Visionaire has pushed back certification and first deliveries of its Vantage single- engined business jet while it undertakes a design review of the aircraft.

"We conducted a critical design review on the aircraft in mid-1998 and realised that it was too heavy. In our haste to get the aircraft in the air we did not pay any attention to the weight," according to VisionAire's vice- president of marketing, Barry Smith.

The St Louis, Missouri-based manufacturer is conducting an "-examination to find ways of reducing the weight by between 300lb [135kg] and 500lb. "The aircraft now weighs 7,800lb, so we have to find ways of reducing this by about 4%," concedes Smith. Rising costs are also causing concern at the company.

VisionAire is also concentrating on reducing the aircraft's stall speed, which does not meet the present 70kt (130km/h) US Federal Aviation Administration certification requirements. "As the weight goes up, so too does the stall speed, and we are now reaching speeds of up to 72kt," adds Smith.

As part of the review process, the manufacturer is also examining the flap system and wing design with a view to adding modifications. "By the end of March 1999, we will have completed the review, identified and agreed on the work that needs to be done," says Smith.

Meanwhile, VisionAire has been forced to delay certification and first deliveries by up to nine months. Approval is now scheduled for the "third or fourth quarter of 2000", closely followed by the first customer delivery. A price increase is also being touted for new aircraft orders, for which VisionAire is anticipating a "-slight downturn. We already have more than 150 orders for the Vantage which represents a three-year backlog, customers will not want to wait any longer than this for their aircraft," says Smith.

Vantage production will start at an initial rate of four to five aircraft a month from the newly opened factory in Ames, Iowa, ramping up to 10 aircraft a month in the second year of production. VisionAire is now seeking further production sites in the USA and abroad, with a view to producing up to 200 aircraft a year. The company has raised half the $120 million needed to fund the programme.

Source: Flight International