Czech industry is hoping to use European Union funding to develop a family of five- to 19-seat commuter turboprops in a bid to find a niche for its aerospace firms, writes Justin Wastnage in Brussels.

The Association of Aviation Manufacturers of the Czech Republic (ALV) has received unofficial assurances that its cost-effective small aircraft (César) marketing and technical study will be a winner in the third round of the European Commission’s Sixth Framework research programme.

The EC is embarrassed that few contracts have been awarded to aerospace firms from the 10 countries that joined the EU in June last year and is understood to have been convinced by Czech lobbying to create European aircraft across the entire size spectrum.

The César plan, if selected formally, would use €33.8 million ($41.3 million) from early next year to launch a three-year study into the market for small commuters, and could lead to full-scale development funding in the more ambitious Seventh Framework programme, to run from 2007, says Milan Holl, ALV president.

The programme, backed by 40 participants from 14 European countries, aims to bring the technological advances of modern airliners to smaller aircraft. Holl believes there will be a growing demand for five- to 19-seaters for Europe’s regions.

Source: Flight International