Here we go again with another of our series of Video Pilot Reports or VPRs, this time in the Czech Sport Aircraft SportCruiser. Yes, that’s the airplane for one year known as the PiperSport in the legacy company’s short period in the LSA space. All the while it was represented by U.S. Sport Aircraft and that Texas-based company is once again the sole importer for the USA. In this video we take you along for a flight in the popular machine and provide you with a full cockpit review and a selection of performance numbers. Enjoy!
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Air Management Technology makes the FlyCool, a lightweight, low power draw, surprisingly effective air conditioning system for Light-Sport Aircraft or light kit aircraft. Formerly air conditioning for a GA airplane was fearsomely expensive (unaffordable, really), weighed a lot, consumed too much engine power and … well, no surprise it didn’t take off. However AMT changed all that with their all electric system. In this video hear how it works on the popular SportCruiser from U.S. Sport Aircraft.
In this update to the SportCruiser, for a time known as the PiperSport, U.S. Sport Aircraft boss Don Ayers tells about the new Classic model. Using standard instrument analog gauges – often referred to a “six pack” – the Classic can be delivered for a modest cost ($120,000 in early 2012). A more deluxe version is available with many bells and whistles.
(Article udated) One of the most recognized aircraft in the LSA space is the SportCruiser, which ranks high on our LSA Market Share ranking (2012 figures). Solid in the #4 spot, they are likely to move up with another decent year in 2013, thanks to what some might call the “halo effect” of having had the Piper name on the airplane (photo) for a year, and now, a new owner. Don Ayers retired and handed the reins to his partner and new company president, Patrick Arnzen. Some thought that Piper’s quick in and out might be a negative, but that would be incorrect. Ayers once told me that his operation was the key company before Piper, during Piper, and after Piper so not much really changed other than temporarily wearing the Vero Beach company’s colors and gaining from their promotion.
In a recent conversation, Patrick explained the various activities that keep them busy including a bustling flight school operation in Addison, Texas (KADS).
Over a short evaluation period of 25 months we’ve seen fairly consistent results in the top ten of LSA producers based on FAA registrations (see 5/21/07 SPLOG). But that doesn’t tell the whole story. Take Czech Aircraft Works (CZAW) and their best seller, the $75,000 Sport Cruiser. U.S. marketing and sales manager Bob Anderson reported, “CZAW raised additional equity capital last summer to finance a massive expansion.” The company is now housed in a 120,000 square-foot facility. CZAW president, Chip Erwin said, “We have skilled engineers and modern equipment in place. Our production ramp-up is not a ‘future claim.’ We’re doing it right now.” Anderson said part of the investment bought nearly a million dollars of state-of-the-art CNC equipment for matched-hole technology parts. The American-owned, Czech-based company has been delivering over 100 airplanes and kits per year from a smaller factory. They’ve shipped more than 850 aircraft to date.
Czech Aircraft Works (CZAW) began life in the newly
freed Czech Republic not long after the history-making
fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Tapping a wellspring
of aeronautical training and experience that became
available when the Soviets pulled out of the former
Czechoslovakia, American owner Chip Erwin started
CZAW in 1992. Using the highly trained but lowcost
labor force available, Erwin manufactured parts
for and assembled the CH 601 and CH 701 designs of
Chris Heintz’s Zenair Ltd. The young company found
a solid market in Europe for fully built CH 601s and
CH 701s. Each year it grew in size and built ever more
of the all-metal designs.
As CZAW increased its production
capability, it began to explore designs
of its own. It found success first with
its Czech Floats; many American
aircraft are fitted with this all-metal
amphibious system. Three years ago,
CZAW partnered with Sport Aircraft
Works (SAW) of Palm City, Florida,
led by Danny and Zaneta Defelici,
to pursue the development, sales,
and marketing of light-sport aircraft
At the Sebring LSA Expo, visitors saw two airplanes they’d seen before, but these were actually revised models that are now ready for waiting pilots. The Mermaid charmed the LSA world when it was first introduced, since collecting more than 200 order deposits. The boat hull LSA also earned the first of two exemptions regarding the “repositionable” gear detail that has so befuddled FAA lawyers. The agency says it will fix this part of the SP/LSA rule by May 2007 but Mermaid is one of only two amphibs that allow Sport Pilots to reposition the gear. [UPDATE: LSA Aero’s Freedom S100 also recently won an exemption.] Mermaid’s engine now sits up on struts. Not only does this look great, the change has solved prior challenges of the Jabiru 3300 engine installation. It is also said to decrease noise. *** SportCruiser may look the same to you but the “third generation” model is said to fly better and it certainly looks sleeker with its beautifully shaped canopy.
With their fourth Special Light-Sport Aircraft approval, Czech Aircraft Works (CZAW) and their U.S. partner, Sport Aircraft Works, have taken the lead for one company to win SLSA certificates for the most models. Tecnam has been tied with CZAW at three until Friday, March 24th when Sport Aircraft Works made the announcement. Sport Cruiser also rounds out the line for CZAW. The new design resembles the CH-601 on which the comany had earlier gained SLSA approval. CZAW manufactures Zenith aircraft under license for European sale. For U.S. sales, the American-owned Czech company can boast a high wing (Parrot, approved as a SLSA in November 2005), the amphibious Mermaid (SLSA in February) and now the low wing SportCruiser in March. AMD of Georgia also has a SLSA certificate for their Zodiac CH-601 XL with the Continental engine; CZAW aircraft use Rotax. I hope to fly all three CZAW/Sport Aircraft Works airplanes right before Sun ‘n Fun.
This Merlin has nothing to do with kids in colorful costumes seeking sweets from their neighbors. It does have to do with pilots liking interesting airplanes that they can fly over their neighbors… especially when they can afford the airplane.
In the last couple years, I’ve created videos with Merlin developer, Chip Erwin that have been among the most-watched on Dave Loveman‘s Light Sport and Ultralight Flyer YouTube channel. I interviewed numerous industry leaders like Chip in around 1,000 videos. The 50 most popular of those productions have been watched more than 10 million times.
In addition, when I write about Merlin on this website, lots of readers seem to love it.
So it’s hardly any wonder that I would be pleased to continue our Top 50 video series with one from just a couple of years ago. In a short time, it passed the 275,000-views mark. Since then, I did another on Merlin that went over well on my own channel (see below).
At airshows throughout 2022, I repeatedly spoke to pilots interested in ultralights, the true Part 103 variety. I continue to be impressed by two apparent facts.
First, among the better-informed recreational pilot population, virtually all know what a Part 103 ultralight is but most think they remain a small percentage of the aircraft being sold to pilots each year. Many also think a legitimate three-axis Part 103 is no more than a fantasy — one critique is that most fixed-wing 103 entries exceed allowed weight.
Secondly, the less-well-informed general pilot population has heard of Part 103 but often believe those aircraft mostly disappeared back in the last century and are only seen rarely these days.
Both could not be more wrong.
In numerous conversations, I’ve expressed my belief that Part 103 ultralights sell at approximately the rate of new Light-Sport Aircraft. Most folks find that hard to believe. I understand but this reveals how invisible these flying machines tend to be.