Day One of the third running of DeLand Showcase is complete. As Videoman Dave and I scoured the show grounds looking for good stories, we spoke to a few vendors reporting that 2018 has been a good year. Our video news gathering exercise brought a pleasant discovery. Many companies are reporting a solid year of sales. The light aviation industry is composed of many small companies. None are corporations the size of Cessna or Cirrus so they don’t require hundreds of unit sales to break even. A U.S. importer delivering 20 aircraft can experience a good year from sales and other services they offer. When several companies report noteworthy sales success it suggests the market is healthy and customers are buying airplanes they want to enjoy. In parallel, the used LSA market also appears active and a virtuous circle begins to take form. The show itself enjoyed the great organization we have come to expect from director Jana Filip.
BRM Aero, s.r.o.
Phone: (420) 773-984-338Uherské Hradiště , -- 68605 - Czech Republic
Big Beautiful Bristell in the BushBristell in all models features a handsome interior that is one of the widest among LSA. The model boasts a 50-inch (128 cm) wide cabin that should accommodate even large occupants without pressing them up against their cockpit companion. All that space might be useful for another kind of enjoyment: bush flying, landing on river beds, camping …that sort of adventure. For the new "bush" version of TDO, BRM again did a great job of finishing the interior, both in creature comforts (as seen in the nearby photo) or equipment. To mount big Alaska tundra tires on their TDO, BRM teamed up with Beringer wheels and brakes — and shock absorber systems, and taildragger innovation, and more. Milan's son Martin flew the big-boy-tire model from their home base in the south of Czech Republic to Friedrichshafen German in about four hours, averaging about 95 knots. This is certainly not as speedy as the more streamlined, wheel-pant-equipped versions but that's not a bad cruise. What's great about the Beringer/Alaska adaptation is that it follows Milan's mantra to keep as many new innovations as possible retrofittable to older models. That works here, too, but owners get a bonus. Through the design of this Bush TDO model, Milan made sure a mechanically-savvy owner can switch back and forth. Use your fiberglass gear and wheel pants to go fast for travel but swap to bush mode when you want to fly for fun on the weekend, maybe at your cottage. Cool, huh? What wonderful versatility.
Bristell Never Slows DownBRM celebrated reaching 300 aircraft barely a year ago, and Milan said they are already at serial number 365 by mid-April 2018. This company is obviously doing very well and their continued inventiveness paired with good looks and high quality is clearly drawing new customers at a steady pace. U.S. representation is very strong with Bristell USA run by industry veteran — and inventor of the famous "Landing Doctor" technique for always making good touchdowns — Lou Mancuso. He has assembled a qualified team to work with him including John Rathmell and John Calla. With such a speedy aircraft, some buyers have asked about flying with reference to instrument. Lots of LSA sellers shy away from such sales (and if they do, that's probably appropriate for them). However, Bristell USA has researched this and is willing to offer a suitably and properly equipped aircraft. Learn more from a flight I took with Bristell USA team member, John Rathmell or, if you prefer, hear it on video. Despite being one of the newer companies in Light-Sport Aircraft (formed in 2009), BRM and its Bristell appear on course to remain a major contributor to this newest sector of aviation. Now, get the words directly from the boss, Milan Bristela at Aero Friedrichshafen 2018… https://youtu.be/R4wg_8jEvRc
BRM Aero boss and chief design, Milan Bristela, has convincingly proven his visionary credentials. Here’s an article about his company expansion over the last few years. BRM has several models of their Bristell Light-Sport Aircraft. Most models are tricycle gear as that is how most pilot are trained these days. However, for those who love “standard” gear, that is, taildraggers, BRM Aero offers a choice that remains as sleek and beautiful as all their models. The Taildragger option — or TDO, as BRM Aero named it — was introduced in 2013 and a year or so later it made its way to the USA thanks to the involvement of then-new distributor, Bristell Aircraft USA. While tricycle gear models still outsell TDO, it addresses a sweet spot for many pilots. Milan has also built a retractable version (of the tricycle gear model) for those flying in countries where such configurations are permitted and where higher allowed speeds make adding the complexity and cost of retractable gear worthwhile.
LSA are getting more power, to wit, Rotax’s new 915iS with 135-horsepower and the Continental Titan line with 180 horsepower. I do not think this is the end of the horsepower boosts …plus LSA speed and/or weight changes could conceivably follow in the USA but are currently not limitations in other countries that accept the ASTM standards as a basis for approval or certification.
I'd like to talk about power. With LSA restricted to 120 KIAS, it seems unlikely we'll get much engine development to increase power unless regulations change to either allow an increase in speed or gross weight.
What would be the point of more powerful engines on LSA?
Well, that topic could take us down quite a lengthy path. Let me offer a somewhat shorter reply. You are right about many tech developments — and on that I point you to an article published recently in General Aviation News' "The Pulse of Aviation." Two thoughts: (1) I believe the LSA sector has reached an interesting level of maturity. The pace of major innovations may have slowed but the most important developments are now common on most LSA (and light kits). This situation is not so different than smartphones that totally upended mobile a decade ago with the introduction of the iPhone. In a similar time period, that industry has also matured and development has lost its torrid pace. (2) The funny thing about innovation is you often don’t know how or when it might emerge. Electric propulsion is one possibility and then we are seeing the first glimmer of a new class of aircraft with a collection of spinning blades or rotating wings. Who can guess where precisely that is headed? Whatever the coming changes, they will work first on lighter aircraft. My article referenced above tries to speculate a bit.
There's already a lot of technology in LSA thanks to the need to save weight, which has me wondering where the sector is going. Can you provide me with some thoughts?
One definition of composite is "made of various materials." In the past "composite" implied fiberglass. LSA already rely on fiberglass, aluminum, and steel but add high-tech materials such as Kevlar, carbon fiber, and titanium. Today, the most advanced designs have significantly carbon fiber airframes, partly for weight but also strength as well as aerodynamic efficiency and design beauty.
Composite versus metal. Is there something else? What type of composites are in common use and what types are under development? What drives composite development? Does metal still have a future in LSA? Is mix-and-match of both the way to go?
That's one beauty of fiberglass and carbon. You can have beautiful shapes and strength with weigh savings. Assembly ease is a factor, too. Those materials will surely persist for those reasons and for future production efficiencies. However, since nearly all airplanes are low-production — essentially hand-built with modest use of robotics, even at the Boeing or Airbus level — prospects for genuine mass production seem distant.
What are the major construction methods? Is there room for the construction method to contribute to the aircraft performance in terms of weight saving? Aircraft like the Ekolot Topaz have fuselages formed in two halves then adhered together like a Revell P-51 model. Is this the way of the future? Is there room for mass production?
Avionics development has seen technology cascade down from GA, but there is some that has been designed from scratch for the LSA sector, such as AoA Indicators. Which way will the technology flow in the future? Is EFIS going to become standard for LSAs or do the traditional clocks still have a place? Have we reached a pinnacle in LSA simply because the sector can operate without technology such as HUDs?
Perhaps we are pushing some boundaries if new ideas and materials are not forthcoming. However, they are forthcoming. I’m not too worried about it. For example, crush zone technology in cars did not add weight — in fact removed it compared to other methods — and this greatly added to safety.
Weight-saving is always an issue for manufacturers. In Australia a land-based LSA can lift no more than 600 kg (1,320 pounds), so what can manufacturers do to increase their useful load? Are we reaching a dangerous situation where the aircraft are getting too light or are too heavy to include some desirable safety features, such as parachutes?
Are regulations stifling LSAs? Should LSAs be able to fly at up to 750 kg MTOW (1,650 pounds gross) to give manufacturers more design freedom? Is there anything that has to change to enable more technology to be used in LSA, and if so, what is it?
You are right that LSA is leading the innovation charge in many ways. Where can the industry go from here? We (LAMA) have spoken to FAA a lot in the last three years as we seek new opportunities within the present regulatory framework. It is perfectly clear that LSA were a significant reason why FAA went ahead with the Part 23 rewrite and use of industry consensus standards. To answer the future question, I again refer you to this recent article. The freshest new tech in aviation may come from outside aviation but I would never discount the passionate, imaginative, and motivated designers and developers operating in light aviation today.
There's a lot there, but there's also a lot to think about. Until the rewrite of FAR23, the LSA sector led general aviation in technology, especially in the use of composites. The new FAR23 is sort of like catch-up regulation for GA, but where does the technology leader, LSA, go to from here?
Recently I had an exchange with Australian Flying magazine editor, Steve Hitchen. He asked some great questions and after giving my responses I realized some of his question were common ones I hear being discussed. So why not share our give-and-take? Steve’s questions are in blue. I’d like to talk about power. With LSA restricted to 120 KIAS, it seems unlikely we’ll get much engine development to increase power unless regulations change to either allow an increase in speed or gross weight. LSA are getting more power, to wit, Rotax’s new 915iS with 135-horsepower and the Continental Titan line with 180 horsepower. I do not think this is the end of the horsepower boosts …plus LSA speed and/or weight changes could conceivably follow in the USA but are currently not limitations in other countries that accept the ASTM standards as a basis for approval or certification.
I believe you should applaud Milan Bristela. Now a veteran of the Light-Sport Aircraft sector, he has steadily built a successful aircraft manufacturing enterprise — BRM Aero — that recently rolled out Bristell #300. With its first delivery to a customer in 2011, this represents an average pace of 50 aircraft per year, a wonderful business size for a LSA manufacturer. Every company starts smaller and grows, so assuming a spooling up of their production engine, BRM is now completing between one and two aircraft per week. Good job, Milan and team! BRM Aero started in 2009 with two employees. Over the course of several years the team has grown to 50 employees, they report. When growth demanded, they moved into larger quarters but they’ve also maintained a family feel with father Milan and son Martin running the enterprise as partners. The full name of their very handsome aircraft is Bristell NG 5 LSA.
- Maximum Cruise: 280 km/h — 175 mph — 152 knots
- Eco (lower fuel consuming) Cruise: 260 km/h — 163 mph — 141 knots
- Fuel Burn in Eco mode: 23 liters/hour — 6 gallons per hour
- Fuel Translation: 27.16 statute miles per gallon at 163 mph
Surely all readers know that Rotax-brand engines dominate the light aircraft landscape. The company owns something like 75% or more of the global market and close to that in the USA. Some worthy competitors are keeping the pressure on, but Rotax continues forward. The engine-to-follow is their new turbo-intercooler-fuel injected 135-horsepower 915 iS variant. Rotax Aircraft Engines first announced this new model at AirVenture 2015; see our video interview for details and go to the official 915 iS page for even more. In the press conference where the engine was unveiled, many in the standing-room-only audience were airframe manufacturers. As soon as the management and engineering team was done presenting, they quickly swarmed over the powerplant. You could almost see the wheels turning in their minds as they contemplated how they could fit and use this machine in their aircraft. That was almost two years ago — AirVenture Oshkosh is only about 75 days away!
"You cannot fly IFR in a Light-Sport Aircraft!" Is that what you think? You might be wrong. In this video Bristell USA's John Rathmell and I discuss this situation. Indeed, a path does exist for IFR operation in a Bristell and we will provide some details. (More can be found elsewhere on this website in an article published March 19, 2017.) Beside discussing IFR capabilities, join us for a flight in the wonderful Bristell, an aircraft I loved from my first flight in it.
“You cannot fly IFR in a Light-Sport Aircraft!” Is that what you think? You might be wrong. In this video Bristell USA’s John Rathmell and I discuss this situation. Indeed, a path does exist for IFR operation in a Bristell and we will provide some details. (More can be found elsewhere on this website in an article published March 19, 2017.) Beside discussing IFR capabilities, join us for a flight in the wonderful Bristell, an aircraft I loved from my first flight in it.
Think about IFR in an LSA this way: Can you fly IFR in a homebuilt aircraft? Can you do so in a Cessna 172? Does it matter that these two distinct types have not gone through a thorough IFR evaluation by FAA? If you know those answers then why should such flying be prevented in LSA?
It's true, the industry committee called ASTM F.37 issued advice on this subject to LSA producers. F.37 is the group that has labored for a dozen years to provide FAA with industry consensus standards allowing FAA to "accept" (not "certify") SLSA. The group has been working on a IFR standard for some time without arriving at consensus. Partly because the work is not done the committee urged manufacturers not to openly sell IFR capability until the standard was in place and accepted by FAA. (The agency accepts standards and aircraft under different processes.)
F.37's advice is directly related to a present lack of such a standard and possible resistance from legacy aircraft producers. However, neither the committee's advice nor the regulation creating SP/LSA prevents you from filing IFR. Instead yes-or-no relates to a manufacturer's preference plus written FAA-issued operating limitations.So, as some say, it cannot be done, right? Wrong.
An Experimental LSA starts out as a bolt-for-bolt copy of the SLSA version. Once issued its airworthiness certificate the owner can elect changes. He or she may not use an ELSA for compensated flight instruction or rental, but in other ways, they are significantly the same airplane. Am ELSA owner can change panel gear and other components (even including the engine) and need not seek permission for each change from the manufacturer.
Rather than repeat facts already reported here, I refer you to these articles: "A Raging Debate... IFR, IMC, VMC, and LSA" — "IFR and LSA: Much Ado About... What?" — "IFR 'Certification' of Avionics" — and, for those who want to examine FAA's exact words, go to "FAR Part 91.205 (required equipment for IFR)".At Sebring 2017, I flew with Bristell USA's John Rathmell. John is not only a highly experienced pilot, he is knowledgeable about Bristell's IFR option. In our video shown below, I asked John to cover some of this detail for you and he was most accommodating.
Now, I understand plenty of readers of this website or viewers of the many videos produced by Videoman Dave and myself perhaps do not care a whit about flying IFR. If you fly strictly for fun in nice weather, good for you! Have at it and enjoy! Yet, if you like the versatility of IFR, it is possible.
To fly under IFR rules, the pilot must have an IFR rating on his or her Private or better pilot certificate, that person must be current in those skills, and the airplane must be qualified by the means referenced above and maintenance must be up-to-date. You cannot — and more importantly should not — go fly into clouds simply because you have wonderful equipment on board from companies like Dynon, Garmin, or MGL.
In summary, if you are an instrument pilot, and if you are current, and if you have a medical, and if you purchase an aircraft like the Bristell and register it as an ELSA, no regulation prevents you from filing and flying IFR including into IMC. Only you can judge if that is a smart activity for you, and I hope you'll do so wisely.
Hear more about IFR in a Bristell and join John and I for a flight in this gorgeous, well flying Light-Sport Aircraft in the following video:
“It cannot be done,” is the quick dismissal from many in aviation, referring to instrument flying in a LSA. In 2017, I venture to say everyone in aviation (worldwide) knows about Light-Sport Aircraft and the Sport Pilot certificate, but a superficial knowledge can be a bad thing. The details unveil more. Think about IFR in an LSA this way: Can you fly IFR in a homebuilt aircraft? Can you do so in a Cessna 172? Does it matter that these two distinct types have not gone through a thorough IFR evaluation by FAA? If you know those answers then why should such flying be prevented in LSA? It’s true, the industry committee called ASTM F.37 issued advice on this subject to LSA producers. F.37 is the group that has labored for a dozen years to provide FAA with industry consensus standards allowing FAA to “accept” (not “certify”) SLSA. The group has been working on a IFR standard for some time without arriving at consensus.
Update 12/6/16 — According to AOPA Online, "The Federal Aviation Administration has reviewed the AOPA Air Safety Institute's aeromedical online course and confirmed that it meets the third class medical reform requirements that Congress created last summer. Pilots would need to complete the course, which AOPA will offer for free, every two years in addition to seeing their personal physician every four years to operate under the law.
These steps are NOT required for anyone flying a LSA or Sport Pilot-eligible kit aircraft.—DJ
What issues are "most important" to general aviation pilots for 2017? Are "general aviation" pilots different than those of you who read ByDanJohnson.com? The second question can only be answered by each of you, independently.
My guess is that while you might consider yourself a GA pilot, you might also — or distinctively — consider yourself a "recreational" or "sport" pilot. Whatever label you prefer, I found the following chart of interest. The question was posed in an earlier edition of Aviation eBrief and after some compilation they released the results. I don't know the current count of eBrief readers but it was once something like 65,000. Neither do I know, nor do they state, how many responses were used to compile these stats. My guess is that it was a large enough sample to be valid.The survey asked about "third class medical reform" even though this has already been done... well, done in the sense that the plans are now laid but not yet fully implemented.
AOPA reported, "Medical reforms have been passed by the House and Senate, and signed into law." This action occurred on July 15th, 2016, even before last summer's Oshkosh. The survey was done since that time.
So, still the biggest single issue is "Third class medical reform?" Hmm, seems odd to me but I found it on the Internet so it must be true.
The number two issue — hot on the heels of the number one issue — was the "Cost of flying." It was not defined what cost this meant. Perhaps it was the overall cost. Or cost of operation. Or both. Likely, this was somewhat in the eye of the beholder.
Conclude what you will but I found it fascinating that the medical and the cost of flying comprised two-thirds of the pilots responding. The values sum to 100% so you were permitted one answer.BOTH issues have been squarely addressed by Light-Sport Aircraft for more than a dozen years, yet these remain the leading issues for GA pilots? Have they not looked at LSA? Do they not consider LSA "real" enough airplanes? I ask these questions without knowing the answers, but it seems to me some pilots are overlooking capabilities and values of LSA and light kit aircraft
Sure, I know some LSA are priced beyond what many pilots can afford. Yet lower cost options abound, with prices well below $100,000 and a few selections closer to $50,000 and even that is for fully-built, ready-to-fly aircraft. What about kits, some of which can get airborne for $30,000. If you accept alternatives like trikes, powered parachutes, or gyros, the "cost of flying" can be held quite low. At even lower cost are ultralights, some below $20,000, less than the average price of a new car.
I have to wonder what these two-thirds of respondents are saying. Keep your aircraft choice under 1,320 pounds and you address both top issues. Do you get it? I don't.
If you don't receive Aviation eBrief and if you want it, you can sign up here. It is free. All of it may be of interest but it tends to focus on general aviation (i.e., certified aircraft) and only occasionally delves into recreational aviation or Light-Sport Aircraft.
Update 12/6/16 — According to AOPA Online, “The Federal Aviation Administration has reviewed the AOPA Air Safety Institute’s aeromedical online course and confirmed that it meets the third class medical reform requirements that Congress created last summer. Pilots would need to complete the course, which AOPA will offer for free, every two years in addition to seeing their personal physician every four years to operate under the law. These steps are NOT required for anyone flying a LSA or Sport Pilot-eligible kit aircraft.—DJ What issues are “most important” to general aviation pilots for 2017? Are “general aviation” pilots different than those of you who read ByDanJohnson.com? The second question can only be answered by each of you, independently. My guess is that while you might consider yourself a GA pilot, you might also — or distinctively — consider yourself a “recreational” or “sport” pilot. Whatever label you prefer, I found the following chart of interest.
Light-Sport Aircraft are awesome. Many pilots want one but not all can afford one. Now Lou Mancuso of Bristell USA has a wonderful program for partner ownership, sometimes called fractional ownership. Honestly, it sounds so good it seems almost too good to be true ... but it's for real. Presently available in three locations with more to follow, pilots living on the east coast can join the fun. Hear Lou describe his fascinating plan in this interview.
Light-Sport Aircraft are awesome. Many pilots want one but not all can afford one. Now Lou Mancuso of Bristell USA has a wonderful program for partner ownership, sometimes called fractional ownership. Honestly, it sounds so good it seems almost too good to be true … but it’s for real. Presently available in three locations with more to follow, pilots living on the east coast can join the fun. Hear Lou describe his fascinating plan in this interview.
Milan Bristela is the man behind BRS Aero and his the company is recognized in America thanks to his new generation Bristell aircraft. However, at Aero 2013 we saw a new version, a taildragger model. In our video we speak with the designer and ask him about his family-run company and the newest model he is bringing to the market.
Milan Bristela is the man behind BRS Aero and his the company is recognized in America thanks to his new generation Bristell aircraft. However, at Aero 2013 we saw a new version, a taildragger model. In our video we speak with the designer and ask him about his family-run company and the newest model he is bringing to the market.
Bristell is a new Light-Sport Aircraft name and a handsome bird it is. Our video will take you through some of the many carefully considered details but it's worthwhile to know that this is a fifth-generation design. Creator Milan Bristela was deeply involved with the SportCruiser/PiperSport and after leaving that company worked on other similar designs. Come have a look and watch for a mini pilot report on this website.
Bristell is a new Light-Sport Aircraft name and a handsome bird it is. Our video will take you through some of the many carefully considered details but it’s worthwhile to know that this is a fifth-generation design. Creator Milan Bristela was deeply involved with the SportCruiser/PiperSport and after leaving that company worked on other similar designs. Come have a look and watch for a mini pilot report on this website.
The great show of Europe called Aero Friedrichshafen is about to begin. It starts officially tomorrow and runs through Saturday (April 20-23, 2016). I’ve lost count, but believe this is my 20th year of attending, far more than any other European show. As he worked to help exhibitors and manage the million details of his event, boss Roland Bosch said the event started in 1977, meaning next year would be its 40th, but… Aero alternated years from 1977 through 1991 (as do many European airshows). With the 1993 event it went annual, meaning this is the 31st Aero. On Monday, the vast 11 halls of the Messe (the facility name) were largely empty but slowly becoming populated with airplanes. In all of the gymnasium-sized halls with their elegant curved wood roofs, workers assembled displays. In Halls B1, B2, and B3 — where the light aircraft I follow are concentrated — displays are more elaborate than anything we typically see at U.S.
BRM Aero‘s Bristell got off to a good start in the USA two years ago. Unfortunately, after an initial burst of positive reviews and good response from pilots, the distributor at the time stumbled. A failed association with the now-defunct Aviation Access Project undermined the efforts but that association had nothing to do with the Czech aircraft producer. So, after a year or so of discussions and evaluation, BRM Aero found a new, high-quality representative. In early December 2014, Bristell Aircraft, a New York corporation, officially accepted the appointment to represent the aircraft of BRM Aero. “Bristell Aircraft is an American company whose roots go deep into the highly-structured world of FAA-certified aircraft,” said Lou Mancuso, director of Bristell Aircraft. Over the last year, Lou has worked directly with BRM Aero “to develop, customize, and standardize aircraft specifically for the North American market.” Lou and his team bring 68 years of aviation sales, service and training success and appear well suited to the endeavor.
Taildraggers may be among the least understood and most feared aircraft available in the LSA space … or for that matter throughout general aviation. While we have many good choices that I’ll list below, I have nonetheless heard from many readers or airshow visitors that they are uncertain about their operation of an aircraft that has no nosewheel. If you have no taildragger skills, you’ll also find it a challenge to get proper flight instruction in a “standard” aircraft. For those seeking new skills in flying, however, taildraggers may provide high satisfaction. Most who have crossed the barrier to taildragging subsequently look very fondly at such aircraft, seeing a sleeker yet gutsier, more rugged appearance. Of course, nosewheels dominate general aviation as they can be easier to land, especially in crosswinds, but once you learn the lesson of “happy feet” — or keeping your feet active on the rudder pedals throughout approach and touchdown — you may always yearn for more taildragger time.
Across the northern U.S. states and across much of Europe it was a lousy, cold, snowy winter. It seemed everyone I spoke to at Aero in Friedrichshafen, Germany complained about the crappy winter and their laments mirrored those from America’s northlands. However, the weather appears to be going directly from winter to summer. It was warm in Slovenia when we visited Pipistrel and it’s now getting hot across much of the USA. That’s great, perhaps, as it foretells an active flying season. However, as the weather warms, it can get mighty hot in the cockpit and not only because you’re on short final on a gusty day in a responsive LSA. US Aviation previewed their integration of the AMT FlyCool air conditioning system in the Flight Design CTLS at Sun ‘n Fun 2013. The Dallas-area, Texas company partnered with FlyCool to develop an installation for the Flight Design CTLS.
We were busy at Aero Friedrichshafen 2013, knocking out more than 30 videos for your viewing information and entertainment. That’s more than seven videos per day and a sum of more than five hours total running time (more than three Hollywood movies in minutes of viewing time). With these and all the videos shot at Sun ‘n Fun the week before Aero started, we expect to offer more than 300 videos on our LSA Video page. I’d like for you to understand how much effort that represents. I’d also like to thank BRS Parachutes, ICP North America, and Renegade Light Sport Aircraft for providing financial assistance to Lightsport and Ultralight Flyer. Without their support, these videos would not likely have been made. Today, I uploaded more than a dozen new videos to ByDanJohnson.com. We have many more coming. The newest ones include • Introduction to Aero and what you’ll see • Tecnam’s aerobatic Snap • FlyEco’s Diesel engine • FK 51 replica Mustang • Yuneec’s electric-powered eSpyder • lightweight electric aircraft • Zlin’s customizable Bobber • ICP’s Savannah taildragger and new engine • BOT SpeedCruiser with D-Motor • BRM Aero’s Bristell taildragger • Phoenix Air’s electric-powered ePhoenix • Nando Groppo tri-gear and, • one from AirVenture 2012 on the Zenith CH-650.
Patty Wagstaff and LSA? This week brings the start of the Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo and excitement is high. Following are some news items to those who follow this event and the light, recreational aircraft space. On Friday, January 18th, Sebring EAA Chapter 1240 is sponsoring a dinner featuring aerobatic expert Patty Wagstaff who will perform at the event … with such an airshow being a first for Sebring. Proceeds will support youth aviation education programs. •• The Sebring EAA chapter has engineered a rare partnership between the chapter, the airport, and the local school board to provide educational activities for kids. This sufficiently impressed aviation philanthropist James Ray that he ended writing a check for the entire structure, a new 60 x 70-foot building at the Sebring Airport with classrooms and facilities including a large hangar space where high school children are involved in restoring two aircraft.
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.
Since Sebring in January, the airshow season has rushed by at warp speed and now we return to more aircraft flown at the event that kicks off the aviation year. We’ll add more from Sun ‘n Fun soon plus we’re loading more than 30 new videos. In this post, we have a quick look at the all-new Bristell, first unveiled to the American pilot community at the AOPA Summit last fall in Hartford Connecticut. *** If you feel a sense of deja vu when looking at Bristell, that’s understandable. It has some common design heritage with the SportCruiser or PiperSport because the man behind the BRM Aero Bristell — Milan Bristela — was once affiliated with Czech Aircraft Works which originated the design. That’s when Milan and I first met. He left the former company before it was taken over by Czech Sport Aircraft, designed another aircraft with a different partner, and finally chose a path all his own.
At AOPA summit I spent time in the Lockwood Aviation booth giving me a chance to speak with a few RV-12 builders. *** Van’s has reportedly sold approximately 600 RV-12 Light-Sport Aircraft, of which 150 may be flying, making RV-12 by far the most successful Experimental LSA. RV-12 would among rank high among all Light-Sport Aircraft were we able to include ELSA in the SLSA List (…we cannot, for several reasons). In a sign that proprietor and industry leader Phil Lockwood sees good potential in RV-12 service work he displays the leading ELSA on his latest Lockwood Aircraft Supply catalog. Van’s did not exhibit at Summit 2011. *** I found it equally interesting to hear much improved reception to the Rotax line compared to earlier AOPA Expos or Summits. Perhaps it’s the 2,000-hour overhaul time. Maybe it’s the 40,000 9-series engines Rotax has installed on aircraft.