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September 19, 2012
By Jim Moore
A design rendering of the four-seat version of a new aircraft being developed by Novaer Craft of Brazil.
Images courtesy Novaer Craft
The price has yet to be announced, but performance data published by a Brazilian firm gearing up to produce a brand-new general aviation aircraft suggests it will impress: four seats; a 315 horsepower, six-cylinder Lycoming aerobatic engine; a 192-knot cruise speed; 16,000-foot service ceiling (higher with an optional turbocharged engine); and 1,632 pounds of useful load.
Pilot Douglas L. Brennan is co-founder, chief investment officer, and partner with Ledyard Capital Management, the investment firm based in Scarsdale, N.Y., that recently struck a deal with Novaer Craft based in São José dos Campos, Sao Paulo. Brennan said the retail price, while not yet set, will be "comparable" to Cirrus models now on the market. He said the design by Joszéf Kovács represents a leap forward for general aviation.
“Most U.S. manufacturing of GA aircraft is in a museum,” Brennan said. “They keep doing things to make a 1950s, 1960s aircraft look more modern.”
Brennan said the Brazilian firm focuses on innovation, and has produced a true four-seat aircraft, one of two variants of the design based on a proof-of-concept prototype that has already flown.
“You can put four people in the plane, fill it full of fuel, and fly off,” Brennan said, noting that all-composite construction is the key to reaching the expected performance.
Brennan said Brazil (also home to Embraer) has become a uniquely fertile ground for aviation innovation, backed for decades by a government that has invested significantly in education and manufacturing infrastructure. The government recently announced a $40 million subsidy to establish production capacity for the T-Xc, the two-seat version designed primarily as a trainer. Novaer Craft, according to its website, was established with cutting-edge design in mind.
“They are simply a shop about innovation,” Brennan said. “They live and breathe wing design, new materials. You don’t see that in any other manufacturer.”
Brennan said composite materials will make the aircraft light, and the four-seat U-Xc made for general aviation will have many other advantages, including a stable wing and aerodynamic features that promise to make spins recoverable in any mode. The cabin will be slightly larger than Cirrus models; retractable landing gear, a pressurized cabin, and a ballistic airframe parachute will be among the options. Brennan said the investors will work with distributors and individual dealers to market the aircraft in the United States, and financing is expected to be available with backing from Brazil.
“We will likely be granted the ability to write loans through the export financing that’s available,” Brennan said, adding he has already fielded calls from about 40 potential buyers. Many details remain to be worked out, and Brennan said details on how to purchase one of these new aircraft will be announced in conjunction with certification that is currently expected in 2014 for Brazil, the United States, and Europe.
Brennan said Ledyard expects a good return on its (undisclosed) investment, while assuming much of the risk that would be shouldered by dealers required to purchase aircraft up front under the traditional business model.
“That will prevent good sales groups from getting stuck with aircraft and taking financial risk,” Brennan said. Ledyard plans to work closely with Novaer Craft to eventually set up final assembly plants in the United States. “We’re very excited here at Ledyard to be part of what we think is a new generation in aircraft.”
AOPA Online Associate Editor Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot who enjoys competition aerobatics.
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