Certification of the Grob SPn Utility Jet will be delayed by a few months, according to a statement released last week, 16 days after the fatal crash of the company’s No. 2 prototype that killed chief test pilot Gerard Guillaumaud. “We hope to be able to continue with flight test shortly,” said Grob CEO Niall Olver.
The world of business aviation woke up to a surprise here at the Paris Air Show today with the unforeseen launch of a highly versatile new private jet. The all-composite Grob SPn Utility Jet is both a niche-filler and challenger, offered by its developers as the long-awaited successor to Raytheon’s Beechcraft King Air workhorses and a more-industrious alternative to the emerging crop of light executive jets.
It wasn’t immediately clear how the Grob SPn light business jet program will be affected by yesterday’s crash of the second prototype near the company’s airfield in Tussenhausen-Mattsies, Germany, killing chief test pilot Gerard Guillaumaud, 45, the sole occupant. The Williams FJ44-powered aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff while returning to the runway and was destroyed. It first flew September 29 and had logged 28 flight hours.
Grob is developing a new high-altitude long-endurance aircraft based on the new SPn Utility Jet. Dubbed the G600 HALE, the aircraft could be used on surveillance or research tasks operating at extremely high altitudes. With a 116.80-foot wingspan, the basic G600 will have a range of 5,540 nm and an endurance of some 17 hours. However, an ER variant of the G600 would extend the endurance to 18 hours 30 minutes.
Structural failure appears to have caused the fatal crash of the second Grob SPn prototype light jet near the company airfield in Tussenhausen-Mattsies, Germany, on November 29. Grob Aerospace CEO Niall Olver told AIN that the elevators and left-hand stabilizer separated from the aircraft before impact and were found “several hundred feet” behind the main wreckage. “We know they separated,” said Olver, “but we don’t know why.”
The Grob SPn light business jet will feature an enhanced Apex cockpit, provided by Honeywell. Grob Aerospace had planned on using an earlier version of Apex but will offer the enhanced one right from the first customer delivery. This has affected the program schedule, however.
Executive Jet Investments (EJI)–a small group of largely anonymous Swiss private investors–has completed an acquisition of a majority stake in German airframer Grob for an undisclosed amount of money. The Grob family has retained a “not insignificant” minority holding, but EJI effectively has full control of the company and now runs it through a new Zurich-based holding company called Grob Aerospace AG.
Executive Jet Investments (EJI), a Swiss investment firm led by Execujet CEO Niall Olver, has acquired a controlling stake in German-based manufacturer Grob Aerospace. The Grob family holds the remaining shares, although officials declined to disclose the exact percentage of shares owned by each entity. EJI is simultaneously renamed Grob Aerospace AG.
Grob, the German company that is developing the versatile, all-composite SPn light jet, has created a U.S. support network for the airplane and is about to establish a U.S. subsidiary to handle direct sales. Two prototypes are now in flight-test and construction of a third started last month. That airplane will join the final push for certification early next year.
Less than a year from its planned service entry next September, the all-composite Grob SPn light jet is preparing to make a serious push on the North American marketplace with new sales and product support initiatives being announced this week.