Grob Aerospace is establishing a completions and training facility for its SPn light business jet at St. Gallen-Altenrhein Airport in Switzerland. The center is due to open during the second quarter of 2009 and will be run by the newly appointed managing director of Grob Aerospace Switzerland, Cedric Migeon.
The initial workforce of 100 employees will have 50 people dedicated to completions activity and another 20 focusing on flight crew training. St. Gallen-Alten-rhein is conveniently located to Grob’s corporate headquarters in Zurich and its manufacturing base at Tussenhausen-Mattsies in nearby southern Germany.
The completions center includes a 2,000-sq-m hangar that can take two aircraft at a time, plus a 1,000-sq-m workshop and an office complex of the same size. A third hangar, housing up to four aircraft, will be available as the airframer increases its delivery rate to one aircraft per week. The Mattsies facility can produce up to 48 aircraft per year. Grob’s current backlog order is around 100 aircraft.
The facility will also have a customer center, including an interior specification show room in which buyers can make decisions about their aircraft’s cabin. Up to four deliveries per month will be made from this center.
SPn aircraft for North American customers will be ferried across the Atlantic fully completed for delivery from Grob’s facility in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The manufacturer has yet to decide whether to establish a separate North American completions center.
According to Grob chief executive Niall Olver, severe problems in the financial markets appear to have done little to dent the SPn’s sales prospects in the U.S. “We have not revised our view that the American market could be as much as 50 percent of total sales,” he told EBACE Convention News. “If sales there are slowing down it is because of weak dollar.”
Training Takes Shape
The SPn pilot training center at St. Gallen-Altenrhein will feature a level-D full flight simulator, as will a planned North American training base in Portsmouth that will open in 2010. Pilots will also build experience in an Aerosim virtual procedure trainer.
Each phase of SPn training will begin with a preparatory computer and Web-based course. Grob (Booth No. 7501) will provide registered pilots with laptop-based tools to prepare them for using the aircraft’s Honeywell Apex integrated avionics suite.
Transition training courses will be available as an option for pilots who do not yet have experience flying this category of aircraft. After final evaluation, a mentor training program will also be offered to those students who do not qualify without restriction to fly the new twinjet.
The SPn can carry six passengers and a pilot up to 1,800 nm. Its 405-cu-ft cabin makes it one of the largest of the light business jets.
The aircraft is powered by a pair of Williams FJ44-3A engines. It also offers a balanced field of just 3,000 feet at maximum takeoff weight and is well suited to operations from short, unprepared landing strips.