Czech general aviation aircraft manufacturer Evektor is hoping to fly its second EV-55 Outback – the first production-conforming aircraft – later this year.

The company is also seeking to secure a tranche of investment to complete development and bring the twin-engined turboprop to market in 2016. The Kunovice-headquartered company has secured 11 deposits to date, including nine from Russian launch customer AeroGeo.

The geophysical exploration company, which has a further 20 options for the EV-55, plans to use the 14-seat aircraft for passenger transportation in Siberia. Four aircraft will be used in the certification programme. The first EV-55 prototype (sn001) made its maiden flight early last year, and has logged 135 flying hours in 168 flights.

“Tests have so far covered the aircraft’s initial flight characteristics [and] performance during take-off, climb, cruise and landing, as well as handing characteristics at different centre of gravity positions,” says Evektor marketing manager Petr Grebeníček

Ground testing is well underway on sn002, Grebeníček says, adding: “Strength testing of the wing flaps, elevator, undercarriage, landing gear, rudder and control circuits is complete.

“We have also finished dynamic testing of the pilot seat, drop tests of the undercarriage and ground testing of the hydraulic system.”

The production-conforming aircraft (sn003) – equipped with a CMC Smartdeck avionics suite – will be used for systems testing, while sn004 will be used for fatigue testing.

The programme is funded by Evektor, while a financial grant has also been provided by the Czech government. “We are working hard to secure sufficient funding from other sources,” Grebeníček says.

He admits the sluggish business and general aviation market, coupled with a poor economic climate, has hampered Evektor’s attempts to secure private investment. The lack of funding has slowed development of the high-wing aircraft, which was originally slated for certification in 2013.

“Despite the fragile economic climate we are quite sure that [the] EV-55 fits [the] needs of utility operators,” Grebeníček says “We are working hard to bring the EV-55 into the market as soon as possible.”

The Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-21-powered EV-55 is Evektor’s first foray into the business and utility aircraft market. The company made its name in ultralights and light sport aircraft, of which it has sold more than 1,000 worldwide.

Evektor says its objective with the EV-55 is to replace the huge fleets of “obsolete” six- to nine-seat piston twins – including Cessna 402/404s – and be a “successful competitor” to its single-engined rivals, such as the Pilatus PC-12 and the Cessna Caravan.

The Outback is also being pitched at charter operators in the developing world which use Cessna 402/404s, Antonov An-2s or other veteran types.