BURT RUTAN is evaluating two requests to take his Boomerang asymmetrical twin into production. The twin-boom aircraft was originally built by Rutan's Scaled Composites as a one-off personal transport.

Rutan says that he would make changes to the Boomerang before it entered production. These include a lower wing-loading; intercooled engines, providing a higher critical altitude; and a bigger cabin with easier forward entry. On the Boomerang, the pilot's windshield slides aft to provide access to the front seats.

The five-seat Boomerang is powered by two 150kW Textron Lycoming TIO-360s, mounted in the nose of the main fuselage and the long parallel boom on the left side. The wing is forward swept and an unswept horizontal tail connects the two booms, which each have a vertical tail. The identity of those interested in commercial production has not been released.

Rutan conceived the configuration to "-provide a lot of performance on small engines", while eliminating the single-engine asmmetric-handling problems experienced with conventional piston twins. He says that it offers long range, a large baggage volume (in the boom) and a wide centre-of-gravity range. Cruise speed is 265kt (490km/h), which Rutan says is "40kt faster than a [Beech] Baron on two-thirds the horsepower".

The Boomerang was built also to demonstrate a proprietary low-cost manufacturing process developed by Mojave, California-based Scaled Composites. This technique will be used on the Visionaire Vantage single-engined business jet, airframes for which will be manufactured by Rutan at a new subsidiary, Scaled Technology Works, in Montrose, Colorado.

- Scaled Composites has flown what is believed to be the testbed for the Williams FJX-2 low-cost turbine engine being developed under NASA's General Aviation Propulsion (GAP) programme.

Williams plans to unveil its GAP testbed at the Experimental Aircraft Association Oshkosh show in late July. The one-off aircraft will be powered initially by two FJX-1 interim engines, with flight-testing of the 3kN (700lb)-thrust FJX-2 engine to begin around 2000, towards the end of the four-year, $100 million, programme.

Source: Flight International