the late 2000s recession the air taxi market underperformed expectations,both Eclipse Aviation and air taxi firm DayJet collapsed.
Cessna Citation Mustang
AvWeb's Paul Bertorelli explained that the term very light jet has lost favour in the aviation industry. "Personal jet is the description du jour. You don't hear the term VLJ—very light jet—much anymore and some people in the industry tell me they think it's because that term was too tightly coupled to Eclipse, a failure that the remaining players want to, understandably, distance themselves from."
Single-engine designs were popular in the mid-2000s, before the global financial crisis diminished the market appeal of the category. Most of those programs: the Piper Altaire, Diamond D-Jet, Eclipse 400 or VisionAire Vantage were shelved and the only maintained aircraft are the Cirrus Vision SF50, which is now type certified, and the Stratos 714, which expects certification in 2019. They would compete with single turboprop aircraft.
Cirrus Vision SF50
VLJs are intended to have lower operating costs than conventional jets, and to be able to operate from runways as short as 3,000 feet (910 m), either for personal use or in point-to-point air taxi service. In the United States, the Small Aircraft Transportation System is aimed at providing air service to areas ignored by airlines.
Florida-based air taxi provider DayJet, which on October 3, 2007 began its Eclipse 500 service, planned to operate more than 1,000 of the VLJs within five years, and had stated in mid-2007 that it planned to operate 300 Eclipse 500s serving 40 regional airports in the Southeastern United States by the end of 2008. DayJet ceased operations on September 19, 2008.
When these smaller jets were first mooted, there was much interest in the fact that they would not have a lavatory on board, with articles discussing the matter in The New York Times and items on NBC Nightly News. Some manufacturers argued that for short flights of 300 to 500 miles (480 to 800 km) and 40 to 80 minutes' duration the lavatory issue was not a problem and air taxi service companies said that it was not a concern for most of their passengers. Despite this, the Eclipse 500 had the option of an electric flush, remove-to-service lavatory with a privacy curtain - at the expense of one passenger seat, and the proposed Adam A700 design had a seven-seat configuration with rear lavatory with a privacy curtain.
The Cessna Mustang also has an emergency toilet, but it is located between the cockpit and cabin. The Embraer Phenom 100 offers a fully enclosed lavatory with a solid door. The 2015 Honda HA-420 HondaJet has a full lavatory at the rear of the aircraft with flushing toilet, full sink and closing door.