Plane & Pilot
Monday, January 1, 2007

Flight Design CT Best Of The LSAs?


Worth Every Penny


flight designLight sport aircraft come in a variety of flavors. If you’re inclined to go traditional, you can opt for the Legend Cub, an upgraded copy of the venerable J-3. At the opposite end of the LSA spectrum, many pilots are selecting the Flight Design CT.
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In-flight visibility from the Flight Design CT is reminiscent of a bubble helicopter, with huge side windows that extend forward, a king-size windshield that continues well back into the roof and a large, overhead, Plexiglas skylight. In combination with the smooth, high-revving Rotax and a fairly quiet cabin, the CT’s flight environment is comfortable and inviting.

This little airplane can move, too. Though my flight with Sebring’s John Hurst didn’t allow time for cruise checks, I had little trouble keeping up with a Skyhawk photo ship during the air-to-air shoot. Book spec is for 112 knots at about 4.9 gph, more than acceptable speed with only 100 hp out front. Such brevity means you can plan no-wind cross-country trips over distances of 600 nm with plenty of reserve. Throttled back to 55%, you could easily push that figure out to 700 nm.

Part of the reason for the airplane’s speed may be its efficient, semi-NLF (natural-laminar flow) wing. The airplane offers a high 14-to-1 glide ratio, better than that of most certified airplanes and even most other LSAs.

That slick airfoil also generates enough lift to reduce dirty stall speed to an impressive 39 knots. Such a low no-fly velocity means short-field approaches are possible at speeds as slow as 50 knots. More-normal efforts demand 55 to 60 knots, but the slow approach speeds mean the airplane can use 1,500-foot runways with ease. This is one airplane that can probably jump off in the same or less runway distance that it needs to land.

As mentioned above, base price is $92,900, and while that does buy an operational airplane, it won’t allow you to fly in anything but a non-radio, open-skies environment. If you want an airplane capable of anything more than a fun weekend country bird for uncongested airspace, you’ll need to add a few things. Typical add-ons include an ELT, the night-flight package, leather seats, a panel-mounted Garmin 396, a Becker com and transponder, and a Tru Track Digiflight autopilot. The resulting well-equipped Flight Design CT winds up with a list price just under $110,000. There’s nothing you can buy in certified ranks that has anything like the same talent for anywhere near the price.

The whole point of the LSA market is to offer a simpler, less-expensive alternative to conventional certified aircraft and standard pilot’s licenses, and the Flight Design CT may be ideally positioned to cash in on that market. Typical of so many German-designed machines, it’s a highquality product, well constructed, easy to fly and available new for a price that’s well below that for most used singles.

...Not to mention it’s one of the most unusual new airplanes you can buy.

SPECS: 2006 Flight Design CT



Labels: LSAs

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