Our goal and core philosophy is differentiation. It's the guiding principle to our entire air show program. We want to create a guest experience that is unique, memorable and engaging. With these guiding principles, we developed what is now the Turbine Toucan.
The performance mission of this aircraft is to create an aerobatic biplane capable of sustaining +8/-6 G's, a greater then 300º per/sec roll rate, while creating a better-than-one-to-one power-to-weight ratio. Target air show weight will be less than 2000lbs with thrust targeted at 3300lbs. This will be close to a 1.65:1 ratio, unheard of in any general aviation (GA) aircraft. To put it in perspective, the F/A-18 Hornet (at fighter mission weight) is 36,700lbs@32,000lbs of thrust. This is about .87:1 thrust to weight ratio performance at a cost of $39.5 million dollars.
Being the only propeller driven aircraft with a better-than-one-to-one power- to-weight ratio, the Turbine Toucan was designed to do what no other aircraft in the world can, 3D aerobatics. And what is even more impressive, it will be the only fixed wing GA aircraft in the world that can hover (well… that's the plan and we're sticking to it)!
Why a biplane? Because 90% of the elite air show performers are using off the shelf, factory built monoplanes (which are incredible we might add) designed for unlimited aerobatic competition. We needed to stand apart. Biplanes offer strong emotional association with the romance of flight. It also allows us to be highly differentiated with the use of a turboprop power plant. A biplane allows us to draw rich cues, deep from the past, while incorporating contemporary styling and the latest aviation technological innovations.
As for styling, the mission is simple. As most aircraft enthusiast will attest, esthetics is an absolute must component to the success of an aircraft's popularity, yielding only to performance. Equally important to the project is a romantic component, after all, air shows are very much an embedded part of Americana. The result, the perfect blend of biplane nostalgia, artfully crafted with contemporary styling.
As for the identity of the aircraft, we thought the Toucan was a natural fit. Their colorfulness, intelligence, and entertaining qualities make toucans one of the most amusing species of bird. The Toucan design is based on the Toco toucan, the most famous of the 38 species of toucan. It is the largest of the toucans, but its popularity comes from its brightly colored bill, which can measure 7 inches in length. While it looks quite heavy, it is actually very light due to its many air pockets.