In an effort to gain a foothold for its all-composite SPn light jet in the pivotal North American market, Grob Aerospace will announce at the show that it has appointed Stevens Aviation and Landmark Aviation to provide support services on the continent.
Bavarian-headquartered Grob has also signed Austrian-based Porsche Design Studio to design interiors for the SPn.
Spare parts and maintenance services for US SPn operators will be at Stevens' facilities at Greenville, South Carolina and Denver, Colorado and at Landmark's bases at Springfield, Illinois Los Angeles, California and Houston, Texas.
Grob expects to achieve US Federal Aviation Administration certification of the six- to eight-passenger, €5.8 million ($7.36 million) SPn at the end of 2007 - following European approval in October of that year - and start deliveries to US customers in early 2008.
Grob chief executive Niall Olver forecasts a US market for more than 200 SPns over the next decade, representing half of the worldwide customer base. The jet is targeted at the market segment occupied by aircraft such as the Raytheon Beechcraft King Air turboprop and Cessna Citation Excel light jet.
"The King Air has been in production for 40 years and still sells," says Olver. With the SPn, "you're talking about an aircraft that has most of the capability of the Excel at 65% of the price", he adds.
Porsche is designing two interior layouts - marketed as "Executive" and "Business" - and the first renderings are being displayed at NBAA. The first SPn equipped with a full cabin will be on show at the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition in Geneva in May 2007.
Grob expects to produce 40 SPns a year towards the end of the decade, but "we can quite readily go beyond that", says Olver. Grob is not revealing sales figures, but confirms it holds non-refundable, €250,000 deposits on more than 25 aircraft.
The second SPn prototype had its maiden flight in September in Germany, and became the first aircraft to fly with Honeywell Primus Apex avionics. The Williams FJ44-3A turbofan-powered twinjet will be certificated for single-pilot operation in the FAA/European Aviation Safety Agency Part 23 commuter category.
Grob was recently taken over by Swiss-based holding company Executive Jet Investments, which has since been renamed Grob Aerospace AG.
Honeywell power unit in commuter class jet debut
Grob Aerospace has selected Honeywell's RE100 auxilliary power unit (APU) to equip its SPn, establishing the aircraft as the only Part 23 commuter class light jet to be offered with an optional APU.
The full-authority digital engine control-equipped RE100 system weighs 100kg (220lb) and can be operated to an altitude of 30,000ft (9,150m).
Grob expects the APU - which can also be retrofitted to in-service aircraft - to be specified for roughly half of the SPn fleet, with the strongest demand from North American customers.
Certification of the RE100 on the SPn is expected in 2008, several months after first deliveries of the aircraft.