Despite some vacillation on the part of airframe OEMs still studying the form their respective 90-seat turboprop might finally take, development of Pratt & Whitney Canada’s engine offering continues on what company vice president of marketing Richard Dussault called a critical path leading to expected launch next year.
Diamond Aircraft is exhibiting a mockup of a DA50 single with a 450-shp Motor Sich-Ivchenko AI450S turboprop engine this week at Aero Friedrichshafen 2013 in Germany. This engine would improve the performance of the seven-seat airplane, which was announced in 2006 with a 275-hp diesel engine as the DA50 SuperStar. Since then the SuperStar’s development stalled and it has yet to be certified, even though this milestone was originally planned for mid-2010.
Jim Rice, chairman and CEO of VisionAire Jets, surfaced at ABACE 2013 this week in Shanghai to market the benefits of a single-engine jet and tell potential investors about the program. VisionAire Jets is developing the all-composite Vantage Jet, which will be powered by a single Williams International FJ33-3AP turbofan and fly up to 1,500 nm with a pilot and five passengers.
The future of business aviation in China will include single-engine jets, so says Jim Rice, chairman and CEO of VisionAire Jets, who is here promoting the Vantage composite jet. Rice came to ABACE 2013 not only to show the Chinese market the benefits of a single-engine jet, but also to tell potential investors about the VisionAire program.
During a ceremony at ABACE 2013 yesterday, Beijing General Aviation Industry Base Investment Holding Co. (BGA) signed a contract for delivery of two Quest Kodiaks, with options for four additional aircraft, from Blue Eagle Aviation Investment Co. of Beijing, the exclusive distributor in China for the turboprop single. These Kodiaks–the first to handed over to a customer in China–will be based at Badalin Airport, near Beijing, and initially used for emergency disaster assistance, said Liu Mingde, BGA’s director of sales.
Qingdao Jiutian International Flight Academy signed a deal with Beechcraft Corp. at ABACE on Tuesday to purchase a King Air C90GTx. The twin turboprop, which will be used to train Chinese pilots, is due to be delivered in October, with Qingdao becoming the first private training academy in China to operate a King Air. “The C90GTx allows students to learn how to fly in a large, multiengine, pressurized, complex aircraft while offering flight schools the benefits of economical turboprop flight instruction in a very rugged and proven airframe,” Beechcraft said.
To show the PC-12NG single-engine turboprop on the ABACE static display, Pilatus Aircraft production test pilot Beda Rohner flew a long way, beginning at Pilatus headquarters in Stans, Switzerland. The brand-new PC-12NG departed Stans and then stopped in Greece, Egypt, Bahrain, Karachi and Calcutta. But before the airplane landed in Shanghai, the Pilatus crew stopped in Kunming for a unique flight demonstration for a new PC-12 customer.
Beijing-based Blue Eagle Aviation Investment jumpstarted the ABACE 2013 sales action with an order from Beijing General Aviation (BGA) for the first Quest Kodiak turboprop singles to be delivered in China. BGA has placed an order for two Kodiaks, with options for four more. The first aircraft will be delivered following its certification from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), expected this summer, with the second delivery to follow about six months later. Blue Eagle is the exclusive distributor for the Kodiak in China, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.
On its way to Shanghai, the Pilatus PC-12NG on static display this week at ABACE stopped in Shangri-La for a demonstration of the airplane’s high-altitude capabilities. When the turboprop single took off from Shangri-La Airport in Diqing (elevation 10,787 feet), it had a payload of 2,200 pounds. Included in this payload were six people, including two from the Chinese CAAC (aviation authority), a Chinese navigator and the pilot. The aircraft reportedly used only one third of the airport’s runway before lifting off.
Fresh off the shedding of its business jet division, Beechcraft Corp., in its first major international show since its February restructuring, is turning its focus at ABACE on its market-leading turboprop division. According to company chairman, president and CEO and Shawn Vick, Beechcraft has emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection with 80 percent less debt and the ability to triple its research investment.