Over many years as an affordable aviation journalist I have learned two things. First, stick to airplanes. That’s what moves the needle for most pilots; nearly always such articles are the best-read on this website. Second, pilots love more powerful engines, especially when they display new technologies. Speedy LSA maker, JMB Aircraft has tapped into this rich vein of interest. For some years, they have worked to make their elegant and shapely VL3 go faster than before (earlier evaluation article). A year ago at Sun ‘n Fun, the Belgium-headquartered company showed Americans their 141-horsepower Rotax 915iS model. The machine looked quick merely sitting in their display. That wasn’t enough. Even though JMB can max out at 230 mph now, leaders and engineers at JMB thought, “Why not try a turboprop?” JMB Turbine Not even a month ago, this leading builder of LSA speedsters took their turbine-powered VL3 into the air for the first time, in France on Monday April 4th, 2022.
Aero 2022 / Day 1: What’s the Buzz? Turbines on LSA + Bristell News
Turbine FirstA glance at the nose cowl on the Bristell Turboprop somewhat gives away the different powerplant. The Turbotech TP-R90, capable of producing 120-130 horsepower yet consuming only 9 gallons per hour, is the selected powerplant for a couple of Europe's most impressive models. JMB was first to announce their turbine VL3. Then, at Aero 2022, BRM Aero, builder of the exquisite Bristell series, announced a whole flock of new birds. I'll look for more about JMB's entry but Bristell's U.S. representative, John Rathmell, was kind enough to send me news and photos. "Turbotech designed the regenerative turbine from scratch and it combines all the advantages of a turbine engine with very low fuel consumption, said the company. A regenerative turbine is a turbine engine equipped with a heat exchanger, “capable of recovering the heat normally wasted in exhaust gases and reinjecting it into the combustion chamber, leading to a dramatic fuel burn reduction." Bristell USA representative, John Rathmell estimated the turbine engine may cost about three times what a Rotax 915iS does, or better than $90,000. Clearly, that won't work for all budgets but Bristell has already been selling as a high-end LSA model so some buyers may be attracted to the turbine offering. The product remains in evaluation at this time so performance numbers were not offered. "With an expected 3,000-hour time between overhaul," John started, "reduced vibration, a fuel burn rate only a couple gallons an hour more than the 915, plus less frequent maintenance, the turbine engine has real appeal."
B8 High WingMilan and his Czech company have long concentrated on their initial product, the low wing B23 Bristell. That aircraft has seen variations, including a taildragger model (TDO) and a retractable model. It has been powered by the entire Rotax 9-series including the 141-horsepower 915iS; indeed, BRM was one of the very first to fly Rotax's most powerful engine. "Bristell B8 is an all-metal, high-wing [design] without struts and with a steerable nose wheel," said the company. Although it looks quite different from the low wing, B8's cockpit is equally spacious at 49.2 inches wide. Pilots and their cabin mates will no doubt find entry much easier than first climbing up on the wing. Generally, pilots identify as high or low wing enthusiasts and now BRM can offer them what they want. While most of the aircraft is aluminum like the low wing B23 Bristell, B8's cockpit doors and the luggage compartment door are made from composite material. The landing gear appears to be the same as on the low wing B23. The basic B8 model is powered by a 100-horsepower Rotax 912 ULS. At a later stage, BRM Aero "plans to develop options to fit the other Rotax engines, such as the 915iS." "Bristell B8 will be certified in the Czech Republic in the [European] UL category with a maximum takeoff weight of 600 kilograms (1.320 pounds)," said BRM.
Bristell EnergicBRM took one of its clean low wing B23 models and fitted it with an electric motor supplied by H55, a developer/supplier based in Switzerland. H55 is a leading enabler of electric aviation offering modular, lightweight, and certified electric propulsion and battery management solutions to the aviation industry as to make air transport, quiet, clean and affordable. "H55 supports its customers in integrating and customizing its technology solutions for a wide range of applications suitable for both existing airplane designs and future concepts such as VTOLs and e-commuter aircraft," said the Swiss company. The result? An electric LSA-style aircraft with a 419-pound payload, an 1,874-pound MTOW, a climb rate of 800 feet per minute, and electric energy cost for a one-hour flight of $7.00. Charging time for normal operations is reportedly just one hour. BRM Aero expects to achieve CS23 certification by mid-2022. It should be available for flight schools as soon as mid-2022, the company said. "With the B23 Energic, our company has become a pioneer of the next aviation revolution," said BRM Aero. That may be so, but I'll bet we see more interest in the B8 high wing or — for the best-heeled customers — the turbine Bristell. BRM Aero, based in the Czech Republic, was established in 2009. With seven models available today, BRM Aero produces more than 100 aircraft every year. "Bristell has produced more than 670 LSA aircraft worldwide," said the company.
With a Little Help from My FriendsI elected not to go to what would have been my 27th visit to Aero because just two months ago, when I needed to make air reservations, Covid panic still gripped Europe. Officially in mid-February, the show could not even be held. It looked too questionable for me to go forward with costly tickets amid global uncertainty; I was unwilling to chance being quarantined for two weeks at my own expense. Challenges of obtaining the right Covid documents also proved difficult. Fortunately for the beleaguered Aero organizers, things opened up but now I'm missing one of my favorite airshows of the year. So, a big thanks to John Rathmell of Bristell USA! It's great to have friends onsite and you benefit as I can offer timely news from Aero. Stay tuned… more to come. This promotional video from BRM shows the handsome lines of their new B8 high wing model debuted at Aero 2022. Note the forward sweep of the wings that should improve upward visibility from the cockpit. https://youtu.be/11VaQjb3AHA
How about this? Among the loudest “buzz” at Aero Friedrichshafen 2022 was the introduction of turbine engines on Light-Sport Aircraft. At least three well-known LSA producers are experimenting with turbines. OK, I know turbines are not allowed on present-day LSA. Could that be changing as Mosaic slowly works its way through the FAA? We won’t know until FAA releases their NPRM at this year’s Oshkosh (I predict). However, some language provided by the agency to guide ASTM standards writers has suggested that the ban on turbines might not last. A irony to this possibility is that turbines were the specific reason why electric wasn’t permitted. Uh… what?! Yep, in the effort to prevent turbines, FAA rule writers specified reciprocating engines only. That kept out turbines, alright, but it also scratched electric propulsion. Back in the early 2000s, government authorities weren’t pushing electric vehicles so rule writers didn’t feel the political pressure they do now.
NEWS Update — Started at Sun ‘n Fun… Preparing for AirVenture Oshkosh 2022
New Aeroprakt ImporterFor several years Dennis Long has been the American face of Aeroprakt. He took over the importing and has enjoyed quite a good run. According to a quick search on Tableau Public — our source for all light aircraft N-number registrations — Aeroprakt has around 70 aircraft flying in the USA. Dennis Long sold most of them. As most readers may be aware, Aeroprakt is based in the Ukraine, specifically in Kyiv. If you weren't sure where that was in 2021, you surely know now. While the company continues to produce, said Dennis, it is operating under significant duress from the war actions. Part supplies and shipment of finished aircraft is massively disrupted by Russia's aggression in Ukraine. In this very challenging environment, Dennis is changing gears. While he will continue to help, he is turning over import duties for Aeroprakt to Andy Humphrey, a CFI, an A&P with Inspection Authorization, and a veteran of the Light-Sport Aircraft sector. Andy's Heavenbound Aviation is based in Johnstown, Ohio where he also represents Aerolite 103 and Quicksilver. Given his experience in the affordable end of aviation, it appears Aeroprakt is in good hands for the future. When Mr. Putin removes his troops from Ukraine, look for the low-cost aircraft producer to accelerate.
Evektor Goes MainstreamEvektor is back with great news for students looking for a place to get Sport Pilot (and further) training in Light-Sport Aircraft. At Sun 'n Fun 2022, I interviewed an impressive young aviator and businessman, John Mauch, Jet Access’ Chief Flight Instructor and Director of Operations. Jet Access is the 10th largest charter flight operator in the world based on flight hours and the midwestern company has extensive operations to support such aircraft. However, they also run several flight training operations. They manage their schools so well that several collegiate aviation programs have hired the company to manage their operations. Based in Indianapolis, Jet Access has multiple flight school operations now and plans several more. All of them will feature the Evektor LSA line, primarily focused on the Harmony model (video pilot report). Mauch said Jet Access chose Evektor because they have found them durable for steady flight training operations, easy-to-fly and maintain, plus they have a low fuel burn. Given today's sky-high fuel prices, this advantage has become much more important. Jet Access schools make broad use of the Evektor models. "These are technically advanced aircraft with glass cockpits and autopilots,” observed John adding, “This prepares our students for modern piloting that improves safety, while still focusing on stick and rudder skills due to cooperative flight characteristics of the Evektors. They’re also larger inside than legacy trainers with far better visibility and cabin airflow.” Jet Access ordered a dozen Evektors and plans to keep adding models as their growing operation expands. This will help many pilots seeking instruction in modern Light-Sport Aircraft.
Pipistrel Generates Million$Whatever the actual number and whatever the contract terms state, one thing seems sure. Pipistrel found Ivo Boscarol will have no trouble paying his bills. Heck, it appears he could afford his own biz jet. At Sun 'n Fun 2022 I was told Ivo sold his business for better than €200,000,000 (well over $200 million). Such high finance is way beyond my usual reporting but I'd bet those funds will be paid out on a schedule of performance. Deliver such-and-so technology to Textron by this date and you get $20 million. Deliver the next phase and get $30 million more… like that. I have no idea, of course, but however he gets paid, Ivo will be rolling in it. In all my years in light aviation, I have never heard of a higher value paid for any light aircraft company. In fact, I've never heard any number even close to that. Ivo has long proven adept at maneuvering his company and it seems he hit the jackpot this time. Some enthusiasts were grousing that Textron might never produce any Pipistrel models and who knows what the future holds. For now though, it was reported that Pipistrel will still operate its factories in Europe and Ivo will retain a 10% ownership share. Call him the Elon Musk of aviation, perhaps. It was reportedly Textron's interest in the Velis electric-propulsion version of Pipistrel that won their corporate heart. Congratulations to Ivo!
Quicksilver's Four-StrokerThis article from Day 1 of Sun 'n Fun revealed a new four-stroke engine resulting from a fascinating collaboration of two light aircraft companies — although a pairing I would not have predicted. Learn more about the engine from the earlier article. At Sun 'n Fun 2022 Air-Tech Inc's Ken Borne fired the engine up for journalists and protective buyers yet I they have not yet flown their aircraft with the Aero engine. I'll be looking for news at Oshkosh about how well that engine performed and whether it could sweep through the thousands of Quicksilvers flying. Many owners have said they prefer a four stroke powerplant. When their current two-stroke engine needs maintenance, a significant number might switch to four stroke. Owners like them because they are quieter, more fuel efficient, have longer maintenance cycles, and have a deeper sound many pilots like. In addition, some locations are clamping down on two-strokes that are perceived as "dirtier" or louder or less dependable. Air-Tech, Inc., and Blackhawk Paramotor got together at last year's Oshkosh to hatch this idea (they displayed immediately next to one another and started talking…). Now, perhaps we'll see this collaboration take to the skies. If all goes well, I predict a strong interest from buyers.
TL Sport Aircraft's FleetIn a previous article, I wrote about the TL Sport Aircraft Stream aircraft. I'll follow up with a report on the Sirius LSA, too, but these aircraft have fresh representation and new relationships. The new U.S. importer of the TL Ultralight aircraft from the Czech Republic is TL Sport Aircraft, run by a capable Trey Murdaugh. You can see him in the earlier article demonstrating Stream. He has brought stability to one of the LSA sector's most successful brands. TL Ultralight is well known for their Sting after multiple generations of development. They also make the high wing Sirius, the tandem retractable Stream, and have introduced a Stream variation in side-by-side seating called Sparker. The last two are retractable speedsters both well positioned for the changes coming in Mosaic. One of the key elements to this story has TL Sport Aircraft appointing Aerosport as a dealer for their line. I flew both Stream and Sirius at the Illinois company's DeLand, Florida operation called Aerosport South (video). In fact, DeLand appears to be developing into a powerhouse of light, affordable aircraft with the AeroSport group plus another that is planning to represent multiple brands including Aero Adventure, Seamax, Montaer, BOT, Fusion, and possibly others. Collaborative efforts make for stronger companies that can better serve their clients with a choice of aircraft and service for all of them.
Vashon Ranger's SecretFinally, I'm going to tease you without telling you anything. I have been sworn to secrecy but Vashon, builder of the increasingly popular Ranger LSA is projecting a major new announcement by AirVenture. At Sun 'n Fun I did an interview with Vashon boss Scott Taylor. He didn't mention the news in the video so you won't learn it when that work is completed. However, Vashon's news will likely be regarded as a significant announcement, especially coming out at the very time I believe FAA will draw back the curtain on Mosaic …meaning the agency may announce the NPRM; the final rule is still at least 18 months away. Stay tuned here for more, and if you can make it, come see the news and feel the airshow thunder at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2022. It's really starting to get interesting! That wraps news from Sun 'n Fun 2022. Now, get ready for news from Aero Friedrichshafen 2022, going on right now in Europe.
My moment of truth is fast approaching. Will I succeed or fail to predict the future? I have been repeating my forecast that FAA will announce a draft of their newest regulation, called an NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rule Making) at EAA’s big summer celebration of flight. I’m not betting the farm, though. I think it’s a fairly safe prediction. To win an increase in their budget a few years back, FAA agreed to complete a new regulation by December 31, 2023. That new reg is widely known as Mosaic; its full name is Modernization of Special Airworthiness Certification. Because FAA has said the agency needs 16 months to read every comment and adjust the final regulation language accordingly, seeing the future is simple math. Go back in time 16 months from the end-of-year deadline in 2023 and you end up at… yep! — AirVenture Oshkosh 2022. We will see if they meet their goal.
Flying the TL Sport Aircraft Stream — Tandem Speedster: Solid and Predictable
Immersive TandemMy demo pilot, TL Sport Aircraft boss Trey Murdaugh offered the front seat but I requested the aft seat so I could better observe his actions; it also helped record video. However, the aft seat offers full controls to allow an instructor to take over as needed. This is a retractable aircraft and a gear switch is available at both seats. The same for flaps and, of course, the prop and throttle controls. Up front instrumentation is larger and you do fly solo from the front. Yet in the back, I had a seven-inch Garmin touch screen that provided the same info in a smaller package. For example, the gear position shows in both locations… although, like most digital screens, it may take a while to pick out the data you want from all that is displayed. The aft seat also has a full-featured joystick with buttons for elevator and aileron trim, push to talk and other functions. It has everything the front seat has so you can enjoy flying Stream from the back as much as the front. However, in one way the front proves superior, regarding runway visibility on approach to landing. With no flaps or with one notch deployed, I had no sight picture from the aft seat. However, with full flaps, I could easily keep an eye on the runway. An offset to the aft seat visibility looking forward is that you have an excellent straight down view that the front PIC seat lacks; the pilot up front is seated at the wing midpoint so downward visibility is restricted.
Stalls and LandingsYou will probably not be surprised to learn that Stream has speedy ways. Using a 100-horsepower carbureted Rotax 912 ULS, Stream can easily generate speeds above 140 knots TAS. At higher altitudes it can achieve some pretty impressive true airspeeds as you might expect from an aircraft that has both retractable gear and in-flight adjustable prop. What you might be more surprised to learn is how gentle its stall characteristics are and how slow it can go on landing. I asked Trey to demonstrate stalls and then did some myself and in every such trial Stream was as gentle in stall response as any aircraft in the LSA space. We were not particularly aggressive as this is a clean airplane and is unfamiliar to me, but we did several stalls and every one of them demonstrated extremely benign characteristics that resulted in virtually no nose drop stall break nor any wing wobble. This is remarkably convincing stability for any aircraft in the space but certainly one aimed at the performance end of the market. Since I mentioned the aircraft speeds along quite well, I rush to say I was rather amazed that Stream could slow down into the high-30s (knots) when flaps are deployed. From 39 knots indicated to 150 knots in cruise, we start to approach that magic 4:1 stall-to-cruise target that any designer likes to achieve (it's not an easy mark to hit). As we came into land and as Trey put down the flaps, I mentioned above that the site picture improves for the aft seat when flaps are fully deployed. They go down 40°, Troy said, so these are some fairly deep flaps. On initial deployment, flaps look ordinary and rather small; in the aft seat I had a clear view of flap operations. Then I observed the Fowler flap construction as the flaps continued to deploy. That's when you see how effective this construction can be. I readily admit I was taken by surprise at the very slow speeds we achieved on landing. Trey says 400 feet of ground roll is achievable and it's possible to land even shorter with skill and correct use of the controls. I would have doubted this was possible had I not seen the excellent stall characteristics and how slow Stream could fly.
Handling and TaxiingAfter the stall regimen, I did my common Dutch roll coordination exercise. This showed that Stream is an airplane in which you lead with the rudder. On European designs this is common; we see it on many sailplanes that are rudder-dominated partly due to their very wide wingspans. After observing the control effects, it became pretty straightforward to do 30°-to-30° wing reversals while maintaining a straight longitudinal line (the goal of a properly done Dutch roll). I often rely on this coordination exercise to show me the basics of how an airplane flies. Then, through a series of turns, I discovered that Stream will hold its altitude very well without power or trim adjustments of any kind. Of course, using those controls will make handling even better I suspect, but stick pressures remained light and it was simply unnecessary to employ those controls in order to produce turns that maintained altitude and speed. These are wonderful characteristics for Stream to demonstrate. Back on the ground I again took the controls and found taxi steering to be responsive, further amplified by directional braking that that assures maneuvering on a ramp will be easy. Back at the AeroSport South hangar (video) at DeLand — where Stream and Sirius were spending the night — TL Sport Aircraft has entered into a business relationship with U.S. BushCat representatives, Daniela and Jeremy Knoll. They will help represent the TL family of light aircraft. After shutdown, Trey and I extricated ourselves from the Stream cockpit. It takes a bit more doing to get in and out of Stream than, for example, the very user-friendly, high-wing Sirius that I would fly next. If you have flexibility challenges, Stream may not be a particularly easy airplane to get in and out of, but once seated, the aircraft is comfortable and adequately roomy for a longer flight. Especially as Mosaic arrives with its faster speeds, adjustable props, retractable gear and more, I can see a strong future for Stream in the United States. Watch for more in our upcoming video that will offer many more details about the flight.
TL Ultralight Stream TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS all data supplied by the manufacturer or importer
- Length — 22.25 feetm
- Height — 8.15 feet
- Wingspan — 29.5 feet
- Wing area — 107.2 square feet
- Cabin width — 22.6 inches
- Never exceed speed — 180 knots
- Minimum speed — 35 knots
- Climb rate (at gross weight) — 1,170 feet per minute
- Empty weight (may vary depending on optional equipment) — 655 pounds
- Maximum take-off weight — 1,320 pounds
- Useful Load — 665 pounds
- Payload (with full fuel; before baggage) — 521 pounds
- Minimum crew weight — 132 pounds
- Maximum crew weight — 397 pounds
- Maximum luggage weight — 33 pounds
- Fuel consumption (at 75% maximum continuous power) — 4.3 gallons per hour
- Fuel tank capacity — 23.8 gallons (39 gallons with auxiliary tanks)
- Flying range — 870 statute miles
After Sun ‘n Fun 2022 ended, as pilots were flying home to bases across the USA, a couple aircraft stopped nearby at the DeLand Airport. As this is only a 25-minute drive from my office, I grabbed the chance to fly both the TL Sport Aircraft Stream and their high wing Sirius. I captured video from multiple cameras for each aircraft; watch for our video pilot report soon. While the video is in editing, I will give a short review of the Stream. This was a new experience for me. As flown, TL’s Stream is in Experimental-Exhibition category. That will suffice for a few examples, but the future involving Mosaic may be inviting for Stream, so the model could get a leg up on some competitors by establishing a U.S. presence before Mosaic becomes the governing regulation. Immersive Tandem My demo pilot, TL Sport Aircraft boss Trey Murdaugh offered the front seat but I requested the aft seat so I could better observe his actions; it also helped record video.
Three More Is a Wrap: ICP Savannah, Super Petrel 400, Supercharged Jabiru
Savannah by ICPWhat is it about orange? Several people told Savannah rep' Walter della Nebia that it attracted them. I felt similarly. I can't explain it but the show airplane certainly looked great and drew plenty of visitors. I've written about and done videos on Savannah. The airplane has not changed too much because it works well as it is. As you'll read below about Petrel, builders are making plenty of small changes but when a shape works, you don't change it. I always relate this airliners. Why do they all look essentially the same (except for size and specific capabilities)? Because that shape works. Savannah is similar. Several people said it looks like a Zenith CH-750. Perhaps it once was similar but over the years ICP has been building this, many changes have been made. Still, it's certainly similar to the American kit. Here are two major differences: (1) Savannah is available as a ready-to-fly Special LSA unlike the -750, which is only available as a kit. Models with modest differences were approved years ago, filling slots #39, #47, and #48 on our SLSA List. (2) Unlike nearly every other producer of light aircraft, you can get a Savannah now, as in today. Walter reported he has five Savannah kits in stock right now; no waiting. That makes Savannah nearly unique at a time when many producers at Sun 'n Fun were quoting deliveries into 2023, with some saying late in 2023. Almost two years is a long time to wait so I doubt those Savannahs will last too long. If this attractive LSA interests you, you may want to contact ICP North America sooner than later.
Scoda Petrel 400 SeriesScoda Aeronautica's Super Petrel LS has been in the U.S. market for several years and has achieved a solid measure of success. I stopped by their space at Sun 'n Fun 2022 to see what they meant by "400 Series" on the hull of this flying boat. A glance at the design confirmed no major changes have been made so why apply this designation? Then I spoke to a couple owners at their space to learn "400" has multiple explanations. Over the years, some 400 changes have been made to the airframe. These are mostly minor but one you can see is a substantial shock absorber on the main gear (photo, arrow). The majority of other changes were less visible or invisible yet such a stream of alterations — sometimes called by an industry phrase, "CANI," for "Continuing And Never-ending Improvement" — warranted some mention even if you can look closely and cannot see the difference. This is likely true on many other aircraft but Scoda chose to help customers or prospective buyers become aware of these minor upgrades. Another way "400" makes sense that 40 Super Petrel LS aircraft flying in the USA. This occurred over several years, but the Brazilian manufacturer of the design has made a steady push to increase it's share of the LSA seaplane market. Here is my pilot report on Super Petrel from a few years back (the company name was Edra, later changed to Scoda). The subject aircraft is essentially the one being sold today, albeit before some of the 400 improvements.
Supercharged JabiruNo question that pilots are eternally intrigued by more powerful engines. From the early days of ultralight and then Light-Sport Aircraft, engine power output seems only to go in one direction. Evidence of fascination with this is Steve Henry's attention-getting Yamaha-Powered Highlander STOL aircraft. Seen in nearby images, Steve's aircraft was back flying after a mishap a few days earlier in strong winds. The aircraft ended up on its nose but the damage was limited to a prop. The Yamaha Highlander that blasts into the air comes with a healthy but un-LSA-like sound. As you can see in the nearby photo he has highly modified the airframe to excel at STOL comps. A few years ago at the Copperstate Fly-in in Arizona, I had the pleasure to fly with Marc Holcomb in his homebuilt Arion Lightning. We flew from Buckeye where Copperstate was held to Greg Hobbs' base in the general Tucson, Arizona area. Greg and his wife Crystal created this place where owners can get professional assistance while they build their airplane. Marc was one builder who stayed in their on-site living quarters as he finished his Lightning. At the time they talked about a performance boost for the Jabiru 3300 six-cylinder, 120-horsepower engine that propels many of this model. Marc built an Experimental-Amateur Built Lightning so he is not limited by the LSA speed or equipment parameters. At Sun 'n Fun 2022, we interviewed Marc about his supercharged Jab 3300. He gets impressive speed increases and can climb to altitude without significant power loss. In flat-as-a-pool-table Florida, this may seem less valuable but in mile-high Denver, Colorado it almost becomes necessary. Watch for the video with lots of technical information as soon as Videoman Dave can get it edited (please be patient; editing consumes many hours of detailed effort).
As Sun ‘n Fun 2022 comes to a close, so does my daily reporting. This happens through long days and short nights. My sleep schedule can soon get back to normal. In an article already underway, I will make some forecasts for what we’ll see at AirVenture Oshkosh 2022 based on what was displayed at Sun ‘n Fun 2022. Watch for that in a couple days after I catch my breath. Meanwhile I’m expecting to go fly in the TL Sport Aircraft high wing TL-3000 Sirius and perhaps their retractable tandem Stream. I’m also scheduled to go fly the BOT SC07 Super Cruiser. I hope to have reports on these later in April. Meanwhile, here’s a final daily report from Sun ‘n Fun 2022… Savannah by ICP What is it about orange? Several people told Savannah rep’ Walter della Nebia that it attracted them. I felt similarly. I can’t explain it but the show airplane certainly looked great and drew plenty of visitors.
Producers of P-51 Mustang Replicas Collaborate; Refined Hiperlight; New Gyroplane
Mustang CollaborationOne such example is a fascinating collaboration, in this case between two companies each producing a substantially authentic scale model replica of the famous World War II fighter. One has a market established over several years. The other has a spectacular new entry. How can you imagine the story ends? Surprise! They decide to work together. Christian von Kessel of ScaleWings reported that he and John Williams of Titan Aircraft will proceed on a plan for Titan to assist builders of the SW-51 Mustang replica. The two use entirely different constructions but John has a wealth of knowledge building the iconic shape plus he knows how to run a production business. ScaleWings has done a spectacularly-authentic job of design and production mold building but they lack a U.S. presence, so Titan can become an important partner offering credibility and reassurance to American buyers of a European design. The cooperation is at an early stage.
Refined Hiperlight Biplane (Special LSA-to-be)When I interviewed Ron Jones of Thunderbird Aviation in Michigan at AirVenture Oshkosh 2021, he grabbed my attention when he reported that he believes he can sell a complete SLSA version of SNS-9 Hiperlight using the Jabiru 2200, 81 horsepower engine for $65,000. As this article from last summer calculated, that price is actually less than many originally expected for Light-Sport Aircraft. "Affordable" means something different to everyone, but I believe most will agree that is quite a value for such an airplane in 2022. To keep up with this evolving design, we interviewed Ron again at Sun 'n Fun 2022. He has owned this business for a quarter century and exclusively sold kits during that time. Now he enters the ready-to-fly market and while he agrees that ASTM standards are tough, he is confident that Hiperlight will rise to the occasion. He reported that documentation is 90% done (one of the most difficult steps in winning SLSA acceptance by FAA). He expects to begin ASTM Standards flight trials soon after Sun 'n Fun. Ron showed active work on the project as they unveiled their new nose cowling at Sun 'n Fun. If you look at the earlier article you'll see they've made a quality upgrade. This happened when an automobile industry engineer with an interest in airplanes offered to assist Thunderbird. He was able to employ his skills including use of an auto company wind tunnel to refine the shape. As the nearby images show, the work reveals professional quality; the shape is excellent. Will it be all done by AirVenture Oshkosh 2022? No, but it'll be coming along this year, Ron is sure.
Hummingbird H2 Gyroplane, All-Terrain Gyro?Talking to representatives of gyroplane companies at Sun 'n Fun confirmed that the gyro market that had slumped a bit over the last couple years has now steadied and is recovering. The sector has had to cope with being the only LSA that manufacturers cannot deliver ready-to-fly. This will get fixed in Mosaic LAMA is sure, but a requirement to build from a kit has certainly restricted sales. Now things are improving so a new entry might be expected. Making its U.S. debut at Sun 'n Fun 2022, welcome Hummingbird H2. "Hummingbird is an innovative project designed and manufactured by Hummingbird Industria Aeronautica and distributed in North America by Helicopters International," reported U.S. representative Carlos Guarilha at Sun 'n Fun 2022. "All models have shock-absorbing landing gear with the option to remove the wheel fairings and use larger tires for grass or rough-field surface takeoffs and landings," Carlos said, adding that the gyroplane is often used for off-airport duty in Brazil. Rough field operation is common. Hummingbird H2 is also a simple construction that contributes to easier maintenance. They promote reasonable prices: the two-seater around $75,000 and a single seater around $40,000 (but contact the company for current prices; shipping costs are at crazy levels). The two seat tandem model we saw at Sun 'n Fun had the Rotax 912 ULS 100 horsepower engine that accounts for about a third of the selling price. This table shows all factory specifications for Hummingbird H2. More news will follow from Sun 'n Fun 2022. Click or tap back soon!
* In case you're wondering what happened to my Sun 'n Fun Day 3 report… in a word: rain. A heavy downpour starting at noon and continuing into the afternoon scuttled my plans to shoot additional photos. Never fear, though, the Day 3 report will still come out, but as a summary article at the end of Sun 'n Fun. Look for some mighty interesting news discovered at Sun 'n Fun 2022.
I have been working in this industry since, well… before it was an industry, so a long time. In all that time I have continually been impressed with the willingness of businesses that are clearly competitors to join together in ways that promote the entire light aircraft sector. From the Sport Pilot Tour of the early 2000s to the LSA Mall of the 2020s, gathering industry together to better present the entire segment has worked amazingly well and I commend those many companies that participated enthusiastically. Daily reporting from the season-launching Sun ‘n Fun 2022 continues… * Mustang Collaboration One such example is a fascinating collaboration, in this case between two companies each producing a substantially authentic scale model replica of the famous World War II fighter. One has a market established over several years. The other has a spectacular new entry. How can you imagine the story ends?
After-Airshow Lightplane STOL Competitions — Monster STOL Is Built to Win
Designing for STOLBy now, many readers may know the name Steve Henry, who has wowed crowds with his 300 horsepower Yamaha conversion engine on his highly modified Just Highlander. All these aircraft take off in surprisingly short spaces (50 feet is possible) but Steve's purpose-built aircraft fairly leaps off the ground. It almost looks unreal. Unfortunately Steve broke an axle and ended up on his nose in Wednesdays gusty conditions. Damage was reasonably minor — an advantage of landing so slowly perhaps — and he should be back in action soon. His is not the only aircraft designed specifically to win STOL comps. Viking Aircraft Engine owner Jan Eggenfellner has competed in some of these events in his Zenith Super Duty, three seater (two forward, one aft) with large tundra tires. His flat back with red accent airplane is powered by a 195 horsepower variant of his Viking line. He swings a giant 96-inch prop custom built for him by Duc Propellers. Yet, Jan's Monster STOL is very different from most STOL competitor aircraft in very distinctive way. It's a nose wheel airplane. That's extremely rare (although this CubCrafters nosewheeler exists). Why? The answer explains the project seen in nearby photos. For an already STOL aircraft like the Super Duty, getting an extra edge may take unusual steps. In order to get enough angle of attack to lift off in incredibly short distance by big horsepower, Jan wanted to angle the nose up further. He became limited by the tail of the airplane which nearly touches the ground on aggressive takeoffs. Monster STOL solves that problem, Jan believes. His dual aft shocks on each side have 18 inches of stroke. The tires aren't tundra but they're large. And standing Super Duty up on specialized landing gear — which also helps entry into this high-off-the-ground airplane — allows Jan to create a very steep angle of attack. "I already get off the surface in 44 feet," said Jan in a video interview you'll see later. He wants to do even better and to further shorten his landings. The super beefy gear arrangement will let him plop the aircraft on the ground in the shortest possible distance. "It's fun and a little whacky," said Sebastien Heintz of Zenith Aircraft while agreeing Monster STOL is a great draw at his Sun 'n Fun booth space. While I took photos people were constantly examining this unusual entry.
Come to Paradise!If you are at Sun 'n Fun, make your way to Paradise City and the LSA Mall each evening. You can enjoy very close up and exciting flying as pilots like Jan Eggenfellner and Steve Henry compete. For those that cannot attend, I saw lots of potential YouTube videos being recorded. Stay tuned! News from Sun 'n Fun 2022 continues…
At Sun ‘n Fun, as with AirVenture Oshkosh, recent years have created a new attraction using the Lightplane airstrip at both the nation’s two largest airshows. STOL — Short Takeoff and Landing — competitions have become a huge crowd draw. On pleasant evenings, crowds can be five deep all along the runway fence. STOL comps provide exciting close-up action. At few other airports can you observe so closely, literally 100 feet away from runway centerline. After the main afternoon airshow aerobatic acts conclude, you can do one of two things. You can go to the car park and wait in long lines to get out of the lot or you can make your way to the Ultralight Area / Lightplane Area / or Paradise City and catch the evening STOL comps. When they’re done competing, the car parks are moving better and you’ll waste less time sitting in line. STOL comps were planned every evening of Sun ‘n Fun but 20 mile per hour winds blowing 90° cross to the runway over a nearby line of tress was a bit much for many competitors.
Do You Love Ultralights but Prefer a Four Stroke Engine? Find It at Sun ‘n Fun!
Introducing Aero 1000 A Fascinating "Collaboration"You could hardly miss Air-Tech Inc's airplane with its day glow orange and lime green coloration. The airplane was so bright I completely missed the engine until I returned for more… as promised in yesterday's preview article. Upon closer inspection, this Sprint model was powered by Aero 1000, a single-cylinder, four-stroke engine with impressive specs. Air-Tech said it outputs 39 horsepower — similar to the Rotax 447 — and is extremely economical on fuel. "It also has a great sound," said Ken Borne in our video interview about the engine. How does a small displacement engine (250 cc) get that kind of power from one cylinder? Part of the magic is high revolutions. "This engine runs at 9200 rpm." said Ken. The engine idles at 1800-2000 rpm, he added. Is Aero 1000 a creation of Air-Tech, Inc., the longtime Quicksilver representative that now owns the rights? No, they didn't originate this. That effort was done by Mike Robinson, owner and CEO of Blackhawk Paramotor USA. His powered paraglider company sells lots of "quads," four wheel carriages for pilots who like powered paragliders but don't want to rely on their legs for foot launching. (Blackhawk also makes foot launched models.) Blackhawk's search for the right engine for their quads lead them to an Swiss engine popular with cart racing enthusiasts. These racers push the engines hard and after years of working to improve the breed, the base engine has become very reliable. Blackhawk later created a mount construction for the engine to be used on their quads. Bever and Ken noticed this development at AirVenture Oshkosh where the two companies have side-by-side display spaces. They got to talking as vendors do at airshows. After Mike said some of his paraglider customers wanted to investigate fixed wing flying, Bever and Mike struck an agreement to try out the Blackhawk configuration on their Quicksilver line. Bever said the final installed weight of the Aero 1000 with reduction drive and exhaust and all other components is about 15 pounds more than the Rotax 447 with its driveshaft and other hardware. Most pilots will readily give up 15 pounds of useful load to have four-stroke reliability and reduced noise. Bever and Ken have fitted the Aero 1000 to their Sprint after building fairly simple hardware to support the engine — see nearby photos of engine and mounts. When I asked if this particular aircraft with the Aero 1000 powering it honestly stays within Part 103 limits, Ken responded without hesitation, "Yes, it does." While Air-Tech conducts flight testing of the Sprint with Aero 1000, get more information on the engine from Blackhawk. Air-Tech and their collaboration with Blackhawk may have hit a beautiful note with Aero 1000. Contact Air-Tech to inquire further.
Aero 1000 SPECIFICATIONS information supplied by Air-Tech Inc.
- Displacement — 250 cubic centimeters (cc)
- Power Output — 39 horsepower
- Fuel Delivery — Electronic fuel injection
- Carburetor Adjustment — Electronic compensation
- Reduction Drive — Belt drive with clutch
- Cooling — Liquid
- Efficiency — 1.2 gallons per hour at economy cruise
A year ago at Sun ‘n Fun 2021, I reported on a Rotax 503 replacement built in Russia. This information was warmly received at the time because the 503 powerplant was much beloved by ultralight enthusiasts. Little did we know last year that Putin would invade Ukraine and plunge both countries into disarray. The RMZ 500 engine seemed to promise a return to the popular engine. It will surely be months if not years before we see more of them. Despite the former popularity of the Rotax 503 fifteen years ago, one of the most common questions asked of Part 103 producers today is, “Can you provide a four-stroke engine?” It’s not an easy order to fill; two-strokes are potent sources of power at minimal weight, what’s called power-to-weight ratio. Any four-stroke engine is hard pressed to match the power-to-weight ratio of the best two-stroke engines. At Sun ‘n Fun 2022, Gene “Bever” Borne and son Ken of Air-Tech Inc.
PREVIEW: Sun ‘n Fun 2022 — What I’m Checking Out at the Season-Opening Airshow
Bat HawkNow represented in the USA, Bat Hawk travel traveled half way around the globe to get to Sun 'n Fun. This side-by-side two seater has well established itself in South Africa but will now test interest from Americans. Based on rave reviews from those with experience, the odds look promising. Some say this is looks like a… fill-in-the-blank, usually a reference to an ultralight such as Flightstar or Quicksilver. It is neither, having been developed over some years in the Southern Hemisphere nation but it is born of an earlier generation. We're hoping to interview Bat Hawk America's Gary Saitowitz or one of his team at Sun 'n Fun and then I'll have more. Meanwhile, here's a recent article that went over very well.
Airdrome ReplicaOne company has focused for years on creating replicas for famous designs harking back to World War I, a time not long after the Wright Brothers first flew their Flyer on the sand dunes of Kitty Hawk. We're talking century-old designs, created with slide rules and drafting pape and not much prior art on which to rely. In this earlier article, I covered many of the fascinating earlier-era designs put out by the amazingly prolific designer and builder, Robert Baslee. The example shown was merely in position with no supporting information. We'll go try to collect some for the vintage — truly vintage — builders and other enthusiasts. Robert's sheer volume of output is impressive but add the authenticity of these designs and the matter of them flying and behaving well. These are not show pieces you keep in your hangar to show your friends and fellow aviators. Robert has often built aircraft for use in movies. After looking at this, are you surprised?
Pipistrel of SloveniaIf you read other aviation magazines or online sources, you may already be aware of some rather big news to those of us who love light aviation. Pipistrel has made a global name for itself as a builder of sleek composite aircraft, many of which can be used for soaring flight. That same efficiency lended itself perfectly to adapting electric propulsion. Pipistrel has done this well enough to win large cash awards in early design contests. Later they parlayed these skills into a whole electric production. They've sold more electric trainers than any company and have actively pursued green dreams to great success. How successful? The news I mentioned above regards Pipistrel being bought by Textron, a major coup for founder and boss Ivo Boscarol. He has boldly run his manufacturing business and was willing to take big strides. It appears to have paid off. The rumor mill at Sun 'n Fun was active and some are hoping this acquisition turns out better than Cessna's purchase of Columbia Aircraft. Time will tell.
ScaleBirds P-36Replicas are big business in cars, boats, and, of course airplanes. Some like Airdrome cater to one era of history enthusiasts. Others cater to a later war period. Scalewings goes to great effort to make these designs as authentic as possible while building at around 50% of original scale. The task is impressive, enough so that most of us have no real idea of the detail that is goes into something like the model in the photos. I have written about ScaleBirds, their P-36 project, and the radial engines they enjoy using. However, I probably cannot do them the justice they deserve. I hope you can swing by their space in the main or "core" are of Sun 'n Fun but this article will bring you up to date and includes three videos. We'll hopefully make a fresh video in Lakeland. Look for it on Videoman Dave's YouTube channel.
Texas ColtOne of my favorites to come along in the second decade of Light-Sport Aircraft is the Texas Aircraft Colt. Here is a brilliant job of bringing a thoroughly modern yet conventional general aviation look to the world of Light-Sport Aircraft. Getting Colt so right is less difficult to believe when you realize the designer has a long track record in Brazil, that aviation-crazy nation in the Southern Hemisphere. Texas Aircraft set up shop at the Hondo, Texas Airport in 2019 and won a Special LSA airworthiness certificate shortly after. I went to their inaugural event which was attended by investors, dignitaries, and Texas political leaders. It was quite an event to set the company on its course. Colt designer Caio Jordao created Colt after previously building more than 400 of his Conquest 180 LSA. That's a lot of experience. No wonder Colt 100 turned out so well. Here's a video pilot report to tell you more.
TL SportFresh news at Sun 'n Fun is that the gang at Aerosport — and now Aerosport South (see this video) — have added a whole new line to their growing stable of flying machines. You know Aerosport for their longtime representation of Sky Reach's BushCat, a well-developed Light-Sport Aircraft that carries one of the most agreeable price points of all LSA. Here's more about BushCat. The news is that Aerosport will now be representing the TL Sport Aircraft line. This includes the very well-known Sting all-composite low wing, one of the first Special LSA to win approval — number 5 in our SLSA List now composed of 157 aircraft models. They had a Sting on display at the core area display (Aerosport is also in Paradise City) as well as the high-wing TL-3000 Sirius, and super sleek tandem-seating Steam model that can be delivered with retractable (though not as a present-day SLSA). Previously Aerosport represented Sling and that aircraft was also at Sun 'n Fun 2022.
SlingI didn't get to visit with anyone from The Airplane Factory on set-up day to hear if they have any late-breaking news — so I'll go back, of course — but the sharpest paint job I found anywhere on the grounds was the handsome Sling 4 seen nearby. I have reported on Sling LSA and Sling 4 earlier and have to admit I really liked the four seater. I flew it with three adult men on board and it was simply wonderful. I suppose good flying comes with the territory as the fellows behind the design, including the unstoppable Mike Blyth, have commonly taken one of their models for a literal round-the-world jaunt. Seriously, all the way around the Earth and they've done this multiple times. I always wonder what they have planned next. The company heralded a new high wing model some years back (reported here by video). I'll see what I can find out about it by visiting The Airplane Factory USA's display here in Lakeland.
BOTIf AeroSport sounds busy (and they are!), Aero Adventure must be in serious overload. This DeLand Airport company — part of the DeLand Sport Aviation Community that is supporting the LSA Mall this year — is the longtime builder of the Aventura line. Lead by Alex Rolinski, they' ve done a lot with an airplane that started out many years ago as the ultralight Buccaneer. They've also won SLSA approval for the Aventura II model. Like the old late-night TV ads decried though, "That's not all!" Aero Adventure has aided the Seamax group (yes, a competitor in LSA seaplanes) with maintenance and other needs. They started assisting the Brazilian design from Montaer (reported here last year). And in a completely different development, they created Wing Bug (video), a nifty piece of gear you hang outside your airplane so it can transmit all kinds of good info to you in the cockpit. Now Aero Adventure is working with B.O.T. Aircrfaft in Germany to re-introduce their all-carbon fiber SC07 Speed Cruiser model. I hope to go fly Speed Cruiser with Alex soon but we'll do an interview here at Sun 'n Fun and learn what we can. Meanwhile here's an older video with developer Reiner Tauern.
QuicksilverNo airshow is complete — at least for those of us interested in affordable, recreational aircraft — without Quicksilver, long the standard bearer of the genuine ultralight sector. The company has arguably the most proven aircraft in the light space (and I know I won't get much pushback for saying that). Quicksilver also has a SLSA model plus genuine Part 103 ultralights and models in between. Their kits are legendarily easy to assemble. However, Quicksilver the company has bounced around several owners in the last couple decades. That has finally settled down now that the longest-running dealer of any light aircraft, Gene "Bever" Borne who, with his son Ken, now owns the rights, tooling, and inventory for all Quicksilver models except GT500. In addition Bever is one of the most interesting people to speak with, given his southern drawl and a very keen sense of humor. We'll visit and see what's new with Air-Tech, Inc., the Bornes' company based not far from New Orleans.
LSA Mall and DeLand's Sport Aviation CommunityTo close this preview article so I can go to bed and get ready to do this all again tomorrow, I want to extend a thank you on behalf of myself and LAMA, the Light Aircraft Manufacturer's Association that hosts the LSA Mall at Sun 'n Fun. LAMA has operated the LSA Mall for 16 years! It has become one of Sun 'n Fun's attractions and the location appears on the official maps and other documents put out by Sun 'n Fun. Inc. This year, like last, the LSA Mall was greatly (massively!) assisted by the DeLand Airport community. This year they outdid themselves, functioning as a new ground called SAC, the DeLand Sport Aviation Community, sparked to life by Jana Filip, the executive director of the DeLand Showcase event at the namesake airport. Thanks to all the LSA Mall volunteers all these years and especially now. We could not do it without you! One of the interesting revitalized flying machines I found at Sun 'n Fun 2021 was this striking CTsw, a superb job of restoration to an older model. Look for more videos from Sun 'n Fun as Videoman Dave and I resume our post-Covid video production. https://youtu.be/JXXKk55XwCk
When Sun ‘n Fun 2022 starts, a signal can be heard ’round the world. The message? It’s time for a new season of recreational flying. After we got the LSA Mall set up to receive a flock of airplanes, I was able to get around the sprawling Sun ‘n Fun campus to see what else I planned to cover as the show begins. It starts Tuesday the 5th and runs through Sunday the 10th. I hope you can make it but if not, I’ll be reporting on the aircraft that I think may interest you. One extra treat — for me and for you: my YouTube partner, Videoman Dave has been able to escape Canada and turned up at Sun ‘n Fun. We’ll return to our usual drill of roving around doing video interviews. I’m happy as Dave is highly knowledgeable about the same kind of aircraft I report and we’ve learned to work well together, making somewhere approaching 1,000 videos.
Vickers Wave First Flight Accomplished Successfully
Satisfying Success!"It was an incredibly emotional moment for the entire Vickers Aircraft team, a moment more than 11 years in the making," said Paul after the first flight was concluded. "December 10, 2012, was when I made the decision and began designing the concept, and began turning a dream into reality by spending money. At this point talk became action." "While much of the aircraft is as it will be in final production, the interior and landing gear are purely functional, allowing us to refine and perfect these areas," explained Paul. As you see in the list below, Wave promises landing gear unlike any other seaplane. "After a series of further test flights, we will be removing the undercarriage and commencing the much-anticipated water testing," said Paul. "Once we have completed the water testing, we will be fitting our revolutionary undercarriage." As the Vickers team observed and as the video appears to show, Wave flew well as soon as it got airborne for the first time. "Seeing how stable Wave was in flight is a true testament to taking the time to get things right," Paul felt. "Always having 'safety' as the key driver for every decision has proven to be an incredibly fundamental corner stone for the Wave project; from who we hire to our suppliers and hardware, safety has led our decisions." Along the way, Vickers has looked at different engines but the New Zealand group settled on the Rotax 915iS with its potent push of 141 horsepower. A turbo charger also help assure more thrust for a seaplane; getting off the water quicker is always desirable. "The Rotax 915iS performed incredibly well," Paul said. "It was smooth and very responsive, coupled with the MT-34 constant speed propellor that is controlled by the RS Flight Systems SLPC (single lever control).
First Flight Notes"Wave performed as expected," Paul reported. "The first flight was limited to 85 knots, and we will be further stretching her legs in the coming weeks as we approach our 120-knot cruise speed." For avionics in the test aircraft as well as in later production aircraft, Vickers had selected Dynon. Other systems will also be offered. "Dynon stepped up very early in our program and have been an incredible support during the installation and system checks, all of which were seamless," Paul said. "Dynon Skyview easily integrated into Wave and provided an abundance of information." Test Pilot's Comment — "The Wave felt great to fly. Handling and performance were both impressive. The test points flown worked out as expected or better," said Prospero "Paco" Uybarreta, a former U.S. Air Force test pilot now the test pilot for Vickers. "Of all the light airplanes I have flown, Wave is now and by far my favorite," said Paco. "Paul and his team have done a spectacular job designing and building Wave. It was an honor and privilege to conduct the first flight. I can’t wait to fly Wave again." "The design team are well on the way to firming up the remaining areas to be productionized," finished Paul, "while the production team is looking at increasing capacity and forward ordering required materials." Congratulations to the Vickers team for taking the time to get it right and for completing a successful first flight, a momentous achievement for any clean-sheet design such as Wave.
What Makes Wave Different?
Wave Design Distinctions (partial list)
- Wave has a landing gear system (named Cross-Over™, patents pending) that is a fixed gear arrangement for both land and water operations. This landing gear system will eliminate accidents when landing on land with gear up, and landing on water with gear down.
- Wave’s egress doors offer increased occupant safety in the event of the aircraft coming to rest inverted (on land or water).
- Light Sport Aircraft are not allowed to use adjustable propellers so to give the pilot more control of the aircraft on the water, around marinas, and other watercraft, Wave has an electric bow thruster.
- Wave has incorporated an airframe emergency parachute as standard equipment.
- Wave has incorporated an angle of attack (AoA) system to enhance stall awareness.
- Wave has incorporated inflatable airbag restraints.
Following is Vickers Aircraft's video on the first flight including some good closeups of the machine… https://youtu.be/qQKlGWCncrk Next is an earlier interview with Paul Vickers where he describes some of his goals. https://youtu.be/hFVTAEYybq8
Long in development to incorporate a raft of distinctive ideas, Vickers Wave took its first flight last month, mere weeks before the launch of Sun ‘n Fun 2022, which kicks off a new flying season. Lead by company namesake, Paul Vickers, Wave has been a work in process for eleven years. All along Paul has been saying he would get it right on the first flight and it looks like he succeeded. He also said that the methods he followed to get this far would speed production significantly. He means that when this airplane would take its first flight, it would not be some cobbled-together, proof-of-concept aircraft. The Wave that just flew should also go very directly into production without the need for another long round of engineering. Look at the images and the video. This looks like a factory production model, not a crude prototype still rough around the edges.
Savage Norden from Zlin is the Newest Special LSA in the U.S. Fleet (#157)
Norden is "Best Yet"About two years ago, Zlin first announced Norden, then with the 100 horsepower 912iS. Now, the model has gone big with the 141 horsepower Rotax 915iS that sends Norden leaping into the air.
“Norden is a high performing, aluminum-wing airplane with electrically controlled leading-edge slats, designed and thoroughly tested for short-field and off-runway capabilities,” Bill Canino said. “It also exhibits good speed and stable cruise characteristics which are unusual in aircraft of this design." While production spools up on the new model, SportairUSA has reserved a limited number of production slots, with delivery scheduled for this year (2022).
Bill worked with FAA representatives to gain acceptance during the fall and winter of 2021-22. “We appreciate the attention to safety that the FAA brings to this process,” said Canino, whose company, SportairUSA, has been a pioneer in the field of Light-Sport Aircraft, serving the experimental and recreational aviation community since 1990.
The newly accepted Savage Norden is already finding willing buyers looking for economy and exceptional performance. SportairUSA has presold seven aircraft and reserved six additional production slots for 2022. More than 50 have been sold worldwide. This early success follows several other models under the Savage brand, for example, Shock Ultra, iCub, and Bobber.
More About Savage Norden
Savage Norden is manufactured in the Czech Republic by Zlin Aviation s.r.o. A highly refined design, Norden is based on the company’s extensive experience designing and building similar aircraft. Earlier versions of Savage aircraft which have been certificated and sold in this country as SLSAs include the Savage Classic, Cruiser, iCub, Nomad, Bobber, Shock, and Shock Ultra (see links above to articles on these aircraft).
"The design of Norden incorporates classic short takeoff and landing (STOL) elements together with innovative concepts tested and proved in previous Zlin products," said Bill. "Pilot feedback, from the Alaskan bush to the deserts of South Africa, played an important role in Zlin’s evolution as a designer and manufacturer of STOL aircraft."
The American version of the Savage Norden is comprehensively equipped with avionics, operational functions and other features that are offered only as options in other locations around the world, believes Bill. SportairUSA’s goal is to provide an aircraft tailored to meet the expectations of a demanding marketplace.
According to Zlin’s founder, Pasquale Russo, “The design target was to offer to the market a new version of our plane with improved STOL performance and with these main characteristics: full metal wing, electrically-operated retractable slats, double slotted flaps, extended range, optimized cruise and low-speed flight characteristics, a wide flight envelope and low pilot workload.” (See extensive feature list below.)Norden comes in at €164,450 (about $180,000 at today's exchange rate) with a 141 horsepower Rotax 915iS. While this will require a budget it is tens of thousands less than a CubCrafter model. It may not be for everyone but it sure will produce some huge smiles for those with the funds. The American version of the Norden will be available for examination in SportairUSA's display (booth 297) at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2022 scheduled for July 22—31. Get more information about Savage Norden by Zlin. For more info or ordering, contact Bill Canino by telephone at 501-228-7777.
Key features of the Savage Norden:
- Standard Rotax 915iS, turbocharged and intercooled, 141 horsepower engine
- Complete instrumentation including Garmin GPS with ADS-B in, EMS, transponder, VHF radio
- New all aluminum wing design optimized for speed in cruise configuration
- Pushrod double slotted aluminum fowler flaps to 60+ degrees
- Aluminum, electric, retractable leading-edge slats add lift to balance the flaps for extreme low-speed control
- Flattened landing flare lets you see the entire landing site
- All aluminum wing with advanced airfoil, load tested to over 4,000 pounds
- Push rods and ball bearings for the aluminum frise ailerons mean light control pressures
- Basic empty weight less than 900 pounds
- Fuel tank designed for distance travel; 36 gallons useable
- Dual low fuel warning systems
- Large cargo area with optional carbon fiber and external aft access door
- Extended seating space & improved flight controls for comfort and command
- Forward-mounted heavy gear system for hard braking
- Float attachments included in the airframe
- Available Acme Aero Pro shock absorber systems
- Available dual caliper wheels and braking
- Available Airframes Alaska T3 or Acme Aero Stinger tailwheel suspensions
- Available extended aft storage for travel sleeping area
- Available all aluminum, amphibious 1500 Z~Floats for water operation
Welcome to the newest Special Light-Sport Aircraft in the fleet: Savage Norden. The first example is in the United States and headed to its new owner. Norden is #157 on our SLSA List. “It is the best of the several models of LSA that Zlin has ever made,” SportairUSA boss, Bill Canino said of Norden. He proudly announced that Norden received its FAA certificate of airworthiness as a Special LSA. SportairUSA is the distributor and service center for Savage and other sport aircraft in the USA. Because the first customer’s Norden was used to gain FAA acceptance as a Special LSA (that included logging 20 hours), the owner is understandably anxious to receive his new bird so SportairUSA will not be attending Sun ‘n Fun with the model. The first public viewing will be this summer at AirVenture Oshkosh 2022. U.S. Norden #1 will be flown in May to its new home in McCarthy, Alaska, at the foot of the Wrangell Mountains Norden is “Best Yet” About two years ago, Zlin first announced Norden, then with the 100 horsepower 912iS.
Evektor is the LSA More Flight Schools Use — Now Jet Access Joins the Fleet
Evektor Is #1… ForeverYou may not have heard quite as much from Evektor over the last couple years. That's because they've been head-down puzzling over America's legal system, a challenge for many foreign producers. Based in a different country, some manufacturers feel insulated from lawsuits but given America is by far the world's largest aviation market, well… it's wise to think differently. The legal issue is not the subject of this article, but now that the matter has successfully been resolved, the Czech producer is back in action and raring to go. For the three U.S.-based representatives — Steve Minnich's Dreams Come True, or Art Tarola's AB Flight, or Steve Treretola's western dealership, Sunrise Aviation — the cloudy skies have given way to bright sunshine and a warmer climate. One thing no one can ever take away from Evektor is their #1 position as the first Light-Sport Aircraft ever to be accepted by FAA seventeen years ago at Sun 'n Fun 2005. Evektor and Flight Design, with the SportStar and CT respectively, were the first two LSA accepted at an opening day ceremony and Evektor was the very first. Starting almost immediately, Evektor proved to be a winner in flight school operations and that success obviously continues.
Big New Order LoggedRecently, Evektor in the USA booked an order for a dozen new Evektor Harmony LSA with the potential for as many as 100 more. Such numbers in Light-Sport aviation are more than attention-getting. This is a big order. Good for Evektor but good for all in the LSA community. Stronger manufacturers means better service and more innovation for all customers. Jet Access began as a jet-share organization but realized that building their flight school operation was a worthy path to follow. Anyone paying attention to an impending pilot shortage is already aware of this potential. This Indiana company runs established flight schools and has plans to acquire more. "They plan to equip all these with Evektor aircraft, which they've seen as a great training aircraft that produces better pilots quicker and costs much less to operate than brand new or legacy GA designs," said Steve Treretola. "We'll also have some interesting news at Sun 'n Fun," predicted Art Tarola. As the season-opening show begins, make your way to Evektor's display near the turf runway in Paradise City (space LP-001) to learn more. John Mauch, Jet Access' Chief Flight Instructor and Director of Operations said, "We are the 10th largest charter in the world based on flight hours. Jet Access is the only vertically integrated aviation enterprise at a national scale. We do charter, Part 91 jet management, brokerage, FBO management, full service Part 145 MRO, Part 61 and 141 flight training with collegiate program management." "Headquartered in Indianapolis, Jet Access has chosen Evektor for the same reason organizations have chosen primary trainers for the last 100 years: they are two-place, light and frisky, durable, easy-to-fly and maintain, with a high dispatch rate, plus low fuel burn and operating costs," explained west coast rep', Steve Treretola. "The Evektors are technically advanced aircraft with glass cockpits and autopilots," echoed John. He added, "This prepares our students for modern piloting that improves safety, while still focusing on stick and rudder skills due to flight characteristics of the Evektors. They’re also larger inside than legacy trainers with far better visibility and cabin airflow." With airplanes Jet Access has on order for Q3 2022 delivery, they will operate about 80 aircraft, the company elaborated. John Mauch is an ATP instructor with experience in Cessna, Piper, and Cirrus models. He instructed for Larry Gehrig's Sport Pilot Chicago for three years. "After flying Evektors John had no desire to return to the previous 'standard' flight school aircraft," said Steve Minnich of Evektor dealer Dreams Come True. Sport Pilot Chicago continues seven-day-a-week operation with three Evektors: a Sportstar, Sportstar SL, and a Harmony. "The Evektor fleet has amassed over one million flight hours," Steve Treretola added. "Evektor is built using traditional metal construction, has a fuel burn of four gallons per hour, and has a 2,000-hour engine TBO making it an ideal 21st century successor to the famous trainers of the past including the ubiquitous Cessna 150 and 152 plus the Piper Cherokee series." Treretola observed that Jet Access chief pilot, John Mauch has amassed several thousand hours instructing in Evektor Harmony and knows the brand well. "With that experience, Jet Access felt comfortable placing an initial order for a dozen Harmony aircraft and has optioned a total of 100 [with delivery] spread out over a number of years," Steve reported.
About Evektor Harmony"Evektor currently has delivered 1,400 LSA worldwide," Steve noted, adding that "half of them are in flight schools or aero clubs." The balance are owned by individuals, he said. Why are Evektor models so popular in flight schools? It might not be what you think, given that nearly all pilots trained in American schools over the last half century have learned on yoke-equipped aircraft. "These are great stick and rudder platforms," Steve Treretola explained. "They create good pilots." Properly equipped, Evektor's LSA can qualify as TAA, or Technically Advanced Aircraft, and are thereby suitable for not only primary but instrument and commercial training. Evektor is a leading design, engineering and aircraft manufacturing group from the Czech Republic. It has become one of the world´s most recognized manufacturers of Light-Sport Aircraft whose factory in the south of Czech has been in aircraft production since 1936. It makes sales in 40 countries and employs a staff 400 people. Evektor has gone far beyond LSA with their four seat Super Cobra (nearby photo) developed some years ago and a twin-engine turboprop regional airliner called EV-55 Outback. These are far outside my coverage of aviation but show the depth of experience and knowledge within Evektor. Years ago I visited their factory in Kunovice, Czech to see them building the SportStar LSA. It was an impressive facility and the region is highly aviation oriented so an abundance of talented workers is available. Evektor is also very active in design and development work for the automotive industry. I hope to see you at Sun 'n Fun 2022 coming in mere days as this is written. If you can't make it, stay tuned to this website and I'll do my best to keep you informed. Watch for a preview article coming soon…
Did you read “Jet Access” and think this article was not for you? I get that but please read further. Jet Access is not about airlines or military. It isn’t even about jet engines or biz jets. It is about flight school operations and which aircraft the operators find optimal. Spoiler Alert: Light-Sport Aircraft win. Here’s the question of the hour: “Why are leading flight schools world wide choosing Evektor LSA to replace their aging legacy fleet of flight training aircraft?” The question is posed by Evektor’s U.S. Director of Fleet Sales, Steve Trerotola. Answers follow… Evektor Is #1… Forever You may not have heard quite as much from Evektor over the last couple years. That’s because they’ve been head-down puzzling over America’s legal system, a challenge for many foreign producers. Based in a different country, some manufacturers feel insulated from lawsuits but given America is by far the world’s largest aviation market, well… it’s wise to think differently.
Return to Ultralight Glory — A One-of-a-Kind CGS Hawk Receives a Special Honor
Foot-Launched AviationBefore Part 103 came out, FAA initially said such "powered hang gliders" — as people, especially FAA, regarded them then — had to be foot launched. Pilots were not supposed to roll off on wheels. The very earliest of such aircraft didn't even have wheels. Think of John Moody and his foot-launched 10-horsepower Easy Riser. This beloved pioneer of ultralight flying still demonstrates that method at airshows and it's a crowd pleaser. I recall some truly hilarious moments as I watched this or that chief pilot for an ultralight manufacturer trying to demonstrate how he could stagger into the air while supposedly foot launching his aircraft. Hint: more often than not, that pilot dragged some part of the aircraft along the ground while attempting to run a few steps with the engine going full blast to hopefully lift him aloft before he stumbled. It was probably dangerous and only a strong pilot could manage the athletic feat once aircraft grew past literal hang gliders with an engine bolted on somewhere. Chuck decided to come out with his own Part 103 ultralight… but his would be fully enclosed. Shocking, right? The pilot had no chance to foot launch as he or she could not put their feet on the ground. No one else dared to make a fully enclosed ultralight for fear of running afoul of FAA inspectors. Fortunately, the foot-launch rule gave way to Part 103 and one reason why ultralights look the way they do today is because of Chuck's courage in offering a trend-smashing aircraft.
CGS Hawk, the OriginalWork is progressing to restore Hawk Prototype #1. Hawk Single & Ultra owner Bob Santom wrote, "Our renovation of Hawk #1 will not be complete for the Sun 'n Fun 2022 show, but it should be 100% by Oshkosh." Woo, hoo! EAA is working on plans to make a celebration of Part 103's 40th anniversary and Hawk #1 showing at the big summer show will be highly appropriate. You can come see the work-in-process in a couple weeks at Sun 'n Fun 2022. Bob announced, "We plan to have the fuselage and some components on display at our vendor's site during the show." How did Bob and son LB happen to obtain Hawk #1? As old enough readers may recall, Hawk #1 won Best New Aircraft Design at Sun 'n Fun 1982. The design went on to win many other awards at subsequent airshows and competitions. The storied aircraft last flew down Paradise City's grass runway in April of 2006, just before Chuck donated it to the Sun 'n Fun museum at Lakeland Linder Airfield. A few years later, "Tim Williamson and his wife Laura were at Sun 'n Fun, and visited the museum to see Hawk #1," Bob related. "To Tim and Laura's dismay, Hawk #1 was not on display. After questioning one of the museum's staff members, Tim and Laura were told that Hawk #1 was in storage, which happened to be outside behind the museum building." A longtime friend of the Slusarczyk family, Tim was bound and determined to save Hawk #1 from disintegrating in the Florida sun. "As I understand it," Bob said, "Tim negotiated with the Museum staff to acquire Hawk #1, so long as it was never flown again, and Tim's intention was to move the plane to his personal hangar in Florida, with plans for a future renovation." Bob continued, "After the acquisition, Tim and Laura moved to Tennessee and took Hawk #1 with them, storing it in Tim's rented hangar, again with the intention of renovating her someday. "Unfortunately, and tragically, Tim was killed in a light aircraft crash on September 10, 2020, in Sweetwater, Tennessee. Laura was not able to keep the hangar and moved Hawk #1 to a barn at her home. "Since Tim and Laura were longtime Hawk fans," Bob remembered, "our paths crossed after we acquired the single seat and ultralight manufacturing rights. Conversations ensued about how most everyone believed that Hawk #1 was a very important and historical airplane, worthy of preservation. As [one of] the first true three-axis ultralight-type flying machines that literally and positively changed our industry for many years to come, restoring #1 is a tribute to Chuck as well as all of the Hawk faithful." "Via mutual Hawk enthusiasts and after spending time with Laura, we bought Hawk #1 and transported her back to our shop in Port St. Lucie, Florida," explained Bob.
Come See #1 for YourselfWhile the restoration is not yet complete, bringing Hawk #1 to Sun 'n Fun this April is fitting as this is the 40th anniversary of when she won best new aircraft design in 1982. Bob credits progress on the Hawk #1 restoration project to "a lot of help from the Hawk Faithful." Being authentic means installing the correct original engine used on Hawk #1. Bob and LB report a Cuyuna 430 engine has been refinished, rebuilt, and test run. It looks and sounds great. "Gary Grimm from Weston, Ohio, performed that rebuild for us and wouldn't take a dime," Bob stated, "as he felt strongly that bringing Hawk #1 back to life for the 2022 airshows was a great way to pay tribute to CGS Hawk and to Chuck personally." An original 60-27 wooden Culver Prop was sent out to Alaina Lewis from Valley Engineering in Rolla Missouri (also the company behind the since-discontinued Backyard Flyer). She refinished that original prop for the project, again with then understanding that the prop will not be used in flight. Alaina did a wonderful job; it is beautiful. The instrument panel was removed and refinished, as were all of the original instruments, even keeping the same mismatched screw types in their respective locations. We have even replicated the sign sitting on the seat while parked at Sun 'n Fun 2006, as well as the decals & tail numbers. "When my son, LB, and I were stripping down the painted fuselage," Bob recalled, "we discovered a weight and balance method used by Chuck and team. The horizontal tail post of the rudder was filled, from bottom to top, with buck-shot, presumably for additional tail weight. While it was not possible to capture all of the buckshot as they rolled all over the shop floor, we did save a bunch of them to bring to the show in a plastic bag for all to see." "We talked several times with longtime sailmaker Dick Cheney about replicating Hawk#1's Dacron wing coverings. Dick remembered that Chuck's sister made the very first set and we are keeping our fingers crossed that his patterns will be a close fit," admitted Bob. They have the replacement sails, but have not yet installed them while other work progresses. Hawk Single & Ultra (the business) plans a gathering/celebration for the Hawk Faithful in honor of their 40th year anniversary at Sun 'n Fun. While that is an invitation event, Bob and LB invite attendees to stop by our vendor site (LP-44 in Paradise City) to check out this noteworthy element of ultralight history. "My personal toast to Chuck has been stated many times before," Bob emphasized. “Thank you, Chuck, for a wonderful airplane, and the opportunity to be the temporary caretaker of this wonderful flying machine, until it's time for someone else to carry the company flag for future generations to come.” Sun 'n Fun 2022 should have many aircraft to grab your attention but you should surely make your way to see Part 103 history in aluminum and Dacron. C'mon down to sunny, warm Florida. We're only a couple weeks away!
Gotta Have Two Seats? — Pilots seeking a two-seat Hawk should note that those models are available brand new but from a different business. Bob Santom and his son LB only do the single-place models under the name Hawk Single & Ultra — while CGS Aviation builds all the two-place models including the Special LSA version. Both are active businesses.
I can remember firsthand when one of aviation’s true characters — Chuck Slusaczyk, of Chuck’s Glider Supplies or CGS — brought his first Hawk to Sun ‘n Fun. As this article illustrates, that was 40 years ago! Yes, fellow fun flyers, 2022 is the year aviation celebrates the 40th anniversary of Part 103 and the emergence of the “ultralight vehicle.” One of the ground-breaking designs that year (1982) was the CGS Hawk. When Chuck introduced this flying machine, he broke some of the rules and went on to sell more than 2,500 of the popular series. What rules did he break? Foot-Launched Aviation Before Part 103 came out, FAA initially said such “powered hang gliders” — as people, especially FAA, regarded them then — had to be foot launched. Pilots were not supposed to roll off on wheels. The very earliest of such aircraft didn’t even have wheels. Think of John Moody and his foot-launched 10-horsepower Easy Riser.
Flying Tecnam’s P2008 Turbo — Is a Used LSA Right for You?
World-Leading TecnamAfter 18 years of Light-Sport Aircraft, Tecnam brand can claim to be the largest aircraft producer in this sector. The Italian company has gone beyond LSA with a four seat, Part 23-certified aircraft (P2010) and an 11-seat commuter aircraft (P2012) yet the LSA sector remains vital to their enterprise. Numerically, they've sold many more of these than the higher end models. With a whole stable of handsome aircraft — this complete re-work of their best-selling P92 Echo is simply gorgeous — P2008 stands out to many pilots as one of the shapeliest Light-Sport Aircraft in the global fleet …and given many beautiful LSA, that is truly saying something. Since it had been some years since I'd flown the P2008 I've long admired, when a Spruce Creek airport friend and fellow LSA pilot asked if I wanted to take a flight in his new bird, I jumped at the chance. While Roger decides what he will do with his '650 (he's keeping it for now), he looked for an airplane he could enjoy with his wife and the striking aircraft in the nearby photos was his choice. I won't divulge his exact purchase price but with a new P2008 passing $200,000 when well equipped, Roger saved many tens of thousands by buying a used aircraft. He bought well; a glance shows this P2008 appears almost new, inside and out. Although Roger scored a superbly-equipped, low-time P2008 (and paid a bit more for it), at least one other for sale, a 2009 model is asking $117,500 in early 2022. Honestly, a used example is a way many pilots could acquire one of these sharp airplanes. Roger is a LSR-M LSA mechanic. Open the engine compartment doors and you'll see an engine so clean and tidy it looks like it has never been run. If you have the mechanical aptitude and training Roger has, your airplane ownership can be much more affordable. (Note that Roger also does maintenance work on the RV-12 I am flying these days.)
P2008 DescriptionP2008 is a conventional configuration, strut-braced high-wing design originally prepared for the American market. Learn more in the video below but Tecnam's P2008 differs from earlier models following their acquisition of a composite specialty company. Not long after, the Italian manufacturer mated a carbon fiber fuselage and tailplane to wings and control surfaces made of aluminum. P2008 is #106 on our SLSA List. Tecnam's wing for the sleek P2008 is fairly conventional constant-chord shape except for a pinching at the wingroot/fuselage junction. Outboard, the trailing edge is gently tapered with slightly upturned wing tips. Frise ailerons span the outboard sections with discreet slotted flaps inboard. A single lift strut on each side braces the wings to the lower fuselage. On its tail P2008 has a stabilator-style constant-chord tailplane. Its vertical fin is gracefully swept. Although Roger's P2008 has the turbo 914 engine, most P2008s are powered by Rotax's 912ULS. While Roger's P2008 has a three-blade prop, most models come with a two-blade propeller. Cloth-covered seats match a fully-appointed interior that bares no metal or composite, hiding all linkages out of sight. An aft baggage space can hold 44 pounds. For P2008, Tecnam engineers enlarged both the cabin and doors aiding entry and exit and making your time aboard more comfortable. Either seat can be moved fore and aft at any time. Fixed tricycle gear uses spring cantilever main legs and a castoring, non-steerable nosewheel with compressed rubber suspension. You steer on the ground using differential braking. P2008's first flight took place September 30, 2008 and the first P2008 was delivered to the U.S. in December 2009. All Tecnam models are revered for their "natural" handling. This is one of the most straightforward-flying LSA in the fleet. It can function as a capable cross country aircraft or could be used in flight training, though probably not with the turbocharged Rotax 914. In my flight, the turbocharger added a very noticeable boost to depart the runway and enhances initial climb rate generously. We saw more than 1,200 feet per minute at near-sea-level operation. When you increase power, a detent you can feel with your throttle hand alerts you that the turbo is about to be engaged. After five minutes of use — enough to get to 5,000 feet or so — you need to back off the turbo but could employ it again for enroute climb or operations at very high elevation airports. While a more complex installation with somewhat higher maintenance needs, Roger says the 914 is quite easy to operate. No wonder Tecnam has risen to be the largest builder of very light aircraft. If you are in the market for a luxury-class LSA, a P2008 on the used market could be your next airplane.
Tecnam Aircraft P2008 (non-turbo) TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS all data supplied by the manufacturer
- Length — 22.87 feet (6,97 m)
- Height — 8.76 feet (2,67 m)
- Wingspan — 29.5 feet (9 m)
- Maximum Take Off Weight — 1,320 pounds (600 kg)
- Empty Weight, standard configuration — 827 pounds (375 kg)
- Useful Load — 496 pounds (225 kg)
- Baggage Capacity — 44 pounds (20 kg)
- Fuel Capacity — 32 U.S. gallons (123 lt)
- Max Cruise Speed — 128 knots (237 km/h)
- Stall Speed (flaps down, power off) — 39 knots 72 km/h
- Takeoff Roll — 600 feet (183 m)
- Landing Roll — 568 feet (173 m)
- Rate of Climb — 800 feet per minute (4,06 m/sec)
- Range — 514 nautical miles (952 km)
- Engine Manufacturer — Rotax 912ULS
- Engine Power — 100 horsepower
- Propeller — 2-blade fixed pitch
- Fuel Consumption — 4.5 gallons per hour (17 lt/h)
- Fuel Type — Mogas and Avgas
Pilot, builder, owner Roger Jennings is singular in an uncommon way. He has built and loves to fly a Zenith CH-650 but he recently bought a used Tecnam P2008. You could say he goes both ways. Most of us, including your author, tend to fly only fully-built aircraft while another group of equal size enjoys the building process — or at least this is a more affordable path to airplane ownership. Roger truly enjoys his ‘650 on which he mounted a potent 130-horsepower Viking Aircraft Engines powerplant. “It climbs 2,000 feet per minute!” What red-blooded pilot can’t love that? The ‘650 is a low wing, however, and while Roger still loves it, his wife preferred a high wing. They’re easier to enter and offer some shade in Florida’s warm, sunny climate. World-Leading Tecnam After 18 years of Light-Sport Aircraft, Tecnam brand can claim to be the largest aircraft producer in this sector.
Single-Seat Surge Continues: Air Command’s New One-Place Gyroplane
Coming: Air Command's New Single Seat GyroplaneIf you've been around Light-Sport Aircraft aviation for a while, you already know the Air Command brand. Some with long memories may recall problems. Before the more recent wave of interest in gyroplanes, Air Command was a significant player. Sales were good but accidents happened. After founder Dennis Fetters sold the company, a successive owner tackled the issues. To this day, some speak ill of Air Command but that is out-of-date information. Back in the early 1990s, aeronautical engineer Harold Smith took over the design. With his son Doug, they examined the original Air Command design and determined it should not be flown due to the possibility of Pilot Induced Oscillation (PIO). In a safety bulletin Harold stated the old Air Command gyroplanes were not airworthy unless alterations were made. Ultimately, the Smiths issued three key corrections to solve design issues (dual-redundant masts, a joystick control system to replace the "pump-stick," and horizontal stabilizers). Read more about the problems and fixes at this website. The Air Command brand dates to 1979 with first flight in April 1984. In early days, Air Command claimed to be selling two gyroplane kits per day. "More than 2,500 production gyroplane kits were sold worldwide," said company officials. "Air Command is the longest running gyroplane company in the United States," they added.
I am longtime enthusiast of single place aircraft. Clearly, I am not alone. In fact, the number of pilots showing an interest in single-place aircraft has been growing fast according to several ways of estimating such interest. When you fly solo you can operate your flying machine the way you want — well… within the laws of physics and the laws of FAA (or whatever national CAA you must obey). What you don’t need to do is worry about a passenger. Single place aircraft are commonly much more affordable. Despite following single place aircraft closely, even I have been astounded at steadily increasing interest in single place aircraft over the last few years. Although significantly out of sight of many aviators, single place aviation has been growing faster than you imagine. Some pilots actually think Part 103 “died” a couple decades back. I don’t know how it feels to be that wrong, but they are.
What Do Russia and China Have to Do with Light-Sport Aircraft? Plenty!
Icon Will Continue ProductionIt's very rare for an aircraft in the space I always report to appear in the Wall Street Journal that I read for mainstream news. However, one of the paper's articles discussed a case brought before CFIUS, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., by a group led by original Icon founder, Kirk Hawkins. "Feuding investors … are firing off allegations against each other," started one of two lengthy articles by Kate O'Keeffe. "A group of American shareholders fell out with Chinese investors who hold a dominant stake in Icon, alleging they are improperly transferring the company’s technology to China." After Icon raised money from various investors, Chinese funds became the dominant source of cash for the California developer of the A5 LSA seaplane. Find the original article here (but only WSJ paid subscribers can read the full article). In filing a lawsuit appealing to Cfius, which reviews deals on national-security grounds, dissenting shareholders told the panel that Icon’s technology has possible military applications. O'Keffee wrote that Hawkins and the others cited "a previously confidential Pentagon program looking at turning Icon’s planes into unmanned aerial vehicles." Icon’s Chinese backer is Shanghai Pudong Science and Technology Investment Co., a government-backed firm known as PDSTI. Kirk remains on Icon’s board even after PDSTI ousted him as chief executive. Icon's current leadership answered saying, "A5 is suitable for spending a fun afternoon on a lake, not for military missions." "PDSTI’s investment in Icon started out small in 2015," O'Keeffe reported "but by 2017, it had amassed its current nearly 47% stake, according to filings to Cfius and in the separate Delaware lawsuit by the American shareholder group." According to O'Keeffe's article, the minority shareholders were seeking as much as a $60 million buy-out of their interest by PDSTI, though this is not from official court documents. “No unresolved national security concerns,” were found by Cfius noted O'Keeffe as she reported the latest news on March 1, 2022. The panel added that action with respect to the deal “is concluded.” Lawsuits and government regulatory decisions are serious matters but they pale in comparison to bomb threats…
Flight Design and its Ukraine FactoryI hardly need to say more than Flight Design does its primary fabrication in a town called Kherson in the south of Ukraine. Until very recently, you may not of been able to find that on a map, but recent events have changed perspectives significantly. It's also changed how business is done for Flight Design. To inform the situation, Flight Design USA importer, Tom Peghiny made the rounds with large aviation outlets via a video appearance on AOPA TV and though an interview reported online by the newly-reformulated Flying magazine. AOPA — Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association journalists Dave Hirschman and Tom Horne wrote about difficulties for Flight Design after Russia began their attack. "The Flight Design factory is located in Kherson, a city of 300,000 people in the southeastern portion of Ukraine, where Russian troops took control after overcoming days of resistance in a spirited defense by Ukrainian defenders," wrote AOPA. "Russian tanks patrolled the streets on March 2, Reuters reported, though Kherson remained the only city under Russian control." “At this point, there are about 10 to 12 airframes at the Kherson plant,” Peghiny said to AOPA. "Ordinarily, the airframes would be sent to Flight Design’s final assembly and completion center in the city of Šumperk in the Czech Republic." “We’ve found a new, 25,000-square-foot site [in Šumperk that is] suitable for use as a production and paint shop, and will use that in the future,” Peghiny said in the AOPA article. Engineering work is also conducted in Šumperk. "Flight Design is offering to move its Ukraine staff and their families to the Šumperk facility," AOPA wrote. "Peghiny said that the Kherson plant will function as long as conditions allow. However, tooling currently remaining in Kherson will have to be replaced by newly manufactured tooling for use in Šumperk. The company will fund new tooling, but it may take six to nine months to build." AOPA TV had Tom on to talk about Ukraine. Follow this link and see timecode 4:08–7:04 for the whole interview. As Tom notes in his remarks, this is personal not only for Flight Design employees suffering through this military action. Officially, they are behind Russian lines and are OK but what lies ahead is uncertain. Flying magazine — "A week into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Flight Design USA’s president Tom Peghiny reports that — with the Russian forces occupying Kherson three days ago — work has ceased as the company looks to ensure the safety and wellbeing of its workforce," wrote Julie Boatman for Flying magazine (full original article). "Flight Design employs just under 200 technicians, assemblers, and engineers currently at the Kherson plant," continued Boatman, "and according to Peghiny, the company has been ramping up that number. 'We were hiring more aggressively in the past year because of the popularity of the F2, but the other models in the range have been selling well in Europe — simpler, lighter models in particular,' Tom said." Of course, Tom refers to the CT-series including CTLS that is one of the most popular LSA in America. “We know [our employees] very well,” Peghiny said in Boatman's article. “Some have been with the company more than 20 years. We’re good friends, and we take this very personally.”
Aeroprakt Also AffectedAOPA also contacted Dennis Long, importer for the well-selling A22 and A32 LSA made in Kyiv, Ukraine that is presently under attack. Dave Hirschman wrote, "Dennis Long, a dealer for Aeroprakt… said he spoke with factory officials who said they plan to remain on the job. 'They told me they’re going to keep making airplanes until they can’t'," AOPA reported. 'For the time being, it’s business as usual, although my next two airplanes will likely have to be shipped from Poland because the port of Odessa [in Ukraine] is closed.'” Aeroprakt has steady registered more aircraft with the FAA. When asked by AOPA's writer, Dennis said, "Right now, due to all the uncertainty, I’m not taking any new deposits. I’m more concerned about the people over there than the airplanes at this moment." My View — I have personally visited Aeroprakt in Kyiv and Flight Design in Kherson, Ukraine. While the battle rages on between political and military leaders in Russia and the Ukraine, the regular citizens building the airplanes many Americans enjoy are under immense duress. I hope you'll join me in wishing for the safety of these airplane builders. The sooner hostilities end, the better.
Two wildly divergent events occurred in the last few days. They are completely unrelated yet they show the global interplay in modern light aviation. One story involves relative newcomer Icon Aircraft and their A5 LSA seaplane. The other revolves around the producer of the most successful LSA in America, Flight Design. Both airplane producer stories made it into mainstream media. If we go way back in time, to 2003, that is, before Light-Sport Aircraft, we saw a world where Americans flew kit-built airplanes while European pilots were flying what they called ultralights or microlights. Of course, this is an oversimplification but we had no idea the two methods of production would converge as they have in the last two decades. Using widely-accepted consensus standards, Light-Sport Aircraft can operate in multiple countries — thanks to the useful work of many volunteers that assembled and maintain ASTM standards embraced by FAA and other CAAs all over the planet.
Affordable Motorgliders? Yes, a Whole Family of Them You Can Build
A steady stream of readers ask about motorgliders. This is one of recreational aviation's most interesting aircraft types. Motorgliders can soar reasonably well for those interested in working thermals or ridge lift to ascend without motor noise.Many others might never shut down the engine and soar but are intrigued with efficient cross country flying. In a motorglider, a pilot can be more confident as the aircraft can glide far further than other types, providing a broader safety margin. From a one-man operation comes the Italian Piuma Project. Designer and builder Tiziano Danieli describes his creations as "a friendly family of ultralight* motor gliders."
Trouble Is… Motorgliders Are Expensive …Or, Are They?Fully manufactured LSA motorgliders may get you airborne quickly whereas you need to build your Piuma, but the factory-built version will cost substantially more. I've written about Pipistrel's Sinus, Ekolot's Elf, Distar's SunDancer, the Phoenix Air motorglider, and even the kit-built Sonex Motorglider, among several others (even more here). Most of these will cost multiples of the cost of a Piuma homebuilt motorglider. If you’d like a motorglider without the big bill, Tiziano's Piuma series might be just what you are seeking. "As readers will see on the website, I am not a company, but only a passionate pilot / designer / builder of ultralight motor gliders in wood and fabric for personal use who has decided to sell the construction plans to finance his passion," related Tiziano. "Now I am retired, but … being a technician by training, this allowed me to document technical texts in order to first perform the structural calculations of the elements making up the aircraft and then design and build the objects of my hobby." Tiziano fulfilled his dream — with a lot of effort — and he is willing to share that effort via a plans set and descriptions of materials needed. Readers who want to save money acquiring a motorglider may finally have a good option: the Piuma Project — composed of five models, the Original, Evolution, Tourer, Twin Evolution, and Almerico. The latter two are two seaters, though Tiziano admits his primary interest is the single place model. "The first idea was to design, to build and to fly a little one seat ultralight motorglider, for personal use, very safe in flight, simple in the construction, and easy to pilot,” said Tiziano. "I wanted it to have flight characteristics and comfort higher than various tube-and-fabric ultralights of that time." (This was at the end of the '80s.) The first flights of the Piuma Original date back to 1990. This was followed with the Tourer.
Piuma designs have a significant history, yet Tiziano saw value in upgrading his plans and info package. "Given growing interest in minimal ultralights,” Tiziano reported, “in 2021, the drawings of the Original Piuma, the Construction Manual, and also the Project Book were improved with new photos, all now available also in English language." Based on my scouring every page of his website, I can attest his command of English is excellent. When you examine Piuma's website, you will even find English measurements, unusual for a European developer.
Touring Piuma MotorgliderPerhaps a majority of pilots interested in motorgliders will rarely fly them as soaring machines. With long, slender wings, gliders and motorgliders have an elegant, graceful look and are efficient aircraft with low fuel usage per mile flown. A Piuma Tourer confirmed the suitability of the name by flying from Venice to Sicily one year (1,250 kilometers or 776 miles) and from Venice to Paris another year (900 kilometers or 560 miles). These flights confirm, Tiziano said, "that even with a small motorglider, I can do great trips." He has also designed and drawn two-seater versions: the Piuma Twin, later replaced with the Piuma Twin Evolution, that incorporates all the improvements suggested during nine years of Piuma Twin construction: a 20 centimeter (8 inch) longer front fuselage, for better balance without ballast and a rear fuselage similar to the single seat Piuma Evolution. The designer's interest and that of many potential buyer/builder may remain with the single seat models. Not only will they be less costly but with only a single seat, pilots need only satisfy themselves.
Constructing PiumaTiziano sells neither completed motorgliders nor kits. These are "scratch-built" aircraft, meaning that builders have to acquire all the materials and follow drawings to build any of the Piuma models. “Construction time depends on the builder's meticulousness,” said Tiziano. “Normally, about 1,000 hours are sufficient for a person with limited woodworking experience to complete the work. Plans are composed of large technical sheets (24 x 40 inches) with lots of details.” “Some component elements require the use of a lathe and/or milling machine, but most of the construction may be built without special tools. It is very easy,” said Tiziano. He completed his Piuma Original after 18 months of work, in a two-car garage measuring 21 feet long and 13.2 feet wide. Drawings show multiple views and have all the details. A "Construction Book" is provided with instructions and references to the drawings that explain more details relating to each model. Drawings and the book also note all the materials to be purchased specifying the quantity and quality of each necessary element, from the aviation birch plywood to the aluminum alloy parts and including Dacron fabric, glues, and more. A "Project Book" is not necessary for the normal builder, but it is very important for those who want to know the project better. The Project Book contains design considerations; lots of drawings of the fuselage, wings, tail, and more; structural calculations; plus flying characteristics and speeds. The construction plan set sells for $200-$400 (each model is somewhat different in price) in early 2022. Tiziano reported, "The cost of materials, excluding engine and instruments, is around $4,000 (at 2020 prices).” Based on that number my guesstimate for total price with a used Rotax two-stroke engine, basic analog instruments, and minimal paint might be $15,000 or less.
How This Gets Interesting After Mosaic Is ReleasedProfessional build centers have been highlighted as one of Mosaic’s many aspects. Everyone including FAA recognizes that kits built with oversight from people who know the aircraft and the process of construction makes for better, safer airplanes. Because safety is FAA's main consideration, professional builder-assist centers are expected to part of the new regulation. I have been predicting we will see the NPRM by Oshkosh 2022 (mere months away now).
- Wing span — 38.4 feet(34.1 feet)
- Total wing area — 125 square feet (99 square feet)
- Aspect ratio — 11.2:1
- Dihedral — 3°
- Total tailplane area — 17.2 square feet
- Length overall — 19.4 feet
- Height — 4.6 feet
- Empty weight — 320 pounds
- Max take-off weight — 518 pounds (550 pounds)
- Useful load — 198 pounds
- Max wing loading — 4.14 pounds per square foot
- Recommended load factors — +3.4 / –1.2
- Ultimate load factors — +6.8 / 2.5
- Max level speed — 51 knots (81 knots)
- Normal cruising speed — 43 to 48 knots (73 knots)
- Stalling speed — 26 knots (34 knots)
- Never exceed speed — 65 knots
- Best glide ratio with power off — 17:1
- Take-off — 330 feet
- Landing — 330 feet
- Max climb rate at sea level — 390 feet per minute (1,000 fpm)
- Min sink rate (at 31 knots) — 200 feet per minute (235 fpm)
- Engine — 25 horsepower (40 horsepower; Rotax 447)
To help you find lots more information and details plus more photos for each model click or tap any of the several links below. (Note: English is used and is very good.) * European use of "ultralight" does not mean FAR Part 103 parameters. While light, these are not Part 103 ultralight vehicles.
This March 2, 2022 update provides photos of designer / builder Tiziano Danieli's own project. Here's a few words from him about it. "I personally am still flying with my Original Piuma and I am completing the construction of the Almerico (images below), which I modified into a single-seater for personal use." "The construction plans of the Piuma Almerico single-seater that I used for my personal use are not yet completed [but] I intend to make them available to the builders, together with hundreds of photos of the details under construction, in the coming months."
Article Update — Photos of the designer’s own project… see at bottom. —DJ 3/2/22 A steady stream of readers ask about motorgliders. This is one of recreational aviation’s most interesting aircraft types. Motorgliders can soar reasonably well for those interested in working thermals or ridge lift to ascend without motor noise. Many others might never shut down the engine and soar but are intrigued with efficient cross country flying. In a motorglider, a pilot can be more confident as the aircraft can glide far further than other types, providing a broader safety margin. From a one-man operation comes the Italian Piuma Project. Designer and builder Tiziano Danieli describes his creations as “a friendly family of ultralight* motor gliders.” Trouble Is… Motorgliders Are Expensive …Or, Are They? Fully manufactured LSA motorgliders may get you airborne quickly whereas you need to build your Piuma, but the factory-built version will cost substantially more.
Aviad’s Reimagined Zigolo Ultralight for 2022; Welcome to Mg21
Welcome to Zigolo Mg21Check out earlier articles on Zigolo — here's a full pilot report — but know this: While Mg21 shares the name Zigolo, nearly everything about the new model from Aviad developer Francesco Di Martino is different. I recently exchanged email with Francesco regarding his listing in our new Part 103 List; Mg21 is the newest entry. Zigolo Mg21 starts out with multiple versions, mainly differences in wings and wing controls. Since beginning in 2007, Francesco has delivered more than 50 aircraft to 16 countries and the new model looks to be a solid upgrade from the Mg12. Aviad's three variations address different national regulations. The short-wing version is currently being tested. That will work in Europe, but will be too fast in some countries, such as the USA. A longer wing version will follow — and may be appreciated by those searching for a modestly-priced motorglider. Finally, a longer-wing version with flaps is planned for the American market to fit properly in Part 103. All versions have a single wing strut and will lose much of the wire bracing that helped keep Mg12 so very light. Mg21's central structure is a lower box beam running from an aerodynamically-shaped nose containing a digital instrument panel to a tubular empennage boom. In the center of the structure, two rectangular box-section beams support a fixed center wing section and the engine. As nearby images show, this new Mg21 model has wings that can be folded "by one person in less than two minutes," according to a report in VFR Magazine. Folded wings allow transport on a trailer and storage in a car garage. A "bicycle trolley" supports the load with the wings folded during transport. "During wing folding you don't need to remove the propeller and the ailerons remain connected. The process is very fast, width is less than car, and you can carry Mg21 on a trailer that meets street rules," reported Francesco.
Flying Mg21Mg21 will be powered by the popular Polini Thor with a 130-centimeter (51-inch) propeller, but Aviad will also offer the more powerful Vittorazi Cosmos 300. Both are known in U.S., but the Polini has a broader following. Flight testing is ongoing but stall speeds are estimated at 63 kilometers per hour or 34 knots for the short wing, 60 km/h (32 knots) for the long wing, and 52 km/h (28 knots) for the long wing with flap. Francesco will need to slow it another 4 knots to meet FAA's AC-103-7. Fast cruising is between 110 and 120 kilometers per hour (60-65 knots) — depending on the engine and propeller. Mg21's cruise speed should meet FAA's required 55 knot maximum (63 mph or NN kilometers per hour) when fitted with the flap-equipped longer wing option. Zigolo Mg21 lifts its tail after 65 feet of acceleration and rolls into the air in 300 feet. Climb is an impressive 900 feet per minute, he reported, "at my weight of 100 kilograms (220 pounds)." Francesco said, "In a few months, test flights will be completed and we assume that the first kits may be available in the middle of 2022," He added, "I will start this year (2022) with 10 aircraft, and I want be ready next year (2023) with a Part 103 model. I’m making tests with different wings to have best performance that can meet rules in different countries.
America in 2023Once Francesco can find a U.S. distributor, he said, "I believe next year I can start sales in USA. The Part 103 segment requires flaps. I need to reduce stall speed a little bit." However, he notes, "The wings are designed to have flaps and a longer span. Torsion and bend moments were tested for the different versions. While the fuselage is the same [on all versions], the horizontal tail is also made to have two different sizes." "For the USA market, I’m sure we can have a 55 knot cruise speed with climb at 800-900 feet per minute plus the easy-fold system (nearby photo), and a competitive price for an advanced [quick-build-type] kit. Due to very small pack size, we can use air shipment. I’m working with DHL to have worldwide fast shipment without the expensive container charges. I worked very hard to keep all measures inside the maximum permitted by DHL" Given numerous reports of container shipment costs rising by double, triple, or even more, air shipment might ironically turn out to be cheaper for such a cleverly-packaged product. Francesco added, "I prefer Mg21 as a taildragger, but I'm studying a tricycle-gear version." "All production will be managed internally from my workshop," observed Francesco. "We can fabricate all components." "Accessories, engine, and instruments are included in the kit but will be shipped separately," said Francesco. "A customer will receive the airframe kit with all necessary to start the work, and a second shipment will bring the accessories. A Guesstimate about Cost… I asked Francesco for an estimate of pricing, even though it is early. He replied, "I’m still working on this, but estimate about €18,000 (just over $20,000 at today's exchange rate) for an advanced kit with engine." Shipping and other expenses will add to that yet Mg21 should remain an affordable purchase. To address other customers, Francesco added, "I also plan a basic kit for a distributor that wants to preassemble it in USA for his customer." This is permitted if the aircraft qualifies for Part 103. Beside that plan, he will "give the option of a ready-to-fly Mg21 shipped in a box with all components." In this challenging environment of shipping he is investigating cost for sea shipment of a completed aircraft. "For an engine using dual ignition and with a simple instrument package, I believe the price will stay under €20,000 ($22,278 at today's exchange rate) for a factory-built Mg21," Francesco confirmed. Please keep in mind these prices are subject to change given supply problems affecting all industries. "In any case, I will state an offering price for each batch of airplanes because the prices change on all materials," said Francesco. A first batch of 10 kits will be offered at close to the prices mentioned above but contact Aviad for future prices. While flight testing of Mg21 proceeds, keep up with Aviad and Francesco on their Facebook page.
Americans know Zigolo thanks to U.S. importer, Chip Erwin. He brought the genuine Part 103 ultralight to the USA but also to other countries where he found customers. Those who know Chip are aware he has many international connections. Beside importing aircraft to the USA and helping customers build them, Chip experimented with electric propulsion for Zigolo. In short, he did a lot for Italian producer Aviad but Chip is now focused on his Merlin PSA and Merlin Lite plus his Hybird V-Twin, 60 horsepower, four stroke engine. You’ll be hearing more about that as Sun ‘n Fun 2022 approaches. Welcome to Zigolo Mg21 Check out earlier articles on Zigolo — here’s a full pilot report — but know this: While Mg21 shares the name Zigolo, nearly everything about the new model from Aviad developer Francesco Di Martino is different.
LSA-Sized eVTOL Takes a Different (Ducted) Approach — Reasonably Priced?
Can Doroni Do It?However, a two-seater, ducted-fan, LSA-like aircraft with a 500 pound payload for $135-150,000 could actually be something some readers might consider. So, here's a brief update on Doroni. No one commenting on Jetson One or the other Part 103 multicopters I've reported mentioned a need for a second seat. Many said that a 20-minute range was not enough but no one seemed to care that it was for solo flight only. Based in Coral Springs, Florida, Doroni Aerospace wants to let you take a passenger with you or carry a couple hundred pounds of other payload. If it actually came to market at LSA prices, is this of interest? For the record, I will note that in 1999, Cirrus offered their first SR20 at $139,000. It's now a multiple of that with top-end models reaching nearly $1 million. In the LSA market, Icon's A5 also came to market at $139,000 and is now around $350,000. So, perhaps (probably?) Doroni's $135-150,000 forecast will also be short-lived. However, if they somehow could retain that price, would that be of interest to any current Sport Pilots? Only each one of you know the answer.
Doroni DetailsFutureFlight.aero reported, "Doroni H1 is an electrically-powered. two-seat eVTOL vehicle with four ducted fans fitted in a main wing and canard, and a pair of small pusherprops at the rear of the fuselage.” Each ducted fan location houses two electric motors spinning counter-rotating props. H1's main application is personal transportation, but the company also sees a potential for future light freight deliveries. Doroni Aerospace stated, "The aircraft will have a range of around 60 miles, a cruise speed of 100 mph, and a top speed of 140 mph." H1 is compact enough to store and recharge in a two-car garage and light enough to be towed by the family sedan.
The aircraft boasts a 500-pound capacity (what I'd call "payload") and may be flown by an onboard pilot or remotely controlled. The company offers payload and passenger options:
- Pilot and passenger
- Pilot and 200-pounds of cargo
- Up to 500 pounds of cargo with pilotless delivery
Ducted Fan ConfigurationBy reducing propeller blade tip losses, a ducted fan can be more efficient in producing thrust than a non-ducted propeller of similar diameter, that is, while producing a similar amount of thrust, a ducted fan can use a much smaller diameter than a free propeller, allowing for more compact equipment. Given their enclosure, they can also be safer than a free-spinning prop. Ducted fans are also quieter than propellers: they shield the blade noise and reduce the intensity of the tip vortices. This is important for neighbor relations (especially when your unusual aircraft will also attract more than a usual share of attention). Here's a big point in favor of Doroni's use of ducting: Ducted fans can allow for a limited amount of thrust vectoring, something for which normal propellers are not well suited. Smaller props housed in ducting require high revolutions and minimal vibration but those parameters are easier to achieve with electric motor propulsion. Naturally precision ducting adds manufacturing challenges and adds complexity compared to simpler multicopter approaches. On projects as diverse as the Martin Jetpack (company now defunct) or a modern airship, ducting has proven workable. Honestly, I'm surprised we haven't seen more of this in eVTOL designs. The fact is that ducted fan technology is not universally applauded. Some say they are less not more efficient. Yet a related configuration that has wide appeal is high-bypass-ratio turbofan engines that are used on nearly all airliners.
That's It for NowI'm done writing about multicopters for now though I may cover more as interesting designs emerge. Many proponents and industry observers predict huge revenues for such aircraft. Perhaps, but as the old saying goes, "The proof of the pudding is in the eating." We will see which of these exotic designs succeed in the marketplace. The future is devilishly hard to predict. Remember Atari, Compac, Radio Shack, Commodore? These were all big brands in the early days of personal computers a few decades back. None exist today. https://youtu.be/di7A6QGGvGw
I promise I will not keep reporting futuristic eVTOLS or multicopters. However, since the Jetson One article went over better than expected and since I’ve focused mainly on Part 103-sized multicopters, how about one that is LSA-sized? I still would not follow one multicopter article with another except for developer Doron Merdinger, saying this, “Suggested [selling price is] $135,000 to $150,000.” That got my attention. From what I’ve seen so far, any eVTOL larger/heavier than a Part 103 entry is way, way more expensive. Beyond that come air taxies… 4-6-8 seater urban air transport aircraft. Those I will never report as they are commercial by design and cost far beyond any Sport Pilot’s budget. In addition, it could be years before they actually enter the market. Can Doroni Do It? However, a two-seater, ducted-fan, LSA-like aircraft with a 500 pound payload for $135-150,000 could actually be something some readers might consider.
Are We Current Sport Pilots and Our Aircraft an Endangered Species?
No, Not Air Taxis… Recreational MulticoptersLook, this article is not about air taxis or so-called UAM vehicles (Urban Air Mobility, according to some who enjoy making up new names for these multi-motored flying contraptions). Uber Air may be coming but I'll bet it is years in the future because of new regulations that will be demanded by the political class and concern from the big-city general public about weird aerial machines buzzing overhead. In this article, I'll explore only such aircraft that might be called recreational. Interestingly, these developers have discovered Part 103 and are using it to get their aircraft to market. Like them or not, you have to admit these people are creative and driven. We should expect to see more of this. Indeed, people who might buy one of these aircraft could conceivably outnumber all current-day pilots. So, as my clickbait title asks, "Are we Sport Pilots an endangered species?" "We aim to make the skies available for everyone with our safe personal electric aerial vehicle," writes the producer. "We intend to make everyone a pilot." Are you good with that? Millions of new pilots? You could be the minority. Or maybe not. Future history cannot be written yet.
What is Jetson One?Reports FutureFlight.aero (bold and italic highlights mine), "Jetson produces a kit-built eVTOL aircraft called the Jetson One. The Swedish company was founded in November 2017 by high-performance car entrepreneur Peter Ternstrom and drone specialist Tomasz Patan. In the summer of 2022, they [will] start production of the single-seat Jetson One model, and deliveries of the kit-built vehicle are set to begin before the end of the year. In October 2021, the company officially opened an order book, having previously made a number of word-of-mouth sales. Its limited production run is sold out through 2022 with the next delivery slots available in 2023." This appears to translate to 12 aircraft in 2022 with 104 more already ordered for delivery in 2023; only three spaces remain for '23 at this writing. The chassis, as the company calls it, is constructed of aluminum with carbon fiber for the balance of the structure. "The aircraft is being produced under FAA Part 103 rules and, as such, owners do not need a pilot's license to fly it," wrote FutureFlight.aero accurately and assuming it can address an FAA challenge). "Jetson says it provides a day of flight training to customers, who complete assembly of the $92,000 aircraft themselves." To place an order, the company asks for "a deposit of $22,000." "The elementary design features an open chassis that means the Jetson One is only suitable for operations in fair weather conditions. It has eight sets of electric motors and rotors, and is fitted with a whole-aircraft recovery parachute," wrote FutureFlight.aero. "We aim to make the skies available for everyone with our safe personal electric aerial vehicle," say the two developers. "Jetson One [is] a commercially available personal electric aerial vehicle that you can own and fly."
Jetson One TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
- Jetson empty weight — 190 pounds (86 kilograms)
- Maximum pilot weight — 210 pounds (95 kilograms)
- Dimensions — 8 feet long x 5 feet wide x 3 feet 4 inches tall (2,480 mm x 1,500 mm x 1,030 mm)
- Width when folded — 3 feet (900 milimeters)
- Flight duration — 20 minutes
- Top level flight speed, software limited — 55 knots / 63 miles per hour (102 kilometers per hour)
- Service Ceiling — above 1,500 feet AGL
- Flight controls — 3-axis joystick / throttle lever
- Battery type — high discharge Lithium-Ion
- Charging time — 1 hour on 220 volts / 2 hours on 110 volts
- Max total power output — 118 horsepower (88 kilowatts)
- Chassis type — all-aluminium space airframe
- Motor type — high power output electric brushless outrunner
By my study and reports from several other organizations, the world has somewhere north of 1,000,000 pilots. That estimate includes all airline, military, GA, and recreational pilots even including hang glider and paraglider pilots and sky divers. One million, more or less. Now, as anyone who has not been vacationing on Mars the last couple months probably knows, another new multicopter is captivating YouTube gazers. Dubbed Jetson One after the famous TV cartoon from decades past, this small vehicle is certainly intriguing… even if you are one of many current-day pilots who dismiss these aircraft. The video below has been viewed more than 14 million times in three months! Not only haven’t we seen the last of this, more likely this is just the beginning. No, Not Air Taxis… Recreational Multicopters Look, this article is not about air taxis or so-called UAM vehicles (Urban Air Mobility, according to some who enjoy making up new names for these multi-motored flying contraptions).
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