Vantage Jet Lives Again

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The single-engine, very light Vantage jet, which was built by Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites and flew way back in 1996, has been reborn. It's now morphed into a twin-engine very light jet (VLJ) living in Brazil. The original owners, Visionaire Corp., sank into bankruptcy with $35 million in debt. In 2003, Matt Eller of Eviation bought the company's assets for $441,000. Eller now has brought the prototype to Brazil, where former Embraer engineer Guido Pessotti is studying it and working to create a new, certifiable two-engine prototype called the EV-20 Vantage. The ambitious plans call for a roomy "air-limo" cabin that can seat up to eight passengers, offer a max speed of 436 knots, cruise at 51,000 feet, and take its first flight by December, aiming for joint Brazilian and U.S. certification in September 2006. The jet will be powered by two 2,100-pound-thrust Williams FJ44-1AP turbofans mounted on pylons on the aft fuselage. Pessotti showed the company's design at the Latin American Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition in Sao Paulo, Brazil, last month. Last week, the company completed its application for certification in Brazil.