In the fascinating LSA seaplane sector-within-a-sector, we find both good news and bad news today, though the latter can be overcome. That’s the shortest possible story. More detail follows. The Good “It is with great pleasure we can report that Equator Aircraft Norway achieved first fully balanced flight with the P2 Xcursion prototype aircraft over the newly painted runway 22 at Eggemoen Technology Park in Norway,” reported the company. Here’s our earlier report on this fascinating project. Tested by Eskil Amdal, Equator reportedly accelerated to 70 knots before leaving the ground and flying down the runway at 100 knots at nine meters (about 30 feet, at the edge of ground effect), before landing smoothly. Amdal reported stable flight with good controllability in all axes. Two more flights were performed the following day, further establishing confidence in the flying characteristics. “The aircraft is a prototype developed by Equator with very limited means since 2010,” explained the company.
Atol Avion Ltd Atol
Phone: (011) 35-840-501-4156Klaukkala, -- 01800 - Finland
- We have received new investment to support our European certification, which is expected by the end of 2017.
- We have established our North American operation in Brunswick, Maine.
- We are scheduling customer demo flights in Finland as soon as the crew is back from Oshkosh 2017 where customers can see and fly the all-new cockpit design (images), and,
- We have received our first order from Australia …so all is good and very positive.
Refreshed Design"Atol's cockpit is totally newly designed and looks great," added Anssi. The long established tradition in aviation (and most industries) of adapting the good ideas of other designers shows in Atol's new MVP-like approach. Anssi explained, "Atol's new articulating canopy retracts up and back, getting out of the way, allowing pilot and passenger to stand upright and access the cockpit from the front if desired, which makes docking and beaching easy. Our avionics retract with the canopy allowing them to be out of harm’s way, avoiding water spray. The seats are removable so when operating solo you can load up with gear to take advantage of our industry leading 600 pound useful load. Carbon fiber is accented with beautifully finished wood trim providing the feel of a classic automobile… it truly is striking." Among LSA seaplanes a 600 pound useful load is also striking. Anssi explains how they achieve that, "The outer layer of our hull is Kevlar with cold-molded, foam-cored birch. This combination is extremely rugged, light and strong. We use fabric covered wings featuring Oratex. These can be lighter than carbon fiber with the added benefit of field repairable. This is a real plus for a seaplane." “Finland has 188,000 lakes," said Anssi, "so we know the joys of water flying as well as the demands. Many of these lakes are remote and require range and reliability to access so we designed the Atol 650 for this environment.” Atol's 650 designation refers to 650 kilograms, the metric equivalent of FAA's 1,430 pound seaplane weight limit.
U.S. Production SiteAnssi introduced Paul Richards, Avion's official rep and president for Atol USA, Inc. "He will be in charge for fundraising and starting production for ATOL 650 LSA in Maine," noted Anssi. "We think Atol USA is the best and fastest solution for us to be able to serve our North American customers. Our Rovaniemi factory in Finland (photo) will produce for the rest of the world and continue product development,” Anssi added. Atol USA will produce the 650 at Brunswick Executive Airport (KBXM), site of the former Brunswick Naval Air Station. A local development authority has created a manufacturing technology incubator and is "currently constructing an environmentally-controlled composites layup room, curing oven and paint booth designed to aviation standards and sized to accept wings, fuselages and other large structures. These complement our CNC machining center, welding shops, 3D printers and on-site Composites Engineering Research Lab," said development director Steve Levesque. "We make these assets available to companies throughout the State of Maine." The northeastern state has a long history with amphibious flight having been the home to Lake Aircraft for decades. We expect to deliver these airframes beginning in the first quarter of 2019 and at a firm fixed price. What price? "Current pricing is $179,000 for delivery through 2018, although most of these positions are allocated so our open slots begin in 2019," explained Paul. Want to know more? Review Atol's technical specifications here. Or, contact Paul at Paul.Richards@Atol.US or call 603-828-5373. This video shows Atol in action: https://youtu.be/fQRCKp8zgHc
“Coming to America” is a common refrain from light aircraft producers in some countries. Why? The obvious reason is that most designers perceive a huge market in the USA. Another is that shipping from the USA to other countries proves easier than shipping from their home countries. Other reasons also exist but those two are enough to decide in favor of the move. One builder of a LSA seaplane is Atol Avion, based in Finland. They have been moving steadily toward approval, production, and sale of their Atol amphibian. Anssi Rekula, co-founder of Avion and the director of sales said, “We have a lot of news and it’s centered on delivery of production airplanes. He enumerated: We have received new investment to support our European certification, which is expected by the end of 2017. We have established our North American operation in Brunswick, Maine. We are scheduling customer demo flights in Finland as soon as the crew is back from Oshkosh 2017 where customers can see and fly the all-new cockpit design (images), and, We have received our first order from Australia …so all is good and very positive.
“This was my best birthday present. All went well with no surprises,” reported an excited Anssi Rekual, sales manager and front man for the Finland-based builder of the LSA seaplane called Atol. An airline pilot today, Anssi added, “I have only one year to go with Finnair and then I can focus fully on Atol.” The head of design and company CEO, Markku Koivurova flew for 26 minutes and reported that aircraft was easy and convenient to fly and everything worked normally. Approach to stall and slow flight characteristics were tested on Atol registered in Finland as OH-XNA followed by a perfect landing. Markku flew at Rovaniemi international airport (EFRO) at the Arctic Circle. Speaking on behalf of the Atol team, Anssi was relating news that the reborn Atol took its maiden flight on Tuesday, April 9, 2015, just in time for the company to have significant bragging rights at the German Aero Friedrichshafen show set to open in two more days.
Ah, the Christmas season is soon upon us (or already is judging by familiar music playing on every speaker you hear). It sounds like a great time to go put your new seaplane in the water … especially if you live up by the Santa Claus toy workshop. Wait a minute! Can that be right? Yup! Atol Avion Ltd., recently notified us, “We have finally performed first water taxi tests of our production prototype on December 14th, 2014 at Rovaniemi, Finland. After thorough systems tests, water taxi tests were performed on Kemijoki River near the Arctic Circle … just a few miles from Santa’s home. Our plane worked as planned and proved to be even better than expected.” As a Florida resident, I have plenty of local acquaintances that think such an exercise sounds crazy, to be out water testing an amphibious airplane in winter. They mean here in Florida where it’s on the cool side … you know, 50s and 60s.
Aero 2014 is history now but sorting through all the discoveries and reviewing hundreds of photos I shot will consume more time. Just to give a flavor of the diversity in the halls, I present some images below with photo captions. As time allows I will provide several articles about aircraft and concepts contained in the great halls of Aero. One topic I will not cover is the large number of radio control or other model airplanes I saw. In some years, such can take an entire gymnasium-sized hall by themselves … fascinating! Yet the image you see nearby is a shot taken by a small quad copter (photo inset) with its wide angle lens. Such tiny flying machines are surely part of our future and seeing things below is part of their mission (for better or worse). My LAMA Europe associate and friend, Jan Fridrich, asked a vendor to shoot the image you see, which would not have been possible by any means other than a hydraulic lift.
Someone remarked to me recently that LSA seaplanes seem to be the topic of the week or month (or however often you check in to see). Indeed, as we approach the tenth anniversary of Sport Pilot / Light-Sport Aircraft, we can reflect with pride upon more than 130 models making their way to market. True, not all have proven successes in the market place but having choice is always good for customers even if they finally select from a limited number of brands to occupy their hangar. Therefore, thanks to all those entrepreneurial designers that brought new airplanes to the sky. Now, in the closing months of LSA’s first decade, a new focus appears turned to amphibious Light-Sport machines, with more than 20 vying for our attention. As always some are doing a better job of capturing mindshare than others. In this article I’ll talk about two from nearly opposite ends of the new spectrum.
“Isn’t it just a niche market?,” asked a reader in a recent email. The query came after he read about a flurry of new seaplanes and the writer wondered if it could be worth all the investment pouring in to these projects. Development progress in this particular sector-within-a-sector (LSA seaplanes) seems to be far outdistancing development in other parts of the aviation world. So, are efforts to develop increasingly sophisticated LSA seaplanes economically justifiable? It’s a worthy question. Another answer: “Well, why not?” An amphibious LSA seaplane can land on water or land, could fly as fast or nearly as fast as a land plane. They can look cleaner with gear that disappears. They already have another 110 pounds to work with (though admittedly much of that is needed simply to achieve an amphib seaplane and even that is not enough for all manufacturers). If you want an LSA, why not one that’s more versatile?