Private charter company VeriJet flies the Cirrus SF50 Vision Jet jet for $3,000 an hour.
VeriJet's CEO says he prefers the single-engine aircraft because of its safety and performance.
I took a demo flight on VeriJet's Cirrus plane and see why clients say they feel comfortable on it.
VeriJet is a charter company born in late 2020 that exclusively operates the world's first single-engine personal jet: the Cirrus SF50 Vision Jet.
The company started with three planes and in two years has expanded to 18. VeriJet has also built a crew of 40 skilled pilots in that time period. To be hired, the aviators need 1,500 hours of flight time and an airline-transport-pilot certificate.
VeriJet's founder and CEO, Richard Kane, told Insider his company chose the Vision Jet because of the single-engine business plane's safety and high efficiency.
With a list price of $3-$3.5 million, the Vision Jet is the cheapest private jet on the market; but it doesn't skimp on comfort and performance.
According to Kane, the Vision Jet can fly at Mach 0.53 and has a range of 1,277 nautical miles, or 1,470 miles. This means it can easily connect small cities in the US that commercial airlines don't.
Major airlines typically fly through a central hub before heading to smaller markets such as Huntsville, Alabama, or Cody, Wyoming. Kane told Insider one of his customers lived in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, which has an airport that isn't served by any airlines.
Instead of driving an hour northeast to Birmingham and flying out via a hub, customers use VeriJet to travel directly from Tuscaloosa to their destination. Moreover, the client can fly out to a meeting and back on the same day.
Kane told Insider that VeriJet charters cost $3,000 an hour with no repositioning fee within 700 miles of their Santa Monica, California, base.
That drops to $2,750 with the company's jet card when the buyer commits to 100 hours.
While VeriJet may be more expensive than flying commercial, Kane says those who can afford it find the convenience and time saved worth the money.
Insider took a demo flight on one of VeriJet's Vision Jets with Kane as the pilot to see what passengers could expect. Take a look.
I met up with the CEO at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Bridgeport, Connecticut, on a Friday for the demo.
We departed out of Three Wing Aviation, which is one of the airport's fixed-based operators that provide things like fuel and maintenance to general aviation planes.
When I arrived at the airport, I didn't have to go through security or have any of my belongings checked before boarding, which is a nice perk of flying private.
I met Kane on the ramp of the FBO, where he gave me an exterior tour of the Vision Jet. I immediately noticed the paint job, which used dark colors and was easy on the eyes.
Walking around the plane, Kane showed me a few interesting features, like the infrared camera on the nose, which scans for wildlife or debris on the runway that might cause a collision.
He also showed me the V-shape of the tail. According to Kane, the design uses turbulence-reducing technology meant to keep the flight smooth in weather or wind.
We also discussed the placement of the engine. Kane said the design made the aircraft "bird-proof" because the engine wouldn't ingest birds, making the company's foreign-object-damage insurance "basically zero."
The engine also helps the plane to fly low and slow, reducing fuel burn and allowing the plane to get into airports that other private jets can't, like Santa Monica Airport in California. Biofuel can also be used for the engine.
Kane emphasized that the single-engine was safe and said the system emailed status information to the pilot after every flight, indicating whether the engine needed maintenance.
After completing the walk-around, we boarded the plane and I got to sit at the controls.
The displays were huge and the touchscreen was responsive, making it easy to input commands.
Kane could pull up airport diagrams, charts, checklists, and other necessary flight references with a simple touch.
Also configured in the cockpit are systems backed by artificial intelligence, which is one of Kane's biggest draws to the Cirrus jet.
Specifically, he told Insider the systems on the aircraft all worked to prevent crashes that had happened in the past, making the plane one of the safest in the skies.
For example, when lining up for the runway, the jet knew our location at the airport and ensured we lined up for the correct runway given by air-traffic control.
According to Kane, if we approached the wrong runway, the plane would give a warning.
Once we were configured to go, Kane lined us up on runway six for takeoff. He showed me how to use the controls and, at about 90 knots, I pulled back on the stick and we were airborne.
Kane then instructed me to pull up the flaps and landing gear, input the desired navigation, and press autopilot. The plane flew itself from there, which I found incredible.
The system was intuitive and clearly designed to enhance safety and pilot performance.
Shortly after takeoff, Kane showed me the plane's deicing system known as pneumatic boots, which are grooves on the wing that break down ice.
When Kane deployed it, the jet reminded him to also turn on the engine heat, which is the AI backing Kane discussed before the flight.
For the 30-minute demo, we flew from Bridgeport to Groton, Connecticut, then over Long Island, and back. We inputted the routing on the ground and got clearance from air-traffic control before taking off.
Throughout the journey, ATC gave us instructions to descend, ascend, and adjust our heading, which was all very easy using Cirrus' flight-management system.
Flying at around 5,000 feet, we got great aerial views of the Long Island Sound and the communities around southern Connecticut.
After about 20 minutes, we started preparing for landing, which was the most impressive phase of the flight.
Kane configured the plane and we got the runway in sight, but the aircraft told us we would be battling 19-knot crosswinds during our approach.
In a regional jetliner, passengers could expect a bumpy ride, but, despite the gusts, I felt little to no turbulence as Kane easily navigated the plane to the runway.
According to the CEO, the smooth ride is due to the turbulence suppressors on the tail.
He further said many of his clients had previously been afraid to fly but the Cirrus' advanced systems and resistance to birds and turbulence made them feel comfortable flying in the jet.
If things do go wrong, the plane comes with a parachute system meant to help recover the jet and safely lower it to the ground.
A red handle located on the ceiling of the Vision Jet deploys the parachute. According to a Cirrus pilot website, Cirrus parachutes have been deployed more than 100 times on a variety of aircraft and saved more than 200 people.
In addition to the parachute, Cirrus has also incorporated an auto-land function for emergencies. The feature is activated by pressing a red button on the ceiling.
As far as the passenger experience, VeriJet's Vision Jet can carry seven people: six passengers and one pilot.
One person could sit at the controls in the front …
… while up to five can sit behind. Two seats are positioned in the middle of the jet, and a row of three is in the far back.
While the back row doesn't recline, the two middle seats can lay nearly fully flat.
They also offer plenty of legroom.
When testing out each seat, I did find the far left and far right seats in the back row had minimal legroom, but that may not be a major inconvenience for the short flights.
The middle back seat, on the other hand, has plenty of legroom.
Overall, the seats were plush and comfortable. The jet also offered other amenities, like universal power ports …
… seatback pockets …
... USB ports and cupholders ...
... lights and air conditioning ...
… and headsets.
Read the original article on Business Insider