Aeromarine LSA’s Chip Erwin is one but certainly not the only busy fellow in the modern Part 103 aircraft space. AVI’s Radu Berceanu is another a man on the move. Chip works in metal. Radu works in composite. You know Chip better (he’s adept at PR) but you probably know Radu’s designs. Readers have responded enthusiastically to articles and videos about Swan. In an earlier article I promised a video look. Now that the flying season is easing into the holidays, I have more time to spend editing videos. What takes a few minutes to shoot takes hours to edit but I’m pleased to let you hear from Radu himself. His English is quite good and you get a lot of views of the new & improved Swan, now called Swan LE. Fresh Swan Retake The article from April this year had additional detail for Swan LE and mentions Dracula, the subject of a future video and article.
Fresh Swan RetakeThe article from April this year had additional detail for Swan LE and mentions Dracula, the subject of a future video and article. Fairly rare are companies that offer a high and a low wing design. Radu's Swan LE and Dracula are sharp contrasts but share identical technical specifications. Before the referenced article, I've written about Swan multiple times (see all content) so in this update I want to delve into what's new. It's major! The familiar model was transformed so well — and Dracula was so new and attention-getting — that I initially overlooked Swan until I glanced again to think, "Hey, what happened to Swan? Oh, my, the engine has moved… lowered." Looking further it was clear this was a major step forward as Radu explains in the fresh video below. LE for Lowered Engine — Once mounted on the end of a wide diameter tube that formed a high backbone of Swan, the engine has been relocated on a forward firewall. Done expertly, this represents a very significant change requiring a thoughtful design to accommodate the engine mass and thrust load. The results are nothing short of spectacular. Swan appears made for this change, as though it was what Radu had in mind all along. In fact, Radu notes in the video that it was consumer interest that motivated him to go through this redesign effort. Kudos to him for listening and for making the investment of time and money to get this change done. While a nearby image shows how smoothly an electric motor fit on the older Swan, now all that hardware can be tucked inside the nose for reduced drag. AVI already has good experience with the electric for those interested in that option. Longer gear was required to allow the engine to descend so much yet still have adequate prop clearance. However, as you compare old with new, you can see the aircraft sits well on its longer-legged gear. A significant benefit results from the higher gear. Some had complained that the original Swan sat so low that ingress and egress were more difficult especially for less flexible pilots. The interior remains roomy. For an aircraft that can meet Part 103 (or its European equivalent, 120-Kilo Class) Swan is not only fully enclosed but spacious. Now, it is significantly easier to enter and exit. Powerplant Choice — AVI offers a choice of combustion Polini Thor 303 or battery electric propulsion. The fuel engine provides 36 horsepower and the electric motor offers 28 kW of power equivalent to 37 horsepower. On this light aircraft, either provides a 600 foot per minute climb rate. AVI supplies four batteries of 2.66 kilowatt hours each that allow a 75-minute duration, said Radu. Charging those batteries from the allowed low of 25% takes 4.5 hours using 16 amps at 220 volts. This permits a full hour of flight with a 15-minute reserve. That won't take you a long distance but it can provide 60 minutes of aerial enjoyment at almost no cost and with little maintenance ever required. Cooling a combustion Polini engine housed completely inside an engine cowl and operating at a higher revolution required careful design. Good engineering and testing allowed Radu to assure good airflow through the engine compartment for the combustion engine though good cooling is also valuable for electric. Super collapsible — In the nearby image you see an impossibly tiny trailer that can hangar Swan LE. The wings unplug and are supported in padded cradles. The tail feathers remove and the tail boom hinges. This trailer is so compact many homeowners could store it in a garage or outside for easy transport to the airport. When airport hangars are often a years-long wait, this may be a workable solution for many. Not a Kit — Swan is made in special molds with temperature demands so AVI will only supply finished, ready-to-fly Swan LEs. The good news is this is allowed under Part 103 so why build when you can fly, especially given a price affordable to many aviators. Still in the $30,000s* — Despite an all-composite aircraft in fly-away form, Swan LE remains an aircraft affordable for many. Your final cost to have a Swan LE will vary depending on exchange rates and shipping costs can also change rapidly. Check with the U.S. importer or check with AVI for other locations in the world to see what Radu can do for you. Coming Attraction… If you like Swan but prefer a low wing, stay tuned. Watch for a new video and article on Swan's cousin, Dracula.
- April 2023 article with Swan (and Dracula) specifications and other details
- AVI Aircraft, factory website
- AVI Aircraft, all contact info and content on this website
- Swan USA, distributor website, home page has a good description with contact info