Sean Gillette, a one-time Air Force pilot, is developing the Saker-1, a military-style general-aviation jet that will have a range of 1,600 miles and a top speed of Mach 0.99, or about a mile every six seconds. The airframe can withstand +7/-3 g, so the pilot can safely execute almost any maneuver. Gillette and his company, Saker Aircraft in Los Angeles, have raised almost enough funds to build prototypes and begin securing FAA and EASA Part 2 certification. He hopes to have certification by 2018 and start selling the Saker-1 by 2019.
The two-seat jet is powered by two Williams FJ44-4 engines with each putting out 3,600 lb of thrust. That will be enough to let the jet climb at 12,000 ft/min to an altitude of 45,000 ft. The engines are economical in that they can be used for 5,000 hours before they must be overhauled. The jet will carry 500 lb of fuel, giving it a 1,600-mile range. If the plane is outfitted with two external tanks, each carrying 100-gallons of fuel, the range increases to 2,200 miles. The aircraft’s mileage, which is 20% more than its competitors, is due to the engines and the plane’s sleek shape. Between fuel economy and reduced maintenance, the cost of ownership is estimated to be about $2 per mile.
The plane weighs 5,500 lb (empty), but has an 11,500-lb maximum take-off weight. So it can carry about 6,000 lb of fuel, crew, and cargo.
Saker insists no military training will be needed to fly the S-1, which has a cockpit and controls designed to be handled by any well-trained pilot. Stall speed is about 90 kt, and the plane can take off and land at airports with 1,500-ft of runway. If a potential buyer/pilot is leery of his or her ability, or the plane itself, they can order the optional ejection seats.
Gillette plans on building two versions, an executive S-1 for about $5 million and a military version with ejection seats and a slight higher top speed (Mach 1.1), for around $6.5 million. The company is already taking orders.