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What's Happening With Business Jets?

Air travelers, whether they know it or not, are used to flying in aircraft that are often 30 years old or older. Many commercial jets in use were manufactured in that era. A great many business and corporate jets are equally old. Hundreds of Learjets from the 1970s or older are still in service. Well maintained, that's not a problem. They were designed to deliver good performance for a long time.

But it's also true that technology has advanced tremendously over the same time frame. Computer controlled electronics and avionics, materials and much more have all reached a state of the art that the founders of jet design only imagined. Riding in a jet manufactured to the latest specs provides a speed, convenience and pleasure that older jets simply can't match.

Fresh off the assembly line in June, 2007, for example, is the Dassault Falcon 7X.

As just one demonstration of its state of the art prowess, the Falcon 7X contains a fly-by-wire system. The leading edge of avionics, this system reduces weight and allows extremely stable and fine mastery of control surfaces. Computerized controls interact with the cables and electronics needed to direct angles of flaps and other gear. Near instantaneous adjustment to all flying conditions results.

At the same time it reduces weight, which reduces fuel consumption. Considering the range of the Falcon 7X that fuel savings is important. It can fly nearly 6,000 nautical miles nonstop at close to 50,000 feet, traveling 575 mph/925 kph.

But flying fast and far is one thing. Flying in comfort is another. When riding in the Falcon 7X, that isn't even a question. With a cabin height of over 6 feet (1.8 m) only the tallest will have to stoop. A common problem in smaller business jets. The nearly 8-foot cabin width gives you plenty of room to stretch your feet across the aisle and lean back as you fly in the most up-to-date plane the industry has produced.

But Dassault isn't the only innovator on the block. A relatively new company has been planning for almost a decade to take a piece of the business jet pie: Adam Aircraft. With the upcoming release of their A700 AdamJet they look poised to do just that.

The A700 is in a class of new designs called VLJ (Very Light Jet). Delivering ultra-low weight for great fuel economy and speed, these sleek craft are the latest word in business jet design. With a pair of Williams International FJ33 turbofans it can achieve a speed of almost 400 mph (612 kph) and a range of 1,600 mi (2,660 km).

While that distance only gets you half way from New York to LA, halfway is still halfway. How many commercial flights these days go non-stop? And with the A700, you're getting there in style. With a fuselage that seems to include only the front half, the attached tail assembly gives it a look out of Star Wars. But this isn't science fiction. The A700 delivers.

It's easy to see that the future of business jet development looks bright. Because it's already here.