Wolfsberg-Evektor Aircraft will begin accepting orders and allocating delivery slots for its eight-seat Raven utility aircraft in September, following the piston twin's first flight in August.

Raven designer and Wolfsberg Aircraft chief executive Alec Clark says: "We will only take firm orders for the Raven once we have clarified our production schedule. We don't want to offer slots on the production line and then not be able to deliver the aircraft."

The company is completing the first of six test aircraft - one for flight tests, one structural and four pre-production articles - at Evektor's manufacturing base at Kunovice in the Czech Republic.

The Raven will be priced at around $760,000 with basic instrument flight rules avionics. Powered by two 300hp Teledyne Continental IO-550-N8s, the high-wing, twin tail-boom Raven has a maximum take off weight of 2,700kg (5,947lb), a cruise speed of 240km/h (129kt) and a maximum range of 1,325km (716nm). The aircraft is targeted at the private, air taxi and medevac operator markets particularly in Alaska, the Caribbean, Australia and the Pacific Islands. "We have received phenomenal interest in the Raven so far and [to satisfy the anticipated demand] plan to manufacture about 24 aircraft a year by 2003."

Evektor is building and marketing the aircraft in central and eastern Europe, while Genk, Belgium-based joint venture partner Wolfsberg, has provided half of the development funding and will sell the aircraft throughout Western Europe.

US Federal Aviation Regulation FAR-23 certification is lined up for the fourth quarter of 2001.

Source: Flight International