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September 2005 edition

Growing pains: The transition from aircraft prototype to commercial venture

By Dan Cook

Filip Lambert is about to launch his own aircraft manufacturing business, constructing an aeroplane that he designed as a student at Cranfield over 10 years ago. What started out as a simple prototype has evolved into a project generating over one million euros of investment. Daniel Cook meets the md of Lambert Aircraft Engineering to find out how he went from airline pilot to entrepreneur.

Had it not been for the 1992 Gulf War, Filip Lambert would probably be flying airliners, not about to begin manufacturing the aircraft he first drew more than a decade ago.

With airline recruitment largely frozen, the would-be pilot took a different tack, enrolling to do a Masters degree in Aeronautical Design at Cranfield University in the UK.

His thesis design, the Mission M212-100 light aircraft, went on to win a prestigious Royal Aeronautical Society competition in 1995, beating some 40 entries, many from teams of experienced designers employed at the likes of British Aerospace.

From that point on, the only way was forward to prototype, certification and production.

After ten years and more than one million euros of investment, Lambert Aircraft Engineering has begun production of its first batch of five Mission M212-200s, in its own factory in Belgium.

The current design hasn’t changed that much from the original CAD model he made a decade ago, Lambert says.

The M212-200 airframe costs 60,000 euros, or 100,000 euros for the complete package including a new engine and instruments. It is....

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