A Mexican-built light aircraft made out of compressed wood and fiberglass is now in the manufacturing stage and will soon take to the skies for the first time.
The civil aviation agency (DGAC) has authorized flight tests at the Querétaro International Airport for the first prototype (H1) of the plane designed and built by the company Horizontec.
Founding partner Giovanni Angelucci said the prototype is the result of a collaboration with the National Center of Aerospace Technologies (Centa).
“Our vision is to develop European [style] technology, mainly together with Centa. In fact, we are incubating [the business] at the center and testing the materials and components we develop,” Angelucci said.
The project for the plane started two years ago with an engineering design that was validated this year by Centa academics.
European aviation experts are currently contributing to the manufacturing phase while Centa provides raw materials, machinery and facilities for simulation and verification. Engineers from the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) and the Querétaro Aeronautical University (Unaq) are also working on the project.
Measuring seven meters in length and with a wingspan of 9.4 meters, the two-seater, 100-horsepower-engine aircraft belongs to the light sport aircraft category. It will have a flight range of eight hours, an average top speed of 250-300 kilometers per hour and can reach an altitude of 15,000 feet.
Angelucci described it as a good aircraft for people learning to fly and with fuel consumption of just 10-12 liters per hour, very efficient.
Horizontec plans to take the prototype to airshows in the United States next year and once on the market the fully-developed version is expected to sell for between US $120,000 and $260,000, depending on the type of engine and avionics it contains.
The company plans to make between five and 10 of the planes next year in its own new factory although it is still analyzing where it will build it. Guanajuato, Querétaro and Aguascalientes are all being considered as the future home for the fledgling business.
Building on an initial investment of an estimated US $36.7 million, in coming years the company expects to build between 30 and 40 planes annually but Angelucci said that Horizontec also wants to contribute to the wider Mexican aerospace industry.
“We’re trying to make an ecosystem with Mexican suppliers as we already have partnerships with companies from Jalisco, Guanajuato, Aguascalientes, Querétaro, Puebla and Mexico City . . . .” he said.
The Mexican aerospace industry is set to reach US $8 billion worth of exports this year on the back of international demand for parts but the homegrown plane building industry is also experiencing a resurgence.
The Secretariat of National Defense recently returned to building its own planes almost a century after it abandoned the industry while Horizontec previously manufactured another light aircraft, made out of wood, with the Mexican firm Pirwi.
Source: El Financiero (sp)