Mooney Enters LSA Market

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Well, never accuse the Mooney Aerospace Group of being afraid to try something new. The company, which started life as AASI, developing the now-abandoned push/pull, turboprop, canard-ed JetCruzer, then bought the assets of bankrupt Mooney Airplane Company, announced Tuesday it's going to build light-sport aircraft. The Mooney Toxo, a two-place sport aircraft with a Rotax engine, will be built at Mooney's Kerrville, Texas, plant as soon as the new LSA category is brought into law. That will make Mooney the first of the mainstream U.S. manufacturers to announce an LSA project, and it's using a proven platform. Spanish manufacturer Construcciones Aeronauticas de Galicia (CAG) has built 20 of the speedy composite planes. CAG President Antonio Castelo Silveira said the two-seater cruises at 180 mph (oddly, much faster than LSA regulations allow), has a maximum speed of 230 mph on the 120-hp. Rotax 912, and has a range of 1,200 miles Empty weight is 350 kg. (about 770 pounds) and gross weight is 650 kg. (about 1430 pounds). There are orders for another 22 on the books and Mooney CEO Nelson Happy couldn't be, well, happier. "This is a big move for us. We just wanted to be the first," he said. As far as its traditional products are concerned, Happy said the 19 partly built aircraft it inherited have been finished and sold and the production line should resume in August. The company also announced that it was forming a consortium with BAE Systems, Russian company KASKOL, Foxton Investments and Venture Interiors. Venture is developing an Audi-like interior for new Mooneys.