Since the official advent of LSAs at Sun ’n Fun 2005, the type has taken off beyond the wildest dreams of its developers. It seems there’s some kind of LSA on virtually every airport ramp these days. In view of the type’s popularity, LSA designers have looked for ways to push right up against the allowable limits of certification. The type is limited to 600 kg (1,320 pounds) gross weight, can’t carry more than two folks and can’t exceed a cruise speed of 120 knots. Additionally, it must rest on fixed gear and fly behind a fixed-pitch or ground-adjustable prop.
The whole idea was safety. Keep the airplane simple, comparatively slow and lightweight, and there will be fewer accidents (those that do occur will inflict less injuries).
One of the designs that has succeeded in approaching the certification limits is the CZAW (Czech Aircraft Works) SportCruiser, introduced in 2006 and already sold in 17 countries. The SportCruiser is manufactured in the Czech Republic and distributed in the States by Sport Aircraft Works (www.sportaircraftworks.com
) of Palm City, Fla. This slick and swept little airplane looks something like the old Glasair FG, but with only a 100 hp Rotax engine out front, its speed is limited to the requisite 120-knot max.
The SportCruiser is produced at Kunovice Airport, where European entry-level airplanes have been built and sold for years. CZAW produces a variety of lightweight amphibious and land-based aircraft, and there’s nothing amateurish about either the conception or construction of its airplanes.
In the case of the SportCruiser, CZAW offers you a choice of a prebuilt airplane or a Quick Build Kit. Should you opt for the latter, you can expect to spend about 400 hours in construction time and save $34,500 in the process, about half of the fully assembled price. The task is strictly one of assembly, not fabrication. (Yes, the CZAW kit does comply with the FAA’s 51% rule.)
Regardless of whether you build it yourself or buy a SportCruiser preassembled by the dealer, this LSA doesn’t spare the amenities. It features electric trim for pitch and roll, electric flaps, a ground-adjustable, three-blade composite prop, in-flight-adjustable rudder pedals and a huge cabin by LSA standards.
The canopy hinges at the front and opens to reveal a generous front office. Roll and pitch control are with conventional sticks mounted well forward of the twin bucket seating positions. Those seats are installed with a transom between them, a function of the 46.5-inch-wide cabin. Headroom doesn’t receive short shrift either. There’s enough vertical space to accommodate a six-foot, two-inch pilot and passenger without brushing their heads against the carbon-fiber, Plexiglas canopy structure. Primary baggage storage is in the turtledeck behind the pilots.
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