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.
Flight Design GmbH F2
Phone: +49 36920 7530-11Hoerselberg-Hainich, -- 99820 - Germany
U.S. Distributor is Flight Design USA
Phone: (860) 963-7272South Woodstock, CT 06267 - USA
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.
Take to the Air!Tom Peghiny, the veteran importer of the most successful LSA brand in America, has a new nose-to-tail, winglet-to-winglet Light-Sport Aircraft to show airshow attendees …except he can't. Tom has run Flight Design USA since before the category was implemented by FAA back in 2004. He was an early leader in the ASTM process — through its first three (contentious) years, he chaired the all-important Design & Performance Subcommittee that created the biggest chunk of the standards used by airplane producers today. After selling more than 300 CT-series aircraft to Americans, Tom is keen to promote his brand new model. What he lacks is a show to take it to, so what to do? After media reported a flare-up of the virus in places Tom expected to visit, he had to cut back earlier tour plans. Instead, he chose to take the airplane to some key writers, let them fly F2, and they could tell their readership. It's not as good as face-to-face conversations at airshows, but it's an excellent way to communicate with the pilot community. Soon, he'll welcome a writer for AVweb and he will fly F2 down to AOPA's home in Frederick, Maryland to let one of their senior writers have a crack at the new model. How will they like it? I asked what aspects of F2 he planned to show off to these journalists.
"Feels Bigger; Flies Great"Flying F2 since it arrived in the USA — the model was announced at Aero 2019; video below — Tom has been getting more deeply familiar with the new model. "I'm very impressed with F2. It feels like a bigger airplane, very solid in the air. More stable than I expected. Very easy to land." He's comparing to the CTLS that so many other pilots know. "F2 feels more stable in the air compared to our CTLS, which offers a sportier feel." Pressing him for details, Tom recounted the following story from a recent flight. It involved F2's autopilot. "As you know, with the Garmin (or any) autopilot, you have a few stages to get it set up. When you're ready you engage it with an 'AP' button." After several minutes of flying almost hands-off straight and level, Tom realized he'd never engaged the autopilot. "F2 behaves so steadily, that even though I had it ready, I hadn't turned it on yet," Tom said. "It's that stable." “One of the reasons stability is so important is that we are in the process of certifying F2 to Europe's CS-23 version of FAA's Part 23 and also plan to certify it for IFR flight in IMC, making it a logical choice as a training aircraft,” observed Tom. That all sounds great, but how to account for such a stride forward? At least three attributes appear to deliver the improvements:
- F2 has a longer fuselage, about a foot longer than CTLS (22.5 feet on F2 vs. 21.6 on CTLS).
- F2 has a very wide stabilizer, substantially larger than CTLS (10.3 feet vs. 7.8 for CTLS). Additionally, the newer model now uses a fixed stabilizer with discreet elevator where CTLS employs a stabilator.
- Finally, vertical height of the tailplane is impressive. F2's tall tail is approximately 6.2 feet vs. 4.6 feet for CTLS.
Pilot FriendlierWhen the fuselage stretched, it not only got longer and leaner looking but it got wider and taller, too. This increased cabin volume. F2 is two inches wider (50.5 inches) and has a much larger aft cabin than CTLS (which has a hat rack on each side; handy, but much smaller). F2's cabin is higher, better for tall pilots and larger doors allow easier entry. That big cabin is designed to protect its occupants, a long-term effort by Flight Design. "F2 has an extremely rigid cabin; at least two times more than the CT-series." Like CTLS, F2's cabin is built around a center tunnel or beam "that is very stout," Tom added. F2 is also more deluxe. It has an automobile feel to it, Tom thought. Indeed, with AmSafe air bags (interior photo; see black vertical bars), auto style inertia reel harnesses, and gas-piston-adjustable seats that adjust electrically for height adjustment, F2 is clearly a luxury model. Size doesn't come free, of course. The extra interior room, longer span, wider tail, and stretched fuselage add 107 pounds to F2 compared with CTLS, using basic empty weight facts from company brochures (717 pounds vs. 824 on F2). No doubt F2's four foot longer span wing (32.4 feet on F2 vs. 28.2 feet on CTLS) carries weight better and may be another reason, along with the new winglets, accounting for the good handling report. "F2 is very efficient," Tom said. The wing design is higher aspect, using the same chord as CTLS but a longer span. "The higher you go, the better the wing flies. It will be very good for longer cruising flights, above 8,000 feet, for example." If you look carefully (it's subtle from most angles), F2's wing uses cuffs as does the Icon Aircraft A5. I flew that LSA seaplane to find very well behaved manners almost no matter what you did with the controls and airspeed management. That safety attribute earned Icon extra gross weight; FAA granted such because those cuffs provide greatly enhanced slow speed stability. As the linked article above indicates, FAA told LAMA's board of directors that any design that could prove a "stall resistant airframe" to FAA's satisfaction could petition for a higher gross weight so it is entirely possible F2 could also request more pounds. As we discussed the two planes, Tom said he thought I could do the same maneuvers with F2 that I'd done with the Icon A5 and I'd get a similar sensation. "Departure stalls simply don't," Tom described. "With full flaps, it will 'nod' a bit, a kind of pre-stall but with neutral flaps the stick remains effective at all times." Tom worked closely with Flight Design during development of F2, playing key roles. He closed saying, "I knew we could achieve those characteristics but I didn't know how well it would fly." I could almost see his smile over the phone. I look forward to experience F2, perhaps at the Midwest LSA Expo still on schedule for September 10-11-12 in Mt. Vernon, Illinois, east of St. Louis.
Although a mirror reflection of the greater global economy, many pilots are stunned that airshow after airshow has fallen to the virus. It seems like two or three years ago when, back in February 2020, Videoman Dave and I covered the Copperstate/Buckeye show west of Phoenix. Here’s another sure sign of virus-induced time distortion. This year, 2020, was the first year that the Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation did not happen after a good run of 15 years. Yes, only seven months ago, many of us would’ve been heading to Sebring, Florida. Little did we know in those carefree times what cataclysm was to follow starting in March 2020. When cut off from usual routines, what does an inventive entrepreneur do? Take to the Air! Tom Peghiny, the veteran importer of the most successful LSA brand in America, has a new nose-to-tail, winglet-to-winglet Light-Sport Aircraft to show airshow attendees …except he can’t.
Bristell 915iSThe successful model from the very active BRM Aero in the Czech Republic was always a favorite for its exquisite design with no detail overlooked, with some of the smoothest execution in the industry. It's wide cabin and luxurious appointments puts Bristell almost in a class of its own, with a price tag to match. Bristell with Rotax's uber-powerful, 141-horsepower 915iS fuel injected, turbocharged, and intercooler engine bumps the selling price beyond reach of many aviators while still being a fraction of its equivalent among legacy general aviation airplanes. You'll pay in the high $200,000 range for Bristell 915 but what a superlative airplane you'll receive for that money. While the price might discourage some, fear not, as main man Lou Mancuso also offers a shared ownership program that may be the best I've ever heard (details in this video). As we launched on our photo mission with Bristell going first, it was clear this machine can soar into the sky faster than almost any LSA I've seen short of much-slower-cruising STOL designs. Look for our video to follow with more information about the latest offered by Bristell USA. BRM Aero is definitely a moving target with new models in the works, but as with all the vendors featured in this virtual preview, you will have to learn about the new ideas at a later airshow. Stay tuned! ••• Get Lots More Info — Bristell USA (for North America) or BRM Aero (for other countries)
Jabiru J230DFor a very rare airframe company that also builds its own engines, welcome to the all-new Jabiru J230D with their latest Gen 4 (generation 4) Jabiru engine. The two seater LSA is also supplied as a four seater in its homeland of Australia, so this American model offers not only one of the most voluminous aft cabins in all of LSA-land but a separate, third door to access it. Representative U.S. Sport Planes, led by industry veteran Scott Severen, has demonstrated this baggage capacity with photos showing a large dog sitting comfortably aft of the pilots. Those who struggle to load a couple small bags in most airplanes may be envious of the ease of entry to the back cabin. Yet capacity is not the whole story behind J230D. This new model has refinements to make it fly even nicer. Since J230 models were already able to speed to the top of the category, improvements are focused on fit and finish and handling qualities. In addition to the updated airframe, Jabiru is now in full production on their Gen 4 engine offered in two configurations: a four-cylinder 2200 model producing 80 horsepower; and the six-cylinder 3300 model with 120 horsepower. Learn more about both Gen 4 engines. The J230D uses the later to scoot along at max LSA speed. ••• Get Lots More Info — U.S. Sport Planes
Flight Design F2Flight Design has been busy over the last year. Not only have they come out with their CTLS 2020 (fresh news) but they've put their all-new F2 through multiple tests. The German company is almost ready to begin deliveries. Since I first saw the F2 in mock up, Flight Design has redesigned the intake for two reasons: "to reduce drag as we confirmed the older version was very functional but draggy; and for aesthetic reasons," said the company. "Flight Design team designer and Head of Airworthiness, Christian Majunke, designed conceptually. He also designed a rather novel installation of the coolant and oil radiators," elaborated Flight Design USA representative, Tom Peghiny. Also new panel is an SLSA panel with twin G3X screens, a Garmin GTR 225 Com, Garmin GTX 345 ADSB in and out transponder, Garmin GMC 507 autopilot control head (with dual axis autopilot), and Garmin GMA 245 intercom. Pilot controls remain essentially as they were on the CT-series but note the combined single lever throttle and brake system. "Our F2 prototype number 002 arrived at port in Miami in preparation for display at Sun n Fun 2020," said Tom. Like most vendors, Flight Design USA hoped to go forward with the Lakeland show but will now unveil the new model at Oshkosh 2020 (assuming it remains on schedule). "After completing all SLSA required flight testing including the demanding ASTM 3180 anti-spin requirements, production has started on the first aircraft from production tooling in Germany, Ukraine and the Czech Republic," concluded Tom. ••• Get Lots More Info — Flight Design USA
Whisper X350You know the Czech Cessna-182 lookalike called L600 from AeroPilot USA. You also know the dashing FX1 from InnovAviation in Italy. Both of these interesting models are represented by Deon Lombard of AeroPilot USA, now based in Florida but with representation in California. At Sun 'n Fun 2020, Deon expected to introduce Whisper to American kit builders. Alas, as with the rest of this group, you probably won't see it until July in Wisconsin.
Whisper Aircraft in South Africa has created Whisper X350 Gen II, a two-seat, cross-country sport aircraft with a limit load factor of plus 6.0 and minus 4.0 Gs. Those are merely limit loads. This is a tough bird.
Whisper wings feature a carbon fiber structure tested to an ultimate load factor of 12.0 Gs. The Gen II’s wing tanks offer a total fuel capacity of 63 U.S. gallons, giving a range of 1,000 nautical miles and an endurance of over 6 hours.
"The aircraft also has one of the widest interiors on the market today, featuring optional leather interior and plenty of baggage room making the Gen II perfect for comfortable cross-country trips. This will make a good member of the AeroPilot USA family. A few more specs: Useful Load — 925 pounds; Speed — 175 knots; Range — 1,137 miles.••• Get Lots More Info — AeroPilot USA
Montaer MC-01It might have been one of the great flights to reach Sun 'n Fun 2020, had it occurred. That's because designer and company representative Bruno de Oliveira had planned to fly his new model all the way from Brazil to Lakeland. That alone would have been reason to examine the new Light-Sport Aircraft. Bruno will be aided in his approach to the U.S. market by longtimer, Ed Ricks, who once helped the Paradise Aircraft people with their P1NG (video). Unfortunately, that relationship faded but when Bruno, who once worked for Paradise, struck out on his own, Ed and partner were pleased to get back involved. MC-01's airframe is constructed with 4130 molybdenum steel tube providing a greater safety to the occupants. The exterior is all aeronautical aluminum fuselage and wings. A steerable nose wheel, dual toe brakes, and control yokes are just some of the features of this well built airplane. Learn more here; get more specs here. Had Ed been able to show MC-01 at Sun 'n Fun 2020 he was ready to make a special offer. While this handsome, approved, all-metal airplane normally sells for a reasonable $135,000, an introductory price of only $125,000 was to be the show special. If you're lucky, Ed may extend the offer to AirVenture Oshkosh 2020 (assuming it remains on its present schedule). ••• Get Lots More Info — Montaer USA
While I continue to worry about the cash crunch faced by two of my favorite shows, I am still driven to provide content as if those shows had occurred this year and not been postponed to 2021. Of course, I refer to Aero Friedrichshafen and Sun ‘n Fun, the latter my focus for this post. Here I will relate five aircraft you might have seen in Lakeland last week …before it was bumped to early May, but which is now off until April 2021. I admit I secretly hoped for good news in these sad cancellations that might allow me to attend both events in 2021. I had to pick one over the other in 2020 as they were exactly opposite one another. Unfortunately for my schedule, the year-long postponement didn’t change anything. Sun ‘n Fun 2021 will be 13-18 of April while Aero 2021 is planned for 14-17 April.
F2 and F2e
Carbon Offsets ProgramBeing particularly keen on reducing carbon in the atmosphere, Flight Design bosses wanted to take strides to further their goals in this regard.
As everyone on the planet knows by now, aviation has nary an airshow in sight. Even AirVenture Oshkosh — still planned at this writing — is hedging their bets amid the uncertainty, saying they will make additional decisions in the weeks ahead. Most of us who love (and rely on) these aviation events certainly hope OSH’20 can go on as planned. It will be wonderful to get back into a familiar routine. Meanwhile, I have been producing more content here on ByDanJohnson.com so everyone sheltering-in-place can at least fantasy fly their favorite flying machine. I will also continue with the “Virtual Aero” or “Virtual Sun ‘n Fun” articles. In fact, next up after this one will be a post about new aircraft you would have seen in Lakeland, Florida in May …before Sun ‘n Fun regretfully* called it off until 2021. One company, Flight Design ga, offered a “virtual press conference.” The company said, “As all airshows are postponed, we chose this way to inform you regarding the current developments at Flight Design.
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.
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).