Thursday, June 19, 2008
With more than 1,400 aircraft registered in the States, the phenomenon keeps growing!
|What exactly is a light-sport aircraft (LSA)? To qualify as an LSA, an airplane must be a maximum two-place, single-engine, fixed-gear machine that weighs no more than 1,320 pounds (1,420 for watercraft). It must have a level, full-power speed of no more than 120 knots, a clean stall speed no faster than 45 knots and a fixed-pitch propeller.|
Space Coast Aviation Services
Space Coast Aviation Services, out of Space Coast Airport in Titusville, Fla., brings us the MD3 Rider, an Italian LSA with a tube-shaped, sheet-metal fuselage and all-metal wings and empennage. The 100 hp Rotax 912 ULS draws 24 gallons from the wing tanks, dispensing with the need for an auxiliary fuel pump. Ingress is afforded through two forward-hinged doors. Two traditional floor-mounted sticks operate pushrods for ailerons and elevator; rudder controls are cable. The strut-braced, three-degree forward-swept wings afford good visibility, and the light construction allows a 612-pound useful load—that’s 456 pounds with full fuel.
Sport Aircraft Works
Sport Aircraft Works imports and distributes the Czech Aircraft Works (CZAW) SportCruiser, an all-metal,
mid-wing, Rotax-powered cruiser/trainer that the company claims has the widest cabin in the class. Built of all-American-sourced, certified-quality materials, the SportCruiser was the most prolific LSA delivered in the States over the first four months of 2008. Designed to be flyable, repairable and insurable, the aircraft features straightforward construction and common-sourced parts. In January, CZAW added to its line the fixed-gear version of the WT9, a sleek, long-distance cruiser, derived from the retractable-gear kitplane.
[Read CZAW Sport Cruiser: Top-Of-The-Line LSA from P&P October 2007.]
The Sportair StingSport led the way, and the Sting S3 continues an evolved tradition, offering a faster climb and slower stall speed than any previous Sting. The efficiency comes from a redesigned wing that more perfectly addresses an LSA’s missions and operating parameters. The cabin incorporates a full roll cage; other safety and performance items include the GRS (Galaxy) ballistic whole-plane parachute, AmSafe four-point inertia-reel harnesses with air bags, differential toe brakes and the GreenLine EMS (engine monitoring system). Options include more cockpit glass, a Dynon or Grand Rapids EFIS and a TruTrak autopilot.
[Read TL-Ultralight: Sting Sport TL-2000 from P&P December 2007.]
The Breezer, Skylark and C42 all come from more than a dozen Sportsplanes Regional Centers, which have their headquarters in Draper, Utah. The all-metal, mid-wing Breezer is built in Germany and comes with either an 80 hp or a 100 hp Rotax 912. The low-wing Skylark (a rules-optimizer: it goes 135 mph on 75% power) is a clean-sheet, all-metal design, and the high-wing Ikarus C42E is the latest in the line of machines that was developed and won awards 10 years ago in Europe. With an aluminum, tube-shaped, composite-covered fuselage and framework and UV-stabilized covering on the wings, its economy is reflected in its 80 hp specification—it really doesn’t need any more than that!
[Read Dova Skylark LSA from P&P March 2007.]
The Toxo was introduced to the States as a cobranded Mooney at Oshkosh 2003, but it went back to Spain for further development. In early April 2008, it was accepted as a true LSA and, today, stands proudly on its own. The original was much too fast; some of that speed has been transformed into better comfort, stabler handling and longer range, giving us a true LSA that better meets the needs of the market. Lovely as ever but sporting a new wing, nicer amenities and a more modern cockpit, this shapely composite low-wing was one of the surprise hits at this year’s Sun ’n Fun.
The Falcon LS, manufactured by T&T Aviation of Washington, Pa., is the only LSA available today with the 116 hp Lycoming O-235. Flight-testing is in progress; range with the Lycoming and two 170-pound pilots is estimated at 450 miles, with a 30-minute reserve. The Kevlar and carbon low-wing machine features a large 66-pound baggage area, a steerable nosewheel, electric flaps and pitch trim. The company expects certification to be completed in June and first deliveries to occur by Oshkosh 2008.
Cirrus showed us the cool composite FK-14 at Oshkosh 2007, and has spent the time since adopting it to its LSA role. Slowing the too-fast European down to the LSA speed limit has resulted in a few convenience items, such as the exterior pilot and passenger steps, but Cirrus wants the true LSA to have its best handling within its speed range, so more extensive modifications are (under wraps but) on the way. The look of the new-generation, 912S-powered, better-handling machine, though, won’t be spoiled. The Cirrus SRS (as it will henceforth be known) should be worth the wait.
Cessna is likely to become the biggest LSA-maker, as soon as it ramps up production of its C-162 Skycatcher, unveiled at Oshkosh 2006 and refined for Oshkosh 2007. This O-200D-powered machine is destined to be “your first Cessna,” in both the training and in the ownership sense. Conventional in overall design and construction, yet 100% modern and innovative (the patented “stick” controls mount under the panel like yokes, but feel like they’re mounted on the floor, like sticks), the Skycatcher should grab the trainer market like the C-150 and 152 did decades ago.
|Guest Speaker: State Of The LSA Industry
|10 Things To Look For In An LSA