January 24, 2013
By Sarah Brown
A turboprop version of the pressurized piston twin Cessna 421 will be the first offering of a new aircraft remanufacturer whose leaders include former Cessna President and CEO Jack Pelton, the company announced Jan. 23.
The Aviation Alliance LLC will outfit a Cessna 421 Golden Eagle airframe with Pratt & Whitney PT6A-135A turboprop engines and other enhancements including winglets, a custom Garmin avionics suite, and vortex generators, the company said, calling the upgrade the Excalibur 421. Pelton, who retired from Cessna in May 2011, will serve as managing director of operations.
“The Excalibur 421 is essentially a brand-new airplane,” Pelton said in a news release. He added that the company is flying a prototype of the aircraft, proving that our aggressive performance goals are realistic and achievable. There’s nothing flying that can come close to the value proposition and performance that we’re offering.”
Based on preliminary data from the company, the Excalibur 421 will have a top speed of 327 knots and a 1,420 nautical-mile range with IFR reserves. By contrast, a 1982 Cessna 421C has a maximum speed at 20,000 feet of 258 knots and a maximum range of 1,107 nm with standard fuel at 10,000 feet. The Aviation Alliance said the Excalibur 421 will include a new-generation interior cabin as well as new tires, brakes, de-icing, hydraulics, and electrical systems. It also will include aerodynamic enhancements, including winglets, vortex generators, and aft strakes.
Initial pricing of the aircraft is set at $2.5 million. The demonstration aircraft is expected to be complete by late summer, with initial deliveries of new aircraft by the end of 2013, the company said.
The Aviation Alliance is the result of executives from business and military aviation joining forces “to offer remanufactured, modernized turbine-powered aircraft to the aviation and defense industries,” according to a news release announcing its launch. Pelton, who worked at Cessna from 2000 to 2011, began serving as interim Experimental Aircraft Association chairman after the sudden departure of then-President and CEO Rod Hightower in late 2012 and continues in that role.
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