Stratos Aircraft aims to bring its new very light jet to market as a kit, joining a short list of turbine-powered aircraft built by customers. The proof-of-concept version of the Stratos 714 is also being stretched on the drawing board to create the legroom that potential customers wanted.
Stratos Program Director John “Fred” Hadlich explained that the 2017 debut of the Stratos 714 at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, inspired the Redmond, Oregon-based firm to make a few changes to the proof-of-concept design that has logged 125 test flights and 175 hours in the air to date.
“All the feedback we got at Oshkosh led us to changing the design to include five full passengers and maybe a little bit roomier cabin,” Hadlich said, noting that the aircraft’s empty weight will be reduced thanks to a vigorous effort to shave pounds off of parts and components, as well as to increase performance. If all goes well, the first completed kit should fly in 2019, with Stratos drawing on a robust, enthusiastic, and skilled homebuilder community in Redmond. That includes builders who have already pitched in on the development effort in “this composite Mecca that it is. We have local builders in the community that have been helping us from the get-go. We utilize our community to the fullest.”
With full compliance to the 51-percent rule in mind (the majority of the work on any amateur-built aircraft must be done by the aircraft purchaser), the company will invite interested builders to work with the factory team to complete their own jets, and encourage buyers to team up on the purchase and project. Stratos will use the revenue from those early kit sales to help finance a certification effort expected to require at least three or four more years.
While the kit price is still being determined, Hadlich said the company expects it will be in the range of $2.5 million for a finished aircraft. “That’s engine, instrument panel, airframe complete. That’s just a very rough estimate." Pricing will be announced at EAA AirVenture in July.
Getting kit-built jets in the air will raise the company’s profile and help attract new investors and customers to finance the certification effort, Hadlich said, a “limited run of kits to help continue grow[ing] the aircraft.”
The extra size (literally growing the aircraft) will require some related design modifications including a slightly larger vertical stabilizer and elevators. The wing, winglets, ailerons, rudder, and horizontal stabilizer will be virtually unchanged from the proof-of-concept version, Hadlich expects. Much of the flight test data gathered to date will remain useful to producing a certified aircraft in the years to come. Hadlich said the company is also working to zero in on a price for the factory-built jet, and while that remains to be determined, it will likely be about $1 million more than the kit, or $3.5 million when delivered. That is comparable, he noted, to the price of a turboprop of similar size and performance.