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June 2006 edition

Engine specialist's sky high aircraft dream nears production reality

By Rod Smith

Steve Schultz is moving a major step closer to seeing his dream of a new composite aircraft that can be stored in a trailer become a production reality.

The ceo of Ion Aircraft based in St Paul, Minnesota, is organising test flights for this autumn for the aircraft which has already won 50 orders.

Schultz, a machinist, engine specialist and welder, is one of four employees at Ion Aircraft which was born out of disappointment.

Six years ago about 145 people put deposits down on a small plane that never made it past prototype. Schultz and 14 others decided they would design and build their own plane.

The vision, and the production specifications, have been tight. Schultz said: "We wanted a beautiful airplane with good performance at a reasonable price."

The plane had to comply with the rules for the U.S. Federal Aviation Admin.'s (FAA) Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA) category. The concept entailed tandem seating, with a raised rear seat. This was designed to give pilot and passenger an unobstructed, panoramic view.

The designers also wanted a rear-facing powerplant installed between the twin boom tail - and easily removable wings. The idea was that the aircraft could be stored in an enclosed trailer. This had several advantages. Owners would save on airport storage fees. And, from the production point of view, Ion could offer the plane with interchangeable wings. These could be a longer set t....

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AirBoss Aerospace, Inc. Metal Structures, Composite Structures, Aircraft Structural Components, Project Management Consultants, Fabricating Services, Engineering Design Services, Design Services
SolidWorks Corporation Computer-aided Design
Toray Composites (America) Inc. Carbon-reinforced Composites, Polymer Composites, Prepreg
Newport Adhesives and Composites, Inc. Carbon-reinforced Composites, Resins, Aramid-reinforced Composites

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