Recent certification of the Diamond DA62 and Nextant G90XT sees these twins depart at full throttle, while the ONE Aviation (Kestrel) K350 is pushed to the back of the hangar until more funding materializes. A sudden flurry of activity in the Czech Republic brings the EV-55 Outback back. Here-and-gone is the latest TBM from Daher, the 930, which was both introduced and entered service last month.

AI L 410 NG

Aircraft Industries of the Czech Republic has resumed manufacture of the Soviet-era Let L-410 19-seat utility turboprop to satisfy a steady market. Last July, it flew the prototype of a ‘new generation’ version, fitted with General Electric H85 engines, Garmin G3000 avionics, modernized cabin, a wing redesigned with extra fuel capacity (hence no tip tanks) and a longer nose for additional baggage space. EASA certification is planned for next year, while Russian approval (and local assembly) is also a priority.

ASI F406 Caravan II

Reims Aviation Industries was acquired in March 2014 by Chinese-owned Continental Motors Inc and renamed ASI Aviation. After two remaining incomplete airframes are finished in France the program will be transferred abroad, probably to Mobile, Alabama, where the 12-seat F406 will be face-lifted with new avionics, electrical and hydraulic systems, a new autopilot and an engine change: -135 versions of its existing P&WC PT6As, or Continental pistons, the latter rumored to be either the GTSIO-520 and/or the new diesel CD-310.

Beechcraft SETP

A long silence followed Beechcraft’s announcement of an 8/11-seat Single-Engine TurboProp (SETP) project at the 2012 NBAA Convention, this only broken at the same event three years later when General Electric announced that it is building the engine. Seen as a PT6A counterpart covering the 1,300-2,000 shp. range, the new GE turboprop will be ready for its first test run in 2018.

Textron Aviation is launching the still un-named SETP at Geneva this week. The TBM 900/930 and PC-12 had better look out. Wooing customers with an introductory price of US$4.5 million, the Garmin G3000-equipped utility airplane boasts a 53-in. wide, 59-in. high cargo door; 1,100-lb. full-fuel payload; 1,600 nm. range; 31,000 ft. ceiling; and 285 kt. maximum speed. McCauley is supplying a five-blade composite propeller.

CAIGA Leadair AG300

In 2010, China bought the rights to the ‘old’ Epic company’s family of large kitbuilt jets and turboprops. The five-seat Epic Escape is to be first in production, becoming the AG300. This made its ‘official’ first flight in July 2014, powered by an 850 shp. General Electric H85 turboprop and was scheduled to gain local type certification in 2015. For undisclosed reasons it did not fly with wheels retracted until November 23, 2015, implying some delay to the project. Range is 1,350 nm. and cruise 324 kt. Price: about US$1.5 million.

Diamond DA50-JP7

This five-seat version of the DA40 flew in 2007 and has taken time to find its optimum engine. After earlier false dawns, ‘Jet Prop 7’ flew in Austria on January 19, 2015 on the 465 hp. of a Ukrainian AI-450S turbine built by Motor Sich JSC in collaboration with Ivchenko Progress. Certification is planned in mid/late-2016, and to woo the expected Russian market, the standard ‘Speed’ version will be partnered by a large-wheeled ‘Tundra’ model with slotted flaps and enlarged door. That achieved, a piston-diesel version is to be offered with the eight-cylinder, 440 hp. Austro Engine HIPE AE440 being developed under the European Union’s Clean Sky initiative. The engine was first flown on November 6 last, in a test bed helicopter.

Epic E1000

December 19 was the day the factory-built, to-be-certified version of the discontinued, six-seat Epic LT kitplane took to the skies. A second conforming prototype is imminent. When last publicized, sales totaled at least 60, but the fact that half of them are in Russia (where Epic’s owners are based) might ring economic alarm bells. Priced at US$2.995 million typically equipped, and claimed to be the “fastest single-engine turboprop on the market”, the pressurized E1000 offers three-screen Garmin G1000 EFIS and 1,385 nm. range at 325 kt. with its 1,200-shp. (de-rated) PT6-67A turboprop.

Evektor EV-55 Outback                 

While its ultralight airplane and engineering consultancy business has prospered, Evektor has been less fortunate with the attractive EV-55 and for a lot of the time since the prototype’s June 2011 maiden flight, the Outback has appeared to languish – due in no small part to a failed Russian partnership agreement. But affairs began moving ahead on April 8 when the second, production-conforming prototype took to the air. There’s now cash in the bank sufficient to achieve certification by 2017, but funds remain elusive for the all-important step after that.

A pair of PT6A turboprops optimize the T-tail twin for international markets. Payload is 3,915 lb – either cargo or 9-14 passengers, according to certification. Typically, range with nine pax is 800 nm., cruising at up to 220 kt. Estimated equipped price is US$3.0 million.

Piper M600

Having given the PA-46 M-class some new designations in April 2015, Piper undertook a little more market “repositioning” two months ago. The move takes account of the fact that the flagship M600 is some nine months delayed and will not be certified until the third quarter of this year, but the good news is that its speed and range are up on first estimates and FIKI protection is standard.

Based on the M500, and with the same 600 shp. PT6A-42A engine, the M600 offers the first Garmin G3000 suite fitted in a turboprop single. There’s a redesigned wing and new fuel management, jointly boosting range with 1,200 lb. payload to 1,300 nm. plus 45 minutes’ reserves, for a base price of US$2.83 million.

Tecnam P2012 Traveller

Rolled out at the manufacturer’s new, purpose-built factory at Capua, Italy, on March 31, the Traveller prototype will fly next month, and looks to EASA and FAA certification by December 2018. for overdue replacement of ageing Part 23 workhorses like the Piper Navajo and Cessna 400-series twins, it is an economic, rugged, 10-passenger transport with high, cantilever wing and fixed landing gear, powered by a pair of 350 hp. Lycoming TEO-540-A1A flat-sixes intended to run on Avgas or Mogas. The aircraft will cruise at 170 kt. over 450 nm. Range with full passenger load, or 720 nm. with eight. Pure-freight and six-person executive versions are among the options.

XTI TriFan 600

Truly, a “people’s airplane”, the innovative TriFan obtained over US$20 million of non-binding, ‘crowdfunding’ pledges in a few months last year, and since January has converted more than US$1 million of this to stock against a US$3 million target for program launch.

TriFan is fitted with three five-blade ducted fans: two in the wing leading edges, swiveling through 90 degrees between hovering and forward propulsion, and one, fixed vertically in the rear fuselage, employed only during take-off and landing. Control is fly-by-wire, while carbon fiber and epoxy feature prominently in the structure. Two 1,300 shp. turboshafts in the center fuselage drive the propfans. At this stage, performance data for the US$12 million craft are sparse, with XTI only quoting a 695 nm. range.