Tuesday, April 10, 2012
The Americanization Of Alto
There’s a mod for that—making the perfect plane, Ron-Corbi style
Some folks are born tinkerers. Corbi, his brother Dennis, Dan Coffey and the Corbi Air crew have taken a good basic airplane and made it into a well-realized, competitively priced trainer or cross-country performer. Its performance envelope (around 105 knots top cruise), speed and range make it ideal for the training market, but it should also appeal to former Bonanza/Cessna drivers not needing that extra 15 knots or so at the top of the LSA-max-speed category.
"We searched for a good, easy-to-fly, safe and durable plane...then started making changes. We replaced the Woodcomp prop with a Sensenich composite, which has a spar and stainless-steel edges to prevent delamination," Corbi explains. "The firewall was galvanized; we switched to stainless steel. For cold-winter areas, we're offering supplemental electric heat/defog in addition to the standard cabin heater so pilots don't freeze waiting for engine warm-up. We also offer a laminar-flow heat exchanger for fast oil warm-ups. That's important for flight schools with tight back-to-back flight scheduling."
Corbi also installs a sophisticated Vertical Power VP-X electrical system plus the Advanced Stack Hub, which neatly accommodates modular plug-and-play avionics. "A&Ps can swap out radios in an hour or two," Corbi says.
"I tried to think of every potential problem for flight schools or individual pilots," Corbi continues. "We did simple things, like changing from cowl screws to Dzus fasteners, but I also insisted on Phillips instead of slotted heads; screwdrivers can slip and scratch paint.
"Many LSA companies use 'K-Mart-' quality electrical wire," Corbi says. "All of the Alto 100's wiring is aviation-grade Teflon coated. It doesn't cost much more, and it's so much safer."
The Corbi Alto 100 made the ASTM approval last summer as the 112th S-LSA. If the cute, well-rounded airplane can find a market niche in this challenging economy (as a workhorse trainer or GA pilot's downsizer), it could find lots of blue skies in its ever-more-finely tuned future.
Or as Ron Corbi puts it, "I've asked the factory for a standard Cessna towbar stud, and we will offer an engine preheater for winter operations. We also have approval from the factory to rig the airplane for IFR. We'll put on static wicks and incorporate electrical bonding for lightning strikes. Then I want to improve the capability of night flying. We're replacing the current LED landing light with a brighter one. Then we'd like to..."
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