The innovative Vantage is an all new single engine entry level corporate jet, designed to compete against the CitationJet and TBM 700 turboprop.
Self flying businessman James O Rice Jr established VisionAire in St Louis in 1988 after deciding that there existed a significant market for a low cost entry level business jet. Design aims with the new jet include jet comfort and altitude, good short field performance, a large cabin and low acquisition and operating costs.
The Vantage was designed by VisionAire with the assistance of Scaled Composites (whose president is Burt Rutan), with the aircraft's definitive arrangement settled upon in 1993. In February 1996 VisionAire contracted Scaled Composites to design and build a proof of concept prototype, and this aircraft was rolled out from the latter's Mojave, California facility on November 8 1996.
This aircraft successfully flew for the first time on November 16 1996 and it was used to demonstrate performance and handling characteristics before a production configuration was settled upon. VisionAire now aims to achieve certification for the Vantage in 2000. Scaled Composites will build Vantage's wing and vertical and horizontal stabilisers at VisionAire's new Ames, Iowa production facility where final assembly will be undertaken. AAR of Florida has been contracted to build production forward and rear fuselages.
The Vantage's most notable feature is its single JT15D turbofan engine, which is buried in the rear fuselage and fed by two air inlets on either side of the fuselage. The JT15D has been in operation since 1982 on the Beechjet 400 and Citation V, and VisionAire says the proven in service engine would have a shutdown rate per aircraft of once every 250 to 500 years if flown 500 hours per annum. Other notable features include the mid fuselage mounted forward swept wing of relatively large area and graphite composite airframe. It will be certificated to FAR Part 23 Amendment 51.
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