Kate Sarsfield/LONDON

Century Aerospace has signed the first of five risk-sharing partners to help fund and develop its Century Jet CA-100. The remaining contractors will be announced at the US National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) convention in October, a year after the six-seat aircraft was transformed from a single to a twin.

SGL Carbon Composites of Gardena, California, has secured a $60 million contract to build the Century Jet's carbon composite fuselage over "a number" of years. "The scope of the work covered under the partnership includes all composite structures, including the forward fuselage and aft fuselage shells, tailcone and wing/body fairings and aft pressure bulkhead," says Century sales and marketing director Don Coburn.

Albuquerque, New Mexico-based Century is lining up the remaining key partners to design and manufacture the wings, composite parts and metal components. "The subcontractors will build the aircraft parts and ship them to Century for final assembly," says Coburn. The manufacturer is seeking an assembly plant in the USA, and is in discussions with several states offering attractive business packages.

Century plans to complete windtunnel testing by the end of this quarter, when production tooling on the first of four prototypes, two flying and two static, will begin. The first CA-100 is scheduled for first flight in the second quarter of 2001, followed by certification and first deliveries in 2002 and 2003, respectively. The $2.6 million price tag of the CA-100, the launch aircraft for the Williams FJ33-1 turbofan, is likely to be raised to cover the increase in development costs.

Century has 50 orders for the aircraft and is believed to have secured substantial investment to fund the programme to production certification, although the manufacturer declines to release details until the NBAA show.

Source: Flight International