May 7, 2004 - Safire Aircraft's staff shakeup resulted in the elimination of several positions and a reemphasis of resources on sales. To support that effort, Miguel Correa, Safire chairman, is now leading the company's new sales and customer support activities. Safire founder, Michael Margaritoff, has assumed the position of VP sales; and Miguel Vasquez is VP sales administration. Jayson Gehri, customer support representative, will coordinate internal and external communications, and Jane Poling will provide sales and customer support.
Blending the latest in advanced avionics and small turbofan technology with a classic airplane configuration and conventional aluminum construction, the Safire Jet is a contender in the crowded field of very light jets. At $1.39 million (due to increase to $1.495 million after first flight), the aircraft is priced roughly $400,000 higher than the smaller Eclipse 500 yet is approximately $800,000 less than the slightly larger Cessna Mustang. Two Williams International FJ33 turbofan engines (flat-rated at 1,100 pounds thrust) power the six-place aircraft, which is expected to have a maximum takeoff weight of 6,250 pounds and achieve a top speed of 385 knots.
Typical of aircraft in this emerging class of very light jets, the Safire is anticipated to climb at a rate of 2,900 feet per minute with two engines operating and 880 feet per minute with one engine inoperative. Based upon an expected stall speed of 69 knots, the aircraft will have an approach speed of 90 knots. Useful load is projected at 2,455 pounds, which enables the aircraft to achieve a maximum payload of 1,400, according to preliminary weight estimates for the FAR Part 23 aircraft. Avidyne will provide the aircraft's primary flight display (PFD) and multifunction display (MFD), with communications, navigation, and transponder supplied by Garmin.
Safire Aircraft Company, based at Miami's Opa-Locka Airport, was established in 1998 by Michael Margaritoff, a successful German entrepreneur with a long-held vision to create a low-cost jet aircraft. Originally conceived as a composite aircraft, the Safire was redesigned to incorporate more conventional methods of fabrication. A core team of experienced designers and engineers was assembled under the leadership of Joe Furnish, a veteran of many general aviation programs ranging from the Cessna Citation to the Beech King Air 350 and 1900D.
In keeping with Safire's philosophy of leveraging proven capabilities, major components of the aircraft, such as the wing and fuselage, are subcontracted to vendors. Finished items will be shipped to Opa-Locka for assembly under the supervision of Joe Cox, a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy with a distinguished career in airframe manufacturing.
To minimize the time to first flight, now planned for late September, Safire prototype number 1 will be constructed from design and manufacturing drawings that conform to company specifications but have not been released by the FAA. Bypassing FAA release prior to fabricating the first flight article significantly reduces the time for construction while allowing Furnish and his engineering team ample opportunity to confirm the performance and handling qualities of the Safire Jet. Subsequent prototypes used for structural verification and certification flight test will fully conform to FAA-approved drawings. Safire anticipates full certification to FAR Part 23 (including Commuter category requirements for all subpart B performance and handling qualities regulations per FAR 23.21 through FAR 23.253) in 2006, with deliveries beginning immediately thereafter.
Safire's current order book lists 33 firm positions backed by nonrefundable deposits and fully signed sales agreements, plus an additional 357 nonbinding commitments that must be converted to signed contacts once the first Safire prototype has completed 10 hours of flight. To date, most of the orders rest with owner-operators, but the company anticipates considerable interest from fleet operators following first flight.
For more information on the company, see the Web site. - John W. Olcott