Another Incarnation Of The Vantage Jet?
One of the original proponents of the Vantage Jet single-engine very light jet has resumed his quest to certify and build the Burt Rutan-designed aircraft. Jim Rice has re-acquired the original prototype of the forward-swept-wing composite design that first flew in 1996 but encountered various financial and technical challenges before the post-911 slump forced it into bankruptcy. Rice has moved the new company, called VisionAire Jets, to his childhood home of Hickory, N.C., and is telling locals he hopes to hire up to 600 people to build the aircraft in a future factory there. The initial footprint is considerably more modest and consists of some office space and space on the ramp for the airplane and the interior mockup. "Several members of the former management team of VisionAire and others have acquired an option to purchase all the intellectual property for the single-engine version of the VisionAire Vantage and have begun assembling the necessary team to bring the project to fruition," Rice says in his LinkedIn profile.
Rice and a few others started the Vantage Jet project with a visit to Scaled Composites in the mid-1980s and the aircraft and mockup were regulars at the major shows until the original company was forced into bankruptcy in 2002. The intellectual property was sold and a twin-engine version of the aircraft was attempted in Brazil. Rice said he picked his former home for the renewed effort to help out the employment-challenged area and because many of those who are out of work were in the textiles industry and their experience might translate to composites work. No timelines have been set for the development of the aircraft.