Emirates airline has hit a new milestone in aviation history by building its own plane and unveiling a light sport aircraft to the world.

The two-seater RV 12 six-metre long aircraft, which will be showcased at the Dubai Airshow next week, was revealed on Saturday after being built by a group of the airline’s engineering trainees during their spare time.

The group of 40 trainees assembled approximately 11,000 parts in two years to complete the light sport aircraft — which can fly as far as Doha, Salalah and Riyadh.

The propeller-driven aircraft, weighing in at 335 kilogrammes, with a wingspan of 8.1 metres, has a range of around 900 kilometres with a top speed of 217 kilometres per hour.

“Constructing this aircraft from scratch is a tremendous achievement for our trainees whose knowledge and hands-on technical experience have now been significantly enhanced,” Emirates executive vice-president and chief operations officer Adel Al Redha said in a statement to Khaleej Times.

Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at London-based StrategicAero Research, said Emirates continued fleet growth had also seen the need for continued investment in engineering and aftermarket services.

“Building this new sports airplane with its trainee engineers gives the airline a hands on-approach to learning differing techniques on airplane manufacture, servicing, maintenance and inspections,” Ahmad told .

“With Emirates poised to place the largest ever order for new 777Xs, the airline will be keen to get its trainee engineers fully accustomed to the regulatory processes that will accompany such a new fleet,” he said.

Referring to the project, Al Redha said the trainees’ first task was to unpack the crates, check the components against the inventory and create a storage system where items could be easily retrieved.

The build process started with the aircraft’s tailfin and rudder. Along the way, students learnt about the alignment of different sections, anti-corrosive treatments, painting, drilling, wiring, testing and approval processes.

“The canopy and rear window proved to be a huge challenge as the thermoplastic glass had to be drilled without cracking. This required extreme patience and was fortunately completed without any mishaps,” Al Redha said.

Ahmad said Emirates’ continued investment in its engineering segment has paved the way for rapid expansion on global network in past three decades.

“Continuous investment in its engineering capabilities is what has allowed Emirates to expand as fast as it has, if only because its engineers and maintenance regimes have been highly successful in minimising delays at the airport and ensuring faster turnaround times, while also providing on the ground support for more challenging technical issues,” he said.

The aircraft will be used to promote Emirates’ UAE National training programmes.

(c)2013 the Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates). Distributed by MCT Information Services.