LoPresti Speed Merchants has obtained the production rights and tooling for the two-seat SwiftFury sports aircraft, developed nearly 10 years ago by the former Piper Aircraft.

LoPresti, which designs and manufacturers a host of after-market kits for improving the aerodynamics of factory airplanes, launched the SwiftFury with Piper in the late 1980s, but the project was shelved when Piper went into bankruptcy.

The $175,000 Textron Lycoming-powered aircraft will offer a cruise speed 185kt, a gross weight of 2,300lb (1045kg); and a range of about 1,610km. LoPresti clocked up more than 560 commitments before the project was shelved in the throes of Piper's reorganisation. LoPresti plans to display the SwiftFury at the 13-15 April Sun ' n' Fun exhibition in Florida, to try to claw back a number of these customers and stimulate fresh orders.

The company is now seeking a manufacturing and production base, and has named Russell Springs, Kentucky, as a likely choice.

Work to return the aircraft "to an airworthy status" has already begun. The 18-month flight test programme is expected to begin in 2000, with certification and first deliveries following in 2001 and 2002 respectively.

Source: Flight International