At a press briefing at Oshkosh Tuesday, Rick Adam
brought reporters up to speed on progress being made on the
company's centerline-thrust twin, the A500, as well as on what they
hope will become their newest coup, the A700 twinjet.
Though the company is "focusing 95% of our efforts at certifying
the A500," Rick Adam told us, there has been a lot of progress on
the A700, which is the first twinjet to fly with only Williams
That's an interesting side note, that FJ-33. ANN asked John
Knudsen, Adam President, whether Sunday's first flight of the
A700 was the first time that the new Williams engine
had flown as the only power on an aircraft. (The engine has
significant time as a "second engine" on test aircraft.)
John's answer was that, yes it was, "as far as anyone will talk
President Knudsen also
answered one of our more-pointed questions, about how a 250kt wing
(as on the A500) would work on a .7Mach machine (the A700). John's
non-technical answer was that the wing's airfoil had a wide
effective range, and that both numbers were well within it. Would
it work on a yet-faster machine? "Why would you want to do that?"
John asked. Good question -- if you need to get into a different
range, just pick a different airfoil.
Back at the official talk, Mr. Adam said the new
plane, which is largely based on the A500, is piggybacking on a lot
of the technology developed for the piston-powered twin. In fact,
he teased us a bit about why the nomenclature -- A500 and
A700 -- didn't include an A600. "We're considering [though he was
emphatic to note, not 'planning'] a later demand for perhaps a
turbine, pusher single."
Always Optimistic, Staying on Schedule
Though Adam hasn't yet filed for certification, he
says he expects the airplane to be certified in "late 2004." He
sees performance numbers of 340 to 370 knots (depending on the
engines' thrust), with a range up to 1400 nm, depending on loading;
and he's hoping for a ceiling of as much as 41,000 feet.
Speaking of range, Adam sees the air taxi market to be a large
customer. "With all the seats full, you can easily go 500 nm," he
said. "That's perfect for a lot of the Eastern Corridor
The aircraft will be rolled out through Customer Service
Centers. The plan is to utilize a relationship that Adam is
building with Cirrus Design, Rick said, and have the Adam looked
after by a percentage of those Cirrus-friendly FBOs.
As to the differences between the A500 and the A700: the
fuselage on the jet is 30" longer; you'll also notice the "jet"
nose, and a 100-gallon fuel tank on the belly. "We took off about a
thousand pounds," Rick explained, "when we went from piston engines
to jets. That's good, because we need that for the extra fuel." One
will also note the tail of the aircraft (but not flying surfaces),
and the nacelles.
The machine is just about the same planform size as a
CJ-1, but, due to composite construction, roughly 30% (~3000lbs)
lighter, at gross. It also features a more-rectangular
cross-section in the fuselage, for a noticeable improvement in
shoulder- and headroom.
One more thing: the interior, on display (and
air-conditioned!) features six cup holders.
...and We Don't Know
There are still a few items left unknown. The de-icing, or ice
protection system, is still under discussion.
Just how fast it will go will depend on the thrust of
the FJ-33s. "Depending on the FADEC," Rick told us, "thrust can be
pretty much anywhere from 1200 to 1500 pounds." They're set
at the lower number now, and that's where they'll probably stay,
Adam said, "unless we see a need for more -- if the plane gets
heavier, or we need more climb." He noted, "We don't think that's
going to happen." So today's customers can plan for a livable fuel
As to fatigue and ultimate life of the airframe, Mr. Adam said
that he expects "initial certification life to be 5000 hours,"
rising as more fatigue testing and flight time get documented.
And those customers?
Rick Adam replied to an audience question: "We're not taking
orders, or deposits, until our numbers are more fully-developed.
That's what a lot of companies do, when they need some capital.
We're in good shape there."