Excel-Jet President Bob Bornhofen has had the chance to catch
his breath and update ANN on the results of Thursday's unfortunate flight test
accident, involving their single Sport-Jet prototype.
According to the company, during takeoff for flight number 25 in
the Sport-jet flight test program, the aircraft suffered an
uncommanded roll at low altitude, which the company opines may have
been induced by wake turbulence or weather phenomenon such as a
The airplane was piloted by James Stewart, a retired military
F-16 pilot. John Welty, an A&P mechanic, accompanied Stewart in
the test flight. Both men were taken to the hospital as a
precaution; both were released.
"Test pilots Stewart and Ron McElroy have accumulated 25 hours
of successful flight testing," reported company president Bob
Bornhofen. "Sport-Jet has explored the majority of its flight
envelope without problems," he added. The new single engine jet has
flown to its cruise altitude of 25,000 feet and speeds approaching
300 knots. Stewart and McElroy report superb performance with
excellent handling qualities. The Colorado Springs area, where
Sport-Jet was completing its flight test regimen, experienced some
unusual weather activities on the day of the flight.
On takeoff at approximately 9:30 a.m. on June 22, 2006,
eyewitnesses report Sport-Jet rolled rapidly 90 degrees at about 30
feet of altitude. A wingtip struck the ground, cart wheeling the
Sport-Jet onto its tail, which suffered major damage. While a good
portion of the aircraft was substantially damaged, the carbon
roll-cage style designed fuselage of Sport-jet provided significant
protection for its occupants and according to an insurance expert
was instrumental in minimizing the injuries.
While further investigating the incident, Excel-Jet has
suspended work and indicated the company will report later on
continued development of the project. Sport-Jet planned to make its
official public debut at EAA's AirVenture Oshkosh, which had just
been confirmed with EAA officials the day before the incident.
Excel-Jet's new Sport-Jet is a single-engine, cabin-class,
4-place personal jet aircraft aimed at the general aviation pilot.
Sport-Jet has been designed for single-person operation by a pilot
trained in piston-powered airplanes. Sport-Jet will sell for about
$1 million, cruise at 340 knots at 25,000 feet (above 95% of all
weather), and can carry four persons for more than 900 nautical