A Foot in the Door
In the early 1990s, Aero of the Czech Republic set about designing an aircraft that could give them a stake in the single engine, turboprop light business and utility class of aircraft; a class that today is exemplified by aircraft such as the Pilatus PC-12, Socata TBM series and Turboprop members of the Piper PA-46 family.
Aero finalized the design of what would become the Ibis in 1993 and went looking for a partner to engage in building the aircraft. In 1997, they found that partner in Taiwan’s AIDC company; the joint venture would go by the name Ibis Aerospace.
Not Quite Up and Away
The first Ae-270 Ibis prototype was finished and flown in 2000, but very little would go smoothly for the aircraft after that.
Development of the Ibis became plagued with problems, not the least of which were changing requirements that made the aircraft heavier than intended. Further changes dictated by the Czech Civil Aeronautical Institute, delayed development of the aircraft and affected its flight parameters adversely.
In 2004 AIDC, who had been responsible for producing the aircraft’s wings refused to deliver wings for any further aircraft. This problem was compounded by the lack of any contingency plan for production of wings in the Czech Republic.
In spite of the problems to that point, the Ibis succeeded in achieving airworthiness certification in 2005. However, it was a case of too little too late as 2006 marked a slowdown in the program at Aero and re-tasking of several people involved in it to other projects.
2007 marked the end of Ibis Aerospace when AIDC terminated their part of the project; Aero formally cancelled the Ibis project in 2008. By formal agreement, the knowledge base and planes were distributed between the two companies.
What Remains of an Opportunity Lost
Information about the Ibis and its short life is not easy to come by and the exact reasons for its demise are not made 100% clear by the information that can be found. The aforementioned changes in requirements figure prominently, though much weight is also given to cash flow issues.
For the Czech side of the matter, Aero retained at least one Ibis in flyable condition for their own purposes and others for instructional purposes in their educational programs. Much of the tooling and remnants of aircraft which were partially finished at the time of project cancellation were placed in possession of a private aircraft collection at Zruč, near Pilsen.
The Ibis was an attractive aircraft that, for whatever the reasons, lost out in being able to compete in what aircraft like the Pilatus PC-12 have proven to be a lucrative sector of the civil aviation market.
Neither Aero nor AIDC carry any information regarding the Ibis on their internet sites and websites set up for Ibis Aerospace and the Ae-270 aircraft are no longer active.
However, this 2010 article published in Czech aviation publication, Magazín Letiště, summarizes the development, life and downfall of the Ibis as well as some interesting images of the aircraft through its life: