In The Works: Safire Jet

 - February 1, 2007, 10:18 AM

Early last month, Safire Aircraft of Opa-Locka, Fla., announced it had filed a type certificate application with the FAA for its very light Safire Jet, the first step in the certification process. Said Camilo Salomon, president and CEO, “Major assemblies and components for the Safire Jet will begin arriving at our facility in the spring, and we’ll begin assembly of the first prototype. We plan to build two flying prototypes, one static-test article and one fatigue-test article. Our flight-test/certification program will continue into 2006.”

The company is seeking to obtain certification under FAR Part 23 (normal category) with day, night, VFR, IFR and single-pilot operation, as well as flight into known icing conditions and RVSM. The company’s plan for concurrent or subsequent European certification under the auspices of the European Aviation Safety Agency is expected to be completed this year. First flight is planned for this year (previously penciled in for “mid-2004”) and first deliveries in 2006.

Currently priced at $1.395 million, the Safire Jet is being designed to cruise at 380 knots, with an NBAA IFR range of 1,150 nm at 41,000 feet. The aircraft will be powered by two Williams International FJ33-4 turbofan engines rated at 1,100 pounds of thrust each. Still undergoing certification testing, the FJ33 is expected to receive FAA certification before the Safire Jet’s first flight.

Safire has selected vendors for several key components, including Metalcraft as the fuselage manufacturer, Avidyne for its FlightMax Entegra integrated flight deck and Apex as the wing, empennage and engine nacelle supplier. Fabrication of the first flying prototype has begun, with metal being cut for the fuselage; several fuselage skins have also been successfully stretched. Machining of the aft pressure bulkhead is under way, and several other fuselage frames, along with wing spars, have been released for fabrication. Design of assembly tooling is also progressing.

At the NBAA Convention last October, Salomon said the company recently had closed another round of funding, further stabilizing the program well into the certification phase. He said the Safire Jet is currently funded through first flight and expects to be cash positive in the first year of production. As of last month, the company reported orders for 378 aircraft, of which 31 are backed by $168,000 non-refundable deposits (the rest have $8,000 refundable deposits).