Mon, Dec 25, 2006 - Page 12 News List

Sino Swearingen passes FAA-approved inspection

By Kevin Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

After receiving an Approved Production Inspection System (APIS) last week, the Taiwan-US venture Sino Swearingen Aircraft Corp (SSAC) has set its sights on winning a Production Certificate (PC) from the US Federal Aviation Administration, chairman and chief executive officer Kuo Ching-chiang (郭清江) told the Taipei Times yesterday.

The APIS is a prerequisite before applying for a PC and indicates the company's intent to mass-produce its light business jet, the SJ-30, Kuo said.

"This is a very important milestone for SSAC because [the granting of an APIS serves] as recognition and confirmation by the FAA that SSAC's manufacturing procedures and documentation are up to the required standard and SSAC can now inspect and approve the quality of [its own] products," Kuo said.

The FAA's oversight of SSAC's production activities will be greatly reduced, Kuo said. As a result, the speed of problem solving and production will be greatly increased, he said.

The FAA awarded APIS to SSAC last Wednesday during a ceremony held at the company's San Antonio, Texas, headquarters.

Kuo said the APIS approval had enhanced the company's ability to mass produce SJ30s, for which the firm has 302 orders at a price of about US$6.2 million each. SSAC delivered the company's first SJ-30 to a Texas customer in October.

Kuo wouldn't comment on an exact timeframe for SSAC's PC application, but said it would be after it had delivered "four to five aircraft," which industry sources estimate could take a year or so.

"Before the FAA issues a PC, they have to make sure a company can produce airplanes with `repeatability,'" he said. "Because SSAC is a new company and has delivered only one airplane so far, repeatability has not been demonstrated yet."

SSAC manufactures the wings and fuselage of its jets in Martinsbury, West Virginia, and conducts assembly and final production in Texas.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs is the trustee of Sino Aerospace Investment Corp (華揚航太投資), which holds a nearly 90 percent stake in SSAC. Sino Aerospace Investment has invested US$600 million in SSAC since its establishment in 1995.

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