New owner targets 2007 for first delivery of single-engined turboprop air taxi aircraft

Farnborough Aircraft (FACL), the new owner of the F1 single-engined turboprop programme, is confident of securing around $100 million of investment to fund production and is aggressively targeting first delivery for 2007.

FACL says it will raise funds from private investors and not through the internet, as was the case with F1's former owner Farnborough-Aircraft.com. The company sold the intellectual rights to the F1 to FACL following a shareholders meeting in July (Flight International, 16-22 July). Corporate financier Andrew Taee, who was due to take up the post of FACL chairman and chief executive on 1 October, has pledged to shake up the scaled-back programme, which has been proceeding on a piecemeal basis for months due to limited investment.

Taee says: "We aim to be taken seriously as a credible British aircraft company and will demonstrate our commitment to delivering [to investors] a commercial and profitable project."

As FACL finalises its business plan, Taee says the programme has to be realistic, measurable and deliverable. "As airport congestion worsens, over the next decade there will be a huge demand for air taxis capable of operating from small airfields. We must be in a position to meet that demand, but must learn to walk before we can run," he says.

FACL has appointed Adse, an engineering design company, to perform risk analysis and validation of the F1 concept with a view to finalising the design by the end of next year. "At this stage we plan to build four prototypes, two of which will be flying, and maybe one demonstrator," Taee says. The aircraft will be designed and assembled in the UK, but manufacture will be undertaken by "established" companies in Europe and the USA with which talks are under way. "We expect to build a minimum of 250 aircraft a year, but we believe there is [annual] market potential for around 1,000 aircraft," he says.

FACL plans to cut the F1 price from $2 million to under $1.7 million, Taee says.

Source: Flight International