Enstrom Helicopter is turning up the heat in the closely fought piston single helicopter market with a new two-seat offering under development.
The Paris air show debutant says it is also looking to produce a new entrant in the light turbine helicopter sector to rival the new short light single being developed by Bell Helicopter and the in-production Eurocopter EC120 Colibri and Robinson R66.
"We want to offer a larger 5-seat version of our 480B but with more power and an asking price to rival our competitors," says Enstrom chief executive Jerry Mullins. "We are hoping to get the go-ahead from our parent company Chongqing Helicopter Investment [CQHIC] then we can press ahead with development".
CQHIC acquired Menominee, Michigan-based Enstrom in December last year from Segway inventor Dean Kamen. The investment firm has stated its intentions to expand the helicopter family, with Asia a key market for the existing and new helicopter lines. As well as the 480B, Enstrom also produces two piston-engined models - the F-28F and the 280FX - which will be built alongside the new design.
The two-seat, as yet untitled helicopter, will be pitched against the R44 and the Schweizer S-300 series in the hotly contested training market. The aircraft will be a smaller version of Enstrom's 280FX three-seat piston single.
"It will retain the 280's key features such as the unblocked tail rotor and the inertia rotor system, but it will have a smaller nose and tail and will be powered by a different [undisclosed] Lycoming engine," says Mullins.
"We are also looking at other features such as a graphite cockpit to make the aircraft as light as possible," Mullins adds. The aircraft is earmarked for certification next year.
"We hope to capture a large share Asian pilot training market, particularly in China where there is growing demand," says Mullins.
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