OSHKOSH, Wisconsin—Stratos Aircraft is taking an interim step in its move to certify a very light jet by first offering the aircraft as a kit.                                                                       

 The six-seat aircraft, unveiled here at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, is called the Stratos 716X, for experimental. It is the outgrowth of the Stratos 714, which has amassed 185 flight hr. in 130 test flights. Besides verifying performance, handling and systems, test flights have also gained market feedback.

Customer feedback has led to the revised aircraft, the Stratos 716X, said Carsten Sundin, Stratos engineering manager. The revised aircraft retains the wing as the 714, but has a new, 31-in.-longer composite fuselage, a 21-in.-longer tail, an additional 2 in. between seats for comfortable seating, more room for baggage and other features.

Stratos is not ready to announce performance figures of the 716, which will be equipped with the Pratt & Whitney Canada JT15D-5 engine, rated at 3,000 lb. of thrust, Sundin said. But the company expects the 716 to be close to the 714 prototype in terms of certified performance at high altitudes.

With the 714, company officials have said that aircraft was designed to achieve cruise speeds of more than 400 kt., with a range of 1,500 nm and a 41,000 ft. maximum altitude.

The company plans to announce performance and price during the fourth quarter of 2018, Sundin said.

The aircraft, which includes a side stick, is enjoyable to fly, chief pilot Dave Morss said.

“It’s been a pleasure,” he said.

The first Stratos 716X kit has been sold and is under production. Stratos plans to open the order book in the fourth quarter of 2018. But it does not want to remain a kit manufacturer.

The purpose of the kit program is to evaluate and refine the 716 as a certified aircraft.

“We have no intention to be a kit manufacturer,” Sundin said. That is why it plans to sell only three kits a year.

A certified aircraft program is dependent upon attracting investors, Sundin said. Beginning a kit program is an easier route to a certified aircraft, he said. A kit program will bring funds into the company and, hopefully, instill investor confidence.

Once an investor is secured, a certified aircraft will take three to four years to achieve, he said.

Besides starting a kit program, Stratos has undergone other changes. Michael Lemaire stepped down as CEO earlier this year. Sundin is handling the day-to-day management. Adding a CEO will come at a later date, he said.

“We’re focused on development right now,” Sundin said.

In the meantime, Stratos is helping buyers of the kit aircraft with construction, which is expected to take about 2,500 hr. to build.

The company has opened a 41,000-sq.-ft. manufacturing center in Redmond, Oregon, to support manufacturing of the aircraft. It includes a composite shop and a paint shop where 99% of the parts can be built.