Comp Air believes t-prop single’s time has arrived

 - September 26, 2007, 2:15 PM

If you’re looking for evidence the single-engine turboprop is an aircraft whose time has come, Comp Air Aviation (Booth No. 8842) believes its Comp Air 12 is exhibit A. Powered by a 1,650-hp Honeywell TPE331-14GR engine, the Comp Air 12 is voluminous composite eight-place aircraft with a projected cruise speed of 310 knots at 30,000 feet and a maximum range of 2,535 nm with IFR reserves. Comp Air Aviation (CAA), based in Merritt Island, Fla., is currently conducting flight tests on the Comp Air 12 and expects FAA certification in the first quarter of 2010. Downing Aviation Association, an aviation consultancy, is assisting CAA in the development.

“A single-engine turboprop is something many people might want to have avoided in the past,” said Darrel Downing, CEO of the consulting firm. “Now we’re coming to where they belong in the marketplace.”

“It’s one of the fastest growing segments,” said Art Manni, Downing’s COO. “They provide a lot of capability in an efficient package.”

The development project is showcasing some of Downing’s capabilities as well as the Comp Air 12’s. For example, Downing used value index analysis to gauge the market for the aircraft.

“We take speed, multiply by range, cabin volume and balanced field length, and divide by price,” said Manni. “The higher the value, the better the airplane.”
By postulating different price points in the analysis, Downing’s consultants can chart a value curve. Downing estimates final price of the Comp Air 12 will be between $2.75 and $3.3 million.

Based in Gilbert, Ariz., Downing works with OEMs and startups, providing services including strategic planning, project management, contract labor, engine installation engineering and investor relations. In this last capacity, Downing is helping CAA search for investors. Manni estimates CAA will need $100 to $120 million to reach certification, and that sum doesn’t include construction of manufacturing facilities.

Meanwhile, Downing consultants have been in discussions with state, local and regional authorities about economic development incentive packages that will help determine where production facilities will be located. Downing estimates sales of about 70 Comp Air 12s per year.

“With that combination of capability and value, it will compete well with light jets,” Manni said.

Downing expects Comp Air will begin taking deposits for the turboprop single next year.