*** A story posted by Daniel McCoy, a reporter for the Wichita Business Journal, claims the star-crossed Cessna 162 Skycatcher will likely not enjoy the longevity and success of other notable Cessna icons such as the C-172 and C-150/152. *** The Skycatcher was one of the first SLSA out of the gate for the new category created by FAA in 2004. But troubles with manufacturing and two highly publicized airframe parachute deployments during flight testing, including an airframe redesign after the first one, contributed to the dark cloud that seemed to follow the once-bright promise of Cessna’s entry. *** The market-perceived lackluster specifications sheet and barebones/industrial interior finish relative to many other LSA entries also contributed to the steady attrition in the once-1000-plus order sheet for the Skycatcher. *** The news came yesterday at the NBAA (National Business Aviation Association) confab in Las Vegas. Company CEO Scott Ernest made the remark that Skycatcher had difficulty attracting market share and had lost a sizable percentage of its multi-year back orders.
Building a Quicksilver Wing — In “Fast Time”
I once saw Boeing employees racing around furiously to build an entire 747 in just seven minutes. Pretty amazing, huh? I’ll bet you didn’t know they were so efficient. OK, fine … spoil my fun by telling me that is baloney and simply a “Hollywood effect.” Yes, the truth is, all I refer to is a video watched by every visitor to the Washington State 747 assembly building (by the way, not far from the Arlington airshow every July and a most worthwhile visit). I thought the professionally produced video was terribly cool, as was a tour of Boeing’s astoundingly-enormous building … so immense that several 747s could be assembled at once in a clear-span structure. So, how about the same idea down here in the world of airplane the rest of us can buy and fly … at least after we build the airplane? I was recently sent such a video from the new owners of Quicksilver Aeronautics.
Sebring Day Two…and our National Treasure (initials P.W.)
More airplanes made it through the winter weather blanketing much of the midwest and east. *** Pipistrel’s much-awaited Alpha Trainer arrived at 8 last night thanks to its much-fatigued pilot Don Sharp who soldiered on through the crud all the way from Indiana. *** Highlights? Too many to list, but in the wee hours meself we’ll go the photo/caption route. *** Personal fave: Patty Wagstaff’s always-amazing airshow…in the near-dark twilight, followed by the largest demonstration team in aviation , Team AeroDynamix. The 12-aircraft team is made up exclusively of Van’s RV aircraft, including RV-4s and RV-6s, two of the most popular kit planes ever. The complex and highly entertaining show lit up the darkening, overcast skies with great moves and lots of bright lights. *** Attendance seemed light today, disappointing especially with all the effort Jana Filip and crew have put in this last year to promote the show and bring in acts like Patty and the RV team.
Sebring Expo Day One
Sebring Day Two…and our National Treasure (initials P.W.)
More airplanes made it through the winter weather blanketing much of the midwest and east. Pipistrel’s much-awaited Alpha Trainer arrived at 8 last night thanks to its much-fatigued pilot Don Sharp who soldiered on through the crud all the way from Indiana. Highlights? Too many to list, but in the wee hours meself we’ll go the photo/caption route. Personal fave: Patty Wagstaff’s always-amazing airshow…in the near-dark twilight, followed by the largest demonstration team in aviation, Team AeroDynamix. The 12-aircraft team is made up exclusively of Van’s RV aircraft, including RV-4s and RV-6s, two of the most popular kit planes ever. The complex and highly entertaining show lit up the darkening, overcast skies with great moves and lots of bright lights. Attendance seemed light today, disappointing especially with all the effort Jana Filip and crew have put in this last year to promote the show and bring in acts like Patty and the RV team.
Sebring Expo Day One
Wheels-DOWN Water Landing!
I posted this in a comment to my *** SeaMax story yesterday after finding it on an Aussie website. One of the big no-no’s in traditional floatplanes and perhaps (I honestly don’t know) traditional amphibs like the Lake Amphibian and others is landing with the wheels down. On a float plane, it can cause a disastrous nose-over. *** This test was done, guessing from the language, in Brazil during the SeaMax‘s development or perhaps it was a production model. *** Anyway, I thought this was very cool and wanted to share it with you. ***
Popular RV-12 Kit Now An SLSA!
We’ve been wondering when/if the highly popular *** Van’s RV-12 E-LSA kit airplane would ever be produced as an SLSA. That question is now answered with the newly announced SLSA version, and at a very attractive price: $105,000. *** In addition, 12 “Signature Edition” models with all options at $115,000. The purpose, says Van’s, is to “define and codify the production process.” *** Why is this important news? Van’s has been around the patch more than once. It’s built nearly 8,000 kits and builders are fanatic about them. Flying communities across the country have held building parties to construct numerous kits at the same time, a kind of flying cottage industry. *** More significant to the Light Sport community is the 200 RV-12 kits that have been built and flown to date, as both ELSA and EAB (Experimental Amateur Built), from the quality kits Van’s is famous for putting out.
My Blog Has Moved!
Hi All who didn’t know that the magazine wanted to create a new blog presence on the main website (there’s a BLOGS tab at the top of the main screen).If you’ve been wondering whether I’d moved on to bluer sky pastures, nope, just changed my blog landing strip. You can find the blog page by going here also.See you there!
Pipistrel Comes Through Again
Just a few short months ago I posted an announcement from Pipistrel about its upcoming, mid-$80K ALPHA Trainer, targeted for flight schools and already bought in significant quantities by the Indian Air Force as a military primary trainer. *** ALPHA was promised for April, and Pipistrel nailed it – how often do we see that in manufacturing?Pipistrel is the same progressive Slovenian company that won the CAFE electric flight competition last year with the Taurus Electro G4 and has gained a growing reputation in the sport aviation industry for innovative, high-performing, highly efficient aircraft such as the Virus and Sinus S-LSA.After keeping its promise to debut the ALPHA in April at the European AERO show, word comes from Ivo Boscarol and company of the successful conclusion of flight testing. The ALPHA is now in production. *** The original concept was to create a do-it-all trainer that would garner substantial orders, enabling mass production economies of scale that would keep costs affordable for everyone.
Corrections to Falcon Post
Here’s correx on a couple mistakes in the last post on the Renegade Falcon and FK 12 Comet LSA biplane: *** The gentleman who bought the Falcon at Sebring is from Switzerland, not Sweden. *** The Comet with the Lycoming 233 LSA engine, which is rated for aerobatics unlike the Rotax-powered version, will be marketed by both Renegade and Hansen Air Group. *** Mike Hansen told me not everyone who is interested in the Comet wants to do aerobatics in it. Some folks just love bipes, so the Hansens will also continue to sell the Rotax-powered version.
End-‘O-Year Registration Numbers
The much-anticipated LSA Market Share numbers as compiled by LAMA Europe’s head dude Jan Fridrich are up on Dan Johnson’s blog this week. They expand on some anticipated, surprising and overall encouraging themes. Sales were up at Sebring and many companies are posting strong numbers. *** First, in the No Brainer Dept: Cessna and CubCrafters won the year hands down. *** Big Cessna, as the charts Dan and Jan compile clearly show, had the largest number of registrations in 2011 with 134, a record for the LSA industry and fully 48% of all listings for the year. The numbers reflect Cessna playing catchup on its 1,000 order glut back at the beginning of the LSA movement. *** As Dan is always quick to clarify and I like to remind you, these are not sales numbers, but actual registrations and thus will lag sales numbers somewhat or, in Cessna’s case with their long initial production delays, quite a bit.
SEBRING EXPO Kicks Off Next Week!
The show I look forward to the most every winter is the Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo, the premier gathering of Light Sport industry vendors in America. *** This is the fifth go round for the expo; each year it offers more pure fun for LSA pilots present and future. *** This year sports a noticeably upscale look, with new management (show founder Robert Woods remains very active in the show) and a stronger promotional flavor. *** Major sponsors this year include our own Plane&Pilot! *** The four-day gathering, which kicks off next Thursday, Jan. 19, promises to be the biggest show yet. *** Lots of return and new LSA exhibitors, display booths with the latest hot gear, and symposiums, including the new Bristell low wing monoplane and Pipistrel Sinus 50-foot span motorglider, both of which I hope to fly for future reports.Avionics leader Dynon will hold full on classes to teach the many ins and outs of its powerhouse SkyView EFIS display… for free! EAA‘s new head honcho Rod Hightower will speak at the annual LAMA dinner Thursday night.There’s a ton more things to talk about, check it out right here for all the details.
New Tecnam Float Plane; Impossible Turn 2
A couple fun things before I lose the day entirely.Just got word from Tecnam today, via our publisher Mike McMann, that the Italian aircraft producer has adapted one of my favorite LSA, the P92 Echo and Eaglet (trainer version), for water operations. *** Dubbed the P92 Sea-Sky Hydroplane, this waterbird should prove to be yet another fun entry into the SLSA sweepstakes. *** My impression of the Eaglet remains: a lively, forgiving, fun-to-fly all metal trainer that I expect will appeal even more with web feet, for those of aquatic inclinations. *** Some details: *** The Hydroplane is the 6th generation model of the successful P92. *** Takeoff run is spec’d at under 200 meters, along with “an impressive climb rate” from its 100 hp Rotax engine. And I wonder how the Eaglet’s landing performance, for example (26 kts., full flaps, no power) will translate to the water and extra weight.
Electric Whirlybird Flies!
Anyone still in doubt that we’re in the midst of the birth of electric flight need look no further than this story, just posted today on the online tech zine Gizmag.Pascal Chretien, an enterprising electrical/aerospace engineer and chopper pilot, made the world’s first fully electric helicopter flight in the prototype he designed and built almost entirely by himself…in just 12 months! Hang glider and ultralight trike pilots will delight in hearing a weight shift control system is involved. *** For me, the big story here is once again we see that innovation lives, not just in megabuck corporate and government R&D departments but in the garages of individual megabrains as well…as it always has and we can expect always will.Chretien, in making his 2 minute, 10 second test eggbeater flight, threw whipped eggs in Sikorsky’s face since that aviation giant’s well-funded electric project, in development for some time now, has yet to fly.
GLIDER and WHEELS are sold, Z5 HARNESS still available
Please click on archive list lower right of this page, or go here for harness details, and thanks for checking in.
Another Roadable Aircraft Project!
Okay, so no way this is ever going to be a Light Sport aircraft, but this is just too much fun and I had to pass it along. *** Famed aircraft designer Burt Rutan has been at it again, this time with his eclectic take on a flying car that began life as an electric-powered flying testbed. *** Aviation Week’s online blog (also picked up by Wired magazine) shared information released exclusively to it by Rutan’s Scaled Composites company known in recent years for many fantastic projects including Spaceship One and White Knight. *** Called BiPod, the flying car became a crash program, completed in just four months and already in test flight mode. Rutan himself retired in April of this year. *** Model 367 BiPod is characteristically, wonderfully unconventional as have been all of Rutan’s many designs. *** The two-seat, hybrid-electric “roadable” aircraft (mini-rant: I sure hope that term doesn’t replace flying car, which flows off the tongue much more agreeably, don’t you think?), originally conceived as a fast, inexpensive electric aircraft, morphed into a flying car.
LSA in the News
In this post there’s both good news and bad news. *** First up: blog reader Pete Zaitcev commented on my blog yesterday that the Front Range Airport (FTG) visit, on May 14, by the LSA Tour #3 will coincide with the Rocky Mountain LSA Expo. *** FTG is about 25 miles east of Denver at Watkins, CO. The event is sponsored by the Colorado Pilots Assoc. *** Looks like a fun time and a smart call for the Tour to plan a stop there. Thanks Pete!More good news: Cessna Aircraft delivered 106 aircraft in the first quarter, up from 80 a year ago, and much of the increase comes from deliveries of the 19 Skycatchers. Cessna’s Bob Stangarone has told me the company expects to have delivered 150 by year’s end. *** The unhappy news concerns two LSA crashes. *** A PiperSport crash cost a young CFI his life in Florida.
Sun ‘n Fun 2011 Takes Off Tomorrow
SUN ‘n FUN 2011 kicks off, even as scores of planes — yours truly included — remain scattered around at airports up to hundreds of miles away, trying to beat the storm system that’s prevented them from making it to Lakeland, FL so far. *** The big airshow’s big boss, John Burton, promises an impressive line up: *** * Blue Angels performances four different days, highlighting the celebration of the 100th anniversary of naval aviation *** * a 20-year retrospective on Desert Storm *** * a 10-year commemoration of September 11, 2001 *** * the formal opening of the new Central Florida Aerospace Academy (CFAA) on the SUN ’n FUN campus. *** * F-22 Raptor flight three different days *** * AvBid Airplane Auctions *** * Hot Air Balloon Launch at dawn, Saturday, April 2 *** * Daily and nightly airshows with fireworks *** * AOPA “Rally GA” Day *** * Lindbergh Foundation Awards for electric-powered flight advances *** * “Green Space” Exhibit of environmentally friendly, aviation-related products and services, anchored by Lindbergh Foundation.
Stranded in Sparta
Half way to Sun ‘n Fun, thumb typing on my iPhone, we’re sitting in the same place we’ve been in — the comfy lounge at friendly FBO, Sparta Aero Services — since 8 this morning. *** It’s 3:30 now. *** Allow me one small comic book growl of anguish: aarghh. *** Thanks, that feels better. *** Our erstwhile Cub Crew, ably led by aviation Whiz Kid Amy Getsch who’s interning in marketing at Dakota Cub, the Super Cub replica kit and certified maker, flew down this far yesterday, landed right around sunset after a lovely, mottled-sun trek at a leisurely 90 mph all the way at an average 3000 feet. *** 400 miles down, we stopped for a late lunch and picked up some reinforcements: two gents also en route to Florida, each flying their J3’s. *** Dick Pattschull of Iowa City and George Armstrong of Omaha, Nebraska launched, just after we got back from lunch, from Fulton Co., Mo.’s Hensley Airport.