aircraft manufacturer GippsAero Pty Ltd. received an FAA type
certificate for the Airvan GA8 TC-320, the turbocharged version of its
GA8 utility aircraft, at AirVenture on Wednesday. Powered by a 320-hp
Lycoming TIO-540-AH1A engine, the eight-seat aircraft has already earned
Australian Civil Aviation Authority (CASA) and European Aviation Safety
Agency (EASA) certification.
Fifteen of the aircraft are already in
service, according to the company. Designed for operations on unimproved
strips and remote locations, more than 150 GA8 aircraft have been sold
since production began in 2000.
Freight haulers, missionary services, and
adventure tourism companies are among the operators. Additional
applications include search and rescue, air ambulance, patrol and
surveillance, and passenger service.
GippsAero now has the financial
wherewithal to expand its production capabilities and product line.
Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. (M&M), an India-based conglomerate,
completed its purchase of GippsAero just a few days ago.
"We've been a small company that's
battled along in the worldwide aviation market," said George
Morgan, GippsAero's director of technology, "Mahindra really put
fuel in our tank. Now we're really getting up and running."
M&M Executive Director and CEO Arvind
Mehra noted, "We have plans to significantly invest" in
GippsAero." This was also Mehra's first visit to Oshkosh, calling
M&M has made an initial investment of
$20 million to ramp up GippsAero's production capabilities, and plans to
expand the Airvan family of utility aircraft. Already in the development
pipeline are the GA10, a 10-seat single-engine turboprop; and the GA18,
a 16-passenger twin turboprop. All will bear the Airvan name, as the
company believes that accurately portrays the aircraft's mission.
"I like a name that says what the
product is," Morgan said, recounting how Australian aviation
authorities initially refused to grant GippsAero use of the name,
fearing confusion with Airbus. Morgan prevailed upon a senior executive
at Airbus he knew, and secured a letter to Australian authorities from
the airliner manufacturer criticizing the authorities for believing
"anyone would confuse a bus with a lowly van." Permission for
use of the Airvan name was granted.
A GA8 Airvan recently completed an
around-the-world flight under the banner of Millions Against Malaria (www.millionsagainstmalaria.com)
to raise money for research and treatment of the disease. M&M helped
underwrite the flight, and pilot Tim Pryce, who flew the mission with
fellow pilot Ken Evers, provided an account of the flight during the
"The aircraft was trouble-free
around the globe," Pryce said.