SJ30-2 takes a break from tests for NBAA

NBAA Convention News » 2002
June 30, 2008, 6:31 AM

The Sino Swearingen SJ30-2 seven-place entry-level jet is making its debut here at NBAA ’02. Having arrived last Friday from the company’s San Antonio, Texas facility, the SJ30-2 will be on static display (No. 16) at Orlando Executive Airport through Thursday. Though Sino Swearingen has brought a prototype SJ30 to previous NBAA conventions, the SJ30-2 currently displayed is the first flying example of the production aircraft.

Powered by two Williams International FJ44 fanjet engines, the SJ30-2 can fly at speeds above 0.8 M and has an NBAA IFR range of 2,500 nm at 0.78 M and FL 450, sipping less than 110 gph. The SJ30-2 pressurization system maintains sea level cabin altitude to FL 410, reducing jet lag for the passengers and fatigue on the pilot. Sino Swearingen is certifying the SJ30-2 for single-pilot operations.

Taking this week off from its busy FAA certification flight testing schedule, the SJ30-2 on display is still packed with test equipment, although the air-data boom usually attached to the nose for flight testing has been removed for the show. According to Jack Braly, Sino Swearingen president and CEO, nearly one-third of the flight test program has been completed, with the program accelerating as a second test aircraft is brought online within the next week.

“The manufacturing is complete on Serial Number 3, and it is now in functional test,” Braly said during a Monday afternoon press conference here at NBAA ’02. “It will be transferred over to the experimental flight test department next week and begin flying in the next month.”

Braly said that the company is still on target to complete FAA certification by the end of 2003 “or first quarter 2004 at the latest,” with JAA certification following approximately one year later. Serial Number 4 was just removed from the main manufacturing jig, is currently getting systems installed and will join the flight test program early in 2003. Approximately one-half of the static test program is also complete, including the dramatic wing load limit test. Braly said that the company will start the final phase of testing–the fatigue test–next summer, but that the fatigue test does not have to be complete to gain FAA certification.

In the meantime, Sino Swearingen has begun manufacturing wing and fuselage components for serial numbers 5 through 10 at its Martinsburg, W.Va. plant. The company has decided to split manufacturing and assembly operations; components will be trucked from West Virginia to the San Antonio facility where assembly and test will take place. Currently, the Martinsburg plant employs 80 people, but Braly expects that number to grow to 150 employees by next March and to 350 people by September 2006. Approximately 450 people are employed in San Antonio.

The interior cabin mockup at Sino Swearingen’s booth (No. 2384) contains minor changes to the cabin design as compared with the test SJ30-2 aircraft. These changes, which will be incorporated into the production aircraft, include a new low-cabinet configuration, unique half-cabin-height partition and a recessed optional storage area that replaced a full-length coat closet. The new storage area has four coat hooks that fold out from the sidewall to accept hanging garments and retract flush with the wall when not in use.

“This is not the airplane that Ed Swearingen started with in the mid-1970s,” Braly said yesterday. “We’ve stretched the wings six feet, lengthened the fuselage five feet and upgraded to Honeywell’s Primus Epic system. As a result, we have a bigger airplane with more performance.” Braly quipped that the SJ30-2 is the “second generation of the plane that Ed never put into production.”

More than 150 orders for the SJ30-2 have been placed to date, with approximately two-thirds of the orders from U.S. customers and the majority of the remainder from European customers. During the press conference, Braly announced the signing of two new distributors to the company’s worldwide sales and support network: Business and Commuter Aircraft in Bron, France, and Sino Swearingen de Mexico at Toluca Airport in Mexico City. This brings the total number of Sino Swearingen distributors to 27.

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