Six-seat business aircraft to take on high-speed rivals TBM700 and Piper Malibu

Grob Aerospace has launched its G160TP Ranger six-seat, high-speed turboprop business aircraft. The G160 will be priced at under €2 million ($2.1 million) and is set to compete against high-speed turboprops such as EADS Socata's TBM700 and New Piper's Malibu Meridian (Flight International, 1-7 April).

The Ranger will be powered by the 640kW (850shp) Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-42 and have a cruise speed of 270kt (500km/h) at an altitude of 31,000ft (9,500m). Grob chief operating officer Andreas Strohmayer expects the aircraft to win the battle for range against the TBM700 - it can fly 3,300km (1,800nm) with seven 90kg (200lb) people on board, compared with the TBM700's 1,200km.

Strohmayer also says customers will prefer the G160's 1.42m cabin height over the Meridian for comfort, and over the Ibis Aerospace Ae270 Spirit for the all-composite aircraft's low maintenance costs. The aircraft will have a payload of 720kg, which Grob says is the largest in its class.

Grob is building the first prototype at its Bavarian facilities in Tussenhausen-Mattsies, outside Mindelheim, and the aircraft will start ground tests in August. The first flight is scheduled for September and certification by both European and US authorities is expected in the second half of next year.

"Far from selling the aerospace division of Grob, as some people predicted, the launch of the G160 provides us with a business aircraft platform for the next 15 years," says Strohmayer. The Ranger has been designed to be stretched easily and Grob expects to launch larger variants in the future, he adds.

The company says that although it would like to see a change in regulations permitting commercial operation of single-engined aircraft flying under instrument flight rules in Europe, it has not factored this change into its business plans and would break even by selling 20-30 aircraft a year.

Grob plans to ramp up sales and marketing activity in the USA by appointing several distributors this year and intends to do some completions at its Bluffton, Ohio, facility.

Source: Flight International