The dearth of orders (only five) for the lower-powered Ae270P turboprop single compared with the higher-powered Ae270HP and the difficulties inherent in running two programs at once have led Ibis Aerospace, the joint venture of Czech Aero Vodochody and AIDC of Taiwan, to focus its efforts on the Ae270HP instead. Subsequently, the Ae270P orders were all converted to -HP orders, giving that model a total order book of 69.
“If we had continued with the -P model first,” explained Jeff Conrad, v-p of marketing, “we probably would have obtained Czech certification by the middle of next year and -HP certification a year later. Now we’ll get Czech certification of the -HP model in September next year and FAA approval by the end of the year. However, certification work on the -P model is not canceled, just suspended. If there is market interest in the -P after the -HP is certified, we will restart the -P model’s certification.”
The two flying Ae270 prototypes, both -P models, have accumulated about 300 hr. S/N 5, the first -HP, is under assembly and expected to make its first flight sometime this fall. Deliveries of the first PT6-66A production engines are scheduled to begin by the end of this year. Ibis expects to make its first customer delivery late in the first quarter of 2004, probably to Piedmont Hawthorne of Winston-Salem, N.C., its first U.S. distributor. The company’s production plan calls for building 20 Ae270s in 2004, 33 in 2005 and 45 in 2006, all -HP models. Basic price of aircraft scheduled for delivery in 2004 is $2.195 million (IFR equipped, eight-place commuter interior), but Conrad said all -HPs ordered with executive interiors would be closer to $2.5 million.