Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Leader Of The Pack

Fuel injection, constant refinements: why the CT line remains number one

Winners don't remain winners by accident. German manufacturer Flight Design, celebrating its 25th anniversary (congrats, FD!), has topped the U.S. special light-sport aircraft (S-LSA) leaderboard from the day it entered the U.S. market in 2005 with a design first introduced in 1997.

Reason # 1: a state-of-the-art, all-composite airframe/engine package that has been continually refined.

Reason #2: Flight Design's U.S. dealer/service center network, which numbers 22 locations nationwide.

Now we can add Reason #3: the breakthrough CTLSi, a significant update to the proven, 1,800-strong (worldwide) CT line. Married to the new Rotax 912iS fuel-injected engine, the CTLSi incorporates many new features, including a larger-amp alternator, lighter Li-Ion main battery, documented 21% lower fuel consumption, smoother cold starts and operation, faster throttle response, standard electric trim, header tank with selectable fuel valve...well, there's more, but that's the short tell.

The latest CT is indeed, as U.S. distributor Flight Design USA President Tom Peghiny says, "...not your father's LSA." His tongue-in-cheek riff on the short, colorful life of the light-sport category also speaks the truth: The CTLSi represents a fully realized, fully satisfying example of the best the LSA category has to offer.

Whether you're most impressed by top-quality fit and finish, cockpit roominess and long-flight comfort, excellent visibility, long range (1,055 nm on a single tank!), strong climb performance and service ceiling, improved fuel economy or just plain old fun flying, the CTLSi satisfies. It's a fully mature, sophisticated airplane.

The "i" model also resolves some minor grumbles from when I trained on the CTLS for my sport-pilot ticket in 2008. That earlier CT had a control feel that felt somewhat stiff. I complained, the joystick tension springs were adjusted, and my training success and confidence ramped up dramatically. The control system was since reworked by the factory, but I hadn't flown a CT in two years.

Bells And Whistles
Flash-forward from my CT training days to early last December. I'm sharing the 49-inch-wide cabin of the new CTLSi with Flight Design USA's Jonathan Carter, for a demo out of the company's Woodstock, Conn., headquarters. It's an unseasonably warm and beautiful afternoon that makes you glad to be a New Englander—even a transplanted California one like yours truly. The air is butter-smooth, and long-range visibility is as sharp as it gets.

Labels: LSAs


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