Advanced Aerodynamics & Structures (AASI) hopes to clinch US type certification for its Jetcruzer 500 low-cost corporate turboprop by mid-1999, with first deliveries beginning by year-end.

The manufacturer, based in Long Beach, California, was originally due to begin deliveries by the end of 1998, but has suffered substantial delays caused by hold-ups over the transfer of a permit for its newly constructed manufacturing site. To raise an additional $8.5 million for the final phase of the Jetcruzer 500 development programme, AASI sold and leased back its 200,000ft2 (18,600m2) building to LaserLine Lease Financial on 22 February.

"Proceeds from the transaction will fully satisfy our capital requirements needed to enter production in anticipation of making initial deliveries in late 1999," says AASI chief executive Carl Chen.

Some of the hold-ups with the transfer to the new building have been connected with the setting up of a large autoclave for the manufacture of several composite structures used in the Jetcruzer. These include the aft cabin pressure bulkhead for aircraft 0003, which is in final assembly at the site. Fuselages for aircraft 0004 and 0005 have also been completed, says executive vice-president Gene Comfort.

AASI says it is still making final "tweaks" to enable the Jetcruzer to meet the 68kt (125km/h) stall speed target set for the aircraft as part of US certification requirements. Flight tests late in 1998 revealed the aircraft stalled at higher than desired speeds and subsequent testing has focused on reducing the stall speed accordingly.

"We are close to the target," says Comfort, who adds: "We are doing well on stall speed, and we are getting it as low as possible." The unconventional, pusher-configured, turboprop is fitted with a canard and was certified as "stall resistant" by the US Federal Aviation Administration in its proof-of-concept demonstrator form.

In spite of the delays, AASI says none of the 172 aircraft on firm order has been cancelled. "They are all good, non-refundable orders," says Comfort. He adds that, with the move into the new factory, the company is "-anticipating that we may even be able to catch up a bit". He reiterates that the programme has "-not been delayed by the FAA".

Source: Flight International