DeLand Showcase 2018 is over, which signals the airshow season is over for this calendar year. At the end, many concluded the show was good for customers and vendors. Pilots placed orders for new aircraft and left with smiles on their faces; I spoke to a few of them. Many of you also said hello during the event; that’s always fun. Despite my positive words, some feel these “regional shows” aren’t as meaningful as the large shows. Is that right or not? It depends on the observer to some extent. I venture to say that if you could evaluate orders placed with cash and create a ratio of those people compared to the number of persons coming in the gate, DeLand (or the other LSA- and light kit- specific shows) would smoke all others. No question the big shows with their thick crowds satisfy the soul of attendees and vendors alike.
Seamax Aircraft (formerly AirMax)
Phone: (260) 460-7587São João da Boa Vista, São Paulo CEP: 13.870-000 - Brazil
2018 Results Keep Adding UpYesterday's Day One post related several conpanies giving satisfactory results for their sales this year. Perhaps encouraged by a buoyant economy, pilots are choosing new LSA but in parallel more importers and manufacturers are helping to move used LSA. The fleet has grown enough to generate a good supply of low-time, desirable Light-Sport Aircraft. Any representing looking to sell new machines can boost their enterprise by also facilitating the sale of used aircraft. In either new or used transactions, pilots win as they can acquire aircraft that interest them. It's all good and 2018 is proving to be a respectable year. Seamax is another company pleased with their U.S. developments. We interviewed lead designer and business owner Miguel Rosario to find his lightest-of-the-LSA-seaplane-fleet Seamax is developing their business on the campus of Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. With care and long experience, Miguel has built an active enterprise that has supplied more than 150 aircraft around the globe with about 10% flying in the USA. That number is sure to grow with the Brazilian company's American operation, an excellent price point among LSA seaplanes, and sprightly performance SuperPetrel reports delivery of eight units in the last year after establishing their U.S. base. Global sales over many years are now approaching serial number 400 according to representatives from the Ormond Beach, Florida enterprise of Brazilian investors associated with Scoda Aeronautica. This seaplane maker is also growing its installed base in America for this long-established design that was thoroughly updated when Scoda (formerly Edra) Aeronautica took over Super Petrel. An FAA audit proved the quality of their work as they earned SLSA credentials. Inside the tent, we did an interview with Sensenich president Don Rowell. The very popular maker of wood, metal, and composite props reported strong business that is challenging the company to keep propellers in stock. To address the demand, Sensenich is expanding and bringing new CNC equipment. We will be visiting the factory just before Sun 'n Fun 2019 to give viewers a tour of their new facility and equipment. As with yesterday's report, this is not an exhaustive review of each exhibiting company. Yet the sum of reports from company after company reinforces the view that 2018 qualifyies as a solid year. I see the happy smiles of new pilot owners on the field.
At a reception ending Day Two, DeLand Showcase Director Jana Filip reported that front gate receipts were greater on Thursday than either Thursday of the two prior years of the Showcase. Then she announced Friday’s gate was greater than the two previous Fridays. DeLand Showcase 2018 is the third running of the event. Showers rolled in threatening Showcase’s perfect weather record although the rain didn’t start until exhibitors and sponsors had gathered in the main show center tent. Under shelter, live music was presented by the Flying Musicians Association, lead by professional music man, Gary Filip. A catered dinner fed the group and as the evening concluded, the rain died off as if on cue. A couple tents were damaged by strong winds including one in the Dreams Come True booth of Steve and Debbie Minnich and an EAA Chapter food tent. No airplane damage was reported.
Seamax M-22SeaMax Aircraft describes M-22 as a high-performance Light-Sport Aircraft with global sales. Manufactured in Brazil for more than 17 years it has sold more than 150 units to more than 20 countries. Seamax won aeronautical awards, such as the prestigious "Outstanding Commercial SLSA” at Sun 'n Fun in the United States and the Schneider Cup in Italy. It has been featured in more than 40 specialized magazines around the world. Seamax pioneered as one of the early Light-Sport amphibious aircraft to win FAA acceptance in the category — it appears in the #63 spot on our popular SLSA List. "Made of composite materials, Seamax uniqueness relies upon its ability to remain light, granting exceptional performance, large range, and one of the highest useful loads in the category," wrote SeaMax Aircraft. See much more about SeaMax on this page.
The LSA seaplane sector is one of the most intriguing areas of the diverse Light-Sport space. Development has introduced many fresh ideas to this class of airplane. At present a few companies are actively delivering airplanes that have proven themselves over several years of operation. One of those is SeaMax, formerly delivered by a company known by its Portuguese name, Airmax Construções Aeronauticas. Now, welcome the simpler SeaMax Aircraft. The manufacturer of the SeaMax M-22 announced a company rebranding last week. As part of its strategy to enter into the U.S. market, the company changed its logo and named the company after its prominent aircraft model. “Our new brand, SeaMax Aircraft LTDA, captures the identity of a legendary and globally known aircraft and incorporates [the model] into the spirit of our company, consolidating market recognition,” said Shalom Confessor, Executive Director of the company headquarters in the United States. The company now known as SeaMax Aircraft reports manufacturing 152 of its amphibious aircraft.
So, announcing…!At the DeLand Showcase 2017, SeaMax announced, "We displayed the Seamax M-22 Serial Number 149 at DeLand in Florida. The amphibious aircraft that conquered the world’s hearts now is ready for deliveries in the United States." As the serial number shows, more than 148 SeaMax amphibs are active in several countries. "We are now accepting orders for the SeaMax M-22 year 2018," they continued. The base price for the model without folding wings starts at $139,500. A folding wing version starts at $149,500. Especially against the contrast of Icon's A5 now based priced in the mid-$200,000s and well equipped at a breathtaking $350,000 or so, SeaMax looks like a Thanksgiving Day bargain. Does this dashing LSA seaplane interest you? Find out more here (or read an older but detailed report here) or shoot an email to the company. Even Christmas deals don't last forever and this one might not either.
Years ago, back in the early days of the Light-Sport Aircraft sector exploding into the world of aviation, of affordable aviation, one of the early entries was SeaMax, from a Brazilian-based company called AirMax. An old friend in the business and a supremely capable pilot named Carlos Bessa helped SeaMax successfully prove standards compliance to win approval as a Special LSA (#63 of 143 on our SLSA List). Although Chip Erwin’s Mermaid was attracting a lot of attention at the time, SeaMax was an attractive offering. Another longtime friend in the business, Tom Peghiny — the man behind Flight Design USA but also an astute observer of light aircraft — urged me to go examine the SeaMax. He thought it possessed qualities I would appreciate. He turned out to be spot on. Subsequently I flew SeaMax for about four hours with Carlos, spread over a few days.
What Airplanes to SeeI won't try to predict all you might get to see, but here are three aircraft of particular interest, each in its own way. Seamax LSA Seaplane — We welcome back to the LSA space Brazil's Seamax M-22, now with folding wings. After emerging from under a takeover cloud Seamax is roaring back in business, complete with a new U.S. base of operations. The company "will be displaying and delivering our aircraft Serial Number 149 at this year's DeLand Showcase." They added, "Our Brazilian team, including Seamax designer Miguel Rosário will be ready to answer your questions." Launching their U.S. presence, "Seamax will be delivering the M-22 regularly, landing our first M-22 at DeLand [and] ready to accept orders as our production in Brazil is ramping up." Shortly after the new year starts, Seamax will start final assembly operations in Daytona Beach, Florida. "We will ship the Seamax, manufactured in Brazil, to be assembled in the USA." Factory-trained staff will add engine, prop, and avionics at their facilities at Daytona Beach, on the campus of Embry Riddle Aero U. "Our new building, located in São João da Boa Vista’s airport in São Paulo, is allowing us to ramp up production fast so we can satisfy our future customers soon," finished the company statement. Flight Design USA — One of the most successful U.S. importers is a Connecticut-based company, run by one of the most respected names in Light-Sport aviation, Tom Peghiny. If you feel you haven't heard enough about them and him lately, that's because Flight Design, the German company has been through a top-to-bottom reorganization. Now, they're back and you can see them at DeLand! We saw AeroJones representing the company at DeLand #1 (2016) and that Taiwan enterprise continues strongly as it enlarges CTLS production to serve customer sales in many countries, including China. I'll have more about AeroJones early in the new year. Flight Design USA is the name that kept the CTLS and CT-series atop the market share chart for a dozen years, before bowing to CubCrafters in 2016 while undergoing the German court-ordered reoranization. If you've been waiting to get the latest news about this important brand, come speak to Tom and new Flight Design director, Lars Jörges at DeLand. Aeropilot L600 and New FX1 — I've been telling you about L600, a scale-model representation of Cessna's popular Cessna 182 Skylane …only at a fraction (something like one-eighth!) of the cost. You can see L600 at DeLand but you can also hear what U.S. importer Deon Lombard has to say about a new entry headed America's way. Deon recently visited Italy with another pilot to examine and fly the FX1 and reportedly came away excited and impressed. I've written about this handsome Italian aircraft, a follow-on to their 1990s era JetFox97. I recently spoke with Designer Alfredo Di Cesare by phone and I am more than a bit intrigued to see and fly this latest iteration of a proven design. Aeropilot USA will not yet have an FX1 on display in DeLand. Alfredo said he is finalizing work to comply to the ASTM standards that allow FAA acceptance. He's already earned German "ultralight" approval, a good preparation for showing compliance with ASTM. Last year, DeLand had a full roster of airplanes both new and familiar. The event, organized by Jana aided by (husband) Gary Filip with oversight from airport manager John Eiff, put on a superb first-year event. I expect DeLand #2 to be even better. I'll be present every day shooting new YouTube videos with Videoman Dave and capturing article material. I hope to see you in Florida …soon!
Given a successful Midwest LSA Expo, you could say the “LSA show season” is underway. This is proven by the upcoming DeLand show — the second annual event — followed by the 14th Sebring LSA Expo. Even before DeLand, for those in western U.S. states, is Copperstate (which is not a pure play LSA event but does have a good representation of them). Why go to DeLand over November 2-3-4 of this year? Several reasons come to mind. First, Showcase executive Jana Filip — who earned her stripes managing Sebring for several years — said exhibitor sign-up has been strong, meaning you can see many great light aircraft …more on that below. Second, weather in early November in Florida should be marvelous, even as the northern states head toward winter. Third, DeLand is one of those aviation-sports airports featuring one of the world’s most active sky diving operations.
Seamax will join Embry-Riddle Research Park’s Customized Business Acceleration Program, the aeronautical university based in Daytona Beach announced on July 3rd, 2017. “This partnership will allow us to integrate Seamax into Embry-Riddle’s remarkable research and devel- opment cluster to further accelerate our technological and business capabilities” said Seamax CEO Gilberto Trivelato. “It will enable our company to leverage new features to our aircraft and to introduce more reliable products to aeronautical market.” A great partner helps and the business concept with a major academic institution sounds good but what does it mean? For AirMax, which recently reentered the U.S. market after a business reorganization (see recent article). it means a new American location for the Brazilian manufacturer. The company’s U.S. office will be housed at the John Mica Engineering Aerospace Innovation Complex, called MicaPlex, at Embry-Riddle’s Research Park adjacent to the Daytona Beach Campus. This location will allow the producer to work with current Research Park tenants and resident partners as well as access research facilities, technology and resources.
Though the aircraft looks rather small as you approach it, SeaMax’s interior is surprisingly roomy and its interior has a handsome speedboat-like finish with a generous 46 inch width, close to the broadest LSA and half a foot wider than a Cessna 172. Entering is simple with its widely front-opening canopy; you step on the solid floor and sit. Canopy optics were superb and you have 270-degree visibility thanks to rear quarter windows. Because you'll want the canopy closed in the water — the airplane sits low — air vents are positioned in the canopy with a second set near your head, tucked away in the wing root area. These keep air flowing inside. When taxiing on land you can leave the canopy open and the hinges are robust; even on a bumpy turf runway, the canopy moves very little. After rolling off the ramp or beach, you retract the gear in preparation for launch. SeaMax's electromechanical landing gear takes nine second to fully retract. To help you fully prepare, SeaMax offers a digital flap position indicator and digital trim position indicator. You also flip on an electrical fuel boost pump and a relatively uncommon bilge pump prior to moving the throttle forward. A 100-hp Rotax 912 AirMax moves SeaMax easily on land or water. My experience on the water at 45 mph showed SeaMax to be a great little speedboat. Turning in this configuration employs the water rudder, which extends from inside the air rudder. You use opposite aileron to keep from sticking a sponson too deeply in the water. On full application of power some water spray may contact the prop so AirMax uses a metal reinforced prop leading edge. As mentioned above cockpit side rails in SeaMax are only inches above the water line. The bottom of occupant seats are below the water line. Until your technique is experienced, I consider this a lake airplane although I heard reports of operations in one-foot waves. Such restrictions are common on smaller amphibians. My checkout pilot suggested I apply full power with the stick held full aft until breaking water or ground. As the nosewheel lifts, you relax the back pressure and let the plane fly itself off the surface. Rotation occured at about 45 mph indicated on the Dynon instrumentation. SeaMax’s hull gets on the step in about 100 feet, says AirMax. With continued acceleration takeoff follows in about 300 feet total when flying solo or about 500 feet when flying dual. Climbout at 70 mph produced about 1,000 fpm initially. SeaMax sustained climb at about 700 fpm with 10 degrees of flaps. During landings with full flaps the aircraft approaches at 50 mph. A safe downwind speed is 75-80 mph; this produces about 500 fpm down with the throttle at idle thrust. Water touchdowns proved very straightforward. SeaMax responds very well as a boat. Touchdown was at about 60 mph and it immediately started tracking true. My check pilots said it is essential to keep the stick full aft to prevent porpoising and possible upset. Airborne, the SeaMax joystick has a light touch although I recommend a few hours to optimize. My initial efforts at mild dutch rolls were sloppy suggesting handling that takes acclimatization. Rudder control took the most finesse perhaps due to close coupling behind a large cabin combined with a pusher engine. You need to use the rudder but bumps of it rather than steady pressure worked best for me. Light and responsive controls will delight pilots who take the time to get used to them. Roll rate was medium to somewhat fast. You rarely have to land crosswind on the water in a seaplane but on land, SeaMax has all the control authority it needs. To smoothen airflow around the large cabin, designer Rosario put in a long investigation into the vortex generator tabs seen in many locations. I was recommended to use 4800 rpm on the 100-hp Rotax 912 for normal cruise. That produced about 100 mph. At 4600 rpm we showed slightly less than 100 mph but these are low, fuel-conserving power settings. Push the Rotax a bit harder and SeaMax reached 115 mph, putting it high among other LSA seaplanes. Get all official specifications from the factory. Water runs are relatively short (300 ft. solo) and climb is brisk at 1,000 fpm for a few minutes after takeoff. Landings are also rather short. Stalls were mild in my trials. From most entries, stalls appeared to break benignly in the low 40 mph range though the factory says 36 mph with optimal flaps. Longitudinal stability checks and power changes showed SeaMax to be a generally stable aircraft; it recovered from mild disturbances of the stick on its own and with only a few oscillations. In summary, I'd call SeaMax a "performance LSA seaplane," peppy and demanding a bit more pilot attention but it gets up and goes. Stopped at the airport, pilots checking out SeaMax become impressed quickly. The following video interview was shot at Sun 'n Fun 2017. For more go to our LSA Video page or the Ultralight News YouTube channel. https://youtu.be/XyXXjqYBnwo
SeaMax from Brazil has been somewhat absent in recent years. I will spare you the detail but the company used a lot of energy to repel an undesired takeover. In recent months that was resolved and the company is now ready to move forward smartly. SeaMax was an early LSA to meet the consensus standards as required by FAA. The first was the Mermaid in February 2006. Second was the Colyaer Freedom on January 2007. On Christmas Day 2007, SeaMax became the third. However, of those three only SeaMax has remained in regular production for the last ten years. More recently, SeaMax was followed by SeaRey, Super Petrel, and A5 as ASTM-compliant LSA seaplanes. See our SLSA List for all aircraft shown in sortable columns. At Sun ‘n Fun 2017, I did a video interview with designer Miguel Rosario that you can watch below.
We've seen SeaMax before from Brazilian designer Miguel Rosario. The lovely little amphibious seaplane is the only one presently (early 2012) that can boast full Special Light-Sport Aircraft approval. We speak to the new importer who has been working with the Brazil factory to make more changes to suit American buyers plus a number of good changes to the preceding design. As a treat, we also introduce you to the new boss of the Seaplane Pilots Association.
We’ve seen SeaMax before from Brazilian designer Miguel Rosario. The lovely little amphibious seaplane is the only one presently (early 2012) that can boast full Special Light-Sport Aircraft approval. We speak to the new importer who has been working with the Brazil factory to make more changes to suit American buyers plus a number of good changes to the preceding design. As a treat, we also introduce you to the new boss of the Seaplane Pilots Association.
SeaMax is a Brazilian design that has sold well in Europe. After U.S. partner SeaMax USA helped earn SLSA approval, Americans became aware of this lovely little seaplane. It seems little and looks small, but holds two occupants in comfort and flies with great enthusiasm.
What’s going on out in the marketplace? More than any time since the launch of Light-Sport Aircraft in 2004, I have not observed such a frenzy of activity for a particular niche, this time for LSA seaplanes. Next season, in 2013, we could see no less than nine entries; three brand new and that count does not include any LSA equipped with floats, possibly adding several more. Yet some major potholes appear in the runway… or perhaps that should be waves sloshing over the bow. One entry is a return of a LSA seaplane previously seen in the USA as the Freedom S100 (SLSA List #44) yet can it reenter the market without a full FAA audit? See Update at end. A new agency directive with the catchy name 8130.2G CHG 1 may require a FAA visit to Spain but who knows when that might occur, given the likelihood of an FAA budget cut through the political process known as sequestration, part of the so-called “fiscal cliff” the mainstream media drones on about endlessly.
I have several targets on my radar for follow-up at the big show that starts July 23rd. Here’s a beforehand review; details will follow. |||| *** LSA seaplanes will generate plenty of interest, I think, with Icon‘s latest announcements and the dreamy new Lisa Akoya (photo). Both are superslick but not to be outdone by the SeaRey, which already has nearly 600 flying. SeaRey builder Progressive Aerodyne is hard at work on SLSA status. Adding the SeaMax into the mix, LSA seaplane enthusiasts have lots of great choices… and then come the floats for other planes. Lotus is back and Zenith is a trusted supplier of many years. You’ll be able to see both sets of floats in the LSA Mall. While you’re in the LSA Mall, you can check out AMT’s air conditioning for LSA plus the Belgium D Motor.
Landing on water with your wheels down is a confirmed aviation no-no. Land planes that try it often get flipped over upside down, when escaping the cabin becomes a real concern. Every seaplane pilot I know has a mantra he or she repeats, “I’m landing on water so the wheels must be up.” Most simply don’t want to make this mistake. You can land a seaplane or floatplane on land with the wheels up. The penalty is not as great (and you’ll certainly stop fast). But you violate the wheels-into-water rule at your peril. *** Some airplanes, like the new CTLS on amphib floats, or FPNA’s Capetown, or SeaRey have a light-alert system to help you and some manufacturers offer an audio alarm. Others use mirrors or have other warning systems. *** So why would someone land a SeaMax in water with the wheels down?
One of the oft-repeated questions about this new thing called Light-Sport Aircraft is: “When will the shakeout occur? When will some of these 75 companies [who certified a SLSA] disappear… and which ones will fail?” *** First, my ability to see the future is no better than anyone else. We’ve lost a few suppliers (Taylorcraft, Urban Air, Spain’s CAG, Higher Class). But as a longtime observer of many sport aviation segments, here’s my view: (1) The current market leaders — the top dozen or so — will likely remain as they’ve already proven themselves. Remember, many overseas brands have world markets so they don’t rely 100% on U.S. sales. And should they fail, it will most likely be due to business practices, not their aircraft design. A few newcomers will enter the top ranks, including such legacy brands as Cessna (which has presently delivered so few Skycatchers that the giant manufacturer is not yet in the Top 20).
After a tough winter in most parts of the USA, spring evidently arrived early with 80-degree temperatures as far north as Minnesota… all before Sun ‘n Fun. More good news: After its coldest winter since the early 1980s Florida is extremely pleasant now, warm with low humidity. *** Indications are the economy continues bearing down on Light-Sport aviation. Confronted with cautious customers, some aircraft producers have tightened their costs and are offering sharply lower prices in time for Sun ‘n Fun. *** Flight Design announced its CTLS Lite, which makes two impressive accomplishments. By slightly trimming the equipment list and making other adjustments, the market leader was able to slice $20,000 off the price, coming in at $119,800. They also cut a most impressive 50 pounds from the empty weight. *** Jabiru USA offers two models discounted for a short time. Taking $11,000 off the price of their J-170 brings the base to $85,900.
Winter will soon yield to spring and summer, that time of year when flying from water becomes the delight of many pilots who have sampled this pleasure. Competing for their purchase in the LSA space, we have the FK Lightplanes Floatplane, FPNA A-22 Cape Town, and Legend AmphibCub. Other entries include SeaRey (close to declaring ASTM compliance); Mermaid (production plans uncertain), Icon (still in development), Colyaer Freedom (no U.S. representative), plus two trike amphibs with SLSA status (the Krucker Cygnet and Ramphos Trident). *** All this leaves out the SeaMax, which may actually be the strongest player among present SLSA amphibians. Logging its 10th year in 2009 AirMax has produced 98 SeaMaxes for worldwide sale. At $140,000, SeaMax once seemed rather expensive though today, many high-end SLSA command such prices. *** Consider the general appeal of the seaplane or floatplane compared to a land-only flyer.
|Empty weight||750 pounds|
|Gross weight||1,320 pounds|
|Wingspan||20 feet 8 inches|
|Wing area||130 square feet|
|Wing loading||10.2 pounds per square foot|
|Useful Load||570 pounds|
|Length||18 feet 6 inches|
|Payload (with full fuel)||420 pounds|
|Cabin Interior||46.9 inches|
|Fuel Capacity||25 gallons/150 pounds|
|Standard engine||Rotax 912S|
|Prop Diameter||3-blade composite|
|Power loading||13.2 pounds per hp|
|Cruise speed||100 kts/115 mph|
|Stall Speed||36 kts/41 mph|
|Never exceed speed||139 kts/160 mph|
|Rate of climb at gross||1,500 fpm|
|Takeoff distance at gross||300 feet (350 feet on water)|
|Landing distance at gross||300 feet (350 feet on water)|
|Range (powered)||500+ miles, 4.5 hrs.|
|Fuel Consumption||about 5.6 gph|
|Standard Features||Boathull amphibian with electromechanical retractable gear, Rotax 912S in pusher configuration, 3-blade Warp Drive composite prop, brakes, in-flight trim, 25-gallon fuel tank, forward hinged canopy, 4-point belt seat restraint, overhead switch panel, communications radio and transponder, all standard engine and flight instruments.|
|Options||Additional instruments including digital glass, additional radio and navigation equipment including GPS, turn coordinator, artificial horizon, autopilot.|
|Construction||Entire airframe made of composite materials including fiberglass, carbon fiber, and Kevlar; steel or stainless steel landing gear and other components; made in Brazil with numerous parts American sourced; distributed in American by Florida-based company.|
Cosmetic appearance, structural integrity, achievement of design goals, effectiveness of aerodynamics, ergonomics.
Pros - The SeaMax was first LSA amphibian delivered to a U.S. customer, SeaMax USA believes. The 22nd design of its developer Miguel Rosario, the SeaMax is cleverly engineered in numerous ways (details in article). More useful load/payload than other boathull amphibians. Solid technical documentation helped gain SLSA approval.
Cons - Measured against Wet Aero's Mermaid or Icon's A5, the SeaMax has strong competition (though it compares well and is already on the market). Some people dismiss the SeaMax because it "looks" too small (you should try it on before deciding).
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 - Lots of systems, starting with retractable landing gear and retractable water rudder, which hides inside the air rudder, and uncommon things like a bilge pump. Also electric trim and flaps. Fuel tanks are easily accessed as wings are about chest-high. Engine is also easily reached once cowling is removed.
Cons - More systems to manage means more chance for error. For example, you must be certain you have the gear in the right position for land vs. water landings. If a pilot weighs less than 140 pounds, you must add weight to a designated location.
Instrumentation; Ergonomics of controls; Creature comforts; (items covered may be optional).
Pros - Wide 47-inch cabin surprises those who see a small airplane from the exterior. You can literally step into SeaMax and stand on the floor before seating yourself. Once inside, most occupant sizes will fit well. Radios and navigation gear are within easy reach of both occupants. Overhead switch panel also convenient.
Cons - The step in is easy, but getting into or out of the seat may prove challenging for less flexible pilots; the seats are low on the airframe. Seat belts were clumsy to tighten/loosen. (Since my flight evaluation, the seat belt was changed to one manufactured in the USA, apparently curing the problem).
Taxi visibility; Steering; Turn radius; Shock absorption; Stance/Stability; Braking.
Pros - Taxiing on land is highly controllable; it also is in water, thanks to a retractable water rudder that is located well aft, giving a good lever arm. Speedy ops on water are fun and easily achieved with practice. Ground handling is good; canopy hinge is strong enough to remain open for ventilation during taxi. Differential hydraulic toe brakes.
Cons - Cockpit side rails are only inches above the water line at rest; unless you are experienced at flying in wave conditions, you may be limited to calmer water like lakes. Gear stance places hull low to ground (though in an emergency landing on the hull may be a good idea anyway). Turn radius was fairly wide.
Qualities; Efficiency; Ease; Comparative values.
Pros - Water landings may be the easiest and work well. Suggested technique is an attitude landing (hold a speed and wait for contact), a simple way to handle water landings. Excellent wide and aft visibility through large canopy. Short water runs in the 300- to 500-foot range, depending on loading.
Cons - Transition from airplane to boat as the SeaMax slows demands that you keep the stick full aft to prevent porpoising and upset. Developing techniques for good land or water landings will take some practice, in my experience. Did not attempt a beaching, however the U.S. rep says, "We park on the beach all the time."
Quality and quantity for: Coordination; Authority; Pressures; Response; and Coupling.
Pros - Light, responsive, predictable controls will please pilots who take the time to get used to them. Roll rate was medium to somewhat fast. You rarely have to land crosswind on the water in a seaplane, but on land, the SeaMax has all the control authority it needs..
Cons - Handling takes some acclimatization; my Dutch rolls were rather sloppy at first. Harmony isn't perfectly balanced between all controls; a few hours are needed to optimize (not uncommon on "performance designs"). Rudder control required attention due to some momentum in response. (Since my review, AirMax added a fin on the stabilator to help a pilot to get used to the controls faster.)
Climb; Glide; Sink; Cruise/stall/max speeds; Endurance; Range; Maneuverability.
Pros - Water runs are relatively short (300 feet solo), and climb is brisk at 1,000 fpm for a few minutes after takeoff (later settling at 700 fpm). Landings are also rather short. Efficient airframe/airfoil, requiring less than 4,600 rpm to maintain altitude at 50 to 60 pounds under gross. Slow flight went well with flaps extended.
Cons - Even with retracting landing gear, no amphibian will be as fast as a land speedster; cruise is about 115 mph (100 kts). Sink rate is slightly on the high side of average when compared to all LSA.
Stall recovery and characteristics; Dampening; Spiral stability; Adverse yaw qualities.
Pros - Stalls were mild in all my experiences. Stalls appeared to break benignly in the low 40-mph range though the factory says 36 mph with optimal flaps; regardless, stalls come at slow speeds. Longitudinal stability checks and power changes showed the SeaMax to be a generally stable aircraft.
Cons - Water ops require attention when slowing from airplane to boat. The SeaMax is clean and builds up speed quickly in a dive. High thrust line compared to most land LSA means powering up will push the nose downward at first (though the effect was modest and short-lived).
Addresses the questions: "Will a buyer get what he/she expects to buy, and did the designer/builder achieve the chosen goal?"
Pros - With about 90 flying, the SeaMax is the most successful flying boat in the light-sport sector. Compared to all other LSA boathull amphibians, the SeaMax has by far the most units flying worldwide. U.S. support is good even for a small organization; base in Florida assures a long demo flying season. Smooth, pretty airplane built beautifully.
Cons - Smaller service organization that may cause minor delays in repairs or parts needed. Very limited number in American customers' hands. Brazilian manufacturing may limit resale value (though SeaMax USA uses U.S. sources for many items on the SeaMax).
Let’s consider light amphibious aircraft – the boathull variety, not floatplanes – but including both freshly designed, fully built light sport aircraft along with kit aircraft born of the ultralight heritage. In the last year, the exceedingly handsome Icon A5 has made quite a splash, literally and figuratively. However, the A5 is more than a year away from first deliveries and an order placed today might not be delivered until 2011 or later. Another LSA amphibian called the Mermaid was designed and introduced by Czech Aircraft Works of SportCruiser fame. Although five are available in the country, sales have yet to take off. Another popular American seaplane, the SeaRey, is moving toward ASTM approval but remains a kit that asks several hundred hours of a builder’s time. The simpler and faster-build Aventura models also remain available; this design has been on the market for many years. Either kit is less costly than a fully built aircraft, but all seaplanes have loftier price tags to cover their ability to operate on land or water.
Sun ‘n Fun 2008 is history, but planning is already underway for the 2009 event. Event boss John Burton confirmed we will again have the LAMA-hosted LSA Mall right at the front gate next April 21-26. A major success at this year’s Lakeland, Florida airshow, the industry Mall presentation featured 17 Special Light-Sport Aircraft. Weather prevented Fantasy Air’s Allegro from attending. Two days before the event, a tornado crushed a Sting S3 planned for display. And work at Quicksilver Manufacturing postponed the exhibit of the GT500 (they’re finishing SLSA approval, reports national sales manager, Todd Ellefson). *** The 17 who were in the ’08 LSA Mall enjoyed significant traffic all week and virtually every visitor to Sun ‘n Fun was at least exposed to Light-Sport Aircraft in a wide variety (although we were not able to enlist any trike or powered parachute companies).
The “night before Christmas” was special as we logged what may be the final approval of 2007. Carlos Bessa of SeaMax USA called to say his efforts over the year paid off with a fresh airworthiness certificate. How’s that for a Christmas gift!? SeaMax completes a trio of flying boat LSA. *** The first amphibian certified was the CZAW Mermaid in February 2006. Second was the Colyaer Freedom on January 2007. SeaMax makes three but could be the first to log customer sales. My previous SPLOG on SeaMax was followed with several more hours logged on this beautiful amphibian. She’s a light weight high performer that takes some familiarization but is deluxe in many ways and has achieved notable market success with 33 SeaMax aircraft delivered in 2007 and 72 presently flying worldwide. Carlos reports 12 will be delivered to the USA in 2008, so interested pilots ought to pony up a deposit soon.
Season-opening Sun ‘n Fun is crackling with excitement, enough so to make SPLOG posting a late-night effort. What a pleasure it is to be here, compared to my miss last year; thanks to many who welcomed me back! I’ve been working with Sun ‘n Fun boss John Burton regarding Light-Sport Aircraft and ultralights. John and his team provided a terrific location where LAMA and LSA Marketing Group erected a big tent, thanks to several industry sponsors*. Shiny new LSA greet everyone arriving through the main gate; airplanes are changed almost daily. I estimate 75-80% of all people attending Sun ‘n Fun view the LSA display. In addition to promoting their own products, all companies participating in the location are helping attendees find the LSA or ultralight company they wish to visit — a key reason Sun ‘n Fun offered the entrance area space. (* Sponsors include Sky Arrow USA, Sport Aircraft Works, FK Lightplanes, Jabiru USA, Fantasy Air USA, LSA America, Evektor America, BRS parachutes, Chuck Parsons, Larry Burke, and Doug Hempstead.)
My wife, Randee, and I are finding lots of good reasons to winter in Florida (while our home state of Minnesota gets buried in snow). Here’s three of those good reasons: SeaMax, Mermaid, and Drifter on Lotus floats. Float flying in winter is different…and fun! *** I have now flown the SeaMax three times. Yesterday we did three water and three land touchdowns. What a hot little flying boat. (Earlier SeaMax SPLOG) I use the word “little” literally…the amphib high wing LSA barely comes up to my chest and gross weight is only 1,144 pounds; LSA floatplanes can weigh 1,430 pounds. At this weight SeaMax performs brilliantly with the 100-hp Rotax 912S; 4800 rpm produces more than 100 mph. SeaMax has not yet finished its work to achieve SLSA status. But since this is the designer’s 22nd creation and as over 45 SeaMax aircraft have been sold into Europe and elsewhere, the task is not difficult, just time consuming.