Pacific Aerospace to build E-350 five-seater

A supplied image of an E350 Expedition. (Pacific Aerospace)
The E-350 Expedition. (Pacific Aerospace)

Pacific Aerospace will build the five-seat piston-single E-350 Expedition utility aircraft at its Hamilton, New Zealand factory after acquiring the rights to the design from Canada’s Found Aircraft.

The first NZ-built E-350 – which is powered by a 325hp (242kW) Lycoming IO-580 and has a stated range of 750nm with a full load of passengers and bags – is expected to roll out in the middle of 2017.

“The addition of the E-350, including the floatplane and amphibian option, really opens new doors for us in regards to overseas relationships and sales opportunities,” Pacific Aerospace general manager of global markets Mark Crouch said in a statement on Tuesday.

“The floatplane market in particular is a very large but mostly unseen market with a large number of very old aircraft coming to the end of their productive lives,” he said, likely referring to the DHC Beaver.

“The E-350 is ideally placed to offer customers a chance to move up to a modern, state-of-the-art higher performance aircraft that will do all their old aircraft did, and more.”

The E-350 is an improved development of the Found Aircraft FBA-2 Bush Hawk bushplane, which originally entered production in 1967. The E-350 received US FAA certification in 2008 and was marketed as a competitor to the Cessna 206. Only small numbers were built before Found Aircraft was wound up in 2014.

Pacific Aerospace chief executive Damian Camp said the E-350 could potentially be built at the company’s Chinese joint-venture company Beijing Pan Pacific Aerospace Technology 10-hectare manufacturing plant in Changzhou, which opened late last month.

“We identified this as an opportunity to take the E-350 to markets it’s never been, utilising our strong distribution network of regional partners across the globe,” Camp said.

“Once the E-350 is established in China, for which we believe there will be a very strong demand, we have the option of assembling the aircraft in our brand new facility at Changzhou.”

The company presented the first Chinese-assembled example of its P-750 XSTOL utility turboprop at the Changzhou facility’s official opening.

Meanwhile, Pacific Aerospace said it would partner with Chinese company Chengdu Huatai Aviation Technology to establish a maintenance shop for its P-750XL utility aircraft.

Camp said Pacific Aerospace was helping Hutai Aviation Technology secure Civil Aviation Administration of China Part 145 approval by the end of the first quarter of 2017.

“This will enable Chengdu Huatai to deliver line and base maintenance capability on the P-750 airframe and PT6A engine,” Camp said.

“These maintenance activities will not only be accomplished at Chengdu Huatai’s main base in Chengdu, but also in the field at remote locations throughout China. To achieve this, Huatai will deploy small maintenance teams to complete scheduled maintenance work at, or near, the customer’s location.

“This level of service will offer real benefit to operators by minimising downtime and allowing a faster return to revenue-generating operations.”