“Time to spare? Go by air!” is a familiar humor line, speaking to weather uncertainties, mechanical delays, or relaxed cruise speeds that can slow or stall a cross-country flight in our fun, recreational aircraft. One man created his own special way to log some flight hours getting to Oshkosh. Evidently this adventurous pilot never heard another popular line: “The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.” (Don’t anyone challenge me with Great Circle routes; this is about a long flight but not a globe-spanning one.) While pilots around the nation are in various stages of preparation for the flight to EAA’s big summer celebration of flight, our aerial explorer is already en route. He’s about halfway as this is posted. Ambitious Journey I’ve had the pleasure to fly into Oshkosh a number of times. I’ve also several times flown with pilots making their first entry. Ask anyone who’s done it; joining the arrival pattern to Oshkosh on the busy days right before it opens is an experience no one forgets.
"In 1928," said the company, "what was to become the most successful Junkers sports aircraft left our Dessau production plant for the first time: a single-engine, two-seat, low-wing aircraft with an oval fuselage cross-section and corrugated sheet metal skin. The prototype was equipped with an 80 horsepower Armstrong-Siddeley engine.
"Astonishingly, she had a take-off weight of a mere 600 kilograms, a light aircraft from the very beginning," said Junkers.Why am I writing about a 93-year-old aircraft? Because, "It's back!"
Back to the Future?"Our Junkers A50 Junior had its maiden flight in February 1929," recalled Junkers (say: "yun-kers"). "In that year, 69 aircraft were manufactured, [some of] which set a number of FAI world records. Various European record flights were also carried out with the A50. Famously Marga von Etzdorf was the first woman to fly from Berlin to Tokyo in 1930 with her Junior A50. This aircraft had the potential to become "the people's aircraft," company records report, but a global economic crisis intervened. Today, as a light, sport aircraft A50 Junior combines the latest technology with the flair of the '30s. "This unique aircraft induces feelings of freedom for new adventures," said Junkers. "With our new production A50 Junior, the dream of flying back in time is today attainable. We prepare the way; climb aboard to experience adventure!" "A50 Junior comes packed full of the latest technologies, including a 9-series Rotax engine, MT Mühlbauer propeller, Beringer brakes, and Garmin avionics" said Junkers. "An integrated Galaxy whole airframe parachute system ensures an outstanding level of safety." Early in 2022, the company forecast first deliveries of the distinctive aircraft in April 2022. Inspired by the original birth of the A50 (1929), the first 29 aircraft will be sold at an introductory price of €179,000 (as this is written in July 2022, dollars and euros are almost at parity).
Collaboration EffortTo create their stylish, vintage design, Junkers partnered with Kaelin.aero and the choice seemed appropriate, in two ways. From an engineer's view, Kaelin has long experience in aircraft maintenance and put a large, qualified staff on the task (see video). The vintage-appearing construction looks rather labor intensive, as with most specialty manufacturing. With that in mind, their introductory price may be quite a value. From a stylist's view, A50 Junior is a work of art from its graceful air-splitting nose down its corrugated skin, to its leather cockpit trim and two open tandem seats, to its wire-spoke wheels. Kaelin's website shows an artistic flavor not common in maintenance and restoration operations. "This new version of the Junkers A50 is an ultralight aircraft in the 600-kilogram class," wrote Kaelin. Designed with open tandem seating, "A50 Junior resembles a typical light aircraft from the end of the 1920s, so it has a very classic appearance." "[Junior] does incorporate the latest technology … to ensure the greatest possible safety," added Kaelin. As nearby images show, A50 Junior has modern digital avionics screens. "The pilot monitors and controls from the rear seat," said Kaelin, but "otherwise the cockpit retains its retro trim." England's Flyer magazine reported plans from Junkers Flugzeugwerke AG, "A50 Junior is built and approved to the new 600 kilogram microlight category in Germany, which means it should be available throughout Europe and the UK." No plans have yet been announced for American distribution. Flyer goes on, "The idea of recreating the Junkers A50 Junior came from Dieter Morszeck, who was behind the replica Junkers F13. Mr. Morszeck’s family firm Rimowa produces the iconic suitcase with a similar exterior skin. (nearby image) The British magazine also reported that Kaelin Aero previously constructed the Junkers F13. "Kaelin is a renowned aviation engineering company in Germany with much experience in renovations and modifications," added Flyer. Swiss engineering and quality combined with a fascinating Art Deco look conveyed by the corrugated-skin airframe and its two, separated tandem seats will generate admiring looks at any airfield you visit. As it made a flight from Berlin to Tokyo back in 1930 — I can only imagine how challenging that would have been 92 years ago — Junkers A50 Junior now looks poised for a comeback. Do Americans find this classic appearance compelling? Perhaps in the future…?
Junkers Flugzeugwerke AG A50 Junior TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS information supplied by Junkers
- Wingspan — 32 feet / 9.7 meters
- Length — 23 feet 4 inches / 7.1 meters
- Height — 7 feet 9 inches / 2.4 meters
- Empty weight — 705 pounds / 320 kilograms
- Max weight — 1,320 pounds / 600 kilograms
- Engine — 100 horsepower Rotax 912iS
- Prop — MTV-33-1-A / 170
- Fuel Capacity — 31.7 gallons / 120 liters
- Cruise Speed — 100 knots / 185 kilometers per hour
- Top Speed — 111 knots / 205 kilometers per hour
- Stall Speed — 41 miles per hour / 76 kilometers per hour
Talk about being ahead of its time, Junkers’ A50 Junior was designed to 600 kilograms / 1,320 pounds …93 years ago! “In 1928,” said the company, “what was to become the most successful Junkers sports aircraft left our Dessau production plant for the first time: a single-engine, two-seat, low-wing aircraft with an oval fuselage cross-section and corrugated sheet metal skin. The prototype was equipped with an 80 horsepower Armstrong-Siddeley engine. “Astonishingly, she had a take-off weight of a mere 600 kilograms, a light aircraft from the very beginning,” said Junkers. Why am I writing about a 93-year-old aircraft? Because, “It’s back!” Back to the Future? “Our Junkers A50 Junior had its maiden flight in February 1929,” recalled Junkers (say: “yun-kers”). “In that year, 69 aircraft were manufactured, [some of] which set a number of FAI world records. Various European record flights were also carried out with the A50. Famously Marga von Etzdorf was the first woman to fly from Berlin to Tokyo in 1930 with her Junior A50.
A New L600In case Covid (understandably) fogged your brain, Orlican's Eagle is a follow-on design. Americans and others have seen a very similar look before. It started with L600, which Deon has been selling in the U.S. for several years. Why the name "Legend?" Look at the design. What popular model of aircraft does it resemble? If you guessed Cessna 182 Skylane, you are remarkably observant. Indeed, this model was created as an 80% scale imitation of Cessna's popular four seater, just with two seats and built of composite rather than metal. Since I have flown both the Cessna 182 and the L600, I’ll say it simply. Skylane 182 carries a lot more weight and it flies like it. Cruising is smooth but in maneuvers or during takeoff and landings, a C-182 feels like driving an oversized pickup truck. It has power but the handling is heavy, not agile. L600 was completely different. Here's my earlier comments on the this design (including a video pilot report). One reason why L600 felt better to me: it's LSA-light at 1,320 pounds or 600 kilograms (hence the name L600). By contrast a Cessna 182 tops out at 3,100 pounds, well over twice as much. Then, pricing… A new Cessna 182 is base priced beyond $500,000. Deon will sell his L600 Eagle for $150,000* — less than one-third the cost of a Cessna 182. Of course, the 182 carries almost double the useful load, 1,130 pounds to L600 Eagle's 594 pounds* (with standard equipment). A C-182 cruises faster, too, 156 knots to L600 Eagles's 120 knots*. Yet with 182 going for triple the price (comparing new to new), Eagle offers good value for your dollars. Some readers will surely say they can buy a used 182 for the same money as a new M-8 Eagle and that's true. However, flying a C-182 will require a medical and a used Skylane priced approximately the same as a new L600 Eagle will be a 1970s model, close to 50 years old usually with out-dated analog instrumentation and a thirst for 100LL fuel. I see nothing wrong with those legacy airplanes but they will generate maintenance bills well beyond the Eagle and they'll cost up to three times as much per hour to operate.
Who Is Orlican?You've probably never heard of this brand but if you lived in Eastern Europe, that would be quite different. The company has a long, rich history. Americans may not know that so here's the briefest history lesson. Nearly 100 years ago, the original Orlican company was founded by engineers Beneš and Mráz in 1935. The factory was later nationalized by the government but in the 1990s, a new company — Schempp-Hirth Ltd., a brand well-known and widely respected in Europe for its sleek sailplane gliders — took over the air division of Orlican. Manufacturing of composite Scheme-Hirth gliders is current today. The Orlican brand was reestablished in the autumn of 2014, with the support of employees and customers of the original company. "It is still in our DNA to carry on this longstanding tradition, to continue what was established many years ago," said Orlican CEO Vaclav Bervid. The new boss expressed reverence for the original Mr. Mráz, who believed, "I searched for my own path that nobody ever walked upon…“ The renewed Orlican company hopes to continue that philosophy. L600 Eagle is Orlican's entry product into Light-Sport Aircraft. They benefitted when a key engineer departed to bring a similar design to Orlican. How is it different? Let's check the one presently in the USA.
Now in the USADeon Lombard’s company will import the Orlican model to sell alongside his Whisper kit. "Eagle is essentially the same design as L600 but all the improvements we could incorporate," said Deon. The first Orlican in America (seen in nearby photos with N-numbers) is already in use at Fly Corps Aviation flight school with nine instructors operating out of Savannah, Georgia. With 30 hours on this first example, school owner Chip Griewahn reported, "[L600 Eagle] is the easiest airplane my instructors have ever flown." Deon reported Griewahn has plans to add more Eagle aircraft. As Orlican completed work on Eagle, Deon listed several changes made to the prior design:
- Choice of doors opening forward or upward
- More aileron area, increased effectiveness
- Pushrods mainly replacing cable linkages
- Throttle in panel now; Aeropilot was on the floor
- Wing root fuel quantity sight tubes
- Engine cooling has been improved from Aeropilot
- Airframe is ready for post-Mosaic increases
- One of the more unusual features is the rare lay-flat accommodation (nearby photos)
Orlican Ltd. L600 Eagle (American model) GENERAL DESCRIPTION
- Carbon fiber composite airframe with fixed landing gear
- All terrain wheels and suspension
- Single color (acrylic) paint in white or light color
- Rotax 912 80 horsepower; Rotax 100-hp 912 and 115-hp Rotax 914 turbo are available
- Pushbutton ignition system
- Vernier throttle control
- Slipper clutch
- Tubular steel engine mount with 4 rubber engine mounts
- Fireproof sleeves on the fuel lines,
- Three-blade ground-adjustable Woodcomp Propulse propeller with carbon fiber blades
- Carbon fiber white propeller spinner
TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS all figures supplied by the manufacturer
- All info for LSA model WEIGHTS
- Empty Weight — 728 pounds (330 kg)
- Maximum Take-off Weight — 1,320 pounds (600 kg)
- Minimum Crew Weight — 132 pounds (60 kg)
- Maximum Crew Weight — 397 pounds (180 kg)
- Maximum Luggage Capacity — 66 pounds (30 kg) PERFORMANCE
- Takeoff Roll — 490 feet / 150 meters
- Climb Rate — 1,200 feet per minute (5–7 m/s)
- Max Operating Altitude — 18,000 feet (5400 meters)
- Stall Speed with Flaps — 29 knots (53 km/h)
- Max Cruise Speed — 135 knots* (250 km/h)
- Landing Roll — 490 feet (150 m) DIMENSIONS
- Length — 23 feet (7 m)
- Height — 8.7 feet (2.65 m)
- Wing Span — 29.8 feet (9 m)
- Wing Area — 116 square feet (10.7 sq.m)
- Horizontal Tail Width — 9 feet (2.8 m)
- Horizontal Tail Area — 24 square feet (2.2 sq.m)
- Vertical Tail Area — 12 square feet (1,116 sq.m)
- Cabin Width — 45.8 inches (1.16 m)
Fifty three years ago this month, Neil Armstrong made history when he declared first, “The Eagle has landed.” His words described a momentous occasion: humans about to set foot on the moon. Orlican can’t claim such high ground but through two years of Covid dislocations, the Czech Republic developer finished their second-generation LSA and the first one in the U.S. was delivered to its first customer, a flight school. Longtime LSA importer and reseller, Deon Lombard has been waiting as supply lines snarled and shipments were delayed. However, the European manufacturer persevered and the new model has crossed the Atlantic. Orlican’s Eagle has landed! A New L600 In case Covid (understandably) fogged your brain, Orlican’s Eagle is a follow-on design. Americans and others have seen a very similar look before. It started with L600, which Deon has been selling in the U.S. for several years. Why the name “Legend?” Look at the design.
Welcome Caleb BowmanIn April 2022, Caleb Bowman of Pasco, Washington announced he had acquired the Six Chuter brand, proudly stating, "Six Chuter Powered Parachutes returns to Washington State." Caleb reports he comes from a farming background, and for several years, enjoyed doing a lot of metal fabrication. Caleb brings a wealth of technical knowledge and skills that prepared him for his next endeavor. “I look forward to many years of being involved in sport flying," Caleb said. "I am committed to building quality powered parachutes and parts and to provide the best in customer service. It gives me great pleasure to follow in the footsteps of the Eatons."
Six Chuter and Its Affordable AircraftSix Chuter advises that you choose one of their models depending on how you intend to fly in addition to your preferences in the method of assembly and type of airworthiness. The company offers several models and all of them appear to easily qualify for the "affordable" label — even though we all know that word means something different for every single person reading it. Let's quickly run through Six Chuter's line and you'll get the idea. P3 Lite; True Part 103 Legal Ultralight (≈$17,000*) "If you intend to fly solo and prefer to avoid the pilot certification requirements of Sport Pilot, then P3 Lite is the model for you," said the company. Powered by a 40 horsepower Kawasaki 440, P3 Lite will seem energetic. See specifications for both aircraft nearby. Because these aircraft are affordable I presented prices up-front, however, it is important that you contact the company for current and detailed information; do not rely solely on this article. P3 Lite presently sells for about $17,000 complete and ready to fly under Part 103. No kit version is available. Legend XLss (≈$38,000*) What if you want to earn a pilot certificate and carry a passenger? "Six Chuter's Legend series is a very cost-effective and high performing model for those who prefer the more powerful 65 horsepower Rotax 582 engine," said Six Chuter. "Legend with Rotax 582 E Gear Box, Electric Start has been our most popular selling model." "As per FAA regulations, our Special Light Sport Aircraft (SLSA) are assembled, tested, and certified for you by the factory when they are sold," reported the company. Paragon XLss no front bars, and Paragon Hdlx with Halo “Paragon AM is equipped with the 117 horsepower AeroMomentum AM 15 engine (video) as standard to provide four-stroke engine dependability, more power and incredible fuel economy," said Six Chuter. Paragon can also be supplied with these powerplants: Rotax 912 with 80 or 100 horsepower or AeroMomentum 100 horsepower "Add fully functional dual controls to any of our tandem models and you can receive sport pilot training in your own ELSA (Experimental Light Sport Aircraft) or EAB (Experimental Amateur Built)," stated Six Chuter. "Our standard kits are built in subassemblies at the Six Chuter factory for economical shipping anywhere in the world." The average builder can assemble these units in 100 to 200 hours. I stress the same caveat as before but a ELSA version of Paragon — which Caleb said is what most buyers prefer, over a Special LSA — sells for about $38,000 for a complete but "kit" version of the aircraft. I wrote kit in quotes because you will not do much or any assembly. Explaining ELSA and SLSA An ELSA also allows an owner to change his or her aircraft as time passes without getting approval from the manufacturer. No producer may offer an ELSA without first getting FAA acceptance for their Special LSA version. Once so approved, the builder can deliver some or all ELSA as desired but all ELSA must be delivered initially as bolt-for-bolt copies of the SLSA version. Only after getting their Special Airworthiness Certificate issued may owners start to make changes. Six Chuter has earned FAA acceptance for the Legend XL Tandem; #75 on the SLSA List. To compare, a SLSA model cannot be changed in any way without first getting a Letter of Authorization from the manufacturer and the builder will likely not issue an LoI without first testing the equipment to be installed — a reasonable requirement, as they could be charged with liability for any resulting problems with the changed equipment. Such are the details when FAA issues extensive rules about how aircraft may be used. If you don't want to grapple with all that, consider the Part 103-eligible P3 Lite model that can be operated without following any rules beyond Part 103 and AC-103-7. Find more about P3 Lite on the Part 103 List * I don't mean to stress price over everything but each pilot is limited by what he or she can afford. At $17,000 Six Chuter's P3 Lite is one of the great bargains in aviation. A complete aircraft that sells for less than half the average price of a new car must qualify as "affordable," I believe. Happy shopping! The two-seat, SLSA-capable Legend has a much more powerful engine but comes essentially ready to fly as a ELSA kit. Priced at $38,000, this also qualifies as a bargain. Speak directly to Caleb at Six Chuter regarding the SLSA model and his readiness to supply it. With his ownership barely two months old Caleb is wisely taking small steps initially. His first priority is supplying parts to the existing fleet but he is fully assembling several models as this is written.
Ways to learn more about Six Chuter…
- Six Chuter Company Website
- Six Chuter content here on ByDanJohnson.com
- Six Chuter Facebook Page
- Caleb Bowman's email
- Caleb Bowman's telephone: 509-792-0726
Considering the company has always been a western U.S. manufacturer, a name that sounds like “six shooter” conjures a cowboy image, horse-riding westerners packing a pistol on their hip. Actually, it’s just a fun name. Six Chuter’s aircraft are enjoyable enough and the company careful enough about how it treated its prospects and customers that they managed to sell more than 2,100 aircraft since forming three decades back. Over many years of examining hundreds of companies, I am aware only a very small number of airplane producers that have built more than 2,000 aircraft. Six Chuter is clearly a company prepared to stick around for a while. Here’s a very brief look back at its history. Six Chuter is one of the longest operating powered parachute companies in business today, founded in 1991 by Dan Bailey in Yakima, Washington. Dan sold the company when he felt it was time, in 2010, to “pass the baton” to prior Six Chuter dealers Doug Maas and Tom Connelly.
CFM Air, Dardo Kit and RTF (Ready-to-Fly)CFM AIR is an Italian aerospace company specialized in the design, production, and testing of aero-mechanical structures in aluminum alloy and carbon fiber. Their current aircraft called Dardo is an advanced European ultralight with retractable gear and is at the top of its category. Dardo's MTOW is 600 kg; load factor +4.4g / -2.2g; maximum design speed 370 km / h (200 knots); cruising speed 250 km / h (135 knots); stall speed 64 km / h (35 knots). This Italian aircraft resembles the fastest European tandem ultraalights but it features side-by-side seat arrangement offering possibly the largest cabin in its class. At first sight Dardo has some structural similarities with some Italian tandem aircraft. The Dardo is offered with a 115hp Rotax 914 turbo engine and a variable pitch propeller. On a display was an interesting e-motor, hybrid solution for stock Rotax engines (photo at Rotax news). Thanks to the retractable gear Dardo`s cruising speed is 135 knots. The aircraft is equipped with two explosion-proof tanks of 50 liters (13 gallons) each allowing endurance of 4 hours of flight and a range of 1000 km (625 miles). The comfort of the pilot and the passenger was taken into account, in fact, the whole project started from a very spacious and ergonomic cabin with electrically adjustable seats. One luggage compartment behind the seats is accessible trough an external door. The list price is: advanced kit €110,000.00*, and RTF base aircraft 100hp and analog instrumentation €140,000.00, full optional €195,000.00. * A note about prices quoted in this article — At the time of posting (June 2022), it takes $1.06 to buy one euro. So if you add a small amount to each price it will roughly equate to U.S. dollars. Ocean shipping costs are presently very high (3X and beyond what they were in 2019) but hopefully those will return to Earth. U.S. importers may add other fees. Please consider all prices as estimates. —DJ
Scandinavian Seaplanes (was Atol) RTF, later KitTo some UL/LSA friend this name may not be common. The new manufacturer Scandinavian Seaplanes Ltd has bought all rights and assets of Atol Avion Ltd, in February 2021.The new company went to Aero 2022 presenting its new team but was not able to bring the new version of its amphibian airplane as the components for the all new cabin were delivered too late for proper installation. The Atol Aurora amphibian LSA aircraft has been under development now for 10 years and is planned to be ready for serial production by the end of 2022. This is an interesting aircraft because it implements few new design elements but is built with an old and proven material: wood. Parts in direct contact with water are composite. The core team from Atol Avion was hired to continue working for new company and this enabled the official transfer of the nearly finished type certification project with EASA, a valuable asset. Scandinavian Seaplanes or Atol Aircraft — name they use for marketing — benefited from the vast experience of its team in building modern production facilities at Halli airport in Jämsä, Finland (where the Finnish Air Force Tech School was based) and aims to be the leading manufacturer of amphibian aircraft in Europe. The company focuses on the Scandinavian and European market but will extend its activities to USA and rest of the world pretty soon. (See earlier articles about Atol.) Atol Aurora is a real adventure amphibian with 273 kg (600 pound) useful load without compromising strength and durability. Aircraft designers have teamed up with a group of students of LAB (University of Applied Sciences, Lahti) and together they will come out with a cockpit which is not only great in looks, but also ergonomic and functional for all different environments where the plane can operate.
Promecc Aerospace Kit and RTFThe Italian UL manufacturer with deep roots in manufacturing of commercial aviation sub-assemblies brought several new UL products to Aero 2022. One of them is the Pegaso 2022, an all composite, sleek, high-wing aircraft, which derives from the low wing UL called Freccia (Arrow). Pegaso offers now a new, more ergonomic interior and is ready for series production. Its access doors are now front-hinged, making cabin entry much easier. The well-established, fast RG, low-wing aircraft Freccia, which successfully passed the static load tests for the 600-kilo certification is in Germany UL certified, was also showcased togeter with the fixed gear, base low wing version called Sparviero. In addition to the Rotax 912 and the Rotax 914, the new Freccia RG has under the cowling the most powerful Rotax, the Rotax 915iS is. As we could hear from the company owner, Mr. Mauro Dono at Aero 2022, it was “terrific good” with several sold aircraft. The manufacturer informed us that he intends to showcase their aircraft on AirVenture 2022 and intends to offer to the U.S. public his full range of aircraft as factory built but also as really price competitive kits. Kits prices: Sparviero €40.000*, Pegaso €65.000 and Freccia €69.000
I.C.P. Kit and +RTFI.C.P. is one of the few Italian companies which exhibits continuously at Aero; many companies follow the sailplane lead and go alternate years only —DJ. I.C.P. is pushing the Ventura more and more to the foreground; it is now powered by the Rotax 915 iS, but Lycoming version is available, too. Ventura is an experimental aircraft version with 4 seats and was shown in a special finish. For those who wish to build their own Ventura ICP demonstrated — hands-on — how easy the building process is. By the way, the company offers even a factory-assist building. The second phase of European Very Light Aircraft (VLA) certification for this aircraft has begun and German certification is expected in '22 or '23. Another aircraft on display was Savannah S, powered by the Rotax 912ULS in a special version for flight schools. The French approval for 525 kilo MTOW is already available. For their main products, I.C.P. is now also offering a new exhaust system from Termignoni, which will soon also be used as standard equipment on the Ventura and Savannah. Ventura 4 seater kit starts depending of the extent and version from $29,000 or €25.500* in Europe.
Flight Design RTFFor the German light aircraft manufacturer, past times were very difficult. FD is manufacturing their composite parts in the Ukraine and this was, of course, affected by the war. According to Matthias Betsch (FD Business Development) we could hear that all workers are OK, none was until now injured, and that the production in the Ukraine is still on course. FD is considerably enlarging their existing production facility in the Czech Republic where most production is now happening. According to Mr. Betsch, the company is in a excellent condition and “healthy,” and the production increase in Czech Republic was anyway needed as the company is blessed by aircraft orders. The current order boost was mainly driven by the by the F-Series but the CT-series is still selling well. oth aircraft were showcased on their exhibit at AERO where the F2 H2 was highlighted and the personnel gave an update about their Ukrainian production facility during the event. The F2eH (Hydrogen) concept which was on display at Aero Friedrichshafen 2022 was developed with Siemens/Rolls Royce and successfully flight tested in 2019. The Project HyFly, which is a technology development program co-initiated by Flight Design’s major shareholder Lift Air, was shown at Aero and will be on display at AirVenture 2022 in Oshkosh. It is a proof-of-concept of what can be done to bring the new Green Hydrogen benefits to light aviation. The Project HyFly is a joint venture of KasAero, PS-HyTech, and Flight Design. “We are very excited to bring this technological proof-of-concept to Oshkosh to show what can be done to bring the promise of Green Hydrogen to Light-Sport Aircraft airplanes,” said Daniel Guenther, CEO of Flight Design general aviation. We believe in the future of this technology and are proud to be a part of this project”. The F2e (Electric) and F2eH (Hydrogen) are just variants of the Flight Design F-series aircraft. The F2-CS23 (Europe's equivalent to FAA's Part 23 certification —DJ) was awarded an EASA Type Certificate in December 2021. F2 was accepted by the FAA as an Special LSA in July 2021.
Elixir Aircraft RTFSince 2019 and the last exhibition at Aero Friedrichshafen, Elixir Aircraft has evolved, grown and structured itself: it obtained EASA CS-23 certification, opened two new production sites in La Rochelle and it delivered its first aircraft. This year, a new Elixir was unveiled at the AERO: the 141hp Elixir powered by a Rotax 915is turbocharged engine. Since September 2021 Elixir Aircraft has internalized the production of OneShot parts, namely the fuselage and wings, an element of the major innovation of Elixir. The French company adopted for aircraft production the technology used for building composite boats. Elixir manufactures the Fuselage and the wings as one part. To support this, a second production site opened in early 2022. Equipped with two autoclaves, one which measures over 12 meters (almost 1,300 square feet). Elixir Aircraft now controls the entire production process for its aircraft. To date, a full order book allows Elixir Aircraft to continue recruiting. To date, 40 Elixir aircraft have been ordered and a further 100 pre-ordered.
JMB Aircraft Kit and RTF"A new star on the Light-Sport Aircraft space is born," glowed one journalist. After two years without the event, the JMB Aircraft crew has brought the VL3 Evolution to Aero Friedrichshafen and has — as usual — created big, better, perhaps the biggest stir ever. The booth was again in a prime location where JMB attracted most visitors on the AERO showcasing as a world premiere their, sleek, low wing composite rocket, which this time was powered by a French Turbotech TP-R90 130hp turboprop powerplant. See our earlier report on JMB's Turbine. This turbine powered VL3 was a show in a show and had its maiden flight only three weeks prior AERO. It was flown by Jean-Baptiste Guisset, CEO of JMB Aviation, who told us that after two Aero days the VL3 Turbine had six firm orders! The European UL aircraft which is powered by the regenerative turbine goes for 350.000 ($370,000). The biggest advantage of the turbine — as weight and performance figures are similar to the Rotax 915iS piston engine — is its 3,000-hour TBO and its potentially low maintenance. All this still to be prudently proved how this turbine functions in real life. As of now the company is aiming, with an Experimental version of the aircraft even the U.S. American marke. JMB also showcased a VL3 in an IFR version but this was in the turbine's shadow.
Breezer AircraftThe German manufacturer from the Northsea-coast has always been good for a surprise in recent years. The Breezer Sport, the all metal, low wing, 600kg UL aircraft was a star at the Aero 2022, as it is now in serial production and is 600kg category certified in Germany since May 2021. The Breezer Sport on display was powered by the Rotax 915 iS and featured new wiglets and an aerodynamically optimized cowling. A Breezer B400-6 towing version was on on display too. Under the modified cowling a Rotax 915 iS was installed allowing towing of larger gliders, loads of up to 830-840 kilos. (See our earlier reporting on Breezer. The brand present has no U.S. representation at present.)
BRM Aero Kit and RTFWe expected that Bristell would highlight at this Aero a genuine innovation called B8, an all-metal, cantilevered high wing with a steerable nose wheel and an 125 centimeters (49.2 inches) wide cabin. The B8 should be certified in a 600-kilo UL and will be LSA compliant when ready. The standard engine is a Rotax 912 ULS, but the Rotax 914 and 915 iS are likely to be offered. BRM surprised us all debuting on this Aero another aircraft which nobody had on the radar… stealing the show from the B8. BRM showcased the all metal, low wing aircraft, similar to the B23 (their familiar model known in America as Bristell), with fixed gear but powered by a Turbotech turbine with 130hp, which according to the manufacturer burns 25 l/h (6,5 U.S. Gal) of Jet A1 or diesel when cruising at 75% power. With a cruising speed of 127 KTAS — what is for European UL class AC pretty slow — BRM intends to bring a robust, comfortable and, above all, low-maintenance aircraft onto the market in the coming years. Bristell also had on display the B23 Turbo/915iSc, a further development of their well-known low-wing aircraft, which is to be certified according to CS-23 as an E-class aircraft with 750 kilo MTOW and will have a useful load of 300kg (838 pounds). Compared to the airplane from which it descends, the control surfaces have been enlarged and the landing gear is beefed-up. The B23 Turbo is to be used for flight-training operations. An empty weight of the 141hp Turbo Rotax version should be at 450 kilo (992 pounds). The base price should be around €200.000 or north of $210,000. It was equipped with advanced avionics, dual Garmin G3X and autopilot, hydraulic constant speed propeller, two wing luggage compartments of each 20kg (44 pounds) and 120l (32 gallon) fuel tanks. The aircraft should be able to cruise at 18,000 feet at 160 knots TAS and it can offer the glider tow option.
BlackwingAs in last years, the Swedish manufacturer Blackwing exhibited at Aero 2022. This year the most advanced model Blackwing 635RG was on display, in a visible carbon finish with orange stripes called Nardo Grey, powered by the Rotax 915iS engine. The 635RG aircraft has completed the German UL-DULV certification process (similar to FAA's SLSA) and the delivery will start in May. The lightweight UL model called BW600RG for the French market (MTOW 525kg) is in serial production powered by the Rotax 912iS engine and fitted with the Glorieuse propeller from E-prop. According to the manufacturer, 10 aircraft are on the backorder. See our earlier reporting on Blackwing and its record attempts.
Novotech Seagull World Premiere!Professore Leonardo Lecce from Italy designed the new Seagull flying boat, an amphibian manufactured by Novotech. The company was created in 1992 as a spin-off from the Aeronautical Engineering Department of the University of Naples, and Lecce is its managing director. The Italian designer wanted a plane that could take off and land on both land and water, which is nothing new, but it also needed to be able to dock like a boat in a harbor without the wing getting in the way. That's why the Seagull has electrically-folding wings in the tradition of the Icon in its early days. From the flight configuration, an electrical system moves the strutted wings aft while pitching them up. In boat configuration they are parallel to the fuselage with the wingtips resting within the V-tail. The whole aircraft is then only 3m (less than 10 feet) wide, narrow enough for a common boat berth. The design is a trimaran as the amphibious hull has two lateral floats that gives to the two-seater a high level of stability on the water. The Italian company Novotech relies on three types of engines. The example shown at Aero 2022 has completed water operation tests but has not yet flown. Another prototype flies, but so far only in land operations. The new Seagull flying boat weighs 450 kilograms empty, and as a seaplane it can have a maximum take-off weight of 650 kilograms in the UL class. Novotech also plans to become a U.S. LSA. The flying prototype is powered by a Rotax 912 S with 100 horsepower while another aircraft has a hybrid drive in which the combustion engine (Rotax) is coupled with an Emrax electric motor. In the long term, a fully electric version is also planned. The southern Italian manufacturer opted for a mix of materials for the construction: the wings are metal, the rest of the cell is made of composite materials. Planned performance: 120 knots cruising speed, 250 nautical miles range, 200 meters (yards) take-off and landing distance on land.
Pipistrel / Textron RTFThise pioneer in UL and aviation technological developments was very satisfied with the 2020/21 financial year, which according to CEO Ivo Boscarol was "the most successful in Pipistrel's history." Despite no Aero in 2020, Pipistrel registered 200 orders in that year. For the first time, more orders were received for electric than for combustion engine aircraft. Pipistrel would have brought several new products to the Aero last year; the Virus SW 100iS with the German 600 kilo UL approval, the large cargo VTOL Nuuva and the presentation of the Miniliner Project were planned. In this year the biggest surprise was the announcement by mid-March that Textron acquired Pipistrel. Textron Inc., home to the Cessna, Beechcraft, and Bell aviation brands, announced it has entered into an agreement to purchase Pipistrel based in Slovenia and Italy. The transaction is expected to close during the second quarter of 2022. With Textron, Pipistrel will have access to greater resources, technical and regulatory expertise, and a global aircraft sales and support network, being able to accelerate its development and certification of electric and hybrid electric aircraft. Upon closing of the transaction, Textron says that it plans to form a new business segment, Textron eAviation, focused on the development of sustainable aircraft, which will include Pipistrel. Pipistrel founder and CEO Ivo Boscarol will remain a minority shareholder as well as Chairman Emeritus, consulting on future product plans and strategies for a two-year period. At the Aero 2022 we could see the full range of Pipistrel products but the mood of the employees was pretty glum. I wanted to talk to Mr. Boscarol but he was not be spotted at this Aero. The Explorer is EASA Type-certified in “Normal” category; using a Type-certified engine, capable of running on automotive fuel; and approved for night-VFR operations, intentional spins and glider-towing. It is equipped with an advanced autopilot, dual touch-screen glass cockpit, dual radios, ADS-B In & Out, haptic stall-warning, full-airframe ballistic parachute rescue system, type-certified hydraulic constant-speed propeller, and airbrakes. The Explorer can be used for commercial operations and is the ideal solution for pilot training, while at the same time excels at being an advanced private airplane for long trips.
Alpi Aviation Twin RTF/KitThis established Italian manufacturer of single engine aircraft surprised the audience with an twin-engine. Corrado Rusalen, founder of Alpi Aviation, wants to remain in the Experimental class with his new Twin as with previous Pioneer aircraft. While the two-seater Pioneers 200 and 300 are approved in Europe in the UL class, the four-seater Pioneer 400 — and, in the future, the newcomer Pioneer Twin — will be available with an Experimental approval. Alpi Aviation listened to his mainly private aircraft owners & customers who wanted an inexpensive twin-engine aircraft. The new Twin with the basic engines and fully equipped cockpit with two glass panels will be offered for only around €350,000 before taxes. Two years from now, Alpi hopes to be able to deliver the first Pioneer Twin.
Junkers A50, A60, JU-52 NEO RTF"You have the flair of the 1930s with the latest technology," said Dieter Morszeck at the presentation of the aircraft to representatives of the press and this was a condensed form of the main description of the Junkers booth. The Swiss company Junkers Flugzeugwerke AG from St. Gallen-Altenrhein announced a first, sensational piece of news at Aero 2022. The team led by entrepreneur Dieter Morszeck wants to build the modernized version of the venerable JU-50. The JU-52 NG — where NG stands for New Generation — should be a modern version of the legendary vintage airplane. All systems are planned according to the latest standards, while the construction should largely correspond to the original model. The new JU-52 NG is expected to be powered by three Diesel cycle, German, RED A03 engines. They should deliver 550 hp each and be very fuel efficient. According to the design team, a significantly lower consumption of the JU-52 NG compared to the original should also be achieved by reducing the empty weight from 10.5 to 8.6 tons. The modern version of the Tri-engine could take off as early as 2026. The concept also envisages that the JU-52 NG is very easy to fly and maintain. A model of the planned aircraft was shown at Aero 2022. Junkers also showcased the A50 — that was introduced in 2021 — and a similar version called A60. The A50, the corrugated aluminum, open two seater was for the first time presented in public. The new edition of the A50 Junior, whose historical counterpart first flew in 1929, is now powered by a 100hp (74 kW) Rotax 912iS with electronic fuel injection. The A50 has a modern version of the ancient fixed main gear. Garmin contributes the avionics. A complete rescue system, which is mandatory for ultralight aircraft, is also installed. When cruising, the open low-wing aircraft should reach around 190 km/h (103 knots) and consume 15 liters per hour (4 kph). The stall speed is less than 80 km/h (43 knots). The first 29 copies will be sold at the introductory price of €179.000*. The A60 resembles the A50, looks like a further variant of the low-wing aircraft but with side-by-side seating instead the tandem seating and a closed cabin as in A50. It was attractively staged above the visitors' heads. The A60 is to be equipped with retractable landing gear, it will thus for sure offer higher performance than the Junior A50. Rotax 912iS is under the cowling. The first flight of the A60 is planned for 2023.
TECNAM P-Mentor RTFLast news first: Tecnam closed AERO 2022 with 85 sales in its order-book signed during the German Airshow. More orders, generated during the show, will be closed soon. The P-MENTOR, the IFR two-seater which made its first appearance this year, was one of the best sellers in terms of numbers, followed by the P2010 Tdi, also in the super luxury “Gran Lusso” version, fitted with the Diesel cycle engine from Continental, which was another premiere of this show. Tecnam's P-Mentor is specially designed for training beginners pilots as well as for instrument flight. The type certificate was issued on April 7th. The P-Mentor is the first IFR-capable aircraft in which the certified Rotax 912 iSc is used. The Mogas engine, which does not use leaded fuel, saves a lot of fuel, which benefits the CO2 balance. The P-Mentor has a variable pitch propeller, Garmin G3X Touch avionics with autopilot, a rescue system and a retractable landing gear simulation lever. Although the low-wing aircraft with two seats has similarities with earlier designs such as the P2002, the wing is a completely new development. Tecnam states the high efficiency and environmental friendliness of the Rotax engine as arguments in favor of the P-Mentor, as well as the possibility of using the aircraft from entry-level training to CPL and instrument flight training.
SE-Aviation, MCR Evolution RTF/KitDo you remember the French DynAero aircraft that ceased operation in 2015? Those aircraft, some designed by the legendary Michal Colomban, were well ahead of time on the market and are today, refined and updated manufactured by the SE-Avaiation as MCR products. The MCR range of aircraft consist of two and four seat aircraft. SE-Aviation offers its MCR range of aircraft as home builder kits or they can build the kit and provide a ready-to-fly aircraft to the customer. MCR 4S Evolution is a 4 seater; the Pick Up Evolution is the 2-seater version with huge luggage compartment and can be UL/LSA compliant. These are the most interesting aircraft with almost no competitor on the market and of great interest even for the Experimental builder. The MCR 4S Evolution is available with three levels of Rotax power unit offering 100, 115 or 141hp. The cabin is remarkably spacious for a relatively small aircraft The top of the range 915iS powered model has a MTOW of 820kg giving a payload of 420-450kg depending on equipment fit and empty weight. Cruise speed is 132kt and fuel burn averages 26.5 litres/hour. (Years ago, I reported on this surprisingly-capable aircraft. —DJ) Other MCR 2-seater are: ULC Evolution, Sportsteer Evolution (derives from M. Colomban MC100), Mini Cruiser, Club/Sportage, MCR M and the motorglider MCR R100. The Sportage can be operated with 80, 100 or 115hp Rotax engines, with a max weight of 490kg and a payload of 195-225kg. Cruise speed is 135 knots with a max speed of a claimed 156 knots. Rember the Dyn'Aero Banbi? It's now the MCR Sportage and available with a tailwheel. MCR’s four-seater, the 4S Evolution, now available with a Rotax 915iS. Based in Pontarlier, France, near the border with Switzerland, MCR was founded by Eric Fumey to make airframe parts of the Dyn’Aero range of MCR aircraft. But as the company grew the manufacturing of aircraft started in 2017 with the MCR ULC Evolution.
Aquila A414One of the stars of this edition of Aero was the German manufacturer Aquila with its mock-up of the so-called A414 aircraft. The fuselage was shown in 2019, but now the aircraft looked almost flight worthy on its fixed gear, but missing the engine, avionics and controls. The A414 is a relatively big, actually huge, bird and remembers to the Cirrus piston aircraft range. The manufacturer specifies the wingspan as 11 meters (36 feet), the length is 8.76 meters and the aircraft is almost 3 meters (10 ft) high, the engine of choice will likely be the 141 hp Rotax 915 iS but a Continental Diesel is also being considered. Programmed MTOW is 1,100 kilograms (2,425 pounds) with at least 400 kilograms payload. Marco Intelisano from Aquila Sales hopes that the certification process will be completed by the end of 2025. The people from Schönhagen also brought an Aquila A212 GX Turbo to Hall A4-407 this year. Powered by a Rotax 914 F3, the take-off weight has been increased to 800 kilograms, which brings the payload to 270 kilograms. This aircraft had already received European certification in January. According to the manufacturer, with the turbocharged Rotax, the machine should achieve a constant climb rate of 700 to 800 feet per minute and fly at 9,500 feet at up to 140 knots true airspeed.
Squadron Leader Aircraft RTF, KitThe T6 Texan II R is a 3/4 scale, UL replica from Italy of the well-known military trainer modified by Beechcraft based on the pre-existing Pilatus PC9. This was international presentation of the all-metal aircraft, which will be available as ready-to-fly and Experimental category aircraft in the U.S. The manufacturer put maximal attention to details compared with the original, even in the finish work. It is powered by the Rotax 912 UL equipped with a mechanical Flygas compressor and four-blade constant-speed propeller, delivering 120-140 horsepower at take-off. Stronger Rotax engines are in the pipeline together with an no-disclosed turoprop powerplant that is being installed at this time. The gear is retractable and is equipped with an emergency manual pump. The fuel tanks are of the bladder safety type and have a total capacity of approximately 90 liters (24 gallons).
Tecnam P2010 H3PS HybridThe Tecnam P2010 H3PS — a feasibility study — was showcased at Aero 2022 with the alternative and electric aircraft on the Rolls Royce exhibit. H3PS stands for “High Power High Scalability Aircraft Hybrid Powertrain.” It is powered by a 141 hp Rotax 915iS engine that is coupled to a 30 kW electric motor from Rolls-Royce, so the entire drive train has a power output of 134 kW (180 hp). According to the manufacturer, it is the first four-seat aircraft with a fully integrated parallel hybrid configuration to be successful in the air. The H3PS project was funded with €4 million by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. It was launched in 2018 with the goal of developing a parallel hybrid powertrain suitable for the Tecnam P2010 and similar aircraft. The maiden flight took place on December 21, 2021. “Though H3PS is not intended for market purposes, our successful flight tests demonstrate that hybrid powertrain, with combustion engine coupled with an electric motor, can bear the same useful load of the traditional 180hp combustion engine,” said Fabio Russo, head of the Tecnam Research and Development department. For H3PS, Tecnam coordinated the airframe and systems integration, Rotax designed and integrated the internal combustion engine and electric motor, and Rolls-Royce was responsible for the electric motor and energy storage.
Deep Blue, MX18At Aero 2022, Deep Blue Aviation from Austria exhibited an airworthy model of the eVTOL MX18 silhouette. Three versions are currently planned for the transport of passengers and goods. For vertical lift-off of the “Horten-design” aircraft, power is generated by the three horizontal and canalized propellers located in the fuselage; for horizontal flight two forward propeller tilt in a vertical position and the wings are designed to save energy in horizontal flight. The passenger variant is to be powered by six e-motors and 12 propellers.
eMagic Aircraft eMagic OneThis is an interesting story from eFlight world and the title could be: An amateur showed them all! Vertical take-off and landing is a hot topic as it is the all-electric propulsion. The unique eMagic One eVTOL was designed, built and flown by the avid machine builder entrepeneur Michael Kugelgen from Cologne with help of Thomas Senkel. He and his team have created an eVTOL with superior properties. The tandem wing aircraft is designed from scratch and has excellent flight characteristics. The eMagic One eVTOL demonstrator aircraft holds one passenger, has one front propeller for forward flight, eight fixed propellers dedicated for VTOL operations, has tandem wings, a vertical rear stabilizer and taildragger landing gear arrangement. The aircraft can be completely disassembled for ease of transport by truck or dedicated trailer. The aircraft has been designed from scratch and has excellent flight characteristics. All components including the electric drives, batteries and control systems are designed to be fully optimized. The airframe is extremely light at 255 kg (562 pounds) maximizing the flight range of the aircraft. All components, as electric drives, batteries and control systems, are exclusively designed and optimized for eMagic One. The combination of an traditonal fixed-wing aircraft with a multicopter deliveres five times the range compared with a pure multicopter. Here are some aircraft details: carbon honeycomb structure, integrated kevlar safety monocoque, shock absorbing carbon landing gear, autopilot for hoverflight, two independent battery systems (4 + 8 packs), elevons & high efficiency spades, ballistic parachute rescue system. By the way the builder says that he is not an aircraft designer and he does not intend (as now) to start production of this eVTOL. eMagic One was unveiled at European Rotors exibition in Cologne, Germany, Nov. 16-18, 2021.
H55 and BRM AeroThe Swiss pilot and engineer André Borschberg, known for his circumnavigation of the world in the Solar Impulse 2 electric aircraft, presented an interesting electric aircraft, the Bristell B23 Energetic developed jointly with BRM Aero. André Borschberg, H55’s Co-Founder and Executive Chairman, and Milan Bristela, BRM’s CEO and Founder held a joint press conference on Thursday morning. The H55 is optimized as a two-seater for training, the 850 kg (1,874 pound) aircraft is to be certified according to CS-23. According to Mr. Borschenberg electric energy will be stored in the wings where two 125 kg (275 pound) battery compartments are planned to allow some 1.5 hours (and aiming for 2 hours) flight time. Borchenberg added that two hours flight time are likely and the reto of flight to charging time should be arround 1:1. The B23 Energic includes the latest generation of H55’s 100kW electric propulsion and battery management system. Both the EPS and the aircraft are in the process of being certified, the EPS under an EASA TC by the end of 2023 and the B23 Energic will be commercially available starting in 2024. BRM is a Czech aircraft manufacturer created in 2009. With 5 models available, BRM produces more than 100 aircrafts yearly. BRM AERO’s priority is its emphasis on innovation, continuously introducing new developments to its product line. With the B23 Energic, BRM is increasingly being recognized as a pioneer of the next aviation revolution. Borschberg and Bristela are learning how to overcome these challenges. We had the opportunity to have a first-hand look at H55’s innovative technology which, features smart and modular architecture, and to appreciate how the company is accelerating electric aviation with solutions that customized, certifiable and scalable.
Engines & Propulsion
Heron EnginesA small Greek turbine manufacturer — unknown even to specialists — debuted at Aero 2022 a small turbine for UL/LSA aircraft attracting huge crowds and interest. Heron has some military roots; founders have over 40 years of experience in the aviation and defense industry, as well as a long history of producing small (up to 300 kg of thrust) jet engines, according to Mr. Alex Fatseas of Heron. Some 10 years ago the company started developing the turbine. The turbine is extremely compact, it is an axial flow free turbine which weighs 40 kg dry and 48 kg installed (just over 100 pounds), The compoanyd has already flown its prototype of a 130-shaft horsepower engine on a Bristell Light-Sport category aircraft in March 2021. Heron Engines' Fastseas told us that the turbine, when ready for production, should cost only €35.000 for early buyers, an extremely competitive price compared with the competitors.
Xaeros Hybrid drive Xaeros powerplant Rotax parts & electric motor combinationThe company Xaeros AvioPower GmbH from Austria debuted a highly interesting 200 kW hybrid drive powerplant for single engined aircraft. The unusual project, the hybrid powerplant consists of two V2 engines, an electric motor and the battery all in one amazingly compact package. This powerplant is planned to become an bolt-on self sufficient unit needing only few connections. The two independent, V2 twin engines, 4-stroke engines are supercharged by two electrically driven blowers and are are made using Rotax engines parts. The combustion units are combined with an electric motor and a battery. All drive units act on the propeller shaft and work either in combustion or electric or combined mode depending on the flight phase. They are controlled by a sophisticated FADEC system (Full Authority Digital Engine Control). According to Xaeros and Mr. Hans Schwöller, the compact powerplant which measures only 50 x 50 x 79 centimeters (20 x 20 x 31 inch) includes the gasoline engines, generator/electric motor, battery, exaust system, and has a maximum output of 270hp/200 kW and a continuous output of 160hp/118 kW. Total weight as now is 120 kg (250 pounds) including all parts needed for function and cowling. When taking off and landing, only the electric motor with some 100hp should be used for a few minutes, which means quiet operation near the airport. When cruising, the two piston engines then take over, recharging the battery via the electric motor, which acts as a generator during this phase. According to Hans Schwöller of Xaeros AvioPower, the new engine could be retrofitted to many existing aircraft such as Cessna and Diamond. At the moment, however, it is still a matter of finding partners for the final development.
RotaxFor the first time Rotax showcased their complete product range of 4-stroke aircraft engines. Highlights at AERO 2022: The new 915 iS/c C24 — "Join the ReVOLTution" — is the proven Rotax 915 iS/c engine now with the optional 24 Volt/800W power supply not adding weight. This opens up a wide range of opportunities for cockpit upgrades. It is available for new Rotax 915 iS/c engines (certified and ASTM-compliant) Rotax had a VR Technology Presentation — In cooperation with LLS Ltd., Rotax developed a VR-Technology software tool for maintenance, training and sales activities. New Warranty program — Rotax has developed a complete new extended warranty program with several packages. The new program will be presented at the Aero 2022 for the first time and includes also a R.E.S.T. extended warranty up to 5 years for all engine components. In cooperation with Bose Aviation, Rotax had an attractive Aero offering. Step ahead to a greener future — Rotax presented its contribution for the Tecnam P2010 H3PS project in their exhibit, the first general aviation aircraft with a parallel hybrid configuration.
UL PowerThe Belgian manufacturer has been producing aircraft engines with growing success since 2006 and is expanding internationally. The range of engines now delivers from 97 to 220 horsepower. At Aero 2022 the crowning glory of the series was shown: a 225 turbo hp revealed for the first time. The engine called UL520T is based on the 200 hp UL520 engine, which received an exhaust gas turbocharger. This turbo does not primarily have the function of significantly increasing engine performance, but serves as a turbo normalizer, which is intended to maintain performance with altitude. This engine, rated at 220 horsepower at sea level, is said to deliver all the power up to 15,000 feet, according to the manufacturer. Serial production & delivery was planned for 2021. The turbo added only 15 kg of additional weight. In addition, UL-Power developed a new engine mounting solution, which allows their drives to be mounted directly on the Type 1 engine mount without an adapter. UL power has opened a new manufacturing facility in Belgium and has developed installation and maintenance courses for their engines.
TurbotechThe French turbine manufacturer from Paris is certainly already known to attentive Aero visitors from the last few years. It is one of rare turboprop powerplant offerings in the UL/LSA/Experimental market. This year, the newly developed turbine is approaching serial production. First deliveries are scheduled for mid-2022. The first two installations in an UL were an unbelievable success (see JMB & Bristel/BRM contribution) which caused a big stir at Aero 2022. The company broke new ground in the development of its turbine and, for the first time in the world, it is equipping a small and newly developed turbine with a heat recovery system. This allows the thermal energy of the exhaust gases to be used in such a way that the consumption of the otherwise light but very fuel-thirsty engines is reduced to an unprecedented level. This consumption should be very similar to that of current piston engines with the same performance. Turbotech brought the TP-R90 turboprop engine with 95kW/120hp to Aero, the power of which will soon be increased to 100kW 130hp. The price of this turbine is set to €84.000* plus taxes. The offer also includes an 85 kW turbo generator with the designation TG-R90.
HirthThe Hirth Engines team is proud to have overcome the corona pandemic successfully. The 90-year-old producer has endured many challenges in that long time. When times got tough, Hirth focused on their products and optimized them to be able to meet the market demands. Hirth has updated its two-stroke 35 Engine Series with new options and is offering this 70hp two-cylinder, liquid cooled power horse for manned and unmanned applications. The 3507HF version is successfully used in different UAVs and currently one system is in test-phase stage with the German Navy. For manned aviation, Hirth continues to offer the two-stroke 35, 23 (50hp), 32 (60hp) and 33 (30hp) engine series with single and dual ignition, as well as carburetor and injection versions, with a choice of suitable gearboxes.
This concludes our reporting from Aero Friedrichshafen 2022. Next up is EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2022… starting (can you believe it?) in barely more than one month! To give you more flavor for Aero Friedrichshafen, here is one of our "race-around" videos from the 2018 show. https://youtu.be/aLqZLXcIMMQ
This year, 2022, saw a return to all the great airshows we have come to know and love. One of my all-time favorites and my #1 pick in Europe is Aero Friedrichshafen. I already provided three articles — (1) turbines, (2) six innovations, and (3) Aero success — covering what I found to be highlights of Aero 2022 that I thought you would like best. Now, thanks to encouragement from Marino Boric — a Europe-based, highly-knowledgeable professional journalist — I want to provide what longtime radio broadcaster Paul Harvey used to call “…the rest of the story.” What follows is Marino’s few-paragraphs-each review of no less than 21 airplanes, 4 electric projects, and 6 combustion engines. You will not find this depth of reporting anywhere else in the USA. Folks, this article is much longer than our usual articles (by 6X).
What Is the Danger?Drones, robot aircraft flying out of visual range of human operators, are coming. Can these flying machines see and avoid us in our crewed aircraft? Did you know you were "crew?" No more can some say "manned" aircraft. When you fly your Part 103 vehicle, you are "crew." In fact, some organizations have big problems with what's been proposed (see "Friends in High Places" below). The trouble is, such a lengthy report by an Aviation Rulemaking Committee, or ARC, will get the attention of FAA rule writers. The agency asked for a report. They got one. They have to read it. It might get enacted, as is… unless —! Other groups have already given thoughtful responses but you should consider this an early warm-up for your letter writing later this year. I refer to the coming NPRM for MOSAIC — get ready to write your comments by fall 2022 — but here is another pre-regulatory action that demands our attention. Another problem: This BVLOS report was not universally agreed to by those involved with its creation, in fact, the report states, "there was not a unanimity of views." Some committee members sent letters of "non-concurrence." That's good! The report noted, "ARC recommends that the FAA set an acceptable level of risk." That sounds ominous. "Acceptable risk" for an an uncrewed robot aircraft is a lot different than for an aircraft with humans in it. The ARC group wrote that it, "recommends modifications to the right of way rules in [certain areas]." They listed what they believe is needed by unmanned aircraft (UA):
- give UA right of way in Shielded Areas;
- give UA right of way over crewed aircraft that are not equipped with ADS-B or TABS in Non-Shielded Low Altitude Areas; and
- give crewed aircraft that are equipped with ADS-B or TABS (and broadcasting their position) right of way in Non-Shielded Low Altitude Areas.
Friends in High PlacesThankfully, our friends over at AOPA were fully on top of this. As one of the 89 members of ARC, they know all about BVLOS. Even better, they already submitted a letter of "noncurrence." The AOPA letter lead a joint response signed by several big organizations including Aerospace Industries Association; Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association; Air Line Pilots Association; General Aviation Manufacturers Association; Helicopter Association International; and, Praxis Aerospace Concepts. Here is a key opening phrase from the official reply forwarded by Chris Cooper, AOPA's Senior Director of Regulatory Affairs, "BVLOS ARC leadership effectively proposes that drones operating under BVLOS rules would have 1) complete right-of-way over all crewed aircraft not equipped with either ADS-B or TABS, and 2) right-of-way over all crewed aircraft that are operating in what is being proposed as 'shielded areas'.” ARC members apparently believe that "Unmanned Aircraft (UA) are operated at very low altitudes and in volumes of airspace that do not have significant numbers of general aviation operations." While recreational aircraft operators usually stay away from flight over major metro areas and GA aircraft may often cruise at higher altitudes, the fact remains that smaller, light aircraft enjoy lower altitude flying. Of course, operating at lower altitudes happens at each end of every flight. As one worried USUA board member put it, "[ARC's recommendation is] like saying you go to the park for a walk and are confronted by a robot coming at you with spinning knives, perhaps from behind you." The BVLOS document suggests it is your duty to get out of the robot's way, or have equipment that announces you to them. I don't know about you but that sounds to me like, "Guilty until proven innocent." What existing pilot would accept that? Perhaps that was not the intent of the contributors to the almost-400-page report. However, looking at the list of participants, I see almost none that are concerned with the recreational aircraft community. Most participating companies have zero connection to and probably lack interest in recreational aircraft pilots and many of these organization seem unfamiliar with general, recreational, or sport aviation. Indeed, some aviation community groups that did participate in the ARC expressed grave concerns. Their nonconcurrence letter states, "AOPA has considerable concerns about certain recommendations that will reduce the safety of airspace users." One of AOPA's recommendations: "should be … removed and replaced … [with] language that requires equal responsibility of uncrewed aircraft to see (detect) and avoid other aircraft." Later AOPA added, "The belief that traditional aircraft only operate at altitudes above 500 feet is a common misconception among drone pilots." AOPA's conclusion on that point, "AOPA recommends maintaining right-of-way rules based on maneuverability, with no blanket right-of-way rules for BVLOS drones over crewed aircraft without ADS-B or TABS equipment."
On the Job!Some deeply-affected organizations are disturbed by several of ARC's broad recommendations. I repeat my statement that it is challenging to keep up with multiple groups writing potential rules. However, EAA's Sean Elliott recently had discussions with U.S. Ultralight Association leader Roy Beisswenger and said EAA is working on a response. LAMA will add its voice to this chorus. I repeat, the concerns I am relating here are not regulations (not yet, anyway). They are only the suggestions of an ARC devising plans for drones operated beyond visual line of sight, or BVLOS. It may sound troubling today, but recreational aviation has time to respond. The letter penned by the big organizations concluded, "These radical recommendations proposing to change the fundamental responsibility of avoiding other aircraft, and right-of-way rules based on maneuverability, fails to recognize the reality of aircraft operations at lower altitudes, and the unsafe and unfeasible requirements it will place on crewed aircraft." Uh, folks… that group using "lower altitudes" is us… that is, you! All that said, most pilots I speak to are not anti-drone. New technologies are always disruptive but we can come to agreement if we communicate. For the most part, drones and recreating pilots don't want to fly in the same spaces. In areas of potential conflict, it will be important to continue the dialogue. I urge you to keep supporting the leadership organizations you presently support and to be prepared to comment when proposed regulations are announced. A public meeting will be held on June 22, 2022 regarding the ARC report discussed above. Those who may wish to attend must act quickly and request to be added. If you want to learn more, see this AOPA article.
Thanks to LAMA Board Director Roy Beisswenger for assistance in preparing this article as well as to AOPA's Chris Cooper. —DJ
Airspace from ground level to 400 feet is about to get really crowded. Keep alert, fellow pilots! Am I overstating this situation? I don’t think so. You know about drones. You may not know they are presently restricted to visual line of sight. However, a line-of-sight drone won’t get your Amazon package delivered a few miles from the distribution center to your house. Throughout Covid, a group has been working on potential changes to FAA regulations to allow drones to fly further, beyond visual line of sight (as military drones do now). It’s abbreviated BVLOS. It is impossible to keep up with all the regulatory actions from dozens of agencies. Some of this stuff is dry as old bones. The document I’m focused on runs to 381 pages. If you’re a real glutton for punishment, read the whole thing. The good news = This is only an industry committee report.
- Aero Adventure Aventura II (SLSA amphibious seaplane or kit versions)
- Magnus Fusion 212 (carbon fiber low wing, approved for aerobatic training)
- Montaer MC01 (generation 2 design, high wing, aluminum, roomy)
- B.O.T. Speed Cruiser, now Journey (cantilevered high wing, carbon fiber, wide cockpit)
B.O.T. Aircraft SC-01 Made in LiechtensteinWhen B.O.T. formed in Liechtenstein (a tiny but wealthy country near Switzerland) they had specific goals for their design:
- Fast with long range
- Suitable for beginners
- Large cabin and a good view
- Low-cost maintenance
B.O.T. Aircraft SC07 Speed Cruiser now rebadged as Journey in the USA TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS specifications are provided by Aero Affinity
- Wing Span — 33 feet
- Wing Area — 108 square feet
- Length — 21.8 feet
- Height — 6.25 feet
- Cabin Width — 49 inches
- Fuel Capacity — 26 gallons
- Empty Weight (in USA) — 715 pounds (with emergency airframe parachute)
- Takeoff Weight (in USA) — 1,320 pounds
- Engine (in USA) — Rotax 912 ULS2
- Power Output — 100 horsepower
- Never Exceed Speed — 155 miles per hour / 135 knots
- Cruise Speed (75% power) — 115 mph / 100 knots
- Stall Speed, max flaps — 45 miles per hour / 39 knots
- Rate of Climb — 980 feet per minute (with 0° flaps at 69 miles per hour at gross weight)
- Takeoff Roll — 500 feet
- Landing Rollout — 400 feet
- Range — 630 miles
The title of this article contains a lot of information. If you are a close observer of light aircraft, you may recognize B.O.T.’s Speed Cruiser but you didn’t get the rest right away, did you? Now Available? Journey? Aero Affinity? Neither did I know these references until Sun ‘n Fun 2022, but here is the story. I’ll get to Speed Cruiser, ‘er… Journey in a minute but first a bit about a new collaboration forming at the DeLand, Florida airport. You know the place, where the DeLand Showcase ran for five years. In case you missed the news, DeLand Showcase is no more. Director Jana Filip departed to join Sun ‘n Fun so the event she expertly ran will now give way to something new, from someone else. More on that later. Although the DeLand Showcase prematurely ended its five-year run, the DeLand Airport remains a beehive of recreational aviation activity.
Mirocopter Coaxial SCH-2AComposite FX's XEL Part 103 helicopter uses a conventional configuration with single rotor and tail boom. Anyone with helicopter experience as needed to fly XEL or SCH-2A safely has almost certainly flown tail boom rotary. Coaxial is different; no tail boom is needed. See this earlier article for more on coaxial. Developed by Miroslav Črv, Mirocopter is based in Slovenia — also the home of Pipistrel. With today's news you might wonder, so let me assure the country is not near Ukraine and all that regrettable turmoil. Slovenia is immediately south of Austria and more than 400 miles to the west of the war zone. Miroslav wrote that his SCH-2A is "one of the lightest manned coaxial helicopters in the world." He adds that it "is compliant to FAA's Part 103 ultralight vehicle rules." See specifications below. He added, "SCH-2A [has been] tested for more than 10 years. YouTube video shows the aircraft in slightly different configuration flying in 2017. "SCH-2A boasts very good flight characteristics including effective autorotation," Miroslav stated. Vertical thrust is achieved by collective blade pitch control of both rotors. For directional control, cyclic blade pitch control of both rotors is used. Yaw control is provided by moving tail plates. For vertical thrust, direction, and yaw control, SCH-2A helicopter is equipped with standard helicopter control inputs. Mirocopter SCH-2A is powered by a Chinese-made Fiate MZ202 two-cylinder, dual-ignition, two-stroke gasoline engine. The MZ202 engine provides more than 60 horsepower at 5,800 rpm, the "nominal engine speed on SCH-2A." The full Fiate MZ202 engine package comes with with electric starter, electric generator, dual ignition, exhaust system, and modified fan cooling system weighing only 66 pounds. "SCH-2A is equipped with Mirocopter-modified NACA0012 aluminum composite rotor blades," said Mirocopter. The rotor's leading spar is made of extruded and anodized high-quality aluminum, the company said with inserted stainless steel bars used for rotor blade reinforcement and correct rotor blade weight balance. "Our rotor blades are durable and have a safety factor higher than 3," noted Miroslav.
American RepresentativesTwo men are offering the Mirocopter SCH-2A in America. Each is awaiting delivery and they are hopeful to make a showing at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2022. (These days with snarled supply chains and shipping dock delays, forecasting exact delivery times is nearly impossible.) Mark Rumsey and Andrey Vegger have each signed up to help Mirocopter get started in the USA. Mark will handle the western U.S. from Murrieta, California. Contact him by email, or call 951-491-9002, or check out his Rototrek website. Andrey is based in central Florida. Use this link to email him. Is this a Bargain? — Mark stated, "At $33,750, the Mirocopter SCH-2A is the lowest cost production helicopter in the world! The SCH-2A is fully built and is not a kit." He added, "A 50% deposit is required to reserve a production slot. The remaining 50% is due ten days prior to shipping. DHL shipping is estimated to be around $3,000." (As with all prices, that shipping quote is subject to change; check with Mark using the contacts above.) At present, neither man has flown Mirocopter. I asked Mark why he chose SCH-2A? "I chose to resell this coaxial ultralight helicopter because I think it is the best solution for personal VTOL flying for several reasons." He listed them for us:
- Coaxial is easier to fly than a conventional configuration. When you pull collective you aren't concerned with torque like in a conventional helicopter. If it is easier to fly, it is a bit safer, too.
- Coaxial can lift more weight so bigger pilots can fly it.
- Coaxial is quieter because it has no tail rotor and can run the engine at a lower rpm for the same weight.
- By lifting the same weight at a lower RPM you burn less fuel and the engine will last longer.
- Coaxial has a smaller footprint because the rotor diameter doesn't have to be as big and there is no tail rotor sitting outside of the rotor diameter.
- Coaxial has a 20% slower decent rate in autorotation than a conventional helicopter.
- The price of the Mirocopter SCH-2A is about two-thirds the price of a Mosquito.
Mirocopter SCH-2A Ultralight Helicopter TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
- Empty Weight — 249 pounds (113 kilograms)
- Maximum Pilot Weight — 273 pounds (124 kilograms)
- Maximum Takeoff Weight — 551 pounds (250 kilograms)
- Maximum Speed — 62 miles per hour (100 kilometers per hour)
- Cruise Speed — 50 miles per hour (80 kilometers per hour)
- Engine — Fiate MZ202
- Power Output — 60 horsepower
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 5 U.S. gallons (19 liters)
- Cruise Fuel Consumption: 4.5 U.S. gallons per hour (17 liters per hour)
- Maximum Cruise Flight Time: 1 hour
- Overall Length: 14.3 feet (4370 millimeters)
- Overall width: 4.9 feet (1500 millimeters)
- Overall height: 8.0 feet (2450 millimeters)
In a time of great spectator enthusiasm for STOL competitions, wouldn’t a VTOL be even better? If a super-short takeoff is cool, why not vertical takeoff? Of course, most of the multicopter types — flying machines sometimes called eVTOLs — take off vertically but those are different, electric flying animals. Despite waves of breathless reporting by mainstream media types, eVTOLs are not yet ready for prime time. Even if you could buy one, you probably don’t want to pay for it. Most will be very expensive. What if you could take off vertically this year and for a price you can actually afford? Of course, rotary-wing enthusiasts can already choose a well-proven, made-in-the-USA helicopter that complies with Part 103 and is very affordable… for any aircraft type, but almost absurdly low-cost compared to conventional helicopters. I refer to the Mosquito XEL from Composite FX (see this video), which sells for $52,000 ready to fly or $42,000 in kit form.
Happy Birthday, Zenith!Not a twentysomething anymore, Zenith has developed into a market leader as a business enterprise as well as in the production of their kits. One of the many signs that the light aviation industry has grown up is the growing age of some companies. This year Zenith Aircraft, the operation in Mexico, Missouri, celebrates its 30th anniversary. Something to be proud of, the company will pull out the stops for this year's Homecoming. What's that? If you are not (yet) among the Zenith faithful, you may not know about "Homecoming." Allow me to give a brief description below. You can see lots of images on the company's social media accounts (links at end).
How Does Zenith Succeed? — Becoming the market leader in a field full of passionate, talented people is no easy feat. How do Sebastien, Roger, and team do it? I'm sure I don't know all their tricks but here's a few ways I've seem them use to build their lead. Why are such things important?When you buy an airplane kit, the relationship is not unlike marriage. You will need to interact with this company and their staff and this needs to work well. Even more so for a kit than a fully-built aircraft, you want to have faith in the company's team. The designs of Zenith are well proven, created years ago by Dad Chris, so the quality comes in the kit production and the assembly directions, plus knowledgeable tech support. If these three elements — design, quality, support — are expertly provided, your airplane should turn out well and your enjoyment of building process will be greater. Listen to the Customer — All the good companies I know in this arena are good listeners. The best companies not only listen but act on commonly heard points by changing the design, the fabrication techniques, or the instruction set. I've often asked builders what they thought of these aspects of their aircraft purchase. Zenith always earns great reviews. Use Social Media Effectively — Marketing is not a strong point for most companies in the light aircraft business. They may have a great airplane that you could like, but you may never hear of it. That's a shame when they have good products. Zenith does not share this problem. The company is active in various mediums (magazines, websites like this one, video, airshows, seminars) but they pay great attention to social media. This is a proven method of reaching pilots who might enjoy your aircraft. Host Workshops at the Factory and at Airshows — Not only did Zenith have a great blast of publicity when a CH-750 was the subject aircraft for EAA's One-Week Wonder (video about building an entire kit during a single airshow), the central USA company also hosts regular events at their base in Mexico Memorial Airport. At their company plus at certain airshows, Zenith offers "our hands-on kit workshops, held about once a month," Sebastien noted. If you want to improve your technique and learn the tricks experts use to make the process go well, workshops are quite intimate and can focus on your needs. Zenith's top weekend is surely their well-attended September Homecoming & Fly-In, "which has become a relatively big event," Sebastien observed. This Homecoming will celebrate Zenith's 30th anniversary. Earlier Homecomings have attracted crowds and lots of airplanes. Everyone loves the STOL competition. They have workshops or tours for those considering their first kit. Vendors answer questions. And, of course, pilots eat well throughout the weekend and enjoy mixing with their fellow Zenith enthusiasts. Offer a Broad Line of Proven Models — In end all that stuff above, while important, even vital, is not what gets pilots excited. Ultimately for kit-builders it is either the craftsmanship involved with assembling your own airplane or flying the result, or both. If an airplane doesn't interest a pilot, it doesn't matter how well the company performs. Fortunately for Sebastien and team, they are rich in airplane models to offer. Designer Chris Heintz was active and prolific over a long career and his boys sell the best of his designs today. Get more from Zenith directly by clicking on their right column banner or using this link for Zenith Aircraft, which will take you to a page with all our Zenith articles and video. Zenith is active on social media: Here's their Facebook page and their YouTube channel. An interview with Sebastien regarding Zenith's Super Duty model appears below. Zenith produces affordable aircraft (while understanding that everyone's definition of "affordable" is different from everyone else). Airframe prices start at $17,500 (STOL CH-701 model) and go to $32,300 (STOL Ch-750 Super Duty model). Engine, paint, avionics, and interior will more than double this amount — the engine alone may do that — but several builders have told me they got in the air for $55-70,000. I don't know about you but I judge that affordable. Zenith's present line-up (May 2022) includes the following:
- Zenith CH 650 (details for all airplanes is found on their home page)
- STOL CH 701
- STOL CH 750
- Zenith CH750 Cruzer
- STOL CH 750 Super Duty
* What we can track are aircraft registrations, not deliveries. Aircraft take time to complete and some are not finished. However, what Zenith delivers and how many aircraft get registered will become very close over time, missing only those aircraft that never get N-numbers.
** "Sport Pilot kits" are kit-built aircraft that can be flown by a pilot exercising the privileges of the Sport Pilot certificate (even if the pilot may do so with a Private certificate or higher). To differentiate, Sport Pilot kit refers to a 51%-rule kit, where an Experimental LSA (ELSA) "kit" does not require 51% assembly by the owner. Within Tableau Public, ELSA are separated from 51%-rule kits and are counted with factory-built SLSA.
For years, one company has led the fleet of light aircraft. Regular readers of this website already know who it is: Zenith Aircraft. The company may be at the back of the alphabet but they are first in deliveries*. This particular year, however, the company based in Mexico, Missouri celebrates its 30th anniversary. Beginning in 1992, Sebastien Heintz has paired popular designs with hard work to build his company to occupy the number one slot as seen in our Tableau Public page. In fact, the race to the number one spot is not particularly close. Sebastien is joined in the effort by longtime associate Roger Dubbert, a modest number of employees, and a large and growing flock of very happy customers. In the light aircraft space, including both LSA and Sport Pilot kits**, it’s a fairly even contest between fully-built aircraft (around half of which are imported) and kit-built aircraft.
Magical Weight ShiftI love the handsome, innovative European designs reviewed recently (Aero Day 1 and Aero Tour and Aero Wrap-up). I am pleased these companies continue to show their passion and technical prowess. However, I live in America so I also like to boast about our home-grown companies. North Wing is a gleaming example. Note to fixed wing pilots: If you haven't flown weight shift you may not appreciate the simple elegance of this control system. No, the controls are not really "backwards." Pulling the control bar toward you is not like pulling the joystick aft; what you are really doing is moving your weight (and the trike carriage) forward relative to the wing. "In 1998, we designed and built our first single place trike (the Maverick) featuring a strutted wing," related Kamron. He was first to use struts on a delta wing, he reports. Yet even while Kamron created a growing number of trike models, he kept supplying the wings for other trike builders in the USA and other countries. "At North Wing, our main design criteria is to offer … a choice of wings that deliver easy handling, making them fun to fly," said Kamron. I can confirm his opinion; I have described the wonderful handling his wings offer in numerous articles (on Apache or Maverick or his Solairus). "On our quest for optimal safety, we feel our #1 goal when designing wings is precise control and handling even at low speeds," he elaborated. "When conditions out there get a little rough, we hope you will agree handling is going to be your biggest concern." Trikes can be flown in fairly windy conditions but handling can then be more challenging because they are weight shift, relying on the pilot's technique and muscle to control the wing (technique is the more important; trike flying is a thing of finesse). Easier handling is a godsend. "Each wing design must pass specific parameters such as coupled feel in handling between pitch and roll, and a nice gentle stall," Kamron concluded.
North Wing's Full Line-UpThe Washington state company is one of the most successful trike producers not only in the U.S. but in all of recreational aviation history. "We have manufactured thousands of wings and hundreds of trikes," North Wing noted. For many Americans, buying in the USA is important. "North Wing is an American company, and we maintain a large inventory so parts availability is only a few days away," assured North Wing. That in-country service and availability will relieve you and can help keep your insurance cost lower. When you visit the main North Wing website, you'll be quite amazed at the volume of information available. Yet they also have another site that deals with some of their accessory, clothing, spare parts, and other elements business. Check out North Wing Sports for even more information. Seriously, you can spend a while on these two websites and learn about everything you could want. The chart below shows the extensive list of weight shift aircraft North Wing presently manufactures. As their voluminous website demonstrates, it would take a long article to cover their entire line, so I'll select one of their top designs for a quick review. Those that want more have only to visit their websites; that will keep you busy for some time. Lots more information on North Wing can be found here on ByDanJohnson.com or on Videoman Dave's YouTube channel. Before getting into some additional detail, let's check the price point (although, as always, for current information contact the manufacturer because prices change over time). North Wing's top-of-the-line Scout XC Apache is a Rotax 912-powered trike that lists for $59,890. This is the most expensive aircraft North Wing offers. Single place trikes from North Wing are priced as modestly as $16,900, ready to fly. Somewhere in that range you might find something you like and can afford. Scout XC Apache — This LSA airframe is a "revolutionary design" said North Wing, incorporating Scout aircraft design suspension, welded 4130 aircraft steel main structure (back frame), a 4130-steel dual mast, and trailing link front steering. "Unlike trikes constructed using a tube-and-gusset-plate configuration with their single support mast, drag struts, side support cables and bungee cord suspension, the Scout XC airframe will maintain its structural integrity for years to come," boasts North Wing. "You can enjoy years of sturdy and confident flying knowing your trikes' rugged and well-designed suspension won't get worn out." Scout XC Apache features as standard equipment several design elements that have arrived over the years… An airfoil mast that reduces drag and improves tracking at higher speeds by reducing yaw and twist of the mast thanks to a stronger, more aerodynamic mast profile. The airfoil mast shape provides extra space for your passenger and eliminates the "helmet buzz" of the aft seat occupant touching helmet to a single mast that transmits engine vibrations. A nosewheel steering dampener provides adjustments to reduce the "shimmy" that may occur during landing. You will appreciate the solid yet responsive feel of its trailing link suspension. The front suspension works so well, it can survive a full front wheel landing at 60 mph! "Finned wheel fairings also reduce drag and improve tracking, and look great too, believes North Wing. Aircraft-grade Matco brakes ensure firm control on the runway. Aluminum leaf spring suspension reduces drag with a slim profile, and is built from rugged and strong 7075 Aluminum. An adjustable front seat conveniently changes the position of the front seat, very handy when using Scout for flight training. Prices for all North Wing trikes can be found at the end of this article. Scout XC Apache can be ordered with a variety of options. Scout XC is accepted by FAA as a Special Light Sport Aircraft when paired with the powerful and reliable Rotax 912UL engine — the 100 horsepower Rotax 912S is also available — and their Conquest Light-Sport Aircraft wing. For more details, see the video below. "You can also fly the Scout XC as a Experimental LSA when using any other engine and/or wing configuration," said North Wing, noting they supply kit versions plus ready-to-fly models. Scout XC Apache provides a nice layout of gauges with room left over for your custom needs. Visit their comprehensive website to see all the ways you can personalize your North Wing trike.
North Wing is very upfront about it prices. Every item they sell is on one page for your easy comparison. https://youtu.be/0Nky0tYk8io
Let’s return to affordable aviation after two wonderful shows full of shiny new aircraft. Turbine engines and sleek composite fuselages interest plenty of pilots but then most of us come back to reality and start looking at aircraft we can afford. Some can pay the invoice on a high-end aircraft to enjoy its capabilities. That’s terrific. Who knows… you might score their used aircraft for a large discount in a few years. For many, though, new is nice yet something much more modest will suffice if it gets them safely up and down to enjoy the view of their surroundings or simply practice a few touch and goes. Any way you can fly is a good way, I’d say. I’ve been around recreational aviation a while. So has been North Wing, the company formed by Kamron Blevins. He started building wings for trikes 26 years ago in 1996.
Aero 2022 is now one for the history books and I can say it was a success. Actually, I should say, "What a great success!" In retrospect, this Aero 2022, held from the 27th to 30th of April in Friedrichshafen, Germany was probably the most important edition economically for the organizer. The restart after two years of pause was successful, even extremely successful, and the planning for the next edition is underway.
Surviving the PandemicOver the last two years without Aero, the aviation community in Europe had virtually hibernated. The importance of Aero 2022 was evident from the first day. People simply wanted to talk to each other in direct contact and not via the Internet or by online [Zoom] meetings. The pandemic's effect on this Aero was not an important topic. It was something belonging in the past and only here and there would you see a person wearing a mask. The pandemic was not the only challenge Aero organizers faced, however. There was a huge threatening shadow, the dark cloud called war in Ukraine, but the effect of this terrible situation was not too obvious …just few empty spots in the show informed us that not all exhibitors could make it. The 2022 Aero was for the organizers very important, if not the most important of all editions because just few weeks prior the kick-off it was not clear if it will take place at all. As the event started on Wednesday, what a relief it was, feeling and looking much like years past. Aircraft, people, voices, novelties, all the vibrant trade fair was present with good, some even said excellent, sales. Even for Aero staff this edition was a milestone as longtime Aero team leader, Roland Bosch, handed the reins over after 30 years to Tobias Bretzel. Some 27,700 visitors from 75 nations flooded the exhibition center on the Friedrichshafen airport in the very south of Germany. This 2022 event was almost completely booked with 633 exhibitors. (To put those figures in some perspective, the strongest years for Aero topped 40,000 attendees and has exceeded 700 exhibitors. As with Sun 'n Fun and AirVenture in 2021, some people and some exhibitors may have stayed home from Aero 2022 but those who attended were excited to be present. Also, Aero counts visitors differently than the American shows. —DJ)
Pace of Aircraft DevelopmentThe general aviation industry has made good use of the past few years of Aero's forced hiatus. Even during the virus crisis, research and development departments have been working on new products and services that make flying more sustainable, safer and easier. Tobias Bretzel, project manager of trade show organizer, said, "Manufacturers, customers, and interested parties were once again able to sense the resilience and innovative power of the industry at Aero. The spirit of optimism and the impetus generated by Aero 2022 will have an impact far beyond the trade show." At Aero 2022, the visitors experienced a greater number of new products and innovations than ever before in the history of Aero. Clearly, manufacturers worked hard and in relative isolation preparing themselves for the Aero restart. A wave of development puts us journalists under tremendous pressure — the quantities and the quality of news and new products was in my opinion twice as high as in “normal” years. More Aero 2022 reporting is available in this article.
Technological Generation ChangeThe topic of sustainability was omnipresent. As some developers address this goal, aviation is facing a technological generation change in propulsion. Which type of drive — electric, hybrid-electric, hydrogen fuel cell, or bio- and eFuels — may prevail in the future is not yet foreseeable and was the subject of many discussions at the most extensive Aero conference program ever. What is certain, however, is that the future of aviation will be sustainable. Aero offered a Sustainable Aviation Trail — clearly marked by large green balloons in the exhibits of participating exhibitors — highlighting exhibitors that are particularly committed to sustainability in aviation. Those green balloons were almost everywhere. Remarkably, aircraft sales in Europe have held surprisingly steady through 2020 and 2021 despite Covid pandemic, probably because most countries in Europe adopted two years ago a weight increase for European ultralight aircraft to 600 kilograms (1,320 pounds; France 525 kilograms or 1,157 pounds). European ultralights — roughly the same as American LSA — have experienced an ongoing positive trend, actually stronger than many expected or feared after event cancellations in 2020 and 2021. Eco-friendly aircraft and green balloon markers were common at Aero 2022. Why are Europeans apparently more attuned to "sustainable" aircraft? One reason is the high price of fuel (a fact even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine). Auto gas is presently running close to $10 per gallon and 100LL avgas is not commonly available except at major airports. Reportedly, most airfields in Europe supply mogas for about a 10% premium where 100LL can reach $12-15 per gallon. Among the new products on display for the first time at Aero was Elixir Aircraft 915iS two-seat training and touring aircraft from a French company using the 141 horsepower Rotax 915iS engine, the VL3 Evolution ultralight aircraft from the Belgian/Czech manufacturer JMB Aircraft with a turboprop engine from the French manufacturer Turbotech, plus the Junkers A50 Junior and Junkers A60 ultralight aircraft. There were also many innovations to be discovered in aircraft systems and accessories at Aero 2022, from new avionics and new software for flight planning and execution to aviation-related services. Dates for next year's Aero have been set from April 19-22, 2023. Learn more about this great show.
Our concluding report from Europe’s most interesting airshow (certainly for those interested in affordable aviation) speaks to the challenges for big event organizers in the restrictive atmosphere of Covid mandates. As recently as seven weeks before the show was to open (about as close to the show as I dared to wait to make airline and hotel reservations), Aero Friedrichshafen 2022 was not allowed to open. Yes, literally with only a few weeks to go, Roland Bosch and his team did not even know if the event would be permitted. Their anxiety level must have been off the charts. U.S. shows, such as Sun ‘n Fun and AirVenture, missed only the 2020 events for each. That was bad enough. One week of Sun ‘n Fun provides a large share of the organization’s total annual budget. Missing one show was very expensive. Missing two in a row had the potential to drown the enterprise in expenses.
GoGetAir AviationThis is a new name for the already existing company from Slovenia. The former ONE Aicraft has now a new name and is called Gogetair. Their G750 aircraft is one of very few 2+2 aircraft with an MTOW of 750 kilograms (1,650 pounds*), which on first glance looks like a smaller version of Cirrus' piston SR-series. Though the term is no longer common, "2+2" indicates a second set of seats but ones with a smaller amount of leg room. A Cirrus weighs about twice as much as G750 but has a roomy aft seat. The all-composite G750 can be purchased as a kit or as factory-built RTF airplane. G750 attracted visitor's attention being really sleek, roomy, and exceptionally well refined. Iztok Solomon of Gogetair told us that he is aiming the U.S. market and is looking for dealers and part owners of the company.
* This weight should easily fall under LSA rules in 2024. Note than many other present-day LSA models, American or built overseas, have also been designed to similar weights.For More Info GoGetAir Aircraft
Avi Aircraft DraculaThe Romanian manufacturer of really affordable aircraft is known to Americans for their Swan 120 (see it at Oshkosh this year), a version of which can qualify for America's Part 103 regulation. Avi Aircraft has been successful selling their high-wing Swan 120, 115 (103 version), and two place 240 all around the world. At Aero 2022, this aircraft was one of few offerings powered either by internal combustion engine or electric motor. Avi reported selling 60% combustion engines and 40% electric drive, according to Mr. Berceanu Radu Mircea of Avi Aircraft. His big announcement at Aero 2022 was a new low-wing aircraft called Dracula. It is powered either by the two-stroke Polini for €31.200 (about $33,000 at today's exchange rate) or by a new adaptation of a Swiss Helvenco four-stroke, single-cylinder engine with 36 horsepower for €33.200 (about $35,000 today). Dracula can additionally be powered by electric motor, which sells for €31.200 + battery cost, up to four-pack at €2.400 per batter (a bit more than $2,500 each). For More Info: Avi Aircraft
Nando GroppoNando Groppo from Italy is one of the most regular and successful exhibitors at Aero. This year Nando brought his complete aircraft range to Friedrichshafen, Germany. Nando is one of few European Ultralight manufacturers to offer his whole airplane range as ready-to-fly or in different kit packages. This year he has updated his models G70 and Trail. Nando's G70 is now additionally powered by a Rotax 914 Turbo or fuel-injected 912iS. Both engines are now certified for the new 600 kilogram (1,320 pound) rules in Germany; additionally G70 has now received even the glider tow option. Towing sailplanes aloft in Europe is a common activity. The real STOL of Nando Groppo is their tandem aircraft called Trail (video interview with Nando). It has been updated by the manual flap control which can be even set to negative deflection angles for higher cruise speed. For More Info: Nando Groppo
JH AircraftMiniature Corsair goes electric! (This design has been sensationally popular with show attendees and readers. —DJ) In 2020, JH Aircraft from North Germany received the 120-Kilogram Class approval (roughly, Europe's version of Part 103) for its "Pocket-Corsair." In the future, Jörg Hollmann's 120 kilogram (265 pound) light miniature warbird replica will not only be available with a combustion three-cylinder radial engine, but also with an electric drive. The HPD20 motor is designed to deliver a maximum of 30 kW (about 40 horsepower). Battery packs should be available in three sizes (7, 10 and 14 kW/h). According to the manufacturer, Mini-Corsair can fly two hours with the biggest battery. The structure of the lightweight Corsair is all carbon fiber; this structure is covered with Oratex 600. For More Info: JH Aircraft
ZongshenZongshen has specialized in two- and four-stroke engines for scooters and motorcycles. Now, they produce aircraft engines. The France-based company Air K Motors, is the official European distributor of Zongshen Aero Engines from China, and exhibited three new aviation engines for ultralight aircraft with 80 horsepower, 100 horsepower and a turbocharged engine with 115 horsepower. Variants of those engines could be found on several booths across the exhibition with and without fuel injection. The engines resemble the engines of Austrian manufacturer Rotax, down to the last detail. A fourth variant with 109 horsepower and electronic fuel injection is in the price list, too. The engines look so similar to the Rotax aircraft engine series that they are presumably copies. The C 80, 80 horsepower engine costs €12.900 (about $12,250), the C 100 costs €13.700 ($14,500) and the C 100 efi (fuel injected) costs €17.500 ($18,500) plus taxes (which in Europe adds 15-25%, depending on the country of sale). For More Info: Air K Motors
ScaleWings Kit AircraftOn your first view, the SW-51 Mustang scale replica looks like an original. Several years ago manufacturer ScaleWings presented this dazzling airplane that achieved its maiden flight about one year ago. The first flying aircraft — built from a kit — was showcased at Aero 2022. As reported here earlier, more than 100,000 details, such as rivets, panel joints, maintenance covers, and textile surfaces, are designed into the surface of the aircraft. It may look for all the world like a metal airplane (as was most of the original) but it is not metal. All those rivets and screws are "fakes" although they are done so perfectly you can barely tell even when you touch them. Indeed, ScaleWings SW-51 is made entirely of carbon fiber. This not only gives the mini-Mustang plenty of sex appeal, but also assures good flight characteristics. At their Aero Friedrichafen booth, Scalewings Business Development manager Sebastian Gluck told us that they hope to exhibit the aircraft at AirVenture Oshkosh 2022. Apparently it will be flown to the big summer show. For More Info — ScaleWings Aircraft
These featured six are only part of the story of Aero Friedrichshafen. Stay tuned for more in the days ahead!
Next Year's ScheduleI so regretted missing Aero this year due to complications getting Covid documents (that turned out not to be needed, but I could not be certain of that when I needed to make reservations). It was even tougher because more than two weeks separated the end of Sun 'n Fun from the start of Aero, which is far less demanding. Fortunately, 2023 will be similar, with the events separated by more than two weeks. Hurray! Appearing below are dates for each. I pledge to attend and report from both shows next year. —DJ
Sun ‘n Fun started the recreational flying season as it always does, taking place this year in the beginning of April. Aero Friedrichshafen ended the month at the end of April. These two shows make April the strongest month of the year for airshows, certainly for the affordable aviation crowd. Aviation journalist and LAMA board director Marino Boric was able to find many worthy stories at the popular German show. People that know Marino — many of you pilots, but nearly every producer — are aware he is an energetic, superbly-informed, and technically-competent individual. I am pleased to present his work in this and additional articles to follow from the recently-completed Aero Friendrichshafen show in southern Germany. In this article, Marino provides a short bit about six interesting projects. Some of these you know; some you don’t. I hope you enjoy Marino’s quick tour. Look for more… soon.
Engines and LoopsRotax isn't simply protecting their brand (though they are certainly doing that, too). To promote this activity without adequate preparation is folly. Rotax has no way to control how their engines are used. The have no control over the pilots flying aircraft powered by Rotax. Plus the Austrian market leader has not built an engine that keeps running while inverted. Instead, Magnus will use a ULPower engine. The latter has anticipated this use and the Belgian company recently declared that it meets all ASTM standards applicable to aircraft engines (specifically the F2339-19A standard for reciprocating spark engines for Light-Sport Aircraft). Welcome to ULPower (see video below) and congratulations to Magnus for using this engine to further their idea of Fusion 212 being used for upset recovery training. The Hungarian company made it official as did ULPower. "Magnus Aircraft is proud to announce its Fusion 212 airplane is approved for intentional spin. Starting now (April 2022), complete stall and spin awareness training, which is required for all CFIs as per FAR 61.183, can be [done] on the Fusion 212," wrote László Boros, CEO of Magnus. U.S. representative, Doma Adreka added, "I am pleased to inform you about the spin test results of the Fusion airplane. Since April 4, 2022, all Fusions are approved for intentional spins, and with an ASTM-compliant ULPower 350iS engine, approved for upset recovery and basic aerobatics (+6/-3Gs). With these capabilities the Fusion is the first Special LSA approved for all of these maneuvers and advanced training." "UL Power confirmed their ASTM declaration stating that the 350 and 520 engines are ASTM-compliant and can be used on SLSA," Doma added. Officially, ULPower Aero Engines NV, declared on March 1, 2022 their engine models are being produced in accordance with ASTM standards for reciprocating spark engines for Light-Sport Aircraft. This covers their UL350i with dual electronic control units and includes variations identified as their UL350iS and UL350iHPS (the latter for rotary aircraft). In addition several models of the UL 520 engine are covered under their declaration meeting ASTM standards. ULPower's 350 series relies on four cylinders to produce between 118 and 130 horsepower while the 520 series has six cylinders producing between 180 and 220 horsepower.
Fusion Spin TrainingMagnus in Hungary also made it official. "Magnus successfully completed the comprehensive intentional spin and recovery test series," Doma elaborated, "so the Fusion 212 airplane is approved for upset recovery training (UPRT), intentional spin and basic aerobatics (+6/-3Gs), which is extremely important for flight safety. Fusion 212 is the first and only available Light Sport Aircraft for these maneuvers." (Note that Tecnam acquired the single-seat Snap in 2013 for pilots who want to perform aerobatics, but that model never declared meeting ASTM standards.) Doma continued, "According to the FAA recommendations, we tested the behavior of the aircraft in nearly 250 situations of stall and spin maneuvers with full recovery of the aircraft. We tested the Fusion 212 in extreme center of gravity situations, with different throttle and flaps settings. During the tests we went to the edges by intentionally making ‘mistakes’ in the maneuvers and delaying recoveries." "From now on — including all Fusion 212 aircraft that have already been sold — Fusion 212’s Airplane Flight Manual officially includes the approval for performing intentional spin and recovery maneuvers," Doma clarified. "Fusion 212 provides low operating costs ($50/hour) to training organizations and private owners. Fusion 212 is well known for its high structural load capacity and strength allowing maneuvers that expand the regular flight envelope." I quickly and willingly add that my two flights in Fusion have shown it to be an extremely solid feeling aircraft (video review). "Upset recovery training has become widespread in pilot education in order to help pilots to overcome unusual situations," said Doma. "With our Fusion 212 aircraft, pilots can master their skills and learn techniques to handle such dangerous situations safely." Manufacturer Magnus Aircraft and The Aviator Family, distributor of the Fusion 212 airplanes in America, will start a special training program for upset recovery, spin and basic aerobatic training besides initial and advanced pilot education in DeLand, FL (KDED) soon. Of course, they also plan more conventional training. "Built to achieve all of your flying goals, Fusion 212 is a great training platform for Sport and Private Pilots. It is capable of carrying you through your Instrument, Commercial, CFI, CFII ratings, and TAA time building for ATP." One final word: "Fusion 212 provides the peace of mind that comes with having an onboard parachute," finished Doma.
About Doma and The Aviator FamilyBefore Doma hooked up with Magnus, he was Chief of Protocol for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Hungary and later worked with the International Sport Federation in Europe. He said he has worked with Presidents, Prime Ministers, and many more politicians and diplomats. However, he fell in love with aviation while working for Magnus in Europe and later in the USA, first residing in Texas though he and his family have now relocated to Florida. Doma earned his pilot license in 2020 and is working towards his instructor ticket. Today, he lives with is wife, Vicky and daughter, Lili Anna, in the Spruce Creek Fly-In community near Daytona Beach. "After almost five years in Texas we moved to Florida in 2021. We absolutely adore living here!" With that kind of youth and enthusiasm, I expect we'll see Doma and Fusion at an airshow near you. Here is a rare perspective on a Light-Sport Aircraft doing a multi-turn spin. This offers great views of the maneuver and you see how well Magnus Fusion handles it. https://youtu.be/DtdOH4tiIK0 Here is my interview of Magnus Aircraft's U.S. importer, Doma Andreka at the 2021 Midwest LSA Expo. In this we discusss the aerobatic capability of Fusion among many other points. https://youtu.be/0zvBbdi4RyQ And, here is my interview with the U.S. representative for ULPower, Robert Helms, shot at Sun 'n Fun 2021. At this time he gave us info about ULPower's project to declare compliance to ASTM standards. https://youtu.be/VxSaI2K-bN0
“Now, wait a minute,” I hear some object! “You can’t do aerobatics in a Light-Sport Aircraft. It’s not allowed.” Are you sure about that? True, most LSA are not recommended for aerobatic flying or training. However, one of the main reasons for that is that Rotax does not want their LSA 9-series engines used for aerobatics. If the engine manufacturer does not permit that, we’re done talking. It cannot be used that way. The airframe maker can also stipulate no such operations. However, neither FAA regulations nor ASTM standards expressly prohibit aerobatics. We’ve already seen one entry that is capable of aerobatics — the FK-12 Comet biplane — but when that model uses a Rotax powerplant, going upside down on purpose is not permitted. Has Magnus got a valid reason for pursuing aerobatics? Are they trying to invite owners to fly this way? A better rationale: With a capable aircraft, a qualified instructor can offer what some call “Upset Recovery Training.” Others may say “unusual attitude training,” but the purpose is to prepare pilots who may find themselves in unfamiliar — “upset” … “unusual” — situations, so they know how to exit that condition.
JMB TurbineNot 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. Later that month, the company debuted the development to crowds at Aero Friedrichshafen 2022. In the USA, JMB is represented by Alion Aviation. JMB has installed a French-designed engine from TurboTech (the same powerplant used on Bristell's new entry). According to the French engine developer, the TP-R90 outputs 130 horsepower, burns five gallons per hour in "eco-cruise," and weighs 176 pounds for the "full package" (though final installed weight may vary by airframe). TurboTech clarified, "A regenerative turbine is a turbine engine equipped with a heat exchanger (nearby diagram) capable of recovering the heat normally wasted in exhaust gases and reinjecting it into the combustion chamber, leading to a dramatic fuel burn reduction." Piloting the first flight of their VL3 Turbine Jean-Baptiste Guisset, CEO of JMB, flew at France's Valenciennes airfield under the supervision of the designers of the French turbine. “The first tests are very promising," said JMB. "We are continuing to validate the performance, but the advantages are already visible: no vibration and a TBO multiplied by two." (The latter reference compares the TP-R90 to Rotax's 915iS, which still has a 1,500 hour TBO although the company is proceeding conservatively as always; engineers will later raise this to 2,000 hours as with 912-series engines.) "A VL3 turbine is easier to fly than a traditional piston aircraft," added JMB, "thanks to the electronic management of the FADEC and its unique lever." Not only do they report modest fuel burn rates, thanks to the heat exchanger, but kerosene price is also a good advantage compared to the fuel normally used,” observed Jean-Marie Guisset. In six months of development testing, JMB reported more than 50 hours of ground testing, including 30 hours of full power testing. "In only 8 days, we flew more than 20 hours and simulated all possible failures without any technical issues." "We already have two aircraft equipped with the turbine and have elaborated an advanced flight program for the coming months in order to test all the flight domains of the turbine," concluded JMB.
Longer Life / Cheaper FuelProponents of TurboTech's method say it is superior due to its longer time before overhaul (TBO). Other commenters cite as a primary benefit: reliability. Turbine engines run at high revolutions but are built with such precision that they can last longer than a reciprocating engine. Due to their design, reciprocating engines produce vibration. As vibration can harm an airframe over a long life, a smoother turbine may add to an airplane's duty cycle though this is hardly a major concern for recreational planes that log 50-100 hours per year. Unless you log far more hours than average, you may never need to overhaul your turbine JMB. These engines can operate on kerosene or other lesser-refined fuels. The French company cites jet-A1, diesel, UL91, Avgas, or bio-fuel. In an age when 100-octane low-lead may disappear, this fuel versatility has extra value — although every Rotax, Jabiru, or UL Power engine can run on either 100LL or auto premium (or any mixture of the two) so this is of less concern to LSA owners. Nonetheless, where airports do not permit auto gas to be dispensed, a turbine aircraft that can accept alternate fuels might have an advantage.
FAA's Mosaic & Turbines?The short answer about turbines being permitted: We don't know today but we might find out at Oshkosh 2022 when I expect FAA will release the draft regulation as a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM). What we do know is that FAA deliberately eliminated turbine engines when they released the Sport Pilot / Light-Sport Aircraft regulation in 2004. In those days, a turbine engine was viewed as too complex for sport enthusiasts so FAA specified "reciprocating" engines only. As a sign of the times way back then, electric propulsion wasn't anything of particular interest. A few scattered experimenters had not proven battery-powered aircraft were anything more than a novelty. Requiring internal combustion engines completely ruled out electric motors… all in the interest of keeping turbines out. Well, FAA also failed to include helicopters but Mosaic might include them. So, might FAA allow turbine, too? Possibly yes, if they are paying attention to what is going in Europe; at least three companies have fitted turbine engines to current-day LSA designs. With the advantages spelled out above, do you think rule writers can or should include turbine? If you agree, get ready to tell FAA by your comments later this year.
Will a Market Arise?Cost is the main impediment to wider acceptance. At almost $100,000 for the engine alone (according to an estimate from Bristell rep', John Rathmell at Aero 2022), the TurboTech power plant is almost three times as costly as a Rotax 915iS yet it outputs 10 or more horsepower less than the turbocharged, intercooled Rotax. No matter its extra benefits, that cost will prove prohibitive for most buyers. Yet if you think it won't sell, then tell me how Cirrus keeps selling hundreds of their nearly-million-dollar SR-series aircraft year after year. I understand most buyers will probably not elect turbine power no matter its advantages because the cost is breathtakingly higher. Nonetheless, well-heeled pilots with a need for speed and a love of the latest thing may go for it. The rest of us will fly what we can afford and the great news is — something is available for almost every budget. In a month, JMB logged eight hours of flying along with numerous ground tests. Here a short glimpse of — and that tantalizing turbine sound for — JMB's turbine VL3. https://youtu.be/iU4DuAyJrN4
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.