The owners of the Grob SPn are looking to resurrect the light business jet programme, seven years after the project was halted following the insolvency of its developer, Grob Aerospace.
“The climate is more favourable to the light jet sector now,” says Niall Olver, co-owner of Allied Aviation Technologies which retains the design and brand rights to the SPn, plus two flying prototypes, two in-build aircraft and tooling. These are all stored in Germany where one of the prototypes continues to fly on a regular basis.
Olver admits that the lower end of the business aircraft market has struggled since the 2008 downturn, hampering any attempts to revive the SPn – which had an orderbook of 100 before Grob’s collapse.
The launch of the Pilatus PC-24 in 2013 and the overwhelming market response to the “super versatile” light twin has provided a catalyst for the relaunch.
“The PC-24 has endorsed the concept for a utility business jet like the SPn,” says Olver, who is also chairman of business aviation services provider ExecuJet Aviation.
“Although the PC-24 is bigger, the SPn is as versatile [can land on paved or unpaved runways] and has a similar range,” he continues.
“The SPn is still incredibly well-placed in the market. With the light business jet sector starting to recover, this could be the time to resurrect the programme.”
Olver says reviving the all-composite twinjet could come about through a partnership with an existing manufacturer or by selling the programme to an interested party.
Meanwhile, Olver says he is unable to comment on the rumour that ExecuJet is about to be sold to leading European charter company Luxaviation.
“All I can say is that the charter industry is too fragmented and desperately needs consolidating,” he asserts.
Twenty-year old ExecuJet is one of the biggest business aviation services providers in the world with a charter and management fleet of over 160 aircraft along with 19 fixed base operations and a dozen maintenance facilities worldwide.
Luxaviation is also remaining tight-lipped on the speculation, but it has made no secret of its ambition to become the largest business aircraft operator in the world after NetJets.
The Luxembourg-based company plans to boost its fleet from 100 to 500 aircraft by the end of the decade through what it calls “strategic acquisition” of operators across the globe.
Six-year-old Luxaviation started down the acquisition trail in October 2011 with the purchase of Germany’s FairJets. Since then it has snapped up four other European operators including the UK's London Executive Aviation.