Stratos Dreams Big With Small 714 Single-Engine Jet

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Stratos 714 single-engine jet

All-new design airplanes from startup companies are often called "paper airplanes" because the company has no track record of producing any kind of airplane. So when you design a paper airplane, you should shoot for the moon, and Stratos, a new would-be jet maker in Bend, Oregon, has with its Model 714 personal jet. For 2-million bucks per copy Stratos says the 714 will carry four people and baggage for 1,500 nm cruising at 41,000 feet with IFR reserves. Stratos accurately points out that no existing or planned airplane can do all of that.

The Stratos 714 is the brainchild of Carsten Sundin, who has had long involvement with the kit plane maker Lancair, and entrepreneur Michael Lamaire. The Stratos formula is to provide only four seats, high speed and very long range, clearly an airplane that owner-pilots want. To achieve their goals the airplane will be very lightweight because of its composite construction. And the performance will come from plenty of power, 3,030 pounds of thrust from a single Williams FJ44-3AP turbofan engine. With a projected maximum takeoff weight of 7,000 pounds the 714 would have a thrust-to-weight ratio of 2.3 to 1, which is more thrust per pound of airplane than even the speedy Mach .92 Citation X. Typical twin-engine jets have thrust-to-weight ratios of around 3 to 1. Clearly such a power-to-weight ratio would get the 714 to its certified ceiling of 41,000 feet quickly. And if you want to leave friends behind, promised IFR range is 2,000 nm with only two onboard.

Diamond launched the single-engine personal jet category with announcement of its D-Jet several years ago. But the D-Jet concept is far different from Stratos, as Diamond is developing a jet with a performance and operating envelope that will not be a big leap for the single-engine piston pilots expected to be the majority of customers. Cirrus is following a similar path with its SJ50 Vision jet. Piper is aiming for more performance from the PiperJet with a top cruise of 360 knots, and the V-tailed Eclipse EA400 single is somewhere in between with a projected cruise of 330 knots. None of the airplanes have entered production, though Diamond has been flying developmental D-Jets for many months, Cirrus has an early test article in flight, and by the time you read this Piper is expected to have flown a PiperJet.

To accomplish its dream Stratos faces the usual bugbears of keeping empty weight low so payload doesn't disappear, meeting the stall speed limit of 61 knots for single-engine airplanes, dealing with the spin requirement all singles face, and exploring the certification requirements of turbine singles. For example, no single-engine turbine we know of has been certified for flight above 31,000 feet, and it's impossible to predict how the FAA will interpret rules that apply above that level. And, of course, the old saying that it is money that propels all airplanes raises a big question mark for any startup manufacturer in today's economic and credit environment.

Renderings of the 714 show that Stratos has elected to use engine air inlets in the wing roots feeding an engine mounted below and aft of the cabin through ducts. The airplane has two external baggage compartments, one large enough for golf clubs or skis, an important feature for any owner pilot. The wing-for which no dimensions were released-is to be of laminar flow design, and Stratos will pressurize the cabin to such a level that it will remain at or below 6,000 feet when the airplane is flying at 41,000 feet.

The speed, range, payload and selling price goals of the 714 all appear to be very difficult to achieve-a point driven home by the fact that none of the other companies have even attempted them-but the most challenging target in the Stratos plan is first delivery in early 2010. That gives the company just over 18 months to build prototypes, complete certification and enter production. For more information, contact Stratos at stratosaircraft.com.