Mahindra Adds Airvan Floats

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Mahindra Aerospace spent last year learning about the North American market and the result is evident at this year's AirVenture 2014. CEO Arvind Mehra said that during last year's tour of potential dealers and customers, two things stood out as improvements for its recently renamed Airvan 8. "They told us they wanted a better interior and they wanted it on floats," he said. The rugged utility aircraft, which AVweb flew with designer George Morgan in 2012, is designed for hauling big bulky loads into remote areas and Mehra said the float option was an easy decision. He said the bush fleet of old Cessnas and deHavillands is wearing out and the Airvan 8 offers a modern, safe, reliable alternative for those who can't afford the turboprop aircraft that dominate the sector. "We are targeting Canada and Alaska," he said. The float-equipped Airvan 8 flew for the first time a week before the start of AirVenture and all signs point to the success of the aircraft on floats. Chuck Wiplinger, COO of Wipaire, said the first flight went well.

He said the aircraft behaved predictably and was stable on the water and in the air and after an hour of basic air work it returned to Wipaire's Minnesota facility for a safe landing. The aircraft was first fitted with Wipline 3450s but modifications will likely result in the final fit in the 4200 range. Meanwhile, the company was busy making the aircraft more comfortable for those who won't be loading camping gear, freight or game trophies in it. A nice leather interior-equipped model on wheels is at the Mahindra booth. Mehra said Mahindra, one of India's largest companies, is serious about the GA market and will be investing in products and services for the sector over the coming years. He said the company's roots are in transportation products as one of India's leading carmakers and the world's top producer of farm tractors. He said the aerospace investment was a natural extension for the company, noting it was one of the bidders for Beechcraft.