GippsAero (Hall 1 Stand D2) is currently flight-testing its new $1.3 million GA10 turboprop single and anticipates certification by May 2013. Because so much of the GA10 is based on the current GA8 piston-powered Airvan, the Australian company’s marketing manager Mark McNamara expects an expeditious certification program using one or two aircraft. “We’re excited to have the aircraft flying and headed toward certification,” he said.
Last summer Gipps announced that it would build a stretched turboprop version of the GA8 and that it would expand its global sales and service footprint. The 10-passenger GA10 is powered by a 715-shp Rolls-Royce M250-B17F/2 engine.
The GA10 will be certified on fixed gear and floats. Preliminary data indicates the aircraft will have a maximum takeoff weight of 4,450 pounds and be able to carry eight passengers with a full 500-gallon fuel load that delivers an endurance of approximately five hours at 150 knots.
The aircraft will be built at the Gipps Latrobe factory in Victoria, Australia. McNamara said work also is continuing on the GA18 twin turboprop now targeted for certification in 2014. That aircraft is based on the N24 Nomad. “But right now, our focus is on the GA10,” McNamara said.
Market interest in the aircraft has been strong, especially from skydiving clubs and “budget-conscious governments” that are interested in the GA10 for tactical use, including observation, surveillance, re-supply and personnel drops, he added.
To accommodate the wide range of possible missions, Gipps is developing a variety of interior configurations: skydiving, aerial survey, aerial surveillance, freight and passenger, including an “executive style” option, among others, McNamara said.
Gipps is currently building its worldwide dealer and service network and plans to announce the appointment of additional authorized representatives in the U.S., Canada, Europe and other markets throughout the remainder of the year. In the U.S., the company is hoping to add seven more dealers. McNamara thinks the GA10 will do particularly well in Canada as a replacement for aging, piston-engine aircraft. He sees Europe as a more difficult market, but one with still plenty of potential.
“It’s similar to the U.S., although market conditions are not quite as favorable in Europe,” commented McNamara. “There are more restrictions on aircraft in Europe and the operational opportunities are more limited than in the U.S. and other places. It’s difficult to finance aircraft in Europe at the moment, but we are still getting sales there and we certainly intend to expand our market there.”
European skydiving clubs have expressed strong interest in the GA10 because of its low acquisition and operating costs, he said. “It’s less expensive than a [Cessna] Caravan and has a lower fuel burn than a Pilatus Porter.”
McNamara predicted that the company’s piston-powered, $699,000 GA8 Airvan likely will see increased sales in Europe once the company completes certification of a new, quieter composite propeller being developed by Germany’s MT. “Without noise solutions you are not going to get additional sales in Europe,” he said.
Flight tests on the propeller began in June and certification should be completed by year’s end. McNamara thinks the new propeller will reduce the aircraft’s noise signature by some 6 to 8 dB. He estimates the cost to retrofit existing GA8s with the new prop at $13,000.
McNamara credits Gipps’ recent progress in both new aircraft and legacy aircraft upgrade programs to its 2009 acquisition by India’s Mahindra Aerospace.
“Mahindra’s investment in the company has been vital to the GA10 and the GA18. It has provided the capital to make these projects possible. It’s been a huge benefit to the company,” he said.