As the questions over the future of the G180 SPn utility jet once again hangs in the balance, it increasingly looks like a decision will not be made this year as initially forecast.
The fate of the business jet rests in the hands of French defense, logistics and aircraft company Daher-Socata.
Socata, which builds the TBM850, has long harboured ambitions to expand its aircraft portfolio, but long been hobbled by a lack of interest from its parent EADS. The sale to privately held Daher in early 2009 has raised the potential of further action, leading to Daher-Socata to enter into an agreement with the rights holders for SPn about using it to launch a new program. The program has been in limbo since the original developer, Grob, went bankrupt. Although the training aircraft business of Grob has since been acquired by H3 Aerospace, the German company did not acquire the rights to the SPn opening the door to the Daher-Socata move. The company, which has been using existing SPn prototypes to evaluate the aircraft, had signalled it would make a decision this year, but not officials signal that may slip into 2010.
When the program was shut down after the chief investor, Irish entrepreneur Dermot Desmond, refused to pump in more money, about nine months were left in the development program. But due to the prolonged hiatus in SPn activities, and required start-up time, it would take at least a year to reach completion. At the time of the critical design review, when the program was essentially frozen, there were 184 engineering items left to be addressed.
Still, a revival of the SPn could trigger an upgrade to Honeywell's Apex avionics suite.
The SPn program began to unravel in 2006 when a prototype crashed, after which developers were unable to get the program and schedule back on track.