The race continues and yesterday it was joined by another American producer. The race is to obtain Special Light Sport Aircraft airworthiness certificates, allowing an airplane to be fully built and sold for instructional use or rental. A company with an SLSA approval can also elect to sell an ELSA kit. RANS plans to do both. Welcome to #17 in the list of shiny new SLSA. RANS will be bringing the model to the AOPA Expo in just a few days. Come see it — and most other SLSA — in the special LSA area of the AOPA Expo airport display. RANS is perhaps the largest producer of aircraft in the LSA general description and they passed a major milestone in June 2005 when they delivered their 4,000th model since that first S-4/5 Coyote Ultralight. “Most of the dozen models RANS builds [except S-16 Shekari]…fit into the light sport plane category,” says designer Randy Schlitter.
In the last couple weeks, the number of FAA-approved Special Light-Sport Aircraft grew to 13 models. EAA keeps a current list, proved by copies of the airworthiness certificate, but I’ll list them here as: Festival, Breezer, C42, Legend Cub, Kappa KP-5 (photo), Bravo, T-211 Thorpedo, StingSport, Echo Super, Sierra, Allegro 2000, the CT, and SportStar. (The list is presented in reverse order of approval.) In a fairly short time — the first approval was announced just over three months ago — customers have been presented with many Light-Sport Aircraft choices. I’ve flown ten of these planes. Watch for my pilot reports here on the website; a few are available now.
As a new season of flying for fun starts the Legend Cub from Sulphur Springs, Texas made its first flight. Company founders Tim Elliott and Darin Hart say their new Cub lookalike (it isn’t identical, for example, it’s got a wider cockpit) is for “recreational flyers of all ages around the world.” That’s a big statement but the popular design shape is certain to find good appeal. The Legend Cub makes its public debut at Sun ‘n Fun 2005. Look for a pilot report in an upcoming EAA Sport Pilot magazine.
Legend Aircraft‘s Cub is one of the top selling SLSA, ranking up high with Flight Design’s CT, Fantasy Air’s Allegro, Evektor’s SportStar, and TL Ultralight’s StingSport. Both American-made Cub-like designs (Legend’s and CubCrafters‘) have been 100% Continental O-200 powered because that engine is close to what was used in the original Piper J-3 Cub, which has driven demand from customers attracted to the vintage aircraft. However, the Cubs have higher empty weights than many of their smaller metal or composite competitors — CT and StingSport, being primarily carbon fiber airframes, weigh in almost 200 pounds lighter, for example. So, when operating at higher elevations or on floats, reported Legend staffer Pat Bowers, some owners felt more power would be useful. For several weeks the Sulphur Springs, Texas factory worked to install the Jabiru 3300. The six cylinder engine is 35 pounds lighter and has 20 more horsepower, a combination said to provided spirited performance.
IndUS Aviation’s Hot Thorpedo performs more energetically than the Continental-powered version. When you install a non-certified Jabiru 3300, six-cylinder engine into a 58-year-old certified light aircraft, you make one lively machine out of it. This relatively new company is doing things for this CAR 3-certified aircraft that legendary designer John Thorp could never do (for one, he didn’t have the Australian Jabiru powerplant). EAA’s Sport Pilot magazine (2/05) will have a full pilot report on Thorpedo. Look for it here 90+ days after publication.
And then we had 20…SLSA approvals, that is. Jabiru’s Pete Krotje announced his company had received not one but two FAA airworthiness certificates for J250 and the new J170. The latter is aimed at the flight training market. Smaller than the J250 which has an enormous baggage area — being based on the the four-seat J400 — the J170 is based on the proven two-seat Jabiru, the Calypso. It will be powered with the company’s four cylinder, 80-hp 2200 engine. Smaller, yes, but J170 still has a broad 45-inch cabin with plenty of headroom. The J170 is big in other ways, too, with a 562 pound useful load and a whopping 35 gallons of fuel (which may not all be used in training applications). Meanwhile J250 is your cross country cruiser with room for all your gear and able to cruise easily at SP/LSA’s 120-knot speed limit.
Looking all shiny and smooth is the new Parrot from Czech Aircraft Works (CZAW) — the Czech LSA company owned by former Wisconsin resident, Chip Erwin. Parrot adds to the amphibious Mermaid as distinct aircraft from CZAW. Some pilots know this company from its licensed production of Zenith 601 and 701 models, but they are using their engineering talent base to create their own designs. Both Parrot and Mermaid were developed very quickly and efficiently revealing an interesting marriage of American entrepreneurism and Czech airplane building skills. For more info, go to SkyShops website.
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.
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.