After about 30 years in hibernation, Great Lakes biplanes are going back into production this year with the first deliveries scheduled for 2012.
Waco Classic, manufacturer of high-end Waco YMF biplanes, will build the much smaller and lighter Great Lakes models at its production facility in Battle Creek, Mich.
“Construction techniques for the Great Lakes are almost identical to what we do now,” said Peter Bowers, Waco Classic president. “It’s a great complement to our skill set, and it expands our product line.”
The Great Lakes 2T-1A is a two-seat, open-cockpit, aerobatic biplane with a 180-horsepower Lycoming AEIO-360 engine that went out of production in the early 1980s. About 125 were built in the 1970s.
Bowers said Waco Classic expects to take delivery of Great Lakes tooling and engineering drawings this week and begin manufacturing its first 2T-1A in about a month. The first Great Lakes biplane produced by Waco Classic is expected to make its first flight this summer.
Two models are planned: a “touring” version with a Lycoming IO-360 priced at $219,000 and a Sport model with inverted fuel and oil systems and an AEIO-360 priced at $239,000.
Bowers said Waco Classic has solid bookings for 2011 on its Waco line and expects to add to its current 30 employees to meet Great Lakes orders. The company hopes to sell about a dozen Great Lakes biplanes this year.
“The strength of the Waco line gave us the confidence to go ahead with the Great Lakes,” he said.