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|Headquarters||Latrobe Valley Airport, Morwell, Victoria, Australia|
GippsAero (formerly Gippsland Aeronautics) is an Australian aircraft manufacturer based at Latrobe Valley Airport in Morwell, Victoria. The company builds single-engined utility aircraft. These include the multi-role GA8 Airvan and the agricultural GA200 Fatman. The company has been majority owned by Indian conglomerate Mahindra Group since 2009.
Gippsland Aeronautics was founded by Peter Furlong and George Morgan. The company started operations at the Latrobe Regional Airport in Morwell in the 1970s as an aircraft maintenance and modification business working for large organisations such as the National Safety Council of Australia and Esso Australia, as well as local commercial operators.
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Peter Furlong and John Brown were pilots, builders, fabricators and maintenance personnel for, amongst others, the Latrobe Valley Aircraft Club and the Ultra Light Club of Australia.
The late John "Brownie" Brown was a builder of timber aircraft. Brownie was involved with the second airframe of the Australian-designed Corby Starlet in the mid-1960s. He later built the first Australian example of the Volmer Sportsman amphibian aircraft (VH-TUB).
Brownie and Pete continued to service aircraft together until the mid-1980s when Brownie was diagnosed with cancer.
The modification of agricultural aircraft to improve capability and safety marked the beginnings of Gippsland Aeronautics' aircraft design and manufacturing business as it stands today. The company increasingly modified five agricultural Piper PA-25 Pawnees in the mid-1980s to the point where it was decided to certify a new design.
In 1991, Gippsland Aeronautics' first indigenous design, the GA200 Fatman, achieved Australian airworthiness certification. The certified production GA200 Fatman (also referred to unofficially as the GA200B) had a lifting capacity of 800 Litres with a 250 hp engine.
In 1993, the company certified a new model, the GA200C Fatman with the capability of lifting one tonne (1050 Litres) with a 300 hp engine, giving the aircraft a 30–50% better performance than any aircraft in its class. In the late 1990s, Fatman production was scaled down to make way for the Airvan.
Despite the success of the Fatman variants, profitability was too dependent on the roller coaster cycles of the agricultural industry worldwide. Subsequently, Gippsland Aeronautics' second new design, the GA8 Airvan, was conceived by directors/designers Furlong and Morgan as a utility transport to replace the Cessna 206/207 and DHC Beaver. Recognising the Cessna 206 as "one of the world’s best workhorses", the pair saw the potential niche market for a piston-engine aircraft that could carry more passengers. This would improve the operators’ profitability without going to the expense of purchasing a turbine powered aircraft.
Thus the high wing, eight seat GA8 Airvan was born using the design of the GA200C as a basis. Certification commenced in 1993 with the building of the first prototype/proof of concept aircraft.
After eight years in development, the GA8 Airvan was type-certificated by the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority to FAR 23 Amendment 48 requirements in December 2000 and subsequently updated to Amendment 54 status in early 2003. This was followed by certification by the United States Federal Aviation Administration and the Canadian Transport Canada in the same year. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certificated the Airvan in 2005.
The GA8 Airvan has now achieved export sales in the UK, Holland, Germany, Indonesia, New Zealand, South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Lesotho, USA, Canada and Belize in Central America, in addition to in-country sales in Western Australia, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and the Northern Territory.
In October 2006, Gippsland Aeronautics announced that "the turbocharged prototype aircraft has commenced flight testing. The chosen engine is the Lycoming TIO 540 AH1A engine, which is a turbocharged version of the currently installed normally aspirated engine."
Developments and future products
On 18 June 2008, Gippsland Aeronautics announced it had won bidding to take over the type certificate of the GAF Nomad, and would probably be restarting production. The twin-engined, 18-seat reborn Nomad will be called the GA18, and will be re-engineered with new engines, propellers, glass cockpit and weight-saving measures. It is planned to bring it into service after the development and certification of the new 10-seat GA10.
In March 2011, at the 2011 Australian International Airshow, GippsAero announced the GA10. A development of the 8-seat GA8 Airvan piston-engined aircraft, the GA10 design has been stretched and re-engined with a turboprop engine to increase seating and payload capacity. It is planned for its first flight to take place in October 2011 and be ready for service in March 2013.
Timeline for GippsAero
This section is in a list format that may be better presented using prose. (June 2008)
- 1977 – Peter Furlong starts Gippsland Aeronautics as an aircraft maintenance and modification business.
- 1984 – George Morgan joins Peter Furlong to form Gippsland Aeronautics Pty Ltd as an incorporated entity
- 1985 to 1991 – Gippsland Aeronautics develops the GA200 agricultural aircraft following approaches by local aircraft operators to design an agricultural aircraft with better lifting and handling capabilities than other available aircraft.
- 1991 – The GA200C Fatman is Type Certificated by the Australian Civil Aviation Authority.
- 1993 – The company commences design work on a new aircraft designated the GA8 that will fill a market niche between the six-seater Cessna 206 and the ten-seater Cessna Caravan.
- 1995 – The "proof of concept" GA8 Airvan makes its first flight in March 1995 and attends the Australian International Airshow at Avalon.
- 1996 – The prototype GA8 Airvan makes its first flight August 1996. The Airvan then undergoes a major flight testing and development program.
- 2000 – Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority certificates the GA8 Airvan to FAR 23 Amendment 48.
- 2001 – In December, the first export Airvan is delivered to Maya Island Air in Belize, Central America.
- 2002 – The US Civil Air Patrol appoints Gippsland Aeronautics to supply Airvans, making the CAP the first American organisation to own and fly the Airvan – and the largest fleet owner of the Australian GA8 worldwide.
- 2003 – Airvan gains Type Certification in Canada with Avalon Aircraft Corporation of Richmond B.C appointed as the Canadian representative – then US FAA grants type certification.
- 2004 – First Airvan is delivered to a Canadian operator, Wings Over Wilderness.
- Cargo Pod for Airvan certified by Australian Civil Aviation Authority.
- 2005 – The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certifies the GA8 Airvan.
- 2005 – Gippsland Aeronautics Airvan airframe #100 rolled out in September 2006. The completion of 100 Airvans is considered to be a significant milestone in Australian aircraft manufacturing. Only two other manufacturers of Australian civil aircraft have built more than 100 aircraft in the post-WW2 era. The others being the Victa Airtourer (168) and the Government Aircraft Factories (GAF) with 170 twin-engined N22 & N24 Nomads.
- 2007 – February, Gippsland Aeronautics has built 110 GA8 Airvans and 50 GA200 Fatmans.
- 2009 – December, Mahindra Aerospace Pvt. Ltd. (MAPL), belonging to Mahindra Group of India, buys 75.1% majority stake.
- 2012 – May, GA10 first flight
- "Nomad is set to soar once again". Theage.com.au. 2008-06-18. Retrieved 2011-02-15.
- Kelly, Emma (3 August 2010). "Gippsland preparing for G18 market entry within two years". Flight Global. Retrieved 9 July 2011.
- "Mahindra buys major stake in Australian firms". The Hindu. 16 December 2009. Retrieved 28 June 2010.
- "GippsAero's GA10 project on track". Australian Flying. 3 March 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2011.
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