A group of Stratos engineers, executives and manufacturing workers assembled on a ramp in Redmond, Oregon just after Thanksgiving to witness the fulfilment of years of work, while good news is on the horizon of anti-drag solutions. Dave Higdon reports…

There was much for Stratos (and keen followers of business jet development) to be thankful for this Thanksgiving as the first flight of a conformal Stratos 714 single-engine jet – the result of work dating back nearly a decade – took place in Redmond (see video below). As the Stratos 714 works its way toward certification, it stands to become the world’s second single-engine business jet after the single-engine Cirrus Vision Jet (which received its type certificate on October 31).

Meanwhile, this week Edge Aerodynamix of Panama City Beach, Florida, announced receipt of its Supplemental Type Certificate for its Conformal Vortex Generator (CVG) technology as a modification to the world’s most-used airliner, Boeing’s best-selling 737. The Edge STC covers all Boeing 737 models, including BBJs.

These are just two of the most recent examples of how ingenious minds push ever forward to improve business jets. It’s an ongoing process, one without end – but with endless variations.

A Known-Technology Example

Stratos promotes the 714 as a “greener” jet and a large part of that claim arises from its use of known products in the engine bay, the avionics stack and the carbon-fiber airframe. But the real appeal stems from its combination of performance and frugal fuel burn.

At the 2010 NBAA Convention, Stratos executives quoted direct operating costs (DOC) of $1.39 per mile on legs of 500nm, and $1.19 per mile on full-range legs of 1,500nm.

The proven technologies employed begin with Pratt & Whitney Canada’s venerable JT15D-5 powerplant – a mature, well-known, and highly reliable engine.

Prior would-be producers of single-engine jets also tapped this engine because of its high reliability.

The OEM claims the Stratos 714 will fly at FL300 carrying four passengers at 400 knots over a distance of 1,500nm (with NBAA reserves). Service ceiling is FL410. Expect a line of customers to form before eventual certification in 2019.

Leading-Edge Example

Edge Aerodynamix is a research-driven business dedicated to discovering innovative fluid dynamics technology solutions to improve efficiency. The company’s focus is on developing and bringing to market products that provide greater fuel and energy efficiency and safety along with reduced maintenance costs for fixed-wing, rotorcraft and wind turbine products.

So how does the Edge product work? The CVG employs an elastomeric adhesive-backed film installed on the surface of an airplane wing or helicopter rotor blade to produce a passive, hybrid, laminar flow control effect from an array of small vortices formed in the laminar sub-boundary layer of the surface.

This reduces drag from viscous and shock/boundary layer interaction, reducing the amount of fuel a transonic aircraft consumes.

The CVG film can be added in the downtime allotted to an A-Check, and can be installed in less than four hours without any major modification to the aircraft.

Edge Aerodynamix’s STC offers a significant degree of drag reduction, with a concomitant improvement in fuel efficiency and cruise speed which are sure to appeal to a large spectrum of Boeing Business Jet operators.

It’s How BizAv Advances

Throughout the jet age, starting with the JetStar and Learjet 23 through to today’s Cirrus Vision, business aircraft gained capabilities, grew quieter, while becoming faster on less fuel.

If it’s true that ‘what’s past is prologue’ expect to see advances in aviation, and business jet developments, continue adding to business aircraft capabilities. It’s been that way since 1903 – and clearly there are no signs of letting up.

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