Three new variations on a rugged yet stylish theme are now certificated in the U.S. and Canada, following a six-year development and test effort by Found Aircraft Inc.
The factory in Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada, is ready to roll out both conventional and tricycle gear versions of the Expedition, first certificated in 2008, with a turbocharged engine now an option on both. The Expedition and Bigfoot (a tailwheel version of the tricycle gear Expedition) come with a “plug and play” panel based on the Garmin G500 that can be upgraded piece by piece in future years. The aircraft can be certified for IFR, and boasts a useful load of 1,500 pounds (1,450 for the turbocharged versions). It is designed, according to Found Aircraft partner Drew Hamblin, to fill a void in the market left by discontinuation of the Cessna 185 Skywagon in 1985.
“There’s really been nothing else to replace that,” Hamblin said.
Expedition and Bigfoot share a common airframe derived from the FBA-2C produced by Found Brothers Aviation, and updated in the 1990s to the Bush Hawk-XP, a strictly utilitarian denizen of the backcountry. The Expedition 350 was first introduced in 2007, aiming for a broader market. (The company has since dropped the “350” designation.)
The Expedition is also available on floats; Hamblin said about a dozen have been delivered since 2010.
Four doors and a cabin 53 inches wide leave plenty of room for passengers or cargo, with seating for five: two in front, three in the back on a bench-style seat that can be removed to make room for cargo. Muscle is provided by the six-cylinder, 315-horsepower Lycoming IO-580, with the 320-hp TIO-540-AH1A an option for those seeking to maximize high-altitude performance. The base price of $565,000 increases to $595,000 with the turbocharged engine. Cruise speeds range from 155 knots to 170 knots, depending on configuration.
Hamblin said the Expedition models are designed to appeal to buyers looking for cross-country performance with short-field capabilities. The Bigfoot is more akin to the Cessna 185, with a tailwheel configuration and optional tundra tires that make it well-suited for the mountains. Hamblin said the Bigfoots will have a unique combination of power, performance, and utility.
“There’s really nothing else,” Hamblin said.
October 17, 2012