COLOMBIAN manufacturer El Gavilan has begun flight-testing the Gavilan 358 single-engined utility aircraft. The second prototype - the first crashed in 1993 after engine failure - is being flight-tested at Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, and US certification is planned for later this year.

Designed and built at Lock Haven by General Aviation Technical Services, the Gavilan will be produced in Colombia. Four aircraft are on the production line at Bogota's Guaymaral Airport, and the first two will be delivered this year, says El Gavilan general manager Eric Leaver.

Leaver says that the $296,500 aircraft is designed as a "low-cost workhorse", capable of carrying eight people, four stretchers or cargo which can be loaded through a large double door. It is powered by a turbocharged 260kW (350hp) Textron Lycoming TIO-540 piston engine.

The fuselage is a rugged tubular-steel truss, covered by aluminium sheet. The landing gear is designed for rough-field operations, with a trailing-link nose-gear suitable for unprepared airstrips. Crashworthy crew seats will withstand 19G and passenger seats are designed to cope with 16G, El Gavilan says.

Source: Flight International