Visionaire has clocked up more than 150 orders for its single-engine Vantage business jet, which represents an order backlog of around $240 million, and "well over" one year's production at full capacity.

The Chesterfield, Missouri-based manufacturer has begun tooling assembly at its recently opened factory in Ames, Iowa, and plans to start production of the first of six test aircraft by year-end.

"We plan to build two aircraft for flying testing, two for structural and fatigue testing and two production aircraft. The first aircraft will now be rolled out in the first quarter of 1999," says Visionaire.

The $1.8 million all-composite Vantage, scheduled for certification and first deliveries "no later than early 2000", will be built at a rate of 60 aircraft a year in its first year of production, ramping up to 150 aircraft annually thereafter. "Our new plant has the capacity to produce 115 Vantages a year and we are already considering expansion to keep up with demand," says Visionaire chairman Jim Rice.

Visionaire is also examining the market for a family of business jets. The manufacturer will display a mock-up of its all-composite VA12B Spirit tandem seat single-engined jet aircraft, which is designed solely as a research tool, at this year's National Business Aviation Association convention.

"We are evaluating the market for a jet-propelled aircraft priced at under $500,000. So far, we have received a phenomenal response," says Visionaire. The manufacturer also claims to be looking at configurations for the "Spirit Line" family, including twin-engined, two-seat and four-seat models, but has yet to commit to launching a programme.

Source: Flight International