While lots of attention was paid to the PiperSport at Sun ‘n Fun 2010, and while Cessna’s Skycatcher remains the dominant collector of order deposits, another legacy producer that has entered the LSA sector is Van’s Aircraft. *** By most reckoning, Van’s can lay claim to being the largest kit aircraft company in the world. Their LSA-sized RV-12 represents another indication that major manufacturers see merit in Light-Sport Aircraft. I finally got a flight in this new model; my full report will appear in a future issue of Plane & Pilot magazine but here are some sample bits. *** Most simply put, RV-12 is a Van’s. My experience in a RV-4 and -9 — plus affirmative comments from folks with much more RV experience — confirms the same great qualities found throughout the Van’s lineup. These shared characteristics include light responsive controls with ailerons truly pleasant.
Van's Aircraft, Inc. RV-12
Phone: (503) 678-6545Aurora, OR 97002 - USA
Yes, Cessna’s Light-Sport Aircraft entry helps to validate the concept of industry consensus standards in lieu of government certification. They’ll populate airports with their C-162 Skycatcher as shipments ramp up in 2010. Yes, other big companies are looking at LSA — as most LSA enthusiasts know Cirrus offered an entry though work has stalled, and late 2009 rumors hint at entry by another legacy brand. *** While it’s good to see big boys coming into the game, the biggest-of-all kit builder is also playing. And, in their characteristic way, Van’s Aircraft is quietly racking up sales. According to Ken Scott, “We’ve sold 315 [starter kits] for RV-12. Fifteen are flying and judging from the number of powerplant kits we’ve shipped they should start sprouting like mushrooms pretty quick.” *** The company founder likes RV-12, too. Ken added, “Dick VanGrunsven and his brother Jerry recently completed and flew their personal RV-12 and Van often uses it to commute from his home to [the factory in] Aurora.
[UPDATE: The Krucker Cygnet won approval on July 3rd, making that weight-shift LSA #99… so Van’s RV-12 is technically the #100 LSA model to win an airworthiness certificate. It was previously reported as #99.] The top-selling kit airplane producer, Van’s Aircraft of RV-xx fame, secured an airworthiness certificate for their fully-built RV-12 Special Light-Sport Aircraft on July 21, 2009. And the next day, the company’s East Coast representative, Mitchell Lock, got an ELSA certificate for his RV-12. EAA reported that 250 RV-12s are under construction around the world. *** So, quickly, Van’s looks ready to dominate the ELSA community that has been waiting to take off. True, thousand of ELSA are flying today — many more than SLSA at present — but that’s because so many “fat ultralights” were converted to ELSA status under FAA’s now-expired grandfather period. *** Van’s reports that it will take 600-900 hours to complete an RV-12 to unpainted stage, so the rush of RVs into the LSA fleet may not be swift, but they’ll just keep coming.