Did you read “Jet Access” and think this article was not for you? I get that but please read further. Jet Access is not about airlines or military. It isn’t even about jet engines or biz jets. It is about flight school operations and which aircraft the operators find optimal. Spoiler Alert: Light-Sport Aircraft win. Here’s the question of the hour: “Why are leading flight schools world wide choosing Evektor LSA to replace their aging legacy fleet of flight training aircraft?” The question is posed by Evektor’s U.S. Director of Fleet Sales, Steve Trerotola. Answers follow… Evektor Is #1… Forever You may not have heard quite as much from Evektor over the last couple years. That’s because they’ve been head-down puzzling over America’s legal system, a challenge for many foreign producers. Based in a different country, some manufacturers feel insulated from lawsuits but given America is by far the world’s largest aviation market, well… it’s wise to think differently.
Phone: (420) 572-537-111Kunovice, -- 686 04 - Czech Republic
Flight School OwnerSunrise was founded and is personally supervised by Michael Church, a national flight training authority, honored by the FAA as Safety Counselor of the Year and recognized as a Master Flight Instructor and Master Aerobatic Flight Instructor. Church has logged more than 11,000 hours of flight instruction given. What does he have to say about his experience with LSA? "It was obvious that LSA was going to potentially revolutionize flight training by reducing expense." Mike acquired his first Evektor in 2009, only five years after LSA burst on the aviation scene. Sunrise trains to all levels, even including aerobatics, so pilots that start in LSA may transition later. Mike wondered how Sunrise students would proceed after primary training in LSA and afterward moving to larger aircraft. "SportStar is perfect. It is a great training vehicle and the transition to larger aircraft seems to be very straightforward." Mike amplified, "Flight instructors like it because it is really a great training airplane. The best trainers are light, small, maneuverable, frisky. The quicker the airplane makes the student aware of a problem, the quicker the student will recognize a maneuver that didn't look right, the easier it is to get the student involved with fixing the problem. From the flight instructor's view, it simply makes the job easier."
Experience — Then and NowAny owner can get jazzed about an airplane he or she recently bought. The excitement of a new purchase can overwhelm the pragmatic aspects of longer-term ownership. Here are Mike Church's thoughts six years ago, in 2013. Later on, we'll update his perceptions. "Cost of operation has proven to be the single biggest value." That was very important to this businessman. He specified fuel use was so much lower than what his schools was used to with Cessna 150s and 172s. Since 1978 avgas has only gotten more expensive. Lower fuel cost seems obvious, perhaps, yet endurance of the airframe is one of the problems regular GA pilots note. "Apparently the low inertia and light weight means they don't break very much," Mike observed. In just four years, he reported reaching engine overhaul in two airplanes, logging more than 2,000 hours in each. "We had very few problems." Way back then, Mike felt, "This is the training airplane to which Sunrise is now committed." So he liked Evektor. What about the Rotax engine those models use? Mike noted that his earlier aircraft went through four overhauls of their Lycoming engines. He became very confident with them. In 2013, Sunrise was still acquiring time with Rotax and Mike considered the trial ongoing but added, "to date, the Rotax engines have been remarkably trouble free." And now? In the six years since, he has become an even bigger advocate of Rotax powerplants. By January of 2019, he reported, "We now have a fleet of five Evektor [both SportStar and Harmony models], and we have accumulated more than 18,000 hours of experience on the airframes and engines." "I can say now with great assurance that the Rotax has proved to be a remarkable piece of machinery. Low cost of operation. Low cost of maintenance. I'm a fan!" Moving from Rotax to other engines means students must learn some new tasks, such as operating mixture control, but he concluded, "This is relatively simple [training] stuff to teach."
How about Mechanics?A flight school owner might be expected to be positive about purchase he made. What happens when Sunrise mechanics are asked about their views of Evektor airframes and Rotax powerplants? Sunrise mechanic Matt Wilderman is an A&P with Inspection Authorization. He relates experience since 2009. "I've never worked with an airplane that demanded so little maintenance. It's mostly been tires and brakes. We've had no major airframe issues and very minor engine issues." He enthusiastically added, "If you keep on top of them, they've been fantastically reliable, more so than any other airplane I've worked on." How does Matt feel about Rotax? "They've also been fantastic. I've never worked with a better aircraft engine." To clarify, Matt added, "We change the spark plugs, the oil, and the filters every 50 hours. Even running avgas we've had no problems with leading that some people have reported. In 2,000 hours we replaced one small spring on the sprague clutch; that's it." "We've had no lubrication issues, no ignition issues. I had questions at first, but despite hard use by students, the engines have held up exceptionally well. Most squawks that I've received have been indicators; it always seems to be the sensor but today even those problems appear to be resolved." "The airframes are so light that you don't see a lot of wear," Matt continued, and in so saying he turns the "light" problem upside down to become a positive. "They just haven't been breaking. I have nothing but praise for the whole LSA program."
What Do Instructors Think?Instructor don't own the equipment nor must they repair it. Here's a sampling of what various Sunrise instructors say. "SportStar is excellent for training. It has nice control responses." "My students love flying this [Evektor]. It's so easy to fly." They relate the students are comfortable in the airplane. "Visibility absolutely unrestricted" and their students like that. "The view is amazing." "The climb performance that Evektor provides us is incredible." Evektor has proven very cost effective. "You only spend about twenty bucks on fuel," said another CFI, referring to the cost of providing a flight lesson. When a Master CFI and owner/operator of a Part 141 flight school talks this way after a decade of experience, it would seem to carry more heft than your average Private Pilot. After building 18,000 hours of total time on a fleet of five Evektor LSA over 10 years experience, Sunrise Aviation remains committed to Evektor Light-Sport Aircraft for primary flight training. Added 5/17/19 — Listen to Sunrise Aviation owner, Mike Church tell you in his own words about his experience with Light-Sport Aircraft as training aircraft in his busy flight school. https://youtu.be/OLd720HCYhU Want more? Here is our flight review of the Evektor Harmony shot at DeLand Showcase 2017: https://youtu.be/nsxFl45FjQw
One of the controversies surrounding Light-Sport Aircraft has to do with that first word: “light.” Early on, one aircraft importer lobbied to remove the word as it was negatively viewed, he believed. Article updated (5/17/19) with newly released video with Sunrise Aviation owner, Mike Church (see below). Indeed, outside of the LSA world, many pilots I’ve spoken to believe these aircraft are too lightly built to hold up in flight training, one of the most demanding of all flight activities. “Yes, an experienced pilot may love a LSA,” they may concede, “but these aircraft cannot hold up to regular flight instruction duty.” Enthusiasts may be biased but what would an actual flight school operator say? To get it straight from the horse’s mouth, I inquired of Sunrise Aviation. This substantial flight school has for more than 40 years operated out of the very busy John Wayne airport in Orange County, California.
CAAC ApprovalIn September 2017, a team of the inspectors from the Certification Division of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) audited Evektor with focus on production of details and assembly, storage processes, material flow, and design organization support. A CAAC audit team reviewed quality systems throughout the factory located in the south of the Czech Republic, an area rich with aviation enterprises. "Evektor delivers to China its CAAC Certified Light Sport Aircraft SportStar SL that enjoys growing popularity among the air clubs on the Chinese market," said the company. "A regular CAAC audit reconfirmed Evektor is in full compliance with all CAAC requirements for further deliveries of SportStar SL to the Chinese market." Evektor has now been “quality audited by the CAAC of China together with aviation production certified by Czech Civil Aviation Authority and the European EASA according to Part 21 … [proving] the basis for the quality of Evektor aircraft”, stated Jaromír Matuška, Quality Manager of Evektor-Aerotechnik. In the USA, Evektor is represented by Art Tarola and his A-B Flight company and by Steve Minnich's Dreams Come True company. Evektor-Aerotechnik boasts almost 50 years experience in aircraft production and has a fleet of 1,300+ aircraft operating in 50 countries. * In the case of EASA and CAAC "certified" may be the correct term, but in the USA, Special Light-Sport Aircraft are not "certified." Instead they are "accepted" by FAA. This differentiates SLSA from Type Certified models, such as those created by Cirrus or Cessna.
Forever, Evektor will remain the very first Special Light-Sport Aircraft approved by the FAA, beating Flight Design’s CT series by a small margin. Both were the first SLSA ever accepted* by FAA and that will never change. Just like in the Olympics, it’s good to come in first. People remember. More recently, Evektor continued their prowess at gaining the seal of approval from regulatory authorities, and in two other regions besides the USA. If you’ve ever inspected a SportStar or Harmony, you might quickly see why the Czech company keeps passing the test; they produce some beautiful aircraft. EASA Approval The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) recently certified* Evektor’s SportStar RTC — which the company calls its “training aircraft” — with the popular Garmin G3X Touch Glass Cockpit, reported Evektor. G3X Touch is a digital integrated avionics system built with a native infrared touchscreen interface.
Enjoy this quick look at Harmony LSAhttps://youtu.be/ARGiIrs946Y
We spent the first day of the second year of this event zooming around DeLand Showcase 2017 shooting several videos for you and I have a sample MiniVideo for you to view. This short take is modest compared to the more professionally-edited ones my video partner SportAviationMagazine.com will produce from the footage we shot today. Here’s the link to Videoman Dave’s YouTube channel where you can find hundreds more. Long days at the show filled with interviews, photo taking, and discussions with industry leaders and aircraft representatives swallow most of the available time. Yet these brief videos provide quick views and I hope to add more at DeLand and other events. Offer a comment if you like them. The Evektor Harmony LSA is represented in the USA by Dreams Come True, run by Steve Minnich (who by the way has flown the subject aircraft some 700 hours …though the aircraft obviously has received plenty of care and attention).