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


China Continues Making Deals Involving LSA
By Dan Johnson, August 26, 2014

Many Americans know that other countries can adopt ASTM standards to gain approval for Light-Sport Aircraft. One of the first to enthusiastically do so was Australia. The down-under nation also has close contacts with China, which has been buying various kinds of natural resources from Australia for years. So, when you hear an aviation company has made a deal with China, you might shrug and say, "What's new? Everybody seems to be doing it." You'd be partly right, but for Americans, most of the action seems to be with U.S. companies plus some from Europe. How about a company you probably never heard of making the deal? Let me introduce you to Brumby Aircraft, a twenty year old aircraft producer that embraced the LSA phenomenon and recently secured what sounds like a strong opportunity.

The Aussie company announced it signed a $50 million deal with a Chinese aviation conglomerate that will see Brumby Light-Sport Aircraft (photos) used in China for primary training. "The deal with AVIC is for a joint venture to produce the Brumby 600 and 610 light sport aircraft in a 10,000 square meter (107,000 square foot) specially-built factory in Fujian Province." Abbreviated as AVIC, the Chinese Aviation Industry Corporation is a Chinese government-owed company that has been expanding for several years to take advantage of the rise of general aviation in China. The company also owns Cirrus Aircraft and Continental Motors, as well as Chinese manufacturers Harbin and Nanchang. Representatives of Brumby and AVIC signed the deal at Parliament House in front of the Deputy Premier of New South Wales Andrew Stoner and local members of parliament earlier this month.

Brumby's 600 model is a low wing and the newer 610 is a high wing design. all images courtesy of Brumby Aircraft
The new Chinese factory is expected to produce 280 aircraft over the first four years of the 40-year deal, with aircraft completed in China for the local market. Aircraft for sale in Australia and New Zealand will be shipped to Brumby in components where engines, avionics, interiors, and custom painting will be done. Brumby Aircraft's Paul Goard, said the Chinese deal will free up the Australian factory to expand and to start work on the four-seat Aircruiser, as well as assembling the Light-Sport Aircraft for the Australia and New Zealand markets. The four seater is not part of the new agreement. "We've been working towards this for some time," he told Australian Flying magazine. He added that the joint venture between Brumby and AVIC will allow the enlarged company to deliver airplanes in a much shorter time. "It takes us 12 months to get a plane out now; we should be able to do it in about eight weeks," Goard said. "It's quite a big deal because only certain planes are going to be allowed to fly in China to start with, and this is a government company. Our plane will be used as a primary flight trainer in China."


WATTsUP at Pipistrel — eTrainer Flies
By Dan Johnson, August 25, 2014
Pipistrel's electric-powered WATTsUP took its maiden flight recently. all images courtesy Pipistrel

Electric aircraft continue to develop rapidly and the most visible actions are on ultralight aircraft such as Zigolo, eSpyder, or Light-Sport Aircaft (Evektor EPOS) as these are the lightest and therefore most workable candidates for electric power today. At Oshkosh we heard more about the two-seat SunFlyer in development by Bye Aerospace and those who visited the Fun Fly Zone (the place formerly known as the Ultralight Area) saw electric aircraft regularly flying as they have for several years. Now, one of the leading creators of electric airplanes is making a bigger push to offer a training-capable aircraft. As with several Pipistrel models the name is a bit unusual but WATTsUp is a two-seat electric trainer based on Pipistrel's Alpha (video). WATTsUp took its maiden flight on August 22nd. The Slovenian company unveiled the new aircraft on August 30th at a popular recreational aircraft show south of Paris called Salon du Blois.

Pipistrel said the electrified Alpha was developed in partnership with Siemens AG, a global powerhouse focused on "electrification, automation, and digitalization." Siemens provided the electric main propulsion components. "Every single element of the aircraft has been refined to be lighter, more efficient and more reliable," reported Pipistrel. The 85 kW (114 horsepower) electric motor weighs 31 pounds. A 17 kWh battery pack — the same power as used on the upgraded 2014 Chevy Volt electric car — is designed to be replaceable within minutes or charged in less than one hour. Remember, the purpose of WATTsUP is for flight training, usually done close to the airport. Performance of Pipistrel's electric trainer is aimed at flight schools with "...short take-off distance, 1,000 fpm climb, and endurance of one hour plus a 30 minute reserve," said the company. WATTsUP is optimized for traffic-pattern operations; Pipistrel observes 13% of energy is regenerated on every approach to landing, replenishing the batteries and thereby increasing endurance.

"With the ever-growing cost of fuel it is time to rethink pilot training," said Ivo Boscarol, CEO of Pipistrel. "Our solution is the first practical all-electric trainer." He said technologies developed specially for this aircraft cut the cost of pilot training by as much as 70%. WATTsUP claims to meet microlight and ASTM LSA criteria, as well as standards for electric propulsion. The company said the electric trainer is already certified in France where it made its market debut. "More countries will follow soon," believes Pipistrel, and they reported that they are applying for an exemption with the FAA to allow training operations as an SLSA. "WATTsUP is our fifth electric aircraft project and the second to result in a commercial product," said Pipistrel. The company expects to bring the final product to the market in 2015 with a target price below €100,000 or $138,000 (though remember, not having to buy gasoline will offset some of this cost).

Frank Anton, Executive Vice President Traction Drives, Large Drives, Siemens AG, said, "Siemens is developing electric drive systems with highest power-to-weight ratio for aircraft propulsion. Only with innovation we can solve the problems of rising fuel costs, rising passenger demand, and rising environmental regulations." Pipistrel said Mr. Anton is the initiator of electric aircraft development at Siemens. "As electric drives are scalable, we can expect that in the future larger aircraft will also use electric propulsion. The world is becoming electric, whether in the air, on land, or at sea." Indeed even airliner behemoth Airbus said it will enter the market for small two-seat, then four-seat electric aircraft (with a possible electric airliner to follow). The Siemens Industry Sector, based in Erlangen, Germany boasts being the world's leading supplier of innovative and environmentally friendly automation and drive technology, industrial software, and technology-based services. The Siemens division pursues product design, engineering, and production. The German giant has a global workforce of more than 100,000 employees.


MGLís Discovery-Lite Unveiled at AirVenture 2014
By Dan Johnson, August 21, 2014

A lot of attention is focused on the largest companies yet innovation and new price points are often led by smaller enterprises. A case in point is MGL Avionics' recently announced Discovery-Lite, a seven-inch electronic flight information system. "Our all-in-one EFIS is a revolution in simplicity, but harnesses the full power of the iEFIS system," stated MGL's U.S. representative. MGL is also one of the first glass panel makers to promote touch screen functionality in a full size system. The company based in Torrance, California has been shipping their iEFIS Explorer 8.5-inch and Challenger 10.4-inch systems that have allowed a now more common combination of touch screen and buttons. Let's jump to the end of their announcement. "Discovery-Lite will start shipping in the next six weeks. Projected price is under $3,000 for a complete system," forecast MGL. Imagine that! A few years ago, glass screens — albeit larger, certified versions with multiple screens — could hit $100,000 in Type Certified airplanes and now you have essentially the same capability for less than three grand ... with touch control to boot.

Discovery has a bright non-reflective seven-inch diagonal touchscreen with around 1000+ nits of brightness. "It looks, feels and operates like an iEFIS. It has the iEFIS G3 CPU and runs the exact same firmware as the full iEFIS system," explained MGL. "However, this powerhouse contains a built-in GPS, AHRS (with gyros and accelerometers), airspeed pressure sensor as well as altimeter. It also has a built in OAT sensor (an external one can be fitted). It contains a CAN bus and can be connected to any MGL Avionics CAN bus devices such as external compass, RDAC engine box and servos." Two RS-232 ports are available for connection to remote radios, transponders and ADS-B units. Discovery-Lite was conceived as a stand-alone system unlike MGL's established iEFIS systems that involve multiple, joined panels in a complex infrastructure. Discovery-Lite is specifically designed for single-screen installations where simplicity is desired and this seems particularly well adapted to Light-Sport, light kit aircraft, or ultralights.

MGL Avionics said their Lite series products are straightforward to install and will fit instrument panels for many smaller aircraft where a sophisticated EFIS is desired but without the cost and complication of a large system. "A typical Lite system would contain a Discovery-Lite panel, a RDAC for engine monitoring (if needed), and perhaps an SP-6 compass," said MGL. Discovery-Lite is envisioned as the first "Lite" release. "This will quickly be followed by a regular Discovery EFIS [and afterward] Explorer-Lite and a Challenger-Lite to complete the iEFIS range," the company said. Review all MGL offerings at their website. Discovery-Lite can be a direct replacement for the popular but now discontinued Enigma instrument. The newly-announced unit is similar in panel size but with a bigger, much higher resolution screen. "It is a powerhouse of functionality," boasted MGL.


Details and New Video about MVPís Show Hit
By Dan Johnson, August 19, 2014

Computer renderings courtesy of MVP.aero

Using the line "Your Passport to the Planet" MVP.aero (yes, that's the company name ... well, with an "Inc." on the end), this Minnesota company made a great big splash at AirVenture 2014. Not literally in the sense of a splash into the water but from a marketing standpoint, the MVPers created a tsunami of interest in their LSA seaplane entry that buoyed activity among all Light-Sport Aircraft at the show. MVP innovation showed well in aircraft features (described below) and in PR savvy, calling the "Most Versatile Plane" a "triphibian." As the company is being created near Cirrus Design HQ in Duluth, Minnesota, it may not surprise you that MVP manages takeoff and landing on pavement or turf, water, and snow. The team also brought the term "origami deck" to airplanes with the occupied area convertible in various ways with panels that "fold" into different purposes. In all, MVP represents a batch of fresh thinking that forms a potent statement about how the LSA sector breeds disruptive designs far faster than hide-bound Part 23 Type Certified aircraft that seem to need an act of congress to change a bolt. Shoot, this thing even comes with a hammock you can stretch between engine and tail. Can you imagine Cessna or Mooney offering something like that?

With great panache, MVP's team wheeled out their mockup (photo) and placed it in a deliciously prominent location at the front of EAA's 10-Year Celebration of SP/LSA exhibit right at Boeing Plaza. We didn't see anything of the wheel landing gear at Oshkosh, but it was hinted that more surprises will be announced at future shows. This company has done well to keep things private until they debuted this summer and some aspects of the all-new design are still under wraps. We also didn't see the adaptation for snow landings. Construction is a combination of glass and carbon fiber though wings are fabric covered, a big weight saver. The wing is also what's called "Hershey Bar" after the uniformly rectangular candy bar (see link below; click "Top"). This decision allowed fabricators to make a single wing rib and an example was passed around at the Oshkosh press conference for journalist to see how little weight each one adds. By using a common shape, construction cost and speed will be considerably enhanced. Check out more about the airplane at this link (it's cool and fun).

Our new video seen below will go into more detail about the upward hinging canopy and instrument pod. We'll show you some of the deployable surfaces that you store under the nose deck. You can also hear about the docking system. After taxiing close — which can be done with the canopy up, allowing better visibility and convenient egress to secure the plane to dock — the MVP pilot powers up close and shuts down the engine. One person can fold the wings, and afterward propel MVP towards the dock with a trolling motor. Integrated within the bilge pump is a useful bow thruster to help push MVP during docking. Once tied down, erect your optional camper tent (photo) and you are set for the night. The point of these many capabilities is to make MVP, well ... more versatile. Most seaplanes get you to the destination just fine but then you have to leave the plane to do whatever you planned. With MVP, you keep using the airplane into your vacation. To permit these many unique features, MVP's top engineer Mike Van Staagen said that keeping weight down wherever possible has been a primary goal.

Dock in a slip among the yachts using your bow thruster and erect your 8-foot wide, 9-foot long camper tent.
Plenty of people were interested and so a common question was, "When can I get one?" A scale model flew in 2013 and a full-size MVP should fly in early 2016. MVP.aero plans to start deliveries in 2017 as an Experimental Amateur-Built kit. An SLSA model will arrive in 2019. This may sound like a distant future but other companies have made promises not kept, so MVPers are being suitably conservative. The company forecast the factory built version will sell for a base price of $189,000 before some of the nifty options mentioned above. A quick-build kit version will be offered for $169,000 before finish work like painting. Two highly qualified centers on each coast have been contracted to build the ready-to-fly model: Glasair in Oregon and Fibercraft in Florida (appropriately, both are popular seaplane use regions). For those that find $200K too rich for a solo purchase, company officials said a shared-ownership option will be a key part of their sales plan. MVP.aero is certainly a company to watch; count on me to keep a close eye on this aeronautical wunderkind.

  • ALL SPECIFICATIONS ARE PRELIMINARY
  • Wing Span — 35 feet (10.97 meters)
  • Wing Area — 130 square feet (12.08 square meters)
  • Length — 23 feet 9 inches or 26 feet 7 inches (wings folded) (7.24/8.1 meters)
  • Height — 6 feet 5 inches (1.97 meters)
  • Gross Weight — 1,430 pounds (650 kilograms)
  • Useful Load (option dependent) — 450 pounds (204 kilograms)
  • Payload (with full fuel) — 294 pounds (133 kilograms)
  • Wing Loading — 11 pounds per square foot
  • Maximum Cruise Speed — 104 knots at sea level (120 mph)
  • Stall Speed (full flaps) — 41 knots at sea level (47 mph)
  • Maximum Rate of Climb — 1,000 fpm at sea level
  • Fuel Capacity — 26 gallons (8 liters) with auxiliary tank available
  • Powerplant — Rotax 912 iS Sport or 914 Turbo

Still want more? Catch our video with main man Darrell Lynds at AirVenture,:


Garminís Bon Voyage to a Longtime Team Member
By Dan Johnson, August 15, 2014

When a multibillion-dollar company makes an event out of your retirement ... well, that's quite something but more importantly it shows how much that enterprise valued your years. Many people inside Light-Sport or light kit aviation know Tim Casey, the jovial expert behind Garmin's hand-held and experimental line among many other products in his 23 years. "It has been a wonderful and exhilarating journey from the GPS 100 to G5000, and every product in between. I am forever grateful to have been given the opportunity to work with so many amazing people with a common goal to do whatever it takes to win the business and serve our customers," said Tim.

"This is the day that I have not been looking forward to," said Carl Wolf, Garmin's vice president of aviation marketing and sales. "For many years Tim has been the face of Garmin's aviation business ... everyone knows him. Tim has fun every day and you can't help but laugh along with him as he tells stories about his experiences."

In December of 1990 after working as an air traffic controller, Tim noticed a job posting from a small company in Lenexa, Kansas for an Aviation Marketing Manager. Throughout a series of interviews, Tim vividly recalls Garmin co-founder Gary Burrell handing him the GPS 100 and asking, "What do you think?" Tim politely asked a few questions and offered some suggestions. "After several meetings with Burrell, co-founder Dr. Min Kao, and Senior Flight Test Pilot, Doug Carlson encompassing a total of six interviews, Tim was hired as (roughly) the 25th employee on March 1, 1991," reported Garmin.

The most memorable show for Tim was in 1995 at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin when Garmin introduced the GPS 90 (photo), which featured an aviation navigation database, complete with a moving map, runway diagrams, airport frequencies and airspace alerts. According to Tim, over 4,000 GPS 90 units were sold during the week of EAA AirVenture that year. As Tim Casey wraps up 23 years at Garmin and an entire career in the aviation industry that "gets in your blood," he said, "I've been blessed to wake up everyday and never have had to work a day in my life."

In 1983, Gary Burrell recruited Min H. Kao and in 1989 the two men founded ProNav. The new company's first product was a GPS unit which sold for $2,500. The company changed its name to Garmin, reflecting the first names of its two founders and in 1991, it secured the U.S. Army as its first customer. By 1995 Garmin's sales had reached $105 million and in 2013, revenues totaled $2.6 billion, of which $339 million was from aviation, its fastest growing sector last year. The company's stock symbol is GRMN.


Affordable Bearhawk LSA Quick-Build Kit at Oshkosh
By Dan Johnson, August 14, 2014

Are you lusting after a Cub lookalike but can't afford the steep price tags these popular flying machines carry? How about something much more affordable? A taildragger called Bearhawk has picked up accolades from AirVenture judges and owners appear very loyal. Sometimes those of us close to factory built Light-Sport Aircraft tend to forget about the homebuilt community. However, more pilots exercising the privileges of Sport Pilot are flying kit-built airplanes than ready-to-fly models, a trend that is likely to continue because a kit represents a lower cost option and one where the owner can more easily do all repair work. Let me clarify, though. Bearhawk is Sport Pilot eligible (using a term my longtime EAA friend, Ron Wagner, coined); it is technically not a Light-Sport. Bearhawk LSA made its debut at AirVenture two years ago as a prototype constructed by its designer, Bob Barrows. Recently a customer flew the first completed kit.

Bearhawk Aircraft owner/builder Mark Goldberg completed the first Bearhawk LSA quick-build kit, N514AK, and flew it to AirVenture last month. The trip from Texas took 9.7 hours cruising at just under 100 mph while burning 4.5 gallons per hour. Portions of the flight were done at up to 118 mph consuming 6 gph Mark said. Goldberg's Bearhawk uses a Barrows-engineered 105-horsepower Continental Motors O-200 engine under the cowl. Following a four seat model, Bearhawk LSA is "a clean-sheet design with an all-new airfoil, developed by Harry Riblett," said Barrows. Construction is similar to other Bearhawk aircraft, with fuselage and tail surfaces of welded 4130 chromoly frames covered in fabric. The all aluminum, flush riveted wings are supported by a single strut. Bearhawk designs are popular for their solid performance and pleasant flight qualities. The designs are known for short field capability, gentle slow speed manners, yet manage reasonably high cruise speeds. The legions of folks buying Cubalike designs can consider Bearhawk and save a bundle while flying faster, not a bad combination. Bearhawk is available as a quick-build kit from the Austin, Texas company.

Empty weight of Bearhawk LSA is 750+ pounds, depending on equipment an owner installs, yielding a useful load of 570 pounds. With 30-gallon tanks full of fuel, payload calculates to 390 pounds. Of course local flying can be done with less than that large amount of fuel; the 31-inch-wide cockpit will accommodate a couple big fellows in tandem seating (photo). As the airplane is designed for a maximum weight of 1,500 pounds, Bearhawk boasts an additional margin at the 1,320-pound LSA limit. A quick-build Bearhawk LSA with no welding required and wings completed to a significant extent — including full riveting of the top skin, fuel tanks, and ailerons — costs $36,000. The welded steel frame has all tabs in place and is primed and painted. Even with exterior paint, avionics, and a new O-200 engine, a completed airplane may cost less than $80,000 or about half of a basic model CubCrafters. Other engine choices (65 to 120 horsepower is supported) can further hold down the expense, especially if you find a good used powerplant. Here are additional specifications of Bearhawk LSA:

  • Cruise Speed — 115-125 mph (100-110 knots)
  • Landing Speed — 30 mph (26 knots)
  • Range (with tanks full at 30 gallons) — 650 pounds
  • Wing Span — 34 feet
  • Wing Area — 171 square feet
  • Length — 22 feet, 3 inches
  • Height (in three point position) — 75 inches
  • Cabin Width — 31 inches
  • Cabin Length — 97 inches

Bearhawk LSA nearly achieves the design holy grail of 4:1 top speed to stall speed (118 to 30 mph) but most importantly, here's an unpretentious aircraft you can probably afford. If you want to study first, plans-only are available at just $275. For more information on Bearhawk Aircraft visit the company's website, contact Bearhawk by email, or call 877-528-4776 (Central time).


Van's Aircraft Authorizes US Aviation of Texas
By Dan Johnson, August 13, 2014
An RV-12 owner departed from US Sport Planes after his first 25-hour service check. photo courtesy US Sport Planes

Van's Aircraft has been creating highly successful designs for decades; more than 8,750 RV kits have been completed and are flying. Over 20,000 kits have been sold, cementing this Oregon company as the most successful kit aircraft company in history. In the last couple years, Van's has enlisted Synergy Air to fully build and deliver their RV-12 Light-Sport Entry. Before the ready-to-fly project began Van's had delivered more than 250 kit versions; the fleet of both kit and factory built RV-12s keeps growing. When that happens, many buyers — especially those who elected to purchase a factory-built '12 — need quality places to obtain services for their airplane. Recently a Texas aviation powerhouse, US Aviation and their US Sport Planes division, was approved as a Factory Authorized service center for the RV-12. Company executive Scott Severen, a longtime recreational aircraft enthusiast and businessman, has been very successful at securing similar approvals from many of the top LSA manufacturers. US Sport Planes has also been a Rotax Service Center for several years and has more than 20 A&P mechanics on staff.

"Van's Aircraft has recognized US Sport Planes of Denton, Texas," reported the company. "We received good comments from our customers about US Aviation. We are pleased to have them assist our customers in the central U.S.," commented Scott Risan, President and General Manager of Van's Aircraft. RV-12 owners can expect services such as oil changes, conditional inspections, plus major structural repairs. US Sport Planes avionics shop is approved as a Dynon installation and service center.
photo by Ed Hicks

"This is a natural flow for us as we service the bigger RVs already, and have a depth of knowledge of the LSA world. We are fortunate to assist RV owners and we strive to make it very convenient to have reliable work performed," reported Severen who serves as Director of Business Development. US Aviation is based at the Denton Airport north of Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas. The business provides a full range for Light-Sport services as well as certified single, multiengine, and turboprop maintenance as FAA 145 Repair Station U9FR750K. Sport Pilots will appreciate that US Sport Planes is a LSA-friendly, full service FBO that offers exceptional amenities at Denton Airport (KDTO). The operation is open every day and sits outside the DFW Class B airspace. "We often provide return flights for customers bringing their aircraft in for service and your plane enjoys a complimentary wash with service," assured US Sport Planes.

For more information on Van's Aircraft services (or many other LSA), contact Scott Severen by email, call 940-297-6446, or visit US Sport Planes' website.


Crumple Zones Coming to Light Aircraft
By Dan Johnson, August 12, 2014
Flight Design's coming C4 four seater; it will fly in fall 2014.

For more than 100 years, cars have had accidents and if they were severe enough, the results were poor (photo). This was long before seat belts, airbags, breakaway steering columns, padded dashboards, and many other features we take for granted today. It was also before the concept of crumple zones. Typically, crumple zones are located in the front part of the vehicle to absorb the impact of a head-on collision because 65% of crashes are frontal impacts, according to a British study. Crumple zones accomplish two safety goals: They reduce the initial force of the crash; and they redistribute the force before it reaches the vehicle's occupants.This idea has been around more than 60 years and has become standard in the modern era of passenger car design. One of the first examples of crumple zone research is coming from Mercedes-Benz in the mid-1950s, so perhaps it is fitting that some of the first crumple zone technology to be applied to light aircraft has the sponsorship of the German government along with German industry players.

German aircraft producer Flight Design, which most readers recognize as one of the leading companies in manufacturing Light-Sport Aircraft, is deep into development of their new four seater, called the C4. This is one of a flock of what I've called the "New GA," and what my journalist friend Marino Boric calls "LSA 4.0." (I like his phrase and will probably adopt it as this website delves deeper into such emerging aircraft.) Flight Design has teamed up with a group of German companies and government entities in creating the first edition of crumple zone methods for light planes. "We are pioneering a new safety technology," noted company technical director Oliver Reinhardt at a press conference at AirVenture 2014. Flight Design USA, the German producer's importer for North America, has long supported safety technologies, for example, choosing to install BRS airframe parachutes as standard equipment in their CT line of LSA. Oliver stated that the C4 is the "Lead User" as they strive to create what Flight Design calls the "Occupant Protective Safety Box." The company will enter into full-scale testing this year. Their C4 will fly in a month or so and expects to arrive on the market in the next couple years.

Crumple zones are areas of a vehicle that are designed to deform and crumple in a collision. This absorbs some of the energy of the impact, preventing it from being transmitted to the occupants. According to HowStuffWorks, "Simple designs can include frame segments built to bend in certain areas or collapse onto themselves. More advanced designs can utilize a variety of metals and other materials carefully engineered to absorb as much kinetic energy as possible. High-performance cars often use a honeycomb design, which offers stiffness under normal conditions, but can collapse and crumple in a crash." In airplanes, the ideas are similar but airplane designs do not have the luxury of adding much weight to meet the crash forces. While cars also strive for lightness — consider Ford's new aluminum body F150 — airplanes must stay on a strict weight diet. Most pilots will be interested to know this will not be proprietary to Flight Design, as Mercedes Benz attempted with patents back in the '50s.

More LSA producers are getting involved with what might be called LSA 4.0.
Flight Design has worked in concert with the German government and many leading technical groups to create a "Safety Box" system to protect occupants. While Flight Design is the lead airframe provider for the concept, the methods discovered will be made available to all brands. Once techniques have been evaluated and proven to add safety values, all LSA and LSA 4.0 producers will have access to the study and testing. Flight Design may have it first due to their industry collaboration but company officials agreed with design team members this is too important to try to keep private. I wish to observe that other aircraft currently use elements of impact design. Even the ultralight CGS Hawk and lightplanes such as Belite have well conceived structures that helped pilots survive crashes yet to my knowledge no comprehensive study has been undertaken. As Flight Design and their partners move forward, I will look to update this introduction to crumple zones for airplanes.


World Aircraft's New/Old Open Cockpit LSA
By Dan Johnson, August 11, 2014

As we scoured the sprawling acreage of AirVenture 2014 for aircraft we had not seen before, one flying machine confused my eye. Surveyor looked approximately like a Lockwood Drifter or maybe a single engine version of Drifter's big brother, the twin engine AirCam. Since I like both Drifter and AirCam a great deal, taking that view of Surveyor is a form of high compliment. My video partner and I spoke to World Aircraft director Eric Giles and shot a video that will soon be available. Surveyor has no relationship to Drifter or AirCam but it does have a long heritage. The designer of all World Aircraft models — Spirit, Vision, Surveyor, and low-wing Freedom in development — is Max Tedesco, a talented engineer from Columbia. Many years ago, he created the open cockpit Surveyor and ten aircraft were sold to Cuba to provide aerial sightseeing for that island's tourists. "They never bought any more," noted Eric, and while a few more were sold, this machine took a back seat to other, fully enclosed designs.

"I'd like to introduce you to Surveyor," said Eric, "an aircraft that is both a fun machine and a utility workhorse." Surveyor is an all-metal, high-wing, tandem pusher with open cockpit frame by several robust steel components. While we reviewed the aircraft in preparation for shooting the video, several passers by remarked at how solid the structure appeared. As originally designed for tour companies operating off beaches in Cuba, Surveyor (as it is now known) carried three people. A tourist couple could sit alongside one another in the back, a more comfortable, enjoyable, and reassuring arrangement for people not familiar with flying a light aircraft. A single pilot sat in the front seat. For the U.S. market, Surveyor may have only two seats but both occupants will get a wind-in-their-hair feeling that understandably worked well in a resort setting. Eric observed that in other countries Surveyor can be outfitted for banner and glider towing and an ultra low volume or microspray system would allow Surveyor to be used for agricultural or insect control. (In the latter case, a homebuilder farmer can use such a machine on his own property.) Because Surveyor, like all Max Tedesco designs, has a 1,653 pound gross weight, the back seat can be converted to carry a 53-gallon hopper to hold crop treatments.

World Aircraft is not shortchanging Surveyor. The company is using the state-of-the-art electronic circuit breaker system from Vertical Power (red box). Watch for a video on their products soon.
Surveyor is proceeding through ASTM standards compliance and should be available in the last half of 2014, said Giles. Also in the latter half of 2014, World Aircraft plans to offer all models available in kit form; ELSA and Experimental Amateur-Built. Thinking about the agriculture use potential, it is worth noting that EAB kits have no gross weight allows 51%-built kits to be registered at their design gross weight of 1,653 pounds, yielding a useful load of more than 900 pounds, according to World Aircraft. A recreational pilot certificate or better with a medical is required to fly an EAB aircraft. The "Sport Edition" of World Aircraft's Spirit lists for $87,9950, a number that qualifies as quite a bargain in today's fleet of Light-Sport Aircraft. (That's less than $70,000 in 2004 dollars after adjusting for inflation since LSA burst on the scene ten years ago.) Surveyor has not been priced yet but logically it should be less given less material cost. "WAC builds ready-to-fly aircraft that are significantly less costly than any comparably-equipped light-sport aircraft on the market today. They are built in our new 23,000 square foot facility at Henry County Airport (KPHT) in Paris, Tennessee. Airframe painting involves a twice baked process in WAC's double-downdraft, triple-airflow paint booth. You can watch some short video animations of World Aircraft structure here. Further Surveyor specification follow:

  • Wing span — 29.6 feet
  • Wing Chord — 55.9 inches
  • Wing Area — 137.6 square feet
  • Length — 22.4 feet
  • Design Gross Weight — 1,653 pounds; this weight permitted on EAB models
  • U.S. LSA Gross Weight — 1,320 pounds
  • Average Empty Weight — 675 pounds
  • Fuel Capacity — 28 gallons

While updating you about World Aircraft's new Surveyor, I went back to update an earlier article. Please click the link to see a clarification of my description of a Serbian Light-Sport candidate.

Nearby you see how Surveyor looks on floats as used at beach-side resorts. The structure is well designed for this application. Note that this aircraft is fitted with two aft seats as described above.


Carbon Composite Part 103 Glider / Motorglider
By Dan Johnson, August 10, 2014

For your weekend enjoyment — and because I am a soaring enthusiast ... plus I was sent some interesting photos — consider this slick Part 103 glider, or motorglider (photo). Radek Hucik sent photos of the aircraft performing at a Czech soaring content, where it placed 12th out of 34 competitors. Considering most of the others appear to be conventional sailplanes, one that meets Part 103 at much less weight did well. A high end sailplane can hit or exceed a 50:1 glide angle. This is an amazing performance mark, which translates to flying nearly ten miles from only 1,000 feet of altitude. The XS-12 Saggita manages 35:1 (more specs below) and that is a noteworthy achievement for such a light aircraft. Radek wrote, "[This is] a powered glider that my colleagues and I have developed over the past 20 months. The glider is designed so that it meets Federal Aviation Regulations Part 103 [for] Ultralight Vehicles. As the photos show, Saggita can be powered or unpowered. A self-launching sailplane has some independence that an unpowered glider does not have. Normally they are air towed in the USA and often winch towed in Europe.

all photos courtesy of Radek Hucik

Radek continued, "I have been involved in designing and building composite fuselages and other parts for various ultralight aircraft for over 20 years. I have built the motorized glider Sagitta with my colleague Vadimir Duchacek. Static and flight tests were performed by LAA inspector Milos Dedera, one of the best glider pilots in the Czech Republic. The glider exhibits stable behavior even at a stall speed of 45 km/h (28 mph), and the rudder is effective at this speed." Radek later added, "To safely meet the stall speed of 24 knots (45 km/h or 28 mph) at maximum takeoff weight of 230 kilograms (507 pounds) span will be increased to 12 meters (39 feet), wing area to 9 square meters (97 square feet)." Landing speed is 50 km/h (31 mph) without flaps reports Radek and descent speed at 90 km/h 56 mph) is 0.6 m/s (a 140 foot per minute sink rate). To learn more about this Part 103 glider / motorglider, contact Radek by email.

Saggita's tail wheel is built into the rudder. With a mounted wheel near the winglet, the aircraft will be able to taxi around an airfield from hangar to runway and execute turns with a radius of six meters (less than 20 feet). "The engine can be fastened in front of the vertical tail area and aerodynamically shielded to achieve the least resistance," said Radek. Alternatively an engine can be configured to emerge or be hidden in the fuselage. "Our effort to build a clean aerodynamic aircraft is also motivated by the possibility to adopt electric power," he added. "This aircraft should reach its maximum flying performance with low energy consumption" ... the holy grail of the electric aircraft movement today. Following are additional specifications for Saggita:

  • Wing span — 11 meters / 35.75 feet (See change above to 12 meters)
  • Length — 5.8 meters / 18.85 feet
  • Wing Area — 8 square meters / 86 square feet (Changing to 97 square meters)
  • Empty Weight — 115 kilograms / 253.5 pounds
  • Gross Weight — 230 kilograms / 507 pounds
  • Max Speed — 150 km/h / 94 mph
  • Stall Speed — 45 km/h / 28 mph
  • Glide Angle — 35:1
  • Minimum Sink Rate — 0.6 meters/second / 140 fpm
  • Powered Climb — 2.0 meters/second / 390 fpm
  • Fuel (in wings) — 19 liters / 5 gallons

Sailplanes line up for launch in the usual pattern of such events. The tidy assembly permits the fastest towing of gliders so that all gain the benefit of good soaring conditions. Saggita appears closest to the camera.


Post-AirVenture 2014 News Review
By Dan Johnson, August 8, 2014
MVP.aero's new LSA seaplane was a great draw to EAA's 10th Year Celebration of Sport Pilot & Light-Sport Aircraft. Watch for more details and a video on MVP soon.

Summer's big show is over and most aviation business folks are back home having that love/hate affair with email that piled up while we worked the event. On whole, the success story is strong. Airplanes sold, crowds were good, accidents were few, and the weather was not smoking hot like it has been in years past (though brief rain showers kept folks dashing for cover on occasion). EAA says attendance was up from last year, that the numbers of airplanes was higher, and that campgrounds reached capacity by midweek. EAA's special 10th Anniversary of Sport Pilot/Light-Sport Aircraft Exhibit drew well all week with 17 aircraft representing all sectors within the SP/LSA space. Visitors could hardly miss the wonderfully central space AirVenture planners offered for this one-year display. With the front corners presenting a bright green Van's RV-12 plus the freshly debuted MVP seaplane attendees were practically compelled to wander the space and see all the flying machines.

More than 2,500 people had some hand in building this Zenith CH-750 in a single week of AirVenture 2014. The aircraft flew shortly after the show ended. photo courtesy EAA
Tecnam enjoyed a strong show of sales as did several other vendors in what appears to be a much-improved 2014 market.

Big Light-Sport and general aviation aircraft producer Tecnam reported good sales success at AirVenture Oshkosh following on their strong performance at Sun 'n Fun when they also announced their U.S. base at the Sebring, Florida airport. Tecnam said they processed three orders for their Twin multiengine trainer and sold two P2008 and one G5 Eaglet Light-Sport aircraft. Officials from the Italian company noted especially strong interest in their new P2010 four seater in development under EASA and U.S. Part 23 rules. They forecast a product debut for the American market in the "near future." Twenty Ten's large cabin, front and rear passenger doors and comfortable interior along with Garmin avionic packages should interest many GA pilots thinking of something newer than their aging legacy models. We didn't survey vendors about sales at the show but generally heard 2014 is a markedly improved year and we conducted about 40 new video interviews with many company leaders. One of those regarded the Bushcat on floats. Their folks reported two ready-to-fly LSA models and a kit sold at the event.

SuperSTOL pilot and designer, Troy Woodland, was honored at AirVenture 2014. photo courtesy Just Aircraft

Just Aircraft continued to turn heads and drop jaws with their impressive SuperSTOL's amazing performance. The company reported that partner and key designer Troy Woodland (photo) was selected by the EAA for the prestigious August Raspet Award in 2014. This honor is given annually to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the field of light aircraft design. "Woodland began designing in the 1990s, but it was his SuperSTOL that set him apart as he explored new technology in the design," said Just. SuperSTOL features self-adjusting slats on the leading edge of the wings, Fowler flaps, hydraulic strut landing gear with more than 20 inches of stroke, and a locking, shock-absorbing tail wheel. Troy is currently in the process of refining spoilers that deploy with the ailerons to increase roll response, especially at very slow speeds. The SuperSTOL also include tundra tires to cushion landings at very high angles of attack. Woodland follows earlier winners such as Curtiss Pitts, Burt Rutan, Dick VanGrunsven, and Pipistrel. "It took a while for the meaning of the award to sink in," said Woodland, "but then I realized that I'm joining a very exclusive club and it is truly a humbling experience." Troy refers to the tough, bush-capable SuperSTOL as his "creative effort toward making airports optional." Congratulations, Troy!

The largest directory of all the world's light aircraft is out with a fresh edition.

Plenty of Light-Sport enthusiasts who attend airshows have come to know a man in a blur of motion: Willi Tacke. A German with a quick smile and seemingly boundless energy is a magazine impresario for the light aircraft set. He publishes several magazines and does so for English-speaking markets along with editions for French, German, and Chinese enthusiasts. At AirVenture 2014, some of us saw the first copy of the World Directory of Light Aviation 2014/2015 (WDLA). This thick publication with 268 full-color pages provides images, descriptions and technical data for more than 1,000 aircraft including ultralights, microlights, LSA, gyrocopter, ultralight helicopters, certified aircraft, kit aircraft, weight shift trikes, gliders, motor-gliders, instruments, engines, propellers, and accessories. Readers can find addresses of manufacturers, importers, associations, flight schools, and more; several indexes help you sift through the mass of information. WDLA is published in four languages: English, French, German and Chinese. You can buy it through shops in many countries and by mail order; find out more at Flying Pages shop.

Stay tuned for more AirVenture 2014 news ...


Affordable EMG ... Electric Motor Glider
By Dan Johnson, August 3, 2014

Electric Motor Glider in prototype form with its "sustainer" motor showing at the rear of the cockpit enclosure (detail photo below).

Update 8/8/14 — See our video interview about EMG at the end. An unpowered EMG — or Electric Motor Glider — from Adventure Aircraft has already taken 400 flights; it has also been fitted with a small electric motor ... complete with carbon folding prop. A new Experimental Amateur Built (EAB) two seater is now taking shape and both variations were on exhibit at AirVenture 2014 in the newly named Fun Fly Zone (formerly Ultralight Area). EMG's spark is provided by the dynamic duo of Brian and Carol Carpenter of Rainbow Aviation, well known for their LSA maintenance courses including the LSR-M (Light-Sport Repairman Maintenance) credential that has prepared many mechanics to do serious work on the growing fleet of LSA. EMG builder Adventure Aircraft is a subsidiary of Rainbow. Evidently this hard working pair aren't fond of wasting many hours with something so mundane as sleep because the project is unfolding quite swiftly. Their vigorous pace to propel EMG's future success depends to a significant degree on parallel development of new technologies, primarily battery development.

EMG prototype's "sustainer" electric motor is used after tow launch from a ground vehicle.
EMG development has become more visible in the last year after taking its first flight in December 2013. Early flights were conducted as a glider towed up by a Honda Quad Runner. EMG's gross weight is designed at 750 pounds to allow for several variations on the theme. For example, EMG can be built as a compliant Part 103 ultralight vehicle and later converted to an EAB, creator Brian Carpenter explained. Both Part 103 and EAB versions can be operated with multiple electric motors — a much less complex proposition than using multiple liquid fuel engines. A glider pilot can fly EMG solo as an EAB with multiple electric motors without needing a multiengine rating or a medical, according to Adventure Aircraft. EMG offers folding wings and tail and has a single large shock-absorbing centerline wheel. The removable "training wheels" use three quick-release pins that need only 30 seconds to remove. Such standard gear is useful for training and when maneuvering the aircraft with its wings folded. EMG is equipped with full-span flaperons that extend 30 degrees down and 8 degrees upward in what's known in the sailplane world as "reflex." Manual elevator trim helps the pilot adjust stick pressures though Brian reports EMG exhibits very stable and forgiving flight qualities.

EMG is a mix of customer fabricated aluminum box-and-truss plus part from kitbuilder, Quicksilver Aeronautics.
If parts of the EMG look vaguely familiar to you, good eye! Adventure Aircraft is collaborating with Quicksilver Aeronautics on the manufacturing of EMG. "Wing covers are built by Quicksilver and we are obtaining many parts from them," said Brian. He explained that his enterprise has been representatives for the iconic Southern California company for many years and the new management of the company led by President Will Escutia has become a willing partner as Adventure gets ever closer to production of the EMG. Quicksilver is rapidly strengthening and serious player with a new SLSA model, growing U.S. and international distribution, and diversity represented by the connection with Adventure Aircraft and EMG. Quicksilver supplies numerous hardware components to Adventure, with tubing in their signature blue anodizing and the longtime kit producer builds wing coverings using sewn Dacron similar to that used on their powered aircraft line.

Carol Carpenter sits in the front of Adventure Aircraft's two seat Experimental Amateur Built model in development. It will use two electric motors (details in article).
"Theoretical flight of three hours are possible with current technology," forecast Brian (emphasis ours). The next, two seat prototype will be flown with two 20-horsepower Predator 37 motors from Plettenburg of Germany while the original proof-of-concept prototype seen at AirVenture 2014 had a single "sustainer" motor emerging at the rear (photo). Video on Adventure Aircraft shows this aircraft in operation. "Motors, controllers, batteries, and props are all off-the-shelf components of the giant-scale RC aircraft industry," said Brian. The airframe is a unique, new creation. Keep up with the development by following Brian's often updated progress blog.

If you are as enthusiastic as I've become and want to consider purchase, what will an EMG set you back? Adventure Aircraft lists a Part 103 or Experimental Amateur Built Fast Build Kit for $16,000 before the electric propulsion system. If you can do "some welding," EMG is even more affordable at $12,000. As Brian explained in our video interview, "While you build the kit in preparation for electric power, the state of technology will continue to advance." Components like batteries are going through intense development and as with computer technology, the longer you wait the better — and cheaper — it gets, so why buy those elements until you are ready for them? If you want to check out the kit effort before diving in, Adventure will sell plans for $300 and you can upgrade from that point.

Watch our video with Brian Carpenter, developer of EMG Electric Motor Glider:



Glasair Shows Merlin Mockup; Will Build MVP
By Dan Johnson, July 31, 2014

Although not previously known for any involvement in the Light-Sport space, longtime kit aircraft producer Glasair Aviation is jumping in assertively for 2014. At Sun 'n Fun, the Arlington, Washington company debuted their Merlin and to AirVenture 2014 they brought a full-size mockup. They also participated in the standing-room-only press briefing for the new MVP.aero seaplane. Why? Because Glasair will be one of two initial build locations, handling the Western states while Port Orange, Florida-based Fibercraft will produce for Eastern states. I'll offer more on the MVP arrangements in another report on that header-turner design unveiled at AirVenture. Yet this association means Glasair will go from no presence in LSA to taking a significant position in short order. MVP production won't start for more than a year, but Glasair's Merlin project is ambitiously aiming to hit the market in 2014, according president Nigel Moll. Glasair is famous for the their flagship Glasair II and III, speedsters of the sky in the Experimental Amateur Built category and for their well regarded Sportsmen two seater. Besides the Merlin, Glasair has other new projects such as offering the Centurion diesel engine in their Sportsman and all this flurry of activity is a benefit of their new Chinese owners, Jilin Hanxing Group.

The mockup at AirVenture 2014 didn't have any installed but Glasair is planning upward swinging gull-wing doors. It already sports a control stick that significantly resembles a similar system employed in Cessna's now retired SkyCatcher. This design choice keeps a stick from arising out of the floor, which makes entry easier for occupants and a 46.5-inch cabin nearly matches the widest cockpits among LSA. Merlin's panel setup was beautifully done as were its seats and general interior finish. The panel can hold dual Dynon 10-inch SKyView Touch screens (a single screen is standard) and is angled inward on facets on each side to make switches or instruments more accessible and readable to the pilot or passenger. Glasair will install the new Rotax 912 iS, said Moll. He stated that Merlin will sell for around $150,000 to include many items that are optional on many LSA. Indeed, Nigel said that the only options are a second SkyView Touch screen with an autopilot for an additional $10,000 and a parachute, which would also add approximately $10,000 to the purchase price. While other LSA are similarly equipped for about the same price, Glasair can benefit from its established position in the homebuilt community where it is well known. Merlin will be offered ready-to-fly, for the first time in its history broadening the company's product line beyond kit aircraft.

Leading specifications promoted by Glasair for the Merlin include stall speed 39 knots, cruise speed 105 knots, and useful load 530 pounds. The company forecasts a top speed of 120 knots, maximum takeoff weight of 1320 pounds, empty weight of 790 pounds, wing span of 31 feet 9 inches, wing area of 132 square feet, length 21 feet 8 inches, height 8 feet 8 inches, baggage capacity of 50 pounds, and fuel on board of 24 gallons. With the Rotax 912 iS, that much fuel could give endurance of six hours with no reserve or a range of close to 650 nautical miles. I think it may be somewhat challenging to get to market in 2014 since the model has not flown yet and still needs to go through the ASTM standards plus successfully complete an FAA audit likely required as Merlin is a new model yet Glasair has a lot of experience to bring to bear and has adequate funding thanks to its Chinese ownership. While it shares a familiar name, Glasair's Merlin does not resemble an earlier Merlin offered out of Canada. Nigel confirmed this Merlin has nothing to do with the long gone entry from our neighbors to the north. As Glasair continues their entry to the LSA space with Merlin first and MVP later, I'll keep a close eye on this western company. We shot a video with Nigel at AirVenture; watch for it in the next couple months as our video partner is able to complete the editing for this and dozens of new videos we are capturing at AirVenture 2014.


MVP.aero...Photos and Art of a Versatile New LSA
By Dan Johnson, July 27, 2014

A standing room only crowd just walked out of the pre-opening Sunday press conference held by the MVP.aero folks. This airplane has been in the works for many months but principals have done a masterful job of what might be called the "Apple approach." The giant iDevice maker jealously guards their press announcements and does well considering how many folks would love to blow their cover and tell the world what Apple plans before the company does. Kudos to MVP.aero (yes, that's the name of their company) ... it was founded by a father and son team of software experts and they clearly know how to play that game; they kept their secret very well. To bring you the fastest breaking news, what follows is a series of photos. I look forward to fleshing out the story as time moves forward, but for this post, the pictures are worth more than thousands of words. So look and enjoy; stay tuned for more as Oshkosh kicks off. Oh, one more thought about MVP.aero at AirVenture 2014. While waiting for the press briefing to start, I overheard some journalists talking. These were folks who report on the heavy iron, King Airs, Embraer bizjets, and such. Yet they agreed between themselves and declared, "That aircraft outside, that new LSA seaplane, is probably the hit of the show." They gave the emphasis and again, these were folks who don't usually cover light aircraft. Of course, their view is subjective, but I found it interesting, and well ... you judge for yourself and see if the Most Versatile Plane meets qualifies as a hit.

MVP.Aero's main men (before they had a chance to change into their press conference logowear): Mike Van Staaggen (L), Darrell Lynds, Mike Lynds, and Steve Pugh.


Final Newsbits Before AirVenture 2014 Starts
By Dan Johnson, July 26, 2014

Garmin's new 7-inch G3X Touch paired with their 10.6-inch display.
Garmin has a new smaller version of their very impressive G3X Touch. I examined this at Sun 'n Fun when it was debuted in the 10-inch screen and came away highly impressed after two reviews on videos. For a billion-dollar company Garmin remains passionately inventive and surprisingly nimble. They keep the heat on now introducing a 7-inch G3X Touch display, described as "a high-resolution infrared touchscreen display designed for experimental amateur-built and Light-Sport Aircraft to compliments their existing 10.6-inch G3X Touch system." Pilots and homebuilders concerned about instrument panel height and width constraints should be pleased to have the 7-inch option. All G3X Touch displays support Connext that allows wireless flight plan transfer between the company's Garmin Pilot app on an iOS or select Android mobile device. "A well-equipped 7-inch G3X Touch system, which includes SVX, video input, a built-in WAAS GPS receiver, ADAHRS, magnetometer, OAT probe, interactive mapping and more, starts at $4,599," said Garmin officials.

Wheel and brake developer Beringer introduced this 4-inch wheel for smaller aircraft along with other new products.
Beringer is another company that simply won't slow down. Or, is that right? Honestly, Beringer people go to work every day literally trying to slow down, specifically to slow down your aircraft. The French wheel and brake maker with operations in the USA keeps its engineers working hard and has several new products ready for AirVenture 2014. One that caught my eye as it could work so well for smaller, lighter aircraft is their new 4-inch wheel. These small wheels that ought to work well for ultralights or in light LSA weigh only 39 ounces. Beringer said these are "powerful brakes with a single-piston caliper with sintered metal pads and floating disc." They say maintenance is easier thanks to sealed ball bearing and no tire tube. The 4-inch wheel is appropriate for aircraft weighing 330 to 770 pounds. All Beringer products carry higher price tags to cover the advanced state of their technology and their finely finished hardware. The new wheels are $459 each for wheel, brake, and disc. The company also offers a new 6-inch wheel for STOL and Light-Sport Aircraft that use a robust 1.5-inch axle that supports tundra tires. Of course, this is the same company with the excellent anti-groundloop tailwheel as discussed here.

Van's Aircraft along with fully-built partner Synergy offers this new dual large screen Dynon panel.
Van's Aircraft, their SLSA-building partner Synergy Air, and Dynon Avionics announced availability for a dual screen SkyView Touch option for the factory-built RV-12, available starting September 1st this year. "An option for twin large screens of Dynon's touch-based system provides a larger view of mapping and the ability to share information across screens," said Van's Aircraft. "[This also offers] redundancy in the rare event that one of the screens fail." Van's added that the second large screen on the right side of the panel gives better access to flight information for passengers and copilots while improving the airplane as a platform for flight training. Van's advises the second large screen costs only $4,545. "The base price of an RV-12 S-LSA remains at $115,000 [and] the fully equipped model with all available options, including dual screens, is now $128,845. See more at one of the two RV-12 exhibits at Oshkosh. Van's and Synergy have aircraft at both the Van's booth and the 10th Year Anniversary LSA Exhibit at show center. For more, visit the official RV-12 SLSA website. Dynon also announced availability of their new SkyView 11 software with more than "60 new features and improvements." Video appearing on screen is one of these new upgrades.

Sam Aircraft is bringing this "X-ray view" Sam LS to AirVenture 2014 wherei it is sure to appear in many photos.
Sam Aircraft's Thierry Zibi seems to prepare well for airshows. He first used airshows to collect information from potential buyers so that he created an airplane with customer interest already developed. The result was a distinctive retro look that is unlike anything else in the LSA space, a sort of 1950s fighter appearance but with all the modern features. After getting Sam LS in the air this French Canadian entrepreneur made the rounds at all the top shows and succeeded at securing several good pilot reports including my article. To Oshkosh, he will bring a very distinctively decorated Sam LS that may remind alert observers of the similarly fetching exterior finish shown by the folks at Icon Aircraft at last year's AirVenture. Come see this unusual treatment at North Aircraft Display 626 where all the kit companies tend to cluster. Those not attending AirVenture (too bad, so sad) will surely see this airplane in many pictures taken by media people and passers by.

AirVenture 2014 is "Disneyland for Airplanes" and we can hardy wait for the event to start. Stay tuned for more ... !


First Searey Amphib Flight School & Design News
By Dan Johnson, July 24, 2014

It's summertime and the flying is easy ... especially when it's on the water. That's fine for everybody who is already qualified. What if you're new to seaplanes (or LSA in general)? How could you obtain instruction if you want to buy a new Searey? Training is optimal when done in a very similar airplane if not the same exact model you have in mind. Insurance companies may require aircraft-specific preparation. "With the addition of a [factory-built] Searey to its fleet, Chesapeake Sport Pilot flight school has become the first flight school in the world to offer flight training on the popular amphibious light sport seaplane," said spokesperson Helen Woods of the Stevensville, Maryland company. Chesapeake also teaches in other LSA models. Chief Flight Instructor Woods reports 300 Seareys flying in the U.S. and over 500 flying world wide. "Until now, it was often difficult to obtain quality training to fly a Searey," said Helen, "since a pilot had to own his own Searey before receiving training." Chesapeake supplies a Searey as part of their training course.

Chesapeake's Searey is well equipped for training: Rotax 912 engine; Advanced Flight Systems EFIS; Garmin GPS with XM weather and TFRs; and a carbon fiber hull. "It has all of the equipment we need plus a good useful load," explained Woods. Helen and fellow Chesapeake instructor Dan Wroe are both accredited as Searey flight instructors through the Searey Flight Instructors Association. This assures quality and standardization of training as well as offering better insurance rates from certain insurance companies for students who train under accredited Searey instructors. Chesapeake offers a variety of training options for Searey students including seaplane ratings, tailwheel endorsements, flight reviews, and insurance checkouts. Find out more at 410-604-1717, via email or Chesapeake's website.

Progressive Aerodyne, the Tavares, Florida-based designer and manufacturer of the Searey has been busy lately. While the marketing efforts have been establishing a base camp in China), engineers lead by founding designer, Kerry Richter have upgraded the well-established aircraft. The company announced a new Frise aileron design that can be fitted to all new factory-built and Searey kit airplanes. According to Progressive Aerodyne engineers, the freer airflow aileron "provides Searey airplanes with more balanced and responsive control, especially in severe conditions and wind gusts." The company reported that it conducted extensive static load and flight testing on the new aileron and the results exceeded design standards and expectations. Implementing such improvements is far less costly and time consuming for LSA under ASTM standards airplanes compared to Type Certified aircraft under FAR Part 23. Progressive Aerodyne said, "The new aileron can be retrofitted for experimental LSX and SLSA models and owners interested in retrofitting them may contact the manufacturer. Engineers also created a new sliding canopy design that can be open in any position during flight and now offers an additional three inches in height. The prototype canopy will make its debut at AirVenture 2015 where you can take a seat and see for yourself. Finally, Progressive Aerodyne will be previewing their 2015 look with a stylish new paint scheme. Seaplane and aviation enthusiasts are invited to space #12 at the Oshkosh Seaplane Base (free bus transportation is available from AirVenture). A Searey will also be on display at the EAA 10th Year Celebration of SP/LSA.


Zigolo Cracks the China Market as Part 103!
By Dan Johnson, July 23, 2014

Chip Erwin flies Zigolo at Sun 'n Fun 2014 using electric power. Read our pilot report article by British writer Dave Unwin.
I didn't see this one coming. Maybe you didn't either? In the new millennia gold rush represented by companies either being bought by Chinese businesses or gaining investment from wealthy Chinese business people or by setting up shop to sell in China (or even Cessna's ill-fated effort to have their Skycatcher manufactured in China), one element I've never heard of is Part 103 in China. This least-regulated-of-all aviation category is solely an American thing, isn't it? Well ... yes and no. Germany has opened the door to a Part 103-like development in that country under the 120-kilogram class (using a number that is 264 pounds or very similar to Part 103's 254-pound empty weight limit). England has their SSDR class (SSDR being the abbreviation for Single Seat De-Regulated). Despite following those developments, I've never heard a word about China and any less-regulated sector.

Zigolo on display at the Jingmen airshow in China.
"The first Zigolo in China was introduced to the public in that nation on July 17th at the Jingmen Airshow," reported representative Chip W. Erwin. The example was supplied in kit form by Aeromarine-LSA of Lakeland, Florida and Chip assembled it in just three weeks. Erwin, many will recall, was the main man behind the SportCruiser that ranks high in the U.S. market. After getting pushed out of the company he founded by an aggressive investor, he established a new enterprise in China. So, the following announcement might be expected, "Concurrently [to the aircraft's debut], a Zigolo assembly facility was established in the AVIC R&D center in Jingmen to supply the Chinese market with Ready-to-Fly (RTF) Zigolos." Now, here's the part of their announcement that caught me by surprise. "The Chinese CAAC recognizes the FAA Part 103 rule," Chip related, "which means that Chinese customers can actually fly legally and fly now in China, something that has not been so easy in LSA or other GA aircraft to date." No kidding! Virtually everyone agrees the China market for aircraft is potentially enormous, but the key word is "potentially." It is developing but seems in well in the future. Maybe not.

Here's the gasoline engine; the electric-powered version is shown at top.
If Chinese authorities permit Part 103 aircraft now, Zigolo could have a near-term impact on that market. Given its extremely low price, many Chinese flying enthusiasts could climb aboard. "The Chinese have been shipping thousands of RTF radio-controlled (RC) model aircraft to the USA," notes Erwin. "Now they will have the capability to build a man-carrying light aircraft for their own market. Chip noted that the technology and design gap between large RC aircraft and this ultralight motorglider is small; with the coming electric-powered version of the Zigolo, the gap narrows further. Want to know more? Zigolo is presently available to Americans in kit form with typical build time estimated at about 150 hours. Delivery positions are now available for the RTF version and first deliveries are planned for later in 2014. Come get a closer look at both electric- and gas-powered Zigolo ultralights at Airventure Oshkosh 2014. Watch how each flies in the ultralight area — now referred to as the "Fun Fly Zone" by area organizers. Oshkosh attendees can find Zigolo at booth 939. Aeromarine-LSA plans to offer an Oshkosh show special for new orders. I love the tagline Chip invented as it sums up the well-priced, simple aircraft — Zigolo: everything you need, and not much else.


Evektor with Dynon Earns EASA Type Certificate
By Dan Johnson, July 23, 2014

The very first aircraft ever to receive approval in the USA as a Light-Sport Aircraft is Evektor-Aerotechnik's SportStar. No challenger can ever take away that title yet the company has continually developed this pioneeering airplane and recently achieved a new level of approval ... one that alters the landscape in a way I predict we'll see more as FAA's Part 23 rewrite project progresses. "Following several months of certification process EASA has approved glass cockpit Dynon SkyView [as] SportStar RTC," Evektor announced. RTC stands for Restricted Type Certificate. It is not identical the U.S. Part 23 Type Certificate — representing a somewhat lower level of government oversight — but a company earning this has to jump through many regulatory hoops. "SportStar RTC has become the first EASA certified aircraft approved with the SkyView glass cockpit [by proving] compliance with certification requirements of the EASA CS-LSA regulations. Dynon's SkyView, recently upgraded to permit touch functionality, is widely known and used on Light-Sport Aircraft.

The first SportStar RTC with Dynon's SkyView will be delivered to France [and put into service by] Air Club Les Alcyons, one of the biggest clubs in the Paris area. Along with gear from Dynon and Garmin, Evektor said, "The aircraft will have also Apple's i-Pad Mini installed, bringing extended convenience and functionality in the cockpit." All these components from LSA stalwarts Dynon and Garmin are increasingly paired with Apple's ubiquitous tablet computer used in many industries and widely employed throughout all levels of aviation from airliners to ultralights. "With the advanced SkyView glass cockpit, ballistic recovery system, low operating costs and excellent training platform the SportStar RTC represents the most innovative solution for air clubs and pilot training organizations on the global market today," added Evektor. A top-ranked supplier to the U.S. market Evektor also does well overseas, reporting more than 1,300 aircraft have been delivered. Evektor has solid American representation through Dreams Come True and AB Flight.

This older SportStar (with Canadian registration) features LAMA founder Larry Burke in the Pilot-in-Command seat.
As everyone headed to Oshkosh for AirVenture 2014 finalizes their packing and preparations, one historically significant Light-Sport Aircraft is doing likewise and may, just possibly, appear at the space EAA has provided for the 10th Anniversary Celebration of SP/LSA. Evektor owner, E. W. Rogers wrote to offer this: "I am flying a SportStar to Oshkosh this year ... it is the first one sold in USA, and has about 800 maintenance-free hours on it." At the EAA space near the newly renamed Boeing Plaza, look for the special EAA space, which will have at least 17 aircraft on display, including most leading brands of Special LSA plus weight shift, powered parachute, gyroplanes, and some "vintage" aircraft that Sport Pilots may fly. ••• Those going to Oshkosh may also want to attend a forum about the decade-old sector on Tuesday July 29th from 1:00 to 2:15 PM in Honda Forum Pavilion 7. The presentation will feature EAA boss Jack Pelton; FAA honcho Earl Lawrence; original FAA rule writer Ron Wojnar; industry leader Tom Peghiny of Flight Design USA; Rotax engine expert Eric Tucker; FAA Sport Pilot specialist Mark Giron; and ... yours truly.


Airbus Goes Electric and Small (with Big Ideas)
By Dan Johnson, July 21, 2014

Airbus recently showed their all-electric E-Fan at the Farnborough airshow. photo from Inside EVs
As we all get packing for Oshkosh where we'll see all manner of aircraft, one of the biggest manufacturers revealed one of the smallest airplanes at another airshow: Farnborough in England, an event dominated by military and airline producers. More surprisingly, Airbus announced at Farnborough that it would put into production their all-electric-powered E-Fan. Big aircraft, the buses of the sky, are good at moving people to their destination. However, they are very noisy and consume oceans of fuel leading to more pollution. Can this situation improve? Is it even reasonable to consider an electric-powered airliners? Some experts scoff at the idea but Airbus' E-Fan made a powerful, if relatively quiet, statement.

Airbus' E-fan made its first flight at a French airport near Bordeaux on March 11th this year. The project reportedly evolved from work with the tiniest airplane most AirVenture visitors have seen. Airbus used an electric-powered Cri-Cri as a test bed to develop their battery and energy management technology. E-fan is presently a tandem two seater though Airbus said a production version will have side-by-side seats. The small plane is 22 feet long and has a wingspan of 31 feet and the prototype weighs 1,100 pounds; this sounds rather heavy for a two seater but remember it's carrying plenty of weight in batteries (Airbus did not specify how much). Two electric motors drive two ducted fans mated to variable-pitch propellers. With a 120-cell lithium polymer battery, E-Fan can fly for one hour with a 15-minute reserve. Powering the motors are a series of 250 volt lithium-ion polymer batteries made by the Korean company, Kokam. Batteries are mounted in the inboard section of the wings (see second video) and can be recharged in one hour, said Airbus. Engineers also installed a backup battery onboard for emergency landings if the main battery power has been consumed.

E-Fan uses tandem, retractable gear with outrigger wheels. photo by Franklin Polanco
As the photos show E-Fan has tandem, retractable undercarriage made up of a nosewheel and a larger main gear, something like the original Europa that used a massive single wheel. Airbus engineers designed E-Fan to taxi using electric power. The main wheel is driven via chain from a 6 kW (8 hp) electric motor. The big company said this results in more noise reduction and the powered drive wheel can silently accelerate the plane up to 37 mph. Doing so reduces power drain versus employing the propellers to move around on the ground. E-Fan's twin electric motors are enough to propel the small airplane to a top speed of 136 mph and a cruise speed, with two people aboard, of about 100 mph.

Airbus plans both two and four-seat versions of E-Fan, called 2.0 and 4.0, which could arrive by 2017. The company said it believes its E-Fan 2.0 can find a market in pilot training. Airbus reportedly plans to build 100 E-Fan test aircraft to gather data for the program. Going even further, Airbus believes electric aircraft will become important in coming years as a way to cut greenhouse-gas emissions from conventional aircraft exhaust and to offer quieter planes. Noise isn't just an issue for people living near airports; quieter planes could be flown at hours that would unacceptable for noisier conventional airlines so companies could schedule more flights, Airbus noted. They hinted at plans for an all-electric or hybrid 90-seat passenger plane. The European company also thinks it is possible to build an all-electric helicopter.

"Even electric commercial airliners are in the works. In Europe EADS, Airbus' parent company, has proposed the VoltAir ducted fan engine that would power commercial airliners," writes Low-Powerdesign.
E-Fan uses ducted fans, which places a fan-type propeller mounted inside a cylindrical shroud, or duct. The duct reduces losses in thrust from the tips of the props although to be effective close tolerances are necessary probably driving up costs. Ducted fans generally use an odd number of shorter blades than convention props allowing them to operate at higher speeds. Using an odd number of blades reduces resonance in the duct. Conventional props tips approach the sound barrier so they are turned at lower speeds which requires more diameter. A shrouded rotor can be as much as 94% efficient, experts say and ducted fans are quieter than conventional propellers because they shield the blade noise and reduce intensity of the tip vortices. Ducted fans can also offer enhanced safety on the ground by protecting people against spinning props. Learn more about ducted fans.

Catch some good closeups, flying footage, and onboard camera views in this YouTube video of the Airbus eFan single seater.

Here is the official Airbus video on the development of E-Fan. If you look very closely, you'll see some features, for example, a BRS parachute flag, and details about battery placement.


Versatile LSA Seaplane to Debut at AirVenture 2014
By Dan Johnson, July 14, 2014

MVP.aero wants to tempt you to come by EAA's 10th LSA Anniversary Celebration exhibit at AirVenture 2014.
An entirely new Light-Sport seaplane will make its "global debut" at EAA AirVenture 2014 and this is one you'll want to see up close and in detail. As with a number of other persons, I have been briefed on this new entry and, like the others, I signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement to keep the new project under wraps until company leaders were ready to reveal their new flying machine. At the coming summer celebration of flight in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, everyone will finally get to see what has excited many of those NDA signers. Airshow visitors will see a mockup, but if the full-size concept looks even remotely as good as it did in the computer presentation I was shown, be prepared to be blown away. This boat hull aircraft has features you've never even contemplated much less seen on any previous offering. You can guess some of what I'm writing about by their tagline for MVP, "The World's Most Versatile Plane." That's a big claim as we already have many good seaplane designs and more will be following. Yet after they get a chance to examine MVP, I think many may find the boast not out of line.

On the day before AirVenture opens this year, that is, on Sunday July 27th, MVP.aero officials will make a presentation to invited media. By opening day Monday, the full-size mockup will be available for review by everyone attending EAA's 10th Anniversary Celebration special exhibit near Boeing Plaza, right in the heart of the giant event. Come visit and see MVP along with a wide range of Light-Sport Aircraft or aircraft that Sport Pilots can fly.

I'm not the only one who has been impressed with an private preview of MVP. Cirrus Design cofounder Alan Klapmeier, now CEO of turbine aircraft developer Kestrel Aircraft Inc., said, "The MVP is a game changer." Another aviation big shot, Jim Irwin, owner of Aircraft Spruce and Specialty, commented, "In my 30 years in aviation, I have never seen aircraft features such as these."

I've known Mike VanStaagen since before Cirrus Design won FAA Type Certification for their SR20 back in 1998. More recently, he has acted as lead designer for the Cirrus single engine Vision Jet being created by the successful Duluth, Minnesota company. Mike has since moved over to MVP.aero to head design of the new LSA seaplane. "They asked me to design the aircraft of my dreams [and] this is it," he said.

If those comments and my enthusiasm for innovative LSA seaplane design has piqued your interest, go bookmark the MVP website. You won't presently see anything more than I've told you here, but after the company's media debut as AirVenture 2014 opens, the website will be populated with more detail. Based on the quality of the imagery I was shown, I imagine you'll want to spend some time looking at all they publish online. I plan to have more once the company goes public on the day before AirVenture 2014 starts. Summertime LSA seaplane flying is getting truly interesting. Stay tuned!



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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!

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.

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.

SkyCraft Airplanes is Americaís 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.

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

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


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.

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

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


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.

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

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?

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.

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 Lycomingís IO-233 engine.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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