Elixir Aircraft is making its U.S. debut at EAA AirVenture as it eyes expansion into this “vast” general aviation market. The French company is displaying its two-seat piston-singles, which are touted as low-cost, “fourth generation” alternatives to the huge inventory of aging light aircraft. Fourth-generation refers to Elixer's OneShot composite manufacturing technology, which uses an injection molding process to make monolithic structural components.
Cyril Champenois, Elixir co-founder and COO, described EAA AirVenture as “the ideal platform and a must-attend event for general aviation aircraft manufacturers." The show will provide “a springboard for our U.S. expansion, which is, after all, the largest aviation market in the world."
Although it is still early days, Elixir is exploring locations for its U.S. headquarters, which will house a final assembly facility along with sales and marketing activities. The company is eying locations in Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas. “We don’t have a fixed timetable, but we would like to begin hiring [staff] next year,” said Champenois.
Elixir is hoping to secure U.S. Part 23 type certification for its Rotax 912iS-powered model “as soon as possible,” said Champenois. The $264,000 airplane secured CS-23 approval from EASA in March 2020.
To date nine examples have been handed over to Europe-based customers, both individual owners and flight schools, and up to 20 will be produced this year, said Champenois. “We are gradually accelerating production for the European market as there is plenty of demand here,” he added, pointing to Elixir’s “growing” order tally of more than 50 aircraft. “But the USA will make up the bulk of our demand as the aircraft get exposure within this vast market, which now represents between 60 to 70 percent of new single-engine piston deliveries each year." He cited the large number of aging piston-singles in the U.S., which “are ripe for replacement with a clean-sheet, modern aircraft."
Launched in 2015, the 912iS-powered Elixir is designed to fill a gap in the flight-training and owner-flown markets for a modern but simple light aircraft with low operating and maintenance costs. Direct operating costs are about $44 per hour. It can carry a payload of 617 pounds, cruises at 130 knots, and flies up to 1,000 nm. Fuel capacity is 25 gallons. Avionics are Garmin's G3X touchscreen system. For added safety, the Elixir is fitted with a BRS emergency parachute system.
Currently awaiting EASA certification, the 915iS-powered Elixir is fitted with an extended wing (29.33 feet versus 27.82 feet) and a more powerful 140-hp turbocharged Rotax engine delivering a cruise speed of 160 knots at higher altitudes. The larger model, which has yet to be priced, is aimed at the owner-pilot market.
Elixir is working with French company Turbotech to develop a hydrogen-electric propulsion system with a target of certification in six years.