In The Works: Explorer Aircraft 500T

 - February 4, 2008, 7:57 AM

The search for financing continues to be Australian-born Explorer Aircraft’s primary focus. Said Donald Joseph, president, “We are actively looking for opportunities. Despite the tough economic times, we’ve become more optimistic in the last three or four months.”

The company moved into its new 14,000-sq-ft “certification facility” in an industrial park bordering Jasper County Bell Field in southeast Texas last summer, after earlier moving from temporary offices in Denver to Jasper. The sole Explorer proof-of-concept aircraft, now configured as a 500T with its single Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-135B turboprop engine, continues to fly, but only for demonstrations, Joseph said. The airplane flew first with a 300-hp Continental IO-550. Explorer plans to build and market a 500R model with an Orenda V8 piston engine on the same fuselage as the 500T and then a six-foot stretched-fuselage 750T with a PT6-60A engine.

Joseph said the privately funded company has enough money to sustain the program at its current pace. However, additional funds are needed to take the program to certification, which is expected to take two-and-a-half years from the time this funding is in hand.