Start-up US Aircraft has changed direction in its plans to develop a low-cost counter-insurgency aircraft for use in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. After funding design of the A-67 Dragon by US warbird restoration specialist Golden Aviation, it is now working with Brazil's Geometra on an aircraft based on a design by Josef Kovacs, former chief designer of Embraer's EMB-312 Tucano trainer.
The original A-67 made its only flight last October, ending with a landing gear collapse. "We have learned from our mistakes, and we will not get where we need to with that design," says Derrick Wyman, chief of staff for US Aircraft.
US Aircraft plans to fly the new prototype A-67 within 15 months
The Ohio-based company now plans to base its A-67 on a scaled-up version of Kovacs' K52, a general-aviation aircraft strongly resembling the Tucano, after testing a Brazilian-built prototype. US Aircraft plans to combine features from both designs, Wyman says, but where the original A-67 had side-by-side seating, the new design uses a tandem set-up.
US Aircraft plans to fly the new prototype A-67 in Brazil within 15 months, says Wyman, and will seek Part 23 certification before launching production in Akron, Ohio. The aircraft will have a unit price of $4-5 million, compared with $6-8 million for a Raytheon T-6 trainer, he says.
Powered by a 1,250shp (930kW) Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-68 turboprop, the 4,620kg (10,200lb) gross-weight A-67 has an estimated maximum cruise speed of 381kt (706km/h) at 20,000ft (6,100m). Endurance will be 10h and external payload 1,620kg.
A subsidiary of US Technology, which produces the plastic media used for stripping paint from aircraft, US Aircraft is funding design work on the A-67, but seeks private investors to complete development and begin production.