Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Leader Of The Pack

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

An Excellent Marriage
The CTLS airframe seems blissfully wedded to the 912iS engine. Start-up is quick (40 degrees ambient air) and feels smoother to me than a conventionally carbureted Rotax. Warm-up at the recommended 2000 rpm takes just a couple of minutes.

But this new CT model offers much more than the engine upgrade. My host invites me to do the takeoff from the wide asphalt of Woodstock's single, ancient 2,200-foot runway (64CT).

I pour the coal to the engine, we rotate at around 50 knots and level for the best angle of climbing speed, (Vx). Both Vx and best rate-of-climb speed are clearly marked on the vertical speed ribbon on the SkyView—that's very cool!) In seconds, the CT leaps for the blue with that customary 1,000 fpm-plus macho, and I'm smiling.

In short order, it's clear the CTLSi is several steps forward from my training CT of 2008. The feel is definitely smoother. And the promised 21% economy boost proves out: SkyView shows a 3.8 gph fuel burn during our 115-knot-plus cruise run.

But the first thing I look forward to on a demo is to roll the airplane smartly to 45 degrees, then reverse, then Dutch roll. It tells me a lot about the airplane's overall handling personality.

I have my desire, initiating turns the same way I do with the J3 Cub: using a heavy foot along with brisk roll inputs. The CTLSi, a rudder-liking ship, responds with an authoritative "right-now" smooth and solid wing drop, the nose tracks crisply into the turn, and around we go.

Visibility is excellent. The overhead top-knot window is well placed and big enough to provide a good look ahead for traffic. That's a great comfort bonus in any high-wing airplane.

The CT likes lots of rudder in climbs and power-off descents (right or left foot, respectively). Its wonderful glide and effective flaps (electric: -6º, 0º, 15º, 30º) plus an excellent slip capability make landings a breeze. My first CT landing in a couple years is a squeaker, as if I'd never left the cockpit. That's a credit to the airplane. My second touchdown, returning to little Woodstock at dusk, is respectable, as well.

At speed, the airplane cruises well over 100 knots without any strain. Engine vibrations seem less than I remember with the non-injected Rotax. Meanwhile, the vibrant SkyView displays keep us so well informed, it can be a challenge keeping our heads out of the cockpit.

A much-welcomed addition to the CTLSi: the electric pitch rocker switch. Placed right on the center console where the old-style mechanical trim wheel used to be, it's simply perfect. Light, effortless taps up or down, and you're trimmed up. I love it.

Labels: LSAs


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