New Business Airplanes

 - October 23, 2006, 5:56 AM

Adam Aircraft

A700–The A700 is a twinjet derivative of the Englewood, Colo. company’s A500 centerline-thrust piston twin. Adam Aircraft has said that certification of the A700 would lag about 12 months behind that of the A500, which received provisional FAA certification (with many restrictions) in May. A nonconforming A700 prototype has been flying since July 2003, logging nearly 300 flight hours, and two conforming twinjets are expected to take to the skies by year-end.

Adam said that S/N 002, the aerodynamics and engine test aircraft, is taking shape and is scheduled to start flying before next month’s NBAA Convention, while S/N 003 (systems test aircraft) could join the test fleet in the fourth quarter. The first customer A700 (S/N 004), which is expected to roll off the production line early next year, will perform function and reliability testing.

Recent A700 milestones include structural-loading analysis, preliminary rotor-burst analysis, static testing and ground vibration testing of the A700 airframe. Earlier this year, Adam built a belly pod that can store 100 gallons of fuel and installed it on S/N 001. It has also finished design and subassembly of the A700 pressurization and environmental control test systems, some of which are currently being tested.

Certification and first deliveries are planned for the middle of next year–nearly two years beyond the originally planned certification target of last December. The price of the A700 has surpassed the $2 million mark, and the twinjet’s order backlog now sits at about 115 aircraft–40 from individual owners and 75 from air-limo start-up Pogo.

Aerion

SSBJ–Reno, Nev.-based Aerion unveiled its supersonic business jet (SSBJ) program amid fanfare at last year’s NBAA Convention in Las Vegas, saying the natural-laminar-flow-wing aircraft could be in service by 2011. In the following nine months, Aerion conducted market research for the Mach 1.6 twinjet and found that there is indeed sufficient demand to proceed with development of the airplane.

The market research report, released in June, shows a demand for 220 to 260 Aerion SSBJs over a 10-year period, with approximately 20 percent of sales coming from the fractional market. Production over a 20-year program life could exceed 500 aircraft, Aerion said.

According to the company, the $80 million SSBJ will have a range exceeding 4,000 nm and a balanced field length of less than 6,000 feet (ISA, sea level). Aerion says its focus on aerodynamic efficiency results in an SSBJ with a 90,000-pound mtow, which not only reduces costs but also aids in mitigating the supersonic boom signature.

Further, it claims that the operating cost per nautical mile for the Aerion SSBJ will compare favorably with that for large subsonic jets, and to be only marginally higher than that of super-midsize jets with similar range and cabin volume. Additionally, Aerion said the jet will be able to fly economically in either the high-subsonic or supersonic speed range.

Aviation Technology Group

Javelin–With the look of a fighter, the tandem two-seat Javelin surely isn’t the typical business jet. But Aviation Technology Group (ATG) of Englewood, Colo., is marketing the Javelin Executive as a business jet that can fly at up to Mach 0.92, a hair above top speed for the Cessna Citation X.

About a month after the first prototype rolled out on May 5, ATG began taxi testing and expected to fly the twin-engine very light jet (VLJ) by July. However, a nosewheel shimmy problem occurred during high-speed taxi trials, delaying first flight until at least last month, if not this month. To resolve the issue, ATG early last month installed a new nose landing gear fitting, which was slated to be tested during more taxi trials last month.

The Williams FJ33-4-17M-powered Javelin will then be cleared for first flight following successful taxi tests with the new nosewheel configuration. Certification is still slated for late 2007, with deliveries of the $2.795 million jet to follow immediately. ATG says it has orders for nearly 100 Javelins.

Avocet

ProJet–Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) of Tel Aviv and Avocet Aircraft of Westport, Conn., are still reported to be partners in the development, certification and production of the proposed very light ProJet. However, negotiations with a third partner–an “established U.S. business aviation OEM”–that were under way earlier this year for “product support and ProJet final assembly” haven’t yielded any results. IAI has repeatedly told AIN that such an agreement with a third party would be the first step toward officially launching the twinjet program. The certification goal for the $2 million ProJet is mid-2007, and an engine for the twinjet has yet to be selected.

Bell/Agusta Aerospace

BA609–The civil tiltrotor returned to flight status on June 3 after a two-year hiatus, when BA609 S/N 001 made an 80-minute flight at Bell’s XworX center near Fort Worth, Texas, on June 3. While the BA609 first flew in March 2003, the first flight-test phase lasted only until the following June, after which the aircraft was disassembled and meticulously inspected.

This second flight-test phase will not only be longer but will also involve expanding the flight envelope on the powered-lift aircraft. But it didn’t take Bell’s flight-test pilots long to have the tiltrotor flying in full-airplane mode–this milestone was accomplished in late July. The aircraft reached a speed of 140 knots, about half of its predicted Vne in full-airplane mode.

Meanwhile, functional testing and instrumentation checks for BA609 S/N 002 are already under way at project partner AgustaWestland in Italy. Ground runs and shakedown trials were scheduled to start last month, with S/N 002 expected to fly by year-end.

A Bell/Agusta spokesman would not disclose the latest price for the civil tiltrotor, but it most likely will be more than the previously announced $10 million to $12 million estimated figure. Additionally, the company has declined to talk about the order book for the convertiplane. FAA/EASA certification is slated for 2008.

Bombardier

Global Express XRS–Announced at the 2003 NBAA Convention, the Global Express XRS is the next generation of Bombardier’s super-large, long-range business jet. The derivative model, which will replace the existing Global Express, offers cabin upgrades and provides greater range at high speed, improved takeoff performance, fast fueling capability and the new Bombardier enhanced vision system as standard equipment.

First green deliveries are expected by year-end, though the XRS isn’t expected to enter service until the first quarter of next year. The new model has replaced the Global Express.

With the addition of a new forward fuel tank in the wing/body fairing, the XRS will be able to carry up to 1,486 pounds more usable fuel, allowing it to fly 6,500 nm at Mach 0.82, 6,150 nm at Mach 0.85 or 5,450 nm at Mach 0.87. The new aircraft will also come with a 7,800-pound completion allowance–nearly 2,000 pounds higher than originally expected.

Learjet 40XR–Bombardier introduced this derivative of the Learjet 40 at last year’s NBAA Convention. Scheduled to enter service next year, the 40XR will have improved hot-and-high and time-to-climb performance and reduced flight time en route. For example, Bombardier said, taking off from Jackson Hole, Wyo., at 28 degrees C, carrying six passengers and full fuel, the Learjet 40XR will be able to fly 936 nm farther than the Learjet 40. The 40XR will also require just 23 minutes to reach FL430 after takeoff from a hot-and-high airfield.

The Canadian manufacturer accomplished these improvements by powering the Learjet 40XR with the Honeywell TFE731-20-BR, the same turbofan that powers its sibling, the Learjet 45XR. At $8.2 million, the Learjet 40XR will cost $400,000 more than a comparably equipped Learjet 40, which will remain in production. Learjet 40 operators will be able to upgrade to the XR version through engine and airframe Service Bulletins available later this year.

Cessna

Citation CJ1+–An improved version of the CJ1 announced at last year’s NBAA Convention, the CJ1+ incorporates many of the refinements built into the CJ3, including the larger aircraft’s more feature-laden version of the Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 integrated avionics system, in addition to other improvements. The $4.095 million CJ1+, which received FAA approval earlier this year, made its maiden flight on October 8 last year.

On the inside, the CJ1+ received a makeover, including LED lighting, updated cabin seats, modern cabinetry styling, a more refined cabin overhead and new manual window shades.

It also has upgraded Williams-Rolls engines, in the form of two FADEC-equipped 1,941-pound-thrust FJ44-1AP turbofans that replace the -1As on the CJ1.

Citation CJ2+–Also unveiled at last year’s NBAA show, the CJ2+ improves upon the CJ2. Like the CJ1+, the $5.525 million twinjet comes with a more feature-laden version of the Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 integrated avionics system, as well as other improvements. The CJ2+ is expected to receive FAA approval soon, with first deliveries to follow by early next year.

Its upgraded Williams-Rolls FJ44-3A-24 turbofans offer better hot-and-high performance and improved efficiency over the original CJ2’s 2,400-pound-thrust FJ44-2C turbofans. The -24 variant is a derated, 2,400-pound-thrust version of the engine found on the CJ3. Absent on both the CJ1+ and CJ2+ are the thrust attenuators found on their predecessors. Other improvements include beefier brakes on the CJ2+.

Citation CJ3–Cessna announced the CJ3 at the 2002 NBAA Convention as a follow-on to its successful CitationJet family. The CJ3, which first flew in April 2003, received FAA approval in October last year and entered service last December.

The eight-passenger CJ3, which is three feet longer than the CJ2, has more powerful Williams FJ44-3A engines and a full-feature Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 integrated avionics suite.

Designed for single-pilot operation, the $6.065 million CJ3 has a maximum cruise speed of 417 knots and an NBAA IFR range of 1,774 nm with two crewmembers and six passengers. The CJ3 can climb directly to its 45,000-foot ceiling, even at its 13,870-pound mtow.

Mustang–The $2.395 million, six-seat Citation Mustang, one of the most anticipated very light jets, is now in flight testing. On April 23 the Mustang prototype made its maiden flight, and it has since logged more than 230 flight hours. To date, the prototype has completed envelope expansion and the initial development of aircraft systems and aerodynamic flight characteristics.

On August 31 the first production Citation Mustang (S/N 0001) joined the flight-test fleet, and a third aircraft is expected to come on line soon. S/N 0001 will be used primarily for avionics development and certification.

In all, three Mustangs will be dedicated to certification efforts–the Mustang prototype and S/Ns 0001 and 0002.

The Citation Mustang, announced at the 2002 NBAA Convention, is powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney Canada PW615F turbofans. In the cockpit is a Garmin G1000 avionics system. Both the engines and avionics are progressing on schedule and are expected to receive their respective FAA approvals by next fall.

FAA, EASA and Brazilian certification of the 340-knot Mustang is expected late next year. Cessna reports firm orders for more than 230 of the very light jets, with the backlog extending to at least 2009.

Dassault

Falcon 7X–In July a second Falcon 7X joined the flight-test fleet just two months after the first Falcon 7X made its maiden flight on May 5. Both of the 5,700-nm-range trijets have been flying almost daily from Dassault’s flight-test center in Istres, France. The aircraft will accumulate approximately 1,200 flight test hours before the expected FAA and EASA certification late next year.

At press time, Falcon 7X S/N 003 was undergoing pre-test-flight checks and was slated to begin flying by this month. This aircraft will be outfitted with a full interior and will be used for long-range and endurance tests, in addition to interior sound level validation.

Dassault has completed testing for all of the modes of the 7X’s fly-by-wire controls, including reversionary modes. The airplane has also landed using fly-by-wire back-up modes. Meanwhile, the static and fatigue test 7X airframe has been undergoing tests at the Toulouse Aeronautical Test Center in Toulouse, France, since March.

All static and fatigue tests will be accomplished using one test article. After fatigue testing, the engineers will focus their attention on static trials, testing the airframe up to the design and ultimate load limits. Wing flexing at the tips has reached one meter (3.28 feet) but will increase to 1.8 meters (5.91 feet) during ultimate-load static trials.

Deliveries of the $37.15 million Falcon 7X are expected to start late next year.

Falcon 900DX–On May 13, just eight days after the Falcon 7X first took to the skies, the Falcon 900DX made its maiden voyage from Dassault’s Istres flight-test center. The $31.95 million trijet, launched in May last year at the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition, replaces the Falcon 900C.

The 900DX will be able to fly more than 4,100 nm (200 nm more than the -C) with the larger cabin of the 4,500-nm 900EX. This range enables the 900DX to fly nonstop between such city pairs as Geneva and Detroit, New York and Athens or Chicago and Rome.

Like the 7X, the 900DX will sport the Honeywell/Dassault EASy flight deck. Other features of the 900DX include a more efficient version of the Honeywell TFE731-60 engine, lightened structures and several system modifications. In addition, the new -DX will have better short-field performance than the 900EX. FAA/ EASA certification and first deliveries of the trijet are expected by year-end.

Eclipse

Eclipse 500–Eclipse made a false start when it first flew a Williams EJ22-powered
Eclipse 500 (S/N 100) twinjet in August 2002. The company subsequently severed ties with Williams, and in February 2003 Eclipse chose the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW610F to power a slightly redesigned Model 500. S/N 100 flew with interim engines in mid-2003 for aerodynamics and systems testing before the prototype logged 54 hours and was retired in October that year.

On December 31, the first PW610F-powered Eclipse 500 (N503EA) achieved its maiden flight–on schedule to the exact day. Since then, five production-conforming Eclipse 500s–including two beta test airplanes that will be used as lead-the-fleet airplanes–have entered the flight-test fleet. The latest aircraft to come on line was N506EA, which first flew on August 24.

However, several of these test aircraft entered the flight-test fleet behind schedule, and Eclipse failed to meet its 500-flight-hour target in August; in fact, at press time it had logged about 300 hours. Another snag came early last month, when N505EA–one of the beta test aircraft that was also pressed into flight testing to help meet next month’s 750-hour target–landed gear up. Eclipse subsequently announced that the incident was caused by pilot error.

At this time it’s unknown whether Eclipse will be able to meet its 750-hour goal next month, but a spokesman maintains that FAA certification is on schedule to conclude in March. Eclipse says it holds firm orders for more than 1,550 of the $1.395 million very light jets, in addition to options on another 725.

Diamond Aircraft

D-Jet–At press time, Diamond Aircraft was preparing its single-engine D-Jet for first flight this month. Aircraft subassemblies were built at the company’s Tussenhausen, Germany headquarters and shipped to Diamond’s facilities in London, Ontario, for final assembly and subsequent first flight. According to the company, all flight-test articles will also be assembled and flight tested in London.

Diamond Aircraft North American division president Peter Mauer told AIN that D-Jets will most likely be assembled in North America, with several places within Canada and the U.S. on the short list. He added that full-rate production of the Williams FJ33-powered jet single could be as high as 200 aircraft per year.

According to Mauer, Diamond will announce an avionics selection soon, with the Honeywell Apex and Garmin G1000 systems known to be in the running. Diamond said it has firm orders for 123 examples of the “under $1 million” very light jet, which is expected to receive FAA certification in the second half of 2007. A D-Jet mockup will be unveiled soon and is expected to be at next month’s NBAA Convention in Orlando, Fla.

Embraer

VLJ–In May, Embraer threw its hat in the ring to manufacture a very light jet. However, with service entry targeted for mid-2008, the Brazilian airframer’s $2.75 million VLJ is getting a late start in this crowded market segment, though its cabin size and preliminary performance numbers could give the twinjet an edge.

Embraer’s as-yet-unnamed VLJ will be powered by two dual-FADEC PW617Fs (flat rated at 1,615 pounds of takeoff thrust), which are scheduled for certification in the fourth quarter of 2007. The VLJ is a straight-wing design that will be able to carry up to eight people, including the pilot. With four people on board, the jet will have a range of 1,160 nm (NBAA IFR reserves with 100-nm alternate) and a maximum operating speed of Mach 0.70.

The VLJ will have a high-speed cruise of 380 knots, and its 5-foot 1-inch-wide cabin is wider than that of both the Cessna Mustang and CJ1. Its 4-foot 11-inch cabin height also exceeds that of the Cessna VLJ and light jet.

Light jet–Also unnamed and announced in May, Embraer’s light jet–slated to enter service in mid-2009–will compete directly with the Cessna CJ3 and Encore; Raytheon Premier I and Hawker 400XP; and Learjet 40. Embraer’s nine-seat, swept-wing light jet will be powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW535Es flat rated at 3,200 pounds of thrust each.

Carrying six people, the $6.65 million jet will have an NBAA IFR range of 1,800 nm at Mach 0.78. The light jet will have a high-speed cruise of 450 knots, 45,000-foot ceiling and 3,700-foot balanced field length. Embraer’s light jet will share the same cabin width and height as its VLJ sibling, though the overall cabin will be smaller than the Premier I’s and the same size as the Learjet 40’s.

Epic Aircraft

Epic LT–The Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-67A-powered Epic LT prototype has logged more than 250 hours since it first flew in July last year. The all-composite, $1.9 million turboprop single has a top speed of 350 knots, an NBAA IFR range of 1,608 nm, an mtow of 7,050 pounds and a 28,000-foot ceiling.

Brazilian certification is scheduled for next July, a one-month delay from earlier estimates. The P&WC PT6A-powered single is also being offered as an uncertified, kit-built airplane at $1.2 million. “Customers may build their 51 percent of the aircraft only in our facility, and we’ll watch the process very closely,” said Epic president Rick Schrameck. “This will help us learn and improve our production process for the certified airplane.” However, the first kit Epic LT has been built but not delivered since the FAA is probing the legality of the company’s “builder assistance” center.

The company claims it has logged orders for more than 50 of the certified turboprop singles.

Epic Jet–Epic Aircraft parent company Aircraft Investor Resources (AIR) and Republic of Georgia-based Tbilisi Aviation Machine (TAM) are joining forces to build this $2 million very light jet. Under the partnership, Epic Aircraft and TAM will co-produce the twinjet–Epic at its new 90,000-sq-ft Bend, Ore. facility and TAM at a plant in Tbilisi, Georgia.

TAM will market the all-composite, six-seat VLJ as the Tam-Air Jet in Eastern Europe and Asia, while the U.S.-based start-up will sell it as the Epic Jet in the Americas and Western Europe. The Williams FJ33-4-powered twinjet shares 80-percent commonality with the Epic LT turboprop single, including the Garmin G1000 cockpit avionics.

First flight of the twinjet has been delayed from this past summer to the fourth quarter due to “manpower shortages.” Despite this slippage, the company said certification of the Epic Jet remains on schedule for late next year or early 2007.

However, because the FAA certification branch is “so backed up,” Epic plans first to gain approval for the Epic Jet from Brazilian authorities and then seek reciprocal FAA consent.

Evektor

EV-55–Czech aircraft designer and manufacturer Evektor-Aerotechnik, best known for a line of light piston singles, is going full steam ahead with an unpressurized twin turboprop.

The Czech government is financing part of the development of the EV-55 utility aircraft, though this is no guarantee that the program is on a solid financial footing. Evektor said the $1.7 million airplane is expected to sell as an alternative to turboprop singles such as the Cessna Caravan.

Powered by two PT6A-21 engines, the aircraft will cruise at 229 knots with a max load of 14 passengers. Balanced field length–at both paved and unpaved runways–is projected to be 2,300 feet.

The EV-55’s cabin, which will measure 14.8 feet long, 5.25 feet wide and 4.5 feet high, can be outfitted in a cargo, passenger or cargo/passenger configuration.

The Czech Republic-based company is “setting up Evektor Aircraft in Canada to market and assemble all future aircraft models for the North and South American markets.” Evektor-Aerotechnik anticipates FAA and EASA certification of the EV-55 by late 2008.

Eviation Jets

EV-20 Vantage–Real-estate developer Matt Eller, who acquired the intellectual property of bankrupt VisionAire in October 2003 for $441,000, earlier this year revealed his plans to make a $2 million to $2.5 million twinjet version of the formerly single-engine VisionAire Vantage.

Eviation Jets has established operations in the U.S. and Brazil, and it has an eight- to 10-seat twinjet version of the Vantage, dubbed the EV-20, on the drawing boards.

The single-engine Vantage prototype (now designated the EV-10) that was part of the VisionAire purchase was flown to Brazil last November and was studied by an engineering team headed by Guido Pessotti, an aeronautical engineer who led Embraer’s aircraft development programs from the EMB-110 Bandeirante to the ERJ 145 regional jet.

Pessotti, the president of Eviation’s Brazilian division, and his “highly experienced” team have begun building a conforming EV-20 prototype, which is expected to fly in February. The EV-20 will be powered by two 2,100-pound-thrust Williams FJ44-1AP turbofans mounted externally near the tail. The company has not yet selected the avionics for the twinjet, though it has said the airplane will have a glass cockpit.

Three or four EV-20s will participate in flight testing, culminating in expected Brazilian and FAA certification in 2007. Eviation would not disclose its order backlog.

Excel-Jet

Sport-Jet–In April Colorado Springs, Colo.-based Excel-Jet changed powerplants for its single-engine Sport-Jet from the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW615F to the 1,500-pound-thrust Williams FJ33-4A. Three months later, in July, the completed prototype rolled out and was expected to fly within a month.

However, at press time first flight of the Sport-Jet had yet to happen, and company officials failed to return repeated telephone calls and e-mails asking for an explanation of this latest delay. First flight was originally expected late last year, but Sport-Jet’s supplier in Poland was “severely behind schedule” in delivering a set of composite wings for the airplane, delaying the program by more than six months.

Certification of the four-place, $1 million Sport-Jet is pegged for 20 to 24 months after first flight. The company claims it has developed a patented emergency parachute recovery system for the VLJ single, though it has yet to release any details about this proprietary system.

Farnborough

F1–Farnborough Aircraft commercial director Richard Blain recently told AIN that the British company now “has adequate funding for its current activities,” giving new life to the F1 turboprop single program. Work on the Farnborough F1 has been stalled over the past several years because of funding issues, which is not uncommon for start-up manufacturers.

Blain said that a prototype of the all-composite, seven-seat aircraft will be built in time for first flight later this or early next year. FAA and EASA certification of the $2.2 million turboprop, which will be powered by one 850-shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-60A, is slated for late 2007 or early 2008, with deliveries to begin sometime in 2008.

Preliminary specifications and performance include a 5,954-pound mtow, 324-knot max cruise speed, 35,000-foot ceiling and 828 nm IFR range with a full 800-pound “executive payload.”

Grob

G140TP–Grob’s unpressurized G140TP turboprop single program has been put on the back burner due to slow sales and a higher priority placed on the German manufacturer’s new twinjet program. As such, certification of the all-composite G140TP has been pushed from this summer to the second half of next year.

The sole G140TP test aircraft, powered by a 450-shp Rolls-Royce 250-B17F turboprop, has accumulated more than 250 hours since its first flight in December 2002. A $1.2 million derivative of the aerobatic two-seat G120 piston single, the four-seat G140TP maintains the G120’s aerobatic capabilities, making it well suited to the training role.

G160 Ranger–Certification of Grob’s seven- seat G160 Ranger turboprop single has been delayed from this past summer to the middle of next year to incorporate a new interior design and aerodynamic refinements. The improvements, announced in late June, include the addition of winglets and “other refinements” that provide optimal performance across the flight envelope.

Inside, the new G160 interior design sports leather seats similar to those of the Grob SPn Utility Jet unveiled at the Paris Air Show in June. The Ranger, which is powered by a single 850-shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-42A, will cruise at 270 knots and offer up to 2,200 nm range.

G180 SPn Utility Jet–Unveiled at the Paris Air Show in June, this $7.1 million (€5.8 million), 10-seat jet is the Tussenhausen, Germany-based company’s first foray into turbofan-powered aircraft. The light jet, powered by a pair of 2,800-pound-thrust Williams FJ44-3A turbofans, flew just one month after it was unveiled.

Grob’s all-composite twinjet is billed as “combining the performance and passenger comfort of a light business jet with the operational versatility of a turboprop.” The 13,889-pound-mtow SPn will have a range of 1,800 nm with six passengers and a maximum payload of 2,491 pounds. Its normal cruise speed will be 375 knots, rising to a max cruise of 407 knots.

The aircraft’s flight deck will include a Honeywell Apex integrated avionics suite complete with two 15-inch LCD primary flight displays, two 10-inch multifunction displays, TAWS and EGPWS. Notably, this selection makes the SPn the first jet application for Apex.

EASA certification–under Part 23 commuter rules–is expected in the first quarter of 2007, with FAA Part 23 certification and first deliveries slated for the following second quarter.

Gulfstream

G150–Gulfstream unveiled this derivative of the G100 (formerly the Astra SPX) at the 2002 NBAA Convention to replace its light jet sibling. The first G150 was originally slated to fly last November, but Gulfstream added about six months to the program in 2003, delaying first flight until this past May.

Adhering to this new schedule, the first G150, S/N 201, flew its maiden voyage on May 3. Since then, the twinjet has flown some 70 flights, accumulating more than 250 flight hours. According to Gulfstream, the aircraft’s dispatch reliability has enabled pilots to fly two test flights per day on many of the days the aircraft has been scheduled to fly.

On September 6, the second, and final, G150 flight-test aircraft joined the fleet. Gulfstream will use this second aircraft for function and reliability testing.

FAA certification of the $13.5 million aircraft is expected in January, with deliveries slated to start in the third quarter of next year. At the 2002 NBAA Convention, fractional operator NetJets announced a firm order for 50 G150s and options for 50 more.

G350–The $27.5 million G350 was designed to fill the niche left by the phaseout of the G300 and G400. Its flight deck features are similar to those in the long-range G450, including the PlaneView cockpit integrated avionics suite originally developed for the ultra-long-range G550. Available as options on the G350 are the head-up display by Honeywell, along with the Gulfstream/ Kollsman enhanced vision system (EVS).

Thanks to a reduction in the amount of electronics storage space aft of the cockpit bulkhead, the G350’s cabin is more than 40 feet long and can accommodate up to 16 passengers in three distinct seating areas. The typical cabin layout will have the galley and lavatory located in the rear of the airplane, but there are five optional floor plans, two with aft galley configurations and three with forward galley configurations. There is also an option for a forward lavatory and refreshment area for the flight crew.

The 3,800-nm-range G350 received FAA approval late last year, and customer deliveries began in the third quarter.

Honda

HondaJet–While Honda still maintains that it currently has “no business plan” for its six- to eight-place very light twinjet, the Japanese company certainly sent a mixed message when it put the airplane on public display for the first time in late July at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh. This caused rampant speculation that Honda would announce production plans for the VLJ at next month’s NBAA show, though a spokesman has since quashed such chatter.

The GE/Honda HF118-powered twinjet has been flying since Dec. 3, 2003, logging more than 156 hours at up to 43,000 feet and 393 knots. What makes the HondaJet particularly unusual is its over-the-wing engine configuration. With no carry-through structure needed in the aft fuselage for its engine pylons, this configuration allows a full-width cabin farther aft, maximizing interior dimensions. The fuselage is made of composite material, while the wings and empennage are aluminum.

Preliminary specifications include a 9,200-pound mtow, 420-knot cruise speed, 44,000-foot ceiling and an NBAA IFR range of 1,100 nm. Since Honda has not announced any production plans, no estimated price has been published.

Ibis Aerospace

Ae270 Spirit–Prague, Czech Republic-based Ibis Aerospace recently completed the Ae270 turboprop single’s flight-test regime as required by the Czech Aviation Authority (CAA), making the final certification test flight on May 10. Additionally, the manufacturer has delivered all of the required reports to the CAA and FAA, and official certification from both authorities is pending.

Under development since 1989 and announced by Aero Vodochody of the Czech Republic as the L-270 in 1990, the Ae270 was originally envisioned as a medium-range utility airplane in two versions: a Czech variant powered by a Walter M601E turboprop and a Western variant powered by a P&WC PT6A-42.

First flight of the Czech version was planned for 1993, but development slowed due to lack of funds. In 1997 Aero Vodochody and AIDC of China created Ibis Aerospace as a 50-50 joint venture to develop, manufacture and market the Ae270.

Rollout and first flight of Ae270 ship one, powered by a PT6A-42, took place in December 1999 and July 2000, respectively. At that time certification was expected in July 2001. In October 2000, Ibis announced the introduction of a high-performance version of the model, dubbed the Ae270HP, to be powered by a PT6-66A turboprop.

At that time the company planned to offer three versions of the aircraft, but Ibis eventually decided to focus solely on the pressurized, high-performance,
PT6-66A-powered Ae270 Spirit.

Ibis expects to deliver 15 aircraft this year, 25 next year and 35 in 2007. All deliveries are to Ibis distributors, with about seven aircraft already designated for end users, so a buyer could still take delivery of an aircraft next year. Base price for an Ae270 commuter is $2.195 million. A typically equipped Ae270 Spirit with weather radar, air conditioning and executive interior lists for just under $2.5 million.

After certification, Ibis Aerospace will continue to work on enhancing the aircraft. Developments are under way to improve several key performance areas through a number of design initiatives. According to Ibis, extensive market reviews show high market potential for this class of aircraft with improved performance.

NAL

Saras–This 14-passenger twin-turboprop pusher–designed for the business, regional and corporate shuttle markets–is the first civil transport to be developed in India. Named after the Indian crane, the Saras is being developed by India’s National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL).

Work on the aircraft started in 1991, though the prototype didn’t fly until May 29 last year. At Aero India 2005 earlier this year, NAL said the twin turboprop pusher had flown “dozens” of test flights.

The 13,450-pound-mtow, all-aluminum airplane is powered by two 850-shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-66 turboprops. Preliminary performance specifications include a cruise speed of 297 knots, max range of 800 nm (215 nm with 14 passengers), max endurance of six hours and a Part 25 takeoff distance of 1,968 feet.

Major risk-sharing financial partners in the Saras project include India’s Hindustan Aeronautics. NAL plans to obtain Indian certification and begin deliveries in mid-2007 at the earliest.

Piaggio

Avanti II–After nearly two decades of service, the Piaggio Avanti is getting a front-to-back upgrade that includes Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics, better performance and new cabin amenities. First delivery of the $5.97 million Avanti II is expected by year-end.

New features in the Avanti II include three 10- by 8-inch LCD flight displays, FMS 3000 flight management system, AJS 3000 attitude heading reference system, 4000A GPS and L-3 Avionics’ GH-3000 electronic standby instrument. Optional avionics include L-3’s Skywatch HP traffic avoidance system and LandMark terrain awareness system.

The Avanti II also has an engine upgrade from PT6A-66s to -66Bs, which increases the long-range cruise speed by 12 knots to 380 knots and ups the Mmo from Mach 0.68 to Mach 0.70. The upgrade will raise engine temperature limits to permit higher rpms and consequently improve climb performance. The new engines will not be available until early next year, but will be a no-cost retrofit item for any Avanti IIs delivered before then.

In addition, the Avanti II will have a higher zero fuel weight of 9,800 pounds (versus 9,500 pounds), and the mtow increases by 500 pounds to 12,050 pounds. Piaggio said it has also adopted a continuous improvement program that will deliver additional upgrades in the 2007 timeframe as retrofit items.

Quest

Kodiak–Quest Aircraft’s new Kodiak high-wing, fixed-gear turboprop single completed its first flight on October 16 last year and has since logged more than 100 hours. The 10-place, float-capable STOL Kodiak is powered by a 750-shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A.

According to the manufacturer, the Kodiak combines superior STOL performance, high useful load and has the ability to land on unimproved surfaces. The aircraft’s wing design allows the Kodiak to take off in less than 700 feet at its mtow of 6,750 pounds with a useful load of 3,450 pounds. Certification of the $1.111 million turboprop single is planned for early next year, with customer deliveries to follow immediately.

Raytheon Aircraft

C90GT–To strengthen its hand against the soon-to-be-certified very light jets, Raytheon Aircraft unveiled this derivative of the King Air C90B at EAA AirVenture in late July. By replacing the C90B’s two 550-shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-21As with two 750-shp (derated to 550 shp) PT6A-135-As, the C90GT is 25 knots faster (it has a 271-knot max cruise speed) and can climb to its 30,000-foot ceiling in half the time (11 minutes versus 22 minutes).

But unlike the upcoming VLJs, the C90GT isn’t equipped with one of the latest glass cockpits; instead, it retains the C90B’s Rockwell Collins Pro Line II avionics with two-tube EFIS displays and Garmin 400 GPS/moving map. However, Raytheon said it is considering the Pro Line 21 integrated avionics system, which is already in the King Air B200 and 350, for the C90GT.

FAA certification of the $2.95 million twin turboprop is scheduled for the fourth quarter, with customer deliveries expected to begin in December. EASA and other international certifications will follow next year. Raytheon said the C90GT’s backlog extends to next July.

Hawker 800XPi–Raytheon Aircraft announced this improved version of the Hawker 800XP at EBACE in May. The new Hawker 800XPi will feature an upgrade to the existing Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics suite, as well as a new interior and cabin management system.

With the upgraded Pro Line 21 system, Hawker 800XPi customers are able to add options such as 3-D flight management system mapping, paperless cockpit and real-time graphical cockpit weather.

The Hawker 800XPi interior and cabin management upgrade addresses customer-requested amenities by increasing the aft baggage volume and usability. The aircraft’s three-place divan was moved to the opposite side of the cabin, which allows for more continuous baggage volume behind the lav mirror and into the adjoining cabin. This new baggage area can easily accommodate larger luggage, such as golf clubs and large boxes.

Deliveries of the $13.45 million twinjet were expected to begin last month.

Hawker Horizon–Raytheon finally gained provisional FAA certification for its super-midsize Hawker Horizon in December–nearly four years later than the company originally planned. The $18.4 million Horizon still requires approval for the software of its Honeywell Primus Epic avionics system, qualification tests of some accessories and flight into known icing testing and approval.

Raytheon expected to win full FAA certification by the end of this summer, but that has yet to happen. EASA approval is slated to follow next year, in time for delivery of the first Horizon to a European customer.

Performance specifications for the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW308A-powered twinjet include a 470-knot cruise speed, 3,366-nm NBAA IFR range (with two crew and six passengers) and a 5,088-foot balanced field length (at its 37,500-pound mtow and ISA sea level conditions).

Raytheon holds firm orders for 32 Horizons, in addition to a tentative agreement with fractional provider NetJets for 50 aircraft (30 firm and 20 options). Raytheon plans to deliver two Horizons this year, 11 next year, 16 in 2007, 25 in 2008 and 30 in 2009.

Premier IA–The Beechcraft Premier IA–unveiled at EBACE in May–features a redesigned interior, avionics enhancements and several systems improvements. First delivered this summer, the Premier IA comes with a new contoured cabin headliner that increases passenger headroom, adjustable LED downwash lighting and repositioned passenger reading lights.

Beech has also restyled the cabin seats for better comfort and more foot room for fifth- and sixth-seat occupants. Other improvements include a smooth single-action passenger work table incorporated into the lower sidewall, improved temperature control and table storage with 110-volt AC outlets and provisioning for the optional satcom flight phone.

The Premier IA’s flight deck incorporates Rockwell Collins integrated flight information systems into the existing Pro Line 21 avionics suite, making map overlays (airways, airspace, geopolitical) possible. This upgrade also allows some new options, including Jeppesen e-charts, graphical weather and integrated Rockwell Collins HF.

The Premier IA also introduces pilot “lift dump on demand” control for improved landing performance; improved hydraulic brake anti-skid system; a sound dampening “acoustical liner”; and lowered landing reference speeds.

Sino Swearingen

SJ30-2–San Antonio-based Sino Swearingen claims to be nearing FAA certification of its 2,500-nm SJ30-2 light twinjet, an aircraft that traces its roots back to the mid-1980s. On August 16 the FAA issued type inspection authorizations for the SJ30-2, clearing the way for FAA personnel to fly the aircraft to verify flight-test data.

Three prototype aircraft are currently involved in flight tests, which are expected to culminate in FAA approval under Part 23 commuter rules by year-end. The SJ30-2 will be certified for single-pilot operations.

In March, nearly two years after Sino Swearingen’s number-one SJ30-2 prototype crashed during flutter testing, an NTSB final report cited a history of stability issues at high Mach speeds involving the airplane. Test pilot Carroll Beeler was killed in the accident.

The Board concluded that the probable cause of the accident was the manufacturer’s “incomplete high-Mach design research, which resulted in the airplane becoming unstable and diverging into a lateral upset” from which there was no ability to recover.

Wind-tunnel tests after the crash revealed that lateral stability “became negative above Mach 0.83” and any rudder or elevator input to augment the lateral trim and raise a low wing “could instead actually aggravate the situation.” The manufacturer has since made numerous design changes to the SJ30-2, and in August last year the airplane successfully passed all critical high-speed tests.

Sino Swearingen says it holds orders for more than 150 aircraft from distributors in Brazil, Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Sweden, the UK and U.S.

Supersonic Aerospace

QSST–Supersonic Aerospace International of Las Vegas continues to work with Lockheed Martin on the Quiet Small Supersonic Transport (QSST), the 4,000-nm, 12-passenger, Mach 1.8, no-boom supersonic business jet (SSBJ) announced at last year’s NBAA Convention.

According to company president J. Michael Paulson, the project is now in Phase 2, which mainly involves refining and optimizing the SSBJ’s design. According to Paulson, SAI is no longer considering building a 60-percent-scale demonstrator to prove the QSST’s design in Phase 2.

Paulson said his company will choose one of three competing engine designs from General Electric, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce for the supersonic twinjet when Phase 2 concludes late next year. First flight of the $80 million QSST is set for mid-2011, with U.S. FAR Part 25 certification planned for 2013.

Vulcanair

VF600W–Vulcanair of Italy in January last year decided to make a number of design changes to the fuselage of its 11-passenger VF600W Mission turboprop single. These changes include adding a pilot door on the right side (at the request of floatplane operators who want cockpit access on both sides), adding a door for passengers on the right side opposite the cargo door and increasing the size of said cargo door. As a result, planned EASA certification of the VF600W has moved from mid-2004 to later this year, though even this revised date might be too optimistic.

Vulcanair derived the Mission from its SF600A Canguro, a Stelio Frati design powered by two Rolls-Royce 250 turboprops. The VF600W is targeted at the corporate, commercial transport, law enforcement and homeland security markets.

The price of the 777-shp Walter M601F-11-powered Vulcanair remains at $1.2 million. While the company said it has received “much interest” in the aircraft from buyers, it has yet to disclose the order book for the turboprop single.

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