These days, “oversight” is a heavily used word on national media. But far from the strangeness of government bailouts is the world of Light-Sport Aircraft. For the new aviation sector, industry oversight is seen as critical by LAMA and many aviation leaders. *** A conversation with LAMA founder* Larry Burke shows the LSA industry organization is moving steadily toward its oversight goals. Insurance companies and others hope LAMA will audit companies supplying 80% of purchased LSA. Once that “critical mass” is reached, insurers feel they can advise customers do as LAMA encourages…”Look for the LAMA Label.” *** A LAMA audit verifies that a company which declares compliance to ASTM standards actually possesses the documentation to prove their declaration. After successfully passing a LAMA audit, a company can place LAMA Labels on their LSA so that potential customers are aware the company has satisfactorily completed a voluntary third party audit.
Flight Design GmbH
Phone: +49 36920 7530-11Hoerselberg-Hainich, -- 99820 - Germany
Earlier it appeared that the Flight Design MC would be the first Light-Sport Aircraft ever displayed at the giant National Business Aircraft Association show. NBAA is the organization representing business jets plus a large range of exhibitors serving executive transportation. The trade show happening now in Orlando is a stupendous event with many more exhibitors than Oshkosh. Numerous displays are fantastic creations that cost more for a three-day show than LSA producers spend to market themselves for an entire year. *** So it is fascinating indeed that any LSA would be present at this event. And, in fact, two are seen by the bizjet crowd: the MC and Icon‘s handsome amphibious LSA project, the A5. Icon mounted their own display and reported good response, especially when one of their team hits the auto wing fold button. Even jaded aviators tend to have a jaw-drop reaction to this feature.
Lots more fun than a military build-up but bearing some resemblance, companies across the USA are preparing for Sun ‘n Fun starting Tuesday the 4th. I was on the grounds today and it already looks busy. I also traveled to Lockwood Aviation at the Sebring, Florida airport. A busy crew was assembling airplanes from Flight Design and Tecnam in preparation for the show in nearby Lakeland. Other companies set up at South Lakeland Airpark — the relaxed strip a mere three air miles from Sun ‘n Fun (where I do the majority of my flight evaluations). Today, I got a chance to compare a late-model 2005 CTsw with the 2006 model; look for the full report in EAA Sport Pilot for June 2006. Tomorrow, the folks at Sport Aircraft Works are hosting me to fly the Parrot, Sport Cruiser, and Mermaid from Czech Aircraft Works.
OSHKOSH UPDATE — At a ceremony on EAA AirVenture’s show-center location, AeroShell Square, Flight Design unveiled another new LSA, their second of 2008, the first being the CTLS which debuted at Sebring in January. Amid opening day excitement, numerous media representatives captured photos and video. A large crowd surrounded the MC when Flight Design CEO Matthias Betsch and U.S. importer Tom Peghiny took the stage. After a few words of introduction and on cue from Betsch, Flight Design representatives removed a parachute canopy used to hide the MC from view. *** The MC — for Metal Concept — is similar in appearance to the CTLS but is constructed mainly of aluminum skin over a welded steel structure that provides great durability and occupant protection. Flight Design expects the MC will have strong appeal to flight schools. Cockpit entry is even easier thanks to a lower threshold and a door that reaches well forward.
Amid furious preparations for Oshkosh, CAFE Foundation, the efficiency folks, announced teams that will vie for a second year of prizes. CAFE has a $300,000 purse thanks to their partnership with NASA, which is celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2008. *** It may not surprise you to hear that four of five teams entered will fly Light-Sport Aircraft, and at least one is sure to end in the money as one prize ($10,000) is for “Quietest LSA.” Other prizes are a maximum of $150,000 for lowest community noise; two $50,000 prizes, one for “Green,” another for safety judged by handling qualities; a $25,000 speed prize; and four $3,750 “Showcase Prizes” covering quietest cabin, best angle of climb, shortest takeoff, and best glide. Winning a couple of the larger prizes is enough money “to actually buy someone their own LSA,” said CAFE President, Brien Seeley. *** The teams competing will fly a Pipistrel Virus (last year’s big winner of $165,000!–photo); a modified Diamond DA20-A1; a Dynamic WT9; the UFM-13 Lambada, and a Flight Design CTsw.
I can identify four factors in the economy presently affecting airplane sales: Potential customers (often with plenty of assets or creditworthiness) see the value of their stock portfolio going up and down like a roller coaster; worry over their once-soaring real estate, now down markedly in some areas; witness the continuing rise of the euro-dollar exchange rate, bringing much higher prices for many LSA; and, fret over a climate of political uncertainty during another election cycle. *** Perhaps due to these factors GA single engine piston sales are off 28% compared to the same period last year, according to GAMA. LSA sales are off 30% compared to trends six months to a year ago. *** Jet and turbine aircraft sales are up, but 2008 deliveries of those aircraft stem from orders taken 2-3 years ago. Contrarily, personal and sport aircraft sales react quickly to the slightest perception of economic shakiness. *** Despite that we have some bright spots.
Sun ‘n Fun 2008 is history, but planning is already underway for the 2009 event. Event boss John Burton confirmed we will again have the LAMA-hosted LSA Mall right at the front gate next April 21-26. A major success at this year’s Lakeland, Florida airshow, the industry Mall presentation featured 17 Special Light-Sport Aircraft. Weather prevented Fantasy Air’s Allegro from attending. Two days before the event, a tornado crushed a Sting S3 planned for display. And work at Quicksilver Manufacturing postponed the exhibit of the GT500 (they’re finishing SLSA approval, reports national sales manager, Todd Ellefson). *** The 17 who were in the ’08 LSA Mall enjoyed significant traffic all week and virtually every visitor to Sun ‘n Fun was at least exposed to Light-Sport Aircraft in a wide variety (although we were not able to enlist any trike or powered parachute companies).
Lots of folks are wondering about, or complaining about, the seemingly high prices of Light-Sport Aircraft. Recently a prior editor-in-chief of EAA publications, Scott Spangler, wrote a blog on JetWhine. Scott focused on expensive avionics as one reason LSA cost so much. While a factual observation, I believe the price increase is more complex. *** First, LSA suppliers install equipment like autopilots because buyers ask for them. A large chunk of all LSA are sold to “retiring” GA pilots used to such equipment in their Cessna or Bonanza. Simpler LSA are available; most suppliers have one. But customers are buying the loaded-panel jobs. *** Let’s look closer at those rising prices. Five years ago, in the pre-dawn of SP/LSA, a CT was selling for $60,000. Today it’s $125,000. By far the largest piece of that doubling is the euro’s soaring value compared to the dollar. Were the currencies at parity, that $125,000 would be $80,000.
Flight Design leads the LSA flock maintaining a market share of more than 20% since the start of SLSA certifications almost three years ago. Their first American export was CT2K, fine tuned in 2006 for U.S. pilots as the CTSW. Now sport pilots around the world can welcome the CTLS, the third generation of this successful design. *** Longer and sleeker, LS was lengthened 14 inches and has a list of new features. Although you can add a few options (leather seats and autopilot, for example) the base model has everything a Sport Pilot could want including Garmin radio, transponder, and GPS with XM, dual Dynon glass displays, and BRS parachute…all standard. *** The company says every mold on the all-carbon fiber aircraft was changed. You can see this in its larger cabin with aft windows, the wingtip treatment, and in a more “adult” look to the design.
Most pilots know AOPA, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, has been fighting the user fee battle…and they’ve been doing well resisting the might of the U.S. government. But they must also have a connection with Mother Nature as warm, beautiful weather shined on opening day at Connecticut’s Brainard airport. *** On display: StingSport, Skylark, the new Breezer II, Allegro 2000, SportCruiser, Sigma, Thorpedo, Sport Cub, Bravo, Sierra, CTsw, Jabiru J-250, Gobosh G-700S, and Remos G-3. Contrary to earlier info, American Champion brought The Champ, Cessna displayed their Skycatcher mockup, and Cirrus flew their SRS. In all, I counted 17 LSA at Hartford. That amounts to a healthy 19% of all airplanes on display.
Odds are you’ve heard of LAMA, the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association, founded in the earliest days of ultralights and gaining renewed importance in this era of Light-Sport Aircraft. Most leading LSA businesses (not only manufacturers) are members; look for the LAMA logo on many websites. *** For 2007, the LAMA business organization has a new trick up its sleeve: a consumer program whereby a qualifying manufacturer can apply a LAMA decal to each LSA produced according to ASTM standards and which has successfully completed a third party compliance verification audit. Sounds pretty dry, yes. But it is critical to lend greater credibility to the ASTM consensus standards. *** A manufacturer declares his airplane compliant. LAMA sends a contractor to assure the standard was properly met. In the future LSA consumers should look for the LAMA decal to know it was built by a company whose compliance documents and processes have been verified.
Within 24 hours of getting home from Sun ‘n Fun, several industry leaders including Evektor America’s Jeff Conrad, Flight Design USA’s Tom Peghiny, Jabiru USA’s Ed Ricks, and BRS parachute’s Gregg Ellsworth packed up and headed off to California. What motivated these men to depart so soon after a long week in Florida? They all wanted to support proprietor Mike Fletcher as he and his staff celebrated the Grand Opening of Light Sport Airplanes West. I also flew out to join the party for America’s largest LSA showroom and a grand affair it was. Estimates put attendance at 300 (I suspect that didn’t include everyone present as some 100 aircraft flew in). Representing the Sportstar, CTsw, and J-250 plus the Remos G-3, TL Ultralight StingSport, and Tecnam, LSA West has an impressive line and a large inventory of LSA in stock.
In a year of facilitating independent audits for Special Light-Sport Aircraft, LAMA, the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association, completed reviews of six companies: IndUS (Thorpedo); Jihlavan (Kappa KP-5); Aeropro (EuroFox); Flight Design (CT); Czech Aircraft Works (SportCruiser, Mermaid, & Parrot); and Evektor (SportStar). CZAW and Evektor were announced at a press conference at AirVenture Oshkosh 2007; all the others were announced earlier. Successfully audited LSA can display individually-numbered LAMA decals. Customers appreciate and seek independently reviewed products. *** At the same press conference LAMA announced expansion of its board to seven members. New members are Jack Pelton, president and CEO of Cessna Aircraft and Jo Konrad, president of the German Ultralight Association (DULV). These impressive additions join Dave Martin, journalist and former editor of Kitplanes; Tom Peghiny, president of Flight Design USA; Phil Lockwood, president of Lockwood Aircraft Supply; Tom Gunnarson, LAMA president; and myself, serving as Chairman.
At Oshkosh I took the chance to speak with several general aviation leaders — CEOs of top general aviation companies and presidents of leading membership organizations. All have been kind to me with their time and generous with their support for the Sport Pilot concept, but I sensed they didn’t yet accept LSA deep down. Minor questions remained. Today that seems convincingly gone. The same not-100%-certain leaders now chorus, “LSA is here to stay.” *** Evidence of that is again marshaling for AOPA’s season-ending event for general aviation. The D.C.-based organization now counts more than 413,000 members, more than two-thirds of all pilots on the FAA register. The traveling Expo show typically draws well from a region’s pilot population. Action starts October 4-6, 2007 at the Hartford-Brainard Airport (HFD). *** For the third year running AOPA is providing a grouped location for Light-Sport Aircraft right where you enter the airplane display area (SLSA exhibitor list under photo).
Market leader Flight Design seems hot as a pistol and appears to be validating their plan to substantially increase production. South Central U.S. distributor Airtime Aviation delivered N200BL to Brian Longwill, their new dealer operating under the name Longwill AirCraft. And talk about beautiful timing, this also happened to be CT delivery number 50 for Airtime. Putting even a finer point on their accomplishments, Airtime got the first CT approved in the U.S., missing by mere hours being the first SLSA* in the country. *** Longwill AirCraft will base their new CT at a new airport opening in Estancia, New Mexico…east of Albuquerque and south of Moriarty. Longwill aims to attract sport aircraft of all kinds to the facility. *** Finally — call me lucky or call it a truly fine bit of advance planning, but this is also SPLOG #200. From the mail and calls I get, you love SPLOG and I’m pleased you do.
Many other airplane categories have tried round the world flights, but it’s now been done by a Light-Sport Aircraft. Flying a Flight Design CT, Indian Air Force Wing Commanders Rahul Monga and Anil Kumar will claim a new record by successfully flying around the world in 79 days. Part of a celebration of the Indian Air Force 75th Anniversary, the two pilots covered a total distance of 40,497 kilometers (25,310 miles) in 79 days flying over 19 countries (Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Russia, USA, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, UK, Germany, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, and India).*** During the expedition, Commander Monga became part of very small group of pilots by soloing across the Atlantic in a single engine aircraft. Kumar had to go via airline so the CT could fly longer. Despite missing this exciting segment Kumar expressed appreciation for the CT: “It’s a fantastic machine, very reliable…it got us home and there were no problems.
The Czech Republic featured in the last few SPLOGs may not be well known to Americans, but Ukraine seems yet another world away. Indeed, our jetliner flew almost two hours further east to Odessa and then we took a three-hour car ride to Kherson, home to the primary production facility for German-owned Flight Design. *** The experience of touring their facility was dramatically different than CZAW or Evektor as Flight Designs works almost exclusively with carbon fiber. Now in its second decade of production CT is America’s best-selling LSA and its factory has grown accordingly. More than 500 Ukrainian employees — engineers, designers, managers, technicians, and factory employees — toil in a sprawling facility not far from the Black Sea. Senior management is German but the entire facility is run by local talent. Interestingly, staff meetings are held in English.
|Empty weight||680 pounds|
|Gross weight||1,320 pounds|
|Wing area||107 square feet|
|Wing loading||12.3 pounds/square foot|
|Useful Load||640 pounds|
|Payload (with full fuel)||436 pounds|
|Cabin Interior||49 inches wide|
|Fuel Capacity||34 gallons|
|Baggage area||aft compartment, 100 pounds. 1|
|Notes:||1 Before loading 100 pounds of baggage, the aircraft's weight and balance should be carefully calculated.|
|Standard engine||Rotax 912S|
|Power loading||13.2 pounds/hp|
|Max Speed||138 mph|
|Cruise speed||129 mph|
|Stall Speed (Flaps)||45 mph|
|Never exceed speed||167 mph|
|Rate of climb at gross||960 fpm|
|Takeoff distance at gross||295 feet|
|Landing distance at gross||465 feet|
|Range (powered)||8.3 hours - 1,080 miles (no reserve)|
|Fuel Consumption||4 gph|
|Notes:||Propeller: Two-blade Neuform|
In the 15 months since the first two special light-sport aircraft (S-LSA) were introduced at the Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In in Lakeland, Florida, a wave of S-LSA have taken to the sky. The number delivered to customers is approaching 500 aircraft — and climbing as quickly as factories can produce and deliver them. The years ahead should see a sharply increasing number of LSA flying in America. The good news for pilots is we won’t just have more LSA, we’ll have better ones as designers modify and improve aircraft based on customer input and service history. That’s one of the benefi ts of consensus standards versus type certification-manufacturers can cram more features into the airplanes and factories may refine production techniques without undergoing costly recertification. The best news is we don’t have to wait. “New and improved” LSA are here now. The 2006 CT Because of its distinctive profile, the Flight Design CT is one of the most recognized S-LSA flying.
Sun ‘n Fun 2005 started off with a bang when Flightstar Sportplanes’ Tom Peghiny heard the Flight Design CT he imports was one of the first Special Light-Sport Aircraft to be given its airworthiness certificate. (S-LSAs are fully built and can be used for training or rental.) CT regional dealer Tom Gutmann of Airtime Aviation, Inc., was the recipient of a process Peghiny graciously called “the effort of many people.” Watch for full coverage of this benchmark achievement in aviation magazines.
|Empty weight||580 pounds|
|Gross weight||1,232 pounds|
|Wing area||116 square feet|
|Wing loading||10.6 pounds per square foot|
|Fuel Capacity||34 gallons|
|Kit type||Fully assembled|
|Build time||None, or assembly from shipping only|
|Standard engine||Rotax 912|
|Power||80 hp at 5,500 rpm|
|Power loading||15.4 pounds per hp|
|Cruise speed||132 mph|
|Economy Cruise||4.5 gph|
|Never exceed speed||192 mph|
|Rate of climb at gross||1,000 fpm|
|Takeoff distance at gross||300 feet|
|Landing distance at gross||450 feet|
|Notes:||*Wing loading with the 912S (100 hp) engine is 12.3 pounds/square foot.|
|Standard Features||80-hp Rotax 912, quickly removed wings, 4-point belts, 3-color paint scheme, 2 baggage compartments, ASI, altimeter, tach, oil gauges, CHT, and numerous amenities and appointments suiting a $60,000 aircraft.|
|Options||100-hp Rotax 912S, leather seats, additional instruments and avionics, BRS emergency parachute system, skis, Full Lotus floats, special paint and graphics.|
|Construction||Fiberglass airframe reinforced with carbon fiber. Manufactured in Eastern Europe for a German-owned company; distributed by U.S.-owned Rollison Airplane Company.|
Cosmetic appearance, structural integrity, achievement of design goals, effectiveness of aerodynamics, ergonomics.
Pros - Sleek, cantilevered design not seen in ultralight circles (more similar to U.S. homebuilts). Excellent combination of features and attributes: roomy, speedy, well appointed for American market. Built around 80-hp Rotax 912 engine.
Cons - Fiberglass and carbon repairs are said to be not difficult, but experience is needed with these materials. At present, the test CT is the only one operating in America.
Subsystems available to pilot such as: Flaps; Fuel sources; Electric start; In-air restart; Brakes; Engine controls; Navigations; Radio; (items covered may be optional).
Pros - Test CT was loaded with extras. Flaps have usual down positions but also up or reflex positions which can be used to enhance cruise performance. Electric start standard with Rotax 912s. Fuel capacity is large. Hydraulic brakes are via lever; work well.
Cons - The CT isn't missing any systems you probably want, but all more complex aircraft require more familiarity to handle competently. Engine accessible only after cowl removal. Brakes don't assist ground steering.
Instrumentation; Ergonomics of controls; Creature comforts; (items covered may be optional).
Pros - Huge roomy cabin 49 inches wide. Interior compartments accessible in flight. Wide doors for easy entry/exit. Comfortable, supportive seats with 4-point belts. Seats adjust both bottom and back rest. Panel easily reached.
Cons - I struggled to unlatch the gull-wing door for closing when securely belted. Seemed somewhat noisier than another European 912-powered CT I flew in France. No other negatives to this wonderful cabin.
Taxi visibility; Steering; Turn radius; Shock absorption; Stance/Stability; Braking.
Pros - Very straightforward handling for anyone used to conventional tri-gear operation. Brakes were quite effective. Visibility was very broad (except upward). Large ground clearance. Quite precise to taxi.
Cons - Rather stiff suspension (mostly noticed on turf runway). No aft window or visibility.
Qualities; Efficiency; Ease; Comparative values.
Pros - Responsive controls allow normal crosswind operation. Glide seemed quite strong, an asset in an engine-loss situation. Flaps help control glide path and slips are reasonably effective. Large ground clearance will help if you must land off-field.
Cons - In France my landing was good. At shorter airstrips you'll need practice to handle the the CT's long glide; you must plan approaches well. Takeoff roll is long (compared to ultralights), thanks to smaller wing and higher weight.
Quality and quantity for: Coordination; Authority; Pressures; Response; and Coupling.
Pros - Very light and responsive handling. Dutch roll coordination exercises went well almost immediately (though always keeping the ball centered will take some experience). Well balanced controls. Precision turns to heading were easy.
Cons - Pitch is light enough that some pilots may not feel comfortable. Coordination will take some time to optimize. Adverse yaw is significant.
Climb; Glide; Sink; Cruise/stall/max speeds; Endurance; Range; Maneuverability.
Pros - Very speedy design. Even with an incorrect prop, I saw speeds of more than 140 mph (though for U.S. market, the CT will be propped down). U.S. model with IvoProp propeller didn't exceed 132 mph, per GPS runs. Slows down under 40 mph.
Cons - Climb not as strong as expected, perhaps optimized for European high-cruise speed desires.
Stall recovery and characteristics; Dampening; Spiral stability; Adverse yaw qualities.
Pros - Fitting both German and English certification systems, the CT has normal stall response, longitudinal response, and throttle response - a benefit of such programs. Four-point seat belts are standard.
Cons - Slippery airplane that may be more than some pilots want. Fitted with a parachute, though with the activating handle awkwardly located in case of emergency (see article).
Addresses the questions: "Will a buyer get what he/she expects to buy, and did the designer/builder achieve the chosen goal?"
Pros - The CT has German certification, and thanks to Pegasus, approval under the tough English system. Though $60,000 is a lot of money, the CT is a well equipped model for far less than a certified general aviation aircraft or many homebuilts.
Cons - CT kits are currently unavailable (European sales allow fully built models). Company and plane are not well known in the U.S., which could affect resale ability.
A Bold Yet Efficient Euro-Designed Light-Sport Aircraft Flightstar imports the CT2K in anticipation of the light-sport aircraft rule. As FAA’s proposed light-sport aircraft rule looms ever closer, one of the first aircraft that will likely fit the field and be recognized by American pilots is Germany’s CT. For the U.S. market, and with a nod to the new millennium, producer Flight Designs has renamed the model as the CT2K. “CT” stands for Composite Twoseater. It is certainly not alone in being “white, glass, and built overseas,” a theme that emerged at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2002. But the design was a leader in the move from tube-and-rag ultralights to the modern microlights of Europe. And it distinguishes itself in a number of ways that we’ll explore in this review. My experiences flying the CT on two occasions were both with Europeanbased check pilots. The most recent opportunity was with Allistair Wilson, formerly a major with the Royal Irish Regiment in Northern Ireland.