Issoire Aviation has begun production of its all-composite APM20 Lionceau two-seat trainer and expects to deliver the first two by the end of the year.

The Lionceau was the first all-composite aircraft to be certificated by the European Joint Aviation Authorities, which approved the design in May 1999. Production preparations were delayed by work on a test programme for a drone, for Sagem, but the first batch of five aircraft is in construction at Issoire Aviation's factory at Puy-de-Dome, central France.

Lionceau commercial director Isabelle Bougro says sales of the trainer stand at 20, with initial production set at two a month. Development has been self-financed by privately owned Issoire, which performs aviation subcontract work, with annual sales of about Fr150 million ($21.4 million).

The Lionceau, priced at Fr620,000, has a cruising speed of 125kt (230km/h) and rate of climb of 669ft/min (3.4m/s). Take-off weight is 620kg (1,365lb), with power supplied by a 60kW (80hp) Rotax engine driving a fixed pitch propeller.

Issoire plans to introduce a new variant, the APM21 Lion, designed for aerial work such as towing and equipped with a 75kW engine and variable-pitch propeller. But "the Lionceau is our priority".

Source: Flight International