Europa Aircraft, maker of the Millennium Product-winning Europa XS two-seater aeroplane, is aiming to slash the cost of light aircraft by adopting mass production techniques.
Founder and chief executive Ivan Shaw aims to have the new aircraft on sale next year, and to produce up to 2,000 annually.
`We’re working on a totally new aircraft designed for volume manufacture, with precision parts designed to slot together on the production line,’ said Shaw.
The aircraft industry is at the stage the automotive industry was at 80 years ago, said Shaw, when cars were hand built by craftsmen. `The simplest aircraft today has a tenth of the complexity of a typical modern car, but it costs 10 times as much. There’s no reason for that except that it’s handbuilt. It takes 2,000 hours to build a small light aircraft, whereas Nissan builds a Micra in five and a half hours.’
Europa has sold over 600 Europa XS aircraft in nearly six years since the company was formed.
The XS uses composite construction and does 50mpg on unleaded petrol.