American Utilicraft has moved a step closer to producing the FF-1080 twin-turboprop freighter with the extension of a $50 million line of financing from a private placement securities company, 11 years after the idea for a regional freight feeder aircraft was hatched.

Swartz Institutional Finance has confirmed it will provide $50 million to American Utilicraft over the next three years in return for shares, which it says it might hold on to or sell to other investors. As an initial step the Lawrenceville, Georgia-based company has filed an S-2B small business registration with the US Securities Exchange to access capital.

"S-2B gives us access to Swartz financing which is $50 million to begin production," says Jim Carey, American Utilicraft executive vice-president. The company needs another $35 million of which an estimated $10 million will fund building the first of two planned FF-1080 prototypes.

The initial funding will kick-start detailed design engineering and US Federal Aviation Administration certification to FAR pt25. "We're looking at 12-18 months from now to fly the test aircraft and delivering the first production version around mid-2003," says Carey.

The revised FF1080-200 version would be powered by twin Pratt & Whitney PW127 engines and be capable of carrying a 5,450kg (12,000lb) payload over 1,110km (600nm).

Source: Flight International