Along with many others, I’m sure, I’m presently en route from Daytona Beach to Sebring, Florida as the 2018 or 14th running of the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo is about to begin. It opens tomorrow, January 24th. By the way, it’s 82 degrees today and the forecast looks reasonably good. C’mon down! Fresh news is breaking about the first flights of the HKS 700E-powered Merlin PSA from Aeromarine LSA. Reporting from Lakeland, Florida yesterday, Aeromarine LSA boss Chip Erwin observed, “[Merlin with HKS is] remarkable, the difference in the feel of the airplane.” Chip’s single seater is proving increasingly popular as he logs sales for his one-seater Merlin PSA (Personal Sport Aircraft). Having flown a number of airplanes with the smooth-running, throaty-sounding, fuel-efficient HKS, I predict continued good fortune for Aeromarine LSA. So many pilots prefer a four-stroke to a two-stroke, that — right or wrong — I imagine the Japanese engine could accelerate sales.
BRP-Powertrain (Rotax Aircraft Engines)
Phone: (01143) 7246-6010Gunskirchen, A-4623 - Austria
What a great Christmas present for the Rotax Aircraft Engine team members (lower photo). The latest powerplant from the Austrian company that supplies a large majority of the powerplants for aircraft covered on this website will soon become available. The company announced from their headquarters in Gunskirchen, Austria that on December 19th, 2017, they received a European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Type Certificate (TC) for its new Rotax 915 iSc3 engine. Some companies, such as BRM Aero, have been testing the new advanced, fuel injected, intercooled engine. It is the most powerful model ever for light aircraft from Rotax. All airframe makers will probably be surprised that the final version yields even more power. “The EASA TC allows BRP-Rotax to [begin] producing the certified 915 iSc3 A engine for the European market thus allowing us to fulfill the request of our customers for a more powerful Rotax aircraft engine with proven reliability,” said Thomas Uhr, general manager BRP- Rotax, vice president Powertrain BRP.
In the late ’90s, an earlier iteration of Remos Aircraft delivered their first aircraft, a G-3 Mirage, originally designed by the very talented Lorenz Kreitmeyer. That was twenty years ago. Recently, the Pasewalk, Germany company delivered serial number 450. Susanne and Harmut Lang, the new owners of the GXNXT — known as a GXnXES in the United States — took possession at their aircraft after it was flown to Bremgarten in southern Germany by Remos engineer Paul Foltz. The Lang’s new GXNXT is equipped with the latest avionics by Dynon and Garmin. Upon receipt of the aircraft, Harmut Lang said: “The Remos GXNXT suits our needs perfectly [and] the flight characteristics are amazing and the quality of this aircraft is well known.” If you are confused by the model name, that could be because attention has been focused on the GXiS model that won European ultralight approval recently. Even more recently, the company made news regarding its new owner, Stemme Aircraft.
- Maximum Cruise: 280 km/h — 175 mph — 152 knots
- Eco (lower fuel consuming) Cruise: 260 km/h — 163 mph — 141 knots
- Fuel Burn in Eco mode: 23 liters/hour — 6 gallons per hour
- Fuel Translation: 27.16 statute miles per gallon at 163 mph
Surely all readers know that Rotax-brand engines dominate the light aircraft landscape. The company owns something like 75% or more of the global market and close to that in the USA. Some worthy competitors are keeping the pressure on, but Rotax continues forward. The engine-to-follow is their new turbo-intercooler-fuel injected 135-horsepower 915 iS variant. Rotax Aircraft Engines first announced this new model at AirVenture 2015; see our video interview for details and go to the official 915 iS page for even more. In the press conference where the engine was unveiled, many in the standing-room-only audience were airframe manufacturers. As soon as the management and engineering team was done presenting, they quickly swarmed over the powerplant. You could almost see the wheels turning in their minds as they contemplated how they could fit and use this machine in their aircraft. That was almost two years ago — AirVenture Oshkosh is only about 75 days away!
KLA-100 FeaturesLong-span slotted flaps feature another proprietary airfoil developed in South Korea to slow the KLA-100 for low landing speeds and gentle stalls. The companies reported that wide chord ailerons allowed precise control and minimal adverse yaw. The blended winglets round out the wing tips and reduce drag, increase climb and give the KLA-100 a distinctive ramp presence. KLA-100 is powered by 100 horsepower (74 KW) from a fuel injected Rotax 912iS. The panel holds a Garmin G3X avionics suite combined with a Garmin GTN-650 MFD, Garmin GTX-335 Mode ES ADS-B out transponder, and optional Garmin two axis autopilot. A Stratos Magnum 601 advanced AEPS rescue system is integrated into the airframe. Flight Design and the Vessel employed modern construction techniques. The cockpit’s carbon-aramid composite safety cell helps to protect the occupants. The engine mount and carbon fuselage attach points reduce the possibility of engine intrusion into the occupant's safety cell. For more details, see this earlier article. For more information visit Flight Design or Vessel.
Recently, Vessel Co., Ltd., and Flight Design made a joint announcement after debuting their new KLA-100 low-wing, light aircraft at Aero Friedrichshafen 2017. Few expected this from the make of the very popular CT-series most recently including the CTLSi. Through 2016, this has been the most popular Special LSA in America. The companies’ KLA-100 development program started quietly two years ago. “The first flight was performed in Sumperk, Czech Republic in late March 2017 with test pilot Richard Ponizil at the controls. Since that time the plane has made seven more flights and met all expectations,” said Flight Design COO, Daniel Gunther. KLA-100 is a brand new design destined to be certified as a Light Sport Aircraft for sale in countries that accept ASTM-compliant aircraft, with plans to meet the European EASA’s CS-LSA regulation. The companies think this will allow access to virtually every major aviation market in the world.
Could Light-Sport Aircraft, light kit aircraft, and even ultralights benefit from in-flight adjustable propellers? After more testing and data collection answering that question should be easier. Prominently displayed in front of the Rotax Aircraft Engines exhibit at Sun ‘n Fun — right at the main entrance to the large spring show — was a strikingly-painted Searey kit-built aircraft (photo). Why? The mission was to showcase how a Rotax-powered amphibian aircraft can get more push… without complexity. Named Searey ATD, Advanced Technology Demonstrator, the collaborators include Progressive Aerodyne, producer of the Searey, Rotax Aircraft Engines, and MT Propeller, all coordinated by key developer, RS Aerotech of Nassau, Bahamas. A joint news release said, “For the first time in the Light-Sport Aircraft category*, Searey ATD offers a single-lever operated constant speed propeller, which significantly improves performance and dramatically reduces power management complexity for the pilot.” Searey ATD “will be used for long-time testing of new engines, propellers, and electronic systems.” To serve this goal, Searey ATD has been equipped with a state-of-the-art flight data acquisition and reporting system, which combines engine data with aircraft and navigation data.” Called a “first time” accomplishment, Searey ATD can “automatically transmit its engine and aircraft data via LTE networks worldwide.” The data “will be used by Rotax to perform engine health monitoring” similar to what airlines do globally.
Rotax makes high power-to-weight ratio powerplants that fit in smaller cowlings. Liquid cooling addresses the challenges of keeping motors from overheating, especially in those in tighter engine compartments. Rotax engines are modern and they keep updating them. They can produce in higher volumes than some competitors, have highly regarded quality control, and their testing facility is state-of-the-art. These reasons and more explain the estimate 75% or higher market share the Austrian company enjoys.
The Austrian engine maker said that during Sun 'n Fun 2017 the Rotax Flying and Safety Club (RFSC) and BRP-Rotax will offer information sessions conducted by experienced RFSC instructors.
The special workshops are addressed to those who would like to learn more about Rotax aircraft engines in general and about the 100-horsepower Rotax 912 iS Sport aircraft engine installation in particular.
"Three different types of information sessions will be offered at booth SE15 near the main entrance gate," said a Rotax spokesperson. Throughout the week Sun 'n Fun attendees can register to attend one of the RFSC sessions right at the company's booth, however, they note seating is limited so they recommend interested parties reserve space early.An "Introduction of Rotax Aircraft Engines Familiarization Training" session is offered Tuesday (April 4th) to Saturday (April 8th) from 10:00 to 11:00 AM. This is available for everyone interested in the Rotax product line and it is free of charge.
On Tuesday to Friday from 1:00 to 2:00 PM, kit builders or aircraft developers considering use of the newer fuel-injected Rotax 912 iS Sport engine can attend the "Rotax 912iS Installation Information" session. This session is also free.
Professionals who work on Rotax engines for compensation can take a "RFSC independent Rotax Maintenance Technician (iRMT) Renewal Course" on Thursday April 6th from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. RFSC will cover Rotax 2-stroke maintenance tips.
Further workshops related to Rotax engines will be offered by Lockwood Aviation at Paradise City's forums area. Lockwood will present two iRMT Renewal Courses.
The first will be Wednesday April 5th from 10:30 to 11:45 AM covering "Rotax 2-stroke engine maintenance tips" while the second occurs on Thursday, April 6th from 10:30 to 11:45 AM covering "Rotax 912 / 914 service & operating tips." For these iRMT Renewal Courses please contact Lockwood Aviation at 863-655-5100.
At the same time as Sun 'n Fun is ongoing, the Aero Friedrichshafen's 25th anniversary 2017 event will be held in the picturesque town in the far south of Germany. Rotax will also offer training at this event.
Sessions are scheduled for Wednesday and Friday (5 and 7 April) from 1300 to 1500 offered in English; and on Thursday and Saturday (6 and 8 April) from 1300 to 1500 offered in German. All sessions are held in Room Schwarzwald."During these special training sessions the attendees will gain fascinating insights into the world of Rotax Aircraft Engines and the newest engine development, the Rotax 915 iS," said Rotax. This is their newest engine, a 135-horsepower variant of the 9-series engines and it will be on display on some LSA or LSA-like aircraft at the big German show. Interest should be keen for news about this highly-awaited powerplant.
Rotax is a major player in aircraft engines and the dominant producer for light aircraft. "With more than 175,000 engines sold in 40 years, Rotax aircraft engines lead the Light-Sport and ultralight aircraft market." The Austrian company has 19 authorized distributors and a network of more than 220 points of sale and repair centers supporting customers worldwide. "Rotax aircraft engines are supplied to more than 80% of all aircraft manufacturers in its segment," said the company's spokesperson.
Rotax also announced a new owner registration system. Why might this be important to operators of Rotax engines in the majority of LSA and many light kit aircraft?
"This new paperless engine registration process offers various advantages for Rotax aircraft engine owners," said the company. They listed three worthy reasons: (1) Rotax wants to know their customers and how their engines are operated; (2) customers who opt-in receive newsletters and new technical documentation directly from the manufacturer; and, (3) "In case of a reported engine theft, re-registration of this engine will be impossible." That might not get a stolen engine back but it may help deter theft in the first place.
Convinced? You should be. Go here to register.
How is it that Rotax so dominates the supply of engines to light aircraft? Many reasons might be cited but one is the superlative training they offer. For 2017, the company is going even further, now offering essential training opportunities to the legions who attend airshows in both the USA and Europe. Rotax makes high power-to-weight ratio powerplants that fit in smaller cowlings. Liquid cooling addresses the challenges of keeping motors from overheating, especially in those in tighter engine compartments. Rotax engines are modern and they keep updating them. They can produce in higher volumes than some competitors, have highly regarded quality control, and their testing facility is state-of-the-art. These reasons and more explain the estimate 75% or higher market share the Austrian company enjoys. The Austrian engine maker said that during Sun ‘n Fun 2017 the Rotax Flying and Safety Club (RFSC) and BRP-Rotax will offer information sessions conducted by experienced RFSC instructors.
Rotax Maintenance Classes — If you are a professional or wanna-be pro in the maintenance or overhaul of Rotax engines, you must take factory-approved training. You have choices in such training by recently California Power Systems announced a series of classes. • Rotax 2-Stroke Service Course is for technicians wanting to rebuild or maintain all water-cooled and air-cooled 2-stroke Rotax aircraft engines. Learn to perform a complete engine rebuild with failure analysis and a focus on preventative maintenance. —March 6-7, 2017. • Rotax 912 / 914 Service Class is for technicians wanting to service 912-series engines or owners wanting to do their own scheduled maintenance. This course will give any FAA A&P or LSA Repairman certificate holder the credentials to perform all scheduled maintenance and level #1 troubleshooting procedures. —March 8-9, 2017. • Other classes include: a 912 / 914 Maintenance Class for technicians wanting to perform more in depth maintenance tasks.
So, here's three aircraft you haven't seen before AirVenture 2016 plus a revised project involving an increasingly popular engine. I'll start off with a famous guy checking out a famous engine to propel one of my favorite airplanes. We begin our quick review with Lockwood Aircraft's AirCam.
Of course, you know his face. When I once heard Harrison Ford speak, he said modestly (paraphrased), "I earn a living making faces." I never thought of acting in such simple terms, but I accept such skills are part of the job. He's made faces successfully enough in many movies to be able to afford several fun airplanes and now he's getting into an AirCam. Developer/manufacturer Phil Lockwood said, "We were keeping a low profile to preserve [Harrison's] privacy but the cat is out of the bag now." As an AirCam fan myself, I predict Ford's facial repertoire will frequently include a broad smile.The newest and perhaps most unexpected aircraft at the show was SkyCruiser offered in the USA by U.S. Sport Aircraft based in Texas. This U.S importer has long represented Czech Sport Aircraft's SportCruiser, which has ranked up high on our market share report for years. Literature for the new model makes no mention of CSA, instead referring to Czech 4 Sky. Nevertheless, U.S. Sport Aircraft boss, Patrick Arnzen indicated he would bring in the new model from CSA.
In this article I am covering aircraft that seem to be pushing the envelope but a sign of maturity in the LSA segment shows developments in all directions. One of those is a return to simpler, easy-to-fly aircraft. Looking somewhat like another very successful design, Aerotrek's A220, SkyCruiser represents a model from about one decade back. When the LSA regulation first created aviation's newest segment the typical customer was often someone seeking a carbon fiber speedster with autopilot, a full glass panel, and all manner of bells and whistles. Many developers stepped up to fill that demand and simpler (less costly) designs were left behind. Now, they're back!
SkyCruiser, as seen on U.S. Sport Aircraft's Oshkosh space, is powered by a Rotax BRP 912 ULS, and tops out at 1,232 pound gross (88 pounds less than allowed as a SLSA). At a fairly modest 723 pounds empty, the taildragger still offers a 509 pound useful load or a payload of full fuel (17.6 gallons) and two 200-pound occupants with minimal baggage. Stall is listed at a slow 34 knots and maximum cruise is 86 knots. SkyCruiser appears to come well equipped with the latest from Dynon and more.Perhaps it is because of the success of CubCrafters, but the rush remains on for companies developing vintage-style aircraft with big engines. While Rotax continues to power the majority of light aircraft around the world using their ubiquitous 9-series engines, some builders want more. For slower airframes Cubalikes — to use a phrase coined by Bill Canino of Sportair USA, which also offers a muscular model in this same space — adding a massively powerful engine delivers supershort takeoffs and thrilling climb rates.
One engine is clearly winning the high-power race. Originally developed by Lycoming part maker Engine Components International, or ECi, the Titan X-340 has become a powerplant of choice for those seeking 180-horsepower. Other companies like UL Power and Viking also have potent engine offerings but after Continental Motors bought ECi in 2015, the Mobile, Alabama company has parlayed their famous brand into several entries in the light kit and Light-Sport space. Now enter the Kitfox Titan
One very slick Titan installation appeared on a factory Kitfox brought to Oshkosh by owner John McBean. His team always does impressive detail and finish work and the Kitfox Titan seen nearby was a prime example. An airplane that works extremely well with Rotax (still offered, of course) should be nothing short of spectacular with the big Titan engine doing the pulling. I can't wait to fly this one!It may look familiar (indeed it has some common heritage) but Triton America's SkyTrek is a significantly different airplane than those it resembles. The airframe is smoother with more sweeping lines aft of the canopy. The structure is beefed up and able to handle a higher G loading. The nosewheel has been strengthened to last better in flight school use.
A main difference in this model from others with similar overall looks is that SkyTrek is fabricated in China. Its principle designer, Tom Hsueh, has long been established in the USA and has worked with some of the largest aviation companies. Although Tom says, "I have a Chinese face," he works from offices in Washington State. His may be a new name to most readers, but I have been talking with Tom for a couple years and believe he can become a player in the U.S. marketplace as well as in China. To Triton's and Tom's credit, he reported the Chinese CAAC has certified SkyTrek for sale in that country.
Not only a new manufacturer of Light-Sport Aircraft, Tom has bigger ambitions. In 2009, Triton America, which does business as Triton Aerospace, acquired all the design rights and hardware inventory for Adam Aircraft, a company that formerly built and certified a six-seat, twin engine, twin-boom, pressurized, all-carbon-composite FAR 23 aircraft."To wind up this brief look of new flying machines we come back to Murphy Aircraft Manufacturing, still run by founder Darryl Murphy and still based in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada. It's been nearly a decade since we saw any new light planes from this once-prolific producer. Darryl said that when the Canadian dollar soared high compared to the U.S. dollar, it became impossible to sell to Americans, by far his company's largest market. So, he used his large facility and impressive forming machinery to make aviation and other parts for different manufacturers. He seemed pleased about the return to building kits; welcome back, Darryl!
While showing his new Radical, Darryl indicated he's been hearing from potential customers that they'd like a Special LSA Rebel and he reports work is proceeding on that in parallel. Meanwhile he introduced a new model that goes hand-in-glove with the new batch of higher powered, higher gross weight aircraft taking several companies beyond the Light-Sport space. This may be one artifact of the EAA/AOPA push to eliminate the third class medical. Darryl acknowledged Rebel is a good foundation for the Radical, however, the new model is essentially a brand new design. "With more payload, more wing area, and capable of using engines up to 220 horsepower, [Radical] will incorporate many of the best features of the Rebel, Elite, Maverick and Super Rebel," he said.
Looking around Oshkosh, I found ultralight, light kit aircraft, and Light-Sport Aircraft all looking healthier than many seem to think. In addition, the arrival of the 180-horsepower Titan and even larger engines combined with higher gross weight/high payload designs seem created to appeal to those who no longer need a medical. The new program won't be effective for a year and still has hoops through which a pilot must jump, but it does open the door to new designs. Light aircraft engineers and manufacturers seem up to the task and customers appeared intrigued by their new offerings.
I'll have more from Oshkosh after catching up with other work, but I found the light sector very alive and doing quite well, with or without a third class medical.
In a show as vast at EAA’s AirVenture Oshkosh, it is presumptuous to attempt covering everything of interest. What follows are some new aircraft I found in the categories I cover on this website. Other projects were certainly worthy of special note but with the goal of a fast dash through the latest and greatest, I’m keeping this one fairly lean. I’ll cover other developments in subsequent articles. So, here’s three aircraft you haven’t seen before AirVenture 2016 plus a revised project involving an increasingly popular engine. I’ll start off with a famous guy checking out a famous engine to propel one of my favorite airplanes. We begin our quick review with Lockwood Aircraft‘s AirCam. Of course, you know his face. When I once heard Harrison Ford speak, he said modestly (paraphrased), “I earn a living making faces.” I never thought of acting in such simple terms, but I accept such skills are part of the job.