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Innovative twins due on the tarmac this year

Two new planes, one built around front and rear-mounted propellers, are about to make their debut.

The A500 and A700 should be FAA certified and in customers' hands by the end of this year, according to Rick Adam, CEO of Denver-based Adam Aircraft. The A500 sports twin piston engines (Teledyne Continental Motors TSIO-550 Es) and propellers mounted in the tail and nose of the fuselage. This in-line push/pull design generates centerline thrust and eliminates problems associated with losing an engine in two-engine planes. The plane's carbon-composite airframe helps keep weight down on the 6,300-lb craft. The six-seat plane can fly 250 knots, climb at 1,800 fpm, and has a range of 1,150 miles. Priced at $895,000 fully equipped, it should be available shortly. The company says it has 70 orders for the A500 and is ramping up to produce 25 per year.

The A700 is on schedule to be the first FAA-certified light jet with a capacity of six to eight passengers. The A700 uses a carbon-fiber/epoxy and honeycomb sandwich structure for its airframe, which is about 30 in. longer than the piston-driven A500 to accommodate a bathroom. And the A700 relies on two Williams International FJ33 fanjets, each putting out 1,200 lb of thrust.

But reports indicate the A700 shares about 80% of its parts with the A500, including the wings and twin-boom tail. Part sharing has simplified FAA certification for the newer plane. The small jet flies 340 knots, has a maximum range of 1,400 miles, and costs almost $2 million. The company is also working on its A600, a single-engine turboprop based on the A700 airframe. It could be ready for sale next year.

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