Stratos Aircraft, here at NBAA with a full-scale mockup of its Stratos 714 “very light personal jet” (Booth No. 7815), is promoting the four-seat, single-engine aircraft as “very friendly.”
Stratos designers and engineers started with a clean sheet and an awareness that most twinjet business aircraft flights average 1,000-mile legs and carry only 1.6 to 2.5 passengers. From that, they came up with a single-engine jet carrying four people. And, added president and CEO Alex Craig, “with comparable room, comfort and performance at a significantly lower cost.”
With the centerline Williams International FJ44-3AP engine placed near the center of gravity, handling is expected to be predictable, with “benign stall characteristics.” Thanks to a straight-wing design, the airplane is expected to have a 63-knot stall speed and 100-knot approaches “will be normal,” he said.
Full-authority digital engine controls will be standard, with a high level of automation. Starting the engine will be a simple matter of pushing a single button. An auto-throttle feature, typically not available except in high-end business jets, will be optional, said Craig.
The 714 will feature as standard side-stick controls, glass cockpit and a fully integrated autopilot. Carrying four occupants and luggage, the aircraft is expected to cruise at 41,000 feet at more than 400 knots, with a range of up to 1,500 nm.
Passengers Not an AfterthoughtWhile the 714 has all the bells and whistles to please the owner/pilot, the Stratos designers didn’t forget the passengers. Of carbon composite construction, the airplane is expected to have a quieter cabin than a comparable aircraft of typical aluminum construction.
The cabin is 4 feet 8 inches wide, the rear seats will recline nearly 45 degrees and, according to the company, “People over six feet five inches tall are surprised to discover that they can occupy any seat with plenty of legroom and enough headroom to allow for one of those Indiana Jones fedoras.” While three passengers plus one pilot is standard, the four-place cabin can be configured for five. A private lavatory behind the rear seats also is an option.
At EAA’s AirVenture 2010 in Oshkosh in July, Craig watched as a 6-foot 10-inch former Chicago Bulls basketball star climbed into the pilot’s seat of the full-scale mockup and remarked with a surprised laugh, “I fit.” Then his brother, also 6 feet 10 inches tall, sat down in the adjacent seat. Finally, a third family member sat down in the one of the rear seats and Craig took the remaining spot. “With 30 inches of legroom between the front and rear seats,” said Craig, “we all fit. It’s a very light personal jet, but with the room and amenities of a much larger business jet.”
Funding and Orders
Bend, Ore.-based Stratos is accepting refundable deposits, which are placed in escrow in interest-bearing accounts at Wells Fargo Bank. According to chief sales officer Kevin Jordan, deposits in the Assurance Deposit Program can be retrieved by the investor “at any time,” said Jordan.
Deposits are being taken based on a $2 million sale price, and while declining to discuss an exact number, Craig said orders began coming in immediately after the initial mockup was unveiled at AirVenture 2009.
The company completed an initial first phase of fund raising in the amount of $15 million that will take the 714 through to the first flight of a conformable aircraft. An additional $110 million will be raised to take the program through certification and first deliveries, he said.
Craig declined to discuss an exact timeline for specific goals. However, he said, “We do know precisely how long and how much money it is going to take for every phase, in detail. We’ve already met with the FAA and have the type certification program laid out.”