Solaris Rising

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Solaris Aviation of West Palm Beach, Florida, has launched production of the Sigma line of airplanes, updated and expanded from the Ruschmeyer R90, a German-built all-composite, retractable four-seater. Ruschmeyer certified the R90 in the early '90s and built about two dozen of the airplanes before production was halted.

The company plans to offer retractable and fixed-gear versions of the Sigma, with engines ranging from a Lycoming IO-540 derated to 230 horsepower, to a Continental IO-550 310-hp version. Solaris predicts a 184-knot max cruising speed for the 250-hp retractable-gear model, the standard-equipped model of which is priced at just $244,900. Manufacturing of major composite components will be done at a new, 110,000-square-foot factory in Poland with assembly and completion in West Palm Beach. First deliveries of the Sigma are slated for fall of 2002.