October 6, 2008
By Dave Hirschman
Comp Air Aviation, a longtime manufacturer of utility kit airplanes, has received $150 million in financing to produce a pair of certified, single-engine turboprops, founder Ronald Lueck said Oct. 6 at the National Business Aviation Association convention in Orlando, Fla.
Both aircraft, the Comp Air 9 and the Comp Air 12, flew to Orlando from the company’s home base at Merritt Island, Fla., for the announcement.
“Up until today, everything we’ve done, we’ve financed,” Lueck said. “We don’t have any loans. We don’t borrow great sums of money.”
The cash infusion comes from a California-based private equity firm. The investment is meant to cover the costs of certifying the two very different airplanes.
The Comp Air 12 is a low-wing, retractable, eight-seat, all-composite, 1,650-horsepower speedster designed for the air taxi market. It will fly about 310 KTAS and have a range of more than 2,500 nm and a retail price of $2.95 million. Lueck said he plans to announce a 150-airplane order from an air taxi company in the near future.
The company expects FAA certification in late 2010.
The Comp Air 9 is a high-wing, fixed-gear, composite workhorse designed for short and rough airfields. The prototype has a top speed of 240 KTAS, however, far greater than other utility airplanes. The Comp Air 9 will be sold as a kit for $250,000 or a finished, certified aircraft for $1.75 million.
“This airplane proves you don’t have to have an ugly, slow airplane to do the short-field mission,” Lueck said.
Comp Air Aviation will split into two firms: one to handle experimental aircraft and the other to build certified planes. About 250 experimental Comp Air turbine aircraft are currently flying, including seven built and delivered to the Iraqi Air Force.
Lueck said he plans to build a new facility for certified aircraft production in Melbourne, Fla., and kits and new aircraft designs will continue in Merritt Island.
“We’re going to continue introducing new experimental designs,” he said. “But my time will be increasingly devoted to the certified aircraft business.”
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