The Comp Air 9 single-turboprop utility aircraft is making its show debut at NBAA.
The high-wing single made its first flight in July, and Comp Air boss Ron Lueck sees it as an attractive option to replace the ‘workhorse aircraft’ as well as for air taxis. “It’s a 240kt aircraft with short field performance. It can get in and out of almost anywhere,” he says.
He expects the certified and pressurized aircraft to sell for around $1.7 million and is here at NBAA to generate interest and sales. It is powered by a Honeywell TPE331-12 1,000shp engine that will consume 32-33 gallons per hour.
To date the prototype has around 60h flight time and although company’s focus is on the low-wing, carbon-fiber Comp Air 12, which is set for certification in 2011, the Comp Air 9 will “likely follow in 2012” adds Lueck.
He also says he has an MOU with an undisclosed customer for 120 aircraft as part of an air taxi operation. “The engine has a 9,000h TBO and 18,000 starts. It is much cheaper to operate than a VLJ and has more space,” he says.
But he is also keen to point out that below 10,000 ft all aircraft are limited to the same speed, and on the short missions a VLJ would only save a few minutes. “You look at the cost savings when you are burning 33 gallons per hour,” he says.
A key differentiator over other companies is Comp Air’s existing relationship with the FAA, says Lueck. “We have been building kit planes for 25 years and the FAA knows me. We have that rapport and relationship.”