SA first fully home-made plane

South Africa’s Paramount defence and aerospace company has unveiled South Africa’s fist home-built aircraft, capable of performing tasks currently performed by wing aircraft and helicopters. Designed by Paramount Group Chairman Ivor Ichikowitz , the Advanced High Performance Light Aircraft 

The Advanced High Performance Light Aircraft

is a two-seat pusher prop airplane able to get up to speeds of 40kph, writes Tom Nevis.

South Africa’s Paramount defence and aerospace company has unveiled its latest air innovation, and it’s causing a buzz at home and abroad. The fururistic aircraft is billed as South Africa’s first fully home-built high-tech solution capable of multitasking roles currently handled by fixed wing aircraft, helicopters and UAVs.   “We call it the ‘ground breaking multi-role aviation platform’,” says Paramount Group Chairman Ivor Ichikowitz, “and its impact for South Africa and the continent at large is taking regional aviation to an entirely new level.”

The space-age aircraft is a brainchild of chairman Ichikowitz and is being developed jointly by Paramount and Aerosud, an established leader in the South African aviation industry.

The aircraft’s given name is the Advanced High Performance Reconnaissance Light Aircraft (Ahrlac), described more precisely by Ichikowitz as a ”low-cost aerial reconnaissance, surveillance and armed patrol system with specific support capability for a wide range of security and peacetime  operations”. Technically the Ahrlac is a tandem two-seat, pusher prop airplane with a twin boom empennage. The back seat is raised considerably with the large canopy giving both crew members panoramic visibility. It is powered by a 950hp Pratt & Whitney PT6a-66 turboprop engine delivering a top speed of 272 knots (around 400kph) loitering at around 70kph, more than 1100 nautical mile range and some 7.5 hours of endurance. The total payload capability, excluding fuel and crew is around 800kg.

It is described as “definitely affordable, cheaper than converted civilian aircraft and less expensive than a small helicopter”.

Construction of a first prototype is reportedly well advanced with wind-tunnel testing completed. A quarter size radio controlled model has made numerous flights. Eventual cost in the market place: probably between $6m to $10m. Aerosud is largely an engineering business whereas Paramount focuses on marketing and innovation.

“What’s happened in time,” says Ichikowitz, “is that Paramount has created an innovation capability with a market driven approach, whereas Aerosud is more technology focused. Now we’re bringing the two values together. The union is creating very positive stuff, great stuff. We’re excited about the future of the collaboration.”

That meeting of minds resulted in the Paramount-led joint development of Ahrlac and debuted South Africa’s first fully home-grown aircraft – from design to manufacture.

The Ahrlac mission definition is specific, although not exclusively so, to homeland security covering applications such as border security, coastal and maritime patrol, and the combating of piracy and drug trafficking.