Composite aircraft maker Magnus opens plant after crash report absolves plane structure

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Flypast marks launch of new Magnus Aircraft production plant

Hungary’s composite light plane maker Magnus Aircraft Corp. launched serial production at its new factory in the southern city of Pécs at the end of October.

Manufacturing follows the recent inauguration of the plant’s first phase, offices and a 2,000m2 aircraft assembly hall which, with a 50-strong workforce, is scheduled to turn out up to 100 twin-seater planes a year. 

The plant’s launch was delayed by two months after one of Magnus’s early electric-powered ‘eFusion’ aircraft crashed following take-off on a test flight from the regional Pécs-Pogányairport killing the pilot and passenger on 31 May.

This was just a day after Magnus held a topping out ceremony at its nearby newly-built plant and offices.

However, a preliminary accident report by Hungary’s Transportation Safety Board, released in late July has found no clear evidence that the fatal crash was caused by a fault or failure of the light plane.

The report stated that a technical investigation revealed no “evidence of malfunction of the structure or any system of the aircraft prior to the accident” to cause or influence the course of the incident, according to Magnus. 

Magnus quoted the report as saying the single-engine plane was equipped with an operating data recorder and available data showed no sign of smoke or fire during the flight. Damage to the motor was “clearly due to mechanical impact and subsequent external fire”, the official report said.

Magnus, based at Pécs-Pogányairport, said that while it would “preserve the memory of the pilots in the highest esteem”, the company would continue with the development process of its ‘eFusion’ plane.

The Hungarian plane maker has already started on the project’s second phase involving the construction of a 5,000m2 composite materials and components plant on the Pécs site, according to Magnus chief executive László Boros.

When this stage is completed in Spring of next year, Magnus expects production capacity to double with annual output of up to 200 aircraft. Its current site workforce of around 50 is due to increase to at least 115.

Magnus was awarded a €6.16m Hungarian government grant towards its latest expansion project which involves overall investment of nearly €17m.

The ‘eFusion’ aircraft is the result of joint development between Magnus and the German engineering giant Siemens which provides the plane’s electric motor and lithium-ion battery.

Magnus, now based at Pécs-Pogányairport, has been developing the revolutionary ‘eFusion’ model for more than two years with its German partner Siemens.

Back in 2015 the company became a world leader in developing a small twin-seat plane made of composite materials and capable of aerobatics. The all electric-powered version is modelled on Magnus’s ‘Fusion 212’ petrol-fuelled aircraft aimed primarily at pilot training and aerobatic use.

The propeller driven planes’ structure is based on high tensile carbon fibre and honeycomb or PVC foam sandwich composite materials. Components are produced by vacuum bag aided manual lamination and vacuum injection.

Magnus Aircraft has been developing export markets for its craft and in June 2016 set up its first foreign subsidiary, Magnus Aircraft Inc. with an assembly plant in the US. Then, the firm established a joint enterprise in China in a €30m deal with Tianshan Industrial Group in Hebei province to construct planes in the country.

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