Here’s a tale of two planes. One has been seen and sold in the U.S. (Lambada motorglider). The other has a fascinating history and should look familiar to you… quite familiar. It’s now known as the NG 5 LSA and that probably rings no bell. However, NG 5 and the #2 ranked SportCruiser share a common history. NG 5 designer, Milan Bristela, once lead design work at Czech Aircraft Works, the first company to create and bring to market the SportCruiser. In 2010 that model took a yearlong debut as the PiperSport though once again U.S. Sport Aviation returns to their long support for and sales of SportCruiser, now produced by Czech Sport Aircraft. *** Along the way, Milan departed and worked for a time with another company called Roko Aero; the aircraft was then called the NG 4. The newly formed BRM Aero company said, “[We] finished collaboration with Roko Aero and stopped production of their NG 4 aeroplanes.” Now, Americans can welcome NG 5 LSA to be represented by Liberty Sport Aviation in Pennsylvania.
Distar CZ a.s.
Phone: (420) 602-262-355Nový Bydžov, -- - Czech Republic
What to the following events have in common? …Sebring LSA Expo, Heart of Texas LSA Expo, Midwest LSA Expo, Sport Pilot Tour… Answer: All are focused marketing shows generating keenly interested crowds to examine Light-Sport Aircraft. When that happens, business arrangements sometime result, and not all deals are between airplane buyers and sellers. *** At the Sebring LSA Expo FK Lightplanes USA struck an agreement with Hansen Air Group. The latter, an Atlanta-based national seller of the Sky Arrow and new FP-04 Peregrine, signed on to represent the Fk9, seen in Florida atop Baumann BF-1500 floats. One aviation family helps another as FK’s father-and-son Tony and Adriel Anderson linked up with twin brothers Jon and Ron Hansen. *** Recently I attended an open house for another mini-conglomerate in light-sport aviation based at the Melbourne, Florida airport.
Amid furious preparations for Oshkosh, CAFE Foundation, the efficiency folks, announced teams that will vie for a second year of prizes. CAFE has a $300,000 purse thanks to their partnership with NASA, which is celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2008. *** It may not surprise you to hear that four of five teams entered will fly Light-Sport Aircraft, and at least one is sure to end in the money as one prize ($10,000) is for “Quietest LSA.” Other prizes are a maximum of $150,000 for lowest community noise; two $50,000 prizes, one for “Green,” another for safety judged by handling qualities; a $25,000 speed prize; and four $3,750 “Showcase Prizes” covering quietest cabin, best angle of climb, shortest takeoff, and best glide. Winning a couple of the larger prizes is enough money “to actually buy someone their own LSA,” said CAFE President, Brien Seeley. *** The teams competing will fly a Pipistrel Virus (last year’s big winner of $165,000!–photo); a modified Diamond DA20-A1; a Dynamic WT9; the UFM-13 Lambada, and a Flight Design CTsw.
Despite an economic slowdown shared by all of aviation, the LSA industry is rich with entrepreneurs. Innovative new designs hit the market regularly. Consider this: In just over three years, the industry has certified an astounding 81 aircraft designs and several more are on the horizon. One hundred certified LSA might be available by 2009, in less than four years since the category was created by FAA. No one remembers anything close in FAA history. *** All Light-Sport Aircraft presently total about 1% of the U.S. piston engine fleet including all FAA registrations of all aircraft types and models. Yet three LSA years compare to 80+ Cessna years, so the new segment remains in its infancy. Consequently, the LSA industry may be acting precisely as needed — focusing on innovation and diversity as proven by the number of new models meeting ASTM standards. Big sales will follow, many experts believe.
Motorglider Soars and Cruises Cross-country LSA It may look like a motorglider or even a sailplane, as the Lambada is exceptionally clean and sleek with long, slender wings. But the Lambada is also a first-class touring machine in the LSA category. Recently, Urban Air USA demo pilot and gliding expert Jim Lee flew a Lambada from Melbourne, Florida, to Moriarty, New Mexico. His mission was to conduct a series of demo flights for the newly certified motorglider. Total statistics for the Melbourne-to-Moriarty run prove the efficacy of a motorglider LSA. Total distance, 1,550 nm; total time en route, 16.2 hours; average ground speed, 96 knots (110 mph); fuel usage, 57 gallons 100LL; fuel consumption rate, 3.5 gph at 5,000 rpm. The Lambada could have used 87-octane regular auto gas, had it been available, and the motorglider would have burned slightly less fuel. ¡°In an age of $3-a-gallon auto gas and with 100LL reaching $6 a gallon, cruising the country in a long-gliding Lambada looks pretty good,¡± indicates Urban Air USA importer, Joe Bostik.
|Empty weight||685 pounds 2|
|Gross weight||1,320 pounds|
|Wingspan||42 feet 6 inches or 49 ft 1|
|Wing area||130.9 or 138.3 square ft 1|
|Wing loading||9.7 pounds per sq. foot|
|Useful Load||635 pounds|
|Length||21 feet 8 inches|
|Payload (with full fuel)||477 pounds|
|Cabin Interior||41.7 inches|
|Height||6 feet 5 inches|
|Fuel Capacity||26.4 gallons|
|Baggage area||120 pounds|
|Notes:||1 The Lambada comes with two wing tip finishes:
standard and extension or you could order optional
winglets; longer span and greater area result from
tip extension installation.|
2 Empty weight includes a 35-pound emergency airframe parachute system.
|Standard engine||Rotax 912|
|Power loading||16.5 lbs per hp|
|Cruise speed||105 kts/120 mph|
|Never exceed speed||115 kts/132 mph|
|Rate of climb at gross||1,000 fpm|
|Takeoff distance at gross||400 feet|
|Landing distance at gross||450 feet|
|Min Sink Rate||210 fpm|
|Range (powered)||approx. 7 hours, 800 nm|
|Fuel Consumption||about 3.5 gph|
|Standard Features||Rotax 912 with electric starting, Magnum ballistic parachute, basic panel instruments, tapered laminar wing, flaps, air brakes, hinged canopy (cannot be opened in flight), hydraulic brakes, adjustable seats, pitch trim, dual controls, cabin heating, 4-point seat belts, ventilation, baggage area.|
|Options||Numerous additional instrumentation including glass displays, radio choices, navigation avionics, a towing package, optional "Shark" winglets.|
|Construction||Composite airframe (laminated carbon, aramid and glass fibers) with limited steel components. Made in Czech Republic; distributed to American customers by U.S. company with East and West Coast representation.|
Cosmetic appearance, structural integrity, achievement of design goals, effectiveness of aerodynamics, ergonomics.
Pros - First motorglider in LSA segment. Established Czech builder with U.S. importer to bridge the divide. All-composite design. Exquisite wing shape and interchangeable wing tips (standard) extend range of design. Great payload. Of compelling interest to soaring enthusiasts for ease of launch.
Cons - Some added complexity through wing tip choices and prop controls. Motorgliders aren't optimized either as power planes or sailplanes (though their versatility drives sales to appropriate buyers). Brand not presently well known to Americans.
Subsystems available to pilot such as: Flaps; Fuel sources; Electric start; In-air restart; Brakes; Engine controls; Navigations; Radio; (items covered may be optional).
Pros - Trim, electric start, air brakes, feathering prop, glass panels...you have much to play with in a Lambada. Twin wing fuel tanks, safer and plenty of capacity. Dock-mounted GPS adds versatility.
Cons - Hand brake only available on one joystick. Trim not convenient for right-seat pilot; it's under the left-seat occupant's legs. Removal of cowl to work on engine takes a few minutes.
Instrumentation; Ergonomics of controls; Creature comforts; (items covered may be optional).
Pros - Cabin 2 inches wider than a Cessna 172. Seats are comfortable for medium flight lengths. Easy reach to all controls and switches. Entry step on fuselage side eases step up into cockpit. Large baggage area aft of seat; can even accommodate skis or golf clubs.
Cons - Though adequate even for two larger occupants, the Lambada's cockpit is not nearly as spacious as some powered LSA. Seats don't have much padding and lumbar support is inadequate (true on most aircraft). Entry and exit can be a bit challenging.
Taxi visibility; Steering; Turn radius; Shock absorption; Stance/Stability; Braking.
Pros - Tailwheel has plenty of authority. Brakes work well; able to hold the Lambada during engine run-up. Gear absorbs firm landings with grace. Excellent visibility for pretakeoff traffic checks and in airport patterns.
Cons - Long wings make Lambada maneuver with less agility and can be ponderous while taxiing. Turn radius is rather large; enough so that good planning is needed. Differential braking not available. Canopy must be closed when engine is running.
Qualities; Efficiency; Ease; Comparative values.
Pros - Good control authority for crosswind landings. Very powerful air brake helps control approach. Excellent visibility on approach to landing. Energy retention is so extraordinary that you need to learn to use air brakes effectively. Short ground roll, takeoff or landing.
Cons - Long wings dictate you land carefully on narrower strips. Approach speeds are higher than some expect for a gliding aircraft. Air brakes knock glide (from 30 to 7:1) and must be used judiciously. I didn't find slipping was particularly effective.
Quality and quantity for: Coordination; Authority; Pressures; Response; and Coupling.
Pros - Good control harmony. Stable yet easily maneuvered through a broad speed range. Highly predictable in all maneuvers evaluated. Handles well at very slow thermal-soaring speeds.
Cons - Slower response in 45-to-45 reversals. Significant adverse yaw in uncoordinated turns; you must use all controls in a coordinated manner. I didn't find slipping effective (though air brakes make slips unnecessary).
Climb; Glide; Sink; Cruise/stall/max speeds; Endurance; Range; Maneuverability.
Pros - Works as well for powered touring as engine-off soaring. Climb is very strong, beyond 1,000 fpm. Endurance is also excellent (see article). Speed range is a broad 38 to 105 knots. Glide at 30:1 and sink rate at 210 fpm are quite good for a soaring machine.
Cons - Motorgliders aren't as fast as some top-performing LSA (though the Lambada's slick aerodynamics provide respectable cruise speed with less horsepower). Neither are motorgliders as good at pure soaring tasks (though for many the versatility far outweighs specialization).
Stall recovery and characteristics; Dampening; Spiral stability; Adverse yaw qualities.
Pros - Stalls were very mild. Stable response to longitudinal investigations. Power change response was also positive. Excellent slow-flying capabilities. Parachute provided as standard equipment. Easy to maintain bank and altitude in steep turns (good soaring characteristics).
Cons - Accelerated stalls at fairly steep bank angles tended to wrap up tighter (though not at a threatening speed). Adverse yaw can be significant when turns are not coordinated well.
Addresses the questions: "Will a buyer get what he/she expects to buy, and did the designer/builder achieve the chosen goal?"
Pros - New importer gaining good marks from customers and others investigating the Lambada. Importer has stock on hand (at press time). Base prices at about $110,000 are low for a motorglider. Overall, a joyous machine to fly, power on or power off.
Cons - New brand not well known to Americans (yet). Motorgliders are a niche within the LSA niche. Somewhat more complex aircraft than other LSA (e.g., feathering prop), and features like air brakes aren't well understood.
Motor Along Economically Not all light sport aircraft (LSA) are made alike. You probably knew that already, but consider the Lambada. This sleek composite 2-seat shoulder wing is part airplane, part glider and it has the interchangeable wing tips to prove it. For a soaring enthusiast like myself, flying the Lambada gratified a desire I’ve had for years, since I first saw the Urban Air design at a German airshow. On January 9, 2008, I went aloft in a Lambada with Josef Bostik – a former U.S. National Champion hang glider pilot turned airline captain – at Wallaby Ranch, an iconic hang glider park in Central Florida where hang gliders are towed aloft behind specially built ultralights. The particular Lambada I flew bore N-number N109UA. Bostik indicated that 108 other Lambada aircraft are flying around the world, though the one I flew is the first ’08 model to pass ASTM standard certification.
I can identify four factors in the economy presently affecting airplane sales: Potential customers (often with plenty of assets or creditworthiness) see the value of their stock portfolio going up and down like a roller coaster; worry over their once-soaring real estate, now down markedly in some areas; witness the continuing rise of the euro-dollar exchange rate, bringing much higher prices for many LSA; and, fret over a climate of political uncertainty during another election cycle. *** Perhaps due to these factors GA single engine piston sales are off 28% compared to the same period last year, according to GAMA. LSA sales are off 30% compared to trends six months to a year ago. *** Jet and turbine aircraft sales are up, but 2008 deliveries of those aircraft stem from orders taken 2-3 years ago. Contrarily, personal and sport aircraft sales react quickly to the slightest perception of economic shakiness. *** Despite that we have some bright spots.
Sun ‘n Fun 2008 is history, but planning is already underway for the 2009 event. Event boss John Burton confirmed we will again have the LAMA-hosted LSA Mall right at the front gate next April 21-26. A major success at this year’s Lakeland, Florida airshow, the industry Mall presentation featured 17 Special Light-Sport Aircraft. Weather prevented Fantasy Air’s Allegro from attending. Two days before the event, a tornado crushed a Sting S3 planned for display. And work at Quicksilver Manufacturing postponed the exhibit of the GT500 (they’re finishing SLSA approval, reports national sales manager, Todd Ellefson). *** The 17 who were in the ’08 LSA Mall enjoyed significant traffic all week and virtually every visitor to Sun ‘n Fun was at least exposed to Light-Sport Aircraft in a wide variety (although we were not able to enlist any trike or powered parachute companies).
SEBRING 2008 UPDATE — After watching hang gliders speck-out to 5,000 feet at Wallaby Ranch, I was caught off guard when a slippery white airplane streaked across my field of vision. Following a low pass, the bird with the gorgeous slender wings turned and approached for landing. At a hang gliding resort like Wallaby, the 30:1 Lambada quickly drew a crowd of admirers. Urban Air USA proprietor Josef Bostik flew in to show off the newly certified SLSA motorglider. *** PHOTOS: The multiple-compound wing is about as far from a rectangular Hershey Bar wing as a designer can go. At lower left, the circled red handle changes a spring-loaded prop to full feather for lower drag during soaring flight (it is not technically an adjustable pitch prop). At lower right, you see the prop at full feather. Not seen are wing spoilers that deploy with a handle between the seats similar to a flap lever.
Bostik Industries is known to some LSA buyers as “the other supplier” of emergency ballistic parachute systems (Magnum). Indeed, that activity appears to be thriving as major producer BRS Parachutes intensifies its focus on larger GA airplanes and light jet projects. *** An affable Joe Bostik (airline captain and champion hang glider pilot) is also the U.S. agent for the shapely Lambada motorglider. Though soaring pilots will be instantly drawn to this reasonably priced motorglider (less than $100,000; other choices can cost much more), the airplane also works as a cross country cruiser, able to fly 800 nautical miles at speeds of 100 mph. Though Rotax 9-series engines offer great reliability, should the powerplant go quiet, a Lambada pilot can glide up to six miles from only 1,000 feet off the ground. Bostik now has his Lamabada website well populated with info, specs, and photos.
One actually got approved last year, I’m told, but a new 2008 model Urban Air Lambada UFM 13 more recently received its airworthiness as our newest, and 57th, Special Light-Sport Aircraft (SLSA). This is the second aircraft to use the ASTM standards for Glider (see 8/6/07 SPLOG) but is the first motorglider. TST-14 is more properly a “powered sailplane,” a rather fine but clear distinction. Imported by Bostik Industries LLC, Lambada is part airplane and part sailplane. It glides an impressive 26:1 or 30:1 from a 42.65- or 49-foot wing setup (both are standard; you exchange wing tips). Yet using the 80-hp Rotax 912 it will also cruise at better than 100 mph for 800 nautical miles on 26.4 gallons of fuel in two wing tanks. Lambada is a carbon and glass fiber shoulder-wing design available in taildragger or tricycle gear. It also comes standard with a Magnum Ballistic Parachute system, folding prop, stainless steel exhaust, and tinted canopy for $93,500.