“Air in your hair! Space on your face! A breeze on your knees!” A former colleague of mine used to repeat this short mantra to illustrate the joy of open-cockpit flying. It was catchy and engaging and his customers liked it. With 15 Light-Sport Aircraft now possessing their FAA Special Light-Sport Aircraft (SLSA) airworthiness certificates, not a single one is open cockpit, though the IndUS Thorpedo, Legend Cub, and Tecnam Sierra can enjoy partially open cockpits. Special Light-Sport Aircraft will eventually add more of this genre of light aircraft but one of the beauties of FAA’s new regulation is that it does not eliminate two previous categories: Amateur-built 51% kits or Part 103-compliant ultralights. With 21¼4 years left before operators of 2-seat 496-pound empty weight ultralight exempt trainers must register in FAA’s new Light-Sport Aircraft category, and with 41¼4 years left while these machines can be used for compensated training flights, the segment still has lots of life remaining.
|Empty weight||465 pounds 1|
|Gross weight||1,400 pounds|
|Wingspan||32 feet, 9 inches|
|Wing area||180 square feet|
|Wing loading||7.8 pounds/square foot|
|Height||7 feet, 10 inches|
|Kit type||Fully assembled 2|
|Build time||40 hours 2|
|Notes:||1 Before floats; contact factory for all-up weight with straight or amphibious floats|
2 Builder-assistance program offered by M-Squared, as required for N-numbered aircraft like the Sprint 1000. Contact factory for further details and scheduling.
|Standard engine||Rotax 582|
|Power loading||21.2 pounds/hp|
|Cruise speed||50-65 mph|
|Never exceed speed||94 mph 1|
|Rate of climb at gross||650 fpm 1|
|Takeoff distance at gross||135 feet 1|
|Landing distance at gross||60 feet 1|
|Notes:||1 Before floats; contact factory for performance with straight or amphibious floats|
|Standard Features||65-hp 2-stroke Rotax 582 engine, Warp Drive prop, EIS instrument info system, 15-inch main tires on aluminum wheels with 6-inch drum brakes, 13-inch nose tire and aluminum wheel, hand brake, steel cage surrounding pilot, adjustable strut fittings, high-lift airfoil with 14-inch rib spacing, wing-mounted fuel cells.|
|Options||81-hp Rotax 912 and 100-hp Rotax 912S engines, electric starter (standard on 912 models), pilot enclosures, additional instrumentation and EIS with digital instrument gauges, ballistic parachute, 16-gallon wing-mounted fuel cells, stainless steel main frame (especially useful for salt-water float operations).|
|Construction||Aluminum airframe, Dacron wing and tail coverings, steel components including pilot cage. Made and distributed in the USA by American-owned company.|
Cosmetic appearance, structural integrity, achievement of design goals, effectiveness of aerodynamics, ergonomics.
Pros - The Sprint 1000 on inflatable Full Lotus floats is a rugged, well-proven design with fully strutted construction preferred by many pilots. Full Lotus floats work well with the single-surface wing, helping the design to take off in a short run. Design is especially durable with large diameter tubing.
Cons - Struts may be preferred but they're heavier than cable bracing. Open cockpit has lots of appeal for a sport floatplane but not all pilots enjoy the sensation. Longer field assembly required; no folding wings.
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 - Except for float structure - that you may have to create - the Sprint 1000 is very simple. Wing fuel tanks hold 16 gallons. In-flight trim is standard on 2-seat M-Squared models. Electric starting and full amphibious gear also available.
Cons - Robustly built airframe is heavy for the type and with additional amphibious gear empty weight is even greater. Pull starting on a floatplane may be a problem for some pilots.
Instrumentation; Ergonomics of controls; Creature comforts; (items covered may be optional).
Pros - Stainless steel (optional) pilot cage in tandem sets of pilot-surrounding structure add to a secure feeling. Occupants easily share center stick during training. Very easy entry especially compared to other floatplanes. Instruments mounted overhead away from possible water damage (except for ASI).
Cons - Wide-open cockpits aren't for everyone, which may affect resale. Taller or shorter pilots have neither seat nor rudder adjustment. Seat is angled back generously, perhaps too steeply for some pilots. No cargo area.
Taxi visibility; Steering; Turn radius; Shock absorption; Stance/Stability; Braking.
Pros - Full Lotus inflatable floats are popular for the soft ride they deliver and for their durability; combine well with the Sprint 1000's short run. Full Lotus floats support walking well. Amphib nosewheel option is steerable and main gear stance is very wide. No water rudder needed with the Sprint close-coupled rudder.
Cons - Lack of water rudders means you must throttle the engine to produce enough airflow; makes beachings and dockings somewhat more challenging. Electric starting is even more valuable on a floatplane where pull starting can be more difficult.
Qualities; Efficiency; Ease; Comparative values.
Pros - The Sprint 1000's ease of takeoff demonstrates the value of single-surface, high-lift wings; even more true on water operations. Powerful acceleration with 2-stroke Rotax 582. You set a modest pitch angle and the Sprint 1000 flies off the water smoothly. Approaches can be made at 40 to 45 mph.
Cons - As with most similar designs, the Sprint 1000 bleeds energy quickly so you must maintain good speed right down to the surface. Slips are largely ineffective in this type aircraft (though they're hardly needed, especially for water operations where you slow quickly on the surface).
Quality and quantity for: Coordination; Authority; Pressures; Response; and Coupling.
Pros - The Sprint 1000 controls reasonably well, thanks to large ailerons, lower dihedral, and stiffer airframe (though the weight of floats and structure diminishes response somewhat). Precision turns are easily achieved. Responds quickly to rudder-only input. Good crosswind capabilities.
Cons - Due to rudder's influence on controls, you use the pedals significantly in coordinated turns. Pitch is more sensitive due to the closely coupled tail (the same quality that helps in water taxiing). Adverse yaw is clearly present on the Sprint 1000, despite low dihedral.
Climb; Glide; Sink; Cruise/stall/max speeds; Endurance; Range; Maneuverability.
Pros - Flying over water at low heights is especially fun in a slower flying Sprint 1000 floatplane. Water run is short with 2-stroke Rotax 582. Climb is better than 500 fpm even with float/structure weight. Good floatplane trainer for new water pilots. Can cruise at 60 to 65 mph.
Cons - Speed range on the Sprint 1000 is shallow, though typical for the design type. Max speed is only 94 mph; 60 mph is pretty slow for cross-country flying (though floatplanes are often flown too far). Consumes plenty of fuel due to its low speed and heavier weight.
Stall recovery and characteristics; Dampening; Spiral stability; Adverse yaw qualities.
Pros - Stalls in any configuration were modest events. Steel around the cockpit provides good occupant protection. M-Squared supports use of, and has a good installation for ballistic parachutes. Four-point pilot restraints are generally not used on seaplanes, though M-Squared normally supplies them.
Cons - Stalls break while they don't on the lighter land model. This heavier Sprint 1000 floatplane wallows somewhat just before stall. With the high engine and thrust line, the Sprint 1000 with Rotax 582 noses over on throttle up. Adverse yaw is significant.
Addresses the questions: "Will a buyer get what he/she expects to buy, and did the designer/builder achieve the chosen goal?"
Pros - Almost 10 years old, M-Squared has become an established brand with proven products, made highly robust with large diameter tubing. Strutted look is what many buyers seek. Larger fuel tanks are standard. Prices are reasonable though you must build from kit.
Cons - Without an optional enclosure, you'll be limited to warmer climates or shorter seasons in this wide-open design.