The Petrel is back now as the Super Petrel LS. A Brazilian-manufactured seaplane, the LSA candidate is represented by Florida Light Sport Aviation. We spoke with proprietor Brian Boucher about the flight characteristics of this handsome bi-wing LSA seaplane. Present in the Experimental class, SLSA approval is expected by AirVenture 2013 as Brazil uses the same ASTM standards as does FAA. Catch this video complete with on-water flying scenes.
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The Petrel isn’t new but to Americans the Super Petrel LS is brand new. We speak with the designer to ask about the new-to-Americans model and we’ll have more later after she’s flown off her FAA-mandated 40 hours. Meanwhile let’s have a look at the only biplane seaplane LSA and hear how it works, directly from the designer’s point of view. The airplane is being offered by a dealer in the Daytona Beach, Florida area.
Older readers may remember, “The Russians are Coming,” a silly movie about a supposed Russian invasion from 1966. It was a comedy set during the Cold War. Here in the new millennia a different sort of aviation invasion appears to be happening. This time it’s the Brazilians and they are not so much invading as looking for a better place to set up shop.
A decade ago, Brazil was riding high, one of the so-called BRIC countries on the rise as new economic powerhouses. Flush with commodities revenue the government was free to dole out public money very generously and things were looking good. Here in 2016, that situation has changed dramatically. The economy is sluggish, President Dilma Rousseff has been earning approval ratings in single digits, and doing business in Brazil is said to have increasing challenges.
Maybe that’s why Brazilian aviation giant Embraer started making bizjets in Melbourne, Florida … or maybe this country is where many of their fancy Phenom jets sell.
Winter has finally released its icy grip on the northern states that were so punished over the past few months. Here in the “Sunshine State” of Florida, it feels like summer. So what do pilots do in the summertime, in Florida? Go fly seaplanes, of course? What else? Indeed, quite a flock of seaplanes and floatplanes converged on the central Florida city of Tavares, about 45 minutes driving time northwest of Orlando. Appropriately, the area is known as “lakes district” for all the bodies of water. City leaders portray the Tavares as “America’s Seaplane City” and to reinforce that, they have developed their lakefront to include a very welcoming seaplane base with bigger plans underway. On Saturday, April 26th more than 40 seaplanes flew in for the event. One of those was Edra Aeronautica’s Super Petrel LS, one of the newest Special LSA in the fleet. My friend and Spruce Creek Fly-in neighbor, Brian Boucher, is the North American representative for this interesting seaplane and I finally got my first flight in it.
In the beginning … OK, a few years ago, FAA went around to a couple dozen LSA producers to evaluate the state of the then-new LSA industry. The agency teams did not conduct an audit, they emphasized. More intensive examinations, actual audits, followed in recent years. Last year the agency issued new guidance to help them and everyone else judge who really was and was not a manufacturer. If the need for such a definition surprises you, remember, the brave new world of Light-Sport Aircraft threw curves to government regulators, captains of industry, aircraft design geniuses, plus all we rank and file customers. Everyone learned a great deal as an entirely new sector of aviation was given birth … one, by the way, with a worldwide impact as more countries sign on to the ASTM standards method of assuring airworthiness. The LSA industry is now a few months away from its tenth birthday and the gears of production are beginning to mesh more smoothly than ever.
We just passed September 1st and that date is significant in the LSA universe. It is the day, ten years ago, that the Sport Pilot & Light-Sport Aircraft rule we have been celebrating all summer officially became part of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs). If you’re thinking, “Hey, I thought it was announced in the summertime, at AirVenture!” … you’re correct. It was, but that was just the administrator’s public relations timing to get the biggest bang for the buck, at Oshkosh. As we continue the tenth anniversary celebration — looking back on the first decade — we see the astounding development of 136 models of LSA, more than one every month for ten years running. This profusion of models runs the length and breadth of aviation, from fixed wing, three axis airplanes to powered parachutes to trikes to motorgliders and from less than $30,000 to over $200,000. I fully expect designers to continue pushing the envelope in every direction but one facet of LSA development seems as energized as a Saturn V moon rocket: LSA seaplanes.
UPDATE 11/28/21 — Vickers Aircraft sent fresh images and additional comments. See ••• below. —DJ
Excitement is in the air, even as the season wraps up activity here in the USA. Remember, while winter approaches for Americans, summer is coming to New Zealand.
That might explain an information deficit of late from LSA seaplane developer, Vickers Aircraft. People have been asking questions and reports have become infrequent. Uh, oh…!
Fortunately, the quiet period appears to have a good explanation.
Received November 24th, 2021 — “Hi Dan. Sorry (for a delayed response),” wrote Paul Vickers. “We are pushing very hard for a 10 December first flight. We are structurally testing the wing today.”
Often called a “strongback,” Paul refers to the I-beam steel testing jig seen in the nearby photo. “This was custom designed and manufactured by our Wave team,” he added proudly.
••• “Wave is not just another LSA,” clarified Paul in follow-up email.
Perhaps you knew years ago that Brazil was an aviation beehive of activity. Since Santos-Dumont early last century, the South American country has been known for aviation.
This millennia, the Brazilians have adapted to Light-Sport Aircraft and ASTM standards, which the country’s CAA accepts (as do several other nations). Not only have they populated the skies over Brazil, but several companies have moved to establish their business in the USA.
Seamax, Super Petrel, the engineering behind the Texas Aircraft Colt, Paradise P-1, Flyer SS …all these are Brazilian designs and except for the last two, all have an active U.S. presence and all have the Brazilian factory as a partner or owner. For the record, this is also how Tecnam and others have handled their American representation. This may not assure success but it does keep the factory deeply involved with their entry to aviation’s largest marketplace.
Everyone knows 2020 was arguably the most unusual year in anyone’s recollection. In such a time of global upheaval, how did the light aircraft industry fare?
This report took a bit more time as the effort to begin counting Part 103 ultralights altered our view of the FAA aircraft registration data. Most of you may prefer this simpler report, but the data hounds among readers can drill all the way down to the last aircraft on Tableau Public.
As always, my sincerest thanks goes to our premier datastician Steve Beste. His work is the primary resource for this report. While I deeply appreciated the work done for years by former data guy (and personal friend), Jan Fridrich, Steve’s career in databases gave him skills that few others possess. Since he’s also “one of us” — a trike owner and pilot — Steve understands what we hope to achieve better than data experts outside affordable aviation.
In the rush of coverage of Vintage Ultralights and other late-breaking stories such as the Blackwing speed record, I had to set aside a few news items. Here’s a catch-up…
I am pleased to serve a need for news during a month when we should have been covering Sun ‘n Fun and Aero Friedrichshafen. As everyone knows, those events are now rescheduled for 2021, both as a result of the global lockdown that has affected hundreds of other events.
You hardly need any more coverage of the coronavirus craziness so let’s get to aviation news and take a small break from these worldwide events. But first…
Oshkosh — Go or No/Go?
It has become one of the most-asked question in aviation. Will the big summer celebration of flight happen or go the way of every other airshow this year?