Extra EA-500 earns European approval

 - October 12, 2006, 9:57 AM

Proving that insolvency isn’t always the end of the road for an aircraft manufacturer, Lancaster, Pa.-headquartered Extra Aircraft received European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification for its all-composite EA-500 turboprop single on July 19. When Extra emerged from insolvency under new ownership last September, it estimated German LBA certification by April.

However, late last year EASA officially took over as the European agency that certifies aircraft, engines, parts and components. That meant Extra had to resubmit paperwork to a new certification agency and deal with unfamiliar people. “It was definitely a learning curve,” noted Extra CEO Ken Keith.

According to the company, production of the Rolls-Royce 250-B17F/2-powered composite airplane is ready to begin at the company’s facility in Hunxe, Germany, as soon as FAA approval is obtained, which is expected next month. The first production aircraft is expected to be finished in December, and two of the turboprop singles will be delivered by year-end.

Keith told AIN that next year’s production run will be about 15 aircraft, increasing to 36 in 2006. The company plans eventually to ramp up to a production rate of 60 aircraft a year.

New Avionics in 2006

The 4,696-pound mtow airplane costs $1.545 million, but this price will increase slightly with the introduction of the Honeywell Apex avionics suite in early 2006. This glass-cockpit configuration will replace the current Honeywell EFIS 40 displays and Garmin GNS 430/530 navcoms. In fact, Keith said, in early 2006 Honeywell will–at its cost–retrofit Apex to the EA-500s delivered without the advanced avionics suite.

According to Keith, the Apex system, which sports two 10.4-inch diagonal LCD screens, should be flying aboard an EA-500 test airplane in the first quarter of next year. Apex will add avionics options for the turboprop single, notably EGPWS and weather datalink.

Extra said Honeywell and Rolls-Royce service centers will be handling any issues with the avionics and engines, respectively, and a tech rep in Florida will address any problems that arise with the aircraft itself. Eventually, the company will develop a service-center network.

Keith maintains that the six-seat Extra EA-500 is the least expensive turboprop single, in terms of both acquisition and operating costs. He said the aircraft consumes 130 pph while cruising at 230 knots at 14,000 feet; at the aircraft’s FL250 certified ceiling, the turboprop burns 190 pph. The EA-500’s total usable fuel is 1,195.2 pounds.

Concluded Keith, “We believe the EA-500 is going to help Extra Aircraft capture additional market share and further establish the company as a major player in the aircraft manufacturing industry.”