In a surprise announcement, Leland Snow, president of agplane manufacturer Air Tractor, said his company is developing a new passenger/utility turboprop airplane that will be put to work by the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI).
No specifications have been released, but Snow did tell AIN that the design is known as the Snow S-22 Surveyor and it will have a high-wing configuration and capacity for 10 passengers. It also will feature exceptional visibility and a high cruising speed, be powered by a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 turbine and be fitted with amphibious floats.
Snow explained that the DOI’s Office of Aircraft Services (OAS) has contracted to buy the first example of the new design, and that there is the potential for an additional 15 units.
“We began developing the S-22 because we saw a gap in the market between what was available and what was needed by organizations such as the OAS,” he said. “Apparently we were right, as the OAS stated in their initial request for proposal that they had not found an existing aircraft in production that would meet their needs.”
The Texas designer has a reputation in the industry for completing design and testing before announcing his new models. Since the S-22 design program was started last year, speculation is that it may already be under construction. All Snow would say is that photos and specifications of the aircraft, along with projected dates of certification and delivery, will be made available at a later date.
Air Tractor has manufactured more than 2,300 agricultural and firefighting aircraft at its factory in Olney, Texas, since its founding 30 years ago. Current models range from the radial engine AT401B to the world’s largest single-engine aircraft, the turbine-powered AT802.