Over many years, many people have done solid work to accommodate people who are physically challenged in one way or another. That’s great! More opportunities to bring in motivated pilots is worthwhile.
Yet designers have been hampered from making such changes, partly as they are burdened by a certification system that is simply too rigid to make the effort of approval worth it for small numbers of specially-equipped aircraft.
Cars, hotel rooms, curb construction, building ramps, smartphones, and more …all accommodate persons with disabilities. That’s wonderful, however…
All those arrangements that make life easier for someone in a wheelchair must nonetheless cope with strenuous regulatory demands. Cars, hotels, and smartphones are created by vastly larger enterprises with staff to handle regulatory burdens.
In the more intimate world of recreational aviation, the industry is composed of much smaller enterprises. A lighter regulatory hand (using ASTM standards instead of full FAA certification) allows easier airframe customization for specific purposes — such as hand control fittings and linkages — and this system allows changes on a dramatically faster schedule.
It may be tough to abide by many pages of rules yet some developers have made special efforts for pilots that lack the use of their legs.
I’ve already covered Magnaghi’s slickly-achieved hand control SkyArrow among other aircraft fitted with hand controls: the G1 STOL, Flight Design’s CT (seen in this article about Able Flight), a B.O.T. entry, even a powered parachute. Now, welcome the newest to accommodate pilots with special needs.
Fitted with Hand Controls
As the nearby photos show, Montaer Aeronaves has quite an eye for finish work and their adaptation of hand controls reflects this attention to detail. This is one man’s ambition mated to particularly useful prior experience.
Founded in 2013 in Bahia, Brazil by aeronautical designer Bruno de Oliveira, Montaer developed MC01 as a fresh Light-Sport Aircraft based on the Paradise aircraft family. A high-wing, all-metal design, most who examined the new LSA at Sun ‘n Fun 2021 zeroed in on the superior finish and obvious craftsmanship. In particular, check the smooth finish of MC01’s metal wings.
The Brazilian design features a welded-steel passenger safety cell, an all-aluminum airframe built with solid metal rivets (more time consuming than pop rivets and more highly regarded by some), dual control yokes instead of joysticks, and a beautifully appointed interior.
When Bruno created a hand control, he integrated it as smoothly as everything else on MC01 (check all the pictures to see for yourself). The handle accommodates throttle movements (fore-and-aft) and rudder/nosewheel movements by twisting.
MC01’s enormous aft compartment and third door are further reasons why the Montaer proved compelling for one buyer.
Montaer won FAA acceptance as a Special LSA in 2019, and in 2021 established a presence at DeLand airport in central Florida, becoming affiliated with the active group at Aero Adventure.
Recently Bruno wrote, “I am so happy to announce this delivery. We got the handicapped-adapted airplane registered to its new owner, Gary Hansen of Wisconsin.” He added that prior U.S. representative Ed Ricks helped assemble Gary’s MC01.
“This means one more Montaer flying in USA, Bruno continued. “I am manufacturing a third MC01 airplane to ship, this one with a Rotax 915iS installed. He said he plans to show this aircraft at Sun ‘n Fun 2022.
Like so many international visitors, Bruno was unable to attend the 2021 Lakeland event. Alex Rolinski‘s team at Aero Adventure worked with Shalom de Confessor of Seamax USA to assist Bruno for an American product launch that he could not personally attend due to Covid restrictions. The two seaplane sellers also collaborate on other activities.
Alex added his congratulations, “USA has another Montaer MC01 aircraft flying today, a bold project adapted for a physically handicapped person. A few months after submitting the project to FAA, we achieved acceptance so the aircraft can be released to its customer. We are sure Gary will be very happy with his machine.”
What I ask readers to remember is that fitting an aircraft with hand controls is somewhat a labor of love. Bruno will probably never sell enough hand-control MC01s to pay for development expenses, but keeping another pilot in the air is a powerful reward.
I applaud Bruno and those other designers for offering hand controls to pilots that need such controls.
Come along for a flight in MC01 with Alex Rolinski and me flying out of my home airport (7FL6)…