On October 5th, 2005 the Zenith CH601 became the newest — and 16th — aircraft in the fleet to win its Special Light Aircraft Approval. The news was announced by Josh Foss of Sportsplanes.com, a national network of regional centers where interested pilots and newcomers can find Sport Pilot training and/or LSA airplanes for sale. Sportsplanes represents several other aircraft including the CH701, Comco-Ikarus’ Breezer and C-42 (both already SLSA certified), and the Russian Sigma. The SLSA version of the CH601 is built by Czech Aircraft Works, while the U.S.-made Zenith CH601 is still sold as a 51% kit.
After certifying a CH-601 with Rotax powerplant as an SLSA, Czech Aircraft Works (CZAW) recently won another Special Light-Sport Aircraft approval on November 18, 2005. Parrot represents the 22nd SLSA design that received FAA blessing. The shapely aircraft looks like composite construction, but is actually a work in aluminum. With stretch formed fuselage curves, cantilevered swept-forward wings, and a forward hinging bubble canopy concept on a high wing…Parrot has an appropriately distintive look as CZAW continues it new design phase. Earlier this American owned Czech company manufactured the designs of Chris Heintz (601 and 701) but Wisconsin-raised Chip Erwin lead his company to create the amphibious Mermaid and the Parrot land plane. Unlike some other companies in the LSA field, CZAW has already proven its production abilities. Customers have recognized this ordering some 200 units of both Mermaid and Parrot.
Many of you are aware of FAA’s confused state over “repositionable gear” for LSA floatplanes. At present the agency is stalled regarding the issue. I understand from highly placed officials that a solution could be to allow one gear movement per flight. That would fix the problem but changes move very slowly in the federal bureaucracy. To kick start action, one active producer of floats and flying boats — Czech Aircraft Works, and their U.S. partner, Sport Aircraft Works — has swiftly gotten the agency to release a “Petition for Exemption.” The usual dense federal language describes the petition, but Sport Aircraft Works has made responding much easier. Go to their website and follow the directions; they provide a link to the FAA submission site. Comments must be received by March 6, 2006, so if this matters to you (and it should!), then please take action quickly.
With 191 Mermaid orders on the books, Sport Aircraft Works (SAW) is understandably anxious to start deliveries. The trouble is — or the advantage is, if you’re a willing buyer — that Mermaid is an amphibian. That means it has gear that moves, or…”repositions.” The repositionable gear dilemma remains unresolved, despite the petition for exemption by Czech Aircraft Works. So for now, says SAW’s Danny Defelici, “We’ll be placarding the Mermaid against moving the gear in flight.” He added that at the recent Sebring Expo, several top FAA officials looked for a reason that Mermaid could not be SLSA certified. “They found nothing to prevent it, so we went ahead and obtained our certificate,” Danny explained. Mermaid is #28 to win SLSA credentials. While the agency figures out its response, an exemption process could allow all floatplane or amphib producers to go forward with deliveries in time for the summer season.
With their fourth Special Light-Sport Aircraft approval, Czech Aircraft Works (CZAW) and their U.S. partner, Sport Aircraft Works, have taken the lead for one company to win SLSA certificates for the most models. Tecnam has been tied with CZAW at three until Friday, March 24th when Sport Aircraft Works made the announcement. Sport Cruiser also rounds out the line for CZAW. The new design resembles the CH-601 on which the comany had earlier gained SLSA approval. CZAW manufactures Zenith aircraft under license for European sale. For U.S. sales, the American-owned Czech company can boast a high wing (Parrot, approved as a SLSA in November 2005), the amphibious Mermaid (SLSA in February) and now the low wing SportCruiser in March. AMD of Georgia also has a SLSA certificate for their Zodiac CH-601 XL with the Continental engine; CZAW aircraft use Rotax. I hope to fly all three CZAW/Sport Aircraft Works airplanes right before Sun ‘n Fun.
Back when the term “ultralight” was new…back in spring of 1982 before FAA issued their now-classic Part 103 regulation…and during the time when ultralights still had to prove themselves by being foot launchable…that’s when bold designer Chuck Slusarczyk introduced the first CGS Hawk at the then-new Sun ‘n Fun Fly-in. It was fully enclosed (you couldn’t foot launch it and all other ultralight were open cockpit airplanes). It had conventional three axis controls (unusual then). But this “outlaw” design proved to be a hit. Over the years, CGS and Chuck have sold over 1,500 Hawks! Now, fittingly, a Hawk has been inducted into the Florida Air Museum. Even more fittingly, this followed one last flight from the airstrip at Sun ‘n Fun’s Paradise City ultralight display area. At the end of the flight, Chuck taxied back one last time. It was a bit emotional to retire Hawk #1, he says.