Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Eclipse vs. Fox Jet - Guest Editorial

Kaptain Kool-Aid said...

I am sure Vern will be preaching to the faithful at NBAA, but as we read in Ecclesiastes 1:9 “…there is nothing new under the sun.”

Mr. Raburn was not first person to conceive of what has been termed the “very light jet.” Several designs have been proposed over the years including the mildly successful Moraine-Saulnier MS760 Paris Jet and the never-produced, T-37 derived, Cessna 407 just to name a couple. But, take a trip with me back in history to the late 1970s to a time when bell-bottoms and feathered hairstyles were en vogue. To the days when the Bee Gees ruled the airwaves and Farrah Fawcett graced the wall of every teenage boy’s bedroom. The ‘70s are also remembered for oil shortages and high fuel prices. What the world really needed was a revolutionary new business jet that used only one-fifth the fuel and cost about half that of its closest competitor. Of course, this new plane would be stylish inside and out including requisite disco-era crushed velour on patented “zip rail” seats. The name of this ubermachine?

Fox Jet.

Its promoter and namesake is a successful inventor/businessman named Tony Fox who, as it turned out, was about three decades ahead of his time.

Interestingly, the Fox Jet and the original Eclipse 500 design share some very similar performance stats. Below is a comparison of a few key features:

Fox Jet/Eclipse 500

Max Cruise Speed (kts): 356/355
Service Ceiling: FL410/FL410
MTOW (lbs): 4450/4700

Both aircraft were to be powered by engines from Williams International (formerly Williams Research), made primarily of aluminum, carry six seats and be single-pilot certified.

So, you’re probably wondering why this modern marvel didn’t make it to market. The short answer is that Williams Research won a military contract (Air Launched Cruise Missiles) and the government put the kibosh on any non-military use of the engines effectively killing the program. The aircraft never got past the design stage, but a few full-scale mockups were built. As an interesting side note, earlier this year, the rights to the Fox Jet were sold to Millennium Aerospace Corporation. Tony Fox, now 84, said he would like to see the Fox Jet fly in his lifetime. Time will tell…

By the way, DayJet is not a new idea either. The Fox Jet was to be heavily utilized in the DIALJET program as illustrated in the following excerpt from a Fox Jet press release:


Complementing the Regional Service Center concept will be the DIALJET system. When fully operational, this can become the largest, fastest and most convenient non-scheduled jet service in the world, simply by utilizing the combined flying strength of hundreds of Foxjets owned individually or corporately and made available for charter through a lease-back arrangement with DIALJET. The DIALJET customer can have a Foxjet for almost immediate charter anywhere, anytime, by calling the toll-free number 1-800-DIALJET. Costs to the customer can be reduced by share-flight scheduling with other customers through DIALJET's world-wide computer network. The speed, efficiency, and comfort of travel by private Foxjet will be extended to many thousands of customers at a fraction of the cost of chartering other jet aircraft. Such an extensive, viable lease-back arrangement will make Foxjet ownership all the more cost-effective and attractive, thus greatly boosting the sales of new Foxjets.

DayJet… DIALJET… you can’t make this stuff up!

NOTE: Most of the above information came from a truly unique and entertaining website:

For some real fun, I suggest you spend a few minutes watching the promotional films produced by Eclip… uh, I mean Fox Jet. The first has some delightfully cheesy special effects and the other features a great conversation between Tony Fox and Bill Lear. Both films contain several gems that I’m sure you will enjoy. They can be found here:

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