Our fastest-with-the-mostest partner tracks the health and performance of the light aircraft industry and is once again punctual. Datastician Steve Beste has proven his capabilities to collect the registration data quickly, accurately, and with an insider’s viewpoint. Steve is a trike pilot, so he is “one of us.” In his former life he was a database expert in the tech field explaining his great facility with these systems. Here we are reporting facts for the period of April, May, and June 2020. Given the spectacular upheaval around the world, I’m happy to see the recreational aircraft industry holding its own fairly well. Reporting for the companies making larger, heavier aircraft, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association also reported sales are down. I cannot imagine anyone is surprised. If I was reporting numbers for the restaurant, bar, hotel, airline, theater, sports, or concert industries it would be an ugly bloodbath. This report is far less glum and beaten-down than those enterprises.
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Here's How A32 Looks and FeelsYou'll get the full treatment when Videoman Dave finishes production for his YouTube channel that so many of you love. Here's I'll hit the highlights of what I learned. First blush: This is a great flying airplane, reflecting Aeroprakt's experience producing more than 1,000 of the predecessor A22LS, once also known as the A22 Valor. In A32, engineers have incorporated many refinements. The general appearance is similar but the changes are many. One measure of success is a widening of the flight envelope. Top speed increased to 130 mph, as we witnessed in a low-altitude upwind and downwind run with the carbureted Rotax 912 ULS at 5500 rpm. A-22 would max out at about 105 mph, so this was a pretty solid 20% bump. Yet A32 retains the earlier design's low speed capabilities. We saw stall in the low 40 mph bracket and witnessed airspeed into the high 30s without loss of control. Of course, these exercises were preparing for stall evaluations, which proved to be some of the most benign I've experienced in a Light-Sport Aircraft. Stall break was extremely mild with little fall-through and while a wing dipped, it recovered itself. I never added power for recovery to normal flight and altitude loss was minimal. Excellent! When deploying or retracting flaps, the pitch change is very minor. True, two notches is only 20° of flaps but deploying them made quite an aerodynamic change, just not a pitch change. On one landing I made with no flaps, I had to raise the nose significantly high to put A32 on the ground. A32 uses a full flying stabilator, a change from A22 and it was more responsive than the former. It will take a bit longer to get used to but it is a powerful surface. On takeoff, importer Dennis Long demonstrated how immediate the stabilator will lift the nose off the ground. In fact, that's his preferred takeoff technique: power to full, almost immediately pull aft on the Y-stick, control the nose so it sits a few inches off the runway, and let A32 then fly herself into the air. I followed his method and it worked wonderfully well. A32 uses the identical wing from A22 from the fuselage root out. However, the many clean-ups of the fuselage — and they are many, which you will see more fully in the Video Pilot Report to follow after editing — make the new model more efficient. A pilot literally has to work at getting it back on the ground …and that's a good thing. I reduced power to 3000 rpm abeam my touchdown target and then began to retard speed, lowering one notch of flaps after we got in flap speed range (<93 mph). On base leg I had both notches in and was monitoring my speed carefully. Using 60-65 mph was fine on base turning final but I moved it to 55-60 on short final and was ideally at 50-55 over the numbers. With two notches of flaps and with a modest headwind, A32 landed very short. You have excellent visibility on landing as you do in flight in A32 Vixxen. It lacks a skylight but otherwise offers a wide view all around. I could even watch as the main gear touched down (when Dennis was controlling the aircraft). Takeoff and landing has been quoted at "under 100 meters" (300 feet) and I believe it. No question it was short, assuming, of course, decent technique. A32 Vixxen was easy to fly with a joystick that provided enough feedback yet offered crisp response. In flight, I found the aircraft very well behaved and suitable for less experienced flyers, naturally assuming proper instruction and transition training. In all, I think Aeroprakt has a winner. Dennis Long equipped this particular example with most available options, including the Magnum airframe parachute system and Dynon HDX digital instrument plus autopilot. The still-available A22 starts at around $85,000 and even this deluxe A32 is a reasonably modest $135,000 — lower cost A32s are possible if you don't need all the fancy gear. You might like the short video as a taste of the bigger, better ones to come… https://youtu.be/m7EBsuCWWDE
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.
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.