Two Hot Prototypes Skip Oshkosh
Sino Swearingen Regroups After Crash...
Others will be present, but two of the most talked-about new aircraft now under development will be skipping EAA AirVenture this year. Sino Swearingen and Diamond Aircraft have both decided to keep their hottest new prototypes, the SJ30-2 bizjet and the DA-42 Twinstar, respectively, in their test programs rather than put them on display at Oshkosh. In Sino Swearingen's case, the decision to pull out of Oshkosh followed a test-flight crash that killed chief test pilot Carroll Beeler last month. The NTSB's preliminary report is now available online and includes comments from the chase-plane pilot who witnessed the event and communicated with Beeler during the accident. The crash may have sparked rumors of the San Antonio company's imminent demise. "That is not true," said Sino Swearingen VP Gene Comfort. "I totally flatly deny it." "We are working our butts off around here." Comfort said the test-flight tragedy did set the program back and staff are now trying to get back on track by outfitting the second flying example of the sleek little jet with all the test booms and monitoring equipment needed for test flight. A third example is also nearing its inaugural flight. He said he made the decision to skip Oshkosh so the test program wouldn't be further delayed. "They were all really understanding (at EAA)," he said. Comfort wouldn't elaborate on the revised test-flight schedule but said a news release would be forthcoming. "I can say we are aggressively going after certification," he said.
...TwinStar Stays In Europe
Nobody's currently speculating on Diamond Aircraft's longevity but there's sure to be disappointment that the innovative and efficient TwinStar will be staying home in Germany. Diamond's North American CEO Peter Maurer told AVweb the company considered bringing the only flying example of the diesel-powered twin to Oshkosh, but that would have put a two-month dent in the test program. "We just couldn't justify it," said Maurer. Diamond will, of course, have a display at AirVenture and there will be plenty of information on all its products (which are sold out through November), including the D-JET, now under development. Maurer said the TwinStar test program continues to turn up impressive performance and fuel economy numbers and all that data will be available at Oshkosh. He's also not ruling out a gasoline-powered version of the TwinStar although no decisions have been made in that direction, yet. Maurer said he's still not sure what airplanes he'll be able to showcase at Oshkosh, however. Aside from the company's 2003 production being sold out through early winter, impatient customers have emptied the London, Ont. showroom and flown away the demonstrators as well.