Video sponsored by
Continental Motors
   Title Index 
   Most Recent 20 SPLOG 
   Next 20 SPLOGs 
   Mar-Apr, 2017 
   Jan-Feb, 2017 
   Nov-Dec, 2016 
   Sep-Oct, 2016 
   Jul-Aug, 2016 
   May-Jun, 2016 
   Mar-Apr, 2016 
   Jan-Feb, 2016 
   Nov-Dec, 2015 
   Sep-Oct, 2015 
   Jul-Aug, 2015 
   May-Jun, 2015 
   Mar-Apr, 2015 
   Jan-Feb, 2015 
   Nov-Dec, 2014 
   Sep-Oct, 2014 
   Jul-Aug, 2014 
   May-Jun, 2014 
   Mar-Apr, 2014 
   Jan-Feb, 2014 
   Nov-Dec, 2013 
   Sep-Oct, 2013 
   Jul-Aug, 2013 
   May-Jun, 2013 
   Mar-Apr, 2013 
   Jan-Feb, 2013 
   Nov-Dec, 2012 
   Sep-Oct, 2012 
   Jul-Aug, 2012 
   May-Jun, 2012 
   Mar-Apr, 2012 
   Jan-Feb, 2012 
   Nov-Dec, 2011  < Displayed
   Sep-Oct, 2011 
   Jul-Aug, 2011 
   May-Jun, 2011 
   Mar-Apr, 2011 
   Jan-Feb, 2011 
   Nov-Dec, 2010 
   Sep-Oct, 2010 
   Jul-Aug, 2010 
   May-Jun, 2010 
   Mar-Apr, 2010 
   Jan-Feb, 2010 
   Nov-Dec, 2009 
   Sep-Oct, 2009 
   Jul-Aug, 2009 
   Apr-May-Jun, 2009 
   Jan-Feb-Mar, 2009 
   Oct-Nov-Dec, 2008 
   Jul-Aug-Sep, 2008 
   Apr-May-Jun, 2008 
   Jan-Feb-Mar, 2008 
   Oct-Nov-Dec, 2007 
   Jul-Aug-Sep, 2007 
   Apr-May-Jun, 2007 
   Jan-Feb-Mar, 2007 
   Oct-Nov-Dec, 2006 
   Jul-Aug-Sep, 2006 
   Apr-May-Jun, 2006 
   Jan-Feb-Mar, 2006 
   Oct-Nov-Dec, 2005 
   Jul-Aug-Sep, 2005 
   Apr-May-Jun, 2005 
   Jan-Feb-Mar, 2005 

SPLOGs between November and December, 2011 in chronological order.
Third Quarter 2011 LSA Market Report; Cessna Jumps
By Dan Johnson, November 2, 2011
Sure enough, by several measures and based on multiple conversations, 2011 is shaping up to be a better year than 2010. Of course, that's not saying much as all of aviation worldwide was slow last year and in 2009. When you're near the bottom of the well, everything starts looking up. *** With those thoughts in mind, we present the newest market share report, this one through the third quarter of 2011. In recent years we've had folks tell us we ought to show charts of this year's or this quarter's performance. But most readers want to know the "installed base," to borrow a phrase from the trend-setting tech industry. When people talk about Windows versus Apple market share or iOS versus Android, they generally mean how many of all buyers have those systems. *** Nonetheless, we recognize pilots are hungry for more recent info. So for several years, we have discussed near-term performance in the text of our articles even while we present a graphic showing FAA N-number registrations since the beginning. The nearby chart has become a staple of this industry used by all sorts of people: other airframe producers, avionics and other equipment manufacturers, insurance companies, FAA, and member organizations. *** For the last nine months, Cessna is far and away the leader, with 140 registrations logged in 2011. The Wichita giant once boasted of nearly 1,000 Skycatcher customers and they have been fulfilling those orders with increasing speed. Following them is CubCrafters with 29 registrations this year so far. Other top producers include CSA's SportCruiser (20), Flight Design (17), and Jabiru USA (8).
Cessna's Skycatcher now ranks #2 in FAA N-number registrations. Read my Skycatcher pilot report. photo courtesy Cessna Aircraft
*** One new arrival in the top 20 is Arion and their Lightning (6 in 2011). Another up and comer is Pipistrel, fresh from their third-in-a-row victory at the NASA Green Challenge. For all other companies, 2011 has continued the very sluggish sales pace of 2008, '09, and '10. Notice: As always, we observe for you that all numbers here are derived from FAA's N-number registration database. These figures are not identical to sales logged by the companies although, over time, the numbers get closer.*** A few kit producers deserve mention even though we struggle to count these numbers accurately due to confusion by entry clerks regarding the fuzzy distinctions between kit ELSA, amateur-built kits, and ELSA converted from two-place ultralights (the latter being, by far, the largest single component of what are called Light-Sport Aircraft in America).
Van's has registered 132 kit RV-12s since Brad Stiefvater flew this first customer-built version in September 2009. photo courtesy General Aviation News
Nonetheless with 132 FAA N-number registrations, Van's Aircraft and their RV-12 earned our attention. Rans is another significant kit producer of aircraft meeting all parameters of Light-Sport Aircraft — the Kansas company also sells SLSA and ELSA versions of some models. *** Cessna's rise to the #2 slot from the #8 place at the beginning of the year pushed everyone else down. Onetime #2 producer American Legend now finds itself in #5 with 5 new registrations in 2011. *** Yet the top 10 have remained remarkably stable, and indeed, they account for more than 70% of all SLSA fixed wing airplanes delivered since day one in April 2005.

Electric Aircraft Development Alliance Takes Form
By Dan Johnson, November 3, 2011
A wide range of people sat in a room used all day long by the ASTM Committee that develops the LSA certificate standards. Apparently sitting in a room all day — while the sun shown brightly and the flying would have been great — was not enough punishment for this hard working crowd. Indeed, nearly 30 persons willingly stayed into the evening. What drove such dedication? Electric-powered aircraft.
Calin Gologan is the man behind PC-Aero's Electra One that impressed AirVenture 2011 visitors. The design has also been shown on tricycle gear.
*** The G-30 assembled to work at forming the Electric Aircraft Development Alliance (EADA), a brand new industry organization specifically aimed at electric-powered aircraft. Representatives came from Sikorsky, Yuneec, Pipistrel, Sonex, Alternair, Electra One, Cessna, Bye Aerospace, Lockwood Aircraft, Embry Riddle, FAA, EASA, LAMA, and others. LEAP, the Lindbergh organization, lent energy to help assemble the group and, indeed, they drew a number of people that had not traveled to Tampa, Florida for the ASTM meeting. *** Passion was on display as individuals spoke strongly about the need for an industry organization and how to bring it to reality. The brain trust in the meeting saw many potential applications for electric power from leisure aviation to military (for duties such as surveillance) to air transport. Yet for now, the focus is on Light-Sport Aircraft and on true Part 103 ultralights, the latter being viable electric aircraft today. Yes, you can go out and buy and fly a pure electric Part 103 ultralight now from Electra Flyer. Does it seem too far out to you, especially those readers that will not consider an ultralight?
Sonex has been putting heart and soul (and a good measure of cash) into their eAirplane, which debuted in 2007.
*** Perhaps, but celebrated developer Calin Gologan grasped the charm and appeal of Part 103 and stated that he plans to bring a legal Part 103 Electra One — with batteries counted in the tight 254-pound limit and meeting Part 103's speed and other parameters — possibly by May 2012. I quizzed him to be sure he meant total empty weight of 254 pounds includes the battery. He did and this will deliver a 20-minute flight under power. However, with a great glide (30:1) and with solar collectors to recharge the batteries, 20 minutes of power could yield hours of flying. Now this aircraft will be a more expensive choice (beyond $100,000) but it is different than most Part 103 aircraft as it has a full fuselage and enclosure plus composite structure. Even a small number of buyers would allow Gologan to collect data valuable to further prove the electric concept to regulators and others.
Another eAirplane in development is the Alternair Amp.
*** Calin observed that while battery development continues, airframe and motor investigations should continue. Assuming batteries evolve that store plenty of power and charge quickly, it would be a shame if the aircraft or if regulation development fell behind and had to be rushed once the batteries were ready. Thus, Calin feels these should be parallel investigations perhaps compared to the great chef who prepares a meal such that it can be served at one time. *** Part 103 aircraft require no pilot license, no medical, and no N-numbers. Aircraft can be sold ready to fly. A few buyers intrigued by electric flight could choose the Part 103 Electra One and enjoy high-tech electric-powered flying in a "real" aircraft in the very near term. Those early adopters would be contributing to the development of electric airplanes. It's an exciting time in aviation.

Unintentional Holiday
By James Lawrence, November 5, 2011
"I know that we are spending half a life at work and half a life where we sleep," says Ivo Boscarol, founder and the dynamo behind Pipistrel Aircraft, in his strong Slovenian accent. *** "So it is important that the lifestyle during work hours is good, so I organize my factory the way that I feel good and my workers feel good. They like to come to work, because actually this is quite serious business. If something is not made well, everybody has trouble: me, my test pilots, my customers. So we don’t put any pressure on the workers." *** Ivo is tall, lean, direct and exuberantly intense, a true and tireless larger-than-life kind of guy.
Head honcho Ivo Boscarol and $1.35 million
My congenial traveling pal Rand Vollmer, head of San Antonio Light Sport Aviation (SALSA), a major dealer for Pipistrel in the states, calls Ivo a "rock star". Indeed, after his company's Taurus Electro G4 won the recent CAFE Green Flight Challenge (and a cool $1.35 million) in impressive fashion, Ivo's not only lionized wherever he goes in Slovenia (including being feted by the President of Slovenia), but he's increasingly well-known globally. *** "After our victory in Green Flight Challenge, we are invited all over the world to show the airplane. So," he says with a big grin, "we must go." *** Such uncomplicated directness is just one part of what makes Ivo both likable and worthy of respect. He's a guy you can talk with, but who knows how to get things done. *** Equally magnetizing is his straight-ahead approach to aircraft design. His approach is elemental, like fire: he gets a wild idea for a new aircraft, calls in his design team, and says "Let's build this." *** At first, eyes may go wide and mouths drop open at what seems implausible, impractical or downright impossible. But swept along by his relentless vision, enthusiasm and total confidence in their abilities, they find a way.
The breathtaking Panthera 4-seat cruiser will have Lycoming, hybrid or electric power!
A good case in point is the upcoming Panthera four-seat, all composite, Ferrari-like cruiser that is planned for debut at next spring's Aero show in Friedrichshafen, Germany. The truly gorgeous airplane will be built in three power configurations: traditional Lycoming power, hybrid generator/electric power...and pure electric. *** Some teaser specs: *** Cruise: 202 kts. (Lycoming), 142 kts. (hybrid), 118 kts. (all-electric) *** Range at Cruise: 1025 nm/660 nm/ 215 nm. *** Expect to read a lot more about this stunning, revolutionary design in the months to come. Meanwhile, here's a pic: don't be embarassed. Go ahead, drool, I did when I saw the components being assembled in the factory. *** In the time I spent at Pipistrel's beautiful, ultra-modern, super green factory in the small town of Ajdovšcina, just 90 minutes drive east from Venice, Italy, Ivo Boscarol candidly shared the philosophies and vision that has made the company one of the top European light aircraft makers. I'll have much more in my next column for Plane & Pilot, as well as flight reports on their aircraft (including the Virus which I flew at Oshkosh). *** Ivo's first production aircraft 24 years ago was a very successful trike (500 sold) that was flown in the waning light of dusk to avoid problems with the aviation-repressive government of Yugoslovia, of which Slovenia was once a part before the country split up. *** See, in the dim light the locals thought the trike looked like a giant bat. Ivo conscripted the notion and named his company Pipistrel, which means bat. 
The Taurus Electro G4 and Pipistrel factory
Anyway, excited about visiting the factory where the prize-winning Taurus Electro G4 was created, along with several other LSA aircraft (the Sinus motorglider, Virus, Virus SW and Taurus motorglider are all recently ASTM certified and available in the U.S. as S-LSA), I booked a five-day visit to Slovenia in mid-October. *** Reality check: the factory is built in a beautiful valley below a long mountain ridge that rises 3,000 foot directly above the town of Ajdovšcina. That ridge has spun off 7 hour-plus soaring flights and is enough to make any soaring pilot happily weak in the knees. *** But when the burja winds blow, the valley below that ridge acts like a perfect venturi. Translation: they've reached hurricane strength velocity (120 mph) and can blow for days and days. Ivo says the burja blows about 100 days a year. Now you know why Pipistrel is building another facility in nearby Italy. *** Anyway, you'll never guess what happened during my trip...yes, the burja blew so strong, there was no flying activity the entire five days I was there. I never even saw an airplane outside of a hangar. *** What? Me worry? Hell, let's go climb a pole. *** (You'll have to check back in tomorrow to see what I mean...this post is getting too long.)

Unintentional Holiday part Deux
By James Lawrence, November 6, 2011
(Note to my readers: the first part of this tome is just below) *** So here I was in Slovenia, unable to fly and three more days before I could return to my wife in Hamburg, unless I wanted to pay another $200 to change the flight. Modern air travel, what a concept. *** Undaunted and determined to enjoy my first visit to this lovely country after two days in bed with a virus (the physical kind, not the airplane), I crawled back into the light and joined up with Rand for a thoroughly enjoyable factory tour, courtesy of Ivo's daughter Taya (she's also a partner in the firm), who speaks very good English indeed and gave us a very informative and enjoyable peek at how the company does it's day-to-day.
Yours Truly scaring the crap out of hisself
And what a factory! High tech geothermal heat, solar power (enough to run the entire factory year round, and sell excess back to the grid) and open, sunny, airy spaces all make for a wonderful working environment. *** Then Ivo invited Rand and me to join him and the entire Pipistrel crew for a "team building" weekend trip. We followed the bus jammed full of Pipistrelians east for a couple hours and found ourselves in the middle of one of those ropes course-like facilities meant to scare the bejeezus out of people. It's a fair-weather season facility that lives atop a ski area in eastern Slovenia. *** Now remember, I was just out of a sick bed and still pretty wobbly. And when I saw that the first task my teammates and I would have to perform was climbing up a 10 meter wooden pole (that's 33 feet, folks), lumberjack style (albeit safely belayed by ropes carabinered to a body harness), and then stand up on top of said pole, I got a tad wobblier. *** The flat top of that pole was about as big around as a medium-sized pancake, maybe 9" in diameter, 10" at the most.  *** Are you kidding me? *** After attaining that precarious perch (and not everybody did), to get max points for the team, we then had to gingerly pussyfoot our feet around on top of the pole until facing in the opposite direction.
SALSA's Rand Vollmer and the components for his soon to be built Sinus motorglider...
Then we could take a leap of faith into space, expecting/trusting/hoping like hell we'd be safely arrested and lowered to the ground by our teammates who held the lifeline ropes. *** Let me tell you right now: a 33-foot tall pole is an excellent harmonic device for magnifying the timid, overcorrecting uncertainties of your thigh muscle/knee joint mechanisms. *** Let me say it another way: the more you shake, the more that damn pole gyrates at the top, like a plate spinner gyrating a plate atop a long stick...and you the plate! *** So brother, you haven't lived until you've stood on top of an oscillating pole, willing your legs (unsuccessfully) to stop quavering and unsuccessfully trying to convince your body to believe what your mind knows: that you're safely backed up by the rope harness...and that your teammates are paying attention. Looking down from almost forty feet (bugged-out eyeball elevation) to see your big boots completely eclipsing that pancake-sized pole top and, in the vast distance beyond those boots, the foreshortened bodies of people's little white heads as they look up at you to shout encouragement (in Slovenian), is one of those "WTF am I doing here?" moments in life that shouldn't be missed.
...which will look like this!
*** The purpose of the weekend trip of course was to give people who work so diligently together a chance to share some bonhomie away from the factory, which no one seemed to have any problem with at all. The Pips are a very friendly crew indeed. Traveling out of country is great...even when you don't get to fly a single minute. And spending that day with the crew, facing some other fun team challenges together, knocking back more than one glass of blueberry schnapps, sharing meals and tasting wine, feeling the warmth, good cheer and open amiability of all, watching groups at different tables at an ancient Slovenian winery dinner burst into song, made me wish for a spirit of nationality and camaraderie that seems missing on the American scene these days.
Taurus self-launching motorglider; also comes electric powered!
*** Anyway, no, I don't yet have a single Pipistrel flight story to share (other than the Virus I wrote up after Oshkosh which should be out in the mag very soon.) *** But I do plan on getting my Private Pilot motorglider rating this winter, and escape the New England snows in the process: Rand and I hope to enlist Jim Lee of Phoenix Air USA, who impressed everyone with the Phoenix motorglider's 47 mpg performance at the GFC on conventional fuel power, to take us through the training down in Florida. We'll fly Rand's 40-foot Sinus Touring Motorglider and I for one, shoveling the wet snow from our upstate New York Halloween porch just a few days ago, muttering "disgusting" to myself the entire time, can hardly wait to head south and strap on that sleek, beautiful airplane. *** Meanwhile, keep your eyes on Pipistrel. They've got a lot of excitement coming down the taxiway.  *** En route, I'll be looking at the virtues of getting your private pilot glider rating down the road too, since it automatically removes a lot of the Sport Pilot restrictions (10,000 altitude max for instance) with very little additional effort...and you don't need a medical to fly a glider either...even a motorized glider with retractable gear. Not a lot of pilots are fully aware of that, so we'll be kicking it around once I start my training. *** Meanwhile here's Jim Lee's treatise on how to fly a glider without a medical certificate...or even a driver's license! Of course as always, and as Jim notes, we want to be sure we self-certify that we are indeed fit to fly.

Aircraft Spruce Acquires California Power Systems
By Dan Johnson, November 10, 2011
Aircraft Spruce boss Jim Irwin (L) confirms the deal to acquire Mike Stratman's California Power Systems.
Aviation powerhouse Aircraft Spruce (officially Irwin International Inc.) announced it had recently completed agreements to buy California Power Systems (CPS); both are California-based enterprises. This shows what CPS had accomplished through 30 years in business but it also shows that Aircraft Spruce remains committed to Light-Sport Aircraft, by far the largest users of the Austrian engine. It also shows the high-tech high-revving powerplant with liquid cooling and gear reduction drive continues a steady advance deeper into the American aviation market. *** In a formal statement, Aircraft Spruce said, "[We] acquired California Power Systems on November 4, 2011 and ... moved the operations from San Leandro to Corona, California. Irwin International Inc, which also owns Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Co., a leading aircraft parts distributor, will operate Aircraft Spruce and CPS as separate divisions in the same 62,000 square foot warehouse in Corona."
*** CPS was founded in 1981 by Mike Stratman and has been the western U.S. regional Rotax Service Center for many years, offering Rotax engines, parts, and other ultralight and Light-Sport Aircraft products to aviators around the world. Aircraft Spruce elaborated, "In addition to engine and parts sales from the Corona facility, CPS will also maintain a maintenance shop for Rotax engine repairs and overhauls." *** To my view as a longtime observer of light aviation since well before LSA came on the scene in 2004, CPS was an integral part of the acceptance of Rotax Aircraft Engines in the United States (along with organizations like Lockwood Aircraft Supply and others).
CPS has been a steady supplier of Rotax Aircraft Engine parts and services for 30 years.
Mike's early "Care and Feeding of Rotax..." articles and videos were an important source of information on the European engine. In the second decade of the 2000s, however, the Internet and mobile resources have come into the foreground and VHS or DVD videos are receding. Organizations like are regularly offering information and groups like Rainbow Aviation or Aero Technical Institute now train a growing number of Rotax-qualified mechanics. *** The joining of a stalwart like Aircraft Spruce with a well-established California Power Systems appears to strengthen acceptance of and support for Rotax Aircraft Engines. One of the great challenges in aviation is successfully bringing a new powerplant to the market, true even for such a sophisticated entry as the Rotax 912 and 914 engines. Many correct steps are needed to build trust in an engine and I believe Rotax got a great boost from the Aircraft Spruce/CPS hook-up. Congratulations to both entities!

Pipistrel's New Alpha Trainer Announced
By James Lawrence, November 13, 2011
An 80-hp Rotax 912 engine brings strong climb and 108-knot cruise.
The company I’ve been writing a lot about lately keeps finding more things for me to talk about. When I was in Slovenia last month, Pipistrel's movers and shakers told me on the QT to be ready for a major announcement soon. *** And here it is: just officially announced this morning, introducing the Alpha Trainer, a purpose-built version of the company's winning Virus SW (Short Wing) cruiser. Designed for the flight school market, it carries an introductory price that should raise a few eyebrows: $83,000 just about everything, including delivery, shipping to the US, FAA fees etc. *** Yep, I'd call that news. *** Rand Vollmer of SALSA Aviation, a U.S. Pipistrel dealer, tipped me off this morning about the official release. Pipistrel makes elegant, fun-flying, functional aircraft and the Alpha (200 were recently ordered by the Indian government) should prove to be no exception. *** It’s targeted at LSA Flying Schools wherever ASTM or FAA-LSA regulations hold sway. *** In its release, the company states: *** “With the economy the way it is most aircraft have been priced (out of) the marketplace for the average person or flight school.” *** Key design features include: • Economies of purchase, operation, maintenance and repair. • Durable, with docile flight and stall characteristics for beginning students. • UV-resistant acrylic paint finish for outdoor storage and day-long flight operations in heat well above 100°F (composites are often knocked for not standing up to mid-day heat and sun) • Quiet, easy-access, roomy cockpit (43 inches wide), good cabin ventilation and heating, approved strobes and lighting. • Quick access to reliable spare parts to keep aircraft flying • Reasonable cross-country training range, easy refueling, strong hydraulic brakes, adjustable dual flight controls, tricycle gear with steerable nosewheel • GRS Ballistic parachute system standard
A big part of Pipistrel's success: sleek, efficient aerodynamics. All images courtesy Pipistrel
*** Pipistrel has built more than 1,000 aircraft since it began with Ivo Boscarol’s trike design 25 years ago. The company has won several European air games events and the prestigious NASA CAFE efficiency challenge three times in a row (including this year's stunning electric Taurus G4 that averaged 400 passenger miles per gallon at 100 mph and took the top prize of $1.35 million). *** As I’ve said, this outfit is not fooling around; they are well on their way to becoming a major presence in the light sport aircraft market. They haven’t broken out in the U.S. just yet... the Alpha may have a major impact on that. *** The release isn’t even up on the website yet, so here are a few more details of this pending (April 2012 delivery) debut: *** Beefed up composite undercarriage supports a Useful Load of nearly 500 pounds with full fuel. *** New nose gear strut is two inches shorter than the Virus, which lowers the nose and improves taxi visibility... prop clearance is not compromised as Alpha uses a smaller 63” diameter fixed pitch prop. *** The 15 gallon fuel tank has a large fill opening to accommodate fast-flow avgas pumps, although ethanol-free auto avgas is still the recommended fuel for Rotax engines. *** That fuel capacity still gives Alpha “at least 400 miles range with reserves” at a normal cruise just under 110 knots.
*** In training mode, even doing multiple pattern flights only burns around 2.5 gph max for five hours endurance. This is no marketing hype: the Virus I flew, on which the Alpha is based, is so aerodynamically clean it gets right up to altitude with a strong 1,000 fpm climb rate and a 110-115 knot speed regime... on the same 80 horsepower the Alpha will employ. *** The Alpha is propped to give a slower cruise of 108 knots to meet the LSA category without sacrificing that super climb rate. *** Alpha’s airframe is built of carbon fiber, kevlar and fiberglass and was brought in 100 pounds lighter than the SW... impressive. *** Interior appointments include heavy-duty seat fabric and no wheelpants so as to minimize repair issues from student “prangs”, and two-minute wheel swaps for flat tires. Everything about this airplane is geared to the high demand training market. *** The modified wing design includes flaperons with 25° of travel (two stops) and no airbrakes (standard on the Sinus and Virus motorgliders). There's inflight elevator trim too. *** Even the prop is designed and produced by Pipistrel on the monster 8-axis CNC-machining robot I saw at the factory which precision-carves the wooden pieces. Then they're wrapped in a composite covering, the leading edges get added protection and it's painted. *** A luggage rack behind the seats helps out with incidental storage needs like tie downs, water bottles and such. Two large pockets on the sides of the panel allow inflight access. *** Basic instrumentation is conventional steam gauges including tach, hobbs meter, oil pressure and temp, CHT, EGT, fuel quantity.
*** Also included are a GPS Garmin Aera 500 with AirGizmo docking station, ICOM IC A210 radio with intercom, aerial and two headsets (!), Garmin GTX 327 altitude encoding transponder and Kannad 406 AF ELT. *** And still more: the 34 foot-6 inch wing-span will snug nicely into most T-hangars. *** The airframe is painted in white UV-resistant acrylic. *** Price for all this training goodness: €61,500, around $83,600 US at today’s exchange rate. *** But wait: there’s more! Introductory rate for schools and individuals wanting to commit now with a $15K US deposit can lock in a price of €58,000, around $78,900. Add on shipping, delivery and FAA fees and you’re looking at $83,000 US. That’s a compelling price for a fully-equipped, purpose-built, new trainer. *** There’s more to discuss regarding how well all-composite trainers can stand up to the rigors of life in a flight school. I’ll talk with the Pipistrel folks more about how they address composite repairs, which typically are more challenging than their aluminum counterparts.

More and More, LSA Are Going Global
By Dan Johnson, November 15, 2011
Arion's Lightning LS-1 has sold to Australia. photo courtesy Arion Aircraft
Since the beginning of LSA time, way back in 2005 (when the first LSA was approved), LSA have arrived on American shores from overseas factories. American producers also sold airplanes to Yankees, but none went overseas as governments of other nations had not yet accepted ASTM certification standards. In the last year, a lot has happened. *** At least four companies are selling LSA in other countries with aircraft defined by U.S.-originated parameters and meeting ASTM standards. LSA Global developments are reported by Arion Aircraft, U.S. Sport Aircraft (representing Czech Sport Aircraft), Remos Aircraft, and Flight Design. *** Yankee First? Arion Aircraft is one of the first all-American companies to go global with its production.
U.S. Sport Aircraft delivered a SportCruiser/PiperSport to Brazil.
The Marysville, Tennessee company -- a related company to Jabiru U.S., which supplies the J230 and other high wing models to LSA buyers in the USA -- has sent aircraft to Australia. The down-under country was one of the first to use ASTM certification after the new approval method was introduced by FAA in America. I am not aware of any other U.S.-based company that has sold LSA products outside the States. Arion's Pete Krotje also told me of interest from Brazil, one of the newest countries to OK use of ASTM certification standards. *** South American expansion U.S. Sport Aircraft spokesman Donato Martino said, "We believe we are the first company to actually sell and deliver an LSA to a customer in Brazil. Paul Kramer was our ferry pilot who commanded the entire 4,300 nautical mile flight in PiperSport/SportCruiser N297PS from Fort Pierce, Florida to Curitiba, Brazil. Paul kept a detailed log of his journey and wrote a story about the effort. It took several months of planning and document preparation but we did pull it off and will most likely be delivering more SportCruisers to Brazil." The SportCruiser is built in the Czech Republic by Czech Sport Aircraft.
Remos is preparing to enter other countries with LSA certified to ASTM standards. photo courtesy Remos Aircraft
*** German Export Recently reorganized German manufacturer Remos Aircraft has been renewing dealerships around the world including a tour through the USA. The company also reports winning approval from aviation agencies in India and Brazil for their GX design while in South Africa, Remos obtained a Type Certificate, the company added. "This assures that India and Brazil, which have not yet established LSA certification, will grant airworthiness certificates in reciprocal recognition of the EASA LSA Type Certificates," stated Theo Paeffgen, CEO. He noted that in South Africa, the government has now developed LSA type certification standards. *** Chinese Connection LSA market leader Flight Design has delivered aircraft to China where the German company has earned a Type Certificate under Chinese rules. It was the first LSA manufacturer to gain support from China aviation authorities and, like other aviation enterprises, Flight Design anticipates sales growing significantly as that country opens aviation to personal use for the first time (before last year, all aviation in China was solely military or airline).
Flight Design was first into China with an LSA.
*** As the second-largest aviation market in the world after the USA, Europe also factors large. The approximate equivalent to FAA, EASA has now issued their Certification Specification for LSA (CS-LSA) so EU countries can also move toward sales of LSA types. Costs remain a concern as EASA charges manufactuers for approvals and oversight where in the U.S., these costs are borne by taxpayers. Another difference: In Europe, no speed limit exists for this category of aircraft; in-flight adjustable props are permitted to generate higher cruise speeds. Since ASTM standards accommodate these features, this presents no problem even if American buyers have a speed limit and must use fixed pitch props. *** My LAMA Europe affiliate, Jan Fridrich, first coined the phrase "LSA Global" and, increasingly, it appears his foresight is proving accurate.

Questions & Attitudes Erupt Over EAA/AOPA Plan
By Dan Johnson, November 23, 2011
"I'm of mixed feelings over this," express many Light-Sport Aircraft industry participants who have caused my phone to ring regularly since late September *. That's when EAA and AOPA came together to address requests from some members for a driver's license "medical," which would allow aviators with certificates beyond Sport Pilot to fly GA aircraft with clearly defined limitations without the need for an FAA medical. *** In the weeks that followed the announcement, numerous LSA professionals have expressed dismay with the initiative. A dozen cancelled sales have been reported and that is not likely to represent the whole picture. A common complaint is the industry was unaware of the plan announcement until just before it was made; no discussion occurred between the member organizations and the LSA industry. *** For the record... work to formulate a written proposal to FAA is underway; a date for presentation to the agency has not been announced. Many Light-Sport business people appear concerned that the initiative challenges head-on the most compelling sales tool for LSA sellers, specifically, the lack of requirement for an FAA medical. While Light-Sport Aircraft have many other positive qualities that will aid sales — lower prices, lower fuel use, less noise, roomier cockpits, modern technology, etc. — nonetheless losing the #1 selling reason has caused considerable angst among those who have invested years of their time and substantial amounts of money to build the LSA industry. While many are conflicted, others are just confused.
EAA President Rod Hightower will address some 300 LSA professionals the LAMA Dinner. photo courtesy EAA
*** One intriguing question that just arose regards a new Sport Pilot who may wish to fly a four-seat GA aircraft (with no more than two persons on board, among other limitations). Does the Sport Pilot presently in training have to get a medical (part of the Private Pilot application process) to be able to solo a Cessna 172 or equivalent? Also, the Private certificate demands night and instrument training even though neither kind of flying can be done under the EAA/AOPA proposed initiative. Must a Sport Pilot pay for training to acquire those skills even though they cannot use them (without a medical)?
Industry association LAMA will hold its fifth annual LAMA Dinner on opening day evening at the Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo.
*** These questions and more might be asked of EAA president Rod Hightower, who has agreed to come speak to LSA professionals at the Fifth Annual LAMA Dinner at the Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo (the LAMA Dinner is not open to the public; only to people in the LSA business). The timing should be good as the Sebring LSA Expo is moving swiftly toward a full engagement. On a recent Sebring visit with new Director Jana Filip, we observed only six aircraft display spaces remain available with two months to go. The event appears in good health as it prepares to launch the 2012 calendar year. Update 12/5/11 — For more info on the subject of the EAA/AOPA proposal, I invite you to listen to AvWeb's podcast. —DJ

* The mixed feeling comes as many LSA pros generally believe FAA ought to relax the medical requirement (as do EAA and AOPA members, according to the associations). Most agree that having to obtain a medical adds another barrier to student starts without substantially helping safety. Yet after businesspeople invested significantly in creating an LSA industry, a successful EAA/AOPA plan could install a major obstacle to LSA sales. Neither organization is guaranteeing success with their initiative, though they have addressed reasons that caused it to fail on several earlier attempts.

Cessna Feels The Pinch ...and Pinches Back
By James Lawrence, November 28, 2011
In a recent piece on AvWeb, Paul Bertorelli takes a good look at Cessna's decision to bump the price of the Skycatcher by a cool $35K — yes, that's 35 thousand. Okay, it's not every day we see a 31+% price hike in a retail price of anything, especially in this economy. *** Yet Cessna's move should come as no surprise to anyone who knows, as Bertorelli points out, that the price of aircraft has grown faster than the rate of inflation for decades. Thirty years or so ago, a new Cessna Skyhawk could be had for around $30,000. Today it's 10 times that number, or more than $300,000, whereas inflation applied to that original $30K number would put the figure just north of $100,000...about three times higher.
The Sky's no greenbacks.
*** Meanwhile, the aviation giant has up until now done its best to keep the price close to it's original near-$100,000 level. Most recent raise was from $112,000 to around $114,000. *** Originally announced in 2007, more than 1,000 orders were racked up in short order. *** Then came more than two years of delays — first deliveries were made last year and 150 or so Skycatchers have been delivered this year. *** All along, Cessna tried mightily to hold the line on price increases even in the face of production cost increases: it of course wanted to hold onto that $75 million in orders; wholesale decimation of the Skycatcher order book would have been a heavy hit, even for Big C. *** The company pressed on through at least one major tailfeather redesign to keep the program viable, and keep original placeholders on board with a gradually-climbing price that stayed close to the original ticket of just under $110,000. *** Now the scrappy Skycatcher has climbed the U.S. delivery numbers to its recent, current position of #2. Only longtime leader board-topper Flight Design has registered more LSA in this country. *** How does Cessna's new $149,900 price compare? Look at the price of equivalent-quality SLSA out there; you're looking at a typical sticker-shock number of $125-150K*. Big C is only raising its product to market parity, and to help support production costs, after having worked hard at it's "holding the line" image. Also factored in: many of the instrument options are now standard, so the price increase isn't baldly wholesale: some perks are factored in. *** Still, those options are no longer voluntary.
*** I wonder how deep in the red Cessna went with the delays in production, increased design and retesting costs — the company has proudly, and deservedly, boasted that it took Skycatcher through a program more rigorous than the ASTM standard, including spin testing... that's how the original design flaw was uncovered in the first place. *** Bertorelli goes on to reflect on the marketing and psychological effect of the price jump, and whether it will cause a bailout of significant numbers of remaining production number holders. He also has some interesting insights on how Cessna has always been good at maintaining its profit margin, even if it meant raising prices and accepting the lower sales numbers that resulted. That's how companies survive, after all *** It's a good read, check it out for an insight into how big aviation business cope these days. *** He concludes with a compelling question that deserves more thought and some comment: if Cessna, with it's offshore Chinese production, can't produce a relatively "low cost" SLSA, does that put the kibosh on the notion entirely? *** I have my own thoughts, viewed from a slightly different angle: look at my recent post on the Pipistrel Alpha Trainer that was just introduced around $80,000, and that's not a stripped model either. I read an online forum thread a couple days ago in which several posters flat out decried the $80K price point. "Impossible!" they cried.
Pipistrel's new trainer LSA, the Alpha, will make a debut in 2012 at about $80,000. artwork courtesy Pipistrel
*** Yet here is a lean, mean, well-oiled design/production house in Slovenia that is showing us the way of the future, perhaps. The company just sold 200 Alpha trainers to India; the production prototype is planned for debut in April. *** I believe the company President, Ivo Boscarol, when he says he will produce the airplane at that price. His vision all along has been that if you do things in a very targeted, innovative and efficient manner, you can produce affordable, quality aircraft that will sell, even with the euro/dollar exchange rate, in the $80K range in America. *** Take another look at what we complain about as a "high cost" light aircraft: adjusted backwards to the before-inflation rate (1975, roughly); we're looking at $19,000 for the Alpha ...had it been available in that year. *** Before we cry in our $7 microbeers, we should lament the destruction of our currency by the craziness of world economics for the last 70 or so years. That is the real culprit. An ounce of gold still buys approximately the same goods it bought in 1950...1920...1900. It's not that things are more expensive. It's our currency, no longer backed by gold or silver, that's taken the hit. *** Why do you think China among other national governments is buying gold like it was on fire sale? Because it is. *** Aviation companies like every other enterprise must find ever-more-efficient ways of surviving, let alone thriving, by continuing to discover how to do the impossible, even if they have to grapple with perceived realities, such as this misplaced notion that there are no cheap light aircraft. *** Put another way, I'll buy an $80,000, all-composite, well-equipped, good-performing aircraft for $19K any day of the week... even if I have to find a few partners to help me out with the purchase, since my salary also buys a quarter of what it did a generation ago ('75). But that's another, and unfolding, story. * For the record, not all SLSA cost $125-150,000; we have good quality, airworthy, and good performing aircraft for below $100,000. —DJ

Oldest Living LSA Pilot?
By James Lawrence, December 1, 2011
J. Guy Reynolds about to do his thing. photo courtesy The Journal
Here's a story to give us all some cheer as we slide into final on the Holiday Season. *** An article in Martinsburg, West Virginia's The Journal newspaper chronicles the exploits of one T. Guy Reynolds Jr. , a local pilot who just celebrated his birthday by spreading his wings in his Evektor SportStar. *** "No big deal", you say? Ah, but this gentleman is one year shy of being a centenarian ...that's right, he just turned 99 years old! That makes him, says the article penned by John McVey, likely the oldest pilot in the state. *** And we have to ask ...maybe the nation? *** "I wanted to fly on my 99th birthday," he said. "I enjoy it, and my airplane is very nice to fly." *** The SportStar model was the first to win ASTM approval back in 2005 as a legal SLSA and continues in its latest iteration as the flight report is due out in the next issue of the magazine. *** Evektor's airplanes appeal to pilots like Mr. Reynolds with long aviation backgrounds, since it's a familiar, mostly-metal airframe with good long range legs and comfortable interior to back it up ...these things get more important as we get older! I've logged around 30 hours in the Evektor Max and its successor Harmony so I'm more expert on this subject than many's an excellent long-leg airplane for the posterior regions.
Evektor SportStar.  photo
*** The article goes on to report that Mr. Reynolds began flying, in a Ford Tri-Motor, before most of us were even glints in our parent's eyes: in 1929! He founded Martinsburg's Civil Air Patrol squadron and was its first commander in 1943. Taking on challenges late in life seem to be a habit ...Reynolds had in fact laid off flying in the mid-'50s in order to raise a family and didn't resume until 2004 age 92. *** He made his first parachute jump on the day he turned 93. What a Guy! *** "I keep very positive — that's how I've lived so long. I'm still happy and thank God for that every day." *** Happy Birthday to you, sir!

Video Pilot Reports... Want More? We Deliver!
By Dan Johnson, December 4, 2011
Evektor's new Harmony LSA is the subject of our first full-length, two-pilot video review.
Video info and entertainment is burgeoning these days. YouTube has become one of most-visited Internet websites; you can watch videos on subjects of every conceivable description (plus many you could not have conceived). *** In the aviation world, videos are also common. AOPA, EAA, AvWeb, Aero-TV, Loop-TV, and others offer video to further your knowledge and enjoyment of aviation. Folks just seem to love watching videos. Now, we are pleased to offer you something a little different from the others and in so doing we promise to remain true to Light-Sport and all Sport-Pilot-eligible aircraft. *** After producing more than 100 shorter-length video reports on Light-Sport Aircraft and other Sport Pilot-eligible flying machines, the Light Sport and Ultralight Flyer and I are pleased to collaborate on the first two-pilot, full-length, all-video pilot report. Here you'll find almost an hour's worth of flying footage and detail commentary from a couple experienced evaluation pilots that can help decide which airplane you want to buy. Or, view it simply for a bit of diversion. Grab your favorite beverage, sit back at your computer or TV or view on your mobile device to enjoy this mold-breaking review of the new Evektor Harmony LSA. Video run-time is 45 minutes but you can tag as a favorite and watch anytime, anywhere. Naturally, we have it right here on, too. |||| Other Videos You Might Enjoy — In addition to the full-length pilot report, I want to recommend two other videos I think you'll like. First is a review of flying a Light-Sport Aircraft to the Bahamas. Aviators Hot Line interviewed Bahamas "Ambassador" Mike Z (a genuine, honorary title bestowed on him) who takes you through a brief review of the process. If you want to fly internationally, watch this one.

Another is a professionally shot CTLS promo video that has some outstanding photography. You'll learn what owners of the CT series think of their birds, but you'll also see stunning scenery from the American Southwest that is sure to reinforce why you enjoy flying. LSA offer a viewing platform better than most other aircraft and this video from the Loop-TV folks is proof once again.

In closing I want to make you aware of a new video outlet in development. AircraftReporters.TV is a new website venture involving multiple video producers and several media partners, including Aviators Hot Line, Light Sport and Ultralight Flyer, Flightime Radio, and More media partners will be sought and the number of videos should keep growing. Aircraft Reporters.TV (in beta stage at this writing) is working to create a clean website with an embedded player. While these videos can often be found on YouTube, the sheer volume of videos of every kind on the big website makes a challenge of watching only video reviews of aircraft. On AircraftReporters.TV — as on's LSA Videos — you get pure, concentrated aircraft reviews (and videos of related products of interest). Visit on the online theater of your choice!

Knocking Around The InfoVerse
By James Lawrence, December 5, 2011
image courtesy Pipistrel 
|||| News travels fast these days: Just ask Herman Cain. New tech net scraper Gizmag just ran a blurb on the Pipistrel Alpha that I covered earlier. Gizmag's focus is on Alpha's low cost, which as they note is less than €60,000 (currently about $80,000). *** Now consider this: if the euro continues to go through its troubles and drops further against the dollar, imagine a quality SLSA, like the Alpha promises to be (it's based on a years-proven design — the Vinus/Sinus — with hundreds now delivered), priced at, perhaps, $70,000. For all of us who've decried the high costs of LSA, might this be the price point/airplane that would help break the LSA sales logjam? |||| Dynon plans Hands-On SkyView Training at Sebring. Who among us hasn't sat for the first time in a new LSA and felt brain overload when confronted with an unfamiliar EFIS display?
photo courtesy Dynon Avionics
*** One of my initial — and most stressful — challenges during my Sport Pilot training was figuring out where to look and how to work those info-jammed screens while also getting to know the airplane. Helping out with that comes a promising and much needed program, to debut at next month's Sebring Light Sport Expo. (That's right, kids, Sebring is just around the corner... more on that below). *** Dynon Avionics will offer free courses on how to wrangle the SkyView, its runaway hit EFIS display. *** The 3.5-hour classes will be held all four mornings and the first three afternoons at Sebring. Working SkyViews will be set up so people can get some real hands-on tutoring without having to RTFM (Read The Freakin' Manual, which apparently only 1.4% of the U.S. population can abide). *** Class size will be limited to the first 15 people who sign up. The classes will be held at the nearby (like, walking distance from the show) Chateau Elan Hotel and Conference Center. *** Kirk Kleinholz, CFII and SkyView expert, will handle the professorial duties. This first set of classes will be free: ongoing classes will have a fee, so get in there, pilots, and sign up!
photo courtesy Sebring Expo
|||| Sebring Expo Looms! Yes chilluns, the big winter LSA show is truly stepping it up this year, with a much-ballyhooed new presence and a much bigger feel, judging by the number of promo emails I've gotten for months now. Rather than rehash the 2012 offerings, just go Sebring's website. *** Alright, just a couple teasers, I can't resist (and I can't wait to get down there myself!): ••• "Exotic" vacation packages will be auctioned ••• Registered exhibitors include Flight Design, which will bring its CTLE law enforcement special ••• NASA Green Flight Challenge winner Pipistrel will bring several models (alas, not the winning electric one-off Taurus Electro G4) and, ••• the EAA Piper Cub J3 Sweepstakes contest airplane is expected to be on display. Y'all get your tickets now, hear?
Flight Design CTLE photo courtesy Flight Design
••• EAA's new head man Rod Hightower will give a presentation at the annual LAMA Dinner. ••• Tons of events, factory and general demo flights and lots more to look forward. *** Did I say I can't wait? Now if only winter would truly arrive in the northeast (it's 58 degrees again today!) I'll have even more motivation to jet southward — not that Sebring leaves any need for that — this is simply the biggest all-LSA event in the country.

Coming Soon: Biggest LSA Industry Get-Together
By Dan Johnson, December 8, 2011
The LAMA Dinner 2011 drew a standing-room-only crowd to hear AOPA's Craig Fuller. photo by Randee Laskewitz
While AirVenture, Sun 'n Fun, and Germany's Aero may have more LSA professionals in attendance the LAMA Dinner at the Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo is big. How big? For the last four years, LAMA has "sold out" — standing-room-only last year — its annual dinner. The event takes place in the main, large tent at Sebring. This year it will be the AeroShell tent as that company is generously providing the tent and tables through a sponsorship. Each year LAMA draws 300 or more persons, all industry participants. The dinner is by invitation only. *** This represents the largest gathering of LSA professionals at any show and it is proving to be a major draw. Consider the confirmed list of highly placed officials coming to Sebring 2012: EAA President Rod Hightower will address the LAMA Dinner; GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce will again lead a joint GAMA/LAMA meeting with LSA businessmen; and AOPA President Craig Fuller will reportedly make an appearance early in the show. Here are three of general aviation's biggest leaders all showing at Sebring 2012. That's never happened before.
Craig Fuller addresses the largest gathering of LSA professionals in 2011. photo by Meg Godlewski of General Aviation News
*** In addition, FAA is planning meetings with LSA manufacturers and importers as they have done at previous Sebring events. Along with the chance to speak directly to the association leaders, access to FAA officials is appreciated by the LSA business community.
AOPA's Craig Fuller (L) with EAA's Rod Hightower at AOPA Summit 2011. photo credit: Midwest Flyer magazine
*** One bit of irony given the events of the last few days, an invited speaker to the LAMA Dinner was Randy Babbitt. Due to budget strains, FAA was unable to confirm his visit and now that request appears moot. While not condoning driving under any influences, Administrator Babbitt had been quite supportive of the LSA development and several in the industry lament his sudden departure (which, by the way, adds to the many changes of leadership in aviation as twice reported on
GAMA President and CEO, Pete Bunce. photo courtesy GAMA
*** All these occurrences at the Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo, combined with the Expo's considerable success at filling exhibit spots and gaining sponsors, speaks to the importance of this year-starting show. When Expo Chairman Bob Wood said he would step down after the first seven years of Sebring, many wondered if new director Jana Filip and the Sebring Airport staff could fill Bob's shoes. Indeed, with Bob still helping (plus a small army of willing volunteers) the Sebring LSA Expo appears poised for even greater growth. That this happens amid general sluggishness throughout aviation is quite remarkable. *** The event runs January 19-22, 2012. Hotels are already filling up and nearly everyone in the LSA field seems to be preparing for the eighth running of the show. Come on down; Florida guarantees no snow and plenty of Light-Sport Aircraft!

Like LSA Seaplanes? You Have Beautiful Choices!
By Dan Johnson, December 12, 2011
Progressive Aerodyne, manufacturer of the SeaRey, has its headquarters right on a lake in central Florida.
Life is good if you like LSA seaplanes. I'll review five LSA seaplanes, either on the market or in development. *** Today SeaRey reins as far and away the most successful and proven design with some 600 flying. While SeaRey has been an Experimental Amateur Built (EAB) model, they've been working diligently on SLSA approval and will eventually sell SLSA, ELSA, and EAB versions. Priced around $70,000 as a kit, SeaRey is the most affordable seaplane.
The handsome SeaMax is back with new representation. Look for SeaMax America at Sebring.
Owners are intensely loyal to the brand (Progressive Aerodyne) and the model. SeaRey is having a workshop right before Sebring. More about that shortly. *** SeaMax is the next most proven and accepted seaplane. Manufactured in Brazil, about 100 are flying including a handful in the USA. SeaMax America is the new importer for the handsome LSA seaplane from prolific designer (and nice guy) Miguel Rosario. From Great Neck, New York Richard Rofe said, "We have added many new features and have moved to a much larger production facility. We plan to reintroduce ... the only SLSA [amphibious seaplane] that you can actually buy and fly!"
Icon's sleek A5 has drawn large crowds at three AirVenture airshows.
They are working on their new website; for now ring Richard at 516-466-5258. |||| Now come three designs aimed directly at the LSA market; indeed, all have emerged since and as a consequence of FAA's new rule and each is quite outstanding in its design appeal. *** Capturing the most attention is the Icon A5, which has garnered more than 700 delivery slot orders since its introduction at AirVenture 2008. The stunning A5 benefited from top-notch design and engineering staff hired from Scaled Composites, famous for building SpaceShipOne and other creations.
The first electric entry is the Equator P2 Excursion based in and partly funded by Norway.
Icon is also the funding leader, professionally pursuing deep pocket investors. Using its Silicon Valley roots and a Hollywood presentation, Icon generated a summer 2011 round of financing valued at $25 million. No one else is close. However, others are following. *** Newly announced was the EQP2, which stands for Equator P2 Excursion a design of Norway. Equator Aircraft is in the news as the company reports earning 4.2 million Norwegian krones or roughly $750,000 of government development funding.
Akoya from Lisa Airplanes is a most distinctive design, and priced to match.
The company says, "The EQP2 Excursion is a carbon composite, hybrid/electric amphibian aircraft." They plan an Experimental version first but plan to pursue the LSA market and more. EQP2 will be powered by the 125-hp (85 kW) Emrax engine. Check their website for some eye-popping art of this pretty entry. *** Also gaining increasing media attention is the equally distinctive Lisa from French designers Erick Herzberger and Luc Bernole. Though pricing is rather stratospheric (€300,000), the design standard and feature list are long including folding wings and their patented Seafoils, "a kind of hydrofoils located under the aircraft fuselage." The project is flying and, as with Icon and Equator, Lisa Airplanes has a very slick website with lots of quality images. I'll have more on Lisa in the near future.

Flight School "Classic" from U.S. Sport Aircraft
By Dan Johnson, December 14, 2011
For just one year Piper added their logo to the SportCruiser, calling it PiperSport. It sold well.
In the year following Piper's departure from the LSA market, you may have expected a big slow-down for importer U.S. Sport Aircraft (USSA). Many believed the removal of the Piper brand would cause a loss of loyalty and that sales would flat line. *** Those people may have forgotten how well the SportCruiser did before Piper got involved. The dark forecast turned out to be wrong thanks to hard work by USSA boss Don Ayers, Donato Martino, and their staff. SportCruiser models have logged 20 registrations in nine months of 2011, a performance that keeps them high on our Market Share Chart even as Cessna has zoomed upward. Now, the Florida company has a new model and a new man to help promote it.
Especially configured and priced for flight schools is the SportCruiser Classic model.
*** USSA President Don Ayres announced a new model of the Czech Sport Aircraft SportCruiser positioned as an affordable training aircraft. "The majority of our customers have transitioned from Cessna and Piper aircraft not because it fits in the Sport Pilot category but because the SportCruiser offers a more exciting experience at significantly lower hourly operating cost when compared with traditional aircraft." Flight schools value lower costs, too. *** The SportCruiser Classic features the good performance and handling of the regular SportCruiser and is equipped with a traditional 6-Pack of analog gauges — attitude indicator, heading, altimeter, airspeed, rate of climb, and turn and bank — plus analog engine gauges (photo). Avionics on the Classic include a Garmin SL40, Garmin Aera 500 GPS, Garmin GTX 327 Transponder and a PS Engineering PM 3000 Intercom. Adjustable rudder pedals with toe brakes, electric pitch and aileron trim and an Ameri-King AK-451 ELT are standard equipment on the Classic.
With the traditional "six pack," plus Garmin's touchscreen aera and radios, the Classic can work well in a flight school.
*** USSA set an introductory price of $119,500, which includes transportation and document charges, FOB Ft. Pierce, Florida or Dallas, Texas. The importer operates multiple locations to better serve customers. USSA plans to bring their new SportCruiser Classic and a new Dynon SkyView equipped SportCruiser SVA to Sebring. "We have several planes, including a few PiperSports in stock and available for immediate delivery," stated Ayres. *** To spearhead sales of the SportCruiser Classic (and other models) to flight schools, USSA has added Bob Anderson to their staff. Anderson is a veteran of LSA sales and previously a flight school owner also known for specializing in LSA aircraft used in flight training. He worked with SportCruiser before Piper jumped in, then departed to lend his experience to the Remos organization for a period. "After a year on the beach I finally found a home in LSA back where I started, with the SportCruiser," said Anderson.

What's Going On at the Top? Part 3 — Media
By Dan Johnson, December 21, 2011
For the past 11 years, the Powered Sport Flying Radio Show covered topics for all sorts of recreational aircraft.
Twice in the past I've written about changes at the top of aviation leadership in 2011. We witnessed the departure of leaders in various market-leading companies. Likewise, aviation organizations have gone through a similar metamorphosis. In this third (and final?) installment, we'll explore changes in aviation media. *** In this week headed into the Christmas holiday I participated in the second-to-last edition ever of Roy Beisswenger's Powered Sport Flying Internet radio show. This is not sad as PSF Radio has had a decade-long run, which translates to well over 500 two-hour broadcasts. Thousands enjoyed the live performance but even more thousands listened to archived shows that you could capture off the PSF Radio website or from Apple iTunes as a podcast. Roy hinted that podcasts could continue but for now he'll concentrate on his magazine (Powered Sport Flying) and his Easy Flight powered parachute flight instruction business.
Aviation entrepreneur Roy Beisswenger. photo courtesy EAA
Roy described the latter and its introduction of new folks to flying as one of his great joys. After the show produces its final broadcast next week, Roy will have more time to attend airshows and that will enhance his magazine coverage. Keep watching this light aviation entrepreneur. Hearty congratulations, Roy, on a job very well done with PSF Radio! *** In another December announcement, longtime EAA editor Mary Jones said she will move to part-time status with the big member organization.
After 28 years on the job EAA editor Mary Jones announced a major change.
After 28 years, Mary's decision was facilitated by yet another change: the move of Flying magazine editor-in-chief Mac McClellan to Director of Publications for EAA publications. Mary developed a loyal and appreciative audience among the light and sport aviation community in her many years of writing and editing. She lead the association's Experimenter magazine and more recently Sport Pilot before both titles were retired (association decisions having nothing to do with Mary's capable leadership). Her latest position before stepping down was to lead EAA's flagship Sport Aviation magazine. Mary is not flying off into the sunset. She'll continue her work with EAA publications but on a three-day-a-week basis that will allow some other pursuits and bit more time to relax and not sweat the ever-present deadline pressure. Along with many others, I offer a most sincere thanks to Mary, a champion of affordable aviation.
GA News was lead for many years by Dave Sclair who passed away last summer.
*** Our good friends at General Aviation News lost two stalwarts of their enterprise in 2011. Professional newspaperman and company patriarch, Dave Sclair passed away last summer and editor Tom Norton died more recently. Both losses were significant; Dave and Tom had decades of experience and encyclopedic knowledge of aviation. Fortunately, Dave's son Ben has done what I consider to be a magnificent job of taking over the reins of the country's only biweekly, and much-loved, aviation newspaper. *** Change is normal, inevitable, and indeed necessary in the natural development of business and in life. So while welcoming new chiefs, I salute each of the pioneers above and thank them for their dedicated service. Will the changes continue? Of course they will, though perhaps not at the pace set in 2011. We look forward to what 2012 holds. Aviation remains an exciting industry to observe. *** Merry Christmas, everyone!

LSA News Bits as 2011 Draws to a Close
By James Lawrence, December 23, 2011
photo courtesy Remos Aircraft
In 36 hours or so, Chief Pilot S. Claus will be on final for a few billion chimneys worldwide. Here's what's popping up in one of my last looks at LSA news webwide for 2011. Meanwhile, my best wishes for a Merry Flying Christmas and new flight horizons for all in 2012! *** Cubcrafters flexes its market success muscle with a new manufacturing facility and the hiring — yes, hiring! — of new personnel to build its popular LSA Piper Cub clones. 
photo courtesy CubCrafters
*** A newly leased 15,000-square-foot building near the Yakima, Washington airport boosts existing capacity by almost 40% and is already in operation. Congrats to CubCrafters and we wish you continued success. *** Included are a new welding shop and CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) machine shop. *** The new space will make room in the main plant for an R&D facility and an updated, more centralized parts department.   *** Owner Jim Richmond says, "Our planes are selling well, and if we get even a little help from the economy, we will need to increase our production rate."  *** Check out those job openings. SportAirUSA, that broad-based purveyor of several LSA models and instrument panel goodies, adds to its avionics offerings with the Adventure Pilot iFly GPS, a 7-inch touch-screen moving map based on FAA sectional charts (I own one myself — very cool unit).
*** The company also reports the iFly will be standard equipment on the Snap! singleseater and an installable option for its Sting, Sirius, Savage Cub, and SeaRey LSA. Starting price is $549. The iFly comes loaded with the U.S. sectionals, IFR low en route charts, geo-referenced approach plates, airport diagrams, and more.  *** JUSTNET, the Justice Technology Information Network, an arm of the Office of Justice, posts a summary of LSA considered for law enforcement duty, and more detailed looks at each aircraft evaluated.
photo courtesy Rans Aircraft
The page is part of the
Aviation Technology Program, which looks at a broad range of low-cost aviation technologies as alternatives to conventional GA aircraft in law enforcement aviation units — typically helicopters and FAA certified aircraft.  *** Some familiar SLSA models evaluated: Rans Coyote, Tecnam Eaglet, Sky Arrow. Powered parachutes and autogyros are also considered.
photo courtesy Remos Aircraft
*** The overview cites the high cost of acquiring and maintaining these aircraft (new Cessna 172: $300,000) and serves up the economic viability of various types of LSA as a dramatic alternative to for maintaining the long arm of the law skyward.
*** In particular, the report calls out Light Sport Aircraft as well as small unmanned aircraft systems (“sUAS” — how institutions love acronyms!) and moored balloons... moored balloons? Remos Aircraft keeps growing its dealer/service center network. Latest addition is Light Sport West  of Sacramento, California. A Remos GX was added to the GA training fleet based at Sacramento Executive Airport (KSAC). *** Light Sport West joins a growing number of FBOs nationwide who are realizing LSA offer appeal, economy and fun flying to flight students.

Beauty and the Bird — Do Esthetics Matter?
By Dan Johnson, December 26, 2011
Icon's A5 seaplane. photo courtesy Icon Aircraft
Even those who are not Apple fans agree the trend-setting California company's focus on design beauty draws attention to their products. From their position near the back of the pack a dozen years ago, Apple has become the most valuable tech company in the world. Could this be due to their highly-refined sense of esthetics? More to the point of aviation enthusiasts, is artful design an ingredient in pleasing customers? *** I don't know what all buyers are thinking but beauty has long enhanced the appeal of most consumer products. It seems the so-called niche aircraft producers have gotten this message perfectly well. Especially this is true for those products that have emerged since Light-Sport Aircraft burst upon the aviation scene.
Lisa's Akoya. photo courtesy Lisa Aircraft
*** Creators of new LSA seaplane designs in particular seemed to have found the religion of design esthetics. Icon leads the pack with their stunning — and extremely well presented — A5. Hot on Icon's tail (from a design standpoint though trailing far behind in orders taken) are the French Akoya and the Norwegian Equator, the latter an electric-powered aircraft still in development. *** In Europe, where gyroplanes seemed to have developed a high state of design prowess, several entries display art-book clean lines, smoothly integrating functional features into the overall design. In weight shift trikes, many solid designs exist but Florida's Evolution Revo took the lead in hitting design notes with perfect pitch.
The EQP2 is an electric powered seaplane in development. art courtesy Equator Aircraft
*** Are these advanced creations necessary because they are specialty aircraft? Perhaps. If you represent a smaller share of the aviation pie, maybe you have to run while others can walk. Regardless of the motivation, it is clear from the accompanying photos that all these companies took industrial design to a new level. In my opinion, all these shown here (and more examples exist) have broken new ground. *** So we come back to the market aspect of truly impressive design. Does it sell airplanes? Are customers captured by the shapely lines of these aircraft? As all are relatively new, only time will tell us for certain. Yet Icon's considerable success in garnering more than 700 delivery position orders is as significant as their ability to raise funds from investors.
The Swiss Arrow Copter, ironically made in Austria. photo courtesy FD-Composites
*** While I will not offer photos, the fixed wing aircraft crowd is hardly sluggish in handsome designs. The last three years have seen the debut of other beautiful aircraft including the FK Lightplanes LeMans that so captivated attendees of the German Aero show in 2011. Tecnam announced their sleek P2008 to American at Sebring 2010 after debuting the aircraft to Europeans a few months earlier. SeaMax is another seaplane with many design innovations complimented by smooth lines. You can never leave out such lovely birds such as the Phoenix motorglider with perhaps the most distinctive wings of any entry in the LSA space.
Evolution's Revo trike. photo courtesy Evolution Trikes
European producer Pipistrel turns heads with their several designs that appear born of a sailplane background. Evektor's Harmony looks great benefitting from a longtime effort of CANI (Continuous and Never-ending Improvement). The list goes on and if I tried to enumerate all of them, I'd surely miss some. *** The point is that in developing an amazing 123 new SLSA in just six and a half years, this newest-of-all aircraft sector is also paying close attention to the appeal of beautiful design. They may not profit as incredibly as has Apple Inc., but they surely inspire pilots to give a closer look at some of the finest looking aircraft in all of aviation.

FAA Amends Sport Pilot Examiner Medical Rule
By James Lawrence, December 28, 2011
Getting into the New Year garage cleanup spirit, the FAA has amended its Part 61 flight training rule, finalized in 2009, with some needed clarifications and corrections.
photo courtesy Aviation Advertiser
The stated purpose is to "revise the training, qualification, certification, and operating requirements for pilots, flight instructors, ground instructors, and pilot schools." *** The primary change as it relates to our corner of the aviation universe: Flight examiners giving the checkride for the Sport Pilot ticket do not need a medical certificate as long as they have a U.S. driver's license: i.e. the same self-certification of competence to fly requirement that governs the Sport Pilot license qualification. ***

Demystifying The Killer Turn
By James Lawrence, December 30, 2011
Everyone gets the big scare speech early on in their flight training: "If you lose power on takeoff," say our trusty CFIs, with the requisite sobering tone of voice, "DO NOT try to return to the airport if you are below X feet above ground... always find an emergency landing area somewhere ahead." *** Everyone has their favorite altitude number for "X", which is a factor of many variables, including aircraft engine off glide ratio and density altitude. Usually it's a comfortably conservative number, say 1000 feet minimum AGL.
*** There's a good reason for that cautionary buffer zone of course: many pilots — and passengers — have died trying to make the killer turn back to the airport from too low an altitude. *** In an attempt to demystify the infamous "Impossible turn", AOPA online managing editor Alyssa J. Miller goes about the worthy business of investigating firsthand just how high one should be above launch airport altitude to feel safe about turning back for that oasis of engine-out safety: the runway. *** It's all based on aviation journalist Barry Schiff's "Impossible Turn Maneuver Checklist," also replicated in the article. Miller's goal is to "find out how much altitude you need to turn around safely—not to try to turn the aircraft around in a pre-set amount of altitude." *** It's an important distinction, that difference between knowing the absolute minimum altitude you'll need vs. having a mindset of "must turn in 500 feet" to wrestle with. *** And she does a service thereby for all of us by accumulating some real world numbers. *** Taking wing, she climbed to a safe altitude with CFI Sandy Geer, then recorded several repetitions of: • simulated engine failure on takeoff • stabilizing to best glide speed • turning 270 degrees (a turn left or right dictates you will need more than just 180 degrees to line back up with the runway) • flaring, as if performing a landing • then recording the total altitude lost from pulling the power. *** Miller's best altitude loss number was 300 feet in a Cessna 172! The average altitude lost for the entire group of simulations was between 300 and 500 feet. I'm itching to try this in an LSA... especially a motorglider. *** After discussing their efforts, they each settle on a minimum above ground comfort altitude: CFI Reed's is 1000 feet AGL, while Miller says she might consider 750 feet her personal minimum. *** Both note that in a true emergency situation any number of distractions will lead to greater altitude loss, or as we say Webside: YRMV (Your Results May Vary).   *** It's a thought-provoking read, with a helpful accompanying video.   *** At Sebring next month, I'm going to add this maneuver to my pilot report flight list, which should also give me some interesting comparison figures between different models of LSA, since all flights will take place from the same airport.  *** Meanwhile, read the whole AOPA article. Update 1/4/12 — See the second part of this article on January 4, 2012.

Jabiru USA assembles the spacious and speedy J-230 with new, more attractive pricing making the model one of the best values in Light-Sport Aircraft.

The Shelbyville, Tennessee company also offers the Jabiru engine line with new 3310 and 2210 models in 2016.

J230-D & J170-D

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!

SilverLight Aviation created the first all-American gyroplane with modern sophistication and equipment, built by a proven expert. Gyroplanes like AR1 fly much like fixed wings but with real advantages.

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

AirMax designed and manufactures a wonderful Light-Sport amphibious flying boat of the same name. Created in Brazil SeaMax is a beautifully finished, high performing aircraft, the first to win FAA acceptance as a SLSA and it sets a high standard for light floatplanes.

Vickers Aircraft has created one of the most distinctive new LSA seaplanes yet to emerge. Powered by the 180-horsepower
Titan IO-340CC by Continental Motors, their Wave model is like no other seaplane ever introduced with multiple features to set it apart from the crowd.

AeroJones Aviation builds the very popular CT-series of Light-Sport Aircraft. CTLSi is the latest version... a 98% carbon fiber design
with superb performance, roomy cockpit, great useful load, and a parachute as standard equipment.

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.

Triton America started with a familiar-looking LSA model and significantly improved it, making it stronger while preserving the well-regarded flight characteristics. Welcome to a newcomer with lots of experience and their new Skytrek.

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 their new P2010 four seater, Tecnam offers these LSA: P-92 Eaglet, Astore, and P2008.

Many Light-Sport Aircraft & General Aviation models

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

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

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.

Aerolite 103 is a remarkably well priced (way below $20,000), well-equipped, Part 103 ultralight that flies beautifully. Several hundred are airborne and production has never been more solid. Here is an airplane every pilot can love and afford.

Sonex Aircraft is one of aviation's best-known brands offering exciting performance, easy building, prices to match the budgets of most pilots, and you will do business with some fine people. Taking years of success to new heights, Sonex debuted the "B" models with numerous upgrades.

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.

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?

Remos AG is the manufacturer of the next generation GXiS. This beautiful composite design built by German craftsmen offers excellent performance, light responsive handling, and a deluxe cockpit finish to please any aviator.

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.

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.

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.

Aeromarine-LSA represents economical aircraft like Merlin PSA, fully enclosed and all-metal for less than $35,000; or Part 103 ultralights like Zigolo, a dual-purpose ultralight and motorglider with prices starting at only $12,000.

Murphy Aircraft offers a wide range of highly capable aircraft from the light biplane RENEGADE to their newest RADICAL with many variations in between. Years of design and manufacturing experience combine with modern computer-based tooling to make solid, well performing aircraft kits.

American Legend has been in the LSA space since the beginning, offering their iconic yellow taildragger. The Texas company offers a full line of LSA and kit-built aircraft including the 180-horsepower Super Legend HP.

Aero Adventure offers what is likely the lowest cost boat-hull seaplane in the light aircraft space with a kit that, complete with engine, sells for less than $50,000. Add a long history to its credit and Aventura is a seaplane worthy of a close look.

Bristell USA distributes the highly-refined Bristell aircraft in North America. The Czech-built aircraft is a 5th generation design with excellent performance, wonderful handling, and a most appealing shape. Other airplanes may look similar but Bristell has gone far beyond.

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.

Glasair Aviation became famous for their Glasair series. Today the Washington state company is focused on the newer Sportsman in several varieties and on Merlin LSA. Later in 2017, buyers can buy a Merlin in fully-ready-to-fly form from this much-admired company renown for its top-tier customer service.

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.

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.

Evolution Trikes developed and continues to refine their Revo, an absolutely magnificent weight shift control aircraft (or trike). Rev is their new very affordable single place machine.

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