The GA7 Cougar light twin saw limited production with Gulfstream in the late 1970s and has re-emerged to enter production with France's Socata as the TB 360 Tangara.
The GA-7 prototype first flew on December 20 1974, but three years passed before production began. By this time Grumman's light aircraft lines had been acquired by Gulfstream, who delivered production GA7s from February 1978.
The GA7 design featured two 120kW (160hp) Lycoming O320s and the bonded honeycomb construction used on the Grumman AA1 and AA5. The initial GA7 design featured a sliding cockpit canopy and two cabin windows per side. Changes for production aircraft included the adoption of a conventional cabin roof enclosing an enlarged cabin with an entry door on the right hand side. The prototype's single spar wing design was changed to a twin spar design allowing an integral wet wing fuel tank, and on production GA-7s the main undercarriage units retracted outwards, rather than inwards.
Gulfstream built two basic variants, the standard GA7 and the GA7 Cougar with a more comprehensive avionics fit and improved interior fittings. However sales of both aircraft were slow, in part because of the GA7's relatively low combined power output of 240kW (320hp). Production ceased in 1979 with Gulfstream's departure from light aircraft manufacture.
In 1995 Socata purchased the rights to the GA7 with the intention of placing it back into production as the TB 320 Tangara. In June 1996 Socata announced its plans to redevelop the aircraft as the TB 360 Tangara with 135kW (180hp) O-360s.
Three modified GA-7s have flown as Tangara prototypes so far, the first had a 120kW (160hp) and a 135kW (180hp) engine and flew in mid 1996, the third, which first flew in February 1997 was in full TB 360 configuration. Production has been postponed to 1999.
Socata is pitching the TB 360 at the light twin trainer market.
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