Kate Sarsfield/LONDON


Safire Aircraft is to develop two jet-powered aircraft aimed at business and private owners. Both aircraft are in the conceptual design stage.

The first machine, the Safire S-26, is a six-seat, composite, entry-level business jet, powered by two Williams FJX-2 turbofans, and being developed as part of NASA's General Aviation Propulsion programme.

"The aircraft is comparable in weight and cost to high-end piston aircraft, nearly matches the speed and comfort of entry-level business jets and has lower operating costs than a single-engine turboprop," says Safire president Michael Margaritoff.

He claims the $800,000 S-26 "-will be four times less expensive than the [Cessna] CitationJet and three times less expensive than the [Pilatus] PC-12".

The twinjet will offer a maximum range of 3,000km (1,600nm) and a cruise speed of 360kt (670km/h). "With a maximum take-off weight of 4,500lb [2,050kg], the S-26 can replace the piston twin-engined aircraft, which have not evolved for years," Margaritoff adds.

The company, based in West Palm Beach, Florida, is in the middle of seeking investment to fund the programme through certification. "We need $5 million for the first phase of the programme which involves putting our engineering team together, and a further $37 million for aircraft development," says Margaritoff.

Safire estimates that it can achieve sales of around 320 S-26s a year within five years after the first delivery, scheduled for 2003.

Safire's second composite design, the S-12, which will not be developed until the S-26 has entered full-scale production, is a single-engined two-seat private jet, also powered by the FJX-2.

The S-12 will have a maximum take-off weight of 950kg, a cruise speed of 350kt and a range of 2,780km.

Source: Flight International