Morrow Aircraft plans to have the prototype MB-300 flying "by the end of the year" and says it is well on the way to securing the funding for its ambitious SkyTaxi concept, which it aims to launch in 2003.

The six-seat, pressurised twin piston MB-300 is based on the unorthodox Burt Rutan-design Boomerang "proof-of-concept" aircraft first unveiled in 1996. Morrow designers are adapting the design to increase cabin space by adding 250mm to the length, 100mm to the height and 50mm to the width, and have configured the aircraft with a lavatory.

The first aircraft is about a third of the way through construction at Scaled Composites' Mojave, California, site, assembly having slowed while fresh financing was secured. Construction of the prototype, made largely of composites and powered by digitally controlled Teledyne Continental TSIO-550 engines, forms phase one of Morrow's plan, for which $3.5 million is being raised.

The second phase will cover construction of two more aircraft for certification, while phase three involves certification, the start of manufacturing and the launch of the SkyTaxi service. Funding for the final two phases is expected to be raised through "additional private placements or an early initial public offering", says Morrow.

MB-300s are being tailor-made for the SkyTaxi service, which Morrow believes could extend US-wide by 2011. Morrow expects the SkyTaxi fleet to grow dramatically - from just three aircraft in 2003, to over 100 by 2005 and up to 4,550 by 2011. The SkyTaxi will be an "on-demand" air charter service, based on standard economy fares. To promote the service, Morrow is developing an on-line reservation system through which destinations, trip times and fares can be arranged. It is also discussing licensed manufacturing rights with several overseas companies.

Source: Flight International