Start-up US Aircraft has changed direction in its plans to develop a low-cost counter-insurgency aircraft for use in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. After funding design of the A-67 Dragon by US warbird restoration specialist Golden Aviation, it is now working with Brazil's Geometra on an aircraft based on a design by Josef Kovacs, former chief designer of Embraer's EMB-312 Tucano trainer.

The original A-67 made its only flight last October, ending with a landing gear collapse. "We have learned from our mistakes, and we will not get where we need to with that design," says Derrick Wyman, chief of staff for US Aircraft.

A-67 prototype 
© US Aircraft   
US Aircraft plans to fly the new prototype A-67 within 15 months

The Ohio-based company now plans to base its A-67 on a scaled-up version of Kovacs' K52, a general-aviation aircraft strongly resembling the Tucano, after testing a Brazilian-built prototype. US Aircraft plans to combine features from both designs, Wyman says, but where the original A-67 had side-by-side seating, the new design uses a tandem set-up.

US Aircraft plans to fly the new prototype A-67 in Brazil within 15 months, says Wyman, and will seek Part 23 certification before launching production in Akron, Ohio. The aircraft will have a unit price of $4-5 million, compared with $6-8 million for a Raytheon T-6 trainer, he says.

Powered by a 1,250shp (930kW) Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-68 turboprop, the 4,620kg (10,200lb) gross-weight A-67 has an estimated maximum cruise speed of 381kt (706km/h) at 20,000ft (6,100m). Endurance will be 10h and external payload 1,620kg.

A subsidiary of US Technology, which produces the plastic media used for stripping paint from aircraft, US Aircraft is funding design work on the A-67, but seeks private investors to complete development and begin production.

Source: Flight International