Soloy is back.
Though never totally gone, the Olympia, Wash. company had been struggling for nearly a decade as it developed and tried to sell a twin-engine/single-prop conversion for the Cessna 208B Caravan. The Pathfinder, as Soloy called the modified airplane, succumbed to regulatory changes that made redundant the niche market founder Joe Soloy believed it would fill. The Pathfinder is on the backburner now, according to CEO David Stauffer. However, the company is still trying to find a launch platform in a new-design airplane for the Dual Pac twin-engine modification, which is certified to FAR Part 33.
Last February, company founder Joe Soloy died and Stauffer, a trained aircraft mechanic whom Soloy had made president four years earlier, began to search for new investors to take over the business. He eventually convinced a group of aviation industry executives to buy the company, converting it from a C corporation with 154 shareholders to a limited liability company with five owners. “After 11 months dealing with attorneys,” said Stauffer, the deal closed on October 13. Elling Halvorson, chairman of Papillon Airways, assumed the leadership role for the new investors.
Since then, employment at Soloy, which has received more than 49 STCs over the last three decades, increased from 12 to about 25. One of its most recent projects was assembly of the ATG Javelin proof-of-concept aircraft, which is expected to make its first flight in about three months. The Javelin is a tandem-seat very light twinjet that resembles a small fighter.
Here at Heli-Expo, Soloy (Booth No. 3153) is exhibiting a used Eurocopter AS 350B2 outfitted with a Honeywell LTS101-700D2 turboshaft engine replacing the helicopter’s original Turbomeca Arriel 1D1. “We started the program in November, right after the acquisition by the new investors was finalized,” said Stauffer. “We plan to begin flight testing after Heli-Expo and hope to get the STC in the third quarter of this year.”
The engine in Soloy’s AStar is the only LTS101-700D2 model in existence. “Honeywell has about 90 to 100 other LTS101 models it could reconfigure as -700D2s,” Stauffer explained. “The model actually contains the newer modifications of the -800 engines, which power the Coast Guard’s HS-65s, except it does not have the -800’s Fadec,” he said, adding that it’s still too soon to quote a price for the engine modification.