Second production Ibis Ae270 enters flight test
Ibis Aerospace flew its second production Ae270 Propjet fitted with the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-66A in late February from Aero Vodochody’s flight-test facilities near Prague, Czech Republic. (Ibis Aerospace is a joint venture between Aero Vodochody and Taiwan’s Aerospace Industrial Development Council [AIDC].) The initial flight of S/N 7 lasted 1.5 hours, during which functionality of systems was tested, including landing gear, wing flaps and engine operation. At press time, S/N 5, the first production-configured Ae270, had logged about 250 hours since taking to the air on February 25 last year. S/Ns 1 and 3, powered by P&WC PT6-42s, are no longer flying.
The Ae270 current flight-test fleet includes three aircraft: S/Ns 5, 6 and 7. S/Ns 2 and 4 are dynamic and static-test articles. S/N 6, which flew for the first time last September, is currently undergoing certification for an executive interior at Southstar Interiors in Uvalde, Texas. Executive-configured versions will be known as the Ae270 Spirit.
Static-test aircraft S/N 4 has endured more than 60,000 flight cycles, twice the lifecycle limit. The company hopes to reach its intended maximum of 80,000 flight cycles by late summer, said a spokesman at Ibis’ U.S. offices in Kerrville, Texas.
The spokesman told AIN that the Ae270 is in the “fine tuning” stage, and the company expects to reach the final development phase by month end, after which certification flight testing will start with Czech CAA pilots aboard S/N 7. A new design feature might include “mini winglets,” according to the spokesman. He said the approximately eight-inch-high winglets might improve aileron control in deep stalls.
Czech and FAA certifications (minus flight into icing) for the up to 10-seat turboprop single are targeted for late summer and early fall, respectively. All de-icing systems will be on the airplane when it is certified, though obtaining approval for flight into icing will have to wait until next winter, when icing tests are scheduled.
The company said 82 aircraft have been ordered by its worldwide network of 12 distributors. Distributors–which must offer Ae270 service and support, as well as purchase aircraft–are located in the U.S., Canada, Australia, South America and Europe. Sales representatives are located in Japan, India, the Philippines and Thailand.