Pilots heading to Sun ‘n Fun 2021 had no real idea what to expect. As evening approached on Sunday set-up day, a big black storm cloud rolled over Sun ‘n Fun’s Lakeland Airport campus, blowing guard shacks and plastic bathrooms around like pieces of paper. An omen? Hardly! The next morning… The good news is I saw no damage other than a couple cracked-up guard shacks. No airplane damage was obvious to me. The great news is final setup day was gloriously sunny and exhibit airplanes arrived steadily. By nightfall on Monday as exhibitors finished their preparations, Sun ‘n Fun was looking good and ready for pilots to descend on the Showgrounds. Several hands pitched in — thanks loudly to a great group from DeLand Showcase — to turn the LAMA LSA Mall into the regular attraction its become over the last 15 years. A fewer number of airplanes will be shown in the LSA Mall but at least one is a machine you’ve never seen before and others are head turners.
Texas Aircraft Manufacturing Colt 100
Phone: 830-423-2067Hondo, TX 78861 - USA
Lower-Priced ColtTexas Aircraft Manufacturing announced they are now offering an entry-level Colt Special LSA with a single Garmin G3X Touch flight display at a much-reduced price. The company's first offering listed for $167,000. “As we come out from under Covid-induced flight training restrictions, operators of several flight schools have come to us asking for an affordably-priced, all-metal, Garmin-equipped training aircraft,” CEO, Matheus Grande, stated. “Our solution is the highly-advanced and very-affordable entry-level Colt SLSA, which is priced at $139,900, below the cost of the fully-equipped Colt-S and Colt-SL models.” Their Texas Aircraft Colt SLSA standard package includes:
- 10.6-inch Garmin G3X Touch configurable touchscreen display with built-in Synthetic Vision
- Single Garmin communications radio
- Garmin ADS-B Out transponder
- Analog flight instruments
- Synthetic leather upholstery
- Left-side only toe breaks
- All-white exterior paint with no graphics
One More ThingI love using the old Steve Jobs line that held so many in suspense at the end of one of his wildly-popular Apple product presentations. "One more thing" became a phrase that would set the Mac Fanboy hearts pumping. "What could it be this time," they would wonder? More About LSA Costs — What I'd like to invite is your read of AVweb writer Paul Bertorelli's article, titled, "LSA or Legacy? Costs Compared" Paul always does a credible job, as you'd expect from a longtime professional journalist. His writing style is approachable. He's not afraid of some controversy. No wonder people love reading his stuff. Paul's LSA-related article is one of specific interest to ByDanJohnson.com readers (and, no, I'm not just saying that because he quotes me near the beginning of the article). In case you don't follow the link, here's a few key comments: Compared to New GA — "[New LSA] would be cheaper to buy … relative to new, standard-category [conventionally-certified] airplanes … with similar or greater capability." Purchase and Maintenance — "Are LSAs cheaper to own than equivalent legacy [used] airplanes? The answer depends on how you crunch the numbers, but if investment costs are tallied, the answer is no. If operating costs alone are considered, light sport airplanes look attractive against both legacy airplanes and definitely any new standard-category aircraft." Contrast with Cessna 150 — "Consider the last model year of the Cessna 152, 1986. Find them in the low- to mid-$40s to as much as $90,000 for a fully restored [that is, similar to new] airframe." Annual Expenses — "If anything is a constant in aviation, it’s that’s bigger, faster airplanes burn through money at a faster rate and the near-ruinous annual is always in the offing. In that respect, legacy two-seaters and LSAs are definitely less money hungry, starting with annuals." Satisfaction — "Owners who bought new or recent used Light-Sport Airplanes seem satisfied with the purchase and operating costs and report no unpleasant surprises, nor regrets in having made the purchase. These owners were a mix of step-down buyers and bucket listers who always wanted to own an airplane and found the ability to do that in an LSA." Good info. Thanks, Paul!
As regular readers know, I promote ByDanJohnson.com as the home of “affordable aviation.” I even own the domain name AffordableAviation.com. Yet “affordable” is one of those very personal words. What each of us can afford — or chooses to afford — is different than almost everyone else. Therefore, an especially wide range of choices is good. I have written a lot about very inexpensive aircraft (see many in this series of articles) and you can find lots more from $8,000 to $180,000. Yesterday, a premium supplier of Light-Sport Aircraft made their new entry more affordable. Lower-Priced Colt Texas Aircraft Manufacturing announced they are now offering an entry-level Colt Special LSA with a single Garmin G3X Touch flight display at a much-reduced price. The company’s first offering listed for $167,000. “As we come out from under Covid-induced flight training restrictions, operators of several flight schools have come to us asking for an affordably-priced, all-metal, Garmin-equipped training aircraft,” CEO, Matheus Grande, stated.
Garmin IFR Colt"Wait," I hear some of you exclaim! "A Light-Sport Aircraft cannot be used for flying with reference only to instruments." Wrong! Rather than repeat what I have already written several times, I invite you to explore this article which makes an attempt to explain the situation surrounding IFR or IMC, that is, flight in actual instrument conditions; different from filing to fly in the IFR system for training or other reasons. Certainly, most readers will see the value in a new, modern, fuel efficient, comfortable, and marvelously-equipped Light-Sport Aircraft versus a 30-50 year-old Cessna 172 or other legacy general aviation aircraft. One has the gear a student may one day find in an airliner he or she flies. The other has older, analog gauges that are disappearing from modern aircraft. In fact, most LSA have zero round dials in them. That's the way it will be going forward. Texas Aircraft announced, "The addition of the Garmin G3X flight display and GTN 650 touchscreen navigator to the options list is mainly in response to the many requests the company has received from flight schools wanting to offer Garmin’s long list of advanced features and capabilities to their students." The company added that this equipment will be offered as "options for its new-generation Colt-S and Colt-SL Special LSA." “In the short time since the Colt was introduced, it has received a lot of attention from flight schools looking for a modern and affordable technically advanced aircraft (TAA),” stated Texas Aircraft Manufacturing’s Customer Engagement Team Member, Scott Musselman. “Couple the Garmin avionics with the Colt’s attractive pricing and low operating costs, and you’ll have an ideal industry standard training aircraft for entry-level up through instrument and commercial training.” Scott explained that while the Colt’s standard Dynon avionics package is TAA compliant and amazing for flight training, "flight schools are asking for Garmin." Providing Garmin equipment can help reduce the time and cost associated with training students on multiple avionics systems as they progress. “Today’s students want to train on the same avionics they will be using later as they advance into more complex Garmin-equipped aircraft,” Scott said. “The wide variety of Garmin avionics that we will make available for the Colt will give flight schools and private owners a great deal of flexibility in how their avionics are configured.”
More Pricing OptionsWhile Texas Aircraft upped their game for flight school operators they also kept the individual buyer in mind. “We are now offering Garmin-equipped Colt aircraft with the basic VFR package starting at $139,000," said Scott. The fully-equipped, “Heavy IFR” Garmin package is priced starting at $170,500 (see below). “So, whether you want a sleek single-display Garmin G3X Touch panel or dual G3X Touch instruments for a truly impressive digital screen experience, we offer choices,” Scott said. “All Garmin-equipped IFR-capable Colts come standard with a G5 backup. We are extremely excited to be able to offer Garmin’s popular line of avionics in our new-generation Colt.”
Optional Garmin Avionics for the new-generation Texas Aircraft Colt Special LSA: All pricing and equipment is subject to change
- 10.6-inch G3X Touch configurable touchscreen display with built-in synthetic vision
- GTN 650 touchscreen GPS/IFR Navigator
- G5 back-up instrument
- GMC 507 autopilot control with level mode
- GSA 28 smart three-axis autopilot
- GMA 245 audio panel
- GTR 200 and 20 COM radios
- GTX 45R remote ADS-B Out/In transponder
Electric-Motor-Powered eColtElectric power is certainly coming to light aircraft. The tipping point will be dictated by battery development. I have written plenty about this as well. Almost everyone knows at least some facts about batteries. Everything we carry around these days seems battery powered and all of us are ever in search of an electric outlet to get more charge. Until battery energy density takes a substantial leap forward, electric airplanes have some clear limitations. Yet primary flight instruction — at least done in the pattern within easy reach of landing back on the field — is one early potential for electric powered LSA. However, not all batteries are identical. — The British Lithium-Sulfur (Li-S) battery technology company, Oxis Energy and Texas Aircraft Manufacturing are developing an electric power system for Colt and initially, Oxis projects that the flight time will be in excess of two hours and an approximate range of 200 nautical miles. While still short of true cross country flying, this sounds encouraging. Huw Hampson-Jones, CEO of Oxis Energy, said, “Oxis Li-S technology offers significant benefits to aviation. The use of sulfur as a non-conductive material provides enhanced safety and is superior to current Lithium-Ion technology. Our 90kWh battery system is 40% lighter than current Li-Ion technology and will be powered by its 'High Power' cell at 400Wh/kg." Oxis is involved in the design, development and now the move towards commercial production of Lithium Sulfur cells for battery systems. Oxis manufactures and produces all aspects and components in the making of the Li-S cell and does not use any toxic or rare earth material in the composition of its Lithium Sulfur cell technology. Oxis has been granted 193 patents with 115 pending. Texas Aircraft's Matheus added, "Our eColt, manufactured at our factory in Texas, will use Li-S battery cells made at the Oxis factory. The powertrain will be supplied by WEG and the battery and its management system (BMS) will be provided by Akaer Group of São José dos Campos, Brazil." (Note that while Texas Aircraft is an all-American company, Matheus and his team hail from Brazil so they have many connections in that southern hemisphere country.) "This project is in early stage," said Matheus. "We are not changing the Colt, but we are studying the possibility to add some battery packs under the plane (maybe looking like a Cessna Caravan cargo) but this is still under discussion since we are also evaluating adding the battery packs into the wings."
At last year's Midwest LSA Expo (the 2020 event IS ON and starts September 10th), we flew Colt: https://youtu.be/DkPD07-z0Wc
I always enjoy when a new airplane company arrives on the market and sets plans in motion to expand and improve their flying machine. Texas Aircraft and their Colt 100 Light-Sport Aircraft is one such company. Lead by the energetic and ambitious Matheus Grande, Texas Aircraft is moving on several fronts. Here is some update on the Colt builder based in Hondo, Texas. Garmin IFR Colt “Wait,” I hear some of you exclaim! “A Light-Sport Aircraft cannot be used for flying with reference only to instruments.” Wrong! Rather than repeat what I have already written several times, I invite you to explore this article which makes an attempt to explain the situation surrounding IFR or IMC, that is, flight in actual instrument conditions; different from filing to fly in the IFR system for training or other reasons. Certainly, most readers will see the value in a new, modern, fuel efficient, comfortable, and marvelously-equipped Light-Sport Aircraft versus a 30-50 year-old Cessna 172 or other legacy general aviation aircraft.
Financing — The American WayWhile cars are much less expensive thanks to their high volume production, the average price of a new car is about $38,000 these days. A superbly-equipped Colt goes for $167,000. To make their aircraft affordable to more pilots, Texas Aircraft Manufacturing said it has arranged "a new financing program for its Colt-S and Colt-SL Special LSA." Fly-Away Financing is the result of a partnership between Texas Aircraft and Hondo, Texas-based Community National Bank. According to the company, "Prospective aircraft buyers can now access an online form to calculate their down payment, loan terms and total monthly payments." Contact Texas Aircraft for details. “Imagine owning a brand-new, fully-equipped Colt-SL for about the same cost as a much older, less advanced, pre-owned aircraft,” says Texas Aircraft CEO Matheus Grande. “Our Fly-Away Financing offer doesn’t just make it affordable; Community National Bank has streamlined the loan approval process to make it as easy as possible.” I have written about Colt and you can see the article or a video (below) to learn more. Since it arrived on the scene in 2017 Texas Aircraft has been based at South Texas Regional Airport (HDO) in Hondo, Texas. With its 100-horsepower Rotax 912 ULS engine, Dynon SkyView HDX EFIS instrument combined with Dynon autopilot, whole-airframe emergency parachute, and deluxe leather interior, Colt is priced at $167,000. Before you say you can buy a house for that sum (you cannot in most places), remember all aircraft — not just Light-Sport and not only Texas Aircraft's offering — are basically hand-built airplanes carefully produced in low volumes. These are not robotically-built automobiles rolling off the line by the hundreds of thousands per year. Ford builds more F-150 pickup trucks every year than all the airplanes that exist in the entire world by far (about 900,000 units in 2019 alone — and for an average price approaching half of the Texas Colt's list price). In addition, while government agencies monitor what auto companies do, they don't perform detailed audits and demand regular maintenance on anything remotely like what airplane manufacturers must endure. Given that sizable difference, it stands to reason airplane costs will be much higher. "With the variety of special Fly-Away Financing rates we can offer," said Texas Aircraft, "pilots can own a brand-new Colt-SL equipped with touchscreen avionics, digital autopilot, airframe parachute, leather upholstery, and custom paint for under $1,200 per month." (See detail and specifications below.) The first Colt delivery went to Florida and is shown in Florida Gators team colors. Let's crush some numbers. An average-priced new car will run $500-600 a month, depending on credit worthiness and other factors. That will be for a six or seven year loan. Colt will cost about twice as much per month and for about twice as long, but the retail price is more than four times higher, so it's not unreasonable to say the two data sets compare well. Most people who finance are primarily concerned about the monthly payment and how they can manage that figure along with the other living expenses. Yet another factor looms large in this consideration. Light-Sport Aircraft, now on the market for more than 15 years, have proven to have reasonably good resale value. It is pointless to state percentage here as this would vary for each airplane and situation but a new LSA like Colt is very likely to have 50% of its value or more when it is fully paid off. You cannot say that about your car and this valuation difference is significant. The bottom line: Financing a Colt or other LSA can be very approachable and may fit your budget. Best of all, you get the full "New is nice" treatment and you can be the first to fly your brand new Colt.
Colt Equipment & Detail
- Maximum Speed at Sea Level: 119 KIAS
- Cruise Speed at 75% power: 105 KIAS
- Semi-cantilever, high-wing design
- All aviation-grade aluminum airframe with all solid metal rivets
- Wide cabin with welded Chromoly passenger safety cell
- Four-point passenger safety harnesses
- Airframe ballistic parachute system
- Dynon 10” SkyView HDX touchscreen display with Synthetic Vision with 3D graphics
- Dynon Mode-S Transponder with ADS-B Out/In and TIS traffic
- Dynon WAAS enabled GPS Receiver
- Dynon digital autopilot with Level Button
- Dynon Electronic Engine Monitoring System
- Wholly manufactured in Texas
- Purchase price: $167,500
- 5.75% interest rate
- 15% down payment
- 15-year term payment of $1,182.30 per month
- 15-year term subject to approval
This website stresses affordable aviation and that sometimes generates questions or complaints about the cost of modern Light-Sport Aircraft. All but a few pilots have to watch a budget and figure how they can acquire an aircraft of interest. I can think of three worthy methods to fly what you want: 1️⃣ Buy a used LSA, either Special or Experimental — many great choices are available and a growing number of professional sellers can help you connect to an especially good used model and then provide back-up after the sale. 2️⃣ Shared purchase or expenses — where you help an aircraft-owning friend with his cost of ownership in return for access (this is what I do). 3️⃣ Kit-built Sport Pilot certificate-eligible aircraft — especially if you are handy and have space, but even if you are inexperienced or don’t want to invest the time, many kits demand less hours and lots of them have Quick-Build options that sharply reduce the hours you must expend.