GROB Update: SPn Jet Completes First Flight...

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Germany-based GROB Aerospace continues to develop its SPn Utility Jet after its public unveiling at this summer's Paris Air Show and recently announced the prototype's first flight, a 66-minute affair in which initial handling tests and system checks were performed. Capt. Gerard Guillaumaud and co-test pilot Tore Reimers commanded the aircraft, which now enters into the flight-test stage of its development program after a test airframe successfully passed a program of full strength testing on the fuselage and wing required for certification. According to Guillaumaud, the aircraft performed satisfactorily and he added, “During the flight, all systems and controls performed as expected. The aircraft was easy to handle and was a pleasure to fly.” The flight was the first of many; the company’s flight-test program is planned so that the aircraft's operating envelope is fully expanded by the fourth quarter of 2005. GROB's plans for the SPn Utility Jet, which it bills as the "largest private jet to be certified for single-pilot operation," are fairly ambitious. They include an integrated all-glass cockpit from Honeywell and two rear-mounted, FADEC-controlled Williams FJ44-3A engines with 2,800 pounds of thrust. The new aircraft is planned to have a maximum gross takeoff weight of 13,889 pounds, of which 2,491 pounds will be payload; meanwhile, maximum fuel capacity is listed as 660 gallons, giving the jet an 1,800-nm range with six passengers and a single pilot. Maximum seating capacity will be one pilot plus nine pax, or two pilots and eight passengers. GROB says the SPn Utility Jet's balanced field length requirement is only 3,000 feet and its design will facilitate operation from gravel or turf runways. A modular interior of 405 cubic feet and standard eight-seat double-club seating rounds out the cabin configuration. Swiss-based ExecuJet Aviation Group is the exclusive worldwide sales distributor and maintenance support partner for the GROB SPn Utility Jet.