KATE SARSFIELD / LONDON
Czech manufacturer focuses resources in bid for approval of turboprop at home and in USA
Aero Vodochody is marshalling its resources to ensure the Ae270 single-engined turboprop, developed with joint venture partner Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation of Taiwan, achieves Czech certification in September and US approval in October. The move comes as the second production-conforming prototype, serial number seven, completes its maiden flight from Aero Vodochody's Prague base.
Ibis Aerospace, the joint venture's US-based marketing and sales arm, says Aero has moved engineers previously working on the company's military programmes and has appointed a vice-president of civil programmes, Zdenek Sykora, dedicated to Ae270 development and production. The restructuring has been prompted by the Czech government's decision last month to buy out Boeing's 35.3% interest in the company and pay Aero's debts, says Ibis Aerospace vice-president of marketing Jeff Conrad. "The intent is to capitalise this investment with a future stake in the company," he adds. "The negotiations are expected to be final by the middle of the year."
The 850hp (635kW) Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-66-powered Ae270 was originally scheduled for certification in December, but following customer feedback a number of refinements have been incorporated, including a rise in maximum take-off weight by 200kg (440lb) to 4,000kg and cabin pressure from 0.36bar (5.2lb/in2) to 0.38bar.
Ibis has clinched 82 orders for the Ae270 from its worldwide network of distributors. The majority of sales are for the executive version, called the Spirit. The Spirit interior is under development at Southstar Interiors in Uvalde, Texas.
The green airframe will be flown back to Prague early next month, Conrad says, and re-enter flight testing alongside serial number seven. The aircraft will return to Texas in July, when the completed interior will be installed. US supplemental type certification of the Spirit interior is set for November following US type certification of the standard Ae270. European, Australian, South African and Canadian certifications are planned for next year.
nIbis has named Air Touring as UK and Ireland distributor for the Ae270.
Source: Flight International