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Stratos Unveils Long-Awaited VLJ

The composite, single-engine jet will fly 400 knots at 41,000 feet, company says

By James Wynbrandt

July 24, 2017 - The VLJ era may have finally arrived. On Monday, Stratos Aircraft unveiled its Stratos 714 very light jet (VLJ), a four/six-place, 400-knot, single-engine personal jet with a 1,500-nm range and 41,000-foot service ceiling. “That’s what a VLJ is all about,” Stratos President and CEO Michael Lemaire said at the unveiling. The Stratos 714 project was launched amidst the VLJ craze more than a decade ago when Michael, a Lancair IV-P owner, was looking for an aircraft with more performance.

Some 11 companies were aiming to market VLJs at the time, and while most folded, Stratos persevered. However, Stratos “kept quiet for a few years,” Michael said. The composite airframe jet first flew last November with noted test pilot Dave Morss at the controls. “It flies like it looks, and it’s one of the prettiest aircraft I’ve ever had the pleasure to be associated with,” Dave told AirVenture Today. The jet has now concluded its first flight-test phase. It logged 52 hours in 33 flights at altitudes up to 17,000 feet and speeds up to 320 knots prior to its flight to Wittman Regional Airport.

Simultaneously, the Redmond, Oregon-based company has developed a state-of-the-art production facility with practically all the tooling required to produce the aircraft.

Designed primarily for owner-operators, the VLJ still has a generous cabin (4.7 feet wide by 4.8 feet tall), larger than most single-engine turboprops and light jets. The prototype now on display is powered by a Pratt & Whitney JT15D-5, but a Pratt & Whitney Canada PW535E is expected to power the production version.

With a full payload, the 714 jet can take off in 2,090 feet and fly “from Miami to Seattle in seven hours against a 50-knot headwind with a single stop,” according to the company. Landing distance at full payload is projected at 1,510 feet.

Next, Stratos will expand the flight-test envelope, and when ready for certification, will seek outside investors. Michael estimates the project could require “in the area of $200 million” and take three to four years. According to John Hadlich, prototype project manager, if the capital to create a production version isn’t forthcoming, the company could start producing kits almost immediately. An estimated price for the Stratos 714 has not been set, and deposits are not being taken yet.

The Stratos 714 is on display at Boeing Plaza, and more information is available at the company’s booth (314). The VLJ is scheduled to fly today at 2:45 p.m. in the Aircraft Showcase.

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