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

California Power System Announces Rotax Classes
By Dan Johnson, January 22, 2017

Maybe you missed the last series of classes. Maybe you simply weren't ready yet. Maybe you just joined Club Rotax (meaning your aircraft is powered by the popular Austrian engine). Whatever the reason, the more you know about Rotax engines, the better your flying experience.

Rotax Maintenance Classes — If you are a professional or wanna-be pro in the maintenance or overhaul of Rotax engines, you must take factory-approved training. You have choices in such training by recently California Power Systems announced a series of classes.

Rotax 2-Stroke Service Course is for technicians wanting to rebuild or maintain all water-cooled and air-cooled 2-stroke Rotax aircraft engines. Learn to perform a complete engine rebuild with failure analysis and a focus on preventative maintenance. —March 6-7, 2017.

Rotax 912 / 914 Service Class is for technicians wanting to service 912-series engines or owners wanting to do their own scheduled maintenance. This course will give any FAA A&P or LSA Repairman certificate holder the credentials to perform all scheduled maintenance and level #1 troubleshooting procedures. —March 8-9, 2017.

Other classes include: a 912 / 914 Maintenance Class for technicians wanting to perform more in depth maintenance tasks. —March 10-11, 2017; 2 Stroke and 912 / 914 Renewal Course for current iRMT license holders. —March 12, 2017; and, a 912 / 914 Heavy Maintenance Class for professional mechanics. —March 13-15, 2017.

All classes are held at California Power Systems' training facility at the Chino Airport (KCNO). Visit the CPS website for all details. You can also call Bryan Toepfer at 800-247-9653 x302 or email Bryan.

See California Power Systems representatives at Sebring Expo 2017.

What Effect Will “BasicMed” Have on Light-Sport?
By Dan Johnson, January 17, 2017

Tecnam's handsome Astore helped celebrate the company's 65th anniversary in business.
Are excited general aviation pilots kidding themselves about BasicMed? At least one prominent light aviation expert thinks so and judging from comments I've received, I am inclined to say this is much more common than some want to believe.

The number of inquiries or comments I have received compels me to speak to this subject. Several readers or viewers asked variations on this question, "Will this have an adverse effect on Light-Sport Aircraft?" I'll offer my response and then add some other comments.

Aviation medical reform is nearly complete (BasicMed becomes effective May 1st). Many pilots may be waiting to qualify. Most need only to fulfill the requirement for an online evaluation every two years (free from AOPA) plus needing to see a doctor every four. If they did not earn a third class medical in the last 10 years, they must get that out of the way first. This is potentially a big problem as many let their medical lapse for various reasons.

The good news: Light-Sport Aircraft or Sport Pilot-eligible kit aircraft trigger no such requirement.

The Airplane Factory's Sling is available as a two-seat LSA or a 4-seat kit.
Aviators from the LSA and Sport Pilot-eligible aircraft community are generally pleased that some pilots will be able to acquire airplanes from the used GA fleet at low cost or continue to fly the one they already own or rent. The fleet averages nearly 40 years old but that also means lower asking prices (though BasicMed demand could nudge the prices upward).

However, the appeal remains strong for a new LSA at an affordable price or a used LSA at a reduced cost. These roomy, up-to-date aircraft commonly have modern fuel-efficient engines, highly sophisticated equipment including glass panels, and feature low operating costs with performance to match many GA airplanes, albeit with two seats. Light kit aircraft offer broad customization at modest expense. All can be flown with no medical proof other than a valid driver's license.

When the rule change was first proposed five years ago, LSA sales took a nose dive. That body blow to a young industry segment has long since been absorbed and pilots who want a late-model aircraft have been choosing from dozens of models that are now well-established in the market and boast good safety records.

Contrary to some naysayers, LSA has been a global success. Today, LSA and LSA-like aircraft represent well over 60,000 units worldwide with annual sales around 3,000 new units. That last figure is about triple the number of new Type Certified aircraft delivered annually, according to recent reports. Find more details on LSA around the world in this article.

Remos debuted their slick new GXiS model at AirVenture 2016.
"As for the current [BasicMed] proposal, it is not the open medical idea that the LSA pilots enjoy," observed Eric Tucker, longtime industry expert and technical representative for Rotax in the Americas.

"The 'hoops' put in by the FAA make [achieving BasicMed] anything but simple," he added. "There are still checks, there are still evaluations that make this far more complex than the LSA medical we currently have."

Eric summarized noting that, given those fresh "hoops," LSA will not lose its appeal due to the medical changes for pilots.

"After reviewing the new requirements, the so-called relaxing of the medical for pilots, I am rather surprised at the pundits' responses," elaborated Eric. "This is not at all the same as the LSA rule. Indeed this is in some ways worse than what they have at the moment, in my opinion. You now have people who have to go to a doctor who will be unsure of what is really required and perhaps reluctant to sign off on a certificate that they know so little about."

Eric suggested asking yourself these questions: "Will doctors unfamiliar with aviation be willing to sign off for aviation medicals? Will they be willing to take on the responsibility for this in light of the legal response, if it should occur (as it no doubt will) that a pilot has a medical issue while flying after seeing a regular doctor? I think that the positive thoughts expressed today by some might change when we recheck this in a few years. Time will tell."

"The LSA rule is far better," Eric concluded. "People should be made aware of this."

Levil Aviation Makes iLevil 3 Do Even More
By Dan Johnson, January 13, 2017

In the new world of BasicMed — got that shortened phrase in your vocabulary yet? — more pilots seem likely to return to the air. While some worry about what this means for sales of Light-Sport Aircraft and light kits that can be flown without a medical, I'm not worried. In fact, more pilots returning to the skies means more prospects for LSA airframe manufacturers and sellers, including pilots selling a LSA they already own. Welcome back to blue skies, aviators!

One company deserves to be in the focus of those returning pilots as well as the legions of current recreational or sport pilots (...that is, those of you who haven't been sweating the medical requirement because you have been flying your LSA and light Sport Pilot-eligible kits). I refer to a company that is a neighbor of mine here in Florida: Levil Aviation.

Levil makes those little boxes that are capable of making your iPad much more useful. Without Levil, these screens do some great work, no doubt. Yet they can do much more! Now, Levil Aviation has a new-and-improved iLevil 3 that I want to describe for you.

iLevil 3 boasts all the same features of units past (dual band ADS-B, WAAS GPS, AHRS*) and adds the following — an ability to accept a standard SD memory card which will record and save all of your flight information. This information can then be transferred into an Excel spreadsheet to present a clear picture of your flight (position, airspeed, altitude, attitude, and more).

For those of you who enjoy X-Plane on your computer or device, iLevil 3's data is saved in FDR format allowing users to replay their flight in X-Plane Flight Simulator. Cool, huh?

The central Florida company sees this recording feature becoming a useful tool in this industry, for example, in a flight school environment to recreate a training flight in a safe, calm environment. Or, those doing flight testing in a new aircraft can now have access to valuable information with minimal effort and costs.

Levil Aviation marketing man Larry Rivera added, "Available on the iLevil3 AW model (the bolted-on unit; see photo, lower right) is a new optional GPS source meets the position source performance requirements for ADS-B out in the experimental aircraft market (according to FAA regulation 91.227)." Further the newest AW model can communicate with currently installed transponders (mode-S), to activate extended squitter, meeting the 2020 ADS-B mandate on experimental and Light-Sport. Levil recommends using one of Trig Avionics' transponders for this capability.

Levil general manager Ananda Leon said, "We always strive to enhance our current products by looking for ways to add functionality and usefulness to the instruments we manufacture. As a company that is owned and operated by pilots for pilots, we try to add features that we feel would make the overall flying experience safer, informative, and fun."

Levil Aviation was the first to manufacture a standalone AHRS* unit for iPad, eventually developing and introducing the iLevil all-in-one avionics products for iOS and Android leading to the release of the iLevil 3.

*AHRS is an abbreviation for "attitude and heading reference system" using sensors for three axes to provide attitude information including roll, pitch and yaw.

Paul Poberezny’s Home Like You’ve Never Seen It
By Dan Johnson, January 12, 2017

Have you ever flown the ultralight area pattern at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh? Quite a few readers of have done so or have at least seen their buddy's photo or video while flying above the world's most famous airshow.

Usually the aerial views you see are of the jam-packed area to the north with giant military airplanes, bizjets, and innumerable groupings of all manner of aircraft from spam cans to homebuilts and everything in between.

Those of us who love light (lightest) aviation are drawn to the ultralight area... "down on the farm" ...the area now cleverly named "Fun Fly Zone." If you fly the weirdly shaped pattern of the ultralight area, you have almost certainly seen EAA founder Paul Poberezny's house with a view that might look something like the one above (courtesy Google Earth).

"Pope Paul" died August 22, 2013 at the age of 91 after a amazing career spanning more than 70 years of flying and building arguably the most interesting member organization in aviation.

Back in 2004 and 2005, when I consulted EAA about the then-new Sport Pilot / Light-Sport Aircraft initiative, I visited Paul at his final home. I was focused on my talk with the man but he showed me around his mini-museum on the premises. That was a too-brief but highly personal glimpse of aviation history as captured by Paul.

I didn't see all he had in his collection but maybe now I'll get another chance.

Aircraft Spruce & Specialty announced, "[We have] purchased the former home of Paul and Audrey Poberezny in Oshkosh and will make the home available to the EAA for tours and special events." The original stone farmhouse is over 100 years old.

"This home hosted many of aviation's leaders and icons. [It houses] countless aviation artifacts and photos representing the relationships and events that shaped Paul's remarkable life ... providing insight into the lifetime passion and vision of one of aviation's greatest leaders," added Aircraft Spruce.

"Contact EAA for details on visiting the Poberezny home beginning in the summer of 2017," advised Aircraft Spruce. Cool! I'll bet many will take them up on this opportunity. Thanks to Aircraft Spruce for preserving this aspect of American aviation history!

What Are Pilots’ “Most Important Issues?”
By Dan Johnson, January 5, 2017

Update 12/6/16 — According to AOPA Online, "The Federal Aviation Administration has reviewed the AOPA Air Safety Institute's aeromedical online course and confirmed that it meets the third class medical reform requirements that Congress created last summer. Pilots would need to complete the course, which AOPA will offer for free, every two years in addition to seeing their personal physician every four years to operate under the law.

These steps are NOT required for anyone flying a LSA or Sport Pilot-eligible kit aircraft.—DJ

What issues are "most important" to general aviation pilots for 2017? Are "general aviation" pilots different than those of you who read The second question can only be answered by each of you, independently.

My guess is that while you might consider yourself a GA pilot, you might also — or distinctively — consider yourself a "recreational" or "sport" pilot. Whatever label you prefer, I found the following chart of interest. The question was posed in an earlier edition of Aviation eBrief and after some compilation they released the results. I don't know the current count of eBrief readers but it was once something like 65,000. Neither do I know, nor do they state, how many responses were used to compile these stats. My guess is that it was a large enough sample to be valid.

Here's the Shock Cub (Outback Shock in America) offered by SportairUSA . Its price is far below the well-selling CarbonCub and a fraction of any new GA model.
The survey asked about "third class medical reform" even though this has already been done... well, done in the sense that the plans are now laid but not yet fully implemented.

AOPA reported, "Medical reforms have been passed by the House and Senate, and signed into law." This action occurred on July 15th, 2016, even before last summer's Oshkosh. The survey was done since that time.

So, still the biggest single issue is "Third class medical reform?" Hmm, seems odd to me but I found it on the Internet so it must be true.

The number two issue — hot on the heels of the number one issue — was the "Cost of flying." It was not defined what cost this meant. Perhaps it was the overall cost. Or cost of operation. Or both. Likely, this was somewhat in the eye of the beholder.

Conclude what you will but I found it fascinating that the medical and the cost of flying comprised two-thirds of the pilots responding. The values sum to 100% so you were permitted one answer.

The sleek and highly refined BRM Aero Bristell is a handsome, superb-flying choice, a model in perhaps its fifth generation of evolution.
BOTH issues have been squarely addressed by Light-Sport Aircraft for more than a dozen years, yet these remain the leading issues for GA pilots? Have they not looked at LSA? Do they not consider LSA "real" enough airplanes? I ask these questions without knowing the answers, but it seems to me some pilots are overlooking capabilities and values of LSA and light kit aircraft

Sure, I know some LSA are priced beyond what many pilots can afford. Yet lower cost options abound, with prices well below $100,000 and a few selections closer to $50,000 and even that is for fully-built, ready-to-fly aircraft. What about kits, some of which can get airborne for $30,000. If you accept alternatives like trikes, powered parachutes, or gyros, the "cost of flying" can be held quite low. At even lower cost are ultralights, some below $20,000, less than the average price of a new car.

I have to wonder what these two-thirds of respondents are saying. Keep your aircraft choice under 1,320 pounds and you address both top issues. Do you get it? I don't.

If you don't receive Aviation eBrief and if you want it, you can sign up here. It is free. All of it may be of interest but it tends to focus on general aviation (i.e., certified aircraft) and only occasionally delves into recreational aviation or Light-Sport Aircraft.

Sky Writing 2.0 — Flight Tracks in the Sky
By Dan Johnson, January 3, 2017

Christian Majunke (R), CTO of REMOS, hands over the keys for GXNXT serial number 448 to Yeng Cheng and Prof. Dr. Juergen Pannicke from German Light Aircraft, the Remos dealer for China and Taiwan. This aircraft will be shipped to a customer in Taiwan.
Almost every year at AirVenture Oshkosh, some pilot or team of pilots performs some sky writing, that is, trailing smoke while flying precisely enough that you can read what they are writing from the ground.

The slow script building of the letters captivates the attention from tens of thousands on the ground; of course, many are pilots who are compelled by their interest to watch any airplane gyrations. I also enjoy these aerial penmanship exercises. However, in the 21st Century and with the looming 10th anniversary of the iPhone, perhaps it's about time aviation caught up to the tech wave.

In this story two Light-Sport Aircraft went aloft for a whole different sort of sky writing, call it Sky Writing 2.0. In this exercise the scale is vastly larger and the challenge is perhaps greater as the letters cannot be seen, not from the air or on the ground or by the pilot. However, they can be seen on the GPS track displayed on various devices. Websites and apps come into play, in this case FlightRadar24.

On Monday, December, 12th, Remos engineers Paul Foltz and Christian Majunke took off for a special holiday flight from Pasewalk, Germnany,, headquarters of Remos. They "wrote" the words "Merry Xmas" on FlightRadar's map while flying over Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in a Remos GXiS.
First up, Remos Aircraft offered a Christmas greeting, though to keep the flight a bit shorter, they used a common (if somewhat bothersome to evangelical Christians) abbreviation of "Xmas."

In announcing this aerial ballet, Remos said, "2016 was a very exciting year for the entire Remos team. In April we introduced the new Remos GXiS at Aero Friedrichshafen, and in summer we brought our new airplane to the EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh."

I had a chance to fly this bird with an old friend Patrick Holland-Moritz, now involved with marketing for Remos. GXiS a beauty. Read about that flight here.

"[Since then] we flew many hours without any issues," reported Remos. "We expect the certification both as German Ultralight Aircraft and U.S. SLSA very soon and are good on track for the European certification as LSA."

As the German company looks forward to a fresh year year with new ideas and projects, they added, "We would like to thank all our customers and partners for their support. We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy new year."

A related story appearing on CNN Online continues the theme with the other holiday celebration... New Years.

I don't know if the British pilot saw the work of the Remos pilots but I could not resist this double story.

As CNN reported, Ben Davis, a recreational pilot from Buckingham, England accepted a challenge of delivering an aerial message to the screen in your hand, laptop, or on your desk.

Ben took his Evektor EV97 (similar to the Sportstar though clearly an earlier model) on a cross country flight but he flew in straight lines only part of the time. His goal wasn't to get somewhere, but to spell "Happy NY" on Flightradar24 as that website tracks flights all around the globe.

"Flying enthusiasts also use the website to log their [non-commercial] flights," wrote CNN reporter Alex Leininger. The message he was able to spell by his flight path can be seen on a map accompanying the flight details (nearby photo).

UK pilot Ben Davis tweeted, "Here's a ... Happy [New Year] to you all." He reported flying 215 miles taking two hours and 23 minutes. "Cheers," Ben said!
"Seeing as it was going to take over two hours to complete, I didn't fancy flying far away to try," Davis said. "The trick was to make it one continuous line, starting and stopping the radar track log back on the runway." To my eyes, Ben appeared to have succeeded handily.

Ben reported his "sky writing" trip took two hours and 23 minutes and covered 215 miles between the towns of Royal Leamington Spa and Milton Keynes.

"It's my first-ever attempt and I'm pleased with it," Ben said. "If I'd made a mistake when almost done, I'd have had to scrap it and start over."

In the USA, Evektor is represented by Dreams Come True.

Aeropilot Legend 600 Is Newest Special LSA (#143)
By Dan Johnson, December 30, 2016

Doesn't the newest SLSA resemble an aircraft you know? Can you place it? Welcome Aeropilot Legend 600 imported by U.S. representative Aeropilot USA, which received a Special LSA Airworthiness Certificate from FAA on September 21st, 2016. After a bit of delay, we've now added Legend 600 to our 143-aircraft-long SLSA List.

Deon Lombard is the American rep. He comes from an aviation family following Anton Lombard, a World War II pilot who founded Safair Freighters in South Africa. They report this was the nation's first air cargo service and is now the largest air cargo company in the country. An aviation engineer by training, Deon created a flight school in South Africa and now runs Fly Light Sport California in Fullerton.

First introduced in Europe at the 2011 Aero Friedrichshafen show, the Czech-based manufacturer said, "Legend was designed as an 80%-scale version of the very successful Cessna 182, with two passenger seating for [European] Ultralight or LSA." They added, "But [Legend 600] actually has more passenger room than the Cessna." Aeropilot's European model is called Legend 540.

Aeropilot Ltd., began to plan production of the 600 kilogram (1.320 pound) Legend 600 in late 2014, building the first in 2015 for an Australian customer. For several years, the southern hemisphere nation has accepted the ASTM standards, allowing compliant Light-Sport Aircraft to be sold down-under. In May 2016 that first Aussie Legend 600 completed a 2,800-nautical-mile round trip circumnavigating all of southern Australia.

According to the Czech producer, "LSA Legend 600 is intended for elementary pilot training ... and for traveling." Low operating costs allow lower cost pilot certificates, said Aeropilot. "Great performance and extra utilizable load allow comfortable and fast traveling. LSA Legend 600 is full-composite [high] wing monoplane made of sandwich materials." Desginer Jaromír Smékal used modern composite techniques to achieve a lower empty weight that increases useful load."

Legend 600's fuselage is constructed using sandwich technology with a carbon composite material. Legend's wing is constructed similarly.

We are "introducing the Aeropilot Legend 600 starting at $85,000," said Aeropilot USA, "with the Starter Package [equipped with] the minimum required for daytime, VFR flight. "Great for the pilot who doesn't plan to enter controlled airspace." Legend retails for approximately $100,000 with the Trainer Package. Prices always change as does the equipment list, so email the California company for current pricing.

As the new pink airworthiness card proves, Aeropilot's Legend 600 complies with LSA standards. The aircraft is powered by a Rotax 912ULS swinging a three-blade Woodcomp prop. With 29 gallons of fuel on board, the carbon fiber Legend 600 boasts a flight endurance of seven hours equating to "approximately 700 nautical mile range."

Aeropilot Legend 600 specs: Empty weight 728 pounds (depending on options); Gross weight 1,320 pounds; Stall with flaps 30 knots (35 mph); Cruise speed at 75% power 113 knots (130 mph); Range 700 nautical miles (807 statute); Climb rate at sea level 1,375 feet per minute; Luggage capacity 66 pounds. All specifications are according to U.S. representative Aeropilot USA.

Welcome to Deon and the Legend 600 that now (somewhat belatedly) appears on our SLSA List. Hopefully we'll see the Cessna 182 lookalike at one of the major shows where we might capture video of the new model.

Happy New Year to all readers of!

Glasair’s Merlin LSA Coming to Sun ‘n Fun 2017
By Dan Johnson, December 23, 2016

Glasair Aviation (previously Stoddard-Hamilton) is a storied aircraft company in the USA that has since 1980 manufactured aircraft kits. Previously, they achieved broad recognition for the Glasair II and III series of speedy retractables in several variations. They struck gold again with the Sportsman (formerly GlaStar) with its rugged capabilities. The company reports more than 1,200 of their aircraft are flying.

Merlin LSA is the company's newest model and its first foray into fully-manufactured, ready-to-fly aircraft. This newest addition gives a complementary stable of aircraft entries to the Washington State enterprise now owned by Chinese investor and businessman, Tieji Fang.

Merlin is a composite high-wing using tricycle-gear airplane that flight schools prefer. Merlin uses a Rotax 912iS engine and has chosen Advanced Flight System glass-panel avionics (a company now associated with Dynon). An optional BRS parachute system is in development. Not offered as a kit, Merlin LSA carries a base price of $149,950.

According to my journalist friend, Al Marsh writing for AOPA, "[Glasair president Nigel] Mott contacted consulting engineer Chuck Hautamaki for [the Merlin] design." Al added, "Special emphasis was placed on making the aircraft docile, especially when performing aerodynamic stalls." Later, Glasair production manager and test pilot Ben Rauk coordinated with an outside engineer to investigate changes to the prototype seeking to reduce weight and improve speed.

Taking its first flight on April 7th, 2015, FAA subsequently accepted Merlin as a Special Light-Sport Aircraft in late March 2016. The company felt this pace was "a big deal for this pioneering kitplane manufacturer."

"Much happened after we announced the first flight of Glasair Aviation's Merlin Light-Sport Aircraft," said company officials. "For nearly a year afterward, refinements and testing, testing, testing were the name of our game as we prepared our newest model plane to demonstrate compliance to ASTM standards and for production sales."

Again quoting Al Marsh, "The flight controls resemble [those on the now discontinued] Cessna Skycatcher, but Mott told Cessna [that] under the panel [Merlin's] side-to-side-sliding control stick uses entirely different engineering." Marsh observed that with no stick coming up from the floor heavier and older pilots will discover easier entry.

Known for the detail of its engineering, Glasair is still refining the aircraft to ensure the best customer experience.

"We will roll out the first production plane ready for pick up in June 2017," said Glasair's Rick Paul. "In the meantime we are constructing our beta models, allowing us to offer demo flights at our Washington state base beginning in February 2017.

Glasair elaborated, "We continue our hard work to make the Merlin as strong, safe, light and enjoyable as can be. In our minds, it is the perfect Light-Sport Aircraft for rusty pilots rediscovering the joy of easy weekend hops across the state. New pilots will enjoy its stable, easy handling and forgiving landing gear." Certainly, occupants will appreciate Merlin's roomy 47-inch-wide cockpit. Good lateral visibility combines with skylights to facilitate seeing traffic around busy destinations.

"All in all, [Merlin is] a great plane for sport pilots and flight schools alike," Glasair expressed. For those wondering, Merlin is named after the smallest raptor, not the wizard.

"We are shooting to have a beta-model Merlin at Sun 'n Fun 2017. I'll keep you updated about that and production progress in general," said marketing representative Rick Paul.

Merlin Specs — cruise 105 knots (121 mph); stall with no flaps 45 knots, with full flaps 39 knots; wing Span 31 feet 9 inches; wing area 132 square feet; cabin width 46.5 inches; baggage capacity 50 pounds; and, fuel capacity 24 gallons.

Icon Aircraft Advances Work of A5 Production
By Dan Johnson, December 20, 2016

More than any other one light aircraft company tends to resemble a Silicon Valley company (indeed, they are not location too far away, in Vacaville, California). Icon Aircraft markets like the big tech companies with compelling messages, visually striking images, and impressive airshow displays (albeit almost exclusively at AirVenture). They've managed to capture all kinds of media in and out of aviation. Cessna or Piper wishes they could market as well as Icon.

However, the company has been so long in coming to market that they've also created a group of naysayers. I see it as similar to the elections Americans just endured where one or the other candidate has some vigorous supporters and large chorus of those espousing #NotSomebody.

Indeed when Icon announced a production slowdown this spring, the latter group grew louder. The company said it was "in order to improve the supply chain and production processes." Not everyone believed them; it depended on which camp was doing the listening.

"Those changes are well underway thanks to a new composites manufacturing facility currently being built in Mexico and ongoing low-rate aircraft production in California," said Icon. They added that the California experience is "giving [our] manufacturing team insight into how to most efficiently build the A5."

Recently, A5 serial number 16 (out of a claimed 1,800 orders) rolled off the California production line, Icon reported. "It is receiving its FAA Certificate of Airworthiness this week." Icon added that the California factory will continue producing A5 aircraft at a low rate until the new composites manufacturing facility is completed. "This will allow the company to in-source the production of all composite airframe components once full-scale operations begin in March."

Meanwhile, south of the border (south of that famous wall The Donald wants to build)...

"The new 306,000-square-foot facility in Mexico will be finished in the coming weeks, and the installation of manufacturing systems and building improvements is already underway," said Icon. "The first airframe parts made at the new facility will be completed May 2017, with customer deliveries scheduled to begin next fall."

Some will surely lament that this means another year delay. (...sigh!)

"In the meantime, {the company] is occupying a temporary 34,000-square-foot building nearby where direct-labor training and limited composite fabrication have already begun," explained the California company. "Parts made at the new factory will be shipped across the border to the Vacaville factory, which will continue the A5 manufacturing process as it does today, including paint, systems installation, quality control, flight test, and aircraft deliveries."

Meanwhile here in the USA, specifically at one of three sites including the newest in Tampa, Florida...

In November, almost precisely as the DeLand Showcase ran its inaugural event, Icon began flight operations at the Peter O. Knight airport (KTPF) in Tampa, Florida. Those who know the area or who attended the AOPA convention in Tampa back in 2005 know this charming airport right on the water in the central Florida city on the Gulf of Mexico.

"The new flight center is Icon's first East Coast facility and offers the same courses as the flagship flight center at the company's headquarters in Vacaville, California," clarified Icon. Courses range from a single introductory A5 flight to a full Sport Pilot License with water endorsement for zero-time pilots. "[We] also offers transition courses for pilots already holding landplane or seaplane ratings." Courses are open to both A5 deposit holders and the general public.

Icon said it selected Tampa and Peter O. Knight because of the year-round flying weather, outstanding water flying, and the airport's convenient location just 10 minutes from downtown Tampa.

To learn more about Icon's Flight Centers, go to this website or send them email or call 707-564-4100.

Cessna Literally Scraps Remaining Skycatchers
By Dan Johnson, December 15, 2016

What must be wrong with the photo you see nearby? Was that airplane damaged in some way resulting in it being sent to the scrap heap? Only Textron executives know for sure, but what I see appears to be a fairly worthy airplane about to be munched by heavy equipment.

Aero-News.Net Aero-News.Net broke this story after scoring some photos from Facebook, they report. That outfit is always fast with news and willing to tackle stories some others resist.

While I have sometimes been slighted for being a mostly-good-news guy, reporting the latest and greatest developments from light aviation, I cannot turn down a story as sad as this one, with regrets to those who prefer my generally cheery attitude.

This warehouse appears to contain about 47 airplanes, by my count. Note the yellow Kevlar parachute straps hanging from many fuselages. Most appear to have engines.
So... why this destruction? Look, I get it that a billion-dollar corporation like Textron surely sized things up from a legal and accounting perspective. Giant companies don't take chances with their substantial funds. They may not always spend wisely but neither do they bet the farm.

What galls me is that in the photos I see — this is all the evidence that I have uncovered, thanks to the headstart from Aero-News.Net — it appears that beyond airframes, Cessna chose to scrap perfectly good, indeed brand new, engines, tires and who knows what else.

I should think those parts could have been salvaged in some way to be used on other aircraft. Perhaps the whole warehouse-full could have been given to charities, or as Aero-News.Net suggested, perhaps to the Civil Air Patrol, where the legal liability might have been contained.

Yet companies with billions at their disposal might not have been moved. The few million dollars that might have been received for parting out engines and more could have come back to bite Cessna and Textron if, for example, a single lawsuit found the company at fault for selling subpar components. As some legal eagle once said, "Your company may be one lawsuit away from being out of business." At a public company like Textron, that risk may simply have not been an option on which they were willing to gamble.

The end is near for N60925, registered to Cessna Aircraft Co., with serial number 16200257.
Could all this have been avoided? I'm no lawyer but I have to believe some option might have been possible. For example, one company I know offered to buy all the remaining Skycatchers (original story from February 2014). Cessna execs were interested enough to listen. The group proposing the purchase said they thought they had a deal. It was not to be.

In the end, for a giant like Textron, the matter came down to dollars and sense. Instead of disassembly, or using the parts to maintain the 275 or so Skycatchers still in operation, they chose to scrap the works, brand new engines and all.

Let's have a moment of silence in respect of airplanes being scuttled... and then, let's get back to enjoying the many dozens of fine Light-Sport Aircraft still on the market. Indeed, many LSA available are superior to Skycatcher anyway.

See many of these and more at the upcoming 13th annual Sebring Sport Aviation Expo scheduled for January 25, 28, 2017. All y'all come on down!

Beaten and down, this Skycatcher is never coming back to life.

Flattened, good parts, bad parts, and all...

Continental Launches Fresh Website; Supports STEM
By Dan Johnson, December 14, 2016

Sportair USA represents the new Outback Shock powered by the mighty Titan engine. Look for it at American airshows in 2017.
Continental Motors is known worldwide for its aircraft engines. It is also a true global company with operations bases in Hong Kong, Alabama, and St. Egidien, Germany. Most readers are aware that the longtime Alabama company is owned by interests in Hong Kong but they remain very U.S.-centric, right down to the southern drawl of some employees.

In the world of Light-Sport Aircraft and light kits, Continental is perhaps best known today for the line of Titan engines the company acquired from ECi in 2015. Their Titan has taken the Light-Sport Aircraft and light kit-built aircraft sector by storm. A growing number of these flying machines are embracing the company's potent 180-horsepower engine. In every so equipped aircraft I've flown, that Titan powerplant gives a feel that must feel like a rocket-assisted military aircraft. Oorah!

Continental is a growing conglomerate these days. "We have significant operations on three continents, a global supply chain, highly experienced teams and outstanding Maintenance Repair Organization capabilities in Mattituck." They also own Southern Interiors; you can find all that and more on their new website.

As if it didn't look energetic enough before, Just Aircraft now offers the Titan X340 on their eye-catching SuperSTOL.
The professionally revised website is clear and clean but more importantly, it presents their expanding product and service line very well. Given such a wide range of activities and components as the present-day Continental Motors Group offers, improved website navigation and presentation is appreciated.

Here's Continental's upgraded website. Go have a look and see for yourself. I found a lot of information and it is all more accessible than in the past.

However, that's not the only goal Continental has been pursuing that you might find worthwhile.

Unless you've been off on a Mars colonization expedition, you must know about STEM education efforts. In case you were off-planet, STEM means Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. The goal is to interest youth in these fields because the nation needs young people to fill roles in these disciplines and because it's good for those students. Jobs in these fields can be well paying, satisfying, and long lasting. In an age when kids live at home late into their 20s, better jobs should be broadly appreciated.

All manner of Cubalikes are using the Titan, giving them lively performance.
Continental announced today that it joined the Mobile Airport Authority Foundation and member companies of the Mobile Aeroplex at their base at Brookley Field to contribute to a Mobile, Alabama STEM initiative that will sponsor 36 students to attend the National Flight Academy's six-day Deployment program on June 4, 2017.

National Flight Academy's adventure begins on a landlocked, virtual aircraft carrier, Ambition (CVT-11). Students live aboard for six days surrounded by advanced technology, flight simulators and virtual reality missions that ignite imagination and encourage learning.

After a group identifies participating children in 10th and 11th grades from Alabama, students will join other candidates from around the country in cruises of up to 126 individuals fully chaperoned by trained NFA educators to ensure they get the maximum benefit from this unique, fun and innovative learning environment. While aboard, they will participate in activities that demonstrate the practical use of STEM skills and also gain valuable leadership and teamwork experience.

"As one of the members of the [local] aviation business community and a long-term business in the community, Continental Motors is proud to join our fellow businesses to participate in demonstrating the value of STEM to our future workers," said Rhett Ross, President and CEO of Continental Motors.

Good for Continental! I imagine those kids will be thrilled by the opportunity.

Sonex B, Now Available In Red!
By Dan Johnson, December 13, 2016

Pardon a little fun in the title. I recalled the line long ago attributed to Henry Ford, "You can have any color [Model T] you want as long as it's black."

Sonex Aircraft had so regularly brought bright yellow airplanes to airshows, folks could be excused for thinking that was the only color available. Of course, since the company sells kit aircraft, you can have whatever color you wallet can handle.

Why wouldn't you want a red one? The color works for Ferrari.

Indeed, the newest model from Sonex is not about the color at all. "We just wanted to separate the new B models from the earlier models," said General Manager, Mark Schaible. Changing up their airshow model paint job may stimulate people to look more closely... exactly the idea.

Sonex Aircraft debuted a new B-Model design for the Sonex and Waiex models earlier this year at Sun 'n Fun 2016. Specifically, the Oshkosh, Wisconsin-based kit manufacturer unveiled a tailwheel, AeroVee Turbo-powered version of their Waiex-B at a press event on opening day of this year's show in Lakeland, Florida.

Why a big debut for B-models?

Sonex designer and founder John Monnett explained, "It's what [customers] have been asking for! More of everything you want in a sport aircraft: More room and comfort, more panel space, more fuel, more engine choices, and more standard features combined with reduced build time and the same great Sonex and Waiex flight characteristics."

B-Models will completely replace the original model Sonex and Waiex in the Sonex Aircraft product lineup.

Getting More Specific...
• Sonex and Waiex B-Models have been enlarged by straightening the forward fuselage sides, changes that improved creature comfort,
• B-models enlarged the interior by offering more width and comfort at the shoulders, hips, knees, and feet,
• B-model seat backs have been moved aft, a seating geometry change that accommodates taller individuals,
• Staggered seating is available via upholstery seat back cushions. A center "Y-stick" offers dual controls with easier cockpit entry and roomier seating,
• Electric flaps reduce cockpit clutter and dual throttles are standard.

The Waiex-B on-display at Sun 'n Fun this spring featured an MGL Avionics iEFIS Explorer 8.5 [inch] dual-screen avionics suite, continuing the long-standing relationship between Sonex Aircraft and MGL. Dynon Avionics has also stepped up with their own B- Model package: a dual-screen Dynon SkyView Quick Panel with Advanced Flight Systems control module integration.

As they replace the earlier (yellow) Sonex and Waiex designs, B-Model kits will ship with more standard features and these points are different than the list above. In particular, these upgrades relate to the building project as Sonex sells only kit-built aircraft.

"B-model aircraft will require less build time, the company reported. "Assembled wing spars and machined angle components are now standard. Upgrades and accessories such as the AeroBrake hydraulic brakes, dual AeroConversions throttle quadrants, and AeroConversions trim system are now included," noted Sonex. "Build time improvements include more laser-cut, formed and machined parts, machined canopy bows for easier installation with a better fit, an easy-fitting horizontal-split cowl, and engine mounts that bolt quickly and accurately to the airframe.

All these changes represent a great time savings for a better result, certainly worthy of a new model description... hence: B-models. Sonex and Waiex B-Model kits were offered at an introductory price of $23,000. As always, check with the Oshkosh factory to learn the current deal but rest assured this company is not a budget buster.

A further way to keep down the cost of your airborne Model-B is to choose the AeroVee engine. With Jabiru, Sonex is a rare company offering both airframe and engines and it is the only company I know that offers a kit airframe and kit engine.

AeroVee is a complete VW conversion engine kit package offered in 80 horsepower and turbocharged 100 horsepower versions, by AeroConversions, a product line of Sonex Aircraft. AeroVee engine kits continue the Sonex Aircraft tradition of simple, elegant design: a 2180 cubic centimeter Aero-Engine that can be run on 100LL avgas or mogas. "All of the supplied components are brand-new, zero-time parts," assured Sonex.

AeroVee engines come as a complete kit that you can assemble yourself in approximately 12 hours, with the aid of an AeroVee assembly and installation manual and an instructional DVD, along with free phone or email technical support. An AeroVee DVD is available for purchase separate from the engine kit for those that wish to preview the project.

VIDEO — Dreams Come True with Harmony
By Dan Johnson, December 11, 2016

This weekend, let's watch some video. At airshows (where I seem to spend a lot of time), my video partner Dave and I race around from booth to exhibit and attempt to find new aircraft or products we think may be of interest to our viewers. I'm pleased to tell you that we must do this fairly well measured by a million and a half minutes a month spent watching Dave's YouTube channel according to Google, which owns the popular video outlet.

In the video below shot at the Mid-West LSA Expo, you hear from Steve Minnich, who operates Dreams Come True, a family-run Evektor dealership in Dayton, Ohio.

Harmony is the evolution of the SportStar, the airplane that launched the Light-Sport Aircraft phenomenon back on April 5th, 2005. Along with Flight Design's CT, the two were honored at a ceremony at Sun 'n Fun that year where FAA presented the #1 and #2 aircraft to satisfactorily demonstrate compliance to the ASTM standards.

Today, pilots all over the world know about Light-Sport Aircraft and nearly 70,000 of them have been sold around the world.

Harmony looks like a much more expensive aircraft after steady evolution by the Czech manufacturer. A comfortably wide cockpit presents a large instrument panel easily able to handle big-screen digital instruments. It can easily appeal to someone used to a Bonanza or a Cirrus but who wants to spend less money flying for that hamburger or pancake breakfast. Handling is responsive yet thoroughly conventional. In-flight behavior is predictable and stability is excellent.

Find out more about Evektor's professional-grade Harmony LSA at Steve Minnich's Dreams Come True page, which leads you to their website and much more.

See more about all kinds of LSA, light kits, and ultralights on our LSA Videos page that is approaching 500 videos for your entertainment and educational enjoyment.

You can watch more than 1,000 videos on Videoman Dave's YouTube channel publishing as Your support of Dave's YouTube channel allows him to do his work. Please consider subscribing annually or Lifetime.

Tecnam Upgrades Popular Sierra, Now Called Mark 2
By Dan Johnson, December 2, 2016

Fourteen years ago, light aviation leader Tecnam brought their only low wing, the Sierra, to market. It went on to become one of their most popular airplanes ...and that's truly saying something since the Italian company has a broad line of beautiful airplanes.

On the 65th anniversary of this company founded in 1948, Tecnam brought their sparkling new Astore to the market (so named in honor of the very first aircraft the company offered). At its debut most thought Sierra had been replaced by Astore, perhaps never to be seen again. Happily, that is not the case.

An old line is: Nothing succeeds like success. Therefore, given the impressive run of Sierra the First, and even with the Astore, Sierra Mark 2 may be utterly logical. "The market is always demanding greater comfort and more features," says Tecnam Managing Director, Paolo Pascale, "so improving and updating our product is a must."

The Capua, Italy-based company announced, "Tecnam has introduced a substantially updated and improved Mark 2 version of the company's popular P2002 Sierra." The model name P2002 indicates the original design was created that year.

Tecnam observed, "P2002 Sierra MkII retains all the features and flying qualities which have established the aircraft's position in the marketplace. However, the Mk2 model offers an improved cabin for greater comfort, top level avionics, new paint colors and interior options and a redesigned cowling for the 100-horsepower Rotax engine."

Sierra Mk2's cabin has been enlarged. A glance at the instrument panel or its snazzy sports car-quality seats displays the premium new interior design.

Led by their patriarchal and celebrated designer Luigi Pascale — this year's winner of the LAMA Outstanding Individual Award — Tecnam engineers redesigned the canopy to provide more headroom. With the new canopy, a positive-locking mechanism assures reduced noise level.

Seats are not only handsome but now offer additional fore and aft adjustment to better accommodate folks of different sizes and shapes.

Beside a sleeker engine cowling Sierra Mk2 has several distinctive options for paint colors and interior fabrics. The new creations definitely upgrade the older design and will impress anyone you take aloft with you.

A few facts and specs are in order. Sierra offers a 600 nautical mile range thanks to 29 gallons, thanks to the good fuel economy of its Rotax 912 engine, burning 4.5 gallons per hour, noted Tecnam. Sierra Mk2 weighs 809 pounds empty, has a 514 pound useful load with 44 pounds of baggage. It can cruise at 120 knots, Tecnam advises while stalling at just 38 knots. It climbs at 800 fpm.

Professor Luigi like to use tapered laminar airfoils with slotted flaps and Sierra also has these advanced features. As with all Tecnams, the main airframe is metal, familiar to any repair shop anywhere in the world... a useful factor for a company that sells all over the globe.

To my eyes — and many others agree — one of the best aspects of the Sierra is its sliding canopy. You can slide this aft, at least partially, in flight and those of us who enjoy an open cockpit love this sensation in an otherwise very civilized environment. About this all-clear canopy Tecnam noted it offers, "full rollover protection, tested via inverted drop tests.

A glance at the panel shows the great advancements in instrumentation since Sierra was first offered, long before digital glass screens and devices like iPad (which, by the way, Astore neatly incorportated into its panel). You can choose from either Dynon SkyView or Garmin G3X, either of which is superb.

Finally, handling has always been a very strong area for the Tecnams I've flown (which has been all their LSA models). The company stated, "The horizontal stabilator tail design provides remarkable longitudinal hands-off stability along with minimum drag and weight penalty. This provides balanced two-finger flight control."

The first model will be delivered to Tecnam U.S. in time for the 2017 Sebring Expo. The show runs January 25th-28th. Even if you can't make that 13th annual event, I'll be all over Sierra Mk 2.

Shark Flies in American Skies
By Dan Johnson, November 29, 2016

Retractable Shark airborne in European skies. photo by André Garcez
When you look at the photos of this new-to-Americans aircraft, you might have a vague recollection of one or more aircraft that looked something like Shark. Are you fuzzy about that recollection? That's understandable. It's been a decade since FlyItalia's MD3 Rider (photo below) had U.S. representation. MD3 did earn Special LSA approval, taking its place on our SLSA List at number 15. While Spaceport Aviation still reports operating a Rider for students, the model has mostly disappeared from American skies.

Another once-popular light aircraft sold in the USA — Skyboy, mentioned in this article and another — also sport the distinctive shark fin tail. These designs are substantially different, expressions of a creative designer, but all share this common appearance.

Now Jonathan Baron — operator of Virginia-based PB Aero — reported that the aircraft designer's most recent project, called Shark, has taken its first flight in the USA. Shark appears to be very different from MD3 Rider or Skyboy... low wing versus high wing; tandem versus side-by-side seating; retractable versus fixed gear; basic versus full featured. However, sharp readers may have already noted the vertical stabilizer and ventral fin look almost identical.

Jonathan Baron's Shark prepared to take its first flight in the USA.
If you noticed that, give yourself a pat on the back. That is indeed a similarity and it is why the name of the new plane was chosen. Doesn't it look like the tail of a shark? That design feature relates to principal creator, Jaroslav Dostál. He likes the look and finds it efficient to use the configuration. Continuing the theme, Jaro added shark-like cooling fins (gills?) in the aft portion of the engine compartment.

I first met Jaro many years ago at the Aero Friedrichshafen show in the south of Germany. Jaro is a talented engineer and is smart enough to know that producing the aircraft is a job for persons with those skills. He is a longtime expert in using composite and his design prowess is well regarded. Extensive use of carbon fiber helped keep the weight down for Europe's ultralight weight limit of just 472.5 kilos (1,040 pounds, around 80% of the weight of LSA) when a parachute is mounted; one is available for Shark.

Created as a high-performance, all-composite European ultralight, Jaro sought a fast-flying cross country aircraft. Tandem seating and the related slim shape are essential to the goal. A flight exceeding 300 kilometers per hour (188 mph) proved Shark can zoom along quickly on its Rotax 912 engine. The popular engine and sleek aircraft also allowed Jonathan to take a friend and enjoy a $20 hamburger (I'll call it), with only $9 of that expended on an hour long flight to and from an airport restaurant.

Jaro Dostal's earlier MD3 Rider. photo from
The zippy speed, however, pushes Shark into the Experimental Amateur Built category as the speed is too fast for Light-Sport Aircraft in the USA and retractable gear is not what FAA had in mind when they created the category more than a dozen years ago.

If you are up for the building effort and if you have the budget for this speedster, you could enjoy exceptional visibility with the long, uninterrupted canopy. Tandem seating also helps both occupants get essentially the same view. In a slick design aspect, the aft seat enjoys its own instrumentation smoothly integrated into a cabin cross brace at the rear of the front seat.

Earlier, Jaro spoke of a LSA-compliant model with fixed gear and other changes to keep it within the parameters of FAA's regulation, however, with the market mainly overseas where greater speed is permitted, movement toward that version appears to have been postponed. If PB Aero finds a following for the retract Shark, the stiff-legged model might follow. Contact Jonathan Baron to find at more at this email. Keep up with the enterprise at their Facebook page.

Airplanes in the Creek; Beringer’s Calendar
By Dan Johnson, November 28, 2016

For those trying to keep their flying on a budget, here's an excellent choice, the X-Air LS.
This last week, I trekked to FAA headquarters in Washington DC, an action that consumed three days of my time. This was a third visit in six months to meet with top ranked FAA officials, as two organizations combine forces to attempt bringing useful change to light aviation. I won't long dwell on the effort yet I admit it feels good to advance the ball down the field.

The U.S. Ultralight Association (USUA) represents pilots of light aircraft. The Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association (LAMA) represents the light aircraft producer and business community. USUA, headed by Roy Beisswenger, and LAMA, chaired by your faithful reporter have made a dynamic duo since early 2014 when we embarked on a mission of advocacy.

EAA and AOPA plus GAMA do some similar work and they do it well. However, they have a focus other than for recreational sport pilots and the not-certified light aircraft they fly. While LAMA and USUA gladly work with the other organizations whenever possible, it was obvious that those fine groups could not represent light aviation in the same dedicated way. USUA and LAMA are laser focused on the task.

Here's a resident with the multiple cool toys to get around: Christen Eagle (now from Aviat), an original Mini, and golf cart.
Following advice from experts, our long list of initiatives was reduced to four: Electric Propulsion (first for ultralights and later for LSA); Special LSA status for ready-to-fly gyroplanes (selling briskly around the world but restricted in the USA); FAA approval to allow training in former ultralight trainers and other aircraft (a longer story for another time); and finally, Aerial Work, an important push to allow LSA to function as work aircraft beyond current roles of flight instruction, glider towing, and rentals.

LAMA and USUA believe positive steps will make the industry more secure and stable, will give pilots more chances to make a living in light aircraft, and will more generally keep affordable aviation healthy and able to continue providing interesting aircraft that can be bought by regular folks. We think the effort is worthwhile and hope pilots and manufacturers will continue to lend support. This is a labor of love, I must add; no salaries are earned for this work.

On a more fun note... around these words you see a series of images that have almost nothing to do with FAA (except all of them have to be registered, etc., ad naseum). These airplane photos are from my home base of Spruce Creek Fly In, otherwise known as Florida airport 7FL6. I live in this community comprised of 1,600 homes, more than 600 of which have attached hangars. To get from the runway to your home means a tour by taxiway.

These two beauties aren't in my price range, but they're fun to watch. On top is the L-39 Czech military jet in modern paint; on bottom is a North American T28 Trojan in warbird paint.
Indeed, "the Creek" as many residents abbreviate it — nearby townsfolks always seem to use "the Fly In" — is blessed with taxiways and roads totaling some 33 miles, so I've been told. My wife, Randee, and I enjoy riding our bicycles all around the community. With that many miles and considering residents are respectful and careful, bike riding the Creek is a joy.

This is doubly so considering I regularly get close-up looks at airplanes like the ones sprinkled here but with many, many more types not pictured. The number changes as pilots buy and sell, but I'd guess we have nearly 700 airplanes based at this one airport. I've also been told 7FL6 is the world's largest private airport.

Naturally, Randee and I ride Rans bikes. The only airplane and bicycle producer, Randy Schlitter, sold his bicycle manufacturing company a couple years ago, but before he left the business to focus on aircraft, we acquired two of his bikes and we love them. My is a recumbent; Randee's is what's known as a crank-forward design. Both are so easy to ride, Randee has questioned how much exercise she gets riding for an hour.

In this post Black Friday weekend post and what with Christmas rushing at us like a fighter jet on afterburner, I want to draw your attention to the new 2017 Beringer Aero calendar. The preeminent wheel and brake company offers a collection of gorgeous photos that can make your office, home, or hangar that much better decorated.

Sure, I know we all have our iPhones, Androids, and tablets, but nothing really beats a large-format, high quality printed calendar. Get yours while they last and in time for the holidays. You pilots can share this post with your spouse and make a not-so-subtle hint that this would make a fine gift for their favorite aviator.

Beringer's calendar features airplanes equipped with the company's distinctive orange-ish wheels, brakes and landing gear. In glorious color, each page measures about 12 x 17 inches and a spiral spine allows the calendar to hang flat. The French company's calendar is available for $25 (including any applicable tax; plus shipping) from this email address.

In the video below you can learn more about the newest products from Beringer and hear a few words about their entire product line. You'll enjoy hearing Claire Beringer give you a tour.

Guardian Makes iPad in the Cockpit User-Friendly
By Dan Johnson, November 16, 2016

Guardian's system allows a smoothly mounted iPad (any model) that fits exactly flush with the instrument panel face.
Since 2000 Guardian Avionics has built a respected name for reliable and accurate carbon monoxide detectors for certified aircraft, LSA, or homebuilt airplanes. Maybe you knew that if you've been concerned about the deadly, odorless gas seeping into your cockput.

What you may not know is that the Tucson, Arizona-based company also offers a slick iPad panel mount with the ability to connect to and communicate with other avionics products from leaders like Garmin, MGL, and other avionics providers. Recently the company announced, "We have expanded our product line to include the new iFDR series of connected cockpit solutions, including the iFDR Panel Mount docks for iPad and iPhone and USB power supplies and panel ports.

"The iPad has become one of the most important tools for both professional and private pilots," said Ash Vij, President of Guardian Avionics. "Pilots need to keep that tool in their frame of reference in flight; that's why we felt it important to develop the iFDR Panel Mount series."

Guardian power supply, cords, and mount.
"But, other companies offer panel mounts or docks," you observe. Yes, that's true but no others of which I'm aware have taken it as far as does Guardian.

The mounts themselves are very cool, literally, as they have been custom designed by Guardian to allow airflow to keep a constantly-running iPad or iPhone from overheating. Power cords are firmly attached so when you mount the iPad or iPhone, it begins drawing from ship's power to keep the battery charged and the screen functioning. An audio cable is also available to bring device sounds directly to your headset.

The mount itself, a seemingly mundane piece of hardware, is also well considered. You angle the Apple device into the mount, pivot to flat and slide toward the power receptacle end. When mounted, the iPad or iPhone is completely flush with the rest of the panel, looking as though it were factory installed. It's beautiful. Getting the iPad out at the end of the flight is equally simple. Slide the device away from its power cord coupling, press the end opposite the home button, and the device will angle out where you can grip and remove it. [Note: This description was changed from an earlier version.]

Guardian goes to many of the shows, including ones like Sebring (coming up January 25-28, 2017) and has supported LSA functions like the LAMA Dinner at that show. Since they are also keeping down the price of their equipment, LSA owners, light kit builders, and ultralight pilots should check out their offerings.

Hear Guardian boss Ash Vij explain his line of iPad and iPhone mounts and more on this video.
Guardian is more than happy to serve the LSA and light kit aircraft community but they've also achieved FAA support to help out general aviaiton pilots that canot easily add an iPad to their cockpit, that is, mounted in their panel. That's now changed and good for Guardian!

Guardian Avionics recently received the first-ever FAA approval under a program called by the inevitable abbreviation: NORSEE. This translates to Non-Required Safety Enhancing Equipment and allows installation of not-certified compoents into certified aircraft.

Guardian was approved to mount all models of the Guardian Avionics iFDR panel mount line for the iPad and iPhone. They also got approval for their iFDR Power 150 and 250 USB power supplies to be added to Part 23 certified GA aircraft and Part 27 and 29 normal and transport category rotorcraft. Under the FAA authorization, the iFDR panel mounts and USB power supplies can also be installed as a minor alteration.

By eliminating cumbersome and clunky iPad and iPhone yoke mounts, along with the mess of power cables, certified aircraft owners can now experience cleaner and safer mounting and power options for their cockpits. Welcome GA airplane owners to the wonderfully digitized world of LSA.

GA Deliveries Decline Yet Tecnam Performs Well
By Dan Johnson, November 11, 2016

The world best seller is Cirrus SR22, especially the 22T for turbo.
Every quarter, like clockwork, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), issues its delivery report. I've used their data in the past (see HERE) and I appreciate the work they do for the GA producer community. For the past few years, these reports have not exactly been a bright spot, with fairly small numbers of aircraft reported delivered and trends sloping downward.

Thanks to my LAMA associate in Europe, Jan Fridrich, also reports airplane activity, although Jan and I use FAA registration data modified only by our intimate knowledge of the light aircraft industry. Both GAMA and LAMA must interpret some info as these data sources are more slippery than you might think. For each organization the best info is that which you can distill over years of reporting. If the detail may have potential errors (usually small) the long term trends are more reliable.

I want to give you a small glimpse at GAMA's numbers for the first nine months of 2016. I am well aware such info is not why you come to this website. However, as GAMA has coaxed a few of the larger LSA producers into its membership, I found some facts of interest.

Tecnam's lovely Astore resembles the Cirrus but costs a fraction as much.
The best news was Tecnam's numbers. This Italian company has been a major force in light aircraft production for years. That isn't changing; in fact, it appears certain to accelerate.

From GAMA's numbers I ignore all the business jet, turbine, helicopter, and ag-plane data. That stuff interests me and most readers only peripherally. So, I look solely at their Single Engine Piston (SEP) data as the closest comparison to LSA and light kit aircraft. GAMA reported 601 SEPs for the first nine months, or 800 annualized.

Of that, Tecnam logged 122 units for better than 20% of all GAMA SEPs. This does count all their aircraft with one engine including their Type Certified P2010 four seater as well as their LSA models, the latter accounting for 53 units or 71 annualized. GAMA decided from info supplied by Tecnam which ones were LSA, referring to their ASTM standards compliance. The GA organization leaves LSA out of their summary tables but includes those stats in their detail info.

To compare, Cessna reported 127 units in the same nine-month period. So, short by only a hair, Tecnam produced as many SEPs as did giant Cessna. Both significantly trailed Cirrus, which logged 226 units delivered (38% of all SEPs), by far the best in the list. Other GA producers, in order, were Diamond (46) and Piper (41), trailed distantly by Bonanza (16), Champion (15), Mooney (5), and Maule (3).

Tecnam's P2008 is a handsome and popular Light-Sport entry. Tecnam photos courtesy the company
The only other LSA producers included on GAMA's review were Flight Design (19) and CubCrafters (27... of which 22 were LSA). Flight Design is going through reorganization and how GAMA will handle that change remains to be seen. CubCrafters, with 22 LSA (all Carbon Cubs, zero Sport Cubs) annualizes to 29 LSA and that is far off their hot pace the last few years. In 2015, the West coast Cub-like builder slipped from their one-a-week rate in the preceding few years and 2016's info appears to slow further. Could the number of potential buyers of $200,000 Cubs be dropping or is this just a temporary slowdown? CubCrafters has competition from American Legend and various European suppliers of very similar aircraft (SportairUSA's Shock), American variations (Just Aircraft) that perform even better, and still others with more affordable prices (Rans).

All that said, Tecnam clearly looks like the strong company in light aviation with numbers way ahead of whomever comes second. The company has a wide line of several LSA (P92, P2008, Astore, etc.) plus the dual-Rotax Twin, the newer P2010 GA model and an 11-seater in progress. Good for Tecnam!

DeLand Showcase 2016 a Success in Inaugural Event
By Dan Johnson, November 8, 2016

The first-ever DeLand Sport Aviation Showcase finished on a high note with a sold-out flock of vendors giving kudos to event director Jana Filip and her team. I spoke to most exhibitors and heard zero complaints. By itself that's rather unusual. Perhaps they were cutting the new show some slack but more likely their enthusiasm was because the show had indeed been well executed.

At every airshow I've attended vendors seem hard to satisfy about foot traffic. By afternoon each of the three days, visitors seemed to thin, nonetheless most airplane vendors reported good qualified visitors. Several companies reported "solid leads" developed at the event and apparently a few sales occurred

Attendees also seemed to enjoy themselves in the abundant sunshine and 80-degree temperatures of early November. The event ran 3-4-5 this year and has already set dates for next year with an expectation of similar weather. One thing many attendees liked was the easy access to go take a demo flight in an aircraft they might be considering to buy.

Smaller events like DeLand offer a compelling case for visitors for precisely this reason. Among such focused shows, DeLand joins a group including Sebring (coming up January 25-28, 2017), Midwest LSA Expo, and Copperstate with another in planning.

Nando Groppo Trail fitted with cameras for an upcoming VPR, Video Pilot Report.
I judge DeLand 2016 a solid success that clearly benefitted from long experience and hard work by director Jana Filip, her husband Gary Filip, and airport manager John Eiff. Aided by a small army of volunteers the first-ever event functioned very smoothly. Most expect traffic to grow for subsequent events given how well everything worked over three straight days of pleasant weather. DeLand is near Daytona Beach and Orlando, Florida in an easily-accessed location. The airport and the new event is strongly supported by the City of DeLand with the mayor and other officials attending. DeLand is also a particularly active sky diving airport yet even with many disparate users, things ran safely and efficiently.

One smart decision was to pick dates near the gigantic National Business Aircraft Association (NBAA) show that occurred November 1-2-3 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. The two events could hardly be more different, but NBAA attracts all the main aviation publications. DeLand hoped to draw some of these journalists since they were in the area anyway. With visits from AOPA Pilot, General Aviation News, AVweb, Aero-News Net, Plane & Pilot, Flying magazine plus a number of free lance writers and photographers, I'd say this date decision was a resounding, over-the-top success. Look for the work of those journalists as uploaded or printed.

Even though it was a tail-end-of-the-season show, DeLand attracted some products Americans had not seen before this year. These include JMB Aircraft's VL3 and Russia's SP30 STOL that first debuted in the U.S. at Oshkosh 2016 plus the Sky Tractor and a novel new avionics device called WingBug.

In addition, we saw the first installation anywhere of Dynon's new HDX. Installed in the panel of a new CTLS now produced by AeroJones Aviation, we shot a video with Kirk Kleinholz, airshow tech guru for the west coast supplier of the most popular glass screens in Light-Sport Aircraft. The new unit builds on the wonderful success of SkyView with more easily operated physical controls plus a slicker-than-ever touchscreen operation. Watch for the new video.

The speedy sibling of the former Gobosh 800XP (see video) is this retractable JMB Aircraft VL3 capable of 145 knots.
JMB Aircraft attracted attention with their retractable LSA-like aircraft. I've seen this company in Europe at the Aero Friedrichshafen show. They are impressive marketers and they wish to use those skills to promote their faster model that smokes along at 145 knots propelled by the 100 horsepower Rotax 912 engine.

If the VL3 looks vaguely familiar to you, congratulations on your sharp eye. JMB Aircraft is the new production company of the VL3, a plane designed by Vanessa Air and produced in the past by Aveko. Truly keen readers will recognize Aveko was the builder behind the Gobosh 800XP of the earliest years of Light-Sport Aircraft. The 31.5-foot-span Aveko/Gobosh version is a fixed gear LSA model where the 27.7-foot-span retractable VL3 is allowed to perform better when registered as an Experimental Amateur Built or other experimental category. The LSA model maxes at 119 knots in max cruise where the high cruise of VL3 is 145 knots.

Russia-built SP30 STOL is clearly based on Zenith's 701/750 series although closer examination reveals a number of changes and such attributes as fully-bucked or solid rivets. A very sturdy looking machine, the example at DeLand had fat tires with chubby wheelpants that looked like they could handle fairly rough terrain yet still look at home on an airport ramp. This is a simply equipped airplane but it had a very modest price point for an all-metal aircraft.

Get more specs and descriptions on their English language page on the website of Canada-based Sky Tex Alliance.

Top left, clockwise: Just Aircraft SuperSTOL, Evolution Revo, Green Eagle Sky Tractor, and Progressive Aerodyne Searey, represented by
Sky Tractor by Green Eagle was tucked in a corner of the indoor exhibit tent; I almost missed it. This single place Part 103-capable powered parachute entry boasts a 36-horsepower four stroke Kohler engine. It looks lighter than most powered parachute because it's closer to a four-wheeled powered paraglider. Cleverly designed to allow reasonably easy fitting of a jump seat, Sky Tractor would then have to be approved as an Experimental Amateur Built aircraft. Sy Tractor is very modestly price barely north of $10,000 depending on options chosen.

Last but by no means least was an pre-release appearance by WingBug as this new device prepares for market in 2017. Because the product is undergoing final configuration changes leading to a design freeze, I don't want to be premature. I will have more information to follow in an article as the new season arrives and Wing Bug is ready to hit the market.

WingBug is being developed by Alex Rolinski, known to light aircraft enthusiasts for his role in a different company, Aero Adventures, maker of the reasonable priced Aventura seaplane kit.

Wing Bug is a stand-alone device that can clamp securely to any Go-Pro mount. You'll probably stick it out on a wing, away from influence by prop blast. It wirelessly (not via BlueTooth) sends air data, attitude, and heading info (ADAHRS) to the WingBug app on an iPhone or iPad. This is not simply a GPS gizmo or flight navigation app. For example, to provide airspeed, WingBug has its own pitot tube. It looks slick, can be used on certified aircraft, and may prove to be game changer. I'll have more early next year.

The video below takes you on a quick tour of most of the outdoor displays at the DeLand Showcase 2016. The first year event earned rave reviews from vendors and plenty were on hand as all 100 or so spaces were sold out. Based on this first year, the DeLand Showcase seems likely to enjoy ongoing success. Dates for the 2017 event are set: November 2-3-4. (Regrets to any company not shown; this is not a complete vendor review.)

AeroJones Shows CTLS at New DeLand Showcase Event
By Dan Johnson, November 4, 2016

One company making a splash at the brand-new DeLand Sport Aviation Showcase event that opened today was AeroJones, occupying the first two spaces inside the entrance. I've written about this company before but since spring a striking change has occurred.

Flight Design — originator of the market-leading CT-series of LSA — has completed a court-appointed reorganization. Many of the former company team members will take certain assets and move forward. I will have more on that in a future article.

After the transaction is fully completed AeroJones Aviation will own the CT line including the current CTLS and CTLSi. They will also pursue completion of Flight Design's four seater, C4, that flew in 2015.

Introducing the new owner of America's popular CTLS...

AeroJones Aviation is headquartered in Taichung, Taiwan, often referred to as the "Silicon Valley of Taiwan." After first acquiring a license to build Flight Design aircraft more than two years ago, the company went through a thorough training and evaluation from Flight Design officials.

Aircraft production began for the Taiwanese company after they installed new production tooling and equipment including a five-axis CNC machine, water and Laser cutters, TIG welding, composite layup and post-cure ovens, plus a modern paint booth. Flight Design provided production worker training and quality management training. AeroJones finished their first airplanes in 2014 and has since been refining the production and quality systems. Proving their skills to government officials, AeroJones' production facility passed numerous audits and earned a Production Certificate from China's CAAC at the end of 2015.

Backing AeroJones is a parent company called GSEO (Genius Electro Optical), a manufacturer and supplier for industrial LED products and laminated lenses for many popular smartphones. GSEO has roughly 20,000 employees. Brand new production facilities were secured on mainland China, across the Taiwan Strait.

Initial CTLS and CTLSi supplied by AeroJones to American distributors and dealers won good marks. "The quality was very good," said Tom Gutmann, the country's largest Flight Design distributor, having delivered more than 100 aircraft. "AeroJones personnel spent several days with us and in great detail documented every minor issue we found in the first aircraft. We were impressed how carefully they listened."

AeroJones Aviation Executive VP, Hsieh Chi-Tai (L) with Senior VP of IAOPA Martin Robinson and Zhang Feng, Chairman AOPA China.
At DeLand Showcase 2016, AeroJones Americas held a press conference where they announced their new U.S. operation.

"AeroJones Aviation will be established in Florida as a centralized assembly and distribution facility for the AeroJones Aviation-produced CT series aircraft" said Chris Benaiges, CEO of AeroJones Americas. Chris has been associated with Flight Design and their CT series for several years; he and partners stepped in to restore the distribution of these aircraft after the court reorganization.

"AeroJones Aviation is pleased to bring renewed life to the very popular CTLS in America," said Hsieh Chi-Tai, Executive Vice President at AeroJones. "We are pleased to work with our U.S. representatives at AeroJones Americas as we resume shipments of CTLS to America."

Headquartered in Central Taiwan Science Park, AeroJones Aviation will ship mostly completed aircraft from mainland China. AeroJones Americas will receive the aircraft, assemble them from shipping containers, and will deliver to American customers. Over time they expect to add a growing number of American-sourced components at the U.S. operation. Many high-value items on a CTLS are already sourced elsewhere (Rotax engine, BRS parachute, Dynon or Garmin avionics and more).

"AeroJones Americas will have the resources to bring safety, quality control, and the end user experience to a new level for the CT series," stated AeroJones Americas COO John Hurst.

AeroJones will focus initially on CTLS and CTLSi. Further information on C4 will be available in the months ahead.

Continue reading more SPLOG posts. Click here to see our index, organized by date.




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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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

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

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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