Kate Sarsfield/LONDON

Europa is seeking partners to support its new two-seat, single-engined production aircraft, under development at its site in Kirkbymoorside, Yorkshire, UK.

An established kitplane supplier, Europa has secured over half of the finance for the project via private investment and government funding, but needs partners to provide further financial and manufacturing assistance. "We need the ability to do the functions we can't do already, and are open to any serious offers from companies that will support our cutting edge approach," concedes Europa general manager Keith Wilson.

"We have a long-term ambition to create a successful production aircraft, but with a different design approach," says Wilson. Europa is emulating the production process of the automotive industry, where cars are "designed to be built from the ground upwards", says Wilson.

This, he claims, eases the final assembly process, and production time is reduced considerably. Wilson adds: "A Japanese saloon car, for example will take around 18h to produce [by machine], compared with around 1,800h for a hand-built Cessna 172 single. By adopting the automotive approach, we aim to produce the aircraft in less than 250h, and our success will be reflected in the aircraft's price tag of around £50,000 [$79,000, around half the price of the four-seat 172]".

Although the design remains sketchy at this stage, Wilson confirms that it will be "unlike any other single-engined aircraft in its class". Based on a part metal, part composite structure, it will have a tailor-made advanced avionics suite and will offer low operating and maintenance costs, with the latter also based on the cost-effective automotive principle.

The aircraft is lined up for its first flight next year, powered by a Rotax 912S. Europa is eyeing other engines, including diesels, which may be offered as an option. The company expects to build about 500 aircraft a year, following certification in about 2002.

Source: Flight International