However, not all aviation experts are so enthusiastic.
the current air-traffic control systems, there is no difference
between a VLJ the size of an SUV and a 747 the length of a football
Air-traffic controllers must treat both the same on a radar scope
or while ordering landings.
FAA chief Marion Blakey estimates that if just 2 percent of current
airline passengers move to VLJs, air-traffic controllers will
have to handle three times as many more take-offs and landings
than they currently do.
Other aviation officials fear that privately owned VLJs will
be able to use the airport infrastructure without having to pay
for it, leaving commercial carriers to shoulder a disproportionate
burden of the costs.
In testimony before a House committee in mid-November, Basil
Barimo of the U.S. Air Transport Association called on Congress
to "ensure that the VLJ sector pays its fair share"
of the FAA's costs for providing air traffic services and safety
bring more than just cost issues. Because VLJs cruise at the same
altitudes as commercial planes, but travel more slowly, some aviation
experts fear that VLJs will clog the single-lane air-highways
that criss-cross the nation.
The president of the Air Transport Association likened them to
cars going 45 miles-per-hour on a crowded freeway.
Proponents of the VLJ sector dismiss those criticisms as un-reasonable.
"The sky ain't crowded above 18,000 feet," Vern Raburn
told the Associated Press.
Even Blakey noted that air-traffic control is moving away from
ground-based controllers to in-cockpit global positioning systems
that will allow planes to fly much closer together.
VLJs will come with sophisticated safety and navigation equipment:
the Adam's A700 -- a $2 million VLJ -- comes with more advanced
electronic navigation than a $40 million Gulfstream G5.
Some aviation experts say it's too early to tell what major safety
implications may be.
"One of the big issues now is that none are flying except
in test flight so we don't know what the safety issues will be.
They are largely an unknown right now," said Chris Dancy,
director of media relations, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.