Czech aircraft manufacturer Evektor is holding back first flight of its EV-55 Outback twin-engined turboprop until it gets the green light from the Czech army and the country's ministry of defence, which are supervising initial testing of the 14-seat, high-wing aircraft.

"The first flight - which was originally planned for the third quarter of 2010 - was postponed for administrative reasons," says Evektor marketing manager Petr Grebeníček.

He says that while the civil market is Evektor's primary target, it is also seeking military sales of the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-21-powered EV-55. For this reason "we have decided to perform the initial flight testing within the scope of military operations and this requires more time and effort [to plan] than originally expected".

Evektor EV-55
 © Evektor

Kunovice-based Evektor would not be drawn on a specific timeline for the maiden sortie, but says the EV-55 will take to the skies "in the coming months".

Grebeníček says that "the first EV-55 prototype - serial number 001- has passed all the pre-flight tests and is ready, from the technical point of view, for its maiden flight".

Evektor has also completed static testing of the horizontal tailplane, landing gear drop and strength, control surface and ground vibration testing.

The delay to the flight-test programme has not hampered Evektor's quest to secure investment for a second EV-55 production facility in Russia's Ulyanovsk region. "Along with our partners from Ulyanovsk, we are discussing with a strong Russian company about a possibility of establish a joint venture," says Grebeníček.

Although he would not be drawn on the size of each partners' stakeholding, Evektor is expected to have a majority share in the venture.

"There is a big market in Russia for the EV-55 from charter, commuter, cargo, special mission and military operators who need the versatility of this aircraft to access remote areas," Grebeníček adds. "The same can be said of other regions such as Australia, Brazil, Canada, India and the USA where we have also received very strong demand and a positive reception to the aircraft, which can use unpaved airstrips and high-altitude sites".

Russian-produced aircraft will be marketed in Russia and the CIS, and Czech-made aircraft will be sold in Europe and the USA.

Source: Flight International