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Windecker nears start of Chinese Eagle production

Windecker Aircraft is hoping to launch assembly of a modernised version of the Eagle I piston-single in 2018, nearly 40 years after the original programme was cancelled because of a lack of funding.

The updated aircraft, known as the Eagle, will be produced in China for the domestic and wider Asian markets only.

Although the company’s Chinese owner, entrepreneur Wei Hang, is planning to unveil a clean-sheet piston-single next year for US and European buyers, little detail has emerged, other than the brand name of Tein Hu.

Windecker has built a 90,000m² (970,000ft²) manufacturing facility at an undisclosed location in China, and hopes to roll-out the new-generation Eagle before the end of 2018.

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Windecker Aircraft

The four-seat, Continental IO-520-C-powered Eagle I was the first all-composite aircraft to be designed and developed under US Part 23 certification requirements. Eight examples were built between 1969 and 1970 before the programme “succumbed to the effects of recession,” says Windecker.

In addition, the developer found it hard to break into a market dominated at the time by metal designs from established manufacturers such as Beechcraft, Cessna – both now owned by Textron Aviation – and Piper.

Chinese businessman Wei purchased the production rights and assets for Windecker Industries in October 2013, and commissioned the restoration of two Eagle I airframes.

The work has been performed at Windecker’s research and development facility in Mooresville, North Carolina, and involved "replacing most everything from the firewall forward," the company says. Refurbishment took place, to a "better-than-new" standard, of the landing gear, flight controls and mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and fuel systems.

One of the restored aircraft (N4198G) is being used for flight testing and will eventually become a marketing demonstrator. Windecker says it hopes to secure US and Chinese validation for the restored Eagle I in the first quarter of 2018.

The new-generation version will boast a host of extra features including a more powerful Continental IO-550-N engine, a three-bladed Hartzell propeller, a new interior and a Garmin glass cockpit.

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