Preparing for Sebring, four days of the show, and a LSA flight over the ocean can fill your days to the brim … and all of that is truly excellent. January used to be a month of flying doldrums but since Sebring started nine years ago, the month has turned into one of the most active for light plane enthusiasts. ByDanJohnson.com reflects this with increased and growing traffic. January 2013 looks to set a new all-time record and that comes on the heels of a record 2012. Thanks for your loyal visits; we’re happy to be providing the news and videos you want. Speaking of coverage, thanks a billion to James Lawrence, who provided daily updates along with his superb photos from Sebring while I was running around with other duties. The good news is we’ve already posted four videos and several more will follow, thanks to the excellent work by my partner-in-video, creator of the popular Ultralight News YouTube channel.
Tecnam Costruzioni Aeronautiche
Phone: (01139) 817583210Casoria Na, -- 80026 - Italy
Tecnam Offers Bargain-Priced Echo Classic Light
Major Italian producer Tecnam today announced the launch of the P92 Classic Light microlight. This is the seventh-generation model in Tecnam P92 range of airplanes, which this year celebrated 20 years of production. The company reports that over two decades of service, “P92’s worldwide fleet now stands at nearly 2,000 aircraft with 200,000 flown hours. The P92 Classic Light is the 13th variant and follows on from the launch earlier this year of both the P92 Tail Dragger (video) and P92 SeaSky Hydroplane. In concert with the international announcement, Tecnam North America confirmed it will launch the new P92 Echo Classic Light priced at $74,999 through to the end of 2012. For those that recall the original promise — of a fully-built LSA for about $60,000 — this price meets that expectation if you only factor in the time value of money, that is, $60,000 in 2003 (the year before SP/LSA) is $75,459 in 2012 dollars.
Light-Sport Aircraft… at Home and Abroad
My European associate and friend, Jan Fridrich, coined a phrase a few years ago: “Global LSA,” he said, meaning the ASTM standards set could be used in any country and thereby create a worldwide market for recreational aircraft. Already a few accept the standards and many are considering or are already using some variant. So, in this post, let’s review some international successes for LSA. Tecnam is one of the most prolific of all LSA producers and not just because they have multiple approved models. Recently, they sold a pair of P2008s to New Zealand. Waikato Aero Club CEO Richard Small said, “The new planes have a number of advantages over traditional aircraft. Manufactured from modern materials [Tecnam] planes are more fuel efficient and quieter. They also have full electronic flight display screens. Our pilots are thoroughly enjoying the upgrade.” Pipistrel has logged sales globally as well and booked four orders for their new Alpha Trainer into Russia.
Tecnam’s Tail Dragger Keeps Getting Better
With five models currently meeting ASTM standards for SLSA, Tecnam has established itself as the leader in prolific design of Light-Sport Aircraft (they also have a Twin and are working on a four seater plus an eleven seater). Much of this design prowess owes to family patriarch Professor Luigi Pascale, known for his incredible output of designs over the years under the company names Partenavia and Tecnam. Even into his 80s, Luigi Pascale continues his energetic engineering. *** Recently the U.S. importer for Tecnam got their chance to fly the new Tail Dragger. Tecnam North America CEO Phil Solomon wrote, “We flew the Tail Dragger a couple of weeks ago and it climbed like a rocket at over 1,600 feet per minute with the Lycoming engine and performed flawlessly.” He promised to send some in-flight footage, which we’ll add to this article when edited and ready. *** Phil also sent some photos of the latest flights in Italy.
Tecnam’s Design Juggernaut; Do These Guys Sleep?
In the article just before this one, writer Jim Lawrence told you about Tecnam’s new Sea-Sky Hydroplane option of straight or four-wheel composite amphibious floats for the Echo Classic or Eaglet models. For the Echo, also known as the P92 (referencing 1992), this represents the sixth generation of that model. The all in-house-designed Sea-Sky Hydroplanes will not be at Sebring but should be present for Sun ‘n Fun, according to importer Tecnam North America. *** As late-night TV ads shout, “But there’s more…!” *** Tecnam will also introduce their brand-new taildragger version of the venerable Echo, done in what Phil Solomon calls a “retro style,” with a wood panel and other touches. Along with thicker gear legs, larger tires and wheels, chrome joystick and chrome rudder pedals plus the sexy slant of a taildragger — Tecnam’s first — the new Echo Taildragger does appear a throwback to an earlier, enjoyable age of aviation.
Aero 2011: LSA Companies Grow… Expanding Into GA
Update 9/24/14 — Added to the models below, South Africa’s The Airplane Factory is also offering their four seat Sling 4. This model is flying but a decision about certifying it has not been made at this time. It is presently available as a kit-built airplane. Some of the more successful Light-Sport Aircraft producers have their eye on the market for larger aircraft, those able to seat four… or more. While continuing to manufacture their LSA models, three companies showed bigger aircraft or mockups at Aero 2011 and one other company has already done extensive test flying. Look out Cessna, Piper, Diamond, and Cirrus! Those familiar GA brands are about to get new competition. *** The first of this emerging segment was the Evektor Cobra, dating back more than four years. Previously marketed at shows like Oshkosh, Cobra was promoted with alternate powerplants of 200 and 315 horsepower. Joining Cobra in the roughly 2,500-pound gross weight category (approximately the weight of a Cessna 172) are three newcomers: Tecnam’s P2010, Flight Design’s C4, and Pipistrel’s Panthera (photos).
Aero: Lycoming Coming to More Light-Sport Aircraft
While the Continental O-200 engine — used in several Light-Sport Aircraft — attains Chinese ownership, Lycoming appears to be making a stronger push to enlist LSA manufacturers. *** One example at Aero 2011 was the upgraded Tecnam Eaglet, which airshow visitors could compare with either Rotax or Lycoming O-233 power. The appearance difference was significant and may test the market for preference for the European Rotax engine that powers 75% or so of all LSA versus the standard bearer Lycoming that has hauled generations of Americans through the skies. *** A major difference is the air-cooled Lycoming versus the liquid-cooled Rotax. Those big fins to cool the Lyc’ demand what one Tecnam rep’ called “power bulges.” The effect on the nose cowl surrounding the engine is dramatic and I’ll bet pilots like one or the other better… which is exactly the point. Tecnam will continue building both so you can — as Burger King puts it — “have it your way.” *** The company has also upgraded the interior of the Eaglet, launched at Sebring 2009, with a highly finished interior complete with new interior door treatments (photo).
Sebring Day Two: Tecnam Throws Down The Gauntlet
61-year-old Italian aircraft manufacturer Tecnam has a whole fleet of LSA and general category aircraft at the show, serving notice they’re here to stay. *** At a reception tonight, U.S. Distributor Heart of Virginia and the Tecnam executive team, lead by CEO Phil Solomon, made a bold prediction: they intend the company to be the top-selling LSA maker by 2014. *** Everybody was drooling over the P2008 LSA so I asked Phil to educate me on the gorgeous high winger. *** “It blends a metal wing and Tecnam’s traditional expertise in building metal aircraft with a composite fuselage. The idea was to make the best possible plane they could along with the strength and lightness of carbon fiber. It’s also clear that people are getting larger around the world, so there’s definitely a premium on a wider aircraft. People wanted more luggage space too, and more luxury.” *** “That’s really what Tecnam is trying to address with the P2008: a top-of-the-range, ultimate LSA.
Sleekest Tecnam Light-Sport Aircraft Yet
Tecnam can lay claim to being the “largest LSA manufacturer” by virtue of producing more than 3,000 ready-to-fly aircraft (with approximately 120 of them flying in the USA as “official LSA” — the U.S. is a relatively new market for the Italian company). In my travels to Europe and other countries, I’ve seen a lot of Tecnam models sold under the rules of those nations. And the company was formed back in 1948. *** But even with all those aircraft built and many interesting designs — such as the Echo Super, Sierra, Bravo, Eaglet, and even a new twin that isn’t a LSA — for my money, the P2008 is easily the prettiest two seater the company has ever designed. It resulted from a marriage of Tecnam, an all-metal airplane company, to Spain’s CAG or Composite Aeronautic Group. The latter, bought by Tecnam, was the short-time producer of the Toxo Sportster *, a handsome all-composite LSA.
LSA Attain New Plateau in Aviation World
Viewed from the LSA Mall, AirVenture 2009 was much more than the summer’s big celebration of flight. Several important events tell a story of growing acceptance of LSA. Here’s a short list: LAMA hosted a meeting of G10 (the 10 largest LSA producers) and another of G5, while paying visits to every LAMA member in attendance. *** At the G10 meeting and again at LAMA’s press conference, Avemco president Jim Lauerman detailed his company’s support (in writing) for LAMA’s audit activities. His expressions were corroborated by Falcon Insurance VP Bob Mackey. *** Earl Lawrence, VP of government relations for EAA, brought brand new FAA administrator Randy Babbitt to the LSA Mall, where he met with presidents of LSA companies: Flight Design, Tecnam, Remos, and IndUS. *** At AOPA’s invitation, LAMA arranged a meeting for several LSA industry leaders with new AOPA president Craig Fuller.
Strong Survive Tough Economy…Some Repositioning
We continue to see the effects of the last year of economic turmoil in Light-Sport Aircraft market shares. The chart accompanying this SPLOG tells the numbers as always presented, with total market share since the first deliveries in 2005 based on carefully-reviewed FAA registration data. The top twenty (of 70 total) producers still represent almost 90% of total SLSA registrations. For the record… registrations on FAA’s database are not the same as sales. Aircraft can be registered and not sold. Aircraft can be identified as sold yet no longer registered, for example, if removed from service due to a non-repairable crash. To get some idea of the work my associate Jan Fridrich does to collect this information, go look for yourself at FAA’s database. *** Remos continues its solid 2008 performance despite the troubled economy. In the 16-month period since January 1, 2008 the German brand is the leader with 73 units registered, followed by familiar names, in order: Flight Design 62; Tecnam 49; Czech Aircraft Works (see below) 44; Jabiru 32; American Legend 27; AMD 23; CubCrafters 22; Aeropro 14, plus Evektor and TL Ultralight at 12 each.
Tecnam Unveils New P2008; a Genuine Composite
Tecnam has long been known for building handsome, well-flying, all-metal Light-Sport Aircraft. The company has certified four models of SLSA (Echo Super, Sierra, Bravo, and Eaglet) tying them for the most. That will soon change and the 61-year-old Italian company formed in 1948 — once the producer of the Partenavia twin-engine aircraft — will soon climb to the top with five approved LSA models. *** The newest, unveiled at the German Aero show, is the P2008. The sleek and beautiful aircraft was conceived after the company bought Composite Aircraft Group, the designer and builder of the Toxo. When Tecnam took possession of this Spanish company, they acquired CAG’s composite technology and the P2008 is the first full airframe to show the results of this purchase. *** P2008 has metal wings like all Tecnam LSA, but it now features a smoothly contoured fuselage.
Tecnam’s All-Metal Italian Beauties
|Empty weight||750 pounds|
|Gross weight||1,320 pounds|
|Wing area||123.8 square feet|
|Wing loading||10.6 pounds per square foot|
|Useful Load||570 pounds|
|Payload (with full fuel)||412 pounds|
|Cabin Interior||43 inches wide|
|Fuel Capacity||26.4 gallons|
|Baggage area||44 pounds|
|Standard engine||Rotax 912S 1|
|Power loading||13.2 lb/hp 1|
|Cruise speed||75% power: 116 kts/133 mph 2|
|Stall Speed (Flaps)||44 pmh|
|Stall Speed||52 mph|
|Never exceed speed||156 kts/180 mph|
|Rate of climb at gross||1,000 fpm|
|Takeoff distance at gross||460 feet|
|Landing distance at gross||394 feet|
|Fuel Consumption||4.5 gph|
|Notes:||1 Cruise duration (economical) approx. 6 hours Cruise range (economical) approx. 700 nautical miles Fuel consumption (economical) about 4.5 gph|
2 Observed GPS 2-way run speed of 113 knots (130 mph), done with a minimum of 75% power
|Standard Features||Rotax 912 with electric starting, basic panel instruments, tapered laminar wing, slotted flaps, sliding canopy (can be opened in flight), hydraulic brakes, adjustable seats, electric flaps and pitch trim, dual controls, cabin heating, 4-point seat belts, ventilation, two entry doors, baggage area.|
|Options||Numerous additional instrumentation including glass displays, radio choices, autopilot, IFR instrumentation, ballistic parachute, lighting packages, fuselage covers.|
|Construction||Aluminum airframe, fiberglass fairings, all-aluminum wing and tail skins and fuselage. Made in Italy; distributed to American dealers by Italian company with U.S. agents.|
Cosmetic appearance, structural integrity, achievement of design goals, effectiveness of aerodynamics, ergonomics.
Pros - Among the best proven designs in the LSA industry. Tecnam brand offers two high-wings and a low wing. Approved under Europe's JAR/VLA program and ASTM consensus standards. All-metal designs trusted by most buyers. All three SLSA designs (Sierra, Bravo, Echo Super) have been updated.
Cons - While addressing the established pilot population, designs do not offer a slate of new innovations. Panels are smaller than some LSA (though glass instruments are easily fitted). Cabins aren't quite as wide as some LSA and panels are conventional looking (though this fact appeals to many GA pilots).
Subsystems available to pilot such as: Flaps; Fuel sources; Electric start; In-air restart; Brakes; Engine controls; Navigations; Radio; (items covered may be optional).
Pros - All the Tecnam line offer a full range of systems, some at additional cost. Electric flaps and trim can each be infinitely adjusted with panel indicator. Center mounted hand brake with parking feature. The Rotax 912 engine provides electric starting and power output for onboard electronics.
Cons - Full engine cowling must be removed for maintenance. Also, crowded working on instruments via the cockpit. Hand brake is less well accepted by general aviation pilots; could affect resale value. Fueling the Bravo and Echo Super requires a step or ladder (as with most high wing designs).
Instrumentation; Ergonomics of controls; Creature comforts; (items covered may be optional).
Pros - Dual throttles likely appreciated in the training environment (where Tecnam designs could do well). Excellent visibility in all models; even high wings have full side windows. Interior appointments will please any pilot used to common general aviation interiors. Easy entry and exit from high wing models. Sliding canopy on the Sierra can be opened in flight. Seats adjust.
Cons - While wider than a Cessna 172, all Tecnams have slimmer interiors than several other LSA. Loading won't allow much baggage if two large occupants are on board. Entry and exit to the Sierra means stepping atop the wing first; not optimal for older or less capable pilots.
Taxi visibility; Steering; Turn radius; Shock absorption; Stance/Stability; Braking.
Pros - Tecnam reveals its microlight heritage with a hand brake that most ultralight pilots will accept. Parking feature on brake handle. Plenty of ground clearance for less optimal surfaces. Good steering precision. Sturdy gear appears up to flight instruction operations.
Cons - Not a super-fast handling aircraft (though most pilots don't prefer too-light or -responsive controls). No other negatives; excellent control characteristics.
Qualities; Efficiency; Ease; Comparative values.
Pros - Very well suited to training operations with conventional takeoff and landing qualities. Flaps are highly effective. High-wing models slip especially well (the Sierra also good but less so than high-wing models). Good climb rate at 1,000 fpm. Good ground clearance should an off-field landing be necessary.
Cons - Like most low-wings, the Sierra has less downward landing visibility on approach. Glide is adequate but less than several other LSA. No other negatives; great landing aircraft.
Quality and quantity for: Coordination; Authority; Pressures; Response; and Coupling.
Pros - Very conventional handling with no control springs to interfere with natural feel. Very good control harmony, among the best in light sport aviation. Dutch rolls went well to sharp angles right from first trials. Steep turns took little additional power and carved nice turns. Superb control predictability.
Cons - Not a super-fast handling aircraft (though most pilots don't prefer too-light or -responsive controls). No other negatives; excellent control characteristics.
Climb; Glide; Sink; Cruise/stall/max speeds; Endurance; Range; Maneuverability.
Pros - Strong climb rate (1,000 fpm) using 100-hp Rotax 912S engine. High cruise (113 knots observed on installed ASI) yet moderately slow stalls resulting in a very respectable 3.2:1 min/max speed ratio (only a few LSA are better). Climb is reasonably strong at 600 to 800 fpm. Clean design helps reduce fuel consumption.
Cons - Glide not as strong as some sleeker, lighter LSA models. By stated specs, takeoff roll (at 460 feet) is longer than several competitors. A very few other brands offer longer range or lower fuel burn (though most pilots won't care about this margin as Tecnam models do reasonably well).
Stall recovery and characteristics; Dampening; Spiral stability; Adverse yaw qualities.
Pros - All stalls revealed very modest behavior with no clear stall break even when aggravated. Steep turns held bank angle well, did not tighten even as 45° bank angle. Longitudinal and lateral stability checks proved normal and acceptable. Power adjustments brought expected change in pitch.
Cons - Adverse yaw was notable on the Bravo (though seemed less on the Sierra). No parachute fitted to any Tecnam flown, so no unusual attitude work conducted (Tecnam does offer a parachute as an option).
Addresses the questions: "Will a buyer get what he/she expects to buy, and did the designer/builder achieve the chosen goal?"
Pros - Tecnam offers one of the most reliable LSA brands; the company is highly likely to remain in business well into the future. Performance and handling packages are well optimized for the typical LSA buyer; package works well in a flight-training environment. Trustworthy construction of all metal; excellent fit and finish reported by most buyers.
Cons - Italian-based distribution with only dealers and no committed importer cause some buyers to wonder about long-term support (though this could change if Tecnam follows through with a one-time plan to assemble in the USA). Priced toward the higher end of all LSA models, well past $100,000.
Announced in July ’04, the Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA) category is still relatively new, and has yet to celebrate its fourth birthday. But many of the airplanes getting all the attention today were not born in the last 3 1/2 years. Many have rather long histories, some in Europe’s microlight category and others in countries that have applicable standards. Among the longest in production is the Tecnam family of airplanes. The central Italian company reports more than 2,000 of their light planes flying in what may be the largest fleet in this market segment. Given this company’s track record, these airplanes have gone through rounds of improvement. Our subject this month, the P2002 Sierra, came from the P-96. The numbers relate to the year of development and show the low-wing Special Light-Sport Aircraft (SLSA) from Tecnam has a dozen years of history. Costruzioni Aeronautiche Tecnam (the company’s complete name) is 57 years old and traces its roots back to the 1950 P48B Astore.
2008 In Review; a Look at the Year for LSA Sales
With one month to go (and it’s hard to imagine a big December), we have figures to report for this most extraordinary year. We’re all (painfully) aware of the economic predicament, but how has this impacted light-sport aviation? Here’s my observations. *** In 11 months, the industry has increased fleet size by 35% to 1,510 fixed wing airplanes from 1,118 on January 1st. Annualizing the numbers, all airplane LSA should register 427 airplanes, which equates to about 35 aircraft per month, which means sales were about 20% off the monthly pace recorded since early 2006. *** Flight Design held its top spot and again delivered the most, but just barely. Remos has been the rising star of 2008 with a 147% increase over their total on January 1st. Tecnam became only the third company to pass 100 units registered. Other solid gains were logged by Czech Aircraft Works (up 69% in the year); Jabiru (up 53%); FPNA (up 55%, though from a lower number, which makes larger percentage gains easier); Aeropro (up 52%).
FAA Begins “Assessment” of LSA Industry
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.
Strong Survive 2008; LSA Market Share Adjustments
Through the first six months of 2008, Light-Sport Aircraft deliveries have reflected the same challenges afflicting the rest of general or sport aviation…and for that matter, the overall U.S. economy. In fact, LSA registrations aren’t off as badly as are GA deliveries, perhaps due to significantly better fuel economy in an LSA. These FAA registrations can be analyzed to show trends. *** In the first half of 2008, the LSA industry registered 248 aircraft, which is 22% of all registrations from April 2005 through December 2007 (1,118). Many find it interesting to observe how market leaders compare. If a supplier registered less than 22% of their fleet in 2008, they slipped in market share (even if they registered more total airplanes). If they exceeded that figure, they gained market share. In the first half of 2008 gainers included: Remos up 62%; Czech Aircraft Works 47%; FPNA 45%; Gobosh 38%; Tecnam 35%; Aeropro 32%; and AMD 28%.
Italy’s Tecnam Buys Producer of Spain’s Toxo LSA
Costruzioni Aeronautiche Tecnam, simply “Tecnam” to Americans, manufactures the Sierra, Bravo, Echo Super, and Eaglet SLSA. On June 10th the Italian company completed its purchase of Composite Aeronautic Group (CAG). U.S. pilots became aware of CAG’s Toxo after it won SLSA airworthiness in March 2008. *** Tecnam CEO Paolo Pascale Langer explained, “Although Tecnam is expanding capacity due to significant growth we still require more space along with enhanced access to additional technologies. CAG provided both.” *** Tecnam plans to use CAG’s Zaragoza, Spain facility to double their current production of two seat aircraft. They claim annual output of 300 light single engine aircraft per year. The company hopes to boost that figure to 600 aircraft per year by the end of 2009. *** Tecnam has been focused on their dual Rotax engine airplane, the P2006T.
Tecnam’s New Eaglet Lands at Sebring 2008
SEBRING 2008 UPDATE — U.S. rep’ Lynne Birmingham beamed, “The Eaglet has landed!” She referred to the newest Tecnam model to win SLSA approval — the fourth model from the Italian manufacturer. Eaglet makes its worldwide debut at Sebring 2008, which opens today. Tecnam has achieved an enviable #4 rank in the U.S. Light-Sport Aircraft fleet. And around the world, Tecnam, a six-decade-old Italian company, has more than 2,100 aircraft flying making it arguably the largest producer of this class of airplane. *** Mike Birmingham reports the new Eaglet is a blend of the best qualities of the strutted Echo Super and the cantilevered Bravo; Eaglet is strutted. It has a new look with resculpted wing root and larger door windows to allow better lateral visibility plus longer, more comfortable seat cushions. The new model sports a redesigned instrument panel that will appear in other models later.
Light Sport Airplanes West Officially Opens
Within 24 hours of getting home from Sun ‘n Fun, several industry leaders including Evektor America’s Jeff Conrad, Flight Design USA’s Tom Peghiny, Jabiru USA’s Ed Ricks, and BRS parachute’s Gregg Ellsworth packed up and headed off to California. What motivated these men to depart so soon after a long week in Florida? They all wanted to support proprietor Mike Fletcher as he and his staff celebrated the Grand Opening of Light Sport Airplanes West. I also flew out to join the party for America’s largest LSA showroom and a grand affair it was. Estimates put attendance at 300 (I suspect that didn’t include everyone present as some 100 aircraft flew in). Representing the Sportstar, CTsw, and J-250 plus the Remos G-3, TL Ultralight StingSport, and Tecnam, LSA West has an impressive line and a large inventory of LSA in stock.
Come See LSA at AOPA’s 2007 Expo in Hartford
At Oshkosh I took the chance to speak with several general aviation leaders — CEOs of top general aviation companies and presidents of leading membership organizations. All have been kind to me with their time and generous with their support for the Sport Pilot concept, but I sensed they didn’t yet accept LSA deep down. Minor questions remained. Today that seems convincingly gone. The same not-100%-certain leaders now chorus, “LSA is here to stay.” *** Evidence of that is again marshaling for AOPA’s season-ending event for general aviation. The D.C.-based organization now counts more than 413,000 members, more than two-thirds of all pilots on the FAA register. The traveling Expo show typically draws well from a region’s pilot population. Action starts October 4-6, 2007 at the Hartford-Brainard Airport (HFD). *** For the third year running AOPA is providing a grouped location for Light-Sport Aircraft right where you enter the airplane display area (SLSA exhibitor list under photo).