Ukraine’s Antonov has signed a memorandum of understanding with Xi’an Aircraft Company (XAC) to help develop a new 70-seat turboprop dubbed the MA700, according to Chinese state-run media. The parties plan to discuss details on the cooperation during the upcoming Beijing International Aviation Exhibition, scheduled for September 19 to 22.
Of all the subsegments of the general aviation market, the turboprop field is the only one not experiencing an increase in new development. At airshow after airshow, very light jets, personal single-engine jets, more powerful piston singles and light sport airplanes have seen the greatest amount of activity. Although turboprops are one of the most efficient ways to fly, they are not the shining stars of most product development departments.
Deliveries of both jets and turboprops were up again in the first half of this year, according to second-quarter numbers released by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA).
For many years, the one market segment that General Electric’s turbine engine-manufacturing business didn’t serve was aircraft that use smaller turboprop engines. But that is changing; GE announced yesterday that it is buying Czech engine manufacturer Walter Engines. Based in Prague, Walter has manufactured more than 37,000 aircraft engines since 1923.
Business jet and turboprop shipments were both up roughly 15 percent in the first half of this year, compared to the first six months of last year, according to data released last week by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA). There were 475 jet and 182 turboprop shipments in the first six months of this year, according to GAMA.
Pratt & Whitney Canada said last month its PW600 engine has been selected to power the new Epic Victory single-engine VLJ. Up to that point, Epic had used the Williams FJ33-4A for the Victory. P&WC’s PT6A-67 had previously been selected to power Epic’s Dynasty turboprop.
China’s Xi’an Aircraft Company (XAC) landed the largest-ever order from a Chinese airline for its MA60 regional turboprop last month. Privately held Okay Airways said it has agreed to lease 10 of the 60-seat turboprops, the first of which it plans to deploy by the end of the year. It expects to take delivery of the rest within two years, it added.
Extra Aircraft’s six-seat Extra 500 turboprop single received European Aviation Safety Agency certification last month. According to company officials, production of the Rolls-Royce 250-B17F/2-powered composite airplane is ready to begin at the company’s facility in Hunxe, Germany, as soon as the pending FAA approval is obtained. The first production aircraft is expected to be finished in December.
Epic’s single-engine Victory jet made its first flight on July 6 from Roberts Field in Redmond, Ore. The Williams International FJ33-4A-powered jet was unveiled at the Sun ’n’ Fun show in April, and first flight took place 202 days after design work began.
The cyclical nature of the airline business showed its inevitability again at this year’s Regional Airline Association convention, held May 21 to 24 in Memphis, Tenn. More than 1,500 visitors passed through the turnstiles at the Memphis Convention Center–a record number for an RAA convention.