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Tue, Dec 17, 2002

First Flight: Vulcanair VF600w

Serious Competition for Cessna's Caravan?

On December 4th, the VF600w Mission, a new single engine turbo-prop aircraft from Vulcanair S.p.A. of Naples Italy, flew for the first time from Capodichino International airport in Naples, Italy. It was the first in a planned series of flights needed to reach final JAA/FAA certification by the end of 2003. Customer deliveries are planned for early 2004.

The Vulcanair Mission was designed to accomodate 11 passengers (including pilot). The aircraft is able to carry 3000 pounds (over an average leg of 400 nm), and has a range of 1100 nm with full fuel and a 185k cruise speed. The first version of VF600w will be powered by a Walter turbine developing 777 shp at takeoff, driving a five blade AVIA propeller. Mind you; the VF600w Mission has been engineered to be able to install alternative powerplants from different manufacturers in order to fit additional mission profiles and market niches. 

The Vulcanair Mission target market is multifaceted. The aircraft's primary target markets are the civilian transport, and the cargo/feeder market with an emphasis on remote and difficult to reach locations. Vulcanair believes that companies in today's cargo feeder market need to focus on an extremely balanced mix between cargo capacity economy and reliability to have a sustainable competitive advantage. 

The secondary target market of the Mission is law enforcement at-large including Homeland Security, paratroops and military logistical support. One of the attributes of the VF600w Mission aircraft is a large and usable constant width, flat-floor, fuselage that allows for the loading and unloading of the aircraft through a large cargo door that can fit three standard EURO pallets (39.4"x 47.25") or the installation of up to nine seats for passengers. In an SFAR configuration, the Mission can sit 14-16 people.

For the US market, Vulcanair plans to market the aicraft for approximately $1M. The VF600w Mission will initially feature two optional avionics packages. One emphasizes the latest in high-tech avionics, while the other will be more conventional, in order to satisfy both private and utility operators. The VF600w Mission aircraft may also be equipped with floats for land/ amphibious operations.



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