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New Zealand Aviation Success Takes to the Air


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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 19 April 2006


New Zealand Aviation Success Takes to the Air

Alpha Aviation – New Zealand’s newest aircraft manufacturer – has unveiled its first aircraft, fresh off the production line.

The Alpha 160A two-seat aerobatic training aircraft took to the skies above Hamilton was put through its paces by veteran Australian aerobatic and test pilot, Noel Kruse.

With testing and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) production audits almost complete the issue of a Type certificate for the Alpha 160A is expected very shortly. This will clear the way for Alpha Aviation to commence full-scale production to meet an ever increasing order book.

Alpha Aviation secured the sole world wide rights from French company Apex Industries to manufacture and market the Alpha 2000 series (formerly known as the Robin R2160 and R2120) training aircraft in late 2004. Since then, the company has established an impressive facility at Hamilton Airport, translated all the aircraft plans from the original French, invested considerable funds in development to improve and update the aircraft, and employed a staff of leading New Zealand aircraft engineers and assemblers to get the job done.

The Alpha 2000 series comprised of the basic trainer Alpha 120T, the fuel injected aerobatic trainer and cross country touring Alpha 160Ai, and the FAA certified 160A aerobatic trainer aircraft, is now ready for take off.

To date, Alpha Aviation has received 9 confirmed orders and is in the last stages of negotiating contracts on a further 18 orders for the Alpha aircraft from both New Zealand and international purchasers. With the cost of the aircraft ranging from NZ$199,000 to NZ$249,000, and many sectors of the aviation industry in decline, this is no small feat.

Alpha Aviation Managing Director, Richard Sealy said Alpha Aviation’s achievements can be attributed to two significant factors: Firstly, the Alpha 2000 series aircraft were specifically designed as trainer aircraft and have been flight-proven over many years. Many other aircraft serving as trainers were originally designed as cross country touring aircraft and don’t have the strength and durability of the purpose-built Alpha 2000 series aircraft. The second factor has been the successful identification of a substantial niche market.

“Alpha Aviation was formed with the express purpose of securing the world wide rights to manufacture and market the Alpha 2000 series aircraft. Our due diligence had assured us there was a significant gap in the aviation market for two-seat, all metal training aircraft suitable for aero clubs, flying schools and private owner operators wanting robust, responsive, manoeuvrable and – above all – cost effective aircraft.

“We were convinced that the Alpha 2000 series had all these attributes and more. With a flight proven, fully certified design, the formerly French built Alpha had suffered from inconsistent manufacture and quality, although it had a loyal following in aerobatic circles. We have made a number of design technological improvements, addressed the issues of quality control and given the aircraft the considerable marketing advantage of being ‘Kiwi Made’,” Mr Sealy said.

Alpha Aviation is not only a New Zealand business success story, but also an international example of best practice. In one of the world’s toughest industries – aviation – Alpha Aviation is enjoying spectacular success at a time when airlines and aircraft manufacturers are failing.

“We were careful to identify a specific area where there are very few competitors. The two-seat training aircraft market has been under supplied for more than 20 years. Hefty insurance premiums due to America’s strict public liability laws in the 1980s resulted in many of the major manufacturers of these aircraft such as Cessna, Piper and Diamond withdrawing from the market. The result being that internationally there’s an ageing two-seat training aircraft fleet requiring replacement and few options available,” Mr Sealy said.

At full capacity, the interim Alpha Aviation facility will be capable of producing four aircraft per month. However, demand already looks like exceeding this capability and planning has already commenced for the construction of additional capacity.

“It is already clear that our existing capacity won’t be able to fulfil our needs. Whilst we plan to manufacture around 50 aircraft over the next 12 months, our existing and potential orders have been received with very little marketing effort. Once we begin marketing in earnest, we believe we won’t be able to meet demand so we are already identifying potential factory expansion opportunities,” Mr Sealy said.

The first three Alpha 160A aircraft off the production line are destined to fly locally; the Waikato Aero Club has purchased them. The next two are heading south to Southern Wings in Invercargill.

“We’re delighted we have already received so much local interest. However, the real value in this business lies in the export market and we have already taken orders from the United Kingdom, South Africa and Australia. And, we believe that there is massive potential for the Alpha 2000 series in the United States which represents 69 per cent of the aviation market, world wide,” Mr Sealy said.

With orders now being accepted for 2007 / 2008 production, the ongoing success of Alpha Aviation is all but assured. And, it is estimated that aside from revenue generated by the sale of the Alpha 2000 series, Alpha Aviation will pump more than NZ$75 million into the local economy over the next 10 years.

ENDS

ALPHA AVIATION
Background information


ABOUT ALPHA AVIATION

Alpha Aviation, located in Hamilton, New Zealand, secured the sole world wide rights to manufacture and market the Alpha 2000 series training aircraft (formerly known as the Robin R2160 and Robin R2120) in 2004.

The Alpha 2000 series is comprised of the basic trainer Alpha 120T, the fuel injected aerobatic trainer and cross country touring Alpha 160Ai, and the FAA certified 160A aerobatic trainer aircraft. These aircraft have been updated and improved to bring them in line with the standards expected of aircraft manufactured in this decade.

Alpha Aviation's aim is to produce an aircraft that is affordable for aero clubs, flying schools and private owner/operators, yet without compromising quality.


PRODUCTION OF THE ALPHA 2000 SERIES

Production of the Alpha 2000 series has now commenced at Alpha Aviation's purpose-built facility, part of an impressive aviation 'cluster' that has been established at Hamilton Airport. Opened in August 2005 by New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark, Alpha Aviation's factory is essentially an assembly plant with all aircraft componentary being sub-contracted out - in many cases to local suppliers.

The assembly line is comprised of a series of jigs, each specifically designed to enable the final construction of an aircraft sub-assembly. Most importantly, Alpha Aviation’s plant is staffed by some of New Zealand's most experienced and respected aircraft engineers and assemblers.

The site also contains a state-of-the-art painting facility built in Italy to Alpha's exacting specifications.

Unlike the French Robin which was handbuilt and resulted in inconsistent quality, Alpha Aviation has adopted a production line approach and maintains strict control of the process. Component parts are manufactured to stringent specifications and there are exacting quality control measures in place.

At full capacity, the current Alpha Aviation facility will be capable of producing four aircraft per month. It is anticipated that demand will exceed this capacity and planning is already underway for the construction of additional capacity.


HISTORY OF THE TYPE

The Alpha 2000 series began life as the Robin R2160 and Robin R2120 training aircraft. Originally designed by Frenchman Pierre Robin and manufactured most recently by Apex Industries outside Dijon, the 'Robin' series has been in production since the 1970s. However, production had been halted at various times and less than 350 were ever made. In the 1990s, the Robin was renamed ‘Alpha’ to distinguish it from Apex’s wooden aircraft and the last French-built Alpha was manufactured in December 2004.

In 2004, Alpha Aviation purchased the full rights from Apex Industries to the French Robin/Alpha design. The company has subsequently made a number of design and technological improvements to the aircraft.


ABOUT ALPHA SERIES 2000 AIRCRAFT

The Alpha 2000 series has been designed as a trainer aircraft to meet the specific requirements of flight training organisations. The Alpha 120T is a non aerobatic flight trainer, while the Alpha 160A and Alpha 160Ai are fully aerobatic flight trainers. However, all the models are built to the same exacting standards required of an aerobatic aircraft. These remarkable, hard working trainers are responsive and manoeuvrable aircraft; the rugged, all metal, conventionally constructed two seat trainers offer a superior flying experience.

It is important to note that the fully certified Alpha series aircraft are from a flight-proven design.

The Alpha 160A and 160Ai are powered by the Lycoming 0-320 D2A and AEIO-320 D2B respectively and are rated at 160hp; they offer unparalleled performance for light aircraft in their class. Certified to +6 /-3 "G's" the Alpha 160A and the top of the line 160Ai are also very capable aerobatic performers. The Alpha 120T basic trainer is derived from the Alpha 160A and offers the same crisp handling quality of the Alpha 160 but with more modest operating costs through utilisation of the Lycoming 0-235 Series (118hp) power plant.

For further information,visit www.alphaaviation.co.nz


ALPHA 120T SPECIFICATIONS

Certification category [U] Utility
Engine, Lycoming O-235, 118hp
Propeller, Sensenich fixed pitch
Empty weight 544 kg (1201 lb)
Gross weight 800 kg (1764 lb)
Useful load 256 kg (565 lb)
Wing span 8.33 m (27 ft 4 in)
Fuel capacity 120 l (31.7 US Gal)
Max. cruising speed, 75% best altitude 104 kt
Max. range, 65% power, best altitude 510 NM
Climbing speed, sea level, at MTOW 630 ft/min
Take-off distance, over 50 ft obstacle 490 m (1608 ft)
Landing distance, over 50 ft obstacle 480 m (1575 ft)

Cost NZ$199,000 + GST


ALPHA 160A SPECIFICATIONS

Certification category Aerobatic
Engine, Lycoming O-320 160hp
Propeller, Sensenich fixed pitch
Empty weight 585 kg (1290 lb)
Gross weight 900 kg (1984 lb)
Wing span 8,72 m (28 ft 7in)
Fuel capacity, standard 120 l (31.7 US Gal)
Fuel capacity, optional 160 I (42.2 US Gal)
Max. cruising speed, 75% best altitude 242 km/h (131 kt)
Max. range, 65% power, best altitude 1030 km (558 NM)
Take-off distance, over 50 ft obstacle (MTOW)574 m (1883 ft)
Landing distance, over 50 ft obstacle (MTOW)440 m (1444 ft)

Cost NZ$230,000 + GST


ALPHA 160Ai SPECIFICATIONS

Certification category Aerobatic
Engine, Lycoming AEIO-320 160hp
Propeller, Sensenich fixed pitch
Empty weight 595 kg (1305 lb)
Gross weight 900 kg (1984 lb)
Wing span 8,72 m (28 ft 7in)
Fuel capacity, standard 160 l (42.2 US Gal)
Max. cruising speed, 75% best altitude 242 km/h (131 kt)
Max. range, 65% power, best altitude 1030 km (558 NM)
Take-off distance, over 50 ft obstacle (MTOW)574 m (1883 ft)
Landing distance, over 50 ft obstacle (MTOW)440 m (1444 ft)

Cost NZ$249,000 + GST

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