Spectrum launches S-33 follow-on

 - November 7, 2006, 5:16 AM

Start-up manufacturer Spectrum Aeronautical announced last month that it has selected the GE/Honda HF120 turbofan engine to power a new $6.2 million (2006 $) midsize business jet called the S-40 Freedom.

With the announcement, Spectrum became the second customer for the 2,050-pound-thrust engine, currently in development and slated for certification in 2009. The S-40’s certification and first deliveries are “targeted for” 2010.

The company describes the 10,000-pound-mtow, composite-fuselage S-40 Freedom as “considerably larger” than the S-33 Independence very light jet, announced at NBAA 2005 as the Spectrum 33 and given its new name last month.

Spectrum chairman Linden Blue called the company’s efforts to develop the S-40 “a slam dunk.” In describing the new model, he said “the Freedom is just a scaled-up Independence,” and therefore should be easier to certify and produce than an entirely new design.

Blue claimed the S-40’s direct operating costs will be half those of the $6.7 million Embraer Phenom 300. The S-40’s cabin is also more than a foot taller than the Embraer’s.

As currently envisioned, the Freedom’s HF120 engine (also named to fly on the HondaJet) will not require a hot-section inspection before its 5,000-hour TBO. Engine noise levels are expected to be 20 dB below Stage 4 requirements and its emissions to meet CAEP (committee on aviation environmental protection) 6 standards. GE/Honda expects to have a demonstrator engine in operation next year and plans to begin certification testing in 2008, according to Gary Leonard, president of GE/Honda Aero Engines.

Spectrum president Austin Blue (Linden’s son) said the company chose the Honda engine because it believes it is more efficient than the Williams FJ44. The Williams FJ33 powers the Spectrum 33.

Spectrum is expanding its Spanish Fork, Utah, campus to accommodate both development programs and has boosted employment within the past year from 80 to 120. Austin Blue said the company expects to add another 100 employees over the next 12 months. Spectrum is also employing a network of contractors used on the S-33, including Infusion Design for the aircraft’s interior and Analytical Methods for some of the aerodynamics development.

Carbon-graphite Composite
The S-40 is a 10-seat (one or two pilots/nine or eight passengers) design. Spectrum says it will have a service ceiling of 45,000 feet, a maximum range of 2,200 nm and cruise at 435 ktas. Preliminary dimensions call for a cabin that is 21 feet long with an internal diameter of six feet. The S-40 will have an estimated payload of 2,400 pounds and a useful load of 4,710 pounds. The aircraft will be built with the same patented fibeX carbon-graphite composite used on the S-33. The cockpit will share
the glass panel, sidestick and “qwerty” keyboard interface architecture with the S-33.

Spectrum began accepting escrowed deposits of $80,000 for the S-33 and $120,000 for the S-40 at NBAA’06. Linden Blue now says he does not expect the fatal crash of the S-33 prototype last July to affect the timetable for either the S-33 or the S-40. “The schedule is the same as before the accident,” he said. A “company conforming” S-33 is scheduled to fly next August.

He said that Spectrum initially expects to produce two of each aircraft model per week after certification but could easily expand production capacity if needed. “If somebody wants a composite airplane, we expect to build it,” he said. Linden Blue says the company is fully funded with private equity from himself and a small number of outside investors.