Twin & Turbine
for the Pilots of Owner-Flown, Cabin-Class Airplanes
December 1999/January 2000
The Aerostar FJ-100:
The New "Light Jet"
Light, strong, fast, efficient, and affordable... All adjectives that describe the new Aerostar FJ-100 Fanjet. Maybe you haven't heard of it? It is possibly the best kept secret in business aviation. This new aircraft is quietly being developed by an established aviation company that owns the Aerostar Type Certificate and makes its living supporting the world's fastest reciprocating twin.
When Aerostar Aircraft was formed in 1991 its principals Steve Speer and Jim Christy believed the future of the company was not only supporting the existing fleet, but also in producing an all new fan jet version of the Aerostar. While Speer and Christy would like to take credit for the complete design, they were quick to point out that the Aerostar series of aircraft was originally conceived by Ted R. Smith, one of the most brilliant aircraft designers of all time. Arguably, no one has had as great an impact on general / business aviation as Ted Smith. Each aircraft design credited to his name helped set new goals for future designs. It is not widely known but, Mr. Smith designed, certified, and built the first all new small twin engine business aircraft, the Aero Commander. He then brought the first small business jet aircraft to market which was the Jet Commander now evolved into the Astra Jet. Mr. Smith, more designer than promoter, was know as the "quiet man", letting his revolutionary aircraft designs, with their spectacular performance, speak for themselves.
After leaving the Rockwell Standard Corporation (manufacturer of the Jet Commander), Ted Smith, with 40 years of design, certification, and manufacturing experience to draw upon, went quietly about developing an entire family of aircraft that ranged from a single engine piston to a twin engine turbofan. With no turbofan powerplant available in the size range he required, Mr. Smith focused on the reciprocating powered aircraft and developed what many consider to be the world's best handling, most responsive, business/personal aircraft of all time, the incomparable Aerostar.
The Aerostar family of aircraft was the culmination of 40 years of T. R. Smith's aviation experience and expertise. Before passing the baton to his existing Aerostar team he established the design concepts and supervised considerable engineering work on a light twin fanjet model should a suitable powerplant be developed.
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It was then that Steve Speer first became involved with the Aerostar. Mr. Speer was Chief of Structures for Ted Smith's Aerostar Company and is now President of Aerostar Aircraft Corporation. While working for Ted Smith's company, Mr. Speer designed and analyzed structure for future Aerostar models and substantiated structural loads to the FAA for higher weights and jet speeds. Bill Leeds, current Program Manager for the Aerostar Jet Program, served with and learned from Ted Smith during the entire Aerostar design, certification, and production program. Mr. Leeds then served as FAA Coordinator and Director of Quality Control for the company. Now an expert in obtaining FAA aircraft certification, Mr. Leeds most recently managed and completed the certification of an all new turbine powered aircraft before rejoining the Aerostar team as Program Manager.
Steve Speer's partner in Aerostar Aircraft and the company's Vice President, Jim Christy, is also a former Ted Smith employee. Mr. Christy worked for Ted Smith in the marketing and customer service offices, and now manages the Marketing activities for Aerostar Aircraft Corporation. When asked about the company's plans for the new Aerostar FJ-100, Christy had this to say. "Our Aerostar team has had the great opportunity to learn from an aviation visionary, and with 20 years of experience in the business aviation community developing and certifying aviation products, we have a great foundation for bringing this new aircraft to market. Many of the tasks, requirements, and disciplines required to build and certify an aircraft are second nature to us. Our existing company, Aerostar Aircraft Corporation, is an aircraft design and manufacturing company currently producing aircraft parts under the authority of an FAA Production Certificate, a requirement for all aircraft manufacturers. We have established a 20 year positive working relationship with FAA audited vendors, expert consultants, and the governing FAA Aircraft Certification Office. The process specifications and detail drawings (both FAA approved) as well as the production tooling for the new jet are 70% complete. The first conforming flight test prototype is 18 months away and production aircraft deliveries are planned for late 2002."
When asked about the method of construction for the FJ-100, company president Steve Speer commented, "The more you know about aircraft design and certification the more you will appreciate the Aerostar FJ-100. It is an all aluminum semi-monocoque construction with thick butted skin panels and fewer frames than usual. This makes for a stronger, tougher airplane, one that is even a little lighter than usual. The integral stressed skin of the Aerostar FJ-100 maintains design integrity at all times, regardless of speeds and active forces. This type of construction results in a lower cost, higher strength airframe with an ease of repair not possible with other methods. In addition, an all aluminum structure means that certification will be predictable and straight forward."
Given its spectacular speed, the light jet Aerostar concept combined with the new highly efficient FJ33 Williams International engines make the new Aerostar FJ-100 the most economical business jet of all time. At 93 cents per mile it offers a lower operating cost than even the new turboprop singles.
Are business fliers ready for the Aerostar Jet? An announcement by Aerostar Aircraft at the recent NBAA meeting in Atlanta resulted in 20 immediate sales for the airplane, and more than 100 requests for the sales contract.
"Given the extremely positive response to the airplane, we believe sales will exceed our expectations", said Christy. "Certification is of course the most important step in any development program. With Aerostar Aircraft Corporation's experienced certification team, the proven certifiable design, and the well documented FAA approval of most of the systems and structure used in the new jet, our certification schedule is both realistic and attainable." These qualifications will allow Aerostar Aircraft to deliver the first all new "Light Jet".
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Twin & Turbine Magazine, December 1999/January 2000
Volume 3, Number 5
2779 Aero Park Drive
Traverse City, MI 49686
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