Broadening The Spectrum: New Design Makes First Flight

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Spectrum Aeronautical, LLC, last Saturday successfully flew its new Spectrum 33 twinjet for the first time from the company's facility at Spanish Fork, Utah, marking the next step in a development program that was largely unknown until its formal announcement at last year's NBAA annual convention. The Spectrum 33 is a lightweight bizjet built using a "next-generation, carbon-graphite construction process," according to a company statement, but designed to cruise at up to 415 knots and feature a 2,000-nm range. Spectrum's engineering plans say the new plane will consume half as much fuel as current-production aircraft of the same size, range and speed because of its lightweight construction. As we reported in November, Spectrum is headed by long-time industry veteran Linden Blue who led Beechcraft in 1983 when the Starship was born and later served as general manager at Learjet and was CEO of Learfan. “This marks an important point in our development program,” said Blue. “Weight reduction is key to boosting fuel efficiency and lowering operating costs. The first flight of Spectrum 33 is a testament to the dedication and hard work put in by an extremely talented team.”

The aircraft was built by a Spectrum Aeronautical and Rocky Mountain Composites (RMC) joint-design team at RMC’s plant on the Spanish Fork-Springville Airport, about eight miles southeast of Provo, Utah. The company said the Spectrum 33 required only about 750 feet of runway on its first flight, even at reduced takeoff thrust. William “Bill” Davies, Spectrum’s Chief of Flight Test, and Ian Hollingsworth, another veteran test pilot, were at the controls. “The acceleration and climb performance ... [were] remarkable,” Davies said. Immediate plans include additional test flights from the airport at Provo and its longer runway, which will allow safe testing beyond what can be done at Spanish Fork. The current aircraft, which Spectrum dubs a proof-of-concept version, will be used to validate engineering assumptions before freezing the design and building conforming flight-test aircraft for certification testing. Spectrum says it is targeting FAA type certification for late 2007 or 2008.