May 2011 Issue

Single-Pilot Jet Safety

Thanks to professional training programs, the record isnít bad, but thatís mostly because few of these jets are being flown by only one pilot.

In the last five years, a new crop of small light jets (I promise not to call them VLJs, or very light jets) has entered the marketplace. Aircraft such as the Cessna Model 510 Mustang, Embraer Phenom 100, and yes, the Eclipse 500 are now out there in the hundreds, and they have carved a successful market niche, albeit not the one envisioned by some observers. These airplanes are designed to be flown by single pilots and itís fair to ask whether or not our training and safety model for these airplanes will be up to the task. The record so far looks good but we need to look below the surface for the entire story. We should be looking at a cohort of airplanes that are destined for an excellent safety record, if we assume they will reflect the record of previous turbojet models certified for single-pilot operations.

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