Midsize Freedom jump-starts the GE/Honda era

NBAA Convention News » 2006
November 7, 2006, 9:32 AM

Spectrum Aeronautical (Booth No. 2142) announced yesterday that it has selected the GE/Honda HF120 turbofan engine to power a new $6.2 million (2006 $) midsize business jet called the S-40 Freedom.  

With the announcement, Spectrum becomes the launch customer for the 2,050-pound-thrust engine, currently in development and slated for certification in 2009. The S-40’s certification and first deliveries are “targeted for” 2010.

As currently envisioned, the HF120 will not require a hot-section inspection before its 5,000-hour TBO. Engine noise levels are estimated 20 dB below Stage 4 requirements and its emissions meet CAEP (committee on aviation environmental protection) 6 standards. GE/Honda expects to have a demonstrator engine in operation next year and plans to begin certification testing in 2008, according to Gary Leonard, president of GE/Honda Aero Engines.

Spectrum president Austin Blue said the Honda engine was selected because the company believes that it is more efficient than the Williams International FJ44. The Williams FJ33 was previously selected for the Spectrum 33, now also known as the Independence.

The company describes the 10,000- pound Mtow Model S-40 Freedom as “considerably larger” than the  S-33 Independence  very light jet, announced at NBAA 2005.  The composite-fuselage S-40 is aimed squarely at a market populated by the Learjet 60 and Cessna Citation XLS and, in the future, the Embraer Phenom 300.

Spectrum Chairman Linden Blue called expanding the company’s efforts to the S-40 “a slam dunk.”  In describing the new model, he said the Freedom “is just a scaled-up Independence.”

Blue claims the S-40’s direct operating costs will be 50 percent less than the those of $6.7 million Phenom 300 and 100 percent less than those of the $10.7 million Citation XLS. The S-40’s cabin is also more than a foot taller than the Embraer’s.

Spectrum is expanding its Spanish Fork, Utah campus to accommodate both development programs and has boosted employment within the past year from 80 to 120. Austin Blue said the company expects to add another 100 employees over the next 12 months. Spectrum is also employing a network of contractors used on the S-33, including Infusion Design for the aircraft’s interior and Analytical Methods for some of the aerodynamics development.

The S-40 is a 10-seat (one or two pilots, eight or nine passengers) design. Spectrum claims that it will have a service ceiling of 45,000 feet, a maximum range of 2,200 nm and cruise at 435 ktas. Preliminary dimensions call for a cabin that is 21 feet long with an internal diameter of six feet. The S-40 will have an estimated available payload of 2,400 pounds and a useful load of 4,710 pounds. The aircraft will be built with the same patented fibeX carbon-graphite composite used on the S-33. The cockpit will share the glass panel, sidestick and “qwerty” keyboard interface architecture with the S-33.

Spectrum will begin accepting escrowed deposits of $80,000 for the S-33 and $120,000 for the S-40 here at this year’s show. Linden Blue said he did not expect the fatal crash of the S-33 prototype last July to affect the timetable for either the S-33 or the S-40. “The schedule is the same as before the accident,” he said.  A “company conforming” S-33 is scheduled to fly next August.

He said that Spectrum initially expects to produce two of each aircraft model per week after certification, but could easily expand production capacity if needed. “If somebody wants a composite airplane, we expect to build it,” he said.  Blue says the company is fully funded with private equity from himself and a small number of outside investors.    

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