Englewood, Colo.-based Adam Aircraft expects FAA certification of its centerline-thrust A500 piston twin in the first quarter of this year and first deliveries by March, according to a company spokesman. Last year at this time the company was estimating certification in the second quarter of 2003; this was subsequently revised to the fall of 2003. “There’s no one thing in particular that caused the delay,” a spokesman said. “Some things have just been harder to do than we thought they’d be.” One of these was building the conforming prototype–ship three–which last month had about seven flight hours. Ship one had logged 122 hours on 62 flights and ship two had 355 hours on 219 flights, as of last month. The company is in the process of compiling performance data, as confirmed by flight testing of ship three, for the A500’s Pilot Operating Handbook, which will be released soon.
Structural testing of the A500 is being conducted at Adam’s 30,000-sq-ft facility in Pueblo, Colo., where some fabrication of production aircraft will also take place. Engineering design and other fabrication is being done in the company’s 50,000-sq-ft headquarters in Englewood; final assembly will take place in an adjacent 20,000-sq-ft building.
“We have completed all static testing we need to do and the aircraft has passed all the tests we thought would be most challenging. However, it’s possible that static testing for the FAA could take longer than expected. It just depends on what tests the FAA accepts,” said the spokesman.
About the time the A500 transitions into production, the company will be building the first A700 conforming prototype (ship two), with an expected first flight this summer. By then the model’s Williams FJ33 turbofans should be certified (expected imminently). This and the 80-percent parts commonality of the A500 and A700 are expected to smooth the A700’s certification path. The company will also have one aircraft certification–the A500–under its belt. A700 certification is planned for December, although this would likely slip if A500 certification does not take place as now expected. A700 ship one first flew on July 27 and has since logged more than 80 hours on 46 flights, including trips to Oshkosh, Wis., Orlando, Fla., and Philadelphia.
Adam Aircraft’s objective is to build 50 aircraft per year and the company expects the production line will reach this four-per-month rate by the end of this year.