Czech aircraft manufacturer Evektor is gearing up fly its first EV-55 Outback twin turboprop this quarter, kicking off a three-year certification programme with first deliveries scheduled to begin at the end of 2012.

"Installation of the hydraulic system is complete and we have pressurised it for the first time," says Evektor marketing manager Petr Grebeníček. "We have also tested the landing gear [extension, retraction, nose wheel steering] as well as flaps and brakes. The hydraulic systems are performing well."

The nine-seat, Pratt & Whitney PT6A-21-powered aircraft - which was rolled out from Evektor's Kunovice base in late March - is targeted at the large piston-twin utility replacement market in Africa, Asia, Australia, Latin America and North America, including the ageing Cessna 402 and Piper PA-31 Navajo or Chieftain.

Evektor EV-55 twin turboprop
 © Evektor

Evektor says the EV-55 has been "well received" by operators but it will not open the orderbook until the first flight is complete.

Evektor says the EV-55 has the edge on its competitors in terms of its take-off and landing capabilities (420m/1,380ft even in hot and high conditions), its 12.7m3 (450ft3) cabin and baggage compartment and its 220kt (410km/h) top speed.

The company says its has received interest from potential investors from inside and outside the Czech Republic to help it fund the programme up to certification and first deliveries. Evektor plans to eventually produce up to 50 EV-55s a year.

Meanwhile, Aircraft 002 is in production and will be used for stress tests while 003 will be the conforming aircraft for certification.

Source: Flight International