Kate Sarsfield/LONDON

A four-seat general aviation aircraft aimed at private operators is being developed by Italian design and engineering company Etruria Technology.

The Vagabond piston single is in the design phase, says Etruria. "We are about two years away from the maiden flight of the first [of three] prototypes, which are designed to comply with Federal Aviation Administration Part 23 certification," says Etruria president Alessandro Mazzoni.

Garlenda-based Etruria has adopted the "three lifting surfaces" design of the Piaggio P180 Avanti, invented by Mazzoni, and the six-seat single Molnyia-1, developed by Russia's Molnyia Scientific and Industrial Enterprise. This design reduces the aircraft's cruise drag and fuel consumption.

Other key design features include placing the engine behind the fuselage and wing intersection to minimise engine noise in the cabin. In addition, the wing is mated with the fuselage at a mid-vertical position, using a forward swept single structure canard wing made of graphite epoxy composites, and a single piece, horizontal tail made of conventional light alloy structure, and supported at the tips by two graphite tail booms.

The Vagabond will be available in two versions - the E180 and the E250. The E180 will be powered by a 135kW (180hp) Textron Lycoming IO-360B driving a two-blade, constant-speed propeller. The aircraft will have two integral fuel tanks in the leading edges of the centre wing, holding up to 200 litres (760USgal) of fuel. Cruise speed (at 75% power) will be180kt (335km/h) and range 1,000km (540nm).

The turbocharged E250, driven by a 185kW Lycoming TIO-540C, powering a three-bladed propeller, will carry up to 300 litres of fuel in its three tanks. It will offer a 345kt cruise speed and a range of 1,850km.

"The Vagabond provides a 30% improvement in performance over other piston-engined aircraft in its class," says Mazzoni.

Etruria plans to build the prototypes at its Garlenda site, where production aircraft will also be assembled. "We are looking for companies to provide manufacturing and maybe financial support for the programme. Although we have raised the necessary finance [through private investors] to build the prototypes, we seek investment to fund the aircraft through to certification," says Mazzoni.

Source: Flight International