Belgium is now taking flight again for the first time since 1958
In 2015, Sonaca Aircraft was founded. The subsidiary of the Walloon manufacturer and developer of aircraft components from Namur has already sold 70 units of its Sonaca200, a single-engine two-seater, to flying schools and to private individuals for pleasure flights. The company's international order book is also encouraging.
Besides planes for the Belgian army, the aviation entrepreneur Ernest Oscar Tips developed cheap and easy-to-fly sports planes in Gosselies near Charleroi. After his last Tipsy Trainer, as he called them, had rolled off the assembly line in 1958, things in Belgium's airspace remained quiet in terms of Belgian aviation history.
This will now change with the advent of the Sonaca200. The large structures, such as the wings, fuselage and tail, are assembled in the company's site in Romania. A detailed study of electronics, aerodynamics, systems integration and other necessary skills prepared Sonaca Aircraft for the most complex and advanced tasks, the final assembly. The result is a metal aircraft that has been designed from nose to tail specifically for trainee pilots, costs between €180,000 and €220,000 and consumes less than 20 litres of fuel per hour. Metal? Yes, of course, because student pilots are prone to make mistakes and metal is much easier to repair than lightweight materials.
Air transport is picking up and Sonaca Aircraft is expecting a full recovery by 2023-2024. So the best thing is to start training right away.