Aussie firm with a foxy new trainer
A new breed of aircraft could be the ideal trainer for the Gulf's growing carriers. Liz Moscrop reports
Foxcon Aviation, a producer of light sport aircraft (LSA), has had a brush with success in Australia and is now expanding its paw print to the MENA region.
The Australian firm has appointed Algeria-based Yahia Almouboudi as its exclusive agent in the region.
He explained: “We are searching for partners and investors in the region as we are looking to build a facility in Libya or Algeria, or possibly Qatar or the United Arab Emirates.”
The reasoning is clear. LSA products are economical and ideal for flight-training applications. And, as Almouboudi pointed out, flight-training is a growth area in the region.
He explained: “When you look at the expansion of the likes of Emirates and Qatar, you can see there is a real need for cost-effective, yet robust trainers.”
Foxcon’s range of aircraft is the result of global national airworthiness authorities (NAAs) adopting similar rules to address advances in sport and recreational aviation technology.
LSA rulings aim to allow for the manufacture of safe and economical light sport aircraft. In June 2008, Foxcon used the guidelines to create its Terrier 200 type.
The company says that the key to the aircraft’s success is its lightness. Its maximum take-off weight of just 600kg comes from a construction that comprises a perforated foam-like board placed between the two layers of fibreglass, which loses its resin during the vacuum-moulding process as it is sucked through the board’s perforations, bonding the two layers and providing very high-strength skin. This is particularly valuable when constructing the fuselage and aerofoils.
Its propeller is made of carbon composite, rather than wood, which can be subject to fatigue and distortion when entering rain during flight.
Its numbers also stack up favourably when compared to heavier types, such as Cessna’s ill-fated, yet practical, Skycatcher. The Terrier200 is priced at $59,600 (according to the company’s website) rather than the $95,500 for the Skycatcher.
It also offers a 600nm range, lands in 100 metres and cruises at 110kts. It is not particularly thirsty either, with a fuel burn of 13 litres per hour, as opposed to the Skycatcher’s 22 litres. It can also come with a glass cockpit, depending on customer specifications.
As a private pilot who has been involved in aviation for several years, Almouboudi said he could see the potential across the region as commercial carriers expand their routes and the requirement for pilots grows.
Indeed, should Foxcon succeed in its ambitions it will join Italy’s Tecnam, which has already had some success in the Gulf, with an installed fleet of at least 11 of its 14 different types. Distributor Aviation Home is one of the largest distributors in the Middle East region (GCC countries) and is Tecnam’s sole distributor in Qatar.
Aviation Home also offers shipping, customs clearance, registration, assembly, training and maintenance, and has aircraft flying with both private owners and flight-training schools in Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
Although Cessna only sold 195 Skycatchers, there are around 50 companies still producing LSAs, which are ideal for flight-training applications, as they are both robust and economical. “I believe this product could succeed in the Middle East first,” said Almouboudi, “and then expand into northern Africa.”