Ibis JV makes debut with multi-role single

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Mark Hannant

It's the aviation equivalent of the imagined offspring of Vaclav Havel and 'Ah Mei': half Czech poet, half Taiwanese songstress. The Ae270 is the first fruit of the union of Czech airframe manufacturer Aero Vodochody and Aerospace Industrial Development (AIDC) of Taiwan.

The Ae270 - the first product from Ibis Aerospace, the joint venture company the two have formed - is an eight-seat single-engine aircraft. It was unveiled in Prague in December 1999 to coincide with Aero Vodochody's 80th anniversary.

The prototype will make first flight by the end of March and Ibis plans to have the first derivative certified in mid-2001. It plans to deliver eight to 10 from the last quarter of 2001 into 2002. Powered by a Pratt & Whitney PT6A engine, the Ae270P will have a range of 2,300km (1,230nm) at 19,500ft (6,000m).

The ready-to-fly $1.9 million price tag puts it in competition with the Cessna Caravan and Pilatus PC12. Prospective buyers are likely to be owner-piloted execs and other general users.

The Ae270 is designed for multi-purpose configuration and has a cargo door as standard. "A derivative adapted to special-mission capabilities will extend the marketability of the aircraft," says marketing director Jeffrey Conrad, here at the show under the AIDC banner (Stand A235).

Histories

"While both companies have long histories in the aviation industry, neither is particularly well known outside its own region," says Conrad. But that he believes may turn out to be an advantage in other ways.

"What we might see is strong sales in the non-traditional markets of Taiwan and Eastern Europe, though I would expect 50% of sales to be in North America."