Just three days after its first flight, the Comp Air 12 turboprop arrived at Sun ‘n Fun in time for opening day.
“Obviously it’s here. We told everyone it would be, and it is,” said a smiling Ron Lueck, the company’s president, who flew it in from the Comp Air plant at Merritt Island, Florida.
The 300-knot, six passenger turboprop will be certified in the first quarter of 2010, Lueck said, assuming adequate financing is available for the certification process. Deposits on the $2.75 million plane go into an escrow account and are not touched for any other purpose, he emphasized.
Pulled by a Honeywell TPE-331-14GR engine, the sleek all-carbon-composite airplane will have a service ceiling of 28,000 feet where cabin pressure will be 8,000 feet, Lueck said. Its 640 gallons of fuel will give it a 2,500 nautical mile range, burning 65 gallons an hour, he estimated.
The company’s jet project was not at Sun ‘n Fun this year, however. “It’s not dead,” Lueck said, but acknowledged that “it’s just not a viable product.” He said it is too big for the current crop of relatively inexpensive engines from Pratt & Whitney and Williams, and larger engines simply cost so much that they’d price the airplane out of the market.
While admitting that he has lost interest in the jet project, Lueck foresees a substantial market for fast turboprops comparable to VLJs in size but more efficient to operate, he said, noting that they come so close to light jet speeds that the time difference, over typical flight legs, is mere minutes.
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