Ibis Aerospace is set to start flight testing its first production-standard Ae270 Spirit single-engined turboprop at the end of the month and says it is on target for Czech Republic certification in the fourth quarter.

"The aircraft is the fifth test article and third flying prototype and will be used for the main portion of the certification process," says Ibis Europe's sales director Karel Sovak.

The Czech-Taiwanese joint venture says that to speed up the certification and delivery process it will first seek approval for the eight-seat commuter variant and then for the more popular five-seat executive version. "The supplemental type certificate for the executive Spirit will require minor cabin modifications, including relocating the cabin lighting and air ducts," Sovak adds. Around 90% of the 73 orders already received for the 635kW (850hp) Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-66-powered aircraft are from VIP customers, he says.

Ibis is in talks with a soon-to-be- named US cabin completions specialist to supply the interior for the Spirit. "Until we have the capacity to build the interiors ourselves, we will ship the parts from the USA for installation in our [Odolena Voda] Czech Republic base," Sovak says.

US FAA certification is set for the first quarter of next year, with first deliveries expected to follow soon after. "Around 15 aircraft will be built in 2004, increasing to around 25 in 2005," says Sovak. European JAA certification is expected in the fourth quarter of next year.


Source: Flight International