Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Kiss & Bristell

Friendly, refined, beefy for rough-field training, yet a cruiser’s delight

Although my typical demo flights average under 45 minutes, you can still learn a lot about an airplane in less than an hour. With S-LSA like the BRM Aero Bristell Fastback, it takes more like 45 seconds for you to realize you've got a winner on your hands.

The Bristell is refined, clean and stylish, with a less rakish profile than the SportCruiser but a sleeker one than the Evektor SportStar series. I name those airplanes since they, too, were in part created by Milan Bristela of Czech Republic, who first sketched out the Bristell in 2007. Production commenced after a long development process in early 2011. As such, the all-aluminum bird represents his most seasoned offering yet. More than 50 have sold overseas, and production rate is planned for four planes per month by summer.

The Bristell exemplifies attention to detail, from construction to airframe paint and trim, instrumentation and cockpit furnishings. This is no to-be-improved prototype, but a mature aircraft. For my flight, a minor squawk or two are no doubt tuned out by now. A recently added larger nosewheel pant, for example, tended to catch the swirling prop blast enough to kick it, and the linked rudder, slightly off kilter. It felt like an overbanking tendency to the left, but has been corrected since with a stiffer self-centering spring.

The clean, pretty bird is imported by Bristell USA. Veteran GA personalities John Calla and Barry Pruitt (formerly associated with Evektor), own both the distributorship and Liberty Sport Aviation of Pa., which has the airplane already working in its training fleet.

Last January, I met up with the Bristell crew, including the designer himself and John Rathmell, an ever-cheery, high-energy, ex-military C-130 Herc jockey who is Sales Manager for Lou Mancuso's Mid Island Air Service of Long Island, N.Y. Mancuso was there, too: He loves the airplane and has already added it to his diverse LSA training fleet.

In The Details
John Calla points to the slight positive curve in the fuselage belly. "It reduces turbulence by dispersing the force of gusts," he says. That's what I meant by refinement. "The center spar extends 18 inches to either side of the fuselage," Calla continues. "When you step onto the wing, you're on the spar, not just the skin." From that 18-inch point, the wings rise in a mild dihedral, contributing to lateral stability and echoing the legendary AT-6 warbird that trained so many WWII pilots.

Labels: LSAs


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