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Wed, Jul 25, 2007

Rotorway Debuts New A600 Talon At AirVenture 2007

Company Aims For An Affordable... And Certified... Helicopter

This week at AirVenture 2007, Rotorway proudly displayed its newest aircraft, the A600 Talon. Successor to the well-known Exec 162F, the A600 looks almost identical... but Rotorway CEO Grant Norwitz is quick to point out beneath the aircraft's skin is an entirely new aircraft.

Building upon Rotorway's experience in the kit helicopter world -- which Norwitz feels is due to B.J. Schram's efforts in creating the first Rotorway -- the company has incorporated many design changes planned to ease its transition into building a certified ship.

The A600 Talon is not an incremental change in Rotorway's aircraft, though the exterior remains much the same. Conventional steam gauges have been removed and replaced with a Stratomaster Enigma glass cockpit incorporating an HSI, CDI, TAWS, and GPS.

A FADEC control system, which Rotorway helped revolutionize in previous helicopters, now has a controller displaying every aspect of the system on the glass cockpit. The Talon is wider and taller than the Exec 162F it replaces, and a buyer can choose the conventional belt-driven tail rotor or a new design that incorporates a tailshaft assembly.

Two power plants are available for the new helicopter: a Rotorway 600N at 147 horsepower, and a Rotorway 600S, which is supercharged and ups horsepower to 167. The two-seat helicopter will have a useful load of 535 pounds, and a cruise speed of 100 miles per hour. Rotorway has also designed a brand new belt-driven system with a hydraulic tensioner to get the rotors turning.

With all of these changes, and through the evolution of Rotorway Helicopters, CEO Grant Norwitz (above) says "certification is something that we feel we have earned." Plans are to have the Talon certified first in Europe, then here in the states.

Rotorway has been testing the prototype since January, and the current A600 has flown for 180 hours. As Norwitz says, "we want to make sure we have a product that we want to fly." The A600 is aimed at the training market as well, and Rotorway plans to have the aircraft tested in the training environment at a Rotorway facility in South Africa. The helicopter comes with full dual controls and stability is reportedly similar to a Schweizer.

Norwitz also announced Rotorway is partnering with EAA and sponsoring the Young Eagles program; Norwitz hopes this will help build enthusiasm as well as bring new life to the helicopter industry. Rotorway has also sponsored an EAA section on the EAA website, which will document the build of the A600 much like the Discovery Channel series that documented the build of an earlier model.

But what does the A600 cost? With everything but the radio and transponder, the A600 kit will retail for $95,700. Another option is to buy the aircraft ready to fly, or "turn key," for $135,000, though this will not be the certified cost. Estimates are that the cost of a certified A600 will be somewhere in the $150,000 range.

Summing up the company's mission, Grant Norwitz says "part of our goal is affordable aviation."



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