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Grob seals Middle East orders for SPn light jet

The booming Middle Eastern market has given Grob Aerospace a huge fillip for its all-composite SPn light jet, six months after the fatal crash of its test aircraft threatened the programme's future.

Two Abu Dhabi-based operators have between them ordered six of the German-built aircraft, and the SPn's ability to use short, unpaved landing strips was a key factor in their decision.

Helicopter charter company Falcon Aviation Services is to take delivery of four SPns from July next year, with the light jets complementing three Gulfstream G450s on order.

FAS also operates two Agusta 109 Grands and two Eurocopter EC130s, as well as four helicopters on a search-and-rescue contract for the United Arab Emirates armed forces.

FAS general manager Philip Markham says the SPn's wide cabin door means the aircraft can be used as air taxis or air ambulances.

The company also opted for the Grobs because of their availability for delivery from next year and the fact that they have auxiliary power units, "which are essential for ground air conditioning".

Prestige Jets will take two SPns, including one that will operate a regular shuttle between Abu Dhabi and parent company Al Yasi Group's steel factory in Suhar, Oman, which has a restricted-use runway. Both aircraft will also be available for charter.

Prestige, which also flies a Bombardier Challenger 604 and Hawker 800XP, is relocating to Abu Dhabi International Airport from nearby Dubai. Managing director Faris Deeb says demand for small jets is picking up fast in a market that used to be dominated by large-cabin business aircraft.

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