Andrzej Jeziorski/MUNICH

German light aircraft manufacturer Extra Flugzeugbau expects to complete certification of work on its new Extra 330 aerobatic aircraft by the end of March.

The aircraft, an upgraded version of the Extra 300, has a more powerful engine and "much better manoeuvrability" for competition flying, says the manufacturer. Extra says that, although the existing versions of the Extra 300 - powered by a 224kW (300hp) Textron Lycoming AEIO-540-L1B5 flat-six engine - were selling well, competition pilots required more power for some manoeuvres.

The new aircraft, powered by a 245kWLycoming AEIO-580, has a reinforced structure and larger aerodynamic control surfaces. Unlike the 300, the 330 is only offered as a single-seater, with the airframe based on the Extra 300S.

One aircraft has been modified to the 330 configuration to date, and has been undergoing test flying since early January. The manufacturer says that around 10-12 customers are already interested in signing contracts for the aircraft.

German and US certification is being completed in parallel, and is expected in March, says Extra. The basic price of the aircraft is predicted to be in the region of DM350,000 ($195,000). At the same time, the smaller, two-seat Extra 200 aerobatic/training aircraft is meeting cost problems. The type, first flown in 1996, was intended as a cheap, DM220,000 alternative to the 300.

The manufacturer claims that the aircraft has been selling well, with some 20-30 sold. Yet the planned price fails to cover the aircraft's production costs, and has been creeping close to the DM300,000 mark.

US certification of the company's Extra 400 tourer is now also expected by the end of March, following delays connected with the planning and co-ordination of stability and fatigue tests. The aircraft has had limited type certification in Germany, with restriction on flying in instrument flight conditions, icing conditions and use of the pressurised cabin, since April 1997.

Nine firm orders have been taken for the aircraft to date, with "several more" customers standing by for the Federal Aviation Administration certificate. Extra says it plans to nearly double its workforce of 130 to accommodate production rates expected for the tourer.

Source: Flight International