Tuesday, May 1, 2007
Evektor SportStar: Czech Mate
Mostly metal and all fun, the Evektor SportStar brings its own formula to the LSA class
|The category is called light-sport aircraft, and one look at the Evektor SportStar suggests that it practically defines the type. A product of the Czech Republic’s largest aircraft manufacturer, Evektor-Aerotechnik of Kunovice, the SportStar is one of many products from a company with a prestigious international client list—Boeing, Mercedes, Volkswagen, Let Aircraft and others. |
The airplane’s cabin is a surprising 46.5 inches across, wider than most other four-seat singles, much less two-seat sport planes. The glass bubble also is large enough to accommodate pilots as tall as 6’ 2”.
Gross weight is set at 1,212 pounds, and Evektor suggests a standard airplane goes out the door at an empty weight of 668 pounds. That leaves a useful load of 544 pounds. Subtract a full service of fuel, and you’re left with 358 pounds for people and stuff in the baggage area (stuff can weigh up to 50 pounds). A pair of 180-pound pilots will bring the airplane to gross. Fortunately, the SportStar’s configuration provides a CG envelope that’s wide and forgiving.
Pilot and passenger ride high in the SportStar, elevated enough to allow a clear view straight back at the vertical tail. A number of military fighters feature the same seating configuration, actually positioning the pilots above the top fuselage line to help them spot threats from their six. The large, tinted canopy hinges at the front and folds forward via two gas cylinders for entry/egress, so it can’t be opened in flight.
Looking out from the left seat, you’ll note a smooth, simple, functional wing design, nearly rectangular in shape with a single spar at center chord, no taper and no noticeable dihedral. The wing is somewhat reminiscent of a Tiger’s airfoil in appearance, if not in technical description. The wing features split flaps, so the top surface is uninterrupted during flap operation. Standard flaps are manual a la Cherokee with a center-mounted Johnson bar lever, and they provide 15, 30 or 50 degrees of deflection. Electric flaps are an option, with infinite flap positions. Deploy those huge lift enhancers, and stall drops to less than 40 knots.
The trapezoidal empennage is relatively conventional in design and construction. One Evektor option is a tow mechanism directly beneath the tailcone that allows glider or banner towing.
Out on the pointy end of the airplane, the propeller is a two- or three-blade tractor, ground adjustable for cruise, climb or any setting in between. The SportStar’s motive force is a four-cylinder, four-stroke Rotax 912ULS, cranking out 100 hp at the max-rated 5,800 rpm and spinning the prop through a reduction gearing system. METO (maximum except takeoff) power after five minutes is 5,500 rpm, and cruise is recommended at 4,800 rpm, generating about 71 hp. Redline for takeoff is 2,700 prop rpm, and cruise is recommended at 2,150. The Rotax’s cylinder heads are water-cooled, while the cylinders themselves utilize more-conventional air-cooling. TBO is 1,500 hours.
(Incidentally, the SportStar is also available with an 80 hp version of the same engine. Only climb suffers with the derated engine, as it’s approved for operation at the same max cruise setting of 4,800 rpm, again worth 71 hp.)
The aircraft’s ground handling is excellent, with a turn radius of less than 30 feet. If you can drive a Cherokee or Skyhawk around the ramp, you should be right at home in the SportStar.
With its current gross weight of 1,212 pounds and the “big” engine, the SportStar boasts a climb rate of 840 fpm. That’s a reasonable number for only 100 hp. Better still, service ceiling tops 13,000 feet. This is no ultralight. Sometime down the road, SportStar may opt for a higher gross weight, as the LSA limit is 1,320 pounds, still more than 100 pounds away.