We have a new year upon us. With our new reporting capabilities for LSA and SP kit market shares, we can now quickly report results from 2019. A huge thanks to our supreme “datastician,” Steve Beste for making such swift and accurate reporting possible. I assure you that I’ve looked high and low for every year LSA have existed to find no comparable information. As always, be advised that our data comes from FAA’s aircraft registration database. That means it is impartial — hopefully meaning reliable and dependable — but it also means some massaging of the information is needed to be completely accurate. (See this article for more detail on the effort involved; it is not trivial.) Steve’s valuable ability to manipulate database resources combines with his knowledge of light aircraft to make an unbeatable combination. As much as any data allows — and as the saying goes… “you can take this info to the bank.” It’s solid!
Texas Aircraft“I cannot express how happy and proud I am of our entire team. Just a year ago, the Colt LSA was still in development, and we had just opened the doors at our facility here in Hondo, Texas,” Texas Aircraft Manufacturing’s co-founder, Matheus Grande said. “To be here today and to deliverour first Texas-built Colt is truly a blessing.” “It is also exceptionally gratifying to have Colt number one going to Ricky, a young man who exemplifies what Light-Sport Aircraft are all about,” Matheus added. “He and his father were looking for an aircraft that they can both enjoy flying. Ricky is a Private Pilot and his father has a Sport Pilot certificate." Texas Aircraft believes Colt fits their needs as a modern, capable and safe airplane. "Colt is not only fun to fly, but extremely efficient for their frequent recreational flights.”
Why Colt?“We looked at several new LSA, and while they all had their merits, the all-new Colt really stood out as something special,” Ricky said. “The Colt flies like a much larger aircraft, so the transition from the 172 to the Colt was very easy for me.” Among other attributes, Colt uses control yokes that have been experienced by nearly all students in the last few decades. “While the new Dynon EFIS and airframe parachute were strongly in the Colt’s favor, the biggest advantage [became clear] when my father and I visited the factory in Hondo, Texas. We saw the pride and passion that went into building the Colt,” Ricky expressed. “They truly made the whole experience delightful for my family and me. That kind of passion and attention to detail has to create an outstanding airplane.” “Texas Aircraft is raising the bar on quality, safety, and service,” said Ricky's father, Richard Youschak, Sr. “Their professional staff made the experience of buying our airplane fun from the design phase through delivery, and their exceptional service didn’t end there. I’m extremely happy with our Colt and Texas Aircraft.”
Go Gators!One of the special touches provided by Texas Aircraft was an orange and blue paint scheme, inspired by the school colors of the University of Florida Gators. “I’m studying Nuclear Engineering at UF, so I am really looking forward to showing off my ‘Gator Pride’ at all the airports as my father and I fly throughout northern Florida, the Bahamas, and to and from my family home in Fort Myers in the southwest of the state,” Ricky said. “My father and I enjoy flying together and our new Colt will be the perfect airplane for us to share our airborne adventures for years to come.” “I can’t tell you how happy everyone at Texas Aircraft is about being able to help Ricky and his family achieve their dream of aircraft ownership. Giving people the gift of affordable, reliable, and safe aircraft operation was the reason we developed the Colt S-LSA in the first place,” Grande said.“We are extremely grateful to the entire Youschak family for putting their faith and trust in Texas Aircraft.”
Facts about the Texas Aircraft Colt-SL
- Semi-cantilever, high-wing design, approved as a Special LSA
- All aviation-grade aluminum airframe with all solid metal rivets
- Wide cabin with welded Chromoly passenger safety cell
- Engine Type — 100 horsepower Rotax 912 ULS
- Propeller Type — Sterna composite, three-blade
- Maximum Speed at Sea Level — 119 KIAS
- Cruise Speed at 75% power — 105 KIAS
- Stall Speed, Clean — 44 knots
- Stall Speed, Full Flaps — 38 knots
- Takeoff Distance (over 50 foot obstacle) — 1,085 feet
- Landing Distance (over 50 foot obstacle) — 1,044 feet
- Climb Rate (Vy) — 800 feet per minute
- Four-point passenger safety harnesses
- Airframe ballistic parachute system
- Dynon 10-inch SkyView HDX touchscreen display with Synthetic Vision with 3D graphics
- Dynon Mode-S Transponder with ADS-B Out/In and TIS traffic
- Dynon WAAS enabled GPS Receiver
- Dynon digital autopilot with Level Button
- Dynon Electronic Engine Monitoring System
Take your pick: our short (3-min.) video or the following longer Video Pilot Report, both recorded at the Midwest LSA Expo 2019. https://youtu.be/DkPD07-z0Wc
How about this for a great way to start off the new year — a brand-new airplane? Both pilot and manufacturer are smiling and with good reason: both are winners in this transaction, as it should be. Hondo-based Texas Aircraft Manufacturing announced today that the new Light-Sport Aircraft builder delivered its first new-generation Colt to Richard “Ricky“ Youschak, of Gainesville, Florida. Colt has a history. While a clean-sheet design, the all-metal high-wing aircraft follows a successful design from Brazil, the Conquest 180. Built especially for the LSA market, Colt benefits from the earlier manufacturing exercise. Approximately 300 were delivered by the older Brazilian builder. Colt gained its Special LSA approval last year. More details are available in this earlier article. Texas Aircraft “I cannot express how happy and proud I am of our entire team. Just a year ago, the Colt LSA was still in development, and we had just opened the doors at our facility here in Hondo, Texas,” Texas Aircraft Manufacturing’s co-founder, Matheus Grande said.
It’s a New Year! …Join us next at the Copperstate show in combination with the Buckeye (Arizona) Air Fair next February. Before then read more below and see many short videos on the ByDanJohnson YouTube channel. You can find a huge, ever-growing library of LSA and Sport Pilot kit videos featuring Dan on Videoman Dave’s popular YouTube channel + view hundreds of our best videos archived here in a searchable format. Thanks for your visit. We genuinely appreciate those of you who have become members!
Wait, Weight! Do Tell MeA common misconception is that "FAA is raising the weight of LSA." Nope, they are not. They are creating a Power Index that will describe the aircraft's size while trying to keep LSA "safe, simple, and easy to fly" yet encourage them to grow and develop. That short phrase is FAA's stated goal, so, simplistically, larger airplanes will require larger wings to keep their flight qualities docile. Aircraft will indeed be permitted to be heavier, perhaps even as high as the 3,600-pound number once stated (though more likely topping out at 3,000 pounds). The fall 2019 speculation was wrong but weights of LSA will indeed rise. FAA's goal here is not to fit Cessna 150s and 172s or Pipers or other legacy GA airplanes into the mix (though they may qualify), but rather to increase the capability of LSA and to "bridge the gap between present-day LSA and certified aircraft meeting Part 23" (which itself is changing), said FAA personnel. One hard number associated with FAA's Power Index — basically a formula that hopes to assure agency goals — is stall speed. While horsepower may also be capped at 200 horsepower, it is nearly certain that stall speed will be limited to 50 knots while using devices like flaps and other wing modifications. Many LSA do NOT need to get heavier. I think of weight shift trikes, powered parachutes, gyroplanes, and motor gliders. Many fixed wing designs are also perfectly fine as they are. A heavier aircraft, requiring more raw material and needing more power will surely be more costly although they should offer additional capabilities. Some producers strive to keep prices low and affordable so they might stay at 1,320 pounds or their present weight… nothing wrong with that, of course.
Other BenefitsI reported that LSA may also get: • in-flight adjustable props, • more seats, • higher speeds, • electric or hybrid propulsion, • fully-built gyroplanes should arrive, and — the big one: we hope for • commercial use of LSA. Some pilots will see this as a chance to pursue a new business and manufacturers may embrace this as a way to sell more aircraft. Many have asked about retractable gear. While I did not report this earlier, that configuration is also in planning. However, as stated earlier, none of this is certain even if it is likely. Several other FAA departments have to weigh in and then it will (later, perhaps in 2021?) be released for public comment, which could further change it.
FAQs from the Video BelowAs you can read for yourself if you wish, many comments were posed after the video was uploaded. Here is a brief summary of what I read among the comments: Higher speeds — Yes. While not 200 knots, it seems entirely possible LSA may be allowed to zoom past 120 knots, perhaps to 140 or more. As with all parts of the proposed rule, this is still being decided and any number of FAA entities, including the tough Legal Department, have to (hopefully) add their blessing. Why Build Now? — One commenter asked, "Why produce something under the old standards if there are changes coming?" As mentioned above, some aircraft do not need to change; I can think of many that are ideal as they are now. However, an ambitious manufacturer will see new markets to explore with larger, faster, more capable aircraft. Just because a 2024 LSA could weigh 3,000 pounds doesn't mean it must. However, if a builder does wish to pursue a new model, they need information sooner than later. Why Buy Now? — Impending rule change can cause market paralysis, which would be a most regretful result. Please, potential buyers… remember that this rule will not become effective for around four years. If you wait for something later, you will miss out on lots of good flying over those years. You can always sell what you have now or may acquire during the next four years; used LSA sales are a growing phenomenon and offer more affordable prices. If you cannot live without an in-flight adjustable prop or retractable gear or four seats or other promises, well, you're stuck. You must buy a much-more costly (probably older) certified aircraft. Others could spend the hours to build a kit or buy one some other person built. If you fly for fun, you have so many choices now it's hard to choose the ideal one for you. Need help deciding? Try PlaneFinder 2.0; it's fun and may help you select your perfect LSA. Won't Current LSA Lose their Value? — Legacy Cessnas, Cirruses, or Pipers have faced this music for decades. Anything new — car, boat, RV, etc. — will lose some value after purchase. However, LSA will hold up much better than your current computer or TV, both of which will lose nearly all their value within weeks after you take it home. You are urged to keep in mind that enjoying a present-day LSA is a thing of joy… now! If you wait, think about all the great flights you will miss. You have 150 models to choose between: see our SLSA List. Flying GA Airplanes with a Sport Pilot certificate (without an aviation medical) — A commenter asked, "Will this new rule will allow planes like the Piper Cherokee to be considered as acceptable for LSA status and [can owners] change their certification [to LSA]?" Simply, we don't know yet. I am quite sure the effort to allow weight to rise and to add other features was not to bring in legacy GA designs to become LSA. FAA's usual pattern is that when an aircraft is certified or accepted as one type, it generally cannot be changed to another classification. Perhaps more to the point, will FAA allow you to fly a 2,500-pound GA airplane with a Sport Pilot certificate …without getting a Class 1-2-3 medical? Alternatively, can a Sport Pilot fly a 3,000-pound new LSA? We don't know this either. Our hope is that FAA will allow the Sport Pilot certificate to be used to fly heavier, more capable aircraft perhaps using the logbook endorsement method employed today. For example, a basic SP certificate does not allow flight into Class B airspace until the pilot has received additional training for this. However, after getting more instruction, a SP ticket holder can fly into Class B once securing only a logbook endorsement (no further testing is needed). Multiple Engines on LSA — A commenter asked, "How about a multiengine LSA?" LAMA has posed this question to FAA and it may be possible. At least for electric propulsion, the idea of what's often called "distributed lift" — that is, multiple motors/props driven by a common energy source — is being considered by rule writers. Bad FAA? — Although a number of commenters threw darts at FAA for not being more responsive or for taking too long with this regulation, LAMA advocates for industry have seen FAA be very open to new ideas for LSA and for letting industry handle more of the approval process. The agency has been remarkably receptive to every idea LAMA has presented and they specifically say they want to be "less restrictive, less prescriptive." Yes, 2023 seems a long way off now, but two points are worthwhile: (1) to be all completed by the end of 2023, dictated by a congressional mandate attached to FAA budget funding, rule writers must complete their final drafts by the end of 2021 or so; (2) this is a sweeping, comprehensive rule with lots of detail. I have observed FAA personnel working diligently on this but it will take a couple years more to sort out hundreds of points… especially as this significantly changes how FAA does business (giving industry more leeway to devise methods and standards). I urge patience. Changing Part 103 Ultralight Vehicles — (A fair number of comments spoke to Part 103 ultralights.) Nope, no changes coming. While some think this is imperative, many experts feel certain that to ask for changes will be to upset the least-regulated form of manned flight in the USA. Other countries have adopted similar hands-off rules (SSDR in England; 120-Kilogram Class in Germany, etc.). Many believe that asking for any change to Part 103 could potentially ruin the charm of these lightest-of-aircraft… 'er "vehicles." Perhaps later, but no change to Part 103 is sought at this time. The good news about Part 103 is you have several good choices now (Kolb Firefly, Aerolite 103, Badlands F-series, and others plus a number of trikes or PPCs or PPGs). Those aircraft are selling well enough that the first two mentioned are backed up trying to satisfy demand. More? — It's great that pilots are reacting to this news and that manufacturers are studying everything they can as they plan their next steps. Indeed, the next four years will be very exciting — both positively and confusingly. Change is coming. Our mission is to give you more info, to help you stay informed, and hopefully all will see ways the coming changes will be good for them. Nonetheless, to repeat, LSA manufacturers are building some fine aircraft today, in a dizzying number of models and configurations. Pilots have never seen a better time to buy and fly something you love. So, get out and do so — but be smart and safe in your enjoyment.
Happy New Year!
https://youtu.be/XY1PttWHEqc The lead photo seen on the home page was of a Progressive Aerodyne Searey LSX dubbed "Phaeton" and owned by Robert Richardson. It depicts the Maryland state flag in its graphics. A Searey is used by RS Aerotech's project to develop single lever control for an in-flight adjustable prop.
As we kick off a new year and a new decade, it feels like the starter’s timer has just been clicked into action. The next four years should prove to be highly interesting — and for all of aviation, not only Light-Sport Aircraft, Sport Pilot kit aircraft, and ultralights. Change can be difficult, but it’s coming. For the most part, I feel this is heading in a great direction even if some may struggle with elements of the new rule. Earlier, an often-shared report discussed the changes FAA plans as part of a “deregulation” of Light-Sport Aircraft. Below, you can see a video that stimulated numerous comments. An updated report is still being prepared from a late-fall 2019 discussion with FAA rule writers. That will be sent to LAMA members first with specific details. Other industry pros will get a simpler update so all the makers of our great aircraft can be prepared when the rule is issued no more than four years from now.
Now, Back to AircraftI have been writing about seaplanes even as the snow flies in northern latitudes because… well, why not? Plus, this is a good time to enter an order for a new one so you get it as lakes thaw and the sun warms the Earth in spring and summer 2020. One of the most anticipated of these new Light-Sport Aircraft seaplanes is the Vickers Wave. As earlier did Icon Aircraft and their carefully engineered A5, the Vickers Aircraft and staff have kept their heads down, sweating the details of this innovation-packed design. This coming new year is when Wave will leave the water on its first flight. As you will read below, Wave will launch more energetically than most other LSA seaplanes because they've settled on their engine choice with more power. The newest Rotax will assure their heaviest-to-date LSA amphibian has a strong push into the skies. "As 2019 draws to a close, we are pleased to announce a new strategic partnership with Rotax Aircraft Engines," announced boss Paul Vickers. "Rotax engines have become the first choice for more than 220 aircraft manufacturers worldwide; they are the premier aircraft engine manufacturer across the Light-Sport industry." Rotax’s latest offering, the 915iS "is the culmination of 40 years of aircraft engine development." Paul continued, "Offering 141 horsepower from a compact, modern, fuel efficient engine, the Rotax 915iS is the perfect match for our Wave. The turbocharged powerplant gives the Wave all 141 horses up to 15,000 feet with no performance loss, unlike naturally aspirated engines. We are very pleased to welcome the reliable, total package that is the Rotax 915iS to the Vickers journey." Earlier, as Vickers' team anticipated a higher weight — as did Icon's A5 engineers and other designs like Terrafugia's flying car LSA — the New Zealand manufacturer was leaning toward Continental's super-potent 180 horsepower Titan. That would surely have offered more-than-ample power but it is a larger, heavier powerplant. "The compact size of the Rotax powerplant has allowed us to modify the design of the rear fuselage/engine cowling area," explained Paul. "This has significantly improved airflow over the propeller, further enhancing the performance of Wave." Nearby images unveil the Wave engine nacelle redesign. "We cannot wait to share more with you. Stay tuned in early 2020 for more announcements on further strategic partners as we quickly approach first flight," finished Paul. Team Vickers will take a short break for Christmas but 2020 is shaping up to be a big year for the Vickers Aircraft Company. Count on ByDanJohnson.com keeping you informed and up-to-date.
Merry Christmas, Everyone!
The last airshow (DeLand) is over. Recreational aircraft across the snow belt are secured in their hangars. Santa Claus and his reindeer have an imaginary TFA imposed over the rooftops of all homes with young kids. Our festive Christmas season has center stage… With that our warmest wishes for your holidays and wishing you a prosperous happy new year with all the flying you could want. We are pleased to have served you another year as we enter into our 17th of providing news, reviews, and videos for your entertainment and information. THANKS to each and every one of you who visited in 2019. Please come back next decade! 😎 Now, Back to Aircraft I have been writing about seaplanes even as the snow flies in northern latitudes because… well, why not? Plus, this is a good time to enter an order for a new one so you get it as lakes thaw and the sun warms the Earth in spring and summer 2020.
It's Holiday Time What Could You Ask Santa to Bring?How about WingBug as a stocking stuffer? This thing is pretty amazing. I admire developer Alex Rolinski and partner Bryan Tittle for pursuing such a project to a high state of the art. The good folks at Levil have a different entry (the B.O.M.) but WingBug has an advantage in that they also developed an app to support the hardware. The app and product are darned impressive and the video below will tell you all you need to know plus give you a close-up look to see how it functions. (This was a rare solo effort of video recording on my part but it has been made totally professional thanks to the talented YouTube publisher Videoman Dave who could not attend DeLand this year.)
Going Faster in the Future?"Here is some newsworthy information for your website," related Deon Lombard, who imports the Aeropilot L600 and InnovAviation FX1. "As we believe this aircraft will qualify for the new Light-Sport Aircraft rules to come (perhaps)," this kit could find a market in the USA. Until that rule arrives — probably in late 2023 — "Whisper can be a nice step up in airspeed and weight limits within the Experimental Amateur Built class." Deon's now-Florida-based operation will offer Whisper in kit form or quick-built kit. It can be completed as a taildragger or tricycle gear (nearby photos). Deon said Whisper will require about "half the airframe build time of an RV or Lancair in a very strong composite sandwich material, with UV and lightning protection." He reported the structure has been tested to handle a 12G load. One is already approved and flying in the USA, Deon reported, using a slightly smaller Lycoming engine at present. Some 25 are presently flying in South Africa. Whisper is, he added, "a fast and roomy aircraft, with a lower profile, making it about 10 knots faster than a RV 7." See additional factory specifications here. The price is also very competitive, Deon maintained. "We will be offering an owner builder-assist program conducted by the factory guys, in Florida." Deon said it takes only a 14-day period when assembled at their U.S. facility. He promised to advise a hangar address early next year and hopes to have a demo plane ready for Sun 'n Fun 2020. See Whisper at the Aeropilot booth at the April event.
In case I don’t get another post up before (gosh, this is a busy time of year, isn’t it?)… let me wish all visitors and viewers a very warm and wonderful holiday. We so appreciate your visits to ByDanJohnson.com! We begin a new year shortly and will keep our focus on the many enjoyable light airplanes. This industry and the pilots it serves have an exciting four years ahead as FAA’s huge new regulation comes to completion. For some this will add excellent new opportunities such as using an LSA of the future to do various kinds of aerial work — and much more. For others — those of you who enjoy pure recreational flying — the new rule will also be beneficial as FAA pulls further back to let industry take the lead in new directions. I find this very foresightful of the aviation agency and I’m thrilled to report more as we learn details of the new rule.
DeLand Race AroundWe started these quick-tour videos a few years ago and to a certain segment of visitors and viewers, these are hits as they show most of the airplane exhibitors plus give a sense of the event. In this video, I was a one-man band, driving a golf cart, videoing the scenes, and narrating into a microphone. Good thing I wasn't on the highway where I might have been criticized for multi-tasking. If I make it look easy, most of the credit goes to Videoman Dave for expertly editing the conglomeration of video clips and filling in images when aircraft vacated their exhibits to give demonstration flights. I hope you'll enjoy. https://youtu.be/U89yNEHTAzM
Tecnam JuggernautFrom the wonderfully simple P-92 — Tecnam's biggest seller that was exquisitely updated last year — to a twin-Rotax-engine model used even by other LSA producers who offer training to multi-engine students, to an 11-seat commuter airliner now in operation in the USA (by Cape Air), the world's leading light aircraft producer seems to have an aircraft for every interest group. They've also done masterfully well at penetrating the dense fog of national regulations to deliver aircraft in 65 nations. Oh, they are also the oldest continuously operating company serving light aviation, having celebrated their 71st birthday not long ago. In the following video, enjoy hearing "the face of Tecnam in the United States," Shannon Yeager, tell us about the lovely and luxurious Astore Light-Sport Aircraft. https://youtu.be/ucI0nwCtiGY
Flyer Bites the DustFinally, an aircraft I tried hard to go fly for a review (I failed, despite a strong inside connection) …is going away forever. I refer to the Kitty Hawk Flyer. This single seat aircraft, nicely upgraded from its first awkward-looking configuration, had its electric-charger plug pulled when the company discontinued the one-place multicopter, first reported here. The following information and quotes come from a recent article in Forbes online… "Flyer [is] a single-seat, battery-powered aircraft intended to be a low-altitude fun machine for use over water, like a jet ski on rotors." The writer is clearly not an active pilot but his reporting appears consistent with other details I've heard. In 2017, Kitty Hawk started taking deposits promising to deliver Flyers to willing buyers by the end of that year. "Two years later, however, Kitty Hawk’s promise to bring personal flying to the masses has failed to take wing yet amid technical problems and safety issues with Flyer and unresolved questions about its practical use, according to four former Kitty Hawk employees who were among six who spoke to Forbes on the condition of anonymity due to nondisclosure agreements." Aerospace & Defense reporter Jeremy Bogaisky wrote, "Kitty Hawk confirmed to Forbes that, after unveiling a more polished version of Flyer last year, it has decided not to sell the one-seater to individuals and has returned deposits to would-be buyers. Behind closed doors, Flyer encountered problems, including frequent breakdowns and fires involving batteries, electric motors and wiring, two former engineers said. Last year, the Mountain View Fire Department was called to put out an early morning blaze at the Flyer building, city records show; former employees said the fire at the Google-owned building involved damaged batteries that had been pulled out of a Flyer that had crashed the previous day in flight testing under remote operation." Bogaisky noted that no one had been injured in the crash or fire. Kitty Hawk's Flyer "conducted 26,000 test flights with over 100 prototype vehicles,” said Shernaz Daver, an advisor to Kitty Hawk. "No person has ever been harmed or exposed due to undue risk." Supported by the deep pockets of Google's Larry Page, Kitty Hawk was able to hire engineers, machinists and designers to create cutting-edge aircraft. However, Bogaisky noted, "The company faces the same problems as any aspirant in the field: the poor energy density of the current generation of batteries severely limits the flight times and carrying capacity of electric aircraft." He added that "Building a functioning prototype is faster and easier than turning it into a reliable product that satisfies aviation regulators’ safety requirements." The technical issues proved quite difficult. "The latest prototype was breaking down frequently," Bogaisky wrote. "[Flyer] needed regular troubleshooting and repair by engineers, three former employees said." He reported one employee saying, “This thing would break every few hours and need service.” One observation I add… Even with seemingly unlimited funds and a well-paid staff, Kitty Hawk cannot yet make Flyer a viable product. Perhaps they will and maybe, just maybe, they will continue with the single seat, supposedly-Part 103 Flyer. Regrettably, I won't be holding my breath even though I am very intrigued by multicopter-type designs. For now, I guess I'll look elsewhere to take a flight in one of these new-style aircraft. To get the whole story and hear about how Kitty Hawk is teaming up with Boeing, read the Forbes article.
As we rush toward the Christmas holiday period and get excited about a new season of flying (after a few more weeks of snow and ice), we have some news to report. Fortunately, you can stay where it’s warm and just watch — thanks to new videos from DeLand. While I missed my YouTube partner Videoman Dave at the show, I managed to fly solo and shoot video interviews and more on my own. Thank goodness, Dave remains at his video editing equipment and I am pleased to post a couple fresh videos below. A mere three weeks since Deland Showcase 2019 ended the airshow season for the year, fresh videos are flowing to provide information and entertainment. DeLand Race Around We started these quick-tour videos a few years ago and to a certain segment of visitors and viewers, these are hits as they show most of the airplane exhibitors plus give a sense of the event.
Panel Line BroadeningAt DeLand, TQ representatives displayed the company's latest radio and transponders. These new models complement a range of components available in various form factors to fit the wide variety of aircraft in which they may be installed. The newest shape conforms to the common center stack in many GA aircraft. A new benefit is a screen that can be read in bright sunlit using "transflective" technology, different from readouts in the smaller form factor radios and transponders TQ offers. Performance didn't change, according to Sebastian. Learn about all TQ products at this web page.
- Transflective color display
- Direct sunlight compatible
- Light weight
- Minimal power consumption
- Integrated voice-controlled two-place intercom,
- ADS-B out FAA 2020 mandate compliant
- Transflective color display
- Suitable for direct sunlight
- Adapter for connection to other radios
- Light weight
- Minimal power consumption
In this short video, watch the Dornier fire up and fly away plus see the TQ radio line in various form factors… https://youtu.be/wtwCGRN0Uzc
When your product fits a small space in the instrument panel, how do you show off such a small product in a more visible way at airshows. TQ Sales Director Sebastian Glück had an idea. He worked with TQ Aviation managers to acquire a beautiful Dornier Do 27 and applied the bright blue TQ logo to the airplane. Did it work? Absolutely. The handsome aircraft (it is far from a Light-Sport Aircraft) was prominently parked during the DeLand Showcase 2019 and TQ could be pretty certain every single attendee saw the aircraft. Dornier Do 27 is a light single-engine six-seat STOL multi-purpose transport aircraft produced by the German manufacturer Dornier-Werke GmbH. Instead of four passengers, Sebastian and his associate Karl-Heinz Reichmann used the huge aft doors to load all their airshow exhibit gear. The space was full but loading it looked very straightforward except for hoisting it up high.
Duc Propellers USA Also a Success"Designed in France. Assembled in the USA." Hmmm, sounds rather like a certain product "Designed in California, Assembled in China" from a famous brand. The high-tech French prop maker established a base in the USA where they provide full support and service for the growing line of propellers for Light-Sport Aircraft and Sport Pilot kits. Visitors to the inside displays at Deland Showcase 2019 saw a new Flash 2 four-blade prop on display in the Duc Propellers USA display at Deland Showcase 2019. "This is a four-blade, ground-adjustable prop developed expressly for the Rotax 915iS," said Gaetan Fouozing, Duc's new representative at their Sebring facility serving North America. Readers may recall the newest, most powerful engine from Rotax has only been available with props that can be adjusted in-flight. However, at AirVenture Oshkosh 2019, the Austrian company announced they would begin supplying the 915iS for fixed pitch props in fall 2019. Read more about Rotax 915iS here. Gaetan said Duc engineers studied three and four blade combinations but settled on four blades to make use of the added power delivered by 915iS (up 40% from the Rotax 912iS). He confirmed the Flash 2 4-blade product is in stock at this time. "All Duc products are held in stock at our Sebring facility," Gaetan observed. In addition to the ground adjustable capability, Duc said their new Flash 2 is "available in Hydro version for seaplanes." The French prop manufacturer said the hydro version offers high water resistance and abrasion by adding an Inconel metal leading edge The hydro prop development also includes a specific blade tip built of "structural monolithic carbon 40 millimeters (1.57 inches) thick" to "optimize cutting for splash." The metal leading edge is available at no additional cost. Priced at $4,589.50, Flash 2 four blade is fairly precious but it is designed to manage the power of the also more costly Rotax 915iS engine that outputs 141 horsepower. As the time-honored race car saying goes, "Speed costs money. How fast do you want to go?" Engines are sometimes said to the be primary component that has driven aircraft development over the decades but engines demand propellers that can transmit engine power to moving an aircraft through the air. The folks at Duc continue to apply their expertise to this essential product.
“The DeLand Sport Aviation Showcase (DSAS), conducted from November 14-16, 2019 at the DeLand Municipal Airport in Florida, has completed a careful look at ticket sales, gate receipts, exhibitor numbers and other data… and is happy to report that the 2019 Showcase eclipsed the 2018 attendance by over 20%,” reported lead organizer, Jana Filip. “Sport aviation is alive and well… and the truly dedicated flyers out there simply would not let some clouds and sporadic rain keep them from seeing and sharing in all that was new and interesting in the sport aviation universe,” explained Jana. At the fourth running of Deland Showcase, organizers boasted 26 companies new to the event. They had earlier reported a sold-out exhibitor slate. Jana will study attendee and exhibitor reports and will then confirm dates for the 2020 edition of the DeLand Showcase. A decision is expected shortly. Duc Propellers USA Also a Success “Designed in France.
Here's Seamax, LSA SeaplaneIf you can buy boats in Minnesota when the temps are minus-20°, why not consider a sweet little seaplane like Seamax. I call it "little" deliberately, not just to be charming (though I think that adjective qualifies as well). Seamax designer, Miguel Rosario, acknowledged my judgment that Seamax is a performance aircraft within the LSA seaplane category. How does the aircraft earn such a call? In one simple way: empty weight is surprisingly low 715 pounds. Fabric-covered wings are one of many ways Miguel keeps Seamax weight on a diet. Indeed, Miguel believes the 100-horsepower, carbureted, Rotax 912 ULS is a beautiful engine choice with a lower price tag, lower weight, and less complexity that makes for easier installation. He did acknowledge that the ULS might be even better with a single curb — one that would require no balancing between the two present-day carbs — but otherwise he loves the older engine. Nonetheless, because many do like the idea of the newer, more fuel-efficient, fully electronically-controlled engine from Rotax, Seamax aircraft displayed a fresh new model with a 912iS engine and loaded with a beautiful dual screen Garmin G3X Touch instrument panel. Even the seats still had plastic protective covers on them as you’ll see in the video below.
Embry Riddle and DeLand Sport Aviation VillageBecause I heard a Seamax delegation investigated the new incubator project at the Deland airport. I inquired if they would remain in their position at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.
The answer is yes, because Embry Riddle offers them, for example, access to a wind tunnel that few other light airplane producers can employ. In addition, students at the university assisted with a Seamax customer survey that was valuable to the company. Having such a prestigious address associated with their name is never a bad thing.
Yet for the messier process of manufacturing these airplanes in the U.S. — which remains a goal — DeLand’s new development across the field from the Showcase event is a worthwhile exploration for the Brazilian company. Because DeLand and Daytona Beach-based Embry Riddle are only a 20 minute drive apart, this can be a workable combination.
Talking to Miguel and U.S.-based Shalom Confessor, both acknowledged that after a gradual start to establishing an American outlet they are seeing more activity from U.S. buyers. They seem pleased with the state of sales development in America.When I asked Miguel about his Norway market, a country that gave a nice boost initially to Seamax, he said interest was still strong in that Nordic country but the USA now represents their largest single target market. Manufacturing in the USA is an activity that could also support export sales to other countries. The process may be easier for worldwide distribution then from Brazil, which retain some of its exporting difficulties. Presently, more than 150 Seamaxes are flying around the world. Miguel seems one of those always-on designers, never resting. While I agreed not to reveal any plans in the works, the years ahead could foresee interesting new developments for this company and this designer. Having achieved so much already, it’s worth paying attention to what Miguel Rosario does. I will certainly do so. See our flight review video from last year at DeLand in this longer video, but right below, I hope you’ll enjoy this short video shot this year revealing a pair of SeaMaxes at DeLand Showcase 2019. Stay tuned for more!
Saturday was the final day of the last airshow of 2019. DeLand Showcase 2019 suffered its chilliest weather of the four years it has been operating. Nonetheless, my unscientific survey of airshow vendors jibed with numerous comments from individual pilots: despite the less-than-ideal weather this year, sales of aircraft and other aviation gear proceeded. These smaller, sector-focused shows clearly remain successful. I rush to observe November is commonly a very predictable time of year in Florida, with temperatures in the high 70s / low 80s with clear blue skies. This year not so much but I’ll bet next year will return to normal. Temperatures are already back to almost 80° today. Deland Showcase is much like the boat shows I used to marvel at in my former home of Minnesota. In that northern, almost-Canada state, huge boat shows were staged in the dead of winter, when snow and ice covered the surface and most boats were hidden in warm storage facilities.
As readers of ByDanJohnson.com know, we enjoy keeping a tight (though not exclusive) focus on the aircraft we love to fly. That approach is not changing but I discovered two products at DeLand Showcase 2019 that can make airplanes safer, perhaps much safer.
As the show concludes tomorrow, I will resume focus on aircraft with more news and fresh video. For now, please consider these two products.
Teknofibra's Miraculous Cloth
I recorded video with developer and company founder Alessandro Molteni watching as his U.S. representative Mark Harper did a demonstration like you see in the nearby photos.
It looked for all the world like a visual trick — the way a magician or sleight-of-hand artist might fool you. Yet I stood right nearby watching a live person hold a blue-flame torch up to the palm of his hand, protected only by a soft cloth of 4 millimeters (about 1/6th of an inch or about a stack of 3 dime coins). That was the only barrier between tender human skin and a hot fire of more than 2,000°F.
Mark admitted to being nervous before doing this demonstration the first time but he seemed no worse for the wear after applying the scorching torch to the cloth on his hand for more than 30 seconds.
To say I was impressed would be gross understatement.
Working with Teknofibra
The magical material is made of carbon fiber (about 80%) and the balance a closely-guarded secret. Soft to the touch, something like felt, Teknofibra cuts easily with a scissors and does not produce fibers that are harmful.
Ceramic fibers may have similar heat resistance but working with such material requires a breathing filter, gloves, and other protective clothing. If you've ever rubbed again fiberglass insulation with bare skin, you know how uncomfortable that is and it can itch for days. Ceramic fiber is said to be much worse. Teknofibra seems innocent in comparison.
Taking the material directly from Mark after his blowtorch demo, the cloth felt only slightly warm. It appeared completely unaffected and is comfortable enough against the skin that you could make fire retardant clothing from it, I imagine.
Uses of Teknofibra
Mark Harper is not an aviation guy. His business supplies high-end motorcycle racing. One use is to protect fiberglass body parts from hot exhaust pipes near the bodywork. Alessandro said it is widely used in auto racing and customers include a wide range of top names in that field. The uses are potentially endless.
For pilots… the uses are arguably even more valuable because of the seriousness of an in-flight fire. A firewall protected with material about 8 mm thick (a little more than a quarter inch) can be mated to a thin foil on one side and with an adhesive on the other. Recall it can easily be cut to fit precisely.
In addition electrical wires and fuel lines can be wrapped with material. Teknofibra supplies this in pre-made tubes of many dimensions. For an airplane manufacturer or kit builder, this would be a great finish. Airplanes already flying can use a sheet form of the material with strategically-placed adhesive so you can wrap the wires or fuel lines.
Still Not All the Value
Fire resistance is certainly a worthy application of Teknofibra but it also has very significant sound deadening capabilities. A test stand involving an 8-inch wide tube into which was inserted a sheet of the 8 millimeter (or so) material such that it filled the inside diameter of the tube. At the bottom was an electric bell.
When the Teknofibra was in the tube I could hear the bell ringing but it was clearly muted. When Mark pulled out the Teknofibra inner cylinder, the bell was at least twice as loud, maybe more.
Imagine not only the firewall but your cockpit side panels, floor, and ceiling being lined with Teknofibra before the interior finish was applied. You might quiet your cockpit fairly dramatically and that can reduce pilot fatigue.
Technically-inquisitive readers can go to Teknofibra's page, which explains how the material works.
Ah, but such a remarkable material must be very expensive, yes? Nope. A firewall for a common Light-Sport Aircraft might cost around $100-150. Surrounding the entire cockpit with the miracle fiber might run $1,000 but you'd have one of the quietest (and safest) cockpits anywhere. Compared to the cost of many LSA today, that seems a modestly-priced and worthy option. Contact Mark at his website to learn more.
Anti-Explosion Fuel Tank
I did not get to examine this in the same way as Teknofibra, but the Skyblazer 1 gyroplane from Italy has a special fuel tank under the aft seat. This seems another worthy development to consider. The idea is not new but imagine experiencing an aircraft accident where no fuel can be spilled. Fire danger drops sharply.
These cost more than standard fuel tanks, but I was told by a reliable source that a completely filled anti-explosive tank — sometimes called a "safety tank" — can sustain a drop from 100 feet without rupturing. Several light aircraft makers use such tanks to increase safety.
Put anti-explosive tanks and Teknofibra together and you significantly increase fire safety for airplane occupants. Doesn't that seem worth further consideration?
As readers of ByDanJohnson.com know, we enjoy keeping a tight (though not exclusive) focus on the aircraft we love to fly. That approach is not changing but I discovered two products at DeLand Showcase 2019 that can make airplanes safer, perhaps much safer. As the show concludes tomorrow, I will resume focus on aircraft with more news and fresh video. For now, please consider these two products. Teknofibra’s Miraculous Cloth I recorded video with developer and company founder Alessandro Molteni watching as his U.S. representative Mark Harper did a demonstration like you see in the nearby photos. It looked for all the world like a visual trick — the way a magician or sleight-of-hand artist might fool you. Yet I stood right nearby watching a live person hold a blue-flame torch up to the palm of his hand, protected only by a soft cloth of 4 millimeters (about 1/6th of an inch or about a stack of 3 dime coins).
Distar's SunDancer MotorgliderMichael Tomazin flew from California with Distar Production manager Elias Khelil to attend DeLand Showcase 2019. They flew 3,000 miles to do so as they wandered around to fly over spectacles such as the Rocky Mountains, Monument Valley, and Grand Canyon. How's that for a view of America? Elias was thrilled with the experience to span this vast country, several times his home land of the Czech Republic. SunDancer may be consider two airplanes in one, partly as it can be either a very efficient and surprising speedy cruiser or a motorglider capable of genuine soaring flight, but also because it comes with two wing extensions. SunDancer motorglider can exchange removable wing extensions boosting wingspan from 42 feet 8 inches (13 meters) to 49 feet 2 inches (15 meters). Glide goes from a respectable 26:1 to 30:1. If you've never thought about what that kind of reach means, try drawing a 30:1 line on a computer or graph paper (for reference, 1:1 is a 45° slope). If you're precise what you'll see looks essentially like a horizontal line. From 6,000 feet you can glide to almost any point you can see, presuming no wind resistance. Of course, this is also the reason why speed brakes are valuable; you'd be hard pressed to land on a long runway because SunDancer might keep gliding right past the end. Clearly, cruising from the West Coast to East Coast shows SunDancer to be a serious travel machine for two occupants. Tomazin said you can range 800 miles and carry 100 pounds of baggage. SunDancer grosses at 1,320 pounds like most LSA but has a fairly light empty weight of 639 pounds. It is powered by either the 80- or 100-horsepower Rotax 912.
Special Motorglider BenefitBecause Sun Dancer can be registered as a motor glider, it benefits from a special exception from FAA. No medical is needed but even better if a pilot has been denied a medical, you can still fly a motorglider. That's not true for a Light-Sport Aircraft. According to FAA Part 61.23, "A person is not required to hold a medical certificate … when exercising the privileges of a Sport Pilot certificate with privileges in a glider or balloon," with the definition of a glider being "…a heavier-than-air aircraft, that is supported in flight by the dynamic reaction of the air against its lifting surfaces and whose free flight does not depend principally on an engine." SunDancer easily qualifies. Here's further motorglider advice compliments of Jim Hanson writing for our friends at Midwest Flyer (see his whole article here but note most motorgliders he discusses are not LSA types): "Unlike LSA aircraft, they are not restricted to altitudes of 10,000 feet." That's good since a soaring machine limited to 10,000 feet would be unnecessarily restricted. Note the photos the oxygen bottle aft of the seats. "With their large wing area, [motorgliders] offer low stall speeds, fast climb, and near-STOL capabilities. They usually employ glider-like spoilers or airbrakes for direct lift control and steep descents." Speed brakes offer both dramatic and precise lift control despite their relatively small size; one secret is the exact placement on the wing's chord. Their power and usefulness prompted Hanson to add, "Once you fly an aircraft with spoilers, you’ll wonder why every airplane doesn’t have them." No question, motor gliders have their intriguing qualities and might deserve serious attention. Priced quite reasonably (definitely so compared to motor gliders like a Stemme S-12), SunDancer is a good value at around $135,000. Here's a short video recorded at DeLand Showcase 2019. A more detailed video will follow later.
Opening day at DeLand Showcase 2019 got off to a solid start. Most of the sold-out exhibit spaces were populated with aircraft despite the rush of colder, turbulent air from the north on Wednesday. While it was not the blue sky day that often visits Florida this time of year, winds died down nicely and a decent crowd of interested pilots were on-site though not all displays attracted as many visitors. Flying activity was generous including a midday favorite from Sebring and Sun ‘n Fun: Manufacturer’s Showcase, which refers to a period of flying activity not the event. Aircraft representatives put their airplane through aerial paces one at a time, allowing more impressive demonstrations of their aircraft. All the action is close enough that attendees can see them well. This is similar to the flying on the grass strips of Paradise City or the Fun Fly Zone at Lakeland or Oshkosh.
Seaplanes Are Costly …Or Are They?Aero Adventure's Aventura arrived on the scene in the 1990s. Around 300 are flying, so the model has lots of history. Prices depend on so many variables that it is foolish to quote exact numbers here. Please check with the company for the most recent information. However, I have inquired on several occasions to learn an Aventura kit can get airborne for just over $50,000. The base airframe kit is less than $40,000 and you have several engine options including Rotax or AeroMomentum's highly-refined Suzuki engine conversion. This is the powerplant for the company's impressive S-17 model (with 117 horsepower, the source of the model designation). The current team has been lead by Alex Rolinski for the last several years. He is closely assisted by Alex Gutierrez who runs the daily operation while the other Alex devises strategy and pursues new directions (for example, a related company's product, the fascinating WingBug). A few years ago, the company embarked on a major redesign of the manuals. As every other kit aircraft builder in the world knows very well, designing and building a kit may be easier than creating a quality manual to help builders assemble their new airplane. Alex and Alex, with help from others, report going over the entire design thoroughly and today builders credit the job. However, if you don't feel up to the task — it will take the average builder around 250-300 hours — Alex Gutierrez and crew can help you get underway or can help supervise the entire effort. As part of their expanding operation, Aero Adventure promotes another business for those ordering a kit. In the video below, you can hear Alex and Alex describe some of the kit and talk about how they can help you. Meanwhile, let me introduce you to Walstrom Aviation. As Aero Adventure focuses on new projects (more on that later but I will hint that fully-built Aventuras may become available), this Florida enterprise stepped up to assist.
Making a Splash"The kit is available as a full kit or sub assemblies to meet your time, space and budget requirements," said Walstrom. "Our customers are reporting completion rates of between 250-300 hours." They say you can complete the kit in a few months of part-time effort. Certainly any kit taking only 300 hours is a modest investment of your time and energy but especially for a seaplane — they add some complexity due to retractable gear — this time investment seems very reasonable. "Only basic shop tools are required and an assembly manual is provided with clear crisp details of each assembly," added Walstrom. "The airframe is aluminum (the structural part of the aircraft) and the hull is made from fiberglass (which simply provides flotation). All hardware and everything required to assemble the kit is included. All of the aluminum is anodized (inside and out) to maximize corrosion protection from the elements."
Walstrom is located in north of the state, not too far from Tallahassee or Panama City, in Alford, Florida. Contact them by phone at 850-630-1286 (or see link above).Once you're done, go fly from land or water. For those of you presently shivering in the northern climates, Aventura has a door option and, in a moment of need, that hull can even put down in snow. Walstrom further glowed, "These aircraft are capable of taking off and landing in less than 250 feet!" In Florida or other suitable climates, Aventura's open-sided cockpit lets the wind whistle through your hair while you rest your arm on the window sill. Retractable landing gear is standard; it’s mechanically actuated or an electric linear actuator is available as an option. Learn more by attending DeLand Showcase 2019 or by visiting Areo Adventure at the DeLand airport. Get more info in the video below.
As snow swirls in the air and piles up on the ground in the northern latitudes, perhaps it’s a good time to think of Florida… specifically, DeLand, Florida. Admittedly, the weather in the southern state is presently experiencing a chill as cold air rushes down from the north. It may not even hit 70° today! You can relax, though. It should warm up to more respectable temperatures as the show starts and continues. So this seems like a great time to attend the DeLand Showcase 2019 that starts tomorrow (November 14th). With Florida in mind, let’s talk seaplanes. To put a finer point on it, let’s talk highly affordable seaplanes from a company based right at DeLand. You might have guessed I’m talking about Aero Adventure. Along with Aerolight 103 producer, U-Fly-It, Aero Adventure is one of the light aircraft manufacturers based at the home of the DeLand Showcase.
Come to DeLandI hope many of you who frequent this website will be heading to DeLand for the event starting next Thursday. Give a wave if you do! I'll be racing around collecting more material for this website and interviewing aircraft reps on video. In the previous runnings of the DeLand Showcase, weather has been not just good but spectacularly good. One late afternoon last year experienced rain and some wind — after a full day of decent weather. However, every other day of DeLand has enjoyed temperatures in the low 80s (close to 30° for you Centigrade users) under sunny skies and with plenty of vendors to keep you looking (list below). Show Director Jana Filip, her husband Gary, airport manager John Eiff, and a significant army of volunteers do a marvelous job making sure things are set up right and run well during the event. Doing the bulk of the planning, Jana and Gary reveal years of experience, building in short order a new event that seems like it has ample experience. This is no big surprise as Jana was in charge of the Sebring Sport Aviation Expo for several years before being lured away by the City of DeLand to start up and run their new event. In addition to the Showcase event, DeLand is creating a Sport Aviation Village where businesses can not only find a suitable hangar but can benefit from an "incubator" project where, for example, airplane builders could share a paint booth or costly CNC machinery. Possibilities abound and DeLand is leaping into the space with a focus on light aviation. In addition to a sky diving industry employing some 600 workers, DeLand is home to two busy light aircraft builders: U-Fly-It and their very popular Aerolite 103, plus Aero Adventure and their best-price-of-all-seaplanes Aventura line. Both enterprises are thriving at an airport and in a community that welcomed them. I could wish this was true everywhere. Like the Copperstate/Buckeye show in Arizona, DeLand Showcase has strong support from the city that also runs the airport. Top officials from the city come out to the show and are clearly interested. Such municipal backing is key to having a long-running and well-supported show. Vendors, Forums, special speakers, cool aircraft gear, and plenty of flying. C'mon on down!
What You Can Fly at DeLandFollow this link to see all exhibitors signed up for DeLand Showcase 2019. As this website keeps a focus on aircraft you love, here's that list at present. Normally, more will show at the last minute.
- Aero Adventure — Aventura, S-17
- Aeropilot USA — L600
- Aerotrek — A220, A240
- Aviat Aircraft — Husky
- Blades Over Me — Skyblazer 1 Gyroplane, AG915
- Bristell Aircraft — Bristell, TDO (taildragger), RG
- Cruiser Aircraft — SportCruiser
- CubCrafters — CarbonCub
- Distar — SunDancer, Samba
- Evektor / Dreams Come True — Harmony
- Evolution Trikes — Revo, Rev, Revolt, RevX
- Flying Legend — Tucano
- Icon Aircraft — A5
- ICP Aircraft — Savannah, Ventura
- Infinity Powered Parachutes — Commander 912/582, Challenger 503
- InnovAviation — FX1
- Jabiru / US Sportplanes — Jabiru J230D, J170D
- Just Aircraft — SuperSTOL, Highlander
- Lockwood Aircraft — AirCam
- M-Squared — Breeze II, Breeze, CH-750
- MagniFlight — Magni gyroplane line
- Pipistrel USA — Sinus, Virus, Alpha
- Planet PPG — Powered Paraglider line (wheeled or foot)
- Seamax Aircraft — Seamax
- SilverLight Aviation — American Ranger AR1 (open or enclosed)
- Sky Reach / Sport Aircraft Canada — BushCat
- Sport Performance Aviation (SPA) — Panther, Cougar
- Stemme USA — S12 motorglider
- Super Petrel USA — Super Petrel LS
- Tecnam USA — P2008, P92, Astore, Sierra Mk 2, Twin, more
- The Airplane Factory — Sling LSA, Sling 4, Sling TSi
- Titan Aircraft — T51 Mustang replica, Tornado
- U-Fly-It — Aerolite 103
- Velocity Aircraft — TXL, XL-5, V-Twin, SE
- Zenith Aircraft — CH-750, Cruzer, CH-650, CH-701
In about one week, it all ends. Before then, DeLand Showcase 2019 is set to begin! As this is the last airshow of the year, it’s also fair to say the season ends when DeLand show concludes. This year is the fourth annual event. Since the Sebring show bid a final farewell last spring, DeLand will be the last light aircraft show until Arizona’s Copperstate/Buckeye Air Fair in February, followed two months later by Sun ‘n Fun. If you live in the eastern half of the USA, DeLand and Sun ‘n Fun are separated by five months. Yikes! You can learn more about Copperstate/Buckeye in this video with the Vice Mayor. Next week on November 14-15-16, welcome to sunny, warm Florida. Come to DeLand I hope many of you who frequent this website will be heading to DeLand for the event starting next Thursday.
Spruce …and So Much MoreWell, supplying wood to build airplanes is ancient history now, you might say. If you said this, you would not be alone but you'd be absolutely wrong. On a recent tour of the bustling enterprise headquarters in Corona, California, the first thing Bryan Toepfer showed us was the lumber shop. Even today, that shop was large and active with a longtime employee slicing lumber to order. "It's still a major part of the business," said Bryan, himself expressing some amazement at this fact. Bryan is known to many LSA owners and lots of Sport Pilot kit builders as he runs a related (but separate) business called California Power Systems. They have a busy operation representing Rotax Aircraft Engines and more. Yes, wood remains an important part of the business even though the 62,000 square foot facility was chock full of all manner of goods and gear that pilots and aircraft builders want to buy. Customers range from you and me to numerous airframe builders. Many of them buy essential materials from Spruce. The company also has a metal shop and a recently upgraded avionics shop where they can provide full wiring harnesses for nearly every kit aircraft in imagination. Of course, they have row after row of long isles with tall shelving units bursting with items all neatly organized by type and bar-coded for fast delivery. Get an order into Spruce before 4 PM and it will ship that same day. Heck, even gigantic Amazon can't do better than that.
Spruce Pops Up Everywhere (and not just their thick catalogs)Now you know why I refer to this company the "Amazon of Aviation." Also like that other mail-order outfit, Spruce has multiple locations to hasten deliveries so those builder projects are not interrupted. ("Hell hath no fury like a aircraft kit builder delayed.") Today, Spruce has operations in California, Georgia, Illinois, Alaska, and Canada. Plus, as airshow attendees know, you can find a substantial number of the most popular items at almost any event you attend. Among aviation brands, Aircraft Spruce is everywhere. More than 300 employees in those five locations provide more pilot gear than any other outfit in personal aviation. Even after decades of development and innovative operations plus acquisitions of several other enterprises, amazingly, the single product Mom Flo first offered still makes up a noteworthy share of the enterprise. "Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Company strives to carry everything a pilot could need, including pilot supplies and aircraft parts, always at the lowest prices," said company spokesmen we met on our tour. Spruce supplies components for a wide variety of homebuilt aircraft including the Lancair, Vans Aircraft, Cozy, Starduster and Europa, as well as factory built parts for Cessna, Piper, Beech, and Mooney. Yet it isn't all nuts and bolts (and wood). Indeed, products include Garmin avionics, tools, charts, propellers, software, instruments, aircraft engines and parts, aviation headsets, landing gear components, and aircraft batteries. "We carry a full line of aviation grade hardware, covering supplies, composite materials, airframe parts, electrical components, and steel and aluminum," said Spruce managers. Bob and Flo's oldest son Jim Irwin grew up in the business, working in jobs such as cutting metal and spruce, pulling and shipping orders, and managing kit programs such as the Vari-Eze back in 1975 while still in college. In 1978, Jim acquired the company and became president in 1980 joined by his wife Nanci. Today, it's a full family affair with three of Jim and Nanci's sons — Mike, Jeff and Rob — filling management positions with the company. The Irwin family remains based in Southern California but in 2004, Aircraft Spruce East moved into a new 52,000 square foot facility in Peachtree City, Georgia. As we toured the California operation, Bryan explained that the Georgia operation is identically-laid-out to the Corona warehouse and it does approximately the same amount of business. Aircraft Spruce Canada was opened in Toronto in December 2006 and now operates from a 20,000 square foot distribution center at the Brantford, Ontario Airport. In 2019, Aircraft Spruce opened two new facilities to better serve the Midwest and Alaska markets. Aircraft Spruce Midwest operates in a 50,000 square foot facility in the west suburbs of Chicago and Aircraft Spruce Alaska occupies a a 15,000 square foot building in Wasilla, Alaska. Add it up and you find a 54 year-old enterprise with a total of 400,000 square feet in five facilities. Does my Amazon comparison sound about right?
Images for this post came from a 2015 video titled, "EAA Chapter Videos—Inside Aircraft Spruce," where you can learn more about this dynamic company. https://youtu.be/FBJeL_zHm7c
You know Aircraft Spruce. So do all your flying buddies. Cutting to the chase, if you are involved in airplanes other than airlines and military, you not only know Aircraft Spruce, you’ve probably bought from them. Raise your hand if you never ordered from “Spruce,” as many abbreviate it. OK, no hands. I thought so. It wasn’t always so. When current president Jim Irwin was a lad, his mother Flo and father Bob ran Fullerton Air Parts. After a decade mom Flo Irwin started another business at home, featuring a single product: aircraft-grade lumber …hence “Aircraft Spruce.” Spruce …and So Much More Well, supplying wood to build airplanes is ancient history now, you might say. If you said this, you would not be alone but you’d be absolutely wrong. On a recent tour of the bustling enterprise headquarters in Corona, California, the first thing Bryan Toepfer showed us was the lumber shop.
SilverLight RisingAbid Farooqui's SilverLight Aviation is an emerging force in gyroplanes, adding to a growing list of American producers that got back into the game after the Europeans put their mark on these spinning-wing aircraft. SilverLight is based alongside the Zephyr Hills, Florida airport affectionately known to its many sport aircraft users as "Z-Hills." In earlier times, Bensen Gryocopter led development of these aircraft, although other developers were also active. A well-known gyro pilot name Ken Brock did impressive and convincing airshow routines that showcased the capability of these small flying machines. Interest began to bubble but so did some problems. In those days, the tailplane of gyros of the day was small and, in less experienced hands, some accidents and losses of life occurred. Aviation media may have exaggerated the danger but the damage was done and gyros retreated from visibility, even as a small cadre of enthusiasts kept the segment alive. Along came European developers like Italy's Magni Gyro and Germany's AutoGyro, followed by several others. They made numerous improvements but among them was the now-standard tailplane located further aft and with more vertical area. That and better pilot preparation resulted in a much better safety record and European pilots began to embrace these aircraft. Sales took off, so much so that leading engine producer Rotax reported more 9-series engines were being sold to gyroplane builders than any other aircraft subgroup. American entrepreneurs took note, Abid Farooqui's SilverLight among them.
Flies Like a Fixed Wing… AlmostThe video below conveys more information I learned in a training session with Greg in the fully enclosed AR-1 Ranger from SilverLight. The short answer is that fixed wing pilots will find more similarities than differences when they sample a gyroplane following years of flying conventional aircraft. Certainly, pilots with no rotary experience need transition training. A few critical differences — such as making an abrupt taxi turn while the rotor still has a lot of spin and the use of power or pitch while aloft — clarify that these aircraft are not fixed wing machines. Nonetheless, you largely fly a gyroplane much like a fixed wing. Gyros are quite distinct from helicopters. That said, FAA is to be commended for finally including fully built Special LSA gyroplanes in their proposed new regulation. Given their general ease of operation, excellent performance in winds too strong for some light aircraft, compact storage in a hangar or trailer, and the relatively modest cost of acquiring a gyroplane, it seems likely we will see more of these aircraft in the years ahead. Here's our Video Pilot Report flying the SilverLight AR-1 Ranger with full enclosure: https://youtu.be/qIJPGX0G1Tc
For years, more than a decade, the U.S. gyroplane producer community tried to persuade FAA to allow fully built Special Light-Sport Aircraft gyroplanes into the USA. “No dice,” said FAA! With perspective, it turned out only a small group was opposed but so strong was their hand at the time that FAA leadership could not break the logjam. Now, that appears to be solved. I write “appears” as we won’t know for certain until FAA releases their NPRM on the program widely known as MOSAIC. Best guess, this won’t come for at least a couple more years but the plans inside FAA are maintaining support at the highest levels of the agency and that gyroplane logjam definitely appears to be loosening. Amen! That was a long time coming. Maybe you don’t care. Maybe you aren’t interested in rotor-winged aircraft. I didn’t think I was either until I flew a few of these and most recently got some worthy instruction from Greg Spicola, who does gyro flight instruction and transition training for SilverLight.
Single Lever Control In-Flight Adjustable PropThis phrase, Single Lever Control, communicates two things: (1) that the system on the airplane seen in the video adjusts the prop to optimal pitch for the phase of flight, and (2) that the system does so based on the pilot's movement of the throttle combined with its own information about parameters of the aircraft at that time. In short, call it an "auto prop." The idea of an "auto prop" (my term) is that when you are taking off, the propeller should pitch for climb. Once aloft at altitude and when the pilot has retarded the throttle but the aircraft knows its height, the prop should automatically go to cruise pitch. Importantly to FAA and its desire for "safe, simple, easy to fly" LSA, the pilot workload is minimal. Move the throttle where you want and the airplane knows how to pitch the prop. While others will also enter this development field, RS Aerotech is the pioneer and has been accumulating test results for several years. However, Cirrus has used a SLC system for many years. A subtle difference is that Cirrus still requires a lever for mixture where a Rotax iS-series engine handles that function for the pilot… a true Single Lever Control setup. Those interested in more technical details and plans than presented in this brief post can review RS Aerotech's slide presentation (most devices should show this easily; if not use the company link above and click or tap on the "Downloads" tab).
Safety ArgumentWhen LAMA personnel went to Washington DC to advocate on behalf of pilots and producers in the light aircraft sector, we knew the argument could not be that we wanted an in-flight adjustable prop to go faster. The truth is that many LSA can already hit the speed limit enforced by the current regulation. "It's not about speed; it's about being able to safely get in or out of a shorter field yet still cruise at whatever speed the airframe was designed to reach," we told FAA. A personal experience departing the Sun 'n Fun Paradise City airstrip brought home the safety point. The 1,400-foot grass strip should be more than adequate for a LSA but the particular model (Glasair's now discontinued Merlin LSA) had been fitted with a cruise prop for the long flight from Washington State to Florida. Since this was a typically heavy prototype, this left the design with insufficient thrust on a shorter turf runway. To their credit, the FAA executives hearing the argument rather quickly agreed; after all, single lever control does not increase pilot workload therefore maintaining the "safe, simple, easy to fly" baseline.
- Single lever control of engine power and thrust; 100% fail-safe behavior through mechanical limitations
- Real time adjustment of engine and propeller parameters:
- Maximum thrust during take-off and climb and
- Maximum efficiency and endurance during cruise flight
- Up to 30% more thrust compared to fixed-pitch propeller
- Fuel savings in cruise flight (environmentally friendly, spend even more time in the air!)
- Improved situational awareness through his Power Margin Indicator instrument
- Simple installation, seamless integration into the Rotax 912iS engine system
In mid-October, FAA provided another update to the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association. It speaks to bigger — and faster — flying machines ahead for Light-Sport Aircraft. Let’s look at one aspect of the regulation-in-progress. First, a caveat: While FAA is communicating some of the ideas they are planning for LSA this is an effort of rule writing likely to see more changes. What LAMA reports to its members and what we provide here is not certain …although it remains well supported at the top of FAA. Even higher in the federal hierarchy, the Department of Transportation recently gave a go-ahead to continue their work. Not all currently planned ideas may survive either the internal debate nor the public comment period. Single Lever Control In-Flight Adjustable Prop This phrase, Single Lever Control, communicates two things: (1) that the system on the airplane seen in the video adjusts the prop to optimal pitch for the phase of flight, and (2) that the system does so based on the pilot’s movement of the throttle combined with its own information about parameters of the aircraft at that time.
2019 Is a Good Year (so far)We're only three quarters through the year but extrapolating from the first three quarters and assuming a steady pace (which is not a guarantee, of course), we see that all of 2019 should result in 724 new aircraft registrations in the light aircraft sector defined (by us) as Light-Sport Aircraft and Sport Pilot kit-built aircraft. This is up more than 10% over 2018, which was up over 2017. The industry is having a good year and more pilots are flying these aircraft. One caveat in this positive result is that the fourth quarter of the year is typically slower with winter in the north and plenty of non-flying holiday activities drawing interest. Why? We don't claim to have all the answers but regular surveying of exhibitors at airshows revealed that many sellers say, "The market is good. People are buying." Of course, this is anecdotal not scientific but we heard it from enough vendors to believe they're feeling good about their enterprises. Many pilots backed up this finding with their own, personal assessment. If you want to do your own analysis, you certainly can using our completely free-of-charge Tableau Public web page** assembled for us and maintained to perfection by Steve. We vigorously encourage you to look for yourselves. Don't take our word for it. The data comes directly from FAA's aircraft registration database, then expertly massaged by Steve so the rest of us can make sense of it. To this data source, I apply my own decades of experience in the sector to make some observations.
Breaking GoodFirst, let's look at two broad categories: First is a grouping of all Light-Sport Aircraft — both Special (fully built) and Experimental (different from Experimental Amateur Built) — and, secondly, a defined flock of Sport Pilot kit-built aircraft*. This is the first time you've seen this because earlier, we segmented SLSA from ELSA from SP kits. This made it appear kits were growing faster than the LSA groups. In fact, they are nearly matched with kit-built aircraft. Viewing all light aircraft as a group, Steve noted, "The same six brands continue to lead the pack." He refers to the full fleet of light aircraft a Sport Pilot may fly — led by kit-built aircraft producers: Zenair/Zenith, Van's, Rans, Sonex, and Kitfox plus SLSA builder, Icon. Immediately under these six powerhouses of light aviation are five close contenders Searey-maker Progressive Aerodyne, AutoGyro, Just Aircraft, Powrachute, and Magni Gyro. While Progressive Aerodyne does well in both kits and fully built seaplanes and while Powrachute sells both as well, the rest are all kit makers. To look up any producer to learn more, use our Search capability (especially "Advanced Search") or go to our ever-popular SLSA List. Kit aircraft remain strong in the USA. This segment existed for many years before LSA came along although we only count since 2005*, while Light-Sport Aircraft go back no further than 2005. Honestly, one surprise about SP Kits and LSA is how close the two primary groups are.
Diving DeeperSteve made a few other worthwhile observations. Among the increasingly active gyroplane community, "The low-cost Tango is coming on strong. It used to come with a Rotax 582 but their website says it now has a Yamaha FI engine. 4-stroke, 3-cylinder, fuel-injected, 1055cc, 130 horsepower engine." AutoGyro, Magni, and U.S.-based SilverLight lead the among gyroplanes but Tango's appearance suggests the market is open to newcomers, especially when they have good pricing. Using Tableau Public, you can go deep the weeds about any one subgroup by using the blue boxes on the left column to click or unblock lists. The site is amazingly versatile if you spend a bit of time with it. If you own an aircraft included in this analysis, you can absolutely find it; see for yourself. Another newer entry Steve highlighted was the Goat trike. He wrote, "Denny Reed’s [Wild Sky] Goat is a surprise success. He positions it as a super-tough outback machine." Denny is a deeply experienced trike pilot with more than 8,000 hours of instruction given. He finally made his own trike and it is one brute-tough machine. See more in our article and short video. Goat uses wings by North Wing, as do many other trike brands, but the Washington state producer is also having a better year for its SLSA trikes. Evolution Trikes' Revo sales are off a bit but they are highly focused on their fully-built Rev Part 103 trike and their new RevX. The latter is a kit; the former will not show up on FAA's registration database as Part 103 vehicles need not be registered.
Fixed WingersSteve is a trike owner and pilot. I also enjoy these "alternative" LSA (trikes, powered parachutes, and gyroplanes). I have enjoyed flying several models of each of these types and find much to love about them …significantly, they can be less expensive than almost any fixed wing aircraft. Are you unsure about "alternative" aircraft? You know the line: "If you haven't tried it, don't knock it." However, fixed wing continue to be, by far, the biggest group of LSA (partly as very few kit-built aircraft are "alternative" types). Among Special (fully built) LSA, Flight Design continues atop the ranking. They enjoyed a phenomenal start back in 2005-2006 and have never lost their leadership position. American Legend, Czech Sport Aircraft, CubCrafters, Tecnam, and Aerotrek (FAA still uses their Aeropro European brand name) remain very strong players in the top ten. However, some newbies are moving up the rankings. Through their start into serial production was long coming, the slickly-marketed A5 LSA seaplane has moved into the #2 position for 2019 (after Van's, which relies heavily on ELSA). Another up-and-comer is Vashon and their well-priced Ranger. BRM Aero and their Bristell are also making good strides upward. TL Aircraft, rep for the Sting and other TL models, is reviving that much-admired stable of aircraft. Meanwhile, Cessna continues to drop following the company's decision to exit the LSA space and crush all remaining aircraft, engines and all. Remos is another that is fading from its earlier strength.
A Quarter to GoAs we head into the final quarter of 2019 — and the final LSA show of the year, the DeLand Showcase — we will report the full year shortly into January 2020. The good news is that aircraft are selling, pilots are flying more than ever, and safety remains quite good. That's reason for celebration. Blue skies!
* "SP Kits" means Sport Pilot kit-built aircraft. Going deeper, "SP Kits" refer to amateur-built aircraft that can be flown by a pilot possessing a Sport Pilot certificate or exercising the privileges of Sport Pilot (meaning, for one, no aviation medical is required) while holding a Private Pilot certificate or higher. Since Sport Pilot, as a form of pilot license, only arrived in late 2004, we count all applicable kit-built aircraft that can be flown by a Sport Pilot. Although some of the same aircraft existed before January 1, 2005, we omit them as it cannot be said those older aircraft could be flown by someone with a Sport Pilot certificate. This also evenly and fairly compares SP Kits with SLSA and ELSA. ** When using Tableau Public — and please do so! — be advised this may work best on your desktop or laptop. The effort called "responsive" to make pages work on smartphones and tablets does not portray the information as conveniently.
This website seeks to offer a reliable source of market information for Light-Sport Aircraft and Sport Pilot kit aircraft as a service to the light aircraft sector. If you follow light aviation intently as many readers do, knowing what aircraft and subgroups (within LSA and SP kits*) are thriving or stumbling can be of great interest. Thanks to our fantastic “datastician,” Steve Beste, we know more now than we’ve ever known about aviation’s recreational aircraft segment. You simply cannot find this information anywhere else. With Steve’s superb help, following are a few stories within the numbers. If you don’t care about market shares and just want to hear about aircraft, we won’t keep you waiting long. However, for many, these figures are quite valuable and this is the only place you will find them. Let’s dive in… 2019 Is a Good Year (so far) We’re only three quarters through the year but extrapolating from the first three quarters and assuming a steady pace (which is not a guarantee, of course), we see that all of 2019 should result in 724 new aircraft registrations in the light aircraft sector defined (by us) as Light-Sport Aircraft and Sport Pilot kit-built aircraft.
A Savage ResponseSavage is not a term of anger but a reference to a series of models, of which Shock Ultra is the latest derivative. Let's look at this newest entry more closely. Shock Ultra has some features not found on all Zlin's other models, including double slotted Fowler flaps that help lower stall speed to almost absurdly-slow levels (for proof with your own eyes, see our video below). In addition, Shock Ultra has leading edge wing slats though these, like the "Shock options" for the Titan-powered Shock Outback, are optional. The newest variation of this design uses the oversized outboard shock absorbers similar to those first seen on SuperSTOL and then Shock Outback. They are "to tame the landings," said SportairUSA. All these design qualities combine to provide good visibility on approach thanks to a "flattened landing flare." Indeed, this all works, resulting in a "stall speed of 18 mph (solo) and 24 mph (dual)." Note that's miles an hour, not knots (15.6 and 20.8 knots respectively). It felt rather amazing to witness an airspeed indicator bumping down toward zero while we flew near gross weight. Those low speeds are aided by a basic empty weight of 725 pounds. This is more than 100 pounds lighter than some Cub clones from CubCrafters and American Legend. As many experienced light aircraft pilots believe, the lighter the airframe the better it performs and handles and the more payload you can carry onboard. Another proof of Zlin designer Pascale Russo's diligent effort to reduce weight and simplify is that Shock Ultra performs admirably with the Rotax 912 or 914, while the heavier competing models appear to require bigger engines, which add more weight, burn more fuel, and cost more. Shock Ultra is not the lowest-priced model SportairUSA offers, though it is less than the Titan-powered Shock Outback. However, if its final figure — call SportairUSA for an exact quote — is still too high for your budget, don't despair. The Little Rock, Arkansas company offers Savage models that carry much more affordable prices, albeit with less spectacular performance. Cub-like models from Zlin include the very affordable Savage. Some models might be had brand new for less than $70,000 but please check with the company for details as these figures change with currency fluctuations and equipment installed. If that still sounds like too much, SportairUSA is one of those Premium/Concierge resellers of quality used aircraft. As but one example, the company displayed a looks-like-new TL Sting (which they formerly represented as importer) for $65,000. Given the company has thoroughly gone over the aircraft — and knows the model intimately — this represents a wonderful bargain. What boxes does Shock Ultra tick? Here's how SportairUSA describes the bush plane's attributes in brief, bullet-list form:
- Short takeoffs. There’s not much runway where we’re going.
- Quick climbout. To clear surrounding terrain.
- Short landings. The shorter the better.
- Tame landings. Good control with minimal touchdown rebound.
- Safe slow flight. Low stall speed, spin resistance.
- Easy to fly. Responsive controls & ergonomic design.
- Simple, strong construction, repairable in the field.
Sustained interest in Cub-types has long amazed many of us. About the only airplane that routinely seems to inspire even more passion may be the North American P-51 Mustang. Since almost none of us can afford our own WWII fighter, Cub-a-likes may be the leading light aircraft type that pilots hope to own. Indeed, between CubCrafters and American Legend, we have two manufacturers pumping out their version of Piper’s venerable Cub. Nothing wrong with that. Indeed CubCrafters lead the parade with their carbon-accented model (to save weight) powered by the awesome 180-horsepower Titan engine. Along the way, Just Aircraft invented their SuperSTOL, based not on Cub but on their earlier Highlander. It has drawn many admiring glances and sold a number of kits (Just chose not to pursue SLSA approval for this model though their Highlander did qualify). Then we have Rans and their also-popular S-21 Outbound, a evolution of the company’s S-7 Courier and S-20 Raven.
Flying High!“Words cannot describe how it feels to have received the ASTM certification. The entire Texas Aircraft team has worked very long and hard to achieve this single goal,” Texas Aircraft Manufacturing’s co-founder, Matheus Grande said. “Receiving this document is truly a dream come true for everyone on our team. We are so proud and grateful, but the honor and glory of this achievement is to our God.” “After a very successful introduction at Oshkosh AirVenture 2019, we have continued to see increasing interest from prospective buyers as well as flight schools,” Texas Aircraft Manufacturing’s co-founder, Caio Jordão said. “We are extremely thankful that so many people continue to tell us how much they love, not only how the Colt looks, but how well it flies.” “The new-generation Colt delivers on everything that was promised when the LSA category was originally introduced – it’s easy to fly, easy to maintain and priced to make the dream of personal aircraft ownership a reality for a wide variety of pilots,” Grande said. The factory-built Colt Special Light Sport Aircraft (SLSA) is produced by Texas Aircraft at its Hondo, Texas production facility and is delivered to customers ready to fly. Because of its SLSA classification, the Colt can be maintained by either a licensed FAA mechanic or a technician holding a current FAA LSA maintenance rating.
Texas Aircraft Specifications for Colt:
- Engine Type — 100 horsepower Rotax 912 ULS
- Propeller Type — Sterna composite, three-blade
- Maximum Cruise Speed — 119 KIAS
- Cruise Speed at 75% power — 105 knots
- Stall Speed Clean — 44 knots
- Stall Speed Full Flaps — 38 knots
- Takeoff Distance (over 50 foot obstacle) — 1,085 feet
- Landing Distance (over 50 foot obstacle) — 1,044 feet
- Climb Rate (Vy) — 800 feet per minute
- Service Ceiling — 14,500 feet
* All specifications are provided by the factory and are subject to change without notice.We will have a full-length Video Pilot Report on Colt 100 coming in a week or so. Editing is being completed as this is written. Meanwhile, here's a short video to hold you until the longer one is ready.
Welcome to the newest Special Light-Sport Aircraft, the recently unveiled (at Oshkosh 2019) Texas Aircraft Manufacturing Colt 100. The all-metal, high wing, yoke-controlled aircraft enters our popular SLSA List at Number 151, a fitting number just days after the newest aircraft sector celebrated its 15th anniversary. FAA announced the regulation creating LSA in September 2004. The industry has gained approval for an average of 10 new aircraft designs every year for more than 15 years. On September 24th, 2019, the company based in Hondo, Texas received its Special airworthiness certificate from FAA indicating the agency has reviewed the company’s compliance with the full set of ASTM standards. Earlier, Texas Aircraft had a grand reception detailed in this article with video. I toured the company’s aircraft production facilities in Hondo and found them able to match other strong operations I have visited. The company has wisely hired outside talent as needed, for example, to gain their Special airworthiness certificate.