Omega aims for light sport aircraft market

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New Zealand company Omega Aircraft is seeking partners for development of a new light aircraft, the Omega, to get a slice of the booming sport/light-sport aircraft market.

The aircraft has been designed by Bill Izard and Peter Bull with input from New Zealand's Auckland University. Izard is the son of local entrepreneur Richard Izard, who was behind the original Hamilton-based Alpha Aviation, which purchased the manufacturing rights and equipment of French manufacturer Apex Aircraft and transferred production of the Robin trainers to New Zealand. Alpha was sold to Australian company Inventis in 2007 and was liquidated earlier this year after failing to secure additional funding to address production issues.

Omega Aircraft has designed a number of variants of the Omega to suit aero clubs, leisure pilots and the training market. The basic Omega is a side-by-side, two-seat, all-aluminium aircraft to be powered by Powerplant Development's Gemini 100 diesel engine, producing 100hp (75kW).

The design features a rear sliding canopy, adjustable sliding seats, a large aerodynamic counter-balanced rudder and elevator with dorsal fin to aid spin recovery. It will have dual or single control sticks from a central pivoted point, with easy change from single to dual control.

Izard says he is talking to a "few interested people" on involvement in the programme, adding that he would need "a couple of million New Zealand dollars" to bring the aircraft to market. The plan is to produce parts for the aircraft in Hamilton or Te Awamutu in New Zealand, with final assembly to be in Asia, possibly at the former Clark air force base in the Philippines. "We could produce up to six a month after the prototype has been completed," says Izard, adding that the aircraft could also be sold in kit form.

Izard says the basic Omega will cost around NZ$110,000 ($80,000) - a third of the cost of similar aircraft due to the use of new-generation manufacturing such as match hole technology and design tools. Initially the New Zealand domestic market will be targeted for sales, followed by international marketing