Sonaca 200 Makes First Flight

Belgian two-seat airplane makes steps toward EASA certification.

Sonaca 200
The Sonaca 200 two-seater had a successful first test flight in Belgium.Sonaca

The two-seat Sonaca 200 has successfully taken to the skies at the Brussels South Charleroi Airport in Belgium. The second assembled airplane, Flight Test Aircraft 2, was used for the flight, which lasted about 10 minutes, said Sonaca Aircraft's chief commercial officer and pilot Pierre Van Wetter. Since then, several additional flights have taken place, testing various configurations, and Van Wetter said the test pilots have described the airplane as being harmonious in pitch and roll with stable flight characteristics. "There is no need to change the aerodynamics," Van Wetter said.

The testing phase is expected to take about three to four months. Van Wetter said four test pilots are working with flight test engineers on different flight profiles to make the testing phase more efficient. While the first flight took place in Belgium, where the Sonaca factory is located, flight testing will also be conducted at the Avignon-Provence Airport in southern France.

Van Wetter said the initial goal was EASA’s CS-VLA certification; however, with the new streamlined Part 23 rules, the Sonaca 200 will seek CS-23 certification, which were recently adapted to the weight class of each airplane.

Sonaca Aircraft’s parent company Sonaca recently purchased U.S. aircraft structures company LMI. Van Wetter is working with contacts at LMI to prepare for the transfer of certification to the new FAA Part 23 standards once the EASA certification is complete.

The Sonaca 200 is powered by a 115 horsepower, turbocharged Rotax 914 engine. While final details of the panel arrangement are still pending, Van Wetter says the airplane will initially be capable of VFR day and night flight, with LED lighting for good visibility and longevity. Two panel versions will be available: one with basic analog instruments and one full glass version, likely with Garmin’s G500. Both versions will have digital engine monitoring instruments for ease of maintenance trouble shooting.

Preorders are being accepted for the two-seat, all metal, single-engine airplane for about $195,000. Nearly 40 customers have secured their positions with a 5 percent deposit, Van Wetter said. The initial production rate is targeted for 20 airplanes next year and 35 in 2019.