By Paul Bertorelli, Editorial Director
Cobalt has announced that its new Co50 will feature the SmartDeck system, which was bought from L-3 by the Canadian company CMC Electronics, a subsidiary of Esterline. The Co50 was unveiled at EAA AirVenture as a concept aircraft in 2010 and now, two years later, it has come out of the ground with an announced test program, pricing and more performance details. Cobalt's David Loury told AVweb that the Co50 will be a four-place composite design with a canard, the first we've seen on a small production aircraft. The Valkyrie will be powered by a Continental TSIOF-550, the company's latest powerplant equipped with its PowerLink FADEC for single-lever operation. Predicted performance is about 225 knots with typical IFR range of at least 1400 miles.
Rather than a conventional cabin with doors, the Co50 has a large bubble canopy covering the two forward seats and expansive windows for the rear seats. Loury told us that the airplane made its first test hop five weeks ago and that schedules are being developed for the certification effort, which is expected to be completed no later than 2014. "We're at the point of almost freezing the design," Loury said. Price for the Co50 with be about $970,000 and the airplane will have a ballistic parachute option. One reason Cobalt picked the SmartDeck system, according to CMC's Greg Plantz, is that it offers the same capability as other glass systems but is much simpler to operate, with a well-conceived MMU or man-machine interface.
"Once we get people in front of the system, they find it's very easy to use it," Plantz said. CMC acquired the SmartDeck from L-3 two years ago and although the system was fully certified by the FAA, Transport Canada is requiring additional approvals, which CMC is working on now, including a specific application for Cobalt's Co50. You can find out more about the Co50 and SmartDeck by visiting CMC's Summit booth number 527 or at Cobalt-Aircraft.com and Esterline.com.