Here is an early, quick look at Skytrek SLSA
by Triton... China's first FAA approval.
Video sponsored by Continental Motors,
maker of the Powerful Titan X-340 Engine
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...a web log of developments in Sport Pilot/Light-Sport Aircraft
Second most recent 20 postings.


Glasairís Merlin LSA Coming to Sun Ďn 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 SportAviationMagazine.com. 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 Airplane-Pictures.net
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; Beringerís 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, ByDanJohnson.com 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 FlyTheBeach.com.
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.


Remos Announces New Dealer as Network Builds
By Dan Johnson, November 2, 2016

The first-ever inaugural event of the DeLand starts tomorrow, November 3rd and runs through the 4th and 5th (THursday, Friday, Saturday).I hope you are planning to attend. The exhibitor spaces are full sold and several aircraft were in place by Wednesday afternoon before the show. C'mon down and check out the newest event in light recreational aviation.

After a major setback in 2014, Remos found and secured solid financial support for their light aircraft manufacturing enterprise. See the earlier story here but the great news is that Remos AG is now back and better than ever. This year at AirVenture 2016, I flew with marketing guru Patrick Holland-Moritz in the new Remos GXiS. As you can read here, I found the new model a joy to fly with the best implementation yet doe Rotax's fuel injected and upgraded 912 iS Sport powerplant. Patrick coined the term "smartification" to describe their approach and I love his new word.

As the German producer continues to reinvigorate their business, they are also securing new dealers to represent them both in the USA and overseas. Remos was founded in the mid-1990s. Today, Remos produces the Remos GX alongside the top-of-the-line GXiS. More than 100 Remos LSA are flying in the U.S., with some 450 operating worldwide. About 50 people work for Remos today.

Remos recently announced a new dealer in the United States. SimplyFly is supporting the German manufacturer with an innovative approach of how to bring people into aviation. The company is based at Aurora airport, just a 40-minutes car ride from downtown Chicago, Illinois.

When David Spano and Tony Sabos established SimplyFly six years ago in 2010, their goal was to provide flight training under the banner of Power Sports. They wanted to focus on growing sport aviation by targeting the general public. What is their approach?

"Around 15 percent of those who take the Discovery Flight go on to become Sport Pilots or Private Pilots," said Remos on behalf of SimplyFly. That is an impressive conversion rate after a single introductory flight. "All of the training is done in Remos aircraft," said Patrick. SimplyFly has four Remos models for this purpose and of course, the Illinois company — with an densely populated major metropolitan market a short drive away — is also a dealer able to sell new aircraft like GXiS.

At their fair, mall, and festival displays, "SimplyFly works to correct false perceptions and present flying as an attainable sport. They don't sell aviation as a mode of transportation, they sell fun," exclaimed Patrick!

Based at Aurora Municipal Airport (KARR) west of Chicago SimplyFly offers a Sport Pilot certificate for $6,400 and the Private Pilot for $9,600. This is no bare-bones training. The dealership and flight school includes 40 hours of flying for Sport Pilot training — 20 is the bare minimum according to FAA regs — or 60 hours for the Private. Both courses include ground school.

"Almost all our students pass their check ride in less than the allotted time," said David. "Once they start on a certificate, we encourage them to fly at least twice a week. We credit some of this success to the forgiving flight characteristics of the Remos GXiS." They report students become comfortable very quickly.

Flight training in Remos aircraft has worked out so well the partners moved up to become dealers so they can offer sales and service.

The second Remos dealer in North America after the German company's reorganization, SimplyFly is part of the Remos expansion as the European manufacturer rebuilds a global presence for their Light-Sport Aircraft. SimplyFly has plans of its own to expand to other major metropolitan areas.


Big Airplane Companies and Autonomous Air Taxi
By Dan Johnson, October 26, 2016

Are you interested in light aircraft? "Check." Interested in cool looking flying machines? "Check." Enjoy following the latest trends in flying? "Check." Interested in autonomous (pilotless) flying? "Umm... Not sure?" Interested in an Autonomous Airbus Air Taxi? "Hmm... no, not really?" Interesting in getting your Eight-Engine Rating? "Ah, No!" However you answered and whatever you think, the world of aviation appears to be changing.

When a company like airliner giant Airbus goes after media coverage with its E-Fan and ups the ante with Vahana, some may begin to feel the ground move under their feet like a California earthquake. Imagine a fleet of pilotless vehicles ready to swoop in to pick up passengers and deliver them to doctor appointments or a visit to grandma's house. Aviation appears to be headed in some very new directions.

On ByDanJohnson.com, I have followed other flying car or drone developments. See this article or here's another for a couple examples.

Recently, Airbus quietly removed the shroud of secrecy on an ambitious project called Vahana. From a division based in Silicon Valley, Vahana is the work of A3 ("A-cubed"), an Airbus entity for advanced projects.

A pilotless passenger aircraft, Vahana is intended to take off and land vertically from helicopter skids instead of wheels incorporating two sets of tilting wings, each with four electric motors. Vahana holds a single passenger under an aft-swinging canopy.

The business case for Vahana includes worthy points: Battery safety and energy density is advancing; low-cost, reliable avionics are available, borrowing from decades of work done for unmanned aerial vehicles; obstacle detection and avoidance algorithms are increasingly sophisticated; Airbus suggests automated composite manufacturing and assembly show that small, lightweight vehicles can be produced at high volumes and significantly lower costs than traditional aerospace methods have previously allowed.

Rodin Lyasoff, CEO of A-cubed wrote, "Our aircraft will follow predetermined flight paths, with only minor deviations if obstacle avoidance is needed. We believe this mode of operation will be compatible with future airspace management systems and will allow more aircraft to share the sky. Full automation also enables us to make our aircraft as small and light as possible, and will significantly reduce manufacturing costs."

Lyasoff said A-cubed has assembled experts in aircraft design and manufacturing, electric propulsion, vehicle autonomy, and aircraft certification. He reported significant progress and expects a full-size prototype to fly by the end of 2017. A3 has completed vehicle design and developed and acquired several critical subsystems. They will outsource to external partners construction of the first airframe.

While smaller, nimble groups are also pursuing the air taxi and autonomous flying ideas, Airbus can deploy one huge advantage that most (but not all) other aircraft developers lack: access to funds. Airbus reportedly invested an initial $150 million to future projects including Vahana.

Despite being part of a giant and very competitive company, A-cubed appears unusually generous about their effort. Lyasoff wrote, "We will also release many of our internal tools and flight code under an open source license. We believe that this degree of openness will push the industry as a whole forward, and we hope that others will follow our example."

Flying taxis without pilots will face public acceptance challenges. A-cubed refers to "sense and avoid" technology to prevent midair collisions and redundant motors so the loss of one is not catastrophic. In a worst case scenario, a ballistic parachute would deploy.

If A3 flies a full-size prototype by the end of 2017 Lyasoff believes the Airbus entity can come to market by 2020. Given Airbus's worldwide brand, Vahana must be taken seriously.

Get ready for a brave new airborne future unfolding at light speed!


Avionics (Instruments) for Big and Little Guys
By Dan Johnson, October 25, 2016

I guess I'm still old fashioned. I still call those things in front of the pilot "instruments," although the preferred term for a panelful of them shifted to "avionics." At least most people and I have stopped using "gauges." Choose the term that works for you, but mail order giant Aircraft Spruce just sent offerings to builders, whether at home or in a factory. "Spruce," as many abbreviate the Southern California-based company, serves a broad range of aircraft markets.

For big or small aircraft, people seem to like Belite Electronics (sibling to Belite Aircraft most recently of Skydock fame). A former tech entrepreneur, James Wiebe designs airplanes certainly appears at home with electronics. He's developed a wide range of very light, very low energy use, very accurate instruments.

"Come to Aircraft Spruce for your favorite Belite products," said Aircraft Spruce reps. Visit the company's web page for Belite Radiant instruments. The new instruments combine many functions into simple and small, lightweight units. "Belite has created these new units with one specific feature in mind: persistence," noted Spruce.

Radiant Instrument will graphically display the last 30 minutes of fuel level information along with current fuel level, providing pilots with the ability to look at information on displays screens, to ensure a safer flight. Belite's Radiant Instruments are designed for a standard 2.25-inch cutout, using up to 100 milliamps of power from a supply of 8 to 14 volts. All instruments are dimmable, Spruce clarified.

Belite's instruments will be of interest to kit builders, ultralight fans, and to manufacturers of Light-Sport Aircraft. Those from Sandia Aerospace are better suited to LSA and larger aircraft. This Albuquerque, New Mexico company earned attention when they offered their drop-in EFIS at AirVenture by giving away a free aerobatic flight with purchase of the new digital instrument. It can fill a space in a panel as a back-up instrument.

A range of Sandia products are available from Aircraft Spruce. Sandia Aerospace produces high quality transponders, altitude encoders, airdata computers, avionics cooling fans, and Marc 70 interface modules. "We offer wire harnessing and custom coaxial assemblies to make shopping for a Sandia Aerospace transponder all one convenient shopping experience for your aircraft needs, said Aircraft Spruce.

For more information on Belite or Sandia avionics offerings, please contact Aircraft Spruce at 877-477-7823 or 951-372-9555.

Aircraft Spruce's complete product line is available online at www.aircraftspruce.com.  Request a free copy of the company's mammoth 1,100-page catalog. The catalog is available in print, on a CD, or in PDF format.

If wiring up the panel in your light kit aircraft or ultralight, Aircraft Spruce is again at the ready to assist you. In fact, they'll do all the hard work, which can hasten you to flight. Check out this video with Ryan Deck.


Sightseeing by Ultralight... in North Korea
By Dan Johnson, October 18, 2016

China's A2C ultralight seen at a 2015 airshow in Anyang. This one is fitted with agricultural crop micro-spray equipment. At least the powerplant is familiar, a Rotax.
The stories we hear about North Korea are usually bad. OK, I've rarely heard anything good so I guess the news is just about all bad. However, we hear about North Korea from mainstream media and government officials, neither of whom seem interested in good news about this reclusive Communist state. On whole, it seems probable things are pretty lousy in such a closed and controlled nation but now and again, something trickles out to show less evil.

This story was featured in Toronto, Canada's TheStar.com and was written by Eric Talmadge of the Associated Press. At the end of his article Eric wrote, "Officials say the ultralight aircraft used for the flights were made in North Korea." If so, I'd say they are a knock-off of a Chinese aircraft that I have examined.

A China airplane looking very similar has been seen at AirVenture 2015 though I'm guessing few visitors paid it much attention as it was far from the sleek, beautiful light aircraft commonly seen at the big show. However, China's A2C-L aircraft, developed by the AVIC Special Vehicle Research Institute, was this year the first ultralight aircraft to obtain a certificate of model design approval and a production permit issued by Civil Aviation Administration of China, according to China Aviation News. Nearly 100 A2C planes have been sold, that publication reported.

A tourist flight is photographed over Pyongyang, the capital city of North Korea.
The lead photo is mine from a China airshow in May 2015 and it looks very similar to the ones appearing with the rest of this article. Ironic, you might find it, that a China airplane could be knocked off by another country. Many American think China is taking products from other nations and making their own copies. Perhaps this shows how far China has advanced?

Mr. Talmadge reported in The Star, "Until a few months ago, if you wanted a bird's-eye view of North Korea's capital, you basically had only one option: a 492-foot-tall tower across the river from Kim Il Sung Square.

Now, if you have the cash, you can climb into the back seat of an ultralight aircraft." He explained that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has vowed to give North Koreans more modern and "cultured" ways to spend their leisure time, and with foreign tourism companies looking to entice visitors with unique things to do besides visit war museums and political monuments, a Pyongyang flying club has started offering short flights over some of the capital's major sights. Maybe it's working as Talmadge reported, "Officials say more than 4,000 North Koreans have gone up in the ultralight fleet since, along with 'hundreds of foreigners' from 12 countries."

His report continued, "The tours, which began in late July, are operated by the Mirim flying club out of a fancy new facility on an old airfield." Flights go directly over some of Pyongyang's most iconic spots, including the gargantuan May Day stadium, the torch-tipped Juche Tower and Kim Il Sung Square area, and the Munsu Water Park (center photo), another of Kim's leisure spot "gifts" to the city. After each flight, the tightly controlled society requires club officials to inspect photographs taken from the air.

The country's Mirim flying club provides tourist flights for $150, although reportedly less for North Korean citizens.
The Star reported that seeing the city from a height of 6,000 feet while moving through the skies at ultralight speeds offers a different perspective from anything tourists, and even most Pyongyang residents, had ever been able to get before.

Flights aren't cheap. A 25-minute mission from the airstrip on the outskirts of the city to Kim Il Sung Square and the Juche Tower, which had previously been the best place to get an urban panorama, sells for about $150 (2-3 month's wages for an average Korean factory worker). Shorter flights are offered at lower prices, starting from about $65, but those only fly around the immediate vicinity of the flight club, which is fairly rural. Prices for North Koreans are much cheaper, though club officials reportedly would not say exactly how much.

Officials say the ultralight aircraft used for the flights were made in North Korea. Perhaps, but if so, they must have used the A2C-L as their template. North Korea does trade with China, one of its few export/import partners.

I can only marvel at what North Koreans or tourists would think if they saw one of our modern Light-Sport Aircraft or a well-made American ultralight-like aircraft. China has other models North Korea might access but maybe the A2C-L was chosen for specific reasons. I'm guessing those few thousand folks that have taken a flight find it a special experience... one any American can take virtually for granted.


An Excellent Bargain in a Composite LSA
By Dan Johnson, October 16, 2016

The lines are separating a bit. Once we had a flock of LSA priced closer to one another than today. While some are put off by splashy marketing from companies offering LSA priced north of $200,000, your choices do include fixed wing aircraft for $50-80,000 and alternative (weight shift, gyro, and powered parachutes) LSA for even less.

However, if you want an all-composite design with a digital panel, your choices of lower-cost models is, admittedly, more restricted. It costs money to make things with more exotic materials and with fancier equipment. The great news in late 2016 is customers are getting more choices in "reasonably" priced airplanes (shown in quotes as reasonable is a term that varies from person to person).

The new model in this article will be at the DeLand Sport Aviation Showcase coming up in just over two weeks. I hope you're planning to attend. I'll be present and the first-ever show is already enticing visitors with more exhibitors than most were expecting. Obviously, it pays to hire an experienced leader — Jana Filip — and have a highly supportive airport manager in John Eiff along with town leaders that are all-in for sport aviation at their municipal airport.

Jabiru North America boss Pete Krotje announced, "The FAA was here recently and issued a fresh SLSA airworthiness certificate for our new J170-D aircraft." The new addition logs in as SLSA #142 on our SLSA List.

Pete explained, "Our J170-D is the latest iteration of Jabiru's popular two-place aircraft that is widely used as a trainer in Australia and other places around the world." He added, "It is even used in South Africa as a rhino spotter and for rhino poacher patrol (photo).

No stripped-down flight school model, a standard J170-D in the USA comes equipped with the deluxe Garmin G3X Touch EFIS, a Garmin communications radio, Garmin Mode S transponder, 2020 compliant ADS-B in and out including a certified WAAS GPS, night lighting, and leather seats. All this may be fairly common for higher end LSA, but not at this price: $99,900.

You might wonder why FAA had to make a visit for an airplane we've seen in the USA before. "What changed," I wondered?

"J170-D has some major changes in the airframe from the [earlier] J170-SP," Pete clarified. "The SP was a bit prone to aft CG issues if too much baggage was stowed behind the seats and a bit less stable than the larger J230-SP. Jabiru in Australia set about to remedy those problems in 2012 and the result was a longer engine mount to put the engine four inches farther out front and the new swept, airfoil shaped vertical tail." A version of the new tail shape made the J230-D highly stable but was actually first developed on the J170. See Jabiru history for the full story but Pete confirmed the result is a much more stable J170 needing much less rudder input than previously.

"We had to go treat it as a new make and model since Jabiru Aircraft Pty, Ltd., is the manufacturer instead of Jabiru USA or Jabiru North America," Pete said. "Similar to the J230-D, we could no longer manufacturer the aircraft in the USA after an FAA rule change in 2012." Pete refers to internal FAA guidance that attempted to tighten the controls over what companies could declare themselves a manufacturer.

This photo of the panel in Jabiru's demonstrator shows an optional second G3X Touch screen but is otherwise the standard issue, said Pete Krotje.
"Mr. Gib Shelpman from the Atlanta MIDO (Manufacturing Inspection District Office) did the inspection since it was a first article make and model." When I inquired about any need for a formal FAA factory audit as part of the first article inspection, Pete responded, "The audit was done by CASA in Australia for ASTM compliance." On the Airworthiness Certificate FAA issued, Jabiru Aircraft Pty is listed as manufacturer and the aircraft is built by the Australian company in their South African facility. "In the USA we only install the Garmin panel and assemble the airplane out of the shipping container," Pete explained.

Canadian readers will be interested to hear J170-D can also be configured as a Canadian advanced ultralight. In that vein, I should note that DeLand, Florida can be a nice change in early November perhaps encouraging our neighbors to the north to come for a warm-up visit. If they do, they can see J170-D along with all other DeLand attendees.

"We will be at the Deland Sport Aviation Showcase in booth #82, right inside the entry gate," noted Pete. He also assured, "Demo flights will be available." J170-D will be arrive at DeLand Friday, October 28th a few days before the show. I hope to get a flight in the updated model and will look to report on that in November. C'mon down and see us in Florida. Hurricane Matthew did not bring major damage and the show will go on as planned.


Matthew Mayhem ... First All-Mexican Light-Sport
By Dan Johnson, October 10, 2016

A few miles south of my home one finds Kennedy Space Center, where this fascinating photo was taken. photo courtesy of Wall Street Journal
First a personal tale and then something completely different...

In the last week, I encountered something brand new to me, although old as the ocean. I refer to Hurricane Matthew, which swept through my home area of Daytona Beach late last week. You haven't seen anything new on this website for a few days because, well... I was a little busy. Along with everyone else in this area, we spent days preparing for a Category 4 storm (identified as packing wind speeds of 135-156 miles an hour, enough to tear buildings apart). Everything outside was brought indoors. Sandbags were loaded and positioned because a 15 foot storm surge was predicted along with torrential rains. Because my dwelling — at the Spruce Creek Fly-in, an airport community (7FL6) — sits only 22 feet above sea level, such a storm surge took on epic damage possibilities.

Fortunately, the winds capped at 91 mph at the nearby Daytona Beach airport (KDAB). The storm surge was much less than forecast and the rain was not as heavy as anticipated. We probably owe this to a "wobble" the storm path took that kept it further out at sea. Thank goodness, the eye of the storm did not wander toward land. I don't want to think about that.

To return everything to its normal place and to clean up the mess of branches and debris the storm scattered around took more time, so nearly a week was lost to Matthew. Nonetheless, the overall damage was less than anticipated so I am thankful while remaining concerned for losses sustained by others.

Besides the Rotax engine, I can also see what appear to be deluxe Beringer wheels.
Now for "something completely different" (as the old Monty Python troupe used to call a new skit topic).

After translating some Mexican websites, I was able to glean a few facts about a new aircraft, a Light-Sport Aircraft according to developers, that is reportedly the first airplane in 50 years to be made completely in Mexico. I found it interesting that this new LSA-like aircraft arrives from a furniture company. Perhaps that's less unusual when you know that the airplane is made of wood, "extracted from fir and birch planted exclusively for aeronautical use and certified by the FAA," said the companies.

After three years of work the timber airplane, designed by Giovanni Angelucci and built in Mexico, is approaching being market ready. The somewhat spartan news was released without naming a functional website where interested persons could find more details. Even determining what the new aircraft is called was not clear but since this is a launch project, it's probably too soon for any enterprising business person to rush into representing the airplane.

Although the news released referred to the new aircraft as a Light-Sport Aircraft, the speeds they announced are well outside the U.S. category, hence my use of the term "LSA-like."

A side by side two-seater aircraft, this proposed LSA is a low wing design with fixed gear. Its takeoff weight of 600 kilograms (1,320 pounds) exactly matches the LSA standard but cruise speed was listed at 260 kilometers per hour or 140 knots, a bit speedier than allowed though that might change with a different prop and other minor modifications. Maximum speed was shown as 300 kilometers per hour or 163 knots.

The new Mexican airplane is power by a very familiar engine, the 100 horsepower Rotax 912, which places it more securely in the LSA sector. Endurance was listed as six hours yielding a range of better than 800 nautical miles, suggesting a fuel supply of about 30 gallons. Empty weight was shown at 330 kilograms or about 725 pounds, again roughly typical for the LSA category. Ceiling was shown as 15,000 feet.

The developers noted, "[The airplane is an] artisanal manufacture by cabinet makers." Such advanced wood-working skills were "applied to the design to ensure the efficiency and durability of the aircraft over time. Its use is sporting, recreational flying and can be used by flight schools and such work as territorial surveillance." The new plane comes from an alliance of Horizontec and Pirwi.

The companies added, "[This] will be the first airplane manufactured in Mexico since last century... and will contribute to the reactivation of the Mexican airline industry, which since the '50s did not produce full, but only aircraft parts."

"The design was confirmed by the Aviation Cluster of Queretaro and the Aeronautical University in Querétaro (UNAQ), which for three years has harbored the project." The new aircraft is priced at $180,000 and will be [built] on request in order to customize to the taste and needs of each client.

You can't see the Mexican entry at the DeLand Showcase coming up in just three weeks (November 3-4-5), but you can see the Jabiru J-230-D and many more Light-Sport, light kit, and ultralight aircraft. More details at DeLand's website.


A Lightning Bolt You Can Catch: LS1
By Dan Johnson, October 4, 2016

Over and over I've heard about the cost of Light-Sport Aircraft. Indeed, some are approaching $200,000 and at least four have smashed through that barrier (CubCrafters, Icon, Terra Fugia, and Lisa). Now, I'll grant you $200K+ for a two seater is fairly breathtaking. But...

In each case above and for those many others in the $125-175,000 range, we're talking about real money. Balancing that, all LSA in the $125K and up price range are impressive aircraft with more bells and whistles than most GA airplanes (and even some airliners!). They are hand-built works of art using carbon fiber; digital cockpits; wide, luxurious cockpits with amazing visibility; and emergency airframe parachutes. They are marvels with autopilot, synthetic vision, gas-sipping (and very modern) engines, and so much more.

Virtually every LSA — no matter how impressively equipped — still remains at half to one third or even less of the cost of even the most affordable Part 23 general aviation airplanes. Good heavens; even a Cessna 172 Skyhawk now costs more than $400,000!

Nonetheless, as fantastic and as decent a value as I believe our top-tier Special LSA represent, $150K to $250K is a big chunk of change for many recreational pilots who merely want to get some airtime.

This article presents another solution: Arion Aircraft's SLSA Lightning LS1. If you don't know this airplane, you haven't really been shopping hard enough in my humble opinion. For years, Arion has been making kits, SLSA, ELSA, and Experimental Amateur Built aircraft that exceed the parameters of Light-Sport Aircraft. For the SLSA model, the company has been through an intensive FAA audit and emerged with a worthy product.

You may also choose some very nice flying aircraft at much more affordable prices running from well under $100,000 down into the $30-40,000 range. (That's not an exaggeration and I can prove it.) Now, you might not care for such aircraft with fabric coverings and simpler panels and, in some cases, different controls. However, if observing your locale from above is your main goal, these inexpensive aircraft can do the job efficiently, and economically. Ain't nothing wrong with that... even if these airplanes may not be your choice.

Arion offers you quite an amazing deal, I believe. I'll get into some specifics below but just look at the airborne images of this plane. The lines of LS1 lines are sexy and shapely, its speed is top-of-the-category, its appointments are comfortable, its interior spacious, its engine powerful, and to top it off, this is a Made-in-America Light-Sport. When you call, you talk to Americans in the heartland and its components are made by American workers.

I imagine you agree Lightning LS1 is a handsome design, whether it is a kit, and ELSA or a fully-built Special LSA. Now, thanks to a change in their composite manufacturing — an outsourced set of key components, moved from their former supplier to one closer to Arion's facility in Shelbyville, Tennessee — Arion is able to make the purchase more affordable. In concert with the supplier change, Arion boss and principal designer, Nick Otterback, said, "A more streamlined in-house assembly and finish process helps us to further lower the cost."

Nick added, "A base-price Lightning will be EFIS equipped with 8.5-inch GRT sport system, Garmin's GTR200 com radio and GTX327 transponder, a PM1000 intercom, plus back up airspeed indicator. Standard base equipment still included from pervious years includes dual hydraulic toe brakes, AeroLEDs Pulsar XP wing tip navigation lights and strobes, faux-leather interior, electric flaps and pitch trim, adjustable rudder pedals, and 40-gallon fuel capacity." Available options are Dynon's SkyView system, Garmin's G3X, autopilot, and ADS-B.

Lightning looks good, comes well equipped ...but what is that price?

How about this for an even number you can remember: $100,000 for a 2017 ready-to-fly Lightning LS1?

A $10,000 deposit provides you with a production slot. You pay installments during the build process at major events, such as when the structure is complete, when the paint is done, and when your LS1 is ready for delivery. Nick said current delivery times are 120 to 150 days after your deposit is received.

A two-tone grey or tan interior is custom made to suit your chosen paint scheme. Arion advised, "You can pick your paint scheme and colors; we work to design a scheme for you." Nearby photos present the interior look.

The $100K model is sufficiently well equipped to allow full enjoyment for local flying or cross country travel. You can spend more if you want the options. Since Lightning is good for longer distance flying, ADS-B will be of interest if you play to enter controlled airspace. However, even with an option or two, LS1 can still be quite an excellent value.

I applaud Arion for refining their supply chain and processes to lower the SLSA Lightning to a affordable level. If you are in the market for a beautiful American-made Light-Sport, here's one worth a much closer look.



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

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

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.
Wave

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

Super Petrel LS, manufactured by Scoda Aeronautica in Brazil and built by Super Petrel USA, a branch of the Brazilian company in Ormond Beach, Florida, is a unique and highly effective LSA seaplane. This biplane flying boat is well established with more than 20 years of history.

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.

MVP.aero turned many heads when introducing its one-of-a-kind entry to Light-Sport Aircraft seaplanes. MVP, for Most Versatile Plane, justifies that phrase by doing more than flying off water. Hereís one to examine much more closely!


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.

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.

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.

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