Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Finding A Czech Mate For Flying Adventures

The European SportCruiser LSA comes into its own

Major parts of the airframe are metal. The prop, spinner, cowling, wingtips, fairings and canopy are composite. The landing gear is made of Kevlar, carbon fiber and fiberglass.
Helping get more exposure for the aircraft, US Sport Aircraft has initiated a STEM program with Dallas-area high schools built around the SportCruiser, now involving some 250 students interested in aviation careers as pilots or maintenance professionals. The company has also developed a fractional ownership program to promote sales.

"When you split up the cost [of the airplane] and make the maintenance and management easy for buyers, it starts to make a lot of sense," Arnzen said. Matchmaking between potential co-owners can be a challenge, he admitted. "I call it eHarmony for pilots."

From The Ground Up
Such is the SportCruiser's success that the only SVAP+ model at Expo was the one on static display. "We've sold out of new inventory," Arnzen said. The company was using a SportCruiser LTD, N545SC, from Sport Aviation, their dealer in Stuart, Fla., for demo flights. I played the role of one of the certificated pilots who comes to train in the aircraft for non-sport-pilot applications. Bryan Woodard, managing partner of the Stuart-based dealership, served as my instructor.

On the ramp, the low-wing SportCruiser has a rakish, sculpted appearance, though all major parts of the airframe are metal. The prop, spinner, cowling, wingtips, fairings and canopy frame are composite, while the landing gear is crafted from Kevlar, carbon fiber and fiberglass for strength and flexibility.
"Coming from a typical general aviation engine, this will look a little different to you," Woodard said, opening the oil access door for a glimpse of the 100 hp Rotax 912 ULS. As a first difference, pilots used to Lycomings and Continentals will find that the tool for measuring the oil level in the Rotax looks more like a sardine can opener than a dipstick. The Rotax's dry sump-forced lubrication system keeps the oil in the engine at shutdown, and checking the level requires "burping" the engine—manually advancing the propeller until the Rotax emits an audible gurgle.

"Some people call it a burp, some call it a toilet flush," said Woodard. "What you're doing is actuating the oil pump and forcing all the oil back into the reservoir." Transitioning pilots will quickly see a difference in their oil bills. The Rotax uses only six to eight ounces of oil and takes less expensive motorcycle oil; standard aviation oil for Lycomings and Continentals doesn't have the proper lubrication properties and additives needed for the high-revving engines, which spin at up to 5,800 rpm.

Fuel bills will also be lower, thanks to both the lower fuel consumption over comparably powered Lycomings and the engine's ability to run on lower-priced auto gas, as well as avgas. As for the carbureted ULS, while several other LSA offer fuel-injected versions of the Rotax 912 as powerplant options, Czech Sport Aircraft feels the 20% fuel savings doesn't justify the additional $10,000 cost for an injected variant. From a safety perspective, Woodard notes the Rotax isn't prone to develop engine ice anyway, as the position of the dual carburetors is atop the engine where rising heat inhibits ice formation. Woodard says he has never had to use carb heat in about 2,500 hours of flying carbureted Rotax 912 ULS.

Labels: Piston Singles


Add Comment