“Lisa Akoya: You’ve Never Seen Anything Like It,” trumpeted the lead image. Ten-year-on translation: “You’ve never seen it.” Inspired design, cutting edge ideas, elegant sleekness, and unique features set the French LSA seaplane apart and may inspire successive designs but Lisa’s Akoya never made it to market. No wonder,” exclaimed some! More than a decade back, they approached a retail price of $400,000. After ten years of dollar inflation, that number would be way past $500,000 today. Remarkable as it may be to those of us with normal incomes, buyers for high-end products seem often to emerge. Cirrus and their steady sales of million-dollar-plus four seaters is proof of that. To appeal to such well-heeled pilots, a company better deliver a beautiful, functional, well-supported aircraft. Doing that expertly at a premium level gets expensive. Here’s Looking at Lisa Lisa Akoya dates to the very beginning of Light-Sport Aircraft. In 2004, two aviation enthusiasts, Erick Herzberger and Luc Bernole, established Lisa Airplanes in the heart of the French Alps.
Here's Looking at LisaLisa Akoya dates to the very beginning of Light-Sport Aircraft. In 2004, two aviation enthusiasts, Erick Herzberger and Luc Bernole, established Lisa Airplanes in the heart of the French Alps. Akoya developed "a patented Multi-Access technology allowing Akoya to set down with the same agility on water, land or snow without any prior modification of the aircraft." This unique innovation is based on a combination of retractable landing gear, hydrofoils and retractable skis (video demonstrates gear retract). “From the cockpit to the wingtips through the Seafoils, a number of technical innovations offer elegance, operating convenience, and exceptional aerodynamic performance," claimed Lisa. They promoted a top speed of 156 miles per hour (135 knots), range of 1,250 miles, with fuel consumption of 4.2 gallons per hour. "Akoya takes off and lands in as little as 650 feet,” they said (full specs on image below). Arguably, one of the most distinctive design aspects of Akoya is its tailfin-mounted, forward-facing Rotax engine. Others have done something similar (Equator is an innovative example using electric propulsion) yet Lisa engineers beautifully integrated the powerplant. Interior noise was significantly reduced by this location, they noted. Thanks to folding wings (photo & video), Akoya could be stored in a garage or, if you happen to run in more elite circles, perhaps aboard your yacht. With its then-stratospheric price tag of $395,000, Lisa had to appeal to very well-heeled customers, including yacht owners one supposes. Lisa developers boasted Akoya’s 180-degree panoramic view through its tinted bubble canopy and a cockpit specially designed to combine both aesthetics and comfort. The cockpit is 51.6 inches wide, spacious even compared to the largest LSA. My longtime videographer and LSA seaplane expert, Dave Loveman described Akoya as "…an LSA featuring unique 'Seafoils' which it uses for taking off from water. Akoya is amphibious, with a retractable landing gear that can be equipped to take off or land from land, water, or snow." Dave also observed, "Akoya has cantilever wings, which can be folded for ease of storage or trailering. Akoya uses all carbon-fiber construction, with metal parts produced from titanium. Seating is side by side, with dual controls, flaps, and a center mounted throttle, and adjustable rudder pedals. Power is supplied by a Rotax 912 ULS or iS engine." Longtime aviation journalist James Lawrence wrote, "Some bright minds at Lisa Airplanes, a French company, had a great idea to take the hydrofoil concept and apply it to an LSA seaplane. I’d often wondered why hydrofoils haven’t been done before; it’s such a great concept." "The technology for the entire package is patented and called Multi-Access," Jim continued, "not the most compelling name but what the hey, look at how cool those little moustache water wings look sticking out from the hull!l "Seafoil is a trademarked name, which adds a little more marketing sizzle to this steak. They’re connected to a retractable gear that can be rigged with wheels or skis, and also to motor-driven, pivoting wings." To prevent pilot error in re-assembling a folded-wing Akoya, designers added an ignition interlock system, position indicators, and a wing position locking system." Folding wings have strong appeal but add complexity that demands more oversight and/or a religiously-followed checklist. Jim concluded his remarks, "This is a 'luxury amphibian' with sexy hydrofoil wings on its futuristic hull. It’s priced sky-high at $395,000. Like the equally costly Icon A5, Akoya is sleek, stylish, and downright gorgeous." In February of 2013, our friends at AVweb uncovered news that Akoya would be acquired by investors in China. A trend was underway ten years ago, leading large Chinese businesses to purchase several famous aviation brands including Continental Motors, Cirrus, and Mooney, among others. AVweb went on to report, "According to French and Chinese online sources, production will remain in France." Unfortunately, Akoya never built another aircraft. The big Chinese money disappeared from aviation some years ago. As Lisa and their Akoya never made another appearance, this appears to be another design lost to history though long experience in this industry has taught me never to assume a good design is forever gone. Worthy designs have often re-emerged. The experience gained by the two French developers of Akoya could influence downstream designs in the way aviation has done since before the Wright brothers.
Two videos appearing below provide additional information direct from the source plus many views, static and flying. My countdown review of the Top 50 videos will continue… focused on the most popular of nearly 1,000 videos interviews I've conducted, all recorded and produced by Dave Loveman of Light Sport and Ultralight Flyer You Tube. This Top 50 video interview with Vanessa Troillard has been viewed more than 200,000 times. Produced a dozen years ago, it offers good visuals of the aircraft and wing fold, gear retract and more. Audio is also 12 years old; sensitive ears may prefer a lower volume. —November 23, 2012 https://youtu.be/VwSCR0LoAyo?si=ED23NJK72tDeOmfD Three years later, Dave Loveman produced another Lisa Akoya video. This was recorded at an airshow with some background airplane noise, however, visuals are excellent. —February 10, 2015 https://youtu.be/UX6qhpIOyEw?si=XDq8fjsJClGFGm-i