Flight Design launches low-cost alternative to Cessna 172/183 singles

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German light aircraft manufacturer Flight Design has taken the wraps off its C4 piston single, which it hopes will revolutionise the flying training and owner-flyer markets by providing a comparable product to the Cessna 172, 182 and Piper P28 at an affordable price.

Full specifications of the all-composite aircraft, including the selection of engines and avionics supplier, will be made in the next three months and announced at July's AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

The news follows months of customer research into the type of aircraft that the market needs and the optimum time to launch the new design. "Comfort, range, performance and low cost were the key components of an aircraft, according to feedback from our customers and worldwide dealer network," says Flight Design chief executive Matthias Betsch.

"They also said that now would be the perfect time to launch a product," he adds.

Flight Design sees the C4 as a successor to the 172, 182 and Piper P28. "These 40-year-old designs cost around €300,000 [$430,000] and break the budget of many clubs, owner-flyers and training schools," says Betsch.

"The C4 on the other hand will have a price tag of around €220,000 [including a full aircraft parachute system as standard]."

The high-wing C4 is developed from Flight Designs's two-seat CTSW family.

Lycoming or Continental will provide the engine, Betsch says, and Garmin or Dynon the avionics suite. The aircraft's design empty weight is 600kg (1,320lb), and its gross weight is set at 1,197kg.

To help minimise unit costs, the C4 will be built at Flight Design's manufacturing site in the Crimea.

First flight is scheduled for early 2012, leading to European certification and first deliveries at the end of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013, respectively.

"We plan to build 40 aircraft in our first year of production, 100 in 2014 and up to 200 in 2015," says Betsch.