Many pilots expect the first appearance of a new model at the biggest airshows, but here’s one of those times when the sector-specific shows win. It’s all about timing and the new Aeroprakt A32 just won it’s SLSA approval (#147 on our SLSA List). The Midwest LSA Expo is the first show after getting its documents, so here it is! Videoman Dave and I spent the morning working on a Video Pilot Report. We captured all the video, spent an hour flying with multiple cameras mounted, and recorded what we call the “stand up.” This segment comes after the flight when I — can you guess? — stand by the the airplane and review it on the ground. We loaded A32 Vixxen with six of our Garmin Virb cameras plus Dave’s new Garmin 360 cam. It was our first with the latter and, no promises, but that may hold some user-controllable footage so you can go along in an even more realistic way.
Phone: (380) 44-496-7721Kiev, -- 03056 - Ukraine
Coming up NEXT WEEK! — September 8-9-10, 2016 — is the Midwest LSA Expo. I encourage you to make plans now to attend at least one of the days the event runs. Based on past years, a good number of aircraft will be available. Speaking to their representatives and taking a demo flight is as easy as it gets at any airshow. More info: Midwest LSA Expo.A22 Importer Dennis Long said that people refer to his Aeroprakt side-by-side two seater as "the see-through airplane." Certainly, this Light-Sport Aircraft has more clear plastic in its cockpit covering than any other LSA. It's no surprise that this entry has some of the best visibility you can find in any aircraft. What you may not see while you're looking through it is the size. A22 has a cabin about 50 inches wide making it one of the roomiest models available.
Yet the one factor most folks discover is the attractive price, starting at $79,900 for a ready-to-fly Special LSA. So often I hear pilots lament that Light-Sport Aircraft were supposed to be less expensive, meaning affordable by a greater share of the population. At 80 Grand, this is still a fairly costly purchase for many potential buyers, at least when compared to an automobile: the average price of a new car is presently about $33,000 according to the Wall Street Journal. However, cars are made in production runs of literally hundreds of thousands where all the airplanes flying anywhere in the world don't add up to the number of Toyota Camry cars built in a single year. Proving the point, Toyota sold 429,185 in 2015 in the U.S. alone and this number refers solely to the "Made in America" vehicles.
My point is that no reasonable person should expect Aeroprakt — or any other aircraft producer, even the so-called big boys — to make airplanes as efficiently or as cheaply as car companies can. Airplanes are overwhelmingly hand-built machines.Taking the expense issue a step further, people expected a LSA might cost $50-60,000 when the category was announced 2004. Given the steadily-weakening value of the dollar, that range today would be $65-78,000 after adjusting for inflation.
Therefore Dennis Long's Aeroprakt A22 at barely over $78,000 is right what the market anticipated as FAA prepared to announce their long-awaited rule. Note that these prices start out in euros so check with Dennis for the current price.
A C-note under $80,000 is the starting price. I believe many pilots could easily live with the base priced aircraft although nearly all buyers will elect some options that push it up a bit higher. What do you get for the money?
Here's a few specifications to put A22 in perspective — Cruise is 60-110 miles an hour or 52-96 knots; stall comes at 35 mph or 30 knots (slower than most LSA by a wide margin); never-exceed speed is 138 mph or 120 knots; span is 31 feet 4 inches; wing area is 136 square feet; empty weight is 700-720 pounds and with gross weight at the industry standard of 1,320 pounds, useful load is 600-620 pounds. When carrying a full load of fuel (23.8 gallons), A22 can still carry a payload of 457-477 pounds. That enough for two 200-pound occupants plus 57-77 pounds of luggage although the designated baggage area is limited to 44 pounds.
Aeroprakt uses the Rotax 912 engines to include either the 80 horsepower UL model, the 100 horsepower ULS carbureted model or the fuel injected 912 iS also producing 100 horsepower. Many potential buyers never even consider the 80 horsepower engine as it saves only a couple thousand, but this light airplane flies very well with that engine. The 912 UL can be fueled with 87 octane auto gas and though that doesn't save a great deal over premium fuel, pilots on a budget can find ways to hold down the cost with this choice.My review of the Pilot Operating Handbook shows a conservative slant. I offer two examples. First, the takeoff run is listed at more than 300 feet with the 100 horsepower ULS engine and over 400 with the 80 horse Rotax. When I flew, we were off the surface in half that time although we did benefit from a modest headwind which clearly helps. Flying with Dennis — we're both of at least average weight — the takeoff roll was much shorter, more like 150 feet though headwind obviously affects it. The landing roll was spot on the money at about 350 feet compared to the 328 feet (100 meters) listed in the POH.
Secondly, climb rate is shown as 650 feet per minute (at best angle) or 690 feet per minute (best rate). I saw nearly 1,000 feet per minute after takeoff and we sustained a climb at around 800 feet per minute. Any pilot can appreciate a POH with numbers you can depend on more than a marketing document showing the best performance ever achieved.Some readers will easily be able to afford the $80K a basic A22 costs but for those who prefer financing, Dennis reports he has availability based on good credit. He also reports each A22 is built to-order so you specify what you want at the time of order, though some options might be added later. Sometimes ordering afterward can add problems. For example, if you want an emergency airframe parachute it's best to order the aircraft with the support straps already built in to the airframe as adding them later is more challenging.
For those lucky enough to live in places where float flying is common, they are available; again, the factory knowing of your interest in advance — even if you don't order them with the aircraft — might make life easier later. If you live in snow country, skis are available. Order today, and Dennis might tell you delivery will follow in about four months.
You can glean a few more data point and information in the video below.
Coming up NEXT WEEK! — September 8-9-10, 2016 — is the Midwest LSA Expo. I encourage you to make plans now to attend at least one of the days the event runs. Based on past years, a good number of aircraft will be available. Speaking to their representatives and taking a demo flight is as easy as it gets at any airshow. More info: Midwest LSA Expo. A22 Importer Dennis Long said that people refer to his Aeroprakt side-by-side two seater as “the see-through airplane.” Certainly, this Light-Sport Aircraft has more clear plastic in its cockpit covering than any other LSA. It’s no surprise that this entry has some of the best visibility you can find in any aircraft. What you may not see while you’re looking through it is the size. A22 has a cabin about 50 inches wide making it one of the roomiest models available.
From Aeroprakt in Kiev, Ukraine comes this Light-Sport Aircraft with the hugest visibility you'll find... large clear areas allow you to see almost any direction. Aligned with their Florida assembler, Aeroprakt America, the international company that has designed many practical aircraft offers direct U.S. representation in addition to other outlets. Come have a look around the A-22 with us in this video.
From Aeroprakt in Kiev, Ukraine comes this Light-Sport Aircraft with the hugest visibility you’ll find… large clear areas allow you to see almost any direction. Aligned with their Florida assembler, Aeroprakt America, the international company that has designed many practical aircraft offers direct U.S. representation in addition to other outlets. Come have a look around the A-22 with us in this video.
When this website went live a few months before the Sport Pilot & Light-Sport Aircraft rule was announced at Oshkosh 2004, it began life as an archive of several hundred pilot reports I had written for a number of print magazines in aviation. That launch seems a long time ago … it has been eleven and a half years. (Development started only a few years after the World Wide Web emerged and ByDanJohnson.com went live in April 2004.) One year after going live, I began to add news via a blog, which I called “Splog,” for Sport Pilot web log. Videos started in 2008 and by 2015, news and video have become the primary content items. You might be surprised to hear ByDanJohnson.com predates YouTube, which began when three former PayPal employees created a video-sharing website. The Internet domain name YouTube.com was activated on February 14, 2005 and the website went public in November of that same year.
|Seating||2-place, front and back|
|Empty weight||535/515 pounds|
|Wing area||151/140 square feet|
|Wing loading||6.6/7.1 pounds per square foot|
|Kit type||Quick-build available|
|Standard engine||Rotax 912S/Rotax912S|
|Power||100 hp/100 hp|
|Power loading||10.0/10.0 pounds per hp|
|Max Speed||115/132 mph|
|Never exceed speed||143/180 mph|
|Rate of climb at gross||1,200/1,400 fpm|
|Takeoff distance at gross||200/280 feet|
|Landing distance at gross||250/300 feet|
Eastern European designers deliver nimble machines UPDATE–November 2008: According to FPNA, an American company with a business relationship to A-20 producer Aeroprakt, the A-20 has been discontinued. Please contact FPNA for more information (contact info at end of article). As the new millennium got underway, visitors to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2000 examined a new aircraft from a Ukrainian company called Aeroprakt Ltd. Named the A-22 Valor, the unique side-by-side two-seat aircraft had a distinctive cabin largely covered in clear plastic. It was displayed by John Hunter and his company, Spectrum Aircraft. The Valor has turned out to be only the first in a fleet of light aircraft that have materialized before American eyes. In 2001, another Aeroprakt model appeared on Spectrum’s display space-the A-20 Vista Cruiser, one of a series of A-20 models. John Hunter became well known in the light plane world while working for Phil Lockwood, designer of the much-admired Air Cam.
|Empty weight||535/480 pounds|
|Gross weight||1,0001/1,000 pounds|
|Wing area||1511/169 sq. feet|
|Wing loading||6.6/5.9 pounds/square feet|
|Kit type||Several kit types available|
|Build time||See article|
|Notes:||1/Super Cruiser model gross weight is 1,212 pounds; wingspan is 37.4 feet; wing area is 170 square feet; wing loading is 7.0 pounds/square feet; power loading is 12.0 pounds.|
|Standard engine||Rotax 912S/Rotax 5032|
|Power loading||101/20 pounds/hp|
|Cruise speed||115/80 mph|
|Never exceed speed||143/112 mph|
|Rate of climb at gross||1,200/600 fpm|
|Takeoff distance at gross||200/250 feet|
|Landing distance at gross||250/200 feet|
|Notes:||2The Vista is also available with the 66-hp Rotax 582 engine but since Aeroprakt then supplies the shorter "SS" wing, a 582-powered 2Vista may exceed speed parameters of the training exemption to Part 103 unless carefully matched with the correct, speed-limiting prop. No specifications are presented for the 582 models; see Spectrum Aircraft for more details.|
|Standard Features||Airframe kit supplied with fuselage, wheels and disc brakes, wheel pants, full-span flaperons, vertical stabilizer, elevator, and rudder completely assembled with factory jigs. Landing gear, engine mount, windshield, and controls are all assembled and preinstalled. Basic airframe kit does not include engine, prop, instruments, electric, or fuel systems (see "options"), in-flight trim.|
|Options||A quick-build kit is supplied ready for fabric covering and painting. Factory covering and painting are also available. 80-hp Rotax 912 or 503 (see specifications above), ASI, altimeter, VSI, digital EIS, electrical components, electric starting, hardtop canopy.|
|Construction||Aluminum airframe, fiberglass fairing, dope-and-fabric wing coverings. Made in the Ukraine. Distributed in America by U.S.-based Spectrum Aircraft.|
Cosmetic appearance, structural integrity, achievement of design goals, effectiveness of aerodynamics, ergonomics.
Pros - All new design series, created by a club formed of Antonov (big airplanes) aeronautical engineers. This team has created numerous designs. Differs in substantial ways from U.S. ultralights, but flies well at ultralight speeds and heights and can qualify for the training exemption to FAR Part 103 with a Rotax 503. Looks somewhat sailplane-like and flies with sailplane-like efficiency.
Cons - Aeroprakt is a new company and even with excellent flight characteristics, resale may take time. U.S. importer Spectrum Aircraft run by industry veteran John Hunter still must prove its longevity. No info gathered on testing, though no faults found in this evaluation. Most models from Aeroprakt cannot qualify as ultralight under present U.S. rules; therefore licensing and N-numbers are required.
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 - Very complete machine with dual controls at both positions (but not brakes). Flap controls in both seats; fluid, easily interpreted operation. Fueling is from outside the cabin under the right wing. Trim at base of joystick, reasonably reached for most pilots. Electric start on test plane.
Cons - Brakes are non-differential, although steering effectiveness showed no problems. Engine under cowl looks good but takes more effort for maintenance. Trim lever slipped a bit during evaluation; friction fittings require periodic attention.
Instrumentation; Ergonomics of controls; Creature comforts; (items covered may be optional).
Pros - Roomy cockpit for most large Americans. Full dual controls including flaps make Vista good trainer. Well padded seats and 4-point seat belts are appreciated by most pilots. Panel is easily observed without limiting visibility too much. Easy reach to all controls. Throttle hand has a couple adequate rests. Windscreen-only option would be delicious in warm climates; swaps with full canopy in one minute.
Cons - My significant gripe in hot Florida was the full enclosure with insufficient air inlet; it's a greenhouse. Panel space is rather small, unless you use space-saving instruments like the EIS as installed in test aircraft. Seats not easily adjusted. Entry is okay, but requires some technique; did not try entry to rear seat. No luggage area if flown dual.
Taxi visibility; Steering; Turn radius; Shock absorption; Stance/Stability; Braking.
Pros - Stable taxi steering even without differential braking. Superb visibility for traffic checking prior to launch. Brakes proved quite effective, certainly adequate for airport taxi operations. Slab gear felt like a good combination of absorption and strength.
Cons - Managing a propped-open canopy to ventilate the cockpit (with one hand), throttle and brake (with other hand) gets busy; a means to support the canopy would be more appreciated. Tail clearance looks rather limited for rough, off-field landings (though horizontal stabilizer is well clear).
Qualities; Efficiency; Ease; Comparative values.
Pros - The Vista Cruiser can slip dramatically, helping approach to small or emergency fields. Slab landing gear looks very strong and felt very secure; good in training situations. Takeoff roll and ground roll can be very short once you're experienced with the Vista. Huge visibility during takeoffs or landings. Flaperons work well to control glide path. Slips are highly effective permitting steep appro
Cons - Low tail clearance indicates the aft boom could be jeopardized in an emergency landing situation. It's hardly a negative (as reach is a good thing should you lose your engine) but the Vista Cruiser required slips for me to land short, so substantial is its glide.
Quality and quantity for: Coordination; Authority; Pressures; Response; and Coupling.
Pros - Importer John Hunter focuses on flight characteristics as do I, so my saying it handles superbly shouldn't surprise anyone. The Vista Cruiser was delightful in every way, fast or slow. Light touch controls without skipperiness. Flaps and trim harmonize well. Little adverse yaw. Mass-balanced ailerons. Dutch rolls went well to steep angles. Very precise turns to heading.
Cons - Flap handle can slam shut if you don't keep your hand on it. Controls become understandably less responsive if the flaperons are fully deployed. No other negatives.
Climb; Glide; Sink; Cruise/stall/max speeds; Endurance; Range; Maneuverability.
Pros - Spectacular 1,700-fpm climb with 100-hp Rotax 912S. Huge speed range, running comfortably (low over fields, even) at under 40 mph, yet speeding to much higher speeds. Flaps-down, low-field flying was very pleasurable in the genuine ultralight way. Regional cross-country trips should be very reasonable. Efficient flying means less fuel consumed.
Cons - Speeds will have to be restricted if used under Part 103 training exemption. Long glide requires some effort to make steep emergency landing approaches.
Stall recovery and characteristics; Dampening; Spiral stability; Adverse yaw qualities.
Pros - Stalls under full power never broke. Power-off stalls broke but not dramatically. Surprisingly little adverse yaw. Accelerated stalls with liberal power never broke and did not fall to the inside wing. Steep turns for 720° carved well and held easily even without excessive power; another way to demonstrate the wing's efficiency.
Cons - Longitudinal stability checks were neutral, not worsening, but not quickly going level. Steep power-off stalls wandered laterally at incipient stall suggesting a wing drop though none happened. Throttle pushes nose downward if applied quickly.
Addresses the questions: "Will a buyer get what he/she expects to buy, and did the designer/builder achieve the chosen goal?"
Pros - The 100-hp Rotax Vista Cruiser is a versatile and thoroughly enjoyable aircraft. I feel confident in believing the 50-hp Rotax 503-powered model will be equally as excellent (but, of course, with a lesser climb rate and top speed). In virtually every flight characteristic, I found the Vista Cruiser shines and its performance is even better. If you don't mind being an early adopter, the Vista is a good choice, if you have the pocketbook.
Cons - Main downside is price; lower prices may be expected. Americans are spoiled by a higher state of finish; fortunately, Vista Cruiser functionality is superb. The 912S engine is powerful and quiet but comes at a considerable price premium over the 503 version ($8,000 more).
UPDATE–November 2008: According to FPNA, an American company with a business relationship to A-20 producer Aeroprakt, the A-20 has been discontinued. Please contact FPNA for more information (contact info at end of article). Two summers ago Americans saw a new aircraft from a Ukrainian company called Aeroprakt as U.S. importer Spectrum Aircraft brought in the A-22 Valor. It would be only the first in a fleet of new microlights. Later another model from Aeroprakt appeared. In fact, the Vista series comprises 5 models, all variations on a basic theme that is nothing like the Valor. At present, the Ukraine enterprise has no less than nine models including the Valor, Vista, Cruiser, V-STOL, V-SS, Vulcan, Vulcan-SS, Victor single engine, Victor twin, and Viking. Four of this series are twin-engine aircraft, none are alike, and one is a 4-seater. By any measurement, this is quite an accomplishment from a company less than 10 years old and rising from the ashes of the failed Communist empire.