Two wildly divergent events occurred in the last few days. They are completely unrelated yet they show the global interplay in modern light aviation. One story involves relative newcomer Icon Aircraft and their A5 LSA seaplane. The other revolves around the producer of the most successful LSA in America, Flight Design. Both airplane producer stories made it into mainstream media. If we go way back in time, to 2003, that is, before Light-Sport Aircraft, we saw a world where Americans flew kit-built airplanes while European pilots were flying what they called ultralights or microlights. Of course, this is an oversimplification but we had no idea the two methods of production would converge as they have in the last two decades. Using widely-accepted consensus standards, Light-Sport Aircraft can operate in multiple countries — thanks to the useful work of many volunteers that assembled and maintain ASTM standards embraced by FAA and other CAAs all over the planet.
Airtime Aviation, Inc. (Fly CT)
Phone: 918-625-5442Tulsa, OK 74132 - USA
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.
Welcome to the New F2"Wait," you exclaim! "F2 isn't new." Excellent, you've been keeping up. What you don't know is that Flight Design's latest and greatest just earned FAA acceptance, winning a Special Airworthiness certificate as the latest Special LSA to enter the market. Announcing Number 156 on our SLSA List. Flight Design put years into this thorough evolution of their market-leading model and it has so many new qualities, we present two videos below trying to tell you about all of them.
Now Available as a Ready-to-Fly Special LSA"On July 8th, 2021 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the first production Flight Design F2-LSA to reach the USA was inspected by an FAA representative and issued a certificate of airworthiness as a Special Light Sport Aircraft," beamed Flight Design USA leader Tom Peghiny. "The aircraft is owned by a gentleman from the Milwaukee area and will be delivered this month at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2021," he added. “We were very happy to take part in this review. We’ve been waiting for nearly two years”, said Tom Gutmann Jr. of Airtime Aviation, identifying some of the challenges the globe experience over the last year and a half. “We are excited to receive the first F2-LSA in the USA and we are very impressed by the improvements made by Flight Design.” "The Special LSA version of F2 is the new high-end edition of the existing line of Flight Design aircraft, complementing the popular CTLS and CT-Super Sport models also sold in the USA," reported Peghiny. The very popular CTLSi and more affordable SuperSport remain in production and are actively being delivered. “This is an important day for our company, our customers and our dealers,” said Peghiny. "While F Series is a big step up for Flight Design, this just the first of many F-series airplanes that will come to the USA.” He clarified that the Flight Design F-series of aircraft include the F2-LSA; the F2-UL, which is a German Ultralight; the F2 CS-23, a certified version that is currently being reviewed by EASA in Europe; and soon, the F4 which is the four-place version of F-series. An electric model, F2e, is also in development. "The First Article Inspection by the FAA is a review of the documentation provided by a manufacturer to show compliance to the applicable FARs and the ASTM standards used for a particular Light-Sport model," Tom finished. FAA has the option perform a full audit or other inspections such as they first-article inspection. Since the German manufacturer has approved so many models and has a long track record with the FAA (and other government agencies), the American regulator deemed a first-article inspection was satisfactory to accept the new model. (Note that new Special LSA are not technically "certified." FAA prefers to call the process "acceptance.") With Flight Design's F-series family of models, it appears the German designer and producer is taking square aim at the Light Personal Aircraft category FAA has proposed in its new regulation. One piece of evidence: check out the carvernous aft cabin of F2.
Here are two videos further explaining the F-series from Flight Design, focused on the new F2 SLSA: https://youtu.be/dxpFU7UfsQo https://youtu.be/DAs_ocUd77E
Taking a welcome break from FAA news, let’s check out our favorite topic: cool new airplanes. Welcome to the New F2 “Wait,” you exclaim! “F2 isn’t new.” Excellent, you’ve been keeping up. What you don’t know is that Flight Design’s latest and greatest just earned FAA acceptance, winning a Special Airworthiness certificate as the latest Special LSA to enter the market. Announcing Number 156 on our SLSA List. Flight Design put years into this thorough evolution of their market-leading model and it has so many new qualities, we present two videos below trying to tell you about all of them. Now Available as a Ready-to-Fly Special LSA “On July 8th, 2021 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the first production Flight Design F2-LSA to reach the USA was inspected by an FAA representative and issued a certificate of airworthiness as a Special Light Sport Aircraft,” beamed Flight Design USA leader Tom Peghiny.
Pilots heading to Sun ‘n Fun 2021 had no real idea what to expect. As evening approached on Sunday set-up day, a big black storm cloud rolled over Sun ‘n Fun’s Lakeland Airport campus, blowing guard shacks and plastic bathrooms around like pieces of paper. An omen? Hardly! The next morning… The good news is I saw no damage other than a couple cracked-up guard shacks. No airplane damage was obvious to me. The great news is final setup day was gloriously sunny and exhibit airplanes arrived steadily. By nightfall on Monday as exhibitors finished their preparations, Sun ‘n Fun was looking good and ready for pilots to descend on the Showgrounds. Several hands pitched in — thanks loudly to a great group from DeLand Showcase — to turn the LAMA LSA Mall into the regular attraction its become over the last 15 years. A fewer number of airplanes will be shown in the LSA Mall but at least one is a machine you’ve never seen before and others are head turners.
F2 Arrives in AmericaI got to see prototype and introductory show-model versions of F2 and F2e, the electric aircraft that somewhat ironically was the very first to fly in Flight Design's new F-series. My early glimpses were at Aero 2019 and I wrote up what I observed; see it here. Nearly every airshow was cancelled for 2020 amidst the global economic carnage driven by lockdowns and travel restrictions to contain Covid. Well, every show was scrubbed except the Midwest LSA Expo in Mt. Vernon, Illinois. Because that one and only event happened — with no negatives regarding the virus, so far as I know — I got to see and fly Flight Design's latest and greatest, the F2. Not only was the airshow a welcome change from the social barriers everyone had faced over the last few months, but Midwest 2020 provided a venue to see and fly the new model. "CTSW was a Porsche. CTLS was a Corvette. F2 is a Cadillac," said Tom Gutmann, Jr., the younger half of the father and son Airtime Aviation team that is the largest light aircraft dealership in the world. Tom explained that F2 may look similar to CT but is a nose-to-tail, tip-to-tip refreshed design. It has been some time in development because as Tom noted, "Flight Design engineers had to rework the whole airplane. It is significantly larger than CTLS yet final production models should weigh no more." That's some accomplishment! It is also built quite differently. All CTLS are essentially "hand made" with hand-layup molds that display the skill of factory workers yet makes each one unique. For F2, Tom said, Flight Design uses molds created on 5-axis CNC shaping tools so each one is fabricated to precise specifications. You may not be able to see the difference in construction but the new method is far better for serial production. "F2 is manufactured to close tolerances in pre-impregnated carbon fiber for great structural strength and light weight," said Flight Design in Germany. With prepreg carbon fiber from American company Hexcel, F2's honeycomb-core fuselage signifies a big step forward. Likewise, F2's new wing is a major redesign; the outboard sections feature aerodynamic cuffs (nearby photo). F2’s tail is all-new as well. CTLS's full-flying stabilator is replaced with a wider stabilizer that has a discrete two-piece elevator with a center section that remains stationary forming what's often called a duck tail. This aids in meeting the ASTM handling requirement. One result is that the airplane does not pitch up during a departure stall. The altered horizontal tail works cooperatively with the wing cuffs to make a highly stall-resistant airframe, a feature FAA admires so much they gave Icon Aircraft additional weight for the A5 seaplane because the California developer redesigned to add the shape to their wings. Cirrus's SR20 and SR22 also use this design, as do other flying machines …because it works. F2's tail looks notably different than CTLS with a high-aspect-ratio vertical tail and slimmer rudder although the volume is similar. These changes — with the wing cuffs — contribute to better slow-speed handling and genuine spin resistance while still allowing a generous slip and yielding plenty of rudder authority in crosswinds.
Flying F2 — Initial Impressions
Here is a newly-released video interview with U.S. importer, Tom Peghiny from Oshkosh 2019. It describes the aircraft and the entire F-series from Flight Design. https://youtu.be/DAs_ocUd77E
➡️ Update 11/3/20 — A new video interview with Flight Design USA importer Tom Peghiny appears at the bottom of this article. —DJ In the beginning — as Light-Sport Aircraft entered the skies for the first time — German producer Flight Design brought the CTSW to American pilots. It was embraced enthusiastically and the U.S. importer Flight Design USA sold many units to aviators that had waited years for FAA to finalize their no-medical-required LSA segment. CTSW was something of a sports car, agile, quick, high performing but surprisingly roomy. Then came the sophisticated CTLS, wholly redone for the American market. It enlarged the cabin and lengthened the fuselage becoming more deluxe throughout. Now, we come to F2 in what I’m calling the third generation of the iconic shape that still leads the LSA market after almost 17 years. The one and only example presently in America is currently based at Airtime Aviation in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Rare and/or New AircraftMC-01 by Montaer — We almost didn't see it. Insurance has been getting harder to find and more costly. That's true for all aircraft but the situation is especially challenging for a new design (even if it significantly resembles an earlier design). However, Gregg Ellsworth and AIR (Aviation Insurance Resources) came to the rescue so now importer Ed Ricks of Montaer USA has a good chance to get this all-new design to Midwest 2020. When you look at the image of MC-01, some of us see the Paradise P1NG. No surprise, as the designer once worked with Paradise. While the new model bears a close resemblance to the earlier SLSA, that one has largely disappeared from the U.S. market, so Montaer is filling a void. Paradise, and now Montaer, have long offered a yoke control with a voluminous three-door cabin. It makes people think Cessna 150 but larger (and it performs substantially better). The first U.S. delivery will also have hand controls, a choice available to offer assistance to some pilots. Merlin Lite by Aeromarine LSA — If you know Merlin, you should be asking, "…Lite?" Wasn't it already light? Ah, that is Merlin PSA. This is Merlin Lite …and yes, it is lighter, if you can believe that. Proprietor Chip Erwin of Aeromarine LSA is one of those can't-sit-still people and he's taking his early success with Merlin PSA even further with a lighter-yet, lower-cost-yet model powered by the Polini Thor engine that tens of thousands of powered paragliders use. The good news is you don't have to run this one off the ground. I'll have more on this, possibly before Midwest 2020 because this model is literally hot off the factory floor. Put this in perspective. Merlin PSA, also a single seater, is an all-metal, fully enclosed, well-equipped aircraft that you can assemble for around $35,000. Options and choice of engine can increase the base but it is easily one of the great bargains in aviation. A 60-horsepower four-stroke V-Twin engine will make the "bigger" Merlin soar into the sky, but just for fun, come see Merlin Lite at Midwest 2020. SmithSilver by Tri-State Kite — Owner Mark Smith's enterprise is "the nation's leading source of quality aftermarket parts for the complete line of the Quicksilver ultralight aircraft, and has been in business more than 33 years" he expressed. Mark has become a guru of the Quicksilver type, has made numerous components for them, and will have something called SmithSilver at Midwest 2020. I'm as curious as you and look forward to checking it out. BTW, are you puzzled by Mark's business name …specifically "Kites?" When hang gliders were a lot simpler than today's sophisticated models, they were often called "kites," a term that followed even earlier boat-towed rigs that literally had to be tethered like a kite. Even the first hang gliders were more than a mere kite but the name was quick and easy, and it stuck. Mark's time in the business goes back far enough that his business name could reflect that …even if today it sounds a bit odd for an aircraft company. Read for yourself Mark Smith's history of design ideas for the Quicksilver aircraft. Sparrow by Carlson — This oldie but goodie has not been seen for some time but thanks to the people behind the MiniMax series of affordable aircraft, the Sparrow is returning to the market. Lots of readers remember this once-popular model. Following the death of Ernie Carlson a few years back, the brand fell out of sight for most buyers even though Ernie's wife, Mary, kept the business running. Now with help from David Cooper of Team MiniMax (and some partners), the single place Carlson Sparrow will be returning to the market, with plans for the two-place in their mind but still on a back burner. This project is still new but come to Midwest 2020 and ask questions. F2 by Flight Design — I have reported this impressive new top-end Special LSA before but for most Americans, this will be their first viewing. I saw it in Aero 2019 but it had not flown then. It's all wrung out and approved now and I look forward to a flight in the bigger, better model. After Midwest 2020, F2 will go home with Tom and Tom Gutmann of Airtime Aviation, the world's largest dealer/distributor for Flight Design aircraft. As winter follows in a few months, Airtime's base in Oklahoma makes sense versus Flight Design USA in Connecticut. This is the first F2 in America so they're sharing the treasure. Vashon Ranger — While it's not brand new, Ranger R7 is new enough that many LSA enthusiasts have yet to see one and Vashon Aircraft has never displayed at Midwest before. The brand has done respectably well as our industry reports, as seen on Tableau Public, demonstrate. After their first deliveries in 2017, Washington-based Vashon has grown rapidly, thanks to a familiar construction at a good price (starts just below $100,000 fully built and reasonably well equipped). Through the first half of 2020, the company had already almost matched all of 2019, so despite the virus, more Rangers are taking to the sky. You should check this one out in person, but I'll be angling for a flight in the new design so we expect to report more and capture video. SD-1 (kit) By SD Planes —Readers of this website like affordable aircraft and the SD Planes single place kit is surely a great value in light aircraft. Construction is significantly wood. If you don't already know, building from wood is achievable by most, much less challenging that kits that involve welding or composite work. Check this video for more about building the airplane and for a look at the two seat model from the same designer. SD-1 is a modest project, not only from the build effort but you can keep the base price below $20,000, an amount the importer said includes the engine. If you simply can't see yourself building a single seater — no matter how much fun it might be — U.S. rep John Vining has the SD-2 Sportmaster. Both share the same ease of construction. VL3 by JMB Aircraft — This spring, we had a contest going on between three speedy European aircraft: Sweden's striking Blackwing, Switzerland's super-sleek Risen, and JMB Aircraft's VL3. Of these, only one will be at Midwest 2020: VL3. You already know this airplane under the marketing name Gobosh. It was sold as a fixed gear, fixed pitch prop Special LSA. In Europe, where no speed limit applies to what they then and still call "microlights" or European ultralights, companies like those mentioned above seek the highest speed they can achieve. All use the Rotax engine, so it becomes about airframe smoothness, wing efficiency, and getting as lean as possible, hence retractable gear. For now in the U.S., such aircraft must be built as kits but in 2023, such models will become LSA (or maybe Light Personal Aircraft, depending on what FAA eventually decides about a possible new category). Fusion 212 by Magnus — Did you wonder if this handsome aircraft disappeared? That's understandable because we haven't seen it for a short time (and, of course, not this unusual year). I did a flight in Fusion and you can check it out in this video. What could be better? You could attend Midwest 2020 and fly it yourself. At minimum, you can talk to the representatives, ask questions, and closely examine the all-composite aircraft built in Hungary but represented by Magnus USA. This list is not inclusive of all players but you can check the Midwest 2020 program to see all expected exhibitors.
Who Won't Be Present?I understand a few cannot be present and while I certainly respect their decision not to take chances, well… darn it! I'll miss these folks. Rob Rollison the proprietor of the very successful Aerotrek line has elected not to go. He cited concerns about the virus and how that can affect a show that is already modestly attended. Such things matter to vendors swayed by high traffic at shows like Sun 'n Fun or Oshkosh, but an individual pilot actually benefits from a smaller number of attendees. Although the company appears on the site layout, apparently Rans has elected not to attend after many years of doing so. This is just that kind of year, I guess. Two other aircraft are not quite ready yet. These include two entries from Deon Lombard's Aeropilot USA distributorship. He is expecting the first M-8 Eagle, rebadged as L600 Eagle to provide continuity for the earlier Aeropilot Legend/L600 Deon formerly represented (he still owns the dealership for several more months but will then switch to the L600 Eagle; I will report more on that later). In addition, Deon is bringing in from South Africa the sleek composite RV-like Whisper kit-built aircraft. Perhaps at DeLand in January or certainly by Sun 'n Fun 2021, both aircraft should be available for your inspection. Deon will have the InnovAviation FX1 we saw at Midwest 2019 (here's our video on that model). He'll also have a very special opportunity for one buyer of the same aircraft I flew. Come and see for yourself. However, while we regret missing a couple regulars, I'm pleased those who show should (fingers crossed) have plenty to look at and I expect to make several reports from the event — the last of the year since DeLand Showcase has pushed into 2021 (January 28-29-30). Travel safely and I hope to see you in Mt. Vernon!
To help you psych' up for Midwest 2020, here's a few videos assembled by Videoman Dave. He's putting up lots before this event — go to his YouTube channel to see many more. https://youtu.be/oSpq6vZ4skQ https://youtu.be/mMV824eEbRk https://youtu.be/eq0FfmDvNtE https://youtu.be/P25dFK_RCY8
I hope you can attend 2020’s Midwest LSA Expo — the last airshow in 2020. If you cannot attend, rest assured your trusty reporter will be onsite and gathering all the info on the coolest aircraft I can find. What will be available? Well, if I am honest, we will have to see when we arrive to be certain. In these virus-impacted times, things have a lousy way of changing at the last minute, however… Those who attend should see a few aircraft that few Americans have seen before. Here’s a quick take, not forgetting the statement about how arrivals can be altered beyond the wishes of any particular vendor. Rare and/or New Aircraft MC-01 by Montaer — We almost didn’t see it. Insurance has been getting harder to find and more costly. That’s true for all aircraft but the situation is especially challenging for a new design (even if it significantly resembles an earlier design).
How does one LSA brand rise and stay above others?
Many reasons can be introduced; all possibly valid. However, it doesn't hurt when a brand has a distributor that itself rises above all the rest.In case you think I am torturing the "above all the rest" metaphor, well, you may not have met the Gutmann team in the flesh. Once you do, I think you'll see my point very clearly.
Looking Up to Tom & TomMy tongue-in-cheek subtitle comes from the perspective of an average-sized pilot talking to the father and son team of Tom Sr. and Tom Jr. Gutmann. These gentle giants stand so tall above me that even Tom Cruise's acting box would not let me look this pair eye-to-eye. Indeed, it is a tribute to the spaciousness of CT-series interiors that both these beefy fellows fit inside comfortably. Don't try that in a Cessna 150 (or even a 172)! Flight Design's CT-series is roomy inside, 49 inches wide, a full 10 inches more than a Cessna 172. It also has super visibility. These facts are true of both CTLS, the current flagship of the German producer, and for the newest CT Super Sport, as seen in most of the nearby photos. The image of the two of us in the cockpit clearly shows that Tom Jr. and I have several inches between our shoulders and we were not smashed up against the door to produce this view. Tom and I flew Super Sport at the Midwest LSA Expo (see video below) where I renewed my enthusiasm over the earlier CTSW model. While it has been a few years since I flew CTSW, I clearly recall it had dashing performance that the more luxurious (read: heavier) CTLS cannot quite match. Super Sport continues that, weighing as it does around 100 pounds less than CTLS and its 1,000 fpm climb rate supports the worth of that weight reduction. Super Sport is an upgrade from CTSW, however, as it uses three primary elements of the sophisticated CTLS and CTLSi. Super Sport has the wings, entire tailplane, and the main landing gear of CTLS. In my humble opinion, these were smart additions and created a new plane from two prior models. What you don't get with CT Super Sport is the back window and hat rack cabin space of CTLS. The slight enlargement of the longer, fancier LS does indeed make the cabin feel roomier and you have less space for things you need in the cockpit — though the floor compartments in front of both seats will suffice for most things you may want to access during flight. Both models keep the ample storage area aft of the cabin but you cannot access that while flying. For this review, Super Sport was equipped with the Rotax 912 iS Sport engine that delivers such wonderful fuel economy. That's why the tail shows "Super Sport i."
Airtime for AllWhatever Flight Design offers aviators, one U.S. distributor can always supply. That's the Gutmann's Airtime Aviation enterprise, based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Airtime Aviation Inc. — also found by the simple, easy-to-remember FlyCT.com — is operated by father and son team of Tom (Senior) and Tom (Junior) Gutmann. Airtime Aviation has delivered more than 200 CT aircraft to customers around the United States. Coordinating closely with Flight Design USA, lead by Tom Peghiny, the Gutmanns are intimately aware of all things Flight Design. You can engage either Tom by phone call (try: 918-630-5927 or 918-625-5442).
More About Super SportThe CT-series has long offered several compelling safety attributes. The "egg-shaped" design offers a protective "safety cell" cabin known in the automotive world as a "crush zone." Simplisitically, this means forces of an impact are directed around the occupants to protect them. Since its introduction as a LSA, every CT model has come standard equipped with an emergency airframe parachute. You may never need this capability, but it provides peace of mind for pilot and encourages less-certain passengers to go aloft with you. A slippery all-carbon fiber exterior allows Super Sport to reach the LSA speed limit of 120 knots. We commonly saw 115 knots at a shade over 75% power yet burned only 4-5 gallons per hour of auto fuel or avgas; you can use either in any mixture, which is true for all 912 engines. The speed figures come from flying at lower altitudes (2,000-3,000 feet AGL). Given its voluminous 34 gallon fuel tanks Super Sport can manage a non-stop flight of more than 1,000 statute miles! Super Sport comes standard with a single Dynon SkyView screen that can be used in conjunction with an optional autopilot. Air-bulb-adjustable seat backs and cushions aid human comfort as does cabin heat and plenty of fresh-air ventilation.
How does one LSA brand rise and stay above others? Many reasons can be introduced; all possibly valid. However, it doesn’t hurt when a brand has a distributor that itself rises above all the rest. In case you think I am torturing the “above all the rest” metaphor, well, you may not have met the Gutmann team in the flesh. Once you do, I think you’ll see my point very clearly. Looking Up to Tom & Tom My tongue-in-cheek subtitle comes from the perspective of an average-sized pilot talking to the father and son team of Tom Sr. and Tom Jr. Gutmann. These gentle giants stand so tall above me that even Tom Cruise’s acting box would not let me look this pair eye-to-eye. Indeed, it is a tribute to the spaciousness of CT-series interiors that both these beefy fellows fit inside comfortably. Don’t try that in a Cessna 150 (or even a 172)!
CT SuperSportIf SuperSport looks familiar to you, it should. It's based on the CTSW but joins several elements of the newer CTLS. In Europe, Flight Design has continued to deliver a lighter model from the CT series to conform to the microlight or European ultralight parameters. SuperSport is something fresh as it takes a CTSW fuselage and grafts on the CTLS wing; adapts construction from the CTLS gear while still doing it with a single piece, like CTSW; employs tail structure from the newer model; and drafts the Rotax 912iS fuel-injected engine. Even that list doesn't cover all the upgrades. Flight Design describes CT SuperSport as, "the new high performance version of the Flight Design CT, one of the most popular and innovative light aircraft in the world. The Super comes equipped with a single 10-inch Dynon D1000 EFIS/MFD with Synthetic Vision, Dynon comm and transponder, ADS-B Out, and ballistic parachute system." CT SuperSport can be delivered with a 710 pound empty weight that puts it well below many Light-Sport Aircraft and more than 100 pounds lighter than the longer CTLS. "This weight reduction was accomplished by using simplified avionics and equipment plus some lighter parts from the European version of the CT," said Flight Design. CT SuperSport has the same spacious and wide interior of the CT series but it returns to the "mushroom" instrument panel that does not extend all the way to the cockpit exterior. Seeming to rise out of the floor, you know, like a mushroom, the panel produces a feeling of much greater visibility, especially forward. Re-entering the CTSW cabin reminded me of the helicopter-like vision afforded by the cockpit design. This came in handy while I flew with the father and son team named Tom Gutmann …both of them. One is "Senior" and one is "Junior," though if you've met them you know "junior" is quite a misnomer. Both fellows are big, strapping Americans. Yet Tom Jr. and I fit in CT SuperSport with several inches between us and without pushing up against the door to make that claim. CT SuperSport is some 13 inches shorter than CTLS, Tom Jr. noted and it does not have the hat rack or aft cabin windows of CTLS. CT SuperSport also uses an electric trim for pitch only while CTLS has pitch, aileron, and rudder trim by wheels. The new, lighter CT model is what I'd agree to call a performance model. It runs close to the top end of the permitted speed range, can fly around 1,000 statute miles, climbs 1,000 feet per minute, yet sips fuel at rates of four gallons per hour, even less if you retard the throttle slightly. It is a lively handling aircraft that still exhibits mild stall characteristics proven by our performing a full regimen of approach and departure stalls plus accelerated stalls in each direction. Base price of CT SuperSport is: $135,000, some $40,000 less than the flagship CTLS. "Options include night flight equipment and autopilot with Level button," said Flight Design. Father and son Gutmanns run Airtime Aviation — with the wonderfully short "FlyCT.com" web address. Airtime is perhaps the largest non-manufacturer seller of aircraft in light aviation worldwide. Their enterprise has delivered more aircraft than many manufacturers have ever made (greater than 200) yet they remain loyal to — and highly knowledgeable about — Flight Design aircraft. They've been active since the beginning of Light-Sport Aircraft. Learn more from the Video Pilot Report that will follow; be patient, these productions involve many days of editing.
I hoped to post a mini-video from the photo mission in the CTSS and CTLS. Alas, I ran out of time and energy. Plus, I think I have enough cool footage that I wanted to do it right. I'll get it up on the ByDanJohnson YouTube channel as soon as possible but the nearby still photos show what a lovely day it was for flying. You have two more days of MWLSA. If you are within a reasonable flight or drive, come on out and see the marvelous things Chris Collins has done with the Mt. Vernon airport. This fellow may qualify for the airport manager of the decade award. He's already won the trophy in my mind. Tomorrow, we tackle the InnovAviation FX1 for a Video Pilot Report …and we're just getting started!
What a great day to start off the Midwest LSA Expo! (And what a contrast to the hurricane just stared down by my Florida neighbors!) The 2019 running of this event about an hour east of St. Louis kicks off its second decade. On Day One, Videoman Dave and I did our Video Pilot Report routine on three Light-Sport Aircraft: Flight Design‘s CT SuperSport, Sportair USA‘s Shock Ultra, and Texas Aircraft’s Colt. All three are quite different, each was delightful in its own way. Doing three of these VPRs took the entire day …and that’s before the big job of editing begins. CT SuperSport If SuperSport looks familiar to you, it should. It’s based on the CTSW but joins several elements of the newer CTLS. In Europe, Flight Design has continued to deliver a lighter model from the CT series to conform to the microlight or European ultralight parameters.
What's New? …Everything!As you look at our short video below, you can see that the baggage area aft of the two seat is huge, rivaling the capaciousness of even Jabiru's roomy J-230D. This voluminous aft compartment may suggest a natural progression to the four seater F4 that will follow but it is not just a large baggage area that looks different. The entire airframe is new as a quick glance confirms. F2's cabin is 3.1 inches wider — now 51 inches wide, among the broadest in the category — and two inches taller than the CT series’ cabins. Door dimensions have also been increased, making for easier entry and exit. The entry door is set 2.3 inches lower than those in the CT series and pilots who are less flexible will appreciate these changes. Four cabin windows and a sunroof in the rear give the cockpit an open feeling and improve overall visibility, boasts Flight Design. F2 is available with either a 100-horsepower Rotax 912 iS engine or, for the European market, a 141-hp turbocharged Rotax 915 iS engine (915 presently requires an in-flight adjustable prop not allowed under current U.S. regulations for LSA). Rotax's 912 iS engine delivers excellent fuel economy resulting in a maximum range of about 750 nautical miles for F2 from 34 gallons of fuel onboard. Deliveries of the new model were expected to begin in August 2019. While they will not be bargain-priced, F2 models come well equipped; standard features include AmSafe panel-mounted airbags, three-point inertia-reel harnesses, a ballistic parachute recovery system, and Garmin’s G3X Touch flight display. "Sculpted winglets reduce induced drag, improve climb and cruising range," noted Flight Design spokespersons. "The smooth cantilever strutless wing also reduces drag and allows maximum visibility from the cockpit. The highly optimized airfoil of the F2 allows generous internal volume for the fuel tanks and is also structurally efficient. Aerodynamic features have significantly improved the F2′s stability, control and its overall ease of flying." Pilots used to a full avionics suite should be pleased with the Garmin G3X panel including PFD, EMS and Map functions and a battery backup. With a Garmin GTX 345 transponder F2 is compliant with the FAA’s ADS-B “Out” required by 2020. Options can further outfit an F2. See the entire equipment list and pricing on the company's dedicated F2 page.
Charged Up for FlightSince the Aero Friedrichshafen show, on June 5, 2019, the first public flight of the Flight Design F2e took place at the Strausberg, Germany airfield using its innovative electric propulsion system. On its first successful first flight, Flight Design said, "Energy consumption for take-off and cruise was within the expected range, and the temperatures in the system were more positive than expected." Flight Design created F2e with partners Siemens eAircraft, the manufacturer and developer of the propulsion technology, and APUS, a Strausberg-based company specializing in the development and integration of aviation propulsion systems. F2e is based on standard components that are used in the Rotax 912iS-powered version of F2. "Flight Training is one area that generates the best opportunity for improvment in the environment for nature, nearby residents and airfields as noise emissions are concentrated in that one place, the airfield, where future pilots spend a lot of time flying," stated the company. The propulsion system employs a 55 kW (approximately 75 horsepower) electric direct-drive motor, inverter, and electronic control systems. This propulsion system has already been extensively tested in laboratory and ground tests as well as flight tested for hundreds of flight hours under the supervision of Siemens eAircraft, reported Flight Design. At this time, development of the electric propulsion continues while regulatory bodies around the world decide how they will handle approval of e-powered aircraft. Following is our short video look at F2 as displayed at Aero Friedrichshafen 2019… https://youtu.be/wuUUbP4imNE
Once upon a time in the then-new world of Light-Sport Aircraft Flight Design lead the pack for airplanes delivered and registered. That #1 ranking lasted for a decade. Then came a pause in the juggernaut that is Flight Design, a German company with a popular design. The company’s expenses outran their revenues and a major restructuring was forced upon them by the German legal system. This was 2015 but at Aero Friedrichshafen 2019, the company was looking strong. Their prominent space in Aero’s huge gymnasium-sized exhibit halls was filled with interesting machines, including the distinctive Horten flying wing. All these today operate under the parent name, Lift, which also acquired the Rotorvox deluxe gyroplane. Attracting a lot of attention was their brand-new F-series. Displayed as the first aircraft visitors saw, F2 is an evolved version of the company’s successful CT-series, which remains in active manufacturing.
Five Months In Combined ReportThe first chart reflects both LSA and SP kit registrations through May of 2019 and also depicts the equivalent performances for the full years of 2017 and 2018. What the chart suggests is that 2019 is a solid year with the light sector on track to hit 725 aircraft for the year, up about 5% over last year and up more than 10% over 2017. For space reasons the chart only shows ranks 1–18 but all are available on Tableau Public. Digging deeper, the chart shows that longtime market leader Zenith/Zenair lead by a substantial margin in 2017 and 2018 but that gap may be narrowing for 2019. Please keep in mind that a kit company completes a sale long before the aircraft gets registered and appears on FAA's database. Also, a kit sold may never be finished. Conversely, Icon's 27 registrations this year are for ready-to-fly aircraft although that does not mean they were registered by the end customer. The leading LSA builder so far in 2019, Icon is on pace to register 65 aircraft this year, up 38% over last year. American Legend, which operates both in the RTF and kit business, is ticking upwards. They may hit 29 registrations, up 140% over last year. Arion is another both-ways manufacturer looking to have a much improved 2019 while newcomer Vashon should double last year's registrations. Strong SP kit suppliers include Kitfox, Vans, and Rans — no real surprises but here's a couple observations. Kitfox is on a pace to hit 70 registrations this year, up about 80% over 2018. Van's Aircraft is headed to 60, up 50% over last year. Rans will remain about even. Remember, we only count aircraft that can be flown by a Sport Pilot or a higher-certificated pilot with no medical. Van's, for example, sells many more kits but most won't meet that criteria.
Separating LSA from SP KitsFlight Design continues its recovery, on pace to increase from last year's low number by 50%. Now that we can separate CubCrafters RTFs from kits, the CT maker is back atop the all-years SLSA rank list. Number two producer, Czech Sport Aircraft should be about even from 2018 but is well off their 2017 registrations. Powrachute and AutoGyro slipped from stronger performances in recent years. On the downside, Glasair suspended production for their Merlin that never found reception in the market. Looking at cumulative registrations, Zenith/Zenair clearly holds the top spot among Sport Pilot kit aircraft sellers. Rans, Sonex, and Kitfox are the next big producers in the light kit space, followed by Quad City and Just Aircraft, trailed a bit further back by Searey maker Progressive Aerodyne, CubCrafters, and Quicksilver.
One More Thing: ELSA FactorYou might see that kits appear to be the larger enterprise over fully-built LSA. That's correct, but consider the kit companies have been building their business and networks for far longer and they have lower price points …although you obviously must invest a good many hours to complete a project and some will get discouraged along the way and never finish the job. Yet the real surprise comes when you look at our final chart of this article. Kits appear ascendant since 2013, especially when compared to Special LSA that seems to have found a stable registration rate of around 200 aircraft per year. However, when you combine SLSA with Experimental LSA, you can see that all LSA types number closer to 300 units per year, compared to all SP kits at just shy of 400. Specialty registrations like Experimental Exhibition are steady but at a far smaller unit count. Any ELSA must be shipped from the factory as a bolt-for-bolt copy of the SLSA model, as required under the regulation. No producer can sell an ELSA without first getting approved for a SLSA, so to my mind, combining SLSA and ELSA makes for a fairer comparison to Sport Pilot kit aircraft. If you love these numbers, please visit Tableau Public. You can learn a lot more about the vibrant light aircraft sector. Enjoy! Disclaimer: These reports rely on FAA’s registration database. We believe this to be a reliable resource but it presents data that are different than what any company reports in sales or deliveries. Over time, these two sets of data draw closer but will not precisely mirror one another. Data presented on Tableau Public are arranged according to a defined method explained on that page (see button labeled “Where the numbers come from”).
A funny thing happened on our way to quarterly reporting of LSA and Sport Pilot kit market shares. Our first quarterly report in many years should have come about April 1st. It did not. That date came as Sun ‘n Fun was getting underway separated by only one day from the German Aero show. So involved were we in those season-starting events that we just blew past the date. Five Months In Combined Report The first chart reflects both LSA and SP kit registrations through May of 2019 and also depicts the equivalent performances for the full years of 2017 and 2018. What the chart suggests is that 2019 is a solid year with the light sector on track to hit 725 aircraft for the year, up about 5% over last year and up more than 10% over 2017. For space reasons the chart only shows ranks 1–18 but all are available on Tableau Public.
Jetting straight from Sun ‘n Fun, we were able to arrive at Aero Friedrichshafen by noon on opening day. A quick swing around the most light-aircraft-filled halls (the “B” halls) brought some fresh surprises. Following are a few designs that caught my eye on an initial pass. The profusion of light aircraft we don’t see in the USA — some of which will never reach the market — is one of the main reasons Aero Friedrichshafen is my favorite show in Europe. This mostly indoor fair (as Europeans call such shows) always has many ideas of interest. Zlin Ultra with Rotax 915iS — Never one to rest Pascale Russo reintroduced his Ultra Shock from last Aero with the more powerful Rotax 915iS. Ultra Shock plays on the term “ultralight,” which means something different in Europe than in the USA (it is a reference to light aircraft quite similar to Light-Sport Aircraft).
CT Super Sport InjectionThe German developer of the CT series is now planning to offer the CT Super Sport Injection in North America. CT Super Sport is the popular model sold in Europe with a cruising speed of 120 knots, VNE of 146 knots, useful load of more than 600 pounds (272 kilograms), and an affordable price. "This variation will now be reintroduced to the Americas," reported Tom Peghiny, President of Flight Design USA. “We have sold versions of the CTLS since its introduction in 2008 and wanted to bring back a lighter model primarily for the U.S. and Canadian markets. After consultation with our Canadian distributor, Flight Design Canada we decided to begin importing the CT Super Sport Injection, which is the model equipped with the advanced Rotax 912iS," said Peghiny. CT Super Sport is a derivative of the famous CTSW but has been upgraded with many features of the CTLSi including the 912iS 100 horsepower fuel-injected engine, a single beam composite “no bounce” main gear, a centrally located 10-inch Dynon SkyView Touch EFIS/EMS/Map Screen, and 2020-compliant Dynon Class One Mode S Transponder with ADS-B out. Lightly equipped as described, Flight Design said CT Super Sport Injection has a useful load of over 600 pounds (272 kilograms) can cruise at 120 knots, has a VNE of 146 knots, a maximum range of 700-800 nautical miles (1,481 kilometers) and is compliant as an SLSA in the U.S. and as an Advanced Ultralight Aircraft in Canada, as well as all other countries following the FAA-LSA regulation. Back On Top — “After a successful 2018, Flight Design is once again at the top of the SLSA ‘All Fleet’ ranking according to the FAA registration data recently published on the Tableau Public website,” the company wrote. “With the new 2018 registration numbers that were released, Flight Design was second total (when including Experimental LSA and Amateur Built kits) and first in Special Light Sport Aircraft (ASTM-compliant, ready to fly).” “We are excited by the news and want to thank our staff and USA dealers,” said Flight Design CEO Lars Joerges. “Flight Design was the market leader since the beginning of Light Sport Aircraft category, which was one of the reasons we acquired the company. We also want to thank Dan Johnson for his persistent support of the light end of aviation both by his website ByDanJohnson.com and his leadership of LAMA, the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association group that represents manufacturers,” added Joerges.
European CTLSi-ELAFlight Design general aviation is pleased to announce that on 15 November 2018, the Czech subsidiary of Flight Design was awarded EASA Part21G approved Production Organization Approval (POA) under approval number CZ.21G.0065 issued by the Civil Aviation Agency of the Czech Republic. What does this mean? “The approval allows the company to deliver certified aircraft for delivery in Europe and the rest of the world,” said Joerges. “This is good news for owners of CTLS-ELA aircraft currently operating under EASA’s Permit-to-Fly and for new customers looking for an advanced EASA certified light aircraft,” explained Flight Design general aviation COO, Daniel Guenther. “We can now offer owners of CTLS-ELA aircraft operating across Europe to bring their planes back to Flight Design for upgrading and conformity confirmation to allow them to have a permanent Restricted Flight Certificate (RTC).” Planning for the upgrade program is in the final stages and customers will be informed about the details in February 2019. Flight Design observed that the company’s CT-series aircraft have been sold around the world since 2008 as Special Light-Sport Aircraft. "CTLSi-ELA brings a well proven platform, the security of an all carbon fiber airframe with an aircraft emergency rescue system and the high technology of all Flight Design aircraft," officials said.
We're Off to Sebring!On Wednesday January 23rd, 2019 kicks off with the 15th running of Sebring. This year is also the 15th anniversary of FAA establishing the Sport Pilot / Light-Sport Aircraft sector in American aviation. This accomplishment was the "regulation heard 'round the world" in that many countries have now adapted the ASTM standards for use in their countries making exports from one country to another vastly easier than in the Part 23 certified aircraft world. Sebring has become a premiere showcase for Light-Sport Aircraft and Sport Pilot Eligible (or SPE) kit-built aircraft. We'll do our best to report daily from the event for those that cannot attend. In addition Videoman Dave and I will be transitioning to Warp Drive as we cover the grounds seeking the best video interviews. Click or tap back daily!
As a new season of flying is upon us (even while northern pilots may still be still shoveling snow), one company continues their vigorous comeback. Flight Design announced completion of a new product and is offering a second. Based on the same CT-based airframe, the two are notably different. CT Super Sport Injection The German developer of the CT series is now planning to offer the CT Super Sport Injection in North America. CT Super Sport is the popular model sold in Europe with a cruising speed of 120 knots, VNE of 146 knots, useful load of more than 600 pounds (272 kilograms), and an affordable price. “This variation will now be reintroduced to the Americas,” reported Tom Peghiny, President of Flight Design USA. “We have sold versions of the CTLS since its introduction in 2008 and wanted to bring back a lighter model primarily for the U.S.
Handiflight to Depart SoonAnother way this storied company shows its global approach to business is by sponsoring a worthy effort called Handiflight. Flight Design said this "is a daring adventure by physically challenged pilots to fly around the world starting very soon, on November 18, 2018. Company CEO Lars Joerges announced that the German manufacturer is a contributing sponsor to the undertaking. The flight will be conducted using a CTLS aircraft. According to Flight Design, the globe-girdling flight will start from Geneva, Switzerland and will plan to visit 40 countries in five continents while traveling more than 49,000 miles. The flight plans to make “150 stops to meet, share, inspire and promote the inclusion of disabled people worldwide,” organizers said. The goal is to raise funds for Handicap International and is further sponsored by the Lions Clubs International, a fraternal organization that raises money for worthy causes. Handiflight is a non-profit association formed in Gruyère, Switzerland in 2007. The organization hosts what they call the biggest fly-in for disabled pilots from all around the world. After 10 years of successful events, Handiflight is now tackling a new goal: “To fly around the world to explore new horizons, look for new challenges, combat prejudices and promote the inclusion of disabled people.” “We met with Daniel Ramsier, one of the organizers of the Handiflight,” said Joerges. "We were very inspired by his vision and wanted to be part of this adventure.” Primary pilots Paolo Pocobelli, Guillaume Féral and Mike Lomberg will lead an international team of more than 15 pilots with physical disabilities. Upon the completion of this flight it will mark the third flight around the world for a CT-series aircraft. The first time occurred in 2007 by two pilots from India to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of the Indian Air Force. The second round-the-world flight was Azimuth 270, a flight by Yannick Bovier and Francisco Agullo, two Swiss Airbus pilots who flew a westward flight around the equator of the Earth in 2010. Soon will begin this great and inspiring flight by Handiflight! * LAMA is beginning an advocacy effort to encourage Canada to accept Light-Sport Aircraft but for now LSA producers must offer aircraft that meet the 1,232-pound limit of Advanced Ultra Light in Canada. The nation used the number first proposed by FAA but the U.S. agency later went to 1,320 pounds (land planes; seaplanes are 1,430 pounds)
At the season ending DeLand Showcase show, Flight Design was ably represented by John Hurst. We interviewed this longtime LSA veteran; watch for that as editing is completed. What we did not get was an update from the company, as we did with several other vendors (see earlier reports). Flight Design USA president Tom Peghiny since reported that his import enterprise enjoyed a reasonably good year in 2018 with a few weeks remaining. Indeed, he communicated while flying a new CTLS up to Canada for delivery under their Advanced Ultralight program*. New unit volume is lower than the early gold-rush days of Light-Sport Aircraft (2005-2007) — the same as for other companies — but new sales are returning for Flight Design; in addition, their service, factory parts. and used business bolsters the longtime U.S. operation. Longtime market leader Flight Design took something of a breather in 2016 and 2017 as the German company reorganized under new leadership (article).
In Their Own WordsFD-USA's Tom Peghiny helped to clarify the situation, saying, "Flight Design was acquired in July 2017 by LiftAir of Eisenach Germany. Mr. Sven Lindig, the owner of LiftAir owns and has founded a number of successful businesses in the Central and Southern areas of Germany. LiftAir now owns the Flight Design EASA Design Organization, the Flight Design aircraft production facility in Kherson Ukraine, and the design rights for all products produced by the company. "Production of aircraft and parts which was maintained at a low rate for the last year and a half are now up to four aircraft a month and a healthy backlog of aircraft orders is building for 2018," Tom said at the late 2017 DeLand show.
Two years ago, Flight Design was the number one producer of Light-Sport Aircraft in the USA backed by strong sales in other countries. The company’s CT series lead our rankings since the very beginning of LSA. In 2016, Flight Design was passed by CubCrafters when the Germany company’s production line stalled during a government-mandated reorganization. By late 2017 at the DeLand show and upcoming at 2018’s first airshow in Sebring, Florida, the company displays products, answers questions, takes new orders, talks to current and possible dealers …in other words acts like a company fully back in the game. Through all this, Flight Design USA — the Germany manufacturer’s close associate and U.S. importer — was a steady hand on the tiller, keeping customers satisfied throughout North America. It’s good to see them return with vigor and our video below lets them tell their own story.
When Rotax moved their 912 iS Sport project from engineering to production, the big Austrian engine manufacturer elevated their already-immensely-popular 9-series engines to a higher level. Beside fuel injection, the company added electronic engine controls more advanced than any other in their inventory. If you’ve flown with the iS Sport as I have you know it has terrific performance — torque was increased through an enlarged airbox along with other minor refinements — plus it gives even better fuel consumption. When flying with Aerosports‘ Jeremy Knoll at DeLand 2017, I heard that his trip from Wisconsin to Florida in the TAF Sling yielded fuel consumption rates of 2.7 gallons per hour at cruise. Man! That is some fuel efficient flying and that is part of what Rotax achieved with their iS model. They will use that technology plus more on their coming 135-horsepower 915 iS due on the market next year.
- LSA sold an estimated 3,000 aircraft in 2015 where in the same year worldwide deliveries of single engine piston certified aircraft numbered 969 units. Also, see the final chart in the above linked article.
- More than 66,000 LSA or LSA-like* aircraft are flying around the globe. Most of these have been sold in the last 15-20 years, a delivery pace far faster than all GA-SEPs. I expect this trend to continue.
* "LSA-like" is a term describing aircraft that very much resemble America's LSA but may not be called that because each country has its own definitions.
A good friend in aviation journalism and Editor-in-Chief of Plane & Pilot magazine is Robert Goyer. We’ve known each long enough to have stood around years ago at South Lakeland Airpark waiting to fly this or that new ultralight. In his Going Direct column earlier this month, Robert wrote an editorial about FAA’s Part 23 rewrite project. Using an LSA viewpoint, I wanted to add some commentary to his observations. My goal here is twofold: (1) Show how success with LSA led to good things for other aircraft sectors, and (2) Show how LSA continue to significantly outpace sales of Type Certified Single Engine Piston aircraft. Robert wrote, “The FAA announced earlier this week that the Part 23 Rewrite has taken effect. This means that the rule, which gives manufacturers leeway to employ what are known as consensus standards to meet airworthiness standards instead of the FAA’s prescriptive rules.
That Was ThenFlight Design, the German company that makes the CTLS, has been through the wringer in recent years with a series of reversals no one could have anticipated. After struggling through a combination of events — global economic slowdown; Russian saber rattling in Ukraine, where its main plant is located; and development projects consuming too many resources — Flight Design was forced into insolvency in 2016. Since then it has been operated at a low level of activity by a government-mandated receiver company, but the company was able to maintain the design's Special LSA acceptance in addition to supplying a few planes plus spare parts. All the while, Flight Design principals were looking for new options for manufacturing the CT and obtaining financing for its production. The reasons above made it hard for the company to obtain the necessary funding to purchase the company’s assets, according to Peghiny. Therefore, a recent offer to purchase all the assets by Lift Holding, a German investment group, comes as welcome news for Flight Design.
This is Now
Tom explained, "The new company will be known as Flight Design General Aviation, GmbH. After concluding the sale of all major company assets to the Lift Holding investment group, Flight Design General Aviation will be based at a new and modern facility (photo) near the historic town of Eisenach in the Thuringia region of Germany.“We have been working with the Lift folks for a year planning the comeback for the Flight Design brand and we are very excited about the developments for the future," Tom expressed. "Parts supply and support will improve and this also allows Flight Design to keep the engineering team intact. These people have a deep product knowledge plus it assures the quality management and operational safety monitoring will stay the same."
Lift is also the owner of the Rotorvox gyrocopter line. "Lift Holding will combine the technical expertise of Flight Design with their other aviation assets (Rotorvox) as part of Lift Air, GmbH. Both companies will be headquartered at the Kindel Airport (EDGE) near Eisenach." Lift Holding will assume all the assets of the former company and plans to produce the CT lineup.The Flight Design European Design Organization — approved by regulatory agency, EASA — and the production site in Kherson, Ukraine as well as the design rights for all Flight Design products including the CT series are now secured with the German company’s investment. Flight Design General Aviation (FDGA) will increase its spare parts inventory and product support. The new company will continue to produce assemblies in Ukraine, with licensed operator AeroJones Aviation also producing CT-series aircraft in China. "We are delighted to be able to take over all of Flight Design's assets and are confident we will go forward as a world leader in the development and construction of light aircraft," said Sven Lindig, Managing Director of the Lindig Group. FDGA has aircraft operating in 48 countries around the globe. The company will soon employ 20 employees in Germany — mostly highly qualified engineers and technicians — as well as about 100 manufacturing employees in Ukraine. Since the founding of the company in 1988 and the establishment of the Ukrainian production plant in 1993, the company has delivered over 1,800 aircraft. "Flight Design has some unique products and experience in the production of all carbon-composite, very efficient light aircraft. We want to invest in development of those products and also achieve leadership in customer support," said Lars Joerges, the new Managing Director of FDGA. Flight Design General Aviation also plans to continue development of the C4 four-place aircraft, although Tom Peghiny said the program would change to accommodate the efficiencies in a changing certification landscape in the United States and abroad, referring to the long-awaited Part 23 rewrite and its mirror regulation in Europe. Tom indicated that FDGA will make a return to AirVenture for the 2018 event.
After more than a year, a resolution was reached for the airplane that topped the charts in the LSA space since Day One. Although Flight Design’s CT-series was eclipsed in 2016 by CubCrafters (by a very slim margin), the aircraft remains well regarded and its many adherents are no doubt breathing a sigh of relief that the “reorganization” (what Americans might call a bankruptcy) has been resolved. All good! (Read more about this reorganization here.) During EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2017, longtime Flight Design USA representative Tom Peghiny sent news about the new owner of the brand. The crush of airshow activity let others beat us to this news, however, we will use our long history with this company to provide a more detailed report. That Was Then Flight Design, the German company that makes the CTLS, has been through the wringer in recent years with a series of reversals no one could have anticipated.
At Sebring 2013, we made the rounds speaking to sellers of various Light-Sport Aircraft. We asked how their aircraft holds up in flight school instruction use. Some aviation journalists and some general aviation pilots believe LSA cannot withstand the rigors of training. Flight Design USA sales manager John Gilmore assures us the CTLS does very well in flight schools and one has accumulated more than 13,000 landings! Here the rest of the story in this video.
At Sebring 2013, we made the rounds speaking to sellers of various Light-Sport Aircraft. We asked how their aircraft holds up in flight school instruction use. Some aviation journalists and some general aviation pilots believe LSA cannot withstand the rigors of training. Flight Design USA sales manager John Gilmore assures us the CTLS does very well in flight schools and one has accumulated more than 13,000 landings! Here the rest of the story in this video.
Perhaps it's to be expected that the leading seller of Light-Sport Aircraft in the USA has now entered the public service aviation market with their CTLE, the "LE" standing for Law Enforcement. This specially fitted LSA has a high-tech wing mounted camera system that is controlled from the right seat where a Tactical Flight Officer sits. He can send and receive with ground units. CTLE is leading the way to a promising new market for Light-Sport Aircraft.
Perhaps it’s to be expected that the leading seller of Light-Sport Aircraft in the USA has now entered the public service aviation market with their CTLE, the “LE” standing for Law Enforcement. This specially fitted LSA has a high-tech wing mounted camera system that is controlled from the right seat where a Tactical Flight Officer sits. He can send and receive with ground units. CTLE is leading the way to a promising new market for Light-Sport Aircraft.
If you've tried flying with floats (or in a boat-hulled aircraft) you already know the appeal. Those who haven't should check out the experience. You can do that by going to www.flyct.com, the website of Airtime Aviation in Tulsa Oklahoma where the CTLS Floatplane has been developed. Proprietors Tom Gutmann Sr. and Jr. offer seaplane instruction and sign-offs. Amphibious floats are fabricated by Claymar of Canada.
If you’ve tried flying with floats (or in a boat-hulled aircraft) you already know the appeal. Those who haven’t should check out the experience. You can do that by going to www.flyct.com, the website of Airtime Aviation in Tulsa Oklahoma where the CTLS Floatplane has been developed. Proprietors Tom Gutmann Sr. and Jr. offer seaplane instruction and sign-offs. Amphibious floats are fabricated by Claymar of Canada.