German aerospace manufacturer aims for utility market with entry-level launch

German trainer specialist Grob Aerospace launched its first turbofan aircraft at the show this week, aiming its SPn Utility Jet at the utility market.

Grob diversified from military ab initio piston trainers into the business aviation market with the launch of the G160TP Ranger turboprop at the last Paris air show (Flight International, 17-24 June 2003). The SPn marks its first foray into the increasingly crowded entry-level jet market. Grob is aiming the quick-change, eight-seater all-composite aircraft at the turboprop utility aircraft replacement market, as well as owner-flyers, promoting its payload/range capability and short-field performance.

The aircraft will have a range of 3,340km (1,800nm) with six passengers, or 3,090km with eight. Maximum payload is 1,130kg (2,490lb), with a total cabin volume of 12.8m3 (405ft3), which is larger than any comparable microjet, the company says. The SPn can land on runways with a field length of around 900m (3,000ft), including unprepared strips due to its reinforced landing gear. Grob says the specifications and a large cargo door make it ideal to replace rugged performance utility turboprops, but adds that its cabin headroom of 1.64m also makes it suitable for air taxi use.

The 2,800lb-thrust (12.5kN) Williams J44-3A-powered Utility Jet will be largest private jet to be certificated for single-pilot operation. Grob also predicts sales in the owner-flyer segment.

The avionics have yet to be decided, with Grob looking at advanced glass cockpits, such as the Honeywell Apex integrated suite.

Global sales distributor of the €5.8 million ($7.3 million) aircraft will be Swiss business aviation services company ExecuJet Aviation. ExecuJet’s marketing director for the Utility Jet project Charles Porteous says: “There are two potential markets, the installed fleet of 10,000 utility turbo­props and the light jet market.” ExecuJet forecasts sales of around 400 aircraft over 10 years for the utility business jet market, in which it is the sole player.

Grob is targeting European certification for the first quarter of 2007 and US approval and first deliveries for the second quarter.

Grob aerospace

Source: Flight International