Geci plans Skylander plant in Portugal

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French engineering company Geci International is hoping to finalise by the end of September funding of around €125 million ($161 million) from private and government investors to help fund a facility in Evora, southern Portugal to develop, manufacture and assemble the Skylander twin turboprop now under development, writes Kate Sarsfield.

Paris-based Geci is outsourcing to European subcontractors parts manufacture of the 15-seat light utility aircraft, which was launched eight years ago. The company has already signed a number of memoranda of understanding with French and Portuguese design and engineering companies, including Portugal's Pousada and Loare, as well as Mazeres Aviation and Lauac, based in Toulouse and Biarritz respectively.

"We are targeting a huge international replacement market for single and twin utility turboprops such as the Cessna Caravan and the de Havilland Canada Twin Otter," says José Elias de Freitas, executive board member of Portuguese investor Setúbal/Madan Science and Technology Park.

Design of the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-65B-powered unpressurised, all-metal, short take-off and landing Skylander is now complete and Geci plans to build and fly the first of two flying prototypes next year, leading to European certification and first deliveries in 2009. The Evora factory could manufacture about 72 Skylanders a year, it says.