Spectrum Aeronautical is preparing to manufacture a second S.40 test fuselage as it continues to refine its processes and manufacturing technology since completing the first demo fuselage in June.
“This validated our tooling approach, and the first fuselage demo was used afterward for testing,” Spectrum president Austin Blue told AIN. “We’re now making minor adjustments to the fuselage design, but the automated tooling we’re using to manufacture the all-composite fuselage is working as intended.”
However, there are no “fundamental” changes being made to the S.40 fuselage’s geodesic structure. Instead, “It was just made better,” he said. According to Blue, the automated fuselage winding process is still estimated to take only eight hours, giving Spectrum a huge production cost advantage over competitors.
Meanwhile, Blue is confident that manufacturing the S.40’s all-composite wing is feasible, though he admits there are challenges ahead. “Composite wings historically have been difficult to manufacture, but we believe we have a better way to do it,” he said, without adding any further details due to their proprietary nature.
After it completes another S.40 test fuselage and manufactures a couple of sets of demonstrator wing sets, Spectrum will build S.40 S/N 0001, a conforming flight-test aircraft. First flight of the midsize GE-Honda HF120-powered twinjet is set for late next year, with FAA type certification and first deliveries planned in 2011.
The company continues to take orders for the $6.795 million all-composite S.40 and, without divulging the number of orders, Blue said that Spectrum is “still doing well, even though the market overall has been down.”