Century Aerospace is negotiating with risk-sharing partners to help fund its Century Jet 100, which was transformed from a single-to a twin-engined business jet late last year.

Albuquerque, New Mexico-based Century has clocked up more than 50 orders for the six-seat aircraft, which is costing the company $48 million to develop.

"We are talking to three companies which want to build the fuselage and six for the wings," says Century Jet president Bill Northrup. "We expect to reach an agreement with two manufacturers within 60 days. One will build the composite parts and the other the metal components."

Century plans to complete windtunnel testing in June, when it will begin production tooling on the first of four prototypes - two flying and two static. "We are also choosing an assembly plant in the USA and are negotiating with states offering incentives to locate to their cities," adds Northrup.

The Century Jet 100 is the launch aircraft for the Williams FJ33-1 turbofan. It will offer a cruise speed of 370kt (555km/h) and a range of 2,775km (1,500nm), with a $2.6 million price tag. Certification and first deliveries are planned for 2002.

"We expect to produce about 20 aircraft a year in our first year of production, increasing to 50 and 60 a year after a couple of years," says Northrup.

Source: Flight International