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Watch a 2011 video
about the Sebring LSA Expo.
Next Sebring LSA Expo
January 14-17, 2015.
 


Join ByDanJohnson.com's team and other light and sport aircraft enthusiasts at Aero 2015 -- 15-18 April.
 
Sun 'n Fun is home to the LSA Mall hosted by LAMA. Come visit a new location in Paradise City -- and take a FREE RIDE directly to the LSA Mall, compliments of Rotax BRP
Next Sun 'n Fun
April 21 to April 26, 2015.
 

Next Midwest LSA Expo
2015 Dates: September 10-11-12
 
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Welcome to 2015 and a brand new season of recreational flying! Next up on the light aviation show calendar are twin April events: the 2015 editions of Aero in Germany (15-18) followed quickly by Sun 'n Fun (21-26).

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...a web log of developments in Sport Pilot/Light-Sport Aircraft
LSA Mall at Sun ‘n Fun 2015
By Dan Johnson, February 27, 2015

We are less than two months away from Sun 'n Fun 2015 where once again the LSA Mall will be a central part of the fascinating area called Paradise City. Here is where thousands of visitors to the large season-starting event can see a flock of Light-Sport Aircraft and light kit aircraft. Prospective customers for these airplanes can also take a demonstration flight, right on the show grounds of Sun 'n Fun. See any vendor to inquire about demo flight availability.

At this 41st running of the popular event in Lakeland, Florida, LAMA, the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association is pleased to again showcase the newest sector in aviation. Visitors can enjoy the third year of the completely redesigned Paradise City, formerly known to enthusiasts as the Ultralight or Lightplane Area. Transformed in 2013 with an entirely new layout that brings visitors closer than ever to a wide variety of aircraft, Paradise City is particularly popular as you can get intimately close to the runway where a wide variety of flying machines will take off and land almost all day long (except during certain parts of the main airshow in the mid-afternoon).

The LSA Mall is made available thanks to manufacturers and their willingness to reveal their aircraft in wingtip-to-wingtip convenience, to volunteers in the LAMA tent at the center of the LSA Mall and with very special thanks to support from Aviators Hot Line e, publisher of the Light Aviation Edition and organizer of the Show Center display.

Also for the third year, Rotax Aircraft Engines has again confirmed their support for a special transportation system that can whisk demo flight customers and others from the main "core area" of Sun 'n Fun to Paradise City with a stop at the Rotax main display.

Come ride the Paradise City Xpress!

Rotax BRP sponsors these golf carts to make it easy for pilots wanting to access a demo flight in a Rotax-powered aircraft. Many of these airplane companies exhibit in the main traffic area of Sun 'n Fun. Most of these companies — as well as those whose displays are in Paradise City — conduct their demo flights off the newly improved Paradise City runway. Rotax wants to help pilots and visitors get to those airplanes easily and conveniently. When seats are available — often! — you can catch a ride on the Paradise City Xpress, too | assuming you can afford the price. I'm just kidding. It's a free ride. Thanks, Rotax!

Paradise City visitors will be able to examine all manner of affordable airplanes | Light-Sport Aircraft, light kit-built airplanes, rotary aircraft, electric aircraft, ultralights, powered parachutes, weight shift trikes, paragliders, and more. At LAMA's LSA Mall located outside the Show Center tent — think of an auto mall with many choices available — you can see some of the very best airplanes in the LSA fleet.

This photo of Dave Piper surrounded by some of his volunteer staff was taken by my video partner, publisher of the Light Sport and Ultralight Flyer YouTube channel. Please see this link to an article on Dave.
While news about the LSA Mall is exciting and I look forward to helping organize it for another year, I have some very sad news to pass on while writing about Paradise City. On February 26th, 26-year Paradise City Chairman Dave Piper passed away from heart failure. Laura Vaughn, Sun 'n Fun's Director of Convention Administration wrote, "Dave had been not been feeling well and was taken to the hospital to undergo some tests and receive treatment, he went down hill very quickly and passed away last night."

I spoke to Dave only a few days ago. He complained of nothing and only spoke to his excitement for another year of Sun 'n Fun and Paradise City. Dave walked in a giant's shoes; his leadership skills will be very hard to replace and no one can replace the man or his spirit. He will be terribly missed this year and in the years to come but I know he was very pleased and proud of what Paradise City has become recently. I am so privileged to have known and worked with him, a feeling I am certain was shared by his many friends and nearly 200 Paradise City volunteers.

You can catch our interview with Dave in this video ...


M-Squared Aircraft a First for Sun ‘n Fun
By Dan Johnson, February 24, 2015

Amphibious float-equipped airplanes are in the wheelhouse of M-Squared Aircraft. photo courtesy M-Squared Aircraft
Sun 'n Fun is coming in less than two months. Surprised? Yes, we are now less than 60 days before the start of this season-opening event. The folks in Lakeland offer so much to do at their April celebration that you can barely jam it all in to a six day visit. No doubt this is why many arrive a few days early ... well, that and Florida being the Sunshine State which will be warm and pleasant from April 21-26, 2015. C'mon down. Get away from that snowy winter up north.

One thing you may not have done is visit the Museum on the property. All those new airplanes and products plus a major airshow keep people outside, understandably so. However, for 2015 light aircraft enthusiasts have one more reason to plan some extra time to keep the sunburn to a minimum by spending a few hours inside.

Known officially as the Florida Air Museum, FAM has quite a collection of aircraft for your review ... and no, it isn't simply a smaller version of EAA's world-class museum at Oshkosh (also worth a few hours).

Ray Anderson's magnificent flying machine will soon be on display at the Florida Air Museum. See video for a full tour of this remarkable airplane.
FAM features "Aerospace Discovery," which offers a broad display of rare and fun examples of aircraft including several one-of-a-kind designs, vintage classics and antiques, plus warbirds. However, FAM has been a bit spare in the lightest end of aviation.

That will change by the time you arrive in Lakeland, Florida for Sun 'n Fun 2015. Thanks to a generous donation from Ray Anderson, a very special — indeed one-of-a-kind — "ultralight" will be added to FAM's display. Built from an original airframe from M-Squared Aircraft, here's an airplane you have to see to appreciate. Oh, heck, even then you probably won't absorb everything Ray and the M-Squared staff accomplished with help from a local university.

Outstanding among its many features is the HKS powerplant. This is a fairly rare animal with the turbo-HKS 700T that produces 80 horsepower. On this light single seater, Ray said that engine helps him leap off the ground in one and a half airplane lengths, or about a 30-foot ground roll. HKS is better known for its 60-horsepower 700E model.

Our video walks you around this airplane so you can get a fuller idea. It may look like a simple little single seater — and it is, in a way — but it seems Ray left out only the kitchen sink in his effort to make this gray Breese SS a very special aircraft.

I am a member of FAM and encourage you to consider this as well. Here's the rates and member benefits.

Now, I want to focus on the airframer behind Captain Ray's work (he's ex-military and looks the part). M-Squared Aircraft is one of the longest-running airplane producers in the LSA space. Like myself, proprietor Paul Mather far pre-dates Light-Sport Aircraft. We were both around years before this newest aviation segment even acquired the name.

Logically then, Paul's M-Squared Aircraft business was early in declaring it met ASTM standards for Special Light-Sport Aircraft. You need to contact him to know the latest prices, but at one time, the lowest cost Special LSA you could buy was from his company. If you are one of the many who lament the high cost of carbon fiber, glass-panel, LSA speedsters ... well, I understand, but you ought to have a look at Paul's fun flying airplanes. I got a crack at Ray's HKS-powered Breese (wow!) but I think I've flown all the models in M-Squared's line and every one of them is a well-proven joy in the air.

Father and daughter go aloft to capture photos of M-Squared Aircraft's several models.
Like many of the light aviation segment businesses, M-Squared Aircraft is a small enterprise, described by some as a "mom-and-pop shop." As with many such businesses, some deep expertise is available but with few employees, such operations rely on friends of the business. Paul appears to have no shortage of supporters to help him make it all work well.

As Paul decided to upgrade his website, he called in some of those volunteers, but got some of his best support from his daughter, >b>Summer Brown. Trained in graphics, she's good with a digital camera as the new website attests. Seen in the nearby photo, Summer went aloft with Dad in every airplane comprising the M-Squared Aircraft inventory. Check out the new website and stop by their display at Sun 'n Fun 2015.

You may or may not see Paul as he spends an amazing amount of his time aloft giving demo rides. Like any other aircraft vendor he's flying those interested in purchases, but "King Paul" is a mainstay at giving flights to those who volunteer to help airshow put on their events. For airshow visitors demo flights are modestly priced and Paul Mather is one of the most expert flyers to take you up. I encourage a visit but ask soon; this guy books up fast.


NavWorx Relieves ADS-B Out Demands for LSA
By Dan Johnson, February 20, 2015

Traffic on a screen aids the eye in finding aircraft in your vicinity. On left is a screen shot from WingX Pro. With this much traffic it's great to have electronic assistance.
Across aviation segments of all types, noise is becoming shrill over FAA's demand that you install Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast equipment which not only receives but sends information. The phrase is such a mouthful that everyone just says, "ADS-B Out" though that is still a mysterious abbreviation to anyone not deeply attuned to aviation instruments.

Most alphabet organizations and many aviation writers have been outspoken about the challenges faced by owners of Type Certified aircraft. A chorus of lament wails about the high equipment cost (several thousand dollars) and high installation cost coupled with what is often described as an impossible situation. According to many experts, the number of aircraft needing ADS-B Out equipment is so great that maintenance centers no longer have time to install the equipment before the deadline.

Well, that is a troubling TC-aircraft dilemma but LSA and light kit aircraft owners recently got relief from the onerous requirement. FAA indicated that EAB homebuilt aircraft and LSA do not need to use TSO (Technical Standard Order) gear. "Non-TSO" means a piece of equipment is not certified, however, one company sells devices that are nearly identical except that they do not not have the FAA TSO approval. Why is this good for you?

NavWorx saves LSA and light kit aircraft owners a bundle compared to Type Certified aircraft.
The TSO NavWorx box is already the most economical option for GA aircraft owners, with their ADS600-B unit priced at $2,399 before installation. Yet now LSA owners can meet FAA mandate for less than 30% of that price! Sometimes it is good to be an LSA or light EAB owner, right?

Yep, for only $699 you can install the same hardware components as Type Certified aircraft must install while saving $1,700 (or even more compared to equipment from other providers). This is a crystal-clear indication of the cost of certification. Take a component and add 2.4 times the hardware expense merely to have documents (and the testing they imply) that proves it will work reliably in your TC airplane. This example is repeated throughout the LSA world, where non-certified aircraft boast an "acceptable" safety record — using FAA's preferred term for LSA safety — while featuring far lower prices. Sure, some LSA are still rather expensive but even the priciest are a fraction of their equivalent from the certified world.

Most owners are still going to have to pay a qualified mechanic to install the ADS600-EXP and some knowledgeable persons suggest installation could cost as much as the $699 NavWorx box. You'll also need an antenna, which NavWorx sells for $90-500.

However, the Rowlett, Texas company has another great idea, with more letters you need to learn.

The latest from NavWorx will become available early in March 2015.
NavWorx also offer their PADS-B with the "P" standing for "Portable." PADS-B transmits full ADS-B Out, while receiving all traffic and weather around your aircraft. Owner Bill Moffitt said, "We took the design straight out of our TSO/STC certified ADS600-B product, miniaturized it, and created the PADS-B." As with the ADS600-EXP, PADS-B is not TSO'd.

ADS-B receiver-only devices do not show all the traffic near you, said Moffitt. "FAA only sends traffic to your aircraft if you have ADS-B OUT." Users of ADS-B In equipment get traffic but it must be relayed from ground equipment or other aircraft, which is not as dependable. Moffitt said you need not compromise your safety using a receiver-only device for traffic because you can buy NavWorx PADS-B and "rest assured that the FAA is sending you traffic."

Even better is that PADS-B comes with zero installation cost. "Plug it in, place it on the glare-shield, and start receiving traffic and weather instantly," said Moffitt. Additionally PADS-B will send the full dataset to your iPad or Android app. He noted, "PADS-B works with WingX, iFly, Naviator, eKneeboard, Avilution and others but it does not work with proprietary, closed applications like Garmin and ForeFlight." PADS-B is fully self-contained with no external antenna that needs to be mounted; GPS and Wifi antennae are built-in.

NavWorx PADS-B sells for $999 but other than shipping that is your total cost to meet FAA's mandate. PADS-B will be available starting March 7, 2015.


Love Them or Not, Drones Are Coming
By Dan Johnson, February 18, 2015

See our video on the DJI quadcopter at Sebring 2015.
The good news is that most pilots I've interviewed — with a few outspoken exceptions — think drones are fine. Some are openly enthusiastic. Indeed, major drone seller Atlanta Hobby said their most effective advertising ever was on Barnstormers, an online source frequented by pilots (the sort that fly from inside the aircraft). This article will try to cast additional light on the new drone rule, FAR Part 107, that was announced over last weekend and gained wide coverage.

I contacted a subject matter expert who happens to be a longtime friend. Cliff Whitney is the fellow that first talked me into starting ByDanJohnson.com way back in 1999. Much earlier we met through a mutual interest in hang gliding and have remained friends ever since. Today, Cliff runs a multimillion dollar enterprise that sells ... well, things that fly (but with the pilot not inside). He remains an active pilot that enjoys flying several airplane types so he gets it from a pilot's perspective. We spoke for an hour just a couple days after FAA hurriedly released their NPRM news about Part 107 for UAVs.

(upper right) DJI's latest X3, carrying a three-axis stabilized camera that shoots 4K at 30 FPS (translation: very high quality video). Landing gear retracts to provide 360-degree camera angles. Most photos used in this article are courtesy of Atlanta Hobby.
In an unusual Sunday morning press conference, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta released the details of the proposed rule. Along with these two big shots of the regulatory world, Cliff was on the conference line. As both a pilot and a UAV seller, he said, "I was shocked yet extremely pleased about the proposed rule ... FAA used common sense ... [Part 107} will encourage innovation while promoting adoption" of the regulation.

Some, like Amazon — a company with ambitions about using drones to deliver packages to your doorstep — were less enamored of the rule as it excludes flight that the big online outfit will need to offer its aerial delivery service (see some of the Part 107 points below). However, even Amazon had to agree with Cliff that, "107 allows the ability to go elsewhere."

"Recreational users are exempt [from 107] ... this is hard coded and cannot be changed," Cliff observed. "If hobbyists fly recklessly, they can be penalized but this is as it was before." The regulation only applies to what Cliff calls the "industrial side." That's the main aspect of his business, accounting for 70% of sales; 30% are recreational users. He added, "Part 107 will increase the industrial share because the new regulation is so accommodating."

Let's look at some impact from this new reg. I asked Cliff about the size of the market. To understand it better, we need to divide it. Recreational user drones run $600-$2,000. These are some very capable UAV compared to "toys" that you can buy for $50-500. True working systems with back-up aircraft — needed because a company hiring you won't want to hear about a broken part that will take a week to fix — will cost $5,000 to $10,000. However, the latter amount can buy an aircraft delivering butter-smooth motion picture-quality video with very high resolution that can broadcast to a computer on the ground.

In the recreational or higher sector Cliff believes the DJI company (top image) is the leader with an estimated 70% of the market. DJI did $130 million worth of business in 2013, $260M last year and projects $600M for 2015. Calculating from average wholesale selling prices, the overall drone industry could deliver as many as a million new UAVs this year alone. In contrast, GAMA said that 986 single engine piston aircraft were sold worldwide in 2014; LSA and LSA-types delivered approximately 3,000 units around the globe. UAVs clearly represent very big business.

SHOULD PILOTS BE WORRIED? As a pilot — especially of an open cockpit ultralight or a powered paraglider — should you be worried about all this new traffic in the sky? "Such worry shows a lack of understanding," said Cliff. He explained using a humorous tale about how RC hobbyists have events where they deliberately try to run into one another, all within a 200-foot-square space. "I've seen 50 RCs fly around at low altitudes for 20 minutes without running into each other, even in a confined space ... and that's when they're trying to hit one other." He makes a good point. In my flying, while I recognize we must be vigilant to see and avoid, the skies are spacious and I very rarely see any aircraft close except near the airport.

Man-carrying quadcopter? -- We've seen others but Cecil Boyd of Technical Design Force in Hawaii has an idea for a partly weight shift controlled very light (Part 103?) multirotor called Quadralight. Intrigued? Contact Cecil.
As with most FAA proposals, the agency is asking for comments and must consider every one. For example, FAA is asking if the regs should permit operations beyond line of sight, and if yes, what are appropriate limits? Amazon may be dissatisfied with the NPRM as their proposed package-delivery drones couldn't fly over populated areas. However, the regs can change to allow such use after initial experience is gained and, of course, giant companies like Amazon and Google have lobbyists that might try to influence rule writers. Balancing corporate power are powerful forces concerned with privacy.

For another viewpoint, Reason Magazine wrote that Adam Thierer of the Technology Liberation Front noted on his blog that, "You can't read through these 200 pages of [FAR Part 107] regulations without getting sense that the FAA still wishes that private drones would just go away." Government drones are exempt from these rules.

Right or wrong, it seems as certain as tomorrow's sunrise that drones or UAVs are going to proliferate.

  • DRONE NPRM SUMMARY
  • Drones must weigh less than 55 pounds
  • Commerical operators must remain within visual line of sight of the drone
  • They can only operate in the daylight with a least three statute miles visibility
  • Drones must stay below 500 feet AGL and outside of Class A airspace
  • May fly in Class B, C, and D airspace with prior permission from ATC
  • Drone must stay 500 feet below clouds and 2,000 feet horizontally
  • Drones cannot exceed 100 mph and must "see-and-avoid" other aircraft
  • Drones are not allowed over people, except those involved in the flight
  • Drone operators would have to pass an aeronautical exam and retake the test every two years
  • Background checks of some sort would be required for commercial drone operators
  • Aircraft markings (N-numbers) mandated for identification purposes

You can prepare for the exam via a study guide as offered by UAV Ground School

Produced before FAA's recent NPRM, this Reason.TV video gives the overall activity of flying UAVs a broader perspective. You also get a historical view of drones:


Rui Xiang RX1E ... Certified Electric Two-Seater
By Dan Johnson, February 12, 2015

All over the world, electric airplanes are getting remarkable amounts of attention, deservedly so as an exciting development to match work in cars and other vehicles. These days, while drones (also called UAVs, UASs, or RPVs) are made in various countries, a lot of the development comes from China ... so why be surprised to hear of a positive development in a Chinese human-occupied aircraft?

Is it the first "certified" electric? Well, "certified" is a term that can be challenging to define as the word means different things in different countries. For example, we've already produced a video covering the American-designed, Chinese-developed eSpyder from Yuneec. It won German approval in 2013. My flying experience on eSpyder is documented in this article. You can also read a more encompassing electric aircraft review article from 2011, though with the rapid pace of development such articles become dated rather quickly.

eSpyder developer Yuneec has also worked extensively on their e430, a two-seat, motorglider-like, pure-electric aircraft. Perhaps that was China's first electric two seater but now consider the Rui Xiang RX1E, a high-wing, side-by-side two-place aircraft. As does Yuneec's e430, RX1E uses high wing cantilever construction and long slender wings. According to Cafe Foundation — the group that closely monitors electric aircraft developments and hosts professional symposia — RX1E has been "designed by the Liaoning General Aviation Institute while Shenyang Aircraft Manufacturing [of Cessna Skycatcher fame] manufactures the aircraft under the Rui Xiang General name." Cafe Foundation gathered some of their facts from China News Service.

Cafe continued their report writing that RX1E is "...made of carbon fiber composite material, uses a 10 kilowatt-hour lithium battery [that is] enough for a 40-minute flight. Charging takes one-and-a-half hours and restores enough energy to make a 40-minute flight, all for about 5 yuan (80 cents).

Cafe credited Xinhua News Agency, which reported "a maximum cruising speed of up to 150 kilometers per hour (93 mph or 80 knots), and the ability to climb to 3,000 meters (10,800 feet) at a maximum takeoff weight of 480 kilograms (1,056 pounds)." RX1E is said to have a takeoff distance of 290 meters (930 feet), and a landing distance (probably over a barrier) of 560 meters (1,792 feet). Power is supplied by a 30 kW (40 hp) Sineton electric motor. Contrarily, Cafe notes, Yuneec employs a company-produced powerplant; they are famous for powerplant developments driven by their huge success in radio control models.

My source of the certification news offered to ask company officials for more details and when I have more I will update this article.

Last fall our good friend Mary Grady writing for AVweb reported that RX1E "production is expected to begin in the first half of 2015, according to China Daily. The plant will be capable of producing up to 100 airplanes per year." AVweb's report continued quoting Yang Fengtian of Shenyang Aerospace University, "The plant will be capable of manufacturing up to 100 airplanes per year within three years," said Yang. Drawing from other sources, the AVweb article stated, "The aircraft will fly about 90 minutes on a full charge," at a cost of about one dollar. "Cruising speed is about 86 knots. The price is expected to be about $163,000."


Rotax Awards Free 912 Engine to Flight School
By Dan Johnson, February 8, 2015

One year ago Rotax announced a contest to award a brand-new 912 engine to the flight school that achieved the first time between overhaul (TBO) of 2,000 hours on a Rotax 912 iS model that the engine builder had just released. Upon reaching the goal, the flight school had to prove the hours by sending a copy of the logbook to their local distributor and then return the used engine to Rotax BRP in Austria.

At the end of January 2015, Rotax announced they had donated a copy of their newest Rotax 912 iS Sport engine to Madiba Bay School of Flight located in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa. "Madiba Bay achieved the first time between overhauls (TBO) of 2,000 hours on their Sling 2 equipped with a Rotax 912 iS engine," said representatives of the big Austrian engine manufacturer.

Flight school owner Gerhard Van Eeden said, "We are pleased to be the winner of a brand-new Rotax 912 iS Sport engine. Our school flies a minimum of 400 hours monthly, a good reason why we decided to participate in this ROTAX contest as we were convinced we could win."

The contest started in February 2014. At the rate Madiba Bay racks up hours on their Sling aircraft, they were well positioned to win a powerplant that retails for well over $20,000. The school reported 400 hours per month using several airplanes and they managed to log 2,000 on at least one in less than a year. Not bad!

"It's impressive to see how obviously professional Madiba Bay School is in operating its flight school to accumulate 2,000 hours in such a short time," said Thomas Uhr, Vice President BRP-Powertrain and General Manager BRP-Powertrain GmbH & Co KG. "And, of course, it makes me proud our Rotax 912 iS Sport was a hassle-free partner for many new pilots and it will now provide valuable information to our continuous R&D efforts, delivering the best aircraft engine in its class."

The updated Rotax 912 iS Sport. photo courtesy Rotax BRP
Rotax believe that flight schools benefit using the Rotax 912 iS Sport thanks to "easier operation, longer flight range and lower operating costs. The new engine delivers 38% to 70% better fuel efficiency than comparable competitive engines," added Uhr. "For flight schools, the Rotax 912 iS Sport engine is economically extremely valuable considering that a cost-intensive part for flight schools is the vast quantity of fuel [they use]."

So, that's it. The contest is over, right? Nope! They are doing it again.

"Rotax BRP will continue last year's flight school contest and will donate a brand new Rotax 912 iS Sport to the flight school that achieves the first TBO of 2,000 hours on their Rotax 912 iS engine," the company stated in an early February news release.

The procedure is similar to the 2014 contest: Flight schools must register with an authorized Rotax distributor or with the person in charge of the point of sales in its area. The school must inform the distributor when 500, 1,000, 1,500 and 2,000 flight hour points are reached using the Rotax 912 iS engine. After reaching 2,000 hours, the school sends their logbook to their distributor, which is to inform Rotax BRP, afterwards shipping the engine to Rotax. BRP will then donate a new Rotax 912 iS Sport engine in return, and the school saves a bundle on either overhaul of their old engine or buying a new one. Madiba Bay is not allowed to participate in the contest again.

Madiba Bay School of Flight uses The Airplane Factory Sling models, which are nearly always equipped with MGL Avionics. Both have representation in the U.S.
"With more than 170,000 aircraft engines sold in almost 40 years, Rotax dominates the Light-Sport and microlight aircraft industry offering more than 200 points of sale," stated the company. "Rotax BRP supports customers worldwide and supplies Rotax aircraft engines to more than 80% of all aircraft manufacturers in its segment."

Madiba Bay School of Flight uses The Airplane Factory (TAF) Sling aircraft in their active flight school. So, besides Rotax enjoying strong support for their engines, TAF also earns credit for their aircraft holding up to duty that is often said to be one of the most demanding. Students don't learn without making mistakes so hard landings happen.

The traditional U.S. flight school community has been somewhat slow to embrace LSA because some allege that LSA are too lightly built. Indeed LSA weigh more than 300 pounds less than popular trainers like Cessna's long-discontinued 150 and 152 models. However, experiences such as Madiba Bay with their Sling fleet and many other Light-Sport models with thousands of training hours logged are proof that in the hands of quality flight school operators these fuel-efficient aircraft can be great instructional aircraft.

Video reports and articles like the following unveil the durability of LSA in flight training environments: Kitfox (video); Allegro; Europe-based Remos; and, this general article.


iPad Invades the Cockpit ... Again
By Dan Johnson, February 4, 2015

BD-17 and Levil photos by Joseph F. Marszal
If you are not an iPad user — like I am along with millions of others including a significant number of pilots — perhaps you just don't care about iPads in the cockpit. This isn't an Apple ad; they hardly need any more promotion. Yet iPads in the cockpit can do some great work for a much lower cost than anyone would have imagined less than five years ago (iPad was introduced in fall 2010).

Unless you have ignored the news since 2010, you are surely aware iPads can run slick apps like Garmin Pilot or Jeppesen's Mobile FliteDeck VFR, WingX Pro, Foreflight, FlyQ, and several others. Most of these are very useful products and even with data subscriptions they don't cost much. However, they all share one problem ... a rather big one.

Simply, cockpits weren't designed around the new technology.

You have to hold an iPad. Of course, several companies have made mounts of various types, some of which hang out from the instrument panel and swivel about like a wall-mounted TV so you can poke and prod them while flying. I've sampled a couple of these mounts and they are a bit, well ... flexible. When you touch them, especially in turbulent air, they can jiggle around and defy you to hit that tiny, little virtual button you want to select. While those mounts are superior to hand holding, they could be better. Fortunately, one already is better.

Consider FlyPad mounts. While this is currently more logical for homebuilders who design their own instrument panel layout as seen in the nearby BD-17 photo, a Special LSA manufacturer could easily incorporate the mount system. A short video at the end of this article makes the installation look straightforward.

After the panel install is complete, "...your device can be inserted and locked securely into place in seconds," said developer Crew Feighery, "and will look as if it were meant to be there from the time your aircraft left the factory floor (or your garage)."

Digital screens are widely available in many variations. Indeed, some great installations are made by Dynon, Garmin, and MGL, among others. Yet Crew makes an interesting observation. "Glass cockpits are missing the huge selection of apps available for the Apple products," he said. "With one screen you can choose between a moving map application, terrain avoidance, flight planning software, or even entertainment for your passenger."

FlyPad mounts can accommodate several Apple products with more to follow.
Crew goes on to note that you can, "...replicate all the typical functions of a expensive Primary Flight Display." Enthusiastically, he continues, "The perfect cockpit includes one full size iPad Air for your Primary Flight Display, a iPad Mini for navigation, a iPod Touch or iPhone for your backup artificial horizon, and an extra full size iPad Air to entertain your passenger while you navigate to your destination." OK, you may not want to add that many Apple devices but the installation in the BD-17 at Sebring showed how clean and tidy it can be. Plus, as the image shows and the video below highlights, popping the iPad in or out is super simple.

Apple iPad comes with a GPS receiver but for the fullest use of the panel-mounted tablet, you'll need a device like a Dual unit (160 SkyPro or XGPS 170) that works via Bluetooth or one of several Levil devices. The former are portable and small while the latter are a bit more techy and use a combination of cables and wireless to offer greater capabilities. Some Levil units can be paired with units like NavWorx's ADS-600B or Zaon's XRX to meet FAA's mandates for ADS-B Out. ADS-B Out compliance will add considerably to your cost.

Levil units power the iPad in the BD-17 to offer excellent capability.
When employing an appropriate Levil device roll, pitch, magnetic heading, rate of turn, inclination, and G-meter data are available on your iPad (or Android, though the latter tablets will not fit in the FlyPad mount). A Levil unit can deliver wirelessly to as many as 10 connected devices. Dual units also serve more than one device. Some Levil units integrate solar panels that can recharge the batteries over time or extend the eight-hour battery life to 12 hours on bright, sunny days.

Team BD neatly incorporated FlyPad and Levil in their Sebring 2015 display airplane and I heard from a few folks that this caught their attention. The FlyPad mounts run $179 to $229. One very clever and useful option is the Steam Gauge Cutout letting you install analog gauges mounted right in the panel under the iPad (photo above). Depending on mount chosen kit builders can mount 1-4 traditional gauges. Should your tablet go dark, Crew said, "...you can simply pop it out and reference the traditional gauges." Nice!

This one-minute video shows you how FlyPad mounts, demounts, and functions:


Boeing & Airbus Explore Light Aircraft
By Dan Johnson, January 28, 2015

Here are four journalists that contribute to this website. Dave Unwin and (far right) James Lawrence also write for print publications. photo by Randee Laskewitz
Recently I had a visit from my longtime friend and fellow aviation journalist, James Lawrence (photo). Among other mutual interests we share a passion for electric aircraft. We've each flown early examples and believe we see the future. From the headline above, you might interpret that to mean we anticipate electric airliners. We might ... yet we recognize such developments remain distant. Or, do they?

The electric power action today is in very light aircraft — and some are available for you to buy and fly immediately. One example is Zigolo and I've reported on eSpyder. The reason is that light aircraft rule is singular: batteries, which weigh too much to allow heavier aircraft any range. The ending video explains why.

Unless you've been off-planet for a while, you know the development of improved battery technology is drawing many billions of dollars of investment. Cars, laptops, drones and many more products or industries want better batteries. Many experts believe the green energy push cannot leap forward until better storage, i.e., batteries, is available. While aviation cannot match the massive investments by industry and government, light aviation in particular can benefit from the pursuit by those with deeper pockets.

The Airbus E-Fan 2.0 is preparing for production (details in article).
The deepest pockets in civilian aviation are Boeing and Airbus. Only two years ago, I would have scoffed at any mention that these companies would pursue truly small and light aircraft. Today, I have to shake my head in amazement as both companies put money into small aircraft projects.

Airbus E-Fan As reported earlier Airbus is already flying their E-Fan, an electric two seater that cleverly looks like a mini-bizjet with its twin ducted props. It has been suggested that the two place model could be market-ready by 2017 and a four seater is planned. This was not simply a concept airplane; they planned to produce some, though in Airbus' billion-dollar world, building a couple hundred airplanes could be little more than a fact-finding experiment.

Since our first report, Airbus said it signed a deal with Daher-Socata to become a major partner with Airbus Group's VoltAir subsidiary "for the design, development and certification of a new electric airplane ... called E-Fan 2.0." According to the airline company, "E-Fan 2.0 is intended to be a general aviation trainer," which they claimed will be the "first full-rate production electric aircraft in the world." Airbus added that one of their goals is to eventually learn more about future Airbus airliners.

Socata will be responsible for the E-Fan 2.0's entire development, including its electric engine and batteries, flight test and certification by EASA in Europe. The French company manufactures general aviation aircraft and has reportedly freed up its engineering team to focus on the new project. Airbus said E-Fan 2.0 will eventually be sold in the United States as well as international markets. Daher-Socata is well equipped for the work, having produced "more than 700 TBMs as well as thousands more piston GA airplanes under the Rallye and TB lines."

Randall Fishman (in cockpit) developed the lovely ULS reviewed in this video.
In their intense battle to sell 737s and 319s, the two giant companies always seem to go head-to-head ... so why would it be any different in one or two seat airplanes?

Boeing Hybrid Project Of course, the point of the exercise is technology development and these two companies with thousands of smart engineers on their payrolls undoubtedly realize it is light airplanes that presently offer a valid testbed for electric propulsion ideas. However, Boeing's approach is different. They teamed up with a group at Cambridge University in England led by Dr. Paul Robertson of the university's department of engineering. Robertson and a trio of students are working on a hybrid, a Toyota Prius of the air if you like.

The British team acquired a single place Song from Airsport s.r.o. This is the same basic airframe as previously used by Electric Aircraft Corporation's Randall Fishman. By my reckoning Randall is one of the pioneers of electric power, having already logged more than 130 hours on his ULS, which is a Song modified for pure electric power; photo. Song is also represented in Canada by Melody Aircraft with gasoline power only as originally designed.

The Cambridge/Boeing hybrid project is also based on the Song, as is ULS.
The Cambridge/Boeing aircraft uses a combination of a Honda four-stroke piston engine and an electric motor/generator, coupled through the same drive pulley to spin the propeller. During takeoff and climb, when maximum power is required, the engine and motor work together to power the plane. Once cruising altitude is reached, Robinson said, "The electric motor can be switched into generator mode to recharge the batteries or used in motor-assist mode to minimize fuel consumption. The same principle is at work in a hybrid car."

In addition to massive corporations like Boeing and Airbus, several other groups are also working on electric power. Even hybrid aircraft projects aren't new but some combination of these could change aviation, perhaps forever, if Jim Lawrence and I have any idea about it. This should get real interesting real soon and I'll try to keep you informed.

The following video explains the Cambridge/Boeing project quite succinctly:

To read SPLOG postings going back to 2005 -- all organized in chronological order -- click SPLOG.

 



 

 
 

World Aircraft Company is Columbian design expertise joined to Canadian entrepreneurship based in Paris, Tennessee USA. Welcome to World Aircraft and a brand-new short takeoff and landing (STOL) Light-Sport Aircraft, the all-metal Spirit.

Aerotrek Aircraft imports the A240 and A220 tricycle gear or taildragger Special Light-Sport Aircraft. A finely finished aircraft at an excellent price, Aerotrek has wide, affordable appeal.

Flight Design USA imports CT, the top selling Light-Sport Aircraft. CT is a 98% carbon fiber design
with superb performance, roomy cockpit, great useful load, and a parachute as standard equipment ... the market leader for 10 years!
CTLSi


Tecnam is the world's leading manufacturer of Light-Sport aircraft offering more models and variations than any other producer.
Besides the world's fastest-selling light twin and a new four seater, Tecnam offers these LSA: Echo Classic, Eaglet, Bravo, Astore, and P2008.
Many LSA
& GA models

Hansen Air Group represents recognized brands in the LSA
space: FK Lightplanes and their distinctive biplane Comet, FK9, and FK51 plus the great-flying Magnaghi Sky Arrow. Based in Atlanta, Georgia Hansen Air Group is an experienced player in the LSA space.
Multiple LSA

Aeromarine-LSA represents an economical Part 103 ultralight that is within reach of almost any budget. For local fun flying, or for those who enjoy soaring flight Zigolo is light enough to be lifted by even the most gentle thermals.

U.S. Sport Aircraft Importing represents the popular SportCruiser, one of the best selling Special Light-Sport Aircraft among 130 models on the market. The Texas-headquartered importer has long represented this familiar model.

Corbi Air represents the Made-for-Americans Direct Fly Alto 100. Created in the Czech Republic, Alto 100 was upgraded for USA sales and the result is a comfortable, handsome low wing, all-metal LSA with features you want.

Jabiru USA builds the spacious and speedy J-250 and more recently J-230 plus the training-optimized J-170, each certified as Special LSA. The Tennessee-based company also imports and services the popular Jabiru engine line.

Vickers Aircraft has created one of the most distinctive new LSA seaplanes yet to emerge.Powered by the 180-horsepower
Lycoming O-360, their Wave model is like no other seaplane ever introduced with multiple features to set it apart from the crowd.
Wave

Evektor is Number One and always will be. The Czech company's SportStar was the number one SLSA to win approval but engineers have steadily improved the model far beyond that 2005 version that started the race.


Zenith Aircraft is one of America's leading kit suppliers featuring well proven models from legendary designer, Chris Heintz. Centrally based in Mexico, Missouri, Zenith offers kit aircraft for several popular models.

North Wing is America's leading manufacturer of weight shift LSA and Part 103 ultralight trikes. The company's wing designs are so good that most other trike manufacturers use them. Aircraft prices are highly affordable by all.

Arion Aircraft has designed and built one of the most beautiful low wing entries in the Special LSA and kit-built aircraft sector. The all-American designed and built aircraft is priced fairly and flies wonderfully ... need you search for more?


Just Aircraft has delivered more than 300 kit aircraft since 2002, but in 2012 they electrified pilots with the awesome performance of their all-new SuperSTOL. It may look extreme and performs extremely well, but it is truly docile and forgiving to fly.

Renegade Light Sport produces the sexy low wing, all composite Falcon in America. The Florida company has also established itself as the premiere installer of Lycoming’s IO-233 engine.

Phoenix Air USA imports the beautiful Phoenix Special Light-Sport Aircraft, a performance motorglider that can cruise swiftly and serve both functions with excellent creature comfort. Given its clever wing extension design, you get two aircraft in one!

BushCat is the distinctive Light-Sport Aircraft within reach of almost any budget. With a solid heritage BushCat by SkyReach is fun, capable, and available as a kit, fully-built SLSA or ELSA.

The Airplane Factory (TAF) produces the Sling series of world-circling aircraft (literally) and now this fine-flying, all-metal beauty is available in the United States as a Special Light-Sport Aircraft. Here is an LSA to follow.

BRM Aero manufacturers the handsome Bristell all-metal SLSA. This highly evolved, next-generation Light-Sport was carefully engineered for luxury, comfort, excellent stability, and safety while being fun, fast, and easy to fly.

SportairUSA imports the dashing and superbly-equipped StingSport S4 that has won a loyal following from American pilots. More recently, they introduced their TL-3000 high-wing LSA. SportairUSA is a full-line operation with maintenance and training, too.

Progressive Aerodyne designed and supplies the SeaRey series, arguably the most celebrated of all light seaplanes in America. A close community of hundreds of owners offers camaraderie few other brands can match.

Kitfox is one of the world's best selling light aircraft kits with more than 5,000 delivered. With unrivaled name recognition, Kitfox is admired for crisp handling, excellent performance, easily folded wings, and more. The design is flown around the world.

Lockwood Aircraft is the builder of two of light aviation's best-recognized flying machines: AirCam and the Drifter line. Most sport aviators already know the Lockwood brand, a leader in Rotax maintenance and aircraft services.

X-Air brings a return to reasonably priced Light-Sport Aircraft, with a ready-to-fly flying machine you can purchase for a genuinely low price. No new arrival, X-Air has a rich history in light aviation.

Quicksilver Aeronautics is the world's largest producer of ultralight aircraft, selling some 15,000 aircraft. The company's designs are thoroughly tested, superbly supported, and have an excellent safety record.

Super Petrel LS, manufactured by Edra Aeronautica in Brazil and represented by Florida Light Sport Aviation, is a unique and highly effective LSA seaplane. A biplane design, this is well established flying boat with more than 20 years of history.

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Updated: February 27, 2015

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