Several news items in our March 2013 LSA News Wrap and we’ll get to it … right after this: We’re thrilled to tell you that — for the second month in a row — ByDanJohnson.com achieved another record. Despite fewer days, February substantially exceeded January’s Unique Visitors, reaching another all-time traffic mark. Last year was amazing and 2013 is even better. THANKS so much for your regular visits and welcome to our new readers! Sam LS Flies — Pilots love new developments, so aviation media outlets jumped all over the first flight of Thierry Zibi’s Sam LS. The retro-looking, all-metal Light-Sport candidate (it has not yet gone through the Special LSA process and will initially be sold as a kit) attracted plenty of attention at the Sebring Sport Aviation Expo where the company bought a premium position just inside the main gate. By Sun ‘n Fun in less than one month, Thierry will hit another benchmark as the aircraft flies for the public.
Euro ALA U.S.A. Jet Fox 97
Phone: (786) 417-8960North Miami, FL 33161 - USA
|Empty weight||612 pounds|
|Gross weight||1,230 pounds 1|
|Wing area||157 square feet|
|Wing loading||7.8 pounds per square foot 1|
|Kit type||Fully assembled or kit 2|
|Build time||Not determined|
|Notes:||1 Weight established for Light-Sport Aircraft proposal; flown as an ultralight/microlight in Europe at 990 pounds - wing loading then 6.3 pounds per square foot.|
2 Kit manuals not examined.
|Standard engine||Rotax 912|
|Power loading||15.2 pounds per hp 3|
|Cruise speed||50-90 mph|
|Never exceed speed||115 mph|
|Rate of climb at gross||1,200 fpm|
|Takeoff distance at gross||330 feet|
|Landing distance at gross||400 feet|
|Notes:||3 Assuming weight under proposed Light-Sport Aircraft category; when flown as an ultralight/microlight in Europe power loading is 12.3 pounds per hp.|
|Standard Features||80-hp Rotax 912, electric starting, fully enclosed cabin with dual doors, dual controls, mechanical flaps, in-flight trim, remote choke, safety battery shut-off, brakes, Trilam wing coverings.|
|Options||Hydraulic brakes, 100-hp Rotax 912S, full instrumentation, cabin heating system, wheel pants, folding wing system, emergency parachute, strobe lights, electrical flaps.|
|Construction||Aluminum airframe, steel components, fiberglass fairing, Dacron and Trilam wing and tail coverings. Made in Italy with Miami, Florida-based representation.|
Cosmetic appearance, structural integrity, achievement of design goals, effectiveness of aerodynamics, ergonomics.
Pros - Sleek looks. Second-generation design (first was the Jet Fox 91) from an Italian company with 17 years experience in ultralights. Should conform to proposed Light-Sport Aircraft category, though generally operates like most U.S. ultralights. Superbly equipped. Has received German certification.
Cons - Somewhat "dated" design compared to many all-composite Euro sport planes (though Americans may not see it as old). Higher empty weight than U.S. buyers expect.
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 - Loaded with extras - especially on test plane. Flaps, trim, electric starting, remote choke, cabin heat, battery disconnect, brakes, an emergency parachute system, and even a landing light were all included. Flaps were impressive in operation and function.
Cons - Lots of fancy systems drive up the price, no way around it. Did not use the Digifly navigation system; same for cabin heat. Repair work to the engine requires removal of the large cowling and inspecting the covered airframe is more time-consuming than an open ultralight.
Instrumentation; Ergonomics of controls; Creature comforts; (items covered may be optional).
Pros - Comfortable and spacious cabin. Unusually quiet - rare in ultralights to not need ear protection and I could still make conversation (though I always prefer to have ear protection). Entry/exit were quite easy thanks to wide doors that hinge on a center line. Small cargo area available.
Cons - Pistons that hold the doors during entry/exit were not installed ($36 option). No seat or rudder pedal adjustments for differing pilot height. Door latches were a bit tricky to get solidly latched. No other negatives.
Taxi visibility; Steering; Turn radius; Shock absorption; Stance/Stability; Braking.
Pros - Precise steering available through dual rudder pedals. Turn radius was quite small. Enormous visibility (except directly overhead, of course). Greater empty weight gave a secure feeling in wind. Main gear leg is slab-style and looks very robust.
Cons - The Jet Fox 97 felt rough on a sandy turf taxiway and runway; rattled significantly. Some vulnerability in the event of an off-field landing due to modest ground clearance.
Qualities; Efficiency; Ease; Comparative values.
Pros - Pull two notches of flaps and the Jet Fox seems to automatically go to 55 mph, perfect for a normal approach. Good glide angle, quoted at 10:1 from factory rep. Superb slipping capability. Very good crosswind capability. Visibility on takeoff is good; excellent on landing.
Cons - Heavier empty weight and higher wing loading make for longer takeoff roll - though landings can be relatively short once you learn to make good use of flaps and slips. Not as strong on short/soft-field takeoffs. Bumpy ride prior to rotation.
Quality and quantity for: Coordination; Authority; Pressures; Response; and Coupling.
Pros - Extremely powerful rudder, as strong as any I've flown (makes for deep slip potential). Reasonable control harmony between ailerons and rudder. Pitch felt comfortably dampened. Dutch rolls went well and precision turns to heading were simple.
Cons - If anything, the rudder may overpower the ailerons (opposite of many designs). No other negatives discovered.
Climb; Glide; Sink; Cruise/stall/max speeds; Endurance; Range; Maneuverability.
Pros - Instantly smooth at takeoff (a pleasant change from the ground chatter). Strong climb. Good cruise at about 85-100 mph makes for good cross-country performance. Unusually quiet cabin environment. Flies well at 45 mph with flaps deployed. Slow flight was effortless with good control.
Cons - Speed range is somewhat limited compared to other designs; stall at about 40 ranging to max cruise at 100 is a 2.5 multiple (4:1 is the Holy Grail of design). Doesn't slow well for those who prefer low-over-the-field flying.
Stall recovery and characteristics; Dampening; Spiral stability; Adverse yaw qualities.
Pros - Power-on, power-off, and accelerated stalls were all very benign with no tendency to fall off on a wing. Four-point seat belts on both seats are standard. Emergency ballistic parachute was appreciated. Held steep turns with little pilot input; carved very clean turns. Very hands-off stable.
Cons - Stalls at around 40 mph are higher than very light ultralights. The high-mounted and powerful engine creates the expected pitchover on power-up, opposite of certified designs (though it wasn't radical thanks to a powerful tailplane).
Addresses the questions: "Will a buyer get what he/she expects to buy, and did the designer/builder achieve the chosen goal?"
Pros - Italian sense of finish with beautiful glass work; as sharp as you'll see and very well equipped. The Jet Fox was my 2002 airshow "Pick-of-the-Week" among 14 aircraft flown. Delivers a very nice experience to one or two occupants (as long as they aren't both extremely large).
Cons - Quite costly compared to many American designs (though closer if both equipped this well). No information on kit manual and language differences could make this challenging. No info on delivery times.
Sleek with curvaceous lines, the Jet Fox 97 commands attention, even when surrounded by other desirable flying machines. Welcome to Italian company Euro ALA and its candidate for the proposed Light-Sport Aircraft category. Sergio Cremonesi, the factory representative with whom I would fly the racing-looking Jet Fox 97, told me the “ALA” stood for Advanced Light Aircraft. Advanced, indeed! I’d seen this machine in France at airshows in ’98 and ’99. I snapped photos of it and wherever I showed those pictures, ultralight pilots smiled with appreciation. In the finest Italian sense (think Ferrari), the Jet Fox 97 has the lines and looks to draw closer inspection. One look inside – all Jet Fox 97s I’ve seen appear to be similarly outfitted – and those smiles morph into grins. The panel looks like something out of a fighter aircraft. A color flat glass display is flanked by the usual assortment of “steam gauges,” installed with engineering precision.