German aircraft builder plans to incorporate customer feedback before launching flight test programme for four seater

Grob will start taking customer commitments for its four-seat G140TP from June once it freezes the design of the single turboprop corporate aircraft.

Grob, based at Tussenhausen near Munich, says it has incorporated customer feedback since launching the product at last year's Paris air show (Flight International, 26 June -2 July 2001). Despite considerable interest, the manufacturer has had to delay development due to the entry into production of the G120 trainer. Grob is wary of diversifying too far from its core market of military trainers, says Hans Doll, aerospace division sales director, following two aborted high-altitude powered glider projects in the 1990s.

Doll says that although the product has received serious enquiries, the company was reluctant to take any financial commitments until it had completed the design. The aircraft is based on its aerobatic military trainers, but Grob expects half G140TP customers to come from the civil market. The company says several air forces are interested in acquiring the aircraft for mixed aerobatic training and utility roles, but the aircraft will also be marketed to the owner-flown community, which currently "under-utilises" six-seat aircraft, but needs greater speed than a piston. Fuel supply and cost concerns are also driving demand for smaller turboprops, says Doll, who foresees a market of 20-40 a year.

In response to customer input, additional cargo space has been incorporated in the aircraft's all-composite tail for lengthy items, such as golf clubs or skis.

The interior has also been made larger for the rear two seats and the aircraft will be available with a pressurised cabins, only for the VIP variant. The company is in talks with a US completion centre for VIP interiors.

Grob will start G140 test flights late in the second quarter and expects to impose a design freeze soon after. The company will then start accepting commitments for the $1 million aircraft. Flight testing will take a year, leading to European JAR-23 certification "possibly" by mid-2003, says Doll.

The Rolls-Royce 250-B17F-pow-ered aircraft has a maximum cruise speed of 215kt (395km/h) and a maximum range of 2,130km (1,150nm).

Source: Flight International