Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Flight Design MC: Full Metal Concept

A born trainer, this spacious, docile workhorse flies like Wichita tin

What a confidence builder! Flight Design has clearly optimized the MC’s training chops: This is one forgiving, comfortable airplane.

The gear absorbs what little bump I give it without bouncing us back up, like a spring steel main might. Again, a lovely trainer’s attribute.

That shock-absorbing quality, which absorbs 50% of landing loads, comes from the laminated composite construction of the main-gear legs. As John Gilmore tells me later, not only does the wide six-foot, six-inch stance make for docile, solid touchdowns and tracking, but the many layers of carbon-fiber laminates minimize spring-back.

“The idea,” Gilmore explains, “is to have the layers ‘slide’ on each other when overloaded, rather than break. It’s like the skin of a banana, which will split if you bend it too far. It’s very strong, but it’s designed to fail before loads transfer to the airframe. And you can swap out the gear in 45 minutes.”

MC stands for Metal Concept. The airplane is primarily aluminum skin over the welded-steel-tube fuselage and
aluminum-ribbed wing. The rounded, bluntish nose section is the only major composite airframe part.

In a flight-school environment, metal airplanes are easier, more familiar and cheaper for traditional repair shops to deal with. Metal airplanes also can endure unsheltered ramp parking better than composites, which fare better in a hangared environment.

Later in the week, I sit down with Flight Design’s CEO, Matthias Betsch, for a chat about the airplane.

“It has a different character than the CT line,” he starts off. “The CT is more sporty, speedy and responsive. So far, everyone who has flown the MC agrees with you: It feels much heavier than it is. That’s what we wanted. It’s the perfect airplane for schools: very forgiving, easy to land, easy to fly and more stable in turbulence.”

He also touts the MC for older pilots used to stable Wichita tin. “They don’t have to worry so much about converting to something different.”

Betsch grins, “Of course, we have targeted it for flight schools, but if you learn in one and like it, why not purchase one?”

Speaking to cruise performance, the MC gives away a bit to the fastest LSA out there: It’s spec’d at 115 knots at max power, straight and level, and will deliver a 500 nm range at 97 knots.

Labels: LSAs


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