Pilots heading to Sun ‘n Fun 2021 had no real idea what to expect. As evening approached on Sunday set-up day, a big black storm cloud rolled over Sun ‘n Fun’s Lakeland Airport campus, blowing guard shacks and plastic bathrooms around like pieces of paper. An omen? Hardly! The next morning… The good news is I saw no damage other than a couple cracked-up guard shacks. No airplane damage was obvious to me. The great news is final setup day was gloriously sunny and exhibit airplanes arrived steadily. By nightfall on Monday as exhibitors finished their preparations, Sun ‘n Fun was looking good and ready for pilots to descend on the Showgrounds. Several hands pitched in — thanks loudly to a great group from DeLand Showcase — to turn the LAMA LSA Mall into the regular attraction its become over the last 15 years. A fewer number of airplanes will be shown in the LSA Mall but at least one is a machine you’ve never seen before and others are head turners.
Flight Design GmbH
Phone: +49 36920 7530-11Hoerselberg-Hainich, -- 99820 - Germany
F2 Arrives in AmericaI got to see prototype and introductory show-model versions of F2 and F2e, the electric aircraft that somewhat ironically was the very first to fly in Flight Design's new F-series. My early glimpses were at Aero 2019 and I wrote up what I observed; see it here. Nearly every airshow was cancelled for 2020 amidst the global economic carnage driven by lockdowns and travel restrictions to contain Covid. Well, every show was scrubbed except the Midwest LSA Expo in Mt. Vernon, Illinois. Because that one and only event happened — with no negatives regarding the virus, so far as I know — I got to see and fly Flight Design's latest and greatest, the F2. Not only was the airshow a welcome change from the social barriers everyone had faced over the last few months, but Midwest 2020 provided a venue to see and fly the new model. "CTSW was a Porsche. CTLS was a Corvette. F2 is a Cadillac," said Tom Gutmann, Jr., the younger half of the father and son Airtime Aviation team that is the largest light aircraft dealership in the world. Tom explained that F2 may look similar to CT but is a nose-to-tail, tip-to-tip refreshed design. It has been some time in development because as Tom noted, "Flight Design engineers had to rework the whole airplane. It is significantly larger than CTLS yet final production models should weigh no more." That's some accomplishment! It is also built quite differently. All CTLS are essentially "hand made" with hand-layup molds that display the skill of factory workers yet makes each one unique. For F2, Tom said, Flight Design uses molds created on 5-axis CNC shaping tools so each one is fabricated to precise specifications. You may not be able to see the difference in construction but the new method is far better for serial production. "F2 is manufactured to close tolerances in pre-impregnated carbon fiber for great structural strength and light weight," said Flight Design in Germany. With prepreg carbon fiber from American company Hexcel, F2's honeycomb-core fuselage signifies a big step forward. Likewise, F2's new wing is a major redesign; the outboard sections feature aerodynamic cuffs (nearby photo). F2’s tail is all-new as well. CTLS's full-flying stabilator is replaced with a wider stabilizer that has a discrete two-piece elevator with a center section that remains stationary forming what's often called a duck tail. This aids in meeting the ASTM handling requirement. One result is that the airplane does not pitch up during a departure stall. The altered horizontal tail works cooperatively with the wing cuffs to make a highly stall-resistant airframe, a feature FAA admires so much they gave Icon Aircraft additional weight for the A5 seaplane because the California developer redesigned to add the shape to their wings. Cirrus's SR20 and SR22 also use this design, as do other flying machines …because it works. F2's tail looks notably different than CTLS with a high-aspect-ratio vertical tail and slimmer rudder although the volume is similar. These changes — with the wing cuffs — contribute to better slow-speed handling and genuine spin resistance while still allowing a generous slip and yielding plenty of rudder authority in crosswinds.
Flying F2 — Initial Impressions
Here is a newly-released video interview with U.S. importer, Tom Peghiny from Oshkosh 2019. It describes the aircraft and the entire F-series from Flight Design. https://youtu.be/DAs_ocUd77E
➡️ Update 11/3/20 — A new video interview with Flight Design USA importer Tom Peghiny appears at the bottom of this article. —DJ In the beginning — as Light-Sport Aircraft entered the skies for the first time — German producer Flight Design brought the CTSW to American pilots. It was embraced enthusiastically and the U.S. importer Flight Design USA sold many units to aviators that had waited years for FAA to finalize their no-medical-required LSA segment. CTSW was something of a sports car, agile, quick, high performing but surprisingly roomy. Then came the sophisticated CTLS, wholly redone for the American market. It enlarged the cabin and lengthened the fuselage becoming more deluxe throughout. Now, we come to F2 in what I’m calling the third generation of the iconic shape that still leads the LSA market after almost 17 years. The one and only example presently in America is currently based at Airtime Aviation in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Take to the Air!Tom Peghiny, the veteran importer of the most successful LSA brand in America, has a new nose-to-tail, winglet-to-winglet Light-Sport Aircraft to show airshow attendees …except he can't. Tom has run Flight Design USA since before the category was implemented by FAA back in 2004. He was an early leader in the ASTM process — through its first three (contentious) years, he chaired the all-important Design & Performance Subcommittee that created the biggest chunk of the standards used by airplane producers today. After selling more than 300 CT-series aircraft to Americans, Tom is keen to promote his brand new model. What he lacks is a show to take it to, so what to do? After media reported a flare-up of the virus in places Tom expected to visit, he had to cut back earlier tour plans. Instead, he chose to take the airplane to some key writers, let them fly F2, and they could tell their readership. It's not as good as face-to-face conversations at airshows, but it's an excellent way to communicate with the pilot community. Soon, he'll welcome a writer for AVweb and he will fly F2 down to AOPA's home in Frederick, Maryland to let one of their senior writers have a crack at the new model. How will they like it? I asked what aspects of F2 he planned to show off to these journalists.
"Feels Bigger; Flies Great"Flying F2 since it arrived in the USA — the model was announced at Aero 2019; video below — Tom has been getting more deeply familiar with the new model. "I'm very impressed with F2. It feels like a bigger airplane, very solid in the air. More stable than I expected. Very easy to land." He's comparing to the CTLS that so many other pilots know. "F2 feels more stable in the air compared to our CTLS, which offers a sportier feel." Pressing him for details, Tom recounted the following story from a recent flight. It involved F2's autopilot. "As you know, with the Garmin (or any) autopilot, you have a few stages to get it set up. When you're ready you engage it with an 'AP' button." After several minutes of flying almost hands-off straight and level, Tom realized he'd never engaged the autopilot. "F2 behaves so steadily, that even though I had it ready, I hadn't turned it on yet," Tom said. "It's that stable." “One of the reasons stability is so important is that we are in the process of certifying F2 to Europe's CS-23 version of FAA's Part 23 and also plan to certify it for IFR flight in IMC, making it a logical choice as a training aircraft,” observed Tom. That all sounds great, but how to account for such a stride forward? At least three attributes appear to deliver the improvements:
- F2 has a longer fuselage, about a foot longer than CTLS (22.5 feet on F2 vs. 21.6 on CTLS).
- F2 has a very wide stabilizer, substantially larger than CTLS (10.3 feet vs. 7.8 for CTLS). Additionally, the newer model now uses a fixed stabilizer with discreet elevator where CTLS employs a stabilator.
- Finally, vertical height of the tailplane is impressive. F2's tall tail is approximately 6.2 feet vs. 4.6 feet for CTLS.
Pilot FriendlierWhen the fuselage stretched, it not only got longer and leaner looking but it got wider and taller, too. This increased cabin volume. F2 is two inches wider (50.5 inches) and has a much larger aft cabin than CTLS (which has a hat rack on each side; handy, but much smaller). F2's cabin is higher, better for tall pilots and larger doors allow easier entry. That big cabin is designed to protect its occupants, a long-term effort by Flight Design. "F2 has an extremely rigid cabin; at least two times more than the CT-series." Like CTLS, F2's cabin is built around a center tunnel or beam "that is very stout," Tom added. F2 is also more deluxe. It has an automobile feel to it, Tom thought. Indeed, with AmSafe air bags (interior photo; see black vertical bars), auto style inertia reel harnesses, and gas-piston-adjustable seats that adjust electrically for height adjustment, F2 is clearly a luxury model. Size doesn't come free, of course. The extra interior room, longer span, wider tail, and stretched fuselage add 107 pounds to F2 compared with CTLS, using basic empty weight facts from company brochures (717 pounds vs. 824 on F2). No doubt F2's four foot longer span wing (32.4 feet on F2 vs. 28.2 feet on CTLS) carries weight better and may be another reason, along with the new winglets, accounting for the good handling report. "F2 is very efficient," Tom said. The wing design is higher aspect, using the same chord as CTLS but a longer span. "The higher you go, the better the wing flies. It will be very good for longer cruising flights, above 8,000 feet, for example." If you look carefully (it's subtle from most angles), F2's wing uses cuffs as does the Icon Aircraft A5. I flew that LSA seaplane to find very well behaved manners almost no matter what you did with the controls and airspeed management. That safety attribute earned Icon extra gross weight; FAA granted such because those cuffs provide greatly enhanced slow speed stability. As the linked article above indicates, FAA told LAMA's board of directors that any design that could prove a "stall resistant airframe" to FAA's satisfaction could petition for a higher gross weight so it is entirely possible F2 could also request more pounds. As we discussed the two planes, Tom said he thought I could do the same maneuvers with F2 that I'd done with the Icon A5 and I'd get a similar sensation. "Departure stalls simply don't," Tom described. "With full flaps, it will 'nod' a bit, a kind of pre-stall but with neutral flaps the stick remains effective at all times." Tom worked closely with Flight Design during development of F2, playing key roles. He closed saying, "I knew we could achieve those characteristics but I didn't know how well it would fly." I could almost see his smile over the phone. I look forward to experience F2, perhaps at the Midwest LSA Expo still on schedule for September 10-11-12 in Mt. Vernon, Illinois, east of St. Louis.
Although a mirror reflection of the greater global economy, many pilots are stunned that airshow after airshow has fallen to the virus. It seems like two or three years ago when, back in February 2020, Videoman Dave and I covered the Copperstate/Buckeye show west of Phoenix. Here’s another sure sign of virus-induced time distortion. This year, 2020, was the first year that the Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation did not happen after a good run of 15 years. Yes, only seven months ago, many of us would’ve been heading to Sebring, Florida. Little did we know in those carefree times what cataclysm was to follow starting in March 2020. When cut off from usual routines, what does an inventive entrepreneur do? Take to the Air! Tom Peghiny, the veteran importer of the most successful LSA brand in America, has a new nose-to-tail, winglet-to-winglet Light-Sport Aircraft to show airshow attendees …except he can’t.
Go Able Flight!Ten people from throughout the country have been selected as recipients of an Able Flight Scholarship for 2020. Eight will train at Able Flight’s program at Purdue University, one will earn a CFI certificate with his Career Training Scholarship, and one will become Able Flight’s first student to attend training late in 2020 at the Aerospace Center For Excellence in Lakeland, Florida. Able Flight's carefully-laid plans got upended along with the rest of society when the coronavirus panic hit. Now Able Flight wrote, "Just a few months ago Able Flight awarded ten new scholarships for training in 2020. Though all 'in-flight' training is on hold as of late April 2020, we are pleased to report that all students are currently in ground school training through an online course generously provided by Sporty's Pilot Shop." "In addition," Charles continued, "scholarship recipients will soon be taking part in a live online classroom ground school program led by our lead flight instructor at Purdue, Lucero Duran. This will allow the students to complete training for the FAA Knowledge Test and take the exam this summer as previously scheduled. We are exploring options to resume in-flight training at several locations as soon as safety and health conditions, and changes in governmental restrictions, allow.
And Now… This Year's Winners!Of the ten scholarship recipients, six use wheelchairs due to paralysis, one is deaf, one has a paralyzed arm, and two are amputees. Four are veterans; with one being wounded in combat and three becoming disabled due to injuries. The members of the Able Flight “Class of 2020” are as follows (numbered according to photo, not in any order of importance): Chris Murad (1) of Georgia. Chris recently graduated from Georgia Tech with an aerospace degree. He became paralyzed in 2016 when shot during a robbery as he was leaving work. Chris will train at Purdue University. Joshua Martin (2) of Texas. Joshua is a graduate of West Point who trained and served as a Special Operations helicopter pilot before losing his lower left leg due to a motor vehicle accident in 2018. With his scholarship, Joshua will return to flying by earning his fixed-wing pilot certificate. Joshua will train at Purdue University. Michael Price (3) of North Dakota. Michael is a graduate of Penn Foster University in Fargo, ND, and had his first flight as part of an introductory program in 1997. That same day he became paralyzed due to injuries from a car accident. Michael will train at Purdue University. Peyton Wolter (4) of Wisconsin. Peyton grew up active in a variety of outdoor sports and became paralyzed in late 2017 as a result of an injury sustained in a boating accident. Peyton will train at Purdue University. Sheila Zhi Xu (5) of Nevada. Sheila is a graduate of MIT and has been both a participant in the Fulbright Scholarship Program and an intern at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Shelia was born with profound hearing loss in both ears, and will train at Purdue University. Jason Daugherty (6) of Georgia. Jason was first exposed to flying in the fifth grade through a course taught by a teacher who was a licensed pilot. His plans to become a pilot were halted in 2003 when he became paralyzed due to a car accident. Jason will train at Purdue University. T’angelo Magee (7) of Pennsylvania. T’angelo is a veteran of the U.S. Army with multiple combat deployments who became paralyzed due to injuries from a motorcycle accident. In 2019, he participated in the Able Flight program at Purdue where he both soloed and passed his written exam before an illness forced him to cut short his training. T’angelo will train at Purdue University. Austin “Chance” Field (8) of Texas. Chance Field spent several summers working around planes at an FBO operated by his aunt and uncle before serving in the Navy. In 2006 he was paralyzed due to injuries from a motor vehicle accident. Austin will train at the Aerospace Center For Excellence in Lakeland, Florida. Steven Curry (9) of Virginia. Steven served in the U.S. Army in both Afghanistan and Iraq. His plans to secure a Warrant Officer training slot to become a helicopter pilot ended when injuries from an IED required the amputation of his left leg below the knee. Steven with train at Aviation Adventures in Virginia. David Snypes, Jr. (10) of New York. David is a veteran of the U.S. Army having served from 2009 to 2016, including tours in Afghanistan. In 2016, he lost the use of his left arm due to injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident. David will train at Purdue University. The preceding list is only for this year. Go here to see all the scholarship recipients. Our interview with Charles Stites appears below but Able Flight has many inspirational videos to watch.
American are very gracious with their donations to good causes. Charitable giving in the USA exceeded $400 billion in 2018 alone. Even during uncertain times as the world currently find itself, Americans still prove surprisingly generous. It makes me proud. I’ve joined in when it comes to Able Flight, having on several occasions given money to Able Flight. For a pilot, I cannot comprehend how a fellow aviator can ignore this worthy effort, lead by founder and main man Charles Stites. He has single-handedly generated funds from numerous donors, found Light-Sport Aircraft with hand controls, lead the effort to select wonderful scholarship winners, and donated so many of his own hours that I’ll bet he can’t even add them up …for sure, it’s a lot of time invested. You have many, many great organizations you can support but this one, for pilots anyway, should hit very close to home.
Bristell 915iSThe successful model from the very active BRM Aero in the Czech Republic was always a favorite for its exquisite design with no detail overlooked, with some of the smoothest execution in the industry. It's wide cabin and luxurious appointments puts Bristell almost in a class of its own, with a price tag to match. Bristell with Rotax's uber-powerful, 141-horsepower 915iS fuel injected, turbocharged, and intercooler engine bumps the selling price beyond reach of many aviators while still being a fraction of its equivalent among legacy general aviation airplanes. You'll pay in the high $200,000 range for Bristell 915 but what a superlative airplane you'll receive for that money. While the price might discourage some, fear not, as main man Lou Mancuso also offers a shared ownership program that may be the best I've ever heard (details in this video). As we launched on our photo mission with Bristell going first, it was clear this machine can soar into the sky faster than almost any LSA I've seen short of much-slower-cruising STOL designs. Look for our video to follow with more information about the latest offered by Bristell USA. BRM Aero is definitely a moving target with new models in the works, but as with all the vendors featured in this virtual preview, you will have to learn about the new ideas at a later airshow. Stay tuned! ••• Get Lots More Info — Bristell USA (for North America) or BRM Aero (for other countries)
Jabiru J230DFor a very rare airframe company that also builds its own engines, welcome to the all-new Jabiru J230D with their latest Gen 4 (generation 4) Jabiru engine. The two seater LSA is also supplied as a four seater in its homeland of Australia, so this American model offers not only one of the most voluminous aft cabins in all of LSA-land but a separate, third door to access it. Representative U.S. Sport Planes, led by industry veteran Scott Severen, has demonstrated this baggage capacity with photos showing a large dog sitting comfortably aft of the pilots. Those who struggle to load a couple small bags in most airplanes may be envious of the ease of entry to the back cabin. Yet capacity is not the whole story behind J230D. This new model has refinements to make it fly even nicer. Since J230 models were already able to speed to the top of the category, improvements are focused on fit and finish and handling qualities. In addition to the updated airframe, Jabiru is now in full production on their Gen 4 engine offered in two configurations: a four-cylinder 2200 model producing 80 horsepower; and the six-cylinder 3300 model with 120 horsepower. Learn more about both Gen 4 engines. The J230D uses the later to scoot along at max LSA speed. ••• Get Lots More Info — U.S. Sport Planes
Flight Design F2Flight Design has been busy over the last year. Not only have they come out with their CTLS 2020 (fresh news) but they've put their all-new F2 through multiple tests. The German company is almost ready to begin deliveries. Since I first saw the F2 in mock up, Flight Design has redesigned the intake for two reasons: "to reduce drag as we confirmed the older version was very functional but draggy; and for aesthetic reasons," said the company. "Flight Design team designer and Head of Airworthiness, Christian Majunke, designed conceptually. He also designed a rather novel installation of the coolant and oil radiators," elaborated Flight Design USA representative, Tom Peghiny. Also new panel is an SLSA panel with twin G3X screens, a Garmin GTR 225 Com, Garmin GTX 345 ADSB in and out transponder, Garmin GMC 507 autopilot control head (with dual axis autopilot), and Garmin GMA 245 intercom. Pilot controls remain essentially as they were on the CT-series but note the combined single lever throttle and brake system. "Our F2 prototype number 002 arrived at port in Miami in preparation for display at Sun n Fun 2020," said Tom. Like most vendors, Flight Design USA hoped to go forward with the Lakeland show but will now unveil the new model at Oshkosh 2020 (assuming it remains on schedule). "After completing all SLSA required flight testing including the demanding ASTM 3180 anti-spin requirements, production has started on the first aircraft from production tooling in Germany, Ukraine and the Czech Republic," concluded Tom. ••• Get Lots More Info — Flight Design USA
Whisper X350You know the Czech Cessna-182 lookalike called L600 from AeroPilot USA. You also know the dashing FX1 from InnovAviation in Italy. Both of these interesting models are represented by Deon Lombard of AeroPilot USA, now based in Florida but with representation in California. At Sun 'n Fun 2020, Deon expected to introduce Whisper to American kit builders. Alas, as with the rest of this group, you probably won't see it until July in Wisconsin.
Whisper Aircraft in South Africa has created Whisper X350 Gen II, a two-seat, cross-country sport aircraft with a limit load factor of plus 6.0 and minus 4.0 Gs. Those are merely limit loads. This is a tough bird.
Whisper wings feature a carbon fiber structure tested to an ultimate load factor of 12.0 Gs. The Gen II’s wing tanks offer a total fuel capacity of 63 U.S. gallons, giving a range of 1,000 nautical miles and an endurance of over 6 hours.
"The aircraft also has one of the widest interiors on the market today, featuring optional leather interior and plenty of baggage room making the Gen II perfect for comfortable cross-country trips. This will make a good member of the AeroPilot USA family. A few more specs: Useful Load — 925 pounds; Speed — 175 knots; Range — 1,137 miles.••• Get Lots More Info — AeroPilot USA
Montaer MC-01It might have been one of the great flights to reach Sun 'n Fun 2020, had it occurred. That's because designer and company representative Bruno de Oliveira had planned to fly his new model all the way from Brazil to Lakeland. That alone would have been reason to examine the new Light-Sport Aircraft. Bruno will be aided in his approach to the U.S. market by longtimer, Ed Ricks, who once helped the Paradise Aircraft people with their P1NG (video). Unfortunately, that relationship faded but when Bruno, who once worked for Paradise, struck out on his own, Ed and partner were pleased to get back involved. MC-01's airframe is constructed with 4130 molybdenum steel tube providing a greater safety to the occupants. The exterior is all aeronautical aluminum fuselage and wings. A steerable nose wheel, dual toe brakes, and control yokes are just some of the features of this well built airplane. Learn more here; get more specs here. Had Ed been able to show MC-01 at Sun 'n Fun 2020 he was ready to make a special offer. While this handsome, approved, all-metal airplane normally sells for a reasonable $135,000, an introductory price of only $125,000 was to be the show special. If you're lucky, Ed may extend the offer to AirVenture Oshkosh 2020 (assuming it remains on its present schedule). ••• Get Lots More Info — Montaer USA
While I continue to worry about the cash crunch faced by two of my favorite shows, I am still driven to provide content as if those shows had occurred this year and not been postponed to 2021. Of course, I refer to Aero Friedrichshafen and Sun ‘n Fun, the latter my focus for this post. Here I will relate five aircraft you might have seen in Lakeland last week …before it was bumped to early May, but which is now off until April 2021. I admit I secretly hoped for good news in these sad cancellations that might allow me to attend both events in 2021. I had to pick one over the other in 2020 as they were exactly opposite one another. Unfortunately for my schedule, the year-long postponement didn’t change anything. Sun ‘n Fun 2021 will be 13-18 of April while Aero 2021 is planned for 14-17 April.
F2 and F2e
Carbon Offsets ProgramBeing particularly keen on reducing carbon in the atmosphere, Flight Design bosses wanted to take strides to further their goals in this regard.
As everyone on the planet knows by now, aviation has nary an airshow in sight. Even AirVenture Oshkosh — still planned at this writing — is hedging their bets amid the uncertainty, saying they will make additional decisions in the weeks ahead. Most of us who love (and rely on) these aviation events certainly hope OSH’20 can go on as planned. It will be wonderful to get back into a familiar routine. Meanwhile, I have been producing more content here on ByDanJohnson.com so everyone sheltering-in-place can at least fantasy fly their favorite flying machine. I will also continue with the “Virtual Aero” or “Virtual Sun ‘n Fun” articles. In fact, next up after this one will be a post about new aircraft you would have seen in Lakeland, Florida in May …before Sun ‘n Fun regretfully* called it off until 2021. One company, Flight Design ga, offered a “virtual press conference.” The company said, “As all airshows are postponed, we chose this way to inform you regarding the current developments at Flight Design.
How does one LSA brand rise and stay above others?
Many reasons can be introduced; all possibly valid. However, it doesn't hurt when a brand has a distributor that itself rises above all the rest.In case you think I am torturing the "above all the rest" metaphor, well, you may not have met the Gutmann team in the flesh. Once you do, I think you'll see my point very clearly.
Looking Up to Tom & TomMy tongue-in-cheek subtitle comes from the perspective of an average-sized pilot talking to the father and son team of Tom Sr. and Tom Jr. Gutmann. These gentle giants stand so tall above me that even Tom Cruise's acting box would not let me look this pair eye-to-eye. Indeed, it is a tribute to the spaciousness of CT-series interiors that both these beefy fellows fit inside comfortably. Don't try that in a Cessna 150 (or even a 172)! Flight Design's CT-series is roomy inside, 49 inches wide, a full 10 inches more than a Cessna 172. It also has super visibility. These facts are true of both CTLS, the current flagship of the German producer, and for the newest CT Super Sport, as seen in most of the nearby photos. The image of the two of us in the cockpit clearly shows that Tom Jr. and I have several inches between our shoulders and we were not smashed up against the door to produce this view. Tom and I flew Super Sport at the Midwest LSA Expo (see video below) where I renewed my enthusiasm over the earlier CTSW model. While it has been a few years since I flew CTSW, I clearly recall it had dashing performance that the more luxurious (read: heavier) CTLS cannot quite match. Super Sport continues that, weighing as it does around 100 pounds less than CTLS and its 1,000 fpm climb rate supports the worth of that weight reduction. Super Sport is an upgrade from CTSW, however, as it uses three primary elements of the sophisticated CTLS and CTLSi. Super Sport has the wings, entire tailplane, and the main landing gear of CTLS. In my humble opinion, these were smart additions and created a new plane from two prior models. What you don't get with CT Super Sport is the back window and hat rack cabin space of CTLS. The slight enlargement of the longer, fancier LS does indeed make the cabin feel roomier and you have less space for things you need in the cockpit — though the floor compartments in front of both seats will suffice for most things you may want to access during flight. Both models keep the ample storage area aft of the cabin but you cannot access that while flying. For this review, Super Sport was equipped with the Rotax 912 iS Sport engine that delivers such wonderful fuel economy. That's why the tail shows "Super Sport i."
Airtime for AllWhatever Flight Design offers aviators, one U.S. distributor can always supply. That's the Gutmann's Airtime Aviation enterprise, based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Airtime Aviation Inc. — also found by the simple, easy-to-remember FlyCT.com — is operated by father and son team of Tom (Senior) and Tom (Junior) Gutmann. Airtime Aviation has delivered more than 200 CT aircraft to customers around the United States. Coordinating closely with Flight Design USA, lead by Tom Peghiny, the Gutmanns are intimately aware of all things Flight Design. You can engage either Tom by phone call (try: 918-630-5927 or 918-625-5442).
More About Super SportThe CT-series has long offered several compelling safety attributes. The "egg-shaped" design offers a protective "safety cell" cabin known in the automotive world as a "crush zone." Simplisitically, this means forces of an impact are directed around the occupants to protect them. Since its introduction as a LSA, every CT model has come standard equipped with an emergency airframe parachute. You may never need this capability, but it provides peace of mind for pilot and encourages less-certain passengers to go aloft with you. A slippery all-carbon fiber exterior allows Super Sport to reach the LSA speed limit of 120 knots. We commonly saw 115 knots at a shade over 75% power yet burned only 4-5 gallons per hour of auto fuel or avgas; you can use either in any mixture, which is true for all 912 engines. The speed figures come from flying at lower altitudes (2,000-3,000 feet AGL). Given its voluminous 34 gallon fuel tanks Super Sport can manage a non-stop flight of more than 1,000 statute miles! Super Sport comes standard with a single Dynon SkyView screen that can be used in conjunction with an optional autopilot. Air-bulb-adjustable seat backs and cushions aid human comfort as does cabin heat and plenty of fresh-air ventilation.
How does one LSA brand rise and stay above others? Many reasons can be introduced; all possibly valid. However, it doesn’t hurt when a brand has a distributor that itself rises above all the rest. In case you think I am torturing the “above all the rest” metaphor, well, you may not have met the Gutmann team in the flesh. Once you do, I think you’ll see my point very clearly. Looking Up to Tom & Tom My tongue-in-cheek subtitle comes from the perspective of an average-sized pilot talking to the father and son team of Tom Sr. and Tom Jr. Gutmann. These gentle giants stand so tall above me that even Tom Cruise’s acting box would not let me look this pair eye-to-eye. Indeed, it is a tribute to the spaciousness of CT-series interiors that both these beefy fellows fit inside comfortably. Don’t try that in a Cessna 150 (or even a 172)!
What's New? …Everything!As you look at our short video below, you can see that the baggage area aft of the two seat is huge, rivaling the capaciousness of even Jabiru's roomy J-230D. This voluminous aft compartment may suggest a natural progression to the four seater F4 that will follow but it is not just a large baggage area that looks different. The entire airframe is new as a quick glance confirms. F2's cabin is 3.1 inches wider — now 51 inches wide, among the broadest in the category — and two inches taller than the CT series’ cabins. Door dimensions have also been increased, making for easier entry and exit. The entry door is set 2.3 inches lower than those in the CT series and pilots who are less flexible will appreciate these changes. Four cabin windows and a sunroof in the rear give the cockpit an open feeling and improve overall visibility, boasts Flight Design. F2 is available with either a 100-horsepower Rotax 912 iS engine or, for the European market, a 141-hp turbocharged Rotax 915 iS engine (915 presently requires an in-flight adjustable prop not allowed under current U.S. regulations for LSA). Rotax's 912 iS engine delivers excellent fuel economy resulting in a maximum range of about 750 nautical miles for F2 from 34 gallons of fuel onboard. Deliveries of the new model were expected to begin in August 2019. While they will not be bargain-priced, F2 models come well equipped; standard features include AmSafe panel-mounted airbags, three-point inertia-reel harnesses, a ballistic parachute recovery system, and Garmin’s G3X Touch flight display. "Sculpted winglets reduce induced drag, improve climb and cruising range," noted Flight Design spokespersons. "The smooth cantilever strutless wing also reduces drag and allows maximum visibility from the cockpit. The highly optimized airfoil of the F2 allows generous internal volume for the fuel tanks and is also structurally efficient. Aerodynamic features have significantly improved the F2′s stability, control and its overall ease of flying." Pilots used to a full avionics suite should be pleased with the Garmin G3X panel including PFD, EMS and Map functions and a battery backup. With a Garmin GTX 345 transponder F2 is compliant with the FAA’s ADS-B “Out” required by 2020. Options can further outfit an F2. See the entire equipment list and pricing on the company's dedicated F2 page.
Charged Up for FlightSince the Aero Friedrichshafen show, on June 5, 2019, the first public flight of the Flight Design F2e took place at the Strausberg, Germany airfield using its innovative electric propulsion system. On its first successful first flight, Flight Design said, "Energy consumption for take-off and cruise was within the expected range, and the temperatures in the system were more positive than expected." Flight Design created F2e with partners Siemens eAircraft, the manufacturer and developer of the propulsion technology, and APUS, a Strausberg-based company specializing in the development and integration of aviation propulsion systems. F2e is based on standard components that are used in the Rotax 912iS-powered version of F2. "Flight Training is one area that generates the best opportunity for improvment in the environment for nature, nearby residents and airfields as noise emissions are concentrated in that one place, the airfield, where future pilots spend a lot of time flying," stated the company. The propulsion system employs a 55 kW (approximately 75 horsepower) electric direct-drive motor, inverter, and electronic control systems. This propulsion system has already been extensively tested in laboratory and ground tests as well as flight tested for hundreds of flight hours under the supervision of Siemens eAircraft, reported Flight Design. At this time, development of the electric propulsion continues while regulatory bodies around the world decide how they will handle approval of e-powered aircraft. Following is our short video look at F2 as displayed at Aero Friedrichshafen 2019… https://youtu.be/wuUUbP4imNE
Once upon a time in the then-new world of Light-Sport Aircraft Flight Design lead the pack for airplanes delivered and registered. That #1 ranking lasted for a decade. Then came a pause in the juggernaut that is Flight Design, a German company with a popular design. The company’s expenses outran their revenues and a major restructuring was forced upon them by the German legal system. This was 2015 but at Aero Friedrichshafen 2019, the company was looking strong. Their prominent space in Aero’s huge gymnasium-sized exhibit halls was filled with interesting machines, including the distinctive Horten flying wing. All these today operate under the parent name, Lift, which also acquired the Rotorvox deluxe gyroplane. Attracting a lot of attention was their brand-new F-series. Displayed as the first aircraft visitors saw, F2 is an evolved version of the company’s successful CT-series, which remains in active manufacturing.
Five Months In Combined ReportThe first chart reflects both LSA and SP kit registrations through May of 2019 and also depicts the equivalent performances for the full years of 2017 and 2018. What the chart suggests is that 2019 is a solid year with the light sector on track to hit 725 aircraft for the year, up about 5% over last year and up more than 10% over 2017. For space reasons the chart only shows ranks 1–18 but all are available on Tableau Public. Digging deeper, the chart shows that longtime market leader Zenith/Zenair lead by a substantial margin in 2017 and 2018 but that gap may be narrowing for 2019. Please keep in mind that a kit company completes a sale long before the aircraft gets registered and appears on FAA's database. Also, a kit sold may never be finished. Conversely, Icon's 27 registrations this year are for ready-to-fly aircraft although that does not mean they were registered by the end customer. The leading LSA builder so far in 2019, Icon is on pace to register 65 aircraft this year, up 38% over last year. American Legend, which operates both in the RTF and kit business, is ticking upwards. They may hit 29 registrations, up 140% over last year. Arion is another both-ways manufacturer looking to have a much improved 2019 while newcomer Vashon should double last year's registrations. Strong SP kit suppliers include Kitfox, Vans, and Rans — no real surprises but here's a couple observations. Kitfox is on a pace to hit 70 registrations this year, up about 80% over 2018. Van's Aircraft is headed to 60, up 50% over last year. Rans will remain about even. Remember, we only count aircraft that can be flown by a Sport Pilot or a higher-certificated pilot with no medical. Van's, for example, sells many more kits but most won't meet that criteria.
Separating LSA from SP KitsFlight Design continues its recovery, on pace to increase from last year's low number by 50%. Now that we can separate CubCrafters RTFs from kits, the CT maker is back atop the all-years SLSA rank list. Number two producer, Czech Sport Aircraft should be about even from 2018 but is well off their 2017 registrations. Powrachute and AutoGyro slipped from stronger performances in recent years. On the downside, Glasair suspended production for their Merlin that never found reception in the market. Looking at cumulative registrations, Zenith/Zenair clearly holds the top spot among Sport Pilot kit aircraft sellers. Rans, Sonex, and Kitfox are the next big producers in the light kit space, followed by Quad City and Just Aircraft, trailed a bit further back by Searey maker Progressive Aerodyne, CubCrafters, and Quicksilver.
One More Thing: ELSA FactorYou might see that kits appear to be the larger enterprise over fully-built LSA. That's correct, but consider the kit companies have been building their business and networks for far longer and they have lower price points …although you obviously must invest a good many hours to complete a project and some will get discouraged along the way and never finish the job. Yet the real surprise comes when you look at our final chart of this article. Kits appear ascendant since 2013, especially when compared to Special LSA that seems to have found a stable registration rate of around 200 aircraft per year. However, when you combine SLSA with Experimental LSA, you can see that all LSA types number closer to 300 units per year, compared to all SP kits at just shy of 400. Specialty registrations like Experimental Exhibition are steady but at a far smaller unit count. Any ELSA must be shipped from the factory as a bolt-for-bolt copy of the SLSA model, as required under the regulation. No producer can sell an ELSA without first getting approved for a SLSA, so to my mind, combining SLSA and ELSA makes for a fairer comparison to Sport Pilot kit aircraft. If you love these numbers, please visit Tableau Public. You can learn a lot more about the vibrant light aircraft sector. Enjoy! Disclaimer: These reports rely on FAA’s registration database. We believe this to be a reliable resource but it presents data that are different than what any company reports in sales or deliveries. Over time, these two sets of data draw closer but will not precisely mirror one another. Data presented on Tableau Public are arranged according to a defined method explained on that page (see button labeled “Where the numbers come from”).
A funny thing happened on our way to quarterly reporting of LSA and Sport Pilot kit market shares. Our first quarterly report in many years should have come about April 1st. It did not. That date came as Sun ‘n Fun was getting underway separated by only one day from the German Aero show. So involved were we in those season-starting events that we just blew past the date. Five Months In Combined Report The first chart reflects both LSA and SP kit registrations through May of 2019 and also depicts the equivalent performances for the full years of 2017 and 2018. What the chart suggests is that 2019 is a solid year with the light sector on track to hit 725 aircraft for the year, up about 5% over last year and up more than 10% over 2017. For space reasons the chart only shows ranks 1–18 but all are available on Tableau Public.
Jetting straight from Sun ‘n Fun, we were able to arrive at Aero Friedrichshafen by noon on opening day. A quick swing around the most light-aircraft-filled halls (the “B” halls) brought some fresh surprises. Following are a few designs that caught my eye on an initial pass. The profusion of light aircraft we don’t see in the USA — some of which will never reach the market — is one of the main reasons Aero Friedrichshafen is my favorite show in Europe. This mostly indoor fair (as Europeans call such shows) always has many ideas of interest. Zlin Ultra with Rotax 915iS — Never one to rest Pascale Russo reintroduced his Ultra Shock from last Aero with the more powerful Rotax 915iS. Ultra Shock plays on the term “ultralight,” which means something different in Europe than in the USA (it is a reference to light aircraft quite similar to Light-Sport Aircraft).
First, Simulate — Then, Go AloftChinese citizens play games, including flight simulators, as much as (or perhaps even more than) Americans do. Sitting at their computer or using a mobile smartphone or tablet is commonplace. They know this activity and it may provide a bridge to people going aloft in an actual airplane like CTLS. Imagine if you had never, ever seen a small plane of any kind. Would you rush to fly it? It's hard for Americans to envision this situation as we have small airplanes everywhere and airports in nearly every town in the nation. AeroJones may truly be on to something developing their full-motion simulator. “At the Zhuhai Airshow 2018, our AeroJones 6-axis of motion CTLS simulator was shown for the first time to the public,” said Michael Chou, who handles marketing for the company. He reported that reception to the new simulator was very enthusiastic. “Our flying CTLS also received lots attention in the show,” said Chou. “The market is growing for Chinese general aviation. We visited with many prospective customers from flight clubs and flight schools that expressed interest in the AeroJones CTLS.” “The cabin scale of the full-motion simulator is 1:1 of the flying CTLS,” added Mr. Chou, meaning that the simulator is an exact size copy of the actual LSA. “Our simulator is equipped with two SkyView digital instrument panels designed by Dynon Avionics in the USA. The simulator has dual control sticks and rudders so an instructor can help a student learn the procedures and perform maneuvers. For the general public, it is a great device for entertainment.” “AeroJones Aviation owner Jones Chen was pleased with the response to our aircraft and especially for our unique full-motion simulator,” said Mr. Hsieh Chi-Tai, General Aviation Development Vice President for AeroJones Aviation Technology Co., Ltd. AeroJones is deep into planning for their new aircraft factory in Zhenjiang, China — where, presumably, they will also build the simulator. With the new facility, all manufacturing steps will be easier, less costly, and much more efficient, which will contribute to better values for customers buying the CTLS. Flight schools or other buyers of the modern and sophisticated CTLS will be able to fly to Dalu General Airport to see the factory and take demonstrations flights to confirm their purchase. At the time the new factory was announced, Mr. Jones Chen said, “We are very pleased about the relationship with leaders of Zhenjiang. We look forward to a long and prosperous relationship."
Who Is AeroJones?Please let me clarify for readers who may recall seeing the AeroJones brand at American airshows. For a time, it did appear the Taiwan-based company would sell into the USA. However, that plan changed and today, the primary markets for AeroJones Aviation include China, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Japan, Korea, and Thailand. Because Flight Design general aviation, the original developer of the CT-series, does not currently market a full-motion flight simulator, this particular product may find its way into western nations. Beyond their aircraft factory in Xiamen, China and the new one to come in Zhenjiang — not far from the well-known megacity of Shanghai — AeroJones also operates a flying field, flight school, and maintenance center at an airfield in Taiwan.
At a major show in China called Zhuhai visitors saw something: a new 6-axis LSA flight simulator. The developer is AeroJones Aviation, the CTLS manufacturer for the Asia-Pacific region. The company exhibited their simulator to a warm reception. General aviation is beginning to develop in China lead by airport construction at hundreds of the country’s huge cities. As I’ve written before, I have no doubt the airports will be built, but actual flying at most of them — by Light-Sport Aircraft or other recreational aircraft — seems somewhere off in the future. China has a massive job ahead. Chinese business people have proven very capable of building many things, but developing a culture of the citizenry flying in light aircraft still has quite a distance to go. However, AeroJones new simulator may help the country take a huge stride forward. First, Simulate — Then, Go Aloft Chinese citizens play games, including flight simulators, as much as (or perhaps even more than) Americans do.
CT Super Sport InjectionThe German developer of the CT series is now planning to offer the CT Super Sport Injection in North America. CT Super Sport is the popular model sold in Europe with a cruising speed of 120 knots, VNE of 146 knots, useful load of more than 600 pounds (272 kilograms), and an affordable price. "This variation will now be reintroduced to the Americas," reported Tom Peghiny, President of Flight Design USA. “We have sold versions of the CTLS since its introduction in 2008 and wanted to bring back a lighter model primarily for the U.S. and Canadian markets. After consultation with our Canadian distributor, Flight Design Canada we decided to begin importing the CT Super Sport Injection, which is the model equipped with the advanced Rotax 912iS," said Peghiny. CT Super Sport is a derivative of the famous CTSW but has been upgraded with many features of the CTLSi including the 912iS 100 horsepower fuel-injected engine, a single beam composite “no bounce” main gear, a centrally located 10-inch Dynon SkyView Touch EFIS/EMS/Map Screen, and 2020-compliant Dynon Class One Mode S Transponder with ADS-B out. Lightly equipped as described, Flight Design said CT Super Sport Injection has a useful load of over 600 pounds (272 kilograms) can cruise at 120 knots, has a VNE of 146 knots, a maximum range of 700-800 nautical miles (1,481 kilometers) and is compliant as an SLSA in the U.S. and as an Advanced Ultralight Aircraft in Canada, as well as all other countries following the FAA-LSA regulation. Back On Top — “After a successful 2018, Flight Design is once again at the top of the SLSA ‘All Fleet’ ranking according to the FAA registration data recently published on the Tableau Public website,” the company wrote. “With the new 2018 registration numbers that were released, Flight Design was second total (when including Experimental LSA and Amateur Built kits) and first in Special Light Sport Aircraft (ASTM-compliant, ready to fly).” “We are excited by the news and want to thank our staff and USA dealers,” said Flight Design CEO Lars Joerges. “Flight Design was the market leader since the beginning of Light Sport Aircraft category, which was one of the reasons we acquired the company. We also want to thank Dan Johnson for his persistent support of the light end of aviation both by his website ByDanJohnson.com and his leadership of LAMA, the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association group that represents manufacturers,” added Joerges.
European CTLSi-ELAFlight Design general aviation is pleased to announce that on 15 November 2018, the Czech subsidiary of Flight Design was awarded EASA Part21G approved Production Organization Approval (POA) under approval number CZ.21G.0065 issued by the Civil Aviation Agency of the Czech Republic. What does this mean? “The approval allows the company to deliver certified aircraft for delivery in Europe and the rest of the world,” said Joerges. “This is good news for owners of CTLS-ELA aircraft currently operating under EASA’s Permit-to-Fly and for new customers looking for an advanced EASA certified light aircraft,” explained Flight Design general aviation COO, Daniel Guenther. “We can now offer owners of CTLS-ELA aircraft operating across Europe to bring their planes back to Flight Design for upgrading and conformity confirmation to allow them to have a permanent Restricted Flight Certificate (RTC).” Planning for the upgrade program is in the final stages and customers will be informed about the details in February 2019. Flight Design observed that the company’s CT-series aircraft have been sold around the world since 2008 as Special Light-Sport Aircraft. "CTLSi-ELA brings a well proven platform, the security of an all carbon fiber airframe with an aircraft emergency rescue system and the high technology of all Flight Design aircraft," officials said.
We're Off to Sebring!On Wednesday January 23rd, 2019 kicks off with the 15th running of Sebring. This year is also the 15th anniversary of FAA establishing the Sport Pilot / Light-Sport Aircraft sector in American aviation. This accomplishment was the "regulation heard 'round the world" in that many countries have now adapted the ASTM standards for use in their countries making exports from one country to another vastly easier than in the Part 23 certified aircraft world. Sebring has become a premiere showcase for Light-Sport Aircraft and Sport Pilot Eligible (or SPE) kit-built aircraft. We'll do our best to report daily from the event for those that cannot attend. In addition Videoman Dave and I will be transitioning to Warp Drive as we cover the grounds seeking the best video interviews. Click or tap back daily!
As a new season of flying is upon us (even while northern pilots may still be still shoveling snow), one company continues their vigorous comeback. Flight Design announced completion of a new product and is offering a second. Based on the same CT-based airframe, the two are notably different. CT Super Sport Injection The German developer of the CT series is now planning to offer the CT Super Sport Injection in North America. CT Super Sport is the popular model sold in Europe with a cruising speed of 120 knots, VNE of 146 knots, useful load of more than 600 pounds (272 kilograms), and an affordable price. “This variation will now be reintroduced to the Americas,” reported Tom Peghiny, President of Flight Design USA. “We have sold versions of the CTLS since its introduction in 2008 and wanted to bring back a lighter model primarily for the U.S.
Handiflight Goes Global into 2019Beyond the monumental task of planning such lengthy flight, this and other emergency scenarios were surely contemplated by the pilot team from Handiflight as they prepared for their circumnavigation of the globe in twin CTLS Light-Sport Aircraft. Handiflight's goal is both simple and enormous at once: "A challenging and inspiring global adventure promoting the inclusion of disabled people and values such as commitment, fraternity, and fellowship." Handiflight 2018/2019 hopes to "contribute to changing people’s perceptions of disability and combating prejudices and exclusion" and to "turn dreams into reality, face new challenges, explore new pathways, discover new horizons by flying … across the most amazing and demanding areas of our planet. An additional goal is to "strengthen the global network of disabled aviators all around the world in collaboration with the FAI and local flying clubs." CTLS aircraft with call signs Whisky Yankee Alpha and WY Bravo set off on this expedition just a few days ago. Here is the planned itinerary for their nearly 50,000-mile voyage.
- Departure — November 2018
- Australia — February 2019
- New-Zealand — March 2019
- South Pacific — April-May 2019
- South America — June 2019
- North America — July 2019
- Europe — August 2019
UPDATE 30 Dec 2018 — Sad news about a crash of one of the Handiflight aircraft with the loss of one of the pilots. See Comments. —DJ Imagine you are flying along in your well-maintained Light-Sport Aircraft with its reliable engine. You are flying a long distance over all sorts of terrain, including vast stretches of water. All is humming along and the miles or kilometers are clicking past. What an experience to fly around the world! Very, very few pilots will ever tackle such a grand challenge. Then, the unexpected happens. Your engine quits. You have a plan. You trained for this and you are experienced. You leap into action. Imagine that you find an acceptable landing area but the location is very remote. That seems rather likely when flying all the way around the planet. Touchdown goes OK. The airplane is undamaged. You are fine. However, you cannot raise anyone on the radio and you are not sure your airborne mayday call was heard.
Handiflight to Depart SoonAnother way this storied company shows its global approach to business is by sponsoring a worthy effort called Handiflight. Flight Design said this "is a daring adventure by physically challenged pilots to fly around the world starting very soon, on November 18, 2018. Company CEO Lars Joerges announced that the German manufacturer is a contributing sponsor to the undertaking. The flight will be conducted using a CTLS aircraft. According to Flight Design, the globe-girdling flight will start from Geneva, Switzerland and will plan to visit 40 countries in five continents while traveling more than 49,000 miles. The flight plans to make “150 stops to meet, share, inspire and promote the inclusion of disabled people worldwide,” organizers said. The goal is to raise funds for Handicap International and is further sponsored by the Lions Clubs International, a fraternal organization that raises money for worthy causes. Handiflight is a non-profit association formed in Gruyère, Switzerland in 2007. The organization hosts what they call the biggest fly-in for disabled pilots from all around the world. After 10 years of successful events, Handiflight is now tackling a new goal: “To fly around the world to explore new horizons, look for new challenges, combat prejudices and promote the inclusion of disabled people.” “We met with Daniel Ramsier, one of the organizers of the Handiflight,” said Joerges. "We were very inspired by his vision and wanted to be part of this adventure.” Primary pilots Paolo Pocobelli, Guillaume Féral and Mike Lomberg will lead an international team of more than 15 pilots with physical disabilities. Upon the completion of this flight it will mark the third flight around the world for a CT-series aircraft. The first time occurred in 2007 by two pilots from India to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of the Indian Air Force. The second round-the-world flight was Azimuth 270, a flight by Yannick Bovier and Francisco Agullo, two Swiss Airbus pilots who flew a westward flight around the equator of the Earth in 2010. Soon will begin this great and inspiring flight by Handiflight! * LAMA is beginning an advocacy effort to encourage Canada to accept Light-Sport Aircraft but for now LSA producers must offer aircraft that meet the 1,232-pound limit of Advanced Ultra Light in Canada. The nation used the number first proposed by FAA but the U.S. agency later went to 1,320 pounds (land planes; seaplanes are 1,430 pounds)
At the season ending DeLand Showcase show, Flight Design was ably represented by John Hurst. We interviewed this longtime LSA veteran; watch for that as editing is completed. What we did not get was an update from the company, as we did with several other vendors (see earlier reports). Flight Design USA president Tom Peghiny since reported that his import enterprise enjoyed a reasonably good year in 2018 with a few weeks remaining. Indeed, he communicated while flying a new CTLS up to Canada for delivery under their Advanced Ultralight program*. New unit volume is lower than the early gold-rush days of Light-Sport Aircraft (2005-2007) — the same as for other companies — but new sales are returning for Flight Design; in addition, their service, factory parts. and used business bolsters the longtime U.S. operation. Longtime market leader Flight Design took something of a breather in 2016 and 2017 as the German company reorganized under new leadership (article).
Half A World Away, Aviation Is Getting StartedLet me tell you about a specific brand fly-in, for the CTLS produced in China. While small compared to big American events, this was a healthy start. If aviation is to grow in Asia-Pacific, I think events like that hosted by manufacturer AeroJones are key. More of them is needed but here is a worthy start. In May 2018, AeroJones Aviation hosted a first-time event at their training facility in the south of Taiwan, called Pingtong Saijiain Airport. AeroJones Aviation is the manufacturer of the sophisticated light aircraft called CTLS. The aircraft factory is located in Xiamen, China. “As promised, AeroJones Aviation conducted CT Club, the first flying club reunion in Taiwan on May 19th, 2018,” said company spokesperson Jenny Chang. China and other countries have very well developed airline and military aviation but flying for fun is a relatively new activity. As the photos illustrate, the first-time function was well attended. “Around 40 participants came for the whole day event,” reported Chang. “The group included CTLS pilots, CTLS owners, and those who have intentions to become pilots.” AeroJones Aviation operates a flying field, flight school, and maintenance center in the south of Taiwan. The operation is described by foreign visitors as a prototype for what may become many such facilities across China as that nation prepares to build hundreds of brand-new airports. The new airports will allow Chinese citizens to see and experience light aviation. Few Chinese people have ever seen aircraft such as AeroJones’ CTLS and almost none have flown in one. Events like the one AeroJones hosted may be critically important to introduce literally billions of people in the Asian-Pacific region to the idea of flying for fun. “We were pleased with this first event and the number of people who came to help launch this new idea,” observed Mr. Hsieh Chi-Tai, General Aviation Development Vice President for AeroJones. “Even CT owners that could not fly their aircraft to Pingtong still showed their enthusiasm of flying.” He believes this type of activity will grow as AeroJones Aviation is able to replicate their flight school and pilots club across China in the years ahead. AeroJones acquired the rights to manufacture the German CTLS aircraft design. The company has since secured approval from the government to build and sell these LSA. China is predicted to become a major market for Light-Sport Aircraft. In addition to China and Taiwan, AeroJones Aviation is able to ship fully manufactured CTLS aircraft to other Asia-Pacific countries including Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Japan, Korea, and Thailand. Many aviation experts believe China could see rapid growth for aircraft of this type given plans from the central government in China to build hundreds of new airports during the next few years. The Air Sports Federation of China is also planning hundreds of "flying camps" where citizens can learn more about and experience aviation. ASFC personnel attended Oshkosh 2018 and met with groups to learn more about how to pursue their plans. The Xiamen, China base of AeroJones Aviation includes a manufacturing facility with full fabrication capability. More than 50 highly-trained workers build nearly every part of the airplane in Xiamen. As China may nurture entry level aviation, AeroJones appears destined to be apart of it.
EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2018 is now history. You will be reading and seeing lots more about the big summer celebration of flight — it appeared very strong to most observers — and you will see lots more from OSH ’18 here and on Videoman Dave’s popular YouTube channel. As most readers know, Oshkosh is a massive event, by many measures the largest gathering of true aviation believers in the known universe. However, being big isn’t everything. Indeed, some recreational flying enthusiasts will soon begin a trek to Mt. Vernon Illinois for the Midwest LSA Expo, a far smaller event that has proven adept at linking willing buyers with ready sellers. (It’s also our very best event to capture Video Pilot Reports, so watch for news about that in about a month.) Half A World Away, Aviation Is Getting Started Let me tell you about a specific brand fly-in, for the CTLS produced in China.
Full Approval GrantedIn February 2018, the Civil Aeronautic Administration of China (CAAC) completed a successful audit of the manufacturing facility of AeroJones' Xiamen, China factory. Following the acceptance and with the blessing of Flight Design, the company can independently manufacture CTLS aircraft and sell them throughout China and other countries in the region. “We are very honored and pleased to complete the CAAC audit successfully,” observed Hsieh Chi-Tai — known to many people simply as "Tai." He is the vice president of AeroJones and the approval will lead to being granted a Production Certificate. Previous approvals by Chinese aviation authorities had secured a Chinese Type Design Approval (TDA). Now the package of government certification is complete. CAAC authorities visited AeroJones Aviation in Xiamen in November 2017 and twice in January 2018 before finishing the audit in February. “By proving our company to China’s highest civil aviation authority, we open a new door of opportunity for AeroJones Aviation and for the country of China,” noted Tai. In addition to China, AeroJones Aviation is able to ship fully manufactured aircraft to other Asia-Pacific countries that accept ASTM standards for approvals, including Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Japan, Korea, Thailand, plus additional countries in the region. The German developer — since renamed Flight Design general aviation — will supply all other nations as AeroJones Aviation serves the Asia-Pacific market. In the United States, the German producer has been represented by Flight Design USA since the beginning.
Growth MarketMany aviation experts believe China will be a nation of rapid growth with plans from the central government in China to build thousands of airports during the next few years. “We are proud and pleased that our management, engineering, and manufacturing team performed well during the February audit of our production facility,” said Jack Lin, Production Vice President of the operation. “We have been working very hard for three years to insure we can produce the highest quality aircraft.” The Xiamen, China base of AeroJones Aviation Technology Co., Ltd. includes a new manufacturing facility equipped with all the appropriate fixtures, tooling, and highly-trained workers (photo). The majority of components for the CTLS aircraft can be built on the Xiamen premises. In addition to the manufacturing operation in Xiamen, China, AeroJones also operates an engineering bureau in Wildau, Germany and an active flight school in Pingtong, Taiwan. The company hopes to replicate its flight school concept in many cities of China as the airport construction projects leads to activity in those locations. I toured the flight school facilities in Taiwan and took a flight in an AeroJones-built CTLS. The school and aircraft reflect a high level of quality and attention to detail. “We believe we have all the elements in place so we can assist China’s growth in civil, sport, and recreational aviation,” said Tai. “We have demonstrated the capability to produce high quality Light-Sport Aircraft and to sell them in our region.” Congratulations AeroJones. The company is one of a very few LSA builders to win full approval from Chinese CAA authorities.
For most years of Light-Sport Aircraft one aircraft model convincingly lead the parade. That aircraft is broadly identified as the CT-series: CT2K, CTSW, CTLS, and CTLSi. Until CubCrafters caught up and passed Flight Design while the company took a breather to reorganize, the CT-series was the best selling Light-Sport Aircraft in America. The aircraft also sold well in many other countries, concentrated in European nations; close to 2,000 are flying. One part of the world needed a different approach: Asia-Pacific, including countries such as China, Australia, New Zealand and others. For this region, CT representation needed a fresh face attuned to the local culture. In a deal started a few years ago, a Taiwan-owned / China-based company named AeroJones Aviation Technology Co., Ltd., negotiated a manufacturing license agreement with Flight Design, the German company that created the CT-series. Money changed hands, training started, and eventually AeroJones fired up their production engine.
In Their Own WordsFD-USA's Tom Peghiny helped to clarify the situation, saying, "Flight Design was acquired in July 2017 by LiftAir of Eisenach Germany. Mr. Sven Lindig, the owner of LiftAir owns and has founded a number of successful businesses in the Central and Southern areas of Germany. LiftAir now owns the Flight Design EASA Design Organization, the Flight Design aircraft production facility in Kherson Ukraine, and the design rights for all products produced by the company. "Production of aircraft and parts which was maintained at a low rate for the last year and a half are now up to four aircraft a month and a healthy backlog of aircraft orders is building for 2018," Tom said at the late 2017 DeLand show.
Two years ago, Flight Design was the number one producer of Light-Sport Aircraft in the USA backed by strong sales in other countries. The company’s CT series lead our rankings since the very beginning of LSA. In 2016, Flight Design was passed by CubCrafters when the Germany company’s production line stalled during a government-mandated reorganization. By late 2017 at the DeLand show and upcoming at 2018’s first airshow in Sebring, Florida, the company displays products, answers questions, takes new orders, talks to current and possible dealers …in other words acts like a company fully back in the game. Through all this, Flight Design USA — the Germany manufacturer’s close associate and U.S. importer — was a steady hand on the tiller, keeping customers satisfied throughout North America. It’s good to see them return with vigor and our video below lets them tell their own story.
Gone Flying!Once aloft, I try to go through a uniform regimen of evaluations. The routine can vary by aircraft, for example, flying the Pipistrel motorglider had to involve shutting down the engine and feathering the prop. You don’t, in fact are not allowed, to do the latter on most LSA. Even entering the aircraft varies if it is a high or low wing. Performance and stability checks include — but, as lawyers love to write, “may not be not limited to” — handling qualities, high speed flight, slow flight (both while checking various engine parameters such as temperatures and fuel burn), slow flight, steep turns, and a thorough group of stalls: approach and departure stalls as well as accelerated, or turning, stalls. I fly on whichever side of the aircraft the representative pilot does not wish to fly. As a former flight instructor I am comfortable in either seat. Before or after I do my routine, I generally ask the rep’ pilot to show me anything he or she would perform in a purchase demonstration flight. Once in a while this gets especially interesting. As with the videos interviews I conduct — which often result not just in a video but also a post (or even a print magazine article) — I try to ask the questions you would ask if you had the opportunity that I have. Hey! As stated at the outset, I agree I have a pretty cool job. Thanks SO much for reading posts and articles, for watching videos, and generally for supporting this work. If you really want to help, please consider membership but I’ll end the pitch and repeat my gratitude for clicking or tapping your way to this website.
Sometimes I am told I have the best job in the world. Hmm, could be. My work entails some of those things no one truly loves, like paying bills, but it also involves flying airplanes for review. That part is indeed quite a pleasure. In this post, I want to tell you what I flew at the DeLand Showcase 2017 plus a little about how we do these VPRs or Video Pilot Reports. For many years, I wrote such things for print. That still happens but most of my reporting now goes online and my more detailed pilot reports have significantly — though not exclusively — gone to video …hence “VPR.” At DeLand 2017, I went aloft six times, five to evaluate aircraft and once on a photo (and video) mission. Video reporting consumes much more time than an interview, 30 minutes or more simply to attach some or all of our eight Garmin VIRB cameras inside and outside the subject aircraft.
That Was ThenFlight Design, the German company that makes the CTLS, has been through the wringer in recent years with a series of reversals no one could have anticipated. After struggling through a combination of events — global economic slowdown; Russian saber rattling in Ukraine, where its main plant is located; and development projects consuming too many resources — Flight Design was forced into insolvency in 2016. Since then it has been operated at a low level of activity by a government-mandated receiver company, but the company was able to maintain the design's Special LSA acceptance in addition to supplying a few planes plus spare parts. All the while, Flight Design principals were looking for new options for manufacturing the CT and obtaining financing for its production. The reasons above made it hard for the company to obtain the necessary funding to purchase the company’s assets, according to Peghiny. Therefore, a recent offer to purchase all the assets by Lift Holding, a German investment group, comes as welcome news for Flight Design.
This is Now
Tom explained, "The new company will be known as Flight Design General Aviation, GmbH. After concluding the sale of all major company assets to the Lift Holding investment group, Flight Design General Aviation will be based at a new and modern facility (photo) near the historic town of Eisenach in the Thuringia region of Germany.“We have been working with the Lift folks for a year planning the comeback for the Flight Design brand and we are very excited about the developments for the future," Tom expressed. "Parts supply and support will improve and this also allows Flight Design to keep the engineering team intact. These people have a deep product knowledge plus it assures the quality management and operational safety monitoring will stay the same."
Lift is also the owner of the Rotorvox gyrocopter line. "Lift Holding will combine the technical expertise of Flight Design with their other aviation assets (Rotorvox) as part of Lift Air, GmbH. Both companies will be headquartered at the Kindel Airport (EDGE) near Eisenach." Lift Holding will assume all the assets of the former company and plans to produce the CT lineup.The Flight Design European Design Organization — approved by regulatory agency, EASA — and the production site in Kherson, Ukraine as well as the design rights for all Flight Design products including the CT series are now secured with the German company’s investment. Flight Design General Aviation (FDGA) will increase its spare parts inventory and product support. The new company will continue to produce assemblies in Ukraine, with licensed operator AeroJones Aviation also producing CT-series aircraft in China. "We are delighted to be able to take over all of Flight Design's assets and are confident we will go forward as a world leader in the development and construction of light aircraft," said Sven Lindig, Managing Director of the Lindig Group. FDGA has aircraft operating in 48 countries around the globe. The company will soon employ 20 employees in Germany — mostly highly qualified engineers and technicians — as well as about 100 manufacturing employees in Ukraine. Since the founding of the company in 1988 and the establishment of the Ukrainian production plant in 1993, the company has delivered over 1,800 aircraft. "Flight Design has some unique products and experience in the production of all carbon-composite, very efficient light aircraft. We want to invest in development of those products and also achieve leadership in customer support," said Lars Joerges, the new Managing Director of FDGA. Flight Design General Aviation also plans to continue development of the C4 four-place aircraft, although Tom Peghiny said the program would change to accommodate the efficiencies in a changing certification landscape in the United States and abroad, referring to the long-awaited Part 23 rewrite and its mirror regulation in Europe. Tom indicated that FDGA will make a return to AirVenture for the 2018 event.
After more than a year, a resolution was reached for the airplane that topped the charts in the LSA space since Day One. Although Flight Design’s CT-series was eclipsed in 2016 by CubCrafters (by a very slim margin), the aircraft remains well regarded and its many adherents are no doubt breathing a sigh of relief that the “reorganization” (what Americans might call a bankruptcy) has been resolved. All good! (Read more about this reorganization here.) During EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2017, longtime Flight Design USA representative Tom Peghiny sent news about the new owner of the brand. The crush of airshow activity let others beat us to this news, however, we will use our long history with this company to provide a more detailed report. That Was Then Flight Design, the German company that makes the CTLS, has been through the wringer in recent years with a series of reversals no one could have anticipated.
Changes in the Rankings
Besides the leaders, the Top-5 brands remained steady with CubCrafters, Flight Design, Czech Sport Aircraft, American Legend, and Tecnam holding their highest rankings. Jabiru moved up one notch, while Remos slipped one. Aerotrek (another year-after-year gainer) climbed another rank while Evektor fell one. Nonetheless the top five, these last four, and Cessna are the only brands breaking into triple digits. Although Pipistrel gives us challenges to count (some are registered as Experimental Exhibition), the Slovenian company has also exhibited an even climb and now ranks 11th in the fleet or 3rd for calendar 2016. One fooler is SportairUSA, which markets both TL Ultralights and Zlin. Neither has broken 100 yet but when combined SportairUSA has and that's before fresh excitement over their new Outback Shock. Van's continues to make more fully built RV-12s with their partner Synergy Air. Progressive Aerodyne, builder of the Searey approved in both USA and China, has had and still boasts solid years. The central Florida company is the clear leader in LSA seaplanes even while Icon's A5 finally began to show up with 13 new registrations in 2016. Finally, while our main chart focuses on the top brands, note that the largest single percentage are registrations from “All other producers.” The same is true in our calendar year chart. Sometimes called "boutique brands," these companies continue to find customers. Even as Light-Sport Aircraft matures as a niche in the aviation industry, its promise remains strong. As our ongoing reporting from Aero and Sun 'n Fun shows, new models continue to be developed and governments in more countries are embracing the ASTM standards to approve these aircraft. No wonder the general aviation world wants what LSA has. Unlike legacy aircraft producers — those making general aircraft that have changed little over half a century — the LSA space continues to supply interesting, innovative, modestly priced, good performing, superbly equipped, and yes! …safe aircraft. Now that most manufacturers have seen BasicMed has not materially affected their business the American LSA segment grows steadily while worldwide sales continue to eclipse new GA single engine piston deliveries by multiple times. Update #1 — May 1, 2017: After this article was posted, Pete Krotje of Jabiru North America wrote, "Your 2016 LSA chart shows Jabiru North America with five units last year. The number is actually seven (N733Y, N766J, N768J, N72TA, N773J, N218KC, and N772J (a J170-D)." We love when vendors aid our effort to achieve accuracy. This information was shared with Jan Fridrich. Update #2 — May 2, 2017: After Tecnam's U.S. base got a number of calls about this article, we exchanged email about the process. While we can only reliably count FAA registrations and these numbers may not precisely match a seller's data, Tecnam USA observed, "FAA registers us in different ways. Sometimes just Tecnam, sometimes Costruzioni Aeronautiche Tecnam, and sometimes Tecnam SRL C.A. So that might be why not all the Tecnams sold were included." Their sales records show the following 17 SLSA were sold in 2016: 7 Astore models, 8 P2008s, and 2 P92s. Thanks to Tecnam for sharing this and again, we forwarded the numbers to Jan.
A dozen years after FAA created aviation’s newest sector, we have a new leader among manufacturers of fully built Light-Sport Aircraft. CubCrafters has been moving upward with several years hitting 50 deliveries. In 2016 the west coast builder finally topped perennial leader Flight Design, which slipped to second place. The CT builder had occupied the #1 position since the beginning of Light-Sport Aircraft. Only four aircraft separate the two brands. Note: this article has been updated twice; see at end. —DJ In the single-year race, Czech Sport Aircraft won convincingly with almost double the next closest producer. The Czech builder performed well in 2015 but significantly increased last year. Congratulations to both companies. To explain further, our “whole fleet” market share chart — the one we have published going back to 2006 — keeps track of all Special LSA (SLSA) airplanes in the U.S. fleet. Regretfully, we are unable to properly account for weight shift trikes, powered parachutes, gyroplanes, or motorgliders because the database is too variable.