Nearly $1 billion must be raised to bring a new generation of independently developed business jets to the market in the next four years.

The line-up of projects, which includes the VisionAire Vantage (above), Century Aerospace CA-100 Century Jet, Sino Swearingen SJ30-2, Safire S-26 and Lake Aerospace (formerly Archedyne) NauticAir 450 amphibian, are all competing for investment.

VisionAire is seeking an extra $150 million to finish development of its single-turbofan Vantage, set for certification and first deliveries for the fourth quarter of 2002.

"The overall development and production costs of the Vantage are around $200 million. We have raised about $60 million from our 450 investors and we need another $140 million to see the programme through to certification and production," says chairman Jim Rice.

Visionaire, which has redesigned the $2.2 million aircraft to address weight and aerodynamic issues, has 125 orders.

The company, which signed Meggitt, Garmin and S-TEC as its avionics suppliers at the convention, plans to begin assembly of the first pre-production aircraft early next year, with flight testing beginning later in the year.

Century, meanwhile, has invested around $6 million in its twinjet, and seeks a further $60 million to fund the programme, for which it has 52 orders. The company is looking for risk-sharing partners to help develop the $2.6 million CA-100, launch aircraft for the Williams FJ33 turbofan. SGL Carbon Composites/Hitco will build the fuselage. Remaining contractors are expected to be announced soon. The first flight is planned for the second quarter of 2001, and certification and first deliveries in 2002 and 2003.

Newcomers Safire and Lake have forecast development costs of $45 million and $200 million for their respective $800,000 S-26 twinjet and $4 million NauticAir 450 amphibian, both lined up for certification in 2003. Aerostar Aircraft plans to fly a twin FJ33-powered derivative of the Piper Aerostar, the $1.9 million FJ-100, in 2001, with deliveries in 2002.

Sino Swearingen is expected to invest around $250 million in its SJ30-2 programme, begun in the mid-1980s. The first prototype is to make its maiden flight by March.

Source: Flight International