A start-up with links to the original Cirrus management team has launched a sporty new amphibian development projected dubbed the “MVP”.
Anticipating scrutiny associated with a start-up aircraft manufacturer, MVP Aero officials also emphasize they are taking a fresh approach to the conventional model of developing, building and marketing a new aircraft.
Mike Van Staagen, MVP Aero’s executive vice-president, is bluntly honest about the challenging of finding a market for the $189,000 light sport aircraft (LSA).
“This is an expensive airplane,” says Van Staagen, designer of the Cirrus Vision jet. “I can’t afford it myself.”
The key to making the pricing model work is offering buyers more value, he says. In general aviation, value is often defined as a function of utilization and the cost to operate. So a $150,000 aircraft flown 100h per year has a value of $1,500 per flight hour, Van Staagen says.
MVP’s objective is to design the aircraft to increase utlisation by a factor of two or three, perhaps driving the hourly value of the product to $500, Van Staagen says.
The design of the MVP is certainly different, even for an amphibian. The canopy opens and raises aft behind the fuselage, revealing a flat foredeck ahead of the instrument panel. Both seats in the cockpit can be removed and installed on a lightweight pedestal on the foredeck, creating a platform not unlike a bass fishing boat.
Catwalks extend around the fuselage from the nose to the tail. The hull is designed to manage up to 200kg (440lb) in body weight without listing, allowing the pilot and a passenger to be on the same side of the vessel. The length of the tail boom was partly based on a requirement to accommodate a hammock connect from the vertical stabisler to the pusher engine.
MVP Aero also is seeking to define a new business model. The company has partnered with existing manufacturers, such as Glasair, to produce the aircraft, allowing up to six to eight MVPs to be delivered monthly.
Other features are more subtle. Van Staagen says he chose fabric to cover the wing to save weight, then shaped the surface with a constant chord because it will need more ribs than a metallic and composite structure. The constant section greatly simplifies the tooling required, he says.
MVP plans to deliver a kit-built version within three years, followed by an experimental version in four years and a certificated LSA in five years, says president Darrell Lynds.
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Like many general aviation charity groups, members of the Volunteer Pilots Association provide air transportation for those in need of medical treatment. In addition to flying patients, the group, based in Bridgeville, PA, also transports donor organs.