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Central Oregon Company Forms to Build Lightweight Single-Engine Jet

A group of five engineers and investors has formed a new company called Stratos Aircraft to build a new lightweight, single-engine jet from composite materials. The $2 million plane, known as the S714, will be the newest entrant in the Very Light Jet (VLJ) segment of the general aviation market. However, the S714 will be able to carry four adult passengers and their luggage up to 1,500 miles on one tank of fuel at sustained speeds of 460 mph--traveling farther and faster than other VLJs, Stratos says. The company notes that its plane is able to do this because it is made of composite materials, which are lighter and stronger than steel- or aluminum-based designs and can be made into designs that are better at reducing drag. The company plans to seek financing to build two prototypes of the plane. Stratos Chairman and CEO Michael Lemaire says he expects the plane to be a hit because it will fill an unserved niche in general aviation. Aviation industry analysts agree, pointing out that with large legacy carriers reeling from high jet fuel prices, customer service problems, and long passenger wait times because of security concerns, VLJs will be able to more easily transport business and leisure travelers across the country by taking advantage of the nation's 3,500 municipal airports.

October 17, 2008

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