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All-Composite Spectrum 33 Twinjet Takes Flight

  • Friday, 3rd February 2006
  • Reading time: about 3 minutes

Spectrum have announced that their next-generation, carbon fibre Spectrum 33 twinjet made its first flight early last month.

The Spectrum 33 is a new light business jet that’s built using a carbon fibre construction process that gives it virtually the same size cabin as the most popular, current-production, eight to nine seat light business jets, but at a substantially lighter weight. The Spectrum 33 is designed to cruise at up to 415 knots [477 mph] and fly as far as 2,000 nautical miles. Notably, it is claimed that it will consume half as much fuel as current-production aircraft having the same cabin, range and speed.

“This marks an important point in our development program,” said Linden Blue, founder and CEO of Spectrum. “Weight reduction is key to boosting fuel efficiency and lowering operating costs. The first flight of Spectrum 33 is a testament to the dedication and hard work put in by an extremely talented team.” The aircraft was built by a Spectrum Aeronautical and Rocky Mountain Composites [RMC] joint-design team at RMC’s plant on the Springville-Spanish Fork municipal airport, about eight miles southeast of Provo, Utah.

Spectrum 33 soared off Spanish Fork’s relatively short, 4,500 ft elevation runway in about 750 ft on its first flight, even though it was using greatly reduced takeoff thrust. It was then repositioned to the Provo, Utah airport, a landing facility with a considerably longer runway. William “Bill” Davies, Spectrum’s Chief of Flight Test and Ian Hollingsworth, another veteran test pilot, were at the controls.

“The acceleration and climb performance of the 33 is remarkable,” Davies said. “It has excellent takeoff and landing characteristics.” He commented that the aircraft performed as expected, but that pitch control was not optimum. Spectrum’s engineers, as a result, will modify the aircraft’s flight control system to increase pitch control authority at higher speeds. In about a week, Davies and Hollingsworth will resume testing the aircraft. Davies also noted that “Provo’s longer runway will let us explore handling characteristics beyond what’s possible at Spanish Fork.”

Craig Simpson, president of RMC said that the firm’s fibeXtm material and the processes used to build the aircraft, “represent a major leap forward in aircraft structures technology compared to conventional aluminum airframes and existing composite techniques.” The fibeXtm process was pioneered by Larry Ashton, RMC’s Chairman.

Once comprehensive testing of the current proof-of-concept aircraft is complete, Spectrum Aeronautical will freeze the design and build production conforming flight test aircraft to be used for certification testing. FAA Type Certification of the Spectrum 33 is slated for late 2007 or in 2008.

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