Grob Aerospace is seeking new customers for the G115E primary trainer after the aircraft was selected by the Royal Air Force.

The German manufacturer plans to roll out and fly the first G115Es by the end of January, marking its return to full-scale aircraft production after a dearth of orders brought its assembly line to a halt last year.

Grob sales manager Dietmar Hoehn says the company is intensifying its efforts to find more takers for the G115E, adding: "We have had really good discussions with large potential customers."

The G115E's certification programme, involving the German and UK civil aviation authorities, is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 1999. This will focus on the introduction of carbonfibre composites to some parts of the airframe which were not used on earlier G115 models, says Grob Aerospace general manager Klaus Fischer.

Meanwhile, the UK Ministry of Defence is finalising its contract with prime contractor Bombardier Services, which was selected in July 1998 to supply light aircraft flying services for the RAF. The contract is expected to be signed this month, with Bombardier set to buy about 95 G115Es to replace the RAF's Scottish Aviation Bulldog trainers.

"We are preparing to deliver the first aircraft either in June or July 1999," says Fischer. Full production at the company's Mindelheim factory is due to get under way in the next few months when it receives a firm contract from Bombardier.

The Canadian company will not say when it expects to sign the final contract with the MoD, but points out that six months of negotiations were expected to follow its selection last July.

The Belfast, Northern Ireland-based arm will supply up to 50,000 flying hours annually across 13 sites in the UK, primarily to university air squadrons and air cadets. The MoD will pay for the services on a "per flying hour" basis.

Source: Flight International