Alpha 160 Trainer Getting Attention

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A New Zealand company says its decision to create a purpose-built two-place training aircraft is paying off. Alpha Aviation recently sold 12 aerobatics-friendly Alpha 160A aircraft and took options for 14 more from CTC Aviation, one of Britain's largest flight training companies. It beat Cessna, Diamond and Piper offers for the deal. The 160A is an updated version of the French-built Robin R2160. Company spokesman Richard Sealy said the world needs more trainers and some of the touring aircraft now being pressed into that kind of service don't have the strength and durability to handle the job. Alpha bought the rights to the Robin designs in 2004 and says it's updated and improved what was already a well-respected design. Meanwhile, Evektor, another manufacturer to watch, says it's considering building a U.S. assembly plant to handle a surge in demand. Evektor says it needs to expand its production capability in the Czech Republic to 150 aircraft a year. Its SportStar was the first aircraft to gain FAA approval under the Light Sport Aircraft category and the company says sales are strong in the U.S., but the company expects to soon offer a respectably fast and very luxurious four-plus-one seater, too. The company is also planning an expansion to South America.