You have more privileges than you may know with your Light-Sport Aircraft. One of the more misunderstood aspects of FAA’s sweeping 2004 Sport Pilot/Light-Sport Aircraft regulation is ELSA or Experimental Light-Sport Aircraft. Some people call these “kit” LSA. While they can be sold that way, no percentage applies so a manufacturer could call an ELSA a kit by merely having the buyer apply a single decal. To gain its Special Airworthiness certificate, an ELSA must first be a bolt-for-bolt copy of the manufacturer’s Special or fully-built version of LSA. However, once certificated, the owner can begin to make changes on his or her own. They can also become qualified to do all manner of maintenance themselves, assuming they so desire. An Airframe and Powerplant mechanic (A&P) or Light-Sport Repairman – Mechanic (LSR-M) can also work on ELSA as they can SLSA. Once certificated and in his possession the owner can change to ELSA status allowing him or her to do almost anything …change avionics or even swap engines.
Phone: (812) 384-4972, -- - Czech Republic
Aerotrek supplies a popular and well-priced everything but, you know, having a nice airplane isn't enough. Why not have a traveling hangar and home to go with your great Light-Sport Aircraft? With the money you save buying Aerotrek (half as much as some high-end LSA), you'll have money left over for other great toys, like a custom trailer. Your savings might not also cover the motorhome in this video, but watching may motivate you to work harder to acquire such a nice rig. Come have a look.
Aerotrek supplies a popular and well-priced everything but, you know, having a nice airplane isn’t enough. Why not have a traveling hangar and home to go with your great Light-Sport Aircraft? With the money you save buying Aerotrek (half as much as some high-end LSA), you’ll have money left over for other great toys, like a custom trailer. Your savings might not also cover the motorhome in this video, but watching may motivate you to work harder to acquire such a nice rig. Come have a look.
Aerotrek and their dual models -- the A220 taildragger and the A240 trigear -- have been an impressive performer in the market share race, steadily moving up our chart. At Sebring 2013, we spoke with U.S. importer Rob Rollison about how these handsome, very well priced Special Light-Sport Aircraft can work in a flight school environment. Having acquired more than 1,500 hours in a training environment, Rob said the Aerotrek still looks and flies great and some European models have more than 4,000 hours. Hear more in this video.
Aerotrek and their dual models — the A220 taildragger and the A240 trigear — have been an impressive performer in the market share race, steadily moving up our chart. At Sebring 2013, we spoke with U.S. importer Rob Rollison about how these handsome, very well priced Special Light-Sport Aircraft can work in a flight school environment. Having acquired more than 1,500 hours in a training environment, Rob said the Aerotrek still looks and flies great and some European models have more than 4,000 hours. Hear more in this video.
MIDWEST LSA EXPO 2012 -- One of our series of many short videos from the fall show, this one on the Aerotrek A240. We'll also consider the A220, the taildragger. Both these two Light-Sport Aircraft are selling well and no wonder. They have an excellent price (around $80,000 in 2012) yet they are made very well with quality evident with a close inspection. Join us for a few details.
MIDWEST LSA EXPO 2012 — One of our series of many short videos from the fall show, this one on the Aerotrek A240. We’ll also consider the A220, the taildragger. Both these two Light-Sport Aircraft are selling well and no wonder. They have an excellent price (around $80,000 in 2012) yet they are made very well with quality evident with a close inspection. Join us for a few details.
Aerotrek is the new name for a pair of Special Light-Sport Aircraft, the tricycle gear A240 and the taildragger A220. These reasonably priced aircraft (mid-$60,000 range) offer a good cruise in a lightweight, quick handling aircraft. The wings fold easily so you can make a trailer your hangar.
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.
The sixth annual Midwest LSA Expo just concluded. These LSA-only events offer a more intimate setting where you can speak at length with an aircraft or other product representative. They don’t offer the dense traffic of the big shows but the valued trade off is that nearly everyone who shows is interested. People came from as far as California and I witnessed many demo flights. The Mt. Vernon airport is as good as it gets for this purpose with easy access to big broad runways and plenty of open airspace. Lead by energetic Chris Collins, a team of volunteers made it work again. When the event isn’t swallowing all their time these folks have a little fun. Don’t worry about the nearby picture; TSA and Homeland Security can calm down. This was a planned promotional venture on the side of a great new restaurant called Rare, a chop house.
Not long ago, I posted about Kitfox tending to business and expressing regret that they chose to stay home in Idaho versus making the trip to the Sebring LSA Expo 2014. Team Kitfox was not the only one, however. In addition, AeroSport didn’t bring their BushCat, nor did Aerotrek bring their A220 or A240, nor did Quicksilver show with their SLSA candidate, Sport 2S, or their joint venture Electric Motor Glider (a very cool project from the west coast about which I will do a further update in the future). The reasons for these no-shows were varied but the good news is that they’ll be at Sun ‘n Fun. Oh, and one more thing about all four aircraft mentioned below: each of them offers a purchase value that defies the current mindset about the cost of modern LSA. BushCat by SkyReach is one of those SLSA that easily answers the lament, “These LSA have become too expensive.” Too many pilots say this without considering their other choices.
You may have missed it. If so, this article provides another look at a LSA provider that I consider something of a “sleeper” … and if you do not know that term, it’s meant to be positive yet refer in this case to a company that does its thing well if somewhat quietly. I am writing about Aerotrek Aircraft and its two models, the taildragging A220 and the trigeared A240. These airplanes may look familiar — itself a good thing as they are based on a very well proven original design — yet they have seen steady updating and improvement that makes a distinct airplane as we head into 2014. Proprietor Rob Rollison has shown a very steady hand at the tiller and recently updated his company’s news. “Sales of our Aeropro planes continue to be good — sold out until late-August 2014,” wrote Rob. “We will show 10 planes delivered in calendar year 2013.” However, his company also sold one to Mexico, so that one will not show up on our third quarter 2013 market share report to be published next week. Two more Aerotreks are aboard an ocean freighter so will be counted as 2014 deliveries. Another pair are reported complete but will not be shipped until after the new year. This suggests Aerotrek will continue a steady climb up from 2013.
Our annual review of LSA Market Share brings our updated fleet chart and a second chart showing prior-year registrations. While sales of new SLSA remains below par, the market appears to be experiencing spotty but regular recovery from earlier low points. The first half the year foretold a better recovery but the last half of the year stalled somewhat. Regardless, based on traffic to this website, LSA interest is higher than ever. For January 2013, ByDanJohnson.com set all-time records in Unique Visitors and all other measuring criteria Thank you for your support! 2012 Market Share report — Nearby, we present our standard market share numbers. Our original chart remains consistent, illustrating the “installed base,” or “fleet size.” Because we know many of you seek recent-year information we are repeating the Calendar Year chart that debuted last year. For the second year in a row Cessna lead in 2012 with an impressive 94 registrations though this is down 30% from 134 in 2011.
Our roving British journalist, the always-entertaining Dave Unwin, reports on the UK’s LAA Rally event, giving ByDanJohnson.com readers a taste of light aviation in England. After an even grimmer British summer than usual — we’ve just experienced the “wettest drought” since records began; a dry spring followed by flooding rains — the weather Gods smiled benignly on the 2012 LAA Rally. The Rally is basically the UK’s version of Oshkosh (albeit several orders of magnitude smaller) and is run by the Light Aircraft Association, formerly the PFA or Popular Flying Association, which is the Limey equivalent of the EAA. The event has been staged at several different airfields over the years, and is currently held at Sywell in Northamptonshire. Despite the parlous state of the economy, this year’s Rally had a real buzz, and it wasn’t just all the two-stroke engines. In spite of EASA’s best efforts it would seem that the lighter side of UK aviation continues to thrive.
We’ve been getting requests for market share information and I am happy to provide an update, thanks to my European associate Jan Fridrich who does the hard work of sifting through FAA’s database. I remind you that his efforts are not merely tallying whatever FAA publishes. In fairness, Jan has to evaluate many pieces of information and judge accuracy of the entries. This isn’t because FAA’s registrars are bumbling fools that cannot enter data accurately. The challenges come from sheer number of brands (90) and models (127) over a mere seven years… unprecedented in aviation history. To that add the variations of Experimental Amateur Built (EAB), Special Light-Sport Aircraft (SLSA), Experimental Light-Sport Aircraft kits (ELSA) and converted two-place ultralights to LSA status. Then factor in that some standard category or homebuilt aircraft meet the LSA parameters of weight and speed and such so some people consider them “LSA,” when in fact they mean they can be flown by some possessing a Sport Pilot certificate.
Aerotrek may be one of those “sleepers.” You know, the kind of company that does well, has few problems, and doesn’t need to make a lot of noise to be successful. Aerotrek’s tri-gear and taildragger models look great, fly well, and are priced so reasonably that sales are remarkably steady. The company ranks #12 in fleet size and came in fifth for 2011 registrations. The numbers aren’t big but they could be bigger, said importer and longtime light aviation specialist Rob Rollison. *** Rob noted their last year registration was “way below what it should have been, but [the manufacturer] Aeropro wasn’t able to ramp-up production quickly enough to keep up with increased demand for our planes starting in late 2010.” He continued, “They also had production delays during 2011 as they worked to get UK certification but this was quite worthwhile, resulting in a few nice improvements to our planes.” *** I can add that I know something about British certification and it is one of the most demanding systems in the world.
After a tough winter in most parts of the USA, spring evidently arrived early with 80-degree temperatures as far north as Minnesota… all before Sun ‘n Fun. More good news: After its coldest winter since the early 1980s Florida is extremely pleasant now, warm with low humidity. *** Indications are the economy continues bearing down on Light-Sport aviation. Confronted with cautious customers, some aircraft producers have tightened their costs and are offering sharply lower prices in time for Sun ‘n Fun. *** Flight Design announced its CTLS Lite, which makes two impressive accomplishments. By slightly trimming the equipment list and making other adjustments, the market leader was able to slice $20,000 off the price, coming in at $119,800. They also cut a most impressive 50 pounds from the empty weight. *** Jabiru USA offers two models discounted for a short time. Taking $11,000 off the price of their J-170 brings the base to $85,900.
As the challenging year for aircraft sales grinds on, Light-Sport Aircraft continue to hold their own. In tough times, when cash is tight, small enterprises may fare better than large companies. Their low expense structures, modestly compensated managers and employees, and lean manufacturing — as allowed by industry-standards certification — become strengths. *** But we see another quality. The half-million-plus general aviation pilots are more accepting of LSA today than three years ago. Organizations like AOPA are more fully embracing LSA, because their members are calling to ask questions. (Watch for a surprise LSA announcement at AOPA’s Aviation Summit in about a month!) GA pilots make up most buyers of LSA and those aviators now recognize the brands and have begun to acquire faith in companies certifying themselves (though many are still reserving judgement). *** Through August, a full month after AirVenture, the LSA fleet has grown to just under 1,700 fully-built aircraft not including ELSA kits or alternative aircraft like trikes and powered parachutes, nor any converted ultralights.
With one month to go (and it’s hard to imagine a big December), we have figures to report for this most extraordinary year. We’re all (painfully) aware of the economic predicament, but how has this impacted light-sport aviation? Here’s my observations. *** In 11 months, the industry has increased fleet size by 35% to 1,510 fixed wing airplanes from 1,118 on January 1st. Annualizing the numbers, all airplane LSA should register 427 airplanes, which equates to about 35 aircraft per month, which means sales were about 20% off the monthly pace recorded since early 2006. *** Flight Design held its top spot and again delivered the most, but just barely. Remos has been the rising star of 2008 with a 147% increase over their total on January 1st. Tecnam became only the third company to pass 100 units registered. Other solid gains were logged by Czech Aircraft Works (up 69% in the year); Jabiru (up 53%); FPNA (up 55%, though from a lower number, which makes larger percentage gains easier); Aeropro (up 52%).
This week we’ve heard of a couple price rollbacks based on the euro/dollar exchange rate favoring the dollar. Notably among them is the EuroFox by Aeropro sold in this country by Rollison Light Sport Aircraft . Buyers can save a whopping $10,000 on what was already one of the better-priced SLSA. Now at $58,950, the folding wing, snappy-flying EuroFox — available in taildragger or tri-gear configurations — looks to be a surprising value. Importer Rob Rollison says financing is available to make a EuroFox even more affordable. *** Lots more appears on the horizon for RLSA, which has been involved with light sport aviation since before the beginning. Rob has been hinting about new airplanes he may represent. Plus, EuroFox will go through a name change in 2009. New name or not, EuroFox surprises many who look it over closely, myself included. I expected a factory-produced “kit plane” yet the finished SLSA is quite professionally achieved.
Lots of folks are wondering about, or complaining about, the seemingly high prices of Light-Sport Aircraft. Recently a prior editor-in-chief of EAA publications, Scott Spangler, wrote a blog on JetWhine. Scott focused on expensive avionics as one reason LSA cost so much. While a factual observation, I believe the price increase is more complex. *** First, LSA suppliers install equipment like autopilots because buyers ask for them. A large chunk of all LSA are sold to “retiring” GA pilots used to such equipment in their Cessna or Bonanza. Simpler LSA are available; most suppliers have one. But customers are buying the loaded-panel jobs. *** Let’s look closer at those rising prices. Five years ago, in the pre-dawn of SP/LSA, a CT was selling for $60,000. Today it’s $125,000. By far the largest piece of that doubling is the euro’s soaring value compared to the dollar. Were the currencies at parity, that $125,000 would be $80,000.
|Empty weight||877 pounds|
|Gross weight||1,232 pounds|
|Wingspan||30 feet, 2 inches|
|Wing area||123.8 square feet|
|Wing loading||10.0 pounds per square foot|
|Length||18 feet, 11 inches|
|Cabin Interior||44.1 inches|
|Height||5 feet, 10 inches|
|Kit type||Fully assembled|
|Set-up time||10 minutes wing fold time (1 person)|
|Standard engine||Rotax 912|
|Power loading||12.3 pounds per hp|
|Cruise speed||110 mph 1|
|Never exceed speed||143 mph|
|Rate of climb at gross||980 fpm 2|
|Takeoff distance at gross||160 feet 2|
|Landing distance at gross||225 feet|
|Notes:||1 With 80-hp Rotax 912 engine at 75% power or 100-hp Rotax 912S engine at 60% power|
2 With 100-hp Rotax 912S engine
|Standard Features||Rotax 912, 3-blade Fiti-brand prop, vernier-control throttle, carburetor heat control, stainless steel exhaust, large instrument panel with large map pocket, airspeed indicator, precision altimeter, VSI, compass, slip indicator, FlyDat digital engine instrument providing display of tach, CHT, four EGTs, oil temperature, oil pressure, hourmeter, and Rotax fuel pressure gauge, steerable (not castoring) nosewheel, fully enclosed cabin, cabin heater and vents, clear doors with locks, carpeted floor, overhead skylight, quick-folding wing system, dope-and-fabric wings and tail, flaperons, wheel pants, hydraulic disk brakes with parking brake feature, 4-point seat belts, large baggage compartment, dual landing lights, one-color paint with various graphics choices.|
|Options||100-hp Rotax 912S, radios, transponder, ELT, additional avionics, wing strobes and position lights, two-color paint scheme, ADI attitude indicator, and BRS 1350 emergency parachute.|
|Construction||Chromoly welded steel fuselage, aluminum wing structure, fiberglass nose cowl and wing tips, dope-and-fabric wings and tail coverings. Major fabrication in the Slovak republic with final approval and export from the Czech Republic; distributed by U.S.-owned company.|
Cosmetic appearance, structural integrity, achievement of design goals, effectiveness of aerodynamics, ergonomics.
Pros - Now with Special Light-Sport Aircraft approval, a EuroFox can compete with much more expensive LSA. It may look like an Avid Flyer or a Kitfox but is a contemporary remake with European finesse. Clean execution at a relatively modest price. Familiar construction materials and proven design shape.
Cons - Some buyers, especially general aviation pilots, regard dope-and-fabric covering as less desirable (vs. metal), and this may affect resale price. For some American pilots, a distant import isn't optimal (though Rollison Light Sport Aircraft has been in the business enough years to offset this negative).
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 - The EuroFox features flaperons, in-flight trim, hydraulic brakes with parking feature and nice features such as a vernier throttle for precise power adjustment. Flap and trim levers are located between the seats where either occupant can reach them.
Cons - Flaperon designs can restrict control deflections when flaps are fully deployed (though the EuroFox always exhibited enough control authority). Flaperon set position is more challenging to verify by eye. Differential braking is not available.
Instrumentation; Ergonomics of controls; Creature comforts; (items covered may be optional).
Pros - The EuroFox reveals a clean interior with comfortable seats equipped with 4-point pilot restraints. Even the baggage area is finished with carpet. Doors bulge outward to increase cabin width. Generous-sized skylight increases lateral visibility in turns. Reasonably quiet interior even with headsets removed.
Cons - Many LSA designs offer more lateral size; two large Americans may feel rather crowded. Some general aviation pilots won't care for the clear doors, though ultralight pilots should have no heartache with them.
Taxi visibility; Steering; Turn radius; Shock absorption; Stance/Stability; Braking.
Pros - Broad forward visibility. All-clear door panels and overhead skylight also help ensure a good view of traffic. The EuroFox nosewheel steering is precise. Brakes quite effective. Large ground clearance in case of rough-field landing.
Cons - No differential braking available (though hardly needed due to responsive nosewheel steering). No other negatives.
Qualities; Efficiency; Ease; Comparative values.
Pros - With 100-hp Rotax 912S, takeoff is short, with roll well under 200 feet. A strong glide (14:1 says producer) helps reach fields during landing approaches. Excellent control authority for crosswind operations. Suspension provided at all gear helps on rough fields.
Cons - Flaperons aren't quite as effective as discreet flaps; some limiting of aileron effectiveness when flaps are fully deployed (though good control authority offsets this loss). No other negatives.
Quality and quantity for: Coordination; Authority; Pressures; Response; and Coupling.
Pros - As with similar designs familiar to Americans, the EuroFox boasts fast, responsive handling. Dutch rolls and precise turns to headings were easily accomplished. Harmony and balance are quite good, at least once you've acclimated to the light handling.
Cons - Beginner pilots will need additional training as the rudder will seem light for novice skills and experience; keeping the ball centered takes time (though design is otherwise a good trainer candidate with stable pitch). Flaperons limit some control deflection range when flaps are fully deployed.
Climb; Glide; Sink; Cruise/stall/max speeds; Endurance; Range; Maneuverability.
Pros - Strong performance with 100-hp Rotax 912 though the 80-horse Rotax 912 model will be plenty for most operators. Climb is strong, too. Glide is reported at 14:1 and my experience during landings reinforced a flat glide angle. Cruise speeds place the EuroFox as a medium performer in the LSA segment. Good range (more than 500 miles).
Cons - Compared to some LSA icons, the EuroFox doesn't seem as strong a performer (though only the fastest designs can do much better). Fuel at 22.5 gallons offers less range than some LSA. No other negatives.
Stall recovery and characteristics; Dampening; Spiral stability; Adverse yaw qualities.
Pros - In all stalls executed, response was mild with modest lowering of the nose, as with many designs. Stall speeds are low for the category at about 40 mph (flaps down). Safety items such as 4-point seat belts and ballistic parachutes are available. Good, normal response to power increase/decrease.
Cons - Light EuroFox handling will require additional training for new pilots. Stalls break noticeably (though recovery is easy and rapid). No parachute fitted in test aircraft. No other negatives.
Addresses the questions: "Will a buyer get what he/she expects to buy, and did the designer/builder achieve the chosen goal?"
Pros - Rollison Light Sport Aircraft is an experienced importer that earns good marks for customer service from current EuroFox buyers. Familiar materials and construction techniques will convince many American pilots. Welded steel tube structure and dope-and-fabric covering bring good longevity.
Cons - Despite the EuroFox's relatively low price some American pilots may regard the Aeropro creation as an older design in a time of carbon fiber LSA and this may affect resale value. New brand name not known to many Americans though importer is well known to many reader).
On September 1, 2004, when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released the long-anticipated Sport Pilot and Light-Sport Aircraft regulations, a new aviation segment called light sport aircraft (LSA) was created. Some saw LSA as a bridge between ultralights and general aviation aircraft, but are LSA so different from ultralights? The answer is a mixed yes and no. Yes, many aircraft look different in that the extra weight they may possess allows them to have full composite fuselages, a panel full of instruments even including fancy glass cockpit hardware, plus they can be delivered ready to fly even as 2-seaters. That’s different than our ultralight trainers or our amateur-built recreational aircraft that resemble those trainers. Prices for these light sport aircraft have pushed them beyond the budgets of many pilots. On the other hand, these aircraft needn’t be all that different from ultralights. The new rule doesn’t require that they weigh the maximum 1,320 pounds.
Now we count 32 new Special Light-Sport Aircraft that have won certification…all within less than one year! The newest arrivals come thanks to work by veteran light aircraft distributor Rollison Light Sport Aircraft and two manufacturers. The Indiana importer gained approval for the handsome German Remos G-3* and their Aeropro EuroFox (lower photo). The G-3 is an impressive design that forms the high end of LSA offerings. But if G-3 doesn’t fit your budget, you can consider RLSA’s economical model. EuroFox builder Aeropro has sold more than 180 aircraft. Priced in euros, RLSA lists a nicely equipped 80-hp Rotax 912 EuroFox for less than $60,000, which includes the cost of shipping from overseas. Quick-folding wings (“1 person, 8 min.”) may help you find space at the local airport. For more details, read my evaluation of EuroFox or G-3 right now. * [UPDATE: late 2006 — The Remos G-3 is now handled by Remos USA, Inc.]