Whilst Cirrus, HondaJet, Embraer and Cessna have shared the spoils of the light jet market between them since the collapse of the very-light jet (VLJ) concept 10 years ago, one manufacturer has been diligently working away to bring their own challenger to the market.
Polish manufacturer Flaris introduced their LAR1 single-engined jet to a stunned audience at the Paris Air Show in 2013. At the time, very few in the European market knew of the project. Even fewer outside Europe had any inkling of what was rising in a factory at Podgórzyn, near the Czech border 125 km west of Wroclaw.
Built by fabrication company Metal-Master, the LAR1 sports a dorsal-mounted Williams FJ33-5A turbofan and twin vertical stabilisers. It seats pilot plus four, and has an expected max speed of over 400 knots. For comparison, the only other single-engined executive jet on the market, Cirrus SF50 Vision, has a max speed of 311 knots.
If the performance is realised, the LAR1 is going to be in very rare air.
Poland's Civil Aviation Authority gave the go-ahead for test flights in September last year, and by March this year, the company released performance results showing a take-off distance of 200 m, a landing roll of 180 m and a meteoric climb rate equaling 6000 fpm.
"We are proud of the progression of the tests and it is not the limit of our capabilities," said Rafał Ładziński, CEO of Flaris. "We already know that FLARIS LAR1 meets our requirements. It is able to transport four people to a distance of 2500 kilometers [1350 nm] in less than 3.5 hours."
The LAR1 is made mostly of compostie material, but large elements such as wing spars and landing-gear struts are milled from aluminum. The test aircraft are equipped with Garmin G600 TXi avionics with a GTN 750 navigation system.
When the project was made public in 2013, Flaris nominated a sell price of $US1.5 million, making the project a throw-back to the VLJ era. Developments and cost increases over the ensuing eight years means the sell price is likley to be higher than originally forecast if the experiences of other VLJ aspirants are anything to go by.
Flaris is predicting a per-hour operating cost of $US450.