Sun, Jul 28, 2013
Industry Heavyweights Join Forces To Test A New Concept In Training Aircraft
Typical training aircraft come in one of two flavors: 40-year-old machines with tired interiors and outdated avionics or new glass-panel machines that cost more than most flight schools or owners can afford. Now a consortium of companies is using Redbird’s Skyport laboratory to test a third option: The RedHawk Training Aircraft.
"The RedHawk is an experiment, and the Skyport will act as the proving ground it was designed to be,” said Jerry Gregoire, Chairman of Redbird and RedHawk Aero. “We know the RedHawk will cost less to own and operate than a new airplane, without sacrificing customer appeal. But we’re not committing to hard numbers until we build a fleet and fly them.” Gregoire says the goal of the next several months is working with all the partners to validate each component of the design.
The seemingly most unusual component for a training aircraft is the Continental Centurion turbo-diesel. But Gregoire points out that there are nearly 1500 of these engines flying today, so this is known technology. “When you consider this is an existing STC for the Cessna 172, and factor in Continental’s announced plans for pushing development and support of this motor, it looks like the best bet for a Jet-A burning trainer,” he said.
The RedHawk is remanufactured from the bare metal of a Cessna 172, with each partner company bringing a unique component to the whole. These include:
- Continental‘s fully certified Centurion turbo-diesel engine burning 4.5 gallons per hour of Jet-A
- Aspen Avionics’ Evolution 2000 PFD/MFD (glass panel), with full PFD backup
- Bendix/King’s next-generation avionics stack, currently awaiting final certification
- Brown Aviation Lease’s options for consumption-based pricing, with insurance provided by Starr Companies and Aviation Insurance Resources
- RedHawk’s own interior and exterior upgrade to maximize longevity and usefulness on the flight line.
RedHawk’s other novel component is integrated financing and insurance. Jason Griswold, Managing Director of Brown Aviation Lease says, “We built Brown to deliver innovative aircraft and equipment solutions to the flight training market. RedHawk, combined with our community of flight training organizations, means we can now offer a whole new consumption model tailored to the 95 percent of the market who can no longer afford new aircraft.” Jim Anderson, Senior Vice President of Starr Aviation adds, “Any time a new idea comes to the market, the question is, ‘How am I going to get it insured?’ That's where Starr’s broker network, including Aviation Insurance Resources, comes in. RedHawk will be supported from the start." Both companies say the details of their pricing model will evolve out of Skyport’s field tests.
(Images provided by Redbird)
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