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Elite jet and TAM Jet development hit by Georgia-Russia hostilities


Georgia's Tbilisi Aircraft Manufacturing (TAM) says development of the four-seat "TAM Jet" personal jet and the eight seat TAM-AIR Elite - which it is producing with US joint venture partner Epic Aircraft - is likely to be delayed following the recent hostilities between Georgia and Russia. The demonstration tour of the region has also been halted temporarily.
"Although TAM has not suffered any physical damage as a result of the conflict, restoring political stability could take some time," says Nona Tordia, chairman of TAM's supervisory board.
She says TAM had decided to pursue Russian certification first for both aircraft, following the huge demand for the types from operators within the country, and TAM was poised to start the process when the assault began.
"We will now have to wait until the political situation between Russia and Georgia dies down," Tordia says. "We just want to get our aircraft certificated, but first we have to rebuild our relationship with the Russian authorities - who are not receptive to Georgian companies. We are in a very difficult situation."
When the conflict broke out in July, Elite Jets founder and chief executive Rick Schrameck was keen to remove the Elite Jet from Georgia fearing the aircraft would be destroyed in the fighting. "There was never any danger to the aircraft," says Tordia. "A completely different area was bombed and the main facility where the Elite Jet is based, was unaffected. Rick was afraid that his insurance would not cover the aircraft because of the war," Tordia says.
TAM is continuing to work on the Elite, which is remaining at the facility, and plans to build "at least" four aircraft for the certification programme.
The TAM Jet prototype has chalked up 100h of flying, Tordia says, during which time the company has made a number of modifications to the aircraft's wing and has stretched the fuselage by 500mm (19.7in). The first redesigned Williams International FJ33-powered TAM Jet is under development and scheduled to fly later this year.



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