unveils, seeks certification for new canard aircraft
By James Wynbrandt
manufacturer Cobalt Aircraft Industries is unveiling at AirVenture what it hopes
to be the world's first certificated piston-powered canard production single:
"I took the decision of building a canard
[on the Co50] the first time I flew a canard on a Rutan design," said David
Loury, president and CEO of Cobalt in Toussus-le-Noble, France. "I found
that the flight experience was just amazing, and a well-designed canard doesn't
The four-plus-one passenger Co50 also features
swept wings, twin tail fins, and a pusher engine-Teledyne Continental Motors'
twin-turbocharged TSIOF-550-D2B, a 350-horse six-cylinder with the company's
full authority digital engine control, or FADEC.
The designer expects the engine-airframe
combination to deliver a top speed of 245 knots and a 220-knot cruise.
Loury first began designing a production aircraft
nine years ago while studying aerospace engineering at Georgia Institute of
Technology (Georgia Tech), at the dawn of the hope-filled very light jet era.
"It wasn't a canard, and it was very
ugly," Loury said of the initial concept.
He subsequently went to work for EADS in France
and began developing the Co50 five years ago. In 2007 he built a model of the
aircraft and began searching for investors.
He completed a first round of financing in 18
months and began developing the prototype, refining the design with input from
potential customers, investors, and users of high-performance general aviation
"They brought me a lot of ideas on what they
wanted to see in an aircraft, and the things they were not satisfied with from
airplanes that are on the market," Loury said of those who contributed
Cabin space, speed, and visibility were among
their primary concerns.
The twin tail fins were incorporated to ensure
the wide cabin does not block airflow over the tail fins in any flight
Cobalt plans to rely on subcontractors to build
the majority of the parts, and 95 percent of the prototype on display at the
Cobalt Booth (#21 and #22 in the Main Aircraft Display area) was
subcontractor-supplied. The company plans to make its first flight in the
prototype Co50 before the end of this year.
"To be quite honest, I hesitated to come
here because I wanted to have something flying before coming to Oshkosh,"
said Loury, who is making his first visit to AirVenture.
"But many people told me, 'If you're not in
Oshkosh, you don't exist.' So for investors, for some contractors, for potential
customers, this was a good thing to come and show the aircraft."
The Co50 was unveiled online about three weeks
ago (www.Cobalt-Aircraft.com), and
Loury said the company has received more than 500 inquiries from potential
Preliminary specs for the Co50 call for an empty
weight of 1,874 pounds, a maximum gross weight of 3,087 pounds, and a
1,213-pound useful load. The 109-gallon tank gives the aircraft a projected
range of 1,150 nm.
Cobalt plans to conduct flight tests in the
United States and pursue FAA Part 23 certification initially, and expects the
process to take two to three years.
Cost of the Co50 will be about $650,000, Loury
said, in line with similar performing aircraft such as the Cessna Corvalis,
Cirrus SR22, and Diamond DA50. However, Loury said the Co50 will come standard
with many items other aircraft in this class consider extra-cost items-such as
Loury is under no illusions about the challenges
ahead for his company and for the Co50, but exudes absolute faith in the
prospects for the aircraft he is debuting here.
"I know what happened to the major new
(aircraft) ventures in the last five to 10 years," Loury said, alluding to
startups such as Eclipse Aviation and Adam Aircraft whose promise went
unfulfilled. "I know the road is long, there are going to be a lot of
obstacles, but I'm 100 percent confident we are going to sell the aircraft
because we have refined this design by listening to the pilots and to the
DATES: 2014: July 28-Aug. 3;
2015: July 27-Aug. 2