French engineering consultancy GECI International is seeking partners to launch a small twin-engined cargo aircraft it is developing with the help of veteran UK designer Desmond Norman.

GECI is close to completing talks with potential risk sharing partners interested in final assembly and supplying items like the fuselage, wings, and landing gear.

Discussions are underway with several airlines, and an Asian leasing company, for a possible launch order totalling around 100 of the SB100C Skylander aircraft.

The company is best known for its work in designing the entire 728Jet fuselage for Fairchild Dornier. Geci recently floated 10% of its stock. Norman was responsible for designing the Islander and Trislander aircraft family.

Preliminary design of the aircraft is due to be completed in August and full development gets underway the following month. GECI says, however, that there will be no project without the partners being in place. GECI's involvement is limited to design.

The Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-65B-powered aircraft is capable of carrying 3t of cargo in three LD3 containers or up to 18 passengers. Norman, the designer of the Islander and Trislander aircraft built in the UK, has also incorporated a fixed undercarriage.

Bitboul says the aircraft's first flight is planned for 2004 with certification in France to JAR23 standards by mid-2005.

Source: Flight International