Grob Announces New Jet

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German airframer Grob, well-known throughout general aviation for its sailplanes and light aircraft, this week at the Paris Air Show announced plans to market a new light business jet, the Grob SPn Utility Jet. Billed as "combining the performance and passenger comfort of a light business jet with the operational versatility of a turboprop," Grob's new offering will be derived from an all-composite airframe powered by two rear-mounted, FADEC-controlled Williams FJ44-3A turbofan engines. According to the company, it will be designed specifically to regularly operate from unimproved runways, including gravel, soil and turf. Among the features making unimproved runways a viable option for the planned jet are large wheels with low-pressure tires and carbon brakes. Grob says, "No competing aircraft is as capable of operating on a regular basis in such harsh environments," and they're probably right. The Grob SPn Utility Jet is reminiscent of Raytheon's Premier I, also an all-composite fuselage light jet. It will be a low-wing, conventional-tail design certified for single-pilot operation and seating up to nine passengers, or two pilots and eight pax. It will have a maximum gross takeoff weight of 13,889 lbs., a maximum payload of 2,491 lbs. and a maximum ceiling of FL410. Avionics slated for the new offering will include the Honeywell APEX system, which features one 15-inch PFD apiece for the pilot and co-pilot, plus two shared 10-inch MFDs. The configuration will include TCAS II with change 7, and EGPWS. GROB says the SPn Utility Jet will be type-certified in the "commuter category" for single-pilot operation under EASA CS 23 and FAA Part 23 regulations and will allow single-pilot operation under both VFR day/night, IFR and in known icing conditions. It also will meet RVSM, MNPS and P-RNAV requirements. Planned maximum range will be 1,850 nm; 1,800 nm with six passengers and one pilot. With all passenger seats filled and one pilot, range will be reduced to 1,670 nm. The company says its design stage for the SPn Utility Jet is complete and that assembly of the first test aircraft was completed earlier this month. That airframe -- including a full interior mock-up -- is on display in Paris. The company intends to move quickly, estimating EASA certification in the first quarter of 2007, with FAA certification and first deliveries in the second quarter of 2007.