Cirrus Vision Jet, meet your competition.
In July, Stratos Aircraft completed the first test flight of the single engine Stratos 716X personal jet. Stratos, based in Redmond, OR, is taking a page out of Epic Aircraft’s book in how the company is planning on bringing the Stratos 716X to market.
Epic Aircraft first released the Epic LT composite single engine turboprop in the early 2000s as an experimental. The first kit was completed and flying in 2005. Epic’s goal was to bring the airplane to market as a certified aircraft, a feat that took them almost 20 years to do, achieving full certification earlier this year.
Stratos Aircraft is hoping to learn a lot from their Bend, OR neighbors. The 716X is going to start off as a limited release experimental kit, while the company is working on achieving certification for the airplane. Once the plane is certified, it will be dubbed the Stratos 716. The 716X experimental kits will be assembled through a factory builder assist program (no garage built single engine jets here!). The kit will cost $2.5 million assembled, while the expected cost of the certified Stratos 716 will be $3.5 million.
Now, let’s talk about the airplane. 400 KTAS. One engine.
That’s right, you did hear correctly. The Stratos 716X is expected to cruise at 400 KTAS on only one engine. Compared to the Cirrus Vision Jet, that’s 100 knots faster. Think, “I’ll be relaxing at the hotel pool with a drink in hand when you are landing” type speeds. The fuel burn of the Pratt & Whitney JT15D-5 engine (3,000 lbs of thrust) is about 25 GPH more than the Vision Jet (the Stratos 716X will burn about 98 GPH of Jet A while the Vision Jet averages about 75 GPH of Jet A).
Comparing the two engines, the above numbers start to make sense. The Williams FJ33 engine on the Vision Jet only puts out 1,850 lbs of thrust, significantly less than the 3,000 lbs of thrust that the Stratos 716X Pratt & Whitney JT15D-5 puts out.
What does that mean to the pilot? In the Stratos 716X, it means less takeoff roll, better climb rate, faster cruise (as evidence by the 400 KTAS expected cruise speed), and a better payload. More power = more weight carrying capacity. And, the 716X is expected to have a service ceiling of 41,000 feet. I probably wouldn’t want to go that high single pilot with one engine, but I’d be very happy with that speed in the mid-30s.
The cabin, based on the pictures I’ve seen, looks very comfortable. The Stratos 716X seats 6 and can be configured in several different ways. Baggage is no problem as Stratos Aircraft stretched the fuselage from their original 714 Proof of Concept aircraft, adding a very roomy baggage compartment above the engine compartment. The passenger compartment is as big as a Phenom 100, providing more leg and head room than the Vision Jet. The front seats have plenty of legroom too, as Stratos has opted for a side stick instead of a yoke.
The avionics for the Stratos 716X are expected to be the Garmin G3X Touch for the panel which will be driven by a Garmin GTN 750 GPS. Autopilot will be integrated within the G3X. I would imagine that once the plane is certified, the panel will be switched to a Garmin G1000 NXi and a GFC 700 will be installed.
The genius of the design of the Stratos 716X is the aerodynamics of the engine placement. Instead of hanging the engine out in the slip stream and going with a drag inducing V-Tail like Cirrus did, Stratos took some notes from the myriad of single engine military fighter jets out there, placing the engine inside the fuselage. The fuselage is then built around the engine with two air scoops for intake directly in front of the wings. With two intakes instead of one, that leads to more air flow, which again, means more power. The Vision Jet has only one.
I’m going to keep tabs on the Stratos 716X (as I kept tabs on the Epic E1000). I’m hoping Stratos gets several flying soon (the company expects to do 3 kits a year till the airplane gets certified) and certification comes quickly after.
I got to stick my head in the mockup of the Stratos 716X when I went to Osh Kosh in 2018. I was very impressed and was excited to see the airplane was finally airborne this summer.
For more information about the Stratos 716X, check out the Stratos website.
I for one would prefer a yoke to a side stick any day, but I must be in the minority…
I would also recommend staying with the g3x configuration rather than locking into the airframe tied nxi configuration. This hasn’t, and isn’t working well for legacy g1000 owners at all.
However, it is a good looking plane, and the thought of 400knots with a jet for less than a meridian is very intriguing!
Best of luck!