FAA gives go-ahead for amphibian revival

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A North Carolina-based firm owning the type certificate for the Grumman G-21 amphibian has received an initial US Federal Aviation Administration go-ahead to restart production of an improved version of the 70-year-old aircraft type.

The revived Antilles Seaplanes G-21 Super Goose will feature modern upgrades including twin Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A turboprops, glass panel avionics, carbonfibre composites and interior.

The first three aircraft are in the early stages of final assembly, with the first completion scheduled for the second quarter of 2009, says David Dyer, director of sales and marketing for Antilles.

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The FAA has given the company approval to start final assembly, and a production certificate is expected in eight months, Dyer says.

Antilles' business case is aided by owning the type certificate for the aircraft, Dyer adds. This avoids a costly and risky airworthiness certification process for the new product, and limits development costs to under $20 million, he says.

Dyer says the company has orders from private individuals for the first three aircraft. Multiple deals with FAR Part 135 operators are also "in the works", he adds.

Antilles expects the revived G-21 to fill a Part 135 void caused by the crash of a G-73 Grumman Mallard operated by Chalk's Aviation in December 2005. The accident, which killed 15 people, was traced to corrosion damage in the wing spar that caused the right wing to separate from the fuselage.

The new G-21 is being designed to carry up to 10 passengers or a total load of 2,500kg (5,500lb) at speeds up to 200kt (370km/h).