Graham Warwick/WASHINGTON DC

Sino Swearingen Aircraft has received US Federal Aviation Administration permission to certificate its SJ30-2 light business jet under Part 23 commuter category rules, allowing a higher take-off weight.

The company plans to certificate the SJ30-2 at a maximum take-off weight of 5,990kg, above the 5,670kg limit for Part 23 normal category certification. Commuter category, created in the late 1980s to certificate regional turboprops, allows a higher take-off weight, but required an FAA exemption from the stipulation that the aircraft be fitted with propellers.

Sino Swearingen plans to meet its European distributors later in this month to decide whether to seek a similar exemption from the Joint Aviation Authorities. The alternative, the company says, is to develop a 5,670kg gross-weight version for the European market, where there are operating advantages - including lower landing fees - associated with a lighter aircraft.

Sino Swearingen is the first company to receive such an exemption, which it believes "...opens the door for a new generation of more capable and more efficient Part 23 light business jets". The higher gross weight will enable the SJ30-2 to carry 315kg more payload. At a 5,990kg gross weight, the aircraft will carry three passengers and a pilot 4,620km, compared with 4,070km at a 5,670kg gross weight.

The decision to redesign the SJ30-2 for the higher weight has delayed certification and first deliveries until the end of 1999. The first of three flight-test aircraft is scheduled to fly at the end of this year. European certification is expected to lag US approval by about a year, the company says.

Source: Flight International