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Work proceeds down under on LightWings SP-6000

The SP-6000 will seat 6 in a standard 3 row seating arrangement and CEO Howie Hughes claims the SP-6000 will be the worlds largest and most sophisticated kit aircraft. The SP-6000 has a composite body and aluminum wings, the first aircraft will have a high strut braced wing but a faster low wing will also be available in 2013. The airframe is a complete departure from the standard "rag and tube" way we have been doing things for the past 25 years" says Howie Hughes " epoxy carbon fiber is the main material used to construct the one piece 9 m long fuselage.

So why use aluminum for the wings ? Howie says " we didn't want to make a hard job even harder, we have wing jigs and all the necessary tooling to make ally wings so we have gone with that material at this time". The SP-6000 will carry 6 adults and baggage plus 250l fuel at about 140 kts. and will initially be powered by an in-house auto conversion, an LS3 V8. Howie explains, there is a move away from avgas for a number of reasons all over the world so we believe a V8 will be a better investment for the future. Also, at LightWing, we have always favored liquid-cooled gear drive engines over the older style aircooled direct drive, so the V8 with over 6l capacity and our own 2:1 gear reduction, is a natural choice. A turbine will also be an option for the future for the faster low wing version of the aircraft.

As for the market, Howie observed that there are literally thousands of light jets and aircraft in the 4 to 6 seat category on the market at the present time as those no doubt feeling the GFC pinch sell down their assets but this sector will find it difficult to do without their aircraft in the longer term and will turn to more cost-effective alternatives that provide a similar level of comfort and flexibility.

Assembling the kit will take either the owner or a small group of aircraft fitters a few months to complete and yes, this will not be cheap but if, at the end of the project, you have a large and comfortable light aircraft then I believe building an SP-6000 will have a degree of appeal across the light aviation spectrum. In Australia, we have seen over the past 20 years, the home builder taking on projects as sophisticated as the Lancair pressurized 4 seater powered by Walter turbines, now this is a brilliant aircraft capable of serious international trips, Howie met a guy who built one of these aircraft, flew it to the USA, set a number of world records on the way, sold it for way more than what it cost him and was very happy with the overall outcome of the project, "this is the type of person we are after with the SP-6000" Howie said.

As for other options, the fuselage is a standalone item, it will feature 2 front sections, one for a single engine ( LS3 V8 on the front) but an optional nose or cockpit will be developed that will permit a twin engine installation to be fitted, Amphib floats will most likely be fitted to the prototype.

LightWing is currently exploring a Joint Venture with an un-named Chinese manufacturer, to produce most of the composite tooling for the SP-6000.

Like all the aircraft that have come from the Ballina based LightWing factory, located about 20 mins drive south of Australias iconic Byron Bay, the SP-6000 is the aircraft that Howie Hughes wants to own, Howie comments" I am so sick of the absurd airport security procedures, I mean, I guess they are necessary but I am just sick of them, I want my own personal airliner albeit a mini one, and thats what the SP-6000 is, It looks like a small A-320 and it will have a similar feel only at about 100th the size! AND yes, I may even pat myself down and search myself before stepping on-board ! Taking into account the time we all spend at the airport getting searched and checking in etc., an aircraft that can cruise at 140 to 150 kts will get you around a country like Australia in nearly the same time that a commercial aircraft can, well under most circumstances anyway, enter the SP-6000, its a long term project and we, at LightWing, believe the project has wings so to speak

Press release issued by Hughes Group on March 7, 2011


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Hughes Group Airframer


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Lightwing AC4

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