June 28, 2006
Although interest in 'very light jets' has built very rapidly in recent years, the history books show that the idea is not a new one. Back in spring 1977 the Foxjet was launched, as a low-cost four-place light business jet for the owner/flyer.
Its engine selection from Williams was soon upgraded and the 'Foxjet Super-Flow Wing' added to allow a roomier, six-passenger cabin. Mockups were built and taken to the NBAA Convention, over seventy firm orders were chalked up (including one from Mr Bill Lear himself), and a first prototype aircraft build begun by Aeronca.
But then disaster struck, and the pocket-sized Williams engine became unavailable. It was to be used on the air-launched cruise missile and the US government decided not to give clearance for any non-military use. The Foxjet project was closed down, and Mr Tony Fox refocused on his primary business of making 'Pollution Packer' commercial rubbish compactors.
Until now, that is: "My dream is to see the Foxjet flying during my lifetime, and I decided it was time for me to pass the torch to a team with the time and resources to make that happen," said 84-year-old Fox, who still heads a multi-million dollar business empire.
And so Foxjet International has been sold to Millennium Aerospace Corporation of California, a new subsidiary of Millennium International Group.
Robert Swanson is president of Millennium Aerospace, and Barry Marshall is product development director. "We're very happy that we were able to acquire the Foxjet," said Swanson. "The Foxjet practically defines the Very Light Jet category, and we expect it to appeal to a large part of that new market."
Said Fox: "I've talked with 50 or 60 different prospective buyers recently, and I was convinced Millennium Aerospace has what it takes to get the Foxjet airborne."
Millennium will refine some systems, and evaluate the latest engine options (including the PW615) during this summer. At the same time the aircraft will be redesigned to incorporate carbon fibre structures, and adapted to feature the latest generation avionics.
"Many features - the lines, the size, the patented seating system, for example - require no improvement at all," Swanson is reported to have said. "The fact that the Foxjet is virtually a turnkey design was a major reason we committed to building it, and bought the company."
A decision on locating a new factory for serial production is expected soon, with a view to first deliveries taking place in 2008 at a price of around $1,500,000.
Back in 1977 the price was anticipated to be $475,000.