American and European pilots can plan a trip across the continent with surprising ease and with great support from air traffic controllers, airport operators, and businesses that serve aviation. No one stops you to ask what you’re doing. You probably question why I even bother to write this because it’s so well understood. Yes, those of us in countries where private aviation is well-established take for granted the privilege of flying cross country. In fact, it’s one of the great joys we love to experience. It’s a fantastic way to see the country. That’s simply doesn’t happen in China. …Or, it didn’t. Things are changing and one company has forged ahead despite the challenges. This story involves a Taiwanese-origin, China-based company called AeroJones and involves the delivery of one of their CTLS aircraft to a customer. In the USA, this would never be news. In China, it most definitely is! AeroJones’ Great Aerial Trek After purchasing the rights, AeroJones builds the Flight Design CTLS for the Asia-Pacific market.
Phone: (011) 886-4-2461-8Taichung City, 407 - Taiwan
Buyers Without RemorseJohn started, "Skyleader 600 looks like a great aircraft. I had actually just noticed this model a couple days ago because there is a used one listed for sale on the Web. As a potential first time buyer, I would be interested to have you address the question of service for these smaller manufacturers. "By way of example," John continued, "there are nearly 300 SportCruisers registered in the US, as well as nearly 350 Flight Design models, but only 3 Skyleaders. I’m not picking on Skyleader; there are many manufacturers with just two, five or 20 registrations in the database." Matter of fact, our N-number database is another useful reference we offer. You can use the ByDanJohnson.com Tableau Public link to find every single LSA in the U.S. registry (you'll have to drill down a bit, but here's an infographic on how to do that). John continued, "I imagine it’s easier to find a mechanic who is familiar with something that has hundreds of units in operation, rather than just a few. If I want to buy a less common aircraft, do I have to think about availability of qualified service ahead of time? Do I need to locate a mechanic first, even before settling on a particular model? I’ve never owned an airplane before, so this is a big unknown for me." John didn't ask about insurance but that's another large question, especially these days for pilots over 70 years old. I recently interviewed on video one of the leading insurance agents, A.I.R.'s Gregg Ellsworth to get the latest info on that important topic. Regarding mechanics — If a LSA uses all-metal construction, you can find capable mechanics almost anywhere. If your dream plane is largely composite, finding a mechanic can be much harder. The larger companies like Flight Design, building their CT series from almost all carbon fiber offer varying levels of training. If a dealer or mechanical shop obtains factory training — as does Airtime Aviation, the largest seller for Flight Design anywhere in the world — their people can fix anything and may be able and willing to work on other brands. In the LSA world, the manufacturer dictates who gets to work on their airplanes so it's best to go direct to the source to learn the availability of qualified mechanics. You can find nearly any LSA company using our SLSA List (loaded with links). If your dream LSA uses a Rotax engine, you will have little trouble getting service because the big Austrian powerplant manufacturer has trained hundreds of mechanics. Continental-powered LSA can also be maintained by many Airframe & Powerplant (A&P) mechanics, virtually anywhere in the world. Jabiru engines are maintained by Arion Aircraft (also producer of the Lightning-series of kit-built or fully-built SLSA aircraft). As Jabiru engines were designed to be simple to facilitate repair, any A&P can also work on them. Other engines may be more challenging but all have some service centers, though perhaps not close to you. Some LSA organizations have focused on providing service to many brands. One such is U.S. Sport Planes located in the north Dallas, Texas metropolitan area. Run by Scott Severen — the North American Jabiru importer — U.S. Sport Planes has a long history of working with numerous brands. Others offer similarly broad service, such as Aero Adventure, which can work on multiple seaplane brands. My best advice is to contact the manufacturer or the importer of the aircraft that interests you and ask who can assist you closer to home. Please remember, though, that LSA suppliers or mechanics aren't McDonalds restaurants you can find everywhere. They are all specialized service providers. You may need to travel to them but as they are experts, it may be worthwhile to engage them versus a general A&P who may not know your particular airplane. Even after 17 years, LSA are still the "new kids on the block" so some mechanics may not wish to service them.
What IS Affordable?Another reader, Dan E., made other comments I frequently hear. He wrote, "The definition of what people consider 'affordable' varies widely." Not only does it vary by every individual; it can change depending on many other circumstances. "For me," Dan wrote, "a used $35K Cessna 150 or a $45K Piper Cherokee 140 are affordable, but a new $150-200K two-seat SLSA is not, and I have neither the time nor the interest to build my own ELSA." In truth, an ELSA (Experimental LSA) typically will not save much but can bring some other advantages. To save a more significant amount of money, you'll need to build an Experimental Amateur Built ("51% rule") aircraft. This will take a bigger investment of your time, but with the coming MOSAIC regulation professional builder-assist centers are expected to expand notably. Dan finished, "I thought that making entry-level planes more affordable through mass production to get more pilots flying was the original purpose of the LSA movement? What we ended up is a bunch of boutique manufacturers, each offering SLSA that appeal to someone who might otherwise buy a sportscar in the same price range." The truth is lots of people had expectations about the Sport Pilot/Light-Sport Aircraft regulation introduced in September 2004. "Mass production" was never one of the goals. Likewise, some membership organizations expected a huge new wave of pilots that would join their organizations. That was not a realistic assumption, either. What we did get was a simpler pilot certificate with no medical exam required and a profusion of aircraft of many types. When the choices are many, the suppliers may be smaller. In fact, I have often used Dan E's term "boutique manufacturer" and I still think that is appropriate. Since Sport Pilot/Light-Sport Aircraft was introduced, we got 156 new models and we now have many good used LSA, often with just a few hundred hours on them. If you look long enough, I'm confident you can find something worthwhile, and you can find somebody to keep it maintained for you. A central goal of ByDanJohnson.com is to help you find them.
Can Anyone Help?The good news? — After 17 years of Light-Sport Aircraft, a nationwide — even a worldwide — network of aircraft sellers, maintenance centers, flight schools, and builder-assist centers are available. You can can look throughout this website by using our Advanced Search to find them. Keep in mind you may need to travel to find the right airplane or the right mechanic. I cannot personally address every inquiry but you can find most enterprises using the resources on this website. For many years, one of our most-used features is the SLSA List, which is filled with links. Using it will work better than most search engines. Finally, in the age of social media, many aircraft types have a Facebook group that caters to that brand. Pilots who own the aircraft of your dreams can be very helpful in finding good purchases or good mechanics. Of course just because you "read it on the Internet" doesn't mean a fact is true. Please seek out second (or more) opinions before buying and before engaging a mechanic. The better companies will get great reviews from their customers. Good luck and tail winds, everyone! Fly safely and often. Here are some vintage videos showing what may now be used Light-Sport Aircraft. Visit Dave Loveman's Light Sport and Ultralight Flyer YouTube channel for hundreds more. https://youtu.be/oAV2uTIQvbY https://youtu.be/F0-XqlBeYpY And, here's a whole playlist of very affordable Light-Sport Aircraft aircraft… (28 short videos). https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLaVWZY8ydbtA_cId1itTWbgvdqpAZPy2P
The last airshow of 2021 is over. The Christmas holidays are beginning to dominate everyone’s calendar. Yet recreational pilots — being enthusiastic aviators — are thinking about flying in 2022. The Covid pandemic of 2020/2021 appears not to have slowed enjoyment of flying for fun… for most of us anyway. I sincerely regret anyone who suffered during this period but sport aviation has held up surprisingly well. In this article, I will tackle a couple reader questions, the sort I hear all the time. To answer several people with one response, I asked reader John Joyce if I could use his question and name. He consented, so here we go… Buyers Without Remorse John started, “Skyleader 600 looks like a great aircraft. I had actually just noticed this model a couple days ago because there is a used one listed for sale on the Web. As a potential first time buyer, I would be interested to have you address the question of service for these smaller manufacturers.
First, Simulate — Then, Go AloftChinese citizens play games, including flight simulators, as much as (or perhaps even more than) Americans do. Sitting at their computer or using a mobile smartphone or tablet is commonplace. They know this activity and it may provide a bridge to people going aloft in an actual airplane like CTLS. Imagine if you had never, ever seen a small plane of any kind. Would you rush to fly it? It's hard for Americans to envision this situation as we have small airplanes everywhere and airports in nearly every town in the nation. AeroJones may truly be on to something developing their full-motion simulator. “At the Zhuhai Airshow 2018, our AeroJones 6-axis of motion CTLS simulator was shown for the first time to the public,” said Michael Chou, who handles marketing for the company. He reported that reception to the new simulator was very enthusiastic. “Our flying CTLS also received lots attention in the show,” said Chou. “The market is growing for Chinese general aviation. We visited with many prospective customers from flight clubs and flight schools that expressed interest in the AeroJones CTLS.” “The cabin scale of the full-motion simulator is 1:1 of the flying CTLS,” added Mr. Chou, meaning that the simulator is an exact size copy of the actual LSA. “Our simulator is equipped with two SkyView digital instrument panels designed by Dynon Avionics in the USA. The simulator has dual control sticks and rudders so an instructor can help a student learn the procedures and perform maneuvers. For the general public, it is a great device for entertainment.” “AeroJones Aviation owner Jones Chen was pleased with the response to our aircraft and especially for our unique full-motion simulator,” said Mr. Hsieh Chi-Tai, General Aviation Development Vice President for AeroJones Aviation Technology Co., Ltd. AeroJones is deep into planning for their new aircraft factory in Zhenjiang, China — where, presumably, they will also build the simulator. With the new facility, all manufacturing steps will be easier, less costly, and much more efficient, which will contribute to better values for customers buying the CTLS. Flight schools or other buyers of the modern and sophisticated CTLS will be able to fly to Dalu General Airport to see the factory and take demonstrations flights to confirm their purchase. At the time the new factory was announced, Mr. Jones Chen said, “We are very pleased about the relationship with leaders of Zhenjiang. We look forward to a long and prosperous relationship."
Who Is AeroJones?Please let me clarify for readers who may recall seeing the AeroJones brand at American airshows. For a time, it did appear the Taiwan-based company would sell into the USA. However, that plan changed and today, the primary markets for AeroJones Aviation include China, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Japan, Korea, and Thailand. Because Flight Design general aviation, the original developer of the CT-series, does not currently market a full-motion flight simulator, this particular product may find its way into western nations. Beyond their aircraft factory in Xiamen, China and the new one to come in Zhenjiang — not far from the well-known megacity of Shanghai — AeroJones also operates a flying field, flight school, and maintenance center at an airfield in Taiwan.
At a major show in China called Zhuhai visitors saw something: a new 6-axis LSA flight simulator. The developer is AeroJones Aviation, the CTLS manufacturer for the Asia-Pacific region. The company exhibited their simulator to a warm reception. General aviation is beginning to develop in China lead by airport construction at hundreds of the country’s huge cities. As I’ve written before, I have no doubt the airports will be built, but actual flying at most of them — by Light-Sport Aircraft or other recreational aircraft — seems somewhere off in the future. China has a massive job ahead. Chinese business people have proven very capable of building many things, but developing a culture of the citizenry flying in light aircraft still has quite a distance to go. However, AeroJones new simulator may help the country take a huge stride forward. First, Simulate — Then, Go Aloft Chinese citizens play games, including flight simulators, as much as (or perhaps even more than) Americans do.
Half A World Away, Aviation Is Getting StartedLet me tell you about a specific brand fly-in, for the CTLS produced in China. While small compared to big American events, this was a healthy start. If aviation is to grow in Asia-Pacific, I think events like that hosted by manufacturer AeroJones are key. More of them is needed but here is a worthy start. In May 2018, AeroJones Aviation hosted a first-time event at their training facility in the south of Taiwan, called Pingtong Saijiain Airport. AeroJones Aviation is the manufacturer of the sophisticated light aircraft called CTLS. The aircraft factory is located in Xiamen, China. “As promised, AeroJones Aviation conducted CT Club, the first flying club reunion in Taiwan on May 19th, 2018,” said company spokesperson Jenny Chang. China and other countries have very well developed airline and military aviation but flying for fun is a relatively new activity. As the photos illustrate, the first-time function was well attended. “Around 40 participants came for the whole day event,” reported Chang. “The group included CTLS pilots, CTLS owners, and those who have intentions to become pilots.” AeroJones Aviation operates a flying field, flight school, and maintenance center in the south of Taiwan. The operation is described by foreign visitors as a prototype for what may become many such facilities across China as that nation prepares to build hundreds of brand-new airports. The new airports will allow Chinese citizens to see and experience light aviation. Few Chinese people have ever seen aircraft such as AeroJones’ CTLS and almost none have flown in one. Events like the one AeroJones hosted may be critically important to introduce literally billions of people in the Asian-Pacific region to the idea of flying for fun. “We were pleased with this first event and the number of people who came to help launch this new idea,” observed Mr. Hsieh Chi-Tai, General Aviation Development Vice President for AeroJones. “Even CT owners that could not fly their aircraft to Pingtong still showed their enthusiasm of flying.” He believes this type of activity will grow as AeroJones Aviation is able to replicate their flight school and pilots club across China in the years ahead. AeroJones acquired the rights to manufacture the German CTLS aircraft design. The company has since secured approval from the government to build and sell these LSA. China is predicted to become a major market for Light-Sport Aircraft. In addition to China and Taiwan, AeroJones Aviation is able to ship fully manufactured CTLS aircraft to other Asia-Pacific countries including Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Japan, Korea, and Thailand. Many aviation experts believe China could see rapid growth for aircraft of this type given plans from the central government in China to build hundreds of new airports during the next few years. The Air Sports Federation of China is also planning hundreds of "flying camps" where citizens can learn more about and experience aviation. ASFC personnel attended Oshkosh 2018 and met with groups to learn more about how to pursue their plans. The Xiamen, China base of AeroJones Aviation includes a manufacturing facility with full fabrication capability. More than 50 highly-trained workers build nearly every part of the airplane in Xiamen. As China may nurture entry level aviation, AeroJones appears destined to be apart of it.
EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2018 is now history. You will be reading and seeing lots more about the big summer celebration of flight — it appeared very strong to most observers — and you will see lots more from OSH ’18 here and on Videoman Dave’s popular YouTube channel. As most readers know, Oshkosh is a massive event, by many measures the largest gathering of true aviation believers in the known universe. However, being big isn’t everything. Indeed, some recreational flying enthusiasts will soon begin a trek to Mt. Vernon Illinois for the Midwest LSA Expo, a far smaller event that has proven adept at linking willing buyers with ready sellers. (It’s also our very best event to capture Video Pilot Reports, so watch for news about that in about a month.) Half A World Away, Aviation Is Getting Started Let me tell you about a specific brand fly-in, for the CTLS produced in China.
Full Approval GrantedIn February 2018, the Civil Aeronautic Administration of China (CAAC) completed a successful audit of the manufacturing facility of AeroJones' Xiamen, China factory. Following the acceptance and with the blessing of Flight Design, the company can independently manufacture CTLS aircraft and sell them throughout China and other countries in the region. “We are very honored and pleased to complete the CAAC audit successfully,” observed Hsieh Chi-Tai — known to many people simply as "Tai." He is the vice president of AeroJones and the approval will lead to being granted a Production Certificate. Previous approvals by Chinese aviation authorities had secured a Chinese Type Design Approval (TDA). Now the package of government certification is complete. CAAC authorities visited AeroJones Aviation in Xiamen in November 2017 and twice in January 2018 before finishing the audit in February. “By proving our company to China’s highest civil aviation authority, we open a new door of opportunity for AeroJones Aviation and for the country of China,” noted Tai. In addition to China, AeroJones Aviation is able to ship fully manufactured aircraft to other Asia-Pacific countries that accept ASTM standards for approvals, including Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Japan, Korea, Thailand, plus additional countries in the region. The German developer — since renamed Flight Design general aviation — will supply all other nations as AeroJones Aviation serves the Asia-Pacific market. In the United States, the German producer has been represented by Flight Design USA since the beginning.
Growth MarketMany aviation experts believe China will be a nation of rapid growth with plans from the central government in China to build thousands of airports during the next few years. “We are proud and pleased that our management, engineering, and manufacturing team performed well during the February audit of our production facility,” said Jack Lin, Production Vice President of the operation. “We have been working very hard for three years to insure we can produce the highest quality aircraft.” The Xiamen, China base of AeroJones Aviation Technology Co., Ltd. includes a new manufacturing facility equipped with all the appropriate fixtures, tooling, and highly-trained workers (photo). The majority of components for the CTLS aircraft can be built on the Xiamen premises. In addition to the manufacturing operation in Xiamen, China, AeroJones also operates an engineering bureau in Wildau, Germany and an active flight school in Pingtong, Taiwan. The company hopes to replicate its flight school concept in many cities of China as the airport construction projects leads to activity in those locations. I toured the flight school facilities in Taiwan and took a flight in an AeroJones-built CTLS. The school and aircraft reflect a high level of quality and attention to detail. “We believe we have all the elements in place so we can assist China’s growth in civil, sport, and recreational aviation,” said Tai. “We have demonstrated the capability to produce high quality Light-Sport Aircraft and to sell them in our region.” Congratulations AeroJones. The company is one of a very few LSA builders to win full approval from Chinese CAA authorities.
For most years of Light-Sport Aircraft one aircraft model convincingly lead the parade. That aircraft is broadly identified as the CT-series: CT2K, CTSW, CTLS, and CTLSi. Until CubCrafters caught up and passed Flight Design while the company took a breather to reorganize, the CT-series was the best selling Light-Sport Aircraft in America. The aircraft also sold well in many other countries, concentrated in European nations; close to 2,000 are flying. One part of the world needed a different approach: Asia-Pacific, including countries such as China, Australia, New Zealand and others. For this region, CT representation needed a fresh face attuned to the local culture. In a deal started a few years ago, a Taiwan-owned / China-based company named AeroJones Aviation Technology Co., Ltd., negotiated a manufacturing license agreement with Flight Design, the German company that created the CT-series. Money changed hands, training started, and eventually AeroJones fired up their production engine.
Social Media UpdateIf you follow Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, or Instagram as many pilots do, you may have noticed we've been rather quiet on those platforms. This website and Videoman Dave's YouTube channel form our primary outlets and nothing changes that, especially now that ByDanJohnson.com has been made fully "responsive," a tech industry term that means the BDJ2 web format now adapts readily to smartphones, tablets, TVs, or computers. Stats show that around two-thirds of you view our content on a small screen so we're pleased to look pretty good whatever device you use. Use comments to offer any input you may have on that. Recently, we added a line of social media icons below each article. Those of you active on any of those social media platforms can now easily share an article of interest with your flying friends. We hope you'll do that. We get plenty of good comments (and a few gripes) about what we do here and on YouTube and I want to say we are grateful for that feedback. Hearing good words motivates us to do more and criticisms help us further improve our product. Both are appreciated. If you like what we do, please, share the words or video with your friends and help up reach further. You likely know the drill: simply click the social media of your choice, which opens a portal allowing you to use your membership on that platform to send your friends or followers our article or video.
Travel to ChinaThe following video was made first just to show personal family and friends what I did on a pre-Christmas trip to China and Taiwan. It was modified when our travel sponsor, AeroJones Aviation, showed an interest in sharing this in their Asia-Pacific market and sphere of influence. The final result proved fairly watchable, generating around 2,500 views so far. Since others seemed to like it, I thought I'd share it here. It's seven minutes long and compresses a week's travel into a short window. I hope you might enjoy it. The purpose was to try to assist sport and recreational aviation in China and I think we did some good. You may not care but the manufacturer of your favorite airplane probably does. As I've said before, a bigger market for the maker of your aircraft brand means they can be more stable financially and could generate more income to allow them to improve current models and design new aircraft. That's good for everyone! https://youtu.be/pZOqhEU-Seo
After a busy week at Sebring — a show that exceeded my expectations …and probably also for several vendors who logged sales to kick off the year in a great way — I have a couple alternative messages for readers. Those aircraft buyers at Sebring have a few weeks to wait before they get their shiny new LSA or kits but, as noted in three earlier posts, plenty of smiles were seen despite a bit more wind than many would have liked. Social Media Update If you follow Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, or Instagram as many pilots do, you may have noticed we’ve been rather quiet on those platforms. This website and Videoman Dave’s YouTube channel form our primary outlets and nothing changes that, especially now that ByDanJohnson.com has been made fully “responsive,” a tech industry term that means the BDJ2 web format now adapts readily to smartphones, tablets, TVs, or computers.
My guess is most readers do not care particularly about recreational aviation or sport flying in China. After speaking to many pilots at airshows, I know Americans are somewhat aware of flying in other nations but we enjoy so much freedom to fly in the USA and we have so many choices of aircraft, airports, and flying gear that the rest of the world seems almost irrelevant. We most definitely are the lucky ones. We can and do take for granted the idea of hopping in your airplane — whether ultralight, LSA, or a speedy four passenger GA aircraft — and flying to a pancake breakfast or for one of those $100 hamburgers. We can fly almost anywhere we want, anytime we choose, for hour after hour if we like. Sure, some airspace is closed to us or perhaps too congested but, by and large, we can do what we want in the air.
Flight Design — originator of the market-leading CT-series of LSA — has completed a court-appointed reorganization. Many of the former company team members will take certain assets and move forward. I will have more on that in a future article.
After the transaction is fully completed AeroJones Aviation will own the CT line including the current CTLS and CTLSi. They will also pursue completion of Flight Design's four seater, C4, that flew in 2015.
Introducing the new owner of America's popular CTLS...AeroJones Aviation is headquartered in Taichung, Taiwan, often referred to as the "Silicon Valley of Taiwan." After first acquiring a license to build Flight Design aircraft more than two years ago, the company went through a thorough training and evaluation from Flight Design officials. Aircraft production began for the Taiwanese company after they installed new production tooling and equipment including a five-axis CNC machine, water and Laser cutters, TIG welding, composite layup and post-cure ovens, plus a modern paint booth. Flight Design provided production worker training and quality management training. AeroJones finished their first airplanes in 2014 and has since been refining the production and quality systems. Proving their skills to government officials, AeroJones' production facility passed numerous audits and earned a Production Certificate from China's CAAC at the end of 2015.
Backing AeroJones is a parent company called GSEO (Genius Electro Optical), a manufacturer and supplier for industrial LED products and laminated lenses for many popular smartphones. GSEO has roughly 20,000 employees. Brand new production facilities were secured on mainland China, across the Taiwan Strait.
Initial CTLS and CTLSi supplied by AeroJones to American distributors and dealers won good marks. "The quality was very good," said Tom Gutmann, the country's largest Flight Design distributor, having delivered more than 100 aircraft. "AeroJones personnel spent several days with us and in great detail documented every minor issue we found in the first aircraft. We were impressed how carefully they listened."At DeLand Showcase 2016, AeroJones Americas held a press conference where they announced their new U.S. operation.
"AeroJones Aviation will be established in Florida as a centralized assembly and distribution facility for the AeroJones Aviation-produced CT series aircraft" said Chris Benaiges, CEO of AeroJones Americas. Chris has been associated with Flight Design and their CT series for several years; he and partners stepped in to restore the distribution of these aircraft after the court reorganization.
"AeroJones Aviation is pleased to bring renewed life to the very popular CTLS in America," said Hsieh Chi-Tai, Executive Vice President at AeroJones. "We are pleased to work with our U.S. representatives at AeroJones Americas as we resume shipments of CTLS to America."Headquartered in Central Taiwan Science Park, AeroJones Aviation will ship mostly completed aircraft from mainland China. AeroJones Americas will receive the aircraft, assemble them from shipping containers, and will deliver to American customers. Over time they expect to add a growing number of American-sourced components at the U.S. operation. Many high-value items on a CTLS are already sourced elsewhere (Rotax engine, BRS parachute, Dynon or Garmin avionics and more).
"AeroJones Americas will have the resources to bring safety, quality control, and the end user experience to a new level for the CT series," stated AeroJones Americas COO John Hurst.
AeroJones will focus initially on CTLS and CTLSi. Further information on C4 will be available in the months ahead.
One company making a splash at the brand-new DeLand Sport Aviation Showcase event that opened today was AeroJones, occupying the first two spaces inside the entrance. I’ve written about this company before but since spring a striking change has occurred. Flight Design — originator of the market-leading CT-series of LSA — has completed a court-appointed reorganization. Many of the former company team members will take certain assets and move forward. I will have more on that in a future article. After the transaction is fully completed AeroJones Aviation will own the CT line including the current CTLS and CTLSi. They will also pursue completion of Flight Design’s four seater, C4, that flew in 2015. Introducing the new owner of America’s popular CTLS… AeroJones Aviation is headquartered in Taichung, Taiwan, often referred to as the “Silicon Valley of Taiwan.” After first acquiring a license to build Flight Design aircraft more than two years ago, the company went through a thorough training and evaluation from Flight Design officials.
The super-short summary of Sun ‘n Fun 2016: weather was beautiful; even the one night of rain gave way to a sunny day and all other days were as good as it gets. No accidents occurred to my awareness. Crowds were good if not record-setting. Airplanes were sold; I conservatively estimate about 30 sales of light aircraft, based on my inquiries. What’s not to love? As with any such attempt to cover an event the size and breadth of Sun’n Fun, this article cannot include all deserving aircraft, with regrets to any not mentioned below. We also shot lots video that will follow as the editing can be done (photo). This article is longer than I prefer but I have plenty to tell you and I was simply too engaged during the event to keep posting. So… let’s get going! AIRPLANES (three-axis control) — Sun ‘n Fun drew all the wonderful light airplanes we love but a few were touting fresh news not previously reported.
Breaking News … Recently Flight Design in Germany sent a letter to their dealers including this statement, “We have applied for a planned receivership which allows for reorganization of the company.” What does this mean? Since Light-Sport Aircraft burst on the aviation scene in 2004, Flight Design built the largest fleet in the United States. Using internationally-accepted ASTM standards to good advantage, CT series aircraft also sold well in other countries. Flight Design USA president Tom Peghiny was the first ASTM Airplane Subcommittee chair for several years in the mid-2000s while Flight Design Germany’s Chief Technical Officer, Oliver Reinhardt served as overall F37 chair until very recently. Parlaying their prowess in aircraft design, testing, and certification, Flight Design engineered an all-metal version of their carbon fiber CTLS, called MC, plus a four-seat certified aircraft design named C4, among other projects. That may sound positive, but engineering-intensive projects require costlier talent and can consume boatloads of money.
We are heading into a weekend with a couple wonderful airshows immediately ahead. The dry spell since Sebring is over and Aero Friedrichshafen in Germany starts next week — preceded by meetings of the ASTM committee that writes the LSA standards. A couple days after Aero ends, Sun ‘n Fun starts. Whew! This is a tight schedule but what could be more enjoyable than going to airshows and finding lots of new airplanes about which to write and shoot new videos. I hope you’ll click back regularly to see the latest. Meanwhile I have some fun bits of news to report here. Perhaps the best is that we obtained “spy photos” of Flight Design taxi testing their C4 in anticipating of their first flight (more below). Plus, Van’s Aircraft, the world’s largest producer of kit aircraft, set a new record. Let’s get started. Flight Design has been at work on their four seater C4 for several years and it is finally nearing conclusion.