FARNBOROUGH: Enstrom sets out certification timeframe for TH180

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Enstrom Helicopter is preparing to fly its TH180 light piston-engined helicopter this quarter and says it will step up the sales and marketing effort for the two-seat single once it has established the aircraft’s performance characteristics.

Tracy Biegler, chief executive of the Chinese-owned US-based airframer, says the TH180 - a scaled-down version of its 280FX – is scheduled for certification in 2015.

The TH180 is targeted at the lucrative training school market and pitched against established brands including the Robinson R44, Schweizer 300 and the Guimbal Cabri G2.

“The helicopter training market has huge potential for us,” he says. “Not only does it help to drive sales of the aircraft but it introduces a new customer base to the Enstrom product line.”

Biegler says there is brand loyalty within the helicopter market. “We need to capture these potential customers early in their flying careers so they remember the Enstrom brand if they become helicopter owners."

Sitting above the $400,000 TH180 in the Enstrom line-up are the 3-seat piston-engined F-28F, the 280FX and the five-seat, turbine-powered 480B.

“We are also evaluating the market for a larger turbine single to sit at the top of our product line,” says Biegler. “This is a response to our 480 owners who want more seats. This programme will happen, but we don’t know when,” he adds.