Sometimes I am told I have the best job in the world. Hmm, could be. My work entails some of those things no one truly loves, like paying bills, but it also involves flying airplanes for review. That part is indeed quite a pleasure. In this post, I want to tell you what I flew at the DeLand Showcase 2017 plus a little about how we do these VPRs or Video Pilot Reports. For many years, I wrote such things for print. That still happens but most of my reporting now goes online and my more detailed pilot reports have significantly — though not exclusively — gone to video …hence “VPR.” At DeLand 2017, I went aloft six times, five to evaluate aircraft and once on a photo (and video) mission. Video reporting consumes much more time than an interview, 30 minutes or more simply to attach some or all of our eight Garmin VIRB cameras inside and outside the subject aircraft.
Pipistrel LSA s.r.l. Sinus
Phone: (0481) 522-000Gorizia, -- 34070 - Italy
U.S. Distributor is Pipistrel USA
Many of us who enjoy soaring flight love the Pipistrel Sinus as it offers some wonderful gliding capability. Even the prop can "feather" to reduce drag. It works marvelously and can exceed 50 miles per gallon. U.S. representative Rand Vollmer shows us around the Sinus but then took us outside to see the "Flex" capability. Basically this refers to a variable wing span with extensions that remove in a matter of minutes. You'll want to watch the whole video to see this feature set.
Many of us who enjoy soaring flight love the Pipistrel Sinus as it offers some wonderful gliding capability. Even the prop can “feather” to reduce drag. It works marvelously and can exceed 50 miles per gallon. U.S. representative Rand Vollmer shows us around the Sinus but then took us outside to see the “Flex” capability. Basically this refers to a variable wing span with extensions that remove in a matter of minutes. You’ll want to watch the whole video to see this feature set.
Pipistrel has a wide variety of Light-Sport Aircraft from trikes (where they started long ago) to powered sailplanes to motorgliders to more conventional fixed wing aircraft. In this video we examine the Sinus (pronounced SEEN-us) in taildragger configuration - it is also available in tricycle gear. This impressive company earned SLSA status for three models earlier in 2011 and they are moving up the sales charts.
Pipistrel has a wide variety of Light-Sport Aircraft from trikes (where they started long ago) to powered sailplanes to motorgliders to more conventional fixed wing aircraft. In this video we examine the Sinus (pronounced SEEN-us) in taildragger configuration – it is also available in tricycle gear. This impressive company earned SLSA status for three models earlier in 2011 and they are moving up the sales charts.
One of the top LSA manufacturers and a coming producer of four seaters is Pipistrel, which I visited last year. Recently the company announced that it completed and delivered its 600th aircraft, after which they shipped it halfway around the globe to Australia. The down under country, presently in its summertime (a warm thought while the Eastern USA digs out from yet another heavy snowstorm), fully accepts ASTM standards. On the occasion of its production of Pipistrel number 600, the Slovenian company with an LSA facility in nearby Italy, also celebrated its 25th anniversary. The twin achievements gave an opportunity for the Pipistrel team of 80 members to pose with aircraft number 600. Regular factory visitor and Australian distributor (also the rep for the United States), Michael Coates joined the photo. Michael has been a Pipistrel distributor for over 15 years and was chosen as the “Distributor of the Year” in 2012.
Known for their several lucrative wins at the NASA Challenge events, Pipistrel also logged market successes in the USA and around the world during 2012. The manufacturer with a range from weight shift trikes to electric-powered gliders to Light-Sport Aircraft to their four-seat Panther in development has become a company to watch. At the end of the year, the Slovenian company with a production facility in Italy had plenty to discuss. Most notably, the company built their 500th aircraft from the Sinus/Virus family. These sleek machines include the Sinus (“Seen-Us”) motorglider, the Virus (“Veer-Us”) lightplane and shorter-winged version called the Virus SW. The company proudly announced, “Together with the other models and the powered-hang gliders, this means we have made well over one thousand flying devices!” Aircraft number 500 buyer was Charles Dalglish from Australia. The aircraft was handed over to distributor Michael Coates whose organization includes U.S. sales.This year Coates recorded his 100th delivery.
Just in time for this year’s AOPA Summit, welcome to a pair of Special Light-Sport Aircraft, numbers 121 and 122: the first, the formerly named NG 5 LSA, rebadged as the Bristell Fastback by importer Liberty Sport Aviation of Pennsylvania; and the second being the fourth approval for Pipistrel, specifically for their Sinus motorglider (previous Pipistrel approvals included the Virus, Virus SW, and Taurus). *** NG 5 LSA was not previously offered in the U.S. though it was sold in Europe as the NG 4 from Roko Aero. When Roko closed its doors production stopped for the NG 4. It became NG 5 as the company reformed into BRM Aero. Changes occur in any industry but Bristell Fastback designer, Milan Bristela, is a steady hand on the joystick known for his foundational work on the SportCruiser (for a year known as the PiperSport) that is presently ranked #2 in U.S.
|Empty weight||626 pounds|
|Wing area||132 square feet|
|Wing loading||6.1 pounds/square foot|
|Useful Load||574 pounds|
|Length||21 feet, 8 inches|
|Payload (with full fuel)||478 pounds|
|Height||5 feet, 7 inches|
|Fuel Capacity||16 gallon (24 gallon optional)|
|Baggage area||40 pounds|
|Kit type||Fully assembled or Kit|
|Build time||400 hours|
|Standard engine||Rotax 912 UL|
|Power loading||9.0 pounds/hp|
|Cruise speed||134 mph|
|Never exceed speed||140 mph|
|Rate of climb at gross||1,200 fpm|
|Takeoff distance at gross||288 feet|
|Landing distance at gross||400 feet|
|Notes:||Propeller: 2-blade, controllable pitch with full feathering.|
|Standard Features||81-hp Rotax 912 (as tested), electronic instrument with ASI, VSI, altimeter, water temp, EGT, CHT, tachometer, fuel gauge, auto hours logging, fully enclosed cabin with gull-wing doors, removable wings, in-flight trim, flaps, remote choke, shock-absorbing gear, steerable nosewheel, hydraulic brakes.|
|Options||50-hp Rotax 503, additional instruments, and ballistic parachute.|
|Construction||Composite airframe, wing, fuselage, and tail with steel components. Made in Slovenia; imported by Australian-owned company, distributed by U.S. business.|
Cosmetic appearance, structural integrity, achievement of design goals, effectiveness of aerodynamics, ergonomics.
Pros - Elegant design, especially the long, lovely, and shapely wings that extend to almost 50 feet of span. Efficient performer should satisfy most soaring pilots. All composite materials using extensive sailplane-building technologies. Well "tested" by an around-the-world flight. Tricycle or taildragger, kit or finished versions available.
Cons - The Sinus cannot presently qualify as a light-sport aircraft because it comes from a country without the required bilateral agreement with the U.S., and because of its in-flight adjustable prop. Design is so optimized to its soaring purpose that it may not satisfy those whose interest in soaring is only occasional.
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 - Well designed aircraft with a plethora of systems: electric starting, in-flight trim, flaps including a reflex range, adjustable pitch to full feathering prop, airbrakes. Panel is an easy reach as are all controls regardless of which seat you occupy. Easy engine access under cowling.
Cons - At least one system, the adjustable prop, knocks the Sinus out of the LSA category yet without it, the soaring performance would suffer somewhat. Fuel on top of wing may require a boost for access for some folks (though another system for refueling is also available; ask dealer). No trim or flap indicator other than lever position.
Instrumentation; Ergonomics of controls; Creature comforts; (items covered may be optional).
Pros - Adequate panel space for most instruments, though the standard Brauniger Alpha multi-function display uses space well and leaves room for more gauges. Both sides of panel have a roomy compartment for maps and other items you need in flight. A 40-pound baggage area is provided aft of the seats. Adjustable rudder pedals.
Cons - Cabin structure with a spar and steel components barely over the head of average-sized pilots, and may be a significant problem for tall pilots. Maximum pilot height stated at 6 feet, 4 inches. If the emergency ballistic parachute system is ordered, much of the baggage space will be used for this purpose.
Taxi visibility; Steering; Turn radius; Shock absorption; Stance/Stability; Braking.
Pros - The Sinus comes with toe brakes in both positions. Rudder pedals adjust for comfort and optimal control. Excellent lateral visibility through large windows in gull-wing doors. Ground maneuvering aided by differential braking, adding to direct nosewheel linkage. Adequate ground clearance for turf field operations.
Cons - With nearly 50 feet of span and a swept-back wingtip, taxiing in crowded conditions can be worrisome; you can't see the tips while seated. Turn radius also somewhat wide (though tighter than it appears). Forward visibility is limited by the high instrument panel, even in tricycle gear model.
Qualities; Efficiency; Ease; Comparative values.
Pros - Rotax 912 engine gives the Sinus more than adequate power, allowing takeoff in less than 300 feet (under 400 feet even with the Rotax 503). Landing visibility is good. Energy retention is, understandably, excellent. Making the landing field was never easier with Sinus' 28-to-1 glide and low sink.
Cons - The long glide and low sink rate of the Sinus demand that you are familiar with using the airbrakes (they help a great deal). Landings will require a slightly longer strip than takeoff. Flaps tend not to add much drag, by design. Crosswind landings aren't hard but watch those long wings.
Quality and quantity for: Coordination; Authority; Pressures; Response; and Coupling.
Pros - Controls felt nice and fluid at all speeds. Stick-and-rudder forces were modest yet offered feedback. No problem with precision turns. Harmony was surprisingly good for a sailplane-type aircraft (which are normally rudder dominated). Roll rate is a fairly snappy 4+ seconds for 45°-to-45° test.
Cons - Best to slightly lead with the rudder and follow with the ailerons, requiring relearning new techniques for most power pilots (though not sailplane or ultralight pilots). Adverse yaw is understandably significant given that the ailerons are far out from the fuselage. Steep turns require some high siding.
Climb; Glide; Sink; Cruise/stall/max speeds; Endurance; Range; Maneuverability.
Pros - Performance is one of the great strengths of this design; with a 28-to-1 glide angle (still 18-to-1 at 80 mph) and a sink rate of 200 fpm (the latter about what a modern hang glider achieves). Cruise is right at the upper end of the LSA parameters (134 mph), yet stall is low (40 mph). Fuel use at cruise is a low 3.5 gph. Climb is also strong at 1,200 fpm.
Cons - If you're not looking for a long glide and a low sink rate, the Sinus may not be your next airplane. No other performance negatives.
Stall recovery and characteristics; Dampening; Spiral stability; Adverse yaw qualities.
Pros - In all stalls tested, recovery was very quick and the airplane's response was benign. The Sinus can fly comfortably at just above stall (40 mph), no surprise since that's where most thermal flying is done. Longitudinal stability was good. Pitch response to engine changes were normal.
Cons - Adverse yaw is rather significant due primarily to the aileron's long distance from the fuselage. Slightly leading with the rudder is the right technique but pilots forgetting this fact will not have well- coordinated turns. No spins tested. 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 - Former trike-building company made a clean-sheet design that most regard as very impressive looking; elegant and sleek. 'Round-the- world flight proves abilities as does winning microlight championship. Rotax 503 model is modestly priced and said to perform well. Nearly 200 flying worldwide.
Cons - The Sinus is built in Slovenia, which has no U.S. bilateral agreement, meaning the Sinus cannot presently be a LSA. Must build from kit (200 to 400 hours; see article) or fly under Experimental/Exhibition (which may be okay if soaring is your only interest). Kit instructions not examined. Few flying in U.S. at present.
Many Americans will agree the name of this aircraft is odd, and that may be a kind word for the common reaction to “Sinus.” Is the name that important? Sinus (pronounced Seen-us), the aircraft, is a sleek, slender machine capable of impressive performance. Any soaring-attuned pilot can easily live with the name Sinus for the 49-foot span and, get this, 28-to-1 glide performance! On first glance, except for its elegant, shapely, and thin wings, the Sinus looks like a proper light sport airplane. Pilot Matevz Lenarcic flew one around the world solo, in 80 days, and with zero ground or air support (see “Microlight Motorglider Flies Around the World,” April ’05 UltralightFlying! magazine). What’s In a Name After All? Let’s consider that name. U.S. dealer Robert Mudd says Pipistrel – the manufacturer – prefers to pronounce it “seen-us,” not “sighn-us.” They say this refers to a perfect sound wave or sine wave rather than a head cold.
We’ve all heard the line: To make a small fortune in aviation, start with a big one. Yet thanks to Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency (CAFE) Foundation and NASA, the laws of gravity seem reversed. A Pipistrel Virus (say: “VeerUs”) went home from the Personal Air Vehicle (PAV) Challenge event with four checks totaling (are you ready for this!?): $160,000. The money represents the biggest share of $250,000 awared for this first year of five contest seasons. Australian pilot and LSA businessman Michael Coates flew a modified version of the Pipistrel Virus owned by Vance Turner (photo, on right) of Rescue, California. Lots more details are available; read the rest of the story. *** Virus, sibling of the motorglider Sinus. (“SeenUs”), took the best overall prize ($100,000); efficiency ($25,000); short runway ($25,000); and second place in the top speed prize ($10,000).
Some of you know the Pipistrel line. Americans have seen two of their models: the Sinus and Virus (yep, those awkward, even distasteful names…except representatives prefer to say SEEN-us and VEER-us). Fortunately Taurus is easier on the American tongue, thanks to Ford and its auto model by the same name. *** I discovered Taurus is also easy on the ears as I went for a two-hour soaring flight from Wallaby Ranch with my hang gliding friend, David Ledford. His side-by-side Taurus — roomy for a soaring machine — glides beyond 40:1 and manages a sink rate barely more than 100 fpm. Those numbers translate into plenty of soaring power as we proved on a day with modest convective lift. *** Taurus is a self-launched sailplane, rather than a motorglider like Urban Air’s Lambada or Pipistrel’s own Sinus. To get aloft, we were powered by a Rotax 503 two-stroke engine that fits neatly into a cavity aft of the cockpit.