In The Works: Sino Swearingen SJ30-2

 - February 1, 2007, 10:20 AM

After almost a year without a stated estimate of a certification target date for its SJ30-2, San Antonio-based Sino Swearingen now says it expects to receive the type certificate under Part 23 (commuter category) in the third quarter of next year.

Two airplanes are in the flight-test program, “flying seven days a week,” said Gene Comfort, senior vice president of sales and marketing.  A third test aircraft is now under final assembly, with the wings about to be mated to the fuselage, but Comfort would not speculate on when this airplane would begin flying.

Before the crash of the first pre-production, nonconforming SJ30-2 prototype on April 26 last year that killed company chief test pilot Carroll Beeler, Sino Swearingen was estimating that the Williams FJ44-2A-powered light jet would receive its certificate in the fourth quarter of last year.

Not yet defined is a date for receipt of the type inspection authorization (TIA), which is granted when a company presents to the FAA an aircraft that conforms to the type design and is built with conforming parts, and structural testing has been completed. Official flight testing with FAA pilots cannot begin until the TIA is received.  
In December the SJ30-2’s wing passed the FAA-required ultimate-load tests. John Vieger, manager of structure analysis, said, “The test actually includes three ultimate-load cases: wing up-bending, fuselage down-bending and horizontal tail down-bending.” FAA officials witnessed the ultimate-load tests.

Meanwhile, the company has been testing a scale model of the SJ30-2 in a high-speed, transonic wind tunnel. Notwithstanding the fact that the fatal accident last year of the nonconforming prototype happened after Beeler reported that he could not stop the airplane from rolling to the right after passing Mach 0.884 in a shallow dive, Comfort said the wind-tunnel testing was not related to the accident. Planned Mmo of the SJ30-2 is Mach 0.83, with high-speed cruise and long-range cruise calculated at Mach 0.8 and 0.78, respectively. Analysis of the wind-tunnel test data is not yet complete, and the NTSB has not yet released a final report on the accident.

Regarding orders for the 13,500-pound mtow, seven-seat business jet (six passengers and one pilot), Comfort would not provide a firm number. “We have a number of signed orders, but I don’t want to count these until the deposit money is received. A sale is not a sale until the money is deposited,” he said, adding that an announcement regarding orders would be forthcoming, perhaps in the near future.