Congratulations to Air Creation USA for winning Special Light-Sport Aircraft approval for their newest weight-shift control aircraft called the Skypper. That’s a worthwhile achievement for any new LSA, but before I tell you how this model is different, let me do another explanation. In summer of 2012, FAA issued an internal order — meaning it was intended for their field offices and Designated Airworthiness Representatives (DARs) and others. This order with a name only a government agency could love — 8130.2G CHG1 — changed some of the rules about how aircraft gain their SLSA Airworthiness Certificates. One company that got trapped by the learning curve that followed was Air Creation USA, these days operated by Neil Bungard. Neil was relatively new to the ASTM standards process and any misunderstanding he may have had of CHG1 was matched by FAA officials and non-FAA DARs. Everybody had to read and decipher FAA marching orders as described in the lengthy document.
Phone: 33 (0)4 75 93 66 66Lanas, 07200 - France
Air Creation’s New Tanarg represents a leap forward in chassis design for the big French trike maker. In an upcoming article in Kitplanes magazine (5/05 issue), I’ll review this all-new machine. As you can see, it uses technologies and design not so different from a Honda Goldwing motorcycle. The pilot and passenger sit lower, making the machine more stable on the ground, and the steel chassis structure folds down like no Air Creation trike before it. As U.S. representative, John Kemmeries says, “It’s a spendy bird,” but he sold out of the first batch before anyone even saw it…quite a start.
AeroTrekking With new partners from the software industry, 18-year ultralight and LSA veteran John Kemmeries has created the Southwest AeroTrekking Academy LLC. Instructors teach individuals how to fly weight-shift aircraft like the Tanarg or other Air Creation trikes, and they show students how low-level flying can be done safely. The purpose is to allow aerotrekkers to enjoy the beautiful landscapes of the great American southwest from altitudes that allow them to take in the scenery in a unique manner. Those who elect AeroTrek training embark on three levels of preparation: In level one flight training, aerotrekkers fly over dry lakebeds, short prairie grasses, hard sand, meadows, wide dry washes and other terrain that allow for obstruction-free landings. Ground schooling covers the rules of low-level flight to ensure that students are not violating airspace and visual flight rules. By level two, aerotrekkers are introduced to routes that require more sophisticated control inputs to land safely in a power-out or emergency situation.
|Empty weight||520 pounds|
|Gross weight||992 pounds|
|Wingspan||32 feet, 6 inches|
|Wing area||161 square feet|
|Wing loading||6.2 pounds/square foot|
|Length||6 feet, 9 inches|
|Height||11 feet, 2 inches|
|Kit type||Fully assembled|
|Notes:||First US delivery: March 2004.|
|Standard engine||Rotax 912|
|Power loading||12.4 pounds per hp|
|Max Speed||90 mph|
|Cruise speed||50-72 mph|
|Rate of climb at gross||1,200 fpm|
|Takeoff distance at gross||213 feet 1|
|Landing distance at gross||196 feet 1|
|Notes:||1 With one occupant, takeoff distance is 131 feet and landing distance is 147 feet.|
|Standard Features||Rotax 912, 81-hp engine with electric starting, liquid-controlled carburetor temperature, Arplast 3-blade prop, Tanarg completely redesigned chassis with deluxe cockpit and one-person, easy-lift mast erection, rear-seat throttle and steering, iXess wing (available in single size), in-flight trim, hand and foot throttles, nosewheel steering, nosewheel brake and fender, 3-wheel brakes with parking feature, 3-point recoil pilot restraints front and rear, 3-wheel suspension, instrument panel, 17.2-gallon fuel tank, several storage areas (see article).|
|Options||Kiss 450, Fun 450, and iXess Training model wings also available; ballistic parachute system.|
|Construction||Aluminum airframe, fiberglass fairing, mixed-fabric Dacron sailcloth wing covering. Made in France (with 20% ownership by American importer). Distributed by U.S.-based importer.|
Cosmetic appearance, structural integrity, achievement of design goals, effectiveness of aerodynamics, ergonomics.
Pros - Entirely new trike chassis by established manufacturer. Many excellent detail improvements (see article). Creature comforts enhanced in significant ways. Beautiful fabrication of all components. Superb engine vibration isolation. Sets a new standard for Air Création competitors to meet.
Cons - Sets a new price standard while pushing the design concept forward. Combined with a high euro-to-dollar exchange rate, price is well above $50,000. Many pilots don't "get" trikes so paying a stiff premium makes even less sense to them. Resale value of a high-end trike unknown.
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 - Hand and foot throttles for both seats; foot pedals adjustable. Rear-seat steering. Excellent trim system; works well and universally labeled. Isolation of electrical wiring from fuel line routing. Secure placements of kill switches. Hydraulic brakes on all three wheels; two hydraulic systems for more versatile adjustments.
Cons - No landing aids like flaps (true for all trikes to date). Fuel sight gauge not marked for quantity on test trike. Engine access not as open as older trikes. No other system negatives.
Instrumentation; Ergonomics of controls; Creature comforts; (items covered may be optional).
Pros - Three-wheel dual-system hydraulic brake package is highly effective, more so than most planes I've flown. Dual hand and foot throttles with rear-seat steering. Storage areas provided in several locations (see article). Strikingly styled cockpit fairing is very roomy. Secure, comfortable steering pedals.
Cons - Fabric gear leg fairings are light and functional, but don't match the high quality in most components (though they save weight). Full-face helmet recommended and therefore won't appeal to everyone; open-cockpit aircraft are a smaller part of the market, possibly affecting resale.
Taxi visibility; Steering; Turn radius; Shock absorption; Stance/Stability; Braking.
Pros - Large, supportive foot pedals and trailing link suspension that suspends the nose well make the Tanarg very comfortable in taxi. Excellent engine vibration dampening; none felt through airframe. Hydraulic brakes on all three wheels are very powerful. Rear-seat steering and foot throttle.
Cons - Push-right/go-left steering, now standard on nearly every trike, remains counterintuitive for conventionally trained pilots. Recommended full-face helmet restricts ground visibility. No other ground handling negatives.
Qualities; Efficiency; Ease; Comparative values.
Pros - Very fast acceleration, short takeoff roll, strong climb rate come on this lightweight 912-powered machine. The iXess wing helps produce quick ground break. Excellent energy retention. Wide-open visibility on takeoff and landing. Stout and secure-feeling chassis with good ground clearance.
Cons - The 81-hp Rotax 912 represents excess power for many applications; flown solo, I used around 60% throttle for launch. Faster flying wing brings speedy ground roll, which makes push-right/go-left steering seem more difficult. Trikes cannot compensate as well as 3-axis planes in crosswinds.
Quality and quantity for: Coordination; Authority; Pressures; Response; and Coupling.
Pros - The iXess wing has a good percentage of the light handling of the earlier Kiss wing (also reviewed with the Tanarg) plus the speed performance of the older, faster XP series. Trimmer system nicely eases handling pressures. Highly reliable handling; you always get what you'd expect from Air Création wings.
Cons - The iXess wing is so well achieved that handling negatives are few. Significant crosswind limitations still apply despite excellent iXess wing handling. Maintaining control of a movable wing while taxiing in gusty winds can demand some muscle power.
Climb; Glide; Sink; Cruise/stall/max speeds; Endurance; Range; Maneuverability.
Pros - The Tanarg with 81-hp Rotax 912 engine plus iXess wing make for excellent trike performance. Fast climbs. Maximum cruise of 85 mph with stall down into 30s. Very effective trimmer helps pilot use full performance range. Even at high speeds, the iXess wing possesses good control authority. Low vibration engine mount even at higher power settings.
Cons - For some situations the Rotax 912 has more power than needed (unless large occupants, high elevations, or floats). Landings and takeoffs are rather brisk in Rotax 912-powered iXess. No other performance negatives.
Stall recovery and characteristics; Dampening; Spiral stability; Adverse yaw qualities.
Pros - Excellent stability characteristics at any speed range with iXess wing. Wonderful, well-behaved ultralight. All stalls were very benign; did not break (only through very aggressive entry can you produce a stall break). Longitudinal and throttle response checks were positive. Three-point pilot restraint is secure. Parachute fitting bracket is standard equipment as is a related automatic engine shutdown.
Cons - Like most trikes, the iXess wing cannot be steeply dived, even with power reduced (with too much power, no dive is possible). Some overbanking tendency noted if bank angles become steep - common in trike wings, which employ some anhedral. No parachute fitted to test Tanarg aircraft (even though company is supportive of devices).
Addresses the questions: "Will a buyer get what he/she expects to buy, and did the designer/builder achieve the chosen goal?"
Pros - The Tanarg 912 iXess is presently the state of the art in weight-shift aircraft; it seems appropriate that it was the first trike to win SLSA approval. New design is so thorough that it's hard to imagine additional improvement. U.S. representation is predictable and solid with American ownership of part of the Air Création company.
Cons - The Tanarg's $50,000+ price is a barrier to many pilots; may affect eventual resale. Less appropriate for beginning trike pilots (though they could certainly learn to fly the Tanarg 912 Kiss (or other lower-performance wings available on the Tanarg). The Rotax 912 engine is expensive and complicated compared to 2-stroke choices.
First weight-shift S-LSA sets the bar high In street vernacular, the term “crotch rocket” refers to a lean, lightweight, high-performance motorcycle. Sometimes called sport bikes, these machines have become radically snazzy in modern years by the addition of rakish body panels. Sport bikes accelerate like a rocket. They corner tightly, and they turn heads wherever they go. The first weight-shift trike to earn special light-sport aircraft (S-LSA) approval, the Air Creation Tanarg might be compared to just such a vehicle. In fact, that’s precisely how its French manufacturer describes its newest machine. Yet, while sport bikes are touchy and have less margin for error than other motorcycles, Air Creation’s flying sport bike is highly stable with predictable handling. Compare Tanarg’s performance to other trikes, and it comes out as a top-of-the-line entry. The name Tanarg comes from the highest mountain range in the Ardeche region of southern France, not far from the Air Creation factory.