Once upon a time, I was able to report three or more new Special Light-Sport Aircraft every month. That was more than a decade back when the pace of new arrivals seemed faster than a rocket parachute deployment. Lots of airplane developers from all over the globe wanted a piece of this promising LSA action with its greater freedoms and breathtaking pace of innovation. New models were announced with regularity.
For the past few years that torrid pace slowed… just as it has in every other industry I’ve examined. However, in aviation it is uncommon for a good airplane to actually disappear forever. Designs worth their avgas often manage a come-back, a term meant to show a return to market for a flying machine some may have written off earlier.
Here is such a story.
From the day I laid eyes on it, I liked the tandem seating, comfortable cockpit, and sturdy construction of MySky’s MS-1 or MS-One. This American clean-sheet creation featured a shapely nose cowl, sidestick control, optimal wheel pants — consisting solely of fore and aft fairings — and strong performance with a 120-horsepower Jabiru 3300 engine.
One thing MS-1 did not have going for it: the design arrived to the party amidst so many other new designs that it was easy to get lost in the crowd. Proprietor and principal investor Dieter Canje wisely set the project aside while the dust cleared.
Now it’s back and with a splurge of innovation planned.
“MySky MS-1 is making a comeback, with an ecological twist,” said Dieter. “We believed our MySky MS-1 was a promising light aircraft project about 10, 12 years ago. Unfortunately, MySky Aircraft never made any efforts to put the model into production.”
The backstory is worth exploring. Let’s answer a few questions.
Why did you not put MySky MS-1 in production in 2010? — “The economic climate in 2009-2010 was challenging for bringing a new LSA to the market,” recalled Dieter. “More importantly, MS-1 was designed to be at the upper end, performance-wise, of the LSA market. The LSA rules still in force today proved to be too limiting for MS-1. The performance was there, but we could not make use of it to the full extent because of the limitations.
MS-1 was also meant to be a flight trainer from day one, the company said. “But the stringent weight limitation did not allow us to beef up the design to make it really durable enough for daily operation in a commercial flight school operation.”
Several years went by and the airplane flew but development was put on a back burner until better regulations arrived. During this period, Dieter and associates kept thinking about MS-1’s potential.
“In 2015, we formed MySky Eco with the intent to modify MS-1 into an electric aircraft,” Dieter said. “But we found that the time was not ready yet. Even now, endurance and range limits its use to flight training. However, there is strong demand in this market segment.”
“In 2022, environmental concerns are taken much more seriously by a large percentage of the general population,” believes Dieter. “If we in the aviation industry, be it light or commercial aviation, cannot demonstrate that we are doing our part to mitigate our environmental impact, we will run into problems. It is in our own interest to do something to reduce the environmental footprint of aviation as soon as we can.”
This is where MySky ECO, Inc., comes into play with a 5-step program with the final goal to create a totally emission-free aircraft.
What is MySkyECO MS-1L? — The “L” stands for legacy and MS-1L is the first step and the bread-and-butter project for the first few years of our comeback,” said Dieter. “It builds on the proven prototype of MS-1 which has completed more than 1,000 flights and more than 400 hours of flight time.”
“We will modify the existing prototype and install the Rotax 915 iS with electronic injection, turbocharger, intercooler, double ECUs and a FADEC system,” Dieter envisioned. “It will have a single lever engine control system. No more manual mixture control. This is automatically done by the Engine Control Unit (ECU).” Single lever control reduces the pilot’s workload during all phases of flight while optimizing fuel consumption. The pilot only moves the throttle as desired; the system handles the details.
Can a tandem aircraft be used for flight training? — “In the 1950s side-by-side training aircraft were a big step forward,” Dieter noted. “In familiar tandem trainers of the day, such as Piper’s J3, the student had to be in the back seat. His or her visibility was compromised by the instructor occupying the front seat. And, of course, communication was a problem …a lot of yelling back and forth.”
“In our modern tandem, the instructor will be sitting in the back,” said MySky. “The student has full visibility. Communication is not a problem anymore because we are all wearing headsets today. But there is one major advantage to instruction in a tandem: the student ‘feels’ from day one like he or she is flying solo.”
Will there be more modifications to the MS-1 design? — “Once we have the new engine cowling design finalized, we will redesign the current fiberglass structure to an all-carbon design,” Dieter forecast. “Fifteen years ago, carbon was much more expensive and not as readily available.”
Additional planned modifications include increased dihedral, a modified horizontal tail, and new wing tips. “As long as we were limited to 120 knots we did not need better performing wing tips, said MySky. “We were too fast already. Now, with Mosaic rules coming, we can expect to have a less restrictive speed limit so better wing tips make sense now.”
Electric, Hydrogen, and Beyond
“While we are finalizing MS-1L, we will being designing and engineering work on MS-1e,” predicted Dieter. “This will be our pure electric aircraft.” Because batteries presently have energy densities substantially less than conventional fuel, a pure electric airplane only makes sense for the flight training industry, believes MySky.
Electric has appeal but a method of extending range on an electric airplane would be useful for longer missions than flight training. “We are working on a range extender based on the rotary engine concept, using Jet-A,” said MySky.
“Our MS-1r concept is a next evolutionary step, a rotary engine driving the propeller and using Jet-A as its fuel,” said MySky representative Grant Desmarais. “Rotary engines were notorious for their poor efficiency and bad exhaust emission values. Both problems are connected. Solutions to solve both could arrive with one stroke: laser ignition.”
MS-1r H is the final step in MS-1’s development journey. “A rotary engine lends itself to run on hydrogen, much more than a piston engine,” explained Grant. “We are working on a solution where the hydrogen is not stored in high pressure tanks at extremely cold temperatures. We will store the hydrogen in a solid state. Hydrogen stored this way will not be flammable or explosive. It will be temperature stable up to 750 °F.”
The fresh ideas are exhilarating. While development progresses on the eco designs, many may be interested in the Legacy model. MySky’s MS-1 with Rotax’s 915iS would make a potent performer for enthusiasts and a good Technically Advanced Aircraft (TAA) design that flight schools might embrace.
- MySky and MS-1, all content on this website
- MySky Aircraft, factory website
- You can assist MySkyEco’s project for cleaner aviation
- Rotax 915iS engine, article on this website
The following video shows MySky’s longer-term vision of cleaning up the skies. Most pilots can see that such improvements are far more likely on light aircraft aircraft than, say, airliners.
This vintage video was recorded 12 years ago but provides a good review of MySky’s MS-One. (Please remember that video and microphone quality were not as good as today’s hardware. The audio is a bit noisy but you can hear all words easily.)