SPLOG
 

...a web log of developments in Sport Pilot/Light-Sport Aircraft
Most recent 20 postings.


It's Winter, So Seaplanes Are Flying ... Uh, What?
By Dan Johnson, December 24, 2014

On this website, we zoom around the world following Light-Sport Aircraft, from near the Arctic Circle — you know, where Santa and the wee elves are pulling some heavy overtime about now — to the warm balminess of Southern California. I know of what I write, having once lived in the snow belt and now hanging with the family in Palm Springs, California for Christmas. It seems everywhere I look I see LSA seaplanes in sea trials and this is happening in the dead of winter.

Why be surprised? Perhaps you've noticed boat shows happen in the winter months. When living in Minnesota, I was always amazed that boat shows were held in January and February, a time of year when it would be months before the ice melted from the state's 10,000 lakes to allow use of those boats. Yet this is when people were shopping, I suppose anticipating an upcoming season of boating fun. So, why not seaplanes in winter?

all photos courtesy Icon Aircraft
As I recently wrote about the Atol Avion undergoing first water trials in the freezing cold waters of Finland, it seemed appropriate to update readers on continued development for one of the most watched Light-Sport Aircraft ever, Icon's A5. The company's extensive use of social marketing has netted them a million Facebook likes and they've logged a reported 1,200 orders. Just before Christmas they issued a report which I'll summarize here.

Since its completion, engineering A5 serial number one (ESN-1) has been undergoing extensive flight testing and systems performance verification, the company said. "The objective of this process is to confirm that the production version of the A5 meets or exceeds the performance of the proof of concept (PoC) aircraft, which underwent more than 700 test flights for aerodynamic, hydrodynamic, and systems development." Icon added, "The ultimate goal is to prepare the production A5 for ASTM compliance and delivery to the first customer next spring [2015]."

This full-aft-stick water landing was performed intentionally to test the A5's performance and confirm that the aircraft does not porpoise in this situation.
In these preproduction preparations, Icon's team performed several days of water testing on Lake Isabella, California. "Icon Aircraft's engineering team pushed ESN-1's design to further improve water-handling characteristics." They report that the new hull design's performance exceeds the POC's in several ways: The preproduction prototype "can land easily at a range of airspeeds and deck angles (attitude) without porpoising (a pitch oscillation exhibited by most seaplanes);" aggressive step-turns on the water can be accomplished, similar to the performance of personal watercraft; the newest A5 demonstrated that static and dynamic lateral-stability requirements have been met throughout the design envelope in a range of water conditions, gross weights, and center-of-gravity (CG) locations; water handling has been verified in rougher water and larger waves; and, "ESN-1 can cope with high-wind situations, especially maintaining water-rudder effectiveness when turning to downwind."

ESN-1 was subjected to the full range of weight loadings and CG positions including performing a full-aft-stick water landing at minimum speed. "The purpose of this exercise is to intentionally land the aircraft tail-first to determine if it will porpoise, a task that involves a highly unusual landing attitude that appears visually unsettling," observed Icon.

While testing A5, a Grumman HU-16B Albatross, dropped in for some practice landings. Albatross was produced from 1949 to 1961 and saw service in a number of military and Coast Guard roles.
The fuselage of engineering serial number two (ESN-2) has been fully instrumented with strain gauges and will undergo testing to ensure it complies with ASTM strength requirements. Icon engineers and technicians are simultaneously assembling the third production A5, called aircraft serial number one. "ASN-1 is the final aircraft which will undergo FAA inspection to ensure the A5 complies with ASTM standards." Icon's manufacturing facility, documentation, and quality systems will also be reviewed before serial production begins.

ASN-1 also marks a significant milestone as it is the first aircraft that will be delivered to a customer next spring, culminating nearly a decade of research and development leading to serial production, the company concluded in its winter 2014 report. As we admire the thoroughness Icon is demonstrating, we wish them the best in getting A5 into production.

As they gear up for production next year, Icon said it is hiring. "We are looking for talented individuals to fill key roles in Design, Engineering, Finance, Operations, and Production," said the company. Interested persons can see their Careers page on their website.

MERRY CHRISTMAS, everybody!


Fun, Powerful, Gnarly ... that’s AirCam
By Dan Johnson, December 20, 2014

This attention-getting "dragon" Air Cam is not Ron Owens' but it might qualify as "gnarly." As the next photo shows, this was a total treatment.
What would you like for a Christmas present, perhaps if you won big in a lottery? Well, you're a pilot so I might guess that some airplane has caught your fancy. Me, too. Like most pilots a number of desirable airplanes catch my eye but also like most pilots, I cannot afford to have one of each that appeals to me. High on my list of wished-for airplanes is Lockwood Aircraft's Air Cam. I have quite a few hours flying one example or another. I even earned my multiengine rating in one, as part of an article I wrote years ago.

As part of the required hours of training to take the flight check — no written test is involved for a multiengine rating — I engaged an old friend and multiengine instructor, Richard Johnson. An Air Cam owner, Sebring dentist Ron Owen, graciously supplied his Air Cam. Richard and I flew all over central Florida in Ron's plane as I accumulated hours and experience.

Richard and I crisscrossed the state at about 50 feet above ground level, often even lower. We flew over long stretches of orange groves barely 10 feet above the tree tops. Being a safety conscious pilot I cannot imagine doing that in, well ... any other airplane I've flown, Light-Sport, ultralight, or general aviation. When Richard and I approached an airport to do some multiengine preparation — to simulate an engine out on takeoff, for example — we had to climb. Yes, climb! After flying around at 50 feet AGL or less, you have to climb to enter the traffic pattern so you can land. Richard joked that we had to ascend to "nose bleed altitude."

The online Urban Dictionary offers these synonyms for gnarly: awesome, cool, sweet, rad' (among others). I think these words express my sentiment. Oh, sure, Air Cam is no LSA (too many engines). It's no ultralight (too many seats, too heavy). It's not certified, being a 700 to 1,500-hour kit-built aircraft. Most who look lovingly at Air Cam see it as somewhat costly (though even with two expensive engines it's priced less than many high-end LSA). Regardless, I love Air Cam as one of the most thrilling airplanes I've ever flown. If you haven't sampled it, you have a great experience ahead of you.

Of course, you should never do reckless or unsafe operations in any airplane but Air Cam behaves differently than nearly any other aircraft. I have executed a single engine take-off in the machine, just to prove it could be done. I was careful to have plenty of runway and no traffic but most twin aircraft wouldn't — indeed, cannot — even attempt such a feat. When losing an engine in Air Cam, the event is almost hard to notice ... unbelievable, perhaps, but factual. Air Cam can climb 300 feet per minute on one engine. These capabilities make flying low over orange groves an acceptable flight.

This Air Cam may have demanding duties in remote areas, but that doesn't mean the paint job has to be dull.
People who own an Air Cam are as diverse as folks who buy any other airplane. However, I've never talked to a single one who didn't report having "fun," even those who use one for some serious purpose such as aerial photography. Air Cam opens the door to flying you might never try in another aircraft and with foresightful planning, good maintenance, and accommodating weather, you can enjoy an Air Cam in ways that are simply unrivaled.

After the National Geographic Society commissioned designer Phil Lockwood in 1994 to create an aircraft to allow photographer Nick Nichols to fly over the Ndoki rain forest in Namibia, Africa, the design has been widely marketed. Nearly 200 are flying around the USA and other countries. Selling points besides twin-engine safety are its slow stall (39 mph), low fuel burn (3.5 gph at 50 mph ... for both engines), and cruise from 50-100 mph. A kit with two Rotax 912 ULS engines will set you back over $100,000 but the smile it can create is nearly priceless. Two hundred horsepower produces stunning flight qualities even those 180-hp Cubalikes can't match.

I took a wonderful trip to the Florida Keys in an experience documented in this article. We flew a single engine LSA and it was great fun but we couldn't enjoy the island chain the way you can in an Air Cam, especially one on floats (photo). Recently the company, which often hosts fly-outs for its owners, visited Marathon Key not far from Key West. With those twin engines, and even better with floats, I'm guessing those pilots and passengers saw the islands in ways nearly no one else on the planet has ever experienced. That would make a wonderful Christmas present.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS to you and your family!


Finland’s Atol Amphib Begins Water Tests
By Dan Johnson, December 15, 2014

Ah, the Christmas season is soon upon us (or already is judging by familiar music playing on every speaker you hear). It sounds like a great time to go put your new seaplane in the water ... especially if you live up by the Santa Claus toy workshop. Wait a minute! Can that be right? Yup! Atol Avion Ltd., recently notified us, "We have finally performed first water taxi tests of our production prototype on December 14th, 2014 at Rovaniemi, Finland. After thorough systems tests, water taxi tests were performed on Kemijoki River near the Arctic Circle ... just a few miles from Santa's home. Our plane worked as planned and proved to be even better than expected."

As a Florida resident, I have plenty of local acquaintances that think such an exercise sounds crazy, to be out water testing an amphibious airplane in winter. They mean here in Florida where it's on the cool side ... you know, 50s and 60s. Yet look at the photos and realize we are not showing several images that reveal the Atol airplane with ice droplets formed over its tailplane parts from cruising around in water cold enough to have mini icebergs floating.

I ran into the Atol Avion crew at last year's Aero Friedrichshafen event (another is coming over April 15-18, 2015). The group at the show was composed of a number of airline pilots and among them Anssi Rekula, whom I first met at AirVenture Oshkosh a few years ago. Anssi is a cofounder of Atol Avion. He worked as a licensed maintenance and flight engineer at the Finnish Coast Guard keeping Search-and-Rescue helicopters flying before starting a career flying airliners for Finnair.

Fresh as the photos look, the Atol airplane has been around since 1984, albeit looking quite different from the example in the nearby photos. In an age where we have amazingly sophisticated designs made of modern materials — think Icon's A5 and MVP.aero's namesake MVP as but two gleaming examples — Atol has a core made from wood. Why would they stick with such an "outdated" material?

Inset shows the wheel fairing that will come on a completed aircraft.
According to Atol Avion, "Development of wooden aircraft structures was discontinued when reinforced plastic aircraft became more popular in the 1970s." They note, however, that empty weights of gliders and motor gliders increased by 20 to 30% when they began making extensive use of the slippery new exterior finish. "When the development of Atol was started 30 years ago," the company continued, "wooden structure was selected for this very reason. Reinforced plastic displaced the wooden structure for manufacturing reasons, and its increasing popularity stopped the development of the wooden structure. We chose to continue development of wooden structure manufacturing methods and, as a result of this work, we prefer to talk of a wood composite structure."

Wood composite structure is one of Atol's strengths, Anssi told me. "The strength-to-weight ratio of wood is superior to the majority of building materials. Only plastic structures reinforced with carbon and aramid fiber exceed the qualities of wood, but at a much higher price." Also, carbon fiber structure is so strong, Atol expressed, that structures need to be over-dimensioned in lighter aircraft in order to attach them to the other structure. As a result, competitors' aircraft built of carbon fiber are much heavier than Atol. As an example, partly due to building materials and partly to offer features they believe customers want, Icon had to go obtain a weight exemption from FAA.

Speaking with authority up in the Arctic Circle, Atol stated, "Contrary to what some believe, the wooden structure posses excellent weather resistance. If the structure has been designed and built correctly, and it is stored and maintained properly, it can be used for decades." In our climate-obsessed world, a strong feature of wood structure is a smaller carbon footprint compared to other material. Also, Atol notes, "Wood binds carbon, whereas the manufacture of aluminum and reinforced plastic materials release it."

Click this link to get a good overall look at the airplane, which you can spin around with your mouse or pointing device.
Anssi was very proud of the recent water taxi testing in the icy waters of northern Finalnd. "We have been waiting for this day for a long time and surely our clients will appreciate the product they'll get." The company already has orders on the books but now offers two remaining slots for customers in the 2015 production schedule before the price of the basic plane will be raised from €125,000 (about $155,000 at today's exchange rate) to €139,000 ($172,000) for orders received after May 1st, 2015. My close examination of Atol at Aero last year revealed many clever engineering qualities. Combined with a well-established airplane that has good flight qualities, Atol deserves consideration.


BRM Aero’s Bristell Gains New U.S. Distributor
By Dan Johnson, December 10, 2014

BRM Aero's Bristell got off to a good start in the USA two years ago. Unfortunately, after an initial burst of positive reviews and good response from pilots, the distributor at the time stumbled. A failed association with the now-defunct Aviation Access Project undermined the efforts but that association had nothing to do with the Czech aircraft producer. So, after a year or so of discussions and evaluation, BRM Aero found a new, high-quality representative.

In early December 2014, Bristell Aircraft, a New York corporation, officially accepted the appointment to represent the aircraft of BRM Aero. "Bristell Aircraft is an American company whose roots go deep into the highly-structured world of FAA-certified aircraft," said Lou Mancuso, director of Bristell Aircraft. Over the last year, Lou has worked directly with BRM Aero "to develop, customize, and standardize aircraft specifically for the North American market." Lou and his team bring 68 years of aviation sales, service and training success and appear well suited to the endeavor.

"We are excited to introduce American aviators to this exceptional aircraft," said Lou. "In our flight schools we have owned and operated several brands of LSA. Without doubt the Bristell is the very best." Milan Bristela, the aircraft's designer said, "We are delighted to have the breadth of expertise and depth of resources that Lou's team brings to Bristell and North America." See this video interview with Milan shot at Aero 2013.

Conceived from the ground up for American customers, designer Milan Bristela's creation has the widest cockpit available in the fleet of more than 130 Light-Sport Aircraft. At slightly more than 51 inches wide the cabin is broader than a Cirrus SR22 that sells for more than five times as much. "Milan focused on making the aircraft extremely comfortable, easy to fly and with enviable performance and stability," noted Mancuso. With a substantial 600-pound useful load, two people can easily take off with full fuel and still have room for luggage, the importer said. Equipped with a fuel-sipping Rotax 912iS, the Bristell easily covers 600 nautical miles between fuel stops.

"This aircraft is the culmination of Bristela's decades of aircraft design experience," added Mancuso. "It's sleek lines and superb fit and finish are an outward manifestation of the thought and care that have gone into its creation. In Bristela's words, this aircraft is what his heart created. Hence his company slogan, 'Wings with heart'."

BRM Aero's TDO (Taildragger Option) is flying in Europe.
"American aviators demand a high level of quality, reliability, and support," expressed Mancuso. "Simply importing and reselling an aircraft was not an option for us." Working with BRM Aero, Bristell Aircraft selected upgraded interiors, equipped models with standardized systems and configurations like toe brakes and have standard tire sizes that are available at most FBOs. Bristell Aircraft said it maintains a comprehensive inventory of aircraft-specific parts at two east cost locations.

"We can ensure that Bristell customers enjoy ease-of-maintenance and maximum long-term serviceability," said Mancuso. The result of the collaboration of the Czech manufacturer and the New York aviation enterprise is "a premier line of Light Sport Aircraft tailored for the American aviator with the highest level of quality, fit and finish available, and backed by the longest warranty in its class," added Mancuso. Bristell offers a two year/400 hour warranty.

The Czech company offers a kit version as well; U.S. qualification has not yet been determined.
Bristell is available as a Light-Sport in either tricycle gear or taildragger configuration, A retractable model is offered in Europe. The European producer also offers a kit version and Mancuso's Bristell Aircraft may elect to represent this choice as well. Any way it is configured, Bristell is a lovely, efficient, well-flying airplane. You can read my short review in this article or watch this video after that flight.

Bristell is one of what might be called a boutique manufacturer. A small, core group associated with designer Milan Bristela performs the manufacturing of his handsome airplane available in multiple configurations.

Now you order a Bristell model from a reliable and long-established U.S. enterprise. Those who examine the Bristell closely will start to appreciate how interesting a fifth generation LSA design can be.


Fresh American LSA & Ultralight Exports
By Dan Johnson, December 9, 2014

Wait! "...Exports?" I realize that might look like a typo. Did I intend to write LSA imports? Nope, exports is the correct word. Back in the early days of Light-Sport Aircraft, circa 2005-6-7, the source countries manufacturing the LSA people were buying were of a high percentage European with the Czech Republic leading the charge. Their penetration of the market was approximately two-thirds of all LSA. Then came the global economic recession, which happened as the industry began to mature. All were affected: domestic and international companies and pilot consumers. Some handsome imported aircraft never found a market.

In any downturn, some managers adapt quicker to the changing economy. They find a way to offer new aircraft to keep the momentum. Neither were American companies sitting on their thumbs. European builders had a head start because the European-style ultralights they had been manufacturing were close to what FAA allowed as LSA, so many models could be rapidly adapted to meet the Yankee marketplace. American producers, who had previously been relegated to supplying kit airplanes, realized that making fully-built, FAA-accepted models was an entirely different business model. It took time to change gears.

Now, we leap forward a decade to find the landscape has changed significantly.

Abid Farooqui (L), consulted Progress Aerodyne on FAA and CAAC approvals. Kerry Richter is the originator and lead designer of the Searey.
So with pleasure I can now describe two approvals that further alter the landscape. One is an American LSA that has earned Chinese CAAC approval. Another is a U.S. Part 103 ultralight adapted to the German 120-Class that recently won its credential.

SilverLight Aviation, operated by Abid Farooqui (photo) has been consulting to Progressive Aerodyne, developer and manufacturer of the Searey amphibian. Abid aided the Tavares, Florida company in achieving one of the cleanest FAA audits yet of a Light-Sport Aircraft company. High ranked FAA officials publicly called out the Searey audit as a positive example. SilverLight recently said, "Through [our] engineering consulting with Progressive, we helped the Searey LSA get Type Design Approval (TDA) with the Chinese Civil Aviation Council (CAAC)." Abid added, "Searey will be the first U.S. Light-Sport Aircraft company to get this type design approval under [China regulations]." SilverLight led and guided all the technical aspects of design assurance system, aircraft structural engineering, airworthiness management, flight testing and technical documentation including defending their work in front of CAAC certification team.

Progressive Aerodyne, owned by Adam Yang, established an office in China in July of this year. Other companies gaining approval in China include Flight Design and Evektor. My LAMA counterpart in Europe, Jan Fridrich, has provided material for articles on China's emerging market for light aircraft in November last year and another from two years ago that also features several China-made LSA type aircraft.

Abid offered, "Congratulations to Searey to become the first American LSA to get this honor." CAAC's certification team was led by the Deputy Director of agency's Bejing Office."

Ultralights, that is, true American ultralights having only one seat and weighing only 254 pounds empty have not been exports, historically. European ultralights, sometimes called microlights, are usually two seaters weighing somewhat less than American LSA; they are not the same as FAA's preferred designation, "Ultralight Vehicles."

With a simple regulation (written on the front and back of a single sheet of paper!), American ultralights have been permitted since 1982. No pilot license is needed nor is a pilot's medical and no FAA registration or N-numbers are required. A Part 103 ultralight vehicle — so named deliberately to not run afoul of FAA's "airplane" definition that might trigger more rules — can be fully built and sold ready to fly. For 32 years, this rule has stood as a remarkable bit of freedom allowed American aviators.

Vierkwerk Aviation is operated by Wolfgang and Thilda Labudde. They are supplied by Aerolite 103 manufacturer Dennis Carley.
Europe also has a strong contingent of lightweight aircraft enthusiasts. England had its Sub-70 Class (under 70 kilos or 154 pounds) and much of Europe continues to have an interest in weight shift aircraft that tend to be lighter and less costly than most LSA. However, in recent years, UK has offered its SSDR (Single Seat DeRegulated) category and Germany introduced its 120-Class (120 kilos or 164 pounds). Both can work for an American ultralight like the Aerolite 103 built today by Deland Florida's U-Fly-It. Read more about the new classes.

However, just because a government allows light aircraft to suffer less regulatory burden, European nations aren't quite as progressive about letting go of the reins as was FAA back in '82. In Germany the Aerolite dealer, Vierkwerk Aviation, had to go to significant effort and time to gain approval under the 120-Class category. At Aero this year, the company debuted the Aerolite 120 and announced they were pursuing acceptance. Just a few days, ago Vierwerk announced German approval, "Aerolite 120 was certified on November 20, 2014 as the legal European version. It may be flown as a deregulated single seat aircraft at 120 kilograms MTOW."

My congratulations to Progressive Aerodyne, assisted by SilverLight Aviation and to Vierwerk and U-Fly-It for these approvals in China and Germany.


Belgium D-Motor Declares ASTM Compliance
By Dan Johnson, December 3, 2014

In the world of FAA-accepted Light-Sport Aircraft, engines choices have been limited to Rotax, Jabiru, and HKS adding to updated versions from certified engine producers such as Continental and Lycoming plus the big Titan engine from ECi. Now, according to the U.S. importer, that rather exclusive club is joined by Belgium's D-Motor, while earlier reports suggested the UL Power engine is also pursuing ASTM compliance. "We invested 500 hours testing the LF26 D-Motor from summer to fall," said Doc' Bailey of Renegade Light Sport, the importer. ASTM requires 100 hours testing by the airframe manufacturer before the engine can be accepted by FAA for installation on a Special LSA.

Doc' has been in regular contact with the Light-Sport office of FAA. The agency does not audit powerplants the same way as airframe manufacturers, partly as the airframer must add to the engine builder's testing, but it does keep track of which components the airframe maker has tested. Producers of EAB kits do not need to meet this requirement explaining why new engines often build their market in the kit industry.

D-Motor reports four essential qualities that make their engine attractive. Compact — Flathead instead of overhead makes the engine smaller despite big cubic capacity (more than double that of Rotax's 912). Simple — Flathead design is much simpler without rocker complexity. Light — Extra weight of liquid cooling is compensated by the flathead design; liquid cooling reduces thermal shocks or hotspots and improves fuel efficiency while lowering emissions. Strong — Larger cubic volume results in high torque. Direct drive was chosen as D-Motor feels more comfortable with a big engine running lower revs, however, engineers incorporated Nikasil cylinder treatment used on high-revving engines. Safety — "When a valve of an overhead engine does not close the engine stops resulting in expensive repair," according to D-Motor. "When a valve of a side valve engine does not close, you continue flying with less power without expensive repairs."

As I've learned through the evaluation of many airplanes, engine cooling is both a critical engineering challenge that is also something of an art. Certainly it can be of vital importance, both to engine power and longevity. "During testing, cooling of the D-Motor LF26 showed only 10 degrees fluctuation during testing in the hot months of July and August through October," noted Doc'. This result suggests good things for the life of the powerplant. In another demonstrable benefit, torque of the engine appears significant. Doc' indicated that the Belgian factory claims torque at 280 newton meters versus 140 for the Rotax 912. The Rotax BRP website lists torque at 128 newton meters (94 foot pounds). D-Motor's website also shows "91.8 hp (67.5KW) at 3000 RPM" for the 2690 cc four cylinder, four stroke, liquid cooled engine while Rotax states "73.5 kW or 98.5 horsepower."

The company's American website, reports "The D-Motor is [a] four-stroke side valve (flat head) boxer engine using the latest technology, including multipoint fuel injection, electronic ignition and liquid cooling." Price in the USA is $18,500 for the LF26. While this is modestly less than a carburetor 912ULS it is several thousand less than the also-fuel-injected 912 iS.

"The real game changer is the six cylinder LF39 engine that is well along in testing," feels Doc'. The larger engine is expected to offer about 125 horsepower while coming in a forecast several pounds under the four cylinder, 100 horsepower 912.

Comparing engine weight is devilishly difficult as components for different installation can vary. D-Motor in Belgium wrote, "The final dry weight of the four cylinder LF26 engine is 58 kilograms or 128 pounds and the final dry weight weight of the six cylinder LF39 is 78 kilograms or 172 pounds. Wet weight depends on the radiator choice and the length of the hoses but the manufacturer reports, "63 kilograms (139 pounds) for the LF26 and 85 kilograms (187 pounds) for the LF39."

The six cylinder engine is presently under development although with more than 100 hours of testing completed. "Because this engine is very similar to the four cylinder with many common parts that have already proven to be reliable," wrote D-Motor Belgium, they expect to launch this engine in a relatively short time. Both engines are delivered very complete. "This is the equivalent of a firewall forward kit," said Doc'. Delivered components include: integrated alternator, water pump, oil pump, electric starter, rubber mounts, fuel pump, fuel filter, injectors, 2 ignition coils, sparkplugs and ignition leads, ECU and loom, 2 water temperature sensors, oil pressure and oil temperature sensor, oil radiator, filter, and tank, and adaptable exhaust kit. A liquid cooling system (radiator, hoses and expansion tank) are not included as equipment varies for different cooling configurations. "It is too difficult to anticipate a solution for every installation," said D-Motor. They report actual TBO time is 1500 hours.


Working Aircraft ... for the Fun of Flying
By Dan Johnson, December 1, 2014

In two industry meetings held during 2014, Light-Sport Aircraft manufacturers, organization leaders, FAA personnel, and other interested parties reviewed a list of changes that would improve the 10-year-old SP/LSA regulation. Some items represent minor changes the agency could make fairly quickly. Others are more challenging. Number one on the list involves FAA allowing certain commercial LSA operations when flown by qualified pilots. Even if no great resistance exists — and reasons for optimism are present — this could be some time coming as regulation change is complicated in today's federal government. Another area of intense interest is electric power. While unleashing development of LSA using electric propulsion also requires regulation change, an exemption might allow technical progress before rule change could occur. Recently another group with many more years of effort already invested was able to earn such an exemption. Ed Pitman of Pitman Air recently announced Exemption 11104.

The exemption covers new SLSA and ELSA kits plus transitioned ELSA Dragonfly aircraft. The exemption allows Light-Sport compensated towing of hang gliders, light sailplanes, and LSA gliders. This is a big step forward. Dragonfly tugs are operating around the world, but arrived many years ago as "ultralight" aircraft, a term with different meaning in different countries. Today in the USA, an ultralight is a single seater of minimal weight. Dragonfly couldn't fit the definition if it was to do the job properly. Yet modern hang gliders are launched in many parts of the USA and world by a fleet of Dragonfly aircraft. Even though they are often operated in remote areas well away from other air traffic, running an enterprise in a gray area of rules and regulations was not acceptable for the long run. Airparks around the USA tow hang gliders aloft and have almost no accidents so they were able to remain off the radar for years. FAA knew what was going on, but as these operations didn't interfere with the airspace system and being almost incident-free — and considering FAA's docket full of high-pressure matters like drone operations — hang glider towing was allowed to proceed.

Read the earlier story about gaining approval for Dragonfly.
A valuable aspect of Pitman's fresh exemption is allowing "transitioned" ELSA to tow. Those are aircraft formerly known as two-seat ultralights that FAA wanted to call Light-Sport Aircraft. Transitioned aircraft had not met ASTM standards but, for a limited time, were allowed to become a kind of special ELSA, grandfathered in as part of the move to Sport Pilot and Light-Sport Aircraft. With the "E" in front, no commercial operation was possible. However, airparks that already owned many of these "ultralight" Dragonflys have to provide launch and landing zones, various kinds of support equipment, qualified pilots, plus fuel. They need to at least recover their expenses. This exemption provides a solution.

Ed wrote, "During the transition period [from ultralight to ELSA], many FAA Designated Airworthiness Representatives issued ELSA airworthiness certificates that varied greatly in the language of the Operating Limitations. If the Op Limits do not contain the proper language for Aero Towing, [operators of pre-LSA Dragonflys were] out of luck." The old operating limits could not be changed after January 31, 2008 when the transition period closed. This is why the addition of transitioned Dragonflys is such a prize.

Dragonfly can accommodate two seats when training or checking tow pilots.
FAA's guidance material now contains: (Limitation 13) "No person may operate this aircraft for compensation or hire, except this aircraft may be used for compensation or hire to conduct towing of a light-sport glider or an unpowered ultralight vehicle in accordance with 14 CFR § 91.309" (emphasis mine). An "unpowered ultralight vehicle" is a hang glider or paraglider. Ed added, "Limitation (13) applies to towing and has no expiration date." Another limitation (23) states: "No person may operate this aircraft to tow a Light-Sport glider or unpowered ultralight vehicle for compensation or hire or conduct flight training for compensation or hire in this aircraft unless within the preceding 100 hours of time in service the aircraft has been inspected by a person acceptable to the FAA" (which includes a certificated light-sport repairman with a maintenance rating or LSR-M, among others such as an A&P).

I logged thousands of hours flying hang gliders, first from mountain launches and later via tow behind Dragonfly tugs. The aircraft was purpose-designed for this duty and does the job incredibly well. One operator, Wallaby Ranch in central Florida, can document tens of thousands of successful launches of hang gliders by Dragonfly with an impeccable safety record. Many other airparks also provide valuable launch services. For the modern hang gliding industry, granting of this exemption can be viewed with immense relief.

A long line of Dragonflys are prepared to launch hang gliders in competition in Australia.
If knowing the exact wording and detail is important to you, or if you need to present the official exemption to an FAA representative, download here the entire signed exemption 11104. (This link was updated 12/8/14.) The exemption was issued on November 18th, 2014,. Hearty congratulations to Ed for navigating the federal bureaucracy and kudos to FAA personnel for agreeing to the logic of this request.

Moves by FAA to grant exemption relief as shown in this case offer a glimpse at the possibility for commercial operations by other LSA and possibly for electric power. Earlier this year, at the request of one FAA group, LAMA polled companies around the globe to find many other countries allow commercial operations by aircraft very similar to LSA. Operations such as pipeline patrol, crop spraying, aerial surveying, fire spotting, livestock monitoring and many other activities are permitted in at least 15 countries referenced in the survey. No one expects commercial operation of LSA soon but the possibility has entered the conversation and that could be as good for the LSA industry as Pitman's exemption is for the hang gliding community.


Ride-On Zlin; New Variation on Theme
By Dan Johnson, November 26, 2014

Thanks to powerful Cubalike airplanes — those vintage yellow taildraggers types with huge engines up front to make them perform more energetically — 2014 saw increased attention to the Savage Cub S. The Czech company offered their 180-horsepower version of the Cubalike phenomenon albeit at a more affordable price. The leading brand of Cub-like airplanes has pushed prices beyond $200,000, which strikes plenty of people as paying a premium, though most agree the design is handsomely achieved. They continue to sell well so vintage style appears to hold appeal.

Meanwhile, Zlin engineers aren't sitting still. This company has quite a flock of intriguing models, including Savage Classic, Savage Cruiser, Savage Cub (marketed as iCub in the U.S.), Savage Cub S, and Bobber. All these are now represented in America by SportairUSA, which also imports the TL Ultralight Sting and Sirius as well as selling Searey amphibious kits among a variety of other products of services they've assembled. Last year, I focused on the Bobber model variation and since then, engineers saw a way to take the lean concept even further.

It's so new that we don't know much about Agilis, so let's look at somewhat similar model, Bobber. At Aero Friedrichshafen 2013 we spoke with SportairUSA boss, Bill Canino and produced this video on Bobber, a form of customized Zlin Cub that deliberately lacks an exterior covering but offers many other special finishing touches. It can be customized in some 60 different ways, including fancy paint finishes, thick leather carry bags, chrome component parts ... much like a "Bobber" motorcycle, thereby explaining the choice of names. U.S. importer Bill Canino helps us understand the thinking. As with most of the Zlin line, Bobber is fairly modestly priced, in the $90,000 range before you start adding your choices of personalized equipment. Click this link to see the many ways you can make a Bobber totally your own ... to "bobberize" it, using the motorcycle enthusiast's term. Owing to Zlin director Pasquale Russo's interest in radio control model airplanes, the company even offers a Bobber R/C. Bill said that Pasquale looked at the R/C and thought it could be made even simpler. Presto! Agilis was born. Indeed, Canino said, "Agilis is the Bobber's baby."

Team's Airbike was introduced in 1994. photo by Scott Wilcox
Agilis (which Bill pronounced "Ah-JILL-iss") may look vaguely familiar to you. The nearby photo of a Team Airbike is surely the reason why. Agilis, like Airbike, is an airplane you "ride" more than "enter." The Team example introduced 20 years ago, has a very narrow fuselage on which you literally sit astride. Both your legs remain outside the aircraft. Coming from the often-open-cockpit ultralight industry this didn't seem unusual and having flown it, I can attest that on a warm summer day, Airbike was a superb experience. Check my mini-pilot report on Airbike from 1995. When you compare the two airplanes, you quickly see the similarity. What you may not sense is how much fun it can be to "wear" an airplane more than being contained within it. Think of riding a motorcycle. Some of this appeal may stem from Zlin owner Russo's driving interest. Bill Canino said Russo is an accomplished driver who owns a BMW M-series high performance automobile.

The Team Airbike is no longer in production and was powered by a two-stroke engine that may be less popular today. Agilis uses the ubiquitous Rotax 912. "As light as the Agilis airframe is and with 100 horsepower," Canino observed, "it should have outstanding performance."

Speaking of outstanding performance ... the attraction of the 180-horsepower Cubalikes has been a compelling reason for many buyers to select one of those potent (if rather costly) models. Zlin joined the ranks with its own 180-horsepower Savage Cub S (see our video). Since it sold for a $130,000 base price, people included the model in their search. Even well equipped the powerful airplane retails for about $160,000, offering a large difference from the leading brand.

However, while Zlin can call their airplane a "Cub" outside the United States, SportairUSA was notified that CubCrafters had bought the name Cub from Piper and that SportairUSA had to cease using the name. To make lemonade out of that lemon, the Arkansas company decided to offer a "Rename the Cub S" contest and offered an iPad prize to the person submitting the chosen name. The contest has been a hit. "We receive 10 suggestions a day," said Bill. "We have received more than 800 names offered." He admits some are silly or repetitive but they will definitely pick one — and a winner — when the contest ends in mid-December. If you'd like a free iPad for Christmas, you better act soon (here). Come to Sebring 2015 and see the airplane formally known as Cub S that will be emblazoned with a new name.

Be one of the first to view Zlin's new Agilis that even American importer SportairUSA has yet to see:


Paradise Lands In Sebring to Start Manufacturing
By Dan Johnson, November 24, 2014

An original paradise P1 (SLSA #70). photo by Geoff Jones, courtesy of Paradise Aircraft
Back a decade, soon to mark eleven years of operation the Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo had a goal of putting the KSEF airport on the map. Doing so should attract business activity. Expo focused on the new segment of aviation — Light-Sport Aircraft — although it also included ultralights, lighter kit-built aircraft, and on occasion, conventional GA airplanes. It appears that 2014 is the year that goal was met. Sebring now claims longtime light airplane resident Lockwood Aircraft, added Tecnam of Italy in the spring with a major new facility, and in November garnered Paradise Aircraft of Brazil. The south of the equator company announced it had leased a 5,000 square foot hangar to launch their U.S. manufacturing and distribution operations. In a visit earlier this fall, Noe Oliveira told me that he was taking steps to build aircraft in Sebring for sale in the USA but also for export to other countries. Assisted by an interpreter, he explained that shipping from the USA is easier logistically so they will serve the globe from their Florida facility, aided by existence of a Sebring Free Trade Zone that reduces government fees. The program will start with shipping a few already completed aircraft for reassembly and delivery, followed by partial manufacturing, and culminating in full manufacturing in America. I know of another Brazilian LSA company consider something similar and Brazilian jet maker Embraer has recently set up shop at the Melbourne, Florida airport ... so Paradise may be on to something with their recently announced move.

Designer and company director, Noe Oliveira stands by one of his popular P1 models at Sebring airport.
In the beginning days of Light-Sport, in 2005, Paradise Aircraft had a distributor based at Sebring. A local newspaper article reported, "It didn't work out," according to Sebring Executive Director, Mike Willingham. "The economy did all those terrible things." Willingham continued, "[Paradise was] looking for a location, but they didn't seem to be able to work out anything anywhere but here." The U.S. operation will move into the hangar on December 1, 2014. "One supervisor will train the workforce, which will be hired here," Willingham said. "Initially, about five to ten people [will be employed]." After Paradise starts building additional models, the workforce will grow, explained Willingham. "Who knows," he asked? "The sky is the limit." Bert Motoyama will be Director of Operations at the new facility and confirmed the earlier plans, "The main focus is to manufacture right here in Sebring, using U.S. sourced parts as much as possible. Eventually, all P1-NG production will take place at Sebring for distribution around the world." Counting Paradise, Willingham said Sebring is nearly full. "We're almost to that point now," he noted. "We started the year with 200,000 square feet of available space. Today, it's almost zero." It appears the airport's ten-year-old plan is working.

The revised, streamlined, and enlarged P1-NG has a full size third door, greatly easing loading of baggage.
At the upcoming Sebring Expo, Paradise plan to feature their new P1-NG, a next generation Special Light-Sport aircraft with a new full-size cargo door (photo, arrow) and additional streamlining to allow faster cruise speeds. Bert said, "The main focus is to manufacture right here in Sebring using U.S. sourced parts as much as possible. Eventually, all P1-NG production will take place at Sebring for distribution around the world." Paradise Aero Industry was formed by Noe Oliveira in 2001 quartered in Bahia, Brazil. His Paradise P1 debuted in 1999 and today the company builds several models including P1-NG, P2, P2S, P4, and Eagle. FAA and other government agencies accept Paradise aircraft as SLSA. For more information about the fleet of Paradise aircraft visit the company website. The Sebring Expo runs January 14-17, 2015. Planning is already ramping up quickly so make your plans to attend soon. A fresh year of recreational flying awaits you.


Tecnam’s Stellar 2014 ... “10/90 Works!”
By Dan Johnson, November 21, 2014

Italian company Tecnam has been a leading producer of Light-Sport Aircraft since the beginning of this newest aviation sector. Early distribution arrangements proved less than optimal so, like any progressive company, Tecnam retooled ... and retooled again. In 2014 it appears they finally dialed in the correct lock combination. While keeping their friends at former distributor Heart of Virginia Aviation, they installed a factory presence at the top of the pyramid. A new factory-operated facility at the Sebring airport was announced at Sun 'n Fun 2014. At the same time Shannon Yeager was hired to run the Florida center. As the year comes to a close, I called Shannon and asked for a summary of how things are going for Tecnam U.S. Inc. In particular I wanted to know how their 10% down program was working. When I first reported this, I found it a compelling answer to the concerns many American buyers have regarding the common need to send many tens of thousands of dollars overseas for an extended period of time. Tecnam proposed to significantly change that, asking buyers only to put down 10% of the purchase price with no balance due until the airplane was in the USA with N-numbers and FAA airworthiness certificate, test flown, and completely ready for delivery. I though it a game changer but how's that working?

Short answer: Based on a ten month track record, Tecnam forecasts U.S. deliveries of 34 airplanes in 2014. Shannon reported sales were split evenly between the P2008 LSA and the Part 23 approved Twin. By any measure in the post-2008 recession period, that is a reasonable performance and one likely to accelerate next year. Shannon noted that while interest is very keen, none of the new Astore LSA models were among those counted for their Sebring operation sales. The company debuted their sleek new low wing LSA at Sun 'n Fun, however, it went through a few final design changes so American deliveries of Astore are "just now beginning," said Yeager. Aircraft like Tecnam's Twin aren't the focus of this website and cost half a million dollars, but the model sports two Rotax 912 engines very familiar to all of us and it has secured a place in the market. At roughly (and amazingly!) half the price of a loaded Cirrus SR22 turbo, Tecnam's Twin represents quite a value. Shannon noted that Cessna 182 owners trading up to Twin get the same or better fuel economy with twin engine safety plus a bit more speed; cruise is about 150 knots in the light twin. About half the GA models are involved in leasebacks.

P2008's interior. Buyers can select from a broad range of avionics. Learn more about P2008 in this video.
Tecnam's strongest LSA seller is the handsome part-composite, part-metal P2008 but I was surprised to hear that 80% of those Light-Sport models are being delivered with the Rotax 914 turbocharged engine. This noticeably bids up the price over the carbureted 912 ULS but it delivers higher power that remains steady even as density altitude increases. "For those flying in more demanding environments (locations with high heat, humidity, or elevation), the 914 provides steady boost," according to Shannon. "We state ground roll at 300-400 feet and climb at 1,200 fpm." He observed they remain very pleased with the performance for the 912 ULS and for buyers holding to a budget that engine remains the most economical choice. (Those on the leanest budgets should be pleased to hear that Tecnam offers a very modestly priced Echo Classic Light LSA for around $80,000.) "Add about $10,000 for the fuel injected, fuel miserly 912 iS Sport," said Shannon, "or another $15,000 for the 914 turbo." In addition to performance numbers, Tecnam models have earned a widely accepted reputation for good handling.

Tecnam U.S. Inc., is quartered in the former Lockwood AirCam building at the Sebring airport.
As we spoke, I directed Shannon back to what he calls the "10/90 plan," the payment method I thought could be a game changer. People like it and indeed, why not? You select a Tecnam model; they have a large range from which to choose. Let's say it retails for $150,000 so you plunk down $15,000 and wait. They guarantee you won't wait more than 180 days or you can get your deposit back. "We have skin in the game," explains Shannon. "We have to spend much more than the 10% to build a plane, put an engine on and install avionics, plus ship it to Sebring. Therefore, we are committed to delivering your airplane." The engine alone costs Tecnam more than the deposit you pay, so Shannon is right; buyers have less at risk than Tecnam. The company has to deliver the airplane to make a profit but buyers need send only a smaller fixed amount to Italy while their airplane is built. You probably won't wait the guaranteed maximum of six months. "The norm has been four and a half months," said Shannon. So, by my reckoning, this company is playing their best game yet in the U.S. market and 2015 may be a breakout year for Tecnam U.S. Come to their home field for the Sebring Expo and check out the company and their facilities for yourself.


So Long, Dave Goulet — Challengers Fly On...
By Dan Johnson, November 19, 2014

Dave Goulet (L) presents an award to Gene Clark at the 25th Anniversary event honoring the Challenger aircraft line.
He had one of the longest runs as president of an airplane manufacturer and guided his company to produce an impressive 4,000 aircraft. Few other companies can boast such a record. I am writing about Dave Goulet, president of Quad City Aircraft. Dave passed away last week after a battle with cancer. He was 68 years old. The company he founded in 1983 has supplied low-cost, well-flying aircraft. Over the years I've had the pleasure to fly and report on most of Quad City's models and you can click Challenger to read more. In this 2011 video, Dave discusses his airplanes that can be bought for $25-40,000, numbers that include everything you need to fly and, as he reported on camera, build times can be as low as 150 hours thanks to all the work Quad City does at the factory. In celebration of the long run for the popular flying machine, a couple hundred people drove and 56 Challengers flew to Erie Airpark in Illinois on September 19-21, 2008 to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Challenger line of aircraft. Though often speaking in a soft voice, Dave was surely in his element among the large flock of Challenger pilots who have so enjoyed flying his creations.

A Challenger II flies in a paint design created by Dave Goulet.
"I started the company in 1983, and I still own it," said Dave a few years back. "In fact," he added in the earlier interview, "it's probably the oldest ultralight company still under the same management." After reviewing all the ultralight companies still operating, I agree with his assessment. Although he had associates Goulet was the main man behind the Challenger aircraft design and Quad City Aircraft company. Thinking of other long-term operations, Goulet mentioned Kolb Aircraft, Quicksilver and CGS Aviation run by another longtimer, Chuck Slusarczyk. However, the first two sold several times and even Chuck dabbled with outside ownership and management before finally selling the company. That left Goulet standing tall as the person holding the reins for the longest continuous operation of an ultralight aircraft company. Rans Aircraft boss Randy Schlitter has been at it a comparable amount of time and did once make ultralights. However, for the type of aircraft most people think of when they hear "ultralight," Quad City Challengers are a leading example. The Challenger design has been an unqualified success for more than three decades. According to representative Carol Oltman the company will continue to manufacture and sell Challengers. I'm sure Dave would be very pleased to hear that.


AOPA Regional Events Wind Down ... Successfully
By Dan Johnson, November 11, 2014

Overhead at the St. Simons AOPA Fly-in (arrow depicts the main hangar and center of activity).
It was interesting to visit Palm Springs for the Flying Aviation Expo's first-ever event at the location AOPA once said was their single best venue for the series of annual events known most recently as Summit. The Palm Springs show was larger when AOPA put it on but several reasons exist: • AOPA has 400,000 members to tap in encouraging attendance (though even at their strongest event, they drew somewhere under 20,000 visitors, I've been told) • the Flying Aviation Expo was a brand new event • ...and, promotion for it had only begun a few months back • Flying magazine signed on as the name sponsor for the Lift Management organizers only a few weeks back. Yet I'd like to put this in perspective. Setting aside the really big shows like AirVenture and Sun 'n Fun, aviation events appear to be doing reasonably well when they attract 5,000 people. That number was suggested for one or two of AOPA's new Regional Fly-ins (though only the member organization knows the exact figures and even they may not have an accurate count; for example, I flew in with two other men and we were not counted so far as I know). Copperstate draws 5-6,000. This year's Flying Aviation Expo reported "around 5,000." Update 11/17/14 The final edition of AOPA's national Summit event in Fort Worth, Texas last year counted 5,700 persons, it was recently reported.

So, thinking of how many attend aviation trade shows and fly-ins and what that means for the health of aviation and how good it is (or maybe isn't) for vendors at these events, here's some more on the AOPA events. According to our good friends at General Aviation News and their "The Pulse of Aviation" eNewsletter (sign up here; it's free), "AOPA President Mark Baker reported that the regional fly-ins were such a success that 45 airports are now bidding to host next year's fly-ins. AOPA officials estimate that between 16,000 and 17,000 pilots and aviation enthusiasts attended the regional fly-ins, which were held throughout the country." As noted above, earlier reports pointed to a turn-out of perhaps 5,000 visitors at the strongest 2014 events. Mark Baker's reference was for all the AOPA regional events.

BRM Aero's Bristell LSA on display at AOPA-KSSI. photo courtesy of General Aviation News
Do you see any commonality here? Five thousand seems to be a solid and workable number. I asked many vendors what they thought of the Flying Aviation Expo event and all but one said they would return in 2015. My information is not scientific nor are vendor speculations something organizers can take to the bank. I asked a smaller number of exhibitors at AOPA St. Simons (KSSI) fly-in and they also seemed to feel good about their participation (although at slower times the phrase "vendor bonding" enters the conversation). Naturally, these smaller shows carry lower space costs but their smaller size allows deeper conversations with visitors compared to the onslaught that can occur at the biggest events. At the smaller venues attendees seem more motivated and relatively few of those "general public" folks asking basic questions interrupt the more serious pilot/buyers at the focused shows.

Up next: Sebring 2015
One of the grand experiments in the smaller, focused venue shows is the Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo, now entering its second decade. We often call it the Sebring LSA Expo to abbreviate a bit but that is not entirely accurate as kits and some larger airplanes are also present. Sebring reports drawing 15,000 or more though this count may be similar to Oshkosh where I'm told one person coming in the gate counts each day even if that individual repeats for several days. I don't believe it truly matters how you count so long as organizers are consistent. In the next few days I'll have more about Sebring. The central Florida show is repositioning itself as the "Affordable Aircraft Expo," featuring "Light-Sport, Homebuilt, Refurbished Production Aircraft, and Ultralights." We'll start covering details in the barely two months remaining before it kicks off a new season of flying on January 14th.


Aeromobil, Now at Version 3.0, Nears Production
By Dan Johnson, November 10, 2014

I have reported on Aeromobil before and we've tried to keep up with those MIT geniuses at Terrafugia and their Transition that basically reinvigorated the flying car or (as Terrafugia prefers) roadable airplane. However, saying Terrafugia reinvented the flying car is hardly fair to other producers, in this case Slovakia's Stefan Klein. At the Pioneers Festival — an entrepreneurship and future tech event held in Vienna, Austria at the end of October 2014 — Klein and his financial associate Juraj Vaculik unveiled their latest iteration of Aeromobil, specifically model 3.0. Beside a public showing, he demonstrated its flight capabilities to the public for the first time. Think what you will of Aeromobil or Transition, or for that matter, Maverick, but these ventures continue to attract attention and sufficient funding that it's likely we'll see some in the sky one day. How many you'll see is anyone's guess. Original Aerocar developer Molt Taylor once took the concept far enough to win CAA approval in 1956 yet the idea of combination airplane and car has yet to secure a market foothold.

Klein's Aeromobil had previously flown just a few feet off the ground. This is not a negative statement; most aviators know it makes sense for a new design to stay close to terra firma on initial flights. However, around the time of the Pioneers Festival the flying car went significantly aloft with a chase plane to record the flight. The video below shows the entire realm of flight.

Stefan Klein has devoted nearly a quarter century creating his flying car dream. He graduated from Slovak University of Technology in 1983, later studying at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design (AFAD) and the École des Beaux Arts et Design in Saint Étienne. Following his academic training, Klein became the head of the Department of Transport and Design at AFAD where he had responsibility for leading research projects for car companies including Audi, Volkswagen, and BMW. Klein reports logging 1,200 hours in powered aircraft, and like many Europeans, has even more time in gliders: 8,000 hours.

Even while he led developments for auto makers Klein tinkered with his flying car, starting with Aeromobil 1.0 in 1990. I earlier reported on Aeromobil 2.5, which was called "final prototype" before the 3.0 iteration that is aimed at production. Klein reported changes made from version 2.5 include the addition of avionics, an autopilot, and a parachute system as well as suspension upgrades designed to make take off and landing on rough terrain easier. The designer he has also "integrated some advanced technologies such as a variable angle of attack for the wings that significantly shortens takeoff requirements." However, Klein was reported saying further testing was required before final specifications are confirmed and Aeromobil can be put into production. As with Terrafugia's Transition, media reporters appear highly intrigued by a flying car concept that looks advanced and Aeromobil certainly does.

Note the dual steering wheel and control yoke set up. All images courtesy of Aeromobil
Aeromobil is powered by the same Rotax 912 aircraft engine that powers so many Light-Sport Aircraft. Besides the good reputation of Rotax, the engine also accommodates (even prefers) auto gasoline, which suits the driving function of a flying car. Like Transition, Aeromobil uses the engine to spin a rear-mounted propeller. As the photos show, one blade of the four-blade prop is perilously close to the ground where rocks and other FOD could cause damage though protecting it could be part of final design changes. In driving mode, a gearbox shifts power from the prop to the rear wheels, a necessary bit of engineering when the wings fold back along the tail boom. With wings swung back to drive mode, width is less than eight feet, which should fit into standard parking spaces. Additional (and still preliminary) specifications are shown below. The company did not speak to gross weight nor has the Slovak company announced any plans to sell its flying car in the USA, but if it can stay light enough the LSA category appears to be good fit.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

  • Construction — Steel frame and carbon fuselage/body
  • Powerplant — Rotax 912 (flying and driving)
  • Length — 19.7 feet
  • Span — 27.3 feet (with "variable angle of attack to shorten take-off roll")
  • Width (wings folded) — 7.3 feet
  • Top Speed — 124 mph or 108 knots (flying) / 100 mph (driving)
  • Rotation Speed — 90 mph or 78 knots
  • Minimum Speed — 40 mph or 35 knots
  • Range — 430 miles or 374 nm (flying) / 540 miles (driving)
  • Fuel Consumption — 4 gph (flying) / 29.6 mph (driving)
  • Capacity — 2 seats
  • With four million views already, perhaps you have already have discovered this but as it is a slickly produced video that also shows Aeromobil doing a good bit of flying, I wanted to be sure you saw it.


    LSA Taildraggers Broaden the Sector’s Appeal
    By Dan Johnson, November 7, 2014

    Taildraggers may be among the least understood and most feared aircraft available in the LSA space ... or for that matter throughout general aviation. While we have many good choices that I'll list below, I have nonetheless heard from many readers or airshow visitors that they are uncertain about their operation of an aircraft that has no nosewheel. If you have no taildragger skills, you'll also find it a challenge to get proper flight instruction in a "standard" aircraft. For those seeking new skills in flying, however, taildraggers may provide high satisfaction. Most who have crossed the barrier to taildragging subsequently look very fondly at such aircraft, seeing a sleeker yet gutsier, more rugged appearance. Of course, nosewheels dominate general aviation as they can be easier to land, especially in crosswinds, but once you learn the lesson of "happy feet" — or keeping your feet active on the rudder pedals throughout approach and touchdown — you may always yearn for more taildragger time.

    The Airplane Factory pilot launches the new Sling Taildragger in South Africa.
    Photos accompanying this article illustrate two established nosewheel designs now offered in taildragger configuration. Both are new to the market but they join quite a flock. Consider these other taildragging Light-Sport Aircraft: Tecnam's Taildragger • the long popular Kitfox • Rans' S-6, S-7, and S-20 • Renegade's taildragging Falcon • Just Aircraft's SuperSTOL and Highlander • Aerotrek's A220 • FK Lightplanes' aerobatic Comet • Phoenix Air's motorglider • and Pipistrel's Sinus motorglider ... and these are just the landplanes. Plus, I've left out a few models that appear to have gone quiet in the marketplace. LSA seaplanes can also be taildraggers (as well as pusher designs). Icon's highly visible A5 is a nosedragger as are Super Petrel, SeaMax, Mermaid, and Freedom that feature retractable nosewheels, yet taildragger LSA seaplanes include Progressive Aerodyne's Searey and Lisa's Akoya. The splashy new MVP and Wave seaplanes still in development plan to offer what might be called "hybrid" landing gear configurations (more on them in the future). Of course, the Cubalikes are taildraggers in keeping with their vintage looks; likewise for the Savage series. Work aircraft like the Dragonfly hang glider towplane are also well served by being taildraggers.

    The Airplane Factory USA's always upbeat team led by Matt Liknaitzky reported, "After a wonderful trip to the Copperstate Fly-In [we] sold [our] first U.S. based Sling Taildragger or Sling TD. This tailwheel version of the Sling 2 is the latest model designed by Mike Blyth and The Airplane Factory team." Matt added that the South African factory has received the order and has already begun the production process. "This beauty should arrive in the U.S. in about 6 months and we can't wait to have her join the Sling family," said Matt. He also noted that beyond the inaugural taildragger, two ready-to-fly four seat Sling 4s will arrive in the U.S. by the start of 2015 and will be available to demo. Ready-to-fly Sling Light-Sport Aircraft will be arriving every two months, with a few orders already placed. Four kit builders have joined the Sling builders brigade. The Airplane Factory maintains a vigorous pace of development and manufacturing and enjoys good U.S. presence thanks to TAF USA's operation at the Torrence, California airport run by expat South African Matt Litnaitzky who has since gained permanent U.S. status.

    BRM Aero has reconfigured its shapely Bristell into a taildragger called TDO (for Taildragger Option).
    Last but by no means least is the BRM Aero TDO or Taildragger Option Bristell. This handsome airplane was much admired in trigear form after its arrival in the USA. Some see it as a new generation version of the SportCruiser, which is hardly a surprise as the company owner and chief designer is Milan Bristela who had a great involvement in the original development of the popular airplane sold today by U.S. Sport Aircraft back when it was manufactured by Czech Aircraft Works (renamed Czech Sport Aircraft following an ownership change). Milan has developed BRM Aero into something of a boutique aircraft manufacturer custom building airplanes for customers in a very intimate fashion. Like The Airplane Factory, Milan stays very busy with new ideas and the TDO is another handsome airplane being added to the LSA fleet.

    You may not think taildraggers are for you as they do require some additional training (for insurance if no other reason) but nearly everyone admits these are good looking aircraft that draw appreciative looks in the air or on the ramp. Welcome to both Sling Taildragger and BRM's Bristell TDO!

    Although not in a taildragger Sling, you might enjoy this short video of a couple aviatrixes flying the Pacific Ocean shoreline from Sling's base in Torrence to Camarillo, California.


    Western Shows: Copperstate & Flying Aviation Expo
    By Dan Johnson, October 31, 2014

    Two western U.S. shows are filling the aviation calendar at the end of October. They are the last two major events of 2014. Next up will be the Sebring Expo in January 2015. While I attend the Flying Aviation Expo in Palm Springs, California, I am once again amazed that the West has never truly generated any strong aviation events. The Copperstate event is one of the most long-lived at 42 years. More on that below. Yet with California alone having more pilots and aircraft than any other U.S. state — indeed, more by itself than many countries can boast — it has long puzzled me that the trend-setting state has never birthed a great aviation trade show or expo. The biggest events remain in the eastern part of the country led by AirVenture Oshkosh and Sun 'n Fun. Even in the LSA space the stronger events are in Sebring, Florida and Mt. Vernon Illinois.

    I should not leave out the 45-year-old Arlington show up in Washington state nor the Golden West event near Sacramento, California but for reasons that escape me neither has grown into the very large gatherings characterized by Oshkosh or Sun 'n Fun. Arlington inhabits a lovely location and is a fine event I've enjoyed several times. However, its timing only weeks before and geographically far from Oshkosh makes it tough to get into the schedule of many companies. Neither am I ignoring convention center extravaganzas like those produced by the National Business Aviation Association (with perhaps more exhibitors than any other aviation event) or Helicopter Aviation International but these are highly focused commercial aircraft events that have limited appeal to the general aviation enthusiast.

    The 2014 Copperstate Fly-In and Expo in Casa Grande, Arizona — located approximately halfway between Phoenix and Tucson — was the 42nd year for this southwestern show. It ran the weekend before the Palm Springs show on October 23-25 at Casa Grande Airport (KCGZ). Main organizer Steve Bass wrote, "We don't have any real numbers yet but I think we matched last year's [attendance] numbers." He observed that visitor traffic was down on Saturday because of the heat at 95 degrees but added, "although we did have a full ramp." As surprising to me as anything was the display of no less than 18 weight shift trikes. While these machines once were very strong at many aviation events, their numbers have been much lower in recent years. Copperstate bills itself as "the fourth largest Fly-In in the United States." Copperstate is a very recreational aviation-oriented show out west but this year it was too close to the Flying Expo and I was unable to attend both.

    So that brought me to beautiful Palm Springs, a resort town in the desert east of the Los Angeles basin. The former AOPA Summit many times came to this city first popularized by movie stars back in the day and plenty of people in and out of AOPA said this was their best location drawing the most visitors. The location a couple, three hours drive (or a one hour flight) from the massive L.A. metropolis assures organizers of plenty of nearby enthusiasts. It has also long featured a parade of planes from the main airport to the convention center. The beauty of this for attendees is that the aircraft are on streets right outside the hall and you need take no transportation to go have a look at them. Under direction of Lift Management, Flying magazine editor Robert Goyer noted in his opening keynote address and panel discussion (in which I was pleased to be a participant, waving the LSA flag) that this was the publication's first event in the 87 years that title has been publishing. I write this on opening day and the hall is filled with about 120 exhibitors. People are streaming in and I want to make the rounds and see what people think. It's already scheduled for 2015 as well. If you live in the Southwest, you should put this one on your schedule. It's time for me to get back to the show.


    Touring All-American Propeller Maker Sensenich
    By Dan Johnson, October 27, 2014

    In Light-Sport aviation, we have many international suppliers ... of aircraft, engines, instruments, and much more to include propellers. I embrace the worldwide suppliers and don't fret about America's position. The truth is, any international supplier has to have a U.S. representative so American jobs and profits are part of that global supply chain and most aircraft built overseas have a substantial percentage of U.S.-produced components. Still, as an American, it is great to see solid U.S. companies prospering. One of those is Sensenich Propellers and last week, I took a tour of this enterprise based in Plant City, Florida (near Lakeland, where Sun 'n Fun is headquartered).

    I was shown throughout the facility by President Don Rowell, a 37-year employee of Sensenich (pronounced SEN-sen-ick). He directly manages the Plant City operation since 1993, after relocating from the company's founding plant in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Both facilities continue to operate and are divided by prop material. Lancaster makes aluminum props. Plant City makes wood and composite props. Both Sensenich facilities make only fixed pitch or ground adjustable props. Don explained this means that their primary competition is not Hartzell, as one example, as that company makes in-flight adjustable props. Instead a USA major competitor is McCauley, a division of Cessna and part of Textron. McCauley also makes constant speed props.

    Similar to our recent article about Continental Motors, Sensenich has a long and rich history, starting with the prop-powered snow sled shown above. When the propeller on this early snow machine failed, the Sensenich brothers had little option but to create their own ... and a new company was eventually born. Formally established in 1932 to manufacture fixed pitch wood aircraft propellers, Sensenich added wood props for a growing fleet of airboats. Aluminum aircraft props were added in the 1950s. It wasn't until 1999 that the company added ground adjustable composite propellers for all the segments the company serves including airboat, aircraft, and UAVs.

    The wood prop process starts with lamination beginning with a large machine the workers affectionately refer to as Clamposaurus (photo above). Gluing edges first, then grouping those birch boards, layers are firmly fastened together with large assembly of C-clamps and resorcinol glue as prop technicians have used for decades. Throughout the process of examining fresh lumber stock and after laminating begins each propeller goes through a 56-point inspection, to assure using only the strongest portions of the laminated boards.

    Once the first steps are complete, the manufacturing procedure involves deeply experienced workers identifying the sections of boards that will work for a prop — portions with the grain patterns meeting specifications and being free of various blemishes. After marking off unacceptable areas, a worker uses plastic planform templates to outline where a prop can be milled to produce a wood prop. Once the glue is cured, it can be placed on the bed of a CNC milling machine. The finished prop on right shows a hand-formed brass leading edge that is cap screwed and riveted for erosion protection.


    In this short video and after a different tool prepares the hub, a CNC machine "roughs" a wood prop, which is then skillfully carved to exactly match a set of blade shape templates.

    As other photos show, the company also makes a whole line of composite props for airboats — a substantial part of the business started in 1949; being closer to where these craft are commonly used is a key reason the company opened the Plant City facility in 1994 — as well as wood and composite airplane props. Images here show the stores of finished prop blades for airboats (the wide ones), aircraft, and the aluminum prop hubs. Sensenich asked that I not shoot photos of the composite building process as they've learned some tricks and techniques that are proprietary.

    Here's a fact I found amazing about those wide chord airboat props: Don explained that using the same engine, the airboat props generate 250% of the thrust of airplane props. "It takes a great deal of energy to move an airboat sometimes across dry land," Rowell clarified.

    Although Sensenich employs modern engineering and contemporary CNC machinery, the process significantly depends on the experience and care of employees. Building a propeller remains very hands-on and something of an art. Yet new ways are also embraced. Like any company in an open market, Sensenich had to keep innovating to be competitive and to increase performance of their fixed pitch props. They also look for other ways to control quality and costs, such as this "candy bar machine" that is used to dispense supplies such as tape, brushes, and more. When an employee takes out more supplies the company is aware and supplier Fastenal automatically logs the use and eventually resupplies depleted items.

    Sensenich is an iconic brand of propeller and an American standard. Look around at your local airport. You'll probably see many propellers that come from the company in Plant City, Florida.


    Ownership Changes at Remos
    By Dan Johnson, October 25, 2014

    This is one of those bad news—good news stories. The bad news for Remos Aircraft is being forced to file for what Germany calls "creditor protection" and what Americans might regard as bankruptcy. Tough times for the onetime high flying company that ran full page ads in America's largest aviation magazines. The good news is that this is not the end of the story. A few weeks ago I heard through sources in Europe that Remos was filing documents to go out of business. In this case, the rumors turned out to be correct. However, shortly after the old company filed documents, a white knight stepped in to revive the company. This happened once before but this time the change of ownership has the experience of its predecessors. Remos AG is now emerging as the successor to Remos Aircraft GmbH Flugzeugbau. The company remains quartered in Pasewalk, located an hour's drive northeast of Berlin.

    According to the company, "Michael Bauer, CEO of Remos, was forced to file for creditor protection at the end of July 2014." Under the supervision of administrator Dr. Christoph Morgen of Brinkmann & Partner of Hamburg a search for new investors was initiated. "This investment process has now been successfully concluded," noted Remos. The business was taken over by a German investor named Andreas Heeschen. You probably don't know that name but the new owner is also majority shareholder at a brand you might know: Heckler & Koch, one of the world's leading manufacturers of pistols, machine pistols, assault rifles, precision rifles, and machine guns with more than $250 million in annual revenues and 700 employees. Remos AG is not part of Heckler & Koch, however, and will operate as a stand-alone enterprise. "The Remos team remains unchanged," the revived company indicated, "and will now focus on the key tasks of developing, engineering and manufacturing high class and superb [European] ultralight and LSA aircraft."

    Remos AG is assuming full support of the aircraft series including Remos G3 and GX. New aircraft are again available and spare parts will be shipped soon. Remos GX is manufactured in several versions including GXeLITE, GXnXES, GXULTIMATE and GXPERSONAL. For American customers, the appropriate LSA model is the GXnXES. Remos continues to manufacture composite parts for its aircraft and performs similar work for other customers. The company also reports doing service and repairs with modifications performed on other brands of customer aircraft at its northern Germany facilities. Those interested to learn more about Remos AG can visit their website or send email.

    My thanks to German BRS representative Frank Miklis for alerting me to this news.


    Touring Aviation Stalwart Continental Motors
    By Dan Johnson, October 21, 2014

    Continental Motors is known to generations of pilots and not just in the USA. However, I'll bet most readers do not know that the storied company once produced a radial engine. The company started business way back in 1905 as a builder of truck engines for the U.S. Army. They entered the aviation market in 1929 with the seven cylinder A-70 powerplant. A year later Continental introduced A40 that went to four horizontally opposed cylinders in what is sometimes called a boxer engine. "We were the first to introduce the horizontally opposed cylinder configuration to help increase aircraft speeds," observed the company. Rotax has generated well deserved publicity with their efficient fuel injected 912 iS but Continental noted that they were "the first to introduce both fuel injection and turbo-charging in general aviation aircraft (both in the 1960s)." They do not offer such configurations for Light-Sport Aircraft, at least not yet although in 2009 Continental threw support behind the new segment introducing the O-200 lighter weight engine that comes in at 199 pounds.

    Continental has been the power for many of aviation's iconic aircraft from the unpretentious Piper Cub to the Voyager aircraft that successfully circumnavigated the globe without refueling, to a fleet of other airplanes including high-end single engine pistons such as Bonanza and Cirrus. Along with Lycoming, Continental engines are the powerplants nearly every American pilot has grown up flying. In more recent years and reflecting the uncertain future for leaded aviation fuels, Continental launched their Turbo Diesel Series engine and entered into unleaded gasoline development. Indeed their alternative fuel IO-360-AF engine (lower photo) was chosen by Flight Design for its four seat C4 as the German company expects to sell this aircraft in many countries where 100LL is unavailable at any price. Contrarily, diesel is available almost everywhere and Continental's push into engines using this fuel was surely one reason the airframe builder chose the Alabama brand.

    Continental is dedicated to piston engines and manufactures all primary components themselves, including crankcase, crankshaft, cylinders, and connecting rods. Every engine is hand built. Our factory tour walked us step-by-step through the process ending up in a building holding several test cells. Here, every engine is run through a full cycle in bays that once heard the howl of Mustang Merlin engines.

    In the LSA space, Continental engines have been used on CubCrafters, American Legend, and Kitfox, plus Zenith and Fisher kits among other brands. They continue to be a significant supplier to the LSA and light kit industry including Van's Aircraft although that Oregon company chose the Rotax for their RV-12 Light-Sport. Along with other reasons to select the four cylinder, 100 horsepower O-200, mechanics around the world are familiar with the brand and have training and experience for it. Contrarily, Rotax has had to work hard to encourage American A&Ps to learn the differences of their powerplants.

    As we toured the facility, I was particularly impressed with one fact. As we heard about the numbering scheme that identifies various engine models, I became aware the company customizes many of their basic models to accommodate specific manufacturers. Some components are installed differently to fit in cowlings or to otherwise meet the design of airframe engineers. In my days at BRS parachutes, we had similar requests. Installing a parachute can be somewhat or significantly different for every aircraft and BRS struggled with the many aircraft variations, but Continental has made customization a common occurrence. They even advise, "We will come to you wherever you are in the lower 48 [U.S. states]. You will receive an engine quote and consultation at no cost to you." That's a great service.

    In 1966 Continental moved from their original base in Muskegon, Michigan to take over former military facilities in Mobile, Alabama. Today, the southern producer builds about ten engines a day, or an annual rate of about 2,500 engines. In the post-World War II era they once created more than 34,000 engines in a year (1946) and during the 1970s heyday for general aviation the company reported producing 70 engines a day or an annual rate of 17,500 units. In 2011, Continental was bought by Technify Motors (USA) Ltd, a subsidiary of China's AVIC International Holding Corporation.

    You may notice that in the photos with this article, no workers other than our tour guide are seen. The factory was functioning as we toured but the union requires that no employees are photographed while on the job. Of course, I complied with this request but it makes the facility appear unused and quiet. That's an incorrect impression, of course. To see workers at their jobs, Continental Motors has an informative Virtual Factory Tour on their website that you might enjoy. It has many images I was not able to capture.

    PHOTOS (top to bottom) — Starting the factory tour • the factory floor in the machining area • older machinery is maintained for certain jobs (top half) but modern CNC equipment has taken over most work (lower half) • an engine cart has all the components ready for hand assembly (engine block not shown) • the six cylinder 180-210 horsepower IO-360-AF alternate fuel engine


    AirCam Owners Know How to Have Fun
    By Dan Johnson, October 19, 2014

    I've been on a couple AirCam outings and I have two points about them: (1) Owners of this unusual airplane are often fairly well-off people and see a golden opportunity when invited by the good planners at Lockwood Aircraft; and, (2) These pilots know how to have fun with their airplanes, flying to some delicious locations. Previous fly-outs included Jekyll Island, Heaven's Landing, Cedar Key off Florida's west coast, and the Bahamas. If you don't know AirCam here's a video that gives a bit of the flavor of this amazing aircraft. (I readily admit to a positive bias for the machine as I have had the chance to fly a good number of hours in it and earned my multi-engine rating in one ... but that's another story.)

    On the two occasions when I've joined the AirCam'ers on their fly-outs (or is that "fly-ins?"), I've discovered that these folks have uncovered some wonderful places. The Lockwood Aircraft folks, led by namesake designer Phil Lockwood, don't just hang out at the airport all day. They aerial tour the location and then visit local restaurants and homes of AirCam friends. Everyone seems to enjoy themselves immensely and the people that buy, build, and fly AirCams tend to be some very interesting folks, in my opinion. With its two Rotax engines of one model or another, these airplanes are not the cheapest kits you can build, however, twin-engine flexibility and security offer enormous appeal. Owning one isn't in my budget nor possibly yours but a partnership could be a swell way to own one if you could make it work. No question, though, AirCam allows flying as you'll probably not do in any other aircraft I can envision. If you have any chance to fly in one, by all means, take it. I predict a long-lived smile following the experience.

    Next up for Team AirCam's fly-out itinerary is Marathon in the Florida Keys from Thursday to Sunday November 13-16, 2014. If you're an AirCam owner or are considering purchase of one, or just want to go hang out in a great, warm, beachside locale, contact the company and inquire (info at bottom). Demo flights are possible but limited. Those wishing to fly as a group can follow the company team as they leave Lockwood's base at Sebring airport and fly over Everglades National Park shoreline with ocean crossing at Point Sable. If you do this in most aircraft you'll want altitude for safety; the AirCam'ers will see it much better down low. Once at Marathon, the resort atmosphere offers plenty of fun activities. You can also fly from Marathon around Key West as I did on a Fly/Drive vacation with some friends. You don't have to go by AirCam; other airplanes are invited but contact Lockwood Aircraft. Or you can drive, which I'm told is also a good experience. If my history of joining the AirCam'ers is any indication, the hotel and restaurants they choose will be excellent.

    While we focus most coverage on Light-Sport Aircraft, light kits, and ultralights, we also have begun to expand our envelope by keeping up with LSA-like aircraft including four seaters from LSA providers. In this spirit, the twin engine AirCam is another good candidate. I have described the flying machine as "ultralight on steroids" because it has clear roots in ultralights such as the Drifter that Lockwood also produces even while it has become very sophisticated and very capable. The latter explains its existence. AirCam was originally commissioned for some very challenging flying in a National Geographic story about Africa where few good runways exist and near-endless jungle seems to reach out to snag an airplane in trouble. After the NatGeo effort, interest developed and has never stopped. Today, close to 200 AirCam kits have been delivered and Lockwood reports a thriving business. Following are AirCam Specifications:

    • Gross Weight — 1,680 pounds (roughly that of a Cessna 150)
    • Wing Span — 36 feet
    • Overall Length — 27 feet
    • Empty Weight — 1,040 pounds
    • Stall Speed — 39 mph (it only looks too big for such a slow speed)
    • Top Speed (Vne) — 110 mph
    • Normal Cruise Speed Range — 50-100 mph
    • Rate of Climb — 1,500 fpm (solo can see beyond 2,000 fpm)
    • Single Engine Climb — 300 fpm (many twins cannot climb on one engine)
    • Fuel & Range — 28 gallons and 340 miles at 70 mph
    • Takeoff Roll — less than 200 feet
    • Landing Roll — 300 feet
    • Exhilaration Factor — off the charts

    AirCam demo flight reservations must be made with Robert Meyer by November 6th. He advised, "These will be on a strict schedule and limited to those willing to sign a contract and give a deposit afterwards." If interested, email Robert or call 863-655-4242.


    P1NG ... Fully Refreshed from Brazil
    By Dan Johnson, October 13, 2014

    Paradise P1, with 14 registered Light-Sport Aircraft models flying in the USA.

    P1NG is not a sound nor golf equipment. The clever name (that's a "1" not an "i") is similar to a plane you know as the Paradise P1. Now get ready for the "Next Generation" P1, or simply, P1NG. The P1 you may have already seen was designed around a four-seat model with the aft cabin simplified to a luggage space. More on the entire family of Paradise airplanes below. P1 and P1NG offer more cubic area than most cockpits in light aviation. Besides a spacious cabin the front seats remove in a few seconds allowing an occupant to stretch out fully in its length. Alternatively, P1NG could easily carry golf clubs (you probably ought to load the American Ping brand), a family pet, camping gear, or anything else that fits within the weight & balance envelope. Though absent from the U.S. market for several years, Paradise reports good business in their native Brazil, a large and aviation-active country. Company officials say several hundred are flying in South America and other countries. Beside the new door, P1NG is wider, has a different wing section, and boasts other upgrades to keep the design current.

    Designed by Noe (NO-eh) de Oliveira, P1NG is one of a family of aircraft including P1 — the Light-Sport Aircraft of which 14 are registered in the USA — a two-seat P2S, the four-seat P4, a low wing called Eagle that closely resembles the SportCruiser, and P1NG. Both P1 derivatives and the Eagle are powered by Rotax's 912 or 914 turbo engines while P2S and P4 use a 180-215 horsepower Lycoming. Noe's new P1NG offers the LSA industry's second three-door cabin — the first being the Jabiru J230-SP. Both are based on four seaters explaining the large volume aft cabin and illustrating why a third door is handy. Of course, an LSA can only have two seats but loading the spacious aft cabin of P1NG will be far easier thanks to the pilot side aft door (photos). Based on my earlier flight experience in P1, general aviation pilots used to those popular high wing planes built in Wichita will find much to like including dual control yokes, a central power quadrant, and wide visibility. I found P1 solid and forgiving with predictable flight qualities. Its long-legged 12.5:1 gliding capability offers a margin of safety. Given a few more years of development since the original importer left the business, it is reasonable to expect even better characteristics of P1NG.

    Paradise of Brazil parted ways with its first U.S. importer, Paradise USA based at Sebring, about as the economy was entering the 2009 recession. Yet interest in the Cessna-like LSA did not disappear; indeed I take a call every couple months from some potentially interested pilots even though no one has promoted the design in recent years. While other parties suggested a resumption of import, agreements were apparently never settled and Paradise of Brazil provided legal documents attesting to their efforts to sever prior relationships. Meanwhile Paradise remains absent from the American marketplace, however, that will not last. Arrangements are still being finalized but the South American enterprise plans to establish a Florida presence later this year or early next. U.S. representation will be handled by Bert Motoyama, whom interested parties can reach via email or by phone: 850-758-2967.

    Paradise of Brazil hails from a country with a rich aviation design heritage, featuring pioneering names like Alberto Santos Dumont. Today most Americans recognize regional airline and business jet producer Embraer and, interestingly, that major company has recently set up shop in Melbourne, Florida. As I am aware of discussions for another Brazilian company to establish manufacturing in Florida, Paradise may be engaging in a popular trend. As the U.S. plans become firm, I will plan to keep you updated but certainly by Sun 'n Fun, I expect to see Paradise back in the American marketplace.

    (Nearby photo) Paradise's new P1NG has appeal to those used to popular high wing aircraft built in Wichita, complete with dual control yokes, center power quadrant, a baggage door, and plenty of room in the cabin. all images courtesy Paradise Aviation



    Click here to see the next most recent 20 SPLOG posts.

     



     

     
     


    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.

    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


    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

    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

    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

    Pipistrel has designed and manufactures a range of beautiful, sleek aircraft that have found markets around the world. Starting with gliders and motorgliders, Pipistrel now offers a line of powered aircraft using multiple power sources.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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!

    SkyCraft Airplanes is America’s first Light-Sport Aircraft single seater. SD-1 Minisport is affordably priced, very well equipped, and was designed to exhibit docile handing qualities. It can be flown for less than $12 per hour.

    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.

    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.

    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?

    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.

    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.

    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.


    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    free counters
    Search our site
     
    Copyright © 2001- by Dan Johnson