August 26

Piper M500 secures European approval after 20-month wait

Piper Aircraft has secured long-awaited European Aviation Safety Agency certification for its M500 single-engined turboprop, and has delivered the first locally registered type to a Swiss owner.

Piper president and chief executive Simon Caldecott describes the award ­– which comes after a 20-month wait – as an “important milestone” for the company.

“It allows us to kick off a major sales campaign to bring the M500 to the European market where Piper has already secured a number of orders,” he says.

The M500 received US certification in December 2014 and entered service the following month. The aircraft has also been approved in Brazil, Canada and Japan.

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Piper Aircraft

The M500 is an upgraded and rebranded version of the 15-year-old Meridian turboprop, featuring a Garmin G1000 flightdeck and a revamped interior. Flight Fleets Analyzer records a global inventory of more than 580 aircraft of which 35 are the M500 iteration.

Vero Beach, Florida-based Piper recently slashed the price of the Pratt Whitney PT6A-42A-powered aircraft by almost $300,000, to $2 million, as part of a strategy to reposition the M-Class piston and turboprop family and boost its appeal within an increasingly competitive marketplace. The M-Class line-up also includes the $900,000 Matrix, $1.3 million M350 and the flagship $2.9 million M600, which entered service in July.

“We have already submitted our application to EASA for the M600,” Piper says. “We look forward to working with them to achieve certification as quickly as possible.”

Article source: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/piper-m500-secures-european-approval-after-20-month-428733/

Category: Uncategorized
August 26

Airlander sustains damage after landing from second test flight

Hybrid Air Vehicles has confirmed that a mooring cable attached to the Airlander 10 hit a power line shortly before the airship crash landed at the end of its second test flight on 24 August.

However, in a statement issued on 25 August, the UK-based developer denies that the incident damaged the aircraft or contributed to the heavy landing, which partially destroyed the front of the gondola.

The airship had carried out a 1h 40min flight on 24 August, during which it completed “all the planned tasks” before returning to its Cardington, Bedfordshire base to land, HAV says.

YouTube/Operline RU

“The Airlander experienced a heavy landing and the front of the flight deck has sustained some damage which is currently being assessed,” the company said in an earlier statement on 24 August. “Both pilots and the ground crew are safe and well and the aircraft is secured and stable at its normal mooring location.

“Hybrid Air Vehicles runs a robust set of procedures for flight test activities and investigation of issues. We will be running through these in the days ahead as we continue the development of the Airlander aircraft. Further updates will follow in due course.”

A YouTube video appears to show the aircraft dipping at an angle of about 30 degrees for about 12s as it approached Cardington before gently hitting the ground. Images on social media also show extensive damage to the cockpit.

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Hybrid Air Vehicles

The incident came a week after the Airlander made its maiden flight, on 17 August. That flight lasted approximately 15min.

HAV has spent the past three years redesigning the Airlander for commercial certification after its previous guise as the Hav-304 for the US Army’s Northrop Grumman-led long-endurance, multi-intelligence vehicle programme, which was cancelled as part of budget cuts in 2013. The prototype, which had been designed in the UK, was returned to its developers.

HAV says the Airlander 10 – which is powered by four 350hp (257kW) Centurion engines and designed to fill roles such as sightseeing, cargo transport and surveillance – incorporates “over 100 changes since the Hav-304, so [is] a very different aircraft”.

Article source: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/airlander-sustains-damage-after-landing-from-second-428771/

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August 24

Cessna Citation Longitude completes initial ground testing

Cessna has completed initial ground test runs of its Honeywell HTF7700L-powered Citation Longitude, and is preparing the super-midsize type for its maiden sortie in the third quarter.

The tests are designed to verify the functionality of the engine start, fuel system and auto-throttle as well as interfaces with the avionics, electrical and hydraulic systems, says the US airframer.

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Cessna

“The engine run tests are one of the final major milestones as we prepare for first flight,” adds Scott Ernest, president and chief executive of Cessna’s parent company, Textron Aviation. “This step really allows us to prove the maturity of the aircraft and its systems.”

Cessna is now preparing to perform a series of functional and structural tests on the airframe in preparation for first flight. “The speed at which we are progressing on the Longitude programme demonstrates our industry-leading development cycle and affirms our commitment to new product investment,” says Ernest.

Cessna launched the clean-sheet Longitude programme in 2012 along with the midsize Latitude jet, which entered service in 2015.

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Cessna

The airframer has since redesigned the twinjet reducing the maximum range from 4,000nm (7,400km) to 3,400nm. The Garmin G5000-equipped aircraft is Cessna’s first application of fly-by-wire control technology, with an electronically-actuated rudder and spoilers. Priced at $24 million, it is projected to have a cruise speed of 475kt (880km/h) and a service ceiling of 45,000ft. Certification and service entry of the 12-passenger aircraft are scheduled for 2017.

The Longitude will be Cessna’s biggest aircraft until the large-cabin Hemisphere enters service in five years.

Article source: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/cessna-citation-longitude-completes-initial-ground-t-428766/

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August 24

Carlo Logli to step down as Piaggio Aerospace chief executive

Carlo Logli is stepping down as chief executive of Piaggio Aerospace and will be replaced in the interim by the company’s chief operating officer Renato Vaghi.

The announcement comes three weeks after the Italian airframer – wholly owned by Abu Dhabi investment house Mubadala – published its industrial plan. This involves a major reshaping of Piaggio’s portfolio to position the company as a key supplier of defence and special-mission aircraft.

Logli will continue to support the business, Piaggio says, acting as a senior adviser to company chairman Ali Al Yafei and its board of directors.

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Piaggio Aerospace

In a statement issued on 24 August, Yafei said Logli “has shown great leadership in managing the business through a period which saw the delivery of a state-of-the-art manufacturing base at Villanova d’Albenga [situated 80km (50 miles) southwest of Genoa], against the challenging backdrop of tough economic conditions”.

He adds: “It is time for a new CEO to deliver on the new industrial plan to yield a sustainable future for Piaggio.”

Logli joined the company in 2013 as chief restructuring officer. He was appointed chief executive the following year.

During his tenure with Piaggio, Logli has overseen the development of the of the P180 Avanti Evo business aircraft – the third iteration of the iconic twin-pusher turboprop – along with the Avanti-derived P.1HH Hammerhead unmanned air vehicle and multirole patrol aircraft, called the MPA.

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Piaggio Aerospace

Article source: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/carlo-logli-to-step-down-as-piaggio-aerospace-chief-428780/

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August 22

Piaggio steps up Avanti sales effort in Middle East

Piaggio Aerospace is hoping to increase the small inventory of P180 Avantis in use in the Middle East, with the appointment of Al Saif Trading Establishment as sales and marketing agent for the twin-engined turboprop in Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Al Saif, headquartered in Riyadh, is a subsidiary of real estate and consultancy firm Al Saif Group, which has an order for two Avanti Evos – the latest iteration of the seven-seat type.

Al Saif’s first Evo is scheduled for delivery in September and will be used for ad hoc charter services and customer demonstration flights, says Piaggio. The second will be configured for air ambulance missions, and is slated for service entry in 2017.

Piaggio chief executive Carlo Logli describes the agreement as “an important strategic milestone” for the Italian airframer. “We are entering a very promising region of the world in partnership with a highly renowned company,” he says. “This collaboration offers us new opportunities in that region.”

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Piaggio Aerospace

Piaggio has so far failed to make significant inroads into the Middle East with the Avanti, due largely to the territory’s predilection for business jets – typically high-end models such as long-range Gulfstream types and VIP airliners.

Flight Fleets Analyzer records an installed base of two Avanti IIs – both based in the United Arab Emirates – out of a global fleet of 219 aircraft.

Despite the low take-up of the twin-pusher in the Middle East, Al Saif Group president and chief executive Mohammed Khalifa Al Saif is confident the Evo will find success in the region. “The Evo is extremely effective, since it delivers the performance figures of a light jet with very low fuel emissions,” he says. “It is the perfect combination of lavish Italian style, comfort and best-in-class operational performance, with an excellent cost-benefit ratio.”

The Evo entered service in 2015 as an upgraded and higher performance version of the 11-year-old Avanti II. To date, four units have been delivered, and Piaggio says a further six will be handed over in 2016.

Article source: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/piaggio-steps-up-avanti-sales-effort-in-middle-east-427844/

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August 22

OSHKOSH: Commuter Craft unveils unconventional design for kit-built market

Injecting a unique new design into the amateur-built aircraft market, Commuter Craft announced plans to launch production of the experimental-category Innovator in the fall of 2017.

The Georgia-based aircraft start-up was founded in 2007, with the two-seat Innovator prototype accumulating 32 flight hours since achieving first flight last September, says founder Richard Hogan.

The second aircraft — a production-conforming design — is now in final assembly, he says. Five Alpha-model kits will be assembled by owners at the factory starting this fall, testing a range of power settings, he says. A Beta-model will be tested next spring, leading to general production of a final configuration in about 14-17 months, he says.

Although demand for amateur kit-built designs has waned over the decades, Commuter Craft was founded on the premise that improving safety is the key to attracting new business, Hogan says. Commuter Craft has sized the factory to deliver and assemble 150 Innovator kits a year, with 32 slots already secured with deposits.

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Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

The aircraft received its unusual configuration to satisfy a design requirement to prevent the aircraft from entering a stall-induced spin on the final turn before approaching a runway, Hogan says. Though a common manoeuvre, the slow-speed turn is linked to thousands of deaths of general aviation pilots over the years.

The blended-wing, three-surface design includes a canard to resist a stall of the main wing. High-taile he canard, however, creates a requirement for a high-speed approach, in order to prevent the canard from stalling, Hogan says. To solve that problem, Commuter Craft added a horizontal stabiliser on a twin-boomed, high-tail.

In the long-term, Commuter Craft is working on developing new versions of the Innovator series, Hogan says. A more ambitious goal, however, is to move beyond experimental kit-built designs and launch manufacturing of certificated aircraft. A new four-seat trainer would be the first such aircraft to emerge, Hogan says.

Unlike the Innovator series, Hogan expects the trainer aircraft to present a more conventional look. Hogan does not yet disclose details of the design, but notes that Diamond Aircraft’s high-aspect ratio, glider-like approach is similar to his own design philosophy for an ideal trainer.

Article source: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/oshkosh-commuter-craft-unveils-unconventional-desig-427856/

Category: Uncategorized
August 21

JetSuite revamps Phenom 100 fleet

US air taxi company JetSuite has begun a major interior revamp of its 11-strong fleet of Embraer Phenom 100s, in a move designed to extend the operational life of the entry-level business jets.

The upgrade programme is being handled by the US completions and engineering firm Constant Aviation, which delivered the first refurbished Phenom – registration N580JS – in July. The remaining units will be outfitted over the next 18 months, JetSuite says.

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JetSuite

“The aircraft, originally outfitted with BMW-designed leather interiors, are being updated with re-covered taupe and coal leather seats, refinished cabin panels, leather cabin drink rails and luxury options that will add to [JetSuite] customers’ experience,” Constant president and chief executive Stephen Maiden says.

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JetSuite

Irvine, California-based JetSuite is no stranger to fleet overhauling. In 2015, it appointed Canadian completions company New United Goderich to upgrade 10 former American Eagle ERJ-135LRs that it had acquired from Embraer.

Three ERJ-135LRs have already undergone the $1 million interior and exterior retrofit, which includes a 30-passenger configuration, and have entered service with JetSuite’s bespoke charter and branded scheduled operation, JetSuiteX. The remaining aircraft will be added to the fleet over the coming 12 months.

JetSuite – now the fourth-largest business aircraft charter company in the USA – plans to become an all-Embraer operator, and is set to replace its fleet of eight Cessna Citation CJ3 light twinjets from the end of 2016 with second-hand Phenom 300s.

Article source: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/jetsuite-revamps-phenom-100-fleet-428506/

Category: Uncategorized
August 21

Flexjet adds first Legacy 450 and snaps-up FlairJet

US fractional ownership company Flexjet has expanded its business aircraft fleet with the addition of its first Embraer Legacy 450.

The delivery of the mid-light type on 15 August comes hot on the heels of the company’s acquisition of European charter and management company FlairJet earlier in the month, paving the way for Flexjet to launch commercial services in Europe.

The Legacy 450 is part of a May 2015 order with Embraer for an unspecified number of aircraft. The deal also includes the midsize Legacy 500, of which Flexjet has four in service. The Cleveland, Ohio-based operator plans to take delivery of another five Legacy 450s by the end of 2016.

“The Legacy 450 will become the mainstay of our midsize programme [along with the Legacy 500], which has been growing rapidly in response to increased demand for aircraft of this size,” says Flexjet chief executive Michael Silvestro. The pair fit into the company’s portfolio between the superlight Bombardier Learjet 75LXi and the super-midsize Challenger 350.

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Flexjet

“Our fleet expansion has been very strong over the past 24 months,” Silvestro says; 52 new aircraft will have been added to the programme in the two years ending 31 December, he says.

Flexjet now has its sights on international expansion and the deal for FlairJet, acquired from Marshall Aerospace on 3 August for an undisclosed sum, will provide a springboard for this growth. “FlairJet is a perfect cultural fit for the company and provides the right platform to layer our business going forward,” says Ray Jones, who is leading the company’s international development effort.

Birmingham-based FlairJet – which will assume the Flexjet branding ­– manages seven privately owned light and entry-level business jets, including a Cessna Citation XLS, a Mustang and a Learjet 40, and Flexjet plans to build this fleet to support its business. “By the end of the year we also hope to start introducing the first Nextant 400XTis into the fleet,” Jones says.

Eight of the remanufactured light business jets are scheduled for delivery by 1 June 2017, he adds, “but there is a potential to add up to 15”. The 400XTis will be sourced from Flexjet’s US fleet of 21 aircraft and will be maintained by Marshall. Both Flexjet and Nextant are owned by Cleveland-based Directional Aviation.

The new service will be aimed at Flexjet’s North American customers wishing to travel within Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). It will also be offered to local clients with the aircraft available on an ad hoc charter basis. “We are in the process of developing additional programmes that are in step with the market demands of the EMEA region,” Jones says.

He admits that Flexjet’s effort to break into the highly competitive and fragile business aircraft charter market will be a challenge, but is cautiously optimistic of success. “We are realistic,” he says. “We are not pretending that it is anything other than a difficult market out there, and it is unlikely to change for the foreseeable future.”

However, he argues that in Flexjet’s favour “we already have an installed client base, through FlairJet and a number of established [North American] customers who want to fly with us outside the region, so we are hopeful that it can be a success”.

Article source: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/flexjet-adds-first-legacy-450-and-snaps-up-flairjet-428576/

Category: Uncategorized
August 19

XTI selects Honeywell HTS900 to power TriFan 600 prototype

US start-up XTI Aircraft has selected Honeywell’s HTS900 turboshaft to power a two-thirds-scale prototype of its ducted-fan TriFan 600.

The powerplant selection moves the vertical take-off and landing business aircraft a step closer to its certification target of 2023.

Under the terms of the preliminary agreement, announced on 8 August, Honeywell will also supply an additional engine, which will be installed on XTI’s ground propulsion test rig.

The HTS900 – based on a dual-centrifugal compressor architecture – already powers the developmental Marenco SwissHelicopter Skye SH09 light single-engined rotorcraft.

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XTI Aircraft

US composites specialist Scion Aviation and sister company Scion UAS have been appointed by XTI to build the sub-scale prototype, which is scheduled to make its first fight in 2018.

XTI says it will initially fly a 1:10 scale model of the TriFan 60 – also supplied by Scion – in six months, after securing $1.2 million in the latest funding round. The programme is being financed by XTI founder and managing director David Brody, crowdfunding stakeholders and private equity investors.

“The 10% model will provide important aerodynamic data and demonstrate how helicopter flight control laws apply to the TriFan configuration,” says Dennis Olcott, chief engineer and board member for the Denver, Colorado-based company. “After flying the scale model, XTI will build an operational propulsion jet stand to house the engine, drivetrain, fans and flight controls,” he adds.

The TriFan 600 is described as “having the speed, range and comfort of a business jet with the ability to take-off and land vertically, like a helicopter”. The six-seat, fly-by-wire aircraft’s two ducted wing fans are designed to tilt to achieve forward flight, with a projected cruise speed of 350kt (650km/h) and range of more than 1,500nm (2,780km), says XTI.

Article source: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/xti-selects-honeywell-hts900-to-power-trifan-600-pro-428587/

Category: Uncategorized
August 19

Airlander 10 makes first test flight

A week and a half after emerging from its hangar, Airlander 10 – the world’s biggest aircraft – has made its first short flight since the cancellation three years ago of the US programme it was designed for.

The airship, developed by UK company Hybrid Air Vehicles, took off from Cardington airfield in Bedfordshire at around 19:45 local time on 17 August, landing again before dusk at 20:00.

The company says the flight marks the start of a test flight programme that is expected to last for a “number of months”.

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The 92m (302ft) long airship flew for some 19min at 5,000ft around a 5nm radius of the airfield, and reached a maximum speed of 35kt.

Chief test pilot David Burns, who commanded the flight with co-pilot Simon Davies, says it was a “privilege” to fly the airship for the first time. “It flew like a dream,” he adds.

HAV had begun the day with a confirmatory pre-flight test at 09:00, which the company says gave the green light for the maiden sortie.

Strictly speaking, it is not the first time the aircraft has flown. It was designed for the US Army’s Northrop Grumman-led Long Endurance, Multi Intelligence Vehicle contract that was cancelled as part of military budget cuts. The only prototype was returned to the developers in the UK for a token sum.

HAV says all test objectives were met during the flight, including safe launch, flight and landing, together with a “series of gentle turns at increasing speed”.

The company is now calling on the UK government to fund a trial “to demonstrate the potential of this amazing aircraft to the world and secure the lucrative exports”. HAV is also looking to raise equity through high net worth individuals and institutional investors to fund aspects of the flight test programme. Entrepreneur and rock celebrity Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden is among the current investors.

Article source: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/airlander-10-makes-first-test-flight-428599/

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