Started by Walter Extra, the company has been manufacturing aerobatic airplanes almost exclusively with their latest products being the Extra EA-300 series. The company recently introduced a new single seat acrobatic aircraft the EA-330SC. The company introduced the Extra EA-400 in 2001. This was a cross-country airplane with many exclusive features including carbon fiber construction, pressurized cabin, high strutless wing, and seating for six.
The EA-500 was introduced as an alternative version of the EA-400 with the piston engine replaced by a Rolls-Royce Model 250-B17F/2 turboprop yielding 450 horsepower (340 kW), weighing 205 pounds (93 kg), and driving a 5 bladed propeller. This engine is widely used in small helicopters and was designed to have good fuel efficiency at lower altitudes. Unlike larger turboprops, the EA-500 can operate efficiently over a wide range of altitudes, allowing the best wind direction to be selected. The maximum cruise speed of 225kts is at 12000 feet. Walter Extra flew the first EA-500 from Germany to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, to illustrate its range and capabilities. The most recent changes to the aircraft come from Avidyne with their latest glass avionics, Entegra R9.
The company continues to produce the EA-300 range of aerobatic aircraft, and is planning to produce the EA-500 for the United States market. The weak US dollar against the Euro has kept the aircraft from entering the US market, despite pricing that would make the aircraft the least expensive turboprop aircraft in its class. Currently the company is investigating plans to assemble the aircraft in the US. The current price of Jet A makes the EA500 more attractive even with cruise speed lower than the competition. With a much lower thermodynamic rating, the Rolls Royce power plant is not able to maintain horsepower at altitude like its Pratt and Whitney PT-6 powered competitors. The Piper Meridian is able to cruise at 260 knots (480 km/h) at 30,000 feet (9,100 m) while the Extra 500 cruises at 226 knots (419 km/h) at 25,000 feet (7,600 m). With cruise speeds 13% lower fuel burns are 19gph versus 36gph for the Meridian or 45% lower. But the EA-500 aircraft with its 1,600 nm range for a single passenger has big advantage over the Meridian which can only fly about 1,000 nm carrying 3 people.