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SPn business jet could re-emerge under new identity

The Grob Aerospace SPn light business jet could be resurrected under a new name by the end of the year if discussions with an established airframer to take over development of seven-seat twinjet come to fruition.

Niall Olver, Grob's former chief executive and shareholder, who is leading the initiative to put the all-composite aircraft back into production, says he is in "active dialogue and due diligence" with a couple of original equipment manufacturers that are interested in developing the SPn and adding it to their product stable.

"The aim is to give an OEM the lead in the programme and they will be supported by a syndicate of private investors," says Olver, who is also chief executive of international business aviation services provider ExecuJet.

The SPn programme was halted last year when the company's major investor pulled out of the venture - subsequent attempts to raise investment for the programme failed and Grob was declared insolvent the following November.

Grob SPn

While Germany's H3 Aerospace relaunched the old Grob Aerospace training aircraft business under the name Grob Aircraft, the largest creditor retains the assets to the SPn,

"Having an OEM on board has huge advantages - the people and infrastructure are in place to support the programme, it removes many if the inherent risks of setting up a manufacturing company and it also gives customers and the wider market confidence in the product."

Olver says the critical design review that was undertaken before insolvency proved that the aircraft provides great value for the customer at the €5.9 million ($8.7 million) price point. "We know the SPn is incredibly well placed in the market and despite the economic downturn there is still a great deal of interest in the product and we plan to recreate our original market share."

He adds: "Perversely the recession has happened at a good time. Hopefully, when the aircraft is ready to enter market in three to four years from now, the marker will be in full recovery."

Olver says there is still work to do to before the design can be frozen. "The aircraft has to lose 240kg [530lb] of weight and undergo natural ice testing," he says.

Around €150 million is needed over three years to bring the aircraft to market, "but I am confident I can get the right team on board to make this happen - hopefully by the end of the year", Olver says.

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