Mahindra Aerospace's Australian GippsAero unit has received certification for its GA10 aircraft from both Australian and US regulators.

The certification from both the Civil Aviation Authority of Australia the US Federal Aviation Administration came within the last month, says David Wheatland, chief test pilot for the programme.

EASA certification is not immediately envisaged, but is likely to come after the aircraft has been in the market for a few years.

Wheatland, who also handles product support and other duties for GippsAero, is confident of the type's prospects. He says the GA10, which is powered by the Rolls-Royce M250 engine, fills a niche between GippsAero's piston-powered GA8, and the larger Quest Kodiak, which is powered by the Pratt & Whitney PT6.

The company is targeting several segments with the GA10. He declined to name customers, but says there has been significant interest in the aircraft.

"I can't say who is squabbling over the first aircraft - we take things deliberately and carefully," he says. "Customers include rural and remote community operations and services in Australia and the USA – and not necessarily in contiguous 48 states. This is an area where we've had good success with the Airvan 8."

He hints that a key market for the type will be Alaska. Apart from passenger and cargo transport – the GA10's cargo door is large enough to accommodate a pallet – other civilian applications include sightseeing and skydiving.

A key feature that Wheatland stresses is the GA10's mechanical flaps, operated by a cable in the floor. Wheatland says that pilots flying in and out of rough fields like the ability to move the flaps "up or down in a second."


Mahindra Aerospace

The GA10 will also be pitched for paramilitary applications such as littoral surveillance, border patrol, and police work. Weapons, however, are not envisaged.

"As soon as you weaponize something, it is subject to stricter export controls," he says. "The GA10 has a lot of US equipment. We can't just go around putting guns on it."

At present there are two GA10s flying. The first is a prototype designated X1, which is dedicated to research and development work. A second, P1, is representative of a production aircraft. P1 will eventually go to a customer, but for the immediate future it will mainly serve as a demonstrator.

The GA10 will not make it to the Oshkosh general aviation show later this month, but could make an appearance at the Singapore air show in February 2018. The type appeared in both the static and flying display's of March's Avalon air show near Melbourne.

As for production, Wheatland says it will start off slowly and gradually ramp up.

"We started with a low production rate, working with lead customers to incorporate benefits and enhancements," he says. "Carefully identifying lead customers is important, as we progress into deliveries."

He adds that the "sales book for the next few years is fully sold."