Friday, May 30, 2014

Aviation experts world-wide will spend three weeks at Mildura Airport testing a new prototype commercial aircraft assembled in Gippsland to be exported globally

The new GA10 utility aircraft – equipped with a Rolls-Royce turbo-prop engine and space for 10 people – is an upgraded version of its predecessor,  the GA8 Airvan.

GippsAero pilots from Gippsland, along with National Test Pilot School vice-president Gregory Lewis from California, US, and international engineers, will put the new plane through rigorous testing, to become compliant with international safety standards.

Aerospace automotive design and manufacturing company Mahindra Aerospace  will certify the new aircraft.

It’s aim is to have the new plane on the market by 2015.

The GA8 aircraft was fitted with a piston engine and seated just eight, with more than 200 sold world-wide for tourism purposes in Africa and Australia.

It was also used for freight to islands and by missionary operators to access northern Australia, as well as in Papua New Guinea and by the US Civil Air Patrol.

Some police forces have used them, as have fire departments for fire spotting and patrols, as well as skydiving companies.

“This aircraft is the mini-van of the aviation world and is capable of a lot of different uses,” GippsAero pilot David Wheatland said.

Mr Wheatland, formerly from Mildura, said the prototype GA10 aircraft would be flown about two or three times a day for about two hours, with a safety chase plane behind it.

The chase plane records footage of the prototype.

“This includes crash testing, we crash test seats and interior parts but don’t crash test the whole airplane,” he said.

“During the testing we’re obliged to carry out a lot of flying to investigate how the aircraft can be safely loaded, how it can be safely flown, what the take-off and landing incline performance is.

“All of those things have to comply with defined international standards based on the US Federal Aviation Administration, which is the world standard for these sorts of things.”

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