Testing of the Ibis Aerospace Ae270 Propjet single has reached a milestone of one lifetime of airframe cycles during testing, representing 20,000 simulated flight hours of stress and fatigue analysis. The program will continue to 80,000.
The first prototype aircraft has been in flight test in the Czech Republic since July 2000, and a second entered the program last January. A third conforming prototype that will begin flying at the end of the year will be powered by an 850-shp Pratt &Whitney PT6A-66 turbine that produces a maximum cruise speed at 25,000 ft of 270 kt.
“Based on customer input, the third flying prototype will incorporate a variety of optional equipment items,” said Jiri Fidransky, president of Ibis. “These include improved aircraft systems and avionics options.”
There are currently 69 orders on the books, according to Jeff Conrad, vice president of marketing, Ibis USA, in Kerrville, Texas, who added that FAA certification is expected by the end of 2003, with first deliveries taking place in the first quarter of 2004. The Ae270 will be certified for Part 23 single-pilot operation and eligible for Part 135 operation.
Conrad said that because the vast majority of pre-production orders call for delivery in an executive configuration, it’s apparent that the Ae270 be vying for the same owner-flown market niche as Pilatus’ popular PC-12, except at a lower price. “The Ae270 with IFR, de-ice, EFIS, and in an eight-place configuration will be just over $2 million,” he explained.
According to Fidransky, about 25 aircraft will deliver in 2004, and then be manufactured at a rate of 30 to 50 per year after that. He estimates as many as 1,000 units could be made.
Ibis (Booth No. 458) currently has eight distributors in North America, Australia and South Africa.