Only four weeks after assembling its first full-sized aircraft, Grob Aerospace has already had "several firm sales" of the all-new SPn Utility Jet.
Grob Aerospace president Dr Andreas Plesske is clearly happy with prospects for the all-composite jet, which is being campaigned by the German light aircraft manufacturer as providing "turboprop flexibility in a jet".
"Some customers signed up immediately they saw it," he says.
Hitherto best known for its composite motor gliders and trainers, and the record-breaking Strato2C high-altitude research aircraft, Grob Aerospace has turned its talents to a perceived market for a jet-powered utility aircraft with the short-field and cargo carrying performance of a turboprop.
"We have created a new category of jet aircraft," says Plesske. "The idea is to give customers jet performance coupled with the ability to operate from grass or gravel runways."
The SPn has been one of the best-kept secrets in the industry, all development having been carried out at the company's Tussenhausen-Mattsies factory without any leaks. "We've always been a rather private company," says Plesske. The aircraft was bought to Le Bourget for its first public viewing (in front of the Grob chalet A354) shortly after roll-out. First flight is due to take place "very soon", he adds.
EASA certification is set for the first quarter of 2007, to Part 23 commuter standard providing for single pilot and air taxi operations. The SPn Utility Jet will be priced at 5.8 million ($7.1 million), which includes eight passenger seats, forward toilet and a basic galley.
Swiss-based ExecuJet Aviation Group has been appointed the exclusive worldwide sales distributor and maintenance support partner for the aircraft. "We defined this aircraft together," says Plesske.
The secret of the Utility Jet's flexibility lies in its combination of a tough, carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) fuselage and wings combined with a new, ultra-strong landing gear, which Grob Aerospace says "permits hassle-free regular operations on unimproved runways which are usually the domain of turboprops".
The aircraft is powered by a pair of 2,800lb (12kN) thrust Williams FJ44-3A engines and will come equipped with Honeywell's APEX integrated avionics suite offering two 15in (0.4m) primary flight displays and two 10in multifunction monitors. A traffic collision avoidance system and enhanced ground proximity warning system will be included in the certified aircraft.
Cabin volume is 11.5m3 (405ft3) and headroom 1.64m. Plesske says the cabin can be changed in an hour from cargo to passenger configuration or vice versa, or be set up to accommodate half passengers/half cargo.
Source: Flight Daily News