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Williams V-Jet II - N222FJ

The sleek five-place Williams V-Jet II was designed and built to prove the concept of a low-cost, Bonanza-class personal jet for general aviation. The all-composite aircraft was designed around a radically new jet engine—the Williams FJX-2, a compact turbofan delivering 700 lbs of thrust and weighing just 100 pounds.

Since the 1950s, Sam Williams’ company, Williams International, has been a recognized leader in designing and building small, efficient turbofan jet engines. Early Williams’s engines powered military target and surveillance drones. Williams International provided engines for the first cruise missiles and the quality and reliability of those engines helped make modern cruise missiles feasible.

In the 1980s, Sam Williams set his sights on the general aviation market. He introduced the FJ44, a two-shaft turbofan rated at 1,900 lbs of static thrust. The FJ44 was so small (two feet in diameter and 40 inches long) and so lightweight (447 lbs) that it wasn’t practical to retrofit it into existing airframes. To take full advantage of its size, weight, and efficiency would require a brand new airplane.

Designer Burt Rutan was an employee of Beech Aircraft Co. at the time, and he convinced Beech’s management to take up Williams’ challenge. Beech’s proof-of-concept prototype was called “Triumph.” It flew in July 1988—the first aircraft to use the FJ44 engine. Though it never entered production, the Beech Triumph demonstrated the performance and economy promised by the FJ44. Another prototype, the Swearingen SJ30, used the FJ44 and first flew in early 1991.

Real success came with the rollout of Cessna’s FJ44-powered Citation-Jet in April 1991. Other orders followed, for the production Swearingen SJ30, the Swedish Sk60 trainer, the Raytheon Premier 1 business jet, and others.

In 1996, Williams teamed with NASA to develop an even smaller, lighter turbofan engine—the FJX-2—for general aviation. The General Aviation Propulsion (GAP) program is part of NASA’s Advanced General Aviation Transport Experiments (AGATE) program—a joint NASA/industry venture to revitalize general aviation. AGATE was born at the 1992 Oshkosh convention.

Williams designed the V-Jet II as both a test bed and showcase for the FJX-2 engine. Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites, Inc. refined and built the design, unveiling it at the 1997 Oshkosh convention. In test flights, the V-Jet II exceeded 30,000 feet and 295 knots with docile handling and stall performance. Its forward-swept wing spans 35.5 feet and has 118 square feet of wing area.

The V-Jet II was acquired by Eclipse Aviation and donated to the EAA Museum in 2001. The Eclipse 500 jet was the first aircraft to use Williams EJ-2 engine, the production version of the FJX-2.

This aircraft was researched by EAA volunteer David Sakrison.

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