Mahindra Aerospace is confident of type certification for its long-delayed Airvan 10 from Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority in March, with US Federal Aviation Administration certification expected to follow shortly after.

Mahindra’s Australia-based aircraft manufacturer - formerly GippsAero - has been working on the stretched 10-seat version of the successful Airvan 8 utility aircraft since 2011, with its first flight completed in 2012. The design has changed a number of times, concedes Mahindra's business development manager Marguerite Morgan. The manufacturer was trying to achieve a family of aircraft concept, with the Airvan 10 being a natural progression from the Airvan 8.

The manufacturer has not started to take orders for the Airvan 10, but there is “good, solid interest”, adds Morgan.

Going through Australian and US certification concurrently has highlighted the increased costs faced by Australian manufacturers, says Morgan, with the manufacturer long complaining that Australian companies are not on a level playing field with overseas counterparts when it comes to certification.

She will be highlighting this fact in her new role as a member of the Australian Government’s General Aviation Advisory Group which was set up in February in an effort to improve consultation with the country’s GA sector and arrest the sector’s decline.

Meanwhile, no firm plans have been made for a third Airvan family member, with Mahindra originally planning to upgrade the former Nomad aircraft and relaunch it as an 18-seat Airvan 18.

“The total focus is currently on the Airvan 10,” says Morgan.

Some 240 Airvan 8s are currently in service. Deliveries of the type to China recently started, with the first five going to local dealer Shaanxi Jinggong General Aviation Company and already operating on tourist flights and freight work.

Mahindra remains hopeful of deliveries this year to Indian customers once it overcomes regulatory hurdles.

Alaska is proving a strong market for the type, with nine aircraft going to the country over the last two years, while five aircraft are being operated by the Californian Highway Patrol.

Morgan concedes that some component manufacturer has moved from the Australian facility to Mahindra’s aerospace component manufacturing facility in Bengaluru, India, but aircraft production remains at the Latrobe Valley, Victoria facility where 125 people are employed. Mahindra remains committed to the Australian facility, adds Morgan.

Source: Flight International