Central Oregon’s traditionally vibrant aviation industry has seen some reverses recently with the departure of leading companies like Cessna, but there are pioneering new candidates lining up for position including fledgling Bend company Stratos Aircraft which is looking to fill a perceived gap in the private jet sector.
The company has just received inaugural deposits for its new Stratos 714 “Very Light Personal Jet” (VLPJ) after a full-scale cabin mock-up was unveiled at air trade shows this year, including a warm reception at last month’s National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) Annual Meeting and Convention in Orlando, Florida.
Verson Pandian, owner of Bend-based Cascade Air Charter, is the first prospective purchaser to take advantage of Stratos’ progressive, fully-refundable, Assurance Deposit Program – designed to hold deposit funds in a secure interest-bearing ffff escrow account until applied to a progress payment made after a formal aircraft purchase agreement has been signed.
“The 714 is an impressive aircraft and is like no other on the market today,” said Pandian.
“The need for speed, performance and value drew me to Stratos and knowing that I am not at risk with my deposit made me feel like the Stratos team really understands my perspective.
“I am thrilled to be involved with this innovative aircraft design at the ground level and plan to use the 714 in my on-demand and commuter charter business.”
The 714 was introduced last year and is the first VLPJ designed to bridge the performance gap between VLJ aircraft and larger business jets, in response to the needs of a growing number of performance-driven aviators who demand more speed and more range in an “owner-flown” turbine.
The Stratos’ team – comprising leading-edge aeronautical engineers, designers, aerodynamicists and operations experts – is making its mark in the carbon composite field, where combining lightweight material and strength is key, in a bid to optimize both performance and value.
CEO Michael Lemaire commented: “What sets the Stratos 714 apart from other light jets is the simple fact that it is designed around a single premise – to be the ultimate owner-flown personal jet capable of economically transporting four people and their luggage up to 1500 nautical miles non-stop at a speed of 400 knots.”
“We are excited to come to the market with the Assurance Deposit Program in full swing and to provide industry event attendees with the opportunity to see and experience the Stratos 714’s spacious cabin and unique modern styling,” remarked Chief Sales Officer Kevin Jordan, who added that company officials would use the opportunity to gather consumer feedback that could be incorporated into the final design.
Lemaire observed: “The full-size mock-up clearly demonstrates the level of roominess and comfort we are aiming to achieve. No amount of blue-prints or renderings can replace actually sitting in the cabin.”
The mock-up currently gaining a wider exposure to potential investors and buyers is a major move for Stratos, now in its fourth year of development planning.
With its impressive anticipated speed capacity and projected current price tag of around $2 million, the eventual 714 finished product could prove a viable alternative to the pricier metal-framed business jets that are currently prevalent.
The aircraft could also cater to the general aviation market, with its focus on being designed to easily carry skis, golf bags and the like, which is seen as an obligatory feature in this sector.
“We saw a niche in the market that was not being met and are focused on filling this gap with the 714,” said Lemaire.
“There are many piston and turbo-prop owners that have the need for more speed and range but also want a more efficient jet option with low acquisition and operating costs in these challenging economic conditions.
“The 714 matches this need and is the only aircraft that will give these pilots business jet performance in a very light jet.”
As the design phase progresses, further investment is being sought towards building full prototypes with the goal of achieving Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification and getting an assembly line running.
Though investment money is relatively scarce in today’s economic climate, Lemaire sees the continuing evolution of VLJ technology as the major cutting-edge advance currently in general aviation, with Bend as “the epicenter of advanced composite general aviation design and manufacturing.”
Lemaire, who is French in origin but also has a residence in Bend, has a wealth of experience both in the computer industry and aviation.
He became familiar with the Central Oregon area after purchasing and building a Lancair aircraft just after the turn of the decade, and went on to develop business relationships with expert exponents in the region’s burgeoning aviation field.
For more information, visit stratosaircraft.com or 541- 330-0714 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 541- 330-0714 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.