Can aviation lead us back toward normal? Globally, governments have ordered their citizens to stay at home and all the rest, as you’ve heard ad naseum. Some places — Florida, as a sunshining example — is more open than others but much of civilization remains restricted. • Article updated… see at bottom —DJ Again I ask, “Can aviation lead us back toward normal?” Asking Too Much? Does it seems too much ask that aviation — numbering somewhere around one million pilots globally plus the industry that supports them — provide the path back to better times? I certainly don’t know the future but we’re about to get a first real test of aviation’s resiliency as Sun ‘n Fun 2021 begins on Tuesday April 13th. Sun ‘n Fun has for years been one of Florida’s largest spectator events so even if attendance is off it still implies a very large gathering.
Seamax Aircraft (formerly AirMax)
Phone: (260) 460-7587São João da Boa Vista, São Paulo CEP: 13.870-000 - Brazil
In the earliest Light-Sport Aircraft days, nearly 70% of available models came from Europe. Slowly but steadily, U.S. producers emerged as did importers for aircraft from other countries. That continues but a parallel development occurred. International manufacturers established American operations that often lead to some level of manufacturing.Joining the movement, Seamax Aircraft announced the launch of the company assembly operations in the USA. Fabrication remains in Brazil but large and small components are shipped to Datona Beach, Florida, where the company's U.S. operation assembles the full airplane near the campus of Embry Riddle, the world's largest aeronautical university.
"In pandemic times, while most businesses are holding tight on their seatbelts, Seamax makes a bold statement to the American market by adding an 'assembled in the USA' tag to their superior performance aircraft," reported U.S. representative Shalom Confessor. The company said they have been planning this move for the past three years, following extensive market research and engineering upgrades. The join-up has been good for each side, experience has shown.Seamax officials have made good use of their location at Research Park, part of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU), "where some 100 students, both graduate, and undergraduate students tutored by business professors, prepared comprehensive business assessments," reported Shalom. The work provided useful intelligence for Seamax but also offered real-life, real-time experience for students and faculty.
While this evaluation was ongoing, engineers lead by designer Miguel Rosario developed new features for the M-22 to match the American market. One such was a new all-glass Garmin cockpit. Work also allowed Seamax to retain their FAA approval while adding the fuel-injected Rotax 912 iS engine. Seamax combined these elements as it delivered its first IFR-capable Seamax to a veteran fighter pilot customer with experience flying as captain of Boeing 767s for a major U.S. airline.
Assembled in America
"With Seamax enhanced for the American market," Shalom continued, "the company strengthened its brand and presence in the USA by adding the assembly operations, which brings factory-level support, maintenance, spare parts inventory, and training capabilities to the USA." Embry Riddle is based at the main Daytona Beach airport where Seamax's new assembly building is located. ERAU's Research Park incubator area recently added a new taxiway to provide convenient access to company facilities.
SEAMAX M-22 is flying in more than 20 countries, and holds certification in a dozen countries since manufacturing began in 2000. After 20 years of continuous engineering improvement, the product is mature enough to allow the company to transfer technology to the United States. "We took a conservative, gradual, and very well-planned approach to U.S. manufacturing," observed Shalom, the company's Executive Director for the United States.
Company CEO, Dr. Gilberto Trivelato, said "Assembling Seamax in America will allow the company to further develop the Seamax M-22 aircraft and to further accelerate our technology and business capabilities in future developments and projects."
See Seamax at Deland Showcase 2021From January 28 to 30 of 2021, the city of DeLand, FL will host its Sport Aviation Showcase 2021 event and the Daytona company signed on as an Elite sponsor. "This is the fourth year in a row that Seamax will exhibit the M-22 in this great show with the presence of our Brazilian team," added Shalom. "We will be right in the middle of the show at our traditional booth #71." The DeLand Sport Aviation Showcase (DSAS) was held in November for its first four years but had to reschedule for January to avoid conflicts associated with Covid. I'll be attending as I have every year — I hope to see many of you as well. We can all check out the new Made-in-the-USA Seamax M-22 along with a solid roster of other aircraft and aviation equipment providers.
Learn more about Seamax from designer Miguel Rosario and U.S. Director Shalom Confessor in this video. https://youtu.be/MuBFCuQ0Yac
In the earliest Light-Sport Aircraft days, nearly 70% of available models came from Europe. Slowly but steadily, U.S. producers emerged as did importers for aircraft from other countries. That continues but a parallel development occurred. International manufacturers established American operations that often lead to some level of manufacturing. Joining the movement, Seamax Aircraft announced the launch of the company assembly operations in the USA. Fabrication remains in Brazil but large and small components are shipped to Datona Beach, Florida, where the company’s U.S. operation assembles the full airplane near the campus of Embry Riddle, the world’s largest aeronautical university. “In pandemic times, while most businesses are holding tight on their seatbelts, Seamax makes a bold statement to the American market by adding an ‘assembled in the USA’ tag to their superior performance aircraft,” reported U.S. representative Shalom Confessor. The company said they have been planning this move for the past three years, following extensive market research and engineering upgrades.
Really? IFR in a LSA?The elephant in the room with our title is the short ending …"Now for IFR." As soon as Seamax in the USA posted notice of this delivery on social media, LSA enthusiasts began to weigh in on the IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) claim. I have omitted their names as I did not seek permission to use their comments. A friend in Minnesota wrote, "It is my understanding that a LSA cannot get certification to fly in actual IMC (Instrument Meteorological Conditions …which roughly means in the clouds) in the USA." A reply said, "That is incorrect." The reply to the first comment is correct in that FAA has not specifically disallowed IFR in Light-Sport Aircraft. But… An industry aircraft representative wrote, "An SLSA cannot fly in IMC legally. An ELSA can fly in IMC, with proper equipment. A few SLSA are allowed because the Pilot Operating Handbook allows it and earned "certification" back in the mid-2000s. Technically, a LSA isn't certified, so no, it won't ever be [considered] 'IFR certified.'" He is right in that LSA are not "certified." They are "accepted" by FAA as complying to the ASTM standards. Speaking of which… A longtime expert with years of experience working on ASTM committees wrote, "Please refer to F37 standards on SLSA. [F37 is the committee designation for ASTM people working on standards for Light-Sport Aircraft.] The aircraft can fly in IFR but not into IMC. This limitation allows for instrument training. FAA has no opinion on it as this is part of the standards that the OEM states in the 8130-15 document [the FAA form used by manufacturers to declare their aircraft complies with all ASTM standards]. If the person wants to build the aircraft, assuming it can be an Experimental Amateur-Built aircraft, they [must fly with] a Private Pilot [or higher] certificate with instrument rating and a correctly-equipped plane. Then it can be flown IFR with no restrictions." Another correct response, yet all these accurate comments still don't reveal the whole story. A further conundrum about IFR in LSA is that no express prohibition is stated in the regulations. The restriction comes from ASTM in a standard document that FAA subsequently accepted, giving it the weight of regulation. However, the ELSA option (as used by Bristell and others) appears a viable workaround, but will prevent any use of that aircraft for paid flight instruction, although nothing prevents Captain Lang from teaching his daughter or other persons in a not-for-hire arrangement. Also for the record, any suitably equipped Amateur-Built Experimental can fly IFR and IMC. Plus, as it turns out, even the Cessna 172 often flown in IFR and sometimes in IMC never went through any particular process to prove it in that environment. So… why not LSA? I have written a lot about IFR in Light-Sport Aircraft. If you want to know more on this subject follow this link to a series of articles. Finally, you can watch my short movie about Seamax or a longer review of Seamax produced and published by The Ultralight Flyer YouTube channel.
Captain Todd Lang Bio: Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Todd Lang is a combat veteran fighter pilot with 40 years of aviation experience. He has logged more than 11,000 flight hours including combat time over Iraq during Operation Northern Watch and Operation Southern Watch. He is a CFI, CFII, MEI and has been an instructor pilot in the F-16, OV-10, T-38 and the Boeing-727. Currently, he is an international Boeing-767 Captain for Delta Air Lines. He entered the Air Force in 1984 after earning an aviation management bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State University where he was the Corps Commander of the Air Force ROTC Program. Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Lang also holds a Master’s in Business Administration from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. He was the Overall Top Gun of the 8th Fighter Wing, the 35th Fighter Squadron and the 309th Fighter Squadron. He was a finalist for the USAF Thunderbirds and accompanied the team on the “Thunder over the Pacific” tour. His combat-mission ready F-16 assignments included Homestead Air Force Base, Florida; Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea; Luke AFB, Arizona; and Tulsa Air National Guard Base, Oklahoma. He served as an OV-10 Forward Air Controller (Airborne) at Osan AB, Republic of Korea, and Wheeler AFB, Hawaii. During this time he also served as a Joint Terminal Attack Controller (previously known as a Ground Forward Attack Controller) and Battalion Air Liaison Officer at Camp Red Cloud, Republic of Korea; Camp Casey, Republic of Korea and Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. His awards include the Meritorious Service Medal with 2 oak leaf clusters, the Air Medal with 1 oak leaf cluster and the Aerial Achievement Medal with 1 oak leaf cluster. He retired from the Air Force as the commander of Detachment 1, 138th Operations Group at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. In this position, he was the senior U.S. Air Force Representative at Fort Sill leading the cooperative efforts of Air Force Integration training to the U.S. Army’s Fires Center. He was awarded the Honorable Order of Saint Barbara Medal for his leadership at Fort Sill and won the Golden Quill Award for the article “JFO Sustainment: A Critical Requirement” published in the "Fires Journal, Joint Fires Today and Maneuver Support" magazine.
Special LSA seaplane maker, Seamax Aircraft, announced, “This week [we] delivered the first Seamax M-22 aircraft designed with IFR (Instrument Flying Rules) capability. The delivery was completed at DeLand Municipal Airport in Florida (home to the Deland Showcase).” “Following a recent certification process with extensive inspection of its new factory,” the company reported, “Seamax’s R&D team have worked to raise the bar bringing state-of-the-art technologies to the M-22. The company has heard customers’ requests and accepted the challenge to add new capabilities to the Seamax M-22.” One of those requests was from an experienced pilot seeking equipment to file for flight in the IFR system. The newest buyer is Todd Lang, a Captain for a major U.S. airline and a combat veteran fighter pilot with 40 years of aviation experience. With more than 11,000 hours logged and a logbook full of ratings including a CFII (Certified Flight Instructor Instrument) certificate, Lang is ready to enjoy his Seamax but he also wants to do instruction with it.
Here's Seamax, LSA SeaplaneIf you can buy boats in Minnesota when the temps are minus-20°, why not consider a sweet little seaplane like Seamax. I call it "little" deliberately, not just to be charming (though I think that adjective qualifies as well). Seamax designer, Miguel Rosario, acknowledged my judgment that Seamax is a performance aircraft within the LSA seaplane category. How does the aircraft earn such a call? In one simple way: empty weight is surprisingly low 715 pounds. Fabric-covered wings are one of many ways Miguel keeps Seamax weight on a diet. Indeed, Miguel believes the 100-horsepower, carbureted, Rotax 912 ULS is a beautiful engine choice with a lower price tag, lower weight, and less complexity that makes for easier installation. He did acknowledge that the ULS might be even better with a single curb — one that would require no balancing between the two present-day carbs — but otherwise he loves the older engine. Nonetheless, because many do like the idea of the newer, more fuel-efficient, fully electronically-controlled engine from Rotax, Seamax aircraft displayed a fresh new model with a 912iS engine and loaded with a beautiful dual screen Garmin G3X Touch instrument panel. Even the seats still had plastic protective covers on them as you’ll see in the video below.
Embry Riddle and DeLand Sport Aviation VillageBecause I heard a Seamax delegation investigated the new incubator project at the Deland airport. I inquired if they would remain in their position at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.
The answer is yes, because Embry Riddle offers them, for example, access to a wind tunnel that few other light airplane producers can employ. In addition, students at the university assisted with a Seamax customer survey that was valuable to the company. Having such a prestigious address associated with their name is never a bad thing.
Yet for the messier process of manufacturing these airplanes in the U.S. — which remains a goal — DeLand’s new development across the field from the Showcase event is a worthwhile exploration for the Brazilian company. Because DeLand and Daytona Beach-based Embry Riddle are only a 20 minute drive apart, this can be a workable combination.
Talking to Miguel and U.S.-based Shalom Confessor, both acknowledged that after a gradual start to establishing an American outlet they are seeing more activity from U.S. buyers. They seem pleased with the state of sales development in America.When I asked Miguel about his Norway market, a country that gave a nice boost initially to Seamax, he said interest was still strong in that Nordic country but the USA now represents their largest single target market. Manufacturing in the USA is an activity that could also support export sales to other countries. The process may be easier for worldwide distribution then from Brazil, which retain some of its exporting difficulties. Presently, more than 150 Seamaxes are flying around the world. Miguel seems one of those always-on designers, never resting. While I agreed not to reveal any plans in the works, the years ahead could foresee interesting new developments for this company and this designer. Having achieved so much already, it’s worth paying attention to what Miguel Rosario does. I will certainly do so. See our flight review video from last year at DeLand in this longer video, but right below, I hope you’ll enjoy this short video shot this year revealing a pair of SeaMaxes at DeLand Showcase 2019. Stay tuned for more!
Saturday was the final day of the last airshow of 2019. DeLand Showcase 2019 suffered its chilliest weather of the four years it has been operating. Nonetheless, my unscientific survey of airshow vendors jibed with numerous comments from individual pilots: despite the less-than-ideal weather this year, sales of aircraft and other aviation gear proceeded. These smaller, sector-focused shows clearly remain successful. I rush to observe November is commonly a very predictable time of year in Florida, with temperatures in the high 70s / low 80s with clear blue skies. This year not so much but I’ll bet next year will return to normal. Temperatures are already back to almost 80° today. Deland Showcase is much like the boat shows I used to marvel at in my former home of Minnesota. In that northern, almost-Canada state, huge boat shows were staged in the dead of winter, when snow and ice covered the surface and most boats were hidden in warm storage facilities.
What's New for SeaMax?SeaMax is now offering the fuel-injected Rotax 912iS as an engine option. The first such was sent to Norway — where SeaMax has long had a solid base of enthusiasts — and the company reports customers from the USA are ordering this version. The first SeaMax with the 912iS arrives in America this coming May. Get more 912iS info. The Brazilian company, with operations in Daytona Beach, Florida, launched a refreshed website recently. Web surfers can find prices for all versions on the site, download a brochure, and find a redesigned support area with all technical publications to download plus a troubleshooting area. For its 2019 lineup, SeaMax engineers have redesigned the cockpit. The company is offering three standard panels at different price points (see all of them):
- Performance — All analog; keeping the plane light-weight
- Exclusive — Combining the Garmin G3X 10.6-inch Touchscreen and analog instruments, making a hybrid panel, bringing versatility and great for training
- Exclusive Dual — Two Garmin G3X 10.6-inch touchscreens plus a G5
Most Americans know the childhood story about the “Little Engine that Could,” a tale of determination, working against long odds and succeeding despite them. I think that relates to SeaMax. Visually, SeaMax looks small, low, and compact compared to some LSA seaplanes. Taking nothing away from the others, SeaMax appears ready to fill a need for something sportier, speedier. Despite its small size, SeaMax delivers comfort and capability. Learn more in my flight evaluation video below, but at Sun ‘n Fun 2019 starting in just a few days, SeaMax will be present with their staff to address more inquiries. Perhaps even more important, SeaMax Aircraft will have a airplane in the LSA Mall that will give demonstration flights to interested buyers. The flying will be done by Russ Miley with whom I flew for the Video Pilot Report (see below). I found him a wonderful instructor — I had asked him to treat me as a student.
Friends in the SkyBesides the great airplanes I am privileged to fly and report, I have the opportunity to meet many fascinating people. The Seamax LSA seaplane image shows me (still draped with or holding camera gear after doing a Video Pilot Report) along with very-talented Brazilian design Miguel Rosario (center) and William "Rocky" Roquemore (right), the generous owner of this flying machine who was kind enough to let me take his plane and receive about an hour's worth of flight instruction in handling Seamax on the water and in the air. Pictured nearby are aircraft reviewer, designer, and owner …three people essential to conducting a video pilot review. Of course this leaves out two other equally essential people. You also need a qualified CFI who knows the subject airplane intimately well and Russ Miley fit the bill perfectly. I've flown with a lot of other pilots and Russ performed his role exceptionally well. The final key player — without whom these videos you love would simply not happen — is videographer and YouTube channel owner, Dave Loveman. Thanks to all for their respective contribution.
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!Here's to 2019 being a great year of flying for thousands of pilots around the world and a successful year of business for those who make the airplanes we love. Thanks to Tomas Brødreskift and the team at Equator for the home page and social media photo used to promote this article.
As pilots clear the skies so Santa and his flying reindeer can go about their mission, it seems fitting to offer a word of thanks to all of you who have frequently visited this website. Our surveys show more than 65,000 Light-Sport Aircraft and LSA-like aircraft around the globe and we are proud to reach most of these pilots at some time every month. Pilots have often told me that I have the best job in the world and they may be right. Certainly I enjoy what I do and hope it shows on this website and in the hundreds of videos on which I have interviewed talented people or reviewed aircraft. See the best of them here and all of them (and more) on Light Sport and Ultralight Flyer. As 2019 approaches, we near the 15th anniversary of the Light-Sport category and the Sport Pilot certificate.
The Used LSA FactorOne conversation happened many times. While sellers of new LSA seek those customers, the almost 15-year-old LSA industry has now accumulated a solid and growing supply of quality used aircraft. Sellers are realizing that their enterprise can be composed of both. Used LSA can serve two important goals: First, they give buyers with tighter budgets more choices. Secondly, they give sellers more product to offer. Think of any automobile dealership. If you ask the owner, he or she will likely say they actually make more on used cars while satisfying customers who don't choose to pay the price of brand new. Everyone seems fairly well served by this approach. A year ago I had a conversation with main representative Robert Meyer of Lockwood Aircraft. He and boss Phil Lockwood are always attentive to the best used AirCams they can find and regularly acquire them for resale. Robert reported this does not detract from their new AirCam sales and serves two goals: First, it gives some customers a chance to buy a ready-to-fly AirCam. Secondly, it give Lockwood Aircraft more product augmenting their new kit business. As the factory they can choose the best used examples and give them factory makeovers (as needed). They turned a problem into a solution. Not bad! John Hurst is another Florida LSA expert making this idea work. He was at DeLand representing longtime market leader Flight Design and their high-tech CTLS. While John sells new CTLSs, he also brokers in used aircraft and this proves useful to his enterprise. Scott Severen is the new North American representative for the Jabiru line of aircraft. Before he got involved with new aircraft he brokered used Light-Sport Aircraft, an activity he continues even as he logged more new sales in his first year than he projected. As with Lockwood and Hurst, Scott reports used aircraft sales are a viable partition of his enterprise. Many general aviation types wonder how Light-Sport Aircraft purveyors — small businesses of one to a dozen or more people — can build a sustainable business model and the answer almost surely involves multiple activities; new and used aircraft can complement one another very well.
Still, Questions About 3,600-Pound LSAFrequently at DeLand, I had discussions about news from last month concerning a huge weight increase for Light-Sport Aircraft. I did an interview with AVweb's Paul Bertorelli, who also interviewed other industry leaders. And Videoman Dave recorded my commentary. Both should emerge soon on YouTube. I hope these and other efforts will quiet the concerns or pilots and airplane sellers by presenting real information and less of the sensational stories of early October.
DeLand Showcase 2018 is over, which signals the airshow season is over for this calendar year. At the end, many concluded the show was good for customers and vendors. Pilots placed orders for new aircraft and left with smiles on their faces; I spoke to a few of them. Many of you also said hello during the event; that’s always fun. Despite my positive words, some feel these “regional shows” aren’t as meaningful as the large shows. Is that right or not? It depends on the observer to some extent. I venture to say that if you could evaluate orders placed with cash and create a ratio of those people compared to the number of persons coming in the gate, DeLand (or the other LSA- and light kit- specific shows) would smoke all others. No question the big shows with their thick crowds satisfy the soul of attendees and vendors alike.
2018 Results Keep Adding UpYesterday's Day One post related several conpanies giving satisfactory results for their sales this year. Perhaps encouraged by a buoyant economy, pilots are choosing new LSA but in parallel more importers and manufacturers are helping to move used LSA. The fleet has grown enough to generate a good supply of low-time, desirable Light-Sport Aircraft. Any representing looking to sell new machines can boost their enterprise by also facilitating the sale of used aircraft. In either new or used transactions, pilots win as they can acquire aircraft that interest them. It's all good and 2018 is proving to be a respectable year. Seamax is another company pleased with their U.S. developments. We interviewed lead designer and business owner Miguel Rosario to find his lightest-of-the-LSA-seaplane-fleet Seamax is developing their business on the campus of Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. With care and long experience, Miguel has built an active enterprise that has supplied more than 150 aircraft around the globe with about 10% flying in the USA. That number is sure to grow with the Brazilian company's American operation, an excellent price point among LSA seaplanes, and sprightly performance SuperPetrel reports delivery of eight units in the last year after establishing their U.S. base. Global sales over many years are now approaching serial number 400 according to representatives from the Ormond Beach, Florida enterprise of Brazilian investors associated with Scoda Aeronautica. This seaplane maker is also growing its installed base in America for this long-established design that was thoroughly updated when Scoda (formerly Edra) Aeronautica took over Super Petrel. An FAA audit proved the quality of their work as they earned SLSA credentials. Inside the tent, we did an interview with Sensenich president Don Rowell. The very popular maker of wood, metal, and composite props reported strong business that is challenging the company to keep propellers in stock. To address the demand, Sensenich is expanding and bringing new CNC equipment. We will be visiting the factory just before Sun 'n Fun 2019 to give viewers a tour of their new facility and equipment. As with yesterday's report, this is not an exhaustive review of each exhibiting company. Yet the sum of reports from company after company reinforces the view that 2018 qualifyies as a solid year. I see the happy smiles of new pilot owners on the field.
At a reception ending Day Two, DeLand Showcase Director Jana Filip reported that front gate receipts were greater on Thursday than either Thursday of the two prior years of the Showcase. Then she announced Friday’s gate was greater than the two previous Fridays. DeLand Showcase 2018 is the third running of the event. Showers rolled in threatening Showcase’s perfect weather record although the rain didn’t start until exhibitors and sponsors had gathered in the main show center tent. Under shelter, live music was presented by the Flying Musicians Association, lead by professional music man, Gary Filip. A catered dinner fed the group and as the evening concluded, the rain died off as if on cue. A couple tents were damaged by strong winds including one in the Dreams Come True booth of Steve and Debbie Minnich and an EAA Chapter food tent. No airplane damage was reported.
Seamax M-22SeaMax Aircraft describes M-22 as a high-performance Light-Sport Aircraft with global sales. Manufactured in Brazil for more than 17 years it has sold more than 150 units to more than 20 countries. Seamax won aeronautical awards, such as the prestigious "Outstanding Commercial SLSA” at Sun 'n Fun in the United States and the Schneider Cup in Italy. It has been featured in more than 40 specialized magazines around the world. Seamax pioneered as one of the early Light-Sport amphibious aircraft to win FAA acceptance in the category — it appears in the #63 spot on our popular SLSA List. "Made of composite materials, Seamax uniqueness relies upon its ability to remain light, granting exceptional performance, large range, and one of the highest useful loads in the category," wrote SeaMax Aircraft. See much more about SeaMax on this page.
The LSA seaplane sector is one of the most intriguing areas of the diverse Light-Sport space. Development has introduced many fresh ideas to this class of airplane. At present a few companies are actively delivering airplanes that have proven themselves over several years of operation. One of those is SeaMax, formerly delivered by a company known by its Portuguese name, Airmax Construções Aeronauticas. Now, welcome the simpler SeaMax Aircraft. The manufacturer of the SeaMax M-22 announced a company rebranding last week. As part of its strategy to enter into the U.S. market, the company changed its logo and named the company after its prominent aircraft model. “Our new brand, SeaMax Aircraft LTDA, captures the identity of a legendary and globally known aircraft and incorporates [the model] into the spirit of our company, consolidating market recognition,” said Shalom Confessor, Executive Director of the company headquarters in the United States. The company now known as SeaMax Aircraft reports manufacturing 152 of its amphibious aircraft.
So, announcing…!At the DeLand Showcase 2017, SeaMax announced, "We displayed the Seamax M-22 Serial Number 149 at DeLand in Florida. The amphibious aircraft that conquered the world’s hearts now is ready for deliveries in the United States." As the serial number shows, more than 148 SeaMax amphibs are active in several countries. "We are now accepting orders for the SeaMax M-22 year 2018," they continued. The base price for the model without folding wings starts at $139,500. A folding wing version starts at $149,500. Especially against the contrast of Icon's A5 now based priced in the mid-$200,000s and well equipped at a breathtaking $350,000 or so, SeaMax looks like a Thanksgiving Day bargain. Does this dashing LSA seaplane interest you? Find out more here (or read an older but detailed report here) or shoot an email to the company. Even Christmas deals don't last forever and this one might not either.
Years ago, back in the early days of the Light-Sport Aircraft sector exploding into the world of aviation, of affordable aviation, one of the early entries was SeaMax, from a Brazilian-based company called AirMax. An old friend in the business and a supremely capable pilot named Carlos Bessa helped SeaMax successfully prove standards compliance to win approval as a Special LSA (#63 of 143 on our SLSA List). Although Chip Erwin’s Mermaid was attracting a lot of attention at the time, SeaMax was an attractive offering. Another longtime friend in the business, Tom Peghiny — the man behind Flight Design USA but also an astute observer of light aircraft — urged me to go examine the SeaMax. He thought it possessed qualities I would appreciate. He turned out to be spot on. Subsequently I flew SeaMax for about four hours with Carlos, spread over a few days.
What Airplanes to SeeI won't try to predict all you might get to see, but here are three aircraft of particular interest, each in its own way. Seamax LSA Seaplane — We welcome back to the LSA space Brazil's Seamax M-22, now with folding wings. After emerging from under a takeover cloud Seamax is roaring back in business, complete with a new U.S. base of operations. The company "will be displaying and delivering our aircraft Serial Number 149 at this year's DeLand Showcase." They added, "Our Brazilian team, including Seamax designer Miguel Rosário will be ready to answer your questions." Launching their U.S. presence, "Seamax will be delivering the M-22 regularly, landing our first M-22 at DeLand [and] ready to accept orders as our production in Brazil is ramping up." Shortly after the new year starts, Seamax will start final assembly operations in Daytona Beach, Florida. "We will ship the Seamax, manufactured in Brazil, to be assembled in the USA." Factory-trained staff will add engine, prop, and avionics at their facilities at Daytona Beach, on the campus of Embry Riddle Aero U. "Our new building, located in São João da Boa Vista’s airport in São Paulo, is allowing us to ramp up production fast so we can satisfy our future customers soon," finished the company statement. Flight Design USA — One of the most successful U.S. importers is a Connecticut-based company, run by one of the most respected names in Light-Sport aviation, Tom Peghiny. If you feel you haven't heard enough about them and him lately, that's because Flight Design, the German company has been through a top-to-bottom reorganization. Now, they're back and you can see them at DeLand! We saw AeroJones representing the company at DeLand #1 (2016) and that Taiwan enterprise continues strongly as it enlarges CTLS production to serve customer sales in many countries, including China. I'll have more about AeroJones early in the new year. Flight Design USA is the name that kept the CTLS and CT-series atop the market share chart for a dozen years, before bowing to CubCrafters in 2016 while undergoing the German court-ordered reoranization. If you've been waiting to get the latest news about this important brand, come speak to Tom and new Flight Design director, Lars Jörges at DeLand. Aeropilot L600 and New FX1 — I've been telling you about L600, a scale-model representation of Cessna's popular Cessna 182 Skylane …only at a fraction (something like one-eighth!) of the cost. You can see L600 at DeLand but you can also hear what U.S. importer Deon Lombard has to say about a new entry headed America's way. Deon recently visited Italy with another pilot to examine and fly the FX1 and reportedly came away excited and impressed. I've written about this handsome Italian aircraft, a follow-on to their 1990s era JetFox97. I recently spoke with Designer Alfredo Di Cesare by phone and I am more than a bit intrigued to see and fly this latest iteration of a proven design. Aeropilot USA will not yet have an FX1 on display in DeLand. Alfredo said he is finalizing work to comply to the ASTM standards that allow FAA acceptance. He's already earned German "ultralight" approval, a good preparation for showing compliance with ASTM. Last year, DeLand had a full roster of airplanes both new and familiar. The event, organized by Jana aided by (husband) Gary Filip with oversight from airport manager John Eiff, put on a superb first-year event. I expect DeLand #2 to be even better. I'll be present every day shooting new YouTube videos with Videoman Dave and capturing article material. I hope to see you in Florida …soon!
Given a successful Midwest LSA Expo, you could say the “LSA show season” is underway. This is proven by the upcoming DeLand show — the second annual event — followed by the 14th Sebring LSA Expo. Even before DeLand, for those in western U.S. states, is Copperstate (which is not a pure play LSA event but does have a good representation of them). Why go to DeLand over November 2-3-4 of this year? Several reasons come to mind. First, Showcase executive Jana Filip — who earned her stripes managing Sebring for several years — said exhibitor sign-up has been strong, meaning you can see many great light aircraft …more on that below. Second, weather in early November in Florida should be marvelous, even as the northern states head toward winter. Third, DeLand is one of those aviation-sports airports featuring one of the world’s most active sky diving operations.
Seamax will join Embry-Riddle Research Park’s Customized Business Acceleration Program, the aeronautical university based in Daytona Beach announced on July 3rd, 2017. “This partnership will allow us to integrate Seamax into Embry-Riddle’s remarkable research and devel- opment cluster to further accelerate our technological and business capabilities” said Seamax CEO Gilberto Trivelato. “It will enable our company to leverage new features to our aircraft and to introduce more reliable products to aeronautical market.” A great partner helps and the business concept with a major academic institution sounds good but what does it mean? For AirMax, which recently reentered the U.S. market after a business reorganization (see recent article). it means a new American location for the Brazilian manufacturer. The company’s U.S. office will be housed at the John Mica Engineering Aerospace Innovation Complex, called MicaPlex, at Embry-Riddle’s Research Park adjacent to the Daytona Beach Campus. This location will allow the producer to work with current Research Park tenants and resident partners as well as access research facilities, technology and resources.
Though the aircraft looks rather small as you approach it, SeaMax’s interior is surprisingly roomy and its interior has a handsome speedboat-like finish with a generous 46 inch width, close to the broadest LSA and half a foot wider than a Cessna 172. Entering is simple with its widely front-opening canopy; you step on the solid floor and sit. Canopy optics were superb and you have 270-degree visibility thanks to rear quarter windows. Because you'll want the canopy closed in the water — the airplane sits low — air vents are positioned in the canopy with a second set near your head, tucked away in the wing root area. These keep air flowing inside. When taxiing on land you can leave the canopy open and the hinges are robust; even on a bumpy turf runway, the canopy moves very little. After rolling off the ramp or beach, you retract the gear in preparation for launch. SeaMax's electromechanical landing gear takes nine second to fully retract. To help you fully prepare, SeaMax offers a digital flap position indicator and digital trim position indicator. You also flip on an electrical fuel boost pump and a relatively uncommon bilge pump prior to moving the throttle forward. A 100-hp Rotax 912 AirMax moves SeaMax easily on land or water. My experience on the water at 45 mph showed SeaMax to be a great little speedboat. Turning in this configuration employs the water rudder, which extends from inside the air rudder. You use opposite aileron to keep from sticking a sponson too deeply in the water. On full application of power some water spray may contact the prop so AirMax uses a metal reinforced prop leading edge. As mentioned above cockpit side rails in SeaMax are only inches above the water line. The bottom of occupant seats are below the water line. Until your technique is experienced, I consider this a lake airplane although I heard reports of operations in one-foot waves. Such restrictions are common on smaller amphibians. My checkout pilot suggested I apply full power with the stick held full aft until breaking water or ground. As the nosewheel lifts, you relax the back pressure and let the plane fly itself off the surface. Rotation occured at about 45 mph indicated on the Dynon instrumentation. SeaMax’s hull gets on the step in about 100 feet, says AirMax. With continued acceleration takeoff follows in about 300 feet total when flying solo or about 500 feet when flying dual. Climbout at 70 mph produced about 1,000 fpm initially. SeaMax sustained climb at about 700 fpm with 10 degrees of flaps. During landings with full flaps the aircraft approaches at 50 mph. A safe downwind speed is 75-80 mph; this produces about 500 fpm down with the throttle at idle thrust. Water touchdowns proved very straightforward. SeaMax responds very well as a boat. Touchdown was at about 60 mph and it immediately started tracking true. My check pilots said it is essential to keep the stick full aft to prevent porpoising and possible upset. Airborne, the SeaMax joystick has a light touch although I recommend a few hours to optimize. My initial efforts at mild dutch rolls were sloppy suggesting handling that takes acclimatization. Rudder control took the most finesse perhaps due to close coupling behind a large cabin combined with a pusher engine. You need to use the rudder but bumps of it rather than steady pressure worked best for me. Light and responsive controls will delight pilots who take the time to get used to them. Roll rate was medium to somewhat fast. You rarely have to land crosswind on the water in a seaplane but on land, SeaMax has all the control authority it needs. To smoothen airflow around the large cabin, designer Rosario put in a long investigation into the vortex generator tabs seen in many locations. I was recommended to use 4800 rpm on the 100-hp Rotax 912 for normal cruise. That produced about 100 mph. At 4600 rpm we showed slightly less than 100 mph but these are low, fuel-conserving power settings. Push the Rotax a bit harder and SeaMax reached 115 mph, putting it high among other LSA seaplanes. Get all official specifications from the factory. Water runs are relatively short (300 ft. solo) and climb is brisk at 1,000 fpm for a few minutes after takeoff. Landings are also rather short. Stalls were mild in my trials. From most entries, stalls appeared to break benignly in the low 40 mph range though the factory says 36 mph with optimal flaps. Longitudinal stability checks and power changes showed SeaMax to be a generally stable aircraft; it recovered from mild disturbances of the stick on its own and with only a few oscillations. In summary, I'd call SeaMax a "performance LSA seaplane," peppy and demanding a bit more pilot attention but it gets up and goes. Stopped at the airport, pilots checking out SeaMax become impressed quickly. The following video interview was shot at Sun 'n Fun 2017. For more go to our LSA Video page or the Ultralight News YouTube channel. https://youtu.be/XyXXjqYBnwo
SeaMax from Brazil has been somewhat absent in recent years. I will spare you the detail but the company used a lot of energy to repel an undesired takeover. In recent months that was resolved and the company is now ready to move forward smartly. SeaMax was an early LSA to meet the consensus standards as required by FAA. The first was the Mermaid in February 2006. Second was the Colyaer Freedom on January 2007. On Christmas Day 2007, SeaMax became the third. However, of those three only SeaMax has remained in regular production for the last ten years. More recently, SeaMax was followed by SeaRey, Super Petrel, and A5 as ASTM-compliant LSA seaplanes. See our SLSA List for all aircraft shown in sortable columns. At Sun ‘n Fun 2017, I did a video interview with designer Miguel Rosario that you can watch below.
We've seen SeaMax before from Brazilian designer Miguel Rosario. The lovely little amphibious seaplane is the only one presently (early 2012) that can boast full Special Light-Sport Aircraft approval. We speak to the new importer who has been working with the Brazil factory to make more changes to suit American buyers plus a number of good changes to the preceding design. As a treat, we also introduce you to the new boss of the Seaplane Pilots Association.
We’ve seen SeaMax before from Brazilian designer Miguel Rosario. The lovely little amphibious seaplane is the only one presently (early 2012) that can boast full Special Light-Sport Aircraft approval. We speak to the new importer who has been working with the Brazil factory to make more changes to suit American buyers plus a number of good changes to the preceding design. As a treat, we also introduce you to the new boss of the Seaplane Pilots Association.
SeaMax is a Brazilian design that has sold well in Europe. After U.S. partner SeaMax USA helped earn SLSA approval, Americans became aware of this lovely little seaplane. It seems little and looks small, but holds two occupants in comfort and flies with great enthusiasm.
What’s going on out in the marketplace? More than any time since the launch of Light-Sport Aircraft in 2004, I have not observed such a frenzy of activity for a particular niche, this time for LSA seaplanes. Next season, in 2013, we could see no less than nine entries; three brand new and that count does not include any LSA equipped with floats, possibly adding several more. Yet some major potholes appear in the runway… or perhaps that should be waves sloshing over the bow. One entry is a return of a LSA seaplane previously seen in the USA as the Freedom S100 (SLSA List #44) yet can it reenter the market without a full FAA audit? See Update at end. A new agency directive with the catchy name 8130.2G CHG 1 may require a FAA visit to Spain but who knows when that might occur, given the likelihood of an FAA budget cut through the political process known as sequestration, part of the so-called “fiscal cliff” the mainstream media drones on about endlessly.
I have several targets on my radar for follow-up at the big show that starts July 23rd. Here’s a beforehand review; details will follow. |||| *** LSA seaplanes will generate plenty of interest, I think, with Icon‘s latest announcements and the dreamy new Lisa Akoya (photo). Both are superslick but not to be outdone by the SeaRey, which already has nearly 600 flying. SeaRey builder Progressive Aerodyne is hard at work on SLSA status. Adding the SeaMax into the mix, LSA seaplane enthusiasts have lots of great choices… and then come the floats for other planes. Lotus is back and Zenith is a trusted supplier of many years. You’ll be able to see both sets of floats in the LSA Mall. While you’re in the LSA Mall, you can check out AMT’s air conditioning for LSA plus the Belgium D Motor.
Landing on water with your wheels down is a confirmed aviation no-no. Land planes that try it often get flipped over upside down, when escaping the cabin becomes a real concern. Every seaplane pilot I know has a mantra he or she repeats, “I’m landing on water so the wheels must be up.” Most simply don’t want to make this mistake. You can land a seaplane or floatplane on land with the wheels up. The penalty is not as great (and you’ll certainly stop fast). But you violate the wheels-into-water rule at your peril. *** Some airplanes, like the new CTLS on amphib floats, or FPNA’s Capetown, or SeaRey have a light-alert system to help you and some manufacturers offer an audio alarm. Others use mirrors or have other warning systems. *** So why would someone land a SeaMax in water with the wheels down?
One of the oft-repeated questions about this new thing called Light-Sport Aircraft is: “When will the shakeout occur? When will some of these 75 companies [who certified a SLSA] disappear… and which ones will fail?” *** First, my ability to see the future is no better than anyone else. We’ve lost a few suppliers (Taylorcraft, Urban Air, Spain’s CAG, Higher Class). But as a longtime observer of many sport aviation segments, here’s my view: (1) The current market leaders — the top dozen or so — will likely remain as they’ve already proven themselves. Remember, many overseas brands have world markets so they don’t rely 100% on U.S. sales. And should they fail, it will most likely be due to business practices, not their aircraft design. A few newcomers will enter the top ranks, including such legacy brands as Cessna (which has presently delivered so few Skycatchers that the giant manufacturer is not yet in the Top 20).
After a tough winter in most parts of the USA, spring evidently arrived early with 80-degree temperatures as far north as Minnesota… all before Sun ‘n Fun. More good news: After its coldest winter since the early 1980s Florida is extremely pleasant now, warm with low humidity. *** Indications are the economy continues bearing down on Light-Sport aviation. Confronted with cautious customers, some aircraft producers have tightened their costs and are offering sharply lower prices in time for Sun ‘n Fun. *** Flight Design announced its CTLS Lite, which makes two impressive accomplishments. By slightly trimming the equipment list and making other adjustments, the market leader was able to slice $20,000 off the price, coming in at $119,800. They also cut a most impressive 50 pounds from the empty weight. *** Jabiru USA offers two models discounted for a short time. Taking $11,000 off the price of their J-170 brings the base to $85,900.