Low slow jet wins aviation trophy

Image: © Cirrus Aircraft

Cirrus’s SF50 Vision Jet has won the 2017 Collier trophy. The long-running aviation prize was awarded to the US manufacturer for developing the world’s first single engine personal jet.

The Vision Jet, at one time promoted by its maker as the ‘slowest, lowest and cheapest jet available’, uses a single Williams turbofan engine mounted above the fuselage. It has seven seats (two of them limited in size and weight capacity), flies at 300 knots, at an altitude of 28,000 feet, and costs a relatively inexpensive $US2 million ($A2.6 million). The SF50 is the only one of a range of single engine very light jet prototypes developed in the early 2000s to enter series production.

The maker says 25 of the SF50s have been delivered since certification in 2016, with 617 on order including six orders from Australia customers.

Cirrus Aircraft Australia director, Graham Horne, said he expected many more orders would be taken after the first local delivery. ‘As soon as we get one here we think it will go crazy,’ he said.

The Collier Trophy citation mentioned the SF50’s whole airframe parachute system, which it shares with the piston engine Cirrus SR20 and SR22 models. A unique feature of the jet’s airframe parachute is that it emerges from the nose of the aircraft.

The Collier trophy has been awarded since 1911 by the US National Aeronautic Association and recognises ‘the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America, with respect to improving the performance, efficiency and safety in air or space vehicles, the value of which has been thoroughly demonstrated by actual use during the preceding year.’

Previous winners include Chuck Yeager, Clarence ‘Kelly’ Johnson, Orville Wright, Howard Hughes and the crew of Apollo 11.