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Stratos PLJ Unveiled

Stratos Aircraft of Bend, Ore., yesterday flung down the gauntlet in the single-engine personal light jet (PLJ) category with some numbers that say the jet will outperform its competition by a wide margin. The Stratos 714, a composite four-place aircraft powered by a Williams FJ44-3AP, claims a range fully loaded of 1,500 nm at 400 knots.

The aircraft is of conventional design but differs from the majority of the PLJ pack--the PiperJet, Cirrus Vision SJ50, Eclipse 400--in employing bifurcated leading edge wing root inlet ducts similar to that of the original Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star. Two deeply sculpted depressions in the side of the fuselage are located ahead of each inlet, and the straight wing is equipped with winglets and features a high-speed laminar-flow airfoil. The empennage is cruciform, with the horizontal stabilizer located approximately midway up the vertical tail.

The aircraft, which was introduced with a low-key exhibit at EBACE in Geneva, Switzerland, is due to make its U.S. debut at the EAA´s annual fly-in and air show known as AirVenture, in Oshkosh, Wis.

Asked how the company can be confident it can make such performance numbers, co-founder Carsten Sundin said, "Most of the assumptions used in the engineering were conservative, and we had the results verified by two outside experts, one of whom has since joined the company." Sundin, with a 15-year career in the aerospace industry that has included stints with Lancair and Epic, credits the Stratos 714´s very light weight for a thrust-to-weight ratio that beats the competitors and produces the performance numbers claimed. "It´s smaller and lighter, and it´s a clean sheet of paper," he added.

Sundin says dates of certification and first delivery are "funding dependent" but will represent a four-year process, two for prototype development and two for certification. Company co-founder Michael Lemaire, a tech entrepreneur who has launched computer-related enterprises both here and in India as well as being involved in X-Air, a Redmond, Ore., firm producing light sport aircraft, has provided financing during the initial launch of Stratos.

Sundin says no decisions have been made about avionics, but the aircraft will be equipped with a glass cockpit and an "EFIS-like" panel. "We strive for simplicity, and everything will be off-the-shelf," he said. In its release announcing the performance claims, the company cited the company´s location as "the heart of composite aircraft design, innovation and manufacturing country."

The Stratos 714 is described as being equipped with two external baggage compartments, one sized to fit skis or a golf bag. In addition to flight into known icing, it will feature a sea-level cabin to FL250 and a 6,000-foot cabin at its maximum operating altitude of FL 410. The estimated price for a hypothetical first quarter 2010 production aircraft is $ 2.0 million.

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