Advanced Aerodynamics & Structures (AASI) has announced a further ten sales of its Jetcruzer 500 turboprop business aircraft, bringing the total backlog to 86, worth around $103 million.

The Long Beach, California-based manufacturer hopes that sales will exceed 220 by the end of 1998, based on the current interest in the single-turboprop pusher. AASI says that some of this has been spurred by the start of flight testing of the first Jetcruzer 500, which began in December. Further tests are now under way, with US Federal Aviation Administration certification planned for mid-year.

The programme will eventually involve three aircraft, two of which are modified Jetcruzer 450s. Certification of the 500 is planned on an amendment to that of the 450, cleared by the FAA in 1994, but never manufactured for sale.

AASI spent $25 million in private funds to develop and certificate the 450 before raising an extra $32 million through a public offering in December 1996 to certificate the 500. The new aircraft is a stretched, pressurised, version of the 450, equipped with an uprated 635kW (850shp) Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-66A and Hartzell five-bladed propeller. It is aimed at the entry-level corporate market with a price of just under $1.3 million.

Building work has begun on AASI's 18,600m2 (200,000ft2) factory at Long Beach Airport. Construction follows receipt of an $8.5 million industrial-development bond from the state of California, and is due to be completed around mid-1998. The site will eventually house manufacturing lines for the Jetcruzer 500 and the twin-engined corporate Stratocruzer 1250, powered by two Williams Rolls-Royce FJ44 turbofans.

Source: Flight International