A second Sport-Jet prototype is being built to replace the one lost last June in a spectacular, but remarkably injury-free, crash.
Bob Bornhofen, Sport-Jet founder, says the new fuselage is being built now and should be flying early next year.
The original proof-of-concept Sport-Jet crashed during takeoff on June 22, 2006, after 25 hours of flight testing. Test pilot James Stewart and John Welty, acting as flight test engineer, survived without injury and accompanied some of the wreckage to AirVenture 2006, where Stewart and the lightly-damaged fuselage both demonstrated the airplane’s survivability convincingly.
Although the NTSB has yet to determine the actual cause of the crash, Bornhofen and Stewart both insist it resulted from flying into the wake vortex of a de Havilland Dash-8 that had taken off moments earlier. Bornhofen claims that nothing but wake vortex could have initiated so rapid a roll.
The Sport-Jet is a sleek, four-seat, single-engine jet which Bornhofen says will be certified and will sell for around $1 million. It is intended to cruise at 340 knots at 25,000 feet, powered by a Williams FJ-33 producing 1,500 pounds of thrust. Bornhofen, who also was the man behind the Maverick TwinJet, which ended up as a Jim McCotter kit project, expects the Sport-Jet to be certified in “two to three years,” he says.
The Sport-Jet that crashed “had served its purpose in evaluating virtually all of the performance and handling envelope” of the Sport-Jet, Bornhofer has said repeatedly. It “accumulated 25 hours of virtually flawless flight-testing and had covered over 95% of the aircraft’s stated performance envelope,” he said last year at Oshkosh. “The integrity of the aircraft and its systems were proved. We can and will move forward confidently,” he stated at that time.
The NTSB report of probable cause does not mention wake vortex, but does agree with Bornhofen’s insistence that the Sport-Jet “had no mechanical failures.” Officially, NTSB is continuing its investigation.
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