The Grob SPn light business jet will feature an enhanced Apex cockpit, provided by Honeywell. Grob Aerospace had planned on using an earlier version of Apex but will offer the enhanced one right from the first customer delivery. This has affected the program schedule, however.
The enhanced Apex provides easier use of systems such as TCAS II and weather radar, Grob claims. Special attention has been paid to easing single-pilot operations. In addition, the enhanced Apex is said to have greater software processing power. This allows for optional equipment such as an enhanced-vision system (EVS). The EVS system will be supplied by Kollsman. The processed image will be shown on one of the three multifunction displays. It will be available for deliveries from the third quarter of 2008. Simultaneously available will be an auxiliary power unit. In the future, Grob will offer an autothrottle, an emergency descent mode and an electronic flight bag.
The second SPn prototype will be the first aircraft to be fitted with the new avionics suite. It is now pegged to fly in July, four months later than previously anticipated. The third and final flight-test article will be the first production-conforming airplane and will fly early in 2007.
The entire flight envelope has been opened already by the first prototype. So far, flight tests have confirmed performance figures. Some have even been improved. For example, the landing distance has been shortened by 10 percent to 2,670 feet (sea level, max landing weight, 50-foot obstacle, three-degree approach, 1.3 Vso, flaps at 40 degrees). Further improvements are expected, with the development of the antiskid system.
The SPn is priced at $7.1 million. The first customer deliveries are pegged for the fourth quarter of 2007. They were initially anticipated for the second quarter but the cockpit upgrade has slightly delayed the program.
Here at EBACE 2006, visitors can take a look at both the real twinjet (prototype No. 2) and a cabin mockup in a six-seat configuration. They will notice that Booth No. 578 features both Grob and Execujet Aviation Group. Under a partnership agreement, the former is in charge of design and production of the SPn. Execujet, a Swiss-based company, is responsible for sales and support.
Orders so far have come from Europe, Africa and the U.S. The first year of production–around 15 aircraft–is already accounted for. This fall, at the NBAA Convention, Execujet is to announce a partnership to establish a service center network in North America.