As we scoured the sprawling acreage of AirVenture 2014 for aircraft we had not seen before, one flying machine confused my eye. Surveyor looked approximately like a Lockwood Drifter or maybe a single engine version of Drifter’s big brother, the twin engine AirCam. Since I like both Drifter and AirCam a great deal, taking that view of Surveyor is a form of high compliment. My video partner and I spoke to World Aircraft director Eric Giles and shot a video that will soon be available. Surveyor has no relationship to Drifter or AirCam but it does have a long heritage. The designer of all World Aircraft models — Spirit, Vision, Surveyor, and low-wing Freedom in development — is Max Tedesco, a talented engineer from Columbia. Many years ago, he created the open cockpit Surveyor and ten aircraft were sold to Cuba to provide aerial sightseeing for that island’s tourists. “They never bought any more,” noted Eric, and while a few more were sold, this machine took a back seat to other, fully enclosed designs.
“I’d like to introduce you to Surveyor,” said Eric, “an aircraft that is both a fun machine and a utility workhorse.” Surveyor is an all-metal, high-wing, tandem pusher with open cockpit frame by several robust steel components. While we reviewed the aircraft in preparation for shooting the video, several passers by remarked at how solid the structure appeared. As originally designed for tour companies operating off beaches in Cuba, Surveyor (as it is now known) carried three people. A tourist couple could sit alongside one another in the back, a more comfortable, enjoyable, and reassuring arrangement for people not familiar with flying a light aircraft. A single pilot sat in the front seat. For the U.S. market, Surveyor may have only two seats but both occupants will get a wind-in-their-hair feeling that understandably worked well in a resort setting. Eric observed that in other countries Surveyor can be outfitted for banner and glider towing and an ultra low volume or microspray system would allow Surveyor to be used for agricultural or insect control. (In the latter case, a homebuilder farmer can use such a machine on his own property.) Because Surveyor, like all Max Tedesco designs, has a 1,653 pound gross weight, the back seat can be converted to carry a 53-gallon hopper to hold crop treatments.
Surveyor is proceeding through ASTM standards compliance and should be available in the last half of 2014, said Giles. Also in the latter half of 2014, World Aircraft plans to offer all models available in kit form; ELSA and Experimental Amateur-Built. Thinking about the agriculture use potential, it is worth noting that EAB kits have no gross weight allows 51%-built kits to be registered at their design gross weight of 1,653 pounds, yielding a useful load of more than 900 pounds, according to World Aircraft. A recreational pilot certificate or better with a medical is required to fly an EAB aircraft. The “Sport Edition” of World Aircraft’s Spirit lists for $87,9950, a number that qualifies as quite a bargain in today’s fleet of Light-Sport Aircraft. (That’s less than $70,000 in 2004 dollars after adjusting for inflation since LSA burst on the scene ten years ago.) Surveyor has not been priced yet but logically it should be less given less material cost. “WAC builds ready-to-fly aircraft that are significantly less costly than any comparably-equipped light-sport aircraft on the market today. They are built in our new 23,000 square foot facility at Henry County Airport (KPHT) in Paris, Tennessee. Airframe painting involves a twice baked process in WAC’s double-downdraft, triple-airflow paint booth. You can watch some short video animations of World Aircraft structure here. Further Surveyor specification follow:
Wing span — 29.6 feet
Wing Chord — 55.9 inches
Wing Area — 137.6 square feet
Length — 22.4 feet
Design Gross Weight — 1,653 pounds; this weight permitted on EAB models
U.S. LSA Gross Weight — 1,320 pounds
Average Empty Weight — 675 pounds
Fuel Capacity — 28 gallons
While updating you about World Aircraft’s new Surveyor, I went back to update an earlier article. Please click the link to see a clarification of my description of a Serbian Light-Sport candidate.
Nearby you see how Surveyor looks on floats as used at beach-side resorts. The structure is well designed for this application. Note that this aircraft is fitted with two aft seats as described above.