Bad as in-flight break-up accidents are, many opinions often blur the big picture. Last spring NTSB recommended FAA “ground the fleet,” so to say. FAA chose further study. When additional CH-601s became involved, media and organizations jumped on the bandwagon. Let’s review. *** The focus is on the CH-601XL, of which about 1,500 kits have been sold since its introduction in 1984. Approximately half are complete and flying, said Zenith boss, Sebastien Heintz. *** Of the airplanes that broke up two were fully-built SLSA. One was built by Czech Aircraft Works; the other by AMD. The rest are owner-built kits… essentially one-off airplanes. Comparing one to a factory-built airplane is apples and oranges. *** Some allege Zenith and AMD have ignored the problem, but lots of detailed info on Zenith’s website suggests otherwise. Sebastien buttressed this saying, “We believe our effort is an example of an industry doing the right thing.
Eastman Aviation (formerly AMD) Zodiac CH-601 (650)Eastman, GA 31023 - USA
At Oshkosh, FAA held a meeting to announce their LSA Assessment Project. The agency that gave birth to Light-Sport Aircraft in the summer of 2004 is now embarking on a fact-finding tour they say will judge the “health of the industry,” part of their “aviation safety oversight.” Sounds rather ominous, doesn’t it? However, officials also stated clearly and repeatedly, “What this assessment and evaluation is not is an individual Light-Sport manufacturer’s compliance audit.” *** Indeed, Terry Chasteen, the new head LSA man in the Small Aircraft Directorate characterized the day-long visits by two teams of two inspectors as benign. He’ll be joined by Tom Gunnarson, former president of LAMA now with the LSA office. The visits started this week at Tecnam’s U.S. quarters; AMD, Aircraft Manufacturing and Design; Fantasy Air USA / LSA America; and P&M Aviation USA.
The U.S. economy is hardly crashing, but while slipping backwards in late 2007 and early 2008, it has been on a bumpy plateau. This unevenness causes trouble for many businesses. Even giant coffee seller, Starbucks, is rejiggering their business model to adjust for folks balking at $4 coffee while their stock portfolio lurches up and down. Light-Sport Aircraft sales also reflect that lack of consumer confidence. *** Figures for the first two months of 2008 show slightly more than 40 aircraft registrations per month. In 2007, the industry averaged 47 aircraft registrations per month. Of course, this 15% decrease also comes while many northern states have endured awful winter flying weather, partially explaining why sales are off the beat. Despite a cloudy overcast some bright spots emerge. *** CZAW‘s SportCruiser led the pack with more than 17% growth during January and February. AMD is close behind with 14% growth, and CubCrafters continues their climb with 7.5% growth.
|Empty weight||770 pounds 1|
|Gross weight||1,320 pounds|
|Wing area||132 square feet|
|Wing loading||9.9 pounds/square foot|
|Useful Load||550 pounds 1|
|Payload (with full fuel)||370 pounds 1|
|Cabin Interior||44 inches wide|
|Fuel Capacity||30 gallons|
|Baggage area||40 pounds|
|Notes:||1 Empty weight, useful load, and payload are for the basic VFR Zodiac 601 XL model.|
|Standard engine||Continental 0-200|
|Power loading||13.2 pounds/hp|
|Cruise speed||124 mph|
|Stall Speed (Flaps)||44 mph|
|Never exceed speed||161 mph|
|Rate of climb at gross||1,000 fpm|
|Takeoff distance at gross||450 feet|
|Landing distance at gross||670 feet|
|Range (powered)||6 hours, 780 miles (no reserve)|
|Fuel Consumption||5.0 gph|
|Notes:||2-blade Sensenich propeller.|
Max demonstrated crosswind component: 23 mph.
The strongest interest in readyto- fly special light-sport aircraft (S-LSA) to date has come from pilots operating Cessna, Piper, Mooney, and other general aviation (GA) aircraft. It is estimated that more than 100,000 currently certificated pilots are looking at their prospects for maintaining an up-to-date second- or third-class FAA medical and considering the LSA option. Many are concluding that LSA are worthy airplanes and recognize that downsizing to an LSA two-seater can meet their flying goals, a fact that has driven a good share of LSA sales thus far. Thousands of those pilots have private or higher certificates with instrument ratings. They’re accustomed to having a full panel and want one even if flying in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) isn’t in their plans. In fact, flashy dual-screen plus electronic information and navigation panel layouts have proven quite popular in many S-LSA, even though they add tens of thousands of dollars in cost.
For years BRS Parachutes sold emergency systems to ultralight pilots. Then along came Cirrus Design, who installed the CAPS (Cirrus Airframe Parachute System) on their SR-20 and SR-22 models as standard equipment. It was a bold and unproven tactic, but today, the SR-22 is the best selling general aviation aircraft in the world. Did the parachute help that success? “Absolutely,” says Cirrus president, Alan Klapmeier. Light-Sport Aircraft producers commonly offer parachute systems: Flight Design CT uses a BRS 1350 HS as standard equipment; TL’s StingSport comes with Galaxy. *** Now Aircraft Manufacturing and Development (AMD) has added the BRS to a long list of available safety features: Amsafe seat belt airbags, lightning protection (on the IFR certified CH-601 XLi model), Tetra foam seat cushions (to absorb “G” loads on hard touchdowns), and a FAR 33 certified aircraft engine, the Continental 0-200.
The newest Special Light-Sport Aircraft to win approval will help the industry close out a spectacular year. In 2005, starting only by mid-April, 23 designs have won their airworthiness certificate under the ASTM Consensus Standards. For the year, #23 goes to Aircraft Manufacturing and Development of Eastman, Georgia. The AMD Zodiac CH 601 XL is powered by the Continental engine and all of it is built in the USA. American A&P mechanics are very familiar with the O-200 engine, which assures availability of service across the country. Since the southeastern U.S. company also builds the FAA Part 23 certified Alarus four seater, they are assembling the 601 to that high standard (such process meets the ASTM standards). The all-metal design flies conventionally and has won praise for its handling and performance. The CH 601 is one of several designs by Chris Heintz, father of Mathieu Heintz, president of AMD.