FARNBOROUGH: Evektor EV-55 back on track following $200 million investment

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Evektor has secured a $200 million investment from Malaysian company Aspirasi Pertiwi giving the Czech design and engineering company badly needed investment to complete certification of its flagship EV-55 Outback utility aircraft.

The twin-engined turboprop was launched in 2005 but a lack of funding has slowed development of the 14-seater, which was originally scheduled for service entry in 2013.

Initially Evektor bankrolled the programme using company profits generated by its light sport aircraft range and other engineering projects alongside a Czech government grant.

However, says Evektor deputy director Petr Sterba: "This hasn’t been enough to complete development.But this latest investment should get the EV-55 back on track. We would like to secure certification within the next two and half years."

The $200 million funding from Malaysia will be invested in the Evektor group over the next decade with a view to creating a global brand in both the aerospace and automotive sectors, says Sterba, The EV-55 is the company’s immediate priority, however.

Sterba says it will use the initial tranche of money to complete certification of the turboprop, which it estimates will cost around $50 million. Future investment priorities include building a production facility capable of making up to 50 aircraft per year and establishing a sales and service centre network, he adds.

The first EV-55 prototype (MSN001) made its maiden sortie in 2011 and has logged 172h to date. The production conforming aircraft is now being assembled in preparation for its first flight early next year.

Powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-21 engines the EV-55 is Evektor’s first foray into the business and utility aircraft market. The manufacturer says its objective with the EV-55 is to replace the huge fleets of “obsolete” six- to nine-seat piston twins – including Cessna 402/404s – and be a “successful competitor” to its single-engined rivals, such as the Pilatus PC-12 and the Cessna Caravan.