The number of Very Light Jets (VLJs) is set to soar in Europe, with up to 100 additional aircraft coming into service each year and 700 in operation by 2015, according to recent research from EUROCONTROL
To ensure that this growth can be handled safely and efficiently, the Agency has launched a new forum - the European VLJs Integration Platform (VIP) to propose solutions for integrating VLJs into the European air traffic system. A number of large VLJ manufacturers and operators participate in the VIP. EUROCONTROLs studies show that there are about 440 VLJs currently on order for operation in Europe. Of these, at least 230 are expected for delivery by the end of 2010. The majority of VLJs are expected to be used for air-taxi type work. Typically, this would result in each aircraft making an average of 2 to 3 flights a day, adding 200 to 300 extra flights per day each year. The growth in VLJs adds a significant extra dimension to the complexity of air traffic in Europe, said Alex Hendriks, EUROCONTROLs Deputy Director of ATM Strategies. VLJs have very different speeds and cruising levels from current commercial jet aircraft, so we need to conduct an impact assessment to see how they will affect the network as a whole. We also need to assess the technical requirements for onboard systems, including examining whether there is a requirement for ACAS. In order to understand how VLJs will be integrated into European airspace, EUROCONTROL is preparing a simulation that will assess the impact of VLJ operations. This will be carried out in 2008 in full consultation with the VIP. An initial comparison of published VLJ performance and that of common commercial jet aircraft indicates that for some of the phases of flight, the VLJs have very different speeds and cruising levels. For that reason, it is likely that VLJs will have a considerable impact on at least the take-off and en-route parts of the network. Analysis will also be carried out on the technical requirements for onboard systems, as it seems that there may be difficulties in adapting some of the fully-integrated avionics systems currently employed in certain VLJs to particular navigation requirements.