By Mary Grady, Contributing editor
With many established aircraft manufacturers putting new projects on hold, fresh start-ups working to introduce new designs are scarce. But Stratos Aircraft, of Bend, Ore., is moving ahead with plans for a new all-composite certified very light jet, and recently unveiled a mockup of the fuselage design. The mockup will debut at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh later this summer. "There's no four-seat aircraft with this kind of performance," Stratos CEO Michael Lemaire told the Bend Bulletin recently. The single-engine jet will fly over 1,500 nm at more than 400 knots, at altitudes up to FL410, according to the company's Web site, and will sell for about $2 million.
The company now is trying to raise $12 million to build two prototypes, and then find another $100 million to get the airplane certified and start production, according to the Bulletin. Fully refundable deposits of $50,000 are now being accepted. In recent years, start-up companies that have tried to bring new aircraft to market have found it tough going -- Eclipse Aviation and Adam Aircraft being just two of the more prominent examples. But Lemaire, who has founded and managed other companies in the computer industry, said composite VLJs are the biggest step forward in general aviation since the Learjet. "If you are interested in aviation, this will be a part of history," he told the Bulletin.