UK disabled flying charity, Aerobility, has received a prestigious Laureate Award, in the business aviation category, from Aviation Week Network.
The award is for Project Able, a collaboration with Germany’s Grob Aircraft SE and the UK’s Southern Sailplanes, backed by the UK Government, which centres on a full refurbishment, new engine, propeller and avionics enhancement of former RAF Air Cadet Vigilant Grob G109 motorgliders.
A number will fly with Aerobility, adapted for disabled flyers and the remaining aircraft will be sold by the charity to support the project and also enable more disabled people to fly.
The Aviation Week Laureates celebrate the people, programmes and technologies that are changing the face of aviation. Sarah Montague, Aerobility volunteer, accepted the award from Bill Carey, Senior Editor Business Aviation, Aviation Week Network during a special ceremony and gala dinner at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, in McLean, VA, Washington DC on Monday evening.
Mike Miller Smith, CEO Aerobility said: “I am delighted that Project Able has been honoured in this esteemed category. We support anyone with any disability, literally giving them wings. We do this because it challenges our flyers to ask themselves, if I can fly an aeroplane, what else can I do? The effects of learning to fly are felt far beyond the airfield, with greater self-confidence and an enhanced awareness of personal ability.
"That a small charity from the UK, should share a stage with such impressive winners is humbling and perhaps reflective of one of our core beliefs that experiencing the magic and wonder of flight, makes anything possible.
"We would like to thank Molly McMillin, Managing Editor Business Aviation and the judging panel at Aviation Week Network for this award and for shining the light on our charity and disabled flying in particular. I would also like to thank our superb team at Aerobility including all our volunteers, whose continued support and dedication have made this possible.”
Aerobility’s Project Able is returning 60 Grob G109 motor gliders to service, each featuring new Garmin avionics, MT Propeller and Rotax Engines.
Profits from the sale of surplus aircraft will support disabled flying at Aerobility, which takes to the skies with up to 1,000 individuals a year. This includes people with disabilities and serious illnesses, as well as wounded, injured and sick members of the UK’s Armed Forces community. The remaining aircraft will join Aerobility’s fleet, lifting capacity from 1,000 to 2,600 individuals a year.
“With availability for sale globally, our ambition is to inspire a new generation of Grob pilots and encourage pilot training schools, gliding clubs, aviation enthusiasts and others to seriously consider purchasing a Grob G109 ‘Able’ aircraft,” said Mike Miller Smith. “This recognition is a massive boost to our endeavours.”
Project Able has been gaining momentum in recent weeks. The first completed aircraft made its first public appearance in the UK in August and is scheduled for delivery to its customer in two weeks’ time. A second will follow shortly.
With a complete airframe overhaul, state-of-the-art Garmin avionics, new Rotax engine and MT Propeller, Grob G109 Able’s performance and handling is hugely enhanced, whilst the fuel consumption is significantly reduced. The updated and re-certified variant of the Grob G109B makes for an exciting and environmentally friendly way to take to the skies. The aircraft is certified to run on the latest biofuels.